Saturday, January 14, 2012

Some of my best friends are authors

Hi Proser pals, I'm excited to be guest posting this week in place of the lovely and talented Melanie, who is moving or some horrid inconvenience that involves packing up one's computer and being without internet service for days. It's like being back in 1999 or something.

I'm friendly with several of the Prosers, having frequented a certain speculative fiction writing board for years as well as being one of the staff readers for Flash Fiction Online magazine since the beginning too. So, natural fit, lovely stuff. Thank you so much for having me.

I write science fiction and an occasional fantasy piece for young adults and middle grade readers. (You can find my fiction for sale at all major ebook outlets, check my website for links.)

Every writer needs other people in her life to talk writing stuff about or things get very weird very fast. I know some have indulgent spouses. I have a spouse who does not read a terribly large amount and when he does it's not generally *my* fiction. This is sad for several reasons. First, he's missing out on the rich imaginary life in my head. Second, I don't have a good local sounding board. I've had to search farther afield.

The aforementioned speculative fiction writing board has satisfied many needs for many years, but a while back I started wondering what actual authors were LIKE, not just what their fiction was like but what the person, that phenotype, the AUTHOR, was like in the wild.

Without an actual wild life habitat for authors, like a park or something that I could visit, I had to turn to the internet.

Will you be surprised to learn that many authors maintain an online presence these days? Er, perhaps all of them? Or at least all of the ones you've heard of.

So, that's useful information, right? You read a book, liked the author, searched his/her name and found a blog, maybe a facbeook fan page. Then what?

Well, this is the really interesting part to me. I've extended invitations over the years to several different writers. Some of them I shared mutual friends with, some of them are complete strangers to me and everyone I know. But even more interesting, as I've requested connections with author A, she's connected with author B so when I go invite author B to connect, he sees my relationship to author A and *bam* - instant credibility! I'm not just some silly fan-girl staying up past her bedtime to google favorite authors. I'm a person, with some virtual connections to people. That totally matters. No really.

And furthermore, depending on the writer, I've forged some really interesting connections with some of these people. For instance, my new best friend is Sarah Prineas, who is the author of the amazing Magic Thief series, but also has a new book just released called Winterling (subliminal advertising, you should totally buy her books, they are MADE of awesome.)

Last summer, Sarah was helping a friend with an upcoming book release by passing around copies of his ARC. I volunteered to read it and start an ARC tree where I read it then send it on to the next person on the list and so on. For the uninitiated, ARC stands for Advance Reader Copy, sometimes also called Uncorrected Proof. It's a paperback copy of a book available for generating buzz about a book prior to its formal release. I've been visited by the ARC fairy a few times this year and it's fantastic to read a new book before it's in wide release, very cool! So my new best friend naturally took me up on the offer and I got to be introduced to another new author, my new best friend's friend, Greg van Eekhout.

Then, the oddest thing happened. I read Ship Breaker, which honest to goodness was the best book I read in all of 2011 (you will have to note that I first read Magic Thief in 2008, so it was not among the contenders for my personal favorite of 2011), and in reading the acknowledgements (because I always do such things) I noticed that Paolo Bacigalupi happens to *also* be friends with my new best friend Sarah Prineas. SMALL WORLD! (or, well, small speculative fiction in the US for middle grade/YA readers world. Yep.)

I absolutely adore getting little snippets of writing life from these authors I've befriended. It's so cool to see the pictures of Kevin Anderson and all the storm troopers (people who make their own costumes, these folks are hard-core and apparently all live within driving distance of major bookstore locations throughout the U.S.) that show up for his book signings, or to see the backstory to elements of Mary Robinette Kowal's regency series (first book Shades of Milk and Honey, second book Glamour in Glass coming out soon.) They're Jane Austen-style stories but with magic. And Mary, in an odd and interesting twist, also makes her own costumes though in this case she makes period-accurate regency dresses, hats, etc. She's incredible.

So, my advice to you fan-girl (or boy) or aspiring author (or both) is to go forth and seek out your favorite authors online and see what develops. I hope Karen T. Smith is one of them! 


  1. Great Post!

    Nice to have you here KayTi. :)

    I've never contacted a published author before for fear of coming off all fan-girly, but you make some good points.

    Thanks for contributing.

  2. Karen, thanks so much for posting! I think it's fantastic that you've made actual connections with real live authors - though I do like the idea of a park where we could observe them in the wild, LOL :)

    My husband doesn't write, doesn't read very much (though he's currently on his bazillionth read-through of LOTR), and definitely doesn't read my stuff. So I get what you mean about needing to connect with people. I've never even thought about trying to reach out to authors, same fears as MaryAnn. You may help me work up the nerve!

  3. So glad to have you here, Karen!

    I love that you were able to take your curiousity about authors (which I think we all have) and forge it into something real and lasting.

    Excellent post.

  4. I decided to embrace the fan-girly, and that's where I made the first connection, actually. I had extended an invitation to Sarah Prineas, but then because I occasionally write book reviews on my mom blog Suburban (in)Sanity (link: and I was scraping my Shelfari content I rewrote a Shelfari review into a regular blog review and posted it. Then I sent Sarah a link. She read it and said thank you. Then a few days later she messaged me to say that my blog kept coming up in her google alerts because of the Magic Thief review, so she thanked me again. And it turned out we have kids similar ages (hers are slightly older) and live in the midwest and thus can be cranky about the weather together, and so now when I post on a fb item of hers she "knows" who I am pretty much, and we have a diabolical plan to meet up in the meat world sometime this year when she's touring for her new book. Hopefully!

    I'm still her biggest fan girl, but I think it works because I'm also someone who has opinions about things and has something to say. If I were one-noted we might not have so much to connect on.

    Other authors aren't necessarily as easy to get to know online, I think it depends on the person and what their online persona is like, but they're there and making themselves available on mediums like Facebook for a reason (to connect with fans...) so I figure I'll take advantage of it! ;) Now when I read a book I like I automatically look for the author online (and I like it best when they have some sort of FB presence because that's where the two-way conversation seems richest.) I found Marie Lu this way, she wrote the second best book I read in 2011, Legend (another YA dystopia set in and around LA after some kind of environmental disaster told from two viewpoints - one inside the government/military and one outsider. Very cool.)

  5. Thank you so much Karen! This was great! My best connections to real authors have all come from hatrack. I wouldn't be an author at all without the amazing support group I found there (including all the bloggers here!)

    My biggest claims to fame are having an author I was friends with on facebook come to this blog and tell me she liked it, and getting an Ender's Game "love letter" published in Jake Black's Author's Compendium.


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