Tuesday, August 18, 2020

My Story Anna Published in German. Louis Shalako.

Anna. The perfect woman.

Louis Shalako

My science fiction story Anna has been published in German translation. The print edition of Nova 29 can be found on Amazon.

In addition to English, I have been published in seven other languages, including Estonian, Dutch, Greek, Catalan and Galician, (two mainstream Spanish dialects), and in Portuguese.

For the most part, the only pay is a couple of copies, (and sometimes not even that), but the Greek version of the same story paid one hundred and forty euros. With a twenty percent tax withholding, not really worth filing a Greek tax return in order to get that back, but I am the only guy I know who has paid taxes in Greece…I’ve paid some in the U.S. as well, which is why you want to get an ITIN with the revenue folks. U.S. tax withholding is thirty percent. If you’re selling any books or stories at all, and you don’t actually live there, why pay tax when you don't have to?

When I first started submitting to foreign markets, it involved breaking one or two unwritten rules. I was just some guy, trying to write the craziest possible stories, and submitting them to the greatest number of markets. Essentially, a newcomer in a field that is already crowded enough, and if you really want to succeed, you’re going up against long-term professionals. 

Their basic rule is to sell the story in English first. Their concern is to hang onto 'first-rights' in English, but I couldn't sell a story in English to save my life. To go straight to the foreign markets was unconventional, to say the least. And those guys, the foreign editors know the rules too. In that sense, I kind of got lucky. They might have thought I was more successful in English than I really was.

At that point, you don’t want to worry too much about what the real pros think of you.

(It’s probably not so good, so why torment yourself.)

In the fiction market, I had never been published in a professional or even semi-professional magazine. I had six manuscripts for full-length books, and I had submitted them around. Yes, I had worked for a newspaper and written for some small industrial magazines. A few months, less than one year, of actual employment did not seem to account for much. It didn’t buy any respect, I can assure the reader of that. If nothing else, I figured I could write on some level of basic proficiency.

Back then, this involved printing out chapters, writing letters and sticking an inordinate number of stamps on large buff envelopes. Even then, I probably had a few rejection slips. 

Okay, so Aurora Award winning writer Douglas Smith was at Genrecon, in 2009, along with some other successful authors.

He talked about earning money from writing short fiction. I wanted to write books, and so I had never really considered short fiction. I cornered him—literally, in the men’s room, and he was kind enough to tell me a little bit more about it before we went back into the authors panel discussion.

Okay, so how do I do it?

There are market lists. The first time I tried to market my book projects, I went to the library, and the book in question could not be loaned out—it had to stay in the building, (under the watchful eye of resource librarian Jeffery Alan Beeler, who recently retired), and so, I laboriously copied out publishers and addresses and whatever was available in terms of submission guidelines.

Nowadays we can get all of that online. We submit via email, using a simple .doc file.

Douglas has a website, the website has a page ‘for writers’, and if you click on that, you will find his Foreign Market List.

Once you’ve gotten over the first few rejections in the general sense, the ones from foreign markets are no different. It’s just one more rejection slip. I currently have eleven hundred plus rejections, and the success rate is what? One or two percent. Three percent at the most.

I have been offered at least four contracts. On examination, they didn’t look all that professional and there were some elements of vanity publishing. A lot of department store mom-and-pop pics and one title per author sort of thing. The more professional authors tend to leave the spouse and the dog and the grand-kids out of their profile pics...

A much more reputable publisher of science fiction and fantasy once asked for a ‘partial’, in other words chapters four to seven of a book. They already had the first three chapters on their desk. That book, The Shape-Shifters, was ultimately rejected. They were also interested in Time Storm for an ebook, and I didn’t even know what an ebook was at that point. That deal never happened for various reasons which aren’t that important some years later.

And that’s about it—not that I haven’t had some fun along the way, and made some money by publishing it all myself, in the end.

