Monday, March 28, 2011

(A) little grown

In addition to blogging today, I'll also be working. My laziness scheme occasionally suffers from sick co-workers that need me to cover for them, which I suppose I don't mind so long as its only every now and again. Speaking of uncommon occurrences, I also got to see a bunch of friends on Saturday. That yearly gathering where all of us Aries get together and toast all the birthdays passed and about to be. I also played StarCraft for the first time. Also, when I got back I was happy to note that the last of my promotional posts was up and viewable. I shared it with those same friends, because it was my favorite, and because it was about them.

But working today and partying (that's technically true) Saturday left an unusually tiny space to get the writing done. Three chapters in one day. I started at around nine and finished close to two and was pretty pleased with myself. For bonus points, I even went back later last evening and edited them. I feel like either the writing or editing suffered from that tight window, but I won't know until I go back after all the novels are drafted. A friend of mine told me once about an author she admired that did roughly 4-6000 words a day. I'm not sure if I've ever been that prolific; I've had days where I've done that, but never more than two or three in a row.

I finally got in the last of my rejections from the short story submissions I made back in January. Thanks to a helpful grid I made, I have checked off which pieces I've sent to whom and what the result was. From that, I've spring boarded into plans for a next volley, and I'm only slightly affected by whats-the-point-itis. I'm a little blurry about what the plan is, for the short stories at least. On the other hand if I don't submit then I certainly won't get anywhere. On some submission forms, the magazines ask about other works that the author has published. Until now I've never had anything to put into the blank. It would be interesting to note if filling that space in now would make a difference, and how much of a difference it would make.

The reviews are trickling in, also. An old roommate from college finished the book and gave me his thoughts. It was very gratifying to know he enjoyed it; he said that what added to that was that he could hear my voice, while reading some of the passages it was like I was narrating to him. He said he told a few people he knew that I didn't about it as well. I told him that I had finally realized that telling others about the book would be more helpful than telling me, however much I wanted to hear it. I used to be voracious for that sort of thing, to the point that I was labeled by some as the "feedback monster." I guess it's time to put it to bed.

So I'll be one year older pretty soon. I guess that's the theme: realizing that I don't like all video games, working on a Monday, understanding a little better about word of mouth. I think I'll wear hard shoes today in honor of that. Psych.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I believe i sound real

The promotions for the book continue. This week, my words can be found in two different places: One Writer's Journey and Author Spotlight. I've only seen one of the posts I've done so far appear in another place, but despite that I feel like things might be occurring beyond my keenest senses, as if I might be imagining things or they might be real. Either way, it seems sensible that I'll find out sooner or later if all of this was worth it, spider-sense of no.

I'm a bit proud of myself for an accomplishment only I know about (so of course I'll share). Friday I came home with an intent to write after helping a friend out . What I actually did could scarcely be called that; it was more like spraying words at the paper blind-folded with results about as startlingly bad as one could expect. But I saw it; I felt it. I knew that I was just spinning my wheels. I was tired and had lost momentum. But instead of being stubborn and forcing myself through, or being despondent and deleting what I had, I saved the file and stepped away. I didn't get back to that chapter until yesterday and I was able to read through and accept what I did effectively and cut out the rest. By the time I was done I was even sort of happy. I remember a version of myself that would've been incapable of that.

Also on the list of new experiences was calling up a local B&N about a book signing. I realized something immediately: book stores every where get many weekly calls regarding book signings. The person on the phone was immediately exasperated when I mentioned the two words in the same sentence. He explained about warehouses and books and asked me if my book was in their warehouse. After he found it online for sale through his store, his attitude changed rapidly. I felt bad suddenly for anyone who didn't have the right answer to his question. He put me through to his manager, and after some exchanges, it seems likely that I will have a signing in September. The store is near a school, so with April booked up, May being a slower period which creeps into a lazy summer, the next high traffic period should occur in the Fall.

Twice this past weekend I was congratulated by friends on my release. I'm not sure if that feeling can wear itself out, but I might actually be lucky enough to find out. A few others asked about what happens next for me. Many of them know I've written much more and farther than is represented by my published books. The sci-fi novel is still out to Tor; my fingers are still crossed. The book which follows the one just released has been waiting to be submitted for some time. The last I heard from that publisher was to wait a few months after the release to submit, which makes sense. Even if accepted, if the novel doesn't sell it's unlikely they'd want the next one. I find it somewhat fitting that the next thing for me is waiting.

