Forgot your password?
Create an Account
You are viewing alex_beecroft —
Hot on the heels of our previous cover reveals, Titan Books recently unveiled two more new UK covers for Tanya Huff‘s novels!
THE HEART OF VALOUR, the third in Huff’s Confederation science fiction series, is due to be published February 7th, 2014…
Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr was a Confederation Marine’s marine. She’d survived more deadly encounters-and kept more of her officers and enlistees alive-than anyone in the Corps, and she was determined to keep that record intact. But since her last mission, she’d been sidelined into endless briefings and debriefings with no end in sight. So, of course, she’d jumped at the chance to go to Crucible-the Marine Corps training planet-as a temporary aide to Major Svensson. The major had been reduced to little more than a brain and a spinal cord in his last combat, and he and his doctor were anxious to field-test his newly regrown body. It should have been an easy twenty-day run. After all, Crucible was only set up to simulate battle situations so that recruits could be trained safely. But they were barely on-planet when someone started blasting the training scenarios to smithereens. Suddenly, Kerr found herself not only responsible for the major and his doctor but caught in a desperate fight to keep a platoon of Marine recruits alive until someone could discover what was happening on Crucible.
The first two novels in the Confederation series, VALOUR’S CHOICE and THE BETTER PART OF VALOUR, were published at the beginning of December in the UK.
THE WILD WAYS, the second novel in the Enchantment Emporium urban fantasy series, is due for publication on March 28th, 2014…
Alysha Gale’s cousin Charlotte is a Wild Power, who allies herself with a family of Selkies in a fight against offshore oil drilling. The oil company has hired another of the Gale family’s Wild Powers, the fearsome Auntie Catherine, to steal the Selkies’ sealskins. To defeat her, Charlotte will have to learn what born to be Wild really means in the Gale family…
The first novel in this series, THE ENCHANTMENT EMPORIUM, is due to be published mid-January 2014. In November, Titan also published Tanya’s latest novel, THE SILVERED.
Zeno represents Tanya Huff in the UK & Commonwealth on behalf of the JABberwocky Literary Agency in New York.
I admit it: I do like some of the Christmas specials. Every year, I re-read Becky Cochrane's A Coventry Christmas and listen to the audiobook of "A Christmas Carol." Last year, I added a new tradition - I'm going to re-read Anthony Cardno's The Firflake, too. And I do love to watch the Alastair Sim version of "A Christmas Carol." The Peanuts cartoon holiday movie, though? Not so much. Can we say "preachy"?Which is - oddly - why I loved this next story."Tidings," by Trebor HealeyHaving been lucky enough to share a table of contents with Trebor in the past - and having loved everything of his I've ever read - I looked forward to this story and had no clear idea of what to expect: Trebor is like that, shifting magic or contemporary (or some mix of the two) easily among his prose. This story from Upon a Midnight Clear is flinch-worthy at the start - a woman who is a mother looking back upon her Uncle Jack and realizing uncomfortable truths about her own youngest son - but progresses through points of view and time with a gentleness that ultimately left me feeling just the right amount of hope. That the cornerstone of the story was built upon the speech Linus gives to Charlie Brown in the Peanuts special is just an added bonus.
Quite a big batch this time, but I'll attempt to fit them all into one post...( A Puppy For Christmas by Carole Mortimer, Nikki Logan, Myrna MackenzieCollapse )( Now You See Me by S. J. BoltonCollapse )( The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay PenmanCollapse )( Have You Any Rogues? by Elizabeth BoyleCollapse )( The Cupcake Diaries: Spoonful of Christmas by Darlene PanzeraCollapse )( A Very Civil Wedding by V.T. DavyCollapse )( Cut Short by Leigh RussellCollapse )( The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. SayersCollapse )
One year ago today, my 40-year-old husband had a heart attack. (He’s doing fine—I don’t do unhappy endings!) His only symptom at the time was neck pain. He’s a healthy man who does adventure-racing (hillbilly triathlons he calls them–>) and lifts weights, so, he shrugged it off and asked me for more neck massages.
I thought it was a ploy.
The night before 12-12-12, my husband stood up from the couch to stretch, and collapsed to the floor in pain, unable to talk. I called 911. The ambulance arrived just in time for his pain to go away. My parents rushed through the door, white-faced and scared. Our three boys, (9, 7, and 5 y/o) got up from bed, terrified by the lights and sirens. They huddled together, with their blankies around our feet, crying.
After much coaxing, my husband agreed to let me drive him to the hospital. “It’s just a pulled muscle,” he said on the way. “We’re going to be there all night for NOTHING.” It was 30 degree outside. I asked him why he had put on shorts and a tee-shirt. “It’s all I could find, because YOU haven’t done the laundry.” That stung, but I understood that he was embarrassed and angry. What I didn’t know—and wouldn’t understand for weeks—was that he was scared too. Scared, that the fallacy-of-invincibleness that lives in a man’s mind, wasn’t true about him anymore.
At 2 am, the ER doc admitted him to the hospital for observation. My husband was incredulous, but since his cardiac enzymes were mildly elevated, he agreed to stay. When we were alone, he was sulky and pissy. I left and went to my parents’ house and crawled into bed with my children. I snuggled their sleeping bodies close and tried not to think about the future.
My boy and the dog (also male) on the river
The boys woke me at dawn, their faces tight with fear and worry. “What happened to Dad?” my oldest asked. “Where’s my Dad?” this from my littlest. My middle one, the quiet one, just looked at me, his lower lip quivering and his eyes tearing up. “What will happen if he dies?” he whispered.
The other two nodded their heads, and I realized we all needed this terrifying question answered. I am proud of what I came up with in that moment. “Well, that is not going to happen,” I said, hugging them close and sounding certain, even to my own ears. “But if it did, we would go on. We would be sad, but we’re strong. I am a strong woman. You are strong boys. We would be alright.”
Thank you Jesus, I never had to find out if it was true.
I was getting ready for the day when my husband called from the hospital. “I’m not feeling so good. Can you come rub my neck?” By the time I got there, they were rushing him into the Cath Lab. He was gray and throwing up. He looked awful, and he couldn’t lift his hand to mine.
“I love you,” I said to the back of the retreating gurney.
Someone led me to the waiting room and I sat down where I could see the clock. I pulled my knees into my chest, feeling small and crushed. You always wonder what to say to people who are lost in their own misery. I can tell you, I heard nothing. My family arrived and surrounded me, but I heard nothing. I watched the clock and replayed over and over how pained he had looked. I berated myself for taking a shower that morning, grabbing extra clothes, having a cry on my Mom.
It was 1.5 hours before the doctor came out and told me he was going to be all right. They’d put in stents because he’d had a 90% block of his Left
Anterior Descending Artery—the big one—the widow-maker. Back in the patient room, I was elated. I felt like we had just won the lottery. I needed to talk to friends, family, the whole world. I wanted to celebrate. We had just escaped the widow-maker!
an LAD before stent
My husband was groggy and irritable. The beeping monitoring machines were making him crazy; he even swung an I.V’d arm at one of them. When I called our friends to explain what had happened, he took my phone away from me and hung it up. “Quit telling people I have a shitty-ass heart,” he yelled at me with a hoarse voice.
A shitty-ass heart?
I was shocked. My husband never yells, and never hits things. I was baffled. The next few weeks were rough. While my husband’s physical health was excellent, his mood was resentful and gripey. I had emotional whiplash: the man I would have crawled over molten lava to save, I now wanted to scorch with a fire gun.
I came to realize that I had a “cardiac” event too on 12-12-12: Terror—to elation—to bewildered aggravation, makes for a tough ride on the heart. After much research, I found out that his behavior was not uncommon. In fact, a person is three times more likely to have emotional distress/changes after a cardiac event. It’s a damn shame that just as you’ve “gotten them back,” you want to kick them to the curb.
After a few weeks of this, I had had enough.
“Quit acting like an asshole because you have a shitty-ass heart,” I said.
My husband turned to look at me, a big grin on his face, and we both laughed for the first time since the “event.” Things got better after that. Somehow, when we could laugh about it, it wasn’t so scary or big, for either of us. Thankfully, life went on, with a heightened level of gratitude for our blessings, and for each other.
Then, today I said to him, “I’m going to write a blog about my feelings when you had your heart attack. Okay with you?”
