November 8th, 2008

Early Permian

The Importance of Being Not Quite So Cynical

Much, much too late to be posting anything. But here I am. A couple of people on my friends list have linked to this article, "An open apology to boomers everywhere," by Heather Havrilesky. And I wanted to post the link, as well.

"We ate Happy Meals while watching the space shuttle blow into tiny bits."

As someone born in 1964, at the very tail-end of the Baby Boom —— and as someone who then wound up spending most of her life with Gen Xers for friends (and who has, oddly, often been referred to as a Gen X author) —— this pleased me a bit. For years I have publicly lamented to so-called "Age of Irony," the knee-jerk cynicism, the default indifference, the automatic disdain, the eye-rolling, the inability to fathom earnestness. So, this is refreshing, even if I strongly suspect it'll take a whole lot more than the election of Barack Obama to wash away to stain. It's something I've never truly understood, but, then, I was almost an adult when Reagan was elected.

Meanwhile, I have learned that the greatest percentage of idiocy (loathsome chat, stupid names, etc.) in WoW seems to be associated with human cities. No idea why. Of course, I also have no idea why, in a game where you can play orcs, night elves, blood elves, trolls, Taurans (basically, minotaurs), gnomes, dwarves, undead, and Draenei (an alien race), anyone would choose to play a...human. Especially since Blizzard seems to have reserved the absolute worst voice-acting for the human NPCs. They all sound like Ned Flanders. And they're all built like quarterbacks. Even the women. Ah, well. it takes all sorts. Mithwen, my night elf, made Lvl 32 tonight. She now rides an enormous saber-toothed cat, which she has named Bounder. Mithwen has taken a few too many blows to the head, and, much to the chagrin of her sister, a Druid named Syllhar, is just a little simple. But she makes a hell of a tank. We've been slaughtering werewolves and zombies in Duskwood, south of Stormwind (hence my greater exposure to humans).

Okay, Caitlín, please go to bed.
moons books

"So photograph it, the milky way. It spills into the hand and dries."

Not a bad day yesterday, though I didn't get as much work done as I needed to do. I did finally get The Red Tree off to my agent at Writers House and my editor at Penguin. But, first, I had to make one MS Word file out of three files (one for the "editor's" preface, another for Chapter One, and a third for the remainder of the novel). Then I had to compose a longish email explaining all the ways that the novel is not quite finished. I also sent it to Sonya (sovay) and to Spooky's dad, as both had volunteered to read this rough draft. Okay. It's not that rough. It just hasn't been proofed, and is full of typos and continuity errors and broken things I've not yet gotten around to fixing. Anyway, now it's in NYC (and Boston and Saunderstown), and here is the cover that Roc will be using (behind the cut):

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I am not entirely pleased with the cover, but Penguin did make a couple of changes that I requested. This version is better than the original. I'd have preferred something a lot more subtle, but the people whose job it is to sell my book are certain this cover will help to move the novel, so there you go. The woman on the cover would be Constance Hopkins, the painter who comes to live in the attic above Sarah Crowe in the old farmhouse near the red tree.

Also, a great deal of time yesterday was spent just talking to Spooky about the story I'm about to begin, which hasn't quite come together in my head. I think it's going to be steampunk, but I'm not yet entirely certain. This isn't for Sirenia Digest, but for an anthology. And we also talked a great deal about Joey Lafaye, where it might go and what it might become.

Later, we drove down to Newbury Comics in Warwick. A chilly and thoroughly overcast day, the trees still brilliant in the last throes of autumn. Spooky found a used copy of Strawberry Switchblade's The 12" Album (1985; this is a copy from the Canadian re-release). Heading back into Providence, there was a marvelous fog. We did the Kindernacht thing and watched Mike Newell's adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005). Neither of us had seen it since the theatrical release, and I still think it's really very, very good. Alfonso Cuarón's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban remains my favorite of the Rowling adaptations, but Goblet of Fire is a close second. Oh, and have you heard the rumors that Daniel Radcliffe may be chosen to play the Eleventh Doctor? I think that could work quite nicely, though I'll hate to see David Tenant go.

Yesterday, a reader wrote to ask my advice regarding self publishing. As I said very recently, i don't like dispensing writerly advice. And I'm not exactly the most market savvy person. So take what I say next with that caveat in mind. Based on what I've seen and heard and been told over the years, by agents, editors, and other authors, it is generally a very bad idea to go this route, especially if you ever want a shot at being published professionally or trying to make a living off your writing. Myself, I would avoid the POD option like the plague. I would suggest that if you are a good enough author to warrant publication, then you also need to find an agent and a real publisher. This will take time and tremendous patience. You'll be rejected over and over. It might well take many years. Meanwhile, you will become a better writer. I think the POD thing lures in a lot of impatient young people who desperately want to be published, but who cannot imagine enduring the long trial of rejection and concession that is usually necessary to achieve publication. I still have the mountain of rejection slips that were lavished upon Silk. It sucked, but, eventually, the book found a home and has managed to stay in print for a decade now.

As regards self publishing, one must also consider distribution. If you do it yourself, how will you get the books to your readers? It's hard enough getting decent distribution when you have one of the big New York publishing houses behind you. And no, I don't think that Sirenia Digest is relevant to this conversation, as I was already an established author when I began it, and would not have been able to launch without the support of Subterranean Press. In the end, my advice, which I am reluctant to give, is to be patient and stick to the traditional road. When you know that you are good enough, find an agent, and the agent will find you a publisher. Persevere and hope for a lucky break. It will be hard, and, yes, truthfully, you'll probably fail, because most authors fail, regardless of merit. But if the only alternative is POD, it's not much of an alternative, beyond whatever private rewards vanity press has always brought. POD will, almost certainly, make you less attractive to actual publishers, should you ever approach them. For better or worse, it's preferable to have no publishing credits than a string of self-published POD novels.

And I'm only saying this because I was asked my opinion.

And now, I go to the platypus.