And the end of September, what’s more.
*may the editors not rely on spellcheck*
Yes. Well. Ahem. The really frustrating thing is that I’d had this conversation with both my editor’s assistant and, through her, the copyeditor, about my little retro peculiarities, including that ‘any more’ is two words, as is ‘some day’ and ‘any time’, and that single nouns ending in ‘s’ take an apostrophe only, not an apostrophe-s, thus: princess’, not princess’s. One of SHADOWS’ main characters has a nickname ending in s.
The final manuscript file undoubtedly had errors, because all final manuscripts have errors, and some of those errors may even conceivably include an ‘anymore’ and an s’s. But the style sheet was right.
So. Guess what. In the ARCs, modern style ravages the landscape. My landscape. Some button-pressing twit didn’t read the notes, and either did or did not press the right button or buttons, and therefore ARCs were produced in which ‘anymore’ hideously reigns. Arrrgh. Poor Zandria has toiled through the blasted book yet again, putting these right again, and I’m slashing them with a large red marking pencil as I go through . . . again.
I did realise one slightly bizarre thing. It is not news that I do not enjoy reading galleys. It’s another philosophical, or possibly quantum-physical, level of the way when the finished book finally arrives and you the author tremblingly take it out of its padded envelope and look at it . . . it will fall open on a page with a more or less severe typo on it.* This is a law of the universe. Reading galleys all you can ever see is the bits you didn’t fix, the things you made the wrong choices about . . . and it’s too late to change. These are page proofs. The only things you can alter now are actual printers’ errors. Like ‘anymore’.
I am ENDLESSLY distracted by second, third, and ninety-sixth guessing myself about all those things it is too late to change. With scraping the puppy off the ceiling, having flu and—up to two nights ago—bringing indoors increasing numbers of little green trying-to-grow things and taking them out again in the morning, I have not been having a good time with the galley pages of SHADOWS. To the extent that when the ARCs arrived a few days ago I started all over, reading an ARC. And what I realised is . . . it’s easier. I think because it looks like a book. Loose pages still look like manuscript. It’s harder to focus your mind on the fact that they’re merely unbound book pages. Every time you read something you’d like to change you revert—you forget again. But a book-shaped object is clearly a book, to your subconscious. All right, to my subconscious. In a book-shaped object I pay better attention to the ‘anymore’s. Which ironically I’m picking more of up in the ARC than I did in the loose pages, because I’m finally reading from the right superficial non-quantum level.
It must be a pretty great feeling to see it coming together like this.
Well, see above. The bottom line is that I’m a neurotic control freak. But I’m a neurotic control freak who writes stories for a living. I love what I do. I wouldn’t want to do anything else. And I don’t mind the hard-work aspect; you’re lucky to have the opportunity to work hard at something you love. And stuff happens and we’re all mortal. What I do wish is that I could do what I do with a little less useless anguish. Very tiring, useless anguish. And when the fit’s over you feel like such a jerk. In the five minutes before you plunge into the next sea of useless anguish.
They’re still tweaking the colours on the art. The ARC covers are also printed on glossy paper and they’re thinking some kind of matte for the final jacket. This means that the colours I’m seeing are not what they’re ultimately going to look like. As a result there has been a fair amount of Reassure the Author going on. The point of this story is that I wrote saying that (among other things) I didn’t think I liked the yellow of my name . . . and I was thinking, my name. My name on a BOOK JACKET. If you count the picture books, the number of titles out there with my name on them is getting pretty close to twenty. And it’s still a thrill. Every time. My name on a book jacket. Golly. Wow.
And to everyone, on the forum, FB, Twitter and on email who said something like:
Instantly went to Amazon and pre-ordered!
Luckily, my local independent bookstore both takes pre-orders and is on speed-dial.
Tritto!? (Me, too, anyway.)
Just pre-ordered my copy!
To the pre-order!
YAAAAAAAAAAAY all of you. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAY.
