Post Book Fair Bits and Bites

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Pop Seagull was at the Toronto International Book Fair this weekend! We invaded the Metro Toronto Convention Centre with hundreds of other book-related professionals, including Anne Rice, Kathy Reichs and Chris Hadfield. It was an overwhelmingly positive weekend, and I had a great time meeting all of the wonderful book lovers who came out.

I must say that this was the best organized big event that I’ve ever been to, and despite the fairly high price tag to attend, I will be going back. TIBF offers a great value for money, both for vendors and attendees. Who can argue with $15 to attend for the weekend? I also had the most wonderful, transcendent fries ever to grace this planet.

Another thing to come out of the book fair experience is a new product for Pop Seagull… buttons! A couple of years ago, I had buttons made as a promotional item that bore our company colours and slogan: “Sleep is temporary, reading is forever”. There were only about six of them to begin with, but after the fair, I’m down to the last one, and we got so many comments! So, starting with our next appearance at the Memorial School Christmas Bazaar on the 6th of December, we’ll be selling slogan buttons in three colours! Show your reader pride, and introduce new people to Pop Seagull at the same time!

I’ll have pics as soon as we get them in. I can’t wait to show them to you all!

 

Love, Time, Space, Magic is Officially Closed to Submissions

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I just wanted to put out a quick announcement to update status on Love, Time, Space, Magic for those who have submitted.

We have officially closed to submissions, but not all acceptances have been sent yet. We’re just reading through the last of the submissions, so if you have sent us something and not heard back, rest assured that we will get back to you with an answer. There are still a few slots left and everyone will get a fair shot!

If you have been accepted and are waiting for your contract, those are on the way too. The Distant Early Warning launch took up all the time for a couple of weeks, but things are back on track now and hopefully soon we’ll be heading into the editing phase.

I want to thank everyone who submitted. I didn’t know what to expect in the way of interest when I put out the call, and I was overwhelmed in a very positive way by all of the support that has been expressed for my anthology. I appreciate your time, and the faith you have placed in my company, and I really hope that you decide to stick around and see the final product no matter what.

I also wanted to take a moment and update on the Robotica anthology. We’re currently going full-tilt on LTSM, and will be for a while, so we’re considering changing formats slightly with the submissions and reading them all at once, in March. This would enable us to make a better decision with regards to curation and looking at the works as a whole, and avoid bottlenecks in the production process. The only drawback is that it would mean a longer wait time for people who have submitted. If we decide to go this way, I hope people decide to sit tight (and we do allow simultaneous submissions, so why not), but of course, if it will be a problem for you, please email me and let me know. This idea is not set in stone yet, though. I will be making a concrete announcement in the next few days about what’s happening.

Thanks, everyone! It’s been so much fun reading all of your work, and the quality was really good overall. Feel proud, people! You’re doing great.

I’ve only just recovered from the fun at #GenreCon…

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Seriously, just this minute. I’ve been re-charging my batteries for like, three days.

Wow, what a fun time, guys! Thank you all so much for showing up, and live-tweeting, and putting stuff up on social media all over the place. We have the best friends and fans (and fan friends) ever! Pop Seagull owes this amazing weekend and all our success to you, and the great people at GenreCon that made this happen. I genuinely enjoyed getting to know all the GenreCon folks even better this year, and I’m looking forward to helping any way I can with the event. (Spoiler alert: Next year might involve a non-stop party room.)

Now it’s time to wrap up some loose ends. Unfortunately, because I had a packed schedule throughout the weekend and was short-staffed, the dog name contest never got adjudicated. I will be referring to an impartial judge (my husband and illustrator, who knows exactly none of y’all for the most part) and getting the results out by Monday. Depending on who wins, we’ll figure out how to get the prize to you.

And to my awesome panel peeps, thanks for making my weekend full of conversation and chances to talk about the obscure stuff that makes my world go round. You rock.

3 Good Reasons to Party With Us at #GenreCon

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We’re now less than a week away from our big launch party weekend at GenreCon, at the Guelph Holiday Inn, so I thought I’d pop online in the midst of all the check-listing and last-minute prep to provide a few more incentives to come see us this coming weekend, for all the fence-sitters out there.

