Grandma’s Legacy–Blog Hop January 2018

Grandma’s Legacy

I pull down the garland from over the door and coil it into a box. Sighing, I glance around the old shop. That seems to be the last of the Christmas decorations.

I’d been counting on a holiday boost to get caught up on the bills. Unfortunately between the online deals people were getting and the blizzard that shut down the city the last three days before Christmas… well, let’s just say that I didn’t have my happiest holiday.

I flip to door sign to open and turn the brass lock with a click. Tuesdays aren’t big sales days, but I can’t afford to miss out on even one potential customer. Not if I’m going to keep Grandma’s Legacy, the antique shop I’d inherited from my grandmother, alive for another year. No crowds come rushing in to greet me.

Then I pick up the box of decorations, same ones grandma used when this was her shop, and head for the store room. I’ll get it up to the storage loft later. For now I just need to have it out of the way. As I’m tucking it into a corner, the bell out front jangles. Probably a tourist still here from Christmas. Maybe they’re looking for a souvenir.

“Hello?” I hurry back out to the front of the store and don’t see anyone at first.

“Mornin’, lass!” The voice comes from near the door and as I approach I realize there’s a man standing there. He can’t be more than three feet tall. A holdover elf, maybe?

I almost giggle, then falter and catch myself. I wouldn’t want him to think I was laughing at him. “Can I help you find something? We have some great memorabilia from good ole Walter Falls.”

He takes a step closer and looks around the shop, then leans to look past me towards the back. “Actually, I was hoping to find Edna. Is she around?”

Grandma.

“Oh. I’m so sorry to tell you this. She passed away a couple of years ago.” I thought I was over the loss, but the disappointment on his face makes my breath hitch. “I guess you knew her?”

He took a deep breath before talking. “A bit. I promised her I’d be back one day. I guess I’m too late.”

“I really am sorry. Can I get you some tea? Grandma always taught me to keep the water hot.” I motioned to an antique armchair where he could sit, though he had to climb up to settle himself. “Constant Comment or Irish Breakfast?”

“Irish, if you please. Milk and sugar if you have it.”

I nodded and stepped to the side board where I kept an electric kettle on. He continued talking.

“I met Edna fifty years ago. Mistook me for an elf, almost.” He chuckled and I relaxed a little. “I suppose I can’t blame her, allowing for my short stature. And it was Christmas, after all.”

I brought over my best English Rose tea service and set it on a small table. The man paused to put three lumps of sugar in his cup which I then filled with tea. When he put up a hand I stopped pouring and he topped it off with milk.

“Thank you, young lady. So many these days forget the niceties of life.” He sipped at the cup and smiled. “Perfect.”

“Where did you meet Grandma?” Not a suitor. She’d have been long married to Grandpa by then.

“Why, right here in this shop. It looked a shade different then. Just bobbins and noggins, of course. Folks didn’t bother much with collecting antiques back then.” He waved his hand as if to clear his thoughts. “That doesn’t matter though,” he said. “What matters is that she saw me and, bright lass that she was, recognized the difference right away. No, not my size. I’m telling you, Edna had the rare gift of really knowing folks. Folks of all kinds.

“Though many call me elf, she saw the right of it straight away. Had me dead to rights, she did. But me? I tricked her. Wicked as I am, I did. Told her I’d be back with what I owed. Gave me word. People always forget to ask the time up front.” He seemed to be staring right into the past as he tipped back the last of his tea.

“I’m confused,” I said, squatting next to the chair so we could talk at eye level. “If you’d just met, what could you have owed her? Did you break something in the shop? I’m sure that was forgiven long ….”

He waved his hand. “No, lass. This is a deeper kind of owing.”He looked right in my eyes and nodded as if that made sense. “Most disappear in fifty years, but she’s still here.”

I frown at that. Did he forget?

