Friday night thoughts on this and that.

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Well it’s been a whirlwind of an autumn for me, though you wouldn’t know it was autumn in the tiny metropolis of Saskatoon because we have a foot and a half of snow on the ground. You know, I think I haven’t thanked enough people for all the good wishes since POLTERGEEKS hit bookstores last month. So, here are some thanks I want to send out:

1) To bloggers – thanks for reading and reviewing my book. Even if you didn’t like it, thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. I can’t tell you how insightful I’ve found all the reviews and it gives me pause to consider how I might possibly write better. (I’m still learning as I go, even at the ripe old age of 45.)

2) To fellow Strange Chemistry Books author Ann Rought who listens to me vent. Thanks, Ann. You are awesome as always. (And please, do read her forthcoming BROKEN. Trust me. It’s bittersweet, haunting and a wonderful book.)

3) To fellow Strange Chemistry Books author Kim Curran who I met in London and who attended two signings alongside me. We also had lunch and talked our faces off! She wrote SHIFT. Did I mention it should be a movie?

4) To fellow Strange Chemistry Books author Gwenda Bond who just received AMAZING INCREDIBLE AWESOME EPIC NEWS!! I am so excited for you Gwenda – congrats!!

5) To my better half Cheryl who came to London with me and has been a massive support as I try to make a go of this writing gig. None of what I do would be possible without you. It just wouldn’t.

6) To those really nice people who send me an email every now and again telling me how much they loved POLTERGEEKS. Thank you! That’s the fuel that keeps a writer going.

7) To my agent Jenny Savill l who I finally met when I visited London last month and whose faith in me as an author knows no bounds. That’s a fresh tank of writer fuel with every email and she’s just started submitting a book that I really hope sells because I could write books featuring that protagonist until I’m old and grey. Thanks, Jenny!

8) To fellow ANA author Keren David who took time out of her busy schedule to attend my book launch party. I was fairly star struck when I met Keren for I am absolutely in love with her first two books WHEN I WAS JOE and ALMOST TRUE. I believe I was actually gushing over her like a sad and pathetic fanboy. I’m about to start reading ANOTHER LIFE.

9) To my agent’s former assistant and now FULL BLOWN LITERARY AGENT Ella Kahn. She came to my events in London and has been another constant source of support for me as POLTERGEEKS wound its way through the submission process. I just can’t say enough about Ella but I will offer this much – she’s gonna kick ass as an agent. Just you watch.

10) And finally, to my editor Amanda Rutter. She gets my writing. I think she actually gets my writing better than I do. Amanda has been awesome throughout the year. She bloody well NAILED the cover art for POLTERGEEKS and she’s got so much energy and enthusiasm for YA that it’s infectious. So thank you Amanda, for everything this fall. (Because I can be a pain in the ass and she’s too nice to kick me in the nads when I need it, I think.) Oh, and she bought me a Tardis cookie jar for my Bday. How cool is that? Now … I wonder if she likes zombies, teenagers, machine guns and a bad dude named Sunray. Time will tell, methinks.

11) To Maggie and Laura and Connie at the old day job. Huge fans of my writing. Wildly enthusiastic. You guys rock … end of story.

So there you go … a top 11 thanks for people who mean more to me than I probably tell them. Believe it or not, I do consider myself to be living in a bit of a dream world since I finally managed to get published after years and years and years of trying. My head is filled with stories to tell and I hope to tell them. I’ve been crazy productive over the past three years in particular and I think it might be due to the fact that I’ve hit middle age at about eighty miles an hour and I want to make something of myself before my son puts me in a home.  It is a great privilege to have been able to get four books out there. To have found an agent. To have found an awesome publisher in Strange Chemistry and everyone at Angry Robot Books.

As for me? Well I have to complete revisions on a project that I hope one day finds its way to a bookstore near you. Then I am going to start a very ambitious project that has nothing at all to do with zombies, ghosts, witches and magic. Stay tuned for updates as I get started.

Thanks everyone! Happy Friday! Go Norwich City!!!

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The Internet’s Book Buying Utility

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Robert McCrum has written a very interesting piece about the transformation of publishing – from paper to e-ink.  I kind of agree with him when he writes:

When cultural historians eventually come to describe the years 1990 to 2012, they will be hard put to resist phrases such as “paradigm shift”, “literary upheaval”, and “IT revolution”. No question: my generation has seen a transformation in the world of letters unequaled since the days of Gutenberg. What’s more, it has happened at warp speed.

And here we are at the end of 2012. We’ve seen the dominance of Amazon morph into that of God-like status – they are truly masters of all they survey and that’s why Penguin and Random House merged. Another super colossus to challenge the titan or at least give the appearance of doing so. We’ve seen yet another book phenomenon in the 50 Shades series and self-published work this year is probably far higher than last year. McCrum, I think, sees e-book explosion as an opportunity for writers and maybe he’s right. But damn, if you take on the role of publisher and promoter of your own work, even with the multitude of social networking tools available online these days it’s still a gambler’s game that you’ll meet with any kind of success given the sheer volume of other authors doing the same thing.

