Thursday, December 31, 2009

Friday Roundup - on Thursday . . . ooh, different . . .

Yeah, so I kind of never lived up to my promise of those Friday Roundup link posts I said I'd do a couple weeks ago. Sorry about that. Add that to the New Year's resolution list (which is turning into a tome I have to say). And yes, technically it's not actually Friday, but I've got a full day tomorrow ahead of me (much eating of food, and watching of movies, you understand), so I thought I'd do tomorrow's post today. Because, why not?

So . . . here are a couple items I thought I'd share:

Top 10 Most Surprising Performances in Genre Film 2009 - an article what I wrote over at which I think is rather fun

We all know my interest in Gender in Publishing (see my blog post here), and here's a very well written, well thought out article on the subject by Julianna Baggott of the Washington Post: The Key to Literary Success? Be a Man - or Write Like One

Another new blog I've found for you industry lovers out there: S. Jae Jones - Editorial Assistant over at St. Martin's Press (she's also the lovely young lady responsible for advertising and answering any and all questions with regards to this whole "New Adult" concept they've come up with - see my blog on said subject here)

And because I am a sucker for cute cat youtube videos, here's one I just found, Whack a Kitty, and another classic, Ninja Cat - for those of you who've yet to experience their awesomeness.

Finally I want to wish you all a most happy new year's eve! Here's to 2010 and it's amazingness! And what the heck, here's to all of us and our amazingness too!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy holidays and a look back at the decade that was . . .

It's that time of year, and I want to wish you all a very happy holiday and very happy end to the year. It's been a daunting one for yours truly, filled with both good and bad, and it will be very interesting what the new decade brings.

It's also a little weird for me to sit back and realise that the decade of my twenties is coming to a close. Trying to think back on everything I did in the 00s is pretty overwhelming. I graduated from university, lived in England for three years, got to meet some pretty impressive people while there (like Edward Albee, Robert Altman), published two books, been in too many plays to count, founded a nerd website, interviewed a ridiculous number of people, discovered I loved writing movie reviews, and went to my first SF/Fantasy convention. I learned how to live away from home, how to have a variety of roommates. I learned how to relax and be a bit more spontaneous, that I loved to dance despite really not enjoying the club scene. I learned I actually didn't mind working out, even though I never really was that sporty. I also learned that I'm not giving up on my acting any time soon, and that setbacks never prompt the desire to quit.

This was a decade of glorious films - lest we forget it produced Lord of the Rings people. A decade of Harry Potter. This was a decade that began with 9/11 and finished with election of the first African American President in the States. The world has changed. The world has stayed the same.

Mostly this decade was one of making some extraordinary friends, and maintaining connections with those from previous decades. The people I have met the last ten years have been amongst the cream of the crop, truly talented, truly hilarious, truly fabulous.

There have been ups and downs, people we have lost along the way, and the last two years have been particularly difficult - both for the world, and also just for me. But I got through many things, am working my way through the other stuff, and have faith I'll come out the other end, have faith that we all will.

So here's to the new decade, and cheers to the last one. It's time to move on, but it's amazing to look back. I am who I've ever been, but I definitely think I've come out at this end of the decade a better person for having gone through it. I hope you all feel something similar.

See you in the new year! And can we finally come up with a name for our decades now?


Timothy and the Dragon's Gate was reviewed and recommended over at's Holiday Gift Guide. I second the motion that Timothy would make an excellent book for any child 8 - 12 this holiday season. It's a book that boys love, as well as girls, and appeals to reluctant readers with its fast paced adventure and sense of humour.

While your at it, why not pick up Alex and the Ironic Gentleman as a companion piece? :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Self Publishing Debate becomes a Debate!

I received the following comment to my Self Publishing Debate post, and I thought the commenter made some interesting points and asked some interesting questions. So I wanted to address them, but felt that my answers might be interesting to you guys too, so I'm creating an entire post in honour of this comment.

Not everyone considers self-publishing just because they received a couple rejections and never tried revising their work.

To this I agree. I already said as much in the initial post. For those who may not recall this is what I said:

I think self-publishing has its place. I think if you have a niche market, maybe are on the lecture circuit, self publishing is an excellent venue for you. If, let's say, you want to put together a collection of poems for your family, or print up a story you've written so you can share it with your loved ones, that too is awesome.

This I said in the middle:

I know that there have been works out there that have been rejected and it isn't because they aren't any good. It's because they just don't fit the market, or they're too much of a risk, or any other number of reasons. But again, that is the exception to the rule. That is actually the same exception to the rule as the one with the successfully self published authors. Because those successful authors were probably the ones that had that book that actually was awesome but rejected for other reasons in the first place.

And this I said this at the end:

But please, for those of you who do choose to go down that path, do it with respect for those who have gone before you and were successful at it. Those people had to work ten times harder than a commercially published author to get to the success they enjoy today, they spent time, energy and money. They were incredibly talented, and I bet they had an outside eye work with them on perfecting their book. It's darn hard to do what they did. Don't just think you can print off a book and voila!

So I do think there are some fiction authors who do go that route and have been successful at it, but those that were were incredibly talented, not only as authors but as marketers.

Moving on:

I don't know how many rejections you had before you found an agent.


I'm not going to say how many agents have rejected me. I will only say every agent on that represents YA has rejected me; the majority have never read more than a short query with ten pages attached. I've been trying to break in for the past four years and I am now beyond frustrated. I believe people are turning to self-publishing because they are finding the gates into traditional publishing to be shut.

This is the first point I wish to address here. I think you are right about why many authors are turning to self-publishing. And I still think this is a bad thing, and I'll tell you why. Many authors are rejected on their first work. For whatever reason it is simply not publishable, and many authors who have looked back on those works have understood why with the hindsight that is, as we all know, 20/20.

Yet these days so many authors who find their first work rejected take the blame outward, to the industry. They don't look at themselves and ask if maybe their work is not quite ready yet. So they turn to self-publishing, as you say, and then spend many man hours creating a work that looks like a published book (formatting the pages, hiring an artist to do the cover etc), years marketing said work, and a lot of money to do both. In my mind, 9 times out of 10, the author could have done herself a much better service by setting that rejected work aside, and writing a new book, and submitting that one. After all, we are authors. We aren't just "writers of one book", well except for Harper Lee. Our plan is to write many a book, to have a career writing stories. What's the harm in writing something new?

That's my biggest concern. I hate the idea of authors wasting valuable writing time on formatting, and design, and marketing when that isn't their niche. Now there are authors out there for whom those are also a passion, and that's cool. But most authors are, you know, authors.