Thank you. The ‘earn my living’ part of writing stories is only possible because of people like you. I may be a cow** but I’m a grateful and appreciative cow.
September is FOREVER. I want it now.
I can hardly wait till September either. Pav will be thirteen months old and BEGINNING TO SHOW SOME SENSE. Er . . . right?
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (With all the volume and high-pitched-ness that only a teenager can pull off)
Snork. True. But you have to be old for genuine paint-peeling resonance. To make the sort of noise that causes chimneys to fall over and wheels to come off cars.
Diane in MN
::sends encouraging thoughts to publisher’s minions::
Yes please. I am not hiding under the bed. I am not.
Ooooooh! You get ARCs with cover art? Mine are all purple and white with Del Rey logos in little purple blocks all over them and no pictures.
I dunno. That actually sounds really cool and collector-y. But when do you see the art? Do they send you flats? Do you have enough lead time to get really really stressed about it? Either what it is, or what it isn’t, or what they’re going to do unless they change their minds and do something else?
::stares fixedly at calendar to make it September through sheer force of will::
Would you add something in about Pav beginning to show sense, please? And maybe something about hellhounds eating all three meals a day every day. Sigh. Critters exist to keep you grounded. . . .
* * *
* In SHADOWS, it will probably be ‘anymore’.
** And the few people who are telling me they won’t read anything of mine till I write the third Damar book, or that they wish I’d go back to rewriting fairy tales because that’s what I’m good at, or that they’re holding out for PEG II . . . bite me. I write what I can write, what I am given to write. When the first version of PEG II crashed and burned a year and whatever ago and I couldn’t start over again immediately, SHADOWS frelling saved me. And I like it. I think it’s a good book. And it was a story I wanted to write anyway, even if I hadn’t been planning on writing it just now—and even if, on paper, it’s not at all the story I thought it was going to be. But that’s totally standard in my life as a story-teller. The story is never what I thought it was going to be.
Not all of my books are going to appeal to all of my readers (unfortunately). I know this. It makes me sad, but it’s not a problem. Being told that someone isn’t even going to give SHADOWS a chance because it’s not the third Damar novel, or the second PEGASUS novel, or a fairy tale retelling—or a sequel to SUNSHINE—well, I find that pretty problematic, not that there’s a blind bit of anything I can do about it.
The story starts like something out of a fairy tale: I hated my stepfather.
It’s usually stepmothers in fairy tales. Well, equal time for stepfathers.
I almost don’t know why I hated Val so much. He was short and hairy and didn’t know how to wear Newworld clothes and spoke with a funny accent and used a lot of really dreeping words that nobody in Newworld had used in two hundred years. Have you ever heard anyone say “ablutions”? I didn’t think so. He looked like the kind of creepazoid you’d cross the street to avoid walking past too close to. And this guy who looks like a homeless crazydumb who’s about to start shouting about the evil magician who planted electrodes in his brain stands there smiling gently at my mother . . . and she laughs and puts her arm through his because she loves him. Uggh.
Maybe I hated him because she loved him, although I was pretty old for that kind of doolally. I’d turned seventeen by the time they got together, and my brother, Ran (short for Randal not Randolph), who wasn’t quite thirteen yet, thought he was wonderful. I don’t know what went wrong with me. It was like an evil magician had put electrodes in my brain.
Margaret Alastrina (everyone calls me Maggie, but the full line-up is way more effective if you want to shout), there’s no point in telling this story if you’re not going to be honest. Okay, okay, I do know why I couldn’t deal with Val. It was the shadows. But in Newworld, where we’re all about science and you stop reading fairy tales about the time you learn to read (which always seemed really unfair), being afraid of shadows was silly and pathetic. Even if there were a lot of them and they didn’t seem to be the shadow of anything. (And if they were, whatever it was had way too many legs.) So I hated him for making me silly and pathetic. That’s scientifically logical, isn’t it?
