Category: author events

I’m a Real Author!

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Yes, I know I have two books professionally published. I’ve had reviews of my books appear in real review publications. I’ve had readings. I’ve presented at conferences. I’ve done book signings. I’ve won awards for my books. But I’ll be honest: yesterday was the first day I’ve felt like a real, honest-to-goodness author.

What happened? I walked into 2 different Barnes & Noble bookstores (any bookstores would have done, but they would have had to be stores that didn’t know I was coming ahead of time) at random, went to the shelves, found my book, and went to the store clerks and offered to sign the copies they had. (There were 8 in the first store (in Portsmouth, NH), across three different areas, and 11 in the second in 2 areas (in Burlington, MA).) In both cases, the staff were really excited to meet me and asked if I’d like to come back to do a real signing. (I explained I was just passing through, and politely declined.)

So why does that make me feel like a real author when all the other things didn’t? I think it’s because it’s tangible. It’s something I didn’t have any real hand in creating. Just knowing that my book is out there across stores in the country, prominently displayed . . . it’s a really nice feeling.

I think some of it is also due to the fact that it’s something I tried to experience with VODNIK and never really got to. It wasn’t for a lack of trying. When VODNIK came out, I went into a handful of stores at random over the course of several months as I traveled from place to place. Each time, I had a small nugget of hope that maybe my book would be there. Each time, I was disappointed.

So having the experience now was all the sweeter.

Anyway. Just wanted to share the feeling with you all. My hope is to hit the Danvers, MA and maybe even the Saugus, MA stores this evening, because dinner is for the weak. (And seeing my book in print is kind of contagious.)

If you live around one of those Barnes & Noble stores, stop in and grab a signed copy of THE MEMORY THIEF today! And thanks for all the pictures and reports of book sightings. Keep them coming!

Salt Lake Comic Con!

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With all my vacations and running around, I realized yesterday that I still haven’t officially announced on the blog that I’ll be presenting at Salt Lake Comic Con. NEXT WEEK! That’s right, woodchuck-chuckers, next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, you can come on out to hear me speak, and I’ll even have some copies of THE MEMORY THIEF to hand out. Free!

What am I going to be speaking about?

  • Thursday at 1pm in room 255F, I’ll be on a panel discussing Writing for Teens.
  • Friday at 2pm in room 150G, I’ll be on a panel discussing Writing for Children.
  • Friday at 5pm in booth 1807, I’ll be doing a signing, and I should have my copies of MEMORY THIEF with me then. I’ll try to bring some copies of VODNIK with me as well, if you’d like to pick some of those up.
  • Saturday at 1pm in room 253A, I’ll be part of the “Build a Story: Professional Authors Create a Story from Scratch” activity, which sounds fun.

Other than that, I’ll be wandering around aimlessly, checking out the cool sights and seeing if I can’t score some sweet swag for the fam. Want to hang and play a board game or three? Let me know on here, Facebook, or Twitter, and I’ll see what I can do.

Hoping to see some of you there!

What’s the Best Advice I Could Give an Aspiring Teen Writer?

This past Monday, I had a chance to go to our local high school and talk to a creative writing class. First off, how cool is it that my high school has a creative writing class? I don’t remember anything being offered like that when I was in high school, and I think it would be a blast to have been in one back then. (Then again, I’m not sure if I would have actually enrolled in one if I could have. I was way too focused on taking all the hardest classes to maintain my chances of being valedictorian. Maybe there were a bunch of cool classes, and I just missed out on all of them . . .)

It was basically just a sit down chat, with them asking me any questions they wanted to, and me giving honest responses. So we talked about everything from my favorite TV show (hard to pick, but you can already guess the leading candidates) to how I go about actually revising a book. It lasted for an hour or so, and they were a really great group of students. Thoroughly enjoyed myself.

But after thinking things over some since I presented, I really think the best (and only) piece of advice a person (of any age) needs if they’re just starting out as a writer is pretty basic:

Write. A lot. Don’t worry about it being good or great or the best. Just write.

Do you need to read a lot too? It could certainly help, but for me, the emphasis needs to be on the writing. You can be a great writer without having read a bazillion books. On the other hand, I don’t think you’ll be a great writer without having written a lot of books. (Luckily, most people who love writing also love reading, and I imagine most people have the “reading” part down before they want to write. Most. Not all.)

Of course, one of the students had to bring up Harper Lee, and I had to say she’s the exception that proves the rule. But really, focusing on anything other than writing at first doesn’t make sense to me.

I’m currently working on my 14th book. Just the simple act of having finished 13 other entire books makes writing the 14th that much easier. You learn so much by doing. If I could have gotten a few books under my belt before college . . . I think I’d be in an even better position today.

So that’s my vote for best advice for a teen writer. Anyone have a counter?

Want to Be My Patron?

Ichabod StampYesterday in my wanderings across the internets, I came across this site called Patreon. The concept is simple. Remember back in the good old Renaissance days, when artists had patrons who would support them, allowing the artists to do cool things like paint church ceilings or be William Shakespeare? Yeah. Those were some pretty good days, from an artist’s perspective. Well, minus the constant threat of death to disease, and the criminal lack of video games.

But yay for patrons!

Patreon wants to bring that back. The patrons, not the constant threat of death to disease. So people can sign up to support artists on a monthly basis. I’ll admit to being intrigued by the concept. Here’s a video that sums it up:

I’ve been writing this blog for free since 2007. I’m not going to stop writing it for free, but at the same time, I thought there might be some of you out there who’d be interested in being a patron of mine. If not, no harm, no foul. We can still be friends. But there’s some other cool things I’ve thought about doing online that I’ve never really explored, and this seemed like an opportunity to see if they might pan out.