1) This may seem obvious, but we’ve got food! And prizes! We’re giving away a free, signed copy of Distant Early Warning, and we’re going to have an abundance of tasty, trail food inspired snacks. You won’t believe what I’ve gone and done with jerky… seriously!

2) Coming to the launch party is a great way to make new friends, and it’s also a great way to check out the book before you buy. I’ll be doing a reading, and we’ll have excerpts from the book playing all through the party on the con suite TV. If you’re of a more professional turn of mind, it’s also a great way to meet other authors and editors, who may or may not be currently reading for anthologies, wink wink.

3) And finally, the biggest reason to attend the launch party is that we’re offering a one-time unique experience that no Pop Seagull fan is going to want to miss out on… an exclusive screening of the leica reel for the upcoming, animated Distant Early Warning trailer! For those of you not familiar with animation terminology, a leica reel is an edited-together version of the storyboards for a piece of animation, with a preliminary soundtrack patched in. It is used to give the production crew (and in this case, our fans) an idea of what the finished film will look like. This reel is not going to be released to the internet, it is not going to be shown publicly again, and it offers an exciting sneak peek into what we’re working on, and what the book holds in store for readers.

We’d love to share all this with you on Friday, October 17th, from 7-9 pm, but you’ve got to come out to experience it! Taking the party door-to-door is a bit complicated for us right now, seeing as Pop Seagull hasn’t quite landed that party bus. Give it time, though…

Interview: Felicia Dennigan

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As a writer, it is my pleasure to bring the reading public opportunities to experience things that they would never have been able to access otherwise. In that ‘spirit’, our guest here today is just one of the unique interviewees that you’ll find here, and only here, on the Pop Seagull Blog. I reached across time and space to talk to the one, the only, Felicia “Denny” Dennigan, star of the upcoming book, Distant Early Warning. Denny is quite the elusive character, since she hails from, well, the future. I think I’ll let her take it from here.

Elizabeth Hirst: So, Denny, you’ve come a long way to be here. Tell me about what it’s like to live in your time and place.

Denny: Honestly? It’s total crap a lot of the time. There’s way too much water and rain everywhere, and a lot of stuff is broken down and badly maintained. I remember a time before the super storms, and the flooding, when people had way more tech and everybody drove cars… but that was when I was really little, and even then, I think we knew it couldn’t last. I’m from a place along the border called St. Catharines. Liz, I think you grew up there too, didn’t you?

EH: Yep. It’s got… character.

D: Well, you complain about it now, but try living in my time. We’ve got refugees, beggars everywhere, and only a select few people ever get the kinds of jobs that they want. I was lucky enough to have a teaching job for a while, but I had to give that up after some… major life upheavals. The Screamers threw things badly out of whack for a lot of people.

EH: Tell me about the Screamers. I don’t think anybody from our time and place has ever experienced anything like one, barring a really bad drug experience.

D: There’s still a lot of fear and disbelief surrounding the Screamers here too… but they’re no legend. Society lost our special effects capabilities a long time ago. I don’t know if anything I say can really fully capture them, but I’ll give it a shot. Picture an animated corpse. Let your imagination run wild with the gruesomeness of the injury, and the state of decay. Now picture it on fire… but it’s not normal fire either. It can be green, or blue, or red… any colour you can think of, and blinding. Sometimes they have smoke, or ribbons of mist reaching out from them. Now that you’ve got the visuals in your head, picture the harshest, most dissonant heavy metal song you’ve ever heard in your life, so loud that you can’t tune it out, and mixed with a bit of brake squeal, earthquake and dog whistle. These things come out all night up North. It’s no wonder people were going crazy and doing awful things. I feel sorry for the people up there. They had no choice but to come down south, and there was nothing to support them when they got there. My friend, Mrs. Mandrake, who lived in my old backyard…

EH: Whoa, hold on a second. You weren’t kidding about it being a different world out there! I think you’ve set the scene pretty vividly for our readers, so maybe we should get a little more personal at this point and talk about your Dad. What kind of relationship did you guys have?