For a while Mom made a fuss about it and tried to get us—Val and me—to do things together, I guess because she couldn’t believe I wouldn’t like him if I got to know him better. You know the kind of thing. We did the grocery shopping—with him being as useless as it’s humanly possible to be and me having to explain everything; why he hadn’t starved to death before he met Mom I have no idea—and when I got my learner’s permit Mom was always “Oh, take Val, I haven’t got time right now,” which was probably true but it was also Mom trying to make us friends. (And honestly, he was a pretty good learner driver’s passenger. He never blew about dumb stuff—and he didn’t even get upset when I put the tiniest—the tiniest—dent in Mom’s fender because there was this really unnecessary knob on the side of one of those big metal anti-cobey boxes and I couldn’t see it because the front of the car was in the way. We got out and looked at it and I thought, My life is over, but all Val said was, “I can bend that out again. Back into the driveway tonight so it’s on the other side and she’ll never know.”)
Mom probably couldn’t believe what had happened to her daughter. I’d been this disgustingly sweet, cooperative kid, always worried about everyone else (this got worse after Ran was born. I am never having kids. Moms with new babies have no life), which is to say this dreary little dreep. What started giving me my own personality finally was when I got old enough to volunteer at the Orchard Animal Shelter. I was thrilled at being allowed to shovel critter crap and scrub bowls. The self-confidence issues of a nine-year-old can be pretty weird.
I’d wanted a dog since forever, but about six months after Dad died, and Mom was still trying to be extra-nice to Ran and me, especially because she was working about twenty-six hours a day and exhausted and miserable and cranky when we saw her at all, I told her I’d found my dog. So while she gave me the old “a dog is a big responsibility” lecture and reminded me with lots of Mom gestures and eye contact that she was working twenty-six hours a day and backup from her was a nonstarter, her heart wasn’t really in it. I had wanted almost every dog that came into the shelter because whatever it was it was a dog, but this time it was one of those your-eyes-meet-and-you-know-you’re-made-for-each-other things. (My friend Laura has them about every six months with a new boy.) Clare was saving him for me while I dealt with Mom (and Ran, although Ran is fine about most things including dogs as long as they’re not his problem). So we brought Mongo home. . . .
* * *
* Because I have a mind like a sieve that’s been left out in the rain and then caught in an avalanche, I can’t remember if I’ve given you the first few pages of SHADOWS before or not. I know I’ve given you a couple of random snippets from inside. But even if I have given you the first few pages previously . . . this is the last rewrite. I’m pretty sure you haven’t seen the final version.
From the back:
The story starts like something out of a fairy tale: I hated my stepfather. It’s usually stepmothers in fairy tales. Well, equal time for stepfathers. . . .
Maggie knows there’s something off about Val, her mom’s new husband. It’s more than that he’s from Oldworld and doesn’t know how to wear Newworld clothes or use Newworld slang. Why won’t he have any tech in the shed behind the house that he uses as his office? And what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows that follow him around?
Newworld is all about science–you’re expected to give up fairy tales as soon as you’re old enough to read them for yourself–and magic is illegal. Oldworld still uses magic, but in Newworld the magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie’s great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago.
Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen. He’s from Oldworld too–and he’s heard of Maggie’s stepfather, and has a guess about Val’s shadows. Maggie doesn’t want to know . . . until earth-shattering events force her to depend not only on Casimir’s knowledge of magic, but on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage.
If you zoom in on the black circle in the lower right-hand corner you will see ‘advance uncorrected galleys–not for resale’. Pub date is September. By which time we will have ERADICATED typos from the final page proofs, I will have stopped rending my garments and screaming about all the stuff it’s too late to change, and the art department will have finished tweaking the jacket.
I seem to be very tired.* And I cancelled my voice lesson because I have that half-laryngitis when you croak like a frog except when your voice disappears entirely for a word or two.** I didn’t even go ringing tonight. I must be ill. Well, yes. But the main thing is that SHADOWS has taken one of those semi-predictable lurches on the conveyor-belt of the publishing process when it, I don’t know, gets caught in the gap between Conveyor Belt #1 and Conveyor Belt #2 or the Conveyor Belt Technician missed her grab or something, and suddenly THINGS ARE HAPPENING.