“Sure, fine,” he said. “Wait… It wasn’t a heart attack. It was severe angina that was caught in a clinical setting before it became a heart attack… And don’t use my name.”
My husband, the nameless man of the shitty-ass heart. An invincible superman in his own mind.
Just the way he likes it.
Hug the ones you love–twice today for me. What are you grateful in 2013? What are you looking forward to in 2014?
All my best,
More info on “Cardiac Mood Changes” Article 1 , Article 2, Personal Blog from random dude
Something to take your mind off sad things, my bestselling paranormal book! –> Luck of the Dragon
$25.00 Amazon giveaway contest
Paul Waters was born and schooled in England, but says his real education did not begin until he was seventeen, when he ran away to sea.He spent the next two years travelling the world on a tramp steamer. It was during this time, somewhere in the Indian Ocean, that he picked up a copy of Herodotus, and began a love affair with the classical world of Greece and Rome.Later he returned to England and studied Classics at University College London. Since then he has lived and worked in France, Greece, America and southern Africa. He now lives in Cambridge, England.Source: www.paul-waters.com/paul-waters.htmFurther Readings:The Republic of Vengeance by Paul Waters Paperback: 416 pagesPublisher: Overlook TP; 1 edition (July 26, 2011)Language: EnglishISBN-10: 1590204743ISBN-13: 978-1590204740Amazon: The Republic of VengeanceAmazon Kindle: The Republic of VengeanceA consuming story of love, loss and redemption set in the classical world of Rome and Greece, Of Merchants & Heroes is the story of a young man's pursuit of his father's murderer and and of the values and qualities he develops that will make him a man...a man capable of a deep, noble and enduring love. At the end of the third century BC, as Republican Rome's long war with Carthage was at last drawing to a close, it was already threatened by a new enemy, Philip, the tyrant king of Macedon in the east...Into this turbulent world emerges our Roman hero, Marcus, whose father is brutally murdered by pirates on a journey from Italy to Corfu on a visit to his uncle. Fate takes him to some of the great cities of the Greco-Roman world at a time of major turbulence, where he learns much and finds love unexpectedly. This is a remarkable, beautifully written debut that explores political and philosophical questions that are timeless -- democracy and tyranny, war and self-defence, right and duty -- as well as questions of love, loyalty and betrayal.
This journal is friends only. This entry was originally posted at http://reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/3974642.html. If you are not friends on this journal, Please comment there using OpenID.
Matt Houston is a tattooer based in Vancouver, BC. Photos by Jourdan Tymkow.
View more of Matt’s tattoo work at illustratedgentleman.tumblr.com.
View more of Jourdan’s photography jourdantymkowphotography.tumblr.com.
Here’s how writers decide to market their books:
They read blogs and articles, which tell them the best thing to do. Or, they mimic what they’ve seen other authors do. Or, they try to act like big traditional publishers, by funding their own book tours and doing signings.
I’d say that’s no way to run a business, but honestly, that’s how traditional publishers have run their businesses for a long time.
A lot of traditional publishing is based on “we always do it that way.” That was one reason why, in 1993, a relatively unknown Edgar-award winning author spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money producing a television ad for his book. He did so because he had the money, and his publisher refused to do the kind of support the author believed would make the book sell.
This author wasn’t a guy who simply believed in himself: he was one of the top ad executives in the nation. And he had worked his way into that position from the ground up. In other words: he knew his stuff.
That man? Not unknown any longer, and certainly not known only as an Edgar-winner. You know him as one of the bestselling authors in the world, James Patterson.
Am I recommending that you buy your own TV ads? No. I’m telling you to start thinking outside the box. Patterson did, back in the days before indie publishing was easy or cheap. He started using Little, Brown, his traditional publishing company, as if it were his own personal publishing company. Now, Michael Pietsch, the publisher of Little, Brown, says, “Jim is at the very least co-publisher of his own books.”
And it all started with that book, the one he advertised on his own.
Here’s the story from The New York Times Magazine in 2010:
Publishing is an inherently conservative business. Patterson repeatedly challenged industry convention, sometimes over the objections of his own publisher. When Little, Brown was preparing to release “Along Came a Spider,” Patterson tried to persuade his publisher that the best way to get the book onto best-seller lists was to advertise aggressively on television. Little, Brown initially balked. Bookstores typically base their stocking decisions on the sales of an author’s previous books, and Patterson’s had not done particularly well….What’s more, large-scale TV advertising was rare in publishing, not only because of the prohibitive cost but also for cultural reasons. The thinking was that selling a book as if it were a lawn-care product could very well backfire by turning off potential readers.
Patterson wrote, produced and paid for a commercial himself. It opened with a spider dropping down the screen and closed with a voice-over: “You can stop waiting for the next ‘Silence of the Lambs.’ ” Once Little, Brown saw the ad, it agreed to share the cost of rolling it out over the course of several weeks in three particularly strong thriller markets — New York, Chicago and Washington. “Along Came a Spider” made its debut at No. 9 on the New York Times hardcover best-seller list, ensuring it favorable placement near the entrance of bookstores, probably the single biggest driver of book sales. It rose to No. 2 in paperback and remains Patterson’s most successful book, with more than five million copies in print.
Traditional publishing still doesn’t allow much TV advertising on its books, preferring to use its ad money on things like magazine pages and book supplements (if anyone can find them). Why? Because that’s how it was always done.
I’m currently reading Hothouse by Boris Kachka, a history of Farrar Straus Giroux, and in passing on page 211, he mentions that founder Roger Straus’s son, young Rog as he was called, worked with the Association of American Publishers in the 1970s to run some general book ads on television. Even though the ads showed positive results, the publishers were not interested in following up.
Young Rog wanted to grow the readership base, but the powers that be in traditional publishing held him back.
Traditional publishing often balks at bringing in new readers, claiming it doesn’t want readers of that sort or that readers don’t buy books that way. All the while, the publishers refuse to commission studies on how readers actually buy books, leaving that to government agencies or booksellers, most of whom don’t have the money to commission studies either.
Remember now, traditional publishing’s business model is based on velocity, and no long-term thinking at all. All of its marketing is geared toward that fierce urgency of now which I mentioned last week, because to traditional publishers, books spoil. They leave the shelf within a few weeks or a few months and then become (smelly) backlist titles that are taking up warehouse space. It’s tough for traditional publishers to realize that e-books never spoil; it’s hard for publishers to change their thinking.
Just like it’s hard for writers. So many have dreamed of the “star” writer treatment.
What is that, exactly? A book tour, lots of interviews on local radio and with local newspapers (rarely local television, partly because local newscasts don’t care about writers and partly because writers usually make for bad television). Long lines at book signings, adoring fans, and lots of public speaking engagements. A writer hand-selling her books at flagship stores because so many people have come to see her.
Ads in major markets. Books in every single brick-and-mortar store in the nation. Palates of hardcovers littering the floor of airports and commuter train hubs all over the nation. Billboard ads of the book on the back of buses and on the escalators leading out of the subway (or, even more likely, the Underground). Reviews everywhere.
Everyone who reads, everyone who is worthwhile, talking about that one book. Your book.
I love that dream. I’ve achieved that dream on some of my titles overseas. It’s been wonderful and discouraging at the same time.
You’ve all seen writers complain that such things are a burden or aren’t what we expected. And generally, writers who haven’t experienced it write off those complaints.
I’m going to ignore the complaints, because we’re talking about discoverability here. All we need to focus on is this: Should we as writers, both indie and traditional, want the same things that every writer has had since the dawn of the bestselling novel in the late 1960s? And if so, why? If not, why not?
A few weeks ago, I looked at ad buys and how you could tell if your novel was going to get one, if you were traditionally published. Let’s now move to TV. It worked for Patterson—who spent his career as an ad executive, who wrote and produced television advertising for other companies.
In other words, he knew what he was doing, and it sold his book. The key here, though, is that he knew what he was doing.
There’s no way to stress that enough. He knew what worked in the advertising market of 1993. He didn’t take his publisher’s suggestions. You know why? Because then, as now, traditional publishers did none of the sensible things that other big businesses do.
Traditional publishers don’t measure the results of their ad buys. They don’t look at the effectiveness of a sales campaign.
