Mermaid’s Madness

BFA Award Longlist and Facebook Silliness

Why is it that the cheaper hotels like Holiday Inn here offer free in-room wireless, but the ones that cost more make you pay for it?

Well, I’m just glad this hotel has it.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been poking around online last night to discover that The Mermaid’s Madness [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] made the longlist for the British Fantasy Award.  It is, as the name implies, a long list, but I’m quite pleased to be on it.

So you want to know what my brain does on a six-hour drive?  Here’s a taste.

Enjoying Millennicon so far.  It’s a small con, but I got to hang out with Guest of Honor Stephen Leigh (and musical guest of honor S. L. Farrell) and Laura Resnick, did a reading that went over pretty well (even if it I had to rush), and my roomate Steve Saus bought me cookies.  So far, so good!

I’m off to start getting ready for my panel this morning.  Have a great weekend, all!

Responding to a Review

General rule: don’t respond to reviews.  But then, every rule has an exception…

Joshua Palmatier recently posted a review of Mermaid’s Madness that pointed out what he felt was an error.  “…at one point, Snow knocks someone down, but without any sign of recovery, the person is back up a few pages later.”

I haven’t gone back to double-check this in my book, and I don’t intend to.  The book is in print, and it’s not like I can recall and change the copies even if he’s right.

Instead, I’ve written a note for my own future reference:

When Snow knocks you down, you stay the @#$% down!

Friday Updates

• As insane as this week has been at work, it’s been a very good writing week.  I just found out that my German publisher is picking up both Mermaid’s Madness and Red Hood’s Revenge.  Excellent!

• Also exciting, Red Hood’s Revenge is up for pre-order on Amazon!  I’m told it’s been there for a few weeks, which shows how distracted I’ve been.  Normally my obsessive surfing habits would have uncovered that much more quickly.

• Neil Gaiman has given me permission to make T-shirts of my 20 Neil Gaiman Facts.  All that remains is to decide where.  I’m leaning toward Zazzle over CafePress, but I’m open to suggestions–any experiences with these or other online vendors, good or bad?

• Based on your responses, I’ll definitely be doing the 2009 SF/F Humor Roundup.  It shouldn’t take too long to put together; I just need to make the time to sit down and do it.  Hopefully by this time next week…

• Finally, your weekly LEGO.  Anyone who’s seen Howl’s Moving Castle should recognize this one, built by Imagine’s Brickzone.  (And anyone who hasn’t should go rent the movie.)  Click the pic for the full Flickr set, including a better view of Turnip Head there on the right.

Mermaid Discussion Post

As requested, here is your more-or-less official discussion thread for The Mermaid’s Madness [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy].

Because my blog mirrors to different places, I’d suggest going either to LiveJournal or http://www.jimchines.com/2009/10/mermaid-discussion-post/ for the liveliest discussion.

Spoilers ahoy, obviously.

If you haven’t read the book and don’t want to know what happens, stay the heck out of the comments.  Otherwise, all discussion, speculation, and questions* are welcome.


*I might even answer some of ‘em!

Ooh, Awkward…

• Would folks be interested in a discussion post for The Mermaid’s Madness [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy]?

• While at ConClave, Al Bogdan did an impromptu video session of Merrie Haskell and I interviewing one another. I can’t watch, ’cause I cringe to see myself on camera, but I had a good time chatting with Merrie. Interview is posted here.

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I stopped by the local B&N today to sign stock, and as I was browsing the shelves, it struck me how many of these authors I’ve come to know either in person or online.  Wonderful people, (well, mostly wonderful), and I wish I had the time to keep up with all the great books they’re putting out.

But every once in a while, I’m reading a friend’s book and I find myself unable to get into the story.  I have to force myself to turn the pages, and soon I’m reading out of guilt and looking forward to the end for the sole reason that it frees me to read something different.  (Note to Jennifer and Lisa, since both of you know I’ve been reading your stuff lately: I’m not talking about you here.)