“I don’t forget, girl,” he said as if he heard my thoughts. “None of the details nor my obligations.” He scooted off the chair and looked up, again catching my eyes. “Edna is right here in the heart and hands of her rightful heir. Consider my debt now paid.”

He handed me his empty cup. I smiled back. Paid his obligation by drinking my best tea. I put the cup on its tray. When I turned back, the man was gone.

“Sir?” I stood from squatting and walked around the shop, looking. He can’t have left. The bell didn’t chime. And yet… I walked all the way around the counter and when I got back where I started I noticed a small chest on the floor by the chair.

That definitely wasn’t one of mine. Something that beautiful would have sold right away, no matter how slow business was.

I tried to lift it, but it felt nailed to the floor so I lifted the lid instead. My knees buckled and I sat hard on the floor when I saw the gold coins inside. A note lay across the treasure.

Lass,
I gave my word and a Leprechaun always keeps his word.
My apologies for the delay in fulfillment, but it seems to me that these things always happen just when they should. Pardon the lack of a pot. Chests are a mite more convenient.
Blessings be yours, and may the luck of the Irish follow all your days.

I guess Grandma’s legacy is safe after all.

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Links

perpetualbloghop

I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.

Please note, if you find links that don’t work, try again later. Sometimes it takes a little time to get the gremlins worked out.

  1. Grandma’s Legacy by Elizabeth McCleary **YOU ARE HERE**
  2. Dragonslayer by Barbara Lund
  3. Megan’s Virus by Karen Lynn
  4. Studenting by Chris Makowski
  5. I, The Magician by Raven O’Fiernan
  6. Growth Spurt by Bill Bush
  7. Mystical Manatee Park by J. Q. Rose
  8. Phased Out by Kami Bataya
  9. Snow White (17) MURDERED by K. M. Flint
  10. A Character Profile by Juneta Key
  11. Monstrous Monday by Fanni Soto

Enjoying this post? Join my mailing list to get content as a weekly digest in your email, plus extras that you won't find on my blog!

Want to participate in a Blog Hop?

[​IMG]
GENERAL SPECULATIVE FICTION
OPEN CALL
NEXT HOP: WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 31st, 2018
STORY LINKS DUE: JANUARY 20th*

We currently have an ongoing open call to all speculative fiction authors each blog hop. Story links always due on the 20th of the month* of the hop. You post your story on your blog and send the link to the host. The hop occurs four times a year on the last Wednesday of the month. You can read more about this in the RULES & GUIDELINES​ (on my friend Juneta’s website).

This is Storytime blog hop’s third year featuring speculative fiction flash stories of 500-1000 words (give or take) from authors all over the world.

For anyone unclear on the definition of “speculative fiction”–our intent is that every story will fall, one way or another, into the sci-fi/fantasy/horror or related genres. It doesn’t have to be extreme, but if everything in your story is firmly grounded in reality you aren’t understanding the term “speculative.”

*PLEASE NOTE: Just because the link is due, doesn’t mean your story has to be finished. You have until the hop goes live to finish and polish your story. We just ask for a link in advance so whoever is acting as host/hostess can build a link grid and get it to all the participants. We do ask that all participants include the link grid on their story pages, splicing the list so their own story is at the top. That, hopefully, means the greatest number of reader will click through to the greatest number of stories.

If you decide to join us, let me know! I’ll make sure you have the info you need to get your deets to the right person. 😀

And if you want to see the kind of thing I’m talking about, here are links to some of my previous Blog Hop stories.

Sanctuary (October 2017)

Freeman (July 2017)

Reflected (January 2017)

Housekeeping

Well, shoot. I said I was going to post roughly once a week.

About a month ago.

Haven’t done it.

Oops.

What I have done…

The good news is, it’s because I’ve been busy. I almost (but not quite!) have my next collection ready. I’m fiddling with cover designs, final edits, and adding in a couple of bonus stories for your enjoyment. I’d be surprised if it’s more than a couple of weeks before I get things wrapped up and can announce my launch. But you never know. Don’t hold me to it.