TELL THINGS TO STOP HAPPENING. I AM A POOR SAD SICK WEARY THING.
Since I didn’t have a singing lesson to go to and since staying at home brooding about THINGS HAPPENING would probably only make my head explode and because a little gentle distraction is often a good way to make the brain produce useful suggestions rather than bloodshot gibberish, Wolfgang and I went off to buy compost*** and to check out the pet warehouse for a car harness for the hellterror.† And while I was there I cruised the food since I now have a dog that eats††, although I was particularly looking at the snacky, treaty, bribey type things and . . . WTF, you dog-food industry, and you dog owners supporting the dog-food industry, WHY do so many treats have SUGAR or other sweeteners in them?? Yes. I read labels. I know it’s impossible to keep your kid off sweets once he/she gets old enough to hang out with his/her friends, but your DOG? Your dog is under YOUR control. It doesn’t have much opportunity to develop non-standard bad habits, like a sweet tooth, unless you let it. Frelling frelling frell frell frell. Well. We’re still good with the plaited fish skin and the venison jerky.
My mentor/trainer of blessed memory used to think I was a TOTAL wuss and despaired of me ever training anything because I wouldn’t tuck dried liver (or some other dog appropriate treat) into the corner of my mouth and either spit it directly at the dog or at least eliminate several seconds of reaching-into-pocket-getting-treat. An advantage of having the treats in your mouth is that the dogs will REALLY REALLY look at you since food occasionally falls from your face.
I realise this is supposed to be disgusting and several other people on the forum have responded as such but . . . this makes me laugh and laugh. Yes, that would certainly make the hellterror look at me.††† No, the disgustingness doesn’t bother me all that much, but the HYGIENE does. Most dog food has FOR ANIMAL USE ONLY stamped all over it, dogs are perfectly happy eating . . . well, never mind . . . and in catering to this floor-licking species I doubt that there’s a lot of exacting enforcement of sanitation in the average dog food factory. And you’re supposed to put this stuff in YOUR mouth? What is stopping YOUR saliva from saying, oh, hey, LIVER, and briskly attacking it in a digestive sort of way? —Aside from the drool factor. Not that your hellterror is going to care in the least about being spat on, at least if it’s liver flavoured spit . . . sorry. I can see my faithful readers deleting the blog addy in frenzied numbers . . . or frenziedly, in numbers . . . whatever. And I’m allergic to venison, and Pav is slightly more partial to dried venison than she is to ANYTHING I allow her to find edible, which is approximately everything I don’t take away from her before she swallows it.
Speaking of treats however has anyone tried dried sweet potato? Sounded like a great idea. But in practise, at the point that it gets really really really gooey, it starts sticking to the roof of your hellterror’s mouth. We had a supernaturally delightful half hour a day or two ago with her in my lap so I could claw the blasted sweet potato OFF the roof of her mouth again every thirty seconds or so. She didn’t want to give it up, mind, and it seemed unfair to take it away from her, when she was clearly having such a good time, including all this jolly interaction with the hellgoddess. Ew. I think desiccated liver would be preferable.
I still haven’t found an answer to THINGS HAPPENING. And I think I’m too tired‡ to try to figure out the car harness tonight.
* * *
* Also, never mind Margaret Thatcher. Annette Funicello died.^
One of the things I find interesting is that she kept the Funicello. Did no one ever lean on her to change it to Fulham or Fulbright? This is the era when Margarita Carmen Cansino became Rita Hayworth and Bernard Schwartz Tony Curtis.^^
^ And you all know Roger Ebert died? Nooooooo. I haven’t been keeping up with this—the main thing is he’s dead, and we don’t get him back+—but hadn’t he written that long, funny, poignant, typically-Roger essay about his ‘leave of presence’ literally a day before he died? How does that work?
