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Ooh, Awkward…

• Would folks be interested in a discussion post for The Mermaid’s Madness [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy]?

• While at ConClave, Al Bogdan did an impromptu video session of Merrie Haskell and I interviewing one another. I can’t watch, ’cause I cringe to see myself on camera, but I had a good time chatting with Merrie. Interview is posted here.


I stopped by the local B&N today to sign stock, and as I was browsing the shelves, it struck me how many of these authors I’ve come to know either in person or online.  Wonderful people, (well, mostly wonderful), and I wish I had the time to keep up with all the great books they’re putting out.

But every once in a while, I’m reading a friend’s book and I find myself unable to get into the story.  I have to force myself to turn the pages, and soon I’m reading out of guilt and looking forward to the end for the sole reason that it frees me to read something different.  (Note to Jennifer and Lisa, since both of you know I’ve been reading your stuff lately: I’m not talking about you here.)

If the author is a stranger, it’s easy to toss the book aside.  But if it’s someone I know, even just from chatting online … yeah.   Awkward.  Uncomfortable.  Serious Oh-God-please-don’t-ask-me-what-I-thought-of-your-book moments.

Since Mermaid just came out, I figured this was a good time to say to anyone who’s as neurotic as I am about this stuff … it’s okay.  I don’t expect everyone who hangs out and chats here to be rabid fans of my books.  Some of you have never read my stuff, and that’s okay.  Others have, and weren’t impressed.  That’s okay too.

Any author who expects everyone to love their work is a damn fool.  Mermaid has been out for little more than a week, and already I’ve read comments calling it the perfect book and others calling it a disappointment. C’est la vie.

I obviously want people to enjoy the books I write, and I’m delighted when they do.  I do hope, if you like the blog, that you might check out a sample chapter or try one of my stories, but I don’t expect it.

I’m grateful to everyone who’s picked up one of my books and given a still-relatively-new author a shot.  If they turned you into a goblin or princess fan, that’s awesome.  But if you found my writing wasn’t to your liking, no worries.  We’re still cool.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


( 60 comments — Leave a comment )
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Oct. 15th, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC)
Hopefully not rabid (yet - can you get it from cats?) fan here.
Discussion post? Yes, please, I have questions.
Oct. 15th, 2009 01:39 pm (UTC)
Cats are mammals, so I'd have to say yes. Have they had their shots? :-)

Cool, and thanks! If I'm going to post a discussion, it will probably be tomorrow or Friday at the latest. Partly because I'm eager to hear what folks think, and partly because hey, maybe it will encourage a few more people to head out and buy now rather than waiting :-)
Oct. 15th, 2009 01:39 pm (UTC)
As I quoted earlier this month: "Hope your friends will buy your book. Never assume they will read it."

And yeah... I have dear friends whose work I find unreadable. And people I hate whom I love their words-on-page. Unless we're in a crit group together, or they've specifically asked my opinion while they were working on it, I keep my mouth shut unless I have something absolutely glowing to say.

(that said, because we're all neurotic, we're all immediately assuming it's US he's talking about, even if we haven't had a book out in years, or it's barely hitting the shelves...)
Oct. 15th, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC)
Good advice. And I haven't had a chance to pick up Flesh & Fire yet, though it's high on my wishlist. You're safe :-)
Oct. 15th, 2009 01:42 pm (UTC)
Bananas. ^_^

Sometimes, you have to be in the mood for a particualr genre in order to read, too.

Of course, for writing... heh. I've gone through several phases, and they're cyclic. Still settling in, I guess, just like the stray kitten trapped behind the stove. Anyway, one of the cycles is trying to write each chapter as a sustained short story.

Yea, I've run across some interesting writing "advice" over the years.....
Oct. 15th, 2009 01:46 pm (UTC)
Yep. Heck, I've even heard rumors of people who don't like random nose-picking goblin mayhem! I'm shocked by this, of course...

