Tag Archives: American Library Association

New Books I’d Nominate for Awards & IndiesFirst

As I came to the realization that my debut novel is coming up for its first awards season, I thought about what I’ve read in the last year and what books I think are deserving of awards. I’ve read many great books this year and have even more to read thanks to a number of conventions. ALA was the clear winner I took 10 copies of my book to give away and brought back 36 new books. Well, actually mailed them from the handy-dandy temporary post-office at ALA. Of the four books, two came from that book-booty.

I’m not certain what books these awards are up for. After reading the rules for half a dozen awards, I find that the definition of a year of publication and where things fall is confusingly difficult to decipher. Nevertheless, each of these books has some great reasons to be deserving.

I’ll also be talking about these books at Village BooksIndiesFirst presentations from 4:00pm to 5:00pm on Small Business Saturday—11/29/2014. So, I’ll be talking to patrons about books that I am passionate about including these four. If you’re in the area, come say hello. On another really cool note, when I tweeted about doing IndiesFirst, Neil Gaiman, retweeted my tweet! Yeah!

Without further ado…

#1 – Not A Drop to Drink – Mindy McGinnis. One of the descriptions: Little House on the Prairie as written by Cormac McCarthy is especially appropriate. This book is so amazing, I am now the proud owner of three copies: e-book, paperback and hardcover. The paperback disappeared as soon as I got it to school. I wouldn’t let the hardcover leave the room, but I had to share it with two students in order to read it! It will make you laugh and cry, it has pain and joy, love and hate. Another book set in the same universe with some of the same characters, In A Handful of Dust is already out, so no waiting

#2 – Otherbound – Corinne Duyvis. A young man in the real world has been plagued with seizures, including one that caused him to lose his foot in accident. When he has a seizure, he gets stuck in the mind of an abused female slave in an alternative universe. She is an incredible drawn, strong character with special healing powers that require her to take on the injuries of the person she’s curing. Couldn’t put it down. Gender identity and disability issues.

#3 – Sons of Zues – Noble Smith. When I first started reading, I was a bit put off by the really short chapters, but then my life got busy. It was actually the perfect book for sitting down and reading a chapter or two. Action, politics, espionage, sex, history, family relationships. Athens versus Sparta in ancient Greece. Oh, and Pankration. [I’ll make you look that up if it doesn’t mean anything to you.] I’d give it a PG-13/R sort of advisory.

#4 – The Living – Matt de la Peña. Okay. First spoiler. It is a cliffhanger. Almost literally. Three pages before the end, there is a cliff and people being chased and then… Well, you’ll have to read it. It’s got a great, believable character in Shy, the teenage Hispanic narrator. He takes a cruise ship job to help pay some bills for college or family, but then things go south by southwest. I would call this an apocalyptic thriller genre-wise. De La Peña is great at capturing modern teenage colloquial language. It’s definitely a page turner, some of the coincidences are a bit far-fetched, but why write a story about an average ordinary time? Perfect for the young adult reader.

All Is Silence is eligible for a number of awards this year. The biggest of which is the Andre Norton Young Adult Award sponsored by SFWA and the Nebula folks. It is also eligible for The William C. Morris YA Debut Award.

Slater is Streaking in Seattle (and Salt Lake City).

Sick of Seattle by the Smithereens. Sleepless in Seattle. Stuck In Seattle with Slater’s Airport blues. And now, streaking in Seattle. Basically, alliterating all over.

So, after screwing up parking and missing my flight, I logged onto the SeaTac Airport wifi and discovered that I’ve sold a book a day on Amazon for three days, a book a week through Neilsen Bookscan for three weeks [Brick and mortar bookstores that report sales] and I’ve written at least 500 words of fiction a day for nine days. I wrote 800 on the flight to Vegas. So, that’s what I mean by streaking.

Looking back from the Salt Lake City airport 9 days later. I got good news in Vegas. My three days in a row, became 4 in one day. Then a day of no sales. And another and another. 3 days. No sales. Not the streak I want. Then 2 and 1, 2 and 1… Hhmmm, another streak except this time with alternating single sales and double sales? Or a steady rise? Either would be great.

