Sunday, June 22, 2008

Merrie Solstice!

As the title says, Merrie Solstice to all. As I was saying a few days ago, it's Christmas dinner tonight, pork and applesauce, the works. It's midwinter, cold and dark (or at least as cold and dark as it ever gets in Australia; all things are relative), and 'Chrissy' in winter sounds like a good idea to me.

Seems to have been a good idea to many other people, loooong in the past. Every culture appears to have a 'magickal childe' who was born at, or near, the solstice of winter (which was a great reason for having a party) -- among them, Horus, and Mithras, and the pagan archetype whose name is lost in the mists of antiquity. Little wonder that when the church began to ovehaul the ancient world in its own image, they set the birthday of their particular messiah at midwinter: most cultures were already accustomed to partying to mark a special date.

(Interestingly, they seem to have fudged the actual date to make it fit ... there were flocks in the fields in Palestine on The Big Night, if you recall. Turns out, after September it was too cold to have your flocks out by night, with or without shepherds to watch them. So it's a safe bet Christmas Eve should actually be September 24, and kids should be ripping the wrappings on the 25th. Which is a lot more information than you needed, I suspect. Intresting, though. Curious, the things you learn when researching for a new book. Much will be revealed in the haunted house novel I'm working up right now.)

A few items of news on the website front:

The ebooks are all transferred to Payloadz now, and be doing the file management. Payloadz is one of those providers who hit you up for the $5 or whatever, then prepare the download page for you. The page stays viable for something like 48 hours, I believe. If you have any problems with the new system, let DreamCraft know , and if all else fails, leave a message on the blog here. Payloadz has been massively recommended to us, but this *is* the first time we've taken it for a spin. We're hoping to avoid teething troubles, but if it does happen, we'll catch it.

The Vampyre novels (NOCTURNE and TWILIGHT) are back in the pipeline. Proof copies are on their was from and should be here by the end of the week ... the big news there is not that we finally fixed the font 'issues,' but that Lulu now has an Australian printshop partner. They're using a Melbourne digital printshop, and the work is very good. I'd give the local product about 95%, if the American print product is 100%, and the differences are, really, trivial. The paper stock is the same off-white color as used in the US shop, but it's lighter (80gsm rather than 90), and the cover stock is slightly different. Colors are just as vivid, but it's a tiny fraction lighter. However, this might be a Very Good Thing, becuse of the way Australian postage rates are calculated.

Is it still the same in the US -- postage is calculated incrementally in 'brackets' of just an ounce, or a few ounces? Down here, Australia Post uses brackets of 500g (more than a pound), and it's so easy for a book to tip over into the next bracket which means, literally, you're paying for a kilo's worth of postage while you actually weigh 503g. Not good news, esp. with postage rates rising all the time. I have an intuition the Aussie digital print shop which has partnered up with only in the last few weeks, is using lighter stock to stay on the lean side of the Australia Post schedules. In which case, 'go team, go.'

Many thanks to all who have supported this effort via's online boostore and our own bookstore on Mel Keegan OnLine ... the new website is still a week or so away from making its debut, and book sales are rising. We're extremely optimistic.

The members' zone has been fully redesigned and recut ... and it's moving. You'll need to 'sign up' afresh -- but the new system is 100% automatic. Click a link, and an autoresponder pings you back an email with a URL to bookmark. Takes seconds. Nothing to remember, no passwords to lose. The new system works much better than the old. The words 'instant gratification' trip off the tongue.

A few things remain to be done before the site goes up, but we're actually ahead of the job, for the first time in living memory. Looking good.

Merrie Yuletide to Aussies, Kiwis and our visitors from South Africa, Singapore and Malaysia ... Happy Summer Solstice to all from 'up over' in the north!

Cheers for now,

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