Oct 282019

Time to compete with Amazon and all of the other sites that offer free shipping within the USA. But, as our name says, TANSTAAFL – There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. In this case for you this lunch is mostly free.

Mostly. However we have been keeping our prices low despite the increasing cost of getting books printed which have increased by about a dollar a book. This means I will have to increase our print book costs to cover the print cost increase, both in our online store and at conventions.

 October 28, 2019  Uncategorized No Responses »
Aug 112019

One of the holes in our plan to offer something in every sub-genre of SciFi is High Fantasy, something many of you love. We have a number of urban fantasies, but haven’t checked the high fantasy box yet. I did offer a contract to an author, Verna McKinnon, who wrote an awesome story about a female, dwarven bard (“The Bardess of Rhulon“). She chose to sign elsewhere (I’m not upset, she did the right thing for her) and I still support her and her book! But it leaves me with a hole 🙁

I would write my own high fantasy novel but as a famous character once said, “A man has to know his limitations.” Every attempt I’ve made at writing high fantasy has ended in disaster. Just about any other area within SciFi I can give you exceptional writing but not high fantasy.

So, what to do? I keep looking for someone that will match our business model, but in the short term we will be doing a high fantasy anthology with the working title “Of Witches, Warriors, and Wyverns.”  If you are interested go to Of Witches, Warriors, and Wyverns anthology guidelines. 

Our plan is to have this available before GenCon 2020.


 August 11, 2019  Uncategorized No Responses »
Aug 112019

by Thomas Gondolfi

I want to start by thanking ALL of our fans for stopping by the booth (to buy or not to buy). Something not known is that booth time is slow time. While we do try to engage the throng that move past us, often times we end up doing nothing better than thumb twiddling. So when you come and visit, we get to talk to you about what’s happened new in your life and vice versa. So thank you. BTW… I don’t know how many of you know, but after the dealer room has closed on Sunday and we have packed up, we go to dinner with anyone who wants to come along, usually about 6 PM. Keep this in mind next year and come with us to talk about… well we talk about anything and just enjoy one another’s company.

We had an exceptional GenCon in 2019. With only one new book since GC’18 we missed a sales record by 3 books (well, 2 if you count the promised autographed book for one of our fans Aaron.) 3 lousy books, sigh. Next year… Next year.

I’d like to explain why we only had one new book since GC’18. In the last 21 years I have only had a single vacation of over the length of a long weekend. This was magnified when I started TANSTAAFL Press as I was doing two full time jobs, rather than one. So I decided to give my family a bit of attention. My wife and I managed our second vacation. As a result I didn’t get more than a single book into print. Mea Culpa. However, for those of you who don’t know, I officially retired from my day job July 8 of this year. In the 23 days I had before GenCon, I wrote the entirety of Window of Opportunity, a collection of short stories in the CorpGov Chronicles universe. That is a novel length rough draft in… call it 4 weeks. At this speed I believe I can have 3 new novel length products for GC’20 plus other interesting items I’ve got in the queue for our fans, old and new alike.

So I came in to say how great our GenCon is and I’ve spent the largest amount of time whining.  Getting back to that — speaking of records, Thursday was the single best day of any convention we’ve done. This flies in the face of conventional wisdom that a Thursday is a throw away day unless you have a hot limited edition game, a limited give-away, or some other draw. To me this spoke volumes. Remember my first statement where I thanked our fans? Many of those sales happened because our fans showed up day one. This means our folks find us as a priority, not just someone they happened to stop by when they get a chance. This makes me warm all over.

Again, thank you for another spectacular year in Indianapolis.



 August 11, 2019  Uncategorized No Responses »
Jul 042019

I’ve noted a trend in dealing with you, the public. I am often asked about some facet of writing, or the business of writing/publishing. So much so that I’ve decided to foray into non-fiction (GASP) and write some small books on specific topics. Often I don’t have the time to dedicate at a show to detail all of the things I’d like to share.

I’ll write them not in lurid prose or stilted business style, but more like I’m sitting in the room with you snacking on chips and sharing war stories. They will fall into two categories: TANSTAAFL Press on Business, and TANSTAAFL Press on Writing.

Additionally, printing costs permitting, I’d like to offer these near $5 so that you can purchase sound, tested advice on the topic of your choice for a very small price. To keep costs down I intend to do some of my own picture covers (Don Quixote to the rescue).

BearWTypewriter copyBearWAddingMachine copy

Our first offering from the writing side has the working title of “Exorcising the Ghost of Writer’s Block” on the front and “To Outline or Not to Outline…” on the back. Yes, because these topics are so small we are putting two together like some very old style pulp fiction.

