Archive for November, 2007

I’m ahead of my time, but only by a week*

By | November 28, 2007 | 2 Comments

I’m probably the worst blogger evah, since every time I think to myself I should update the blog with brilliancy or I should give the Good People of the world a reason to remember that I wrote a book so they may slowly be worn down into purchasing it, I fire up the browser, surf here. . .and then stare blankly at the screen. Brilliance, it turns out, is hard. Hell, I’d settle for minor amusement, if brilliance turns out to not be in my DNA. Which I suspect it may not be.

Part of my trouble is that I am always slightly behind the curve when it comes to any type of culture. Recently I was asked to come up with a list of my favorite books of 2007, which was nice. The problem is that I buy most of my books from used bookstores, pawing through the dusty shelves. Nothing beats coming home triumphantly with a stack of acid-eaten paperbacks clutched in your booze-shaky hands, my friends—but it does mean that most of the books I’m reading are, at best, 2-5 years out of date. At worst I’m reading a forgotten thriller from 1961 that’s been out of print for 40 years.

It’s the same story with just about everything: I’m watching TV shows from 5 years ago, I don’t get around to movies until 1-2 years after they’ve come out (unless it’s a romantic comedy, in which case I’m there at 10AM on a Sunday with my wife The Duchess, who commands me to shut up, pretend to enjoy it, and get her some damn popcorn before she strikes me, and then I’m talking to friends and saying ridiculous things like “Well, Enchanted wasn’t all bad.”) The popular music situation is almost embarrassing; contrary to some people’s beliefs I think there’s a lot of really good music out there, I just don’t find it until at least six months after the wave has swept the nation, you know? Though, thanks to Travis Barker I have heard of “Soulja Boy”, and now wish I had not.

I’m not sure this is a bad thing, entirely. Sure, it means half my witty comments stolen from TV shows are from Simpsons eps that aired in 2003, which means I spend a lot of time standing alone at parties, but it also means that a lot of crap gets filtered out of the air before it reaches my precious, delicate ears and eyeballs. By the time I hear about something, that something has legs, my friends.

Then again, no one is paying me to be Jeff Somers, trend-setter. Or even trend-follower. in fact, now that I think about it, no one is paying me at all, which is shocking.

*From “I Don’t Know” by Too Much Joy, the best rock band evah who never had more than a few thousand fans nationwide at any time. Appropriately, they broke up in like 1999.

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Kindling

By | November 23, 2007 | 6 Comments

Well, what’ya know: The Electric Church is available for Amazon’s Kindle. I had no idea.

I think the Kindle is a loser, personally. I think all e-readers are losers. Granted, I’m an old fogey who was raised on books, but frankly I think the book is simply a near-perfect information delivery system and won’t be replaced. Certainly not by some clunky, DRM’d piece of crap like the Kindle, which doesn’t let you loan books to friends and won’t take a dunking in the bath very well. Sure, you can keyword-search it, but, well. . .who cares?

The other day I wanted to recall a bit of Victorian slang I’d read in The Great Train Robbery  by Crichton. Good book. For my own obscure reasons I wanted to remember this slang, so I picked up the battered hardback copy I’d bought from a library a few years ago and started reading. I flipped around until something seemed vaguely familiar and on-target, and spent half an hour pleasantly re-reading parts of the book until I found what I was looking for.

Sure, I could have searched on the text for two minutes and found exactly what I needed, but shit, that would not have been nearly so fun. So screw searchable text. I won’t miss it.

Some people think e-readers might actually kill books someday. It’s possible that if kids start getting their information exclusively from e-readers some day they’ll never know how grand a physical book can be, and boom! There go books. But that doesn’t address the fact that books, so far, deliver the information in a more efficient, flexible, and affordable way. They never stop working, require pretty much incineration to become unusable, and also happen to be beautiful physical objects, unlike your e-readers which are hideous blobs of carbon. Plus, you own a book in the old-fashioned sense. You can lend it, give it away, doodle your name on page 69 and use it to balance your kitchen table when it rocks annoyingly. It’s yours.

