Friday, February 27, 2009

Mmm pie

Today I encountered one of those "plotbunnies" that I have heard so much about. From what I can tell, they are nasty little creatures that appear in your manuscript and procreate like mad to cause a snowball effect of changes throughout the remaining narrative.

Or maybe not. That's what this one did. So of course, I yelled at instructed my FPA to handle the matter promptly. Because it's Dollhouse night.

We've caught the plotbunny creature and dealt with it appropriately. Although it means reworking the last 68 pages of the manuscript, but the FPA was quick to point out that I had told him they weren't really working anyway.

Here's a picture of its fate to serve as warning to its irk that they're not welcome in these parts.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

We had some great discussion yesterday about the Kindle and the whole eBooks versus physical books. I think this is like that plan vs pants discussion that always gets some heated debate when it comes up. Or self-published versus traditionally published. Small press versus mainstream houses.

I am happy to concede that some excellent points were made about the advantages of the Kindle. Also, that Amazon might want to consider giving Jessica Kennedy a job in their Kindle marketing department. She has almost sold me on a Kindle. Also on Eyes Like Stars, because I saw the cover on her blog and now want it very, very much.

Kindle 3 will have full color, right?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kindled or Kindred?

I was watching the interview between the CEO and Jon Stewart, and I could see the attractiveness of the Kindle 2. Yeah, I can also see the attractiveness of a new handbag. For the cost of a kindle 2, I could buy a Coach handbag—or a LOT of books. (Even a nice wristlet and a fair number of books.)

Oh, but I can put 1500 books on my kindle. Look, I can put 1500 books in a Coach handbag, too. Maybe not all at the same time, but I'm not going to read all of them at once anyway. A kindle isn't an iPod. Reading a novel isn't like listening to an album. The novel is going to take me considerably longer to finish, and I don't feel compelled to carry a library with me. The current book I'm working on will do me fine, thanks.

Yes, I realize it sounds like I'm dragging my feet against the pull of the inevitable, but hear me out. I've thought about this from more than just the financial angle. There are valid reasons why I cannot get a kindle 2.

You see, I love books. I really do. Not so many years ago, I'd read anything I could get my hands on. Good books. Great books. And a lot of really, really awful books. It was like I felt guilty about not finishing a book I'd started. I read a few I truly loathed, because I felt a masochistic need to know how they ended.

Since I devote most of my time to writing—and if you know me or have followed the blog, you know that the majority of my sensory input comes from television and films. When I sit down with a book to invest the time in reading it, I want to feel it was worth it.

This seems to argue for the kindle 2 purchase—digital space. Didn't enjoy a book? Delete it! Banish it to the binary ether. Not so much. When I don't enjoy a book, I can donate it to a library or take it to any of the numerous second hand stores in town. Or even just pass it on to someone who will like it.

When I do like a book, when I want to share it with others, the same things goes. How do you pass along a kindle 2? Is there a way to bluetooth beam books to one another that I don't know about? Because I seem to think the publishers and Amazon would want to put a stop to that.

It's easy to point out the flaw in my logic. To state that an an author, I should be advocating that everyone buy their own copy of a book and buy it new so that the authors get their royalties. That the Kindle 2 promotes this.

Well, you've got me there. I can only reply that I know many books that wouldn't get read if it weren't for libraries, secondhand stores, and opinionated friends.

Here's what it all comes down to—why the kindle's brought a knife to a gun fight: A book is tangible. When I make a row of the ones I've purchased but not yet read, I have a visual reminder of what's waiting for me. It curbs my impulse book buying. (Somewhat.) Call me low tech, but I need to see books. Touch them. Let them occupy physical space with me so that I have a responsibility to read them.

Maybe it's elitest, but as an author, I can tell you that receiving a digital PDF means nothing compared to holding a bound volume in your hands. Seeing your name on the spine and cover. Gripping the final manifestation of all your sweat and tears.

Eventually, we're going to go digital. I'll follow, because it's the natural progression of the industry and this is career I want. Barring the robot apocalypse and the decision by world leaders that fiction is an unnecessary evil.

However, until then I'm going to fight to be low tech about real books, so they can continue to remind they were written by real people.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

You career is in your hands

If I'm remembering my design classes correctly, people don't want a lot of words on a poster. They want the relevant information big and bold enough to get their attention. Posters aren't things we stand and admire—unless they're really amazing. Most of the time a poster gets a glance. A fraction of a second to get and hold your attention long enough to make you read what it says.