It is possible the rejected work truly is marvelous, and just not right for the market at present. Again, I would still say set it aside and write something else. I'd suggest writing something maybe a bit more commercial, get a publishing contract with that, and then sell the more complicated work.

BUT. If you truly want to spend the time and money on self-publishing your work, then I respect that. A few authors have had success at that, but like I stated above, they are exceptions to the rule, and they not only turn out to be brilliant writers, but brilliant marketers with serious internet savvy. They also have the money to spend.

But who knows? Perhaps I am mistaken. Perhaps there really is something terribly wrong with my query and first ten pages that would make any rational person turn away. Go ahead and take a look. I'd love to know what about my pitch and first ten pages justifies an immediate "This-sucks-and-isn't-worth-a-partial-request" rejection.

You know what, I actually have a bit of time on my hands. I would never normally agree to this as I have a lot of projects, but if you send me an email so I can send you a private critique, then I will have a look. But I warn you I may be a pretty nice person, but I come from a long line of teachers and my interest has always been first and foremost to educate. And if I'm going to critique your work, I will critique it honestly, I'm not going to be "nice".

I've had over a hundred beta readers and even if they have criticisms, everyone agrees it is a good read.

Honestly, this really doesn't mean much. I'm sorry. Often beta readers are just so impressed we've written a book at all, that they think the book is awesome. Besides, considering all the rejection you've had, I have to keep that in mind as well. After all, I don't think the industry is out to get you personally. I mean, do you seriously think agents look at your work and think, "This is marvelous, now let's reject it because it's all just such a fun game!"? So you have to honestly ask yourself, what's going on here?

I am on the verge of self-publishing not because I've been rejected but because I've done everything in my power to appease the gate keepers and they still won't give me the time of day.

And I get it, really I do. We've all been rejected and it hurts. But I've already explained my reasoning for not wanting to self-publish: I don't have the means, nor the ability. Plus, I'm at a stage in my career where I believe I ought to be paid for my work.

I wish it was as simple as revising the manuscripts. They don't even read the manuscripts. The majority decide whether to ask for a partial based on what amounts to jacket copy, which they dissect in a way no rational human would do (ex. no question hooks, despite the fact I can walk down to Wal-Mart and find numerous books and DVDs with question hooks on their jacket copy).

Okay, so this now sounds like you've had some blanket advice from someone: Never use a question hook, never do this, never do that. Whoever gave you this advice was doing you a disservice, there are very few absolutes in writing in general. The fact is that every agent is different. Nathan Bransford hates rhetorical questions. Guess what? My query was nothing BUT rhetorical questions. So I think you need to take a step back from the minute details and just find what works for you. Remember "Pirates of the Caribbean" - they're not rules, they're guidelines.

Also the idea that they dissect a query in no rational way is just, I'm sorry to say, irrational. Why on earth would they do that? Agents are people, people who love books. They aren't this giant amorphous mass that came from outer space with a whole different set of reading rules. Just because an agent takes the time on her blog to state preferences doesn't mean that they won't read the exception. In fact I've read so many blogs from agents stating just that. That when they offer specifics it's to help, but nothing is ever set in stone. I'll address the reading of queries in a moment.

However this is the bigger issue. If you haven't had a full request from a single agent, this means something really really positive. Your query sucks.

What? Uh . . . how is that a good thing?

I'll tell you. A query is a very difficult thing to get right. So what you need to do is work on your query. This is a great thing because it means you don't have to re-write your novel or anything. It just reflects a poorly constructed query, and that is something that can be fixed. There are some excellent venues for you to do that, I'd highly recommend Absolute Write, a writing forum with an entire critique section devoted to making queries awesome (password "Vista").

Let me now also address your other question from above, namely how can an agent judge a book based on a query letter and first ten pages.

When you buy books, what do you do? I'll tell you what I do, which I think is pretty much the same as most people. I go into a bookstore knowing I can afford one book today, that's it. So I need to spend my money wisely. First, I am drawn to a cover. Can't help it, and that's what covers are there for. Then I flip the book over, or open it to the front flap, and read the plot summary. Then if I like that, I go to chapter one and read a little bit. If I'm satisfied with that, I'll buy it.

Well that's EXACTLY the same thing agents are doing. They already have a lot of clients, so they have to be picky who they are going to represent next. They pick up a query, there's no cover to draw them to it, but since they get sent queries, they read them. If they like the query and there are ten pages sent with it, then they'll check those out. If they like those pages then they'll ask for a full.

Let me tell you, you can tell pretty quick in those first ten pages if you're going to like a work or not, and I am sure you've been able to tell, flipping open a book, if you're going to like a book or not by even just the first page.

You can even tell from a query blurb if you'll like the story (just like reading the back cover of a book). You can also tell from a query if:

- the writer understands grammar and spelling
- the writer understands how to write in a manner so as to be able to express herself accurately to a reader
- the writer has done her research into the industry, knows how to follow rules (which is very important because as you get into the industry more and more, and have to deal with deadlines, etc, an agent is going to want to know an author is capable of being a professional)

There is so much that can be revealed from a query alone, let alone those first ten pages which is more than enough to let you know if the writer is any good, or at least has written something you're interested in.

If you haven't read this already, here's a very informative article about what rejection means from an editor's perspective: Making Light's Slushkiller

And when publishers like Harlequin encourage us to pay AuthorHouse a bunch of money to "self-publish", I admit my faith in the publishing industry to ever give my work an honest chance is all but gone. By doing things like this they are telling me they are longer interested in working with writers to make money-- they are only interested in taking money out of our pockets.

This I agree with. This was the purpose of my original post. But I will add that Harlequin is just one publisher. That it isn't representative of the entire industry. And there are other commercial publishers that do own self-publishing outfits, but you'd never know it because they don't recommend it. It's just another revenue stream for them, and the company has an entirely different name so authors aren't fooled into thinking they are being legitimately published by a big company. My issue was with the recommending, not with having alternate means to make money. Most all publishers these days are still interested in publishing books, and most every editor I have met is obsessed with literature. What Harlequin did was wrong, ditto Thomas Nelson, but it is not representative of the entire industry. It is important to not take an individual case and then apply it blanket to everything.

So there we go. I hope I answered some of your questions, and addressed your concerns in an adequate manner. I hope others found what I had to say useful.

Thank you so much for the comment, it's always fantastic to be made to think, and I definitely had to give your questions a good deal of thought because I understand the frustration you are feeling.