For God’s sake, they don’t vary the type of ad campaign to reflect an individual product. Instead, they only vary their campaigns by a vague sense of whether or not a book will sell. Then they slot that book into a pre-established set of behaviors, which “worked for other books of the same type.”
Um…no self-respecting ad agency would ever make a Nike shoe campaign look exactly like an Adidas shoe campaign, even though they’re both advertising high-end athletic shoes. Of course, Nike and Adidas have different ad agencies. But assume they had the same agency. That agency would work very hard to make Nike’s shoes look different from Adidas’s shoes.
But one publisher of thriller bestsellers treats those novels exactly like the competition treats its thriller bestsellers. Apparently, Clive Cussler writes the exact same book as Lee Child who writes the exact same book as Dan Brown. So that’s why they get the exact same advertising treatment—even though all three of them have different publishers.
You know as well as I do those books are different from each other. You also know that with some writers, like John Grisham or Stephen King or Dean Koontz, you can’t predict from one novel to the next what type of book they’ll write.
In other words, even within the author brand, the books are wildly different and should get different marketing.
But they don’t. Because traditional publishers believe that marketing is something that is beneath them. When they do reach out and try to market something differently, they don’t hire an ad agency to do it. They don’t bring in outside experts. They don’t market test. They guess.
And when that something different fails—and generally it will—it becomes part of publishing lore. Oh, they tried that on a bestselling novel in 2002 and it failed miserably. Therefore, we know that doesn’t work.
Have you pulled your hair out yet? Because I do every time I think about this.
You shouldn’t treat your books the way that traditional publishers treats theirs. Because they run the marketing side of their business poorly doesn’t mean you should emulate them. Just because you’ve seen someone else do something doesn’t mean you should do it too.
Okay: I’m channeling every parent on the planet right now. But channeling that parental voice aside, let’s take a look at traditional book marketing and see if it’s something you should do.
First, let’s examine the thing every new writer wants and every bestselling writer wishes they never heard of:
The Book Tour
The book tour really is geared to “our sort of people.” If you remember that traditional publishing came out of the East Coast elite in this country, that Ivy-League-good-money tradition of intellectual snobbery, a lot of traditional publishing’s long-held attitudes make more sense:
Let’s have our author go to bookstores, universities, and the occasional meeting hall, where like-minded people can discuss ideas without worrying about others getting in the way.
Some of this goes all the way back to the 19th century, when Charles Dickens did several speaking tours of American and made a small fortune. His books sold thousands of copies when he did that, but Dickens never saw a profit from the book sales. Why? Because at that point, the United States was the biggest thief of copyright in the world. Dickens’ American tour made him money in appearance fees, but no money at all from book sales.
But authors started going on tours then, and their works sold after the appearances. The author tour became engrained in public life. Back in Dickens’ day, a visiting author was sometimes the only entertainment for miles. The visiting author is just one of many events now, and not one that lots of people go to.
Audiences went way down with the advent of movies, radio, and television. As the crowds diminished, the audience became purified. “Our Sort” showed up faithfully and bought books. Those books, published in the U.S., put money in a publisher’s hands. Publishers eventually realized that author appearances drove sales. The more sales that could be driven, the faster an author would rise on a bestseller list.
There is some belief among scholars that the last American tour Dickens did contributed to his early death. But his grueling tour was easier than the tours that traditional publishers put their writers on. Most writers spend a month on the road, getting up early to do radio interviews, then doing stock signings at stores that aren’t hosting an event, a morning signing, lunch on the fly usually before a local TV interview, an afternoon signing or more stock signings or an interview with some print media, then an evening event—a signing, a speech, a reading, something.
After that, the author either gets on a plane, and heads to the next venue or does so early the next morning. At the next venue, she does it all over again. Repeat for two weeks or until complete exhaustion sets in.
Such tours cost a small fortune to mount. The point of them, besides running the author ragged, is to increase a book’s velocity.
One book signing in one city won’t do it. A dozen book signings in two weeks in a dozen cities won’t do it either. But combine two dozen signings along with several speeches, twenty to thirty media appearances (mostly radio, some local television), and the book will soon hit lists. Why? Because it’s selling five copies at one signing, ten at another. A handful of people pick up the book after hearing an interview.
More than that, though, the bookstores, which are also footing part of this bill by ordering extra copies, putting on more staff, and making room for the author, are also taking out ads in local papers and circulars, maybe some radio spots of their own, and of course, sending the information to their special customers in their newsletters.
Those ads also bring in a few sales. Multiply those increased sales by 12 days, and it might equal an extra thousand to ten thousand sales in a short period of time—enough to goose a book onto a list, which then provides even more advertising.
And by a list, I don’t mean an Amazon bestseller list that’s drilled down to the tiniest sub-genre. (Mystery/mystery novels/detectives/amateur detective/cozy/series/dogs) I mean one of the big lists, like the New York Times or USA Today or Publisher’s Weekly. The lists that “Our Sort” pay attention to.
Can you do this on your own? I suppose you can try. It will take tens of thousands of dollars and somehow you’ll have to convince booksellers, media bookers, and local venues to give you some of their time and space. Chances are it won’t happen. It doesn’t always happen when a publicist from one of the Big Five publishing companies calls: if the bookseller, talk show host, theater owner doesn’t want (or hasn’t heard of) an author, they’re not going to give that author expensive time and space in their venue just because someone asked. Certainly not because the author asked.
Yes, your local bookseller(s) may hold a charity signing for you. Yes, you might even have a mutually beneficial local event. But it won’t make any real difference to your book sales, and it certainly won’t be worth your time.
Long-term booksellers know that. They know that only certain authors draw readers to a store. These booksellers are also respectful of the author’s time, realizing that well-known authors generally don’t have an afternoon to give to sitting in a bookstore. And I do mean “give.” Writers don’t get paid for those appearances, and the sales don’t make up for the lost hours of work.
Most traditionally published writers get paid a percentage of each book sold, earning as little as $2 per hardcover sale, and sometimes as little as 50 cents on each paperback sale. That money might not reach an author’s pocket for six months or more (if ever). So, sitting in a bookstore for two hours and selling even 20 hardcovers is only worth $40 to the author—six months from now. And if the writer had to drive to the signing, and had to get a hotel room (on her dime) and had to buy her own meals, well, she lost money.
Big name writers do get appearance fees for speaking at libraries and auditoriums. And many big name authors (most, in fact) donate those speaking fees (minus expenses) to charity.
But it’s still something they charge for so that they’re not running around, giving free speeches, in the hopes of boosting their book sales—like so many beginning authors do.
The book tour is geared toward velocity, not toward building an established readership. How many times have you, gentle reader, bought a book at a signing because the author looked so uncomfortable or because no one had bought a book yet and the bookseller asked you to break the ice? Have you read those books?
When should a writer go on a book tour? When it’s being paid for by someone else (preferably your traditional publisher) and it has a realistic chance of boosting book sale velocity to a bestseller list. So many of professional writers (me included) have gone on book tours only to discover the idiot Big Five publisher did not distribute the books to the bookstores. So why were the writers and booksellers wasting our time? It certainly doesn’t endear those publishers to anyone, and it shows just how haphazard traditional book marketing really is.
Are worthwhile sometimes. But not for the reasons you think. They’re not there for discoverability. I think I can probably count on one hand the number of people who bought a book of mine at a book signing because the book looked interesting. I’m sure there are many more people who bought a book because they felt sorry for me sitting there all by myself or because someone else made them buy the book.
I have watched at countless signings as writers guilt potential readers into buying a book. Unless the reader has a small budget and reads everything he buys, I can guarantee that the guilt-book never gets read, and will not create new fans.
This is why traditional publishers cringe when a writer goes on her own book-signing binge. I personally know several writers who spent thousands of dollars going on those binges, and sold a lot of guilt-books. The problem is that those sales do not repeat when the next book comes out, so the sales figures for writers who spend that money go down.
In indie publishing, it’s only a ding to the ego. In traditional publishing, messing up your numbers with an unsanctioned book signing tour can make the difference between selling your next novel and not selling your next novel to a publisher. Most of the writers I know who did the guilt-tour did not sell their next novel—at least not under the same name.
So when are signings worth it? They’re worthwhile if you’re already giving a speech or attending a convention. Readers who also happen to be your fans want their books signed. They often won’t buy the new books at the event. Sometimes just the cost of attending eats up the book budget. But they get to meet you and have their books personalized.