That being said, this one probably has too many words. But it does have color!

One of the common misconceptions is that people believe their publisher will craft promotional items for them. No. With the financial climate as it is, more and more of the promotion of a novel is going to fall solely on its author. Why? Because no one will ever care about your book being successful as much as you do.

Not your publisher.

Not your editor.

Not your agent.

Not your significant other, should be fortunate enough to have one to support you on this journey.

Not your friends.

Sounds bleak? No. Just disproportionate. As much as those other professionals have invested in your success and those individuals love and support you, their worlds revolve around other things. If that weren't the truth, then you'd notice a dramatic different in the greater world after you signed. Sold. Turned in revisions. Had your release.

For most of us, that won't be the case. Maybe after the second book or the third or when you hit the bestseller lists. Or if you're a breakout runaway mad success like JK Rowling and Stephanie Meyer.

Let's say you aren't. I know, it's a scary thought. Go to the dark woods with me for a thought exercise. I promise, I'll give you a lollipop when we're finished. If you aren't eaten by something nasty before then, of course.

Let's say you weren't in their percentage of authors who got your publisher's ad bucks. Or they did some promotion, but it was very targeted. How do you get word out to the general public? Well, blog tours work. But the internet attention-span is hourly. Once that tour is over, the buzz is gone. The further away you get from the release date, the harder it is to get attention from other sites and blogs. Simply because there are other releases that are the new news.

So what do you do after the 15 minutes are up?

The benefit of living in a small town, especially if you happen to work with people who are supportive, is that things are bigger deals than when you live in an anonymous city. The success of one person becomes the success of the community.

Many of us live in cities. We believe that the city will provide and the city is necessary for fame. Because the city has the larger populace and generate the bigger sales numbers. There might be something to that theory.

I think a lot of people under-estimate the power of person-to-person promotion. I'm not talking social networking, which definitely can help you remain relevant. Or newsletters. Or really even discussion boards and blog groups. I mean unwired promotion. Interfacing at the basic responsive human to human level. Signings. Readings. Conventions. Finding people who you're news again because you're new to them.

Make it personal. Make a connection. Someone will buy your book if they like you. It won't make them like the book any more or less than they would have, but it can make them give a book they wouldn't have picked up a read.

I'm not downplaying the importance of being able to communicate online. Or how it will only become more important as the publishing industry goes fully digital. (Sad day when we kiss goodbye the feel of paper against our fingertips and the weight of a book in our hands.) For now, there's still a need to have social skills. No, there's even more of a need. Because whether you like it or not, books are products and how well you as an author can be sold and marketed is part of industry.

So play nice. Make friends. Let's do our best.

Greatest Band Ever

My favorite track is Killer of Memes.

1 - Go to "wikipedia." Hit “random”
or click
The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to "Random quotations"
or click
The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

3 - Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”
or click
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 - Use photoshop or similar to put it all together.

5 - Bow to technology as it fashions the images that form your reality.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Minna, let's preorder!

Having just looked at my cart, it's time to remind everyone that some great books are coming out this year:

Tiny Deaths by Robert Shearman
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (Mar 25)
Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology featuring Jamie Ford (Apr 14)
Torchwood: Bay of the Dead by Mark Morris (May 21)
In Ashes Lie by Marie Brennan (Jun 10)
The Fourth Sign of the Zodiac: City of Souls by Vicki Pettersson (Jun 17)
Prey (Shifters 4) by Rachel Vincent (Jul 1)
Unbound Anthology featuring Kim Harrison, Vicki Pettersson, Melissa Marr, Jeaniene Frost and Jocelynn Drake (Jul 15)

Young Adult
Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr (Apr 8)
Desert Tales vol 1: Sanctuary by Melissa Marr & Xian Nu Studios (Apr 8)
Wake by Robert J. Sawyer (Apr 14)
The Eternal Kiss: 12 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire featuring Karen Mahoney (Jul 27)
My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers 1) by Rachel Vincent (Aug 1)
As You Wish by Jackson Pearce (September)

What books are you looking forward to in the coming months?

Thursday, February 19, 2009


My Fictional Personal Assistant has been slacking off lately. I find this upsetting, because when your FPA isn't doing what you tell them to, it's just so sad. It's like having a fight with your fake boyfriend. No, it's worse, because you would need to have at least a few fights or everyone would realize that you'd made him up.

I think we should all start using FPA in place of muse. It's not only modern sounding, it allows us to talk with business people in a way they can understand.