Specifically, I’d love love love to start a sort of blogging writing group. I’ve been wanting to publish ICHABOD on my lonesome for quite some time, and I’d really like to get some feedback from my fans before I do that. So I set up the patreon page with that in mind. Join at $1/month, and you get a big fat virtual kiss from me. On the cheek though. Because cooties. More importantly, you get access to all the ICHABOD posts as they go up there, week by week. Read them over, offer comments and suggestions. My hope is that I could get a real conversation going about the book.

If you’d like to be a bit bigger of a patron, I’ve set up a $3/month option too. You can read about it over there.

I honestly have no idea if this is of interest to anyone, but I thought it was worth a shot. Denisa helpfully reminded me to start small, and then expand if the interest proves to be there. So that’s what I’m doing. If I get to the point where I have $20/month coming in from this or more, then I’ll start expanding the program some.

Anyway. That’s what I’ve got for you today. I’d love to hear some feedback. Let me know what you think.

A Report on LTUE 2015

As you know, I just got back from another sci-fi/fantasy conference, this time to sunny Utah for LTUE (Life, the Universe and Everything). One question that kept coming up time and time again was “Why did you come all the way from Maine for this?” It’s a valid question. LTUE happens the same weekend as Boskone, a convention in Boston. Why am I flying all the way across the country when I could just drive down to Boston and go to a con there? They’re about the same size, on similar topics . . . and I hate flying. Seems like a no brainer, right?

Except there are a couple of outside elements that factor into the equation. Number one, I lived in Utah for 9 years, and I have a slew of family and friends out there I like to see and get together with. True, Boskone usually attracts a few of my writer friends (and my agent), and that’s cool, but nowhere near the number of contacts I have in Utah. So being able to travel for business and see all those cool people is definitely a perk. Not only that, my writerly connections in Utah are way more robust than they are in Boskone. (Of course, this is in large part due to the fact that I spent a lot of time in writerly circles in Utah, and I haven’t taken the time to do the same in New England. Time constraints are a bummer.)

Second up is the fact that since I have so many friends and family in Utah, I have free places to stay and people who will give me rides. This means that although I have to pay for a plane ticket out to Utah, everything else is just about free. For Boskone, I’d have to foot the bill for a hotel for 2-3 nights, which is about the cost of an airplane ticket. All told, I break even when comparing the two conferences. Next year, I hear one of my writer friends is coming out from Utah to Boston for Boskone, which means I’ll probably do Boskone instead–assuming I can get on some paneling, which should be in the cards. Then again, I was on 9 panels out at LTUE. One of the main reasons I do these things is so I can introduce myself to readers and let them know I exist. Just by eyeballing the room each time and making estimates, I presented to over 600 people at LTUE. That makes the trip very worthwhile, from that perspective. Not sure if Boskone could compete in that area, but then again, I also don’t have to worry about flying with Boskone . . .

So what did I present on?

  • Blogging for self-promotion–Nicely attended. This one was an area where I felt like I had plenty to say, mainly coming down to three essentials: only blog if it’s something you’re interested in doing, be yourself when you blog, and be consistent–it gets better and easier with practice.
  • How to create a language–I was moderating on this one, which was a relief. I have my linguistics undergrad to fall back on, but seeing as how one of the panelists was a linguistics professor at BYU, that undergrad gets trumped very quickly. Still, it was an interesting panel, and I think I kept things moving nicely as the moderator. I don’t personally do much from the language creation side of things, though I did have a chance to talk about how I used language in Vodnik, which was fun.
  • Collectible card games–I play Magic, and I play board games, but I don’t do much from the CCG side of things other than that. I had a bit to say on this one, but my main contribution was probably strong arming Dan Wells to come appear on the panel with me. He has way more experience, and said much more interesting things.
  • How to revise–Probably the best attended panel I did, with 150 or so people in the audience. Lucky for me, it was also one of the ones I had the most to say about. Revising can be a real pain, but it’s also very rewarding. Great audience questions, great panelists. I was really happy with this one.
  • When and how to query–This panel didn’t fire on all cylinders for me, possibly because I never queried as much as I probably should have. But I also never got the chance to give my best piece of advice when it comes to querying: approach it like you’d approach getting a job. Becoming an author and being an author is very much a business. If someone told me they were trying to get a job and were discouraged, but then also admitted they’d only applied to 10 places or so, I would question their approach. Spend time researching. Yes, it’s difficult, but it also pays off.
  • Board games–A very fun panel that I worried about ahead of time but which I really had a blast doing once we were in it. Lots of interesting discussion. Good times.
  • Movie adaptations–I moderated this one, and I feel like it went well. It pays to know a fair bit about what you’re moderating, and all those years of studying film adaptations certainly helped. Nice to be on another panel with Dave Wolverton, too. Got to catch up with him briefly before and after.
  • YA protagonists–fun to be on a panel with Janci Patterson, especially when it’s on a topic we both have plenty of opinions about.
  • Hard magic vs. soft magic–Another one I moderated, thankfully. My magic systems are about as squishy as they get.

In addition to that, I played plenty of board games, went out to lunch with interesting people, squeezed in an 11pm IHOP run, signed some bo0ks, played some Magic–all while seeing a slew of family members. When you consider the fact that all of my planes ran more or less on time, and I somehow avoided the major snowstorms that have been hitting New England time and time again, then there’s no other way to look at the trip as anything other than a huge success.

Thanks to everyone who came out to see me. I had a blast, and I hope to get out to Utah again in the not-too-distant future.

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