Tuesday, April 9, 2019

James Blaylock Knows My Name!

The story of James P. Blaylock and his quote for my book is crazy. Not literally crazy, but close enough that you don’t need to correct me with “figuratively”.

In July of 2017, I had finished a book. It was a steampunk book. I was not about to give this book to my current publisher—Maya—so I went hunting for a new publisher.  I reached out to fellow writer, and former WildChild Publishing Alum, Jenn Nixon.

Jenn was gracious enough to reach out to some publishers she knew and see if they’d be interested in my book. She gave me a warm introduction to a publisher, and I thanked her and sent off my query package.

The response was strange. The publisher wasn’t taking any new projects for the rest of the year.

Yep, I have this one!
I looped back around with Jenn who agreed it was odd, but she had another publisher that I might click with—Maer Wilson who ran Ellysian Press. Again, Jenn gave me a warm introduction, and in September of 2017, I sent out a query letter. A little over a week later, I received a response for the full manuscript. A month later, in October, I received a contract off from Ellysian.

Because of my previous publisher, I was still gunshy. I asked Maer if she’d be willing to take a quick phone, just a meet-and-greet, to see if we actually clicked and could work together. Maya had resisted any attempts at an actual phone conversation, so I was braced for impact.

Maybe this was just how publishers did things?

Maer readily agreed. What was supposed to be a ten-minute conversation went on for an hour. It would have gone on longer, but I had to end it to go pick up my boys. Maer was amazing. She had known Philip K. Dick, and wrote a book about him! She rattled off a bunch of other author names, names I was familiar with, as if they came over to barbeques and whatnot! She had been in the industry for a long time, and was very upbeat about my writing.

What confused me for a little while was when she talked about getting “Jim to give us a quote.” She said Jim like I should know who he was. I finally broke down and asked.

“Oh,” Maer said. “Jim Blaylock.”

“Not James Blaylock?”

Yep, I have this one too!
“Yep.  I call him Jim.”

She calls him Jim.

Maer warned me, out of the gate, and repeatedly thereafter, that “Jim” is always very busy and usually doesn’t give quotes. She believed in my book enough that she wanted to give it a shot, but I had to stay quiet about it. I couldn’t tell anyone we were even approaching James Blaylock. I honestly figured he would reject the request out of hand, being too busy.

This was fine with me. Getting a quote for a book from a well-known author is no easy trick unless your name is King or Rowling. Getting a quote from essentially the father of modern steampunk seemed like an impossible task.

Months went by. Maer and I worked very hard on the manuscript. Cover art came along. More revisions.  More revisions.

Finally, Maer gave me a note: “Jim has agreed to read the book.”

Well, I was floored. Even if he didn’t provide a quote, the fact that my words were in James Blaylock’s hands, that he was reading my story, was quite heady stuff. I thought there might be hope that a quote would come, but even if it didn’t, Maer had taken me a long way.

Yesterday, Maer pinged me. Just a simple, “We heard from Jim.” That’s it. I stared at the words for a minute or two, trying to wrap my head around how disappointed I was going to be.
James Blaylock has THIS ONE!

Worse, what if he HATED the book!?

“Umm . . .” was all I managed back.

“You want the good news or the better news?” Maer asked.

I could have killed her.

James P. THE FATHER OF FREAMING STEAMPUNK Blaylock liked my book and wanted to put his name and words on it!

I didn’t drive home yesterday, I flew. Magical things must have happened, because there was no traffic that I can remember. I kept giggling from time to time.

I’m still grinning and every now and then shaking my head in disbelief.

Thank you Jenn! Maer! Thank you James P. Blaylock!

Have you had a brush with someone you admired that left you all flabbergasted and whatnots? Please share in the comments below!


  1. Congratulations! I know you've worked really hard on this. I'm glad it's paying off!

  2. I practice dropping your name in casual conversation all the time.

    "THE R.A. McCandlesss?"

    "Yeah, I just call him Rob."

    1. I do the same with your name!

      "I went to Ien last night, you know, Ien? Anyhow, Ien said . . ."