Book signing

So the book signing in Hadley, MA took place on Sunday as per schedule.

First off, I must say a huge thank you to the Hadley Barnes & Noble folks.  They were very friendly, wonderful, and I feel did their best in the face of whatever is going on in B&N’s HQ these days.

Which brings me to the full detailed version.  Again:  local store awesome; corporate to blame.

  1. Is 1 week prior to Father’s Day a good date to have a Teen Fest thing?  I don’t know, maybe something closer to July or closer to Memorial Day or nearer to an approximation of Spring Break?  Suffice to say the teens that were there were shopping for Daddy, not for themselves.
  2. Advertisement.  You’re Barnes & Noble for crying out loud.  Did you leave all the promo up to the individual stores?  I hope not.  Especially for something you were doing across all your stores.  This is a good time to get maximum bang for your advertising dollars by running national ad campaigns to draw attention to this thing.  Sure, local stores do a little on their social media and in-store, maybe local papers to highlight just who is going to be this store’s guests, but … come on.  Then again, B&N doesn’t seem to have a firm grasp on marketing.  I mean, have you ever seen them advertise much?  Never mind their stores, how about the Nook?  Their stores are their primary POS for the thing, and their website, but how many B&N banner ads have you seen on websites, or radio/tv/billboard/newspaper adverts have you seen for the Nook, the B&N website, or the physical stores?  Sorry guys, but you’re second or lower to Amazon (who is an evil evil bunch of people whose downfall I shall cheer greatly) … follow Avis car rentals’ example “We’re number 2, but we try harder” philosophy!
  3. A clearer vision and communication of what the Teen Fest would be.  Looking around online at what other stores were doing, it was rather mixed methods and mixed thinking.  Some stores had workshops that … well … someone explaining how to write a long line description – you know the dreaded Twitter Blurb!  Okay, first off, that’s hard for a lot of writers to do.  Come on, for crying out loud, we just took 400 pages and 500 000 words to say “boy meets girl, girl falls in love with boy, they date and fall in love and get married and have 65 kids, 8000 grandkids, and 14 goats, and the kingdom was saved!” we really aren’t going to squeeze it all down with ease.  I mean, a writers’ panel with Q&A for geeky fannish teens to come to, certainly, but traditional writers’ workshop kind of stuff doesn’t tend to be a crowd draw for any age demographic, targeting it to teens is going to get you maybe 3 people.

Honestly, I rather expected something like this.  I mean B&N was virtually the only bookstore around in the part of Georgia I moved from so it was the place that got people like Steve Harvey … and few people showed up because few people knew about it.  I now know why Terry Brooks‘ appearance that same day in South Hadley, was at a little place called Odyssey Bookshop.  Big name authors often are very expressive about wanting to support the small mom & pop sort of stores.  Which, I believe, is definitely a big part of it.  But it’s also that I believe the smaller stores have a better means of reaching people and bringing folks in.

A small bookshop actually is more likely to have regulars engaged both in face-to-face conversations as well as social media interactions.  Your smaller bookshop is more likely to have the customer walk in for a copy of Wintersmith and wind up staying to chit chat for 3 hours while browsing around for 2.  Watch folks at a big chain store, they walk in, pause at the display of the latest from Stephen King, then make a beeline for what they’re there for, spend a few minutes finding it on the shelf, a couple more minutes looking around that same few feet to see if there’s anything else by that author they want to grab, then back to the cash register.  If they stay, it’s to drink coffee and use the free wifi.  The small shoppe is almost always in a location with a lot of passerby foot traffic and so puts out a chalkboard sign that is colourful and attention getting so all those window shoppers and bankers-off-to-lunch pass and see it.  B&N is starting to trend itself into malls, but there’s no chalkboard signs.  B&N isn’t likely to take out an ad in the paper.  Small shoppe knows that most subscriptions doesn’t equal most readers, they know the little (usually free, so ads cost a little more, but it’s worth it) local indie paper (i.e. The Metro Spirit in the CSRA) is the way to go and put in a good sized ad there.  The little shoppe also knows that an investment in a few minutes with a desktop publishing software, a printer, and a few dozen sheets of paper taken around to the local coffee shops and other places with a bulletin board … or adhered to a few strategic lampposts …

Really; never blame the local personification of the chain store.  They’re following corporate dictates which nearly never make the slightest sense and trying to run on a very restricted and controlled budget.  It’s the folks in HQ who deserve a great big “Are you one drugs?” response.

