Thursday, August 30, 2007
So either you got that or you didn't - either way is OK with me. I link to that because:
1. This is the interweb and I am a webstronaut (have been for years and years), and cross-linking to random stuff is one of Our People's most cherished rights and:
2. Besides writing novels and short stories I also edit (and write many of the reviews for) the PC Games and Hardware section of MyGamer.com, a game review and community site. As such, people like Mike and Jerry really speak to me. I grok them, if I might be so bold as to claim it.
That reminds me... I really haven't said much about my game and hardware reviews over on good ol' MG. I've been working there for literally years and over that time I've given my opinions on dozens of games, good (F.E.A.R.), bad (Postal 2), and just plain fugly (some so bad I literally cannot rember their titles, but Lula 3D springs to mind), and overall I'm proud of the work. One day, maybe I'll actually get to work on games for a living - wouldn't that be great?
Please understand that the tone of wistful longing that practically dripped from that last sentence isn't lost on me - I'm almost 40 (%$#@!!!) and I'm well aware that statements like that are more appropriate for people for whom chest and pubic hair is still a novelty. Still, I think that I could contribute a lot to a game. More on that later.
So the blog’s been up for a few days, and I’m starting to get used to the idea that I type it *here* and the entire world reads it *there*, and I’m already starting to ask myself questions like “what in the world will people expect on a site like this?”
I’ve been following other blogs maintained by authors like Neil Gaiman or Marc Gillar. They’re great. Almost discouragingly so. I’m picking up style and content tips, but the question remains: What should I talk about?
Honestly, I’ve never understood the relentless need that some people have to document every little detail of their lives. I’m sure that they have a purpose, but I’ve never been fascinated with anyone enough that posts such as “Well, the cat threw up on me. Again. So I called Mike, my DH, and asked him to pick up some hairball medicine on the way home from work…” can keep me interested. Until now, I've been content to allow the experiences of my life to contribute to my writing, not be my writing, if you know what I mean.
I know that admitting this on a blog site risks censure at best to bodily harm at worst, but it’s true. Of course, it’s a much more fascinating read (for me, anyway) when the “everyday life” so described involves, as it does with Gaiman, things like traveling to China to take part in conferences on Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Looking closer, the reader finds that Gaiman does have his fair share of the more mundane stuff documented as well: birthdays and other personal minutia.
I suppose if I have anything at all useful to say on these here interwebs, it may be in the story of how I, driven purely by desperation, decided to become a writer at the tender age of 34, managed to juggle a full-time job as a Product Manager at an internet company and managed to sell my novel to the first publisher that heard about it (not bragging - I just hear that’s kind of abnormal).
OK, so some of you out there are probably already falling asleep, and this post is running long, but maybe, just maybe, someone else is interested in how I did it and so that’s where my posts for the next few weeks will focus. I’ll say up front that I’d love to say that I stumbled onto some Deep Secret, one that I played to the hilt to my advantage to sell my book, but that would be a lie. Lots of it was nothing more than hard, consistent work… but some of it might have been luck. I don’t know if I agree with that though – I honestly believe in Seneca’s adage: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”, at least most of the time.
I’ll also ask the question: what do you want to know? If you have any questions or suggestions on topics, feel free to belt them out.
Until next time…
I couldn't afford to stay at the hotels right near the convention center, so I found a room on Travelocity at some place called the "Robin Hood Motel" on Rt. 50. It sounds charming... so that probably means that it's absolutely terrifying. Visions of mutated bedbugs as big as my hand, looking something like a cross between a cockroach and a rabid possum are now flitting through my mind. Must remember to bring hip-waders and something from my sword collection with me... you know, just in case the trip turns into a John Carpenter movie. At least it was cheap(er).
Anyone looking for a roommate for the convention? Seriously.
Paula Guran says that the trip will be a wonderful opportunity for me to meet other editors at the New York houses "for when I outgrow Juno", and she tells me that she can facilitate introductions. Have I said lately how lucky I am that I found Paula? To quote the eminent sage, Goofy: "Gawrsh."
