Yes, No, or Gazebo

In addition to me doing more around the house while my wife recovers, we’re also getting ready for vacation next week, and of course I’m prepping some things for the release of Red Hood.  (Yes, when my book comes out, I will be up north where I’ll have little Internet access, and where there’s only one tiny microbookstore within 50 miles.  Yes, this will make me approximately 73% crazier than usual.)

Anyway, this is my long-winded way of saying life has doled out an extra dose of busy lately, so rather than a long, thoughtful blog post, I’m just gonna play today.

Your role, should you choose to accept it, is to ask a yes/no question.  Any question.

I shall answer it.  I will do my best to answer all questions, but if it’s something I consider too personal or too spoilery (or if I just don’t know), then your answer may be a bit more random…

Mad Libs Reviewing

It surprises me sometimes how many people are uncomfortable reviewing books.  I don’t mean a professional, paid review for the New York Times, but just a note on the blog or Amazon or wherever.  A lot of people have told me they just don’t know what to say, or they don’t believe they can write a good review.

Fear not good people, for I have the solution.  Mad Libs Reviews take the stress from reviewing, and make for a much more entertaining read.  (In some cases, probably more entertaining than the actual book.)

If I were a programmer, I’d set up an app to do this automatically.  But I’m not, so we do it the old fashioned way.  Choose your words, then read your review of a hypothetical goblin book.  Feel free to share any particularly fun lines in the comments.  (But remember, this is a family-friendly blog.)

Have fun, and tune in next week when I use Mad Libs to write the promo piece for THE SNOW QUEEN’S SHADOW!

1. Noun: ________________
2. Noun: ________________
3. Adverb: ________________
4. Animal: ________________
5. Verb: ________________
6. Noun: ________________
7. Name: ________________
8. Verb: ________________
9. Adjective: ________________
10. Noun: ________________
11. Adjective: ________________
12. Noun: ________________
13. Emotion: ________________

Taking a Breather

I’ve seen a lot of Internet “discussions” go down in flaming, twisted wrecks over the years.  I want to thank everyone who commented on the blog this week.  I love that people are able to disagree, but are still willing to listen to what others are saying.  I love that while these are things people feel passionately about, I never once had to bring out the Moderator Hammer of Doom.  I love that I came away from the discussions with a lot more to think about.  Thank you all for that.

I had planned to write more today, but I’ve got nothing.  I haven’t even caught up on all the comments from yesterday (and I doubt I’m going to be able to respond to everything).  So instead, I figured I’d post something fun.  Something with ten times the recommended daily allowance of awesomeness.

Something like a ninja, who also happens to be a doctor, riding a raptor into battle.

(This is from The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, a silly and thoroughly entertaining web comic which, as far as I can tell, was created mostly for the excuse to draw scenes of ridiculous awesomeness.)

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!

New Author Look?

Already 90 100+ responses to the first novel poll — thanks to everyone for participating and passing the link along.

Today, I have a very different but equally vital survey.  Vital to me, I mean.  See, I’ve been doing the author jacket thing for a few years now, and it works pretty well.  But lately I’ve been thinking it needs something more.  Lots of authors have leather jackets.  Sure, theirs don’t have 41 different pockets, but still … I need something to stand out from the authorly crowd.

So I figured I’d add something more, a combination that would be uniquely Jim.

What do you think?  Yes?  No?  Needs more plumage?

Stop — Drama Time

I’m reminded once again that conflict and drama make popular blog topics.  Therefore, I feel it’s time for me to announce my newest project, an unauthorized anthology of Twilight fiction titled Fuschia Eclipse.[1. Russet Moon Summary –]

The project will be published by Penguin Droppings, a revolutionary new self-publishing branch of Penguin.[2. See Jackie Kessler’s posts on the Harlequin self-publishing fiasco –]  Publishing is changing, and it’s time to do away with the gatekeepers of traditional publishing and make way for the new millennium!

I had originally hoped to be able to pay contributors a token rate of 1/20th of a cent per word[3. Short fiction pay rate conversation –], but after reviewing the Penguin Droppings contract, it turns out contributors will end up owing me $500 per story.  However, they will all receive one contributor copy and Valuable Exposure!

I’ll only be inviting white male authors for this volume.[4. Mammoth Anthology of Mindblowing SF –] [5. Publishers Weekly’s Top 10 Books of 2009 –]  But I want to assure everyone I’m neither sexist nor racist.  I don’t see race or gender; all I care about is the story!  It’s not my fault the only truly great literature comes from white penises!

