Blimprider Times; #2

My CreateSpace Surprise

Most of my regular readers are aware that I publish with CreateSpace, and that I’m eminently satisfied with them as a publisher.  They are an affiliate which means that your work goes straight into the catalog and that it’s mouse-click simple to publish your book on Kindle right at the same time.  I’ve never had a complaint with any part of their process, though over this last week, I thought I might.

Having established this new author page, I wanted to update the URL in the author bio in Beyond the Rails.  The process for making changes is that you make them in your master Word file, then go to your CreateSpace dashboard and resubmit that file as the new body of your book.  They don’t know what you’ve changed, so the whole book comes off-sale while it is put through their vetting process anew, making sure the format works with their template, mostly.  This generally takes about 24 hours, after which you are e-mailed a notice that everything’s all right, you return to your dashboard and click on approve, and it goes back on sale.

This time the same thing happened.  I made the change, the book was down overnight, then came the notice that it was properly formatted, I clicked “Approved,” and it went back on sale.  Business as usual, right?  Only that night, I received another e-mail from CreateSpace, this one from the Content Validation Request Team.  Seems they wanted documentation from me proving that I was the true author of my own book, or by other means held the publishing rights.  Returning to my dashboard, I found BtR listed in dimmed-out print with the chilling status of “Suppressed.”

What the hell?  I’m a hobbyist-author.  I wrote Beyond the Rails on Word and uploaded it to their template.  I don’t have any documentation beyond the fact that I have the original file in my Word archives, and that they’ve been publishing BtR and its two sequels for the last five years.  Wondering what the outcome of this was going to be, I e-mailed them back explaining all this, and nervously settled back to wait.  Yesterday they informed me that they accepted my explanation, and the book would be back on sale shortly.  This was apparently part of their new dedication to protecting my intellectual property rights, which I greatly appreciate, but it sure pegged my fun meter for a few hours there!  Breathing a sigh of relief, I returned to the dashboard to find that it is again “In Process,” which means it is being vetted again.  I’m hoping it will be on sale sometime today, and this whole story had a happy outcome, but I tell it here for those who use CreateSpace, and those who are considering it.  It’s an extra step in the process, and one that protects you, the author, but you’ll have to decide for yourself whether you want to go through it.

Friends at Work

I have received a number of entertaining feeds from my friends over the past few days, and as these are witty, entertaining, and above all insightful folks who deserve the widest possible audience, I’m going to make it a regular part of my newsletter to promote them like crazy.  You should make it part of your day to visit them; they’re seriously good!

Stephanie Kato interviews Marcus R. Gilman, the brain behind the Meta-Punk website which I highly recommend to those who want to keep abreast of steampunk in Europe, as well as lots of Cthulhu lore.

Tara Sparling, my favorite Irish witticist, continues her series on why certain archetypes should never, ever live together, this time expounding on the problems to be encountered by a Crime Novel Cop and a Chick-Lit Heroine.

Richard Schulte’s photo-blog, Cool San Diego Sights, has pictures of this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival, as well as a link to a song gifted to us by our sister-city, Yokohama Japan.  Very much worth a visit.

Over at David Lee Summers’ Web Journal, we see the astronomer-author examining War of the Worlds, the original novel, alongside Jeff Wayne’s musical album covering the events of the novel.

The Writers after Dark return to offer a hilarious podcast on 1950s marriage advice.  They are joined by book editor Lynda Dietz, and it’s a fun hour you’ll never regret spending.

Chris Pavesic of the Steampunk Cavaliers offers her insights into world building.

Writers Helping Writers takes an in-depth look at the various themes that exist in stories… including those you may not intend, nor even be aware of.

C.W. Hawes returns with a fascinating study of H.P. Lovecraft, and his influence on modern horror.

My friends at Nerd Lunch devote one of their howling mad podcasts to Black Panther.

Finally, two sites I follow post multiple times a day, and have in fact posted several times already this morning.  Always interesting reads, I refer you to MovieBabble and Irevuo.

Beyond the Rails


WordPress informs me that my readers may be “entertained” by advertising as part of their viewing experience, so I thought, why not make the advertising really entertaining as well as beneficial to me by advertising my own work.  I am, after all, trying to sell books here, so let the selling begin!

Beyond the Rails is set in British East Africa in the early 1880s, and chronicles the adventures of the small, close-knit crew of a cobbled together cargo blimp as they try to eke out a living far from the Empire and the civilization it enforces.  If you note a similarity to a certain short-lived sci-fi series of the early 2000s, I promise you, that isn’t what I set out to do, but it has worked well, nonetheless.  One of my early reviewers called the Beyond the Rails series “Jules Verne meets Firefly,” and the books carry a 4+ rating everywhere they appear.  On the one hand, there is a suggestion that I set out to make a steampunk copy, but there are worse things to have your work compared to than a Joss Whedon masterpiece.

But I would never ask anyone to buy something sight-unseen, so I have provided samples under the Beyond the Rails tab above.  The first two books are story collections, and I have provided a complete story from each.  Book Three is a novel, and I’ve posted the first chapter in hopes that it might draw you in.  They are all available on, or at least they will be shortly.  I hope you find them worthy of your time and your wallet; I’m doing my best to make them memorable.

Blimprider Times; #1

Good day, friends and followers, and I hope it finds you well.  I’m still finding my way, and defining what this page will become going forward, so allow me to drop a few words of introduction.  There will be times that I have things to share that don’t warrant a formal look-how-smart-I-am blog post, and those times will be covered in this semi-regular feature, Blimprider Times.  Today I have some good, some catastrophic, and some making-the-best-of-it items to pass along, so I’ll get right to it.

CWPerkinsGood friend and reviewer C. William Perkins has posted a review of Player Piano, which happens to be Kurt Vonnegut’s often overlooked first novel.  Written shortly after the Second World War, it foretells of the automated society and the associated falling value of physical labor that we live in today with a fair degree of accuracy.  I’m not going to steal any of his thunder; this is a detailed and compelling review of the sort that Mr. Perkins is known for, and very much warrants a read, especially if you aren’t familiar with Vonnegut’s debut novel.

Now the catastrophe:  I went to my CreateSpace account to see if I could update the URL to my author page in the preface to Beyond the Rails.  Not only can I not do that, but the book is now unavailable until I resubmit it!  Of course, I still have the file, but it’s in Office, which I stopped using over a year ago.  What that means is that in order to resubmit, I have to first download Office (I think I can get a one-month trial version without repurchasing the thing…  We’ll find out shortly!), then submit the document to CreateSpace.  Then, of course, I’ll have to go to the Kindle version and reset the opening chapter pages, the hyphenated words, and probably some other stuff I’ve forgotten by now.  So there’s my weekend, and then some.

Finally, making the best of it, this will enable me to update not only my author page URL for future readers, but to tease out some more of the typos and inevitable misspellings, bringing it ever-closer to that elusive goal of perfection.  Also, with my mind completely focused on writing for the next couple of days, I can keep my notebook by the keyboard and jot down notes for the short story I’ve been invited to write for an upcoming anthology.  The little cherry on top:  It’s looking to rain all weekend here in the land where the sun spends the winter, and won’t be inordinately cold either, so I can crack a window and let the drizzle on the eaves really put me in the mood!

Well, that’s my little update.  Like the format, or not so much?  Let me know in the comments below (See?  I write poetry, too!), and watch for my regularly scheduled post tomorrow.  Now I have to go answer a couple of late-breaking comments, and do last night’s dishes.  After that, I guess I’ll see you around the Office!  Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead tonight, and I’ll be back with a fresh topic tomorrow.