Book Expo America 2011

This was my first time at BEA.  It was an amazing insane whirlwind.  I want to start by thanking my publicist Cassie, who made everything happen and was quick, efficient and amazing.  Next I want to thank everyone who came to get a book.  I was expecting to be sitting at an empty booth all morning, and had even contemplated singing the following song, but changing the word ‘love’ out for ‘Lev’ (which is, in general, a fun game):

Luckily, I did not have to do that.  Or perhaps unluckily, because I had some killer choreography worked out.

Because we were slammed.  I was signing alongside Edward Lazellari, another debut novelist who wrote the excellent book Awakenings, which will be out in August.

I had three boxes of books.  They were gone within half an hour.  And I only spelled my name wrong once!  It was amazing, meeting people who had heard of the book and were excited for it, and lots of teachers and librarians, bloggers I read, and other exciting people.  I had a lot of fun.

Afterwards, I wandered about a bit, trying to take it in, but I freely confess, when I saw the person in the giant pig costume, I felt it was time to go home.  But I had an amazing time, and I will be back next year.  If I met you at the signing, feel free to say hi!  I hope everyone I gave a book to really enjoys it.  I’ll admit it – the excitement some people expressed makes me nervous the book won’t live up to expectations.  But I really hope it will.

 

Coming Soon: Fiona’s Hair Salon

I know there are only a handful or two of you out there who have read All Men of Genius, but for those of you who have, and those of you who will, I’m incredibly excited to tell you about a new feature coming to my webpage this summer:  Fiona’s Hair Salon!  Fiona is a character in All Men of Genius who shows a real flair with ladies tresses.  She creates and names many hairstyles, ranging from beautifully Victorian to completely outrageous.  I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful friend named Aire, who works at Hilde’s Salon Vienna in Hanover, New Hampshire. Besides being an amazing hairdresser, she is also a fantastic artist and will be doing sketches of the various styles Fiona mentions in the book.

I derived many of the styles names  from Victorian slang, so the Hair Salon won’t just be amazing sketches of Steampunk Hairstyles that Aire can actually do for you, but they’ll be an interesting look at history and language.  Furthermore, Aire is going to tell me about her inspiration and ideas when designing the styles, which will offer us a really interesting look at the history of hairstyling.

Aire has shown me just three sketches so far, but I’d love to share them with you:

This style is called “The Downy Dahlia”

In fact, I was so excited by this project that I came up with many more hairstyle names that aren’t even in the book, such as this one: The Betty Bun.  A Betty was Victorian slang for a lockpick, if you were speaking to the right people.

And this is Miss Laycock’s Crown.  Miss Laycock was slang for, well, lady-parts.  I adore the outrageousness of this hairstyle.  Aire told me she was inspired by a particular sort of hairstyle that virgin geishas would wear in Japan.

And that’s just a taste.  There will be many more coming this summer.  So keep an eye out for it; Fiona’s Hair Salon, coming soon.

In which our Author Begins Discussing some of his Favorite Books, beginning with The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins

Dear Readers~

After last Friday’s post, where I took a paragraph to discuss my love of Mary Robinette Kowal‘s novel, Shades of Milk and Honey, I got many letters and emails asking me about my other favorite books, and threatening to do me bodily harm if I didn’t take the time to discuss said favorite books on my blog.  As many of these letters were left in my apartment (on my pillow, taped to the bathroom mirror, stuck to the wall by a dagger, and so on), I feel especially inclined to answer them.  So I’d like to introduce a new series of blog posts in which I tell you about some of my favorite books.  I’d like to start with The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins.

Those of us who love books all have several book-specific memories tucked away.  One of my first memories involving a novel, as opposed to a picture book, is of a family vacation we took my second year of high school.  When packing for the trip, I was looking for books to bring.  I had recently developed a fascination with my mother’s book shelf – still filled with books from her high school and college days.  One of the oldest books caught my attention – The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins.  It was an old paperback, falling apart.  There was no cover image, just the title, but I loved that title.  It sounded beautiful.  So I took it.  I read it over the course of the vacation, always anxious to get back to the hotel so I could go back to it.  By the end of vacation it was held together with rubber bands because it was falling apart so completely.

And I still have it.

Wilkie Collins, if you were not aware was one of the great (perhaps the greatest) Sensation Novelist of the Victorian Era.  Sensation novels are the link between the Gothic novel and the Detective novel – they weren’t quite as melodramatic as the gothics, but didn’t have the cold hard mystery solving plot lines of detective mysteries.  Sensation novels followed mysterious plots with gothic elements, but usually with average (or apparently average) characters and settings.  Solving the mystery wasn’t always the focus of such books – often times it was more about finding some sort of happiness, and solving the mystery was incidental to that.  If you’re curious about Sensation Novels, I recommend starting with Mr. Collins, but also reading Mary Elizabeth Braddon‘s Lady Audley’s Secret early on, as well.

