Sure as Eggs

There are eggs all over London.

I’m not actually doing the hunt (what the fuck would I do with a Faberge Egg anyway?), but I do walk a lot and I stop to admire them when I see them. They’re absolutely beautiful, and, like the elephants last summer, they’re an amazing way to showcase artists and to help a charitable cause.

It got me thinking about the really sharp graffiti marketing that Orbit did for Simon Morden’s Metrozone series – there must be a way that authors can do this too. Sentence fragments on billboards, on tube trains, treasure hunts to piece them together – I don’t know.

But sure as eggs are – well – eggs, there has got to be a way to make this work for us too…

Holy Shit!

Telling someone else to draw the shit in your head is a pretty tall order.

And when that telling goes through Marketing and Editorial before it even gets to the Artist – well, you almost dread the result.

The anticipation is weird – there’s a huge elation that it’s all really happening, and a fusion of massive excitement and white-cold terror. What if it’s wrong – what happens if the artist can’t actually see what’s in your head?

It’s a huge moment – a crystallised fraction of time where you’ve trusted someone else to draw your dreams. It’s like the surrender of control that comes with your edit – all packed down into a sharp, visual punch that makes you stagger.

I can’t show the concepts here, I wish I could. Not only has artist Martin Stiff done an absolutely phenomenal job of understanding what’s in my head, but the fact that Chris and his team, and Cath, have all been there too means one thing…

They get it.

For the first time, this shit is real…

…and I have no shame in admitting that it made me burst into tears.

Doctor Marten’s BOOTS!

(Admit it, you sang Alexei Sayle).

2011 was a funny year. Change, but not enough. Learning, but not enough. Progress, but not enough. 2011 has felt like a year of set-up, a year of groundwork, a year that’s been champing at the bit.

2011 has been all about the Agent. Accepting guidance. Learning the inner details of procedure. Sally’s a powerhouse –  and I’ve had to learn to prise my sweaty little mitts off my manuscript, my characters, my plot (mine, my precious!) and let someone else in.

2011 has also been short story year (was warned about these buggers back in my earliest writers’ workshops) and I’ve been quite taken aback by how well they’ve gone down. They’re tiny steps, but going the right way.

Now though, it’s 2012, and the time for little steps is gone. Can I face my first professional edit? (Die, little darlings, die!) The copy-editing, the proof-reading? Well, I guess I’m about to find this shit out for myself.

Gulp.

‘Author’ is a funny word – I’m surrounded by people who’ve earned it with suitably ludicrous amount of merit. I’ve worked with and for them and I know how hard this all is. 2012 is the year I have to live up to it.

Am I scared out my tiny? You bet your arse I am.

But hey, I’ve got new boots. They’re my boots and they fit me. I can walk (almost) anywhere. And I was thinking when I was walking this morning…

The lesson learned for this New Year? Your boots are your own. Learn to trust, to accept guidance from those around you…

…but don’t walk in anyone else’s.

I haven’t made any Resolutions. But I will walk in my own boots.

Books Vs. Cigarettes – New Webcomic!

A while ago, the wondrously talented Sarah Langton and I threw together a cynical slant of a webcomic (I threw, Sarah got dead clever with the drawing).

Now, it has a name and home – find ‘Books Vs. Cigarettes – A Sly Look at the World of Geek Publishing’ in its new place on Geek Syndicate. First episode is here; look out for the second, coming later this week.

We promise to take no prisoners.

And that means you.

 

 

FantasyCon 2011

The best place to be in a heatwave? Brighton seafront.

Yeah, you’d think.

Bless the Royal Albion Hotel, shambling sprawl of saggy Victoriana in which no self-respecting Steampunker would ever set boot – there’s something both familiar and comedic about it. But the names and faces of UK SF/F publishing have weathered the chalets of the SFX weekender and know no fear.

Brighton in the shimmering heat was ghastly – the heaving, sweating masses of sunburned and lagered up public massing outside, seething along the promenade and the beach. They cheered the endless mass of VW campers on Saturday morning, and dropped so much litter that the army of roadsweepers woke us all up at 6am on Sunday… when I went for a walk along the beachfront in the early and the cool, the garbage resembled nothing so much as post Fatboy Slim in 2002.