I definitely agree that the writing process evolves. I've actually been changing my chapter structure a bit myself with the third and fourth princess books (mostly in terms of length). I figure if you stop trying new things, what's the point?
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Oct. 15th, 2009 01:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Oct. 15th, 2009 02:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - suricattus - Oct. 15th, 2009 02:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Oct. 15th, 2009 03:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Oct. 15th, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - georgmi - Oct. 15th, 2009 03:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Oct. 15th, 2009 06:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - georgmi - Oct. 15th, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Oct. 15th, 2009 07:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 15th, 2009 02:02 pm (UTC)
As a wise person once said, "Show me a writer whose work is loved by everyone who reads it and I'll show you a writer with a VERY small audience." :)
Oct. 15th, 2009 02:06 pm (UTC)
Yep. I was actually kind of pleased to see a wider range of reviews when Stepsister came out, since it suggested I was reaching a broader audience.
(no subject) - asakiyume - Oct. 15th, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 15th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC)
I'm going to finally get a voice to match to the writing. Thanks for the link, Jim!

Speaking of rabid fans, I saw that Zombie Raccoons and Killer Bunnies anthology at the local independent bookstore on Monday. That cover is still cheesy...

Delightfully so, IMHO.

Oct. 15th, 2009 02:08 pm (UTC)
I only managed to watch the first few minutes. I don't mind speaking in front of crowds or cameras, but don't make me listen to myself...

ETA: Also, I believe I'm contractually obligated to thwap you for that "rabid" joke. ::Thwap::

Edited at 2009-10-15 02:10 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - mtlawson - Oct. 15th, 2009 02:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 15th, 2009 02:06 pm (UTC)
Aww, this was very sweet of you to say. I read people's LJs because I'm interested in what they say on LJ. I started reading yours before I had read any of your long stuff, although I had read and enjoyed your goblin story in Coyote Wild--but what got me wanting to read your journal was your comments on other people's journals, and coming here, I discovered you had lots of interesting things to say, and you encourage interesting discussions. And your contest ideas are very entertaining ^_^

Meanwhile, I read and enjoyed the The Stepsister Scheme and **really** loved "Kitemaster" ^_^ So that's a lucky bonus, from my perspective--not only do I like your blog, I like your books and stories as well.
Oct. 15th, 2009 02:09 pm (UTC)
It *is* nice when it works out that way :-) You know, I can't decide whether it's more uncomfortable to love someone in person but dislike their work, or to love their work and discover you despise them as a human being.

And thank you!
(no subject) - asakiyume - Oct. 15th, 2009 02:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mtlawson - Oct. 15th, 2009 02:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 15th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
No objections whatsoever, and thank you! That really was my thinking back in 1995. My friend was writing stories, and it didn't look too difficult, so what the heck, right? Yeah...

Merrie's fun, and I actually enjoyed the totally random back-and-forth we had going.
Oct. 15th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
I try to pick up as many books as I can by authors on my friends list. I like to support them. I hope one day, I'll be published and they'll support me, too. :)

Generally, I've already heard a lot about the books ahead of time from reading their blogs. Sometimes, I'm unable to get a book when it first comes out, and I've read reviews or raves from other people first.

Recently, I've run into several books that people raved over that I just couldn't finish. I tried--honestly tried-to read them, but I can't find that spark that others find in them. So, I'm really glad to hear you say you run into the same problem at times, too.

Mostly, I love the books I pick up, and I always try to let the author know when I do. I know how very hard they've worked, how much of their heart they've poured into their novel.

And, I'd love to see a The Mermaid's Madness discussion post.

Edited at 2009-10-15 02:30 pm (UTC)
Oct. 15th, 2009 02:41 pm (UTC)
Yep. Sometimes I can read the book and appreciate that this is brilliantly done, but still not like it. But occasionally I'm just left thinking "Why did someone publish this again?" or at least why is it getting such raves?

