Mark Terry

Friday, March 19, 2010

Embrace Your Wurst

March 19, 2010
(Apologies for the title. I couldn't resist).

In the karate style I study, sanchin-ryu, there is a combination you learn early on called san-go. It involves three kicks, one after the other without putting your foot down in between (unless you have to). A forward snap kick, a rear heel thrust, followed by a side forward heel thrust. Kids usually love this when they start. Since I started when I was about 40, san-go has never been my favorite technique. In fact, it's pretty much stayed my least favorite, for a variety of reasons, for my entire period of study. There's also a form called geri that pretty much begins with 4 kicks--two to the front and two to the rear, all performed, ideally, without stopping to put your foot down and regain your balanced. Also, not a favorite. (An interesting form, though; there are other aspects of it that I like a lot).

I was working with a black belt a year or so ago, a young guy who was at that time a high school senior. I commented that I was not a fan of san-go and he grinned and said, "You know what the masters would say, right? Work on it until your worst is your best."

I think that's probably good advice for writers in general. There's always going to be aspects of your writing that you don't like or that you don't like doing.

Ah, which brings me to why I was thinking about this. Tomorrow is the first book event for the promotion of The Fallen. I'm having a "book launch party/signing/event" at Aunt Agatha's in Ann Arbor tomorrow starting at 1:30. Hey, if you're in the area, come on by. There'll be cake.

I probably shouldn't say this in print, because my publisher and publicist reads it, but what the hell. Some level of honestly is required, right? When my publicist contacted me about signings, she told me how important they thought a launch party was. I couldn't envision one, partly because there are no local indie bookstores near me (Aunt Agatha's is 63.32 miles, according to Mapquest, and takes an hour and 17 minutes, not counting getting lost in Ann Arbor or circling looking for parking, to get there). Even the closest chain store is 10 or 15 miles away. Also, I had some doubts about what friends or family I might be able to drag away from their own lives to come to a launch party, so I said "no thanks." Then they brought it up again and I said, "No thanks." They said, "Okay," then came back with, "Robin Agnew (the owner of Aunt Agatha's) would like you to do a signing with author Craig McDonald at her store." I said, "Cool," because Robin has been kind to me in the past, and because it's a great store, and because, well, I'm trying to be cooperative and upbeat about promotion for The Fallen.

Then my publicist, after getting my OK, said, "Oh, by the way, it's a launch party."

Sigh.

Well, it does look like I'm going to be able to get a dozen or more people to come. Granted, most of them are related to me, but that's fine.

I've been excited about all the reviews--almost all raves--I've been getting for The Fallen. There's some word of mouth going on there that's pretty cool and feels distinctly different from the previous novels. I think it has primarily to do with my publisher's efforts. They're really getting behind the book and pushing. So I'm doing my best to help and I'm going to put my happy face on and do the promotion end of things with enthusiasm and energy.

Despite myself.

Because, you see, rather like san-go, I'm not too wild about this aspect of things. But I wonder if these two things aren't sort of related. I'm not really a social butterfly that is comfortable working a room. My sister commented to me once that it's just outside my comfort zone, and she's probably right. And so is san-go.

And I know that the way to deal with things I don't care for because I don't think I'm that good at them is to work at it, to embrace them (and maybe to cut myself some slack, I'm not THAT bad at either san-go or the social thing). And, perhaps, as Sensei Ben said, "...make your worst your best."

[There may be control issues, as well, if you want to get all shrinky about it. You just never know what's going to happen at a book event. Good weather, bad, publicity or none, cool people or whacky people, your books show up or not. But then again, it was quite recently, at a black belt class, that Master Ben Wolbert (not the sensei from before) commented that the idea of controlling other people in a fight is an illusion. What you can control is your actions.]

So, I'm going to try and have some fun. I'm planning on buying Craig McDonald's new book, which sounds interesting, and I'm getting together with family for lunch beforehand. Ought to be fun.

How about you? What do you need to embrace?

8 Comments:

Blogger Jude Hardin said...

Good luck with the event, Mark. Sounds like fun!

6:24 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Thanks, Jude. I'm sure it will be... once I find a parking spot.

6:56 AM  
Blogger Ron Estrada said...

Hmm...maybe I should open an indie on Oxford. There's parking, unless some nut job tapes it off to hold the village ransom. But that would never happen.

I need to embrace getting off my ass and going to actual places I want to write about, like the Sheriff's Dept. (not the itsy outpost, the cool one in Rochester Hills). If they throw me out, fine. I'll write about getting thrown out of the Sheriff's department.

What kind of cake? My kids will need lunch.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Ron,
Probably chocolate

Oakland County's Sheriff's HQ is in Pontiac, that's where the jail and the labs are. Call ahead, tell them you want a tour, tell them you're a writer, assure them repeatedly a NOVELIST, not a JOURNALIST, chances are they won't throw you out. You're a taxpayer, you pay their salaries. Hard to believe, but...

9:49 AM  
Anonymous MG said...

Your publicist is reading this!

Great post...and I have to say: if I were an author, book signings or book launches is the absolute last thing I would want to do. I'm with you 100% on that. You deserve a gold star for agreeing to do the signing.
You're a pro, Mark, and you probaly know this already, but, save for selling a few books, the benefit of doing signings is this:
--meeting folks at the bookstores who get to know you and will actually recommend your book to their patrons. Having booksellers handsell your books is crucial--especially for independent publishers; and
--giving you local media an "excuse" to write about your book. Aunt Agatha's did a fantastic job promoting the event and several of your local media outlets did run mentions of it.

You're a trouper for agreeing to do this, and I hope it goes well for you.

I'm bummed out that I won't be there to get some cake. Dammit.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

MG--I had a choice????

Okay, anyway... here's one I was thinking about that you didn't mention, and at the risk of sounding all altruistic... bookstores hope authors will bring in book buyers. Hence their natural preference for well-known authors who actually can bring in a crowd. Given the hammering indie bookstores are having (hell, ALL bookstores are having), sometimes it seems that the least I can do is try to drag some folks into a bookstore.

I'll do what I can.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

I don't know if I need to embrace anything. I suppose I should embrace publicizing books but you know how I feel about that. The way I figure, Mary and I made a mistake right at the beginning. Rather than trying to do some signings we should have insisted we be identified on our books as X. And further we would not communicate, except about editorial matters, and only with our editor. Then we could have worked up to graciously "giving in" and allowing for a pen name on the books and maybe even an email interview from time to time and we would've seemed accommodating. Hope the launch goes well by the way.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Clara said...

Brilliant post,Mark, and good luck with the event!
I believe it´s something utterly necessary nowadays, since a book does sell itself by its cover... Publicity events end up being essential-though we´re not so pleased with them. Well, you, because I´m still an aspiring author lol!

Hang in there, u know it´s all worth it! ;)
Congrats on the success!

4:00 PM  

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