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Friday June 16th

3:00pm – Fantasy Writing – Alethea & Friends

5:00pm – Opening Ceremonies

Saturday June 17th

12:00pm – Main Event – Alethea Kontis

1:00pm – From Kickstarter to Patreon: Making Donations Work for You

2:00pm – More Than Ideas, Seeing a Writing Project Through

Sunday June 18th

1:00pm – Surprise Q&A

*Copies of my books are available in the vendor room through Gretchen’s Apothecary

 

And don’t forget to follow me on Patreon for all the latest updates on my projects!

 

 

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[Guest Post] The Best Perk in the Business

Alethea & David, 2013Once Upon a Time, after being hired on as Assistant Manager of a local Hastings store, I was asked to take a test. The test included statements like, “It is more WHO you know than WHAT you know that gets you ahead in this world.” There was a five bubble spread, from Very Likely to Not At All Likely. To this statement I chose: Very Likely.

Despite having already hired me, the results of that and other answers flagged me as “high risk of drug usage” and the offer of employment was rescinded.

That’s right. ME.

Sorry, boys, but I only write like I’m on drugs.

It’s been over a decade since I took that ridiculous test, but I still maintain that success is far more about WHO you know than WHAT you know. Moreover, the WHOs that I have known in this world have not only gotten me farther than my Chemistry degree and my perfect grades in Physics and Vector Calculus, they have also saved my life on many occasions.

David B. Coe was one of the first authors I met in the World of Publishing, during the Southern Festival of Books back in 2002. We’ve survived countless conventions and festivals, publishing and traveling adventures since that time, and I count him among my very best friends (in the sense of “I could show up at his house uninvited and he’d offer me a place to crash for the night”).

It is in that spirit that I invited David to guest post here on my blog today and talk about Author Friendships–both ours, and the one he has with Faith Hunter that facilitated their special collaboration: Water Witch, on sale now.

Pick up Dead Man’s Reach next week (I *love* the Thieftaker novels!), and keep an eye out for His Father’s Eyes, releasing this August. And if you’re attending Dragon Con this year, be sure to catch David’s musical performance in Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow!

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The Best Perk in the Business

David B. Coe aka D.B. JacksonAsk any professional writer about the perks of this career path and you’ll hear a lot about the freedom of being one’s own boss, the joy of being creative for a living, the sense of discovery that comes from thinking up new characters, new plot lines, new worlds. And all of that is true.

I love this job, which is also something you’ll hear a lot from writers. We have to love it, because for the vast majority of us, the pay is minimal. Writing is hard work, and because our ability to sell our next book idea is usually contingent on the critical and, far more importantly, the commercial success of the previous book, it can be dispiriting. Much of the time, we work in isolation, alone with our thoughts and imaginations. Most of us, to varying degrees, are responsible for our own promotion, our own marketing. Some writers are responsible for every aspect of their publishing lives. Completing a novel is no small accomplishment. Making a living as a writer? Really, really difficult.

And yet, for those reasons I mentioned earlier — freedom, creativity, discovery — none of us would trade this career path for any other. At its best, a writing career — and really, any professional creative endeavor — is a constant adventure. Sure, we live vicariously through our characters, but they wouldn’t exist without us, so it’s as intimate a vicarious relationship as I can imagine.

But there’s another perk of writing for a living that I don’t often hear authors mention, one of which I’m reminded forcefully right now, as I tour the web, touting my newest novels. I have been fortunate over the nearly twenty years I’ve been writing, to develop some truly amazing friendships with my fellow authors, including the wonderful Alethea Kontis. (I’ll get to that in a moment, but first, those newest novels: DEAD MAN’S REACH, the fourth volume of the Thieftaker Chronicles, which I write as D.B. Jackson, comes out July 21; and HIS FATHER’S EYES, the second book in The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, by David B. Coe, comes out August 4.)

Lee and I met years ago, when she was still working for Ingram Books, and I was a fairly new author, appearing at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, Tennessee. We hit it off right away, but didn’t have much chance to get acquainted. That opportunity came a year or two later when we found each other in the Austin Airport after a World Fantasy Convention. We spent a lengthy plane delay chatting, laughing, and finding, as both of us had previously with others of our ilk, that writers are a unique breed, possessing a distinctive blend of humor, passion, and geekiness. We’ve been buddies ever since, and we share so many friends it’s almost funny.

Dead Man's ReachAgain and again, I have met writers at conventions or conferences, only to discover yet another kindred spirit, another sibling from whom I was obviously separated at birth. These friendships are their own reward. Yes, Lee and I help each other out with promotional cross posts at our respective blogs, and we recommend each other’s work to others we meet, readers and writers alike. But that’s icing on the friendship cake. We’d be friends even without that stuff.