TANSTAAFL on Business will have the first books as, “Flirting for Fun and Profit” and one other that hasn’t yet been decided.

Hope to have these short offering out in the fall.

 July 4, 2019  Uncategorized No Responses »
Jul 042019

So you have heard of the year of the dog, the rabbit, etc, but for TANSTAAFL Press this is the Year of the Trailer. We purchased a small camping trailer so that we can do longer forays in order to service the needs of our fans and increase our fan base.



As a sleeping space, it isn’t impressive, nor does it have many amenities. What it does have is a bed, a toilet, a camp stove, power (solar panel on the roof and generator) and a massive advertisement on each side.  Think those will catch some attention?


As we mentioned last month, we are in the planning stages for an 8 week book tour in 2020, all out of our mobile billboard. Stay tuned for dates and locations as they become available.

 July 4, 2019  Uncategorized No Responses »
Jun 182019

Thomas Gondolfi has started a new steampunk / alternative history series “The Monarchy of America” which he hopes to have in print by early 2020. With his permission we are dropping a small portion of the ROUGH DRAFT of the book here to tempt you along with a view of the tentative cover.

ODAC - Working Cover copy



“Electric Light Fraud!” hawks a bundled-up youth with the late edition. The Boston Herald never has warmed up to Edison. I think the idea of lightning running through my house, no matter how chained, rather disturbing. No great loss.

The snow piles up in drifts grey with soot between the ruts of the cobblestone streets and against the red brick buildings. The chill of the light wind cuts through my long cloak, even with the rabbit fur around the high dog collar. The shiver stifles the yawn that had been poised on my lips. I pull the cape closer. With a long metal pole bearing a slow wick, another lad lights the gas streetlight in front of me. As he turns to race to the next lamp he nearly runs me over.

“’scuse me, Widow Ochoa.”

“Out of here, scamp,” I say swatting at him playfully. The little ones can’t know how much I hate the moniker ‘widow.’ I always associate it with someone old. At twenty-three I’m not even a spinster. Oh, I’m not young, and definitely not beautiful.

Ten hours of spelling coal byproducts from the gritty Boston skies has me wanting nothing more than to stoke the fire in my room, climb into my night dress, and bury myself under six layers of blankets for some well-deserved sleep. My pay and the widow’s pension from the Royal Treasury of King Fredrick II gives me barely enough to live at Chapman’s boarding house. With a two-hole privy and accommodations with just enough room to change my petticoats, it borders on livable. On good days, the North End stench of the fish offal and rancid whale oil from the docks doesn’t cover up the smell of Mrs. Chapman’s pickled-cabbage stew, a taste treat at which even pigs turn up their noses.

The tinny sound of bells pierce the evening air. I wince. Only the Mission Church bells carry that thin tone. Three quick strikes on the higher pitched bell indicates an alarm meant for me and my team of hell-fighters. This is the second time this month. The two-tone bells call out a Morse message. Low tone pause – T. High tone low tone high tone pause – R. High pause – E and more before the message repeats itself. Tremont Street about a mile out. Rich neighborhood.

Walking all that way in store bought shoes doesn’t appeal. Corns have already formed on the tops of my feet but I daren’t dip into my savings to get a cobbler to fix them. Hacks don’t come down here this time of the night. At this hour I might find one cruising the bars along Prince Street but I can’t stretch the coin.

As fate has it that night, a streetcar meanders down to the corner at the end of the street. I run over, being extra careful not to turn my ankle on the cobblestones or slip on the ice.

Raising my skirts and undergarments, I climb onto the running board. The vomit and muck on the trolley’s floor make me rethink my decision but the damage is already done. I envision the scrubbing time it’s going to take me to clean some previous drunk’s evening from the hems of my dress and undergarments and frown.

The driverless transport waits its prescribed thirty seconds before trundling off again. I don’t quite understand all of the reasons we don’t need a driver. Something about a pair of bumpy round cylinders, cams, they used to follow set paths. Missing the horses I understand. The earth witch in me can feel the energy stored in the massive metal springs in the thick ceiling above me.

The trams are free, if a bit finicky. Sometimes they stop and never restart. Once I saw one turn in a circle and kept turning. It took three engineers to get that one stopped and back on track.

The only other passenger, a bookkeeper from his looks, dressing in the bare minimum society requires of his station, sits across from me. His black breeches have seen too much lye soap. He wears a leather coat patched eight times more than a stumblebum might wear, and a dress shirt fraying at the cuffs and collar. Turning toward me, he says, “Them bells sound’n’ off ‘gain. Must be mean’n’ ‘nother demon on the loose.” He runs a finger inside the stiff collar neck of a shirt that may have at one time been fashionable in France, but nowhere else.

