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2008 Retrospective

11 Jan

First off, an apology: I’ve been quiet, I know, but friends of ours got married and we were helping out to get everything organized. πŸ™‚

Wow! πŸ™‚ I s’pose that’s the best word to use when I look back on these months of blogging! πŸ™‚ Even though I’ve only been blogging since July ’08, I’ve had some incredible luck (getting authors for interviews, getting some incredible books from publishers), but the thing that keeps me coming back and posting is the fact that I’ve met some wonderful people. πŸ™‚ Since this post is officially the one-hundredth post I thought I’d give you all a look-back at why I started the blog and some of the more memorable moments. πŸ™‚

Okay, so, July ’08. I started a group on Facebook to discuss the Star Wars series of novels, Legacy of the Force; I started the group on Facebook because in the message forums, such as on theforce.net and at the official site, unless you are there regularly you are basically ignored, or your opinions don’t really count for much. So I started this group, invited a few friends, got some topics up to discuss, and away we went! After a while the group was dying a slow death (this was around the time book 7, Fury, was already on the shelves and we were waiting for book 8, Revelation) so I thought that I would try and get the authors of the series together for a round-robin interview – out of the three, only Karen Traviss replied (and I don’t hold anything against Aaron Allston or Troy Denning; they are incredibly busy people!), so I sent off the interview questions to her. During that time I had asked the publishers here in SA if they would be kind enough to help me out by sending me newly-published novels in SFF, as well as proof copies or ARC’s, so that I could read and review them. I wasn’t even thinking about starting a blog – you see, I work in a bookshop, and thought that I could put up the reviews in-store and try and boost sales in the SFF section. So I get the first delivery of books, and the one that grabs my eye first is The Painted Man by Peter V Brett.

By the end of that day (a work-day, no less) I was thirty pages in and hooked! I got hold of Peat, exchanged a few emails, and he agreed to an interview. He even sent me some stuff that I could use in-store, to market the book a bit more when our stock arrived, and that led to us selling out our delivery of The Painted Man in two weeks! πŸ™‚ I finished the book, found WordPress, and started the blog, making my review of The Painted Man the first ever post. πŸ™‚

(A small aside here: someone out there used Google-translate to translate that entire first post into Japanese! It was amazing to see my blog on the screen and not be able to read a single word on it! Whoever you are, that was awesome!)

And then the blog just carried on from there – I feel no shame in admitting that I blitzed through author-sites looking for email addresses, and as I found them, I sent out polite requests to do email interviews. Before I new it, and had quite a few authors lined up and a stack of brand new books to read and review. To say I was chuffed beyond measure wouldn’t come close! πŸ™‚

The day after the interview with Peat was posted, I posted an interview with SF legend Dr Ben Bova, and I was still waiting for another interview to come in; it felt incredibly weird, at first, to see the results on my blog – I mean, here I’ve read a book that I enjoyed and I’m able to send questions to the person that wrote the book! It’s crazy (at least for me) to have been able to make that jump! πŸ™‚

The next few interviews came in, David Anthony Durham, Jo Graham, Karen Miller, and by now I was seeing constant traffic on the blog – people were posting comments and coming back! πŸ™‚ I had also ‘met’ some wonderful people – Liz from My Favourite Books, Mark from Walker of Worlds, Darren Turpin from Little Brown and Orbit, and it really began to feel like I was accomplishing something. πŸ™‚ Not only were these people who had been doing what they do for longer than me, but they were also people who welcomed me, helped me out, always had advice, and always encouraged me. I can say without a doubt that there is a small group of people who made this blog possible – Peter V Brett, Karen Traviss, Liz de Jager, Mark Chitty, Darren Turpin, Emily at Random House, Elmarie at Jonathan Ball and Sonja at Penguin. πŸ™‚ Thanks guys and girls! πŸ™‚ If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to do this, to have got in touch with the people I have and to feel part of a great community. We all love books, love reading, love being swept away and then being shocked at what the time is when we finally set the book down; we all love talking about what we love, and sharing that love with everyone, but I’ve got this funny idea that even if no-one ever left comments or visited our blogs we would still be doing this, because we don’t do it for everyone out there (at least, I don’); we do it for ourselves, because the books that we read are just too damn good to keep quite about! πŸ™‚ And if only one person ever picks up a book that we reccomend, then it’s enough. After all, you can’t change the world all at once. πŸ™‚

