Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Angels With Screen-Burned Faces




Countdown, Day-13

Percepliquis, my last book in the Riyria Revelations series is being released in 13 days, but you already knew that. You’ve known for some time, a lot of people have, and the reason is because of bloggers. Book reviewers and fantasy aficionados who discovered me wandering around the dirty streets of self-published row. I was thin—gaunt really—starving in the shadow of the traditional skyscrapers, knocking on the locked doors. Even the little houses closed their drapes and hushed up when I stepped on their porch.

“Six book series! All finished!” I cried. “Just read it.”

“Shut up you lunatic! No one cares about traditional heroic fantasy anymore.”

I looked down the street I stood on. It was plenty dark and gritty and my shoes had holes. I could see them through the windows of the restaurants, tucking white napkins under their chins. The new kids Sanderson, and that other one—Rothfuss.  I sat on the damp curb, my feet in the gutter. How could a single pane of glass separate whole worlds? And by what magic could one enter that world of music and light, a world I could only smell in the form of cooking food.

Everyone paused between bites to look up as Gaiman and Pratchett entered.  No one cared when Martin came in, though a few sneered. They were mad at him, coming so late. Gaiman noticed and gave him a reassuring pat on the shoulder. 

I shivered on the street. I wasn’t alone. There were others, faint non-descript faces. I would see them trudge by, and forget them as soon as they passed.

“I’ll read yours if you read mine.” 

Often I huddled around a burning barrel sharing a cheap bottle of booze. We’d complement each other, speak of how great it would be when we were all in swank apartments on the glitzy part of town, the side we couldn’t even see from there. Vampire epics, Arthurian legends, demon detectives, and ghost romances, we all looked awful—all misfit toys that Simon and Schuster forgot.

“You there!” a guy in a car rolled up. Cheap suit, crumpled hat, chewing the butt of a cigar. “Whatchagot?”

“I—ah…”

“Speak up! I ain’t got all day.”

“Six book fantasy series—ah…traditional though.”

“Traditional, huh? Not much call for that now. Folks tired of it. I still like ’em though, read ’em as a kid, you know? Let me look. No promises. The rest of you stay back.” He took the book. “Hey, you look like a nice kid. If it’s okay, I’ll put in a good word for you.” Then he looked stern, “But it’s gotta be good, you know?”

I swallowed and nodded. “Who are you?”

“Me? Just another blogger. There’s lots of us now. We like to come down here and circle the park at night, just to see, you know—to see if there’s a genius we can discover. Some filthy little Tolkien or Rowlings eating out of a soup can with their index finger.”

“Can you make us famous?”

He laughed and stomped his foot on the floorboards. “Hell no! I told you, we’re just bloggers. Just a bunch of guys and gals who likes reading, see? We like to find the next thing, you know? Find it so we can wave it at our friends. There’s a bunch of us. We’re pretty tight. One of us sees something they like they tell the others. Honestly…” He leaned out the window. “Those swells downtown, aren’t all that. Some are, but they all started somewhere, you know? Somewhere like this I guess. Somewhere no one’s looking.”

“You discovered a lot of good authors down here?”

“Nope. Some ain’t so bad, but most are crap. Still, you can see that in some—in some there’s this glimmer, you know? This idea, and you can just tell that one, could be it.”

“It?”

“Yeah, the next big swell—that is if they survive. That’s the problem down here. I mean just smell it. Heh—you probably can’t smell it anymore, can you? But listen, writers die down here. Everyone enters this park in spring when the flowers are all blooming and stuff, but the cold weather comes and soon it’s winter. Get’s cold here in winter. Somehow looking up at those buildings, at the warm people eating in the restaurants makes it colder.”

“Were you a writer?”

“A writer? I told you boy-o, I’m a blogger.” He starred at the barrel for a long minute with a sad look. “Anyway, you hang tough and I’ll let you know about this book. I like the cover—different.”

“I did it myself.”

“Nice.”

His car rolled out and I returned to the barrel to watch the sparks rise and send my dreams with them.

“Hey you? You Sullivan?”

“Me? Yeah.”

It was another car, different—different guy too, but the same. “Listen I heard what Book Critic said ’bout you. I don’t believe it ’acourse. Gimme the book. Let me see.”

“You another blogger?”