#BNFestBuzz announcement!

I have an event!!!

I’ve been invited, like totally out of the blue, to be one of the authors at the Teen Festival thing at the Hadley, MA B&N!

What’s weirder?  I agreed!

Have I mentioned before I’m shy?  I’m going to be doing a book signing, and there was mention of something involving the words “reading” and “excerpt” …

What have I got myself into?

Look, if you’re in New England and want to have a copy of my book signed by me in person like face-to-face and all that, I’ll be on Sunday 12 June at 3PM EDT.

This, by the way, would be some of that other 10% stressful stuff from my previous post.

Oy, stress!

Ugh, so I promised a short story related to Ready or Not.  It exists.  It has for awhile.  It just hasn’t got typed yet.

Lots and lots of reasons, all of them come down to serious stress.  90% of the problem comes from I’ve had to spend the end of winter and all of spring looking for a new place and then moving.  Simple version:  landlady ran into some financial woes that lead to her changing what her use for the place I was living were to be … and therefor no renewal of the lease.

Things are looking … mixed now.  Hate new place, but finances have got hella stabilised, and only look to improve.

I have a contract to write a scifi novel for a publishing group and haven’t even got started and barely remember the idea I had.  Yay.

Totally happy:  went to a new Korean restaurant in North Adams last night for dinner and it was awesome.

Who cares?

I’ve reverted to generic non-biography bios.

This is because I realised something:  I can’t be representation.  I could be a perfect fiction.  Even if I had a picture of my face instead of that faerie, how’re you to know that’s my face?  Okay, see me at a convention?  Does romance fiction have conventions?!  See me at the market?  What’re the odds?  Too, what’re the odds you’d recognise me?

Authors, once they’re in the hands of a reader, are not people.  We’re a collection of letters following the word ‘by’, commonly referred to collectively as a by-line.

I have books I love I couldn’t tell you who wrote them.  If I can, I can’t tell you if that person is black, white, male, female, gay, straight, human, or other.  I also don’t care.  I have books I love, I can’t usually remember the titles of.  Because it doesn’t matter.

True, if I were to borrow the book from a library the author’s name, the series title, and/or the book title would be a big thing to remember for the finding of the book again or for the going to the bookstore to purchase myself a copy.  Once I’ve memorised its location and appearance in the library, I need never remember another detail about the book.  Once I own a copy, I only ever have to remember where I put the damned thing or what the cover image looks like in my iBooks library.

I strongly believe my life growing up would have been affected in important and positive ways by better representation of those demographics to which I belong.  Some far more so than others.  But that’s the job of the characters in the stories, in the movies, in the TV shows.  The only people who matter as people themselves are the faces of the advocacy.  Jazz Jennings matters because she isn’t a character, she’s a person who puts a name and a face to trans-youth rights.  Ms Cox is a couple of things, so who she is matters in myriad ways.

Do I care that the person playing the trans-woman in The Dutch Girl wasn’t trans?  Nope.  Would I care if I learnt the director refused to consider/audition trans-women? Probably.  Would I care if I learnt that trans-actresses auditioned, had better auditions, but didn’t get the role?  Absolutely.

