Thursday, August 23, 2012

First week of the official tour!

So, one week of the “official tour” is completed and now I kick off the interstate side of things, heading down to Adelaide to hit a whole bunch of new stores.

I say “official” as I went out to stores while I was working, notably my local Dymocks at Erina and Tuggerah, Unleash Books Kotara (formerly an A+R store), Galaxy and Kinokuniya in Sydney city and North Sydney Dymocks.

But the first big week of stores is over and it was generally very good. There were highlights at every store and that’s the way you have to look at it.

Every time you appear at a bookstore, stand out the front and try to talk to passersby, you are going to get knockbacks and sneers. That’s the price you must pay for speaking to people and, after all, acting like a kind of spruiker. It’s a price I’m always happy to pay but that doesn’t make it easier. For instance, Unleash Books Miranda was a case in point. Just 50m down the shopping centre was a pair of spruikers trying to flog people Oral B products. Naturally the glare from their white teeth was eye-piercing, while their patter was just as persistent. I quickly discovered people walking up from that direction were already in a bad frame of mind to respond to my line about reading. That swiftly proved a drawback, as half my traffic flow was coming past me having been assaulted with toothbrushes and tangled up in dental floss.

I also discovered that, for all its high socio-economic benchmarks, there was nobody wanting to try out the special deal on the original trilogy that Unleash was offering. It was interesting, because their I sold 40 books at their sister store at Kotara, in Newcastle, on a similar deal. Perhaps, if one believes Ten’s TV show The Shire, they need it all for surgical enhancements. More likely they are seen as well off because they don’t rashly hurl their money away by buying multiple books from authors, no matter how winning their talk is!

In the face of multiple knockbacks, not to mention negotiating the devilish car park at Miranda Fair, it would be easy to become dispirited. But instead I focused on the positives, of which there were many. For starters Bridge Of Swords was sitting at Number Five on the Unleash Top 10, one spot ahead of George RR Martin’s latest bestseller. And the people I did chat to in Miranda were wonderful – from Bel Every, who came in specially and has even created a Facebook page for me, to Ursula who couldn’t make it in that day but bought and left a copy of Bridge Of Swords for me to personalise, to all the others who bought books or just spoke to me.

Bookstore appearances are very much a “glass half-full” experience. It’s easy to get down but vital to focus on the good things.

Having said that, I struggled to find any negatives at Penrith Dymocks. Honestly, I could happily go back there every week. If you are an author on tour, put Penrith on your list. Forget about your inner-city trendy areas. Not only did I sell a record number of books that day (necessitating a frantic dash for resupply by the store owners) but the people were wonderful and genuinely interested to meet an author. I truly find the outer areas, such as Penrith, Campbelltown (when it had a bookshop), Rouse Hill and Tuggerah are always the most successful. Forget Leichhardt and Bondi – head west or north and reap the benefits!

Book Bazaar Umina was my Saturday shop, a small bookstore in a sleepy main street. But store owner Mandi is fantastic and has been a great supporter of mine from the start. Tellingly, almost half the books I sold were to readers who were coming in specially. That percentage is higher than anywhere else!

Then it was on to Dymocks Carlingford, a lovely shop run by a great bloke called Kosta but stuck in an unfortunate corner of a busy shopping centre. I was delighted to see Bridge Of Swords sitting at Number Six on his store’s Top 10 Bestsellers … beating all fantasy books and a huge swathe of general release fiction as well. We started slowly but moved closer to the escalators and finished strongly. I had some marvellous conversations with people here, several of them quickly “friending” me on Facebook or following me on Twitter afterwards, as well as a couple of budding authors. I hope to see them in print some day!

So the first week ended with more than 100 books hand-sold.

Now for the interstate portion, which will see things kick up a gear. I hit four stores last week – I’ll be at SIX over the next two days in Adelaide alone!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Great review of Bridge Of Swords!

Bridge of Swords (Empire of Bones, Book 1) by Duncan Lay
Harper Voyager
Review by Crisetta MacLeod

This story is rich in uneasy relationships. There are untrustworthy, manipulative and
bullying parents; there are lovers who deceive and are deceived; there are allies who work
together against common evils, yet do so with very differing agendas.
A long time before the story begins, the Elfaran withdrew behind a magic barrier; they have
neglected their magic over the generations, and those who have sought to preserve the
ancient skills are regarded with suspicion. A tyrant king and his minions rule Dokusen. The
wimpy, bullied heir-apparent is Sendatsu.  Although superb in combat skills, Sendatsu wants
only to look after his children when their mother dies. Outside Elfaran, beyond the barrier,
another tyrant ruler is seeking to absorb all settlements into his territory. The magic
barrier between these cultures is fading, and Sendatsu becomes an unwilling leader when he
is spirited out of Dokusen. The unlettered peoples of the outside towns have myths and
legends about the might of the elves, and their expectations of Sendatsu form the basis of
the story. Expectations, selfish motivations, and deceptions abound and you'll enjoy how
relationships and their pitfalls carry us through battles and plots. More please!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Great review of Bridge Of Swords!

Lovely review of Bridge Of Swords here, by Speculating On SpecFic:

The beauty of this book is that it takes everything we know and love about fantastical literature and uses them in an innovative way. Everything about Bridge of Swords is brilliant – a gripping plot line peppered with well executed action sequences, interesting characters driven by realistic motivations, and a new world rich in culture, history and mystery. This has been my first foray into the works of Duncan Lay and I wonder how I overlooked his work for so long!

Sendatsu is the hero of this story – an elf charged with unearthing the real reason that elves shut themselves off from the human world centuries ago. While it is easy to understand his desire to return home to his family and continue his life, I found him to be lacking in courage and sometimes wished he would man – elf? – up and take charge of his life. But this is the entire point of Sendatsu: he is the ultimate reluctant hero. He finds two strangers to accompany him on his quest - Huw the bard and Rhiannon the dancer, who have secrets and motivations of their own. The interactions and relationships between these three are fascinating to read and they drive the plot forward as an integral aspect of the book.

The world building in this book is simply superb – not only are the cultures of the elves and humans beautifully delineated and balanced, the ties that link the two races are clear and it is nice to see the lines blur between them later in the book. I only looked at the map provided with the book one when began reading – which is always the mark of incredible writing in my opinion. Duncan Lay’s writing lends a strong sense of place to this book and I really admire his skill doing so.

There is a lot more I want to say about this wonderful book, but I can’t for fear of spoiling things for readers. So I will say this: Rhiannon is a wonderful character – finally a woman who isn’t a typical cut out of ‘helpless maiden’ or ‘fearless warrior that doesn’t act like a woman unless she cries’ – but I hated the way that Sendatsu and Huw treated her. Hated it. I liked Asami for similar reasons, and hope that she gets a larger story arc in future books. Jaken, Sendatsu’s father intrigues me. Although he is portrayed as a power-hungry leader, I think he would be interesting to get to know better.

Filled with great characters and a wonderful world, Bridge of Swords is epic fantasy at its best. Everyone should rush out and grab a copy! While fans of the genre will undoubtably enjoy reading this book, it is perfect for those wanting to try high fantasy for the first time.