If the author is a stranger, it’s easy to toss the book aside.  But if it’s someone I know, even just from chatting online … yeah.   Awkward.  Uncomfortable.  Serious Oh-God-please-don’t-ask-me-what-I-thought-of-your-book moments.

Since Mermaid just came out, I figured this was a good time to say to anyone who’s as neurotic as I am about this stuff … it’s okay.  I don’t expect everyone who hangs out and chats here to be rabid fans of my books.  Some of you have never read my stuff, and that’s okay.  Others have, and weren’t impressed.  That’s okay too.

Any author who expects everyone to love their work is a damn fool.  Mermaid has been out for little more than a week, and already I’ve read comments calling it the perfect book and others calling it a disappointment. C’est la vie.

I obviously want people to enjoy the books I write, and I’m delighted when they do.  I do hope, if you like the blog, that you might check out a sample chapter or try one of my stories, but I don’t expect it.

I’m grateful to everyone who’s picked up one of my books and given a still-relatively-new author a shot.  If they turned you into a goblin or princess fan, that’s awesome.  But if you found my writing wasn’t to your liking, no worries.  We’re still cool.

State of the Jim

Well, I’m surviving Mermaid Week pretty well.  The whole week has been a bit of a blur.  Book stuff, family stuff, work stuff … it’s the perfect storm of craziness!  Here are some of the highlights.

Not Related to Jim, but Read it Anyway: At one point, I was asked to talk about how to get an agent.  I still plan to do this, but in the meantime author Kat Richardson has beaten me to it.

Radio Interview: I did an interview last night with the Michigan Literary Network and didn’t make a complete fool of myself–Win!  Even if they did introduce me as Jim Chines.  (You can listen here if you’re bored and have 15 minutes to kill.)

Book launch partytonight at Schuler Books is good to go, and should be a lot of fun.  Cake is ready, and I’ve printed out a copy of “Creatures in Your Neighborhood” to read.  Now I just need to make sure I have a working vehicle, since my car went into the shop last night for brake work.  Eep!

Amazon ranking for Mermaid has been hovering around 4000-5000 for several days now, with three reviews posted so far.  Not bad.  (And yes, I really need to break that obsessive Amazon-checking.  Is there a support group or a 12-step program for this?)

Red Hood’s Revenge:On Monday, I talked to Sheila at DAW about revisions for Red Hood’s Revenge.  She liked the story!  HUGE sigh of relief here.  I’ve still got pages and pages of notes and changes to work on, but I’m feeling better about the book.  My goal is to have that turned in by the end of the month.

Red Hood Artwork:  I’ve learned that Scott Fischer will not be doing the cover for the third princess book.  Instead, we’ll be getting artwork from Mel Grant, who did the goblin books.  I really don’t like the idea of changing artists in mid-series, but having seen Mel’s work, I trust him to do a good job.  Hopefully he’ll be able to stick pretty close to the style of the first two.  Needless to say, I’m veryanxious to see what he comes up with.

Current Contests: I’ll be announcing winners tomorrow.  One of my one-question interview folks will win an autographed copy of one of my books, and there’s also the caption contest.  The winner of that one will receive a copy of Strip Mauled, assuming I can buy one at the bookstore tonight.

Upcoming Contest: On Monday the 12th, I’ll be doing an interview and contest all day with Bitten By Books.  We’ll be giving away a dozen DAW anthologies, and one winner will receive a complete set of painted Goblin Quest miniatures.  I’m excited about this one, and will post more details and links soon.

ConClave: I’ll be at the con tomorrow night, but for a combination of reasons I don’t want to go into, I don’t think I’ll be there Saturday or Sunday.

And this is why, come Sunday, I intend to sleep in until noon with the covers pulled over my head.

