Other Times and Places is a collection of seven of my short stories, six of which have been previously published in various magazines in Canada, Australia and Greece (one piece is new to this collection).
The blurb on the back says:
I’m pleased that the collection was edited by, and includes a forward by, Dr. Robert Runté, a towering figure in Canadian speculative fiction (maybe all speculative fiction, as far as I’m concerned). Dr. Runté is himself the author of many excellent short stories, as well as the editor of many fine books, including several by best-selling fantasy author Dave Duncan (who once called him “the best editor I’ve ever worked with”), and my previous effort A Time and a Place.
Because I’m a lousy salesman, I like to make it clear to folks that no one is obligated to purchase or read my work. I will still be your friend, your colleague, your brother, your son, your nephew, whatever it is that we are to one another.
I just won’t talk to you anymore.
Kidding! Of course I’ll continue to talk to you if you don’t purchase or read my work (I’ll just pepper our conversation with more expletives than usual).
Should you actually be interested in purchasing a copy of Other Times and Places, you have several options. If you like e-books, you can get this Kindle version.
If you prefer print, right now you have two options. You can order it online here for $7.00 plus shipping (don’t worry, shipping is only about one hundred bucks or so). Or if you know me personally I’ll have copies available which will also go for $7.00 (Canadian).
It’s also available on Amazon.com and hopefully soon from Amazon.ca (for some reason it hasn’t shown up there yet).
As always, anything you can do to help spread the word is appreciated. Add it to your To Read lists on Goodreads, publish reviews, talk about it, blog about it, hire planes to skywrite about it, make television and radio shows about it, hey, I’ll leave that part up to you and your eminently good judgement.
High time I got another book out there. So hey, here’s one: Other Times and Places, an anthology of some of my favourite short stories, all but one of which have been published in Canada, Australia, and Greece over the last twenty years.
It’s a slim collection, comprised of just seven tales. Dr. Robert Runte, who edited the collection, was kind enough to provide a Forward as well.
The cover art is courtesy of my daughter Erin Mahoney and graphic artist Jeff Minkevics. Erin drew the platypus and Jeff took care of the rest. Éric Desmarais crafted the interior design.
Other Times and Places is being published by Donovan Street Press. It will be available shortly in all the usual places online, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and so on.
It’s been a fun little project. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
People often ask me how the writing’s going. I interpret the question pretty broadly. As in, how’s the new writing going? Fairly well, thanks.
And: how’s my first novel doing?
There’s no short answer to that question. At least, no
short accurate answer.
A Time and a Place has been available just over two years now. I usually tell people that I’m not quite in Stephen King territory yet but it’s going reasonably well, and that my excellent publisher tells me that the book has paid for itself, which I hope leaves the impression that it’s achieved some measure of success.
Whether the book truly can be considered successful depends on who you’re asking, I think. I suspect that any big-time publisher might condemn the book as a complete and utter failure. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code sold eighty million copies. Compared to that, A Time and a Place has not exactly taken the world by storm.
The aforementioned big-time publisher might—I say might—concede that the critical reception for A Time and a Place (professional and otherwise) has been reasonably favourable, but they would probably also feel compelled to point out the rather small sample size.
Some novelists, I suspect, might suggest that merely completing and publishing a novel constitutes success because doing so is goddamned hard. While I accept that, most novelists would also admit that that’s not enough. Almost all of us (if we’re being honest with ourselves) would admit that we define real success as massive book sales and wide critical acclaim. On those scores, A Time and a Place can not exactly be considered an unmitigated success.
Still, to be fair (especially to those who helped me with the book), it’s probably performing perfectly fine considering it’s a first novel by an unknown author published by an independent press. I assume all responsibility for any lack of greater success. And I am well aware that the freakish success of an author like Dan Brown is pretty much a complete fluke.
But I’ll let you be the judge. Here are the facts. Let’s start with sales.
of my most recent Royalty statement, for the first quarter of this year, covering
up to March 31st 2019, A Time and a Place has sold a total of 454
those, my publisher sold 333 print editions, 98 e-books, 1 e-library edition,
and 22 audio books.
Of the 333 physical copies my publisher sold, I sold 134
of those myself after purchasing them from my publisher (at a discount). I gave
away 13 books as gifts, another 2 were kinda gifts (I thought the people would
pay but they never did), and 1 copy was stolen after a reading at a library (she
picked it up off the table when I was across the room. I didn’t confront her. I
dunno, maybe she thought it was free). I
have another 18 copies sitting in my basement to have available for readings
and book fairs and so on.
