Radio Silence

Being an author in the social media age is an interesting experience. Doing an interview, a reading, a convention, it’s obvious that you might well be in something of a public mode or “on.” You might craft your blog posts carefully. But are you “on” when you’re writing on Twitter? When you’re commenting on Facebook? What if you’re commenting on your mother’s picture of the bundt cake she baked, but where your fans can read it? It’s an odd gray area, simultaneously less exhausting than something like a convention because it’s just one tweet on a computer at a time; and more because relatives’ bundt cakes smash into heated discussions of genre definitions and you have to decide what degree of public mode to be for each on the fly.

Which is long way of saying, after the effort of REFLECTED’s publicity, I’m taking a break for a few weeks! Plenty of the cool kid authors take a break from the internet, so I know this isn’t going to shock anyone. I chose to separate things out a little–I will be reading and responding to my email (business, after all, goes on), I simply will be radio silent on this blog and my various social media outposts. I shall return in time for Norwescon (April 17-20), which is why I got my schedule up ahead of time for you all.

Since I’m a scientist, and I love data, once I’m back you can expect a post about what radio silence did to my Amazon author ranking. I’ve heard anecdotal data that lack of social media presence once a book is fully launched has no impact on sales (and Amazon rankings, as I’ve explored before on this blog, aren’t sales), so I’m curious to see what happens.

So if you need me, drop me an email. Otherwise, I’ll see you in April!

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Norwescon Schedule

Posting this a little early, but if you’re planning on attending Norwescon next month, c’mon by and say hello!

Creature Feature: Monsters of Urban Fantasy
Fri 5:00pm-6:00pm Cascade 6
Werewolves, Vampires, and Trolls, oh my! We all have favorites among the vast number of creatures that inhabit urban fantasy alongside humans. What are they – and why? Do the fantasy archetypes (vampire, werewolf, fairy, and so on) give us a shortcut to understanding a particular character and their motivation? How do authors use these creatures as metaphors for our own personalities and desires?
Kat Richardson (M), Ann Gimpel, Rhiannon Held

Worldbuilding 101
Sat 1:00pm-2:00pm Evergreen 1&2
How can you tell one werewolf universe from all the others? Or one alien planet from the next? We’ll talk about worldbuilding and how to make the world you’re building in your story stand out from the competition.
Brenda Carre (M), Rhiannon Held, Nancy Kress, Pat MacEwen, Angel Leigh McCoy

Reading: Rhiannon Held
Sat 9:30pm-10:00pm Cascade 1
Reflected. An urban fantasy werewolf novel set in Seattle. PG

Autograph Session 1
Sat 2:00pm-3:00pm Grand 2

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Author Magazine Interview

My very first video interview! I don’t know what it’s like, because I can’t watch myself… But it was awesome getting to do it at the time! Thanks to Bill Kenower of Author Magazine!

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Signed Books

Now that REFLECTED is out, I wanted to let you guys know some options for getting hold of a signed copy if you can’t make one of my readings in person. For the geographically close, I have left piles of signed copies at the University Bookstore in Seattle, and Powell’s in Portland. I’ll be leaving more at Third Place Books soon, when that signing comes up.

But what if you want a personalized copy? Duane at the University Bookstore can hook you up! If you order through them, they’ll let me know and I will stop by and personalize a copy with whatever you’d like.

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Dropped Off by the Mail Snails


Reflected books

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Signings and Radcon

Two things to bring to your attention today. First off, I have readings! They’re also listed in the Appearances page, on the upper right there.

February 20, 7 pm, University Bookstore, Seattle
February 24, 7 pm, Powell’s Books Cedar Hills Crossing, Portland
March 7, 6:30 pm, Third Place Books Lake Forest Park, Seattle
April 26, 2-4 pm, Barnes & Noble, Kennewick (with Patricia Briggs)

Also, I’ll be attending Radcon, in Pasco, WA, coming up February 14-16.

Fri Feb 14 2:00:pm-3:00:pm
Decisions, Decisions

When to keep writing, when to pull the plug, when to let a work sit and when to edit it, when to listen to critiques, when to query, when to publish … writers have to make a lot of decisions. How professional writers approach the decision-making process, and how to keep hard decisions from interfering with the writing process. Good guys should not be boring, because they’re not in real life

Bara, Dave; Ceallaigh, Adriane; Held, Rhiannon; Nordley, Gerald David

Fri Feb 14 3:00:pm-4:30:pm
Formidable Female

What makes a woman protagonist a formidable woman?

Held, Rhiannon; Howe, Andrea; Johnson, Judy; Jones, Esther

Sat Feb 15 10:00:am-11:00:am
Real Science in Speculative Fiction

From urban fantasy or steam punk, do you have to think of the biology of demons or energy requirements of ray guns? Let’s talk about how that and things like historical research can contribute to fiction.

Held, Rhiannon; Johnson, Judy; Niemann-Ross, Mark; White, Lori

Sat Feb 15 5:30:pm-6:30:pm
Dull, realistic, characters.

The people who really explore space and fight modern wars have a lot of self control. They don’t slam fists into spacecraft controls like Hulk Hogan. Do you have to forget about them in fiction, or can you make them interesting. And if your protagonist is like that do you just have to accept that critics will complain and press on in hopes of finding an audience that appreciates a little verisimilitude.

Fredericks, Deby; Held, Rhiannon; Kehrli, Keffy; Magner, Scott James; Tayler, Howard

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Amazon Rank

For those of you who have not experienced one of your own, an Amazon Author Rank is basically what might be displayed in the dictionary beside “noisy” and “black box”. It ranks you against other authors on Amazon, using sales for all your books and possibly quantum entanglement from electrons on Mars, for all I, the mere mortal author, knows.

