George Scithers RIP (2010)

April 19, 2015 in Professionalism, Publishing, Reblogging Project, Writing

On this date in 2010 I posted a farewell to George Scithers. As part of my ongoing efforts to get copies of all my various bits of creative centralized or mirrored on my own website I am posting it again here:

George Scithers has left the building and it makes me very sad. He was one of the editors who bought my first story along with Darrell Schweitzer at Weird Tales. He’s also the editor who is a part of one my all time favorite writing anecdotes which I call: Same story same editor different day.

You see, I was an idiot once (well more than once, but I’m just talking about in relation to George here). At World Fantasy a number of years ago George asked me why he hadn’t seen anything of mine recently so I hallway pitched him a story called FimbulDinner and he asked to see it.

The problem was that he had already rejected this particular story a couple of years previously, but I’d forgotten that, and apparently so had he.

Anyway, I sent it, then realized a week or two later that he’d rejected it, and sent a note apologizing for the mistake. My note crossed the acceptance in the mail, and the story was published by Weird Tales.

There are two lessons in that anecdote. First, don’t do this if you can possibly avoid it. Second, all that any rejection means is that that editor didn’t buy it on that day.

George was a splendid old fellow and I’m going to very much miss knowing he was somewhere in the world.

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog April 19 2010, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)

Retro Friday Cat Blogging

March 31, 2015 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends, Reblogging Project

I hate you. That is all.

Halp I’z bein carried off!

What do you mean, vampire cat?

I wuvez you zis much!

Duuuuuuude!

Worship me or I will destroy you

Lola: Dog of the North!

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog February 25 2011, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)

Two Books A Year…eep!

March 30, 2015 in About Kelly, Books, Fallen Blade, Publishing, Reblogging Project, Writing

2015 Update: This post about adapting to having two contracted books a year was originally published as I was working on Bared Blade. The pressures remain pretty much the same, and though I’ve since managed to write a Blade book in just 88 days now, I’m not sure I’m really capable of much more than two books a year.

So, this year I made the jump from having one book under contract per 12 month window, to having two books under contract per 12 month window. Now, at first glance you might say: That’s a doubling of your work load, what were you thinking?

What I was thinking was that in each of the previous four years I’d written two books, one on contract, one on spec. And, since I haven’t yet sold any of the spec books, though I do expect to, I would be doubling my income with no concomitant increase in work load. Turns out I was wrong.

Over the last decade or so I’ve tended to work in spurts with gaps of weeks or months between. Since ’06 that’s produced around 150-160k words per 12 month period, or one adult fantasy and one YA written on spec. And that’s been a mostly stress free level of production.

Under the new deal I’m only contracted for 180k per 12 months, which shouldn’t have been that much more work. But I also made the jump from contemporary fantasy to secondary world high fantasy and that seems to add about 20 percent more effort to the process. I’d heard something like that from George R.R. Martin at some point, but he was moving from science fiction to fantasy, and I was just changing types of fantasy. Surely it wouldn’t be that bad…

Add in that the first book went 7k long and that I expect this one to do so as well, and suddenly it’s the equivalent of 220-230k of what I was doing before. That’s 70-90k extra, or nearly another adult novel’s worth of effort. I’m getting it done and not dying, but it’s a major change.

The biggest adjustment from one book a year to two is how fast it catches up to me if I take a break. I’ve often dropped out for a month and a half of downtime at the end of a book, or when I needed to think about the story, or just to spend more time with my professor wife when she’s off from the University. Now, if I haven’t worked ahead, a month and a half is a 22k word deficit that I have to make up some time in my remaining four-and-a-half months.

When that was on a spec book, it didn’t really matter. I could always punt my personal deadline a little further out. I almost never did, but knowing that I could made a huge psychological difference. So, an extra novel’s worth of work plus more than doubled pressure. I think I’ve found a balance that makes it work for me, but it’s going to be very interesting seeing how things go when we hit my wife’s summer break this year.

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog February 23 2011, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)

Self Promotion, Lyda’s Question, and Confirmation Bias

March 26, 2015 in Publishing, Reblogging Project, Writing

In a post on the Wyrdsmiths blog, my colleague Lyda Morehouse posed the following question about self-promotion:

But it does seem to work for some people on some level, and I always end up wondering by what magic is that done?

I think it’s pretty straightforward actually, and it all comes down to that word seem. Here’s how I think it works (all numbers made up).

If fifty percent of all authors do self-promotion, and a random six percent of all authors cross over into best-sellerdom than three percent of authors who do lots of self-promotion are going to cross over into best-sellerdom purely by chance. Then, at least some of those authors are going to figure that it was self-promotion which made the difference whether it had anything to do with it or not. See also: confirmation bias.

Likewise, if you’re watching from the outside, you might think the only thing that differentiates them from the herd is  self-promotion, and then leap to the same conclusion. For that matter, I will even concede that some particularly clever bit of self-promotion that hasn’t already been done a bunch of times might catch the mood and go viral, but I think that’s as much a form of luck as having the book do the same thing.

Great books with tons of self-promotion die. Barely adequate books that get very little push become best sellers. Most of the difference there is luck in hitting the right literary kink for the moment.

We want the industry to make sense, so we tell ourselves stories–we’re authors, telling stories is what we do. That book did so well because the author came up with the really awesome book trailer. That one did poorly because the cover sucked. This one over here is a best-seller simply because it’s that good.

But the truth is, nobody knows what’s going to make a book take off. If there was a real answer, there’s be a publisher somewhere that didn’t sell anything but best sellers.

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog February 22 2011, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)

Retro Friday Cat Blogging

March 25, 2015 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends, Reblogging Project

Not looking at you!

Totally looking at you! Where my fud?

I’m ready for my closeupzzzzzzzz…

I’z cutness personif… puzin… its own self!

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog February 18 2011, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)

Retro Friday Cat Blogging

March 24, 2015 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends, Reblogging Project

I iz teh mysterious!

Must go to the light…

Mighty hunter stalks the fluffball

Dude, turn out the light!

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog February 11 2011, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)

Retro Friday Cat Blogging: Sun Cats

March 19, 2015 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends, Reblogging Project

Shh, is sunny, I napping

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Shh, is sunny, I napping

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Shh, is sunny, I napping

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Shh, is sunny, I napping

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All together now: Shh, is sunny, I napping (4 cats in the sun)
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Bonus kitty is napping too, just not in sun

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Retro Friday Cat Blogging

March 17, 2015 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Neil Gaiman, Pets and other friends, Reblogging Project

My feets, I hugs dem!

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No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die.

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I playz dead gud, even got the bloating thing nailed

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I command you to bring me a…zzzzzzzz

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BONUS CATS*

My proud lion pose, you take pixure, yes?

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All shall love me and despair!

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(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog January 21 2011, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)

Retro Friday Cat Blogging: Lame Catptions Edition

March 16, 2015 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends, Reblogging Project

Don’t take my picture, Dude. Can’t you see I’ve been drinking?

Somewhere over the rainbow…

It’s not the camera, I really am blurry!

Wide-load cat, is wide.

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog January 14 2011, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)

Retro Friday Cat Blogging

March 12, 2015 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends, Reblogging Project

Look, I’m a skinny little Halloween cat

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A study in gray

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All shall love me and despair!

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Can I climb you? Pleasepleaseplease!

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