Archive for the ‘bookery’ Category

Dangerous Thoughts!

February 17, 2010

There Will Come Soft Rains

November 19, 2009

Short animation based on the Ray Bradbury story of the same name.

Booklife

October 24, 2009

So, I’m, like, a writer fighting to get my first book into stores. At least into Kindles? Published would be great. It’s been languishing, but hopefully that’ll change soonish.

Anyway, I’m also an introvert. I write books. I don’t market them. I’m an introvert by nature… it’s one of the reasons I became a writer. One of the toughest things for introverted writers to negotiate has always been the marketing of their books, and with the rise of ever more “social” and viral ways to market books, the landscape has gotten tougher to manage. Most of the time, I feel little overwhelmed.

I’m often caught in this weird place where people tell me I share too much, or too little, or don’t engage enough, or engage too much. And you know, all I want to do is write. I can write here or plunk away in cool silence in this big 1890s house, but at some point, if you want anybody to read anything you write, you need to crawl out of the house and back into the world.

Booklife came to me at just the right time. I’d sold a book, had it get caught in limbo, and was happily cocooning in my real life. Trouble is there are two big parts to The Writing Life. There’s the writing, and there’s the marketing. There’s the interacting with the world, and there’s creating worlds. Today, it often feels like I can do one or the other but not both at once. And… well, let’s say that interacting with the world makes me tired. I’m in marketing at the day job, and that means people and politics and social media all day. It’s the last thing I want to do when I come home.

I enjoyed Booklife because I got to see how another writer negotiated the writing vs. marketing portions of life. Because let me tell you – it often feels like they’re directly opposing forces. He gives some great strategies on how to move from writing to marketing mode and leverage social media tools. Yes, the tools he talks about may be obsolete soon, but the rules of social media (thus far) are pretty portable across mediums.

For me, it was the right book at the right time. How do you interact with the world without exhausting yourself? How do you withdraw enough that you can be creative but not lose momentum with your social media audience? It’s a tough negotiation that I’m right smack in the middle of right now, and seeing how VanderMeer is negotiating his own booklife was… comforting? I want to know it can be done. That I can build a writing career and still have some part of my life that’s still mine. I need enough left to create something.

Because I’ve spent a year being battered around by publishing woes, and I’m far too young and unpublished to become a bitter midlister just yet.

Gods and Monsters and Valkyries Oh My!

May 26, 2009

I picked up NorseCode based primarily on the strength of the back cover copy and first chapter, which is usually a good sign (Not always. See The Electric Church for first chapter readings that went wrong). Turns out this is the sort of book that makes me second guess my aversion for books clothed in urban fantasy covers (cause c’mon, you know this is how God’s War is going to look).

I’ve known Greg via shared friends/colleagues for some time, but it’s actually rare that I enjoy a book written by somebody I know. It’s just statistics: of all the books being written by all the folks in the SF/F community, I’m only going to like a certain fraction. The folks I know in the SF/F community represent a fraction of that fraction.

So anyways, this is an end-of-the-world-comes-to-California novel, made better by flawed gods and rogue Valkyries with swords. Overall, it’s good eats: totally epic battles and a whirlwind tour of Hel. There are just enough POV shifts, interesting characters, and great settings. It’s a good beach book.

And, of course, it helps that the female characters don’t suck. Who doesn’t want to read about a Valkyrie who’s good with a sword, really?

A couple of personal annoyances: our heroine and her sister had very similar voices. Totally different characters with very different views on life, but when I was in one head as opposed to the other, I couldn’t really tell much difference. They acted/reacted in very similar ways, and had similar thought processes. I actually wondered, for awhile, if they were twins and this was supposed to show how alike they were. In fact, they’re at least a couple of years apart, which is hard to tell based on voice and their interactions.

And, you know, the pan-to-the-lamp “romance” between the Valkyrie and one of the gods was, eh, so-so, and I was reeeeeally glad it was just a “pan to the lamp” romance. I liked that she was the active initiator of the relationship (gods rape human women so much in myth that seeing a human woman initiate was a nice change), but it felt a little strained. I had no idea what they saw in each other, except that they were a man and a woman at the end of the world. Maybe that’s enough.

