Tuesday, April 30, 2013


So this happened: my first ARCs. ARCs are advanced reader copies: they're sent out to bookstores mainly, in order to let the book buyers get a peek at them beyond a half page in a catalog or the product description on line. Because I've been working as a bookseller for 15 or so years, I've seen thousands of the things, and read quite a few. They come in all types and styles. Some of them are just the text, plainly printed, bound with a generic cover that includes the author, title and publication date, along with some basic explanation of what the book is about. These don't get read all that often. Some are fancier: an inset of the cover image, maybe, or at least bright colors or an author photo. And some are very fancy, like mine seen here. They look pretty much the way the real book will look (only paperback instead of hard cover), with all the interior fonts on display, and the wingdings around the page numbers, and the suggestion of fog on various pages that will be made slightly more perfect for release but is totally an awesome thing even as it is. I don't suppose one ever forgets a first book (though some author interviews suggest that maybe, after long enough, you kind of do) and this one is a wonderful thing to remember. Here's to hoping there will be many more over the years.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Quitting the Day Job

I'm pretty lucky. I get to quit my day job (in a bookstore, naturally) in about a month. Not that I'm making enough to support myself, but I'm making money, and that means I'm a writer, and so with the husband Adam's help and agreement I can try to make a go of it.
In the many years that I've been working in the bookstore, at least two people have done the same thing: quit their jobs to go write. Both of them were nice people, they had probably dreamed of being writers for a long time, but it didn't work out for either. One of them now works at a different bookstore, and I've no idea at all what happened to the other. The reason I mention this is by way of advice to anyone thinking they might like to be a writer. Because in the difference between them and me is the reason to keep or drop your job.
I've got a contract, a book forthcoming, a bunch of novels under my belt, and more that I'm working on at every moment. And I'm still pretty unsure that I'm doing exactly the right thing by leaving my job, but in the end I'm starting to feel as if I'm wasting so much time at the job that I can't accept working there any more.
Both of the people who left, I think they'd fooled around with writing, and I think they'd decided if they only had more time they could finally, finally write that book they had in their heads. Finally put down all the words that bubbled up in the quiet times of the night, put together those notes and scribbles into a cohesive whole.
That's not how it works, though. If you're not already using your spare time to put down your words, if you're not already done with a novel, or a bunch of stories, and working on the next one or batch, if you haven't found yourself wishing that you had more hours to write but stuck with that nine to five gig, then you should most definitely not quit your day job. Should you be a writer, you'll already be writing all the time. And hence, if you're not already writing all the time--or at least sometimes, whenever you can spare a moment--you're not going to somehow start doing it when all your days stretch empty and shapeless before you.
Start to write while you've got your job. Make it the thing you do, all the time, around your work and your family (and your hobbies, if you can fit them in). Then, only then, if you think maybe you might have a chance and you have money or support and you've gotten good feedback, then quit your job. Maybe.
I'm still not sure. But I'm doing it all the same.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


The weather's being cooperative today, by which I mean it didn't rain in my neighborhood, and the clouds cleared out. I did some wandering about in the resulting sun, having brunch, running to Trader Joe's. The trees have almost all put out their first shoots, and some of them even have all their leaves, tiny and tender and lovely. There were a good number of small, battered leaves on the sidewalks everywhere, because yesterday we had a ridiculous ten minute hail storm followed by stiff and steady rain for a long while, with wind and thunder and lightning scattered throughout. But all that was just a memory today, except, I suppose, to the trees that lost those leaves. They might regret that later.
Spring's probably my favorite season in Seattle. Winter tends to the chilly and gloomy: perpetually overcast, misting rain, late sunrises and early sunsets. Summer is gorgeous, but I'm a real heat wimp, and I burn easily, so too much sun is the sort of thing I reach in about ten minutes. Fall has its charms: apple season, the first woodsmoke on the air, the leaves changing color. But it's getting colder and darker, too, and eventually all those leaves will be in giant, moldering piles on the sidewalks, in the gutters, on the edges of lawns. Spring though: the days are getting longer, and warmer; the air is scented from the plentitude of flowers everywhere, legs cautiously emerge from pants into shorts and skirts, and everyone starts to smile again. Your favorite restaurant sneaks three little tables out onto the sidewalk and if it's not too late in the day, if the wind isn't too bad, if it isn't still cloudy, you have a perfect hour there sipping a coffee or a glass of wine and pretending you live in Paris or someplace where sophisticates do that sort of thing every day.
It's a slow build, spring in Seattle (remember that hail storm I mentioned, and all the rain, too.) But it's the time of hope, and wonder, and delight, and that's the important thing.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The First Law

I was looking for a new fantasy book/series to read, and people told me that I should take a gander at Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself, the introductory book of The First Law trilogy. (Full disclosure: I was also told to read Sabriel, and I did, and it was fine, but I came away convinced that fifteen year old me would have loved it completely, but that I'm just too old and well read to find it world shaking. Sorry, Garth Nix. It's a good book, just not for who I am right now.) Abercrombie's the kind of writer who makes me slightly ill: younger than me, blisteringly good debut novel, sequels that he manages to not mess up at all (so far, I'm only on the second book). The writing is sly, funny, quick; the plotting intricate without being impossible to follow; the characters are viewed differently depending on who's seeing them--a thing so uncommon it startled me, as mostly fantasy involves monolithic characters who are the same to everyone, the badass, the mystic, the clumsy idiot, the mad killer, and that's not the case here. Well, it's kind of the case, but there's nuance in how people view each other, and I like that a lot.
A few things I wish existed but they don't. A map would be nice: I operated with an entirely incorrect world view until I searched online and found a map that may or may not be accurate but seems to better fit with what's described than my own conception of things. A little less coyness in the history of the world would be okay as well, but I get where he's coming from in that regard.
I'm already piling up the rest of Abercrombie's books to read when I finish with this one (all too soon perhaps) and I'm telling people to read them with a slightly fevered look to my eyes as I declare how good they are. I've been disappointed before with fantasy epics after falling head over heels for the early books, and maybe it'll happen again, but I've got high hopes. This is looking very good, very positive. I'm enthused, even.