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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Strange Things In Publishing

We all know these are strange times for publishing. I find it hard to get a handle on where the industry is going and if that destination is a good thing. I tend to be hopeful, confident fundamentally that people will always need stories, and therefore always need writers to produce them. The rest is just details, right?

But... I keep bumping up against strange, kinda unexpected twists.

There are the Kindle $9.99 protesters that go around leaving bad reviews on Amazon, really only saying that no Kindle book should cost more than that amount. Not sure how they came up with that, what amount of market research and analysis of production budgets and profit and lost calculations they've considered. I'm not saying what they should cost, I'm just wondering... I also think they might find that the price is only higher for a period of time - like the first year that the book is in hardback format. My Kindle version of Acacia: The War with the Mein is $6.39, and I figure The Other Lands (Acacia, Book 2) will drop in price too - once the print version heads into mass market paperback. I wonder if these folks that haven't read my books but have written negative "reviews" will come back then and remove them?

Or there's stuff like Amazon pulling Macmillan titles off because they couldn't come to terms on pricing/royalties for ebooks...

Here's a New York Times blog piece about it.

Here's a letter from Macmillan about it at Publishers Lunch.

What's up with this?

And then there are the folks that wrote protest "reviews" because my books weren't available for... ah... free. For free? (These reviews seem to have been removed, but still.) Just a question about that... How do people that advocate for free books explain how the author gets paid? Or does the author not need to get paid? That's absurd from my point of view, but that's because I know how many days, weeks, years of work writing a book is, how much it effects the circumstances of my family's life on a daily basis. Am I crazy for thinking that writing novels of 200k+ word length (that people want to read) is actually work? I don't make extravagant money writing. I make enough to sustain my family. If everything is free how can I do that? And if I can't do that, folks, I can't spend my life writing books. I just don't really understand this free book thing. If you do, please explain it to me.

And then there's the whole changing landscape thing. Independent bookstores gutted. The chain stores in trouble despite that. Newspapers not reviewing books much anymore. Lots of articles with titles like "The Death of Fiction". (That one is at Mother Jones. Kind of interesting, not just the article but the comment thread afterward.)

I'm not really advocating anything here. Just being dazed and confused...

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jedediah Berry

I just want to congratulate Jedediah Berry on winning the 2010 William L. Crawford Award for his first novel The Manual of Detection.

I haven't read the novel yet, but I had the pleasure of hanging out with Jedediah at Readercon last year. Very good guy. I'm looking forward to checking this out. You should too!

Here's the Locus Announcement.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Michel Martin On Media In Times of Disaster

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Small Thing

The Other Lands now has a page for the mass market paperback edition on Amazon. And I've a sales rank, which means at least one kind person has actually ordered it!

Don't necessarily wait until August 31st to pick one up, though. The hardbacks really are lovely, and they're available now!

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Monday, January 25, 2010

My Boskone Schedule

February 12-14, 2010 at the Westin Waterfront Hotel.

My schedule is: Friday 6:30pm A Reading! (0.5 hrs) by David Anthony Durham

Friday 7pm Seriously, Where *Do* Your Ideas Come From?

Lois McMaster Bujold
David Anthony Durham (M)
Darlene Marshall
Paul G. Tremblay
Mary A. Turzillo

We know ideas don't come from a mailbox in upstate New York. So, seriously, where do they come from? Do you muse on "what if's"? Are there personal inspirations for your tales? Do you find a particular setting evocative, and just waiting to be detailed in a story?

Saturday 2pm Autographing - David Anthony Durham

Sunday 11am One More Time - If You Liked That, Read This...

Debra Doyle (M)
David Anthony Durham
Faye Ringel
Edie Stern
Christopher Weuve

Continued (again!) from last year… Your favorite stories or authors can lead you to others, alike in interesting or unexpected ways. Tell the experts on the panel your likes (and dislikes) and they'll give you recommendations on what to read next!

Sunday 12noon When The Magic Goes Away

David Anthony Durham
Rosemary Kirstein
Tom Shippey (M)
Jo Walton
Jane Yolen

There is magic and mystery and great beauty. And then the Old Magic slips away from the forests, the gates to Faerie close, and the last ships sail to the west. There is a bittersweet memory, perhaps, of what it was to be more than merely mortal. Explore this theme, and why it is so potent.

Sunday 2pm Are Good and Evil Gone from Epic Fantasy?

