7 Quick Takes about epic novels, sold out conferences, book cover photos, and the horror of realizing you’re my neighbor
The 2014 Edel Gathering is officially sold out! We were 75% sold out within the first couple of hours of ticket sales, so we worked with the Omni to reconfigure the rooms to fit more people, and now those extra spots are gone too. We’ve set up a waiting list if you’d like to be alerted if tickets become available. Also, we hope to make this an annual thing, so if you couldn’t make it this time, we’ll see you at another one!
For those of you who are coming: I cannot wait to meet you in person. Only 160 more days!
One of the best moments of the IF Gathering last weekend is that I finally got to meet Heather of the Extraordinary Ordinary. I’ve been following her blog for years, and she is every bit as sweet and charming in person as she seems to be in her writing.
Somehow I missed the fact that she moved to the area, and she hadn’t put it together that this is where I live. We smiled and hugged in delight when we realized that we not only live in the same metropolitan area, but right in the same part of town. And then it dawned on her.
I wish I had a video of the horrified look that slowly made its way across her face as she asked: “Wait. Where you live now…that isn’t the house that’s…?”
“Full of scorpions?” I finished for her, knowing by the look on her face what she was thinking. “Yes. Same house.”
She was speechless for a moment, and I am certain that she was mentally scrolling through every post she has ever seen on this blog about scorpions, and letting it sink in that she now lives just a short drive away from where they all took place.
We were spared from the snow-pocalypse that hit you guys out east, which is probably a good thing since this is how my kids dress when it’s 60 degrees (15° C):
I spend enough time staring at those surprise copies of my book that I think it’s technically a hobby at this point. Unfortunately I can’t quite get a picture that captures how good it looks in person, but trust me when I say that it is gorgeous.
Funny story about the bio shot for the back flap:
Back in August, Joe and I were at El Monumento to meet a good friend of his from high school, but there was a mix-up where his friend ended up at the wrong place and forgot his cell phone. To pass the time while we waited, we decided to snap a few pictures. Joe ended up using one of the shots I took of him for his bio on his lawyer site, and I used one of the shots for the header here on the blog, and now for the back cover of the book. We never did catch his friend that evening, although we rescheduled for another time.
Who would have thought that our random iPhone photos we took to pass the time would have ended up being so significant to us? (I should take the book in to El Monumento and ask if they’ll give me a free meal for featuring that tree with the white Christmas lights so prominently in my book.)
My current read is Shogun, which I bought because people on Twitter said I should. I’m about 1,000 pages in and have 8,000 more to go, and I’m really enjoying it so far!
It made me realize that I tend to gravitate to epics, which is surprising since I’m not much of a fiction reader. I can be annoyingly impatient with the genre, yet some of my favorite books of all time are The Long Ships, Gates of Fire, and now probably Shogun, all of which are enormous.
Because I am both a writing nerd and a reading nerd, I have spent a lot of time analyzing why this is. Here’s my top theory:
Long books are hard to sell. Readers will overlook minor writing flaws for 220 pages, but not for 600. So in order for an epic book to be well known and remain popular for many years, the writing has to be close to flawless: vivid, believable characters; a plot that is engrossing and moves quickly; compelling theme; etc.
I’m going to test this theory by checking out other epics, which probably means that I’ll read about two books this year.
Lisa-Jo introduced me to the free Voxer app, and I already don’t know how I lived without it. It’s basically verbal texting: you hold down a button walkie-talkie style, and it immediately sends it. Hallie and I have found it to be indispensable as we work on the Edel Gathering.
For example, I found out that our old ticket vendor wasn’t going to work when it was too late to call Hallie, so I was able to Vox her a message that said, “Hey, you know the ticket place that our entire event launch is centered around? The one that you spent two hours setting up and getting everything just right? It’s not going to work, so we need to find a new one. What a wonderful challenge and exciting exercise in trust this will be to solve this problem in the less than 36 hours before tickets go on sale!”
She got the message before I woke up the next morning, and couldn’t type because she had her hands full getting breakfast ready, so she was able to send a verbal reply saying, “What joyous news that we will be able to undertake this challenge! I got a solid three hours of sleep last night, so I relish the opportunity to peacefully and prayerfully tackle this situation.”
Okay, those, umm, may or may not have been our exact words. But the point is that Voxer is awesome.
Here’s the perfect video to start your weekend: a group of ordinary women get their own magazine cover photo shoots, complete with air brushing. The best part is their reactions. If you’re a woman, you must watch this.
Happy Valentine’s Day!