Posted on Leave a comment

The second printing of Emily Jayne and the Kairos Codex is happening now, and it is accompanied by a few changes!

Yesterday afternoon, we put the last copy of the first printing (100 books) of Emily Jayne and the Kairos Codex (EMJKC) in the mail to a customer in Kanata, ON. Congratulations to the author, our independent bookstore partners and the Seven Stars Over team for this initial milestone. And a huge thank you to our customers (including friends and family) for your interest in this novel!

We have made some changes to the body of EMJKC for the second printing. First, the author corrected a small number of typographical errors pointed out by the readers. Second, the author changed the gender-neutral and gender-inclusive pronouns used for Emily Jayne’s Kabdhilinan friends and her Thuban enemies. For the first printing of this novel, the author used the set of neopronouns that include xe, xem and xyr. For this second printing, he opted to use the more common gender neutral pronouns that include they, them and theirs. The neopronouns may be the way of the future, but they didn’t feel right at this time for the group of people that the author consulted with.

The third change is with the company we are using to print and bind the books for us. First Choice Books and Victoria Bindery did a great job with the first printing, but in the spirit of science and experimenting with multiple companies, we chose IngramSpark and their print-on-demand company Lightning Source for this second printing. There are a number of Lightning Source locations, and for authors in Canada, they print their books in Canada (Etobicoke, ON). An advantage with IngramSpark is that their titles are automatically made available to tens of thousands of bookstores and libraries, and to Bookshop.org affiliates, this has the potential to be a significant component of the book distribution process. For those people interested in using IngramSpark for print on demand and distribution may be interested in the article “IngramSpark Review & Guide: A Close Look at IngramSpark vs KDP“.

We reviewed the paperback version of EMJKC from IngramSpark/Lightning Source. They look great, and starting today, it is this version we will be selling on the Seven Stars Over Publishing Ltd. website.

Posted on Leave a comment

Testing equipment for the EMJKC audiobook

We had a lot of fun yesterday with one of our readers, Alfred, testing equipment, rooms and techniques for recording the audiobook for Emily Jayne and the Kairos Codex (EMJKC). We tried three options for the microphone: (a) the Blue Snowball USB (digital) condenser microphone, (b) the Audio-Technica AT2020 cardioid condenser (analog) microphone, and (c) the internal microphone for the MacBook Air. This allowed us to compare digital and analog microphones, which is a very interesting subject. The Blue Snowball mic was very easy to use, as it is a plug-and-play model (attach the stand and connect to the USB port of the MacBook Air) and has no external buttons or other hardware widgets. The AT2020 microphone was a little more work, because it is an analog microphone, and required conversion to digital before input to the MacBook Air. The AT2020 was connected to an ultra-compact and ultra-low-noise Mackie 4-channel analog mixer using an XLR cable. The output from the mixer was directed to a Behringer UCA202 ultra-low-latency analog-to-digital converter using RCA cables, and the UCA202 output went directly into the USB port of the MacBook Air.

The Audacity open-source software (version 2) was used on the MacBook Air to record the sound. We have used this software many times over the past six-to-eight years, and it performs very well. The only point to watch out for is that it requires (or works best if) the microphone is connected to the USB port prior to starting Audacity on the MacBook Air.

From our initial testing, the Blue Snowball microphone is our top choice, based on its very good sound and ease of use. The AT2020 microphone comes in as a close second. It also has great sound, but introduces the potential for error through the additional connections, cables and required settings on the analog mixer. The MacBook Air’s internal microphone was easy to use and produced a solid sound, though it was not as deep and rich as with the two dedicated microphones.