Still, there are times when the friendships we forge with other writers lead directly or indirectly to significant professional opportunities. I’ve been invited to conventions because of such friendships. I’ve been asked to submit stories to anthologies because of them. I’ve met editors, publishers, and agents through friends in the business. I’m not at all unusual in this regard.

Recently, though, a project grew out of a friendship in a very cool and utterly unique way. My dear friend Faith Hunter is the author of the New York Times bestselling Jane Yellowrock series. I love the Yellowrock books, and Faith is a huge fan of my Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy series set in pre-Revolutionary Boston. In the fifth Jane Yellowrock book, DEATH’S RIVAL (or maybe the sixth, BLOOD TRADE), Faith mentions an ancient vampire who “terrorized Boston for a few years before the Tea Party of 1773.” She wrote the line with me in mind, thinking that if I noticed it and said something to her, we’d talk about it, and if I didn’t, no harm done. Well, I did notice, and it made me start thinking about cross-over collaboration possibilities combining the Jane Yellowrock world with my Thieftaker universe. Which was just what Faith intended. The conversations that followed eventually led to the publication earlier this summer of “Water Witch,” an original piece of short fiction set in 1770s Boston and featuring Ethan Kaille, the hero of the Thieftaker novels, and Hannah Everhart, an ancestor of Jane Yellowrock’s best friend. The story is available from several vendors as an electronic download. It may well prove to be the first of several collaborative efforts.

His Father's EyesThat mention of Colonial Boston in Faith’s book remains to this day one of the nicest, coolest things anyone has ever done for me. I love that it led to a story, but even if it hadn’t, it would have been an unbelievably generous gesture. And it points to the power of creative friendships. I have lots of friends outside of writing, and many have honored me with gifts and acts of kindness I will never forget. But this gift has already allowed us to reach thousands of readers with a new work of fiction, and there’s no telling where further mash-ups of our two worlds might lead. Of course, my writer friendships don’t have to produce new stories to be rewarding. It’s nice knowing, though, that they can.

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David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the award-winning author of eighteen fantasy novels. Under the name D.B. Jackson, he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and, the newest volume, Dead Man’s Reach, which will be released on July 21. Under his own name, he writes The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books. The first volume, Spell Blind, debuted in January 2015. The newest book in the series, His Father’s Eyes, comes out on August 4. He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

http://www.DavidBCoe.com
http://www.davidbcoe.com/blog/
http://www.dbjackson-author.com
http://www.facebook.com/david.b.coe
http://twitter.com/DavidBCoe
https://www.amazon.com/author/davidbcoe

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Miss Andre and The Norton Award

(This blog is part of the SFWA Norton Award Blog Tour.)

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I don’t really get nervous speaking in front of crowds anymore. Public speaking is one of those skills that can be exceptionally difficult to learn, but well worth braving that initial terror to get to the other side. The biggest benefit is that when someone in an organization is forced to find people who will shamelessly stand up in front of a crowd, your name is easily at the top of the list.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve entertained a room full of people at the drop of a hat when a speaker or guest of honor is late or forced to cancel. Stretching your improv muscle is important. Warming up crowds can be a really great game. Telling stories is fun!

And yet, the moment I was asked to present the 2012 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, I was both honored to my toes and scared to death.

This should not have been a big deal. Two minutes on stage in front of a bunch of people I know and love. The spotlight wouldn’t even be on me, it would be on the well-deserved recipient. So why was I freaking out?

Because this time, it was personal.

How on earth was I supposed to sum up what Miss Andre meant to me in two minutes…or less? (A tired audience wants you to announce the award and get your behind off the stage tout suite.) I wasn’t sure it was possible.

I only knew Miss Andre for the last few years of her life, but it was one of the most important and valuable friendships I’ve ever had. I wrote in her library, High Hallack. I listened to her stories and her advice. We rolled around in desk chairs and laughed while she read aloud from a book of crazy answers kids had submitted on tests. I enabled her book habit by sneaking her new-release catalogs, even after her personal assistant asked me to stop.

It was a friendship that never would have happened if David Drake hadn’t ordered me to go visit her, and I hadn’t been brave enough to write her that first letter.

Miss Andre and I talked about writing, but we never really talked about her published work specifically. She loved being a librarian above everything else. She didn’t know what to do with an adoring fan, but she knew exactly what to do with a budding young writer in need of guidance and a place to work.