A lot of book dealers will want a signature in their books. I’ve seen authors refuse to do that, forgetting that book dealers can be your best friend. Even if the dealer never reads a word of your fiction, the dealer can hand-sell your books and often does just by mentioning that you’re a nice person.
If you’re going to do a signing, however, that will increase your reader base, however, only do mass signings. I attended two this past year: one at Bob’s Beach Books in Lincoln City, Oregon, which goes all-out at the end of the summer, with thirty some writers of all genres in attendance, and another at Powell’s Cedar Hill Crossing in Beaverton, Oregon. I sold more copies of my books at Powell’s because the event is targeted: it’s genre-specific, and none of the names are small. Everyone at the Powell’s signing either had an established fan base or was already on the bestseller list or both.
The customers who came to that signing had money to spend, and boy, did they. They bought books they hadn’t heard of, books they had always wanted, and books someone else recommended.
The amount of money I earned on book sales at Powell’s probably wasn’t worth the gas we spent to get to the event, but I wasn’t doing it for the money. I wasn’t even doing it to increase the reader base. Really, it was old home week. Of the thirty-plus attendees, twenty-five or so were friends. We didn’t get a lot of time to visit, but we could at least say hello.
So, if you do a signing, don’t do it to be discovered. Do it at a venue where your fans can get their books signed. They’re the ones who support you, after all. They’re the ones who spread news of your work to their friends. They’re the ones in charge of word of mouth.
Sign their books graciously. Your readers owe you nothing. They have given up their money and time to support your work. You can smile at them and sign the book. If that’s too much to ask of you, then don’t go out in public. Period.
Finally, a side note on signing. I sign books by mail, if the sender includes packaging and return postage. I don’t travel as much as I used to due to my health, so I’m happy to spend some time putting my signature on a page. Again, the readers support me. It takes so little of my time to give back to them.
Consider it, the next time someone asks you to sign a book.
And…whew. I have more to cover here than I expected. I’m going to split this piece in half, because there are several more old ways to cover, from media interviews to stock signings (mentioned briefly above) to blog tours to reviews to…well, you’ll see next week.
I’m always startled at the way some topics just grow as I write them. I think I can cover something in a few thousand words, then realize how much I need to explain for people less familiar with the business and/or the old ways of doing business than I am. So I’m in one of those long series now.
I’ve been getting a lot of good behind-the-scenes feedback from everyone, and some great comments. Go look at the comments section for previous posts in this series. Excellent stuff there. I haven’t had time to answer, since somehow a million deadlines have piled up these past few weeks, but I hope to at some point.
And thank you all for supporting the blog in any way you can. I greatly appreciate the e-mails, the links, the shares, and the donations. They all mean a lot.
So…if you learned something or like the blog, please leave a tip on the way out.
Click Here to Go To PayPal.
“The Business Rusch: The Old Ways (Discoverability Part 4)” copyright © 2013 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
SPECIAL NOTICE: I’d like to put out a call to those of you who are traditionally published. I need to update my Deal Breakers book for 2014. I have quite a bit of material, but I would like to see what I’ve missed.
So if you received a traditional publishing contract from a major publishing house and/or an agency agreement from an agent, please black out all the personal information and send it to me. I’m particularly interested in the contract clauses you negotiated away and/or that you walked away from.
I also would like to see the clauses you’re proud of getting. The ones where you feel you triumphed in your negotiation.
I need the entire contract, because a contract is a living document, and what it says on page 13 has an impact on what it says on page 2. Please black out your name, the name of your agent, the advances, etc., and send me the file.
I promise, I will not use your name or any personal information, except that I might say something like “a first-time author” or “an author who has published novels for fifteen years” or “a bestselling author.” I won’t even use a personal pronoun to give your secret away. And I’ll be the only one who looks at this.
If you want to see how I do this, look at the Addendums post from earlier this year. (And yes, that will be in Deal Breakers 2014.)
Thank you! I appreciate all of the help.
I kind of ran out of the office today because I had to pick up a prescription, and realized a couple blocks away that I'd left my Kindle sitting on my desk. I contemplated going back, but decided it was a good excuse to update my backup kindle here at home, so I'll be doing that shortly. It's really time for me to just delete all the folders on that one and then recopy everything over from the current one I'm using - when you tell it to copy folders from another kindle without deleting them first once in a while, you end up with books everywhere in too many folders and a "to read" folder that's 100 books larger than it needs to be. I picked up another heater from the pharmacy since they had them so conveniently located at the door to remind me, but I'm afraid to turn it on high. Every room is on a different circuit, and the living room has a lot going on with the cat's heater (a powerful one), the computer, yada, yada. I'm contemplating running an extension cord from the middle bedroom across the hall (I can run the cord under the area rug and not kill myself tripping over it), which may be preferable to going outside in the cold with a flashlight to reset the circuit breaker.I fear I have another dentist appointment looming sometime very soon. Just when I thought I was done with root canals - something wonky and painful is going on in the other side of my mouth. Damn it.Ladies tea is coming up at church this Saturday. I always enjoy those so much. The new lavender bushes are planted along the front walk finally - looks very neat and trim again. The old ones (which had grown too large but are still good) will be transplanted in the back. I need to take a picture of the front while it's still looking so nice.Listening to Maeve Binchy's A Week in Winter on Audible at the moment, and liking it very much. I will say, you have to be very comfortable listening to an Irish accent to enjoy it.
I don't normally bother to see films until they are well into their run at the earliest, but someone gave me tickets to the Hobbit2 premiere so I went. Anyway, it was IMAX, which I hadn't seen before, and in 3D, which I was a little nervous about, having had really bad experiences in the earlier heyday of the form some decades ago. That turned out all right, but I will stick to normal 2D for my second trip, which I normally do to catch the interesting design details. So, preliminary thoughts:1 Very pretty. Well up to previous films' standards of prettiness. Especially Fili, Kili and Thorin. 2 Lots of gratuitous violence, chases and violent chases. Peter Jackson has obviously watched every Jet Li film in existence with profit, so we have many excellent scenes of pretty, wuxia elves doing their pretty, wuxia thing very nicely. Though obviously, unlike Jackson's cast, Jet Li really did his stuff by himself.3 The characterisation of Beorn was utterly misconceived. Utterly, completely, embarrassingly misconceived. Beorn is jolly and ferocious and happy with himself as well as truly terrifying and mysterious, not a melancholic giant Who (from Whoville, not Gallifrey) with a a tragic back-story and an incredibly unbecoming hairstyle. Peh. The giant 3D honeybees were impressive and gave me dreams of having to kill cockroaches (ick).4 It was clever to play the spiders for horror rather than humour, and very clever to make their speech comprehensible to Bilbo as soon as he had the Ring on. The whole Mirkwood business felt distinctly rushed, though. In fact, while the time did not drag, the pacing of the episodes felt distinctly peculiar.5 Smaug was a major disappointment, aesthetically (though yes, very terrifying). He should be shining red-gold with his own inner fire, when Bilbo first sees him. Also all that business under the Mountain went on rather long. And since when do dragons care about having Darkness fall over the world? Dragons want gold and do not give a damn about junior, jumped-up Dark Lords like Sauron (they were Morgoth's creations; now He was a Dark Lord to take seriously).6 Bard looks extraordinarily like a somewhat better looking version of the English king Charles II, or an actor playing him in one of those old Hollywood historical films of the mid-twentieth century. I keep thinking of him as Captain Blood. Or indeed, Inigo Montoya.7 I agree with the modification of the black arrow business. Having Bard talking to birds would not have suited the tone of the film.8 I am having Grave Doubts about where Jackson is going with Fili and Kili. Very Grave Doubts Indeed. Though I suppose some of what was happening could be interpreted as going to the set-up of Bard as a future king of Dale. Still, it is Rather Worrying.9 Thorin is going bonkers quite convincingly.10 Jackson obviously agrees that the Arkenstone is Maedhros' Silmaril. It was found under the mountain (itself a volcanic feature, presumably with magma somewhere not too far away), it shines by itself, it is preternaturally beautiful and people go mad lusting after it. It is either the Silmaril or something that Thror would have been better off keeping in a lead-lined box. Or a dilithium crystal, I suppose (which would solve the problem of the dwarves' power source for their engineering works).11 The obvious way to keep dragons out of your mountain is to give up on the vast, open interior spaces and giant doors and just make it mostly a maze of spacious but less than dragon-sized corridors and large, comfortable rooms, like an underground version of your average very high-end apartment building. Or if you really need a the vast throne-hall etc, they should be deep inside, inaccessible from outside by anything bigger than, say, a horse. 12 What on earth did Gandalf think he was doing? Though the depiction of the Necromancer was clever. Perhaps a delaying action to give Galadriel time to ride to the rescue? I shall be Very Disappointed not to see her bringing down Dol Guldur in the next film. And taking on Sauron successfully there would logically make her temptation by the Ring in LOTR a real thing, and the Ring something that she might feel she could actually manage.
