Jamie Ford's Blog
March 24, 2015
I just realized that I've had this blog-thing for ten years. That's kinda crazy, especially when you consider that I set up shop a few years before I ever finished, let alone SOLD a book. If you're curious what I was blathering on about in the dark ages, here ya go.
Nowadays, blogs are somewhat passe, especially with the ubiquity of social media (I'm looking at you Facebook). It seems that most of my online interactivity occurs in other venues, and interestingly enough, it's voiced in different ways. Sooooo...with that in mind, here's a thought-map of where I am, and what I'm up to.
Facebook - For those that want to friend me (please do!), I post about my current work-in-progress, travel (personal and book events) and also the regular things normal people post--like my kids' concerts, shoes that my dogs have mangled, and adventures of the Books & Brews Book Club.
Facebook/AuthorPage - Yes, I have an author page. Authors are recommended to do this since a normal FB account maxes out at 5,000 friends, but these so-called fan pages allow for unlimited followers. On my author page I tend to post more authorly things (surprise), like book tour info, tips for writers, and generally stuff germane to readers, book clubs, bookstores, and librarians.
Twitter - I love Twitter. Not sure why. Probably has something to do with my short attention span. On Twitter I tend to post humorous stuff, but also things with an activist bent. Twitter is so immediate and hashtags work so well that it's really the perfect venue to voice opinions on current events. Also, with a limit of 140 characters no one can go bananapants with some political screed. Less, indeed, is more.
Instagram - I'm a believer that IG is best used as a window, not a mirror, so you won't find a gazillion selfies, nor photos of Starbucks cups. Instead it's just weird, "Day-in-the-life" stuff. Enjoy.
Google+ - This is total mystery to me. By that I mean, I have 250,000 followers on G+. THAT'S INSANE, especially when you consider I have about 8,000 Twitter followers and 2,500 Facebook friends. What gives, Google? And there's hardly any activity, but since I have so many followers I feel like I should post something, so this tends to by my own personal click-hole where I post cool links.
I'm also on LinkedIn with a resume that goes all the way back to my paper route in the 6th grade, and I'm on Goodreads, but I don't do much on either venue, though this blog is aggregated to both places.
Which brings me to the big ol' WHAT WILL YOU BE USING THIS VENUE FOR?
I think this blog will become my home for long-winded responses to things in the author world. Stuff comes up that needs a full-explanation, like last year's spat between Hachette and Amazon, or a recent talk given at a major writers conference were authors were discouraged from voiceing opinions (I couldn't disagree more). That kind of thing. But also book updates, travel news, yada yada yada.
Speaking of, I really need to pack for Seattle. Emerald City Comic Con, here I come.
March 18, 2015
[image error]Yes, every author is also a part-time fashion criminal. Hence, the Batman jammies. A lot of people wonder what it is that I do after completing a new book. Do I pour some scotch and smoke a single cigarette? Do I slice the neck of a bottle of Dom with a ceremonial broadsword (that would be kinda cool, actually). Do I run naked through my neighborhood screaming, “SUCK IT, FRANZEN!”?
None of the above.
What I actually do…wait for it…is clean my office.
I know. It’s all about the sexy up here in Bittersweet Productions.
Well, I do that for two reasons:
My office is usually a neglected animal warren by the time I drag myself across the finish line of a new novel.
I’m not really done yet.
Basically, I don’t celebrate anything until my editor gives the book her Papal blessing. Then I kinda celebrate, but it’s more like relief. But the work doesn’t really end, because at that point we start editing. Then copyediting. Then proofing. Then cover design. Then the riot of small things that go along with launching a book: questionnaires about the book for PR. Cover copy. Blurb requests (begging). Catalog copy. Submissions to foreign editors with notes, videos, thoughts, ideas.
And then before I have a moment to really reflect on this book, this 10 lb. baby that I’ve given birth to sideways (my wife is a Labor & Deliver nurse by the way, who always reminds me whenever I use that metaphor that one, that’s not physically possible, and B, I don’t have a uterus) my agent will ask, “whatcha working on now?”
Because with the ever-changing literary landscape (with eBooks, yo) I only do one-book deals. So she’s quick to point out that I should get under contract again.
So it’s DANCE, MONKEY DANCE all over again.