I like that. Someday I will build a small fort in my living room out of my books, and live there until my wife loses patience.

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ZINES!

By | November 15, 2007 | 1 Comments

Today I posted a little column on my zine’s web site about putting out a paper zine instead of—or as well as—a Blog. I’ve been writing columns on that site for years now. I used to have a number of other columnists, but they’ve all fled for one reason or another—usually after I’ve drunkenly threatened them with bodily harm. This is quickly followed by postcards from foreign lands advising me to lose their cell phone numbers and eventually, of course, the restraining order. Every now and then one of them still sends me a new entry, but for the most part it’s just me now. I started the columns to try and give people a reason to come by every now and then; no one comes back to a static web site, after all. This was before Blogs were so, well, everywhere.

When I first started, I actually posted a new column every two weeks, but that’s long gone now. These days a couple of postings a year is the best I can do. I am not the young dynamo I once was.

Sometimes it seems like Zines are the product of a bygone era, that no one knows what the hell I mean when I say that I publish a zine—or they picture 1995 and imagine me with long hair, flannel shirts, and ripped jeans. The flannel is sadly still accurate, but in my defense I was wearing ripped flannel shirts when I was 14—is it a crime to have the same fashion sense as your adolescent self? If so, color me guilty. Other times I see a lot of zines from teenagers which indicate that the idea of putting out a paper publication yourself is not exactly dead. And I still get plenty of zines in the mail, so the subculture keeps going, whether I notice or not. Which is shocking, since I generally require the universe to alert me to all changes so I can approve or veto.

A lot of people have told me they expected me to stop publishing the zine once I started getting paid to write. I can understand why—my zine takes up a lot of my time, and it actually costs me money to produce, whereas the novels and stories and columns—while they also take up my time—actually pay me. But the zine is too much fun, so I doubt I’ll ever stop it, unless the State of New Jersey orders me to under the Patriot Act. As to why I keep putting out a paper zine in this Blog Era, well, for that you can go read the actual column, can’t ya?

For more info on Zines in general, you can go to Broken Pencil’s web site, or Zine World’s web site, or the charming Zine Wiki. Or a dozen other places. Or heck, email me and I’ll tell you more than you want to know about zines, bubba.

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God Bless the Local Press

By | November 11, 2007 | 14 Comments

News from Jersey and Ohio:

First–yesterday I picked up a copy of our proud local newspaper, The Hoboken ReporterHudson Reporter and Handsome Bastard, and lo and behold, there’s an extended story on, you guessed it, Your Humble Author. Because I am the hotness.

I was interviewed by none other than Caren Lissner, Editor-in-Chief and also a popular author in her own right, which means Caren knows a thing or two about the writing business and asked me some really interesting questions about the business of being an author, and also let me ramble on quite a bit about various things the way I often do. It’s really a very nice piece and if you live in this area you should pick up a copy and then tell me how much of a nerd I sound like.

This was good timing because ever since World Fantasy Con I’ve been sitting here dozing at my desk wondering how to keep up momentum. Promoting a book is a marathon, not a sprint, and I often wonder how in the world you keep the universe interested in your novel, aside from wandering the earth with a copy in your backpack and stopping at every diner and bar and reading a bowel-shaking snippet of action-packed prose, and then having some handy order forms ready to take orders.

I don’t think the piece is on their web site yet; if they ever post it I’ll let y’all know. [UPDATE: Posted.]

Second: The Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s John R. Alden wrote a really nice review of The Electric Church:

“”The Electric Church” proves once again that, at least in the world of books, being bad can be a whole lot of fun.”

So there you go–today I am dominating the local press of the world. Don’t let the efforts of these fine folks go to waste! Buy another copy today!

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Mysteries

By | November 10, 2007 | 3 Comments

My agent made me join the Mystery Writer’s of America. Well, “made” is a strong term, I guess. She suggested it and I’ve learned to do whatever the woman says or to pay the consequences, which are always terrible. So I joined.

People keep telling me that The Electric Church is as much a thriller as it is a Sci Fi book, and I guess they’re right—the story is, in some ways, similar to old detective novels from Chandler and Hammett. Note I am not comparing myself to those writers, who are much better than me. But there’s a certain spirit shared there, I think, so I guess it makes sense.