The Mackie mixer connected to the AT2020 microphone and the Behringer analog-to-digital converter, and the MacBook Air computer running Audacity 2.
Setup showing the AT2020 microphone on the stand, and the computer, mixer and converter on the table. The other microphone seen in the background of this photo is a Shure SM-58S analog dynamic microphone. It wasn’t used in this specific comparison.
Screen capture showing the Audacity software which was running on the MacBook Air computer.
The Blue Snowball USB condenser microphone.
Solo after a long day in the studio!
Posted on 1 Comment

Ottawa Book Launch

We held the Ottawa book launch for Emily Jayne and the Kairos Codex at the Seven Stars Over Publishing Ltd. office on Saturday March 18, 2023. It was a well attended and lively event. There was a toast to the author, J.A. Secker, by his spouse, Julie Lefebvre, and he talked for several minutes about the inspiration for this novel, his writing process and the valuable feedback he received from the members of his writers group, his family and his friends. On the inspiration for this novel, J.A. Secker mentioned several factors, one of which was a request from his daughter.

“It was 2012. I’d been writing a vampire horror novel, but my youngest daughter wasn’t interested in vampires, or in the new origin story I set in Mexico. She was nine, and she asked if I would write a story that she’d like to read. This middle-grade speculative science fiction novel, completed and published 13 years later, is the result of her request.”

J.A. Secker and Seven Stars Over would like to thank their guests at the Ottawa book launch for participating in this special event, for their cards and gifts, and for their interest in this debut novel. At the request of the author, we have included the Acknowledgements section from his novel below the photos.

Author J.A. Secker with members of the Ottawa based writers group to which he belongs. From left to right, Matt Egner, Jenn deLagran, J.A. Secker, Gayle Chiykowski, Caroline Wissing, Melanie Curtis Raymond and Peter Smith.
The author signing copies of his book for his sister, Barbara, and her partner, Keith.

Thank you to my family, immediate and extended, for their incredible interest, encouragement, support and feedback. Thank you especially to Julie, Michèle, Lauriane and Pascale for putting up with my hours and days spent thinking, writing and talking about the worlds of Emily Jayne, Sarah, Rex and their friends and enemies. Thank you to my friends, especially Paris W. Vachon and Julia Plummer, for their interest in and feedback on Emily Jayne and the Kairos Codex.

Thank you to Maria Coletta McLean for early encouragement and support, and for connecting me with a writers’ critique group in Ottawa. Thank you to the members of my writers critique group, for your constructive and critical feedback on this novel and its earlier versions, for helping me see what worked and what didn’t, for your friendship and inspiration, and for always providing positive moral- boosting praise for what I has written: Julia Rose Anderson, Althea Basudde, Gayle Chiykowski, Jenn deLagran, Matt Egner, Lisa Justas, Melanie Curtis Raymond, Peter Smith and Caroline Wissing. And a special thank you to my middle-grade beta readers, Mélodie, Rémi and Sarah.

Thank you to Dr. Carl Sagan and Dr. Paul Wesson for igniting my passion for astrophysics and cosmology, and to Dr. William E. Harris for advice, guidance and inspiration during my master’s and doctorate degrees.

Thank you to organizers of and speakers at the Ontario Writers Conferences (2011-2016) and Can Con 2019. I loved everything about these events, but especially discovering who writers are, what they do and how they think. Thank you to the Ottawa Public Library (especially the Beaverbrook branch) for connecting me with the books I wanted to read, and those I didn’t know I wanted to read.

Thank you to Stephen King, for the marvel, wonder, thrill and terror of his novels. Thank you to Ken Follett for his many fabulous novels, and for giving us strong and smart female lead characters. Thank you to the many science fiction writers who have added colour and texture to the landscapes of imaginary worlds and universes, including Isaac Asimov, Becky Chambers, Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven, Frederik Pohl, Jerry Pournelle, Kim Stanley Robinson, Robert J. Sawyer and Vernor Vinge.

And special thanks to: Waubgeshig Rice, for constructive feedback on my Ojibwe character, Samuel; Ann Sanderson, for the beautiful illustration on the front cover; Gregory Wichlacz, for his stellar graphic design of the book cover; and the teams at First Choice Books and Victoria Bindery for their excellent work with the printing and binding. And finally, thank you to Caroline Wissing for the superb job she did editing my manuscript. Any mistakes that remain are my own.