The last time I saw Miss Andre was in 2004 when she sold off High Hallack, piece by piece, to fund the Andre Norton Award. I missed the official sale day, but she still encouraged me to come by and personally helped me sift through the aftermath. It was heart-wrenching. The empty shelves looked like a war zone, but a good chunk of the research library was intact. We spent hours putting together four huge boxes of books (one of which turned out to be my most prized possession…but I didn’t discover that until years later). She sent me a Chinese New Year card in February of 2005 (Miss Andre had cards for every occasion), telling me that the benefit anthology project I was working on was a worthy cause. When she died that March, I was in the middle of a book expo and someone mentioned the news to me off hand. I cried for twenty-four hours straight. The first official Andre Norton Award was presented to Holly Black in 2006.

HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO FIT ALL OF THIS IN TWO MINUTES?!?

I lost a lot of sleep. I shared my anxieties with my lovely and patient Nebula weekend roommate, Kate Baker. I wrote down some thoughts on a hotel pad and managed to whittle my presentation down to six sentences. It still felt too long. Kate read it over for me and gave it her blessing. I practiced presenting the award out loud, over and over, while donning my glittery dress for the ceremony. There were bets as to whether or not I was going to cry on stage. Kate told me it was all right if I did. Rose Fox gave me a handkerchief, just in case.

And I made it through.

I congratulated Neil Gaiman in passing, as he walked off the stage and I walked on. My legs shook like crazy and I steadied myself on the podium, holding Rose’s handkerchief in a white-knuckled grip. I had written down my six sentences, but I didn’t need them. I remembered to breathe. I spoke loudly and slowly. When I thought I would choke, Connie Willis nodded and gave me courage. When I came to the end, my voice wavered, but I did not cry. And when I announced that the award went to Delia Sherman I smiled in earnest, for her name was the one I had been practicing out loud in the hotel room.

My mother always called Miss Andre my guardian angel. I remember she had a star framed on the wall, just opposite the door of the library, one of those fancy documents from the Star Registry indicating the celestial body that someone had named after her. Regardless of whether that star is recognized by any professional astronomical organization, I know Andre Norton is up there. I am 100% sure she was shining down on me that night. I only hope I did her proud.

(You can watch the ceremony here and see for yourself–I appear right around 1:11:00.)
Click here if the embed code for the video happens to die again.)



Video streaming by Ustream
For me, the best thing about those six sentences is that it got people talking about Miss Andre and the Norton Award. I swapped some great stories that night with SF luminaries I’ve admired my whole life. As far as I’m concerned, this award cannot have enough praise or visibility. I encourage you all to spread the word about the Andre Norton Award to your friends, teachers, and librarians. Especially the librarians.

For the past two weeks, members of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America have been blogging about the Andre Norton Award–its origins, its importance, and recent books worthy of the accolade. I’m honored to be the final essay in the tour…but I’m not sure I can convey the sheer importance of this award in one blog post, even though I was allowed far more than two minutes and six sentences this time.

What can I say? It’s personal.

 

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Click here for a complete list of past Andre Norton Award recipients and nominees.

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Norton Awards Blog Tour Schedule:
Dec 1 ~ Erin Underwood
Dec 2 ~ Sherwood Smith
Dec 3 ~ Norton Jury Interview by Jenn Reese
Dec 5 ~ Malinda Lo
Dec 6 ~ Lee Barwood
Dec 7 ~ Nancy Holder
Dec 11 ~ Peni Griffin
Dec 12 ~ Beth Revis
Dec 13 ~ Jenn Reese
Dec 14 ~ Diana Peterfreund
Dec 15 ~ Alethea Kontis

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Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Yes, my debut fairy tale novel Enchanted is eligible for the 2013 Andre Norton Award.

Click here to find out more about Enchanted.

 

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Fairy Godmother Carol

…but she wasn’t a Berning yet.

In honor of Fairy Godmothers’ Day, I present to you a page from the history book of one of my own Fairy Godmothers. At the age of 16, Carol traveled to Miami Beach, Florida with her family and sang “I Wish You Love” on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour show (brought to you by Geritol). The year was 1967.

Carol is positively WONDERFUL. And–apart from the hairstyle–she hasn’t changed one bit.

Happy Fairy Godmothers’ Day, Carol. I am a lucky princess to have you planting beans and killing chickens and watching out for me. I love you now and forever, until the end of time.  xox

Who are YOUR Fairy Godmothers? I urge you to reach out and wish them a Happy Fairy Godmothers’ Day!!

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Chip In for Gas!

I love this day and age when you can wish for something AND IT ALREADY EXISTS.

Why, just the other day, I was wishing there was a place like Kickstarter where I could set up a page and ask my friends if they’d like to help chip in for gas money on my Book Tour this summer.

Not half an hour later, I had my very own CHIP IN page, and $110 already in my gas fund. (THANK YOU, MY DEAREST FRIENDS!)

