Archives: Reunion

Book Signing, Once Again

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Honestly I would have considered the event a success if I’d only sold a single copy. So I left the signing yesterday more than contented. I’d like to thank Jan’s Paperbacks for hosting the event. Also Jack Whitsel for suggesting that I join him at the table. I owe many thanks to those who stopped by the table, especially those who bought a copy of Reunion. I hope you enjoy the book and that my signature doesn’t hurt the resale value.

And additional thanks to all the store patrons that afternoon for leaving some of the cookies. I was hungry.

It’s an odd feeling, sitting at a table facing the front door when a customer walks in. Expectancy. Elation when a complete stranger picks up your book and announces the intention to buy a copy. Embarrassment, as an incoming customer turns his head and edges around the table to avoid eye contact. It’s okay, bookstore patron, I’m not upset at you for failing to buy my book. I’m not a used car salesman, I’m not going to apply high-pressure sales tactics. For one thing I don’t know any. Say hello, have a cookie, take a bookmark. No hard feelings.

In all, a good afternoon at the bookstore. I walked in a with a box full of copies of Reunion, walked out with only two copies left. Yeah, a good day.

Father's Day

Father’s Day has never ranked as a red letter day on the calendar for me. Today marks something of a shift in that perspective. Today is my first as an honoree. I received some lovely photographs, a professional shoot of my beautiful and talented wife along with my beautiful and talented daughter.

My Beautiful and Talented Daughter

My Beautiful and Talented Daughter

I also played golf, poorly and in the pouring rain. So, yeah, terrific photos. I’m going with that gift as the memory.

"Reunion" Signing

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This previous Wednesday I enjoyed my first – and, I hope, not last – book signing as an author. I’ve attended a signing on the other end before. Bruce Campbell signed my copy of “If Chins Could Kill.” Good guy, Bruce. But this time I was holding the pen.

Things From Another World, the Portland store, hosted the signing. I don’t know if the free munchies and beer served as a greater draw than I did, but the event appeared well attended. My thanks to those who organized the event, especially Elizabeth Allie.20140604_181441

OryCon 36

My invitation to serve as a panelist at OryCon 36 arrived early last week. This will mark my second year as a guest of the con. OryCon is Portland’s home grown science-fiction/fantasy convention. It is also the only one I’ve ever attended so I have no yardstick for comparison to other conventions. I don’t know if it is a tiny regional con or a moderately-sized stop on the convention circuit. I just know I generally have a good time.

I dipped my toe into OryCon in high school. Probably OryCon 8 or 9. I remember it was at the Red Lion near Lloyd Center, what is now the Double Tree. The following year the con moved to the Red Lion on the Columbia River where it remained for many years. I was able to attend only sporadically during those years: college, law school, military deployment occasionally intervened. But those were for me halcyon cons, for at least one reason if not more: the hospitality suite served beer on draught for a quarter a glass. If memory serves the keg-o-rator held two taps: Henry’s Dark and Henry’s Blue Boar Ale.

Contest, Qui audet adipiscitur

A short story I wrote entitled “Resource” appears in the anthology “The Ways of Magic” released last week by Deepwood Publishing, which published another story of mine “Escapement” in the anthology “Ancient New.” So that’s pretty cool. Check it out.

But let’s switch things up a bit, do something a bit different in this web log. I’m going to present a contest in support of neither of the projects mentioned above. Instead let’s focus on my novel “Reunion” from Twilight Times Books. “Reunion” is available digitally now, with the print edition to follow in mid-June. I have a couple Advance Review Copies of the print edition sitting in a box in my library. I would like to send a signed copy to the contest winner. Here’s what I propose: anyone who purchases a digital copy between now and, oh, let’s say Wednesday, April 16th can enter the contest. To enter just send me an email with your digital receipt of purchase, that is, the email acknowledgment you received from Amazon or whatever digital store you bought “Reunion” from. On the 16th I will select a receipt at random (maybe using some polyhedron dice that are gathering dust since I don’t have a D&D game going at the moment) and will mail the winner a signed copy of “Reunion.” Hey, if you win, you get an advance review print edition for less than half the retail price and free shipping. If you don’t then you’ve still got a book to read.

Fine print. Contest limited to United States residents at least eighteen years old. Digital receipt must carry a date of sometime between April 6 and April 16. Odds of winning depend upon the number of valid entries received. Void where prohibited. Swim at your own risk. No life guard on duty.

So there you go. I told you I’d do something different with this post.

