Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Writer in the Family

I've been writing this blog for three years, so most of you know that I have a teen-aged son who goes to my alma mater, the Bronx High school of Science, where he's been an active member of the robotics team. He's been building robots since he was 5, so I assumed he would become an engineer. He thought he would too, until he started writing.

My son also loves science fiction, and fantasy, and to my joy, horror (you all know that my heart belongs to horror?). I was overjoyed when he came home form camp one year and told me that 1984 was his favorite book (it's at the top of my list too). I attend the World Fantasy Convention almost every year, as well as NeCon, a small horror and dark fantasy writers' con in Rhode Island every summer. And every year I ask my son if he wants to go with me, and every year he says no, as though the thought of hanging out with his mother and her old horror-writing friends is worse than sitting through a My Little Pony marathon. So, two years ago I didn't even ask him if he wanted to go. And, of course, he asked me if he could.

I was shocked. "Why would you want to go to a writers con?" I asked.

"Because I'm working on my novel." Now, I knew he was "writing," but I figured he was "writing" like most other 15 year olds.

"How many pages have you written?" I asked

"Two hundred twenty of about 400," he answered.

And I was shocked again, because I really had no idea just how bitten by the bug he had been.

He went to NeCon, where he not only held his own, but did a horror/fantasy stand up routine that will live on in NeCon history forever, as well as made a whole bunch of his own friends (meaning separate from mine).

He went on to write a 550 page first draft of a dystopian urban fantasy, which I refused to read. (agents should never represent family, and parents in the publishing business should never give their writer kids the slightest reason to not write). I paired him up with two of my oldest friends who are writers, who guided him though the writing and rewriting process. The only advice I gave him (and not on purpose) was he heard me telling another writer that a fantasy novel in today's market has to come in at about 300 pages, so he rewrote his book into two separate novels.

Meanwhile he was also playing World of Warcraft religiously and moderating a whole bunch of WOW sites. He eventually became the co-host of a WOW podcast, and met his colleagues from the station in Anaheim last year for the WOW convention. Heady stuff for a 16 year-old.

I was proud of him, but still thought he would go into engineering.

Then we started the college application process. We had been thinking MIT, John Hopkins, Carnegie Mellon, RIT as a safe.

He told me that maybe he didn't want to major in engineering, since he was doing so much writing. I said, "no prob. Just double major," thinking I had everything under control.

About three weeks before all the applications were due, he said, "I think I want to major in English."

I took to my bed and wished I had smelling salts.

I said to myself, "what's he going to do for a living?"

And then I realized, what do I do for a living?

So I told him he could get that English degree, if he considered becoming an agent when he graduated. He emailed all his comic book and gaming friends and asked if they thought they'd need agents in the future, and they all said, "we need one now," so we know where he's heading in the near future.

And this weekend we learned that he sold his first short story to an anthology published by one of the major NY houses!

It's kind of amazing, because I didn't see it coming, although everyone else I know says it was written on the wall. I just never turned around to read it. Duh!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Marsha's Suggestion for Haitian Help

As many of you know, my senior agent, Marsha Philitas, is Haitian-American. Below is a letter she sent to colleagues who have asked her how to help:

As most of you know, I am Haitian-American and watching Haiti be devastated by one powerful earthquake after another has been heartbreaking. Fortunately, my family is safe. We have heard from our extended family in Port-au-Prince and they survived the quake with minor injuries. But I worry for all those that haven't been found and for the sustainability of the rescue that is now taking place.

Many of you have asked me the best way to help contribute to the relief efforts. From my research, I've chosen to donate to Partners In Health at this time and urge you to do the same. PIH has been providing healthcare in the poorest areas of Haiti for over 25 years, so they are well equipped to provide aid with little resources. They were also one of the first organizations to respond on the ground when collapsed hospitals were abandoned. They maintained their clinics on the Haitian countryside and set up make-shift clinics in Port-au-Prince.

Personally, I've been a long time fan of PIH for their dedication to working WITH Haitians to provide much needed healthcare in a way that honors local culture and national pride.

They also have a 6% overhead, the lowest I've seen in a relief organization already established in Haiti. (Though please correct me if you have more information on this).

So I am raising funds for Partners In Health and I hope that you will join me.

Please help me reach my goal by making a contribution at:

Thank you!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I've Joined the Twitterati

After much kicking and screaming, I've given in and am now tweeting voraciously, so please feel free to join me and follow my every waking move @LoriPerkinsRR. You'll know when I get up and when I go to sleep, and what I've had for dinner and what I watch on TV. Nothing is sacred.

It's an amazing social networking world.

Its funny. I've been on Facebook for over a year, and on Twitter for less than a week, and they are very different mediums.

I love Facebook, because it's like short articles, you can attach websites with a brief photo, and my "friends" bios are so much more insightful. It's also much easier to find people by their real names on Facebook. And I like the comment and "like" features of Facebook to comment on something one of my friends wrote. There's no way to do that on Twitter - you have to retweet.

Twitter is great for fast news, notes and ideas, as well as reactions to news, notes and ideas. It's like a constant IM conversation with the people I want to hear from.

But all this social networking leaves me even less time to blog.

And I haven't written in my journal in weeks.