+ Although this is a situation where Christianity does offer a Band-Aid. I can think of him getting his face back and being able to talk to people again.
^^ Although Marion Morrison may have changed his for other reasons than ethnicity.
** Sometimes this is a blessing, depending on the word.
*** I have roses to plant. Fancy.
† She only still fits in her travelling crate because she thinks she does, rather the way she still fits on my lap. Although she’s delighted to get in the crate^ because there is (almost) always FOOOOOOOD in the back of it, but some day she’s going to stretch injudiciously and the seams are going to pop, like the Incredible Hulk emerging from Bruce Banner^^. But a bigger crate won’t fit on the back seat next to the hellhounds, even if the three of them got on famously there is NO room even for an undersized Yorkie in the hellhound box, and I have a strange aversion to filling the ENTIRE CAR with canine containment units, since the new bigger hellterror crate would have to go in the boot.
^ Which just by the way is a total piece of crap and I will be GLAD to find a way to dispense with its services. It’s one of these where there are pegs that fit into holes which hold the door grate in place, and there are teeny-tiny handles that you open or close so you can open or close the door. THE FRELLING PEGS ARE TOO FRELLING SHORT SO THE DOOR IS ALWAYS FALLING OUT. Why the hellterror has not figured this out and made my life a misery/forced me to bungie-cord the door to keep her in I have no idea, except possibly that she is fond of the crate because of fooooood thing and as long as she stays in this Place of Snacks there might be more.
^^ And speaking of things I don’t keep up with, what does happen about clothing when Banner hulks out? Does Brucie wear spandex under everything, just in case?
†† Sigh. Hellhound eating is a major issue—again—at present, and Pav is proving the perfect Sucker Up of Remains. Nothing edible goes to waste with a hellterror available.
††† And the hellhounds look away.
‡ I also had a long conversation with Theodora and her daughter about the wall, and I had Pav with me, in their beautiful, tidy sitting room with the fragile objets d’art scattered around. Since she’s much better about dangling than she is about sitting still when she has her feet on the floor, I had her tucked under an arm. Under one arm, over my hip, and holding her rear feet with my other hand behind my back, since my coat didn’t have pockets in the right places for her to put her feet in. She followed the conversation with great attention and courtesy—I think some of why she’s so good at dangling is she likes being taller. At ankle level EVERYTHING IS GOING ON WAY OVER HER HEAD—but I’m not sure my right arm will recover. I’m afraid to weigh her again, I might lose my nerve.
I’ve told you, haven’t I, that PEG II ends possibly even worse than PEG? Slightly depending on your definition of ‘worse’.
Ummmm. No. I don’t think you had. And if you had I had BLOCKED IT OUT. Thanks.
One of us is doing a certain amount of blocking anyway. Like I’m blocking the whole trilogy thing. THERE ARE TWO BOOKS LEFT. AND I HAVE TO REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED IN THE FIRST ONE. BECAUSE THERE’S A FIRST ONE. Arrrrrrgh. I was reading a snarky review somewhere of someone else’s first book of a trilogy, and the snarky reviewer was saying how tired she was of authors feeling they have to produce trilogies and that this one is already failing to support the length. Well, I can’t speak for the length-supporting—and I’m sure some authors, possibly desperate to earn a living*, which does happen, silly us for quitting our day jobs, have signed up for a trilogy for the ‘paid three times’ aspect—but some of us don’t choose to write trilogies, trilogies choose us. One might almost say mug us.
I didn’t mean to finish anything on a cliffhanger. The end of PEG was supposed to be the end of part one. The end of PEG II was supposed to be the middle of PEG II. I don’t do time, I don’t do distance, I don’t do length or word count. . . . I am Not of This World. Which explains a lot really.
I blame KES for your growing fondness for cliffhangers.
