of selling books and jumping off buildings. not necessarily in that order.

My latest effort posted up at Storytellers Unplugged:

How To Sell A Book That Doesn’t Exist

Or:

I Didn’t Know I Was a Dark Fantasy Series Paperback Writer Until They Told Me

Or:

In The End You Actually Do Have To Write the Damn Thing

By Justine Musk

My agent called me up the other day.

“I just got off the phone with Jessica,” she said. Jessica is my editor.

“You know how Roc was waiting for the pre-sale numbers to see whether or not they’d want another book?”

For the folk out there who might not be so hip to such complicated publishing jargon, I give a translation of the above: “…You know how your publisher Roc, which is a subdivision of New American Library, which is a subdivision of Penguin, was waiting to see how many copies the national buyers for the ruling giants of Borders and Barnes & Noble, who can make or break an author’s career depending on how they choose to stock their stores, would order of your new book, LORD OF BONES, which comes out July 1 and is a sequel to your first book BLOODANGEL, which came out three years ago, which is an interminably long time between paperback genre novels and had Roc concerned that you had lost some or most or all your readership, before they decided whether or not they’d even be interested in making an offer for the sequel to the sequel, which is tentatively titled SOULSTICE, or maybe SOULJACKER (which, by the way, is also the title of a really cool album by the Eels), which you were thinking you wanted to write?”

“Yes.”

“The numbers are in….” etcetera.

2

Had brunch the other day with my sister Erin, who is a teacher in a less-than-desirable Los Angeles neighborhood and her boyfriend Casey* who works as a Hollywood stuntman. The stuntman community, as it happens, is a small one. The last time I saw Casey I asked him if he knew [insert name here, which I won’t do for obvious reasons] who sat next to me on the plane back from New Orleans where I had attended a Global Green event and he had performed as a vampire who “jumped up twenty feet” in the movie version of those Cirque de Freak novels. Every so often he gets a speaking role. His best role so far was in the movie Dodgeball.

“Yeah, I know [vampire dude],” Casey said. “He tends to get cast as these asshole jock type characters.”

Which is more or less what vampire dude had told me: “I play a lot of assholes.”

[ And I was just now interrupted by my four year old son who said to me, “Mommy can I tell you something?” which is always a bit ominous and then, when I said my loving and encouraging “Sure!”, informed me that gorillas like to poop in their hands and throw it at people. “Why do they do that?” Ah, those big life questions that parenting throws at you. We now return you to your regular programming. ]

Casey (I learned later) called up the vampire dude on his way home from that conversation with me. “So did you enjoy hitting on the sister of my girlfriend?” he asked playfully and when he mentioned the New Orleans flight the vampire dude knew exactly who he was talking about. He said that after meeting me he “was inspired to read more books” which I found oddly touching. I am saving the world from non-reading, one Hollywood stuntman at a time.

Casey is very tall, athletic, with a great chest and shoulders. He griped about the stuntmen who worked on the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and pulled down about sixty thousand dollars off the DVD sales. “I didn’t get the job because they needed little wiry guys who were quick, quick, quick,” he said.

“And you are neither little nor wiry,” I observed, in my astute and sharp-eyed way. “So sometimes that’s a problem.”

“Big men don’t fall well.” He made this flipping diving gesture with his hand that was supposed to demonstrate…I’m not sure, exactly, but I enjoyed it nonetheless and got him to do it again. He enjoys fighting sequences and says that fighting is what he does best, but his last couple of jobs just involved falling off high buildings. “Which I do very badly.”

“Because you’re so big.”

He was nonplussed. “Big men suck at falling.”

I had no idea.

* One of the reasons she likes him is because he’s a bit “street” and “not afraid to come visit me where I work,” which none of her westside friends will do. I haven’t exactly done it myself.

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