State of the Writer, mid-July 2014 edition

I am writing this from Brisbane, in its variant of winter — which is kind of like early Fall in Toronto, but with an aston­ishing clarity of sky. It is the perfect weather for walking — it’s very slightly cool, but not so much that a jacket or sweater is required.

I’m writing, instead, but on the balcony.

I’ve finished Oracle. Or rather, I’ve finished the draft. I am hoping to lose about 20k words, starting from page one, because at the moment it is the longest of the House War books, hands down. But: thirty-one chapters, one prologue, one epilogue.

Which means I have started today on Grave. Again, and have finally (late, because arg) started Cast in Honor. Because one book has to be going well, and there is no possi­bility that will, at this point, be Grave.

I feel as if I don’t really have very much to report here >.>.

So, I will ask a question, instead. Lately, on multiple mailing lists, authors of my on-line acquain­tance have been talking about mailing lists. Of their own. I have never done this, in part because I don’t feel I have a lot to say that’s of interest to readers that I don’t say here. It’s fairly easy to just subscribe to blog posts here — and if people subscribe, they’re probably going to find out how the writing has been going (once a month), and when a new book is being released.

But people seem to sign up for mailing lists in larger numbers than they sign up for blog posts, so maybe this is wrong. I realize that the only people who will answer this will be people who find the blog, but will ask anyway: Mailing lists? Yes? No?

ETA: By mailing list, I actually mean: Newsletter. It occurred to me only after reading some of the responses that they are not inter­changeable terms; in other places, mailing list is used to mean Newsletter. Sorry for the lack of clarity >.<

Cast in Flame — Chapter One

Cast in Flame redI managed, due to the laws of physics, to drop a bowl in the kitchen. The bowl did not survive. Sadly, a piece of flying glass decided to avenge the dish, and flew up, cutting my right pinky.

Some argument occurred there­after in the household, because seri­ously, a trian­gular cut on the front pad of the pinky does not constitute an emer­gency. I grudg­ingly allowed that I would be willing to go to the hospital to see about stitches if the bleeding had not stopped within a certain time frame.

So, long story short, the bleeding did not stop within that time frame, and yes, I had to uphold my end of the bargain. And now I have stitches.

Typing is slightly chal­lenging, but I expect by tomorrow it will cause zero pain.

Which is not actually why I’m posting, but let’s just say that the past two days have not been the most productive writing days ever…

I am also a little bit late on posting the sample, for which I apol­ogize — part of my brain is so deadline stressed it refuses to acknowledge that it is June.

So, instead of a one chapter preview, this is two chapters. Cast in Flame Preview.

Cast in Flame: Cover

So… thanks to the modern miracle of Junk folders, I did not actually see the go ahead to post my cover until today.

Since I have been sitting on this cover for a month or two (it feels like TWO YEARS), I was surprised to hear that the cover had gone live on Amazon​.com. I emailed my editor to ask if I could post the pre-pub version that I had, since it was live on Amazon​.com, and she said…We sent you the cover link, because I was CCed on it. But, politely. And…she was right. So I have been waiting an extra four unnec­essary days T.T.

But, in the theory that late is better than never: Cast in Flame. This is the cover that I went to the photo shoot for. I had a rough idea of the design from that shoot because Kathleen Oudit had the rough design with her; I watched Kathleen and the photog­rapher, Glenn Mackay, work with the model to take a series of shots over a couple of hours, one of which graces the cover.

And then the photo itself was sent to Shane Reben­schied. And now: I have the finished cover. It is my favourite of the Cast covers to date, and I say that as someone who has liked all of her Cast covers.

Cast in Flame

Worldbuilders auctions and CAST IN FLAME

Today, the Worldbuilder’s auction that includes Cast in Flame went live on ebay.

I am going to quote what I sent with the manu­script itself.

When World­builders came around this year (2013), and Pat sent email inviting dona­tions and contri­bu­tions for his annual drive, I had my usual reaction: I looked at what everyone else was contributing, and felt inad­e­quate. (Because: writer. Everyone else’s ideas always look exciting or inter­esting or original because they haven’t been living in my head for years.)

But this year I had an idea. I mean, I had several, but this particular idea did not imme­di­ately strike me as feeble or unin­ter­esting. (See: writer, above).