A co-worker shared some thoughts with me about science fiction, specifically how South American sci-fi, which is an off shoot of American, identifies differently with the common tropes, namely the dystopia, the wasteland, the alien and the robot. For instance, in a situation where the status quo is oppressive and exploitive of the majority, the alien figure is a symbol for improvement and often takes the role of the protagonists, unlike common American alien mythology where the other is evil and dastardly, and only wants to eat our brains. Anyway, I found that to be fantastic food for thought. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Behind the flesh is not bone

Well, the book came out, as those people who are inclined to pay attention to my facebook posts found out (once for the e-book version, and again for the print). As predicted, there was not in fact a hidden compartment in the sky filled with weighed down balloons and confetti, however the experience of receiving congratulations from friends and family was very gratifying. A small part of me was actually almost insulted. It was almost like they knew I could do it, but didn't really know I could do it... until I did it.

The promotional things have begun also. The first of the interviews I conducted last month is online now. I nit picked that to death also, wondering why there were no links to my website and blog, or even the book, or a review of the book. The remainder of those materials are to be posted later in the month, about the time when I'll start calling around, inquiring after the possibility of a book signing. I also need to send off copies to the reviewers, and think of something relevant to scribble on the inside cover of those copies I'm ordering personally to put into the hands of people close to me.

Speaking of parsimony, I just recently muscled through the second chapter of three to be drafted this weekend. Yesterday's went smoothly enough, and today I even woke up in a state to write. That is to say, I had spent a good bit of time focusing on the one thing that I would write about for such a period that I felt prepared, ready, when I finally sat down, instead of fighting off the other ideas trying to also filter down onto the page. But then, a thousand words in, the air went out of my sails. I almost literally looked behind my chair to wonder at where the wind had gone. However I did get through it, with some difficulty, and now I'm debating after whether the third chapter will be attempted, or left for tomorrow.

Promotional things continue as well. The review I did for that other author seemed good enough; at least, he asked me to post them on several sites, at which point I discovered that such things have to be reasonably authenticated, tied to the name of the person who has the account. It makes sense, otherwise people could post whatever they wanted in whatever amounts. I suppose in that regard I was paid a compliment. He got back to me with a review of his own about my work, and his statements were somewhat glowing.

Moving forward with my advent into the world, I've decided to ask a visual artist friend to take some photos of me. He is familiar with photography and profiles and head shots, and I was able to articulate what I did not want my photo to look like, and described to him the favorite of my mentors: a man standing in a road, trying to have a photo shoot, but cannot help but stare at a random dog which has wandered into the shot, and decided to sleep in the middle of the lane. I told him that I wanted my picture to have a story. So, perhaps that will be done, and the result will be posted to various places. Still, I wonder at the importance of my face.

Trying to "verify my humanity" on one of those sites, I failed repeatedly, and couldn't understand why. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thank you

I've recently come from a chat event, because today is release day for my book. And I realize (now) that I might have wanted to have mentioned that before now, certainly before the chat occurred, and ended. I'd like to say "lesson learned" in that flippant sort of way, but I think that only applies to lessons that were actually learned, and not ones that were just common sense. Anyway, the experience was humbling: all of that is to say that no one showed up, except for the very kind and savvy marketing director for my publisher.

I sent an email off today thanking the group I pitched my story through, which lead to that publisher who published by book and provided me with that marketeer. I was happy when I thought that it would make a difference to someone teetering on the edge between giving up and putting that next step forward. I smile when I think about all the posts that will go live this month about the friends I dedicated the book to. I laugh a bit to think at how I won't have to have that awkward moment anymore when people ask me "Oh, you're a writer, what have you done and where can I get it?"

In other news, the pace holds. I did three chapters on Saturday, which was a bit surprising to me. I was sitting around, doing nothing, sort of waiting for Saturday to "happen." But, thankfully, I realized that if I had the time and I had the inclination, I might as well work (my dad would say "don't put off for tomorrow what you could do today") so work I did. Sunday I edited them and scratched my head a bit at the drafted products. Sometimes my chapters come off as snippets, little semi-unrelated short stories which fit in the world, but connect less with the story I'm telling. All I can think to do when that happens is ponder out if I've read any books with chapters like that and shrug.

Because I'm on spring break this week, I'll be trying to double up on things, the goal being six chapters before this time next week. I rub my hands together like I'm trying to start a fire.

And, in acknowledgment of the fact that what we are is so much the result of others (which is pertinent, I think, today of all days with me standing on shoulders), I'd like to write someone else's words: "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you."