Quick, quick update

I have just had word from DAW about Riven Shield:

THE RIVEN SHIELD will be put out for distribution Friday, so that should
start appearing at vendors in the next ten days or so.

As I’ve mentioned previously, DAW, while being distributed by one of the ‘Big Six’, is actually a small, privately owned publisher, with the attendant number of staff. Getting new books into production, catalogues, and stores eats up about 140% of their time, and the other 10% (because no one expects to work in publishing at less than 60 hours a week) is left for things like digitizing the backlist.

Hunter’s Oath and Hunter’s Death have started to appear as ebooks in the wild. Riven Shield should join them soon, followed by Broken Crown and then the rest of the series in order.

When I realized Riven Shield was no longer available, I asked (where asked is the euphemistic form for ‘begged, pleaded, whined, cried, demanded’) that it be the priority in the Sun Sword universe, and I’m happy to say that it was bumped up in the “omg we have no time” queue.

ETA: Riven Shield will be available in ebook format; I realized that I had not made this sufficiently clear. At the moment, there are no plans in the near future to reprint it =/

Skirmish Summary, part 2 of part 3, and a note about the differences between reading and writing

This is the final part of the summary of the events of The Sun SwordSkirmish Summary 03.b.

There are — as I think Michael pointed out in the previous thread — events that I didn’t mention, in part because it would add enormously to the length of the summary, and if I hit 60k words, it pushes the meaning of the word “summary”. It probably wouldn’t surprise anyone, but it also wouldn’t be finished until next month.

I think the summary contains the backstory necessary to understand what’s happening now in Skirmish, but if there are points that are confusing, this is the post to ask questions in. I will try to answer them as they come up.

I also want to add something here. I did have a spoiler thread for Cast in Ruin discussion. I am happy to have a similar thread for Skirmish discussion, but when people begin to discuss, in depth, the contents of one of my novels, I try to absent myself from the discussion. This isn’t because I’m not interested; it’s because I don’t want to be a damper on the discussions that do arise, and if I weigh in, it frequently has that effect. What we perceive as writers and readers are different.

There are characters that I love that some readers hate. (I think Sendari holds the title as the character that’s caused the most conflict: my editor and several of my friends really loved & empathized with him; my mother and Kate Elliott loathed him). I obviously can’t argue with their reaction. I have my own — but my reaction in no way invalidates reader reaction. I didn’t intend that he be hated. I can’t change him after the fact, and to be honest, wouldn’t. He is, in my mind, who he is.

That’s an obvious example. But when discussions devolve into “what do you think the author intended”, it gets trickier. I can tell you what I intended (or didn’t intend, see: Sendari above), and I can sometimes do that without killing discussion completely, but not often. “Where do you think the author is going” is another example. I can’t really weigh in, because some people hate spoilers of any kind; even if I say “it is never going there”, it will close off those possibilities in a way that will leave some readers disgruntled.

I’m happy to answer questions — but some readers prize the discussion itself, and answering questions often kills that discussion. So: if you want my (non spoiler) answers to questions you have about my books, ask me here or in a blog post that’s not devoted to spoiler discussions, and I will try to answer them in a way that doesn’t step on reader toes.

Skirmish, and the story so far

First, noting the tags, I want to apologize for a number of things.

I did not intend to write a series of books that would break in the middle this way. What kind of an idiot writes a series that requires another entire series to be read in the middle? Apparently, me. Had I realized, when I finished Hidden City, that there would be three books that would cover one arc, I would have called the series something else, and had one “early years” trilogy.

I like to believe that I learn from my mistakes. I promise that I will never make this one again.

It didn’t occur to me, while writing Hidden City, that people who hadn’t read The Sun Sword would actually be reading these books. I am enormously grateful that they are — but it wasn’t something that I considered at the time. I know I should have. I am, I think, a clearer writer than I was when I first started writing The Sun Sword, but one of the things I’ve struggled to accurately understand is how much needs to be said for clarity’s sake. But when it became clear to me that I had new readers for this series, I was left with a large problem: How could I make the actual House War make any sense to people who hadn’t read The Sun Sword? I wrote several versions of a first chapter in Skirmish in an attempt to cover the story-so-far in a way that wasn’t intrusive.

