Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Great Loss

I just got the news via Publisher's Lunch that Jim Baen has passed away. My heart goes out to his close friends and loved ones at this time; I wish them peace and healing. His death is a great loss for the SF community as well. Here's a link to one online article where author David Drake has written a heartfelt obituary for him.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Two At Once

I'm nearly finished with Chapter 3 of my new urban fantasy. I am about to start Chapter 8 of the third novel in my epic fantasy trilogy. I'm managing to hop back and forth between the two of them. I just wish I could make faster progress. I'd have to write a chapter of each book each week if I want to finish both by the end of the summer. At the rate things are going, I won't manage it, but we'll see. I'll at least have one of them done by the end of the summer, and the other will be close. Which will be which, I have no idea.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Amazon knows about me?

Somehow Amazon heard about my miniature books and has posted a page for each. The only info they have for each one is its title and the publication year, and of course there are no reviews or ordering buttons. I guess the pages are there so that if anyone had one they wanted to sell, they could do it...I guess. But that scenario is highly unlikely since every one I've ever sold went into the hands of collecters, and all between the years of 1999 and now. Amazon says they're out of print and limited in availability. Well, technically none are out of print since even the limited edition print runs can still be ordered from my website, but availability is limited because I make each book by hand and personally sew it into its "unknown binding".

I have no idea how Amazon found me, but the Huz and I had a few grins today over the fact that they had. My poor little mini books. I could contact Amazon and let them know that I have a few to sell, but since none of them are actually sewn together yet, that could be a problem if they wanted to stock them. So far my lack of stock hasn't been an issue since I only tend to get orders for a few at a time, but if I suddenly had to go into major production it would indeed be a problem. I'd have to drop everything else and just make little books as fast as possible. The sad part is, I could use the money. But if I went for the money just to get a little cash now, I wouldn't get the novels done, and the novels are my main focus anyway. It's the difference between the short term and the big picture. Sometimes we just have to stick it out and wait for that big ship to come in. Let's just hope there are no hurricanes in the meantime.

Salutes to Amazon, though, for being on the ball. If they bother to learn about and list authors of self-published one-inch-tall books, then it's no wonder they do such a big business. That' wow.

But if you really want to buy one of my minis, take a trip to the Pookatales Press website at and use my catalog, which allows you to make payment through PayPal. Unless you're ordering several of each book all at once, I can accommodate your order. And a little-known fact about these mini books is that three of them, A Perfect Irony, The Mer--A Treatise, and The Wolfhound actually take place in the same world as my Oantran Triad trilogy, currently being marketed to publishers in New York. If by some miracle my trilogy actually becomes well-known one day, then that would make these little minis sought-after collector's items.

Not a bad dream, that.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The World Around the Corner

Recently, a crit partner and I were discussing the possible reasons why so many people have responded so strongly to books like The DaVinci Code, the Anita Blake Series and a host of other recent thrillers, paranormal thrillers, and urban fantasy offerings. Looking at the situation a little more closely, we found that all of these have something in common.

All are set in the modern-day world, and while the degree to which a reader must suspend disbelief may greatly vary from book to book, even the ones with more fantastic elements like vampires or werewolves still manage to leave just this little hint of "What if". What if a werewolf lives on your street, and that dang dog that keeps howling off and on in the neighborhood isn't just a dog? What if you went to school with a descendant of Mary Magdalene and didn't even know it? What if the fey are alive and well and living in Cahokia, Illinois? Most of it sounds pretty unbelievable just to say it like that, but when you sit down and read those books, the what ifs suddenly get up close and personal. Suddenly as the vampire gets into the taxi and gives the driver an address on the outskirts of St. Louis, your brain begins to make a tiny leap of faith. What if? These stories are set in a world that looks very much like ours. The characters don't live in another century, they live in ours. They wear clothes like ours, buy similar takeout, and drive the same kinds of cars.

I think it's something about that extreme level of familiarity in the fictional world vs our own that makes a person's brain want to stretch just a little. After all, it's such a short step from our world into the world of those books, and when you start to think about it, none of us know for absolutely certain what's waiting around that next corner. For those of us drawn to fiction, especially when it's a comparatively realistic fiction, the temptation to wonder is just too irresistable. Scientists, after all, are already developing an "invisibility cloak" that bends light rays around itself. Most of us have heard that old saying, "Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." There is no such thing as an invisibility cloak, right? Wrong, apparently. Sasquatch does not exist. Now tell that to the hundreds of people who have had encounters with one!

Is it such a great leap from our world to that other world right around the corner? Perhaps not. Perhaps we can regain that lost sense of wonder that we had as children. Children have a wonderful gift that many adults lack. They actually take time to consider a possibility before ingrained logic rules it out. They know they can fly, they just don't remember how! They're sure they heard reindeer on the roof. They know magic when they see it, and they know better than anyone that Neverland and Narnia aren't so very far away. Perhaps we adults like those thrillers, urban fantasies, and vampire novels so much because the very familiarity of the worlds in the books brings us just a tiny step closer to that sense of childish wonder that many of us lost so long ago.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

First Impressions Count

I recently attended my first conference of the season, and even though it didn't have much to do with my genre, the classes were still incredibly interesting and helpful. Most of the published authors teaching the classes were likewise interesting and helpful, and for the most part, I enjoyed the day very much.

Of particular interest was a speaker who revealed ways in which to tell when someone is being deceptive. She said that most people are unable to lie directly, but instead they will skirt around the truth, modify it or qualify it in some way. Examination of statements made by various politicians and celebrities, when viewed through the lens of language, can prove very illuminating. Take a course on the techniques, and it won't take a psychic or a Deanna Troi to warn you when people you encounter are being less than truthful. It's fascinating stuff, but I can see where knowing these things might put an entirely different face on certain relationships and interactions! Cheating boyfriend? Two-faced coworker? Back-stabbing boss? Yikes!

This was one conference where the good things were very, very good and the bad thing was, well...just plain maddening. That brings me to a personal pet peeve and the reason for the title of this post.

I don't believe that any famous author attending a publicity event or conference should treat fans as though they were inferior species, no matter how tired or jet-lagged the author might be. I don't care whether that author had the worst day of his or her life or whether there'd been a death in the family, or whatever horrible extenuating circumstances could be brought to bear. When you accept an engagement of that nature, you are there as a goodwill ambassador for yourself, your book, and your publishing house. You do not snub fans, period. You do not have to become their best friend, but you do not treat them as if they are chewing gum stuck to your shoe. There is simply no excuse for such classless behavior, unless you want to qualify for an "Authors Behaving Badly" TV show. I also don't believe that said famous author should use any panel, class or keynote speech as a platform to proselytize his or her religious beliefs. If I wanted a sermon, I'd go to church. Needless to say, I was unimpressed and disappointed. I did not pay good money for this type of thing, and I will not be buying this author's books in the future.

If my books ever become well enough known that anyone would stand in line to see me, I hope that I always remember to treat people the way I'd want them to treat me. If I can't do that much, then I do not deserve the recognition in the first place. For that matter, it's the way everyone should behave, famous or not. At least, that's what I was raised to believe.