Friday, January 12, 2007


My word for the day yesterday was "thwarted." I really like that word. Its sound and feel really seem to fit the meaning. It wasn't really a bad day. It was just one of those days when lots of little annoying roadblocks seemed to spring up to keep me from doing the things I wanted to do. That's actually good writing structure, where you start with your character's goal for the scene, and then each attempt to achieve the goal is thwarted so that the character has to keep trying other things to reach the goal until finally reaching it or else changing it. (And, to be honest, I never seem to be able to do that consciously when I'm writing.)

My first thwarting came from an odd bit of correspondence. At a convention last fall, the bookseller who has a booth at most conventions asked me if I'd be going to a particular local one that's coming up. He tends to sell a lot of my books when I appear, so he wanted to be ready (and he wanted to sell books, I'm sure). I'd attended that convention a couple of years ago and, frankly, wasn't overly impressed, but I told him I'd check into it. So, I contacted the convention using the e-mail address they posted for contacting them. I was very clear in the subject line what the message was about, and mentioned in the message that it was the bookseller who suggested I get in touch with them about maybe being on some panels. I included my credentials (a series with a major publisher, plus participation in genre-related anthologies, as well as a list of places where I'd spoken). I got no response until this week, when they contacted me to say that they'd only just then found my message in their spam folder and was I still interested. I said I was. Then yesterday, they e-mailed me to say that it was really too late and all the panels were full, but that if I was attending I should say hi and they might put me on the invitation list for next year.

My response was "huh?" They made it sound like it was my fault for sending a message that went into their spam folder. But I'd been very careful to make it something that even if it did get into a spam folder (real messages get caught in mine all the time), it would be obvious from the subject line what it was about. I could understand it being my problem if the subject was something like "Hi!" And if you're trying to run an event or a business, you check the spam folder for the only contact address given out pretty regularly, or you risk missing out on stuff (I get in the neighborhood of 200 spam a day, and I check that folder every other day or so for anything obvious I've missed.). And then it's really bad PR to tell someone who was volunteering to participate at your event that it's too late when you were the one who lost the message for more than a month. I restrained the Irish temper and didn't write a response saying so, and I'm restraining the slow-burn Norse temper (boy, did I get the best of both worlds, or what?) that makes me tempted to name names and undermine their reputation in the future with everyone I encounter in the industry (PR skills can be used for good or evil). Instead, my grand plan is to become so successful and famous that in the future they will beg me to participate in their event, and I will then lose their message in my spam filter. I'm sure this year they're really going to suffer from both of my local fans not coming just to see me. (Though, to be honest, I really didn't want to do this all that badly and was only looking into it for that bookseller. I hate committing to things at this time of year because I usually just want to hibernate, especially if there's a risk that the weather could be bad. It's the principle of the thing and the rudeness and lack of professionalism that bugs me. I wouldn't have been irritated if they'd responded right away back in November to say they already had all the guests they needed. It was losing the message and then saying they couldn't work with me because they didn't get it in time that made me feel thwarted.)

So then, while I was still seething, I headed out on some errands. The main reason I went to Target was to get some Duraflame logs because of the ice storm that's supposedly on the way. It turned out that they no longer sell single logs (I know they used to because that's where I bought the one I have). You have to buy them by the case. I don't need a case and don't have room to store a case. I also didn't want to have to go to yet another store. I couldn't tell if they no longer carry single logs at all, or if this was just yet another case of the retail idiocy that declares winter over after Christmas so that their supply of winter goods starts being depleted in January, even though the worst part of winter is still coming. But in the retail world, it's spring already! And for once, the checker didn't ask me if I found everything okay, and I was even ready to say something instead of smiling and nodding. I might have if it were one of my usual favorite adult cashiers, but I doubted the teenage girl I got would care or bother to do anything.

By this time, I had a low-grade thwarted rumble on simmer, so I headed to the bookstore. I had a list of things I wanted to look for and a gift card. And would you believe, the store didn't have a single book from my list -- not even the new release featured in the B&N e-mail newsletter that had a coupon for that book? All of the books I wanted were released in the last two to three weeks, all of them were by reasonably established or prominent authors, and, as I said, one of them was even in the newsletter telling me to go buy it at their store. I looked all over the store, in multiple sections and on the front tables, which are still full of puzzle books. They also still didn't have any copies of any of my books. I'm starting to get worried about the fact that book 4 will be a January release next year. I think a paranoid e-mail to my agent may be in order.

I calmed down when I got home by straightening up my garage, putting up some shelves and moving my Christmas stuff out there. And then I wrote a chapter, but did not use the word "thwarted." Also, The Office last night totally rocked. Maybe I can fit "thwarted" into today's writing.

Now that I'm through ranting, I've got a new Out of the Blogosphere book to mention (but good luck finding it at my neighborhood bookstore. Grrrr), Jaci Burton's Surviving Demon Island.

What's America's top female action star doing on a tropical island shrouded in secrecy? To Gina Bliss, competing in a survival-type reality show is a nice change from fending off on-screen villains. Until she meets real-life action hero Derek Marks. A survival specialist in a tight black T and sexy stubble, he's arousing every bad-boy fantasy she's ever had...and testing her survival skills to the max. Martial arts, jungle warfare - Derek's done it all. But his latest mission is more dangerous than a stick of dynamite. Try telling that to the sexy, adrenaline-pumped actress who's got his libido racing off the charts. As the heat rises between them and real-life violence erupts, suddenly Derek and Gina are on the run...and when they uncover a secret so explosive it could blow the lid of their so-called reality show, these two unlikely heroes are about to discover what surviving's really about....

For info and an excerpt, visit Jaci's web site.

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