In the end, I'd truly recommend writing another book. I had a friend who for ten years tried to get an agent with one book until her boyfriend made just that insistence. That second book she wrote landed her an agent. And yet even that one her agent couldn't sell. It was her third that got her that contract with Harper Collins, that has made her an author published around the world. If she had just decided to self publish at the beginning, she quite probably would have never landed that agent, and she most certainly never would have written this series that she adores, and, what's more, is bringing so much joy to so many readers. In fact, that's another really important point to note, just because you might have to write another book, it isn't necessarily a bad thing. You might discover that your next book is even better, something even closer to your heart. Writing another book should be an exciting prospect, not a negative one.

Oh and, btw, my friend's second book? The one her agent couldn't sell?

It now has a publishing contract.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Roundup - and some appreciation

I've decided to follow the example of my fellow bloggers and use Fridays to list links to articles etc I've found interesting over the last week that I'd like to share with you guys.

But first.

Evidently some author somewhere decided that today would be Agent Appreciation day, and I think that that's just a lovely idea. Often I see agents vilified as little more than gatekeepers, keeping hardworking authors away from their dream of being published, or as thieves taking the hard earned money from the authors they represent. You can read my post called "15%" in response to that attitude (in short: it's ridiculous).

So I'd like to offer up some agent love and take the time to send my appreciation to the amazing Becky Stradwick at the Darley Anderson Literary Agency.

Now some of you who've been with me awhile will remember that my original agent at the agency was Julia Churchill, and I spoke often and highly of her until she decided to leave to pursue her own dreams. But I realise I have been remiss in writing about Becky who is as equally worthy of attention and admiration. I suppose the reason you haven't heard me talk about her is because I haven't had any recent book sales and haven't been reporting too often of late on the goings on behind the scenes of my writing career, but that goes back to the misconception about agents. Just because I haven't sold another book yet, does not mean Becky hasn't been totally amazing to me.

First off, she works so carefully and closely with me to make my manuscripts as awesome as possible. She puts so much work into them, it's kind of overwhelming having someone else take so much time and care so much with something I've written. Next, of course, she works on getting them sold, sending them to publishers etc.

But most importantly she puts up with a neurotic author worried about the future (both for her and her books), and someone who likes to rant possibly a bit too much. Becky has been there for me to give me pep talks, make me laugh when I'm feeling down, and to steer me in the right direction - by which I mean away from self-pity and towards self-motivation.

And she's always been in my corner.

So Becky thank you so much for everything you've done for me this year. I know I can be a handful at times, but your advice and help has been invaluable to me.

I'd also like to thank Madeleine Buston who is another agent at the agency. As some of you may know, agencies can have many different agents who work there, and many work with specific sub-rights etc. Madeleine is responsible for selling my books to the States (quite an important market), and she too has been amazingly supportive and wonderful in all she's done for me.

Oh what the heck, to everyone at the agency, including of course the man himself, thank you! You've been so amazing to me and believed in me even when there were times I didn't.

I appreciate you.

And now . . . on to some links!

- Here you can find the most interesting bookstores in the world. Be warned, they will make you sigh with longing.

- With all the doom and gloom circulating the net of late about the state of publishing, it's nice to read something relatively positive.

- I've a couple new industry blogs I've been enjoying reading of late (just a note, some of the content on these blogs could be considered PG 13, with some bad language at times, and discussions of mature themes):

And that's it for now! I decided to do this link thing kind of last minute, so I promise next week I'll keep my eyes peeled for more links for next Friday, now that I know I'll be sharing them with you!

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Business of Selling Books

I thought this topic would be interesting for you guys because I'm not sure if everyone is aware of what a big influence book buyers at the big box bookstores stores have in the industry. How their business model shapes what gets published and how books are bought by publishers.

Despite how it may seem, most books these days still are bought in brick and mortar bookstores. So it is vital that your book, as an author, is on those shelves otherwise, to be perfectly blunt, your book will fail. Thus publishers have to appeal to the taste of the book buyers for these stores. They have to choose to publish books they know will be bought by the book buyers.

Think about that for a second. Let's look at the States. We've got Borders and Barnes & Noble, Target and Walmart. That's four people who decide whether a book fails or succeeds, is bought from an author in the first place. Four people.

I know of books that are bestsellers in one country that book buyers for the big chains in another country wouldn't buy from the publisher and so (obviously) the book totally flopped.

I also know, personally, that the American cover of the paperback of "Alex" had to be changed at the request of the book buyers. In fact covers in general these days are being created to suit the taste of these buyers..

Interesting right?

Now of course the book buyers are buying books with an eye to what we the readers want. Their job is to sell books so they want to buy books that sell. They see what kind of covers readers buy, what kind of topics are of interest, so it isn't like there isn't method to the madness. I also happen to have met some book buyers over the years, and I can tell you, they are pretty passionate about books. But they really do have to be careful, and they can't buy everything, and it's a better business practice to purchase a sure thing over what might be perceived as a risk.

So that's one thing. The people who buy from the publishers the books to place on the shelves.

Here's another thing.

Bookstore chains are paid money by the publisher to place their books in certain parts of the store. It's called co-op. So books are paid to be on the table, as opposed to the shelf. On the front table, as opposed to the one in different sections. Paid to be face out on the shelf (where you can see the whole cover and is more eye catching), as opposed to spine out. This also determines what gets bought from the publishers. If a publisher is willing to invest the money, then the book has a distinct advantage.

There is a very interesting article over at the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency Blog about the big box bookstores, and their (possibly) faulty line of reasoning in selling books. The article actually references yet another, so if you have the time, you've got some pretty interesting reading ahead of you. To quote from the article:

" In brief: placement on the front table in a major chain bookstore costs the publisher up-front, about $30,000. Yes, after the publisher has paid the author’s advance, the costs of publishing and manufacturing the books, they also have to pay the booksellers to try to sell the book. . . they switched the book retailing model from selling books, to charging for shelf space for displaying books.
. . .

I believe that book chains don’t really want to be in the book business. They just want money because they control the access to readers. This allows them to dodge the question of responsibility for doing their job (selling books) and instead to collect an entitlement (basically a tax) for being in control of a step in the process. Unfortunately, they never draw new book buyers into their stores. The message is always: if you buy books we got a bunch of cheap stuff here, but they don’t even try to get new people to buy books. That would require a different type of marketing."

I have to say that I'm not surprised that the people in charge of these book stores don't feel it necessary to adopt a different model of marketing. It's been a trend of late that all you need is an MA in Business and that qualifies you to sell any product to anybody. Of course this is illogical, but you see it applied to many different businesses so it must be working to a degree. A profit must be being made. Of course we then return to the argument, is profit the only thing worth being in business for?

That's a debate for another time.

At any rate. When bookstores are making a lot of their money from publishers and not readers, what incentive do they have to work to sell books?

It's an interesting question.