“Yeah, so what?” He said and I thought how he kinda looked like a wolf in a way.

“Ah—nothing. What did the other guy say?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah, Critic?” the man shook his head and rolled his eyes. “Guy’s off his nut. He says you’re better than some of the big boys. He’s on drugs of course. I mean look at you! Have you ever had gloves with fingers tips?”

He took the book and drove off too.

Next week there were five more cars. One fella, a really nerdy guy wearing a hat like a crown lent me a comb for my hair—he wanted a picture. Nice guy. Then this other fella I speculated might be a junkie at first, he wanted to talk too. Then this nice girl who went on and on about this science fiction guy, and another blogger who’s ink dribbled when he took notes. He didn't want to talk at first, he just watched from his car across the boulevard, but eventually he came over too. Finally there came this dame, a real bookworm with a reputation for being a hardcase, she wanted my picture too and to ask me my life story, how I got to the park, how I survived and how it felt to be the talk of the town. I answered, “I am?”

“Not the whole town,” she clarified. “But the bloggers are buzzing. Their buzzing so loud people are noticing.”

“Simon and Schuster?”

“No honey, not them, and not Jesus either if you were about to ask that next.”

“Who then?”

“People—readers.” She closed her notebook, slipped her camera away and paused. “You know, enough readers know about you, want you, and you just might get an answer the next time you knock on Old Simon’s door.”

I didn’t tell her that I had stopped knocking on downtown doors. I had stopped knocking on up town doors. I had stopped knocking on all the doors. No one was ever going to help me. I was all alone.

Then I stopped—but someone had. That guy in the car—that blogger.

If it hadn’t been for the bloggers and reviewers, the small and the tall, I’d still be in that park, or likely, I wouldn’t be anywhere. I was a one shot deal, a flare fired in the night hoping someone would see. They did and now I’m an author with my final of six books hitting shelves in thirteen days. But the bloggers haven’t forgotten about me.

Recently, beginning December 19th, Alex C. Telander devoted his blog Book Banter to a weeklong focus on me, letting me host his blog with five guest posts, on such topics as, What every Author Needs to Know to Make a Living, Traditional or Self-published, A Bit About Contracts. Those, and more, you can read here. You can also hear an interview I did with Alex back in June also on his site by going here.

This week Ritesh Kala and his book review site is also devoting a solid week to help promote the forthcoming release. This will consist of a bio on me, an intro to the series, Ritesh’s review of Theft of Swords, an interview, and finally a guest blog by me. He is also holding a Giveaway of Theft of Swords, which is open internationally and good through January 10th.

I never would have succeeded without the literary merchant marines of the interwebs, the little gossip angels with screen-burned faces, the digital bibliophiles of the brave new world.  They were the ones to take the chance, who wasted time on a man with no name.

And it would seem…they still are. 

What can I say. They knocked this author out of the park.

Thanks guys.

7 comments:

  1. A noir-ish biography of sorts. A great post Michael.

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  2. Question is, did you catch all the references?

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  3. Love the references. I had to think about a few, but I did catch myself in there.

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  4. Just want to say thanks to you and everyone who worked to get a standalone copy of Percepliquis printed. I really appreciate it.

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  5. Your welcome GC, Orbit went above and beyond with that one. Imagine a big outfit like Orbit...putting the spirit of Christmas ahead of the commercial--oh wait--that's from Miracle on 34th Street. Shrug. Same idea.

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  6. Wow! I keep saying that.
    But really, this is great. There should be a magazine somewhere that would love to print this. It's really terrific. Have you thought of that?
    Seriously! This is really good writing, I don't care whose "voice" you liken it to. It reminds me of the 'good old authors' in the good old magazines that used to be fascinating reads. And those B&W images are perfect.
    I'm sorry if I come across as a little wacky, but the emotional response to this piece was humungous!
    Thanks for putting this together. It's some of the best literature I've read in some time.

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  7. Thanks Elizabeth. I do appreciate this. I thought it was entertaining, but you never know until someone says something, so thanks.

    And if you like that, I know a fantasy series you ought to read...:D But honestly, imagine how much better I might do on something I spend more than 45 minutes on.

    And yeah, I write in a variety of styles, this is just a different one. It is nice to know people like it too.

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