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Hypericon

Hypericon is a speculative fiction and gaming convention in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s coming up fast, but you can still get the pre-registration price if you sign up before June 10!

I will be there, masquerading as Robin Hobb. As always, I’ll be happy to sign any Megan Lindholm books or stories as well as the Robin Hobb ones.

Hope to see you there!

The Work and The Career

More and more lately, I feel that there is a widening gulf between my work and my career. I don’t know if I am getting old or if the world is changing ever faster. I suspect it is a combination of the two.
Recently I was a guest at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in (surprise!) Los Angeles. One of the talks I attended was John Scalzi being interviewed by Richard Kadrey. It was, as one might expect of those two, both entertaining and informative. In the course of the interview, Scalzi confirmed what I have long suspected. I am a dinosaur. He was classifying writers in terms of their adaptation to the digital world, and came up with three basic types. Dinosaurs, doomed to perish with the old style of publishing, mammals, a more adaptable batch, and finally cockroaches, who will ultimately inherit all.
Now, I suppose I could choose to take offense at such a classification, except that it is so apt. In fact, I’d look silly arguing with it. I’m a dinosaur and unlikely to change. Especially since the thought of evolving fills me with dismay.
“Old school” publishing has been good to me, and that is the truth. It was hard breaking in. Very hard. I beat my head on that wall for years, and I have the fat file of rejection slips to prove it, still. But by the time I did crack the wall and began to be published in the fanzines and little magazines, I had learned a lot and earned my spurs. I’d learned to have a story and to tell it, in clear English with correct spelling and grammar. It had to have a beginning and an end, and something had to happen in the middle, something interesting. It had to be appropriate to the publication I was submitting it to, and it had to be something fresh that still met their criteria.
But before I learned that, I wrote a lot of dreadful prose. I am grateful that I got to make all my mistakes in private. All my malformed half stories, my vignettes about a melancholy moment of navel gazing, my mawkish, stumbling, idiotic pages of dull prose are still somewhere in my basement boxes, unseen by any vulnerable human eyes save those of the iron-cored editors who, with stony-hearted kindness, rejected them.
I sold my first story when I was 18. When I was 30, I sold my first novel. That’s a long apprenticeship, but believe me, I needed every year, month and day of it. I was not idle. I learned. And I became, not just a writer, but a published writer. Writing the story was my job, and I devoted myself to it. To someone else fell the editorial tasks of prodding and molding. Someone else worried about the fontsize and white space, someone else thought about the cover art and the publicity needed to launch the book. All I had to do was write the story. And as long as I held up my end of the deal and wrote the very best book I could, I could count on that entire editorial team to put their best effort out there, too. All I had to think about was writing that book.
That really worked for me.
Well. Scalzi is right. That model of writing and publishing is starting to fade. More than ‘starting’ actually. Writers of today do their own publicity, create their covers and marketing campaigns, seek out their own blurbs and create amazing book trailers. Then some of them self-publish. Some do it very well indeed, with the sort of enthusiasm that indicates they truly love every minute and every aspect of those peripheral tasks.
But I don’t.
For about twenty years now, I’ve tried to keep up with it. I’ve answered scads of e-mails, done on line interviews, sent out newsletters and postcards and provided free copies of books for giveaways and contests. I’ve done everything from AOL ‘bulletin boards’ to Live Journals, Myspaces, and more recently, Facebooks, Linkdin, Reddit Ask Me Anythings, Goodreads Q and A sessions, and Twitters. I’ve had and have newsgroups and fan pages that I visit, and yes, my very own websites. I’ve had headshots professionally done, and I’ve attended all sorts of events from SFF conventions to book festivals to Romance conventions to Comic cons.
Sometimes I’ve enjoyed the interactions, mostly the face to face ones at conventions. I prefer SF cons to literary or academic gatherings. I know what I am. I’m a genre writer. No apologies for that. And yes, I go on line, several times a day, to read and sometimes to post. I do it the same way I used to make 25 cups of tea a day, and for the same reason. It’s what I do when I’ve typed all the story words that are in the front of my mind and I’m waiting for the back of my mind to send more story to the front where I can see it. That’s all.
And I won’t apologize that I’m not an editor. That’s a specific skill set. I don’t edit others and I don’t edit myself. I’m not a publicist, either. Not any more than I’m a graphic artist or a website designer. There’s a reason why I don’t do those things for myself. I’m not good at them. And I don’t enjoy doing them. And I don’t want to learn to be good at them.
There’s one thing I want to do. I want to write stories. That’s all. I don’t want to be clever about promoting them. I don’t want to twitter an update at least four times a day, nor post daily on Facebook, with or without a cute picture of my cat. I don’t want to write a clever or compelling blog, don’t want to share my politics, don’t want to persuade you or educate you. I don’t want to collect the statistics of how many new likes or friends I have on the Internet. That’s why so much of that is shoved off on my long-suffering assistant. She knows her job description. “You get to do all the parts of my career that I don’t like doing. Which means, you do everything that needs doing, except for the writing. I get to do that. Because that’s the part I love.”
I just want to write my stories. If I’m lucky, during what remains of my writing days, there will be some sort of publishing system that will continue to do all the rest of the work that is needed to get my stories out to readers. If I’m unlucky, I will reach a point where I am writing stories, carefully saving them as a printed copy and a digital file, and then shoving them into virtual cardboard boxes and writing the next story. I believe that if I write a good enough story, it will still find its way to readers, even if I don’t blog, twitter, or Pinterest it.
But then, I’m sure those other dinosaurs also believed that they could just go on being dinosaurs and that the sun would continue to shine down on them.
And we all know how that turned out.

