Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Week: Guest Blogger David B. Coe

UPDATE: The winner of THE SORCERERS' PLAGUE by David B. Coe is Kate Pearce!
This week we're celebrating Halloween with an awesome line-up of guest bloggers, including David B. Coe, Chloe Neill, Marilyn Brant, Robin Owens and P.N. Elrod. As part of the celebration the authors are giving away signed copies of their books and TKA is hosting a special scavenger hunt! Who says you have to be a 9 year old dressed up as a G.I. Joe or "Balloon Boy" to have a good time?
There are TWO ways to win. Each day this week (Oct. 26 thru Oct. 30th) a guest blogger will give away a signed book to one person randomly chosen from the comment section. Also, at the bottom of the post there will be a scavenger hunt question. The answer can be located somewhere on the author's website. Send in all 5 correct answers* to the scavenger hunt questions, and you will be entered in a drawing to win a $50 Visa gift card!!! We're sure that will come in handy as the holidays approach. Without further ado, welcome our first guest blogger, author David B. Coe!
Halloween. We think of ghouls, of jack-o-lanterns, of ghost stories. But there’s another side to dressing up and taking on a different persona for a few hours.

I remember how, as a kid, I used to get so excited about my costume (and, yes, about the prospect of gobs and gobs of candy). I’d spend a couple of weeks trying to come up with a costume idea; I’d consider different possibilities, and talk to my friends about what they were going to be. I’m a Dad now, and I’ve seen my daughters do the same thing. I usually wound up with costumes like “baseball player” or “astronaut” or “fireman”, just as my kids have been “dancers” and “soccer players”. And watching my girls this time of year, I’ve come to realize that these can be more than just identities taken on for a night -- sometimes they represent dreams of possible futures. Certainly they did for me.

The thing is, though, I never dressed up as “a professional writer.” Few kids do. First of all, I’m not sure what that costume would look like. Sweats and a t-shirt? Pajamas and slippers? Jeans and a flannel shirt (my personal favorite)? But more to the point, writing isn’t a career about which most kids dream. Adults, on the other hand, are another story. I know lots of people who would give all that they own to be published authors. I recall feeling the same way when I was starting out. And I remember some advice from my father-in-law that has stayed with me for the past fifteen years.
He’s a farmer, and has been pretty successful at it over the years. But when he first decided to buy a farm, after a long career as a Navy pilot, he wasn’t sure he could make a living working the land. His friends told him he was nuts even to try. “So I bought a cow,” he told me. “I bought a cow because that’s what farmers did. And then I started to think of myself as a farmer. Once I did that, it didn’t matter what other people thought or said. I was a farmer.”

After speaking with him, I tried to do the same thing, and it worked for me, too. No, I didn’t buy a cow. I got myself some reference books, set up my office the way I thought a writer should, and I put my butt in the chair every day and began to write short stories about the characters I intended to use in my first novel. Because that’s what writers do: They write. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t sold my first book yet. It didn’t matter that many in my family and some of my friends thought I was crazy to give up my academic career to write fantasy. What did matter was that I had started to think of myself as a writer; I had started to believe that I could fulfill my dream of being published.

Okay, at this point maybe you’re thinking that it’s a long way from a baseball player costume to a cow to a writing career. But really, it’s not as far as you think. Just as my father-in-law’s cow got him to start farming, thinking of myself as a writer made me sit down at my computer each morning and write; the short stories I produced that first summer gave me the confidence to begin my novel; two years later that novel was published by Tor Books. And ten books later, I’ve got the career of which I dreamed and I’m still sitting down to write every morning.

It’s often said that dreams are powerful things. In my experience, belief is even stronger. So if you want to write, stop dreaming and start believing. Put on your writing costume, whatever that might be, get whatever props will make you feel more like an author, and write. I can’t guarantee that it will get you published, but it’s worth a try, right?

Oh, and one more thing about costumes. Several years back, when my younger daughter was in kindergarten, her school had a dress-up day: Come as your favorite book character or author. She put on jeans and a flannel shirt, used burnt cork to give herself a beard, borrowed an old pair of glasses (with the lenses removed, of course). And she went as me. To this day, it might well be the proudest moment of my career.

Coming in February 2010:

THE DARK-EYES' WAR, Book III of Blood of the Southlands (Tor Books)
THE HORSEMAN'S GAMBIT, Book II of Blood of the Southlands (Tor Books -- mass market reissue)

SCAVENGER HUNT QUESTION (1 of 5): What is the opening line of THE SORCERERS' PLAGUE by David B. Coe?

Also remember that you can win twice! Collect the scavenger hunt answers, and also leave a comment to enter a random drawing for a signed copy of THE SORCERERS' PLAGUE, Book One in the BLOOD OF THE SOUTHLANDS series! The winner of David's book will be announced in this post tomorrow morning.

*Please note, that the correct answers to the scavenger hunt questions must be sent in at one time. You must collect all 5 answers and send them in one email. Entries for the scavenger hunt will be accepted from Friday, October 30th thru Sunday, November 1st at midnight. The winner will be announed on this blog Monday, November 2nd, 2009. If you have any questions about this contest, please contact contests(AT)

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Blogger CheekyGirl said...

