Today’s installment in the continuing, unofficial Winter 2014-15 Spell Blind Blog Tour (which is way too much of a mouthful) can be found at the Magical Words blog site. The post is about plotting and pantsing — the age-old tension between wanting to outline our stories before we write them so as to keep our narratives clear and coherent, and wanting to let our narratives flow “organically” in the moment of creation. You can find the post here. I hope you enjoy it.
I’m exhausted after a great weekend at MarsCon. Tomorrow I leave Williamsburg to do a few stock signings in North Carolina and then two bookstore events later in the week: a signing at the Books-A-Million in Gastonia, North Carolina on Tuesday (4-6) and then a signing at the BooKnack in Rock Hill, South Carolina with Faith Hunter on Wednesday (5:30-8:00). I’ll be signing copies of Spell Blind, the first book in my new series from Baen, The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, and also copies of my Thieftaker books (Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, and A Plunder of Souls) which I write as D.B. Jackson. Hope to see many of you along the way.
I have arrived in Williamsburg, Virginia for MarsCon 25, which begins tomorrow. I was literary Guest of Honor at MarsCon back in 2013, or maybe it was 2012. Whichever it was, I had a great time here, and when the folks who run the convention decided to invite back some of their former GoHs for this silver anniversary con, I was delighted to accept. Some of my favorite people will be here this weekend, and I’m looking forward to catching up with them, as well as meeting some new folks.
I spent the day driving from Richmond to the Virginia Beach-Hampton Roads-Newport News-Norfolk area, where I stopped in at several bookstores to sign stock. This after a wonderful signing last night with Bishop O’Connell at the fabulous Fountain Bookstore in downtown Richmond. The stock signings I did today went well — every store I visited had multiple copies of Spell Blind as well as copies of my Thieftaker books. And all the staff workers I met were friendly and professional.
The drive east from Richmond was beautiful. This entire area was hit by an ice storm yesterday, and this morning, with the sun struggling to break through a blanket of high clouds, the trees lining the highway were still glazed, so that their branches seemed to glow in the silver light. Gorgeous. Later, nearer to the ocean, I saw a Bald Eagle circling over the road, and then a Peregrine Falcon diving for pigeons just outside of Norfolk.
A good day, and, I’m sure, the prelude to a great weekend.
So I’m about to begin a small signing tour, and I’m hoping to run into some of you along the way.
My first stop will be this coming Wednesday night, January 14, at 6:30 pm. I’ll be appearing with Bishop O’Connell at Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia, which happens to be one of my favorite bookstores in the world. Here are details on the event. Apparently, Bishop and I will be making your fantasies come true. As the announcement says, come restrictions may apply . . .
I will spend the weekend in Williamsburg, Virginia as a returning Writer Guest of Honor at MarsCon. It should be a great convention.
On Tuesday, January 20, I’ll be signing from 4:00-6:00 at the Books-A-Million in Gastonia, North Carolina. The folks at the Gastonia BAM have always been incredibly supportive of my work, and I look forward to spending some time with them again.
On Wednesday, January 21, from 5:30-8:00, my wonderful friend Faith Hunter and I will be signing at the BooKnack in Rock Hill, South Carolina. This is another of my favorite bookstores, and when Faith and I get together for an event it is always a hoot.
Finally, on Friday, January 30, from noon to 2:00, I will be signing books at the University of the South Bookstore in Sewanee, Tennessee. This is my home town bookstore, and my signings here are always well-attended and lots of fun.
Today I am blogging at the site of Stephen Leigh, who is a terrific fantasy writer and one of the nicest people I have met in my nearly 20 years in this business. Stephen invited me to his site to help me promote Spell Blind, the first book in the Case Files of Justis Fearsson, and he asked me to write about the differences between writing historical urban fantasy (The Thieftaker Chronicles, which I write as D.B. Jackson) and this new contemporary urban fantasy. And so, we have a new post about point of view, character, and narrative. The post can be found here. I hope you enjoy it.