D: Wow… you’d think this would get easier to talk about over time, but it’s still pretty fresh for me. My Dad was my world. For the longest time, I felt like we had each other, and we didn’t really need anybody else. I’m pretty sure nobody would understand him like I did anyway. We were our own brand of crazy, he and I, a legacy that I carry forward proudly. (Laughs) I think if the Dennigan family had a crest, it would have a big ol’ cracked pot in the middle of it, front and centre!

EH: Like all of us, he had a darker side, though, didn’t he?

D: Dad didn’t have an easy life. There was tension in his home as a kid, and he had to make some pretty hard choices at a young age. He didn’t always make the right ones. He did all right, though, until my step-sister Kendall died in a car accident while he was driving. After that, he just kind of fell apart. He had PTSD, and he found it hard to stay in one place for very long. People he met in his travels just saw a shabby guy, a bum with mental problems, but nobody who really knew him could think that. He was sweet, and funny, and always supported me when he could. That’s why, when he went missing, and his dog, Geoff, showed up at my house alone, I knew I had to do whatever it took to bring him back. Even after I saw him on TV as a Screamer, and I knew he was dead… I just couldn’t let him suffer like that after everything he’d been through.

EH: So you risked everything. You packed up, and took off, and ran after him to try and solve not only the mystery of his death, but the mystery of the Screamers themselves. How did that make you feel?

D: I was equal parts terrified, determined, and certain that he would have done the same for me, if he’d been able. There was also this weird lawless feeling, like I’d just cast off all the moorings of the civilized world, and I didn’t know any of the rules anymore. I think just about everybody has a map of where they think their life should go, and mine kind of got blown away in a gale of supernatural disaster. I’m still making it up as I go along at this point, but I’ll never regret making that first leap into the unknown.

EH: What do you hope people will get out of reading your story?

D: I know it sounds corny, but a lot of my story is about coming to terms with yourself. I think, looking back, that the most important thing I learned through everything that happened is that you can’t run from the parts of yourself that you don’t like, or that scare you. They’re still a part of you, and will follow you wherever you go. Repressed memories and personality traits are the real ghosts, because they never really die. I also learned that you can’t run away from other people forever, either. People need other people. We need help, and somebody to open up to. I mean, Geoff is a great guy, but I’ve learned that we all need people as well as pets around us to really thrive.

EH: What do you say to the people who think this interview is a book spoiler because we’ve just proven you don’t die at the end?

D: Give me a break. Having a viewpoint protagonist die at the end is so pretentious.

Thanks, Denny! And, if you’d like to read the rest of her harrowing tale of survival, we’re now accepting pre-orders on iBooks and Kobo.

Pre-orders… seriously this time! I have links!

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As you may remember, a couple of days ago, pre-orders were delayed in a rather sucky manner. Well, no more! We are now officially open for pre-orders on Kobo store and iBooks. Here are the direct links.

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/distant-early-warning

https://itunes.apple.com/no/book/distant-early-warning/id923066990?mt=11

Everyone who contacted me about pre-order corrections has already been personally contacted, as promised.

 

Freebie time!

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You may notice that we’ve added a free samples page to our top bar.

In the past, we’ve relied on our Smashwords page to provide our reading samples, but with the influx of new viewers to the blog, and Distant Early Warning due out in a couple of weeks, I thought it would be a good idea to start a sample chapters page here. More samples will be coming later, when I’ve had a chance to catch my breath from all the launch prep, but for now, please enjoy a haunting tale of the Screamers from Distant Early Warning.

We’re offering a downloadable PDF for those who can access them. For everyone else, I’ve copy-pasted the text into the body of the page.

Enjoy, my friends!

Correction for Pre-order Customers

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Well, I’m sure you all know how it is sometimes when you get excited and don’t read the fine print.

We’ve had a few concerned pre-order customers writing us to tell us that the pre-orders don’t seem to be processing on Smashwords. I looked into this issue right away and discovered that this is true.