During the time of the vacation when I first read the Woman in White, I was already familiar with Victorian Literature, and gothic literature.  But this was something new to me – not filled with overwrought morals or overly romantic plotlines.  Additionally, it was my first experience with a truly epistolary novel – written entirely in letters and diary entries.  There were strong, intelligent women (and not all of them beautiful), and dark, truly unexpected plot twists.  There were villains writing about why they were villains, and beautiful, haunting images.  I’d rather not give too much of the plot away – I don’t think I could do it justice – but it stuck with me.  Soon after vacation, I read all of Mr. Collins’ works, but The Woman in White remains my favorite.  (I’m sure some Collins readers may take issue with this – The Moonstone and Armadale are often argued to be his best works, but I stand by my opinion).

When writing All Men of Genius, I often thought back to The Woman in White, and how it had managed so be mysterious and moody without it being an actual mystery.  I still hope to one day write an epistolary novel as well, though I don’t know when that will be.  The Woman in White is one of the novels that has continued to inspire me throughout my life.  It is always listed first among my favorite books, and I cannot recommend it highly enough, especially considering it is available for free.  If you like it, then go to The Moonstone, then Armadale, and then on at your leisure.  Oh, and for the love of the Gods, don’t watch the movie – it’s a lazy adaptation that completely changes the book by essentially deciding that one of the key twists didn’t happen and the whole novel ended very differently.  And I won’t even speak of the musical.  Stick to the book.  One day, perhaps, someone will make a neo-noir film adaptation.  That I might be curious to see.  Until then, though, just the book, dear readers.  Only the book.

How about you, dear readers?  Any favorite books to recommend?

In which our Author shares his opinion on unlucky days and shows off some treasures of the publishing process

Dear Readers~

Friday the 13th.  I know many consider it unlucky and such, but the 13th has always been a lucky day in my family.  I was born on the 13th.  My parents got married on the 13th.  My brother was born on the 12th, but he’s always been impatient.  And in Judaism, to which I occasionally subscribe, 13 has always been a good number.  So don’t worry.  Today is going quite swimmingly.

Aside from the fan who was hiding under my bed this morning, pistol in hand.  Although she is very attractive (I trust all my fans are), she has been making some rather extraordinary demands.  She wants me to share anything I’ve gotten from the publisher – that is, any physical objects – with her, and with you, dear readers.  I’ve only gotten a few things, but I’m happy to show them off (she also told me I had to be happy, and with a demand like that, how could I not be?)

So let me show you some of the treasures I’ve gotten my hands on:

The cover proofs.  I admit I’ve had my ups and downs with this cover, but I’m happy with the way its come out.  I think the background is especially fantastic.  But my favorite part is…

Is the spine.  I just love it.  I’m a first time author, and my name has little to no cache, so I don’t fool myself into thinking I’m going to get fantastic display space in bookstores.  But I know the spine will be visible, and the spine will be visible on the bookshelves of my wonderful and attractive readers (such as yourself, and the woman with the pistol), so I consider it to be of vital importance, and I couldn’t be happier.  I think it’s interesting and important looking.  Much like myself.

Of course, once you have a cover proof, you simply must find a book to wrap it around.  I chose Mary Robinette Kowal‘s Shades of Milk and Honey, because it’s another Tor book and cut to the same size.  It is also, for the record, a spectacular book, which I highly recommend you buy and read while waiting for mine.  The short way of describing it would be ‘like if Jane Austen could do magic,’ but that doesn’t quite do it justice.  What I loved most about the book was that the sort of magic – glamours – were these beautiful, fragile illusions which seemed to reflect on the style of the writing within the book itself.  When I was done, I felt as though I hadn’t just been reading about an early 1800s society in which people could create illusions, but that I had somehow witnessed one of these illusions, in the form of a book.

But I digress (as the lady with the pistol tells me).  As I said, I wrapped one of the cover proofs around Ms. Robinette Kowal’s book, and I confess, the results were quite exciting:

 

The photo doesn’t really do it justice.

My book is somewhat longer than Ms. Robinette Kowal’s, so the spine doesn’t line up, and I had to fold part of the back cover into the book, but from the front, I imagine this is something like what the final produce will look like, which is very exciting.

 

 

 

Next I got my hands on a few Advance Reading Copies.  These are the uncorrected, but bound softcover versions of the book sent out to reviewers and the like.

As you can see, something went slightly awry here. At one point, I had asked them if they couldn’t perhaps lighten her eyes (she has grey eyes, which I had always visualized as silvery, but on the original sketch were close to black) and give her a bit of smirk (Violet is the mischievous sort).  The smirk, alas, they could not do, but the eyes they said they would try.  On the cover proofs, her eyes are a perfect light grey.  On the Advanced Reading Copies, she looks as though she is possessed, or perhaps a zombie.  I believe this was part of the process of lightening the eyes, and it was as far as they’d gotten when the cover for the Advanced Reading Copies was due.  But that isn’t even the worst part.  Oh no.  I hope you’re sitting down dear reader, because on the back, on my bio, they had… aged me.  Thirty years old, it claims!  Well I claim to be twenty-four, and even if both of us are lying, I do hope you’ll believe me over a book with zombie eyes.  The author photo is also not correct on these, or the cover proofs, but that was the result of a misunderstanding.  The correct photo (as seen on this website) will be on the actual book.  And all mentions of my age will be erased entirely.  It’s just so much more dignified that way, don’t you think?