Debut Novel Ruminations

20140126_155047_2My first novel, “Reunion,”  is out. Here’s a link, let me get that marketing thing out of the way so I can ramble without worrying where to shoehorn it in later. http://twilighttimesbooks.com/Reunion_ch1.html

I’m trying to get a handle on how I feel about it. I’m pleased, obviously. But my enjoyment is incomplete. I think that’s partly because – until May – the novel is only available as an eBook.  I’m not what you might call an early adopter. I have a tablet and I have the Kindle application loaded on it. But I don’t read from it. I’ve got three or four items on it, nothing longer than a novella. I suppose I still prefer the feel of a physical book.

Proof Reading

20140126_155047_2I am reading the proof copy of my novel, loose pages stacked within the almost complete cover – (still lacking ISBN and bar code.) Tangible proof that I do indeed have a book on the cusp of publication. Cool. Feels good, but I am getting my fill of reading it. I’ve lost count of the number of drafts, revisions, edits, and proof-readings I’ve gone through. This, however, is the last pass. I do hope I manage to catch every misplaced apostrophe, dropped article, or missing comma.

It requires a lot of effort to ensure the prose looks effortless. I take full responsibility for anything that slips by.

Disappointment

I’m learning the publishing game through the time-honored method of experience. It seems that disappointment is a constant threat. I’d been expecting a release date of October 15 for my novel “Reunion.” In fact I’d relied upon the date, sending out invitations to a party to celebrate the book’s impending publication.
Lesson one: The book hasn’t been published until it’s been published. Nothing is certain.
See, I received a message from the publisher a few days after sending the invitations alerting me that the publication date was pushed back. It seems the cover artist required more time. He is creating a painting for the entire cover, front and back. The approved concept was more involved than originally anticipated so he’ll need a couple more months.

Romance

Romance and marriage are atypical subjects of speculative fiction, usually either consigned to the B-plot or give short-shrift if included at all.  That’s fine: not every book must contain every possible element.  Absence of a wooing, dalliance, or long-term relationship should not be grounds for legitimate criticism of a work.

Tolkien wrote a romance without a great deal of romance.  What romance did reach the page was chaste, the courtly romance of the troubadours.  This is perhaps better exemplified by Gimli’s love for Galadriel than the decades long trials and courtship of Aragorn and Arwen.  That is the story the Good Professor was writing and it worked.

Naming Characters

“What’s in a name? That which we call a  rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  Well, sure, Juliet, but books communicate only through words, not smells.  The names chosen often must be capable of more than simply differentiating one character from another, they must be able to convey certain information, whether about the character or about the world the author has created.

And creating worlds is what speculative fiction authors do.  The aliens, elves, planets, or kingdoms invented need names.  There are many approaches to naming conventions.  Glen Cook, in his “Black Company” series employs common English words: “Opal,” “Juniper.”  Or relatively uncommon but still familiar names: “Elmo”, “Otto.”  Some readers, perhaps conditioned to expect that fantasy will adhere to certain conventions, find this hinders suspension of disbelief.  It works for me, however; it helps ground the stories, provides a sense of gritty reality.

Another option is to become a philologist, invent several languages, and provide appropriate names from word roots or compounds of those invented languages.  This option works best if your name is Tolkien.

Other writers seem to peck randomly at the keyboard and then go back and insert an apostrophe.  These writers don’t, apparently, attempt to pronounce the names or quite grasp what an apostrophe within a word is supposed to accomplish.  Vide “the Apostropocalypse” in Neal Stephenson’s “Reamde.”  His takedown of this particular naming convention is quite clever, as one would expect.

In my first novel – that has been consigned to a box in the closet, never to see the light of day – I resorted to the atlas.  Characters from certain invented lands were assigned countries from the atlas and I selected place names from the respective countries (e.g., Estonia) to repurpose as character names, ensuring a consistency, a sense of commonality among characters within the discrete lands.  At least that was the intent.  No one will ever know if I succeeded.

My second novel, “Reunion” (to be released by Twilight Times Books this October) is essentially a contemporary piece, so names presented little difficulty.  However, a couple of characters did require some thought.  For reasons that – I hope – make perfect sense to those who read the book, I modified ancient Babylonian names to tag these two characters with.

I am faced with a different challenge in the novel I am currently writing.  I want the names of the alien race to exemplify their language.  Thus most of the names feature ch, k, or g to indicate that the alien speech consists largely of gutturals and harsh consonants.

Names can help establish a sense of place, of verisimilitude.  They can also, of course, be allegorical or symbolic, if the author wants to go down that path.  Something to consider before assigning a moniker.

What’s in a name?  Maybe quite a bit.