Honestly, I'm not entirely sure if her confidence in my writing is heartwarming or terrifying - it really is a mix of both. I have nothing but good feelings for Juno so far, and I hope that our business relationship will prove to be long-lasting, positive and profitable, but I have to admit that the idea of seeing a Tor or a Del Ray or some other "established" house's logo above my name on a new book spine is nothing short of intoxicating. From your lips to God's ears, Paula.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
This is a very special event for me, not because it's the first convention where I've been a panelist (I spoke on 3 panels at this year's MarCon event), but rather because it was at Context 2006 where I met Paula Guran, my future editor. I pitched Blood Magic (with 4 chapters still yet to be written) to her in the hallway after a "Meet the Editors" panel. Yes, I know you're not supposed to do that with an incomplete manuscript, but, well... It worked out, didn't it?
If you are an aspiring writer, you really must attend conventions and shows like Context where writers and editors meet to discuss the craft and do business. I'm 100% convinced that if I had not attended last year and put in the effort to create some "face time" with the editors in attendance that Blood Magic would be languishing on some slush pile someplace... Say what you want about talent, but the publishing industry is still, from what I've seen anyway, a place where good people do business with other good people, and knowing even a few of them can very well mean the difference between a publishing deal and months (if not years) lost in the slush.
Anyway - that's my sermon for the day: "Never overestimate the value of showing up."
In case anyone wants to stop by and say "Hi" (and I hope you will), my event calendar at Context will be as follows:
- Science Fiction in Comics - Friday, 7:00 pm
- Humor in Science Fiction and Fantasy - Saturday, 1:00 pm (alongside one of my heroes - Mike Resnick!)
- Author’s Fears - 2:30 pm (alongside horror GoH Michael Arnzen - also awesome)
- I Really Did It, But How? - Sunday, 10:30 am (someone, please, bring coffee...)
- How to Kill Off a Character - Sunday 1:00 pm
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
While there, please check out Juno's other offerings, especially the offering for Silvia Kelso's Amberlight. A few months back, Juno put together a little promotional booklet with the first few chapters of Blood Magic on one side, and Kelso's Amberlight on the other (does anyone but me remember when publishers used to do that?), and I have to admit I was blown away by her talent, and I can't wait to read the entire thing.
Paula Guran at Juno tells me that the large retail chains have been slow to pick up Amberlight, so if you like what you see in those opening chapters please help out a wonderful, emerging author and ask your local retailer to stock the book - I think we have enough crap on the shelves that can be moved aside to make space, thank you very much... Check it out!
SPOT BLOOD MAGIC CONTEST
Be the first to find BLOOD MAGIC by Matthew Cook in a Borders or Barnes and Noble bookstore and win!
That's right: as soon as you see a copy take a picture of yourself with the book in a store (cell phone photos are fine) and email us with the evidence. Email email@example.com with "I found it!" as the subject.
OK... so, I'm not sure what the actual prize from Juno is, however I'll promise here and now that whoever wins the contest will also receive a signed copy of the book direct from me. I'll get the winner's contact info from Juno and will personally send out your defaced... erm, I mean your autographed copy as soon as the contest is complete.
You'll have to forgive me if this gets off to a bit of a weak start... I'm a long-time blog reader but I have far less experience with actually creating these postings, so initially I'll be groping around for the best method of keeping this spot alive and the posts fresh and useful. If there's anything you want to know about the trials and tribulations of writing and/or publishing your first novel, don't be shy about asking.
Initially I plan to update this spot weekly, if not more so. It's an exciting time for me: my first novel, Blood Magic, was picked up by Juno Books back in November of 2006, and is hitting store shelves in September of 2007. As you can well imagine, I'm filled with equal parts excitement and dread. Excitement because... well, come on - it's my first published novel, something I've been working towards for years. Dread because as a first-timer, I want the book to do well for me and for Juno, if for no other reason than to show my most excellent editor, Paula Guran, that she was right to take a chance on an unknown new author.
If you're out there and have any suggestions on how I can help the success of Blood Magic, please feel free to drop me a line at "firstname.lastname@example.org". Initially I'll be limiting the comment ability on my posts, but if things go well then I might lift that. In the meantime, thanks for visiting and check this space often for updates!