A Jacqueline Carey reading, and Shikama on the shelf

I went to a reading last night by Jacqueline Carey, promoting her new book Naamah’s Kiss, at the University of Washington bookstore. She read a bit from the next book in line after Naamah’s Kiss, much to the delight of a very devoted audience. What I liked most was that, during the Q & A session that followed, she described her writing process, which is much like mine (outline all the way…). Sometimes it seems I’m surrounded by organic writers and it gets rather lonely… :o)

Also, while I was there, I snapped a picture of all my books on the store shelf, complete with shelf talkers. It’s a nice feeling to see your books all lined up in a row…

And just a reminder for anyone in the local area, I’ll be doing a reading at the UW Bookstore too, on July 15th.

From the Bookseller's Perspective

Of the few blogs I regularly read, one of the best is from an agent, Pub Rants, in Colorado. She always has lots of good info about the business from the perspective of the agent. In a recent posting, she linked to the blog of a bookseller (Kash's Book Corner). What I found particularly interesting about this one was that it confirmed all the things I've read about the process by which booksellers make their buying and inventory decisions. As we've always heard, it's the big name stuff that gets all the attention, since that's what is going to draw people into the store; and that anything else, particularly anything new, is almost an afterthought.

Part of the post concerns the store owner's interaction with a publishing rep. Here's a snippet of what the bookstore owner says to the rep: "I'll tell you what, Ron, why don't we use Dan Brown's book as a bank. If I buy three from an unknown author, we will just lower my order on The Lost Symbol by three. So let's take three on Trofimuk and only 489 on Brown." So the stories we small fry authors hear, about the publishers or their reps basically using the big names as leverage to move in the new writers, seems to hold true. And its a good thing they do, since clearly the store owner has to be convinced to do this; otherwise it's Dan Brown all the way. But it also underscores the vast gulf between the "haves" and the "have nots" in the business, and that there seems to be little middle ground. You're either Dan Brown (or equivalent), or you're not. And if not, you're just a "flyer" for the bookstore. You'd better hope those three copies sell out real quick, or it'll be some other unknown who gets the leavings from the next book order...

First Reading Lined Up for The Pool of Shikama

I've got my first bookstore reading lined up for The Pool of Shikama: July 15th at the University of Washington Bookstore. The UW Bookstore has always been a stalwart supporter of local Pacific Northwest authors - I've done readings there for my first two books as well. For any of you in the neighborhood (just north of Seattle) on that day, feel free to stop by and pick up a signed copy of the book. I'm always eager to meet and talk to my readers!

Building Homes for Books

We're speaking of bookcases, here... Some while back, my wife and I committed to making a library in the house - an honest-to-goodness library with built-in shelves lining all the walls. Because books belong on shelves and not in boxes, or stacked on the floor. So first we checked into buying bookcases (too pricey for anything that looks decent, and not tall enough anyway), and then decided to go for rolling our own. After picking a plan, we started with the tool accumulation (this from the guy who cringes whenever a power tool starts up - hey, I'm a writer not a mechanic!).

Anyway, given that this was going to be a big project (probably 36' of eight foot high shelves) we figured we'd better buy decent tools for the job, and so bought a table saw, and a router, and a circular saw, and a sander, and various other bits (so to speak) and pieces. Then we bought some wood, mostly 4 x 8 sheets, from which to cut the uprights and the shelves, etc. We're starting with one section of three bays, and if all goes well we'll start on the rest of it.

This past weekend was the first stab at actually cutting things, hopefully without stabbing ourselves. I am happy to say that no fingers or toes were sacrificed in the course of this project (so far, at least). Our sheets of plywood are now impressive looking piles of shelves and case standards, although they're only impressive if you don't actually line them up and notice that some shelves are a wee bit short, and a few other parts perhaps a little less than square. But hey, that's what gives the home built stuff distinctiveness, yes? :o)

So the next round will be cutting dado's (sounds like an extinct bird of some kind), rabbets (are you sure this is not just drunken Darwin talk?), and all them little bitty holes for shelf pegs. Then - lots and lots of sanding.

With any luck by the time the summer is over we'll have our three-bay section up and holding books. And then we can put all the power tools away, pour ourselves a celebratory drink, and think over the fall and winter about building the next batch.

And the books will be very happy to have an upright home.