So, last week, I announced that Written Backwards/Dark Regions Press would be putting out my first book, Bones are Made to be Broken. (And here’s Michael Bailey also announcing it.) The book’s going to be a collection of previously published short stories, as well as contain three never-before-published pieces (including one piece, a novella, written especially for the collection). It was a big day, a wonderful day. The post that automatically generates on Facebook whenever I post an entry got 100+ likes–which, as we all know, is mighty impressive. Mighty.
Internally, I was all like this:
Actually, I was like that ever since October, when talk about doing a book began to look less like two friends spitballing shit at each other–you should, perhaps, ignore the visual there–and more definitive. Definitive tends to come into the room when terms like hardcover are bandied about with all seriousness.
So, y’know, happy day.
…and then what happened?
Well, my wife was happy for me. Well, happy-ish. To be fair, we’d known about the book for quite a while, so my steady this-is-awesome trumpeting does get a little old after a bit, especially since it would be roughly a year until the book–ta-dah!–showed up. Still, though, pleased. And pleased in the midst of being really ill.
Family was happy with me. My mother demanded one of the first hardcovers when they’re available. I think my father might’ve noticed. Um. My daughter was pleased, but my daughter’s always pleased with me, unless I say no to riding the dog down the stairs like an ASPCA-nightmare-fuel-sled.
Um. Shit. Isn’t this the celebratory time? The get down and party and fuck time? The make-it-rain time?
The afterglow of such a glorious, glorious (glorious) announcement is/should be/(really is) this:
(And there is a reason for this post and it’s not to take the piss out of my own accomplishment or question Michael Bailey and Chris Morey’s judgment–just wait, I’ll get there!)
The image pasted to the top is originally from Neil Gaiman, who edited Stories, an anthology, with Al Sarrantonio back in 2010. In his foreword to the stories, Gaiman wrote that the prevailing pull of all stories isn’t plot or writing or even subtext, but that tug of “…and then what happened?” It’s what keeps us moving onto the next chapter, or the next page, or the next paragraph, or the next sentence.
Too often, I see friends on social media (and 90% of my friends on social media are fellow writers or editors or publishers because, if nothing else, social media is a clique-based system and high school was right about that, at least), post “Hey, I did this [writing accomplishment]!!!!1” and everyone’s goes, “Yay! Go You! Whee!”
Fucking crickets, sir or madam.
You never hear about it again (or, depending on social media’s algorithms, you hear nothing but The Accomplishment–and where to buy The Accomplishment, usually–long after even the writer’s mother stopped caring, which is about the same as never hearing anything again; try to pick out the individual note of a drone). Life moves fast, new stories are written, old stories are trunked, and the world keeps on boogieing along. You never–or, at least, I never–hear about the process, the background, the step-by-step. I find that shit interesting. It’s why I read the story-notes to Stephen King’s and Harlan Ellison’s collections. On social media, with friends, it’s either, “Hey I did this!” and then, sometime later, either “That was awesome!” or “Well, that was pretty fucked, wasn’t it?”
But, me? I’m the guy who buys the special edition version of The Thing or The Fly not just for the movie, but for the feature-length making-of documentaries. I like process.
(That might have been a room-clearing statement….Eh, fuck it.)
Me announcing Bones are Made to be Broken was the beginning of a story.
And, then, again, this:
Because, now, the book has to be made.
Well, sorta. It’s a collection and 95% of the book is already written. But this is the beginning of the process. In the next few months, the stories need to be organized, laid out, and tweaked, if need be. I want to do little intros for the pieces because I’m that fucking precious (I am, but never mind). Dedication and acknowledgements need to be put together. An introduction needs to be written. I want to write a foreword to it because, on top of having a book of my stories, I of course want to kick-off the goddamn thing. There’s all the stuff that the editors and publishers have to do, without me being like that annoying little gnat buzzing around their head.
And then there’s getting people to notice. (And, y’know, buy the thing.)
I have a running file right now, a list of places for reviews and marketing ideas (because writing, as a business, involves marketing and it bothers the ever-loving fuck out of me when someone thinks it doesn’t, that it’s Art, with initial capitals and a lofty pronunciation of the soft-a sound, and nothing else) I think might be amenable to looking at this thing and getting this book in front of the most eyeballs as possible. I find myself wondering–while doing the dishes, walking the dog–how approachable Brian Keene is. I wonder which cons would be beneficial (and financially feasible). I run Google searches on sky-writing. You know, as you do. Most publishers with some semblance of a working system–and the Dark Regions machine does–have their own marketing strategies and what-have-you, but any damnhellassfool will tell you that the writer’s gotta get in there and get in the mix themselves.
So, after I announced (and Michael announced)…what happened?
Well, he announced that he also bought my story “The Universe Is Dying” for You, Human:
Day job. My wife was sick. Then me. Now, the bug. Fun all around. We got roughly three feet of snow in 24 hours (I was watching the news and a reporter was at Reagan National Airport–roughly an hour from me–and saying, with something like wonder, “They got eighteen inches here” and my immediate reaction wasn’t a dick joke but, instead, “Oh, you’re just adorable.”).
And, in the middle of all that, I’m writing the title novella, “Bones are Made to be Broken”, which is, as of last night, about 50% written. The writing is going easily–
–which is worrying, since I’m trying to channel the worst fear a person can have about raising a child (not death of a child, though, so, y’know, relax)–but it’s an odd situation: I know the piece is going to be in the book–in on-spec terms, it’ll be “accepted”–which, adversely, makes me that much more convinced that when I turn in the story, the editor’s going to go, “Are you out of your fucking mind? This is trash, dude.” (Well, maybe not the “dude” part.) As I was telling a friend, this comes in handy when trying to put panic and despair into the story I’m panicking and despairing over. So, you know, awesome.
Oh, and I’m writing this blog entry. Even, if my “I feckin’ LOVE process” statement before cleared the room, this feeds/satisfies my anal-retentive need to organize and catalog everything around me (don’t look at my movie case, or book cases, or CD shelving). I need to keep track of this thing, as this thing happens. This, in a perverse way, satisfies me.
Or I just like to hear myself talk.
But, seriously, how approachable is Brian Keene?
[insert pre-order plea here, for when pre-orders become a real thing.]