At this point I should point out that people who work at these chains, including the managers, are often huge book lovers, and it is because of them that you still get all the love in these stores. I remember when the last Harry Potter came out, my local big bookstore chain store had a massive party, I'm talking closing off part of the street massive. The next week I was chatting with one of the booksellers in the children's department about what a great time I'd had, and she said it had been her idea initially. It surprised me because I assumed it was an order from on high, but no, it had started as an idea from someone who worked at the store who loved books.

There's also a woman called Wendy at the Indigo at Yorkdale mall, whom you have seen several times on this blog as she's been so helpful in helping me get together my book launches. This is a woman who ADORES children's books, and does everything she can to promote them.

In all there are wonderful people who work in these stores who are as in love with books as the rest of us.

The issue is with the business model. I'm not sure exactly what needs to be done, if it even needs to be fixed. I just know that the idea of so much power in the hands of the few can be a little frustrating (it can also be fantastic if you turn out to be the next Stephenie Meyer). But aside from trying to make any kind of statement, I just thought you guys should know this. That the books on the front tables (aside from ones which are marked "staff picks" etc) have spent a lot of money to get there. That it isn't necessarily a value judgment in placing them up front. That maybe, once in a while, you should check out what's in the back, spine out, next to hundreds of other such books.

There be jewels in them shelves. There be jewels.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Why New Adult Interests Me

The who did what with the what now?

The "New Adult".

Yeah, Adrienne, seriously don't know what you're talking about.

Fair enough. Let me explain.

So several weeks ago St. Martin's Press ran a contest looking for what they termed "New Adult". This is what they said they were looking for:

"We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.”"

Basically the genre has been invented by St. Martin's because of the obvious crossover appeal we've been seeing with such books as Twilight, and heck, even Harry Potter.

And I found this very interesting, and is something I've been keeping my eye on. Agent Kristin Nelson over at Pub Rants blogged about it today, and as such inspired me to add my thoughts to the chorus.

As some of you may know, and others may not, selling work that isn't quite adult and isn't really YA has been very tricky for a while now. You'd think the idea of college age stories, or stories with individuals just out of highschool would be highly coveted by just that age group, but for some reason, and probably a pretty pragmatic one, it's always been a very tough sell to publishers.

What is the pragmatic reason you may ask? I'll tell you. Shelving.

Weird, I know, right? But think about it. Where would such books go? It's just one small category after all, in a book store full of tons of categories. We separate adult from kids, sometimes even putting one on a totally different floor. New Adult would be a smallish category (unless the next Twilight wound up being from that genre), not requiring that big a section. But where would you put it? Upstairs with the kid's stuff? Downstairs with the adult (after all New Adult is still Adult, 18+). Maybe on the stairs? So it's tricky to deal with a genre like this because it's hard to sell a genre like this. To make buyers aware of its existence.

I've also heard arguments against creating this new category because we are dividing books up so much already as it is. YA already gets marginalised for not being "real" writing, for not being serious enough to be considered Adult literature. What would happen now to New Adult? Would that therefore be considered a category for adults not quite ready for the good stuff?

See, gets complicated doesn't it?

Here's my thinking. I don't like the idea of categories in general. I don't like the snobbery associated with division. And I don't like the judgment, and that good books can be totally overlooked because they aren't on the correct shelf.


I also happen to know that books that would fall into this New Adult category are not being accepted and published by publishers because they currently have no place on the market. So if we have to have categories, I highly approve of creating one so that these books can find their place out there as well.

Therefore, this is my plan. I am going to spread the good word. I am going to keep bringing up the idea of New Adult when chatting online, or with my fellow author buddies. And I'll blog about it. Wait, I just did. Because the more we talk about New Adult, the more people will hear about it, and the more people hear about it, the more people may realise they want it. And maybe when a lot of people know such a category exists, the bookstores will feel better creating a section for it because buyers will know to look for it. And then . . . oh then . . . then the publishers will want to publish it.

All hail New Adult! Let the spreading begin!

S. Jae-Jones from St. Martin's Press answered some questions on the new category over at Jodi Meadows's blog Words and Wardances here.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Self Publishing Debate

These days it seems like more and more legitimate news sources are pointing to the concept of self-publishing as if it was just invented this year. There is talk of the democratisation of literature, how now with the internet and POD (print on demand) technology, self-publishing is more than ever a viable option for an author. What's more, some have been pointing towards self-publishing as a viable FIRST option for an author.

Two commercial publishing houses: Harlequin (yes, THE Harlequin) and Thomas Nelson (a Christian Publisher), have created self publishing arms. It seems, that the industry has a desire to legitimize this form of publishing. Well . . . at least cash in on it.

So, some of you, I am sure, have been sitting at your computers for weeks now wondering "I wonder what Adrienne thinks about all this?"

And now I'll tell you.

Sort of. Okay. So here's the thing. I think self-publishing has its place. I think if you have a niche market, maybe are on the lecture circuit, self publishing is an excellent venue for you. If, let's say, you want to put together a collection of poems for your family, or print up a story you've written so you can share it with your loved ones, that too is awesome.

However, if you want to know what I feel about self-publishing as a viable means of making a living as a writer of fiction, check out these blogs which articulate my opinion perfectly:

The Great Underground Myth: Why Self Publishing Doesn’t Work - by Max Dunbar

Self Publishing Rant - Agent Rachelle Gardner

(In short, I don't think it works for most people, and though I do think the current system is flawed, it is still much better than the current self-publishing model. Also I have to snicker a little at those articles pointing to the few self publishing successes - which are considered successes because they were picked up by commercial houses. First off the irony is obvious. Second, there are so few exceptions to the rule that it makes it so easy to point them out.)

My issue in this post is about something a little different, which agent Rachelle Gardner touches on in the post I linked to:

Writers had to endure rejection, and be persistent. They had to keep trying harder, improving their writing, to get to the point of being published. And they had to impress a lot of people.

Sure appealing to the gatekeepers sucks (trust me, I know, I really do, I've had my fair share of rejection lately), and sure all the rejection sucks too. But see, what self publishing is taking away is the next step after the rejection. The steps are becoming the following:

Submit MS
MS gets rejected
Try again
Gets rejected again
Self Publish

Not only is this happening more and more, but the two publishers I listed above say that they plan on recommending WITHIN THEIR REJECTION LETTERS that authors use their self publishing arm instead. They are totally pushing this last step in the process.

But see, that last step, as I mentioned earlier, is new. That didn't use to be the step. Quick, let's rip off that step and see what lies beneath:

Submit MS
MS gets rejected
Try again
Gets rejected again

What is this you say? Work? What is this "work" you speak of?