Posted on Leave a comment

Trends for 2023 publishing in Canada (response from ChatGPT)

The staff here at Seven Stars Over Publishing Ltd. are interested, impressed and intrigued by the capabilities of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. As an illustration, we gave it the following request:

What are the 2023 trends for the publishing industry in Canada, with a maximum of 500 words?

Its response ( 522 words) follows:

“As the publishing industry in Canada continues to evolve and adapt to changes in technology and consumer behavior, several trends are expected to shape the industry in 2023. In this essay, we will explore some of the key trends that are likely to impact the publishing industry in Canada over the next year.

1. Increased Emphasis on Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion have been important topics of discussion in the publishing industry in recent years, and this trend is expected to continue in 2023. Publishers are likely to place a greater emphasis on publishing books by authors from underrepresented groups and featuring diverse characters in their books. This trend is driven by a growing awareness of the need for diverse representation in literature and the desire to make the industry more inclusive for all.

2. Greater Emphasis on Sustainability

Sustainability is another trend that is expected to shape the publishing industry in 2023. With the increasing concern about the environmental impact of the publishing industry, more publishers are likely to adopt sustainable practices, such as using eco-friendly paper, reducing waste, and minimizing carbon emissions. This trend is driven by the growing awareness of the need to protect the environment and the desire to create a more sustainable industry.

3. Continued Growth of Digital Publishing

Digital publishing has been on the rise for several years, and this trend is expected to continue in 2023. More readers are choosing to read books on digital devices, such as e-readers and smartphones, and this has led to an increase in digital book sales. Publishers are likely to invest more in digital publishing and explore new ways to reach readers through digital channels. This trend is driven by the increasing popularity of digital reading and the need for publishers to adapt to changing consumer behavior.

4. Rise of Audiobooks

Audiobooks have become increasingly popular in recent years, and this trend is expected to continue in 2023. More readers are choosing to listen to books while commuting, exercising, or doing household chores, and this has led to an increase in audiobook sales. Publishers are likely to invest more in audiobook production and explore new ways to reach readers through audio channels. This trend is driven by the convenience and accessibility of audiobooks, which make it easier for readers to enjoy books on-the-go.

5. Continued Focus on Independent and Small Presses

Independent and small presses have become an important part of the publishing industry in Canada, and this trend is expected to continue in 2023. More readers are seeking out books from smaller publishers, which often focus on niche topics and genres. These publishers are also more likely to take risks on new and emerging authors, which can lead to the discovery of new voices and perspectives. This trend is driven by the desire for greater diversity and a more varied literary landscape.

In conclusion, the publishing industry in Canada is expected to undergo several changes in 2023, with a greater emphasis on diversity, sustainability, digital publishing, audiobooks, and independent and small presses. Publishers that are able to adapt to these trends are likely to succeed and thrive in the years to come.”

Thanks ChatGPT, for the well written and interesting prediction of 2023 trends in publishing!

Posted on Leave a comment

The books are being printed this week (20-24 Feb, 2023)!

The new novel by J.A. Secker, Emily Jayne and the Kairos Codex, is at First Choice Books and Victoria Bindery in Victoria, BC, and being printed this week (20-24 Feb, 2023)! The first edition of this novel will consist of 100 paperback copies and an electronic (eBook) version.

Emily Jayne and the Kairos Codex is a speculative middle-grade science-fiction novel set in a Milky Way galaxy that is filled with intelligent extraterrestrial life. This novel has strong and smart female characters in lead roles, who like science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). (It has strong and smart male characters too!)

The heroine, 11-year-old Emily Jayne Hutchings, and her cousin Sarah spiller, need help from their friends (Lazar, Samuel and Cindy) and from Emily Jayne’s dog, Rex, to escape evil time travelling aliens and find the one extraterrestrial species that can help them.

Emily Jayne and the Kairos Codex is the first book in the Fellowship of the Timeless series.