From juno_magic — ...
If you had me alone, locked up in your house for twenty-four hours and I had to do whatever you wanted me to, what would you have me do? Then, repost this in your LJ/blog/Tumblr. You might be surprised with the responses you get!
I got to bed too late.* I had Raphael coming in the morning so I had to get out of bed before the middle of the afternoon.**
I had a list for Raphael. I always have a list.
There is apparently no way to turn OFF the wretched monster photos that have taken over everyone’s Twitter feed. I’ll click on the photos I want to see, you know? Stop frelling trying to make clawing my way through the last twenty-four hours even more of a ratbag.***
There is apparently no way to tell Windows 7 NO I FRELLING DO NOT WANT TO HANG AROUND ANOTHER TWENTY MINUTES WHILE YOU DO A FRELLING UPDATE, I WANT TO CLOSE DOWN, PUT MY LAPTOP IN MY KNAPSACK AND GO HOME. You could on XP. You could tell it, no, later, and it said, okay, you’re the boss, and shut down.
My email is a NIGHTMARE and there isn’t much Raphael can do about it.† The settings all sit there sniggering behind their half-eaten address books and whimsical spam filters saying, We’re all optimally configured! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
When I finally got the poor patient hellhounds out†† there was not one but two off lead dogs in the churchyard, being ignored by two different irresponsible humanoid-shaped ratbags. And the middle of town was jammed solid††† because Father Bloody Christmas had arrived and his grotto was open for business.
Maybe I’ll go to bed what passes for me as early with a good book or twelve. Maybe I’ll even sleep. That would make a change.
* * *
* Duuh. In this case partly because I had loaded up my FABULOUS NEW EFFECTIVELY-IF-NOT-LITERALLY WIRELESS PRINTER with second-side paper and ran off a lot of knitting patterns.^ And when I pulled them out, having enjoyed the sound of a printer printing—no pings, no dings, no mysterious stoppages, no flashing lights, no screaming. Just printing—I discovered that my new printer wants paper loaded with the already used side up. Rather than down. Oh. My last several printers have wanted one-sided paper loaded BLANK side UP.
There was screaming after all.
And of course I had to do it all over again right then. It couldn’t wait till morning^^. A dozen knitting patterns I may never get to at all and certainly not any time soon since I have . . . um . . . several projects on needles already. BUT I HAD TO PRINT THEM OFF LAST NIGHT. YES.
^ Can some clever knitter person tell me if I could knit these on circular needles rather than DPNs? http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/f163-cleckheaton-country-silk-fingerless-gloves
I don’t do circulars+ but I really REALLY don’t do DPNs. Just looking at them makes me think of deep puncture wounds and the TOTAL FAILURE I was at cat’s-cradle.
+ Have I told you this story? After I started my big plain square JUST KEEP KNITTING winter scarf out of mind-blowingly gorgeous wool and silk yarn on circulars, thinking that it would be easier to manage that way and in less danger of spilling off too-short needles—broomstick-length needles don’t fit in your knapsack, and they probably won’t let you on public transport or in the bell tower where you’re a hazard to the already somewhat risky flying ropes—AND INSTEAD the wretched rows jammed every time they had to come back off the cable again and onto the working needle tips. The needle tips also needed screwing back on every time I got the fabric shoved onto the cable again. AND THEN, ONE DAY, ONE OF THE NEEDLE TIPS UNSCREWED ANYWAY. MID ROW. KNITTING ALL OVER THE LANDSCAPE. There was screaming.
I gave up circulars forever that day.# Interchangeable ones anyway. I still have a few basic bamboo-and-plastic fixed ones that Fiona gave me early on, saying to me in soothing tones that I would like circulars once I’d tried them. HA. HA. I’m sure the Romans told the Christians that the lions they were about to throw them to were pussycats really. But I could try knitting a glove on fixed circulars. You only cast on forty stitches, instead of a hundred and forty.## And I’d quite like to try this seamless deal.
The interchangeables came as a Yaaay! You SUBSCRIBED!### bonus from a knitting magazine. Moral: don’t subscribe to knitting magazines.
# And yes, I lost the two and a half or so inches of knitting I’d managed to wrench out of those ratblasted needles. Which is when I found out that my beautiful yarn doesn’t rip back very well.
^^ Or, you know, afternoon.
** I sent him a text at umph-plus o’clock asking him if he could please Not Be Early. I hope he turns his phone off when he goes to bed. Although he has three little kids: he may never sleep at all. Nadia has only two little kids and she never sleeps at all.
*** On the other hand I asked Twitter if there was a programme that would let me have more than one Twitter account open simultaneously and lovely Twitter people answered and I am now the more or less proud owner of a copy of Tweetdeck, which is already massively to be preferred in all the ways I can figure out.
Speaking of the kindness of computer nerd strangers, has anyone reading this ever had their Word 7 randomly turn blocks of text into italic? IT DRIVES ME FRELLING BANANACAKES. ALSO CREAM PIES. AND SOME COCONUT ONES WHILE WE’RE AT IT. COCONUT IS RELIABLY BONKERS. Sometimes it won’t turn off again: you highlight it, click, and it judders sideways and back and . . . stays italic. Sometimes it turns normal again as soon as you highlight it. Sometimes this block goes normal and then you flick up a page and discover a different block of text has gone italic. You tend to need a biggish block of text to set off whatever this is: it doesn’t happen (yet) to individual blog entries, but it’s really REALLY bad with KES, which I keep in files of a dozen or so eps per, because single words of italic seem to set off the gremlin and there’s kind of a lot of italic in KES.^
Anyone else seen this? Raphael looks at me warily when I tell him about it since (of course) I’ve never managed to reproduce it for him.
^ For some reason.
† Except maybe help me look at real estate ads for houses in areas with better broadband.
†† They don’t want to use the courtyard any more, even if they’re DESPERATE. WE’RE NOT THAT DESPERATE, they say, crossing their legs harder. The courtyard now belongs to the hellterror.
And, speaking of things going wrong, Raphael showed up before she was finished with her breakfast kong. By the time she is finished, she, her bedding, the crate and the kong are METICULOUSLY FREE OF ANY SUBATOMIC PARTICLE OF FOOD. But it’s a little messy on the journey. I don’t like keeping her crated when there are Exciting Visitors, it doesn’t seem to me fair, so I got her out and clutched her frantically to my bosom as I let Raphael in and shooed him (and hellhounds) hastily upstairs. I didn’t quite need a bath by the time I shut her back up with the remains of her breakfast. Quite.
Hellterror has had a good day however. After poor Raphael finally left to go attend to some normal, corporate client, we all went out to Warm Upford to put petrol in Wolfgang, and had a sprint around an empty sheep field before we came home. Hellterror doesn’t get out to deep country all that often and she was ECSTATIC. And I have two dislocated shoulders. One from an ecstatic hellterror, and one from two hellhounds trying to elude the ecstatic hellterror.^
^ The next field over was not empty so I didn’t dare let them off lead to sort it out among themselves.
††† Mind you this is easy to do in a town this size
Barnaby Sloan usually spends the holidays with his aunt Violet, but changes in her life and his roommate's cause Barnaby to reconsider his plans. His boyfriend Liam invites Barnaby to join him at his family's home, but Barnaby is too uncertain about his future with Liam to accept. He decides to spend the holidays alone instead, working on his dissertation and volunteering at his favorite museum.Then a snowstorm hits, knocking out the power throughout the city. Between the snow, the solitude, and nothing going according to plan, Barnaby realizes all he wants for Christmas is Liam -- but it would take a miracle for him to get that wish.Available at Torquere Press.Want to read the first two installments? The Wishing Book of Barnaby Sloan is available for free at JennaJones.com and The Haunted Halloween of Barnaby Sloan is available from Torquere Press.This entry was originally posted at http://jennalynn.dreamwidth.org/3089781.html with comments.
