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Posts published in “Publishing”

[twenty twenty-four day one two six]: working on the neurodiversiverse kickstarter

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Hacking away at publicity for the Kickstarter for the Neurodiversiverse, which is at +80%! But that means we have almost a thousand dollars to go, and we're really far from our stretch goals. So I'm working to publicize it further with guest blog posts and such, as well as pushing further on social media.

You can support it as simply as pledging for a book or an ebook (or a sticker or pin or even $1 for no reward). But you can also get reward bundles that have lots and lots of Thinking Ink Press books in them:

Or an awesome tote bag and pins and stickers and such!

And if you REALLY want to help us out ... you can get your name in the book. Just sayin'.


-the Centaur

The Neurodiversiverse Kickstarter is Still Going

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Hey folks, this is a reminder that we still have a Kickstarter going for The Neurodiversiverse: Alien Encounters! While the campaign is running, you can reach it at or by searching on Kickstarter. This hopeful, empowering anthology explores neurodiverse encounters with aliens, and we'd love your help paying our authors more money (and, if we reach stretch goals, doing an audiobook or even a sequel)!

Please check us out, like, back and share!

-the Centaur

[twenty twenty-four post seventy-nine]: aheadiness

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When you need to solve a problem, it's generally too late to learn how to solve the problem.

Contra Iron Man's assertion "I learned that last night," it's simply not possible to become an expert in thermonuclear astrophysics overnight. (In all fairness to Tony Stark, he was being snarky back to someone mocking him, when he was the only one in the room who read the briefing packet). The superintelligence of characters like Tony Stark and Reed Richards are some of the most preposterous superpowers in the Marvel Universe, because they're simply impossible to achieve: even if you ignore the fact that we can only process like 100 bits per second - and remember around 1 bit per second - and learn things in the zone of proximal development near things we already know - there's too much information in a subject like astrophysics to absorb it in the few hours of effective concentration that one could muster for a single night. Take an area I know well: artificial intelligence. A popular treatment of AI, like Melanie Mitchell's Artificial Intelligence, a Guide for Thinking Humans, is a nine hour audiobook, and drilling into a subarea is fractally just as large (a popular overview of deep learning, 8 hours - The Deep Learning Revolution; a technical overview of robotics, 1600 pages - The Springer Handbook of Robotics; and so on). You just can't learn it overnight.

So how do you solve unprecedented problems when they arrive?

You learn ahead.

If you truly need to learn something esoteric to save the world, like thermonuclear astrophysics or the correct sequence of operators for the UNIX tar command, then it's too late and you're fucked. But if you have a hint of what your future problems might be - like knowing you may need to try a generative deep learning model to help solve a learning problem you're working on - then you can read ahead on that problem before it arises. You may or may not need any specific skill that you train ahead on, but if you've got a good idea of the possibilities, you may have time to cover the bases.

Case in point: I'm working on a cover design for The Neurodiversiverse, and we're going to have to dig into font choices soon. Even though I've been doing cover design for about ten years, graphic design for about thirty years, and art for about forty-five, this is calling for a level of expertise beyond my previous accomplishments, and I'm having to stretch. When we go into the Typographidome, it will be too late to learn the features that I need to pay attention to, so I'm reading ahead by working through the third edition of Thinking With Type, which is illuminating for me all sorts of design choices that previous books simply did not give me the tools to understand. I may not need all the information in that book, but it's already given me some tools that help me understand the differences between potential font choices.

Alternately, you can work ahead.

If learning it per se isn't the problem, you may be able to do pre-work that helps you solve it. Practice, if the problem is skill or conceptual variation; or contingency planning, if the problem is potential blockers. You can't practice or plan for everything, but, again, you can cover many of the bases.

The other case in point: this entire blog post is a sneaky way to extend my blog buffer, using an idea I've already thought of to give me one more day ahead in the queue, leaving me adequate time and effort set aside to work on the series of posts that I plan to run next week. I don't know what's going to happen as I go into this interesting week of events ... but I already know that I'm going to be crunched for time, and so if I complete my "blogging every day" series ahead of time, then I can focus next week on what I need to do, instead of scrambling every day to do a task that will detract from what I need to do in that day.

So: learn ahead, and work ahead. It can save you a lot of time and effort - and avert failures - later.

-the Centaur

Pictured: a bit of Thinking with Type, Third Edition.

[twenty twenty-four day sixty-three]: all growed up

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So! Thinking Ink Press has been around for aaaalmost a decade now, and we seem to be getting some of our proverbial shit together. Presented as a case in point: professionally designed business cards, done by the graphic designer who updated our already very nice logo which we had designed in-house. There are several subtle features of the logo we wanted to preserve that our cofounder Nathan Vargas had woven into the design, and she worked with us to update it while retaining the core features of Nathan’s original.

