My Conjecture Schedule

So I’m on several panels at Conjecture (a San Diego science fiction convention) next week. Please come to Conjecture. Please come to all my programming items. Especially my reading. And my autographing. Please cancel any other plans and do this. Please. Thank you.
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Panel 1:  Fri 9/9  3:00 PM, 60 minutes.
Title: Organic vs. Outlining
Participants:
Lise Breakey
Robert Mitchell Evans
Walt Fisher
Sharon Mock
Greg van Eekhout
Precis:    Some authors write an outline, describing the exact path
their characters and plots will follow. Others start
writing and let their stories flow from their fingertips.
What are the pros and cons of each style, and how do you
determine which one is right for you?

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Panel 2:  Fri 9/9  5:00 PM, 60 minutes.
Title: Care and Feeding of Writers’ Groups
Participants:
Lise Breakey
John W. Oliver
J.M. Perkins
Janet Tait(M)
Greg van Eekhout
Ann Wilkes
Precis:    When you can’t find the right writers’ group for you, you
may have to start one. How do you find and screen members,
schedule meetings, get copies of the stories to everybody,
and organize the critiquing? There are lots of tools
available online to help you.

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Panel 3:  Sat 9/10 12 Noon, 60 minutes.
Title: How to Edit Yourself
Participants:
Lisanne Norman
John W. Oliver
Linda Thomas-Sundstrom
Greg van Eekhout (Moderator)
Precis:    You don’t always have access to a critique group, a beta
reader, or an editor. How can you polish your own
manuscript without that kind of help? What tools will let
you look with fresh eyes at text that you already know by
heart, so you can find the flaws?

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Panel 4:  Sat 9/10  2:00 PM, 60 minutes.
Title: Reading: Greg van Eekhout
Participants: Greg van Eekhout
Precis: I read stuff, I guess?

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Panel 5:  Sat 9/10  4:00 PM, 60 minutes.
Title: Autographing: Greg van Eekhout
Participants: Greg van Eekhout
Precis: I sit around, looking awkward and lonely unless people come up to get something signed.

Atomic Comics

Yesterday evening, various sources on Twitter began reporting that Phoenix, AZ comic book chain, Atomic Comics, had closed its doors and was going out of business. Sadly, the news is true. Recession, mishap, and customers going elsewhere for their entertainment fix.

I suppose there were comic book shops when I started reading comics in the mid-70’s, but not any around me. I got my comics from convenience stores and liquor stores and mom-and-pop groceries, or sometimes from the cardboard box tucked in the back corner of the weird little smokeshop on 5th Street in Santa Monica. I didn’t even know comic book shops existed until I happened into one at the Old Towne Mall in Torrance. And what happened then was my skullcap hinged open and a steam whistle emerged from my brain pan and birds flew out.

As my ability to ride my bike improved, along with my ability to beg my parents to drive me to strange and obscure places, like West Hollywood, I gained access to now-famous comic book shops: Hi-De-Ho, in Santa Monica, and Golden Apple on Melrose, and the not-so-famous Graphitti in Culver City, where I eventually inherited my older brother’s job when he stopped showing up to work and I started showing up in his stead.

Atomic Comics was special. The stores were spacious, open, and admitted natural light. One could suck down a lungful of air and not breathe in spores and exotic pathogens. The stores were a clubhouse, a headquarters for all things geek, and the employees were helpful and friendly and largely non-creepy. Women and girls worked there. My girlfriend could shop there and not feel as though she were being simultaneously dismissed and leered at.

My years living in Phoenix were not universally wonderful. Constitutionally, me and that town did not always get along. But Atomic Comics was one of the good things I missed when we moved to San Diego.

I want there to be comic book shops. That’s why I continue to buy my comics at a comic book shop (principally the very fine Comickaze in Clairemont Mesa). This is simple: If you want there to be comic book shops, you must shop at comic book shops. If you want there to be bookstores, you must shop at bookstores. If people don’t do that, there will be more stories like the shut-down of Atomic Comics. These stories are not indicative of a better world.

A couple more reviews + Dozer

A couple more reviews just popped up on my medium-range scanners yesterday. (Short-range scanners are for incoming objects, such as rogue asteroids. Long-range scanners are for detecting Romulan incursions into the neutral zone. Medium-range scanners are for reviews.)

At Jen Robinson’s Book Page, a nice review of The Boy at the End of the World, which concludes:

The Boy at the End of the World is a quick, appealing read. It has an irresistible premise, a fully featured setting, a handful of strong characters, and an action-packed plot. I recommended it for middle grade and middle school readers, boys and girls. It’s a book that I would have read and re-read as a 10-year-old, and that I enjoyed today. It would make a great movie, too. The Boy at the End of the World is a keeper.”

And at A Wicked Convergence of Circumstances, a review of Norse Code, largely dealing with my treatment of the Norse myth, from which I pull these approving quotes:

Norse Code does some interesting things with Norse mythology. It also does some interesting thing for the urban fantasy genre in that it has a more serious feel to it than a lot of the urban fantasy I have read lately … Despite many humorous and silly moments, this is a fairly serious story, which is fitting considering it is about Ragnarok.”

