How To Reconcile Amazon.com Orders with Credit Card Charges

I’m the type who reviews my credit card statements and reconciles them with my receipts and online orders. Occasionally I run into puzzling issues and end up calling the vendor or credit card company to verify, clarify or challenge a mysterious charge on my bill. However, I hate wasting time on a customer service call (or chat), and would much rather solve the mystery myself when I can.

This post is a way for me to remember the clever trick I discovered today and to share it with the world. ‘Cause I’m generous like that. You’re welcome.

The charge on your credit card that doesn’t match up

Have you ever had a charge from Amazon.com on your credit card that doesn’t match any orders around the date that your card was charged? I’ve found two common situations — and some clever ways to verify them without bothering Amazon customer service. (Here’s a shout-out to Mark of Amazon customer service, who revealed one of these clever tricks to me this week… Hi, Mark!).

1. An item with an order date significantly distanced from its ship date (the credit card is usually charged when it ships)

Often, this is easily reconciled by looking at orders within 5 days before/after the credit card charge date. But if that doesn’t give you any orders that match the charge, try using their Order Reports feature.

Go to Amazon.com and navigate to your Account > Download Order Reports.

Amazon.com > Your Account > Download Order Reports

Set the report dates for anything 1-2 months before/after the credit card charge.

Amazon.com Order Report data parameters

Download the CSV file and then do a search for the charge amount. Usually that will solve the mystery. (And if not, you can resort to Amazon’s email, phone or chat support options.)

2. An order with multiple items that ship separately from each other

Sometimes the confusion enters because of how Amazon groups the orders for shipping.

Let’s say you put in an order and the total is $79, but three items ship for a total of $36, and a week or two later another item ships for $17, and then a week after that the last item ships for $26. When you scan your orders, it’s possible you won’t find one on the date you expect it (close to the original order date) AND/OR you won’t find any orders at all with the $17 charge because of how Amazon summarizes the orders.

The best way I’ve found to illuminate this situation is to find an order that shows as having several separate ship dates (and one of them around the charge you’re reconciling).

Then click on the Invoice link for that order.

Click the Invoice link for the order

The invoice will outline the charge for each part of the order as they shipped and clearly show at the bottom the exact credit card charge amounts associated with it and the dates they were charged.

Amazon invoice with order shipping summaries

I hope this helps someone (or myself in the future) when they’re troubleshooting an unknown charge on their credit card from Amazon.com. I really enjoy the convenience and excellent service that Amazon provides, and when I do need to get help from their customer service, I’ve always been impressed with their responsiveness and willingness to please me.

That said, I also enjoy figuring things out for myself. How about you?

Help Me Find a Cure for an Insane Unicorn

Thea van Diepen
Author and artist Thea van Diepen is crowdfunding her second book of the White Changeling series. I’m hoping you’ll find her work as delightful as I do and support her efforts. After all, a unicorn’s life (or at least its sanity) is on the line.

I’m a big fan of her web comics and you may recall that I blogged about receiving a book from the future when UPS delivered the first book of the series last year. Her writing and art is whimsical, lyrical and thoroughly delightful.

Kara the Brave web comic by Thea van Diepen

Which is why I couldn’t just do a normal author interview with her. Instead I took a whimsical character of my own named Izzie and caused space-time to warp so she would run into the protagonists of Thea’s book while she was on a walk in the woods.

I hope you enjoy the story, get a taste for Thea’s world of magic, fairies, mad unicorns and fantasy adventure, and decide to support her Kickstarter campaign for “Like Mist Over The Eyes“.

Like Mist Over the Eyes by Thea van Diepen

In Which Izzie Meets Nadin and Adren of “Like Mist Over the Eyes” (Not An Author Interview, Not an Excerpt)

The forest changed today.

Everything was normal at first. I said hello and the trees began telling me their stories. They complained about the summer heat, the way cicadas made them itch, the disrespect of the woodpeckers. Then the scene rippled around me, like a stone had been thrown into reality. When the wave passed, it was different. The air tasted like toasted marshmallows, not redwoods and dust. And the ground, it was darker. Richer. The trees were silent.