Which I’m happy to do. I have a LOT of ideas. Plus, if I ever run out, people always email me and say, “I have this great story about the time the police stole my bicycle.”
Okay, enough of this blogging nonsense. I’ve got work to do.
March 6, 2015
As I'm winding down the new book, I'm winding up a bit of book travel, including a panel on diversity at Emerald City Comic Con, the latest stage adaptation of HOTEL at the CATS theater in Nevada City (directed by Annie Lareau), and even a high school commencement speech
(God help us all).
See you soon!
Literary Lions Gala
Black Tie Optional
Emerald City ComicCon
Washington Convention Ctr
Southern KY Book Fest
Knicely Conf. Center
Bowling Green, KY
Nevada City, CA
IHC Humanities Lecture
Twin Falls, ID
Talk & Signing
Great Falls High
Great Falls, ID
January 26, 2015
Photo by Sarah Deutsche. A week ago I was in East Texas for the 15th Annual Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend, which is for authors, sort of like Coachella meets Burning Man with a little bit of Elvis thrown in for good measure.
In other words, you kinda have to be there to understand it.
Now they number 600 affiliated book clubs all over the world. They wear tiaras, leopard print everything, and a LOT of pink!
And once a year they gather in Texas for a book love explosion of author panels, keynote talks, dancing, and costumes galore. (Oh, and Dreamworks Entertainment has optioned Kathy's life story for a movie!)
This year's theme was Around the World with Books so I went as a steampunked Phileas Fogg. This was my fourth year and I've learned that you can't overdo it when it comes to costumes. These ladies go all out. And I was also honored to be co-hosting, which meant I got to do a lot of the interviewing instead of being the interviewee, which was exhausting, exhilarating, and an all-around good time.
Plus, it's always nice to meet other authors, make new friends, and spend time with fellow travelers on this weird, magical writing journey. I got to rub elbows with a Pulitzer winner (Bill Dedman), a Nobel Prize finalist (Pat Montandon), and one of the ghost-writers for the Hardy Boys (Joe Holley).
Last, but not least, I was gobsmacked to learn that Songs of Willow Frost had been voted Fiction Book of the Year! Somewhere William and Willow are celebrating.
For more amazing portraits from this years event, clickety click here.
January 8, 2015
Catch me in Shreveport next Weds where I'll be giving an artist talk at the ArtSpace.Hey, it's me, the absentee landlord of this here blog. I tend not to travel for book events in November and December, so those are always my most productive months, and this past year has been no exception. I'm thiiiiisss close to finishing the new book. (Still searching for a title). If all goes well I'll be wrapping up the ending this month.
What is it about, you ask? Well, all I'm going to say is that if HOTEL was heartwarming, WILLOW was heartbreaking, the new book is designed to be heartmelting. (Leesha's description, not mine).
In the meantime, it's a new year, which means a smattering of new travel starting next week where I'll be at the ArtSpace in Shreveport and co-hosting the 15th Annual Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend in East Texas. Imagine Coachella for book groups with a smattering of Burning Man meets Elvis and you're kinda there.
Off to edit. Pack. Pick up my steampunk outfit from the dry cleaners. The usual.
Oh, and Happy New Year!
November 27, 2014
(This appeared in 2009. But it's one of my favorite Thanksgiving memories, so I thought I'd share it again).
My father ran a restaurant—a small, unassuming diner kind of place, with a smoky bar attached. While my friends’ fathers were engineers, physicists, and pipe-fitters, men with college degrees, journeyman cards, or at least fancy titles, my dad breaded chops. He wasn’t working on his Masters on the side and wasn’t in line for any kind of promotion, ever. And to be painfully honest, as a selfish, myopic teenager, I was often embarrassed.
I felt like the Chinese version of “Toula” in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Growing up, on any given Saturday I’d doff my stained apron, go home and shower, then head to some junior high dance wondering if I still smelled of frying oil.
Much to my chagrin, birthday dinners were always held “at the restaurant,” and why not? That’s where my dad was, because he never stopped working. It was the only way he could be there. My friends loved it. Instead of eating delivery pizza, they could order anything off the menu and have the run of the place. How cool is that? Not very, I’d mutter. Gawd, I was a brat.
