Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Spring Site Update & New Projects

I'm pleased to announce some major changes to Shaping Clay. Some of these are layout changes (which you can see), and some of them will be content changes going forward. As you can see, there's a new mailing list, an Amazon.com aStore, a quick link to go to my official Facebook page, and some other minor tweaks and updates. I know that the commercial changes (like joining an affiliate advertising program) can be offputting to some people, so I wanted to take some time to explain what's going on.

Joining the Amazon Affiliates Program

Okay, so first things first, I'm required to post this: Michael Scott Monje, Jr. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

The reason I've joined Amazon Associates is simple: I really want to start a literary journal, but they're expensive to get off the ground. They're especially expensive if you intend to pay the writers. I'm currently saving up, out of my book royalties and personal income, with the goal of paying each contributor a minimum of $25 dollars per story. It's not much, but it's what I can afford. All of my Amazon Associates earnings will be added to my savings in the hopes of getting that number up to a not-insulting level.

I'm not going to be writing posts specifically to advertise products, and I'm not going to be taking paid reviews or anything like that, but I will be posting book reviews & informal essays about what I read (like I did with American Gods last week), and I'll be including some affiliate links to those books when I write the posts. 

In addition to that, there's a link above to my aStore, which is like a boutique where I can feature whatever I want. Nothing is Right is in the aStore, as are some books by people I know (including some of my old professors). I'm also adding categories that are basically my favorite movies & music, recommended reading, etc. Think of it like a Facebook profile that allows you to buy those items if you want to check them out. Every time you do, you're helping me to pay for my long-term goal of launching this literary journal.

Right now, the aStore is a little thin (books only), but it will be filling out over the next few weeks.

The New Mailing List

The mailing list sign-up that's been added to the right is not a "subscribe to this blog" list. It's only going to be used for book announcements, announcements of free periods when I'm doing giveaways, and discount coupons. I'm putting it up because I'm working on a sequel to Nothing is Right called Imaginary Friends, and I'd like to have a good way to let people know when it comes out on various platforms. I plan on rewarding list members with discounts and/or early-bird specials on my books from time to time.

I promise that the Shaping Clay mailing list is only operated by me. The identities of list members will be kept confidential, and the list will never be sold to a third party. This is strictly a vehicle for me to get the word out when I've finished projects.

You said there was a journal in the works?

There is. I'm not opening submissions quite yet because I'm working on a few writing projects this summer, but when the fall semester starts up and I get too busy to write novels, I will formally open submissions.

The journal is going to be called the SPOON KNIFE Annual, and I'm looking to feature stories that demonstrate the fault lines where different identities collide. When submissions open, I will be looking for stories that feature the tensions between different aspects of the main characters' identities, such as race and gender or disability and socioeconomic class, or any combination of what are commonly called axes of oppression.

If you're interested in contributing to the SPOON KNIFE Annual, sign up for email updates. I will be announcing the submission guidelines to list members a few weeks ahead of the open period for submissions. Otherwise, expect to see a post here on Shaping Clay in late September or October announcing the launch of SPOON KNIFE Annual's site.

I like the journal idea--wait, did you say "a few" projects?

Yup. That's why my mailing list is so important. I'm going to be serializing a new story called Defiant this summer. So far, I have the introduction and 5 episodes written. The outline I'm working from calls for about 25 episodes in the series, but I'm open to the idea that there could be more than one series in this idea. Think of Defiant as "season one".

Defiant brings us a thirty year old Clay Dillon, his wife, and their attempt to integrate his recent autism diagnosis into their identities. For years, they have been working to build a life together that worked for both of them, but when Noahleen (Clay's wife) developed epilepsy and he had to try to find work outside the home to support them both, they realized that she wasn't the only one living with a disability. Now, they have to figure out what that means for their marriage and their future.

I'll be posting one episode per week in this series, starting on 5/31.

I'm also working on two book projects. Mirror Project is my first venture into science fiction, and I'm almost done with the first draft. I'll tease the content of it more as it gets closer to publication. It's going to be short--25,000 words or so--and that means it's going to be ebook-only. Imaginary Friends is the sequel to Nothing is Right, and it takes place during Clay's second grade year. In it, Clay tries to balance the friendships he forged in Nothing is Right against the higher academic demands of the second grade and his parents' demand that he complete catechism and receive his first Holy Communion in the Catholic church.

The goal will be to have Mirror Project out by the end of the summer or in early fall, and to drop Imaginary Friends in both print and ebook formats in late November, right around the 1-year anniversary of Nothing is Right (which is also about when Defiant will be wrapping up).


So, anyway, that's what I'm doing. How's your spring going? What do you plan to do with your summer? Let me know in the comments.