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, 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.

House Name is in the House, and an answer to the Kindle Question

Volume 03 of House War: House Name

House Name, the third of the House War foundation books, and the final book set in the early years of the den, is now in my house.  I would have posted sooner, but this particular holiday season, we were visited by the very long and very drawn out cold bug (I’d call it a ‘flu, but it seems to have hit all the people who were smart enough to have ‘flu shots as well). When I say ‘we’, I mean everyone but my husband (which would include my visiting sister, my parents, my children’s godparents–everyone). It was not an impressively productive holiday season, but I am now returning to life and to work.

And to email, which is so very, very backed up it would be funny only in a very particular kind of black comedy.

Which brings me to the second important point, which necessitates much, much grovelling. A number of Kindle readers in particular have written here or emailed me asking when House Name will be available on the Kindle. Because of this, I wrote to my publisher to ask. The answer?

Ummm. The answer was: did you sign and send in the amendment to the contract the legal department requires?

The what?

You know those moments of Oh My God horror when the world shifts under your feet and you experience the dreadful sensation of falling in the pit of your stomach, except you’re not actually falling so you won’t hit anything that will end the sensation anytime soon? Yes, this is one of those.

I mentioned the volume of backed-up email. The necessary amendment was in the backlog and I missed it. I didn’t know it was necessary or incoming, but that’s not an excuse, and as an explanation it’s very lacking, but has the single advantage of being true. So I have found it, printed it out, signed it, and overnight mailed it.

But I wanted to apologize and to grovel to everyone who’s been waiting for a Kindle release of this book, because this is entirely the fault of the author: me. It’s not the fault of my publisher, DAW, and it’s nothing that Amazon has any control over either, and I really wanted to make that clear: your disappointment or (justifiable) anger should be aimed at me, because I failed to notice the necessary amendment in time. I can promise you all I will never, ever do this again. (I now have a ‘pay attention to this you idiot’ filter.)

As soon as the amendment reaches the legal department, the Kindle version will go live.

In the meantime, and as an apology, if you email me at Michelle.Sagara@sff.net, I can send a chunk of House Name itself so you can start reading, because I expect the book should be available within the next few days. I think your email is logged when you post here, so you could also post here instead of sending direct email.

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