Beth Bernobich
David Anthony Durham (M)
Greer Gilman
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Michael Swanwick

The world we live in has always been defined by shades of gray, however fantastic fiction has a long tradition of black and white politics, usually complete with a Dark Lord on his sufficiently dark throne. Recent series that have garnered praise such as Martins 'A Song of Ice and Fire,' Lynch's 'The Gentlemen Bastards,' Bakker's 'The Prince of Nothing,' and Rothfuss's 'Kingkiller Chronicle' all feature fallible characters without perfect moral compasses and by extent are more compelling. Are the days of the Dark Lords done in adult fiction?

That's me.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Boskone 47 Participants

I'll be attending my first Boskone this year. This is a Boston-based regional SF convention, sponsored by the New England Science Fiction Association. I'm looking forward to.

The Guest of Honor is Alastair Reynolds. Official Artist is my friend John Picacio. The Special Guest is Tom Shippey. And the Featured Filker is Mary Crowell. Beyond that, NEFSA will also be bringing Lois McMaster Bujold, Michael Whelan, and Vernor Vinge.

The general list of participants looks quite good, too. The list is HERE if you'd like to take a look!

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Friday, January 22, 2010

KGB

I had a terrific time at KGB last Wednesday. I've been lax in posting about it, but that's because I've been rather busy these last few weeks. I'm looking at a week with an even keel, though, and very happy about it.

It was great to show up and immediately see familiar faces. K. Tempest Bradford greeted me, along with Nora Jemison. Before I knew it I was talking with Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, Felix Gilman, Rick Bowes, and a contingent of students from the Stonecoast MFA Program. Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel were gracious hosts. We had a great crowd, and I think the readings even went well! Yes, I did wear the Campbell Tiara...

I had a great time talking with Lev Grossman, whose The Magicians I quite enjoyed!

After the reading a big crowd of folks headed off to get some really impressive Chinese food, and I ended the evening being a guest of Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, who have an absolutely amazing, rambling apartment stuffed full of antiques and thousand and thousands of books!

Yes. A lovely time.

There are more pictures HERE, if you must see...

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Daniel Abraham On Wild Cards

I just read a cool interview with Daniel Abraham over at Tor.com. He speaks about writing collaboratively, and discusses the Wild Card Series writing process in particular. Take a look if you're curious about how the whole "collaborative" novel thing works.

The post is HERE.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Back From Maine

Hi. I've just returned from an intense Stonecoast residency in Maine. That's what's kept me from posting much here the last few days. Love it, though. Great program, good people. Enough social interaction to keep me going for the next six months! I got to be there to welcome Elizabeth Hand to the faculty. Very good news for us!

I'll try to get myself settled back down and normal again. May take a while, though. Brain feels like mush right now. (Hence the incomplete sentences.) Also, I'll be heading down to NYC Wednesday for my KGB reading with Lev Grossman. It'll be terrific, I know, but I'm looking forward to returning from it and, uh... sleeping a lot.

I noticed a couple of nice links to direct you toward, though. Joseph Mallozzi - of Stargate production fame - has said some wonderful things about The Other Lands (Acacia, Book 2). Thank you. Thank you.

I also wanted to direct folks to this post on the winners of the 2010 RUSA Awards. This is a division of the American Library Association that produces reading lists aimed at adults each year. Acacia: The War with the Mein got a mention - not as one of the winners, but as a recommended title in the Fantasy category. They've got other categories as well, and since I like many of the books they've picked I'm going to check out some of the recommended titles that I'm not familiar with.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Strange Horizons...

...has just posted an amazing review of The Other Lands (Acacia, Book 2)!

Niall Harrison is the reviewer, and I couldn't be more pleased with the treatment he's given the book. Yes, I like it because it's positive. But it's more than that. Niall thoroughly engages with the book on many levels, giving it not so much a thumbs up or down treatment, but something more akin to probing criticism at its best.

Yes, folks, it's true; I'm a fan of Niall's. You will be too, if you read the review HERE!

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Linkage

I'm away in Maine at the moment, doing my Stonecoast MFA duties. Very busy. Very busy. I'll make this a quick post, then, happily linking you on to some kindly Durham-related mentions.

For one, it appears that The Other Lands (Acacia, Book 2) has been nominated for a British Science Fiction Association Award. Nomination is just the first step, and I'll likely go no further. But hey, it's nice to get that far! HERE's a list of the titles up for it so far.

There's an interesting post via Suite 101 on The Best Fantasy Books of the 21st Century. I'm not sure what Suite 101 is, but the post does seem pretty thorough and informed. And - heh - I get a mention. It's HERE.

