Monday, November 25, 2013

Seventeen chapters in six days

So, in the great tradition of NaNo, I have too much on my plate. My social schedule is crazy (as usual),  my work schedule is crazy (more than normal), and the result is that I'm behind on my chosen project for the month (as usual). So, as much as I'd love to share specifics and my sneaky, ninja enlightenment of the week, I'm going to bow out this week so I can catch up on the edit-o-rama. Despite my hectic schedule, it's imperative that I finish the edit this week. I'll explain why next week but for now, I'll simply wish you a happy Thanksgiving and/or Hanukkah, and depart.

Monday, November 18, 2013

An answer to a dare

A couple weeks ago a friend of mine posted the link for a list of the most bizarre fantasy novel covers. While there's some true "what the frak?" covers on the list, most struck me as meh. I agree that they're not the most beautiful covers, but for me a lot of them are dated art, not bad art. This isn't an art snob or "I must defend the artist"opinion. It's one that comes as an occupational hazard. When you spend eight hours a day surrounded by books, you kind of develop an immunity to a certain level of schlock. The art itself can be quite good, that's not a requirement. For a cover to stand out as being truly atrocious among booksellers it needs to make you wonder if you're really seeing this or did someone just slip you acid? With this in mind, my friend dared me to come up with a better list. After much consideration I've compiled my top ten.

                                                   #10: Even unicorns know how to sieg heil.

#9: It took me a full minute to realize that the earth was being eaten by a giant snake skeleton but it doesn't explain the presence of the dove and it certainly isn't much of a CRISIS! I mean, come on. The snake doesn't have a digestive tract so it can't be that bad if it swallows the planet.

                                               #8: This one gave me a Captain EO flashback.

#7: Quick! There's no time to explain. Get in the triceratops!

#6: Anyone want to play whack-a-mole?

#5: If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, I don't want to know what this keeps away.

#4: Tentacle porn?

#3: I got nothing. This one is just plain weird.

#2: Excuse me miss, I do believe your vagina is barking.

(drumroll please)

The dancing cocker spaniel of death!

("hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal...")

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

The disapproving llama

You know those "you should be writing" memes with the scowling celebrities? As wonderful as those are, it occurred to me that they're not as effective as they're meant to be. When I first started writing I definitely needed the encouragement of others. That's why I asked Brandon Sanderson to sign my writing folder. Every time I opened it I would see this and be reminded that I really could do it.

I still need the occasional encouragement of others (one can never get enough) but since I don't use that folder anymore, I've switched to another method. The disapproving llama. You see, I know that I can finish writing a novel, I just need a reminder to actually sit down and do it. The llama's glare reminds me that I can't sell it if I don't finish it. In short, that I should be writing. This brings us back to the memes. It occurred to me that if a picture of a Hollywood celebrity can motivate people to write, why not one of their favorite authors? 

With that in mind, I took pictures of a few of my well known friends and favorites, looking disapprovingly, in the hope that others can find the motivation that they need to keep going -- especially since it's NaNoWriMo. And because I also have faith in you, I've included the disapproving llama in each shot. Feel free save these to your computer, send them to your writing group, tape a copy to your writing desk, or wherever it needs to be to remind you. I'll continue to take these pictures as I travel about and post them but this is the first set.

                                                    John A. Pitts says you should be writing.

                                                 Ken Scholes says you should be writing.

                                                    Jay Lake says you should be writing.

                                                Brent Weeks says you should be writing.

                                         Diana Pharoah Francis says you should be writing.

                                            David D. Levine says you should be writing.

                                               Devon Monk says you should be writing.

                                      Bryan Thomas Schmidt says you should be writing.

                                                Irene Radford says you should be writing.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Forget me not

Last week a customer traded in the mother of all classic sci-fi collections. 35 boxes! For those not familiar with how many books can fit into an average packing box, that roughly adds up to 3,000 books. However it’s not the size that made this the mother of all collections, though it usually would. What made this collection extraordinary was that it was accrued over a lifetime (if it was printed between 1960 and 1994, this man owned it), a lot of the authors I’ve never heard of, and most of them were never read.

As I processed them last week, I couldn’t help but wonder how I would have felt if one of my novels were in these pristine stacks? While it would be great for my book(s) to have been picked up by a major publisher and found their way into someone’s collection, it would pain me to learn that it sat unread for thirty plus years. I want people to devour my books and anxiously await the next. I don’t want them to sit in a storage unit, forgotten. That’s the stuff of nightmares.

It would also pain me to know that after a lifetime of writing and promoting, no one remembered my name. Yes, it happens. I realize that. And yes, just because I’ve never come across their name doesn’t mean that they’re obscure (though I think that fifteen years in the business is enough to say that they are) or that they didn’t warrant that kind of legacy. But still, I don’t want a sci-fi guru to pull my works out of a box and say, “who the hell is this?” Or worse, have a used bookstore employee say, “I’m sorry, we can’t sell this because no one reads them anymore.” I think that would be worse than never being published in the first place.

A lot of work and care went into each of these books. Heck, some of them even have beautiful cover art from Rowena, Darrell K Sweet, Frank Frazetta, Tom Kidd, and Royo.

     (From left to right: Kelly Freas, David Mattingly, Luis Royo, Michael Whelan, Darrell K Sweet, and Richard Hescox)

It made picking through them very difficult because as a bookseller, I knew that a lot of these are going to sit on the shelves for a long time. But on the other hand, as a writer I understand what the hopes of everyone involved in each book’s creation were because I have those same hopes. I know how much work went into novel and I don’t want it to have been in vain. I’m as excited to show these forgotten treasures to the public, as I am dismayed that they were forgotten in the first place. It’s an uncomfortable dichotomy, one that is almost as uncomfortable as the question itself.