What a lovely thought abotu Halloween costumes and kids. Although I think back to some of mine and wonder...did I really want to be an old-school railroad tramp? LOL

The advice from your FIL resonates with me and I love how you turned your writing space into what you thought it should be for a "real" author.

Great post!

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 9:27:00 AM EDT  
Blogger elnice said...

What a great post. Very inpirational. I love the cow reference. And the part at the end when she dressed as you, awwww. Congrats on your success.

Elie (Ellz Readz)

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 9:35:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous professionaltouch said...

Great post! I totally agree with "playing the part" to obtain what you want. The mind will believe what you conceive.

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 9:42:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Rain Maiden said...

My nine year old son wears his Halloween costumes all year round. He will even mix up costumes. I get a kick out of him. Blood of the Southlands is new to me. Is it geared toward a young readers? They sound wonderful. Great interview.

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 10:58:00 AM EDT  
Blogger tetewa said...

Sounds like its going to be a fun week here, Halloween is my favorite time of the year!

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 12:40:00 PM EDT  
OpenID davidbcoe said...

Thanks, CG! (Since I don't know you, I don't really feel comfortable calling you Cheeky....) The trappings of my office space were nothing special -- a new dictionary, a big honkin' Roget's, the Chicago Manual of Style, some books about mythology and history and magic, and, of course, a stereo. But that was enough to get me going.

Glad you liked the post, Elie. And yes, there was a lot of "Awwww" in our little town at her costume. Thanks for the comment.

Thank you, PT. Playing the part, putting on hats -- there are lots of ways I refer to what I did and what my father-in-law did. But as you say, it does work. I appreciate the comment.

RM, your son sounds great -- feeding the imagination. Maybe he'll be a writer someday! Blood of the Southlands is geared toward adults, although sophisticated late-tweens and teens can certainly handle it. No hard core sex, but some violence, battle scenes, and many instances of bad things happening to good people. And thank you; glad you liked the post.

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 12:48:00 PM EDT  
OpenID davidbcoe said...

Tetewa, missed your comment. Sorry. Yes, it should be a great lead up to Halloween -- Knight has some wonderful authors lined up for the rest of the week.

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 12:51:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Kate Pearce said...

What a great post-I loved the cow reference. The last time one of my kids mentioned me being a writer at school was at a mother's day pary when he stood up and told everyone that I was the best mom ever because I did the laundry and copied other people's books... sigh. I like your story much better LOL

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 1:41:00 PM EDT  
OpenID davidbcoe said...

Great story, Kate! That's hilarious! I remember once my older daughter was in school (her teacher at the time told me this after the fact) and they were going around the room talking about what their parents did for a living, and she said, "My Dad writes stories about castles!" which was pretty close to the truth at the time. Thanks for the comment. Glad you liked the post.

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 2:20:00 PM EDT  
Blogger LDFerris said...

Wow, that's a great story and I can totally see how to relate the Halloween costumes to your career - I remember dressing up as a cheerleader, a dancer, a doctor... but I did dress up as the Loch Ness Monster one year, and I'm pretty sure that I don't have any asperations to become a sea creature. No offense to Nessie, she's my favorite monster!

Thanks for the inspiration David. Hearing, or rather reading, your words really did hit a soft spot with me. Like your FIL, my Dad is a farmer and both he and my mom have been my #1 supporters (well, they tie with my hubby) and I know that if it weren't for them I would never be able to make the attempt at being a "real writer" that I am. Now after considering what you've written, I guess I shouldn't say that I'm attempting it should I?

Thanks David, this was a great post!! Happy Halloween!!

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 2:45:00 PM EDT  
OpenID davidbcoe said...

Many thanks for the kind words, LD. That's right -- you're not making the attempt; you're a writer! Keep writing and keep thinking of yourself that way.

But I think you need to give some serious thought as to whether you weren't meant to be a mythic creature living in Scotland!! ;)

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 3:17:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Gloria Oliver said...

Very well said! Believing is half the battle. And loved the story about your daughter going dressed up as you. Awesome!

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 4:39:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Marlyn said...

I got a little choked up when I read the last paragraph.

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 5:36:00 PM EDT  
Blogger ddurance said...

Tis true what you said about dressing up for Halloween. There are many jobs that are very important and lucrative careers that are too often overlooked when thinking about costumes..teacher, scientist, stay at home mom or stay at home dad. What a cute story about your daughter! That was an amazing compliment that she paid to you.


Monday, October 26, 2009 at 8:36:00 PM EDT  
OpenID davidbcoe said...

Gloria, Marilyn, Deirdre, many thanks for the kind comments. Yeah, I rarely tell that story about my daughter dressing up like me when I'm speaking, because I can barely get through it without getting a little verklempt. We have a picture of her from that day that I absolutely treasure.

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 9:38:00 PM EDT  

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