I try and stay out of conversations with men as a general rule but especially on a tram. Besides I have my work cut out for me as the person who left the glorious trail of after-excessive-drinking seems to have doused the entire floor. I lift my hem from the mess, knowing the cause is lost already.

“Oh, this here trolley is going right up where the hellfighters is gonna be.”

“How do you know about that?” I ask. “I mean, I know, but –”

“Don’t need no book learnin’ to understand them bells, Mum. Theys installing them right after the Demon Fire of ’72. I hears them so much I figures out right quick what they means. That there low bell is a T,” he said, making out the bells that continued to ring until all of my fellow hellfighters arrive. “And that there is an R. Puts ‘em all together an’ you got Tremont.”

His statement requires no response so I try to ignore the man so I might get a nap on the way out. I lean back and close my eyes.

“Maybes you lookin’ fer a man?”

“What?” I ask sitting up with a start. I don’t need a book keeper or any anyone else pawing at me.

“Thems hell-fighters makes a good livin’. Not like no hack driver or no bookkeeper neither. I hears some of the high born ladies say theys mighty fine lookin’, too.”

“No. I assure you I am not looking for a husband. As a widow I’ve had quite enough men for this lifetime and probably the next.”

“Youse don’t look old enough to be no widow woman. But then the Irish Rebellion did chew up lots o’ men. Is that where you lost yourn?”

I try not to think about my husband Aaron, dead only five years. It seems like he just stepped out for a pint yet five long years separated us. “Yes. He died at Termonbarry.”

“Lots of good men went to St. Peter at that place. Did they ever find out who summoned that demon? Survivors tell stories that don’t match. English, Irish, American. Me, I think us Americans and the Irish gave them bloody Brits just a bit too much steel to—”

“Will you please be quiet?” I say giving just a little too much snap to my voice.

“Sorry, Mum.”

Aaron, my massive Moor. Had I loved him for even a hundred years it wouldn’t have been enough. My husband’s loss in that cauldron of death, Ireland, left a charred spot in my soul bigger than their entire accursed country.

Oddly, as a girl growing up, I’d never held any fascination for boys or men. Girls around me, especially Karie, giggled and wondered what matching their parents might make for them. With one exception, I found the male sex beastly at best and demonic at worst. I would go a long way around the carriage house to avoid talking to one. My mother, the reigning goddess of all knowledge about the stronger sex, despairs at my lack of interest. While not part of royalty, my mother always adopts an air eight stages better than her station in life. Back in my youth she insisted I have a coming out party and engage with the Boston socialites. Never had so much money been spent on so little outcome. By the end of my fifteenth year I’d danced with ten young gentlemen, received one young man (who got his instep spiked by my heel when he attempted to put his arm around me in the buggy) and shockingly no proposals.

I see the red of fires glowing to the northwest but still no definitive location as the tram rolls up the empty street of Tremont past Dartmouth.

A green delivery trailer with gold stencil proclaiming “Dunne’s Butchers” flies across the street. I mean flies, not just moving swiftly. It smashes against a brownstone like a china cup dropped on the floor. Splinters and gobs of meat rain down. This is the sign I’ve been waiting for. I pull the trolley exit cord. The tram rattles to a stop.

“Youse sure you be wantin’ to get out here, widow woman?” the bookkeeper says from his hunched over place beneath the edge of the tram’s window.

“Yes. Thank you for your concern. This is definitely my stop,” I say as a horse, minus its head, follows the delivery trailer against the wall with a gory sound of a wet slip slammed against a washboard.

“Go with God then, Miss Widow.”

Ignoring the simpering fool, I manage to exit the tram without further damage to my skirts. A steam-wheezing, brass-and-steel, self-propelled monstrosity misses running me over by a whisker. Its huge broom sweeps up the snow and horse apples in front of it. The simpleminded machine puffs and scrubs down the lane toward the source of the chaos and likely its own demise.

Over the top of the machine I see the flaming visage of a demon’s face, twisted and contorted in rage. With skin the texture and color of a pig roasted overlong on a spit and beady crimson eyes set deep in its skull, it masses the same as thirty stout men. Its great ram-like horns reach the middle of the nearby building’s second floor. I can feel the waves of anger and fury boiling off the hell spawn as bursts of heat.

At least it is a large beast. That means a short night. The larger the demon the weaker and stupider that it is. Those brutes have to put a show on about how impressive they are in size rather than what they can do. The ones you fear are those the size of a child – tricky and powerful enough to melt your flesh from your bones.