How to REALLY Help an Author Out

So The Mermaid’s Madness [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy] is one day old.  At this point, a lot of authors will talk about the things readers can do to support the book.  You’ve probably seen lists like:

  • Review the book in your blog, at Amazon, at GoodReads, or wherever, because word of mouth is the biggest factor in a book’s survival in this cold, cruel world.
  • Buy books right after they come out, because the publisher and the bookstores pay attention to those early sales.
  • Ask your library to get a copy in stock.  Better yet, tell ‘em to get two!
  • If you like the book, recommend it to your friends, family, and that guy down the street with the weird lawn gnomes.

Those are decent suggestions, I guess.  But you want to know what most authors really want?  How to truly support your favorite writers?  Read on, my friend.

  • You see that guy carrying the huge manuscript and jogging after our author friend?  That’s Bob.  Bob doesn’t actually know our author, but he’s nonetheless going to fling that manuscript at the author’s feet and demand a critique, a blurb, or a referral to the author’s agent.  If you could run Bob over with your car, that would be very much appreciated.
  • Authors aren’t supposed to respond to bad reviews.  It’s tacky, and it just leads to more bad publicity.  But there’s no rule against you tracking down the person who posted that review, following them to their house, kicking down their door, and screaming “Nobody expects the Goblin Inquisition!” as you beat them with a dog-eared paperback.
  • Mow my lawn.  (I know it’s a long shot, but I thought I’d throw it out there.  I despise lawn mowing, and it’s going to be a few years before my kids are old enough to take over.)
  • Accept the crazy.  Authors are nuts.  Peek inside my brain right now, and you find me wanting to refresh Amazon (even though I checked the rank 30 seconds ago), an ego that’s simultaneously huge (I am Published Author) and fragile (Why isn’t my book selling as well as Random Author’s? I must suck!), and the emotional scars left from 500+ rejection letters.  Just smile and nod and slip the meds into our drink when we’re not looking, just like Murdock and BA from the A-Team.
  • Finally, taser anyone who asks the following questions*:
    • When’s the movie coming out?
    • When are you quitting the day job?
    • Where do you get your ideas?
    • Can I have a free book?

Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments!


*I don’t actually mind when people ask most of these, but the questions come up so often they start to show up in my dreams.  I lay there in my sleep mumbling, “Can’t quit.  Need benefits and steady paycheck.”

Happy Mermaid Day

It’s here!  Today marks the offical release of The Mermaid’s Madness [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy]!  Which means I’ll be pretty much useless for the next few days, as I go through the hyperactive bipolarity of book launch insanity, checking Amason rankings, Googling reviews, preparing for the book launch party (Thursday evening at Schulers-Eastwood in Lansing), and so on.

This is going to be a crazy week.  I’ll do my best to avoid getting carried away pointing out awesome reviews or linking to giveaways or the 10/12 contest at Bitten By Books where you’ll be able to win one of 12 DAW anthologies or a grand prize of a complete set of painted goblin miniatures.

Likewise, I promise not to spend the entire week linking to my web site, where you can read the first chapter of the book online, or plastering the synopsis over every post like so:

There is an old story — you might have heard it — about a young mermaid, the daughter of a king, who saved the life of a human prince and fell in love.

So innocent was her love, so pure her devotion, that she would pay any price for the chance to be with her prince. She gave up her voice, her family, and the sea, and became human. But the prince had fallen in love with another woman.

The tales say the little mermaid sacrificed her own life so that her beloved prince could find happiness with his bride.

The tales lie.

(I also promise most entries won’t be as long-winded as this one.  But hey, I’ve got a book out today!  I’m allowed one day of excited babble, dammit!)

My thanks to everyone who participated in the one-question interviews.  I’ll be adding questions and links as they go live, and you can click over to read the answers.

