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PSA October 19, 2018

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Look at all these fantastic books!

I don’t tend to bring it up much here, but I am the owner of and, essentially, one-woman show behind Brain Lag, publisher of science fiction and fantasy novels. I don’t tend to mention it because that means technically, my own novels are self-published, though aside from the fact that that has no correlation to quality, six other authors have liked my work enough to entrust me with theirs.

I love to do this. It took me almost thirty years to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I’m so glad to have the opportunity to do it. I’ve seen two fellow publishers hang up their towels in the last couple years because it wasn’t right for them or it wasn’t viable, and I get it. My sales aren’t nearly what I would like them to be, and I’ve had to take on freelancing work to help support the primary function of Brain Lag.

But I believe in my business. I love taking the amazing manuscripts my authors send me and turning them into beautiful, professional books. I love seeing my shelf of books I’ve published expand and to introduce as many people as I can to these great stories.

So please, help spread the word a little. Tell your friends, mention it on social media, buy a book, request a copy at the library, leave a review. It would mean so much to me to help get my authors the recognition they deserve.

Thank you.

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Help me bring Enduring Chaos to life! June 13, 2013

Posted by thejinx in enduring chaos, writing.
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I’ve been keeping it under wraps, but the cat’s out of the bag now: I’m producing a live action trailer for my next book Enduring Chaos! I’m very excited about this. We already have a great crew gathered together and things are starting to come together for what looks to be a dramatic and exciting book trailer.

But I need your help! Please visit the crowdsourcing campaign on Indiegogo to help us fund the project and bring Enduring Chaos to life. Any amount you can contribute and any way you can spread the word about the trailer will help. And I’m offering pre-release ebooks starting with $10 contributions, and paperbacks from $35!

Please contribute today!

Calling April 1, 2013

Posted by thejinx in life.
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I have never held a permanent job for more than a year.

But perhaps I should start farther back.

I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I entertained a lot of ideas as a child, but nothing ever grabbed me, consuming my full attention, and made me say this is what I want to do with my life.

When I entered college, I studied computer repair, because, well, the best excuse I have now is it seemed like a good idea at the time. It wasn’t. I didn’t make it through the program. So, still living at home at the time, I entered the workforce instead.

I’d only ever held one real job through high school, which was at a movie theatre. Dissatisfaction with the job, and more notably the management, made me leave after about six months. When I needed to start making money after leaving college, having nothing of note on my resume at the time, I started out at a temp agency doing office work. It sufficed while I still didn’t know what to do with my life and I was good at it.

With a very lenient parent, I didn’t need a constant source of income, so I took jobs when they were available, which never lasted longer than two weeks, save one. I got in on a regular, twice monthly borderline light industrial position at a state agency operating a mail inserting machine for mass mailing. I got the evening shift, 4:00 p.m. to midnight, and I ended up enjoying the job quite a bit. I liked my coworkers and I enjoyed the work. The irregularity meant it wasn’t enough to live off, but it lasted for two years and I was glad to go back each time.

Of course, I was maintaining a long-distance relationship at that time, and the job had to end when I moved to Canada to get married. Once I was able to work here, with still little to show for myself on my resume, I started out the same way, at a temp agency.

Eventually, this got me in the door at the company where my husband works, which we had been trying to get me into for some time already, and I even ended up in the same office as him. After six months as a temp, I was hired on permanently.

Of course, no sooner was I beginning to feel unfulfilled with this position than I was laid off.

My experience there got me in another temp-to-perm job at a similar company in the same position. Once again, after a year there and just as I began to question whether this was what I wanted to be doing with my life, I was laid off. However, while I was there, I self-published my first book, Aurius, doing the cover art myself and using my experience in these two jobs with document formatting to take care of all aspects of the book creation myself.

And that’s when it hit me. I enjoyed doing that.

I enjoyed every step of the process. The editing, the interior layout, the cover creation, and of course holding my own book in my hands. And I realized, I could do this for other people.

I’ve read a lot of really good amateur/indie fiction posted online to websites like Fictionpress and Elfwood, and I know there are a lot – a lot – of manuscripts out there that have never left people’s drawers or hard drives. And I know that not everyone has the knowledge, or the interest, to turn a manuscript into a book. And the thought of doing this for others gave me great joy. It was a light bulb moment.

So Brain Lag became not only the name I published my books and my husband’s under, but the name of my burgeoning small press business. I still have a lot to learn, and I still have moments of feeling like a very small fish in a very big ocean. But I’m willing to stick it out and do what I can to get this business off the ground and publish books for other authors.

Because I found my calling. This is what I want to do with my life.

Have you found the career that you’re passionate about? How long did it take you to find out what you wanted to be when you grew up?

