Follow Me, Boys! I Know the Way!
(promptly falls off horse)
JONES, SR (to Indy):
Lost in his own museum, huh?
As much as I aspire to be Indiana Jones and would even be tickled to be Henry Jones Sr., I am, I must admit, much more like Marcus Brody than anybody else. I possess vast armchair knowledge and, as of this writing, lack much field experience. Yet, I am very conscious that I stand on the threshold of, perhaps, changing all that. Maybe.
I’ve done some housekeeping around here. I ditched the stuff in the sidebar nobody ever clicked on and I made it easier for people to find my work, should they be inspired to do so. Furthermore, for those of you who like to swing by regularly, I encourage you to follow/like me on Amazon, Facebook, and Goodreads. Of the three, I am most active on Facebook and then Goodreads. The Amazon page is a work in progress.
Anywho, I’ve been adventuring in Goodreads more and more, lately. I think it’s a great place to connect with your fellow readers, talk to your favorite authors, and find interesting books to read. I’ve spent entirely too much time adding books I’ve read to my shelf, and it’s been fun rating and remembering all the books that I’ve come across.
For all that, though, I’ve not written a review yet. I’m hesitant to do so. Yeah, I’ll give a rating, but when it comes to putting together my exact thoughts on the work in question and writing them out, I worry what that might mean for me. Now, for the rest of the universe, you should write reviews (bad or good) for the books you read. It helps the authors (in the case of a good review) and it can help your fellow readers (in the case of a bad one). Try to be fair, don’t be insulting, etc, etc, but you should do it. For me, however, the question of whether to review or not becomes more complicated.
The Fantasy and Science Fiction world isn’t huge, really. I am about to enter it as a new author and go full bore to try and make a name for myself in that industry. I’ve got an award coming to me (Writers of the Future), I’ve got three books on the horizon, and for me to start writing reviews for far better established authors than I, while tempting, has no discernible upside for me. On the one hand, if I dislike the book and say so, the author might read that, remember my (rather memorable) name, and next think you know I’m sitting on a panel with the person at a convention sometime and it gets…awkward. On the other hand, if I write good reviews only, I start to look more like a kiss-ass than somebody providing his honest opinion, and that’s not very good either. Given the odds of me actually having to interact with and even possibly work with these authors in some settings, it is perhaps best I keep my opinions to myself as much as possible.
Then again, I’m not much for self-censorship. Ask me what I think of you and I will tell you straight. You might not like it; I might not like saying it, but I will anyway. So, I’ve decided that, while I will give a 1-5 star rating to the books I read on Goodreads, I won’t write reviews (good or bad) as a kind of personal compromise. I also will try and stop reviewing my prospective peers here, on this blog (which I have a few times in the past). It strikes me as some kind of bad karma, maybe. I don’t know. Perhaps I’m overreacting. Or underreacting. Who knows?
So, yeah – a bit of a new look here for the blog, a resolve not to write too many reviews, and an entreaty to check me out at all those places. That about covers it. Thanks everybody!
Making Friends and Meeting People
I must confess something: I’m not much of a networker. Honestly, were it not for the existence of Facebook, I’d barely converse with anyone my own age. If Facebook crashes and burns, the thought of having to move to some other social networking site seems like a lot of trouble. I probably won’t unless forced (which is how I wound up on Facebook – my wife signed me up). I lose contact with people easily. I really don’t work very hard to keep in touch.
It isn’t that I don’t like people – I like them just fine – but I don’t especially need people to feel fine. I can go literal days and even weeks without speaking to another human being. I did it in college during Spring Break my senior year – I stayed at school and just sat at my desk and wrote for the whole week. I barely went out. I barely saw anybody. I don’t think I had a conversation with anybody that lasted more than five seconds. At the end of it, I felt fine. In fact, I felt more than fine – it was then that I finished the first draft of my first novel (no, you won’t be reading it. It was terrible).
I would say that I’m an introvert, but that’s not precisely true. I have no trouble talking to people, I just don’t need to talk to people. In fact, unless there is a reason to speak to someone, I usually don’t. I don’t do small talk, for instance – either we are having a conversation about something or we are not talking. I find meet-and-greet events tedious and troublesome, since usually it involves me having to strike up conversation with people who don’t actually want to have a conversation – they want to talk about the weather and ask banal questions about each other’s professions. God forbid you actually engage in a real answer to a question, like when somebody asks me “how are you” and I give them an honest answer about my health. Suddenly I’m the weirdo for some reason, when they are the person who asked. Sheesh.
But I digress.
As my novel, The Oldest Trick (Part 1), nears its deadline and eventual release, I’m starting to worry that no one will buy it. Well, maybe not no one, but barely anybody, anyway. Not enough people for me to finish out the series, not enough people to put it on anybody’s radar, and not enough people for it to allow me to nab myself an agent. I have, therefore, gradually begun expanding my ‘social media presence’. You can find me on Twitter (which is sort of like the small talk Olympics, so I feel like a camel in the Congo there) and I have set up profiles on Goodreads and Amazon. There’s this place, too, for what it’s worth. I should probably get around to setting up an Author page on Facebook, which is the only social media platform I use with any regularity. I’m also a recent winner of the Writers of the Future Contest, which is a networking advantage all its own, and I’ve maintained some contacts among other up-and-coming scifi and fantasy authors. These are all good things.
Even still, I feel disconnected, aloof. I’ve never been a guy for diving into the crowd. I like parties and I like talking to people, but I generally prefer to do it with fewer people as opposed to more (since, in the former case, I can actually speak with and be heard by others in comfort). There is no earthy way anybody is getting me to go to a bar, and especially not if the bar is playing music loudly. Give me a couch, a dozen friends, and a good meal. All that, though, is sort of the antithesis of what an author wants or needs to build his “brand.” I need to inspire the masses, somehow. I need to make a connection with hundreds or (ideally) thousands of people so that they like me and want to buy my books and follow my every step. Frankly, I have no idea how to do that. I could be doing it right now and I’d have no idea.
Anyway, the point of this post is that I’ll be fiddling with the layout of this blog over the next few weeks, trying to make it a more efficient portal to access my work (evidently, nobody seems to see the “where you can find my stuff” category on the sidebar, despite what I feel is its very, very direct title). Wish me luck, folks. Oh, and if you have any tips on how to be better at networking, be sure to pass them along.
And if you’re an agent looking for a talented fantasy writer, well, I could really use your help. I think. That’s just it – I have no idea.