Rejection sucks. Yup. Totally man, like dude, bummer. But it is part of a very important process. Rejection prompts the writer to take a step back and take a hard look at her work. To really coldly analyse why, maybe, it has been rejected. It gives the author the opportunity to think, "You know what, maybe I should go back, re-write this thing. Or maybe I'll set it aside and try something else."

I can't tell you how many authors I know who, with the wisdom of distance, have looked back at their rejections as blessings. Have taken that initial anger and frustration at being rejected, and channeled it into creating another work that is so awesome that no one could possibly turn it down.

Rejection makes us stronger, it makes us hungrier, and it makes us better writers. And this concept, the one of working on your craft, dealing with the gatekeepers, and just keep pushing on, that concept is quickly vanishing. What's more, the idea of putting in the work is getting so foreign to us, that authors are considering self publishing as a FIRST option, before they've even tried to get an agent/publisher interested in their work.

I'm not stupid. I know that there have been works out there that have been rejected and it isn't because they aren't any good. It's because they just don't fit the market, or they're too much of a risk, or any other number of reasons. But again, that is the exception to the rule. That is actually the same exception to the rule as the one with the successfully self published authors. Because those successful authors were probably the ones that had that book that actually was awesome but rejected for other reasons in the first place.


Most people aren't. We just aren't. And now legit publishers are telling new authors that they don't need to go back and take a good hard look at their work, no! Now they can PAY THESE PUBLISHERS to print their books for them, so that the author doesn't learn anything from the experience and can play at Author the Role Playing Game. These publishers, who are extremely well respected in their genres, who are obviously so by the authors submitting to them, are using their position of power to suggest (just suggest, they're not forcing anyone, no, it's just a little suggestion - never mind how much the authors submitting to them respect their opinion) something that will make the publisher money, and deny an author the chance at real improvement.

That's one of my biggest issues with self publishing. The idea that rejection is an insult. That it can't at all be possibly a sign that you need to work a little more.

Why shouldn't books be rejected?

At any rate. That is my added little thought to the debate.

And please don't think I'm closed minded about all this, I've already said self-publishing has a place. I also don't begrudge anyone who does it. But please, for those of you who do choose to go down that path, do it with respect for those who have gone before you and were successful at it. Those people had to work ten times harder than a commercially published author to get to the success they enjoy today, they spent time, energy and money. They were incredibly talented, and I bet they had an outside eye work with them on perfecting their book. It's darn hard to do what they did. Don't just think you can print off a book and voila!

No one can simply print off a book.

It just doesn't work that way.

Friday, November 20, 2009

And we come to the end.

Yes folks, that's all she wrote. Well . . . no . . . I have way more to write about a good many things, but that's all she toured? Yes? I dunno.

Well whatever.

It's been: 5 days. 17 talks. Hundreds of kids. Endless rain.

And now it's over. This is my last night on the island, so it is time for reflection. . .

First the remaining schools need to be named:

George Bonner Middle School
Khowhemun Elementary
Cowichan Branch - Library
Vancouver Island University
Ecole Hammond Bay
Cilaire Elementary
Nanaimo Harbourfront Branch - Library
Ladysmith Intermediate School

Some observations:

The views from the schools on the island are far nicer than the ones in Toronto. I'm sorry to say it, but it's true:



The kids, as ever, as always, are totally awesome. In fact this whole trip would have been far far less entertaining without them. Doing the same presentation so many times becomes truly a mind over matter situation, but when you are doing it for different kids who are all at the same time totally enthusiastic, it makes it all so worthwhile.

And fun.

Lee Losell rocks. Lee organised the entire trip, made sure I had a nice comfy place to sleep, and drove me everywhere. In the rain. And over the Malahat. The man knows no fear. And his daughter is beyond adorable. Thank you so much for everything Lee! Here's a blurry picture of us, and no I'm not that short, he's just 6'5":

When the fire alarm goes off in your hotel at 1am you really do have to get up and go downstairs.

When you are on the island and the mother of the lovely Lesley Livingston is also on said island, it is important to meet for drinks. Thank you for coming all the way out in the rain Margo!

I owe Doug and Lynn Scott another thank you for loaning me their camera since I stupidly forgot mine at home. Thank you!

Though it's not like I am particularly physical doing my presentation, my body has totally broken down. My knee is now killing me, and my back, and my head. I don't know how teachers stand on their feet for so many hours a day. I bow down to you.

And the trees here are still very tall.

In all it was a truly lovely time, though very very mentally and physically exhausting. I am thrilled I got to do it, but I have to be honest, I'm glad it is over too. Not sure if I'll be able to do something like this again in the near future. Thank you to everyone on the island who has been so lovely and kind and supportive. You've made the experience that much more special. Thanks too of course to TD and The Canadian Children's Book Centre for having this book week in the first place.

And that's all for now. Will resume regular blogging next week.

Until then, enjoy the following pictures of trees:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thoughts at the close of day 3

1. Vancouver Island is twisty. Every few metres a road curves, bends, winds, what you will. I love it, but am glad I'm not doing the driving especially not in the . . .

2. Rain. Typical and yet I am told a-typical. It rains on the West Coast but evidently not like this and not this consistently. . .

3. Which makes it tough when the sun does come out and is reflected in the road, practically blinding you.

4. The trees here are super tall.

5. The people are super nice.

6. No one seems offended that I'm from Toronto and yet I'm a little paranoid confessing I am.

7. Kids are awesome here, but kids tend to be awesome most everywhere.

8. My joke about the French cover for "Alex" is the only one that works consistently for any age group.

9. This is a truly exhausting experience.

10. I am so thrilled that I have had this opportunity.

Two more days to go, many more people to meet. Let's see what happens next . . .

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Two Days In . . .

So I've been on the island actually technically for three days, but really my tour of schools etc began yesterday.

Sunday was quite something, getting up at 4:45am to catch a 7am flight for Vancouver, then connecting flight to Victoria. Watched The Taking of Pelham 123 and Julie/Julia (which I'd already seen). Pelham 123 was actually quite a lot of fun, John Travolta was ridiculous.

Got into Victoria, got to the hotel, and slept for a few hours, before getting up to go for a walk around downtown. Not sure if you've ever been, but the place is beautiful, even in this rainy cold weather. Stopped into Munro's bookshop, signed some books and chatted with one of the employees there, Ellen. Was great, and the bookshop is GORGEOUS:

On the way to meet with my friends Doug and Lynn Scott, I passed Darth Vader playing the violin on the street. Just fyi.

Had dinner with Doug and Lynn (SUCH good food, omg) and another friend of theirs, and then was back to the hotel to SLEEP.