I earn 50% of net on any e-books sold, 10% on print (possibly more if I sell them myself, depending how much I charge), 50% on e-library copies, and 50% on audio books. A Time and a Place has earned me a total of $5989.68 since July 2017 when it first came out. Factor in the cost of purchasing books at a discount from the publisher to resell, all the marketing and promotion I do to supplement what my publisher does, along with treating myself to attending one writer’s convention per year, and I’m not exactly getting rich. Actually, technically I’m in the red, if I’m honest about how much I’ve spent on writing related activities since I began all this.
So yeah, I don’t think I could call A Time and a Place a huge success financially so far.
It’s fared better on the critical front. Reviews have been mostly positive.
On Goodreads, it has been rated 42 times, accompanied by 23 reviews. It currently averages 4.35 out of 5, consisting of twenty-four 5 star reviews, thirteen 4 star reviews, four 3 star reviews, one 2 star review and one 1 star review. It’s been added to 100 bookshelves, including 45 To-Read shelves.
23 of those 45 ratings have been accompanied by reviews. The reviews range from positive: “Mahoney writes with a practised wit,” “I loved this mesmerising audiobook with its non stop action and adventure,” and “A brilliant, often hilarious, thoughtful and amazing read,” to not so positive: “The second half of the book got a bit muddled for me.” “I think that the author was a bit too ambitious,” and “…one of the least likeable protagonists I’ve read in some time.”
On Amazon.ca it has been reviewed four times. All of those have been 5 star reviews.
On Amazon.com it has been reviewed twelve times (one 3 star review, two 4 star reviews, and nine 5 star reviews).
On Amazon.co.uk, it has been reviewed two times (both 5 star reviews)
On Library Thing it has garnered six reviews (two 5 star, two 4 star, one 3 star and one 2 star, averaging 3.57 stars).
There are a few other reviews out there as well, mostly positive, a couple less so, on blogs and Audible. Some are replicated on Goodreads.
Out of the approximately eighty people who have rated the
book, I personally know, am related to, or have met (at least once) around
twenty. The rest are complete strangers to me. Personally knowing or having met
those who have rated the book has been no guarantee of a positive review; three
acquaintances have given A Time and a Place three star reviews.
A Time and a Place has also been reviewed professionally by Publishers Weekly, who gave it a largely positive review when it first came out employing such words as “skillfully,” “entertaining,” and “great” to describe the writing, but the reviewer also discouraged me from getting too fat a head by suggesting that “occasional segments… distract or feel a little overdone.”
The book is currently being carried in seventeen libraries around the world according to WorldCat, in libraries ranging from Austin, Texas to Madison, Wisconsin to Rangiora, New Zealand, and at least three Canadian libraries that I know of, possibly more (despite having only sold one e-library edition; most libraries appear to have purchased print editions).
Does any of this matter? Of course! Otherwise I wouldn’t have written about it. 🙂 Also, I just thought some folks, especially fellow writers just starting out, might find it interesting.
Does it REALLY matter?
Of course not.
But it sure is a great way to procrastinate.
One final thought. Here’s a great Ted Talk from Albert-László Barabási on how to increase your chances of success in any field, writing included.
In which I get my DNA checked with Ancestry DNA with unexpected consequences.
I actually did find out some interesting things about my background, and got in touch with some long lost cousins I had no idea were out there. I was disappointed to discover that I don’t appear to have any Neanderthal DNA.
Generally I don’t react much to reviews. Well, I do write to reviewers from time to time to thank them for taking the time to read A Time and a Place and for writing a review. I will even do this sometimes for less than stellar reviews–hey, everyone’s entitled to their opinion. But I will not engage them or take issue with their reviews, and I’m only commenting on this one from Publishers Weekly, because, well, it amuses me to do so.
And no, in case you’re wondering, I’m not missing an apostrophe when I write “Publishers Weekly.” Apparently they dropped the apostrophe a while back; I don’t know why. Can we take a review seriously from a publication that doesn’t even know how to punctuate its own name properly? Sure we can! Especially if it’s a positive review. 🙂
Now, is drawing attention to a positive review in Publishers Weekly boasting? Of course it is! That is, if bragging about a review of an almost entirely obscure book that’s sold (let’s face it) hardly any copies (compared to say, J.K. Rowling) and written by a completely unknown author can be said to be bragging.