I estimate that gas will be about $500 for the trip. If this fund goes over $500, I will use the money to buy EVEN MORE SWAG to give away at my booksignings.

Soteria has also sweetened the pot this morning — anyone who Chips In a bit of cash — even if it’s only a couple of bucks — will be entered to win an original necklace from Dixie Dunbar Studio.

So what are you waiting for? Throw a few bucks in the tip jar. And I’LL SEE YOU THIS SUMMER!!

xox

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Ann Patchett, On Parnassus

If you did not happen to see The Colbert Report last night, click here and fast forward about 15 minutes to see Ann Patchett knock one out of the park for brick-and-mortar bookstores. WELL DONE, ANN!

Here’s the link to http://www.parnassusbooks.net/. Go buy something.

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln!

It was a pleasure to have met you.

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Blood Oath Reviews

Reviews of a different sort — from the movie that became my second credit on IMDB. (Not only is my name in the opening credits of Blood Oath…it’s even SPELLED CORRECTLY!)

Before you read any–or all–of these, just keep one thing in mind: we didn’t set out to produce Shakespeare. We were a bunch of kids in the woods having a really good time with supersoakers full of fake blood. It was almost everyone’s first time, and it was an incredible (and expensive)  learning experience for us all.

If you want to see the awesome horribleness that is our beloved and infamous Blood Oath, I will have some copies (signed by the director!) for sale at my table at Capclave. See you there!

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Summary: Mr. and Mrs. Krupp wanted nothing more than a healthy child. After several failed attempts, they contacted a mysterious woman who promised them a child but everything has a price. Now the offspring roams the woods as an urban legend, twisted and evil, living off the bodies of those who enter its sanctuary. Today, a group of friends on a weekend camping trip decide to investigate the story. Bad decision! They will have to fight to stay alive, but they will soon pray for death!

Here’s a great review from Matthew Scott Baker: “Let me summarize this film before I review it: FUN.(Read the full review here.)

From DVDVerdict: “Blood Oath is one of the better independent horror films to come around in a long time. It doesn’t take itself wholly seriously, but does remember that shocks and suspense are more important than laughs and lame genre references.” (Read more)

The review in which Cinema Head Cheese says, “I can’t recommend Blood Oath in any way.” (Read more)

And possibly my favorite from BD Horror News, who hated the film so much that “there were so many moments that I would have liked for the killer to break through and put me out of my misery, that I am almost embarrassed.” (Read the rest here)

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Heehee…I can see how this would get addictive. The horrible reviews are EVEN BETTER than the great ones!  I could do this all night!

 

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Parnassus Rising

Like many other folks who live in Nashville (or used to), I mourned the loss of Davis-Kidd Bookstore. I met David Sedaris at that bookstore, and Orson Scott Card for the first time. I had my very first booksigning there. The staff actually knew about books and cared about books and actually read books and recommended them to people. (Amazing, right?)

Bookstores are closing now…but it doesn’t come as a shock to most people. Many of them are staffed with kids who make minimum wage that will get fired if they don’t sell their quota of e-readers or membership cards or magazines or candy bars.

I remember my first trip to a Barnes & Noble. I wanted to move in there. It was wonderful. Apart from the Barnes & Noble in Cool Springs, TN (where I volunteered for Harry Potter Day), I don’t get that same feeling anymore. The closest I’ve come since then was at Turn The Page, the tiny bookstore in Boonsboro, MD owned by Nora Roberts.The staff is wonderful and kind and very helpful, and the store hosts signings and women-only events and features local artists. It’s a destination spot, and well worth the journey.

Perhaps more authors should open bookstores.

In that vein, I heard a rumor that Ann Patchett was openng a bookstore in Nashville. I hoped it would come to fruition (about as much as I was mad that I’d already moved away). Today, a friend sent me an article confirming those plans. Parnassus Books is set to open in October! Huzzah!

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Bestselling author Ann Patchett and business partner Karen Hayes will open Parnassus Books in Greenbriar Village behind the Donut Den on Hillsboro Pike in October.

‘Nashville wants this’

Brookside Properties will develop the 2,500-square-feet bookstore, located in the former suite of Tan 2000 and Beyond. The company also is developing retail space near the new bookstore that will include a vitamin shop, toy store and several restaurants.

“I think Nashville wants this and needs this, and I don’t want to live in a city that doesn’t have an independent bookstore,” Patchett said.

You can read the rest of the article from the Tennessean here for more information.

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Bubba’s Triple-B

If anyone needs a reason why I love Eddie, this is tops on the list.

(The promo is for Sherrilyn Kenyon’s YA books, if you’re not already familiar with them.)

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