Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Comrades in arms

Carrie's latest book, Kitty's House of Horrors (Kitty Norville, Book 7), is for sale! She dedicated it Mike Bateman and Daniel Abraham, "comrades in arms". Daniel's in Critical Mass - he was actually one of the first people I met in that group, and Mike was in Daniel's Clarion West Class and that's how he and I met and he's the guy I went to Denver to stay with for a while after his beautiful daughter was born. Okay, that's all convoluted. Welcome to the social circle of a writer.

Anyway, I got to see Mike and his family again over the holidays and all of us, plus Carrie, went out to eat on Saturday. Mike, Carrie, and I have been friends for nearly a decade now, and it's always wonderful to reconnect. When I first met Mike, he had a couple of sales to Asimov's (a pro market I've never cracked). Carrie had just made the cover of Talebones (another market I've never cracked). I had no sales whatsoever. All of us have progressed, and I'm sure all of us feel intense frustration at times about where we are.

Carrie's made it as high as 13th on the NYT bestseller list, and just had to switch publishers mid-series - something that's almost unheard of in the business. What's irritating about things like this is that it had nothing whatsoever to do with Carrie's writing quality (each book has sold more than the last), her professionalism, her relationship with her editor - none of the things that you think would matter. Rather, it was a whacked out turn of contract negotiation that made no legal sense. Her next books will be out from Tor, and I'm quite confident that her star will continue to rise.

Mike, the last time I saw him, said he was quitting writing, and I threatened to beat him with a shovel and then went off and cried. Comrade in arms is right. The very thought of losing him as a writer friend (though never as a friend) was painful. He and I had stayed up so many nights at cons talking about story concepts and submission woes. Every time I see him he hands me a novel he's just read that is fantastic. A lot of the best things I've ever read were recommended to me by him. As the years go by, I continue to be blown away at how his craftsmanship grows and develops and I just have to keep reminding myself that he's been at it longer than I have. Well, the good news is that he's now talking again about the frustrations of having writing he wants to do and not enough time to do it. Another of Mike's disgusting characteristics, he can write and work a story for 8-10 hours a day and make it better and better and better. Even with Carrie telling him that if she tried to do that she'd have a bunch of solitaire wins and no more words than usual, he was acting as if this were somehow inadequate. So both Carrie and I told him to shut up in as loving and supportive a way as possible. I'm not happy that he's feeling the usual writer frustrations, but I'm ecstatic that he's still writing (and you are, Mike. Your stories are developing and your skills continue to grow.)

As for me, since I first met these two, I've gone from being not even remotely published to landing my first sale in a pro market, then selling a novel to a small press, to now having parted ways with said small press and having a modest little list of short story sales. I think the novel I'm working on now will sell, but I'm not counting any chickens before they hatch here. Who knows where our careers will be when the three of us are together again? It's moments like that dinner on Saturday night, though, that I live for. These rarely make the sales come faster or the rejection letters any less cutting, but they let me know that no one need work in solitude all the time. Just, you know, 99.9% of the time (and no, that's not really an exaggeration :-)

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