The Memory of Stone

Posted in ebooks, self-publishing, Short Stories.

This is the sixth, and final (for now) of the short stories set in the universe of my DAW novels. It, as I mention in the intro­duc­tion, went a little on the long side, and it’s my personal favourite of the six. It’s also the only one so far that has one of those cover quotes — pulled from the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror’s intro­duc­tion because it made me happy.

Although this story focuses on two char­ac­ters that aren’t other­wise extant in either The Sun Sword or The House War, it touches on things that are central to the final conflict. It is now avail­able, as usual, on Smash­words, and will be coming up at Amazon​.com within the next twenty-four hours. Smash­words wait times for distri­b­u­tion have gone down, so Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Sony readers should see it in three weeks; Diesel readers, within the week.

I’ve learned a few things in reprinting these stories. No matter how many eyes proof-read them, and no matter how often, there is always at least one mistake that’s managed to hole up and evade everyone, because I have never gone through a proof pass without finding an error that has been missed on previous iter­a­tions. Ever. This is also true of novels, but I think I feel less self-conscious about that in general, possibly because I have more prac­tice. Or possibly because I don’t read those so very slowly, looking only for mistakes.

The mistakes are nerve-wracking; it’s like they’re waiting in ambush around every verbal corner. For the ones I missed entirely, I apol­o­gize.

But there is some­thing a little exciting about actu­ally uploading the stories and announcing their pres­ence. They aren’t novels, so their audi­ence is limited. I will continue to bring out the rest of the short stories, but aside from these six, and the two Augus­tine stories, the short pieces all stand on their own, and I’m not sure how many people are actu­ally inter­ested in unre­lated shorts. I will prob­ably wave or point at the ones I am rela­tively certain will be of interest to my novel readers (when we get there, The Colors of Augus­tine), so I’ll continue to mention them here.

ETA: the first five stories are now avail­able in the iTunes store. Hunt­brother, The Black Ospreys and The Weapon are avail­able on Barnes & Noble, so I’ve queried to see what happened to Echoes which is not there. Only Echoes has made it to the Kobo, and only Hunt­brother to the Sony ebook­store. The first four stories are all up at Diesel.

32 Responses to The Memory of Stone

  1. Erin says:

    What char­ac­ters are in this story? I’ve only read the short stories that you have posted here on your website! I’m soooooo excited that they are finally out in a format that I can find! :-)

  2. Erin says:

    Never mind that ques­tion! I just looked at the bibli­og­raphy page to refresh my memory! Still, I’m very excited about having this collec­tion all together!

  3. Michelle, if it makes you feel any better, I’m currently re-reading all of L.E. Mode­sitt Jr’s books published by Tor. These are all first edition hard­backs and I’d esti­mate that they have on average 20 – 30 typos per book. The 6 short stories had on average 2 – 3 typos per story. Between you and DAW, you manage a much better result!

  4. Not entirely, because L.E. Modesitt’s books are novels, and there­fore much longer, so if you extrap­o­late errors over the same page-count, it’s about the same >.<

  5. Richard Crawford says:

    Hi Michelle, great to see the short stories and looking forward to the release of the DAW books on Kindle! As for errors, I think people have become over sensi­tive and over crit­ical about e‑book errors. It is obvious that having gone to all that effort, the writer wants to present perfect books and will work hard to stop any errors slip­ping through, but like other posters have said there are errors in books however they are published. Also looking at it more widely as related to the e‑book revo­lu­tion, grammar and punc­tu­a­tion styles vary between writers and coun­tries. I suppose with indie publishing not having house styles this will be more notice­able.

  6. OK, I’ll buy that — however, the nature of the typos is revealing. Most of the ones in your work are they typical correct spelling, wrong word sort. Tor almost seems to have employed someone to randomly insert gibberish. When I have to blank out a word while reading because I can’t figure it out from context, then some­thing is broken. I’ve read DAW from day one, same with Tor, gotta go with DAW. Besides they currently publish my favorite writer!