Then we had her do business cards, and again she iterated with us to get it right. We just test-printed the first run and drop-shipped it to the team individually (since that was cheaper than shipping it to a central site and re-shipping it) and they look awesome.

Slowly, we do seem to be getting it together. Hard to believe sometimes, but apparently dedication, hard work and not fucking giving up will slowly add to something. 

Here’s hoping the people who read our books will agree!

-the Centaur

Pictured: the card, atop a box of the cards.

[twenty twenty-four day twenty-eight]: yeah there were a few

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We got a LOT of submissions for the Neurodiversiverse. Many were actually on topic! Some, however, despite being well written, were not. And we really want this anthology to follow its theme of empowering stories of neurodivergent people encountering mentally diverse aliens, so we're focusing on that - and already have several strong stories that we know where we want to place in the story sequence.


-the Centaur

The Kickstarter Funded!

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Hooray! Our Kickstarter for Writing Inspiration Postcards funded!

This project was fascinating for me because we learned so much about what to look for in our Kickstarter campaigns:

  • We changed the title (from "Beautiful Inspiring Postcards" to "Writing Inspiration Postcards") because we didn't realize that the title didn't reveal what the postcards were about until after launch (the information was available in the text and image, it just wasn't salient in the title).
  • We tweaked our reward tiers to provide more of what people wanted.
  • We realized as the Kickstarter was ending that we could have added even more reward tiers with useful things that people would have wanted (e.g. Keiko's "White Mice" postcard, or Thinking Ink's other writing postcards that we've already made).

And, for me personally, I'd have run the Kickstarter for another week, as we were just figuring out how to improve our outreach as the Kickstarter wound down. But, there's a tradeoff between how long the Kickstarter runs and how much time and effort it takes for us to manage it, so there's no exact formula for how long a Kickstarter should run in terms of wear and tear on the team.

Anyway, I hope you backed it, and get to enjoy the postcards!

-the Centaur

Dragon Con 2022

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Well, it's that time of year again ... 65,000 of my closest friends have gotten together in five hotels and two convention halls in Atlanta to celebrate all things science fiction!

My schedule is below. I worked right up to the start of the con, so am just now posting this two days later, but for the benefit of the time travelers in my audience, I'll include the first two panels:

  • Thursday
    • 8:30pm - Start Now, Research! - Hyatt Embassy EF
      How much research is enough? How much is too much? When do you stop doing research and start writing?
  • Friday
    • 7:00pm -  The People Who Live in Your Book - Hyatt Embassy EF
      Characters rise off the page and become people--if they're well-crafted. Discover ways to make this happen in your fiction.
  • Saturday
    • 10:00pm - Stories Needed: Get Yourself Invited into an Anthology - Hyatt Embassy EF
      There's an anthology being published that might just work for a story you have in mind. Or, when you hear about an anthology and KNOW you have a story for it, what do you do? Get some professional help from our pros.
  • Monday
    • 10:00am - Writing About Star Trek - Hilton Galleria 2-3
      There are thousands of worlds within Star Trek, and thousands of topics to talk about. Where do we start? Join a panel of published writers to discuss what's worth discussing in Trek books, articles and more
    • 1:00pm - Where Do You Get Your Ideas? - Hyatt Embassy EF
       This is a question that every writer gets asked by everyone they know. What is the answer to that question?
    • 2:30pm - Predicting the Future - Hyatt Embassy EF
      Where in the world is fiction headed? Do the old tropes still work? What's fresh and new for the future?

At each panel, I'll be giving away signed copies of the writing inspiration book Your Writing Matters by my friend Keiko O'Leary. This is the latest release from Thinking Ink Press, and we're very proud of it! No matter where you are on your writing journey, I think this book can probably help you, so come on by!

See y'all tomorrow!

-the Centaur

Support the Kickstarter for our Clubfoot Journal

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Clubfoot Journal Prototype

Hail, fellow adventurers! Our small press, Thinking Ink, is running a Kickstarter to launch a journal for parents of children with clubfoot. Written by Betsy Miller, one of Thinking Ink Press's founders and an active contributor to the clubfoot community, this journal will enable parents to track the progress of their children's treatment, as well as providing exercises and notes to help them process their experiences.

The Kickstarter is live now! Please spread the word, as we love getting specialty books like this into the hands of people who truly need them!