Why an author’s schedule is not his own January 31, 2011

Posted by thejinx in enduring chaos, writing.
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I seem to have committed myself to a lot more writing than I had initially planned.

I have been working on rewriting Ghost’s Reflection, now one of my oldest fantasy novels and my project for last NaNoWriMo.  Most of what I wrote last November has been scrapped, as further development in December and later has resulted in fairly significant changes to the story.

I have always known that this story spans more than one novel, as a portion of the conflict is left unresolved at the end.  Up until now, I’ve simply left that as is, as something to deal with later.  I was content with writing this story and looking forward to moving on to a different project afterward.

However, due to further discussion with my collaborator this weekend, that open ending has been sketched out into a full trilogy.  Not that I’m disappointed about that; what struck me about this development was that if I plan to publish this first book anytime in the near future, I’m going to have to continue writing the second and third books right afterward.  Otherwise, readers will lose interest with the series or believe that it will never be finished.

The idea of writing for others is one I’m still getting used to.  I first felt the pressure of a published author when I realized some months ago that if I was to sell at the 2011 Gen Con’s Author’s Avenue, I would need a new book to offer patrons.  Fortunately, that pressure has been lifted due to the fact that I should have a different book available for sale by that point, and that I won’t be going to Gen Con this year.

The pressure remains, though.  If one plans to write and release more than one book, and continue selling books, one must continue putting out new books at a regular pace.  There is an awful lot of competition for fantasy/science fiction novels out there and a reader’s interest must be maintained.

Of course, if my goal is to be a professional author, and publisher, then I need to learn how to write new books and find those by others to release consistently.  It’s part of the job and a part I must embrace if I am truly serious about pursuing my passion.

Finding that my writing schedule is no longer my own is a concept I’ll have to get used to, though.

Aurius now on sale! August 10, 2010

Posted by thejinx in aurius, writing.
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Aurius, an original young adult fantasy novel by Catherine Fitzsimmons, is now on sale through my website.  Click over to order your copy today!  For those of you interested in ebook versions, sale information will be made available later this week.

I’ve also updated the novels section here with more material on Aurius, including reviews and sample chapters, so be sure to head over there for more information about the book.

Presenting: Brain Lag publishing June 12, 2010

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It has been in the works for a while, and now, it is official: Brain Lag is a publisher.  Our first book, Aurius, a story of destiny, reality, self-acceptance, and home (see the novels section for more information) will be released this summer and debuting at Gen Con in Indianapolis, IN on August 5.  Cover art and interior layout have been completed and we are currently in negotiations with printers, searching for the one that will best suit our needs.

As a result of this shift in production, I’ve updated some things around this blog and will be implementing some further changes.  My book reviews will no longer appear here; if you’re still interested in them, visit my LiveJournal.  I am also going to make a serious effort to updated here more often.  I will share the cover artwork for Aurius soon.

So, stay tuned.  Exciting things are happening with BL.

Writing update February 6, 2009

Posted by thejinx in aurius, enduring chaos, halcyon, writing.
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More responses to submissions today than I’ve ever received before!

Both of them rejections.

The second publisher to which I submitted Aurius for publication does not think it can sell the story.  Not quite as polite as my first rejection letter – it may have been a form letter that’s been in the files for decades, but there’s something satisfying about the line, “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to read your work” – but honestly, I wasn’t expecting a response at all from this publisher.  According to the estimates on their website, I should have received a response last August.

But, that means that it’s off of other people’s desks and I can focus my attention on a publisher whose submission requirements suit Aurius better.  And, it gives me closure that can spur me into crafting a better pitch for it.  I’ll admit it; Aurius works better as a complete novel.  The opening chapter or so isn’t the strongest way to sell it.  The fact that the publisher to which I’m looking now accepts only complete manuscripts is encouraging.

At the moment, Halcyon is complete.  It needs a few more read-throughs, with some time to sit in between, and perhaps some feedback from other readers, before I can truly call it complete.  But, my edits were driven by and focused on the Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award, the submissions process of which is currently open.

I entered Halcyon into the contest Monday, just as it is.  I’ve spent some time pondering over various aspects of the contest entry through the week and have altered it as such, but now, I’m letting it go.  It is entered; it shall stay that way.  Wish me luck.

Last year, I believe I took something of a break from writing after I completed Aurius.  I took the time to go through those extra read-throughs and time to stew, as I didn’t have a contest to enter at the time, and when I deemed the story fully complete, I basked in the satisfaction of completion briefly.