Complete with a sun pillar giving the sunset a nice, Mordor-like glow.
Before I forget, tomorrow Earthrise is being featured at The Fussy Librarian, a site that does personalized ebook recommendations. It’s got something like 40 genres; you indicate your preferences about content and then it figures out what you might like to buy. Sort of like Amazon’s recommendation system, but just books. This is the thing I was talking about when I asked you folks to submit reviews of Earthrise because they only take books with at least 10 five-star reviews! Or 25 of at least 4-star. So thank you all for helping out. I’m going to submit more books to them once I get the necessary number of reviews. :)
Mirrored from MCAH Online.
About a year ago Disney acquired Lucasfilm and stomped on the anthill that is the nerd world, sending us scrambling to figure out where we were in a world where Star Wars sequels could be made with minimal influence from George Lucas, and where one company owned the Disney Princesses, Pixar, the Muppets, Star Wars, and the film rights for the lion’s share of Marvel superhero characters. In comparison the Disney/Marvel acquisition seemed perfectly normal: Warner Bros. has owned DC Comics for years now, after all.
Disney’s chief financial officer told reporters at a conference yesterday that Disney isn’t necessarily done acquiring franchise properties, though they don’t have any in mind at the moment. They’re just, you know, leaving room in case they want dessert.
If you’ll forgive me for continuing the metaphor, Disney did have a bit of a snack this weekend when it worked out a deal with Paramount Pictures, who still hold the distribution rights for the Indiana Jones franchise. The end result of that was that Disney can now, if it so chooses, continue the franchise, reboot it, craft prequels, or whatever. And if the company does acquire more of the franchises you grew up loving, according to Jay Rasulo, the deals will be more of that size. From The Wrap:
“It’s safe to say you’ll continue to see us doing acquisitions in the future,” Rasulo told the Wall Street heavy crowd, advising them to not read too much into the buyback plans. He did say, however, that any deals would probably be smaller in size, noting that the company did not have “anything on the scale of LucasFilm or Marvel” in its sights.
As for how Indy and Star Wars will be integrated in with the rest of Disney’s holdings, Rasulo said we can look to Marvel for an example. So, I guess we’re getting an Indiana Jones team up movie? That’s a bit of a vague answer, but Disney is gearing itself up to have a Star Wars movie out every year, with a new trilogy supported by one-off movies. That’s not too dissimilar to Marvel, if you consider the Avengers films to be the trilogy and Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man to be the one-offs. It’ll be interesting to see how Indiana Jones, a much less robust (though no less compelling) setting for expanded universe stories, fits into this model.
(via The Wrap.)
Especially the kinds with clips on their legs so they can actually hang on to a head. Happy snuggles!
(Knitrocious via Nerd Approved.)
Are you following The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, & Google +?
The Doubleclicks have written a song about something every older sibling whose family celebrates a big gift giving holiday has gone through at one point. Youngest siblings and only children, you might want to sit this one out. This is for the big kids.
Have blogged over at the Samhain site about how it isn't just beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Come and see what I think are the definitive odours, tastes, etc.
And Supernatural, Legend of Zelda, Star Trek and more besides. Heart Felt Design on Etsy has something for all the nerds on your list.
(via Geeks are Sexy.)
[View All on One Page]
A few years ago, my boss instructed me to write a two-page film treatment of one of our novels, All You Need Is Kill, to help our LA office VIZ Productions maybe sell it to the movies. Well, a few million bucks and five screenwriters (including a $3m payday for Dante Harper for the initial spec script, which was actually fairly close to the book) and innumerable drafts and then Tom Cruise's input and some reshoots and the introduction of new characters and a name change, we have this:It's not terrible. Pretty neat, actually. Less boom-boom than I was worried about. I joked on the dayjob blog that rather than "based on All You Need Is Kill", we might say that the film is "thematically adjacent to All You Need Is Kill." Yes, it's whitewashed, but given the sales of the books and the orders coming in for the mass-market tie-in edition, the film remains a great commercial for the novel!In other news, I have a new essay up on BullSpec, about my new novel Love Is the Law (which is under eight bucks, and fits in Christmas stockings, btw), in which I explain why it's actually like The Alchemist.
You might have noticed that we don’t really do a lot of perfume reviews on The Mary Sue. Or any. That’s our sister site Styleite‘s thing. But when we were offered the chance to review Eau My, George Takei‘s foray into perfumery, we couldn’t say no. Could you? So, after a quick primer from Styleite on how the heck you even review perfume in the first place, we went around the office with a sample and asked for opinions.
And finally, from Glen over at Geekosystem:
Image borrowed from here.
Via Nick Mamatas,this article about writer Colin Wilson, who passed away in the last week, which begins:
How dismayed the late Colin Wilson would have been if, through some of the occult powers in which he believed, he had been able to read his own obituaries.
The man whose first book The Outsider caused him to be lionised in 1956 by the literary greats of the day has been remembered in several blogs for his later novel Space Vampires, which inspired a famously trashy Hollywood film. In the broadsheets, the life of a self-proclaimed genius has been given the faintly amused treatment favoured by obituarists when dealing with a life of eccentricity or failed promise.
Yet there is sort of heroism in the way that Wilson, having been abandoned by those who once praised him, remained loyal to his own talent, living a life of writing, reading and thinking –probably in that order.
How dismayed the late Colin Wilson would have been if, through some of the occult powers in which he believed, he had been able to read his own obituaries.
The man whose first book The Outsider caused him to be lionised in 1956 by the literary greats of the day has been remembered in several blogs for his later novel Space Vampires, which inspired a famously trashy Hollywood film. In the broadsheets, the life of a self-proclaimed genius has been given the faintly amused treatment favoured by obituarists when dealing with a life of eccentricity or failed promise.
Yet there is sort of heroism in the way that Wilson, having been abandoned by those who once praised him, remained loyal to his own talent, living a life of writing, reading and thinking –probably in that order.
The article, which you might be able to tell from the excerpt, is playing both ends of the game with regard to Wilson (which is why Nick pointed it out, I suspect — to mock it). Wilson would be dismayed, but on the other hand he did what he wanted, but on the other other hand here’s a checklist of things to avoid if you want your obits to be properly reverential.
And, I don’t know. One, I think if Mr. Wilson is still sentient after his death, he’s got other, more interesting things to think about than his obits; I suspect at that point worrying about your obits would be like worrying about the end-of-year assessment of your kindergarten teacher once you were out of college (“Nice kid. Hopefully will figure out paste is not for eating.”).
Two, if Mr. Wilson had any sense at all — or any ego, which by all indications he certainly did — then he recognized (before he passed on, obviously) that to the extent he and his work will be remembered at all, obituaries — transient news stories that they are — are insignificant. He’ll be remembered for the work, and the status of the work in the context of history is not settled at the time of the obituary.
Salient example: Gaze, if you will, on the New York Times obituary for Philip K. Dick, on March 3, 1982. It is four graphs long (the final two graphs being two and one sentences long, respectively) — which for a science fiction writer is pretty damn good, when it comes to obits in America’s Paper of Record, but which, shall we say, does not really suggest that Dick’s notability would long survive him. Now, look at the voluminous record of writing about Dick in the NYT post-obit — an index of five pages of thumbsuckers. Pre-death, I find one note about Dick in the index, and it’s one of those Arts & Leisure preview bits.
So, yes. The obit was not the final word, because the work continues — or at least, can. In Dick’s case, the majority of his fame has come after his death, alas for him. He (nor any of us) would not know that from the four paragraphs in the NYT on 3/3/82.
I noted it before and will like do so again: As a creative person (or, really, any other sort of person), you have absolutely no control how history will know you, if indeed they know you at all. For most creative people, to the extent they are remembered at all, they will be remembered for one thing, because the culture at large only has so much space for any of us. You won’t get to choose which one thing for which you are remembered. If, for Wilson, the one thing he’s remembered for is Space Vampires rather than The Outsider, then that is still one more thing for which he is remembered than the billions of us who go to our graves and are swallowed up by them. So well done him.