And over at Fantasy Book News there's a post on the Top 10 Fantasy Books for 2010 - as in, books they're looking forward to reading this year. I'm not sure all of them are going to actually get in print this year, but let's hope. I can say that Acacia will be around, because, of course, it already is... Check out their thoughts here.

Okay. I need to prepare for a reading tonight. I think I'll do a three parter. A bit of Walk Through Darkness. A little of Sire Neen in The Other Lands. And I may close - if I'm brave - with a scene from my Wild Cards story. We shall soon see...

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Farewell The Faeries

The Durhams had a discussion a few weeks back. A big one, in a way. It marks the end of an era, and was particularly relevant to the Holiday season. Let me go back to the beginning, though...

About five years ago I heard a story on NPR. It was about how children at five and six and seven, etc very much still had the capacity to believe in magic. I recall the story feeling quite special, as if the presenter had taken advantage of that to build a real fantasy life into his kids' childhood. I rather liked the idea, so I tried to give it a shot myself.

There's Santa, of course. My kids had no problem buying into that. Personally, I find it a bit problematic. The notion of a jolly old white gentleman breaking in to houses all across the world to leave presents for kids - some kids, not all - is actually kinda weird. But I'm no spoilsport. I went with it.

But lots of kids believe in Santa. I wanted to push it a little further. I asked my daughter if she believed in faeries, and of course she did. As Maya was learning to read, I thought perhaps a fairy could give her some encouragement. So Maya began receiving letters from Sandy, The Reading Fairy of Western Massachusetts. They would just appear at some point, printed out and placed in some obvious space. Sandy would praise Maya on her recent successes, and then give her words to practice, reading goals, encouragement. Maya loved it. She wrote letters back. She had absolutely no problem believing in Sandy - or none that she expressed - and seemed to get a lot out of it.

Not long after, there was a bit of a tragedy in our house. One of our cats - very much beloved - went missing. It was pretty clear old Boy-Boy had likely become a meal for a fox, coyote or fishercat. He stayed out one night and didn't come back. Them woods are dangerous. Maya and Sage were devastated. Not much that we could say helped. But then, they got a note from the Cat Fairy.

The Cat Fairy is the fairy charged with protecting and looking after cats. She had heard that Maya and Sage were upset, and did a little detective work. She said she thought that Boy-Boy had gone on an adventure. She couldn't be sure. She'd heard a bit about him from other cats, but she hadn't spoken to him herself. She admitted that it's a dangerous world out there, and that cats do get killed by other animals, but she left the possibility that Boy-Boy was just too adventurous to stay at home.

This seems to have helped them deal with it. It didn't hurt that we promptly got another cat - Dolphin - to keep our cat population at two.

This began a correspondence that continued on and off for several years. Maya was always keen to give the Cat Fairy feline-related news...

And she always got responses, like this (It's a crinkled note, but may be readable if you click on it)...

I've got an folder filled with letters like this. A bit of treasure that I'll hand over to Maya one day, I hope.

And then there was Sage. He'd had a front row seat to all of this, but there had to be a fairy especially for him. There was. The Snake Fairy... See, Sage's favorite animals are snakes. Always has been. Go figure. The Snake Fairy was very happy to hear from Sage, and they struck up a correspondence. This mostly involved Sage impressing the Snake Fairy with his knowledge of rare types of snakes. The boy's knowledge is impressive, actually...

Thing is, the approach of Christmas this year caused a change in all this. Apparently, a friend of theirs challenged the notion of Santa Claus. This, in turn, led Sage to bring the topic up with Gudrun. And she, in turn, pushed the question my way. So... for a variety of other reasons we figured it was time to come clean. We did. The kids took it with considerable humor. Maya knew already. Sage gleefully recalled presents from the past, things stuck in stockings, cookies and whiskey set out for Santa. (Yes, I had to confess finishing those off.) He couldn't believe that Gudrun and me had done all that stuff! (And yes, it was nice to get the belated credit.)

But, how, you may ask, did this last holiday go? Wonderfully. Really wonderfully. We barely mentioned Santa Claus. We did, however, spend a lot of time and energy finding, making and giving each other presents. Lots of hugs, lots of thanks. Okay, so there aren't so many faeries around the Durham household anymore, but there's that much more love and appreciation for each other.

So there's still magic.

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

69

Hi. I've just been page 69'd again.

This is in reference to the site that invites authors to discuss page 69 of their book, with an eye toward how much it does or doesn't reflect the book in general.

Does it for The Other Lands?

Um... Take a look HERE to see.

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