Another Round At The Crow Bar #45 September 2020


Hello friends and fans!

Welcome to my 45th newsletter – September 2020!

On A Personal Note

August was a blurry month – it really doesn’t feel like September, it feels more like March the 342nd! Know what I mean? Anyway, between work and everything else I have going on the side, the last six months or so have literally disappeared! For most people, this year has been a complete loss, for me I’ve at least published 7 new titles. Not to brag, but this brings my tally up to 30 books!

On the home front, my workshop is where I indulge my creative side in wood and metal work. Some years ago however, I got sick and tired of sharing my workspace with the rest of the garage! When it rained, it meant I couldn’t run my vintage bug outside, and the small space available meant I wouldn’t be able to work in there that day! About two years ago, I built a greenhouse against the side of the house across the alleyway between the house wall and the boundary wall, bordering on the back garden, which in the end my love convinced me to use as a workshop space instead! For the past two years, this has been where I worked on various projects, regardless of the weather. The only problem with that was again, space. While I had more permanently accessible space to keep my tools and to work, quite a lot of my tools were actually kept in shelving under the work benches. I needed more space – or to be more specific, a broader room to work in.

So, finally, last week I finally gave up on the bar area. It was where we entertained friends and it consisted of an actual bar room with an adjoining dining area with casual benches and a table for when we had barbeques etc. It’s been a considerable amount of time since we’ve entertained anyone who drinks, and neither of us actually drinks much more than a brandy now and then – scarcely enough to warrant wasting the useful premium real-estate on a bar! It would be far better to just dedicate a cupboard inside the house to housing the drinks, glasses and accoutrements – and all my collectibles, antique cameras and telephones etc. on the walls could be redistributed around the rest of the house.

That said, Wendy could have her greenhouse back – and so last week I relocated my workshop to the larger space where I have more room to work on projects and store and organize my tools and materials! For the first time, I feel I actually have the right space to indulge my creativity! The adjoining stoop will still be reserved for chats, game nights and barbeques – should they ever arise again.

Aside from that little personal ramble ,I also have some very good writing-related news to share with you this time – another two of my books have come out as audiobooks, and I’ve also published a new novelette called “Lifetime”! Moon Books also released an anthology I was the Editor for, so it’s really been a productive year for me so far!

Art

I also indulge in painting from time to time – and no, I don’t mean walls! The following paintings are in my portfolio:

You can read more about my art projects on the Art page.

What do you think of them? Feel free to let me know!

Music

Yes – I also make music from time to time!

A selection of music tracks I made using eJay and other similar apps between 1999 – 2008 are available on my YouTube channel.

You can read more on the Music page on my website!

Activism

For those of you interested in my activism-related posts and activities, you can follow them at “Sour Grapes: The Fruit Of Ignorance“.

Current Writing Projects 

On a suggestion of Brandon Mullins from Moon Books, I agreed to a combined edition of “Duck Blind” and “The Next Room”, to replace the two novellas published in February this year. The new book is novel length at over 46000 words, and I also wrote a short foreword and an introductory portion to precede the first part of the story.

As I mentioned several times previously, I have still a lot of work to do! I have a number of part-way completed stories awaiting my loving attention! Unfortunately, life and work have a nasty habit of getting in the way!

Also, thanks to Lulu.com’s spite in throwing their entire publishing platform into a mincer and expecting users to just shut up and like it, I have left the platform entirely – but aside from the immense amount of work that precipitated on my side with having to relocate all my books from there to other platforms, it also means I’ll have to rebuild one of my books entirely from the ground up! “The Pitfalls of South African Self-Publishing” is now out of print thanks to Lulu. Why? Because the second half of the book details the ease of self-publishing using Lulu’s old platform – the one they entirely scrapped and replaced with a vague, useless monstrosity – and gives a step-by-step example with screenshots, and is practically a love-letter to Lulu! I will now have to redraft that entire portion of the book, thanks to them!

In the past week or so I’ve been working on an editing project for Moon Books, and you can read more about that in the next section.

Editing

I completed editing an anthology for Moon Books in mid-August entitled “Moon Books Horror Anthology V”. This book contains 7 short stories filled with pure dread – and it was released on 20 August. It’s already available in eBook and paperback.