And then there was him. He. Someone. He looked like the guy from Slumdog Millionaire. What was he doing in my woods? I didn’t expect him, so the words jumbled on my tongue. “Oh, hi. Who are–um, are you alone?”

“Well, you’re here. So, no?”

Oh. Yes. That. “No, I mean…” I stared and he glanced from side to side, like a confused child. A series of images flashed through my mind, almost too fast to catch. A gathering of people. A party? He was being held still. Something had fallen to the floor, and they wouldn’t let him pick it up. His voice interrupted the vision.

“Are you… might you be… oh, wow, this is weird. Are you human?”

I started to laugh, then stopped.

I didn’t want him to feel bad. I’ve had that thought before, more times than I could count: sometimes people just… didn’t seem human. I get that.

“Yes, mostly.”

“Oh. Okay.” He paused. “Because your skin is… different. Um. Yeah.”

I looked at my arms, bare to the shoulders in my tank top, then looked at his face and the hands at the end of his long sleeves. Those awkward hands, like flighty birds, fluttering and not lighting anywhere. Brown, smooth skin. Normal enough. I held out my hands, stepping closer for a better look.

“What’s different about it?”

“It’s… white.”

Well, I wasn’t as brown as he was, but I actually did have my summer tan. What would he think if he’d seen me in winter? “You don’t have white people where you’re from? Where are you from, anyway?”

Who in California hasn’t ever seen a white person before?

“You mean where I was born, or where I…”

I waited for a few breaths, but he didn’t finish the sentence and wouldn’t look directly at me. An image flashed into my head again, and before I realized I was speaking, it was out: “Why don’t you tell me about the place where you dropped your Saints’ Day candy on the floor?”

His mouth pulled sideways like a goat at the fair chewing its hay and his nose scrunched up so that his eyes were a glittering line between the tops of his cheeks and the heavy eyebrows. His adam’s apple bobbed a few times before something finally came out. What else had he tried to say before the one word fought its way to the front of the line?

“What?”

Another thought spilled out, and I wondered at it even as I said it. “The unicorn is white. Doesn’t it count?”

“What.”

Flummoxed. It’s a beautiful word, but I’d rarely seen someone in real life actually flummoxed. This was what it looked like. I could see the whites around his dark, dark eyes. Fascinating.

I was so focused on the boy that I must have missed the approach of the girl, because it seemed she just appeared out of nowhere. She stalked towards the boy, sparing me only a glance but obviously knowing who he was. And, hello people, she had white skin. Just like me. This guy was nuts.

“Nadin, what’s going on?”

“What, you don’t know?” Nadin turned back to me. “Do you know what’s going on?”

I snorted. Ruby always told me it wasn’t ladylike to snort, but I did it anyway. “It looks to me like you’re hiking in the woods with a white girl and pretending you’ve never seen a white girl before. Is this the sort of pickup lines they use where you come from?”

The girl scowled, looking me up and down. “Why would he have seen another white girl before?”

At the same time, Nadin said, “Pickup line?”

They seemed so sincerely confounded. And he had been flummoxed. I was picking up the strangest vibes from them, and the forest still smelled like marshmallows.

“Who are you?” The girl crossed her arms.

“Izzie. I want to know about this white girl issue he has. How could you have gotten here without passing a million white girls along the way?”

“You’re obviously delusional. I’m the only person with white skin anyone we know has ever met before. Except you.”

I’m not the delusional one. They are. Just like the unicorn. I didn’t know where that thought came from, but as usual, it was out of my mouth before I could stop it. “You’re as crazy as the unicorn.”

“All right, you need to explain what’s going on right now. How do you know about the unicorn? Are you an illusion?” She strode toward me with alarming speed. “Did the fairies do this?”

Nadin shook his head. “She’s not an illusion.”

