State of the Writer, December 2013 edition

This was supposed to be a post at the end of November, but November kind of got away from me, in the sense that a book was due at the end of it and it was not finished yet.

But it is now December, and the book is finished, so I am allowed to post. Or sleep. Or both, although it’s harder to watch what I say when I’m sleeping. I am behind on email. I am behind on tumblr. I am behind on facebook. I will be behind on twitter as of tomorrow. I am about a week’s worth of words behind on Oracle.

But: I am finished Cast in Flame.

November was largely one small first world crisis after another (things like: washing machine dying), with writing wedged in between moments of “OMG can’t any of this wait until December???”. And bonus shrieking.

I was very happy when I had 80K words of Cast in Flame because I was certain the book would only be 120K words long (which is generally considered long in today’s market). I was wrong. Again. The ending got kind of complicated. It’s easy to think “and then (elided) will happen, and then it will be over!”. Generally it takes more words than that to actually write the (elided) section.

So the book I was certain would be finished by 30 November wasn’t finished by 30 November. Apparently, according to Amazon & B&N, the book’s On Sale date is the 29th of July, 2014. And no, there is no cover art. Or if there is, I haven’t seen it yet :).

I have also been–except for the last “OMG IT’S DECEMBER!!!” week, been working on Oracle. It’s not finished. I think it will be finished in three months–but I have no publication date for it, yet. Because it’s not done. I mentioned I’m a week behind in Oracle words. I have difficulty working on two projects simultaneously at the end of a novel. So the first writing thing I want to do is catch up on those words.

After which I will start Grave

I’ve also written a book review column for F&SF.

I haven’t done much of anything else. At all. And no, I have not even started Christmas shopping.

I feel as if I am always struggling to catch up. I often think if I were more focused or better at organization, I would never fall behind. Or if I had a more realistic idea of how long things would actually take. It’s not like I haven’t been doing this for two decades now. And, to be fair to myself, until Touch, I was in a good writing space. But Touch, being what we affectionately refer to as a book from hell in my writers’ circles (the unaffectionate references being NSFW), knocked everything off the table, and I have been trying to pick up all of the things that fell and return them to their proper places.

But: when I’m writing actual book words, when I’m writing and things I’ve been struggling to keep in the air finally fall into place, I love writing. And in spite of all the whining, that hasn’t changed.

News!

Wendy Good, in the comments to the previous post, asked: How many more Cast books are you currently contracted for with Luna? Will you seek contracts for further Cast books or is that too far reaching of a question? I dare to ask because I don’t want them to end. I know all good things must eventually, but would love some reassurance regarding the next few years, if at all possible. : )

The answer was: The one I’m working on now (which is Cast in Peril).

The answer is now: The one I’m working on now (which is, oddly enough, still Cast in Peril) and three more Cast novels, none of which have titles.

Some of the questions about various elements of possible future books – the Dragon Court – are affected by events in the almost available Cast in Ruin. Which is all I’ll say for the next few months, because anything else is so heavily into spoiler territory I will get hate mail at the very least.

I try very hard, with the Cast novels, to start with a very, very simple statement about the book before I begin writing. Cast in Silence was: Kaylin confronts and finally accepts her past. No, really. Cast in Chaos was: An influx of refugees causes panic and fear in Elantra. No, really. Cast in Fury was: In the aftermath of the panic caused by the tidal wave Kaylin must deal with an artiste — while Marcus Kassan is relieved of his duties on charges of murder.

Cast in Peril was a small paragraph. Some of which I can’t detail, because it follows from Ruin. Cast in Peril is not the book I planned. Which is to say, it is the book I planned, but in planning, I seem to have forgotten that plot takes words, and the more plot there is, the more words there are, and at some point, there are too many words, because clearly I thought I could fit everything into one room. An apt analogy would be furniture: the fridge is now sitting in the hall and the dining room table is the TV stand, and there’s no room for anything but the couch because you can’t get past the table, and for some reason I thought it would all fit in one room.

In this, I absolutely blame Teela; it is entirely her fault. Well, actually, that’s possibly not fair. It is also the fault of another character I can’t name yet.

What I really want to do is post Chapter One of Cast in Peril. And no, of course I won’t, because it will make no sense if you haven’t read Cast in Ruin.

