Attending a Book Launch Party

Went to my first book launch party last Friday. Not my book’s launch. I mentioned hearing Raven Oak read a passage from her recently released novella, Class-M Exile, last month at the Cascade Writers info session. Raven’s novella is “officially” launched (it was a sneak peek at the CW event), and I attended a launch party at the University Bookstore in Bellevue.

A small gathering, maybe a dozen or so in attendance. Not bad for 6:30pm on a Friday. Apparently some people complained about the venue being in Bellevue? Pfff. Parked in two seconds with plenty of space around and didn’t need to pay. Seattle’s hard-pressed to equal that in most places.

I’ve never been to that U Bookstore location before, and it was nice inside—café, UW themed stuff, large art supply selection, nice space by a fireplace (not that we needed it in June) for the reading/signing, and of course, a good selection of books. Considering that the floor space pales in comparison to a giant like B&N, I was pleasantly surprised by how many science fiction and fantasy books the U Bookstore had. Also had a long signing table with plenty of space, and a mix of folding plastic chairs and the more permanent comfy ones.

The U Bookstore staff were good hosts, and it was a nice gathering with wine and cheese. I liked how small it was because it was more intimate, not loud, not much in the way of a line, and conversations flowed more easily.

I’ve mentioned before that Raven’s reading with the southern accent is great. I’ll be hearing her voice when I read it. This is good, because otherwise I’m not sure how well the writing would come across for me, as it’s written to reflect the accent. Ex. “Hell, you could even buy yerself a gen-u-ine religion if you were so inclined.”

Aside from the usual reading and signing, Raven also had a short trivia game for us. She spent 20+ years in Texas before coming to the Pac Northwest, so we had fun playing a game of guessing headlines: Texas or The Onion. The number of times you wished the headline was from the Onion…

For swag, Raven had these cute stickers that are a nod to a line in the book. If you’re looking for fun ideas for a book launch or promotions, these were a nice alternative to bookplates. Cat tail not included.

Raven Oak sticker

Had a chance to chat with her while she signed my book, and spelled my name right! This sounds like a no-brainer, but the number of times someone has asked how to spell my name and still spells it incorrectly…*facepalm. Same thing where I point out how to spell it, or have it written/typed down in view. I hear people with unconventional spellings or ethnic spellings complain and I’m like, dude, people can’t spell my name right—y’all don’t have a chance. However, I do think there are instances where people consciously take better care if they see a name that they’re not familiar with. I need to start saying, “Jaime, like Jaime Lannister.” That presumes the person in question has read the book as opposed to only watching the show, but I’ll try it.

Signed Class M

Also chatted with Raven about some upcoming cons/events and the dilemma of selecting which stories to submit to writers’ workshops. More on that in future posts once I see the results of how it all worked out, but the gist of it was that it’s a tricky line between wanting to represent yourself well but also submit the piece that needs more work since you’re paying for a critique. Constructive criticism is a lot more useful than the ego-boosting of a line of comments just saying they liked it. We’ll see. I have two separate pieces with one going to a CW workshop in July and the other to Sasquan in August.

Closing thoughts on book launches: having snacks is nice. The trivia game was fun, but I can see that being harder to engage in if there are a lot of people in attendance. Small gatherings are nice for more intimate chats. Swag is cool.

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Two of Three Slices- Partial Book Review

Three Slices, 150 pages, May 2015

A Prelude to War, Kevin Hearne, Iron Druid Chronicles 7.5

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys, Delilah S. Dawson, Blud Novel Series 0.5

Interlude: Swallow, Chuck Wendig, Miriam Black 3.5

First off, there might be spoilers ahead. Two of these novellas come partway through their respective series. I’ll try not to so be spoiler-y, but if you’re worried then leave now. However, this is only a review for two of the three slices, as Kevin Hearne kindly recommended that I not start the IDC here. I was worried about Swallow, since it’s in between books 3 & 4, but Wendig commented on twitter that it would be fine so in I jumped.

Umm, three novellas incorporating tyromancy? I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical. Telling the future through cheese, seriously? But hey, these were authors I wanted to check out, novellas are a nice bite-sized intro, and Galen Dara is an amazing artist. The first thing that made me notice this project from the triumvirate of evil was the beautiful cover by Dara for NMC, NMM. What can I say, I’m a sucker for horses. Dara has prints (as well as the cover art for each individual slice) of her artwork available through her Etsy shop, but beware, because this could happen:

Galen Dara prints

Ok, people afraid of spoilers should be gone now. And honestly, I’m not sure how spoiler-y this will be because I didn’t read the IDC story. One day I’ll read Hounded and the rest of the IDC, but until then I was warned it would be confusing and spoiler-y to try and pop in between books 7 & 8.

 Buy the print here

So, Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys. Delilah S. Dawson is an author I’ve been following through social media, and have had her books in the queue of “I need to read this someday.” For my first time venturing into her world of Sang, I thought the tyromancy theme fit perfectly. Actually, it was kind of freaky how it played out because it felt so natural.

So, I went in with guarded expectations, and honestly thinking this wouldn’t be the book for me. Vampire/paranormal romance has been done a lot lately and it’s not really my thing, and I’m not all that fussed about circuses. But I love Dawson’s blog and the cover art pushed me over the edge. Because yes, I do judge books by their covers. I’m terrible.

Well, I walked out the other side of NMC, NMM having bought Wicked As They Come, the first novel in the Blud series. This slice prompted me to run off and join the circus, at least for now. NMC, NMM is the introduction to vampire magician Criminy Stain, and the tale of how he comes to acquire his own caravan.

