Personal Literary Events
A few minor things about what I’ve done with myself over the last couple of days:
* First off, despite overloading myself by skimming through some 425,000 words worth of previous Whatevers, I’ve got some good and solid work done on Hate Mail over this weekend. I’d been wrestling over how to organize the book, and what I’ve decided to do is to make chapters that focus on specific events or themes, since there are several that I come around to over and over. The five chapters I’ve collected up so far are: Birth (a collection of entries about Krissy’s pregnancy and Athena’s birth), Clinton, Election 2000, 9/11 and Fictional Characters.
These chapters lean heavily on Whatevers that were written before 2002, which are no longer on the site and which (consequently) many people who read the Whatever have not seen, since most of the expansion of the Whatever’s audience has happened since March 2003 (which is when I switched over to Moveable Type. Comments and RSS feeds matter, people). I think it’ll be very interesting for people who’ve only seen me bash on Bush to read my take on Clinton and the impeachment process; I call Clinton a pig at one point, which made me laugh out loud when I read it. It was one of those “it’s funny because it’s true” moments.
These chapters currently clock in between 5k and 10k words, which means some will have to be trimmed down because I’m currently planning 12 to 15 chapters, and I have 100,000 words to work with. I’m going to wait until I have all the chapters ready before that happens. But regardless, it’s a good start, not in the least because now that I have the chapter structure locked down, filling in the rest of the gaps should be quick.
* After a year of apparently refusing to stock Old Man’s War on moral and ethical grounds, my local bookstore finally gave in and shelved a couple copies of the trade paperback. Naturally I was quite pleased — they’ve stocked all my other books so far and their not having OMW just always puzzled me. I didn’t want to suggest to them that they should, because I didn’t want to be the local author who whined to the bookstore about not carrying his book (especially when they were carrying the others). However, I did tell them that since they have it now, I’d be happy to sign the copies they had. Which I did. Go me!
* Speaking of OMW, a nice review of it on Bookgasm: “I’d recommend it even to people who normally shy away from the genre … like me,” wrote the reviewer. Welcome to the gateway, my friend. Now that you’re through the door we have many other authors for you to try.
* And speaking of other authors, as I was wandering around the local bookstore (because I actually went there to buy books, not to check up on whether they had OMW or not, honest). I noticed that the most recent trade paperbacks by Cherie Priest and Nick Sagan were shelved in the regular fiction area as opposed to the science fiction/fantasy area. Why might that be? My personal suspicion is: Cover art. Both Nick and Cherie’s cover art lacks many of the visual tropes of their genres; Cherie’s could work equally well with a mystery or general southern literary fiction book, while Nick’s could be a contemporary tech thriller. I suspect the person shelving the books didn’t see either swords or spaceships and assumed they should be placed in general fiction.
Is this good for Nick and Cherie? Got me: I guess people who only go to look at SF/F would miss them, but those for whom the SF/F section of the store has the weird cooties vibe will get a crack at them they might not otherwise have gotten. I suppose it’s a toss-up. Both books certainly benefit from striking cover art and design, however; they both cry out to be picked up and looked at.
* Books I bought: The Battle 100: The Stories Behind History’s Most Influential Battles; The Complete Peanuts 1957-1958; The Substance of Style. The first of these is for research for The Last Colony (which will be a tip-off for you that there will be at least one big battle scene there), the second because I am collecting the entire set as the books come out (it will be a twelve year process, as they are releasing two books a year, and each book features two years worth of strips), and the third because I kept meaning to buy it when it came out, and now I have (its author, Virginia Postrel, keeps a pretty interesting blog).
* Toward the last of these, I had an interesting thought I will share with you now, which is that as I picked up the book and resolved to purchase it, part of my brain was saying maybe you should buy it on Amazon, so her ranking will go up and she’ll know someone bought the book. Because an Amazon ranking is really the only feedback authors have in terms of having any idea how well their book is selling. Being an author myself, it seems almost cruel not to give the author that feedback.
I fought back the desire because as much as I like feeding other authors’ egos, I like supporting my local independently owned and operated bookstore more, even if it did take them a year to stock my science fiction book, harumph, harumph. But the fact I had that thought at all has to mean something.