ETA: I think Cast in Peril will make sense to a reader who hasn’t read the previous books, in as much as that’s possible, but readers who have will immediately say: who the heck is (character name redacted)?

Cast in Ruin Chapter Two

I hope people aren’t getting tired of seeing this cover, because it’s one of my favourites in the series to date. Which is not, of course, why I’m posting it again.

No, I’m posting it because so many people have asked, here and in email, if I could just possibly post Chapter Two before the book’s release date. I can’t think of any harm it could do, and yes, Chapter One ended in an unfortunate place — which was honestly not my intent, because I didn’t really write Chapter One thinking of it as a separate entity, the way a short story is.

Here, without further preamble, is Cast in Ruin Chapter Two. Enjoy!

I will be sitting here at my computer working on the other half of today’s writing, which has been going very slowly thanks to allergies and the type of sleep allergies sometimes cause. I am certain my children are grateful that I spent time preparing Chapter Two instead of being cranky, grouchy mom <wry g>.

More news

I have just finished speaking with Khristine Hvam Kies, who is the narrator for the Cast novels in audio book. Or at least the narrator for the first one. So: people who were wondering who the narrator is, it’s her :). We had a long discussion about pronunciation of names, and the tonal quality of the various characters and their speech, so I’m looking forward to the results.

Memory of Stone has been proofed and the entire set of six stories and introductions should be typeset within the next ten days. At which point, I will finally have a page count total, and after that, a cover for a print-on-demand version (page count equalling spine width, without which a cover can’t be finalized), which has been on hold forever while I work on the text. I will probably format and release the ebook over the weekend, because I have spent so much time on the phone today I have seriously shorted the writing time, and the writing still isn’t finished.

Phone, you say?

My editor at DAW. Some time ago, I mentioned that I had written a YA; I’ve even read the prologue and the first chapter in public in a couple of places. It’s a contemporary fantasy (my first at novel length), and I sold it to DAW sometime at the end of last year. People have been asking me when it will be published, and I’ve been telling them that the book isn’t going to be scheduled until the second book is finished (and, as I jettisoned the first 50k words of the first attempt, the second book is not yet finished).

However…plans, they always change.

Silence, the first book in a trilogy I am currently calling “The Dead”, although that’s probably going to change as well, is now scheduled for a May 2012 release, from DAW. So, Skirmish is coming out in January of 2012, Silence in May of 2012, and Cast in Peril sometime between August and October of 2012. Skirmish is finished. Silence is finished. Peril is not quite finished yet, but is in progress as I type.

Cast in Ruin: Chapter one

It’s the end of July, and as promised, here’s Cast in Ruin, Chapter One, which Amazon lists as a 20 September 2011 release. It’s an October title; it’s sold to stores as an October title, and the date of publication that I always reference on my pages is the publication month for which the book is sold to stores. With paper books it is impossible to have an exact date without complicated legal embargos (i.e. of the type used for Harry Potter books and no one else); the Amazon date is probably truer to the time at which the book will start to arrive in physical bookstores (and therefore Amazon’s physical warehouse).

It is also listed on the Elantra page in the sidebar, but I thought I would try to save people a few clicks and a page load by linking it from this post as well. Yes, it’s taken me several books worth of first chapters to think of this, but, ummm, I plead author-brain.

The UPS man delivered the mass market paperbacks of both Cast in Fury and Cast in Silence yesterday (where, true to form, I tripped over them on the way in from work, and bounced around the front hall with Stubbed Toe. The books, however, were unharmed). Cast in Fury was originally published with a glossy cover in trade paperback; the mass market has a matte finish, but with the title, my name, and the tag-line on the back cover in full gloss. I really like the way it looks. It is, otherwise, the same book.

Enjoy!

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).

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.