It’s the other way around. The end of PEG was a big, Oh well hey moment, even though I knew a lot of people would hate me for it.** Writing KES is an interesting experience*** not least because of the 800-or-so words per episode set-up and the need to create some structure out of the situation. Eight hundred words doesn’t give you much opportunity for momentum. Itty-bitty cliffhangers are a way to make the story feel like it’s moving forward.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
So have I missed something, does Pegasus II have a pub. date yet, that you are already anticipating reader’s reactions?
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH. I HAVEN’T WRITTEN IT YET.† I’m anticipating reader reactions because PEG II also ends on a cliffhanger and I know what the end of PEG got me. And if you ever browse around in the blog pre-PEG you may come across one of the occasions when I warn you that PEG has a Frodo-was-alive-but-taken-by-the-Enemy ending. Readers frequently surprise me but some things can be successfully assumed. Like that cliffhangers make a lot of readers cranky, especially when they’re not expecting it.††
Remind me to have her crate off the kitchen table and on the FLOOR before that [that the hellterror is too heavy to lift] happens
I’m sure she’d be happy to leap up on the table without you lifting her.
Yup. She will soon. She can’t quite bound reliably up on the chair from the slippery kitchen floor, and then she doesn’t have enough spring without a run at it to boing it from the chair into the crate. But she’s now busy making me feel ENORMOUSLY GUILTY because the minute I put her on drugs and started feeding her more she’s having an unscheduled growth spurt. Ask me how I know this (she says, rubbing her aching arms†††). Sigh. . . .
* * *
* Scary publishing story? Here’s a scary publishing story for any of us who aren’t J K Rowling or E L James—and for you/us readers. I tweeted it a little while ago but for anyone who doesn’t immediately click on every link, here it is again: http://stephanieburgis.livejournal.com/311674.html
Books are not widgets. They are not one size fits all. Another one of similar dimensions produced by another company is not a suitable substitute. And it is not okay that the big guys are playing hardball with the little guys’ livelihoods and future careers because they can.
I would like to believe that when this gets sorted out both sides, who are, in fact, in the book business which does, finally, depend in some fashion on authors, will make some good on the books and writers that are being squeezed now. But do I believe it . . . ?
** And I have—or anyway had, since I tend to delete them—the email to prove it. What continues to fascinate me however is the number of people who seem to believe that was the ending. I know I don’t write series or sequels and that I may even have made a slight doodah about the fact that I don’t write series or sequels, but it genuinely never OCCURRED to me that anyone wouldn’t recognise a cliffhanger when they saw one. Also . . . have I ever ruined one of my heroines’ lives and left her in a crumpled heap on the floor? Maybe some of these people have never read any of my other books and don’t know my reprehensible tendency toward the Technicolor sunset finish. I grant that some books end more Technicolorful than others^, but do you really think Sylvi and Ebon are parted for life? Please.
^ I still get furious, appalled or gravely disappointed mail about the end of SPINDLE. These readers and Ikor should get together. They could start a club.+
+ I’ve said this before. But I think it again every time I get one of these letters.
*** Especially the part about HAVING NO IDEA WHERE IT’S GOING. I know most of the immediate future, aside from the way every story changes in the process of writing it down, and I have some idea about some things farther ahead (or sometimes farther to one or another side), and I recognise as you might call them hot spots where there’s more story if I can wiggle what is there already around and get it aimed in the right direction, but mostly I have to trust to the extremely alive critter that KES is, and hope it/she continues lithe and frisky. I AM OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE. I DON’T DO SERIALS.
† I’m in the early No, no, nooooooo phase, including the Huh? What? I wouldn’t have put this in if the story didn’t promise me there was a reason NOW WHAT THE MANGY TICK-INFESTED FRELL WAS THE REASON?^ This is a not uncommon phase mid-story but I’m not used to having some of it out there in public already.
^ Distant sound of story, giggling.
†† Not to worry. Much. There will be a Technicolor-ish sunset ending. Eventually. I think.
††† Although I can still tuck her under one arm because she puts her feet in my pockets. Southdowner warned me about this. . . . But really it’s a useful talent. Usually. Except when she uses it to trampoline herself out of your grasp.