So, big moments for me on the blog:
Well, everything! πŸ™‚ I wouldn’t be able to narrow it down to a top 3 or even a top 5. I’ve loved doing every review and interview, being able to chat to authors (even to their personal assistants) and being part of such a great community. πŸ™‚ You all have given a guy from South Africa a chance to play in a big world and I thank you all for that! πŸ™‚

Here’s to 2009 – may it be bigger, better and brighter than 2008! πŸ™‚

But what have I got coming up next, you ask? πŸ™‚ Well, ol’ GRRM has got me hooked – I’m just over half-way with A Game of Thrones – and I’ve also found Karen Traviss’ Republic Commando: Order 66; when I’m done with those, there’ll be reviews, and then I’ll be finishing Steph Swainston’s The Modern World. When I’m done with that, I’ll need to get to Greyrider, and then I’ll be digging further into the box I received from Jonathan Ball (some great stuff in there!).

Also, this coming week will hopefully see the uploading of the audio excerpt of Steven Erikson’s Malazan book, Gardens of the Moon. πŸ™‚

I’ve also got some other stuff coming up, more interviews too, so keep an eye on your feed – I’ll be keeping you all every busy! πŸ™‚

Be Fantastic!

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6 Comments

Posted by on January 11, 2009 in Retrospective

 

6 responses to “2008 Retrospective

  1. Mark Chitty

    January 11, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Thanks for the mention Dave, it’s a pleasure to help wherever I can (not that I imagine I did much compared to the other great guys you mentioned!) πŸ™‚ The blog has been great so far and I can only imagine what you’ve got in store for us in 2009!

     
  2. Robert Preston

    January 11, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    I’ve just stumbled across your site for the first time, and I wish I’d found it sooner! You seem to have a real enthusiasm for books, and a good grasp of what other people lioke, too – well done!
    I’ve just had my debut novel ‘The Siege’ published (how cool?!) and I’d love it if you would review it – if you like, I can send you an electronic ms. It’s also available online at http://www.eloquentbooks.com/TheSiege.html
    Whatever the case, keep up the good work – I love reading (SF especially) and am always on the lookout for new authors – you’ve given me some ideas already! I’ll definitely be coming back, Dave πŸ™‚

     
  3. davebrendon

    January 12, 2009 at 5:08 am

    No worries, Mark, but you have helped out a lot, and your advice has been great! πŸ™‚

     
  4. Liz

    January 13, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Wow! I’ve not had a chance to check my RSS feeds for a while and then I just read this….how cool are you?! Thanks so much for the lovely compliments. Here’s to a 2009 that’s going to be awesome beyond belief.

    Also, make sure you have Feb 2010 penned in your diary – we’re coming over for a visit to SA and you’re invited to a MASSIVE braai.

     
  5. davebrendon

    January 14, 2009 at 11:48 am

    To Robert: Thanks for dropping by, and looking forward to reading The Siege! πŸ™‚

    To Liz: ye I know, even though the year is only 14 days old it’s crazy-busy, I’m currently a headless chicken, can’t remember what I was yesterday! πŸ™‚ I hope you and Mark had a great start to ’09 and a wonderful Christmas! πŸ™‚ And that date in Feb ’10 is set in stone, the braai is going to be kickass!:-)

     
  6. davebrendon

    January 14, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Wow, check out the smilies! Hehehehe!

     

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M.D. Thalmann

M.D. Thalmann, a novelist and freelance journalist with an affinity for satire and science fiction, lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife, children, and ornery cats, reads too much and sleeps too little.

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