Archive for August, 2009

Kristine Kathryn Rusch on the Element of Time in Freelancing

Jeff VanderMeer • August 14th, 2009 • Writing Tips

Another amazingly excellent tell-all post from Kristine Kathryn Rusch, on time usage and what time means to a writer who lives off of their writing. Rusch has also added a donation button, and I hope if you visit you will donate something, because this is invaluable information.

A side benefit of such a post for writers who don’t live off of their writing to determine whether they’re the personality type who can exist and thrive within that paradigm. For me, too, I have to be working on projects I love and/or projects that challenge me from a technical perspective.

I used to have a day job and now live off of my fiction, nonfiction, and teaching gigs. I’ve seen both sides of this, and I prefer the full-time freelancing. It allows me to be most fully what I was always meant to be, a writer, without pretense of being anything else.

The real key for me is carving out the time for the most personal projects, and to understand that concentrated time can be as powerful as time spread out over years. A constant frustration in finishing my last novel, Shriek: An Afterword, was having to start and stop on it because the day job took up so much of my time. But, again, this is a personal decision for each writer–do I strive to eventually live off of the writing or do I use a day job as an anchor? Which kind of personality am I? Which approach is going to guarantee I reach my full potential in my personal creativity. In my case, I really felt like a spy or mimic for all those years I had a day job. I was undercover the whole time.

Here are a few snippets from Rusch’s post. Rusch indicates that her freelancing posts will eventually be collected in a book, maybe in a year or two. I hope so, because it’ll be possibly the most honest and detailed look at being a freelancer possible. Because it’s easy to make general pronouncements about being a freelancer, or about any aspect of writing. But if you are able to provide specific detail like Rusch does…that’s not just much harder to do, it’s also much more valuable.

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Why We *Can* Have Nice Things: Ann VanderMeer on the Hugos

Jeff VanderMeer • August 13th, 2009 • News


(Stephen H. Segal and Ann VanderMeer after the Hugo ceremony. Them things are heavy!)

Since she was, erm, sitting right there, I interviewed Ann about her experience at the Hugos, with relevant photos, for Omnivoracious. It’s a fairly comprehensive piece about the ceremony.

Amazon.com: Did you think you were going to win?

Ann VanderMeer: Stephen and I were told by everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, that we would lose to Locus. The first thing you told me when I was nominated after congratulating me was that I was going to lose. If you take a look at all the predictions, we were going to lose. Stephen told me privately before the ceremony that he thought we would be a strong second. I was just thrilled to be nominated.

Amazon.com: What was your first thought when they announced Weird Tales as the winner?

Ann VanderMeer: I was stunned, really stunned and couldn’t move. Stephen bent down and asked if I was going to be able to do this. He reached for me and helped me up. The crowd was so loud, they just went crazy. And as we walked down the aisle toward the stage so many people came out of their seats to hug us, kiss us and just offer hearty congratulations.

From Ballard to Moers: Books Received, Bought, and Stolen…

Jeff VanderMeer • August 13th, 2009 • Culture


(Two of my favorite authors, Walter Moers and Brian Evenson, have new books out…)

Shared Worlds and deadlines have put paid to my ability to post about books received, but here are just a few choice selections for now…

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Observations from the Balcony: Mystery/Noir for Non-Mystery Readers

Jeff VanderMeer • August 13th, 2009 • Uncategorized

Brian Lindemuth has an interesting blog post at Mystery BookSpot in which he quotes from my essay The Language of Defeat and then offers up this challenge:

What mystery/crime books would you recommend to a friend who doesn’t read “genre” and what “non-genre” books would you recommend to a mystery/crime fic reader.

Go there! Tell him!

Not Stupid, Only Cute: Capybara!

Jeff VanderMeer • August 12th, 2009 • Photos

Just some nice capybara goodness to wash away a little bit of the fail below…

Communique from the Continent of Stupidea

Jeff VanderMeer • August 12th, 2009 • Uncategorized

UPDATE! Stupidea issues another communique, after first deleting just about all comments from the prior entry. It reads in part: “Even though we are on opposite sides, I assure you that the real division in the world is not between Right and Left, not between Homophobes and Pervertarians, but between men of reason and good will, we men of the mind, and our mutual foes, the men of unreason, the men of mere emotion. Do not be fooled into thinking that because they agree with you for now, that they are like you.” Yes, we men of the mind. Men, mind you. You wo-men of the mind, clear off now. But we men of the mind, we jolly right-minded men of the mind…well, I’m a lumberjack and that’s all right. I work all day and…Oh, I give up. Stick a fork in him, he’s done.

