Friday, June 04, 2010


If any of you local folks don't happen to have plans tonight, on this (potentially) rainy Friday night, feel free to come on down to Dreamhaven to hear my alter ego read.

The details are --

Friday, June 4, 2010 Lyda Morehouse will be reading from RESURRECTION CODE at Dreamhaven Books at 6:30 - 7:30 pm as part of the Speculations series. Dreamhaven is most recently located at 2301 East 38th Street, Minneapolis. You can find out more information at SPECULATIONS is a co-production of Dreamhaven and SF MINNESOTA, a multicultural speculative fiction organization that also sponsors DIVERSICON.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Research and Writing Place

Yesterday I should have been writing, but some friends of ours are in town. I feel moderately guilty about this, but I could feel worse, except that as part of hanging out we ended up strolling through the part of Saint Paul that I've decided is my YA heroine's neighborhood, Cathedral Hill.

The memory is a funny thing. Earlier that very day, I wrote a little scene where Ana is walking down Grand Avenue. My mental image of the place was slightly different than the real thing.

I was talking to a fellow vampire author, Fred Schepartz, (Vampire Cabbie) via email about writing about place (he was going to be on a panel at WisCON about writers who feature Madison, and he'd volunteered to read my stuff, since I was mentioned by name in the panel description.) One of the things I thought about afterward is how much the Madison of the Garnet Lacey series doesn't exist, not really -- much of it is impressions (some certainly false, or at least not 100% accurate) and the rest based on things that I remember but I know don't exist any more (businesses that have folded, moved, etc.) Yet, Fred had mentioned how much he thought I'd "nailed it."

I think that part of the reason my imagined Madison works is because, as a tourist, I fell in love with the spirit of the place. It's figuring out how to capture the feelings associated with a certain town that can be difficult. I'm really noticing that writing about Saint Paul that I'm actually finding it much MORE elusive to write about a place I know so well. It's sort of like when you're in an interview for a job and someone asks you to name five things that describe yourself. You're not sure what to say (outside of the things you think will get you the job), but if someone asked you to describe your best friend, it's a lot easier.

The outsider/tourist, I think, sometimes has a better, more accurate, less self-conscious view of place. I worry a lot less about getting things wrong about Madison, because, well, I'm clear in my acknowledgments that I can't be held responsible for the accuracy, because I'm making some of it up. But as a native to a place, I feel a lot more beholden to show the city mostly the way it is... as a kind of ambassador or something.

I don't know my point, but I think it's an interesting issue.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Reader Comment #3

Donna noted:

"I think that the problem with the Garnet series is that the books cost $15.00 dollars. If you come out with the series in a regular paperback, they would sell real good. The problem is not your books, it is the economy."

Yeah, I actually agree with you, Donna. But this another thing that authors have very little control over, and something, I'll admit I don't really understand about the publishing industry. Trade paperback books have become very fashionable. Yet, they're more expensive (for the reader, at least,) and an awkward size.

I started my career as a paperback writer. There are some cons to it from a writer's point of view. The royalty rates are lower, you earn back a smaller percentage of the lower cover price. The print runs tend to be a lot bigger, which is a double-edge sword for the writer. On one hand, it's nice to feel important enough to have 20,000 or more copies printed. But, if they don't go out the door quickly, publishers tend to get cranky because of the tax laws that require them to pay taxes on inventory in warehouses. That can lead, as it did with my science fiction series, to books going out of print only a year or so after they were published. Which, of course, means that it's nearly impossible to build up momentum on viral/word-of-mouth publicity. Libraries don't like to buy/stock them because they're easily damaged and often a pain to replace (see above re: quickly going out of print.)

But as a long time reader, I much prefer paperback novels for all the reasons they're a pain for publishers and writers. They're cheap! They fit in my purse/backpack/back pocket. They're disposable -- I don't get quite as mad if I lose one, drop it in the bathtub, loan one to a forgetful friend, etc.

Trade paperbacks, on the other hand, are likely cheaper to produce, if only because the print runs tend to be smaller (and so you avoid all those copies gathering dust in warehouses), they're slightly more durable, and, frankly, everyone gets a higher return on their investment because they cost those two or three dollars more. I think, too, that publishers keep the books in print longer because they do very small addititional print runs of a 1,000 or so copies.

But, yes, it also means people buy fewer of them because they're a weird size and that much more expensive. It's a kind of circular logic kind of problem, no?

The good news is that the first book in the Garnet Lacey series, Tall, Dark & Dead, will be coming out in mass market paperback next December from Berkley Sensation if all continues apace.