The character matters, not the person playing it.  The actor is not the character and vice versa.  The actor may put some of themselves into the role; conversely they may take away part of the character when the final scene is finished, but they’re not the same person.  Exceptions exist.  An all male cast of A League of Their Own isn’t automatically horrible, but it’s automatically highly suspect and had better damned well come with a damned good explanation.  If the explanation is that every female actor who showed up stunk, genuinely sucked, and the only way the movie was going to exist was to take these male talented folks and put them in a whole lot of makeup … weird, very very very weird, but okay, whatever.

The average reader doesn’t follow the authors they like.  I’m not even an average reader and yet I follow authors I’ve never read a single book or short story by and never intend to; I don’t follow almost every author I do read … the majority the few I do I could count on the fingers of my left elbow how many blogposts/twits/FB posts by them I’ve ever once seen.

I’m going to keep the blog because it’s a good outlet for my thoughts and feelings.  It’s got links to my work, on the off chance someone finds it before they find me in iBooks/Amazon/etc.  But I don’t expect people to read my books as a result of reading my blog, nor do I expect people to read my blog because of my books.  And so far not only are those assumptions correct, but they hold true to the norm for other authors and their social media presences.

I’m on Tumblr, Twitter, and here.  The former two are almost entirely auto-posts of this blog, but if you like subscribing to things from those rather than separately subscribing through my blog I understand and it’s why they exist.  I do sometimes put other things I find interesting, or things I want to say on those that I don’t put here.  That’s because they’re a better media for saying something quick and offhand than an actual blogpost is; and they’re better equipped for sharing things I find interesting from other people’s shared content.

I’m not going to make any secret of anything about myself, I’m just not going to have bio sections that advertise anything about me because I do not want people to read my work based on my sexuality, gender, etc.  I want you to see the cover, notice the book, read the blurb, check out the sample, then (I pray) purchase it.

Where’d Facebook go?

So a few of you may have noticed I don’t have a Facebook page anymore.

That’s why.  Only a few people had it liked, Facebook’s algorithms meant even I never saw my posts, and I really don’t like Facebook for a number of personal reasons that meant it was foolish to keep it.

Really, I would keep it if Facebook acknowledged that people who like a page might actually want to see its posts.  I mean, plenty of automated methods of posting, after all (clearly as I never actually use my personal FB account which was the admin for the Author page).  But they don’t, so I shan’t be bothered about it.  That’s one less thing in the universe I have to keep up with.

ZOMG! She lives!?

Yeah, that’s becoming a rather popular post topic for me lately.

Sorry about that.  This has just been a year of hell for me.  Some ups, certainly.  Moving to Massachusetts has been pretty cool if not without its sour notes.  I’ve become addicted to Doctor Who which is bloody fantastic, but Netflix (henceforth referred to as ‘the meanie bad people’ for short) haven’t got series 9 yet, so I don’t get to find out what’s been going on.

I’ve been managing to write.  Not as much or as often as I’d like.  Some of it has been a lack of time.  Since 12 November I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of days and hours dealing with my jobs, but that’s starting to mellow out.  The time I have had that could be spent writing has been spent in the sorts of things one must do in order that stress does not eat her brain … and sufficient stress of the wrong sort is bad for people with chronic depression (and I are one such person), and if you’ve ever tried to write when having attacks of depression you know it tends to make the stories go in dark and unhappy directions.  Dark and unhappy can be fine, here and there, but we’re talking the kind of dark and unhappy that gets you the “the dog dies” award (sorry, forgot its name, lots of kids books I never liked at all have it – to the point I treat it the same as a skull and crossbones on a bottle in the cupboard).

So far, as of the same sorts of dates that 2015 had started looking down (early December 2014, no lie), 2016 is starting to look really up.  So, that said, I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for a summer 2016 release of the, still, unnamed Book 3.  I’ve gotten more than a page into the first Færie Patrol which is turning out interesting and teaching me fun things about the world and characters.  Can’t recall if I ever got any further in the story about that transgender girl I started one day on a whim (no link because I’m buggered if I recall where I mentioned that).