So, if it’s not so much about the money, what is the point? For one thing, an editor liked the story well enough to put the work into the translation. For another, when some troll reviewer on Amazon makes a point of mentioning that they didn’t even read the story but it’s full of typos, missing words and plot holes, it’s pretty obviously just bullshit—

And not everyone can say they’ve been published in their own language, let alone a foreign market.

What’s interesting about the story Anna, is that Michael Iwoleit had accepted the story, and then the magazine discontinued accepting foreign submissions. Mike had some health problems and the whole thing seemed dead. Three or four years later, and all of sudden it has come to life again.


Readers can get a free English copy of Anna in ebook form from Smashwords and other fine retailers. Here is the blurb, which I wrote myself. I also do all of my own covers:

Anna changed my life. Anna was the perfect woman for an emotional cripple, and really brought me out of my shell. I'd been on the inside for a long time. Now I'm retired, just some scholarly old gentleman with his young wife. I even ditched the .45 Colt for Anna. So what if she's electronic and I ordered her out of a catalogue. And if you have to ask the price, you can't afford one. A short story.

Here is the link to a recent story about the release of my first audiobook, Speak Softly My Love. An Inspector Gilles Maintenon mystery.

Illustration by Louis.

Thank you for reading.


Sunday, August 2, 2020

A Covid-19 Success Story: Speak Softly My Love, an Audiobook. Louis Shalako.

Louis Shalako

To fall in love is to be young again. To count the cost is to die a little bit inside. In Speak Softly My Love, Inspector Gilles Maintenon goes out for a litre of milk and stumbles across a dead man. The trouble is, when the dead get up and walk away. They have one too many missing-person reports, too many wives, girlfriends and other mysterious blondes.

Louis Shalako has released his first audiobook, Speak Softly My Love, an Inspector Gilles Maintenon murder mystery. Read by Mike Manz, it’s available through Audible, Amazon and iTunes.

“Mike was looking to build his portfolio as a voice actor. I had published it five or six years ago. There’s nothing to lose. Audiobooks are big right now. You have to get that first one out, to do the work and to learn the lessons.” It’s all uphill from there.

Choosing his first audiobook was a no-brainer.

“I liked the cover with the sultry blonde. With a series, building readership is easier. If they like one, they like them all. The Maintenon stories are set in Paris, in the twenties and thirties. The world is in ferment. Recent history hasn’t been written yet. The writer, and the readers, get to play in that world.” There is a certain dark humour.

“Inspector Maintenon, a WW I veteran and a middle-aged widower, just wants to get the right guy. The price of a mistake is to send an innocent person to the guillotine.” He’s very French, but not a parody.

Louis hopes to produce further titles in the series. He studied Radio, Television and Journalism Arts at Lambton College.

 “I wanted someone to teach me how to write. That was my dream. I’ve put over thirty years into it. You get out of it what you put into it.”

“When I really started, on the internet for the first time, a famous and successful author said, a professional writer can write anything.” The real challenge is our expectations.

“I can write and edit a sixty-thousand word novel in a hundred and fifty to two hundred hours. You just put your head down and do the work. It’s not hard—it just takes some patience.”

“I’ve gotten three-quarters into writing a book, and I still didn’t know how it ended.” It’s actually better to have the gag first, to go back in time, and then write towards that end point.

To take it from text both adds something, and possibly takes something away.

“It is to create a completely different work of art. In terms of the experience, there was a book that I wrote six years ago. I hadn’t read it since, and then it was being read back to me by a talented voice actor.” All you can is to sit there and just listen.

“When it’s published, you sit there and wait to see if anyone will buy it.”

Louis has given away 150,000 ebooks in ten years just by setting the price at zero. All ebook titles are currently free for the duration, on Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and other platforms.

“It’s not really about money. It’s not about me. It’s about love. I know it sounds mad. But. You want people to enjoy your book.”

With Mike Manz living in Hangzhou, China, under lockdown and having lost a teaching job, there were some obvious challenges. Paying jobs had to come first, ahead of the more chancy royalty-sharing agreement.