(But seriously, this is taking way too long and I wanted to be done, like, two months ago. So feel free to bug me if I’m not launched by the end of the month.)

Related to that, I’m going to be re-branding my two old collections (New Skin and Flashes of Magic) with new covers at the same time. AND I’m going to be making all three collections available in all the major ebook stores (Kobo, B&N, iBooks) rather than just being on Amazon.

I’m not currently planning anything with my short story, Finding Light, and may end up pulling it completely. I have some ideas for revamping it (never really been entirely happy with it) but I have to decide if it’s worth my time. I’ll say this, though, if I do end up giving it a spit-polish, I will probably just make it a newsletter exclusive, available only to members of my mailing list. Sadly, it likely won’t be ready by the time I switch my list host (keep reading to find out what I’m talking about).

What I’m still doing…

I am working on (by which, at this moment, I mostly mean thinking about) a story that I want to write for Camp NaNoWriMo. Which is happening now. So, yeah… I need to get moving on that pretty much right now.

I’m shooting to get at least 20,000 words written before the end of July. I want to have the whole thing finished and ready for editing by the end of August. I think it will be roughly 40,000 to 50,000 altogether, but one never knows with these things. Might be a little less. Might be a little more. I’ll let y’all know when I get there. 🙂

That’s all I’m announcing about that right now. NaNo-type projects change so much that I don’t want to say anything decisive until I’m more certain of what it’s going to look like. That said, if you actually want more info you can check it out on my NaNoWriMo profile. I accept friend requests there, so if you’re a Wrimo too, feel free to connect! You’ll know you’re in the right place if you see the orange version of my logo, like the one you see here, on the profile.

What I have planned…

Most people don’t pay much attention to what software someone like me uses. Unless something changes, there’s usually no need.

Just note… something will probably be changing soon.

I’ve been using AWeber for my mailing list. That’s all fine and good… it has been the industry standard for a loooong time. It’s a fantastic and powerful piece of software. Except, it’s expensive. And it’s somewhat hard to use. And it’s serious overkill for my tiny list.

So within the next week or two, I am planning to switch to Mailer Lite.

Reasons? First and foremost, it will be free until I get to 1000 followers. Here’s hoping I have to start paying really soon… but if hoards of fans don’t suddenly show up, I won’t be paying to not send them emails. So, that’s good.

Also, it’s cheaper than the other alternative, Mail Chimp. I’ve used Mail Chimp before and it’s great software. But again, I’m a writer on a budget. If those hoards do show up, I’d still rather pay $20 to send them email than $50.

Stay tuned for more details… list members will get an email with the full explanation, but I’ll also make sure to post something here so anyone who isn’t on the list can choose to opt-in too.

That’s all for now…

I will give you more information when I have it. Meanwhile, enjoy your summer! (Or winter, if you happen to be down-under!)

Booky Little Lies

Pardon me while I rant for a minute.

I keep seeing articles claiming that eBook sales are down, that print sales are up, and that the trends apparent over the last several years in the publishing industry are reversing.

Frankly, I don’t believe it.

Articles that say things like Real Books Have Trumped Ebooks, or Ebook Sales Plunge. Even those news outlets that aren’t crying doom for eBooks aren’t exactly being positive about the changes in the publishing industry.

All these articles have one thing in common. They’re claiming a decline of eBook sales by something between 17% and 21%.

It sounds bad. Really bad.

But it’s not true.

If you look closely, you’ll see that these numbers come from the same source: The Publishers’ Association.

Here’s the thing about that. They track book sales by publishers. We’re talking the big boys who have dominated the industry for decades, as well as smaller presses that follow established industry standards.

What don’t they track? Independent author sales and sales by non-conforming small presses.

They say right on their website that they’re tracking “publisher revenue.” That’s a different thing than actual book sales.