But I realized, with each variant attempt, that it was a lost cause. I couldn’t do it in the book itself unless I changed the start point, and I couldn’t do that because the events are written, published; they can’t be conveniently moved or changed–and so, for better or worse, I didn’t, but instead, decided that I would have a summary, a story-so-far, for people who hadn’t read The Sun Sword.

When I approach a novel, I know what it’s going to be about. I have a plan. I don’t know it in every small detail; I know the world, I know the characters, I know what they want – but there’s an alchemical reaction that occurs on the page when two characters actually meet and talk. Whole conversations veer in directions I hadn’t anticipated, because people are like that. It’s like when you introduce two of your best friends to each other. You love them both; they love you. You naturally assume that they will love each other because it makes sense.

Except that they don’t, always. You know them. They know you. But what happens between these two people you know and care for is outside of your control, and often confounds your expectations. Writing is like that, for me. I know a lot about things in stasis. But things in action (where action in this case means the actual writing) move or change in ways that surprise me while still remaining utterly true to what I know of the world or characters.

I sat down to write the story so far, and as usual, I had trouble summarizing. In part, I have trouble because what I know and what is in the text are not the same; the text is a subset of the knowledge. (The other part: I wrote six books when I thought I had two. I am so not the person to write a summary of anything). I dragged my heels. I worked on Peril and War. In my mind, it’s still the end of November. And yes, our Christmas tree is still up.

So: There are three parts of the story so far. The first is a simple point by point recount of events that involve House Terafin leading up to the moment Jewel leaves for the South. These events are largely contained in The Broken Crown and The Uncrowned King. I don’t think this will be of interest to anyone who’s read the actual novels: Skirmish Summary 01

The second is a conversation between Finch and Jewel on the night Jewel returns from the South: Skirmish Summary 02

The third, and by far the longest, takes place in the kitchen, between Jewel and her den. In Skirmish, Jewel does speak with her den in the kitchen; this is in some ways a longer version of that discussion. This actually takes place before the conversation between Finch and Jewel. It is the longest because it touches on the larger issues that affect Jewel and the Empire: the wild magics, the hidden paths, the gods. A much shortened version does appear in the book. Because I’m so late with this, and because it is not finished, at 15k words, I am posting the first part of the third section, and will post the last part tomorrow (or possibly the day after): Skirmish Summary 03.a

The reason parts two and three are written as if they were novel text, rather than point-by-point summary is selfish, in some ways. The first section recounts events that the den as a whole experienced. But for the last four books of The Sun Sword, Jewel is not with her den. She is with Avandar Gallais, Lord Celleriant, Kallandras and a number of other characters. Her life is not political; the events she witnesses and participates in do not reflect the increasingly dire situation in House Terafin at all.

Jewel doesn’t see what’s happened in her absence; the den doesn’t know what’s happened to her in theirs. It made sense to write these sections as if the characters were attempting to fill each other in on what occurred, when time is a constraint, but it also tells me what they know, and what they won’t say.

Final Skirmish Cover

I am hip-deep in revisions – which is better than the chin-deep I was a week ago. When I am writing, and writing is going (relatively) well, I tend to be on-line more; I’ll tweet or I’ll post. When revisions are problematic, they eat my brain, and I tend to disappear. I’m sorry =/.

But mail arrived from DAW which I wanted to share here: the final version of the Skirmish cover. The novel is slated for January 2012 release in hardcover, and I will–when revisions on Peril are done–begin work on a ‘story so far’, something I haven’t done before. I’ll post that somewhere on the site as the date approaches.

Without further comment:

 (Actually, there is further comment, sadly. I can’t adjust the image in WordPress at the moment, so the larger file is cut off no matter what I do. If you click on the picture, however, you’ll see the image in full size. Sorry >.<)

State of the Writing, September 2011

I’ve been revising Silence, the first of the DAW Sagara trilogy now called The Queen of the Dead. It has now returned to my long-suffering editor at DAW.

While working on the revision, however, I have also been writing.

Cast in Peril is almost finished. Which is good, because it is due Soon. I have author copies of Cast in Ruin, and author copies of the mass market of Harvest Moon, which contains my 39,600k word novella, “Cast in Moonlight” (yes, it’s still a novella; it hasn’t broken the 40k word mark which would put it in short novel territory). These go along with the author copies of the mass market versions of Cast in Fury and Cast in Silence, but without toe stubbage.