But even then, the culture’s memory is not infinite. Wilson’s work, one way or another, is not likely to survive the vicious cultural culling that happens over the course of time; it’s unlikely to be remembered by anyone but academics in a hundred years, or even them long after that (nor, to be clear, will mine, or the unfathomably large majority of works being created today). The good news is the judgment of the obits will have passed from this world long before then. And in any event the sun is going to swell up into a red giant in five billion years and likely swallow up the planet, so that’ll be the end of all of it.
(Obit for the sun: “A long, pedestrian life followed by a brief illness; survived by Jupiter, three other planets and numerous moons and comets. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Orphaned Trans-Neptunian Objects Fund.”)
I don’t know Mr. Wilson to any degree — I am one of those who knew him best for creating the source material for Life Force, which was a terrible movie — but my wish for him was that he lived the sort of life where he didn’t actually care what his obits said, and instead enjoyed his life and left work that had the possibility of speaking for itself, over time. If you’re a creative (or indeed any other) person, let me suggest you don’t worry about your obits either. As well as you can, live the life you want to live and make the work you want to make. After you’re gone, it’ll all be sorted out or not. You won’t be around to worry about it. Focus on the parts you’re around for.
There's some big, big anthology news around these here parts!First up, and most outside my usual wheelhouse, I am pleased to announce that my story "We Are All Misfit Toys in the Aftermath of the Velveteen War" will be appearing in the anthology Robot Uprisings, edited by Daniel Wilson and John Joseph Adams. The book will be released April 8th, 2014, and I am super excited to be part of a lineup that includes Charles Yu and Cory Doctorow (with whom I will one day conquer the Magic Kingdom and claim it in the name of our dark forces). My story is about toys and children and the dark side of Toy Story, and I think many of you will find it very upsetting. Yay!On more familiar ground, we have Shattered Shields, edited by Jennifer Brozek and Bryan Thomas Schmidt, featuring a brand new Toby-verse story about the Luidaeg, set during the time of the first big Merlin War, and following Antigone of Albany as she tries to walk the line between faith and family. "The Fixed Stars" will be available November 4th, 2014.Finally, I have been invited to be one of the contributors for The PaulandStormonomicon, an anthology of very short stories based on and/or inspired by Paul and Storm and their songs. (I am actually very proud of being one of their contributors, since I love their music and seem to have gotten invited on the basis of saying "But what about the LADIES?" when I saw the initial contributor list. It's a small thing. I am still pleased.) The Kickstarter has already reached the level at which the book is guaranteed, and it will be available for sale, but supporting the project is going to be the cheapest way to get it. It's like a pre-order, only not quite.And that is today's anthology news. Look at all those pretty stories!Glee.
I get inspiration for my story ideas from numerous places, but one of the most fruitful sources is the daily paper. As an attorney, I read the daily paper every morning to check for news on cases I was handling or potential clients that might come my way. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve gotten a call from someone in trouble who led with “maybe you’ve read about me in the paper?”
As an author, I find the media an excellent source of story ideas and my latest novel RUSH, released just this week, is a perfect example.
In the fall of 2011, headlines like this one started appearing in Dallas:
SERIAL RAPIST ATTACKING SORORITY SISTERS, COPS SAY
Now, you might think this was a case of some guy coming onto one of the local campuses and targeting one or more sorority houses, but that wasn’t the case at all. The next headline told us a little more:
SERIAL RAPIST APPEARS TO TARGET DALLAS AREA SORORITY ALUMNAE
The plot thickens. Now we know it’s alumnae, not current students being attacked, which means it’s more likely the attacks are spread out over a large geographic area. The article went onto say that the attacks always occurred at night in the women’s homes and the attacker knew personal information about the victims. And, here’s the kicker, the attacker was between 30 and 40 years old, but the victims were all in their late 50′s and 60′s, which made it less likely that they all were part of the same graduating class. The attacks had taken place during the eleven months prior to the sorority link being announced by the local police.
I had a ton of questions after reading these articles. What was the rapist’s connection to these women? How did he know personal information about them, including where they lived? Why did he want to harm them? Had they done something to him personally or to someone he cared about? When did the police make the connection that all these victims had been members of the same sorority? When did they tell sorority officials?
Two years later, these crimes remain unsolved. At least in real life. In my fictionalized version of the story, where the attacks are murders instead of rapes, my heroines, Danielle Soto and Ellen Davenport, solve the crime and fall in love along the way. That last part might not be something you’ll see in any real life headline , but it’s my kind of story and I hope you’ll enjoy it.
You can purchase RUSH now at any of the regular places you buy books or at my publisher’s website: Bold Strokes Books. You’ll also have the opportunity to win a copy during the Women and Words Hootenanny which starts tomorrow!
Gather up all your Matt Smith feels, because we’re heading back to Trenzalore.
Previously in Matt Smith
Welcome to SHIELD episode 10, where it’s a mid-season two-parter with a holiday break in between. In other words, plot chickens come home to roost and everything wrong happens so the audience can sweat about it over New Years.
And you know it’s serious when there’s a “Previously, on Agents of SHIELD” intro. It kindly reminds us about when Raina, the Girl in the Flower Dress visited a mysterious guy in a prison to ask about “Stage Three” and “The Clairvoyant,” because I’d completely forgotten to remember that scene and I’m recapping the show.
The mission of the week is to find and recover Edison Poe, former Marine, tactics expert, and convicted murderer, who was busted out of prison by three guys with super strength and Centipede implants. Other early episode exposition: Ward starts to joke about their sex life as he spars with May, and is met with a hard shut down. Skye is still doing research into her parents, and wheedles for more access to help her narrow down which SHIELD agent of the era could have dropped her off at that orphanage. Instead of giving her access (because he wants to protectively keep her from the truth), Coulson says he asked May to look into things for her.
Going up against Centipede means they’ll need backup, and they are provided it, in the form of someone who knows all about it. Mike Peterson, who we find pushing a bulldozer across a football field like a very cinematically-shot boss (“Did I beat Captain America’s time?” “Not even close.” Is Steve really that strong?), is our first recurring POC of the week.
Coulson takes the lull before Peterson arrives to warn May that Skye might be coming after her about research, a bit of subterfuge that May is not happy to be participating in. Not because she thinks Skye should know the truth, more like because she’s exhausted by the thought of having to interact with her. Peterson sticks the landing of integrating with the SHIELD crew by coming out right away with an apology for being a power crazed jerk and kidnapping and kicking a bunch of their butts the last time he saw them. As he says to Coulson, he’s dropped the villain act. This is his second chance, and he knows he won’t get a third.
Everybody heads off to Cleveland, where they have tracked down the sister of one of the soldiers, caught on security footage, who broke Poe out of federal prison. On the way, Peterson visits Coulson, eager to be of help in the field, only to have Coulson tell him that he wants him in the lab for testing. Using his super strength taxes him, and Coulson wants his own techies to be as familiar with Peterson’s limits as those at SHIELD HQ. Now, we all know that we’re going to see Peterson kick some superbaddie butt this episode, so I think that the real point of this scene might be when he tells Fitz and Simmons that it wasn’t SHIELD that perfected his Centipede implant (which now no longer holds the risk of self immolation, nor does he need to be topped up with serum in order to use his powers), it was the technobullet that they developed for Ward to shoot him with. Both SSibs get adorably flustered at his compliments.
On the way to talk to the soldier’s sister, Coulson notices Ward is reading some kind of eBook on the psychology of women, because I guess it’s implied that he wants to understand May better? Ward, babycakes. Even you should be able to tell that May is kind of atypical from the sort of generalizations made in books like that. Pick up The Psychology of Soldiers, for heaven’s sake. But despite how weird that is, I enjoy the rest of the scene for Coulson talking about his ‘cellist and how he had to basically leave her in the lurch when he died. She can’t know that he died fighting Loki, because that’s classified, and he can’t tell her he’s still alive, because that’s classified, so from her perspective he basically just stopped calling her. “Know where she is now?” Ward asks. “Course I do,” Coulson replies.