Our anonymous reviewer begins thusly:
“Debut author Mahoney…”
I choose to imagine our reviewer as female. A part of me suspects it’s someone I know. Someone doing me a favour, maybe. A moonlighting friend, say, scoring a few extra bucks writing reviews for Publishers Weekly during her scant precious free time to supplement her meager public broadcasting income. Why else review a debut novel by a completely unknown author? I have no other evidence to support this conjecture. Whoever it is will carry their secret to the grave.
“…this entertaining, chaotic adventure.”
Whoever the reviewer is, I think I love them. They called my book entertaining! And chaotic isn’t bad, is it? Not if the chaos is entertaining! And who doesn’t like adventure? It seems a very positive review so far.
“…temporal loops where effects come before causes…”
She’s actually read the book. No head scratching on the part
of this reviewer. She might even have understood the book better than I did. When
I read that line I had to stop and think about it. Yes, effects do come before
causes in A Time and a Place. Heck, had anything happened to me while writing A
Time and a Place this reviewer could easily have stepped in and finished
writing it for me. She understood what she was reading. She could summarize it afterward
effectively, pithily. I should have had her write the synopsis and query letter
before pitching it to publishers. Could have saved me a lot of time. Maybe got
me a better deal.
“Mahoney skillfully (but unsubtly)…”
My head almost exploded when I read that. Skillfully! A reviewer for Publishers Weekly thinks my writing exhibits skill! It almost makes me want to write this blog post well. The word “skill” gives me joy. I spent years writing A Time and a Place trying to get it right, and not just right but exactly right. Can you say validation, anyone? And from someone who obviously knows how to write well themselves because this is one, well, “skillfully” crafted review. And I’m not just saying that because they think I write “skillfully.” Okay, maybe I am. But still.
Oh, but then there’s that “unsubtly.”
Was that “unsubtly” really necessary? Could we not have just left it at skillfully? Perhaps that was to ensure that I could get my head through doorways in the future. Okay, clearly she’s saying that A Time and a Place wasn’t quite as subtle as it could have been. Noted. I’ll try to do better next time.
“…moments of comedy, tragedy, horror, and philosophical contemplation of time, free will, and personal responsibility.”
That pretty much sums up what I was trying to do. I mean, aside from just trying to get the damned thing written. Here our friendly neighbourhood reviewer conveys the sense that she both understood what I was trying to do and maybe even—dare I say it?—appreciated it.
“Despite occasional segments that distract or feel a little overdone…”
Okay, so it’s not perfect. I accept that. I may have been a tad self-indulgent here and there. Perhaps I should have taken out the line about Ridley’s nose that Arleane (the first editor of A Time and a Place) wanted me to cut. You know the one:
Emotion played over Ridley’s face like ripples on the surface of a pond. A pond from which, I might add, his nose protruded like the dorsal fin of a shark.
Mahoney’s work is great for those who like their speculative fiction thoughtful, eloquent, and messy.”
The final line of the review. The money line, really—the one
I quote when promoting the book. Sporting an Oxford comma, no less. As if we didn’t
already accept this reviewer’s credentials.
What did she mean by “messy?” Something to do with the plot, I imagine. I don’t really know. Who cares?
Not after a review like that.
Here’s the review in its entirety:
A Time and a Place Joe Mahoney. Five Rivers Chapmanry, $38.99 trade paper (412p) ISBN 978-1-988274-25-6
Debut author Mahoney sends a mild-mannered fellow on an interdimensional journey in this entertaining, chaotic adventure. Barnabus Wildebear needs to know why his teen nephew and ward, Ridley, is acting so strangely. Unfortunately the cause is an ominous entity, possibly a demon, named Iugurtha. She whisks Ridley away to dimensions unknown while implanting mysterious information in Barnabus’s mind that allows him to (sort of) control portals to other dimensions and times. The odyssey that follows bounces him to other planets, the minds of other people and creatures, temporal loops where effects come before causes, and a war against a merciless enemy seeking to steal the knowledge in his head. He’s accompanied by an increasingly vocal artificial intelligence named Sebastian. Mahoney skillfully (but unsubtly) uses Barnabus’s multilayered adventures to yank readers into moments of comedy, tragedy, horror, and philosophical contemplation of time, free will, and personal responsibility. Despite occasional segments that distract or feel a little overdone, Mahoney’s work is great for those who like their speculative fiction thoughtful, eloquent, and messy. (Oct.)