The difference between all these streaks? I can only control one of them—writing 500 words or more each day. I figure if I can run a streak while traveling and get 500 words a day in short bits and pieces I can hit my annual writing goal which is 182,500 words for 2014, which is equal to 500 words a day for 365 days. At the moment I am way behind, but this streak gave me a big month so far. 13,000+ words bringing my fiction total for the year to 22,000+ words. If I average only 870 words a day for the rest of the year I will still hit the 182,500. My streak of 500 words a day stopped at 11 days, when I only wrote 258 after a big travel/ALA day. Those 258 words I was not even happy with. They may eventually get cut, but my aim was to move the plot forward by the next definitive action and hit 500 words. I did half of it. So, I decided that the important component is writing everyday and wrote those 258 words after everyone else had gone to bed. The writing everyday streak is now at 15 21 and the 500+ words/day streak is now at 3 8. Even with the short day, I have averaged 676 words a day for the everyday streak.

In November of 2012 when I was writing All Is Silence for NANOWRIMO, the third novel I’ve written and the first published, I wrote over 58,000 words in November, Nearly 2000 words a day. In November 2013 I managed 1000+ words a day for NANOWRIMO. Since releasing All Is Silence, my word counts have been abysmal. No words of fiction in February. And minimal words in Jan/Mar/Apr. In May, I realized I had written more words of non-fiction: blog posts, guest posts, and marketing materials than fiction—10,000+ compared to 9,000.

How did I turn things around? Two tools. The tools I used? Scrivener and Google calendar. I’ve started scheduling writing time to hold myself accountable. If it’s on the calendar, I’ll be able to tell people, “No, I have an appointment.” Yes, the appointment is my butt in a seat and my hands on the keyboard, but it is more than a hobby. If I don’t schedule it, it is even less likely to happen.

The second tool is the writer’s software Scrivener. Scrivener’s Project Goals lets me set a word count goal and then as I type a bar of color moves across the box. It starts out red and gradually turns to orange to yellow and finally to green as I reach my goal. In addition, I have been keeping two Scrivener projects open and each day I have been setting goals in both. Usually 500 words per project, or 250 words if I don’t have scheduled writing time and the day is likely to be chaotic. I’ve proven to myself that I can write 1000 words per hour IF I know what happens next in the story. My goal for July and August is at least 1000 words a day. I will write for four hours each workday morning Monday-Thursday in the summer] or until I hit 2000 words, whichever comes first. On the non-work days, I’m planning on at least an hour each morning.

Updates: Analog Review, #46 on Amazon, Teen Writer’s Conference…

No new content this week. Sorry. Working on a post tentatively titled: Why I wrote a novel for a target audience that doesn’t read…

Tomorrow, Friday, June 20th, I will be volunteering at the Write On! Teen Writer’s Conference. Event is presented by Whatcom Young Writers and Village Books, and co-sponsored by the Fairhaven Village Inn, Whatcom Educational Credit Union, poetrynight, Peoples Bank, and Lithtex NW Printing Solutions. For more information and to register, visit www.writeonconference.com.analog_2014_09

Biggest news. Checkout this review from the Referance Library for the September issue of ANALOG. “This is hardly the familiar post-apocalyptic novel of zombie attacks and desperate efforts to rebuild civilization—it’s a very personal story of one scared girl and the survivors she finds in the ruins of her world. Lizzie is hard-edged and gritty, but also vulnerable and kind.  Her personality is so compelling that she grabs you by the heart and pulls you along until it’s three in the morning and the story’s over and you just want to read more.”

And from Amazon, a STORE, I neither love or hate, that sells my books and gives me reasonable payments for them as a retailer should….  Really not sure why it would show up in children’s ebooks, but I won’t complain!

Next week we’re off to ALA14 in Las Vegas, seeing sights, friends, relatives, and then up to Salt Lake City/Provo for some first person novel research for Straight Into Darkness.