Then Coulson throws shade all over inter-agency dating, but it’s okay, Ward, because you’re not dating May. You’re just banging. Which is perfectly healthy, so long as that’s what you both want. Using a ruse and a magical high-tech business card Ward and Coulson manage to get the soldier’s sister to call him and to trace the call to California.
Meanwhile on the bus, Skye finds prison footage of Raina visiting Poe to ask about the Clairvoyant, and Mike recognizes her as the lady who brought him to Centipede. Coulson maintains his hard line that the Clairvoyant couldn’t be a psychic because there’s no evidence that ESP is anything other than a myth. At this point I’m wondering if all this skepticism about psychics and telekinetics really lampshade hanging, or ominous foreshadowing. Meanwhile in a room full of shipping containers, Raina and Poe decide to set a trap for the team.
Mike and Skye share a nested “I’m a parent who can’t be with his child” and “I’m a child who can’t be with my parent” moment (Peterson’s son Ace is still staying with his sister) before everybody suits up to go take out this latest Centipede base. And of course, contrary to Coulson’s indications earlier in the episode, Peterson is along as well, in a brand new suit the SSibs made for him that monitors his vital signs so they can tell when he’s going to be overtaxed.
As foreshadowed, Centipede is ready for them. The three soldiers ambush Coulson, Ward, May, and Peterson and everybody fights. Three to one, Peterson gets injured, but manages to take one of the soldiers down before the rest are ordered to escape. Upon being questioned, the last soldier is killed by brain explosion just like in “Eye Spy.” In the dead man’s eye-feed, Raina recognizes Mike Peterson, and is interested what he has, unlike her soldiers, that lets him keep his super strength without repeated injections. “What he has is your key to Stage 3,” says Poe as the camera shows us a shot of Peterson (and Coulson, but we’re not supposed to think that that’s significant, yet).
Fitz and Simmons confirm that the dead guys’ explodey eye was the same as Amadour’s. Peterson asks who Amadour is and they answer “A one episode guest stint for an actor of color. We helped her, then she disappeared for a while.” “Kind of a pattern with you guys,” he says.
Just kidding, they actually say “Former SHIELD agent. We helped her,” and he says ”Kind of a pattern with you guys.”
Unlike Amadour’s eyeball, this new one is untraceable, so they can’t track down Centipede using it. Coulson is alarmed by how fast Centipede appears to be making technological advancements, which reflects either lots and lots of manpower or very deep pockets or both. And now, some character development.
Poe finally talks to the Clairvoyant for Raina, but says he can’t reveal what he was told yet, and that if she asks too many questions about the Clairvoyant he’ll have to carve out her eyes with a steak knife. He did tell the Clairvoyant that she’s been doing a good job though, and she’s creepy!touched and kind of comes on to him. Actually you could just prefix everything Raina does with creepy! and it would be true. She’s got a very subtle evil about her that I like. May gets pissed at Ward for taking a punch for her in the fight, because A) she doesn’t need it and B) it might betray their relationship, and he gets all IT WAS TACTICAL I DON’T HAVE FEELINGS I NEVER HAVE FEELINGS, rounding it out with a “don’t flatter yourself” like the dumb jerk he is. May’s not the one reading psychology textbooks, Ward. It turns out Skye accidentally overheard at least part of the conversation, which frazzles privacy freak May into telling her that Coulson is not actually helping to research her parents because he doesn’t want her to know the truth. The truth, according to May, is that she needs to figure out whether she’s in SHIELD for the mission, or for herself. Which, okay, super mean to break her faith in her SHIELD dad, but yeah, that’s still been Skye’s problem from day one.
Skye responds to this by tearing up her printouts of possible SHIELD moms and hiding in her bunk. Coulson almost goes in to talk to her, but retreats when he hears her crying. There is sad guitar music. Peterson visits Coulson in his cabin, and it is revealed that he hasn’t seen his son since SHIELD picked him up because he can’t face him after being such a monster in the first episode. Coulson gives him a “you should think harder about being a dad” talk, because being a SHIELD agent means you can’t prioritize him. He says he’s seen “first hand” the kind of damage that can do to a kid, and my goodness, that could refer to anybody from Tony Stark to Skye.
Then Peterson calls his son and finds out that Raina has kidnapped him OHHH NOOOOOO. Thankfully, he tells the SHIELD team right away, so the last ten minutes aren’t the old trope of a character going to a secret hostage trade off instead of just asking for help. So, SHIELD can help out with a non-electronic tracking method that will let them keep tabs on Peterson until he’s recovered from the shipping container fight enough to bust out, and they head out to the trade point, but we were all warned that this was a two parter so of course something’s going to go wrong.
The first thing is that Ward, in his sniper’s perch, loses line of sight on Coulson, Peterson, and Raina as they go to make the swap due to a giant obvious cement truck, so, like, SHIELD agent scouting fail. Maybe next time pick a different building, Ward. Coulson and Raina begin sassy hostage negotiations, and Raina reveals that she’s not here to trade Ace for Peterson. Peterson’s betrayed them all to save his son. She’s here for Coulson.
Peterson grabs her by the throat, his last gambit, and threatens to kill her if she doesn’t let Ace and Coulson go. Raina simply replies that her employer doesn’t care whether she lives or dies, just that she gets Coulson. Still it takes Coulson to talk Peterson down with some advice about how he should be a good dad to Ace, because Coulson has so much dad experience not having kids or a family. I joke about Coulson being SHIELD dad and the team being a bunch of babies, but honestly a part of me was pretty skeptical of Coulson giving advice about how to be the father of a young child to a guy who is already the father of a young child. Not of every scene in which it happened, obviously Coulson’s got some personal experience to draw on about how SHIELD messes with interpersonal relationships, but some of the bits.
Anyway, Peterson lets Raina go and she turns over Ace. After he and Ace leave, she and her soldiers start to drag Coulson away, causing panic among the SHIELD team, who have no idea what’s going on. Peterson leaves Ace with Skye, and then runs back towards the Centipede folks to try and rescue Coulson with his superpowers because he wants to be a hero not a villain. Then that big truck that was blocking Ward’s line of sight blows up, with Peterson in the blast. So does the Centipede car. All the Centipede baddies themselves make off in a helicopter, shooting Ward in his sniper nest for good measure.
Stinger: Coulson tells Raina he won’t give her what she wants. She says all she wants is to hear about the day after he died.
So there you have it, folks, the first recurring POC character of the week and he dies in his second episode. Unless he hasn’t died because superpowers. And that’s not too implausible, in my book: having a dad blown up in front of his kid feels a bit dark for SHIELD.
What Centipede wants with Coulson is certainly the question that the show wants us to be focusing on during the holiday break. What is it about Coulson’s death that makes him the key to phase 3, instead of Peterson, who has somehow acquired a perfected form of the Centipede implant? Is it something that SHIELD did to him that we do not know about? Is phase 3 perhaps not even about perfecting the implants? Was it really Fitz-Simmons’ bullet that made Peterson’s implant non-fatal and self-sustaining? Or was it something SHIELD secretly did to him later at the Bridge?
Speaking of the episode’s title, it’s easy to see “The Bridge” as a reference to the episode’s last scene, it was also mentioned in last week’s ep. “The Bridge” was where Coulson said they were bringing Hannah the presumed telepath. So presumably the Bridge is where SHIELD receives new members of the Index, helps them cope with their new powers, and if, like Peterson, they so choose, integrates them with SHIELD. Integration with SHIELD was a theme throughout the episode with Peterson and Skye, who are both using SHIELD not for its own sake but as a way to get closer to their families, Skye by figuring out who they are, and Peterson by trying to become a hero for Ace.
There are a number of things to look forward to when the show returns in January, most obviously and intentionally, a reveal of more information (if not all the information) about Coulson’s death and resurrection. But there were other things in the episode and the sneak preview that I’m intrigued by. I hope that Peterson is not actually dead. I’m intrigued by glimpses of a harder, combat dressed, Skye. And I’m also interested by the various wrenches thrown into the team’s cohesiveness by this episode. If upon its return the show was about Coulson’s team pulling together to rescue him, it’d basically be the end of “0-8-4” on a grander scale, but serious steps were taken to make big rifts between second in command May, and Ward and Skye. There’s also some hints that SHIELD brass won’t feel the need to prioritize Coulson’s rescue, indicating that there will be some more wrinkles to the story than a simple rescue mission. See you in (nearly) a month!