But my favorite part of all this is the inside of the book.  A woman named Heather is apparently responsible for it.  I’ve never met her, but she is my hero, because the inside of my book is, in my humble, un-bias opinion, breathtakingly lovely.  Let me show you:

My, I do have lovely, delicate hands, don’t I?

I’m sure you can see why I love the inside so much.  The gears!  The fonts!  I really couldn’t be happier about it.

And finally, I have the page from the Tor catalogue for my book:

I believe you can click on it for a larger view.  This has the old version of the cover, where they zoomed in and put the title on the gear itself.  I do love the idea of that, but the actuality of it didn’t work for a few reasons; first off, the title (and, no less importantly, my name) were too small, and didn’t visually read as TITLE OF BOOK, which I’m told is important.  Secondly, the zoomed out version has the shadows up top and makes it seem as though Violet is going up against something vast and mysterious, which she is.  I think the zoomed out cover shows much more tension and intrigue, which is why I was happy they decided to go with that one.  You’ll also note that the catalogue has my real age.  I thought about blocking it out, what with having ones age known being so… crass, but I’m dreadful with computers, and I don’t know. Please don’t judge me, but do continue to serve me alcohol.

That, I’m afraid, is all I have in terms of physical artifacts of my book.  The actual books won’t be out until the end of September, but as soon as I get a copy, I will share images of it with you, dear readers.  I’ve been told I’ll be killed if I don’t.

And now, I must away, to put better locks on my doors.  Have a lovely weekend.

A First Blog Post, in which we meet our author, and he speaks, under much duress, of deadlines in writing

“I love to talk about nothing.  It’s the only thing I know anything about.”  -Oscar Wilde

 

Dear Readers~

I’ve been told that now that my website has been (mostly) revamped, and I’ve been shown how to blog and such, I should actually begin using it.  I’ll be frank; this terrifies me.  There’s something about the internet that confused my old-fashioned manners.  Blogging seems like the equivalent of being that guy who won’t stop talking about himself at a cocktail party (although that’s only for me – I read plenty of other peoples blogs and enjoy them); commenting on others blogs seems like butting into a conversation I’m not a part of.  So I apologize if I don’t do this right.  But I’d like to try.  I’ve been told I have to.  Or else.

But as I was being threatened, swordcane to my throat, winds whipping papers around me, demands of blogging being made, I did manage to say one thing: “Give me a deadline.”

A strange request when being held hostage by a rabid (but strikingly lovely) fan, I’m sure, but an important one.  You see, due to a variety of circumstances, I’m a “stay at home writer.”  That is, I have a home office, and I spend my days writing.  I don’t see anyone besides my boyfriend (and the hippo atop this post, whose name, incidentally, is Hippo.  You’ll probably be seeing more of him) all day on most days.  This means there’s no one to watch me, or make sure I’m working, and so, if left to my own devices, the Netflix streaming cue could quickly be filled and then watched, if I don’t restrain myself.  I find that deadlines are what makes me work.

And so, in a reflexive, needlessly meta moment, I decided (swordcane by now running down my throat, and having removed the button on the collar of a rather expensive shirt) that I would talk about deadlines in my first blog post.

I love deadlines most when they come from someone else; agent, editor, publicist, attractive fans with impressively concealed swordcanes, whomever.  Knowing there is someone else out there who will hold me to turning in pages on time makes me work harder to get that done, and keeps me from slacking.  I make it a point to tell people this, as well, so they can assign me deadlines.  And oftentimes, they do.  And when they don’t, I make them up, and I write them in my calendar.

I also love setting daily or weekly deadlines – scene finished before I go to sleep, or 40 pages by the end of the week.  It’s amazing how effective these can be.  And how useless they can be if I don’t write them down or tell someone else about them.  A deadline in your head, after all, is more like a guideline.  If you’re having trouble staying focused on the page, try getting a lover, friend or parent to be the bad guy.  Setting that deadline and knowing someone else knows it is a great way to get you writing.  Then it’s not about you, anymore, it’s about not letting someone down.  And not looking like a failure.  In essence, it makes it a real job, not just that thing you’re trying out, or that thing you want to do, but wow you’re so tired, and 30 Rock is on.  It’s amazing how effective that feeling of Doing Your Job can be.

So I write with deadlines.  I know this post has been somewhat redundant (forgive me, it’s my first try, and the blade has taken another button off, and it’s a little unnerving to type with metal at your chest), but if there’s a first piece of advice to give on writing, that’s it.

How about all of you writers out there: deadlines?  Yes or no?