Currently I’m close to finishing the edit of a sci-fi tale for Moon Books. “Avenging Aranis” is by UK writer Steve McElhenny, and it’s the first part of a trilogy!

Marketing – The Dreaded “M” Word! 

Portfolio 2020!

I thought it would be nice if I could produce a neat, organized catalog of all my books that interested parties could download and browse – a free, distributable and shareable catalog, and so I created “Portfolio 2020!” – a listing of all my currently available titles!

Portfolio is more than that though, because it also contains a biography as well as synopses for most of my titles – and I have a plan to update it regularly, perhaps on an annual basis! Portfolio 2020 is available as a free download from my website.

Videos

In August, Nigel Peever made this amazing audiobook trailer video for the newly released “Demonspawn” – have a look, isn’t it beautiful?

Sales

Let’s start with the good news! Audiobook sales over July were truly amazing – with a massive (by my previous standards) 42 copies of “Blachart” sold from Audible during that month! This frenetic surge in sales didn’t last very long, just to the end of July, with just 3 sales of that book in August. I realize a slowdown is inevitable as a new title stops being new. In fact, August proved to be rather dull in comparison, with just 3 sales of “Blachart“, and 3 sales of a new audiobook title, “When Darkness Calls“. This of course led me to formulate a new personal theory regarding sales, popularity and choice of narrator when publishing an audiobook – one I will probably explore later in the second edition of “The Pitfalls of South African Self-publishing”, which I am working on as time allows.

But I digress! Ebooks sales on Ebooks2go have picked up a bit over August since I transferred my titles there at the start of the month, culminating in three whole sales (sarcasm definitely intended). To give you an idea how writers get ripped off by some distribution channels, just check out the screenshot below:

The three top-most entries show three eBook sales via Hoopla – and each of those titles sold for $2.99. What do I get out of it? 14 US cents out of $2.99 per sale! It’s positively downright bloody criminal! For comparison, the one beneath that – a sale via B&N at least gave me $1.64 out of $2.99 – but only one of those from July. No wonder so many writers give up!

Over-all though, I’ve got the idea that sales have been dwindling globally and not just for me, so I’m by no means feeling picked on. I realize that with economies teetering on the brink of disaster – and so many of my contacts on Facebook posting the sad news that they will be homeless and sleeping in their cars or on the streets within days – how very, very lucky I am. I may not be raking it in as an author – but at least I have a secure job, for which I’m very thankful indeed!

Publishing

These are the books I’ve released so far this year!

Between January and September 2020 I released eight new titles! Of these, two – “Duck Blind” and “The Next Room” have been replaced by one combined title, “Mirror, Mirror” which includes both of them. Of course, this reduces my count back to 30 again – but when you already have 30 or so books to your name, what’s one here or there?

New Releases:

“Lifetime”

On August 07 Moon Books Publishing released a novella of mine called “Lifetime“, bringing my title-count up to 30! Here’s a look at the back cover blurb for the book:

“An entrepreneurial couple, happily married, run their deep-space prospecting company together. They are unexpectedly separated when the ship one of them is aboard is lost during a prospecting voyage. The other spares no effort in an attempt to find her, and immediately sets out on another ship to find her. Meanwhile on a remote planet, surrounded by wreckage and the bodies of her crewmates, she has survived and treated her injuries, and fights to stay alive while she awaits rescue…”

Buy now: eBook Paperback Audiobook (coming soon)

“Lifetime” is available in ebook and paperback and will be coming out in audiobook format soon, narrated by Miciah Dodge.

“Mirror, Mirror”

This was shortly thereafter followed by another new title “Mirror, Mirror”, on August 11, which repackages “Duck Blind” and “The Next Room” into one single novel-length book. “Duck Blind” and “The Next Room” are also now out of print – being henceforth exclusively available in “Mirror, Mirror”.

Buy now: eBook Paperback Audiobook (coming soon)

Here’s a look at the description:

“Things aren’t always as they seem. Neither was Charlie Branson – or Andy Niksn.

