It’s my third ICRS. Can you believe it?

So I got here thinking that this would be my big year, you know? The grand finale of the Dominion Trilogy, the big ending, the Trilogy is completed. Quite an accomplishment. I figured I had reason to feel kinda special this year.

Turns out, I’m not so much. As it was explained to me, the third book in a series is “a hard sell,” because the audience for the series is “pretty much defined at this point.” What about people new to the series who could be enticed to start at the beginning and buy/read all three, you ask? I guess we don’t care that much about reaching them.

I was only requested for one interview this year (though it’s with Moody Radio, which is pretty cool), and Bethany House didn’t even bother to put up a poster for the cover of Merciless anywhere on their booth, as they have the last two years, with Relentless and Fearless. And it might make me petty, but I’m a little nonplussed at that.

However, all this leads me to believe that next year, Offworld will be a much bigger deal. I mean, I guess it will. Because it’s something entirely new, it’s more easily accessible to new readers, and therefore it’s easier for salesmen and bookstore buyers to take hold of. It all makes sense, I guess, but I sure wish I’d known beforehand that the industry hype for the Trilogy would dwindle for the last book. It seems like such a shame, doesn’t it? Fearless got a lot more attention when it came out, but Merciless is unquestionably the superior book.

In other news, I found out today that my next three novels with Bethany House (including Offworld) will release only in trade paperback. The time of the hardbacks at BHP has ended! I was kinda shocked at this. Apparently, bookstores hate hard cover books from BHP… something to do with displaying in stores and store sales and all that wonderful red tape. Basically, the stores don’t like ’em, so BHP ain’t makin’ ’em anymore.

I suppose that’s a good thing. I imagine most readers will think it is; it’ll be a lot easier on their wallets. But there’s a certain level of prestige that only comes with hardback releases, which I’ll miss. (That’s my ego talking… Just ignore it and it’ll go away.)

Ran into Brad Whittington, the hilariously witty author of “the Fred books,” as they’re called. We hung out at a special event for authors represented by Alive Communications, where the special speaker was Anne Graham Lotz. She was fantastic. She spoke about the seven churches of Revelation, and told about actually visiting the ruins of all seven recently on a special trip she took, and taught on what she learned from each church and what the Bible had to say about them. It wasn’t a big scholarly thing; she explained the insights God revealed to her about her own life through studying these ancient churches. It was really awesome stuff about God’s sufficiency and how he only uses the weak and the small and the unworthy — because they’re the ones that let him lead the way. One of my favorite things she said was that if God opens a door in front of you, he doesn’t do it so you can poke your head inside and see what it looks like in there. He means for you to walk through it — right then, when the door opens.

Oh, and every time I see someone I know, they immediately want to know what happened at Infuze. Why did it close down? What really happened? (Our funding was pulled, it’s just that simple.)

Insider dirt is big at ICRS.

Ran into a few other people I know, like the super-sweet Brandilyn Collins. Here I thought most of the authors I know wouldn’t even be here this year, since so many of them are signed to Thomas Nelson, and TN (creating quite the stir) pulled out of ICRS this year.

So that’s my first day. Good fellowship and networking so far. Met some really nice people. Got a little discouraged that Merciless isn’t going to be the hot tamale I’d hoped it might be. And I’m really worn out at seeing some of the horribly cliched and silly books and gifts and whatnot that this industry puts out; it’s such a silly cliche it’s hard to believe it still happens, but not only does it happen, they celebrate it with big, giant banners all over the place. It’s surreal.

But while the industry may be kind of a strange animal, the people are, by and large, good, kind, warm, friendly folks.

Big, big day tomorrow. That one interview I mentioned is in the afternoon. My book signing is at 11:30 in the morning (which makes me a bit nervous that no one I know will show up, since they might not have been there long enough to find out what time my signing is). Then there’s the annual Baker/Bethany Dinner, which is taking place at Epcot this year. (Oh, did I mention I’ve never been to Florida before? So this is my first time at everything.) Anyway, I gotta get to bed. It’s gonna be crazy tomorrow.

Check out my pictures from my first day. I posted ’em on Facebook.