In any case, this was a fun read. I was pleased to see eight copies on the shelf at the big bookstore in Newport, KY that J. and I visited on our way to see a far less entertaining bit of media

Good Reads

May 19, 2009

J. was out and about today, so I asked him to pick up a copy of Norse Code on the way home:

I’m already clipping through this one pretty quickly. I get the sense that it’ll be inevitably (and favorably) compared to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

Don’t let the cover fool you. It’s real urban fantasy, not vampire porn at all! Huzzah!!

Jane Austin & Zombies Has Arrived

April 22, 2009


I bought a copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for J., secretly knowing that I could steal it from him when he wasn’t looking. Then Steph called dibs on it when we all went out to dinner, and now I’m 3rd in line. Still, I’ve been sneaking peeks, and I can say this much:

Reader, it’s awesome.

These are the stories – and heroines! – I wanted to read about 20 years ago.

Why I Wrote God’s War

March 10, 2009

I’m on page 92 of The Electric Church. I picked this one up because it’s about a Gunner, an assassin, who gets hired by the government, puts together a team, and goes after a religious organization. This should sound a tad familiar to those who’ve been following God’s War. The main character is snarky and poor and uneducated but good at what he does. Huzzah! Good times.

So now, as said, I’m on page 92 and our wise-cracking white male hero just put together his team for the job.

And, you’ll never guess it!!

His team?

Our wise-cracking white male hero’s team?

Wait for it….

It’s full of wise-cracking white male heroes!!

No, I’m serious. I’m on page 92 and the only woman in here with a first and last name paired with any kind of power or authority (or, you know, action) is the one he “accidently” killed at the beginning of the book.

I think, at one point, there were some people described as yellow. And some people from Ireland. I think there was a (male) Hispanic sounding character named at one point.

This is the sum total of cultural diversity in NYC 2050!

Oh man.

See, this is why I HAD to write books.

At some point they have to have a token woman character as the love interest, right? RIGHT?? And maybe she’ll be Hispanic or something, right? RIGHT???

Oh well.

Another Wicked-Cool Cover

February 27, 2009

Here’s to hoping that the God’s War cover will be this awesome:

My Kind of Jane Austen

February 26, 2009

I never really got the whole Jane Austen thing. They were amusing books, sure, and well written, but I could take or leave them.

I admit that I’d heard of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies several weeks ago. I thought it was a stupid joke. Then I thought it sounded silly. I mean, come on, what is that, a mashup of Jane Austen and Zombies? What the hell does that mean?

Today I found a sample of what it means, and I have to say it:

This is my kind of Jane Austen.

Urban Fantasy Vs. Brutal Women

February 6, 2009

Though often annoyed, I’ve been trying to resolve myself to getting a sex kitten urban fantasy cover for God’s War (complete with moon, over the shoulder glance, and back tattoo). I wasn’t sure how to sell “Brutal ass kicking woman” on the cover who isn’t all sex-kittened up. They all want to draw a sex kitten.

Then, this morning, I saw this:

And I went, “Oh hells yes!”

I like what this cover does. It’s gritty and dark and the main character isn’t looking off to the side or over her shoulder in that stupidly flirty, useless way you see on the urban fantasy covers. You’re not being invited to oogle her. She’s not being presented as an object. She’s staring straight at you, just the way somebody who can fuck some shit up would. Add in the blood with that full on stance and oh yeah… this isn’t a half bad portrayal of a brutal woman.

Granted, I’d prefer my heroine a little more physically imposing, and less pretty (she’s got the face and body of a runway model, not a warrior).

This is how I prefer my book heroines. I don’t want her in skin tight clothes (they did go with leather here – you can’t win em all), I don’t want her to flirt with me. I have no interest in seeing her half-clothed and “vulnerable” to “make up” for her supposed toughness. I’m sorry, but showing a half-clothed woman on your cover doesn’t convince me you’ve got a strong, complex heroine. I want her to be SCARY. I want to believe she’s going to fuck shit up. Those are the heroines I’m interested in (and interested in writing).

If I see one more vampire fucking novel cover, I might die. I really have no interest in reading another novel about the protagonist’s deep personal angst about whether she should go to bed with the vampire, the werewolf, or both.

I want higher stakes, more complex characters, and heroines that don’t all read the same. And I want that reflected on book covers. Because let me tell you, there’s a half ton of books out there on the SF/F shelves I’m just not picking up… based entirely on the cover. So sad.

For discussions about what led them to finally pick this cover (and oh yeah is this the best of the bunch), go here.