So when my father announced that he’d be leaving the restaurant open on Thanksgiving, I was mortified. Not only would this mean I’d have to work, (because he was giving everyone else the day off), but who on Earth would want to come to our trivial mom & pop shop on such a festive holiday? We didn’t offer a prime rib on silver chargers, or hollandaise covered anything. Today’s teenager would have begun cutting himself in angst, but it was merely the 80s, so instead I grumped, I slumped, I down-in-the-dumped.
I rolled my eyes and slogged through a haze of holiday drudgery, as my mom strung lights in the bar and set up a fake tree that had seen one too many Christmases, while my dad stayed up all night baking pies and stuffing turkeys.
In the morning, I washed dishes, set tables—the usual—certain that we’d spend the day in our empty place of business, with nothing but the hollow, mocking, I told you so songs, playing on the jukebox.
I imagined my friends enjoying their Norman Rockwell families and their postcard-perfect tables of Betty Crocker greatness. And secretly wondered if I’d been adopted, robbed of my rightful destiny with some normal family.
I mentioned something to my father about the banks being closed, a sarcastic nod to the cash register, which sat empty and unmanned.
“No need,” He said.
“What do you mean, no need?” I was the one always running to get more one-dollar bills or rolls of quarters to make change.
“No charge today. It’s Thanksgiving.”
The good thing was: I was certain no one would show up, the bad thing was: I was certain my dad had lost his mind. Why? Because he’d invited all of our regular customers, who I had envisioned politely declining the kindly offer, much preferring their own families, their own traditions, to slumming around with us.
So when the first little old man wandered in, I assumed he was lost and looking for directions. Instead my dad took his hat, found him a seat and poured a glass of wine. Then an elderly woman showed up and gave my dad a hug. Then two rough looking kids in their 20s who once worked for my dad when “they got out.” Then a retired cop. A bus driver. A carload of little old, canasta-playing ladies. Some brought desserts. Others brought eggnog with 7-11 price tags, or dollar-store boxes of candy canes. In all, more than 75 people showed up. All of them regulars—the men who appeared like clockwork, after work, and nursed lonely drinks at the bar. The walker-bound lady who came by cab from a retirement home, who had more money than friends, who ate the same meal week after week, because she had no place else to go.
They ate, drank and sang (loudly!), watched football and played cribbage in the bar.
And when we ran out of turkey, my dad fried hamburgers. On any other day, I would have been mortified. Embarrassed. Humiliated. Instead I cut French fries. Grateful for my family—for my dad’s stumpy, leathery, blue-collar hands, with scars from kitchen knives and frequent burns.
Late into the evening, we finally locked the doors. After sweeping up broken plates, scrapping grills, wiping counters, washing dishes, reveling in the glorious mess.
We finally went home, exhausted, leaving the Christmas lights on.
Here's wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving.
November 19, 2014
Hmmm...seeing as how I just personalized a ginormous stack of books that lovely readers had sent in for holiday gifts, it's only fitting that I let THE GREAT BIG WORLD KNOW, that--yes, I'm always happy to personalize books for whatever occasion. Christmas? YES! Hanukkah? INDEED! Feast of Elvis? WHY NOT? Bring it on!
So if you'd like to buy personalized books for the readers on your holiday shopping lists, please email my studious assistant, taskmaster, and all around majordomo: firstname.lastname@example.org. She'll make it happen.
Also, if you're in the Seattle area you should check out the Seattle 7 Writers' Annual Holiday Bookfest at the Phinney Neighborhood Center on November 22. Twenty-eight authors, all in one place, with a portion of their book sales going to 826 Seattle.
Happy holidays. Be good. Santa and the NSA are watching.
October 22, 2014
But in the meantime, I was asked to read a little something at Bedtime Stories in Spokane last week. Soooooo...I came up with WISH YOU WERE HERE AT THE BOTTOM OF A WELL, a bit of a ghost story based on the true disappearance of industrialist F. Lewis Clark.
Happy All Hallows Eve!
October 20, 2014
Howdy pardner, I'll be winding down four weeks of travel with a quick stop in Seattle for this year's Lit Crawl (I'll be at the Hugo house, reading for exactly seven minutes).
And then I'll be in Billings for the High Plains Book Festival.
I'll be enjoying Friday's big gala event and then doing my thing on Saturday. Also, Songs of Willow Frost is up for an award (but remember, no wagering).