A Fistful of Updates …

Busy couple of days …

 

Friday

Spent Friday evening at the Merril Collection of the Toronto Public Library system (and yes, if you follow the Merril link, there is something wrong with the Event registry since it’s showing Lillian H. Smith branch events as well as the Merril ones – the Merril is on the third floor of the LHS in case you were wondering) listening to Charles de Lint read an excerpt from a new book of his. It’s part of a forthcoming series he’s working on. Sadly, he has left the interrelated sequence of books widely known as the Newford books/stories behind (for now anyway, but writers have a funny way of finding they want to do more with something after they decide to leave it behind, even if it seems there’s simply nowhere else to go with it, and it’s because we are fascinated by our characters – and de Lint’s are so infectiously engaging), but the new series, focusing on “Wildlings” (I think I have that right) reads very well. As you would expect.

De Lint then took questions from the audience, and as often happens with a writer on the premises – especially a gifted and successful one – questions about worldbuilding and character arcs and the next books in a given sequence gave way to questions about writing and publishing. I actually have no problem with this. As an author I think aspiring writers/authors should be asking these questions. And Charles de Lint is one of those delightful people who really is both willing and able to answer these questions.

That event, as those of us in the Friends of the Merril like to think of all our events, went extremely well. And of course there are more planned throughout the year. You can check out our (constantly being) updated list at the Friends of the Merril website Events Page.

Then when the event was over I went home to crash because I had something to do …

 

Saturday

Spent Saturday (now yesterday as I write this) at the 2011 ACCSFF (Academic Conference on Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy). Day opened with Allan Weiss interviewing Charles de Lint, who did another Q+A (De Lint is unbelievably tolerant of and patient with us fannish types, bless him), this time catering to the somewhat more academic community. And, you know, fans.

And then the day just kept tumbling on from there. I should know, I gave the first speech of the day (entitled “Northern World Building: Theme, The Fourth Wall in Literature and Terraforming the Mind in Canadian Speculative Fiction” ) after the Q+A wrapped.

First things first. I had forgotten entirely how much I actively enjoy being in front of an audience. Any of you who have met me, or read the Bio on this website will know that  I’m really rather shy being part of a crowd, but for some reason I’m entirely comfortable talking to a crowd. Never could quite figure that one out. Still, worked out well for me. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and as far as I can tell no one fell to the ground screaming and clutching bleeding ears, so it’s all good.

For any who are interested, the reference listing for that Lecture can be found in the Lectures section of the Bibliography page.

And after me, the day carried on with some fascinating academic papers spread across a wide range of topics. In fact, Allan Weiss (who has been chairing the ACCSFF continuously since 2003) commented both in the opening and closing statements of the day that there were more papers, on more diverse subjects than at any previous ACCSFF.

Given the above it’s interesting actually, when you think about it, that this year’s lineup of speakers included at least three speakers (one of which was me) who are authors as well as academics/fledgeling academics. And when you add in Charles de Lint as the keynote speaker you’re left with quite an interesting skew toward those who write, as well as comment about writing participating in the more academic/exegetical discourse the ACCSFF engenders. My paper, certainly, was geared more toward authors and readers than toward academics, per se, leaning in the distinct direction of commentary on/exploration of the craft itself.

In any case, if you haven’t already looked at the lineup you really should. It’s an impressive list of topics and speakers, all of which can be found at the 2011 ACCSFF webpage.

There will likely be pictures up on that webpage sometime in the near future. There were cameras flashing and I know there have been pictures posted up for the previous conferences.

You may even … *gasp* … catch a glimpse of the elusive me.

The ACCSFF was a full day. Literally. Registration was at 8:30 am, and the lectures ran through 6:00 pm.

So, as you can imagine, sometime after the event ended I came home intending, again, to crash for a while, but instead had …

 

Saturday Evening

(wherein our intrepid author went online to check his e-mail and found something else entirely)

I was checking on my Smashwords publication, An End to Dreaming, because I’ve been waiting for one of the Affiliate sales tallies to update (some, like Barnes and Noble whom I’ve been waiting on, run on a three month update schedule). When I logged in I found that B&N had finally updated. Indeed, not only had it updated, but apparently I have what you might call a following there …

Truthfully, I’m not sure what else to call 500 sales in the last three months.

Oh yeah, totally serious.

That brings the book’s total sales (utilizing all available information since some is still pending because of the staggered reporting periods Smashwords’ Affiliates use) up to just above 1500.

Not bad for an experiment with absolutely no marketing help whatsoever. Hell, I even have the ever elusive “ratings” on B&N’s e-book website now. And better still: Comments.

Four of those last actually, ranging from the “groovy”, to the “why did you bother to comment if [X] was the case?”, to “well thank you, that’s generous”, to “?”.

Actually, inverse as this will likely sound, it’s that “?” that was the best comment of the lot. Yes, the praise pieces are awesome, and if there were an active way to go in and thank people on B&N’s website I’d do it (there may actually be one, I just haven’t found it yet), but the “?” had the kind of knee-jerk response I was looking for.

To wit:

(Rating of 1 Star Given) Anonymous

?..

Scary. How do i delete it? It gave me nightmares…..:(

So why is that the reaction I wanted, you ask (and no, the deleting portion isn’t any part of what works for me)? Because An End to Dreaming is a sci-fi horror novella. A large part of the intention of that book was to get people to recoil, even as they felt compelled to read on.

And while I am truly sorry for the person who may or may not have had the stomach for this book (trust me, it’s not that bad; I gave it the 18A rating when I put it up online so that very young children wouldn’t accidentally stumble onto it/couldn’t download it), their reaction was the target one. Actually, I kind of have to wonder if B&N has an age filter (I know Smashwords maintains a rating based access system), but I don’t use B&N myself, so I really don’t know.

If anyone out there does know, give me a shout (leave a comment here, e-mail, whatever). I may not be able to do anything about it since the book is distributed through Smashwords, but better to know how to adjust this than not.

And for all those who are curious about the way Barnes and Noble displays the novella, here’s the link for the Barnes and Noble page for “An End to Dreaming”.

And hey, if you’re picking up a copy leave a comment. ‘Cause I do read them. You never know. You might even get a response.

 

Till next we meet in some shadowed alley, the dance of death again begun.

Night all.

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