I’m going to try to be a little more active here soon.  Some of it is going to bend my guidelines RE talking politics (read:  I’m going to bloody well talk about a few things, and I may as well warn I use words I learnt from my wife when Donald Trump and the GOP get brought up these days), primarily US politics. I might not, though.  I also may talk about some of the quirkier trans* issues.  I shan’t be discussing the new Star Wars film because I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to see it due to being, currently, unable to afford a ticket (while I’m not saying this in hopes people will donate a ticket, this is the internet and I’ve seen it happen too many times to not point to the contact link above for anyone who takes this notion into their head.  This said because I may as well – if I explicitly said “please do not …” people would anyway, so screw trying).

As per usual, Happy Holidays.  I’m in a sufficiently high Jewish populated area to know that Hanukkah is over or nearly so, so happy belated that.  Merry Christmas coming up for those folks.  Solstice/Jül/etc is coming up later this week for my Pagan loves, so enjoy – no over indulging in the holy water for you ADF folks.  Turns out there’re almost as many Muslim holidays in December as there are days in the year (just kidding, but there are a lot) and I can’t spell any but Ramadan, but as especially fond happy/merry/blessed series of celebrations for you folks; sorry for all the crap people are giving you, please know some of us do wish you well and would love to punch certain people in the mouth on your behalf.

Moved! And staying bloody put.

The Berkshire Hills, part of the Appalachian M...

The Berkshire Hills, part of the Appalachian Mountains, in winter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was insanity, it was … moving sucks.  I am not doing it again.

I’m settling in here in the Berkshires, and loving it here.  Maybe if I ever hit the level of best seller wherein I have millions of dollars I’ll buy a quiet island somewhere in Nova Scotia or Norway or something, but that’s different. That’s me paying several very large and well built individuals with nothing better to do to come out and put all my stuff into boxes which they will then load onto a big damned truck and drive off into the sunset for me and will catch me up later as I pile into a car/plane and wave goodbye to Massachusetts.

Then again, I really do like it here rather a lot and my do nothing of the sort.

I’ve been spending the week running back and forth from the Berkshires to Springfield so I’ve been too tired to get to writing, but I’m really feeling better and better with each day.  Stress is melting away, and writing is waiting right there on the fringes.  I’m getting itchy for a pen and paper, but it’s not quite there.  For one thing I have groceries to go buy today.

Please hold the snow comments.  Believe me, I could have got snow moving all of 1hr north of Augusta.  It doesn’t take rocket science to realise that it snows in New England.  I’m looking forward to it, in fact.  The roads here generally stay well plowed, I’m told, but if they should get too slick for the driving I can walk to work from where I live if I just leave a bit earlier.

Curiously, the taxes (so far) have been quite a bit less than Georgia, and prices have been comparable; a few things are higher, some things the same or lower, all in all it’s as I expected rather than as people would say.  It’s amazing the “truths” people cling to.  It’s kind of like “Walmart has the lowest prices”, no it doesn’t.  “The south has such friendly and polite people”, are you kidding me?!  The people impressing me with their manners, friendliness, and generosity are the New Englanders hands down!

Suffice to say, I think I’m home.

An update!

Oh, look!  Alive I still am!

So, this summer has been Hell.  No … wait … Hell is cooler.  Seriously we’ve spent the past several months breaking records, the high ones.  I’ve also had a nightmare work schedule at a terrible job … and to top it off there’s the fun of job searching, then finding … and now trying to move from Georgia to Massachusetts.

This is not seeking sympathy (though it wouldn’t go amiss), but rather to illustrate that writing has happened little due to stress (there ought to be a word for worse-than-stress-no-not-quite-try-aiming-higher).  Even if Book 3 were finished it would be nigh impossible to type it due to the energy requirements’ likelihood of resulting in heat stroke to say nothing of the toll to the computer, and forget editing.

I’m looking forward to the move.  I miss my boys; they would’ve loved where we’re headed, but it’s a chance to move on.  At least it’s bloody gorgeous up there; very conducive to writing spells.