Recently, a new communique came in from the continent of Stupidea.

Stupidea lies just off the shore of the Land of Reason, with a deep channel of purifying water lying between the two. Stupideans are generally characterized by having large brain-like organs in their heads that mimic real brains by allowing them to use advanced terminology, although to minimal effect. Their hearts are unique because their hearts are tiny. When looked at under the microscope, these hearts turn out to be composed of ashes mixed with ground-up pepper grains.

Stupid and Wrong

Jeff VanderMeer • August 11th, 2009 • Uncategorized

While there are certainly people who oppose the general outlines and specific details of Obama’s healthcare plan sincerely…there’s also a definite vein of racism running through the discussion in its more vitriolic manifestations. Expanding on the proto-racist language and “code words” used against Obama during the presidential campaign, this new manifestation has almost certainly been made more acceptable by the “softening up” and brutalization of language that occurred during that campaign. It’s contemptible, and it does begin to verge on the kinds of behavior that might, were our economy worse than it is, lead to the rise of politically viable fascist and other extreme right wing movements. Yes, much of this bruhaha is orchestrated and whipped into a frenzy by canny (perhaps uncanny) political operatives, but regardless of source, regardless of sustainability, it’s scary, it’s stupid, and it’s wrong.

Shared Worlds Photos (Wofford College, Spartanburg SC)

Jeff VanderMeer • August 11th, 2009 • Culture, Photos


(The wonderful Holly Black deconstructing Hansel & Gretel for the Shared Worlds students.)

A couple of deadlines are taking up my time, but I wanted to post the link to the photo set for Shared Worlds.

Shared Worlds is a unique two-week writing camp for teens. We’re in our second year, and it’s a wonderful blend of learning, fun, and, of course writing. The students build their worlds in the first week and write stories in them the second week. This year, guest writers included Tobias Buckell, Will Hindmarch, Holly Black, Darin Bradley, Ann VanderMeer, and moi. They did a lot of hard work, which I’ll talk about in blog posts later this week–as well as the excellent faculty.

A few sample photos…

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Writers: Online Press Kit? You Need One. For All Our Sakes.

Jeff VanderMeer • August 10th, 2009 • Writing Tips

The marvelous Luis Rodrigues has just created the press kit pages for my two books coming out in the fall:

Finch

Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st-Century Writer

Are they purty? No, although Luis can do pretty. They’re simple and functional, because they’re not for readers–they’re for reviewers, review editors, interviewers, and other people associated with the various and sundry media outlets out there. These sites are also for the venues I’ll be appearing at as part of my book tour in the fall. (Some of this info will change in the next week, since the pages are up well in advance of when they’ll be needed.)

If you have a page like this, you and your publisher don’t have to continually email files and press releases and whatnot in response to queries or even in being proactive about approaching the press. Some places will require that, but most will be fine with the URL.

As a writer for the Amazon book blog, I can’t tell you how much time I waste because the writer or the publisher of a book hasn’t just put all of this information up on one simple page. It also helps me when I’m on tour, because usually I’m going to just have email through my phone. If someone queries needing information, it’s a lot easier to type a short URL and email that than to have to try to send attachments, or then have to email my publisher to send the person the required info.

Cory Doctorow has talked about this in the past, too, especially with regard to cover images. You wouldn’t believe the number of publishers that have only a tiny cover image of a book on their site. So when you go to snag it for a feature you’re doing…you’re out of luck, and then you’ve got to cast a wider net searching for a size-appropriate image. And time is money.

What should be in your press kit? Author photo (high-res and web-res), book cover (high-res and web-res), press release, author’s bio, blurbs about the book, etc. Be creative and inventive, but keep it simple, too.

The effort you put into having this information in one place will pay off by saving you time in the long run–and it will save other people time.

UPDATE:

Here’s a press kit integrated into a book website (Shriek)

Here’s a different look-and-feel for a press kit (City of Saints)

Weird Tales Wins the Hugo!!!!!

Jeff VanderMeer • August 9th, 2009 • News

My wife Ann, fiction editor, and Stephen Segal, creative director, just won a Hugo for Weird Tales. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!! That’s awesome! I’m so proud of her.

Ann texted me to say she’s still shaking, that she didn’t have a speech prepared so she winged it, and that the award is really really heavy.

Full list of winners posted here.

Here’s Ann at the ceremony (photo by Cheryl Morgan)…