On The Speaking in The Public

It will not come as a shock to anyone who has met me in person that I am not a natural talker. I am comfortable in silence, or at least in staying silent while the world surrounds me with its endless noise. In conversations, I typically end up following the lead of a more talkative person, quite happy to listen while occasionally commenting, asking questions, making puns, or interjecting random sympathetic noises. When it is down to me to take the lead in conversing, I’m hesitant, sometimes stuttery, and often my sentences wander off when I realize I have no idea how they’re supposed to end.

So you’d think that there are certain aspects of self-promotion that would be more difficult for me–doing interviews and participating on panels at conventions, for instance. These do, in fact, elevate my anxiety levels, and I’m usually looking forward most to the experience being over, so that I can scuttle back to my silent comfort zone. But then the weirdest thing happens — I’m doing the interview or participating on the panel, and I find I’m enjoying it. I’m chattering away–still hesitant, stuttery, and sometimes meandering–but I don’t care because I’m talking about things that I love–the strange places I find ideas, my influences, and things I’m writing.

Take the interview I did with Greg Walker on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book a couple days ago. Between a desire to be ‘on’ and sound like I actually had something to say, my usual pre-speaking anxieties, and a couple large mugs of coffee, I was dialed up toward the high end of my talking abilities. (It also helped that Greg’s a good conversationalist, keeping me going while keeping me from meandering too far afield from talking about Brutal Light. People like me are helped a lot by people like him.) We probably could have gone on for a lot longer than the half-hour of the show.

As for panels, the four I was on for ConClave helped ease my mind on the prospect of my clamming up in the presence of other writers who were better talkers who could gab at length. I was less caffeinated at these events, but was determined to put in my commentary and not be That Guy. To my surprise, I enjoyed the give-and-take, and had fun. (Though, being that they were ninety minute panels, as opposed to the usual sixty, I can’t say they would have gone on for a lot longer than the assigned time.)

The key for me in both situations was preparation. A couple of the panels–the ones on social media marketing and the future of publishing–I did some advance reading on, to give myself a better idea of what the issues and sub-issues were, and to get me thinking on things I’d only nebulously thought about before, if at all. For the interview, I went over the guest interviews and guest blogs I’d done for my virtual book tour, just to refresh myself on how I’d answered some questions and to get me in an expositional frame of mind. (One thing I added that was not in the blog tour–my relating of dark fantasy to noir films and fiction.) It’s a lot easier for me to be ‘on’ when I’m prepared to be ‘on.’

So… it turns out that The Public Speaking is not quite so vexing for me as I’d expected it to be. Of course, it still stirs anxiety, in roughly inverse proportion to the amount of time until I have to do it. But now I also feel like I’m looking forward to it as well… and that’s a good feeling.

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.

Gettin’ Merry With It

The publication of Brutal Light just 23 days ago was undoubtedly the high point of my year. I had a lot of stressful things going on outside of my writing life this year, and while the work on the novel and the promotion thereof got a bit crazy as well, it was the kind of ‘good stress’ that I needed to counteract the not-so-good kind. I learned a lot this year, met a lot of new friends, pushed myself out of my comfort zone for the first time in a long time… and I’m looking forward to next year.

Like I wrote last week, I’m going to be taking next week off from blogging and the other social media venues. No blitherings shall I blog; no statuses shall I update; no tweets shall I twit. I’m also putting off the next issue of the newsletter until January. I’ll be reading everything, of course, but unless I’m really moved to say something (most likely because I’ve thought of a bad pun), it’ll be eerie silence from me until January 2012.

Which is not to say I won’t be busy! I’m on vacation from my day job as well, and am determined to get cranking on my next project, a dark science fiction novella called Entering Cadence. You may have read me going on about it in some of the interviews during my virtual book tour; naturally, the story has mutated further from what I then described. But I’m itching to start it, and next week is a perfect time to do so.

So from me and mine to you and yours, have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a festive New Year!

(And if you like snow, you can have my share, when we get some.)

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.

As the Day Gets Closer…

It doesn’t seem real yet. It may not seem real even after 12/1 gets here. I think, because I’m still of a generation that associates ‘real’ publication with a physical artifact, that it won’t seem real until me until I’m holding a paperback edition. Publication day for Brutal Light is very nearly here.

I don’t know if I can clearly convey what all is going through my head at this moment. Maybe I shouldn’t try. There’s excitement, sure, but also a fair amount of trepidation. I wonder what the response to the book will be. Will it be liked? Loathed? Will I encounter a vast sea of indifference?

You may not be a writer, but chances are you know what this sort of anticipation is like. If you’ve ever taken a chance in expressing something to someone, something that opened yourself up to potential hurt… you know. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking all at once.

I have no words of wisdom on how to deal with it. Maybe next time. In the meantime, I’m keepin’ busy and getting closer to the day…

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.

Social Media: the Twittegooglfacebooketumblring

Over this past year, I’ve been working at the whole social media thing. You know, the whole interconnected mess of blogs, journals, Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds, and the rest, through which I howl into the wires? I’ve had the pieces lying around for quite a while, but it hasn’t been until this year that I had to put them all together. And that was… and is… a lot of work. Even though things are far more advanced than they were when I first created an Internet journal.