Allow me to demonstrate:

My FPA was supposed to keep tabs on my f-list for me, so I'd know who watched Dollhouse, but he took the weekend off for a friend's birthday. He didn't even show up for work on Monday. It was Tuesday before I heard from him. It took me until Thursday to get him to type up my blog for me.

It's just unacceptable behaviour. I'd fire him, if I didn't need his expertise to get this current project done.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, Val!

Popping on the ol' blog to remind those of you who might not know what today is.

That's right—Valentine Avalon's birthday. I think it's thrilling that the whole world seems to already know this, but sometimes people get confused and talk about this "St Valentine" or "Valen time." Guys, we all love Val, but sainthood? C'mon, that's a little much. As for Valen time—that's something completely different and not isolated to a single day.

Fortunately, I finished revising Runa's narrative for SHARDS yesterday, so I have time to spend baking cupcakes to celebrate this awesome day.

Have a wonderful Saturday, and I hope you get to spend it doing things you enjoy. Val would want it that way.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Old news is still new news to you

It occurs to me that I think some stuff has happened that I never got around to blogging about. On account of the dayjob and having my head buried in the second young adult manuscript.

Early to mid January, there were two additional passes on THE TALE OF ARIAKE. Both editors, of name in the urban fantasy genre because I actually recognized them, pointed to something as being a stumbling block. Miriam and I discussed it, and I've long since worked a plan for if we need to make a change to the manuscript in the future before going out on another round of submission. Given that we have four or five editors more to hear from, it's just sitting in the background for now. Although, it could have minor implications on THE BELOVED OF INARI, which I'll be starting after Miriam says SHARDS is ready.

I'm grateful for the feedback on TALE, but we were a little surprised by the reason for passing. It is a valid point; it's also something that could be easily remedied in the post-sale editorial process. However, if you don't get something, you don't get it. As much as I respect these two editors and know that they are Very Good At Their Jobs, they aren't the people for my manuscript. In it for the long haul means I have the patience to wait for the right editor.

Although this is the gentlest of nudges, like a wee foxie's nose brushing her hand, to remind her that I am still here. Still waiting.

At the end of January I received an email from Diane Walton, one of the wonderful editors at On Spec. It was not regarding "The Dream Herder," although I have been assured that short story did make it to their slush pile. This particular email was to let me know that she'd been talking to Professor Paul Campbell of the University of Alberta, who teaches a Science Fiction course and wanted to bring some short stories to compliment the novels that he has students read. (I'm guessing it's Comparative Literature/C Lit 342 by the calendar description.)

Diane sent him some samples of On Spec with guidance towards what she would recommend, and he came back with a choice of three by female authors. "The Rainy Season" was at the top of his list.

So academic validation as a speculative author and the release of The Wild Hunt definitely outshines a couple "no thank yous."

Monday, February 09, 2009

I am still ill and trying to finish revisions (hello chapter twenty-one), so I have to resort to the interwebs for content today.

Behold foxes on a trampoline. The fight-y one with the black tail is obviously Ken, which means it must be Ake who is all into the bouncing. This makes sense to me. Ake is easily distracted. Ken is much better at holding a grudge.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Puppets and plotting

This is either the coolest thing I've ever seen or undeniable proof that puppets are evil.

In other news, CLAMP has yet again blown my mind with the latest installment of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle.

I'm still struggling with chapter nineteen of my revisions on SHARDS. I had a wonderful outline, but I worry that it's doing too much similar to book one. So I made a major, like major major, change to the plot which echoing and rippling (yes, both visual and audio effects) through the latter half of the manuscript. I choose to believe this little destructive waves are clearing a path for the Better.

Event related news on the horizon: I will be attending WorldCon 2009 in Montreal. Registration processed. Participant form submitted. Flight and Hotel booked! Now all I have to do is decide is whether I'd rather get The Dream Hunters or The Graveyard Book signed.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Leigh Purtill has posted an incredible review of The Wild Hunt. Thanks, Leigh!

Wow...I'm still thinking about the end of Code Geass.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Art Surprise!

It's the best surprise.

I forgot I had commissioned Megan Murphy to draw a little Runa image, and it arrived to me last night. She's perfect!

I'll give you a wee preview, but ask that you go to Megan's devART page to see the full image. That way it gets views and you have easy access to the rest of her fantastic gallery.

PS Pride is now out in the wild, so go give some love to Rachel Vincent. She deserves it, because this is the best Shifters book yet!