Since I’m a scientist at heart, I finally got tired of staring at all the noise and decided to poke at the data in a somewhat scientifically un-rigorous way. Mine are at least simpler than others’–I’ve talked to someone whose rank is influenced by used sales of his out of print books, which obviously doesn’t help him on the royalties or sales numbers with his publisher fronts. When I captured this data, I had two novels in print (print and ebooks) and one in preorders.

With apologies for the small font, since all the graphs are so long in the original size, here is my ranking, captured early January 2014:

Basic RGB

(Yes, there’s no scale. It’s sort of beside the point for what I’m doing here. I’m comparing me to me, not me to J.K. Rowling.)

You’ll see I’ve started out by annotating it with the “duh” pattern. New releases make the ranking jump, but new editions don’t do as much.

Smoothed graph

This is after curve smoothing. New releases still seem like the biggest drivers, but that peak on November 4, 2012 lingers. I’ll note that in all of this, I chose to investigate peaks rather than troughs–after all, as I understand it, even if my sales plateau rather than drop, some other author’s gangbuster sales can drop my rank. Besides, peaks seem much more likely to be linked to an actual event/action on my part.

So November 4. What’s that? Well, examining my schedule, that was the World Fantasy Convention. Neat, huh? Only…that doesn’t work for any of my other conventions.

Noisy graph with cons

We’re missing one on that graphic, but only because Miscon 2013 was the week after Tarnished released, so any patterning is indistinguishable from the new release bump.

So do conventions improve my rank? (Or my sales, for that matter–the link between rank and sales is not completely clear, so better to think of them separately). Looks like I’ll have to wait for more data.

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2013 Reading

In March 2012, I signed up for a Goodreads account and discovered that checking books off as read motivated me to compete with myself to read as many as possible. Since 2012 was a partial year, I didn’t do anything with the totals, but now I have a full year of reading data in 2013 to poke, prod, and generally make pivot tables from. (Pivot tables: an occupational hazard)

*drumroll* The grand total of books either read or listened to in 2013 was…140! Of those, only 11 were rereads/listens.

I’ve seen others charting the gender of authors they read this year, so I thought what the heck, why not? Setting aside anthologies and graphic novels for their multiple writers and artists involved (n=17) we’re left with 88 female authors or pennames I didn’t know differently about, one male/female team, and 34 male. That’s a 78%/22% split in favor of women, which I find intriguing compared to other people’s totals I’ve read about. Bear in mind, this list is biased inasmuch as it’s simply a collection of books I choose to pick up and finish reading. But I can tell you that I didn’t consciously choose any of them based on the author’s gender.

For kicks, I also separated the books by my personal idea of their genre. Interestingly, the gender balance didn’t actually change significantly within any genre, except for ones I didn’t read often, which were subject to statistical weirdnesses. For instance, I love one romance author (Georgette Heyer) and so 8 of my 10 romances read were all by her. Having the romance genre come in as all female (in my sample) is therefore not exactly surprising.

Most populous genres:
Mystery: 60 (31 specifically historical mysteries)
Urban fantasy: 16

And the lessons I took from all this were that I read many female authors, as I suspected, and lots of mysteries, which I didn’t. Turning to genres other than the one you write in for pleasure reading: it’s creeping up on me!

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Orycon Schedule

Orycon is a’comin’! Come and see me next weekend at the Portland Doubletree. If I get enough requests, I’ll use my reading slot to read from book 3, REFLECTED, due out in February, so you can get a sneak peek!

Gender and Writing
Hamilton Fri Nov 8 1:00pm-2:00pm
Gender free? Gender neutral? Stereotyping? How gender affects our writing.
What writers do to write effectively in the opposite gender’s point of
view, and whether they really do get away with it.
(*)Rhiannon Held, Mike Chinakos, Rhea Rose, David D. Levine, Barry

Rhiannon Held Reading
Grant Fri Nov 8 7:30pm-8:00pm
Rhiannon Held reads from own works
Rhiannon Held

Nanowrimo: What is it, and Why or Why not?
Jefferson/Adams Sat Nov 9 12:00pm-1:00pm
National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) has caught on and gets bigger
every year. What it’s all about, where to sign up, and whether it’s a
good idea to participate. The pluses and pitfalls of writing a novel in
the month of November.
Rhiannon Held, Debs, Errol, Blythe Ayne, Jennifer Linnaea

The Paranormal as Metaphor
Ross Island Sat Nov 9 1:00pm-2:00pm
If the Martians in the movie War of the Worlds were Russians, what are
today’s werewolves and vampires? What the paranormal genre is really
Mike Chinakos, Rhiannon Held, (*)Wendy N. Wagner, Aaron Duran, Manny

Autograph session 2
Art Show Sat Nov 9 2:00pm-3:00pm
Get your books (or whatever) signed by your favorite writers!
Jason M. Hough, Jason V Brock, Steve Perry, Jeff Sturgeon, Bruce Taylor,
Rhiannon Held

Religion in Fantasy
Hamilton Sat Nov 9 5:00pm-6:00pm
Gods? Goddesses? Just pretend religion doesn’t exist?
Rhiannon Held, (*)Rory Miller, Doug Odell, Karen Azinger, Irene

Urban Fantasy made real
Morrison Sun Nov 10 11:00am-12:00pm
Increasingly, stories are being placed in modern times or locales but with
fantasy elements to them. Whether it is wesen in Portland or vampires in
Washington, how does one effectively blend these very different elements?
Alternatively, what are some examples of how NOT to accomplish
Patricia Briggs, Anne Bishop, (*)Devon Monk, Rhiannon Held, Jennifer

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East Coast Vacation

The promised photos are up! Beware, because archaeological tangents lie within.

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