Back in 1998, it was a lot simpler. I coded my first website by hand, and started up my journal with it. Whenever I wanted to do an update, I’d create a new page, write the update, and then would update the archive page, and also previous page to include a ‘next’ link. Then I’d FTP those three pages to my web space, and it was done. Easy peasy!

How would my readers, of whom I eventually had two digits worth, find out I’d written something new? Get this–they’d check my site. No RSS feeds or Networked Blogs then. They’d have long lists of journals in their browser favorites, and they’d visit each site one by one, just to see the updates. Every day. We had a lot more time back then. Also, there were something like twelve journals on the whole Internet.

I gave it up after maybe a year and a half. It took too much time. I was running out of things to say.

Then a friend introduced me to Blogger. It was cutting edge in 2001. You’d just type your words into the square, click a button, and Blogger would update your site for you. It was awesome!

I think I lasted two years with that. Once again, I’d run out of things to say.

Then came LiveJournal, which I joined in 2004. This time, instead of a web interface that updated my site, they kept all the updates on theirs. Even better, I could read the journals of many different people all in one place. I didn’t have to trawl through my favorites list hoping to see updates from people. Those who updated, I’d see right away.

I think it was this that kept me from getting tired of LiveJournal as well. Even when I went through periods when I felt like I had nothing to say, I always had plenty to read. I could go to one place, read it, and get on with my day.

Ever since then, I haven’t dropped any of my social networks. I just seem to collect them, like baseball cards or irritating rashes. Orkut fizzled, but Facebook caught and held me, and Twitter affixed itself to my succulent flesh soon after. I added Dreamwidth mostly as a backup for LiveJournal, on account of all The Drama that was going on about the Russians taking over. I got onto Tumblr because a few friends got on and because it had lots of neat stuff being easily shared. I added Google+ because… because it was there, I think. I don’t know, it was all a blur–see, there were these open bottles, and a shot glass that said ‘drink me,’ and next thing I know there was Lawrence Fishburne and Keanu Reeves, only they were wearing leather bustiers and showing me pictures of funny cats and then I woke up and was on Google+.

(That sort of thing happens far more often than you’d think.)

These days, there are all manner of people who will tell you how to use social media. But, I ask you… where are the people who will tell you how social media is using you? Do you know what will happen if you unfriend someone and that someone turns out to be Skynet? DO YOU???

(Sigh.) Never mind. I’m sure it’s just a little paranoia. I have to go ask the computer to schedule my updates and tweets now, so that they appear when the most people will see them. Very kindly, it tells me the best times.

Then I have to check Twitter. Someone called ‘Colossus’ started following me, and I don’t think it’s the X-Men character…

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.


I’m about done (for now, anyway) with my latest rounds of fussing over this website (GaryWOlson.com, for those of you reading this entry from the RSS feed or NetworkedBlogs or what have you, instead of the actual blog). The primary change was a change of template — while I liked the old one, I decided I needed a three-column setup, and that template was fixed at two columns. The one I have now needed a bit of modification (cutting down the way oversized top image, brightening up the text font so it would not get lost against the grey background, assorted other nit-fixing), but I think it’s ready to go.

I also changed my mind about creating a whole separate site to promote Brutal Light. On paper it sounds good, but I was imagining five or six books down the line how much maintainance I’d be doing on my six or seven websites — updating the Joomla installations, fixing broken modules, etc. So I’m setting it up so it’ll be within this site instead (another reason for changing to a template that gives me more display options), right about… here.

Outside of that, the book trailer for Brutal Light is coming along really well, and should be ready to be unveiled in October. I’m glad to be getting that done, as it means I can get to mapping out all the other promotey stuff I need to do between now and December 1st. And those two short stories I mentioned a couple weeks ago? Submitted. Productive Gary is productive!

The only thing I haven’t done yet is get back to outlining. Which will happen… soon. Yes.

The ants come marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah…

Yes, yes, I know. I skipped my federally mandated Update last week. I was away in strange, Internet-challenged lands (known here as “The Thumb”). Then I came back, and went away again. And again.

It hasn’t all been sunshine and toad-licking, though. I’ve been hacking away at a short story to be submitted to an anthology, which has taken much longer than I expected to settle into acceptable form. But it’s finally (almost) there, and it will be winging its way onward soon. I also polished up an older short work, Fabulous Beasts, and submitted it to a magazine. So, appendages crossed and all that.

I’ve also been working on the book trailer for Brutal Light. I’ve got the images picked out and arranged, and am trying to make a final choice on the music. Have to say, I’m having a lot of fun with Windows Live MovieMaker…

And if that wasn’t enough, I’m working on a website specifically centered around Brutal Light. This main GaryWOlson.com site will have all the info, of course, but as my career progresses, my new stuff will always displace the old, and I’d like to have a site hanging about where Brutal Light will always be front and center.

Then there’s the outline for the sequel I’m really really trying to get back to…