  7. Mark Galpin says:

    So now that we have all the short stories done in the essalieyen universe… is there any one of them you recom­mend to give to a friend to convince him that I’m not kidding when I say he should raise your priority on his reading list?

  8. @Richard: I confess I am a reader who has always been sensi­tive to the errors I see.

    For instance: I shrieked — loudly — in the store when I opened Ed Greenwood’s latest novel (it’s a hard­cover from WoTC, but I cannot remember the title and am at home at the moment). Every book has headers. Some books have the page numbering in the headers, depending on the text density; some have page numbers as footers. The Green­wood book was clearly meant to have the page numbers as footers… but there was obvi­ously a mistake made, because the headers also printed as part of the footers so there’s an inch and a half of blank space at the top of every page.

    There are authors who are so incred­ibly careful even their manu­scripts are clean (Guy Kay). And there are more who see what they meant to write when they re-read their own work. “Tanya, umm, how do you squint your ears?” (There was both swearing and laughing; she was swearing as she grabbed the manu­script from my hands; I was laughing.)

  9. @ fyreink: I liked it and will pass the compli­ment on. And, btw, it occurs to me that I’ve never mentioned that I really like your handle :).

    @Genna: Thank you :)

  10. @Mark: Okay, I have my book­store person hat on. Since i have worked part-time or full-time in book­stores for thirty-two years now, it’s second nature; I can’t help it.

    So…I have to ask. What does your friend normally read and enjoy?

    Most of these stories don’t work well with none of the novel context behind them (although that’s hind­sight, rereading and proofing them now). I think either The Weapon or Memory of Stone work best as complete stand­alone stories, in part because they’re mostly about char­ac­ters who haven’t been given hundreds of pages else­where.

    I think The Hidden City, if he’s willing to read a novel, is prob­ably the best place to start — I think, because it’s largely Jewel’s view­point, and because her view­point has always been the most collo­quial of the various view­points in the West Novels, it’s the most acces­sible. I could be wrong about this because as the author, I’m nowhere near subjec­tive about my own work.

  11. Aaron says:

    There’s a bit of conti­nuity going the other way as well. Wasn’t Guild­master Gilafas spotted attending the Cord­ufar Ball in “City of Night”? Also, the Winter Queen makes an appear­ance in “Memory of Stone” that might (or might not) be signif­i­cant to the pres­ence of a certain char­acter in “Hunt­brother” — the debate on that mystery still simmers.

  12. Tara Teich says:

    Not sure if you already posted this, but what’s the proper order to read the short stories? I’ve read all the novels, so I suppose I want the chrono­log­ical order of the short stories?

  13. Aaron says:

    If I had to suggest one story to give people a taste of the Essalieyan universe, it would be “Warlord”. My overall favorite is “Memory of Stone” for various other reasons, but while it is self-contained, it intro­duces so much of the setting (without much expo­si­tion) that I feel some readers might get lost — espe­cially with the scenes involving Fabril’s Reach and the Winter Road.

    On the other hand, “Warlord” focuses on two char­ac­ters and is almost devoid of context or descrip­tion of the envi­ron­ment so that the reader doesn’t get bogged down with the details. To me, this better explains Michelle’s writing style, because really: it’s all about the char­ac­ters. And what better char­acter to give people a taste of than the enigma that is Avandar?

  14. Karen says:

    I just want to say that I would love to read any of your short stories. I feel many others would agree.

  15. @Tara: If you did, I missed it (sorry!), so I’ll answer it here.

    There’s no real order; the stories them­selves aren’t inter­con­nected. If you want the chronology of the stories within the universe, they would be: The Weapon, Warlord, Hunt­brother, Echoes, Memory of Stone, The Black Ospreys; it’s possible that the last two stories could be switched.

    If you mean chrono­log­i­cally in the order they were written, that works as well. But the stories them­selves aren’t linked beyond the connec­tion to the DAW novel universe.

