Monday, June 16, 2014

Pet Black Holes and Book Events

Watch this:

I made these toys.

Some I have already given away. I gave them to bookstores who supported Shine Shine Shine, to bloggers and blurbers, to author friends and others. Some I have yet to give away. How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky will be launched in an avalanche of small knitted black holes, relentlessly attempting to draw in their companion planets, or your refrigerators, or anything else... ferromagnetic.

One reason I find it hilarious to knit them is because my main character, Irene, would find them so maddening. She's against anthropomorphism of science in any way. Black holes don't "sing" -- that's periodic oscillation. Atoms don't "want" to share electrons. Asteroids don't "lie in wait." She would roll her eyes and snarl at these cute little black holes with eyes. But her love interest, George, would probably hang them from his rear view mirror. So I like that.

How can you get one for yourself?

1. If you live in Western PA, come to Neverending Stories in Franklin on June 25, when I'll be giving away several black holes and planets at this awesome indie bookstore's anniversary party! The other exciting thing about this event is that my publisher has released some early copies of How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky, which will be available for sale at this event only, one week before its official release.

2. If you live in Norfolk, come to my launch event at Smartmouth Brewery on July 1, hosted by Prince Books. I'll have some to give away there.

3. If you don't live in either of these places, or you don't like to gamble with chance, you can pre-order my novel from Fountain Bookstore in Richmond. Use this link to pre-order. The first 25 customers who pre-order from this independent bookstore will get a black hole and planet along with a signed book.

If you happen to live in Richmond, I am going to be at Fountain Bookstore in Richmond on July 3, reading and signing my new novel, with special guest Robert Goolrick (#1 NYT best-selling author of A Reliable Wife), who will also be reading a sneak peek from his latest book.

There you have it! One new novel, one science concept, three upcoming events with three awesome indie bookstores, and many, many, many small knitted balls. For you.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

How to Buy an e-Book from your Local Indie Bookstore

You may have heard the theory, currently being batted about on the internet, that buying books from Amazon will give you fleas, cause your hair to become dull and listless, send nuclear warships to Narnia, and cause the ghost of Charles Dickens to moan and twist on a spit of hot iron.

Or perhaps you just want to support your local indie bookstore because you like living in a town with lively, colorful storefronts and bustling foot traffic. Maybe you are trying to avoid trudging down silent dusty streets past yawning empty windows as a dry cash register receipt rolls tumbleweed-style past your feet.


Sure you can buy books in paper from bookstores, but maybe you really just want to read on an e-reader, because gadgets are cool, and because you're going to Fiji and you need Thomas Hardy's entire oeuvre (obviously), and luggage is expensive and heavy. And because some books are only available on e-readers! You can't even get them in print if you beg.

Take, for example, my e-novella, Everybody's Baby, which by strange coincidence launched this week! It is only available in e-book. Does this mean that you have to abandon your support of indie bookstores to read it? NO.

Here's the word if you haven't heard: YOU CAN BUY E-BOOKS FROM INDIE BOOKSTORES. You really can. All those sanctimonious asshats in your life who have told you, "You can't have your cake and eat it too," are going to have to put their arched eyebrows on that iron spit with the ghost of Charles Dickens, because you can. You can read e-books every day, and twice on Sunday, and still support your favorite indie store.

Look at this site, for example. It belongs to RiverRun Bookstore in New Hampshire. You can buy e-books from RiverRun that will work on any device except a Kindle. You can get the Blio app and buy Blio books, or you can buy books in an .epub or .pdf format and read them on anything. Confused? They explain it all on their site.

Another way that many bookstores sell e-books is via Kobo. Here's how to navigate that purchase:

Step 1:

If you have a Kobo e-reader, you're all ready for step 2. If you don't, you can get the Kobo app for your iPad or iPhone, Android phone, desktop, laptop, or the digital display on the handle of your light saber. This page from Kobo will help you get that all set up and installed. Don't quit if you don't have a Kobo device -- you don't need one!

Step 2: 

Go to your local indie's web page. Let's choose my local indie, Prince Books, as a demonstration.

In the left margin, you'll see the Kobo logo. Looks like this:

or like this:

It might not be in the left margin -- Quail Ridge has it down on the bottom of the page. But under or near that logo is a search bar. Type in my name, and you'll get a list of my books available on Kobo. Notice you can get Shine Shine Shine in Hungarian, if you need it. If you really need it. 

Locate Everybody's Baby (oh my gosh, it's only $2.99?) and click on the link to Buy Ebook Now. Your cursor will not turn into a hand, but it is still a link! Click it, and you'll see. Amazon doesn't even know you're doing it. Amazon is totally uninvolved with this whole process. Amazon is probably washing its socks right now, completely oblivious.