I can’t swear to exactly which sales they are or aren’t tracking. I don’t have the nitty gritty details. But I’d virtually guarantee this: it absolutely doesn’t take into account books that are independently published by authors who choose not to use ISBNs for their ebooks.

By their standards, these people aren’t publishers. Those sales don’t count.

And even when you look at the sales that do count, they aren’t telling the whole story.

Like, a bunch of traditional publisher have pushed their eBook prices up to $12 or $13, while their mass-market paperbacks are still well under $10. So, yeah, their print books are selling better than their eBooks. Because of price.

But not one of those publishers is talking about revenue per sale. They don’t talk about how much money they’re making when an individual book is purchased  by an individual consumer.

Why? Because that $12 eBook that has virtually no overhead associated with it is actually supporting their print sales.

There are certain costs associated with all books. Cover design. Editing. Formatting. Marketing.

For an indie, those costs will run anywhere from $0 up to several thousand dollars, depending how they’re sourcing things and how much advertising they’re doing.

For a traditional publisher, those costs will be more predictable. They’ll contract with an artist and a cover designer. They have to edit, typeset, and format for publication. Those costs are basically the same for both print and digital books. I can’t tell you exactly what traditional publishers budget for those costs, especially since, except for original cover art, most of those services will be handled entirely in-house by people who are drawing salaries rather than getting paid for working on specific projects. But let’s be really generous and say that they’re budgeting roughly $5000 per book for those things to happen. Some of the best original art may actually cost more. But overall, I’d guess that the actual cost of these services isn’t more than the top-end of what an indie would pay, so maybe a couple thousand dollars.

Also, with the exception of a few top-tier authors, there is very little budget being spent on marketing for most traditionally published books. The books get listed in distribution catalogs. Maybe a few ARCs get sent out. That’s probably mostly it.

But print books have some extra costs involved. Like, you know, printing. And warehousing. And shipping those physical books from place to place. And, while the cover price of a book will probably be anywhere from about $5.99 for a slim mass market paperback, to maybe $29.99 for a hefty hardcover, those books are all sold to retailers at a discount which allows the retailer, the distributor, the trucking company, the sales clerk, etc. to get paid their share as those books get shuffled from place to place.

Take into account discounts, remainders, and shrinkage, and the actual income a publisher can expect from a print book is pretty nebulous.

Ebooks, on the other hand, have a guaranteed return. Yes, there are digital hosting costs and a cut of sales is taken by the distributor (Amazon, B&N, Apple, Kobo, etc.). But if you list a book for $9.99, you have a pretty good guarantee that you’re going to get $6.99 in revenue. Every time. Every copy. There are no remainders. There are no additional shipping costs. There might be occasional discounts to the buyer that will affect the income, but that would be a marketing decision that the publisher can control.

So, chances are the publisher is getting more for each eBook they sell, with less that they owe in real expenses.

Including the fact that traditional publishers often pay the author lower royalties for eBooks than they do for print.

So, yeah. I call BS on the ongoing insistence that eBooks are in trouble.

And even the statistics that say e-reader sales are down? So what? An e-reader is not the kind of thing most users will replace on a yearly basis. Plus, ownership of smartphones and tablets is way, way up, and all the major eBook platforms have apps that run on iOS, Android, and Windows. Lots of consumers will opt to use a device they already own rather than purchasing a dedicated e-reader. Especially if they are only occasional readers (say 1 book or less per month) rather than avid readers (say 1 book or more per week).

So, yeah. I’m not panicking over the alleged drop in eBook sales. And as an indie, I’m not worried about the future. Not even a little bit.

And as a reader and lover of books and stories? I do still love actual, physical books. I still buy some, especially when something I want is not available digitally, or if I’m collecting the works of a particular author. But more and more often I’m downloading eBooks or audio books. And I have them available on my Kindle Fire. And my iPhone. And my iPad. I could even have them on my desktop computer if I wanted to, but I don’t.

