Hi, all! [Waves]
I’m back from my long weekend at World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, Ohio, and wanted to say hello, apologize for not commenting on the posts from late last week, and give a quick report on the convention before I get back to my manuscript.
For those who don’t know about World Fantasy Convention (WFC), it is the largest convention for professionals and aspiring writers in the speculative fiction universe. It isn’t your typical fan-oriented convention. There are no costumes, no media events or gaming rooms or movie screenings. The dealers’ room is populated almost entirely by booksellers, and the panels tend to be almost academic in their focus. I was on two panels this weekend, one on turning books into screenplays, the other on the continued viability of epic fantasy in today’s market — fairly typical of discussion topics, though other panels dealt with everything from critical theory to the influence of comic books on fantasy literature. Mostly, the convention is known as a place to network, an event that draws professional writers, editors, agents, and publishers to a single venue. Membership is usually capped at around 700 or 800, to keep the convention from becoming too crowded. Most of the networking takes place in the hotel bar, which was packed almost constantly beginning at 4:00pm Thursday.
I had a great weekend, with the notable exception of a bit of professional bad news that I’ll share with you in a moment. I met members several of our Magical Word community who I had previously known only as names attached to comments under our posts. [Waves again.] I saw a few of our regular and semi-regular guest contributors (Lucienne Diver, who is also my agent, Joshua Palmatier, Blake Charleton) and spent time with friends who I hadn’t seen in some time, many of whom I hope will post here soon. I had productive meetings with Lucienne and my editor at Tor, and got to spend some time with a couple of other editors with whom I hope to work in the future. I met a student I had been working with for more than a year but had never met in person, and also got to spend time with his advisor and her husband, both accomplished writers in their own right. I saw my friends from Calgary and a couple of folks I knew from my time in Australia, and met several great people for the first time. I even got to have lunch with a dear friend from high school and her husband.
As always, spending the weekend surrounded by professionals in my field left me feeling energized and excited about the work I’m doing, and the projects that are percolating in the back of my mind. At the same time, it also motivated me to work harder than I have been. There are so many talented young writers in this business, and while I don’t see them as “competition” I do know that as a middle-aged, mid-list author, I can’t afford to rest on my meager laurels. If I want to continue to publish and thrive, I have to work even harder than I have been. And that’s especially true because my career is about to have something of an unexpected hiatus. (This is the small bit of bad news I mentioned earlier.) Due to circumstances entirely beyond my control, the publication date for the first Thieftaker book has been pushed back to early 2012. I don’t yet know whether it will be coming out in February or March or April, but it won’t be in the summer or fall of 2011, as I had originally thought. I’m disappointed, even a bit annoyed. I’ve been publishing for 14 years now, and I think I’ve only had two or maybe three years in that time without an original release. It now seems that 2011 will be my fourth such year. This is a small matter really — as I say, an annoyance more than anything else. But I’m eager to see the book in print and I begrudge the extra wait.
I’m determined, though, to make the most of the coming year. No, I won’t have a new book out. But I will have the paperback release of The Dark-Eyes’ War in February or March 2011. And I have other projects to work on. I’ll be finishing the second Thieftaker book this month. I’ll have revisions to do on both Thieftaker volumes in the early part of 2011. Late in the year, I’ll begin what I hope will be a major publicity push for that first Thieftaker release. And I plan to work on other projects during 2011. I have an urban fantasy to rewrite and get contracted; a middle-reader book to complete and get contracted; a short story to write with my good and immensely patient friend, Stuart Jaffe;another urban fantasy (connected to the first) bouncing around in my head that I want to get written; ideas for two more Thieftaker books that I want to outline and get contracted; and a novella idea for the Thieftaker universe that I want to write and use to generate interest in the coming series.
In short, I feel that I’ve been dealt a small setback, and I want to harness my frustration and turn it into motivation for something powerful. Motivation can come from all different places, but ultimately it derives from within. In past years I might have allowed a little thing like the delay of a book slow me down. Not anymore. And I think I have all of you to thank for this. Magical Words inspires me — my fellow writers, and also those of you who comment. I’ve always lamented not having a writing group, but in a way this community is the next best thing for me. I feel like I have people rooting me on, but also watching to make sure that I don’t slack off. Butt in chair. Do the work.
So, thanks. I’m sorry that I didn’t get to see more of you this weekend (Ed Schubert, I’m looking at you…) but I will see you in the coming year. That’s another thing I have planned — conventions in North Carolina and a couple of other places. And for those who are interested, World Fantasy Convention 2011 is in San Diego next fall. I plan to be there.David B. Coe