The girl threw her hands into the air, shouting, “Well, what else could be going on?”

“Silver scars on alabaster fur, a song to soothe its mad, mad heart…” I hummed a bit of the tune in my head, twirling away from the girl, my feet taking me on a little dance path around the two. The sun felt good on my bare arms, filtered through the foreign trees.

The girl sucked in a sharp breath at my song, and I smiled. Unicorns, fairies, a forest that wasn’t my own. Yet even with these odd ones my strange gifts hit their mark. I didn’t have to understand it to enjoy it.

“Can we start over?” I asked. “My name is Isabel. You can call me Izzie.” I looked at the girl and decided not to try and shake her hand. She looked like she could bite my head off. “You called him Nadin. What’s your name?”

“My name is none of your-”

Nadin piped in, “Her name’s Adren.”

“Nadin!”

“What? She seems nice!”

Adren watched me finish my dance, her eyes narrowed, muttering, “Nice has nothing to do with it.”

Yay. I had made new friends in the woods. Not my woods, but new friends are fun. Even ones who looked ready to hit me over the introduction process. I smiled at Nadin. “So… What about the fairies? Are you friends with the fairies?”

The two looked at each other uncomfortably.

Nadin spoke. “That’s… debatable.”

“Oh! Let me show you…” I shrugged off my backpack and fished around inside, hoping my new friends wouldn’t disappear before I could find my sketchbook. “I drew some fairies last week…”

Izzie's fairy sketch

Adren and Nadin peered at my drawing, Adren hanging back as if reluctant to come within arm’s reach.

“Why does it have wings?” Nadin asked.

“How else could it fly?” I paused, thinking. “I suppose it could use fairy dust…”

Adren glared at me.

Nadin looked from me to the drawing. “I’m so confused.”

“Fairies don’t fly,” Adren stated flatly. “Where in the name of all the saints did you get that idea? Fairy glamour is one thing, but this…” She gestured dismissively, clearly flabbergasted.

Flummoxed and flabbergasted in the same day. Wait until I told Seth about this.

“And why is that flower so big?” Nadin asked. “Or is it the fairy that’s small?”

“Peter Pan, you know? Tinker Bell?” Tinker Bell wasn’t ringing any bells, so I sang them the song. “When you wish upon a star…” I trailed off at the mildly terrified look on their faces. Closing my sketchbook and shoving it inside my backpack, I sought for something to calm them. “So… your fairies don’t grant wishes?”

Adren snorted. “Definitely not.”

“And they don’t have wings?”

“Oh, of course they do. And I’m the king of Breim.”

So they have sarcasm in Adren’s world, even if they don’t have white girls.

“Don’t be mean,” Nadin said.

Adren did not look apologetic.

They seemed very serious about this whole fairy thing. Maybe it would help if they talked about it. “So what are they like? You sound like you know a lot about them.”

Adren, shrugged, one eyebrow raised. “I grew up with some.”

“And we just left one of their mounds,” Nadin said, and then added quickly, “Uh. Not the one of the fairies Adren grew up with. Different ones. Really nasty ones.”

“That’s your opinion,” Adren retorted.

“I’m sorry, remind me again how we just got out of there?”

Adren glared.

Nadin gulped, and lifted his hands, taking a step back.

I savored the awkward silence. It’s not every day that I’m the observer and not the one being stared at. I kept staring, especially at Adren. She turned her glare from Nadin to me, and I flinched. Just a little.

“They’re fairies,” Adren finally replied. “Don’t get on their bad side.”

Nadin muttered, “Or their good side.”

Adren rolled her eyes. “Ignore him. Now. How do you know about the unicorn? Are you a magical creature, or a human?”

That tickled me, given the things that had happened in my life. “Yes, um…” This is where it gets hard to explain. Sometimes a human is more than human. Hm. “Yes, well. I know about the unicorn the same way I know about the man with the sword that you keep seeing.”

Adren stopped with her mouth half open to say something. Nadin went as still as a rabbit who suddenly sees a hawk’s shadow.