Monday was the start of the tour. 3 school groups and one evening talk:

Central Middle School
Sidney/North Saanich Branch Library
Cordova Bay Elementary
Victoria Children's Literature Roundtable

Let me tell you guys, the kids on Vancouver Island are AWESOME. Enthusiastic, kind of nutty (like me!) and very smart. It's been crazy fun, and today was no different.

Oh, and also I've been provided several lunches, and I think the residents of Vancouver Island must take a mandatory sandwich making class in school, because I've never had such good sandwiches. Odd to say, but the truth.

Went back to Cordova Bay Elementary today after going to Torquay elementary (both awesome again). And then I ferried over to Salt Spring Island which is absolutely gorgeous. Spoke at a school there, to a group of just 29 but with the enthusiasm of three times as many. Signed paper. Signed journals. Signed bags and shoes. Arms and faces. I'm so sorry parental units, they made me!

And now I am in Nanaimo, getting the evening off.

Couple of points. Really having a lovely time with the guy who organised the whole trip and who is also my lovely chauffeur - Lee. He is a former forest fire firefighter turned librarian, which I think is awesome and I think you may find someday a character in one of my books with a similar story . . . Poor guy's had to sit through the same presentation many many times over now, but he does it with a smile. Also it's been raining almost non-stop since I've been here. I don't really mind, but everyone here keeps apologising to me for it. I've tried to explain to them that I'm the variable, that if anything, I ought to be the one saying I'm sorry. But they refuse to hear it.

People on this island are just way too nice.

I've also been canvassing for votes for the Red Cedar award, for which "Alex and the Ironic Gentleman" has been nominated. The Red Cedar is voted on by kids in BC (so cool), and I've got some serious competition - Jean Little, Gordon Korman etc. So I need to take advantage of this situation. And I mean, come on! Those other authors have already won like tons of awards, so I think it's only fair that it's my turn! So kids of BC . . . we can do it! Yes we can!

[To be perfectly honest, I'm just having fun hanging out with the kids, I'm no politician, but it's fun to pretend . . . :) ]

And that's it for now! Here are some pics of Salt Spring Island for your enjoyment!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's been so long!

It's been a long hiatus. Like seriously long. I don't think I've ever been away from you guys for so long. I've really actually missed you guys! I know I took time off because I really really needed it, but still, I wound up quite missing the old blogging community and I am happy to say that I am back.

But not with a very long post.

I am here today to announce that tomorrow I will be jetting off to Vancouver Island to take part in the TD Canadian Children's Book Week Tour. I'll be spending the week doing readings and talks around the Island and I am really excited! Maybe a little terrified, but mostly super excited!

There are a couple events open to the public, if you are in the area and keen to attend:

Monday, November 16, 19:30

Victoria Children’s Literature Roundtable

971 Bank St., Victoria

Tuesday, November 17, 14:00

Salt Spring Island Public Library

129 McPhillips Ave.
Salt Spring Island, BC

If you can't make it to the island this week, have no fear I will be blogging about it, so do stay tuned!

Lastly, here is a picture of me with my very fabulous Heart of Hawick Children's Book Award (all the way from the UK)! Thanks again to all the kids who voted for "Alex", you totally rock!

And now I'm off, but not for long. Feels too good to be back! Thanks for your patience everyone, I really really appreciate it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Time Off

Yes I have vanished off the blogosphere (though I have been twittering more of late, if people are interested you can always follow me here). Not for good, definitely not for good. But for a little while.

I invest a lot of time and thought in my blog posts, I really don't want them to just be either a catalogue of my accomplishments, nor little anecdotal updates on my day to day life. I don't mind interspersing such elements on occasion, but my goal with this blog was always to open a door into worlds that others might not know much about. I wanted to be a bit like the behind the scenes featurettes on a DVD. Because I happen to like that stuff myself. And if I can educate along the way, well, that's even cooler.

And right now I just have a lot going on on my plate. Some good, some frustrating, all time consuming. And I just can't devote the hours that I used to in creating my blog posts.

However. My hope is that in a month or so, things might be a bit more sane for me and I can start up again. My hope too is that all that I am going through now will also serve as excellent fodder and lessons for my blogging to come.

Oh and I am planning, when I venture forth on my TD Canadian Children's Book Week tour (November 14 - 21), to blog about the adventure as it happens - I'm getting to go to Vancouver Island and I am SO excited!

So you see, this is not the end. But a longer hiatus than usual. Thank you for your patience and support, it means a lot to me.

Also keep your fingers crossed for me for the next little while, I need all the luck I can get!


FYI - I will be doing a reading this Sunday at Word on the Street here in Toronto for any and all who are interested:

The Word on the Street
Queen's Park, Toronto
Sunday September 27, 2:30pm
Children's Reading Tent (Event Tent D)
Reading - Timothy and the Dragon's Gate

Thursday, September 03, 2009

When It's All Over and Done

It's a very common feeling. We get it after returning from a vacation. We get it after finishing a piece of writing. And you'd better believe we get it after a show comes down.

That kind of "eh" feeling. That "what now" feeling.

And kids, I've got it.

It doesn't help too that I've been away from the city for a month. Returning home after being away is a surreal experience. I used to feel it most acutely when I was living in England and I'd come back home to Toronto every six months or so for a visit. You feel like you've never been away. And yet you feel like everything is different. You see things with slightly different eyes, and yet so easily fall back into the same old routine.

I knew this week would be tough. I'd arranged plans with so many friends so that I would remember the awesome part of being back (you know, the whole seeing everyone again). Heck I got to go for drinks with Bruce Campbell after Fan Expo on Saturday. That's pretty cool.

But I still feel . . . "eh". I still feel "what now". I feel the old patterns starting up, the ones I was so happy to leave behind at the end of July.

Anyway. I'm not trying to vent, or asking for sympathy. Merely trying to, in my own special way, express what I'm going through in the hope that some people might relate. And get that we all go through this sometimes.

This too shall pass. And hopefully when it does, I'll be a little wiser, my patterns will be a little different, and I'll be a little happier.

But right now?


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Twelfth Night's Up and Running!

So yes, since I last wrote we've completed dress and tech rehearsals and opened on Saturday. Have to say, the show is a heck of a lot of fun, and we are getting excellent word of mouth.

It's been a very quick rehearsal process, but it is becoming the norm (at least with Canadian theatre). What's more when everyone is able to open a show after only two and a half weeks with full set and costumes, and actors who know what they are doing, I guess it just proves that it can be done. Should it be done? I dunno, I know the actors feel a bit like they just got things together last minute, the crew too . . . but with the lack of financial support for the arts here in this country, it's tough really to give more. Can't blame the producers who have been fantastic, or the sponsors, who are responsible for the show existing in the first place. Maybe I'll just blame the government, it's easy to do. Done and done.