Remember when you see these stories popping up all over the place, you’re probably not really hearing the whole story. Not even close.

I’ll end my rant here.

Update on my procrastination skills, and other events of note

alarm-clock-590383_1280Yeah, so, procrastination.

About that.

It’s still a thing that I do. (For evidence, note that here it is something like 3 weeks after saying I’d post an update in a week. Ha!)

HOWEVER, that is not to say there has been no movement on that front.

I did do a little bit o’ plotting. Not much. Not enough. But some.

Blog Hopperpetualbloghop

Also, I wrote a flash story – one that I really like! I’m participating in the Story Time Blog Hop again this month. It’s a quarterly thing, and being October, all the stories will probably be leaning toward ghost stories, Halloween, paranormal… typical haunted fare.

But these are my friends, so don’t expect ordinary. Never expect ordinary. 😉

Expect to see that story as well as links to the others on October 26 at 6PM. (We are a global group, so we try to make things drop right at Midnight UTC. I’m in the -6 timezone, so I post 6 hours early.)

Advent CalendarKat's Advent Calendar

I’m also planning to participate in my friend Cat’s Advent Calendar again this year. I’ve done this a couple of times in the past, and it has always been a lot of fun.

As soon as I have sign-up info for that, I’ll post it here. To get the stories, you’ll need to join a mailing list… but it’s a list ONLY for the Advent Calendar and Cat never spams.

For that collection of stories, the theme this year is Winter (but not necessarily Christmas). As usual, most of the authors participating will likely have some kind of bonus in the form of an additional story, a traditional recipe, a fun desktop background… something unique. You won’t want to miss out!

NaNoWriMonanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant-200

Between the Blog Hop and the Advent Calendar, is the annual event known as NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month.  For those who haven’t heard of it, writers (anyone, really) are invited to try to write 50,000 words in November. That works out to an average of 1667 words every day.

50,000 might be a short novel, but by most classifications, it’s a novel. A whole novel (or maybe a good start on one) in 30 days is a pretty significant challenge. With my afore mentioned habit of procrastination, I have never managed to hit that 50,000-word goal. But I’m giving it a shot again this year. (My username there is pearannoyed, so if you’re participating too, feel free to connect!)

The story I’m planning is actually an extension of what I wrote for the Blog Hop. So if you drop back by on the 27th and read that story, you might have motivation to cheer me on for NaNo. Maybe. If you like it.

 

That is, I think, all I have on the table at the moment. If anything else comes up, I’ll let you know.

Feeling stressed? Overwhelmed? Write something!

I’ll admit it – I’m not the world’s most organized person.

  • Sometimes I’ll start a project and realize halfway through that, oops, that other project I started has a deadline.
  • Sometimes I’ll completely forget I have something to do until it’s too late to get it done well.
  • Sometimes I’ve got something I really want or need to do, but I get stuck and frustrated, letting writer’s block keep me from moving forward.

brain-954823_1920And on and on.

And I know I’m not the only one. I hear similar things from other writers (and non-writers too) all the time.

Some of it is bad planning and time management – not really knowing how long something is going to take. Some of it is ADD, or should we call that Creative Brain Syndrome – just about every creative type I know suffers from this to some extent. And some of it is probably also fear – not trusting myself to be able to do something well, and so putting it off until I have no other choice.

Since my procrastination is very often in the realm of writing, I’m going to use writing to break my procrastination. In other words, I’m just going to do it, even if I feel overwhelmed, scattered, or nervous and afraid.

And I’m going to invite you to come along for the ride.

Get Writing Promptly

I have a story that I have to get written for the Blog Hop planned later this month. So here’s a writing prompt that I’m giving myself for that story:

Write a 500 word story about someone who gets in completely over their head.

If you want to play along you’re more than welcome! And if you don’t want to write fiction, feel free to turn it into a non-fiction prompt:

I couln’t believe I’d gotten in so far over my head… Write 500 words about a time when you discovered you had too much to do and not enough time to get it done.