“How could you possibly know about that?” Adren demanded. If she glares at me any harder, it’s gonna leave a burn mark.

“Wait, why are we confirming this?”

“I think it’s pretty obvious that we know what she’s talking about, Nadin. But she still hasn’t answered either of my questions.”

Questions? I was still thinking about fairies not having wings. What were the questions again? Before I could ask, my phone vibrated in my jeans pocket and the theme from Sailor Moon blared through the woods. Time for dinner. I pulled the phone out and silenced it.

My two new friends were staring at me like they’d never heard the Sailor Moon theme before. I suppose it’s possible someone in the world hasn’t. I held up the phone. “Sorry. Dinner time. I gotta run.”

So many questions unanswered, but if I wasn’t back by six o’clock, Ruby would find a way to make me pay for it. I spun away and ran back through the woods, trusting they would transform back into my woods so I could find my way home.

I wondered what kind of world had mad unicorns, fairies without wings, and people who’d never seen another white girl besides Adren.

* * *

In a forest in Ider (but not a forest in Ider – where was that sweet smell coming from, anyways?) Adren and Nadin watched the girl vanish.

“I’m good for pretending that never happened if you are,” said Nadin.

“So long as she’s harmless.”

“Is she?”

“Maybe.”

The true forest shivered back into being.

Like Mist Over the Eyes by Thea van Diepen

Click to support this lovely artist and author on Kickstarter!

Scrivener for Windows updated to handle high-resolution displays

Scrivener by Literature and Latte

November of last year, I posted instructions on how to fix the display issues I encountered with Scrivener for Windows on my Lenovo Yoga 2 high-res display screen. The fix was such a relief for those of us who found the icons so tiny as to be unusable on those screens.

I’m super happy to announce (for anyone who hasn’t noticed yet) that Scrivener for Windows version 1.9.5 fixes this issue. So if you haven’t updated your software since its release on July 19, 2016, do it now!

What if I did the manifest file fix? What happens when I upgrade to Scrivener 1.9.5?

I installed the Scrivener 1.9.5 update on my Lenovo and had no issues whatsoever. Everything looked great.

However, just to be safe, I asked the inimitable Lee Powell (programmer mastermind of Scrivener for Windows) whether it was important to undo the changes I’d made. He said you can leave the Scrivener.exe.manifest file alone or you can delete it — either way is fine.

After his assurance, I deleted it and sure enough, Scrivener still worked great and I could see all the icons at a good size just like I had after I originally applied the fix.

Hooray! And there was much rejoicing throughout all the land

Thanks to the Literature and Latte folks for all that they do for the writers of the world. And if you have an iPad or iPhone, you should definitely check out Scrivener for iOS! I saw it in action on a friend’s phone and iPad and it looks fabulous. In tandem with Dropbox (for easy access to your Scrivener projects wherever you go), you are set for writing anytime, any place. (Here’s a video tutorial on using Scrivener with Dropbox, too.)

In other words, no more excuses for not making your word count goals.

JUST KIDDING. If I know writers (and I do know writers), there’s ALWAYS another excuse.

BUT THIS IS NO LONGER ONE OF THEM.

Flash Fiction Endings

In my role as Splickety’s associate acquisitions editor, today I’m guest blogging at AlmostAnAuthor.com about flash fiction story endings. Get tips on what NOT to do… (click image below for article)

Published on AlmostAnAuthor.com

Writers: Generating Story Characters with One Stop

Listen, I’ve never had any trouble coming up with my own story characters, thankyouverymuch. My stories are very character-driven. I see their pasts, their motivations, their fears and desires. I know everything about them, and I fall in love.

Until I don’t. Until the day that I need a minor character and they need to have at least a little pizzazz, because they’re going to be a around for a while. But I’ve poured my life’s blood into the main characters, and my brain is objecting to this demand for further ideas: “What?! What I’ve given you isn’t enough? Tyrant! Madman! Socialist dictator! I see that Fidel Castro hat in your closet!”