  1. In the Princess series, what makes you choose certain characters as protagonists, and certain characters as antagonists? What princess have you enjoyed working with the most thus far? (-Catherine Shaff-Stump)
  2. What do you know now—about your characters and world, about writing, about yourself—that you didn’t know when you started writing these books?  (-Rose Fox at Genreville)
  3. 5 Quick Questions, including who would win in a fight between the three princesses? (-Lexie Hamilton)
  4. Where did you get the name for your most difficult to name character? (-orcaarrow)
  5. Will ninjas be making an appearance in this book, or will we have to wait for book five: The Ninja’s Nemesis? (-socchanIncludes a special visual aid!
  6. 3 questions, including “In a tag-team match, televised to the entire world, who would win? Goblins or Princesses? And would the Goblins cheat?” (-Jaime Moyer)
  7. Before you started writing this series, what fairytale Princess (Disney or not) did you most identify with personally? (-Philomena Hill)
  8. Princesses vs. Transformers: who would win? (-guinwhyte) I think this was my favorite silly question!
  9. What inspired you to create Jig?  Did he come from your gaming experience or did you have some other kind of inspiration?  Or did he just pop into your head? (-Dave Roy)
  10. Have you ever been worried that someone would see themselves (or think they saw someone from real life) in your work? (-Steve Saus)
  11. I’m wondering about your feelings/thoughts/actions on putting a “message” in novels. Like when 9/11 happened, was it time for novelists to jump on the soapbox about the evils of fanaticism/war/whatever? (-Jenn Simmons)
  12. When you realized that The Stepsister Scheme could be the start of a series, did that realization come complete with ideas for the other fairy tales you’d like to use, or did the later books develop as you looked for new fairy tales? (-dragovianknight)
  13. Do you now, when you encounter a new or old folk tale, find yourself mentally rubbing your hands together and thinking ‘hmm, I think I can use that’? Are you incapable of ‘turning it off’ at this point? (-b_writes)

Finally, as long as you’re going book-shopping, check out these other new releases:

Flesh and Fire [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy], by Laura Anne Gilman.
Dragon’s Ring [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy], by Dave Freer.
Memories of the Future, Volume 1, by Wil Wheaton.
How Not to Make a Wish [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy], by Mindy Klasky.

Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman: Book Cover Dragon's Ring by Dave Freer: Book Cover  How Not to Make a Wish by Mindy Klasky: Book Cover

Caption Contest

• Only one week until the official release of The Mermaid’s Madness [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy]!  Eep.  (And if you’ve been thinking about posting a review of Stepsister Scheme, might I humbly suggest that this would be a perfect time?)

• Congrats to Harry Connolly (burger_eater) on the release of his debut novel Child of Fire [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy], which comes out today.  Read the first chapter on his web site here, or check out Sherwood Smith’s interview with Connolly.

• Thank you to everyone who offered suggestions yesterday about bleeping out certain parts of my reading.  At this point, I’m thinking either the cardboard speech bubble or a squeaky rubber duck, depending in part on whether or not I can find a suitable duck.

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Steve Buchheit took one look at the picture below and offered up the following:

“What, no new goblin book this year? You have failed me for the last time, Hines.”

“You are part of the Princess Alliance and a goblin sympathizer. Take him away!”

This has inspired me to run a caption contest.  Keeping it PG-13 or better, post a caption in the comments below no later than Friday, October 2.  On Saturday, I’ll pick my favorites and put them up for a vote.  The winner will receive a signed copy of one of my books — your pick.

Have fun!

Friday Wrapup, with LOL Book

Seanan McGuire (of Rosemary and Rue fame) has drawn a nifty promo piece for The Mermaid’s MadnessClick here to see her pretty little dead ghoul mermaid in all her glory.

• Tomorrow (9/26) from 11 am – 7 pm I’ll be at the Durand Fantasy Expo.  Details available on the Facebook page or on MySpace.  Lots of nifty guests lined up.

• I’ve heard from three separate sources now that Mermaid is on the shelves at some Borders stores.  Woo!  (I’d still call ahead though, just to make sure.)

• Finally, Elizabeth Bear unveiled the cover of her forthcoming book Bone and Jewel Creatures.  I like this cover an awful lot, and decided to express my appreciation in LOL form.  (For newcomers, the entire LOL Book series is available in my LJ archives, if you’re interested.)  Enjoy!