Comic-Con ’08, here I come!

It’s that crazy time of the year, and I’ll be flying out early in the morning at the crack of whyamIawake? to San Diego for the annual Geekapalooza, Nerdopolis, fanboy prom… Comic-Con! I and 125,000 of my closest friends (or, you know, total strangers, whatever) will be taking a look at what’s hot and what’s to come in the world of movies, television, comic books, video games, and more.

I’ll be blogging my experiences and all of the latest news over at PopCultureGeek.com with my partner in crime, Doug Kline. We’re going all out for our usual non-stop coverage, with tons of photos, videos, and lots and lots of words.

I’m also going to try and shop myself around to the comic book publishing companies and see if I can get a foot in the door to do some comic book writing. (If you feel led to pray for this, that would be great! Karen and I could really use the income.) I don’t expect it to be easy — like all things, it will depend on meeting just the right people — but I’m going to pray for some divine appointments and give it my best shot.

Here goes nothing.

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ICRS2008: Finishing Up & a visit to NASA

I don’t have a lot to say about today at ICRS, because I didn’t stay that long. I was pretty much done by around 11:30 in the morning. As I told several people on my way out, ICRS started making me feel bad about being a Christian today. It wasn’t any different than yesterday, really, I just reached a critical mass point with it. I had to get out. And I won’t be going back tomorrow. I’ve had my fill. I’m all done for this year. See you in Denver in next year, CBA.

Before I forget, let me say once again a huge THANK YOU to everyone who came to my book signing. 2008 hasn’t been my best year, professionally, so it did my heart good to be here for that. It was so nice to meet some true fans among the crowd, and I even heard several comments about how much some of you miss Infuze, which was also a really nice thing for these ears to hear.

(And fans of Infuze: stay tuned. I don’t have a website in the works, and Infuze isn’t coming back. It’s nothing like that. But I may have a bit of news in the near future that should be of great interest to Infuze enthusiasts.)

Speaking of Infuze, I ran into blogger/writer/thinker/speaker Andy Crouch today. He’s a guy after Infuze’s heart. We’d never met before, and he was doing a book signing for his new nonfiction title, Culture Making, which looks really good, and right up my alley. Super nice guy. Can’t wait to read that book.

I’m missing E3 to be here, and man, I do feel it. I could have gone and covered it for PopCultureGeek.com, but my wife and I both felt that ICRS was more important. (And probably less expensive.) I miss my annual video game fix, though.

Had a cool lunch meeting with Paul Higdon (the designer of all my book covers, I mentioned him yesterday), and we brainstormed cover ideas for Offworld, my next novel. (I’m writing it now; it’ll be out next summer.) He’s insanely talented, but this is a tricky one. It’s got a simple story hook, but that same hook represents an enormous challenge to communicate visually. Paul asked me really intelligent questions about the story, the characters, the thematic elements, and the entire plot. And I answered his every question as best I could. I could practically see the wheels turning in his mind. Sometimes when I answered one of his questions, his eyes would twinkle a little bit. We seemed to be on the same page as for the level of detail and photo-realism and how it should be presented. Now it just comes down to what he can come up with, image wise, with the limited budget BHP has. I should get to see something within the next few months, but I gave Paul all my info so we can stay in direct contact, and he can continue to grill me if needed.

Speaking of Offworld, after I left the convention center after lunch, I rented a car and drove out to Kennedy Space Center. I’d always wanted to go there, and this was too good an opportunity to pass up. Plus, it allowed me to do a little research for Offworld. (Don’t bother asking for details; my lips are sealed!) I took tons of photos and threw a few of them up on Facebook. Check it out if you can. They turned out pretty cool, especially the super-zooms I was able to get of the launching pads and gantries. Wish I’d had more than a few hours to poke around; there’s tons more to do there than you might think.

That’s pretty much it for me from ICRS this year. It was a fun experience. I loved connecting with friends, old and new. And I’m glad it’s over now and I get to go home and see my adoring wife and my wonderful little boy!

(And despite what Sharon Hinck may tell you, my 7-month-old son Evan really can say “I love Da-Da.”)

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ICRS2008: Random Observations from Day 1

I actually took notes so I’d remember all this stuff for my blog. That’s right, I love my readers that much. And also, I may not officially be a reporter at the moment, but I just can’t seem to shake the habit.

In no particular order:

  • Everyone seems to be commenting on what a “weird year” it is at ICRS this year. Attendance feels down somewhat. Tough economic times appear to be catching up with the industry.
  • This morning people kept forcing flyers and postcards into my hands. And I kept dropping them in the trash. No offense to struggling writers out there (cause I are one too), but the last thing anyone at ICRS needs is something else to carry around or take home.
  • You wouldn’t believe how many guys are wearing shorts and girls are wearing capris. Probably because we’re in Florida and the air here is 80% water. But I kinda dig “the dressing down of ICRS.” It’s refreshing. Why shouldn’t we all be comfortable?
  • The different sections of the show floor are separated and color coded this year. It’s very neatly done. All of the book vendors, for example, are on blue carpet. All of the gift vendors are on green carpet. Personally, I give the green carpet a wide berth. Something about the gifts just creeps me out. Though I did pop inside this “New Product Showcase” thing that was right in the middle of the book section, and found some indescribable stuff (which you can see in my Facebook photo album). I think my favorite was the leather pillow with a Bible verse inscribed in it. You have to see it to believe it.
  • I keep running into people I know while wandering the show floor. It’s fun. Invariably, they ask: “So what are you up to?” And my stock answer: “I’m trolling for books. I’m not going to lie. It’s all about the free stuff.”
  • Speaking of freebies, I tried to score a brand new NLT Study Bible, which looks exceedingly cool (I’ve always liked the New Living Translation) and just hit the market, but a very nice Tyndale rep apologized and said they only had 100 of them, and they were for retailers only. I totally respect that, but hey, you can’t blame a guy for trying.
  • If you’ve ever been to ICRS, you know the following is true. And if you plan on going in the future, here’s an important survival tip. In conversation, you will hear so many names that you don’t know, constantly being tossed around by people you do know. Just pretend you know who these mystery people are. “So I was talking to John Smith the other day, and he mentioned how commercial ICRS is becoming…” I just nod and say something like, “Oh yeah, he’s great.”
  • I saw Relentless in a few different places on the show floor. Once in the International Pavilion, on the bookshelf there. Also spotted it at a discount book seller. Hrm.
  • Ran into the irrepressable Sharon Hinck, and was so glad to see her here. We had several occasions to hang out and talk, and it was just a blast. She was a little down in the dumps but I think I managed to cheer her up a tad, and then later in the day she met her #1 fan, which cheered her up a LOT, methinks. I also learned that she worries about the feelings of inanimate objects. Seriously. She said that she worries about her sweaters. Like, if she wears one for too long, the others might feel neglected. I could add a punchline here, but frankly Sharon’s just so sweet I can’t bring myself to do it (and it doesn’t really need a punchline, does it?). Check out her books. She’s an excellent writer. I loved hanging out with her today. Great fun.
  • Finally got to meet mister Michael Snyder in person. That was a special treat, because his short story, “My Name Is Russell Fink,” was originally published at INFUZE a couple of years ago, and it even won the contest we ran to determine entry in the short story & poems compilation book we put out. Since then, Mike’s gone on to sign a publishing deal with Zondervan, and he’s turned the “Russell Fink” short story into a novel by the same name. I read the first chapter this afternoon during a little downtime and was laughing out loud all by myself. Mike has a natural talent for writing witty, off-kilter comedy, and I highly recommend checking it out.
  • My book signing this morning went GREAT. We never had long lines, but the line was steady and constantly replenished itself, and by the end of the hour, we’d run completely out of books. Woohoo! That’s 3 for 3. Nicole C. Mullen even showed up and picked up copies of all three books for her husband David. David, if you read this, I’d love to hear what you think of them! Email me.
  • I did an interview this afternoon with WBMI Radio from Chicago, which is part of the Moody Broadcasting network. Very cool. I wasn’t expecting it, but the interviewer really gave me a chance to hop onto my soapbox about the design flaws in the various “Christian” industries, and I totally took the bait. Couldn’t resist. (Once you get fired up, it’s hard to stop.) She seemed to love it, so I think it went quite well. No idea how people will react when they hear it. Hopefully I won’t offend anyone. I’d love to tell you when it will air, but she didn’t know yet. Oh, and we also talked about Merciless. :)
  • Jesus is at ICRS. Seriously. There’s a guy wandering the show floor dressed as Jesus. He’s super groomed, too, kind of metrosexual-like. His hair is no stranger to the product. I couldn’t figure out what company he was there representing, because every time I saw him, he was either on the move, or standing in a different part of the convention center. But I saw him repeatedly. Got a picture, too. (It’s on Facebook with the rest.) Also spotted a couple of gladiators, and a few Berenstain Bears. I understand that Po, the main character from Kung Fu Panda, put in an appearance at the Word booth, but I wasn’t there.
  • I’m not sure, and I have no proof, but I think Karen Kingsbury did signings today at every single booth in the exhibit hall. That woman gets around like nobody’s business.
  • The Baker Publishing annual dinner was tonight at EPCOT. (Bethany House, my publisher, is a subsidiary of Baker Books.) Very nice, very fun. Good food, fun company. Afterwards we went outside and watched the 9:PM fireworks and light show. (Yep, you guessed it: pictures are on Facebook.) It was so humid I was little more than a dress shirt in a puddle by the end.
  • Tonight at the Baker dinner I met a very cool guy I’ve met a few times in the past, but this was my first opportunity to really get to talk to him at length. His name is Paul Higdon, and he is the graphic design artist who created the covers to all three of my novels. He told me that the process used to create the shiny, metallic cover for Merciless was actually a first for the publishing industry! I was so jazzed to hear this — I knew it was cool, but I had no idea it was a first! I can’t do justice to his description of how it was done, but basically there were various color passes done overtop of this foil cover, and no one even knew if it would work until they tried it. Apparently it cost a fair bit of money to do it, but Paul took the initiative to do it all on his own, simply because it was the last book in the trilogy and he wanted it to have a special look to it. I cannot put into words how grateful I am to him for putting his special touch on this book cover. It’s a fantastic cover and I LOVE him for going out of his way to do something really unprecedented to signify the “grand finale” of the trilogy. (If you haven’t seen the cover in person, photos don’t do it justice.) I’m in awe of Paul and his talents!

Off to bed now, at last… More tomorrow.

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ICRS2008: Where’s the Love?

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.

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First Merciless reviews coming in

These are the first two reviews I’ve seen anywhere:

A Peek At My Bookshelf

What Robin Parrish has done with the Dominion Trilogy is take the best aspects of comic books and combined them with the best aspects of regular fiction (i.e., novels). And then he has the audacity to link it all into something… Biblical. Wow.

Christianfictionreview.com

Robin Parrish’s talent is creative genius. How his mind could contain a trilogy of this magnitude is astounding to me, and I read a lot of books in all genres of fiction…

So… So far, so good.

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