State of the Writing, September 2010 edition

Volume 03 of House War: House Name

House War: House Name: This has been finished; the cover was posted downstream. The last of the three books that follow Jewel’s past. It’s scheduled for January of 2011, and it can be preordered from: Indiebound | Amazon | Powell’s | Borders | B & N

Cast in Ruin: This book begins a few days after Cast in Chaos ends.  Kaylin is called in for the etiquette lessons she’s managed to avoid until now — and is also called in to help with an unusual investigation in the fief of Tiamaris, where the relocation of thousands of strangers is not perhaps going entirely smoothly.  Cast in Ruin has been revised and sent to my editor. It will come back with a revision letter, and if it evades that, will come back with line edits, copy-edits, and page proofs. Hopefully it will come with a cover, as well, and when it does, I’ll share.

House War: Skirmish: I’m about 110k words into Skirmish and I desperately want people to read it, or at least the parts of it that were a revelation to me. It isn’t finished yet, but it starts the day after Jewel’s return to the House in the ‘present’ time-line.

Silence of the Grave: A YA novel I wrote a while ago on spec.  I meant to return to it and revise the beginning, but ended up writing all of Cast in Chaos and “Cast in Moonlight” first.  I’m currently (finally) revising the first third of it, and will hopefully be finished in a week, at which point I will start:

Cast in Danger: So far, only background work has been done on this book, and the title is very tentative. I know how it starts, and I know that it involves the Shadow Wolves and the Barrani. I don’t want to say much more because I haven’t actually written any of the book words yet–just the foundation notes and information.

Harvest Moon

Devon, in the previous post, asked Where, in your eyes, does Cast in Moonlight fit into the grand scheme of things?

It seemed like the right time to answer.

Harvest Moon is a collection of three stories, one by Mercedes Lacky set in her 500 Kingdoms universe, one by new author Cameron Haley which is, I believe, a prequel to the just released Mob Rules, and one by me.  The publication date is, in theory, the first of October, 2010.

My contribution is “Cast in Moonlight”, a novella of 39,000 words.

Cast in Moonlight fits in at the beginning, sort of.  Kaylin is thirteen years old when she first meets the Hawklord, and the story starts just after that first meeting and continues from there, as Kaylin meets the Hawks:  Marcus, Teela, Tain, Clint and the Hawklord himself, with one surprise appearance by a Dragon whom Kaylin doesn’t recognize as a Dragon because she’s not familiar with them.

It features her very first case as a not-quite-old-enough-to-be-Hawk.

There is, however, no Nightshade and no Severn.  Sorry…

Answering the How Many Books question

Sarah Brewer
 Aug 10, 2010 @ 15:56:24 asked: Do you know how many books will be in this series?

I get asked this question a lot–or at least I’ve been asked it a lot with the recent publication of Cast in Chaos, so I’m going to try to answer it here:

I don’t know.

Okay, that’s too glib, although it is true.

I started this series in the hopes that it would be like a mystery series or a continuing television show in terms of structure. I’m not always good at that, but that’s what I’ve been trying to do. Do I have a definitive end in mind? Yes. Is it possible that will change as I approach it? Yes. Some of the things that have happened so far cough Cast in Silence cough weren’t things I mapped out when I first started Cast in Shadow.

I like the causality of the unexpected, and the way it changes the world; for me it’s what gives the events weight and substance.  I didn’t expect for Tiamaris to do what he did, and what he did do changes the shape of the fiefs in ways that suggest future changes, in a ripple-down, across the fiefs.

One of the things that occurs at the end of Cast in Ruin has ramifications for the future that I’m still assessing. I started writing a book that would deal with two things: the refugees in Tiamaris, and the Etiquette lessons. And while these two things are addressed, it’s not actually what the book is about, in the end. This is me trying very, very hard not to drop spoilers. I will only say that I didn’t expect there to be so much about Dragons when I first set these two simple goals.

Which is a digression, I know.

While there are still books I want to write in this universe–and there are several (The Dragon Court book, the Shadow Wolf book, the Aerian book–you can sort of see where this is going)–and while there are still people interested in reading them, I’m going to keep writing. When there are no more stories that I desperately want to tell, I’ll wind things up.

I know that some readers have been disappointed because things aren’t now clearer, and I apologize for that; I’m not trying to drag things out just for the sake of extending them. I honestly didn’t intend for the series to be structured as an -ology, with beginning, middle and end; I wanted it to be a world in which multiple stories and arcs could occur. The fact that some people are disappointed at the lack of answers probably means I failed to do that clearly enough.

I will try harder, I promise.

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