Anyway, this wasn't meant to turn into a rant about poor funding for the arts in Canada (though as both an author and actress, I can say it is rather the issue), but more info on the rehearsal process and some more pics.

The rehearsal process is, as I already said, very quick. My last post ended with us having stumbled through the entire show after just one week. The second week was devoted to fine tuning, to truly getting into the meaning of each scene, adding some awesome business and comic moments, and as an actor just trying to understand what the heck your character is up to.

About halfway through week two we moved into the theatre, which is a converted Bank in downtown Barrie. The stage is a decent size, the playing space surrounded on three sides by audience. It is great getting as much time to work the show in the space itself, and has been a great advantage.

Just before our dress, the producer brought in a fight director to watch a couple of our fights (this play has minimal fight choreography, a few punches really and that's it). This is for two reasons - one: fight directors can help make even the simplest of fights look awesome, two: fight directors help keep the fights safe.

We had two previews before we officially opened, which was great as well. Previews are kind of like dress rehearsals except they are open to the public so you get to perform in front of people and get a sense of what is working and what isn't. Not every show is afforded such a luxury. Then we opened to a very supportive audience (many family members and people involved with the theatre company).

And now we are open. And now things become a bit more relaxed. The days are free, as we perform nights mostly (though we did have two matinees this week). What do actors do during the day then? Well many enjoy the gym (though I did something to my knee so not me unfortunately). Many also enjoy the beach. Almost the entire cast went to see District 9 on Tuesday (which was rather awesome and I highly recommend) - and we popped into the Chapters on the way home so I could sign some books - ah the convergence of the Actress and Author, a magical thing to behold.

And we play poker. Well, we've only played twice, but there seem to be quite a few people here who enjoy it. Now it isn't for a lot of money, and personally once I am out I never buy in again - I can't really afford to. But it's fun, and people act silly, which I always approve of.

Before I post pics here is some info on the show for those of you who might be interested:

Twelfth Night - Theatre by the Bay

Remaining Dates for the Show

Thursday 20th - 8pm
Friday 21st - 8pm
Saturday 22nd - 8pm

Monday 24th - 8pm
Tuesday 25th - 8pm
Wednesday 26th - 2pm/8pm
Thursday 27th - 8pm
Friday 28th - 8pm

And now, some pics!

Sarah Sherman taking pictures with her iphone.

Jody Stevens - yup those actors and cameras - so natural . . .

Waterfront downtown Barrie.

Gazebo on waterfront.

At the beach - I'm on the phone . . . not sure exactly to whom.
Tim Walker is happy.

Now for some poker shots:

Andy Pogson is ready to play.

The gang - the players and the spectators.

Ditto - different angle.

Mike Spasevski and Sarah - the last two left standing. Mike wound up winning, but Sarah gave him a good run. I came in third. But there is no way you would know that.

Rehearsal shots:

Kristian Bruun (Malvolio) rehearsing infamous letter scene. In the back, Ryan LaPlante (Fabian), Michael Rawley (Sir Toby), Andy (Sir Andrew), spying on him. They are pretending to hide behind a Tiki Hut. Tiki Hut being played in this rehearsal by a large piece of cardboard.

No idea what's going on in this picture. We are under the fabric that we use to start the show. I look uncomfortable. Again, no idea why.

Sarah attempted to curl her hair using rags. It worked, but wasn't quite the look the director was going for. She now uses a curling iron. But doesn't she look cute here?

My opening scene costume - 1950's beach resort chick.

Monday, August 03, 2009

First Week of Rehearsals . . . done!

Yes I am still alive, yes I am still blogging, yes I kind of maybe disappeared for a little bit . . .

But I am back now!

As you all know, not only do I author on occasion, I also act. And last week was the start of rehearsals for a production of Twelfth Night (in which I play Antonia - who is technically Antonio but whom I am playing as a woman . . . because I am one) with Theatre By The Bay up here in Barrie, Ontario. Canada.

I thought you might want to know a bit of what the rehearsal process is like, especially one that is only two and a half weeks. And so . . . I'll tell you. Now.

It began on Monday officially, though the cast made their way to Barrie to the college residences, where we are all living for the month, on Sunday. It's actually quite funny, feels like I am in university all over again, the boys in one dorm, the girls in another.

Our first read through was Monday morning. The day began with the director telling us about his vision for the show, followed by the producer and then the set, costume, and lighting designers. We then began to read through the script, which we got through just after lunch, only to begin all over again, this time discussing each scene as we went along.

Then the day was done. The actors returned to their residence, and we got to hang out a little.

The rest of the week consisted of going through each scene and roughly blocking them out. This is quite lovely for yours truly as I am only in five scenes, and so after a few hours of rehearsal in the morning, I (and some of my fellow cast members) would head to the beach. Yes the life of an actor is just that distressing.

Saturday we finished blocking the show with enough time in the afternoon to do a "stumble though" - which is running the show beginning to end and hoping you make it to the finish line in one piece. We did. It was a bit of a struggle, but we did.

This week we start working on the scenes all over again, this time with much more attention to detail.

So there you go! Pretty straightforward really. We've had a bit of dance choreography, fight choreography, character discussion etc. And considering everyone involved is ridiculously lovely, all seems to be moving smoothly.

So far.

I shall report at the end of this week whether this remains the case . . .

And now . . . some pictures!

Andy Pogson (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Tara-Dawn Winstone (Maria) and Kristian Bruun (Malvolio) pretend that they are having a meaningful conversation for the sake of the camera. Actors have no sense of the word "candid".

Alex Dault (Sebastian) and Ryan LaPlante (Fabian) look directly at the camera. Still these actors do not understand.

Finally, some candid shots. In rehearsal (director Brett Christopher on the left). See how much fun everyone is having! See how they smile!

Andy in his Sir Andrew wig.

A nice general rehearsal shot, once more utterly candid, with Jody Stevens (Viola) in the foreground.

More shots to come!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Polaris 23 - the definitive recap

Polaris is a Toronto held SF/Fantasy convention. While they tend to focus more on television and film, they do have a literary component, and this year I was invited to participate. I was on several panels (crashed two of them - I've never done that before, but it wasn't without the request of the other panelists), and got to meet some cool people (for a full list of guests go here). So, as ever, the usual recap must follow!