And you still have to write books while you’re trying to promote your existing stuff. Then there’s the issue of getting your message out to the majority of readers (and they are the majority of readers) who don’t blog, don’t tweet, may not use Facebook. I’m not saying this is the market that will buy in a brick and mortar book store because those are closing up shop all over the place and the big chains like Chapters/Indigo are turning into gift shops that happen to sell books.  They might well be shopping online for a book, so the question comes to mind: how are they going to find your book amid the millions of other books out there?

Where are they going to shop for that book. If Penguin/Random House thinks that folks are going to shop on a new Random Penguin Super Website, why would a reader do that when they can simply just “Amazon it”. See what I’ve just done here? I’ve said “Amazon it”. Just as Google wiped cyberspace clean of the multitude of search engines in the early 2000’s bringing the term “Google It” into our day-to-day use, my sense is that for book lovers, Amazon is doing the same thing. So I’m going to throw out an idea that has been bubbling away in my head over the last few weeks since I came back from my trip to London: Google is the primary search engine online. It’s the Internet’s “utility” now.

I think that 2012 is the year Amazon because the Internet’s utility for book buying and I base this on a very unscientific observation: I actually hear people saying “Oh, I’ll look that one up on Amazon” now. See? Someone recommends a book – you say, “I’ll look it up on Amazon.”

I’ve heard this kind of statement a lot this year. I hear it in Saskatoon where I live. I’ve heard it in the United States and in England. I see it being written on Facebook or better still, there’s a link to the book from a friend. I see it on Twitter.

Very simply, Amazon is now Google … for books. At least from the public consciousness perspective.

I think the publishing houses are too late to come up with something to counter Amazon. And it’s not just books because just as you can search for anything on Google, you can search for anything to buy on Amazon. Everything from socks to binders to books to DVD’s to flat screen televisions.

Think about that as you think about where you’re buying books or where you intend to buy this coming holiday season. Even Google Books hasn’t developed anything to counter Amazon – they were late to the party. Same thing with iTunes.

I don’t believe anyone is going to catch them, either.

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The Next Big Thing

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Guess what? I’m taking part in The Next Big Thing – a cool book promotion meme started up by http://wendyloveday.blogspot.co.ukI’ve been tagged by Sara Grant, author of the wonderfully creepy DARK PARTIES. So here goes!

What is the working title of your book?

THE NORTH – that’s probably going to change.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

My love affair with all things zombie. There hasn’t been a lot of zombie stuff written for teens so I thought to take a shot at it.

What genre does your book fall under?

YA apocalypse – is that a genre? If not then dark fantasy or fantasy/horror.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

No actors of any familiarity come to mind and really, I think it would be pretty cool to use just plain old teenagers for added realism.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

It’s six months after the end of all things and a group of teen militia break out of a zombie infested city in a pair of armored personnel carriers.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Agent

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Thirty days, believe it or not. I wrote the first draft during NaNoWriMo 2011!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Zom-B by Darren Shan … but that’s as far as I would go. The zombies are not the main antagonists in my story. Someone else is pulling the strings. 🙂

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I wouldn’t say a specific person inspired me. Nor would I say that an event did either. It was just an interesting premise that I thought to experiment with and it turned out to be a thriller of a story. Everything in this story happens within thirty six hours.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I think the mere fact there are no adults. It’s really a story of a fifteen year old kid who has been put into a command position within his militia unit because all the grown ups are dead. He has his eight year old sister with him and it’s truly about my protagonist fighting to save his sister’s life. He rationalizes that if he can save her then he can save himself so there’s a very strong element of familial responsibility. It’s a story that is horrifically violent, too. Possibly more violent than what readers of YA are used to.

 

Next up? Deadtown series author Nancy Holzner!

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My picks for the ideal Canadian bookshelf

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The National Post, one of Canada’s two national newspapers is running a contest … I think. It’s called the ideal Canadian bookshelf. From the link:

Over the next, we’re asking readers to send us a list of five books — non-fiction, poetry, fiction, children’s books — that they think deserve a spot on our national bookshelf. (Note: The authors must be Canadian). We’ll compile the votes, then turn the results over to Mount, whose painting — and the winners — will be revealed next month.

Not sure what the winners will win, I’m hoping it’s a natural gas barbecue.  I doubt the winners will be Canadian sci-fi/fantasy because, well, we don’t do that in national newspapers in Canada.  Here’s my list for what it’s worth.

1) Wake – Robert J. Sawyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blood Price – Tanya Huff


 

 

 

 

Dime Store Magic – Kelley Armstrong

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunburst – Phyllis Gotlieb

Stealing Home – Hayden Trenholm

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Donations for Hurricane Sandy Relief

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If you haven’t been moved by the images pouring out of New York, New Jersey and all the areas hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, spend some time looking at the pictures of the devastation. The local Red Cross chapters in the areas affected need your help ASAP. Please click below and give something to help out!

I’m giving away five epub copies of my book POLTERGEEKS to the first five people who donate. Send me an email to info AT sean DASH cummings DOT ca. Okay? Go! (I’m out of print copies for giveaways). AND I’m gonna sweeten the pot. If those donations are more than $100, I’m going to give five signed copies of my book SHADE FRIGHT (print, yay!) and five signed copies of my book FUNERAL PALLOR. (print, double yay!)

Any other authors out there who want to stimulate the donations by giving away some free reads, you can get this widget for your website or blog here.

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