Criminy (is it weird I read this as Crim-uh-knee instead of Cry-muh-knee?) is an interesting protag, a bit of a rake but with a romantic side. His dialogue is charming and witty. He can get a bit too lust-minded at times, but his charm and the plot kept things humming along. I’m intrigued by the circus world created for Sang, and Criminy’s ambitions for finding true love and a caravan of his own. I love the description of his magic and that he’s a vampire magician. That was fresh to me, though I admit I don’t read much vampire fiction.

The locket and Criminy’s “future” are a nice setup for the Blud novels to come, and leave me looking forward to more without feeling like the story didn’t have its own conclusion. The only part that seemed odd to me was that Criminy doesn’t seem to give much thought to the fact that his future love is a mortal woman.

 Buy the print here

Alright, Interlude: Swallow. This was my first introduction to Miriam Black, and I think it’s considered “3.5” in her series, falling in between Cormorant and Thunderbird. Chuck Wending gave it a nod when I asked if I should read it without having read the previous Miriam stories. Even though it falls a few books into her timeline it wasn’t difficult to grasp the big picture. At least, as I understood it, which could be completely wrong so apologies if this leads you astray.

The gist I got while reading Swallow, is that Miriam has a “curse” that enables her to see when and how someone will die if she touches them. I got the feeling that she doesn’t tend to see people dying peacefully in their sleep. Shocking, I know. In this slice, she’s looking for a person, Mary Stitch, in the hope that she can get rid of Miriam’s curse. Miriam has some whacked history with the Mockingbird Killer and his crazy ass family cult of killers. Something bad went down at the end of Cormorant in a river and Miriam thought the MK died, but no. That’s the summary I took away from Swallow, obviously missing some specifics that are in the books.

If you’ve read Wendig’s blog, terribleminds, then you’ve got a pretty good idea of how Miriam speaks. I got a Lisbeth Salander vibe from her, though more talkative. A lot more. Miriam is crude, darkly humorous, and might just punch you in the face because reasons. I’m not sure she can go much more than a couple of sentences without swearing. She has so much weird energy and a flawed personality that I had to read her in small doses because she’s a bit mentally exhausting. She’s gritty and real and broken. I liked this slice of her story because the length was enough to get a feel for Miriam while the pace zips her current situation along.

Swallow jumps back and forth over around a week, but each section has a heading indicating where in time we are so it isn’t confusing figuring out where/when we are in each “chapter.” It’s also great for sustaining the suspense as the timelines collide.

The tyromancy in Swallow works well too, though in a creepier manner than in NMC, NMM. Instead of having a weird-cool vibe of “ooh magic and cheese,” this was a bit more “ok this works, I’m buying it. I get it, wait, wait omg wtf are you doing with the…omg gorey cheese.” Different, but it works for Miriam’s story.

The title is fitting because this does feel like an interlude, an action-packed pause, in Miriam’s larger story. It still has an “end” for this part of the adventure, but nothing ground-breaking happens. I think that the people who move straight from Cormorant to Thunderbird, aren’t going to feel like they’re missing a part of the story. It’s more of a gift to readers who want more Miriam Black.

Cats & the Writing Process

I’m feeling a bit lazy about writing a “real” blog post, so this is more of an excuse to post pictures of cats and dogs. But I’ll tie it into writing. Sort of.

Cats are great. Who doesn’t want a warm fuzzball that provides companionship yet doesn’t depend on you letting it out to use the bathroom? Except that cats are invaders. Invaders of space. Unfailingly, invaders of the space you’re currently occupying despite numerous other spaces begging to be invaded.

Sometimes they can be thwarted. Like with hand-knit beds and heating pads. It’s still on the desk, close enough for petting, but not in the “interrupts your groove” zone.

Equal opportunity, dogs are cool too. Past a certain size they can’t invade your lap space.

See, 4 months old and Toby was well on his way to being plain too big. Not a lap invader.

Well, a lap invader but only when I’m on the ground. Not a hindrance to the writing process except for whining, excessive noise, needing to pee, wanting to go outside, etc.

Little dogs are cool too. They’re better at invading space because it’s much harder to deny their size. And who could say no to Benny’s face?

Plus, sweaters. It’s harder to justify putting cats in sweaters.

I mean, most cats don’t wear sweaters.

Right?

Oh wait.

Well, to be fair, she’s only modeling this sweater because I didn’t have the intended canine recipient handy.

Anyway, cats and the writing process. Sometimes things click along just fine. Words are happening, whether through the pen or the keyboard. Writing can be a bit of a lonely endeavor, but it’s hard to feel alone when you’ve got a quiet friend sitting by (on you) exuding cheerful encouragement.

The lap’s not a bad place. I can type or write around Beth in my lap without much trouble. Get into a rhythm and the writing flows. It’s a bit harder when she doesn’t want the lap, or it’s already occupied, or who knows why–she’s a cat. Sometimes banishing tempting her with the bed works. Unless this happens.

Never mind the fact that there are a million bed-like areas in this house, if the immediate bed is occupied and daddy isn’t around to be bothered as an alternative, then oh dear cat there will be no peace. It’s hard to write when this happens…

Or splaying over the keyboard for you first draft typists. This is when cats interfere with the writing process. It happens near daily in this house.

Hope you enjoyed this not-really-a-blog-post where I rambled about animals.