I have just returned from what was a truly glorious weekend in New York City, where I attended the annual conference of the American Historical Association. Now, as a veteran of AHA conventions and someone who attended many of the conferences as a frightened graduate student interviewing for jobs and presenting papers in an attempt to make myself look more attractive to potential employers, I know that “glorious” and “AHA” don’t often appear together in a single sentence. But this weekend was very special for me.
I was at the convention to speak on a panel about writing fiction as a trained historian no longer working in academia. Our panel, which was chaired by agent Jennifer Goloboy and included Andrea Roberston Cremer, Laura Croghan Kamoie, and me, was tremendous fun. We had a large, engaged audience, and our discussion touched on matters of craft and business, as well as on ways in which we all use our history backgrounds to enhance our writing. (I talked about the Thieftaker Chronicles, which I write as D. B. Jackson, and which are set in pre-Revolutionary Boston.) I also sat in on a career fair, where I spoke with graduate students and employed academics alike about ways in which they might incorporate creative writing into their careers.
Long ago, when I made the jump from academia to writing fantasy, I had no interest in maintaining close ties to the academy. I didn’t enjoy scholarly writing and I don’t believe I was especially good at it. I know that I was not yet mature enough to be an effective teacher, and I believe my lack of passion for history crept into my pedagogy. (I am a much, much better teacher of writing than I ever was a teacher of history.) I left the academy with an excellent academic job offer in hand, and I did it to pursue my true passion, a profession I love. It was the right choice and I have never had any regrets. And yet there was a part of me that felt as though I had “failed” at history.
So there was something redemptive about this weekend. It took going back to the AHA as a professional writer to make me realize that I hadn’t failed after all. I left on my own terms and as much as I enjoyed the weekend, I realized more forcefully than ever that my life would not be as rich as it is had I stayed in academia. More, the weekend affirmed for me something that I’ve come to realize as I’ve written the Thieftaker books. I still love history. I don’t want to be a historian, but I still enjoy the discipline, and in blending my interest in it with my passion for writing fantasy, I have, at long last, found a bridge between the two professional worlds in which I’ve lived. I suppose that was part of what this weekend was about for me: realizing that I can still call myself a historian even as I continue to be a writer of speculative fiction. It was a deeply satisfying experience.
Of course, the best part of the weekend was catching up with a couple of my closest friends from graduate school, and then spending a memorable evening with my two closest friends from college and their families. I also caught up with some cousins I hadn’t seen in years. Fellowship, love, laughter, and an exploration of history on so many levels — intellectual, personal, familial.
So, yeah. A glorious weekend at the AHA convention. Who would have thunk it?
I have a post up today at Magical Words — another in what I am calling the Unofficial Winter 2014-15 Spell Blind Blog Tour. The post is called “Taking Stock and Taking Risks,” and it is about the closing of this year and some of my goals for 2015. You can find the post here. I hope you enjoy it, and I wish you all a wonderful New Year.
Today’s post, the latest in the unofficial Spell Blind Winter 2014-15 Blog Tour, can be found at the Magical Words blog site. The post discusses point of view, and for those who know me this comes as no surprise. I happen to believe that point of view is one of the most important narrative tools a writer has at his/her disposal. Specifically, the post looks at the choices we make with regard to point of view and voice, and how those choices shape a project and are also shaped by the project. You can find the post here. I hope you enjoy it.
I am very pleased to welcome you all to the Grand Opening of my new and improved website! This rework of the site was inspired by the impending publication of Spell Blind, the first book in the Case Files of Justis Fearsson, my new contemporary urban fantasy series, which will be published by Baen Books. Spell Blind hits the shelves on January 6.
I hope you’ll check out the site, which includes sample chapters of not only the new book but also novels from my backlist, as well as this blog, where I’ll be posting news and essays about writing and publishing, and an updated events calendar for 2015. There are even links to the D.B. Jackson website. I plan to add other pages as well, but they’re not ready yet.
On the other hand, as you can see, I’ve got some doodads and doohickeys in place that make the site look pretty spiffy. I want to thank the great tech guys at Sff.net for their help with the site (Steve, I’m looking at you), as well as my friend and code sensei, Tim Rohr. (Link provided so you can check out Tim’s writing!)