My Path to Indie Publication: Part X—Finding Equilibrium

Path to Indie Publication Series is a companion series to Marshall Ryan Maresca’s Path to Publication. I have been avidly reading Marshall’s posts since I discovered his blog. Read Path to Indie PublicationPart IPart IIPart III. Part IV. Part V. Part VIPart VII. Part VIIIPart IX

Part X—Finding Equilibrium: the agony and the ecstasy of new authorhood. *

With the success of the three readings equaling sales of more than 70 books, I was very hyped about attending Norwescon 37. I created and ordered bookmarks—5000 for about $200 including shipping. They had special pricing codes: $3 off either a signed print book or a Kobo eBook as well as a note to find me on social media and I’d meet them at the con and sell them a signed copy for a great deal without the shipping and handling. Elena and I went down to the stuffing party to help put 3500 of my bookmarks into the swag bags. The result? [Because, I’m following Kris Rusch’s rule of not offering a deal unless you can track whether it is successful or not.] Nada. Zip. Zilch. The only book I sold was one that was already promised months before to a beta reader. She bought a second book, because I didn’t have change! Sheesh.

The best thing to happen at Norwescon was that I got to see Gordon Van Gelder, he had seen somewhere, a bookmark maybe, that I had a book coming out. He asked if I’d send him a review copy, which of course I was happy to do as I could then send him one of the new and rare copies with the Dante Rossetti Award announced on the cover. Will it lead to a review in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction? Who knows. But , alas, if this one doesn’t break with him, perhaps the next one will.

I still have about 1500 bookmarks and will be taking many of them to ALA14 to see if anything happens this time around. I also gave out a couple handfuls at Vikingcon in Bellingham with no discernible sales off site. I think bookmarks are cool, but don’t spend $200 and expect to get it back. I actually prefer the postcards that I made in cover-shaped format, a better way to get the name and the graphic out there. 

Vikingcon was really awesome. I met a bunch of cool people, and renewed my acquaintance with Greg and Astrid Bear. I met Greg at a Vikingcon in the 1990s and then got to be on a panel about Robert Heinlein with him in 2005 at Norwescon. So, I got to hang out with Greg Bear, I got a free table in the conference hall to sell my books and I got to meet really cool people. I am a fairly terminal optimist, so I signed 10 books with my name and inscribed Vikingcon 2014! But none sold before the panel with Greg. The panel on technology in SF, “Text me, Scotty.” went well. After the panel, my daughter Sheridan, womanning the booth with her daughter and younger sister, had sold two copies. A few people who had attended the panel came by and bought books. Then the Vikingcon folks came to pick up the signed copy I’d promised them. And as the Vendor’s hall was closing I sold the last of the 10 books. Maybe next time I should pre-inscribe 50? Nah. Lesson learned.

The biggest bump of sales not related to meeting people directly came from a friendly source. Dean Kahn, the Bellingham Herald editor who had guided the Serial Science Fiction story Memories of Light the previous year asked his readers to nominate the best books set in Bellingham. Four fans [also friends] wrote in praising my book. The day it came out I sold 9 ebooks and 2 print books in the next 24 hours and several more over the next few days. Yeah!

I’m currently sending out some short fiction set in the same universe to magazine editors in the hopes that a story might lead people to the novel. I’m also planning to release a standalone Deserted Lands novella, Toils and Snares, in the fall as an ebook. As I write this sales have gone flat, but they’ve already been better than I expected. I’ve got more readings set up and a trip to Las Vegas for the American Library Association convention followed by a drive up to Provo where the next book, Straight Into Darkness takes place.

The long awaited hardcover of All Is Silence will be here soon as will summer with more time to write. I’m doing a PubSlush campaign so I can pay my editors and cover artists more. The benefits will be commensurate with the crowd-funding amounts. More to come after school comes out.

Thanks for coming along for the ride. It’s been a roller coaster for me, but as this ride continues, I feel more and more certain that choosing the Indie Publishing route was absolutely the right decision for me. As I have more insight into this amazing process, I’ll blog a bit more, but for now… I’ve gotta write on…

* Adapted and expanded from the Foreword to Outward Bound: Science Fiction & Poetry, a collection of some of my published and unpublished works. Top