  16. Aaron says:

    Memory of Stone concur­rent with The Black Ospreys? Huh. I always thought it took place prior to Hunter’s Death, since the Twin Kings took the Rod and the Sword with them to Vexusa. Thanks for that unex­pected tidbit.

  17. Hillary says:

    When I recom­mend you, I still suggest Hunter’s Oath or Broken Crown as the places to start. I love Hidden City and I don’t mind re-reading these stories over and over (which I have), and they never lose their tension for me, but I do see where someone else might not want to read Hunter’s Oath and Hunter’s Death and then start in with Hidden City as they cover so much of the same ground. However, I prefer to read in the order things were written, and can follow chronolo­gies no matter how they’re presented so that makes me different from a reader who prefers to read in chrono­log­ical order…if that makes sense? And that is why I make my recom­men­da­tions as I do, although I do take the time to explain chronology, just in case! It might also be that I just love Stephen…and reading about him last seems a shame. What it boils down to, is that I think it’s better for the reader to have the Sun Sword sepa­ra­tion between reading the Hunter stories or the first three House War books (at least as a new reader).

  18. Mark Galpin says:

    So I really have to say I loved Memory of Stone. Thank you again for going to all this effort for us! Its the best of the set (as you said) trying to decide whether to buy this for my friend or some­thing else.… You’re right in that your short stories do not neces­sarily give a good feel for what your writing is really like. Memory of Stone more than most, but its an episode that seems to require context maybe? My problem is that I love all your work (and have read it so many times, now) that it can be hard to look at it from an ‘outside’ perspec­tive. Overall I tend to think starting at Hidden City a weird choice. But then the Hunter series remains my favorite so far (though the House Wars city may change that when its finished)
    Given that my friend has read and enjoyed (to varying degrees) a substan­tial portion of the extant tradi­tional fantasy corpus I’m pretty sure he’ll like you, and by his general pref­er­ence for say, Martin over Lackey, prefer the West to the Cast series. He’s also been whining that all the great fantasy authors are either dead or close to it, and its getting annoying — don’t get me wrong, in the last decade we’ve lost some true masters of the field, but you and several others are keeping it alive. I have to tear him away from his quest to read all the past masters long enough to get started with you ;)

  19. hanneke28 says:

    Might it be a good idea to place a link to your Smash­words-page in the right column?
    I didn’t know it, and had to search it out after you put Echoes up, and find it again for every new story out. It isn’t hard to find, but if you’re going to be selling more short stories through there, you might want to make it easy to find for anyone who comes along on this blog, even after these posts have become history.
    It’s not a blog, but the Blogroll heading would not fit too badly. Or you could add a header with links to other Michelle pages, and put in not just the Smash­words link but also a link to your ‘Trying to catch up’ live­journal.

    Smash­words seems to place no arti­fi­cial restric­tions on people who want to buy these e‑books, and offers a variety of formats; while on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and such I keep getting messages saying I’m not allowed to buy an e‑book because I don’t live in the USA, or in the UK*; or the book would only be read­able on their type of e‑reader, etc. — so placing a link to Smash­words is likely to make the books avail­able to the most people.
     — —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  — —
    * Favorite rant: why can buy print books in the USA and UK, both directy and through a local book­store, and have them shipped to the Nether­lands without any trouble; but if I want to buy the exact same books and editions as E‑books, I’m told I am not allowed to buy or read them, though they are avail­able for people living in the USA (or in the UK)?
    I know it’s a ques­tion of where the publisher has the right to publish, but if for print books this doesn’t mean I can’t read them else­where, why doesn’t it work the same for E‑books? It’s very certain no local publisher is going to bring out an English-language e‑book edition of any of the books I want to buy (unless it’s a pirate)… which means I’ll never be able to re-buy most of my books in digital format, so depriving both publishers and authors of that bit of (backlist-)income.