I’ll be sharing my story at the blog hop on July 27th. If you want to share yours, feel free to post it in the comments below!

Shouldn’t I be writing?

Really I should print this out and keep a copy right by my desk at all times…. as a reminder.

Yes, that’s the reason. It’s a reminder.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

No, this isn’t a post about David Bowie. It’s also not a post about Alan Rickman. I’m sorry to see these two incredibly talented people gone from the earth, but death is a part of life and we move on.

road-sign-1076229_640This is a post about changes coming to this blog very soon.

First, I’m going to try hard to get back on some kind of regular schedule posting here. Not because you need it, but because I do. I work better to deadlines than I do “freeform” so creating real deadlines that I don’t want to miss will, potentially, help me be more productive. I don’t yet know what those deadlines will look like, exactly. But I know that it will mean posting at least once a week here. So yay, or boo, depending on how badly you wanted to hear from me. Heh.

Second, I’m going to be removing most of my older fiction posts from the blog. If you haven’t read them yet and want to, do it now or wait ’til I publish. In cases where a revised version of the story is already published, I will indicate where it can be obtained. Otherwise, I’ll simply hide the post. As stories I’ve posted here get published, I’ll update the posts and put them back online. I’ll always leave the last 4 or 5 stories live for people to peruse. And, in keeping with the first change as indicated above, those stories will hopefully be refreshed more frequently than they have been.

perpetualbloghopFinally, I’m planning on participating in another blog hop. For those not familiar with the concept, me and some other authors will all be posting flash stories (the aim is for under 1000 words) to our blogs on the same day. Along with the stories, we will also be posting links to everyone else’s stories. All the stories will be speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, horror), and will be in roughly the PG-13 or lower category so they should be safe for most audiences (no explicit sex, no gore or explicit violence, no foul language). Why do we do this? It’s an opportunity to potentially gain some additional readers for ourselves, to support our friends and fellow authors, and to help out brand-new authors who are just starting to build a readership. (Technically, I probably fall into that last category. I’ve been doing this a while, but I’m still working on building some traction.) But, more importantly, you, our readers, get a chance to possibly discover your next favorite author. Isn’t that what every reader really wants?

So, recap…

My older stories will be disappearing from this site on or around January 22nd. If you want to read them while they’re still there, do it now. You can find them by clicking the “recent free fiction” link on the front page.

I will be participating in a blog hop on January 27th in which you, my readers, will get to see a new story from me as well as following links to stories from other authors. 😀

Don’t miss out!

Advent Calendar

tea-lights-80186_1920A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of participating on a good friend’s Advent Calendar that she hosted on her website. It was a lot of fun.

This year I had the opportunity to be part of it again! I know this is late notice, but if you’re interested in some free flash fiction (stories under 1000 words each) from a variety of writers, as well as some additional goodies, please take a minute to sign up. You’ll get one email per day from December 1 through Christmas, and then nothing else from that list for the rest of the year.

I hope you join us!

Offbeat Dialogues: discussing Folklore and the Modern Day

The Offbeat Dialogues 2015 (event)Hey – here’s a bit of fun news…

I’m going to be participating in a live discussion with other authors! The topic that’s planned is “Folklore and the Modern Day”. We’ll be talking about the use of tradition in contemporary literature, including (but not limited to) the retelling of folk stories and fairy tales. Since I’ve written some flash stories that borrow from tradition, and since my current WIP is also based on faerie lore, I get to play. Fun for me!

We will be chatting on September 11th, at 11:30 CDT. Yes, that’s this Friday. Life has been ridiculous… I lost track of days. My apologies for not sharing the news sooner.

For more information, and where to visit if you want to watch live, check out Thea’s website!

And if you can’t come on Friday, stay tuned. There will be a link to the recorded session available after the event.