Seriously. How can people do these things?

Inside the hotel though, it was cooler and calmer than the sweating town of Brighton.

There were lots of questions about my forthcoming book – thanks particularly to Kari Sperring for her empathy, and to Mike Carey for extending a wonderfully unexpected hand of support. Thanks also to Tony Lee for spoiling my son, and to the legendary Brian Aldiss who, while signing in our room, joined Stephen Jones to serenade us with the chorus of ‘When You’re Smiling’ – a memory that will be making me smile for a long time to come.

We worked a long day, but a good one – Alex discovered a truly glorious cake shop, we indulged in fish’n’chips on the pier and free wine from multiple book events including those of our own Titan, the irrepressible Christopher Paolini and the new brand new Jo Fletcher Books.

A good time, as they say, was had by all.

My mother asked me recently, in fun, are you a ‘Geek’ then, Dan?’ with an intonation on the word that spoke volumes from the Daily Mail. My answer is now as always – ‘Yes, of course I am’. And all I have to do to understand my choice is to look at Brighton seafront on a sweating Saturday afternoon.

Long shift or no, I would rather be where I was than outside frying myself on the hot stones.

And, hell, as I passed Mister Rankin on my way back into the Albion, I guess I was wrong about the Steampunkers. Maybe it’s the perfect place for a little far-fetched fiction!

How To Sign An EBook – Part Two

The Sharpie has dulled.

Why? It’s the answer to the industry’s most burning question – ‘how do you sign an eBook?’ – and it’s called ‘Autograph Now!’. It allows the author to sign, not the device, but the ebook itself.

From social networking site BookieJar, this new technology permits the author to sign on any touch screen device, or on any PC with a mouse. They can create a generic signature for all of their readers, or respond through BookieJar to dedicate a signature to an individual, or make drawings or sketches. There are also various security methods to ensure the facility isn’t abused.

In short, it looks very much like the thing we’ve all been thinking about every time the nice delivery man asks us to sign for our groceries – and it has a reader/writer self-pub network to back it up.

But will it catch on?

At a public event, being able to ‘virtually’ sign an eBook is a very cool thing – I’ve seen the looks on readers’ faces when William Gibson (who else?) does exactly that. It’s little piece of techno-future, a thrill of new.

As a site, BookieJar does virtually what a signing does in person – it connects authors (directly) with their readers, and vice versa. It makes the retailer in me nervous… but my twitter self jumps up and down and squeeees like a girl. It’s the logical progression of the #amwriting hashtag – and adding the signature gives it the personal touch of a real connection.

That same touch that William Gibson gives when he signs an eBook in person.

Signing ebooks is becoming a necessity; we all know that. Close as our SF/F community is here in the UK, and much as we all love our tactile bookshelves, the ereader has crept up on us, picking us off, one at a time.

For the moment, BookieJar is still growing – but if the idea expands beyond self-pub, or if this technology could be used through Twitter, or Facebook, or G+, or even through author’s own sites…

Then the future has arrived.

(See the previous article to this one on my old blog).

Book Deal Announcement!!

From the Titan Books website – as I’m still kinda speechless…

Titan Launches Original SFF Initiative with First Time Author

In the week preceding key science fiction and fantasy convention, EasterCon, Titan Books are delighted to announce the acquisition of worldwide rights to a fantastic debut fantasy novel and its sequel by first time writer, Danie Ware.

In searching for fresh talent to kick-start Titan’s new SFF enterprise, editor Cath Trechman unearthed exactly the kind of inventive manuscript she is looking for from within the Titan Entertainment group itself: a fantasy story written by historical combat enthusiast Danie Ware. As the publicist and event organiser for Titan sister company and cult entertainment retailer Forbidden Planet, Danie is already known and respected by many in the SFF community and has been writing epic fantasy at every opportunity her busy work schedule allows.

The currently untitled novel following Ecko, a cybernetics-enhanced warrior, is scheduled for publication in 2012. Cath Trechman says “Danie has created an extraordinary fantasy world, filled with rich, vibrant characters, and a story that is thrilling, compelling and wonderfully unpredictable. We at Titan feel very lucky to have found such a remarkable talent so close to home.”

(Ummm – Squeeee?!)