“Kathy [the valkyrie] is a very strong, interesting character.”

And now, pictures of my dog, just because.

From Dozer
From Dozer

Summer Review Rundown

It has come to my attention that some of you are not scouring the internet for the slightest mention of The Boy at the End of the World. Fortunately, I, the robot designated as Greg’s Head, have been doing  your jobs for you. Here, then, is a rundown of some of the summer reviews I have not yet, er, run down:

Iowa City Public Library Staff Picks Blog

“Greg van Eekhout’s The Boy at the End of the World is a gripping survival story featuring a boy and his robot … the introduction of evolved robots determined to destroy all human survivors raises the stakes to a level that will really engage young readers.”

Read For Green
“This book is a great story with a unique premise. It sends a message to people that we need to stop what we’re doing or we will destroy ourselves and the planet. I think everybody should read this book, especially teenage boys. It is a great adventure story that should entertain everyone.”

DogEar (review by Nicole Politi)
“This is a fast-paced survival adventure with a nice splash of humor (which really works because of the delivery). It never breaks stride and I didn’t lose interest. As Fuse #8 points out, it helps that the book comes in at a concise 212 pages. A good recommend for those who have enjoyed Malice by Wooding or The Maze Runner by Dashner.”

Manga Maniac Cafe
“Wow, was this a great read! … The pacing is swift, the characters are wonderful, and the suspense never takes a backseat as the plot progresses.  It keeps building and building, until it is impossible to put the book down.  And then when it was over, I wanted more!  The ending is very, very satisfying and this is a completely self-contained work, but I would so love it if we could revisit with Fisher again. … The Boy at the End of the World is one of the best Middle Grade books that I have read this year; it was a wonderful escape from the stresses of real life, and I am looking forward to Greg van Eekhout’s next project.
Grade: A

Wands and Worlds
“The Boy at the End of the World is a delightful post-apocalyptic novel that strikes the perfect tone for middle-grade readers. It’s amusing, touching, and occasionally scary (the nano Intelligence that they meet is quite creepy), and it touches on themes of friendship and what it means to be human.”

Becky’s Book Reviews
“I definitely enjoyed Greg van Eekhout’s The Boy At The End of the World. If you like survival stories or action-adventure stories or post-apocalyptic stories, then this one may be for you. It was a quick read with plenty of action and suspense.”

A note about Kid vs. Squid availability

Hey, I’ve been hearing from people who’ve tried to order Kid vs. Squid from indie shops and been told it’s not available. To which I say, “Oh, by the Great Mollusk, it is DEFINITELY available!” But. There is an incorrect listing for an edition that actually doesn’t exist, and if your bookseller is only looking up that listing, then it can appear that the book, indeed, is unavailable. So. Here’s all the information you need for the correct edition. Getting the right ISBN is important. If people are just looking it up by the title or by my name, the incorrect, non-existent listing can pop up. My publisher is working hard to correct this error, but such corrections can take time to filter out to the bookstores.

And for those of you who’ve been persistent in your efforts to get the book, I can only thank you and hope you enjoy my little story about a kid and his superhero-wannabe friend and a princess from Atlantis and an ultra-powerful head in a box and jellyfish boys and lobster henchmen and bicycle-pedaled submarine and friendship and, yes, a very large squid.

Kid Vs. Squid (Hardcover)

By Greg van Eekhout
$16.99

ISBN-13: 9781599904894
Published: Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 5/2010

Upcoming Events

I’ve got a relatively active fall shaping up, with store signings and school visits and library appearances and a book festival and online chatty things. Please plan all your vacations and weekends around them. Thank you.

WEDNESDAY September 7
6:00 p.m. (PST)
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Chat
on Twitter (details TBA)

FRIDAY September 9 – SUNDAY September 11
Conjecture
Details TBA

FRIDAY September 30
Casita Center for Science & Technology (school visit)
Vista, CA

FRIDAY September 30, 6pm – 8pm
Barnes & Noble, Oceanside
(Portion of store-wide sales during the signing will go to Casita Center for Science and Technology)
El Camino North Shopping Center
2615 Vista Way
Oceanside, CA 92054
760-529-0106

SUNDAY October 2, 2011
Orange County Children’s Book Festival
Teen/YA stage, 10:00 AM
New In-Between Panel
Gitty Daneshvari (Moderator) – School of Fear Series
Greg Taylor – Killer Pizza Series
Helen Stringer – SpellBinder and Midnight Gate
Greg van Eekhout – Kid vs Squid and The Boy At The End Of The World
Mark Jeffreys – Max Quick

THURSDAY October 27, 2011
Diversity in YA
with Paolo Bacigalupi, Holly Black, Cinda Chima, Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon
Poway Branch Library, 7pm

SUNDAY October 30, 2011, 1pm – 3pm
Bridge to Books middle-grade event (details tba)
Mrs. Nelson’s Toy and Book Shop

Interview: Adventures in SciFi Publishing

I had a great time talking to Shaun Farrell on the Adventures In SciFi Publishing podcast. I always have a great time talking to Shaun. Shaun was one of the first writers I met when I moved to San Diego, and since he moved, I’ve missed our occasional meet-ups for coffee or pizza and beer and conversation. What kind of jerk moves? Seriously.