I’m already working on the cover art.  I’m thinking something tabloid-style, maybe Jacob Black fighting some vampire raccoons and zombie bunnies?[6. Zombie Rabbit Cover of Doom –]  All I know is that, for marketing purposes, Jacob will be portrayed by a pale blond kid.[7. White-washed cover of Justine Larbalestier’s Liar –]

Mock Cover Contest

Windycon was a great deal of fun, as always.  Got to meet some new folks and catch up with friends … I didn’t have much programming, so in a lot of ways this one turned into a social con for me.  Many hugs, lots of hanging out chatting in the lobby and elsewhere.  Met some new fans, but managed to keep the ego from getting too swollen (despite certain people’s best efforts). All in all, a good way to spend a weekend.

I learned that the steampunk theme brings out a lot of costumers, which was fun to see.  Got to hear Tom Smith in concert, ate way too much food, and made it to one and a quarter of my two panels.  (DAW vs. Baen was cross-scheduled with the Writing Workshop, so sadly I only caught the last 10 minutes of the panel.)

One of the most entertaining moments was when author Kelly Swails donned a Jig the goblin tattoo and decided to pose urban fantasy style, complete with a knife she swiped from the restaurant.  Naturally, this called for the full cover art treatment.  I’m obviously  not a professional graphic designer, but I’m pretty amused by what I was able to put together last night*.

Every good goblin-themed urban fantasy requires an equally good title, right?  “Goblin Killer Blues” was suggested by archivist Lynne Thomas.  Think you can do better?  Suggest a title in the comments, and I’ll put the best ideas up for a vote.  The winner gets an autographed copy of The Mermaid’s Madness [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy].

Have fun!

*Because this is the Internet and I know someone will ask, the answer is no, I am not writing a goblin-themed urban fantasy book.

Slush Reading, Seuss Style

Slush I Read
by Jim C. Hines

(Apologies to Seuss)

I read slush.
Slush I read.

That slush I read.
That slush I read!
I do not like that slush I read.

Do you like fanfic with vamps?

I do not like them Mary Sue.
Why do these vamps all worship you?

Here’s a tale from D & D!

I do not want your D & D.
I do not like your elf PC.
I can not stand your purple prose.
I want to punch you in the nose!

Would you like a hot sex scene?
I wrote it for my online ‘zine!

I do not like your pervy tale.
Your metaphors make readers pale.
Your paragraphs are pages long.
Your bad sex scene is oh so wrong!
Can people do that with their lips???
I do not like your manuscripts.

This one is in Comic Sans!
My parents are my biggest fans.

That evil font we do not want!
My aching eyes, my weary sighs.
Why can’t you get the format right?
We post our guidelines in plain sight!
I will not read your 8-point type.
I want to bash you with a pipe!

Would you read this in the loo?
Let me slide it right to you!

I would not, could not, while I poo!

You just hate me ’cause I’m new!
I’m too original for you!

Too original you say?
This book is one absurd cliché!
It should not see the light of day.

I do not like your Mary Sues.
I do not like your crackhead muse.
Eve and Adam, Star Trek slash,
Tolkien ripoffs, pointless trash,
Prologues forty pages long,
Spelling every third word wrong.
I do not want to read this slush.
It’s all too much, my brain is mush!

Just one more story for today.
Soon I’ll clear this slush away.
No more vampires, I pray.

This cover letter’s brief.
The format’s clean.  What a relief!

This story from the slush.
This story gives me such a rush.
These pages have a brilliant hook.
I want to read it in a book!
The wordcraft makes me start to swoon.
Is that the end? It came too soon!
I read it one time, two times, three!
It is so good, so good you see!

So I will read the slush again.
And wade through drafts by Twilight fen.
And I will read the pointless plots,
And tales of busty blonde sexbots.
And I will read your pissed off mail.
And I will read it without fail.
Yes I will read slush by the bale
So I can find that next great tale.

Vacation and LOLPrime

Tomorrow morning we head off on vacation.  I’ll be away from cellphone signals, wireless … not even reliable land lines to dial out and connect.

I’m sure I’ll be sneaking out with the laptop to hunt the Wild Wireless Signal of Northern Michigan from time to time, but there will be little blogging for the next week and a half, and if you e-mail me, don’t expect an instant response.

In the meantime, negative reviews or other complaints should be directed to my friend Optimus.

Why Books as Children is Just Plain Creepy

From a random author interview:

“My books are my children.  I love them all, and could never pick a favorite.”

Same author, different interview:

“Oh yes, I trunked several of my children back when I was starting out.”

The author at a booksigning:

“Psst.  Hey, you.  Want to buy one of my kids?  Take two, the older one and the newborn!”

The bookstore staff three months later:

“Time to clear some shelf space for the new arrivals.  Get out there and start stripping children.”

The library, where anyone can–  On second thought, I should probably stop.  I think we all get the idea.

Jim C. Hines