Enter the Dragon

Just kidding. I mean, enter One Stop for Writers, a powerful resource library that provides a huge toolbox full of prompts, templates and story-enhancing details. I’ve mentioned these guys before. It was their site that gave me some extra motivation to dive into last year’s NaNoWriMo.

I’ve been on a search lately for tools that fit into my strategies for story process streamlining. One of my goals this year (2016) is to be more prolific: to write more short stories and finish more of my longer WIPs. To do this, I need to make the most of every moment I spend on “writing”. As a homeschool mom who values fresh food, doing things from scratch, and time with family (and as a small business owner who always has more client opportunities than time available), my writing time is budgeted. I’m sure you can relate, whatever your lifestyle.

So today I’m sharing my tactics for generating characters quickly using the One Stop tools. With a resource like One Stop, you’ll only get your money’s worth if you USE it. (Even at only $7.50/month, there’s no point spending the cost of a latte and a bagel unless you’re getting something out of it, right?)

And you’ll only use it if you make it a part of your process.

My Story Characters Process: First Make a List

I need some story characters for my current WIP. The protagonist, Andy, is a writer; he’s married with a young child. He’s a bit of an introvert, but no man is an island and his wife definitely has friends. So who else will show up in this story? That’s the first question.

His Writer’s Group

Andy needs humor in his life, so I want at least one of his writer friends to be funny in some way. But how? Does she have a humorous outlook on life, or is she the comic relief simply because she’s such a clown? I want a group of 3 other writers, each with contrasting personalities.

A Rival Writer & Nemesis

This story is a bit tongue-in-cheek, and I hope most writers don’t have a “nemesis” who taunts them and makes scathing remarks about them on social media. But Andy does. I need his nemesis to have some quirks and secrets to round him out. Maybe even a few likable characteristics that Andy doesn’t see through his haze of agitation towards the guy.

His Wife’s Best Friends

Andy’s wife, Alice, has a large network of friends. But I want one or two in particular that she’s close to. These are the people who influence her outlook on life (and Andy) the most. One will be a co-worker and one is a long-time friend she grew up with, maybe even a cousin.

Coming up with all these characters feels intimidating to me, especially when I list them all out like this (and actually this isn’t all of them! the story has a dozen other minor characters waiting to be imagined to life).

Next Step: Brainstorm with the Tools

Writer’s Group: Physical descriptions

First, what genders are these story characters? Andy is not an alpha male personality, and I think he relates well to women. Maybe he’s the only guy in his group. So I need 3 women.

  • The funny gal
  • The ambitious one
  • The novice writer (an improvement project of the ambitious one)

Let’s give each of them some physical description. I’ll pop over to the Physical Features Thesaurus on One Stop:

One Stop - Physical traits thesaurus

I pick a general body type (slender, stocky, etc) for each one. Then I pick two details for each woman (eyes, hair, hands, etc), varying which features I use for each.

  • The funny gal: sickly (her humor is part of her coping mechanism), cheeks hollow, skinny arms
  • The ambitious one: petite build, fingernails that demand attention, legs built like an Olympic speed skater (roller derby amateur?)
  • The novice writer (an improvement project of the ambitious one): stocky build, hunched shoulders (poor posture), eyes with a feverish sparkle

On the detail pages behind the list of features, One Stop gives a thorough rundown for each. For example, I choose “fingernails” as one of the features I focus on for the Ambitious writer.

  • Descriptors: trimmed, decorated, glossy
  • Common actions and alternative words: pick, drum, scratch (I can just see her now… picking at a mole on the underside of her jaw with those manicured nails, and then stopping when she realizes she’s doing it)
  • Emotions and related gestures: she drums her fingers on the table when she’s impatient, then switches to her knee when someone glares at her to stop

One Stop also provides simile and metaphor examples and cliches to avoid (biting her nails to the quick, clenching her hands until the nails make dents in her palms), as well as suggestions for making the physical description do double duty in illustrating your character’s inner landscape. In thinking about how fingernails fit into my Ambitious writer’s psych profile, I realized she never misses a manicure appointment, because she considers her hands her most expressive trait and knows that her nails help draw attention to them. It’s all connected to her short-person issues (“Notice me! Notice me!”).