And on behalf of all authors who love hearing from happy readers, thank you :-)
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 15th, 2009 02:35 pm (UTC)
Bring it on. Just give me a few minutes to finish modding my Nerf armaments here for greater range :-)
Oct. 15th, 2009 02:35 pm (UTC)
I have this particular form of anxiety a great deal.

A big part of it is that I *know* what I am doing is not going to be hugely popular, which is why I elected to self-publish and get it out to its prospective fanbase in a one-on-one fashion. I've already had at least one person get cold feet with it and admit it simply wasn't that interesting to them.

Someone else once put it this way: "Other people's tastes are not your job." There's nothing you can do to make them like you, so stick with pleasing a few people a bit of the time.
Oct. 15th, 2009 02:38 pm (UTC)
And I also plan to make time for your samples as well. :D I probably owe it to you by now given how much babbling I've done here.
(no subject) - jimhines - Oct. 15th, 2009 02:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 15th, 2009 02:51 pm (UTC)
I'm on chapter 3 of Goblin's Quest, and so far I'm liking it a lot :)
Oct. 15th, 2009 03:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Very glad to hear it!
Oct. 15th, 2009 03:33 pm (UTC)
I remember the first time I met a big name author (my brother lived at her house for awhile, it's sort of commune-ish) and when shaking her hand the thought that kept circling through my head was, "I hated all but one of your books" over and over...I felt terrible *grin*

For what it's worth, I'm enjoying Mermaid's Madness a great deal. It's a much more tightly focused book than Stepsister (which was fun too, don't get me wrong!) and I almost walked into a bicyclist reading on my way in to work this morning ;-)
Oct. 15th, 2009 04:55 pm (UTC)
I think that goes along with the lines of something Captain Jack Sparrow said. Misquoted on purpose.

"You must be the most aweful writer I've ever read."
"Ah, but you have read me."
(no subject) - jimhines - Oct. 15th, 2009 05:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - georgmi - Oct. 15th, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 15th, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC)
Put my vote in for a discussion thread, please. I finished Chapter 8 this morning, and I have a comment or two. :)

As for people not liking one's work, I have found in my photography that I would far rather have knowledgeable and actionable criticism than bland, clueless praise. I learn a lot more from "this is crap, and here is why" than, "oh, that's pretty!" (I am mostly to the point where criticism is, "This could be better, and here is how", but I only got there by starting with crap.)

Also, I've been in software testing for sixteen years now, where the whole point is to find as many problems as possible in order to make the final product as good as it can be, so my expectations on the criticism front are possibly atypical.
Oct. 15th, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)
Constructive criticism can certainly be useful. I think a lot depends on where the feedback is coming from, too. If I give a story to another writer, I usually get some pretty helpful criticism. Whereas browsing the Amazon reviews is less likely to give me anything useful.

But then, I don't think the purpose of reviews is to help the writer. A good review will usually have stuff I can take away and use, though.
(no subject) - georgmi - Oct. 15th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 15th, 2009 04:55 pm (UTC)
What would a Mermaid's Madness Discussion be like? Would it have spoilers? 'Cuz I'm still reading it.
Oct. 15th, 2009 05:01 pm (UTC)
The post itself would just be a regular blog post saying "Hey, come talk about Mermaid!" But there would be spoilers in the comments.

How far along are you? I'm figuring on doing this tomorrow or Friday...
(no subject) - margaret_y - Oct. 15th, 2009 05:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 15th, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)
One of my favorite online/email writer pals wrote a first book that I considered to be one of the best fantasies ever written. I shouted it from the rooftops (and still do). His second one, however, was a horror--and I absolutely hated it. Felt terrible. C'est la vie. But two completely different kinds of books. What can you do?

BTW--Loved the Step-sister Scheme and hope to catch up on the goblin books when I've gotten some of my current TBR pile done.
Oct. 16th, 2009 01:49 pm (UTC)
I think it's part of the risk of writing different things. I'm all for trying new things, but it means that even as you're pulling in brand new fans, you're probably going to lose others, at least for this book.

Also, thank you! :-)
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Jim C. Hines


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