-the Centaur

How to Get Published, in Ninety Words

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Hoisted from Facebook:
Q. How should I start looking into getting published? A. The most important thing is writing. The next most important thing is finishing. The next next most important thing is researching markets and sending things out. If you are doing all that, there are two other great force multipliers: not waiting to start your next piece while the previous ones are out, and networking - going where other authors are: cons, writing conferences, writing workshops. If you are doing all that, get yourself an agent - it is the next big multiplier.
And that's it, in 95 words! Paraphrasing Robert Heinlein, to get published, you've got to write, you've got to finish what you write, you've got to send out what you write until it gets sold. But if you really want to get published, you can't wait on that first piece to succeed; you need to go ahead and start the next one. And you can't rely on your own ability to find opportunities and markets; you've got to find other writers and editors to help you find the right home for your work. And if you're doing all that, you're on the path to having interesting enough work to attract an agent, so you might as well start looking. -the Centaur

Oh Myyy!

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  Wow. I guess a lot of books are going to be waiting for me when I get home tonight ... either the shipment of LATER anthologies for Clockwork Alchemy has arrived, or I really messed up my last Amazon Prime order. Be sure to come by Clockwork Alchemy to check them out, or look on Amazon!  

“The Fall of the Falcon” Audio

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Have you read Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine and wondered why Jeremiah ended up a Ranger when she always wanted to be a Falconer? Or would you like to get started following Jeremiah's tales on audio? Well, you're in luck! Our friends at Sage and Savant have read one of the earliest Jeremiah stories, "The Fall of the Falcon", for your auditory adventuring pleasure!

The Fall of the Falcon

By Anthony Francis
from the anthology Thirty Days Later, Steaming Forward: 30 Adventures in Time
If you'd like to find out what happens next, get a copy of Thirty Days Later and pick up where "The Fall of the Falcon" leaves off with the stirring conclusion, "The Rise of the Dragonfly"! -The Centaur

The Centaur Interviewed on Sage and Savant!

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One more interview with Sage and Savant ... me!
Q: In your story “The Fall of the Falcon” the main character is female, but she has a male name, Jeremiah Willstone. Why is that? AF: It’s more than just gender bending: it’s an outward sign of their society’s aggressive approach to women’s liberation. I wanted to tell a steampunk story about a young Victorian female soldier, but the Victorians didn’t have women soldiers – we’ve only recently started to allow them in our military. So I imagined a world where that wasn’t just a little bit different, but comprehensively different – a world where women’s liberation came a century early, and with twice as many brains working on hard problems, they were more advanced in 1908 than we are today. But I needed a way to communicate that in the story, and decided that the women in Jeremiah’s family took male names to try to achieve gender equality. With her history written into her name, I now had the storytelling power to discuss that issue as much as I wanted to – or let it slide into the background until someone innocently asks the question, “So, Jeremiah is female, but has a male name. Why is that?”
To read more, check out my interview, and also check out the podcast on Sage and Savant! -the Centaur  

Book Giveaway with TIP and S&S

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Holy cow, I almost missed this, and I helped organize it - we're giving away some anthologies in partnership between Thinking Ink Press and steampunk podcast Sage and Savant! I have stories in three of the four books we're giving away - Jeremiah Willstone stories in the full-length anthologies TWELVE HOURS LATER and THIRTY DAYS LATER, and flash fiction in the Instant Book "Jagged Fragments". Sign up, best of luck, and I hope you enjoy it! -the Centaur


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Debris-Dreams-800 Cover reveal and Promotional.jpg

Thinking Ink Press’s first novel, DEBRIS DREAMS by David Colby, is out now on Amazon! I’ve described the story as “The Hunger Games meets Gravity”, but to get a clearer picture, here’s the teaser:

The year: 2069 The place: Sun-Earth Lagrange Point L1, 1.5 million kilometers above the surface of the Earth The objective: Survive!

Sixteen-year-old Drusilla Zhao lives in the Hub, a space station used by the Chinese-American Alliance as a base to exploit Luna's resources. Desperate to break free of the Alliance, a terrorist group from the Moon destroys the space elevator, space's highway to Earth. In a flash, Dru's parents are dead and she is cut off from her girlfriend Sarah on Earth. The Alliance declares war against the Moon, conscripting Dru and all the youth of the Hub. Dru is forced to become a soldier fighting in the lethal vacuum of space. Can Dru survive lunar terrorist attacks and find her way home to Sarah?

I’m especially excited that this novel features a cover by my wife, Sandi Billingsley! We’re working hard to bring you the next two books in David’s series, SHATTERED SKIES and LUNA’S LAMENT, so stay tuned - but in the meantime, check out DEBRIS DREAMS!

-the Centaur