Our conversation this time around, recorded and podcast for your listening, covers The Boy at the End of the World, writing middle-grade novels, Comic-Con, the closing of Borders, and a rant about Data and the emotion chip.

Also some good stuff on the podcast that has nothing to do with me.

Lookie what I got Katie Cook to draw!

One of the best parts about Comic-Con this year was getting Katie Cook (who writes and draws the weekly web comic, Gronk, among other things) to make these mini-paintings of characters from my books. She does these for only $5 a pop, which is ridiculous, considering their sheer awesome awesomeness.

First up, from Norse Code, a wolf of Fenrir’s kin, eating the Moon:

And a mash-up of Click from The Boy at the End of the World and a squid from Kid vs. Squid:

And, finally, Protein from The Boy at the End of the World:

I know, right?!

My Comic-Con tips

From Comic-Con 2010

My first Comic-Con was kind of a frightening and horrible experience. I’m not all that keen on crowds, and I’m quite keen on personal space, so I kinda wanted to create my own exit with a flame thrower and run screaming to the sea. Also, downtown parking in San Diego sucks.

But now, after a few Comic-Cons, I’ve found some tricks to enjoying it:

1. Enter the exhibit hall from the ends. That’s where the comics stuff is, anyway: comics on the west end, artist’s alley on the east end.

2. If you go upstairs to the fan pavilion (I’m not sure that’s what it’s called, but it’s where fan groups have their tables and promote their local cons, it may be the Mezzanine), you can get a nice view of the exhibition hall from above and with windows separating you from the seething masses. It’s fun to look. Also, from there you can exit to a patio with harbor views. Fresh air is awesome. Also, there’s a little food court up there. I’m not recommending the food, but if you need a slice or a pretzel or a soda or whatever, it’s there.

3. Crossing the street is always frightening and painful. But now there’s a new pedestrian bridge. This isn’t a tip, because I don’t know if it’ll make things better. Like I said, it’s new. But I hope it makes crossing the street better.

[Update: The bridge does make crossing the street much better.]

4. Don’t plan on seeing anything. Just sort of check the schedule as you go along and drift into whatever looks interesting, as long as what looks interesting to you doesn’t involve movie stars or the big-name comics creators. Being a less popular artist or writer doesn’t equate to being a less talented or less interesting artist or writer. (But do plan on coming to my panel on middle-grade writing: Sunday, 1:45, 5AB.)

[Update: If you’re reading this post in a year other than the one in which I wrote it, I can no longer recommend coming to my middle-grade panel, because it happened in the past and time travel is B.S. so just accept your sadness and regret at having missed it, unless you didn’t, in which case, wasn’t it awesome???]

5. The CBLDF master classes are always cool. That’s where an artist draws stuff that gets projected on a screen and talks about her or his technique and process and stuff.

6. Don’t drag a roller suitcase across the exhibition hall floor, because I will trip on it and you will turn around and want to get in a fight with me and by then I’ll be a little bit tired and I’ll yell back at you. YOU HEAR THAT, GUY? JUST DON’T!

7. When you go grab a bite to eat, get off 5th Street. The other streets also have eateries and they’re quieter. I’m not going to tell you where I go to eat, because I want them to stay quiet.

8. This is the time to be the biggest, dorkiest, geekiest, nerdiest fan on the planet (who still observes social considerations). In other words, squee! Squee like the wind! That’s what Comic-Con is for. It doesn’t belong to Hollywood, it doesn’t belong to DC or Marvel, or even to writers and artists. It belongs to all of us. Have fun!

Love,
Greg

Items

Some items. These are the items:

I finished a first draft of a book! Is it a good first draft? Oh, heavens, no! Hopefully it will be a better second draft, and by the time my editor sees it, perhaps even a halfway decent book. Lisa and I celebrated with adobada burritos overlooking a stupidly beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Jenn Reese’s blog post about books for boys and books for girls, and how and when the twain shall meet, or ought to meet, and which compares and contrasts some of the marketing and story characteristics of The Boy at the End of the World and Stephanie Burgis’s Kat, Incorrigible/A Most Improper Magick.

Not having gone to Clarion, I didn’t know that I would be in any way impacted by Clarion moving to San Diego, which, as some may be aware from the pics I post of blue water and the words I utter about the awesome burritos, is the town in which I currently reside. But I’ve been going to the Clarion instructor readings at Mysterious Galaxy. So far I’ve been to Nina Kiriki Hoffman‘s reading, and John Scalzi‘s reading (which was followed up by a very pleasant sushi dinner with him and his family and a college friend of John’s who had actually read one of my books, which was neat for me). And tonight I’m going to try to make Elizabeth Bear‘s reading, which will have been preceded (these verb tenses are correct, though complicated) by beers this past weekend (something we’d talked about doing for years at various conventions but had never quite managed), and hanging out with some of the Clarion students. I’m starting to feel more of a connection to the SF community here, and plus it’s also just nice when interesting people come to town and I have an opportunity to spend some time with them.

There. Those were my items. May your day be filled with your own items, and may your items be good.