My husband decided to build a steel shelf in the basement on which to put author’s copies of the various books. He managed to get everything on the shelf, and it all fit perfectly — until Cast in Ruin and Harvest Moon arrived. While he is always happy to see the finished books, because they are totally real, I think over time his enthusiasm for them has waned a bit…

War, the final volume of The House War, is not finished. It is not close to being finished. It is, I think, just under half done. But it does progress. I admit I am dying to know how people feel about Skirmish. Yes, I will post sample chapters, but I’m waiting until we’re closer to the publication date (which is January 2012). Also, waiting for the finished cover, so I can post that.

On my plate now:

1. Redesign the web-site a bit so that it looks more modern. When I say “redesign” what I really mean is find someone who does not have the graphic design acumen of a brick to hire to do it for me. But to do this, I will need to visit a photographer to get an author portrait. And before I do that, I might as well replace the glasses that are slightly broken, and have been for mumble mumble time.

This redesign is supposed to help people who have no idea who I am or what I write find information about both who I am and what I write in one easy page load. Since I demonstrably know who I am and what I write, it’s not always clear to me when things are hard to find, and since I’m the one arranging the links and pages at the moment, I also know where everything is. I have a blind spot. Or more than one.

But…I do frequent some author blogs, and I hate the flash screens that basically pop up a picture which says “click here to enter” or something similar. The things which make a blog useful for people who read and comment on it aren’t always useful for people who just want information – and vice versa. There are one or two which I really, really like, but one is very slow to load (which, being me, I really really dislike).

This will not happen overnight (I can’t even see the optometrist until the 13th), so if you have any comments, suggestions, or requests, I’d be happy to see them.

2. Proof, format, and put out the other fifty-two stories. This is also not going to happen overnight, sadly. It’s the first work-related activity which I set aside when I have writing related work arrive in my inbox. I try to always write new words on a daily basis, but to do things like copy-edits, page-proofs and revisions after that. If there are no copy-edits, page-proofs, or revisions, I use the “after” time to proofread and format. I will be doing that for the next week or so.

3. Continue to write Cast in Peril and War, of course, and this should probably have been number 1, but I take for granted that it’s the high priority of each day.

Warlord

Warlord is the earliest of the Essalieyan short stories. Published in 1998, it was written in 1997. It is some (small) part of Avandar’s story, and had the distinction of being the longest short story I’d written to date in 1997. It is not the longest short piece I’ve written since, though. It was written for Larry Segriff of Tekno books, and both he and my editor were very patient with both the length and the timing of its delivery.

As usual, it’s up on Smashwords now, and is in the Amazon.com queue. The last two ebooks took five days to clear the Smashwords’ distribution queue, instead of the fifteen days the first book took, and the books went up slightly earlier than forecast at Barnes & Noble and Kobo. The first three are now available on iTunes, as well; the last two are waiting review.

I am working on proofing the final story, Memory of Stone, now. A word about that: Some of the Kindle versions of The Weapon contained a earlier proof version of Memory of Stone. The current version on Amazon no longer does. As it wasn’t proofed, there are errors; it’s the original manuscript-as-typed-from-book before any of the proofing rounds were done. Since it wasn’t supposed to be appended to The Weapon, those won’t be changed or fixed in The Weapon, but the story, with the various small typos/formatting difficulties, is essentially the same. So people who did pick up the earlier Kindle copies don’t need to pick up the actual version of Memory of Stone when it’s released.

When Memory of Stone is finished, everything will go to the typesetter, and from there, to Lulu, and at that point, all six stories & their introductions will then be available in print form.

 

ETA: mention of Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo.

Bits and pieces of news

I’ve been informed by DAW that my DAW backlist — the eight books that comprise The Sacred Hunt and The Sun Sword — should be trickling into the ebook channels in four weeks. They were total conversions, in that they had to be scanned from paper copies.

This means that all of my novels to date will be available as ebooks.

Huntbrother was on Barnes and Noble as of last night. Echoes which was sent by Smashwords in theory on the same day still hasn’t appeared. On the other hand, Echoes is available at Kobo.com, but Huntbrother isn’t.

The contracts for the audio versions of the first three Cast novels have been sent, so it looks like the first five novels will be available at Audible sometime in the not-distant future.

I am just in from Confluence 2011, and I had — as always — a lovely time.