Step 3:

When you get to the Kobo website, you'll see a banner across the top that says something "Welcome Prince Books Customers" or "Welcome Mysterious Galaxy Customers" or whatever, with the red "i" that is the IndieBound logo. See? It's working. Now when you buy this book, it will automatically sync to your reader, or your device with the app installed, or your desktop, or wherever you've stashed your Kobo app.

DONE! Read on.

Monday, June 2, 2014

My Stop on the Writing Process Blog Tour

Last stop, Abrams. This stop, Netzer. Everybody out.
If the writing process blog tour were an actual tour bus, then you would have just visited author David Abrams' blog, The Quivering Pen, to read about the writing process that brought us his first novel, NYT Notable Book, nominee for the LA Times Book prize, and one of my favorite books of 2012, Fobbit. You'd get off the bus here at my blog, and a small, hopeless red-headed child would hand you a map of the area, including the Slough of Neverdoingthisagain, the Mountains of Insurmountable Incongruity, and the Forest of Dithering Confusion. You'd be able to sign up for the Long Car Trip of Sudden Illumination and the Weekend Retreat of Urgent Sex Scene Production. And you'd be issued a black cardigan, cargo pants eight sizes too big for you, and a hair clippy to keep you from going crazy on your tour.

Lucky for you, it's just me answering some questions, meme-style. Everyone's got to answer the same questions, so here we go:

1. What are you working on?

I just finished writing my e-novella Everybody's Baby, which is about 50K words, and took six months to write from start to finish. This was a balls-to-the-wall effort in terms of daily production. After that was turned in, I spent some time trying to locate my children and force-march them through the remainder of the year's homeschooling for their respective grades (4th and 8th), and locate my floors, my hampers, my cabinets, the mulch in the flower beds. Still working on my sanity. It's sent a postcard. I have hopes.

Now that the systems are somewhat restored to balance, I've turned to my actual work-in-progress, which is another novel. It's about incorrigible firesetters, roller coasters (actual ones), and Melville's lost novel. Honestly it's about that moment of irrevocable change -- that second you hang before tipping over the top of a roller coaster, that second before a match flares, that moment when you change the course of your life forever. I'm interested in what that is -- resolve? fate? chance? will? -- and I'm hoping the novel will help me figure that out.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre? 

I don't know what my genre is actually called, but I'm pretty sure that it's full to the brim with love stories about science, motherhood, sex, and death. And I'm very proud to be completely typical in that literary realm.

3. Why do you write what you do?

I write to make happy endings for my characters, to fix their terrible lives. I layer stuff around them - plot, science, surrealism, voices - until the book says what I want it to say. But the central motivation for writing is to find the way through, for these people, and get them out the other side. This is why I return to old half-finished novels. I feel like I need to resolve things for the characters. There's a book I've been working on for ten years now, and in the last draft I wrote, I stopped when these two main characters, sisters, were out in the woods experiencing something absolutely horrible. I stopped, and left them there, because I had to go work on something else. But I know I will get them out of that situation eventually. That's why I have to go back to that novel.

4. What is your writing process like?

The first draft of a novel comes out in fits and restarts. I often write 20K or 30K words of a novel, abandon it for a year, come back to it and start over, sometimes with major changes. When I feel like I'm writing the book correctly, I can work my way through to a full draft, but it might take years to get that kind of traction. And even then, after the draft has cooled off and I come back to it, I may need to start over. While I am writing a book this way, I keep a notebook of ideas, character quotes, concepts for scenes, etc. so I don't lose track of my thoughts if I go for years between drafts. With Shine Shine Shine, it took 10 years to get to a point where I could show it to an agent and feel done.

A page from my How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky notebook.

With How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky, my new novel that's launching July 1, it took a little less time. I wrote it for the first time in 2004 as a horrible little hyper-controlled manuscript with no dialogue. I came back to it in 2007 and wrote it as a screenplay -- all dialogue. Then I revisited the story and characters a third time in 2012, this time writing a full draft of the actual novel that became the published final draft. There are elements, in the published book, of both those earlier attempts, but most of those things have been wiped away.

I do not recommend my process.

Your next stop on the tour might be one of these wonderful writers I'm tagging now:

Susan Woodring is the author of Goliath and Springtime on Mars.

Michele Young-Stone is the author of The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors and Above Us Only Sky.

Joshilyn Jackson is the author of gods in Alabama, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, and her most recent, Someone Else's Love Story.