Outwardly, Charlie appeared to be the successful, respected, somewhat over-paid Captain of a commercial space liner.

In truth, it was 2025 – space liners did not yet exist, and the space liner Freedom was really just a very expensive set – a fancy simulator for wealthy clients the company took on simulated cruises into deep space to forget the real world for a while, to get away from it all – and they loved them for it!

In an atmosphere where people were locked away from reality for weeks at a time, and cos-playing and roleplaying redefined ‘normal’, telling fact and fantasy apart became more complicated than expected. For those who preferred the pleasant escape from the harsh realities of life outside, like Charlie, wishing it could all just be real became something almost like a prayer.

Andy Niksn, by contrast, was the very successful respected and somewhat over-paid Captain of an actual commercial space liner in the year 2773. Trouble was, Andy felt trapped! He was in a relationship – a dead-end partnership that had no future and promised both even less happiness. On top of that, his friend Jim had died recently, leaving Andy in the darkest place he’d ever been – and he didn’t mean space!

Andy wished he could just wake up to a different reality where everything could make sense again! For Andy, this too became something almost like a prayer!

As it turned out, someone heard them.

The answer wasn’t quite what they expected.”

Audiobooks

On August 7th I received the completed audiobook of book 2 in the Galaxii series, “Demonspawn“, narrated (and dramatized) by Nigel Peever! The audiobook was finally released on August 31, and it was worth every minute I waited for it!

Nigel has also committed to narrating book 3 in Galaxii, after the five or so other books he has waiting in the queue, so he should only get round to that one somewhere around January ’21. In the meantime, that gives me time to work on Galaxii book 4! 😉

On August 20, “When Darkness Calls“, narrated by Miciah Dodge, was released via Audible! You can read more about it here.

Coming Soon

In the meantime, here’s a look at the covers for hot new audiobooks currently in the pipeline:

Stay tuned for updates!

Reviews

You can see all my previous reviews here.

Currently Available Titles

I now have 30 unique titles available in 4 series (not including books I’ve been the editor for, and my 16 free promotional items)! My books are available in three different formats: EBooks, Paperbacks and Audiobooks. Click the links or images below to view titles available in these formats.

Communication

Below are links to a few of my most recent posts and articles since my last newsletter:

If you want to see more articles, just click on the category links below:

Interactions

  • Fan Mail, Reader Reviews & Honorable Mentions

I found the following awesome items to show you this month!

  1. Great Book July 20, 2020 review on Audible for “Blachart” (audiobook):
  2. Excellent story! “This is a very well written Sci-Fi tale that is told by an awesome narrator. I can’t wait to hear book 2!” – D. Sturgeon, Aug 13, 2020 on Audible for “Blachart” (audiobook).
  3. Epic!!! “Another great tale told by narrator Nigel Peever. I look forward to the continuing Adventures of Blachart and Michael.” – Justin Bradley, Aug 16, 2020 on Audible for “Blachart” (audiobook).

  4. Great Narrator “The story is pretty creepy, it takes place in South Africa. I’ve never heard haunting stories from this area. It’s a fun little story if you’re doing a drive on a dark night. The narration sounded excellent, and the protagonist in the story wasn’t taking no crap from the evil dead!” – Jeff Spencer, Aug 21, 2020 on Audible for “When Darkness Calls” (audiobook).

I display my Fan Mail, Reviews & Compliments with pride, gratitude and humility. You’re always welcome to have a look.

  • Hate Mail & Horrible Mentions

  1. I’m rather proud of my hate mail, and you can review my collection here – but be forewarned, don’t do it while eating or drinking, or you might choke while laughing!

    Interviews

All my interviews are linked to from this page. If you would like to do an interview with me about my work, please do get in touch!

In Closing

Well, that’s all for this time, folks! 🙂

Thanks again for all your support, friendship and interaction!

Feel free to email or message me via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn if you have any comments or questions!

Until next time, keep reading!

Cheers! 🙂


Catch me on social media!


If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.

If you’d like to send Christina Engela a question about her life as a writer or transactivist, please send an email to christinaengela@gmail.com or use the Contact form.

Show your appreciation for Christina’s work!

All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2020.

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