But – and there has to be some bad news – I’ve had to pull out of the Worldcon this year =(. With luck, things should be more stable in the household in October, so World Fantasy is still a possibility, but it’s no longer a certainty.

Also, on a totally unrelated note, the cubic volume of mosquitoes has risen precipitously in the West backyard. You probably heard the shrieks of dismay (mine; mosquitoes only buzz).

The Weapon

This is the fourth of six stories. I felt, after The Black Ospreys, that I had figured things out, and things would go smoothly. Hah. However, I am refining my organization, such as it is, and at least it was a completely new mistake, as opposed to the prior mistakes. I am confident that I am learning how to do this properly.

The Weapon takes place during the period of the Blood Barons, as they were affectionately called. In the Hidden City, and actually in at least one of the Sun Sword novels, mention is made of the first day rites, and of the festival of The Ten. The Weapon is the story behind the first day rites.

Of the six stories that are connected to the Empire of Essalieyan, this is the one I like second best. (My personal favourite is Memory of Stone). It’s possible that it’s because these work well as standalones.

As usual, the story is up at Smashwords now. It will be available at Amazon within twenty-four hours (or possibly less). In two weeks, it should be available in the iBooks store, and at Diesel.

I’ve started to put the word-length in the product description, because it’s something I look for when I’m looking at ebooks.

The Black Ospreys

The Black Ospreys

The Black Ospreys is now in the queue at Amazon (which states a time of 24 – 36 hours before it’s available; Huntbrother was much faster, but Echoes took longer); it is up at Smashwords, and in a month (I’m sorry!), will make its way to B&N, Kobo and Sony. Echoes is up at Diesel, so I think once a title clears the Smashwords distribution queue, it immediately goes up at Diesel. I still have no data on how long something takes to reach the iBook store.

I think you’ll find the introduction to the story amusing. The story itself, as the title suggests, is about the Black Ospreys.

I’m now fifty percent of the way through the six stories. But, the final revision of Skirmish did clear the house, Cast in Peril is going well, as is War. I am hideously behind in reading and in non-short related blogging, and of course, I immediately went to look at Google+ when I noticed an invitation in my mail queue.

I am now going to go back to proofing The Weapon.

Some news

First: I’ve just been informed by my editor that Cast in Fury and Cast in Silence are going to appear as audio books/files at Audible.com in September, which is also when they first appear in mass market editions. But where, you ask, are the first three? We’re working on that now. (When I say we, what I mean is my agent, when I say working, I mean negotiating; I’m reasonably optimistic that the first three will also be produced at around the same time). These will be my very first appearance in audio, so I’m pretty excited about it.

Second: Echoes has finally been approved by Smashwords for is premium catalogue. This means that it will now propagate from the aggregator (which is what services like Smashwords are commonly called) to the other ebook retail sites: Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel and Sony. The estimated time from Smashword shipment to consumers is: approximately two weeks.

It’s been two weeks (15 days) since Echoes was uploaded to Smashwords for review to be approved for retail channel distribution.

What this is means is there’s a month-long window from the time I upload a book to Smashwords to the time it appears in any of their retailer venues. The exception to this is Diesel, for which no time-frame is given; this might mean the books go to Diesel and are offered immediately.

I don’t actually know how long it will take for the iBooks version to be available, yet; I’m watching to see when it goes live. The first book, Echoes, was uploaded on the 6th of July; it’s currently the 14th of July, and it is still in the review queue (quality assurance review, not critical review).

Amazon.com is pretty much twenty-four to thirty-six hours (it was less for Huntbrother, longer for Echoes). So Amazon.com has the clear lead-time of availability. (Amazon also has tens of thousands of spam ebooks – books for 0.99 which contain links to web-site garbage, rather than content. Smashwords doesn’t. Smashwords has a review team composed of people; Amazon doesn’t. These are the tradeoffs.)

If you’re comfortable with side-loading, the book is available on Smashwords from the moment I upload it to the Premium Catalogue distribution review queue, in most formats – and it’s the same epub that will, one month later, be available at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Sony, at the same price. I believe the mobi format offered there also works on the Kindle. I believe that Smashwords also allows you to download any of the formats available, if you switch ereaders. Or if, for some reason, you have two.

This does not mean I love the kindle or prefer it to the Kobo, Nook or iPad; I don’t. I have an iPad, after all, which I adore like a crazy person, even if I don’t read very much on it.

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