“The point is, Mike got it done, which shows character. I am very happy with the results.”

The audiobook is available from Audible, Amazon and on iTunes.

It's also free to listen to with an Audible trial membership.


Check out Louis' drawings on Fine Art America.

Thank you for reading, and listening.

Monday, February 10, 2020

From the Mundane to the Sublime. Exercise, and Dreams. Louis Shalako.

Louis Shalako

In a video, the young lady does the piriformis stretches for thirty seconds. Or something like that.

I do two or three for four seconds. Another one or two for six or seven seconds, and one, holding it for ten seconds. I do that for each side. When I pull the first one on the left side, as often as not something goes 'clunk' in the lower back. Also noted that rolling to the right to get up off the floor caused a bit of pain as well. 

(Solution: get up to the left side.)

This is why, as a sixty year-old man with back injuries, I design my own routine. Some thirty-five year-old trainer, bristling with energy, would probably set the bar too high and I would inevitably injure myself. I might go for a walk. I did get on a bike, and over a year or two built up so I could do fifteen or twenty k without too much pain. I am never going to run, ladies and gentlemen. The impact on joints and vertebra is simply too great for someone way out of shape.

If I had an actual bar-bell, I would stick with forty pounds. Oh, if you get stronger, simply add reps—not weight. Some asshole bench-pressing five hundred pounds is not a good model for what I am attempting to achieve. I don't expect to be Mr. Universe. How about Mr. Reduced Level of Pain??? That sounds good to me.


Louis Shalako We're about two months in, and really only just starting to feel the results. As for losing weight, or changing my appearance in the mirror, that is a much longer-term project.


My dream from a few nights ago was nuts. Just nuts. I was in one of those maze-like cities that just don't make any sense. I was popping wheelies and cat-walking through intersections on a road racing bike. I was wearing cycle shorts, and them odd-ball shoes...a jersey (which I couldn't read upside down), and a helmet. Everyone was dressed for Carnival...kind of a mix of Venetian masks, and Cats, and Birds of Prey. People are covered in glitter and make-up and having one hell of a good time.

Not impressed, I'm looking around with a kind of amused contempt.

At some point I'm lining up behind some other guys in cycle garb. The guy ahead of me is waving a business card at some baldy-headed guy in a back office. Disappointed, he turns away. I'm towering above them all, chest rippling with muscles, (which is one way of knowing that this is indeed a dream). I wish I had that kind of confidence in real life, but the guy takes one look and says 'You'll do."

And that's how I made the team, which in this dream world is a full-contact cycling team, and I'm the enforcer. My specialty is body-checking them other bums out of our lead guy's way.


The one girl-cat was clinging on to me something fierce. Kind of cute in a fetal-alcohol-syndrome sort of a way.


The only thing I can really recall about last night’s dream, is that I was in a canoe. It was very dark. Some guy in another canoe was chasing me across a lake, splashing madly away behind me. The shore was blackness, but the sky and the water were lighter. As I got closer, I remember thinking how nice and ‘hard’ the water was. A powerful paddler, the boat was very small. It was like it was on rails, or running in a groove or something…an island standing offshore becomes more distinct, and at that point, there is a bit of a swell. Not even waves, and at that point, the boat slows down, begins to wallow. Whoever is chasing me is catching up, and I’ve got water coming in over the sides.

That’s it. That’s about when I woke up.

They say dreams are our subconscious mind sorting and filing and making sense out of the day’s events. I get the impression my subconscious mind is so fucking bored, it’s just making shit up for its own amusement. Other than that, when you’re driving in a long, skinny car, on a road that’s just a bit too narrow, and you go to make a right turn, and the road goes about five feet and then just plummets…downwards at seventy or eighty degrees, just keep going. 

You don’t want to know where that one ends.


(Note: he's talked about his dreams before. If he can write down enough of them, he will have the world's first completely plot-less novel. - ed.)

Image: Louis

Thank you for reading.