I like to think of this like being double-board certified: Jeffrey Somers, S.F.W.A., M.W.A.

Plus, each organization has a lot of cocktail parties each year you get invited to, which right there makes it well worth the membership fees, you ask me.

In other news, I’ve had a sudden glut of people asking me to sign books and ship them to them, which is flattering. One guy in England is having me sign 12! I always feel a little bit of pressure to be witty when I sign books. Maybe you don’t feel pressure because you’re naturally witty all the time, but that ain’t the way I roll, baby–wit is always a struggle for me. I usually fall back on one or more of the following standard Somers “jokes”:

1. Pantslessness

2. Drunkenness

3. Ignorance

Sometimes I can roll all three into a spectacular meta-joke that only I comprehend. It’s great to watch the face of someone who’s asked me to sign a book collapse into a sort of frozen mask of worry because they can’t decide if they should be pissed off at my inscription, or disturbed.

Think on that if you’re considering asking me to sign a book, bubba.

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Quimbys, and then the World!

By | November 5, 2007 | 4 Comments

Two quick notes:

QUIMBYS WILL CRUSH YOU1. The fantastic bastards at Quimby’s, our beloved Chitown bookstore, have stocked The Electric Church on their hallowed shelves. I did a reading at Quimby’s a few years ago during the first incarnation of the Big-Assed Famous Tour, 2002, and it remains a fond memory. This is one of the coolest bookstores left in this sad world. Every time you’re in a big-box store and thinking it totally kind of depresses you, think about taking a pilgrimage to Quimby’s, my friends, and refresh your soul.

2. My publisher has just informed me that we’ve sold Italian rights to The Electric Church. We sold Russian rights some time ago, so my Reign of Terror marches on, unopposed. These translations should be easy, as all you have to do is come up with the Italian or Russian equivalents of about 10 expletives and you’re about 50% done.

Still contemplating World Fantasy. Met so many damn people I’m still coming up with more folks I have to send a note of thanks to, a few every hour or so. Amazing that I remember any of them considering how much I drank–my publisher ought to know better than to offer me free booze. All of my interactions with them went like this:

Brilliant Editor: Hi Jeff! Can I buy you a dr–

ME: Yes please.

Brilliant Marketing Person (joining us): Hey guys! Jeff, anyone bought you a drink yet–

ME: Yes please.

Now just picture me wearing a sash that says PUBLISHED AUTHOR while dressed like the Monopoly Man, and you have some small idea of what my weekend was like. Though admittedly some of this is conjecture as I remember very little of it.

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Back from WFC

By | November 4, 2007 | 2 Comments

Well, for a few brief, happy hours I was out and about in Saratoga, meeting and greeting, breathing the sweet air of freedom, at least until my Corporate Masters blew a dart into my neck, wrapped me up in a duffel bag, and smuggled out the back into the waiting van to return me to my hotel room where I must continue blogging and working on Cates book #3.

World Fantasy Con was a really fun time, despite my sweaty social awkwardness and tendency to wake up with entire bottles of scotch embedded in my head. Here are some highlights:

  • Meeting the fantabulous Lili Saintcrow for the first time, along with her charming assistant Gates. Lili is a force of nature and actually breaking bread with her was a delight.
  • Running into Nick Mamatas in the lobby and actually being able to invite him to a party. I’ve always wanted to be the cool guy who invites people to parties, and I finally got to do it. Though I lost points by then not being able to recall even the simplest details of the party, like the address or the time. But Nick found it anyway so all was good.
  • Being bought lots of drinks by the Orbit folks, who are Good People.
  • Running into Carl Moore (who shared the pages of Danger City with me and was most recently pubbed inThuglit #20) though I only got to pass a few pleasantries before we were torn asunder.

All in all, a fantabulous weekend, most of which I cannot remember because of the aforementioned drinks bought by my publisher, who seemed to want me to be drunk and thus pliable most of the time.

If you were there and I missed you, I’m sorry! Next time, friends.

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