    In effect, the country-of-publi­ca­tion rule does not stop books from being read else­where in print, but does have a censoring effect on E‑books, which cannot have been the inten­tion.
    Maybe for future book contracts this will be taken into account, though I’m rather afraid it’s going to mean that very often I’ll not be allowed to buy my favourite UK-editions, but at most will be permitted to buy the Amer­ican spelling edition world­wide (or, hope­fully, the other way around for the UK authors)… what can students of English who want to compare the two editions do with that setup? Nothing!

    It’s not a good start for this whole new E‑book busi­ness, if publishers ensure that there is no legal way to buy an E‑book which you know exists and want to read: it’s likely to drive people into the arms of the pirates. Some will do without, if there’s some hope the E‑book will become legally avail­able in the fore­see­able future; but for those who ‘want it now!’ I don’t think many will choose to spend weeks behind a scanner to scan their own paper book into their own E‑library just because they refuse to support a pirate site. Once people get used to getting their books (almost) free from pirates you’ve lost some paying customers and depressed the price, even though most people may switch back to legal chan­nels when those become avail­able (as long as they’re not too dear).
    So, for the back­list, I very much hope that more authors will start to distribute their own E‑books with world­wide acces in different formats, like Mrs. Sagara West is doing here through Smash­words, and C.J. Cherryh is doing through Closed-Circle, and so on. Thank you for setting such a good example!
    I’ll be going over to Smash­words now for The Memory of Stone.

  20. Jane says:

    Hi Michelle,
    I’m a huge fan of the Elantran books and I was curious about your writing process. (If you have a post about this and I’ve missed it please don’t repeat — just maybe point me in the right direc­tion?) In any case — I wondered if you were an outliner or a pantser, how you, person­ally, work on world building, and how many edits you go through from rough draft to the draft you turn into your editor? I love learning about an author’s process and love the fact that there are so many ways to create.

    Thanks!

    Jane

  21. Michelle says:

    I agree. I prefer reading Michelle’s book in the order they were written vs. trying to put them in strict chrono­log­ical order of events. From what I remember, Michelle rarely has a strict outline that she follows when writing, so if you read them in the order she wrote them, your under­standing of the char­ac­ters, situ­a­tions, and that world grows along with hers. While Hunter’s Death, City of Night and House Name cover much of the same terri­tory, if you read them in the order written you’ll have the six books of the Sun Sword in between. By the time you’ve gotten through them (and none of them can be consid­ered short), in my opinion most readers will prob­ably be ready to view the events again from a different angle.

  22. Auraya says:

    I know about the problem for getting ebooks. I’m from Belgium, so the same restric­tions apply for me. When ebook­sellers ask you for your home address you can give a fake one in the US. This may tech­ni­cally not be strictly legal, but it does get around the problem. So far only Kobo actu­ally keeps track of where the UP-address orig­i­nates, so you can’t buy there. Although it’s still easier to use some­thing like smash­words or baen who don’t use geore­stric­tions or DRM.

  23. Auraya says:

    Memory of Stone was lovely. I have to admit I was wondering if we’re going to run into Cessaly when (hope­fully) Jewel gets into the Summer court. I’d like to know even more about what the Arti­sans can do.

  24. @hanneke28

    There is a link to my LJ on the sidebar, but it’s in the blog roll section of the sidebar.

    I’ll try to put up a link to the Smash­words page on the side-bar. I find it tricky because I am trying not to priv­i­lege one retailer over another — which is why I often don’t link book­stores, either. It’s the type of thing that various etailers can become annoyed about: why are you (being me) linking only *one* of your various retailers? >.<

  25. @Jane: because I am one of those authors who loves to wibble about process, and because process does change with time (or at least mine has evolved), I am still thinking about the answer to your ques­tion — but have to admit that I loved the ques­tion :D. (I haven’t responded yet, because it’s a longer response and my writing brain has been slow enough that I’m finishing my daily words and just falling over).

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