Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A Signature Dilemma

I thought I was prepared to be an author.

I've done the research, I have prepared witty answers to all the popular questions (Where do you get your ideas from? When is your next book coming out? Is this character based on me? Where do you get your ideas from? How does the book end? Will there be sequels? Where do you get your ideas from? and so on) I've steeled myself for the slings and arrows of cruel reviewers (so far, not so cruel!) And I've practiced my signature and limbered up my signing hand. I am so ready. Fame and fortune, here I come!

Or so I thought. There are pitfalls that I was not expecting. Pitfall number one? The personalized inscription. How hard could that be, you ask? Good question, Dear Reader, good question. I was unprepared for the pressure that little space on the first page of my novel could bring. Friends, customers, family, all grinning madly at me as they slide my own book towards me. 'Write something clever,' they say. Or 'write something witty, I know how good you are at this.' Or my personal favorite, 'Just write something I'll love!' Something clever, witty, and good that they'll love. And personalized, of course. And different from whatever clever, witty, good and personalized thing I wrote in the last book a few minutes ago. The pressure gets to me after the first fifty or sixty inscriptions. I'm running out of clever and I'm running out fast.

Please don't misunderstand; I'm incredibly flattered and pleased that people enjoy my writing and that they expect me to be clever, witty, and so forth! It's all good, and I really love signing and inscribing my books for people. I just wish I were better at it! Now whenever anyone comes at me with one of my books, panic sets in. What if this inscription isn't as good as the last one? What if I start to repeat myself? What if everyone I've signed a book for gets together and compares notes? Inevitably, my brain seizes up and I totally blank out. So I'm holding a pen in my hand and I'm staring at that first page and it's tiny little space for inscriptions. Someone who likes me and/or my book is standing right there, smiling at me, waiting and I'm drawing a complete blank.

'To whom shall I make this out?' I ask to stall for time.

'I'm your mother; make it out to me,' replies my mother.

That stall didn't work so well.

The line of smiling people stretches out endlessly behind my mother, all of them holding copies of my book, all of them expecting something original and funny and warm and personal. Or so it goes in my nightmare anyway. I am not ready for this.

There are worse problems to have.

Meanwhile my life continues to amuse and distract me. If all goes well, tonight will see the first session of a new role playing game campaign. We're trying a Cthulhu thing this time around, so I have failure, insanity, and death to look forward to. No really, it's going to be a good time. Trust me, I'm an author.

I've been playing a board game called Stronghold lately. It's a great fantasy board game where one player controls an enormous invasion force of orcs, goblins, and trolls trying to overwhelm a walled city full of good and noble human soldiers. Stronghold has a sort of a tower defense vibe with the human player desperately trying to decide where to spend limited resources as the hordes of bad guys hurl themselves at the walls. The defender has to choose which walls to shore up, whether to invest in boiling oil, better trained soldiers, or a host of other options including praying for some truly impressive miracles. The attacker has a slightly randomized selection of options and the difficult choice of throwing bodies at a single wall section or spreading it around in hopes of overwhelming the defender. So far I'm slightly better at defending than assaulting, which is kind of a shame because my heart will always be with any side that can field trolls.

On the book front, I'm enjoying the heck out of Stephen Hunt's 'The Court of the Air.' Hunt has crafted a complicated political intrigue adventure in a fantastical steam punk universe that doesn't forget to offer up plenty of punk alongside the steam.

In the world of comics, I'm liking the new Action Comics, Justice League Dark, Secret Avengers, and Dungeons & Dragons. I'm also re-reading the classic (and all too short) run of Chase and the recent run of post-Annihilation Nova. I've loved the human rocket ever since his first appearance back in 1976. So yeah, I'm a fanboy.

And now it's time for me to read some classic pulp science fiction to get excited for my next interactive novel. It isn't always easy being me, but it sure is fun! Happy Merry Chrismahannakwanziyulikka everybody!

December 20, 2011
Chelmsford, MA

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Zero Content Theater

So it's been a while since I've posted here.

When I do something I shouldn't do (which is often) or don't do something I should have done (even more often) there are reasons and there are excuses. We're all familiar with excuses. The dog ate my homework, I'm a little behind at work, I got massively drunk and spent the day hung over ... all perfectly reasonable and understandable excuses for why Stuff Doesn't Get Done (tm and patent pending). Excuses rarely impress anyone, perhaps it's because they actually are so very reasonable and understandable. In real life (a place I prefer to avoid) when things don't get done it's often for really bizarre and unbelievable reasons. My homework stack was so tall it fell over on my dog and I had to drive him to the emergency veterinarian, there was a flood/fire/electrical explosion leading to a fire and a flood at work, and so forth. These are reasons, but they make lousy excuses. And for the record, I have no dog, but if I did, he or she would be fine so please don't worry. And there hasn't been a fire, flood, or electrical explosion at my store in weeks; I'm just being rhetorical and stuff here.

My point - and I do have a point around here somewhere (more or less) - is that I haven't been keeping up with the blog thing and I'm hoping that a little bit of artful whimsy will distract all of you lovely people from that sad and glaring fact. How am I doing so far? That bad, huh?

It isn't as if there hasn't been plenty of Stuff Going On (tm and patent pending) the big shipment of Monday and the Murdered Man books has arrived, completing two-thirds of the literary hat trick (hard covers are still in process) and making me a very happy author, indeed. Things have been hopping at my game store, 3 Trolls Games & Puzzles, and my partners and I are hip-deep in preparation for the big finish of our Firefly-themed Live Action game Serendipity Station.

So why haven't I taken the hour or so out of my busy day to keep you, Dear Reader, up to speed on All Things Andy in my uniquely (and allegedly) entertaining fashion? Have I been hard at work on reviewing Once Upon a Time in Tombstone? No. Have I been overwhelmed with the logistical details of first-time publishing? Well, a little bit, yes, but not enough to account for all my time. Have I been laboring in the literary coal mines of the next Monday book? Again, yes, but also again, not all the time.

The answer is that I have no answer. No reasons and not even an excuse. Life just gets away from me sometimes. And you know what? That's okay as far as I'm concerned. I give myself permission to blow a few deadlines now and then. It's good for me stress-levels.

Not too often, I promise.

You'll be hearing from me again soon and next time with actual content!


December 14, 2011