We begin our definitive recap on the first night of the con, it was a Friday night as I seem to recall. The charming Lesley Livingston and I were both guests for the event in an author-y capacity, and Jonathan Llyr (I work for his website and we were also there as media) was a super special guest as well as presenter for the Constellation Awards. Screenwriter Joe O'Brien came along as our guest, though he really should have had a pass of his own, his video advertising our site (a parody of "The Most Interesting Man in the World" commercials - "The Most Interesting NERD in the World") was the star of the award ceremony and he was responsible for an awesome interview with Claudia Black which we will be featuring on the site soon.

Friday night was the meet and greet. It was quite lovely. It had free food. That makes Adrienne happy. We ran into several speculative fantasy author friends including (in no particular order): Julie Czerneda, Michelle Rowen (with whom we also had dinner), Violette Malan, Derwin Mak and Douglas Smith.

Of course there were actors a plenty as well, each doing a wonderful job at mingling and being utterly delightful, including: Claudia Black, Michelle Forbes, Matt Frewer and Michael Hogan - who was incredibly sweet and sociable the entire weekend. He played Colonel Tigh on the Battlestar Galactica series (even if you aren't into Sci-Fi, it doesn't matter, that show is quality - so much so it won a Peabody award. See it.). I had been commissioned by my friend Meghan to get an autograph from him. You see, she had sent along a photograph taken at another convention they had both attended of herself dressed as one of the major female characters (and she actually looks like the character, it's crazy) giving him a full kiss on the lips. Needless to say Hogan took one look at the picture and, grinning ear to ear, said, "I remember her!"

We got to chat with him for a while, got pictures taken with him (I act all cool and stuff, but I am pathetic when it comes to actors, I get star struck in a second - my little heart was going a mile a minute before asking him to sign Meghan's picture for her). We also chatted with Matt Frewer, who was utterly delightful as well. Though we learned even he is not entirely sure why his ears were pointy in Watchmen.

The evening was great fun, and we left at a decent hour, knowing we'd have to return in first thing in the morning (thanks Lesley).

Day 2

This was the day where we all had "stuff" to do. Lesley and I had several panels to sit on, I confess actually I wasn't meant to have quite as many as I wound up having, but since I was following Lesley around to hers, I wound up crashing two of them. We talked a great deal about YA fiction. A great great deal. Conclusion: It rocks, but doesn't get the respect it deserves. Also, YA isn't what you think it is (see last blog entry "The New YA" below). Lesley also signed books and did, as expected, a fantastic reading.

At the same time Jon and Joe were getting interviews in the media room with Michael Hogan and Claudia Black. They were also preparing for the Constellation Awards. Considering how many times they had to go off to rehearse with the Constellation Awards team, I was expecting to see a finely choreographed musical number to open the show.

There wasn't one. Constellation Awards people: get on that.

Mark Opausky (another founding member of our site) joined us for the award ceremony, which was highly entertaining (the ceremony, not Mark. I mean, not that Mark wasn't entertaining . . . I just mean . . . oh never mind . . . ). Of course Jon just totally rocked as a presenter, and, he'll be embarrassed for me to point this out, but he got huge cheers when his name was called and he stepped up on stage. We love you Mr. Llyr, we really do!

Our video was awesome. I say "our" because I like to take as much credit as possible for Joe's work.

I had to rush off early to be on another panel (which means I missed Hogan tossing Hewlett off stage, boo-urns!), the moderator of which decided not to show up so I took the job. It was called "It might be too scary for you, but your kids will love it". Oddly the panel was rated PG, which I found rather amusing as the whole point of the panel was that kids can handle way more dark than we think they can. If anything it should have been rated: "Awesome for kids, may offend some adults". At any rate. It was a very interesting panel, and I have to admit to rather enjoying my first time as moderator.

Then I returned to my friends to discover they were in the process of getting Michael Hogan rather intoxicated. And thus an evening none of us had expected to go past 10pm, went into the wee hours of the morning. Hogan was delightful, as a matter of fact, he seemed to be having a pretty darn fabulous time. But I have to say, I think us lot were also pretty delightful too, and, I at least can attest, had a fabulous time as well. In all it was just a really laid back fun time, hanging out, nothing fancy, just shooting the breeze.

Of course here's the thing . . . none of them had to be back at the con first thing the next morning.

I did.

Day 3

With around 2 hours of sleep I returned for the final day of the con to do a book signing and reading. To my great pleasure I had people show up to both (and just in case that gentleman from the signing is reading this, here is that link to the audio books I was telling you about: Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, Timothy and the Dragon's Gate). I have to admit a small hint of pleasure when after reading my first choice of chapter and about to move onto a later bit, my audience insisted that before doing that they needed to know what came next. Of course I indulged their fancy, how could I not?

And then I was done, and it was good.

Very very good.

In all, for a first time Polaris attendee/guest, I have to say the event was lovely. I enjoyed the hotel despite the long trek to the squash courts for that one panel, and everyone I met was just so friendly and supportive. Well done all!

And here's hoping Michael Hogan survived. Has anyone heard what became of him?

Me, Hogan and Lesley. We is all very happy.

Hogan and Jon. They is extra happy.

Frewer and Lesley. No really it is. Trust me. Beneath the shadow that is Matt Frewer. Who the dude in the background is standing all superhero like, I have no idea. But it's a good picture of him.

Proof, I tell ya, proof that Joe bought a copy of my book! See that smile? See? I'm not pointing a phaser at his head or anything . . .

. . . oh. Um. How did that picture get in there?

Boys and their toys. Yes these are the phasers Jon and Joe acquired at the con. They are, I must confess, super awesome. They are the latest Star Trek film version of the phasers so they spin from "stun" to "kill". They "charge" up. And of course, baby, they light up.

If only we could make Mark understand just how cool that is. As it is, or at least as is evidenced in this picture, he's not amused.

Me signing books! (these next three photos are courtesy of author Derwin Mak)

They had these really cool posters of all the guests up along one wall. Derwin called it "The National Portrait Gallery". And so we posed next to our portraits. A portrait of a portrait as it were. How post-modern of us.

Cute story. As we are taking pictures of each other and just chatting in the hall, a group came by and one girl stopped at my photo and, touching it, said, "So pretty!" Well I was standing right there, so I turned and said, "Thank you." She looked at me for a moment. "Um . . ." I said, "that's me." She continued to look at me. "Okay, I know I don't look quite as good in the photo as in person but I mean. . . I don't look that different do I?" I laughed (though inside I was crying . . . no, no, I wasn't - I joke I joke). Finally I think it all clicked for her and she put her hand over her mouth and started to laugh too.

She said that she thought the picture was so pretty she had been tempted to steal it, and so we took this picture of her attempting to steal it and me preventing it. Because I like taking pictures that amuse me.