The horned beast holds a pram like a child might hold a marble. I whisper a prayer to Saint Nicholas that no babe is inside as the evil creature crushes the stroller between its forefinger and thumb. As all demons, it rejoices in the death and destruction torn from our world. It laughs in a deep, tone that sends shivers down the spine.

But I am its antithesis.

I bend over and pick up a small bit of cobblestone that has withstood the street sweeper. Popping it into my mouth I march toward the maelstrom. The earth witch in me feels the orderly structure of the stonework. I taste gritty, acrid clay interspersed with the minute flavors of pig offal, spilled flour, slivers of rust, fragments of store candy, and remnants of manure.

Every time I attempt to describe the symbiosis of witchcraft I fail. I don’t steal another’s power. I don’t get filled with its essence. Instead I feel the living entity of the street below me. Its energy and mine merge together in a swirl like that of a baker creating a cinnamon roll. It doesn’t fill me, but we share a portion of our spirit. And like that sweet treat, we become more than our components. No longer am I just sugar, cinnamon, or dough. I am more.

A whistle of agony broke my communion. Two great fists crush down the top of the mindless cleaning machine. Its tarnished pressure vessel spews its power into sound and a jet of steam. The evil beast throws his head back from the superheated water with a bellow even though it can’t possibly hurt him.  After the flinch it tears the street sweeper into two uneven pieces, stopping the device’s death throws. It picks up the smaller piece, only the size of an oxen team, and looks around for a target. Its fiery eyes lock onto mine.

 June 18, 2019  Uncategorized No Responses »
Mar 102019

Well, we here at TANSTAAFL Press endeavor to be transparent. When we mess up, we say so up front, like the travelling error in Toy Wars, or for using REND instead of RENDER in the same book.

Well, we’ve done it again. As usual, the Ooopsie Award goes to author Thomas Gondolfi. He also gets the No-Prize for finding it. As he is preparing the next book in the CorpGov Chronicles, and anthology with the working title “Window of Opportunity” he needed to have a physical description of Grandma Ice. He dug down into all of the previous books.  In doing so he found that in Thinking Outside the Box he said that GMa Ice was 74 years old. Color him surprised when his character notes said she was 94.  When he went looking he found the ninety referent in The Bleeding Edge.

“Good grief! I can’t believe I pulled such a bonehead maneuver,” Tom said when he discovered it. “So if any of you nit-pickers find this, her real age is 94 at the time of the base trilogy. I humbly apologize for not having done the research on that point.”


 March 10, 2019  Uncategorized No Responses »
Jan 172019

by Thomas Gondolfi

Many of you have heard me said that I’m retiring from my “day job” and thus would be able to devote more time to writing and marketing my WONDERFUL books. Many of you have also heard that the date for my retirement is/was 5/15/18 or about 9 months ago. If you haven’t been paying attention, that didn’t happen. I wanted to retire but my financial advisor gave me bad info… so I fired him and started over. If I’m allowed a minor whine, I wanted to retire probably more than you wanted me to make new stuff for you 🙂

Last year was a very, very slow year for me. I attended only 7 conventions (less than half my norm) and while I managed to put 3 new products on the shelves for you voracious readers they were almost done already so I didn’t even write much.

So that is the past and now to talk about the future. With a new financial adviser (and my own evaluation) my new retirement date is set for 5/15/2019… May of this year. While I’ll be continuing my low convention attendance and writing until that date, after that I have a flurry of activity planned (just look at my scheduled releases!) I plan on hitting many more shows, many of those outside of my normal range, ramping up our marketing (don’t be surprised if you see our name in many different places), and creating many, many more works of fiction for y’all.

Fasten your seat belts, folks.  2019 is going to be wild!

And for those who remember the T-Shirt I often wear:

I was an
I’m still good with math


 January 17, 2019  Uncategorized No Responses »
Oct 102018

“Well… It’s Your Cow” anthology isn’t published by TANSTAAFL Press but rather Impulsive Walrus Books. However our premier author, Thomas Gondolfi, had a piece accepted and published within it.

When Thomas Gondolfi heard about the anthology concept (all stories have to start with the line “Well… It’s your cow”) by Impulsive Walrus Press, his quirky sense of humor forced him to write a story for it. His cyberpunk story of a coup against the crown prince was accepted along with great work of other authors!

The “Well… It’s Your Cow” anthology by Impulsive Walrus Books is now available for preorders on amazon.com (click on the title for direct link).

Go and get your copy today… again you can find it at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07J4S3VTV.



 October 10, 2018  Uncategorized No Responses »