NOTE: Dearest short people in my life, honestly I am NOT patterning this gal after you. Heh heh. No, no, really!

See how quickly this character starts to feel well-rounded? Because One Stop was put together by writers, the details are story-ready. I would not have thought of fingernails, of all things, to focus on. It’s just not something on my radar screen, personally.

Using a tool that was designed by more than one person and which deliberately includes a wider scope opens many more possibilities than I’d come up with on my own.

A Rival Writer & Nemesis – Negative Traits

Story characters need more than just a physical description. And in the case of Andy’s rival, we don’t even know what he looks like, except perhaps a profile photo on social media. Andy has never met him in person, only encountered him online.

But wait, before we get to some negative traits, I just gotta name this guy. Since One Stop doesn’t have a name generator yet (that would be a neat addition!), I head over to BehindTheName.com to grab a likely name. If I want to go direct, I look up the word “rival” and use the name Emil.

Or maybe I want the nemesis to be Arabic, so I use the random name generator and select “Arabic” as the ethnicity. He could be Saif (“sword”) because he’s always poking at Andy. Or maybe he’s Malik (“king”) and he never lets Andy forget what his name means. “My mother knew while I was yet in her belly that she bore the king of talespinners inside her!”

Yeah, Malik Saif Hadad (for his last name I went to AllNames.org and clicked on Surnames and picked one of the most popular Arabic surnames).

Okay, so what are some negative traits I can give Malik?

One Stop - Negative traits thesaurus

So many fun things to choose from! But I’m moving quickly, so I’ll just pick three at semi-random and see how they fit together.

Addictive, catty, vain.

He’s addicted to approval, applause and validation from others (basically a social media addict), which is why he’s always mouthing off. He’s petty in his complaints and cheap shots at others. The vanity is all tied up in the approval addiction.

Check out the (truncated) detail page on addictive behavior:

One Stop - Negative traits thesaurus detail

Rounding out the Nemesis – Secrets & Wounds

This rival sounds really one-sided. Even though Andy may experience him that way, I don’t think he’ll feel real to me unless I give him some more layers. When I have a “bad guy”, I like to round him out with some unexpected things.

Here comes the fun: I’m heading over to the Idea Generator page at One Stop. It’s like having a hat full of good ideas. Just reach inside and pull one out and see if you like it.

One Stop - idea generator

Let’s see what Malik is hiding. Did he cheat to win that short story award? Yeah, maybe his greatest achievement so far was won using plagiarized prose!

What are his inner wounds? Maybe his family was involved in Islamic terrorism in the past. Now that such things are outlawed and considered a terrible shame, he has to use a fake name so he’ll never be linked with those activities. Maybe he bullies others because his mother bullies him; he has a wretched home life but talks big online.

What kinds of quirks does he have? I’m not sure whether any quirks will be obvious in an online relationship, but here’s one that inspires me as a writer: Malik collects bits of people. He doesn’t actually perform voodoo or believe in it, but when he meets with someone in person (or even when brushing past a stranger or standing in line at a coffee shop), he tries to collect some little piece of them: a strand of hair, a gum wrapper they throw away, fingernail clippings. He lacks relationships with others, and feels some small, freakish comfort from having these intimate connections with someone else, even though they are unaware of it. He doesn’t label the bits, he just puts them all into a jar he keeps on his desk. Sometimes he picks up the jar, holds it up to the light, and ponders the collection.

^ ^ ^
All of these ideas came from something in the idea generator prompts!

