Heaven, Hell and what happened when I headed for the hills.
This is a special blog post and rather long, but please, bear with me, it has been one hell of a week and I want to get it all down.
Is a chart rush! Watching not one, but two books, shoot up the Amazon charts across the world. I wasn’t even prepared… I had to duck out at 8:30pm to buy a bottle of pink bubbles to celebrate. Someone said to me on Wednesday – what did I expect to happen… well I didn’t expect this!
By 8:30pm 100 Stories for Queensland was in the Top 10 of general anthologies in the UK and Nothing But Flowers was sitting #1 in the Fantasy Anthology, #2 Fantasy Short Story and #3 in Sci-fi Anthology in the UK. By the time I went to bed at 2:30am (literally scrapping myself off the keyboard) in the general anthology section 100 Stories was sitting at #3 and Nothing But Flowers at #15 (and #1 in all three of the abovementioned categories). 100 Stories spent several hours #1 in the biggest mover and shaker category. Probably the only time I will read a stat that says 76,000% increase!
And the books stayed well placed for several days afterwards.
Books started arriving in the US as early as Thursday morning Australian time. And this is where we go plummeting from the heady heights of heaven into hell.
When we published From Dark Places – Em put the cash up to print 200 books, because Paul and I were both in a difficult financial position. It was my worst nightmare that the books would arrive and something would be wrong with them.
It didn’t transpire… until Nothing But Flowers. I readjusted the inner margins of the book and DIDN’T order a proof copy afterward… everything look awesome on screen. What I failed to pick up (and I could kick myself because it messed up the pagination of the rest of the anthology) was two stories had run into each other – Sam’s “Daisy’s Café” was missing the final few lines of its ending… they were found at the top of Rebecca’s “On the Corner of Clerk Street”.
As soon as Rebecca emailed me to let me know, I pulled up the file, fixed the offending mistake, rejigged all the pages back to the way they originally were, and then posted up a new version. This has put the printing on hold and I suspect is part of the reason for the drop of NBF in the Amazon charts.
What do you do? I did only what I could think to do:
- immediately inform everyone what had happened – this went via email to the authors of NBF, on twitter, Facebook and the Literary Mix Tapes website.
- I offered to replace all books with the formatting defect free of charge.
this is despite the fact I’m not making any money off NBF (it all goes to charity) and I freaked out contemplating how many copies it may be. Later on I suggested people pull their order ( just to be on the safe side )until the new file goes to print.
At this point I know it affects 14 copies but I fear it will be much higher. I went to bed exhausted at 2am Friday and hoped it would be all right.
One of the first messages I got when I woke was from one of my best buds (and one of the men who turns my crap writing into amazing work!) Chris Chartrand who told me straight up, the book would become a collectors item and he was banking on it – it would put one of his daughters through college. The same thing was said by Graham Storrs later on in the day.
As the day wore I lots of people came to help salve the wound of stupidity and oversight. Those in the publishing industry who know screw ups happen. Without their optimism I may not have been able to keep an even keel while my optimism ebbed and flowed.
Heading for the Hills
We’d been planning a camping trip with Dave’s work for some time now. I’d been oscillated between feeling ambivalent and being excited. With the stuff up with NBF I knew it was a sign to get the hell out of Dodge and take some time to kick back and relax. I’ve been trying my hardest to get some quiet time over the past two months, yet it always seems to elude me.
We headed up to Mount Barney, about 2 hours south-west of Brisbane yesterday morning. It was a lovely afternoon and evening, of doing not a whole lot, drinking beer and tokay, enjoying being out of the city and suburbia and relishing the fact out tent didn’t leak when the rain came down (some things are better not known in the middle of the night!) Most of all I enjoyed (and everyone will find this amusing) being away from the computer and off social networking. In a nutshell – we were in the boonies and there was no mobile service.
The rain came down and continued to come down this morning, leaving our group of happy campers, looking wet and miserable. I hung out in the tent wondering how the day could get any worse because I didn’t have a coat or even an umbrella (it got worse when I lifted up the mattress to find a lake beneath and then we lost the car keys!)
So I wasn’t in the best of moods when we got home.
There was a tiny amount of charge left on my iPhone and I pulled up Facebook to see what had been going on. My notifications told me Kim Falconer had left a post on my wall… curious to see what Kim was posting, I found this message:
Woooo Hoooo!!! Big congratulations to you!!!! Yeah Aurealis Award winner!
I came hurtling out into the kitchen to tell Dave there was something going on with me and the Aurealis Awards. I had no idea what, because I wasn’t nominated for anything. And then there were more congratulations from authors such as Marianne De Pierres. I flicked onto Twitter to try and work out what was going on, and more congratulations. By this time I was totally confused as to what was going on… I’d found the nominations lists, and the finalists and yep, my name was not on there.
Then I flicked the column on twitter and got to the DMs and there is was, a message from Kate Eltham telling me what it was all about… I’d been awarded the Kris Hembury Encouragement Award (which by the way isn’t an official Aurealis Award but comes compliments of Fantastic Queensland!)
First reaction – who me? What have I done to deserve such an honour?
What did Alan say… on the phone earlier he told me he’d had a few beers by then, and it basically boiled down to the fact that I’m passionate about everything I do and I deserved the award. He was so convincing in whatever he said that Zena Shapter told me she thought it was a prepared speech.
If I had the chance to stand up before an assembly of my peers (and honestly, I find that hard to say – that I actually belong among these fabulously talented individuals… and that they believe I belong):
- my first thanks would be to Dave and Mr D who love and support me although I’m unreliable when it comes to things like dinner and laundry, and who get as excited about writing and my publishing adventures as I do. Especially to Dave who has never made a song and dance about the fact I haven’t returned to the ‘paid’ workforce since Mr D started school.
- Secondly I’d thank those people who support me in what I do – my brilliant stalwart beta readers Jason Coggins, Dan Powell, Chris Chartrand and Lily Mulholland who make bad words good; Paul Anderson my business partner who takes my crazy ideas and makes them doable; the authors who I’ve worked with on Chinese Whisperings, Literary Mix Tapes, 100 Stories for Queensland and the writers of the Logan Writers Collective.
- Lastly my family (especially my Dad) who’ve never rained on my dream of wanting to be a writer. I grew up in a house where books and storytelling was honoured.
Several years ago I had my tarot cards read and I was told I would get recognition from my colleagues, about the work I do, that it might be in the form of an award. That was the year Paul and I founded eMergent Publishing and walked the rocky road of The Red Book. It was the year I got serious about my writing, when I began handing it over for others to read and critique. The year I cut my editorial teeth. It was 2009… and I’d all but forgotten about the readers words until today.
I don’t write stories because I want fame or fortune, I write stories because that’s what I love to go (and the voices in my head would send me insane if I didn’t). I don’t work as an editor because I like to have power over other people’s writing, or because I’m a repressed writer… I edit because I love helping writers find the fullest potential for their stories. And I love offering a helping hand to new writers who are finding their feet. I don’t publish books so I can give up my day job… it is my day job. And I believe me, I don’t publish books because it’s a get rich quick line to retirement or its easy. I publish books because I’m passionate about stories, about books, about pushing the boundaries of form and style. Most of all though, I’m passionate about publishing because I have the opportunity to give talented emerging writers a leg up into the world of publishing.
And this, the Kris Hembury Award is my leg up… and I thank all of those involved for believing I’m worthy of it.