Apparently, Smashwords doesn’t offer pre-orders on the main site, but on its big affiliates, like iBooks, Kobo and Barnes and Noble. So, that means that the process will be delayed a few days while my book filters into the Smashwords premium catalogue and out to its affiliates.

If you are one of the amazing folks who tried to pre-order on Smashwords and couldn’t get through, first of all, I’m sorry. This is our first time doing pre-orders, and we’re still learning as we go along. And I want to say a big thank-you to the fans who alerted us to this issue so we could respond in a timely manner. Big hugs, you guys!

If you tried to pre-order and I haven’t heard from you, please contact me at lizmclean (dot) artist (at) gmail (dot) com or comment here and I will personally notify you as soon as the preorders become available.

Indie publishing is a continuous learning process, but as long as we keep improving with every new release, and learning from the bumps in the road, we’ll only get better and better, together.

Pre-Orders for Distant Early Warning Now Open!

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So, judging by my posts, you might get the impression that I’m a little excited about the upcoming Distant Early Warning release. You might be right.

The physical books are making their debut at GenreCon, in Guelph, but just because you’re far away doesn’t mean you can’t join in the fun. You can get your copy of Distant Early Warning nailed down even earlier, by pre-ordering a copy on Smashwords!

What’s even cooler is that we’ve got a sample of the new book up on Smashwords for your viewing pleasure, and it’s different than the one that we’re posting here. Smashwords also offers all major formats of ebook, including PDF and HTML.

Buying the Smashwords pre-order edition of the book is by far the easiest and most economical way to try out the book, and pre-orders really help us to spread the word. So, if you’ve been wondering what Pop Seagull is all about, now might be a good time to give us a try.

 

Some very good ideas on indie publishing, reviews and publicity

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With all the hubbub lately about Distant Early Warning, I thought I’d make a post that’s a little more general, and give everyone a breath of fresh air. Rest assured, the new book is coming along swimmingly, and more updates, interviews and info are in the making.

I was browsing the SF Canada email list yesterday, and I was linked to a very interesting article by an independent editor. Here it is for those of you who would like to read it yourselves.

The thesis statement, in brief, is this: Mainstream reviewers and major news outlets should work toward devoting half of their review space to new and previously unknown works. Finding these works in the immense pile of indies is not difficult for seasoned editors and reviewers, who know within pages whether or not a work is worthwhile, and it would bring a much-needed breath of fresh air to big publishing, and in some ways take over for the new ideas that editors had to drop after the death of the mid-list. The reviews would not have to be long or involved, but even merely flagging a book for curious readers could spark a success for a deserving indie author. This could be something assigned to interns or slush readers.

I like this suggestion for a number of reasons. First of all, it does not devolve into griping about the role of the editor or the state of major publishing houses. At this point, those companies are in the clutches of major corporations, and have about as much chance of returning to the old system as a five year old has of returning to the womb. It’s not the fault of any individual within that system that books have started to take less risks. The corporations are just trying to make safe bets, which is what corporations do.

Instead, the author suggests that reviewers use some of their space to highlight the excellent work that is being done by many indies, in a way that (hopefully) won’t threaten the big guys that purchase advertising space. If this idea were implemented, indies would have a solid avenue of advancement and a place in the establishment, when at the moment our position is shaky and subject to change depending on a million different factors that are difficult to define. I have shared this article, and I hope you do too, if the argument strikes a chord with you.

On a more personal note, this article touches on why I made the difficult decision to change my focus from mainstream commercial success to an indie publishing business. For some, it is not a choice, but the only option to get their work seen, but I had been working professionally as a writer for the gaming industry for quite some time before taking this route. I chose to do this, because all my life, I have been fascinated by artistic daring. I have gravitated towards the discovery of the new, the work that asks more of its readers, and the dramatically different. Wherever the discovery of such works is going on, I want to be there… on the cutting edge. I want to forge a business where we all help to push each other into the light, where talented, unorthodox individuals can work together to make stuff like reviews, and recognition, and discovery happen.

But in order for that to happen, we need more good ideas like the one above.

 

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