I begin to see it now. Malik has been so vocal for so many years that he can no longer get honest critiques or help with his work. People are afraid to be at the receiving end of his very public, verbal shreddings. Because of this, he only hears nice things (which he doesn’t believe, because he is plagued with self-doubt) or hateful things (which he expects because deep down he knows how awful he has been to people). He has created his own prison, and cannot see the way out. The only time he gets attention is when he is horrible to others, and yet he cannot stop because he is so starved for attention. A vicious cycle.

The Process Continues

I’ll be writing more posts like this as I continue the quest for my ultimate story writing process. I feel that One Stop for Writers is a powerful tool that I have yet to leverage to its full potential. Sharing the journey helps keep me accountable to continuing the exploration, instead of letting this resource languish ignored, like so many others in my past.

If you are taking steps on your writing journey this year, share them in the comments! I’d love to hear where you are in your process.

One Stop for WritersTIP: One Stop has a free version

When you visit the One Stop for Writers site, you can get a sampling of all the tools by creating a free account. Then you can see for yourself what I mean. Or sign up for a month and try it out.

Just make sure you USE it if you do. A tool left on the shelf is a waste of a good tool!

Done: #SpecFicCollective Author Marketing Website

Sometimes I get so busy doing things I forget that part of the reason this website exists is to share with my friends what I’m doing! After Realm Makers in August, I was re-inspired to get moving on my vision for the #SpecFicCollective — a virtual community of speculative fiction authors who work together to market their work.

The Website

specficcollective-screenshot

Launched in September 2015, I’ve managed to keep up a consistent publication schedule (which is something of a first for me, at least when it comes to personal projects). It started as once per week, but now goes twice a week.

Topics covered include things that circle around author branding and marketing. Finding your readers, making new fans, learning who you are and how to describe your work in ways that set expectations and attract the right audience. After years in Internet marketing helping small businesses get online and understand how to do these things for their companies, I find skill set well-suited to the changes in the publishing industry. I love explaining things and hope very much that someday, somehow these articles will help my author friends find success in matching their stories with their audience.

The Brand Materials

When I launch a website, a few basic pieces of supporting brand material are needed. At the barest minimum used to be a logo and tagline. Nowadays, I add to that a Twitter header, Facebook cover and site favicon. For most of my personal projects, I also include a basic color palette, a font (or two) and a general style or some imagery.

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The materials aren’t perfect. I used to agonize over and spend a lot of time getting things as perfect as possible. And honestly, they weren’t much better than this, even when I spent more time. I’m not satisfied with the SFC logo. I expect the background theme and imagery will be modified every year or so just because a fresh look is, well, refreshing.

But guess what? I shipped it. And that’s the theme of this year for me, in a lot of ways. Taking ideas and putting flesh on them, launching them into the world and giving them a chance to live in the wild to see if they survive.

The Future

I’m working to get the foundational content onto the website. In Spring 2016, I hope to launch some of the more interactive aspects of the site and encourage true community to grow around the concepts. Tentatively, this may include things like regular video conferencing or webinars and downloadable resources that encourage small groups to form and apply the collaborative marketing strategies together.

Someday, I hope that hundreds of thousands of speculative fiction authors will carry in their heads the framework of understanding that I’m passing along. Delusions of grandeur, much? Why, yes. This isn’t just about fleeting tactics that will change as technology changes. This is about creative people understanding who they are and how it impacts what they create. Teaching them to see their work within the context of a life well lived and a career in creating that lasts. Showing them how to relate to each other in ways that help everyone — authors, readers, cover artists, and more. Taking what I’ve learned from others and passing it along through the unique lens that is my experience and insight.

Community is Essential

I am not alone. I exist and travel this journey of life and publishing within a community (several communities, actually) of like-minded individuals. I predict that 5-10 years from now, there will be many stories about failed attempts and fantastic successes as we apply the ideas shared on the #SpecFicCollective site. I look forward to hearing about the successes and I hope to offer comfort through the failures even as we all learn from them together.

Creating art and sharing it with others. There’s nothing like it. And when you do it side by side with others on the same journey? Priceless.