I was, when I received the email, almost finished Cast in Flame, the 10th in an ongoing series of fantasy novels featuring private Kaylin Neya, of her city’s police force. Cast in Flame has a tentative publi­cation date of July 29, 2014 (according to Amazon).

I finished the novel and submitted the finished version to my editor. This would be the version that she then reads, and comments on; that is revised and sent to copy-editors, and that even­tually, from there, makes its way into the wider world. With a cover.

I asked my editor if she had any objec­tions to my sending the submitted manu­script to World­builders at the same time as I sent it to her, and she gave her enthu­si­astic blessing.

So: what you have here is Cast in Flame, the submission manu­script. It is substan­tially the same novel as the rest of the world will see when the book is finally published — but, with typos and other minor errors that we hope­fully catch in all of the rest of the iter­a­tions. (We never, ever, catch them all, which is heart­breaking, but reality). There may also be some cutting in the final.
But! You’ll be able to read it in February 2014, rather than July of 2014.

As an added bonus: I will dedicate the book to whoever is generous enough to win the auction (with a mention of World­builders). I will dedicate the book to the person of your choice if you win and you don’t want your name in the dedi­cation — but I reserve the right to refuse to dedicate the book to, say, myself or someone equally “funny” (I.e., no Hitler, no obvious political swipes). I would need this infor­mation by the end of January, 2014, in order to fulfill this part of the auction, because the front matter infor­mation (of which the dedi­cation is part) is due in to production by the 31st of January.

To be perfectly clear: This is Cast in Flame as my editor will see it. The book will be substan­tially the same when it is finally released as a Real Book — but there will be small differ­ences (and possibly cuts – I’m hoping that, as this book wasn’t quite as long as either Peril or Sorrow, the cuts will be minimal).

All of the money that comes in from the auctions goes straight to World­builders; none of it comes to me. And, umm. I will cry like a weeping, bereaved person if I hear that someone has mort­gaged their house (or their soul) just to read the book six months before anyone else does.

P.S. I know I have posted 3 days in a row — and I have one more post yet to write, but I promise I will once again be quieter while at work after that :)

What I’ve been doing this December

I have revised and submitted Cast in Flame.

It’s going two places: the first, to my editor at HLQ. (She already has it).

The second, to Patrick Rothfuss’ World­builders fundraiser.

Yes, I am sending a copy of the submission manu­script for a book that won’t see print until the end of July, 2014, to Worldbuilder’s. It’s not there yet. I had to have it printed, and then had to change the printing so it was two sides of a page so I could have it spiral bound. I will post again when the auction goes live.

I have written a bunch of Oracle words — but the book isn’t done yet.

And I have been working on The Hidden City, City of Night, and House Name for the non-North American ebook market. I promised else­where that I would release the next book in the series in the UK at the same time as it becomes available in North America, and since I’m doing that, I though I might as well release the rest of them. The cover designs are by Jenn Reese of Tiger Bright Studios, and I’m including the first cover below. I should have The Hidden City up at the various ebook vendors soon; I’m not sure how much time it will take to propagate.

Hidden City

I am doing the work in a new program: Vellum. I write in Scrivener, which I love. But while I can use Scrivener – and have – to export to epub-check compliant ebooks, I don’t find it as natu­rally effortless as many, many people seem to; it takes time, even for the short stories. (If I could write a book in the exact, correct format, it would be trivial to export it — but I’ve tried, and it drives me bonkers. I have two decades of looking at screen text in a very particular way, and all attempts to change it have left me increas­ingly frus­trated by what I term “mess”).

Vellum doesn’t take that effort – and it produces an ebook that makes me very happy. The work that has to be done at this point is entirely due to the trans­lation of .pdf to actual text I can work with. If I had a document that was properly para­graphed (.pdf trans­lation added and removed para­graph breaks all over the place) I could format a book in fifteen minutes. Or less. And it would look far better than anything I’ve otherwise managed to produce so far.

The Vellum model is unusual: the software is free, but you have to pay to export the ebooks you want to publish. The screen shots at the web-site above are accurate. The exported ebooks reflect those screen­shots, and when I’ve encoun­tered bugs — two so far — they’ve been fixed within twenty-four hours (!).

So. That’s what I’ve been doing at the end of 2013 :).

I’m looking forward to 2014. I hope you all have a Happy New Years.