Since I’ve been focusing on Halcyon non-stop since I began writing it in November, however, I didn’t have any breaks as precedent to take time off from writing, and to not be writing simply didn’t feel right.  So, due primarily to recent inspiration and brainstorming, I immediately delved back into The Fire Within.  This is the revise/rewrite of my first truly completed novel – which was only two years ago – which I had begun last spring, but eventually set aside as fundamental story issues remained unresolved and inspiration flowed in for Eyes of a Dragon, my first attempted novel.  I’m still much farther along in Eyes than TFW, and though I am mildly disappointed that I’m not working on the former, I’m enjoying getting back into the latter.

It’s going pretty well so far, considering I only got up to the fourth chapter before I decided my revisions could be improved upon.  The entire chapter has been rewritten this week, taking only parts of one scene from the previous incarnation, and I am working my way back up to chapter five, which shall now be chapter six.

I was concerned with the length of the story when I was writing it initially, but its 115,000 words or so don’t come close to the roughly 200,000 words of some of my favourite novels – possibly more, Mistborn was a hefty read and its sequel is even longer – so, this time, I’m going to allow the story as much time as it needs to get where it’s going.  And I’m going to enjoy the ride along the way.

In any case, I don’t think traditional publication is an avenue I can necessarily explore for TFW, as for all practical purposes, it has already been published.  This whole “professional publication” idea is a relatively new one for me.  But no matter.  I’m not doing this for money, and my only desire is for my work to be read.  I had to start an account with CreateSpace for ABNA, anyway; perhaps when I’m done with the novel I’ll make use of it.

For now, I have a lot of writing to do to get to that point.

Response August 21, 2008

Posted by thejinx in aurius, writing.
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I got my first response yesterday from a publisher to which I submitted Aurius:

Form letter rejection.

I’m neither surprised nor disappointed by this fact. I was never expecting to be accepted on the first try. However, I am surprised that the response is from the second publisher I submitted to, whom I wasn’t expecting to hear from until December. I wonder, perhaps, if this is a good sign for the first publisher, from whom I was expecting a response within a week or so.

Things have been busy recently and Mario Kart Wii continues to be a very powerful distraction. I did, however, finally realize that Eyes of a Dragon wasn’t going to resolve itself while I sat around being distracted and at least began the next scene at work today. I’ll have a little bit of cleaning up to do later on, but for now, I just need to get it out.

Also, for anyone going to Fan Expo in Toronto this weekend, I don’t have a table or anything, but if you see someone at the Classic Battletech table – or wandering the dealer’s hall – wearing normal clothes with black cat ears, say hi and I’ll draw you something for free.

Writing and the steps beyond July 19, 2008

Posted by thejinx in eyes of a dragon, writing.
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I was a lazy sot yesterday and didn’t end up writing anything for Eyes of a Dragon, but I am now officially as far along in the story as I have ever been.  Not that I’ve been using much of previous drafts – I’d wager a conservative guess of maybe two full pages from the last attempt – but from here on out, there’s no precedent.  I’m really looking forward to writing out the scenes I’ve had scripted out in my head for years and have never made it so far.

I checked out the next-latest – 2007 edition, I didn’t realize until I got home with it – edition of the Writer’s Market from the library last night.  Just spent a few minutes flipping through the fantasy listings.  I may have made an oops regarding my first two submissions so far, but I’m not too concerned about it.  Aside from not addressing my proposals to a name – which I apparently needed the Writer’s Market to obtain or else phone the companies – I think my query letters were pretty strong.  I did a good deal of research before I wrote it up and the Writer’s Market didn’t offer any suggestions I didn’t already know in that regard.

I’m a little discouraged by the number of fantasy publishers that said ‘agented submissions only,’ but it’s not a big deal.  Ultimately, the reasons I have chosen to represent myself to publishers are that I would prefer to have complete control over the discussion of rights and such and that it seemed to me the process for acquiring an agent was essentially the same as sending out proposals for publication.  So, I figured if I’m going to have to write up the query letters and send out a bunch of paper copies and SASEs, I might as well do it with the part that counts.  I’ve done my research and I’m going to be a little arrogant and say that I think I wrote a pretty good query letter.  I’m expecting rejection before acceptance and I’m okay with that.

I need to take some more notes on publishers and start up a spreadsheet regarding the proposals I have sent out already.  It makes sense, as suggested in the 2007 Writer’s Market, that organization is an important aspect of this business.

Should be getting a response from the e-mailed submission within a month or so.

No time to breathe June 11, 2008

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Sorry, I still haven’t finished a new picture for last week yet.  Summers always seem to get busy, and with working forty hours a week this summer as well, there just hasn’t been a lot of time left to work on art.

I did, however, send off my second proposal for Aurius today.  Thanks to my dad for sending me stamps.  Wish me luck.  I need to decide now if I should look into other publishers, or wait for at least a response to the e-mail submission before looking into another one.

Hopefully will update soon with some new art.  I haven’t even been thinking about the catgirl calendar this week…