Writer Beware!

If you’ve read my blogs or facebook posts at all, then you’ve seen me recommend this site more than once.

Today, there is a wonderful article on Book View Cafe Blog that highlights just why this site is so important to writers both old and new.  There’s a terrible new e-book contract out there from a very reputable publishing house.  Random House. 

I won’t repeat their entire article here. Go, read, and please send a note of thanks to the hardworking people at Writer Beware who are watching our backs.

The Box Car Children

What is it about this book?

I read it probably over fifty years ago. As I recall, my older sister had recommended it to me, and it was every bit as good as she said it would be. 

For the past few days, I’ve been reliving the adventure as my grand-daughter does her required twenty minutes a night of reading aloud. Only the adventures of the four orphaned and hungry children who seem to relish the challenge of making a home out of an abandoned box car have made those sessions stretch past the twenty minute allottment. 

Perhaps it is how bravely the children approach the challenges, and how creatively the deal with getting what they need.  They deliberately search for a dump where they can salvage things. They not only put up a shelf in their boxcar but beautify it with a vase of flowers.

The story is so simply written and told. We don’t know how the children were orphaned, or how they left the home they were raised in.  We simply meet them as they go forth into the world to survive.

My grand daughter loves this story just as much as I did when I read it half a century ago.

 

Speculate!

Over at Speculate you will find a review of my story collection: The Inheritance & Other Stories.

Here is Speculate’s own description:

Welcome to Episode 69 of Speculate! The Podcast for Writers, Readers and Fans. With this episode we begin a new triptych of shows on the work of Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm, looking at the 2011 short story collection The Inheritance and Other Stories–the first time both pseudonyms have been brought together in one volume. In particular we talk about Lindholm’s stories “A Touch of Lavender” and “The Fifth Squashed Cat,” along with Hobb’s stories “The Inheritance” and “Cat’s Meat”; although both names belong to one author, the voices and emphases are quite different, and we look at both those differences and the assured touch of a speculative fiction master evident throughout all of the book. If you like what you hear, don’t forget to check back next week when we’ll continue the triptych with our interview of Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm herself. Until then, thanks as always for listening to the show, and please continue to spread the word.

I had a wonderful time doing the interview via Skype (but it is audio only!) despite the challenges of doing this in a lively household. The first time we attempted it, I was knocked off the internet several times, possibly by my home phone ringing.

In the second episode, I waged a mostly silent battle with Diego the desk cat over whether or not he was allowed to stroll on the keyboard, or perhaps just sit on it during the interview. And, of course, I was knocked off Skype once, and had three phone calls making my house phone ring. I’m trusting those will be barely audible.

Nonetheless, it was very enjoyable and I hope readers will likewise enjoy the interview when it comes up.

In the meantime, I commend to your attention the Speculate interview with Peter V. Brett and Myke Cole, findable (did I just invent that word) on the right hand side of the Skype site. Good stuff there.

Happy March!

See You at DragconCon and Decatur Book Festival

I’ll be tagging along with Robin Hobb for these events!

As always, I’m glad to sign Megan Lindholm items as well as Robin Hobb ones, or to have a cup of coffee with you and discuss the older book.

I’ll hope to see some readers there.  My complete schedule is up at Robinhobb.com and on the Robin Hobb Facebook.

Old Paint

I’ve a short story available now in the July 2012 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction.  “Old Paint” touches on my fondness for the various cars I’ve owned in my life.

Old Paint

Very pleased to note that Megan Lindholm has a new story in the fortcoming July issue of Asimov’s.  “Old Paint” is near future sf/fantasy, and is an homage to my old blue Chevy Celebrity wagon.  Hope you’ll enjoy it.

Elf Fantasy Fair

Well, Robin and I will be traveling again!  Here are the details of her schedule for Elf Fantasy Fair:

On Friday, April 20 at 1 PM, I will be having lunch with readers. A few seats are still available. Het Cultuurcafé, Vuurtorenplein 6-10, Noordwijk. Phone: 071-3613073. E-mail: info@…hetcultuurcafe.nl. Tickets are € 10,-, lunch included.

Friday, April 20 at 5 PM I will be at the Donner Bookshop, Rotterdam, to read a selection and then answer questions.
Boekhandel Donner, Lijnbaan 150, Rotterdam. Phone: 010-4132070. Entrance: free.

Saturday, April 21 ELF FANTASY FAIR www.elffantasy.nl
2 PM Reading at Het Verboden Rijk at the Fair, followed by signing from 3 to 4:30.

Sunday, April 22 ELF FANTASY FAIR Reading at 2PM, followed by signing from 3 to 4:30 PM.

I am so looking forward to this! The theme for the Fair this year is Gods and Pharoahs.  And as always, if you bring a Lindholm book to Robin’s signing, I’ll be happy to borrow her pen!

The Inheritance autographed to you!

I will be doing personalized signings of The Inheritance for my friend Shawn Speakman. Shawn operates The Signed Page, a wonderful site for bibiliophiles who long to possess autographed first editions.

I’ve blogged here before about the beautiful Subterranean Press edition of The Inheritance, with interior art by Tom Kidd. In an extremely generous gesture, Subterranean Press donated one hunded copies of The Inheritance to Shawn to help defray his medical expenses. So by going through Shawn’s site, you will have a chance to own a copy of the book with a personalized signature as well has helping Shawn’s financial picture.

While you are on The Signed Page site, check out the other autograph opportunities there, including Brian Herbert signing Sisterhood of Dune!