Archive for January, 2009

Jonathan Stroud at Symphony Space

Posted in Appearances, Plugs, Writing, YA Books on January 12, 2009 by Matt

valleyFor those New Yorkers amongst us, I’ll be chatting with Jonathan Stroud as part of the Thalia Kids’ Book Club series at Symphony Space on January 25th.  We’ll be talking about the wonderful Bartimaeus Trilogy of course, but we’ll also get into Jonathan’s brand new book – Heroes of the Valley.  It’s not out until January 27th, but I got the chance to read it over Christmas and it’s good.  It’s real good.

If anyone has any good questions for Jonathan, go ahead and post them here. I’ll see if I can fit them in.

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(In which the author of this blog tries to start a blog war with another very nice author out of a desperate need for attention and/or nothing better to do before bed)

Posted in Clarion, Writing on January 12, 2009 by Matt

So a few days ago a former teacher of mine sent out a call for writing advice to share with her new students. Specifically, advice about how to balance a writing life with the very likely day-job.  Fellow Clarion alum and KT Literary client Catherine Cheek replied with a very nice response which she also blogged about here, and subsequently linked here by our agent extraordinaire.

In the interest of fairness, and petty one-upsmanship, I will now share my own small response that was originally a part of that discussion.  My thoughts are brief and nowhere near as well thought out, but they do reflect a serious concern of mine – The Danger of the Hobby Writer!

Enjoy. (or if Kater’s reading this – come and flame me!)

I agree with a lot of what’s been said but . . .  I absolutely abhor, dread and despise the term “hobby writer” (but I absolutely love, admire and celebrate Kater!).

I certainly agree that writers must come up with a financial safety net, whether that is a day-job with benefits or employed spouse.  But I’ve known several aspiring authorly friends over the years whose writing careers ended not with a bang or whimper, but with the words “I’m more of a hobby writer now.”

It takes such devotion, such a ridiculous faith-in-one’s own worth to be a writer that I think it needs to always be at the front of your ambition.  A writer needs to cover the basic hierarchy of needs, and that usually comes in the form of a day job, but that is only to support the writing.

I’ve sold two books, but I’m the sole support of my family of three, therefore I teach English and ESL at the community college, which is a rewarding job with time off to write.  I’m planning to have a day job for a long, long time, even if I sell more books, because that’s the reality of this business for most of us.

But on my taxes I put “Writer”.

When asked what I do for a living, I answer “Writer”.

My “hobby” is collecting comic books (yes I’m that kind of nerd).

Some good news

Posted in Speculative Fiction, Writing on January 12, 2009 by Matt

Interesting article in the Times yesterday about the reading habits of adults – and it seems we are reading more fiction.  At least, more than we were a few years ago.  This is good news considering the all the publishing doom-and-gloom that’s been arriving in my inbox with frightening regularity.  And it’s worth noting that the major uptick is in the 18-24 set, and Twilight is mentioned by name.

No more vampire jokes from me.  Nope. Nadda. None.