the reviews begin

With Doppelganger starting to make its way out into the world, I took some time today to do what any sane first-time novelist does: I googled myself again. Which let me cross paths with this delightful review by Sue Burke on the website Fresh Fiction (review header — “Brilliant debut fantasy novel with a shocking ending”):

A fully realized new world, Ms. Brennan’s first novel is a brilliant read. The conclusion is a humdinger I never saw coming and literally stopped reading and said “Wow!” when it hit me. With likable characters, good world building and a story arc that keeps you wanting more, everything fits together nicely and comes to a satisfying conclusion for characters and readers alike.

That’s the tail end of the review, following a few paragraphs about the early plot of the novel. In a similar vein, I don’t think I ever actually linked to this other, equally delightful review I found a while back, from a woman named Jenica who read an ARC of the book. Relevant pull-quote:

In sum, the characters are engaging, the concepts of magic, goddesses, souls, and religious history are familiar but never derivative, and the society they live in is an interesting take on high fantasy. A wonderful read with a really satisfying resolution. And, just maybe, there’s more?

So far, so good. Haven’t gotten any trade-publication reviews yet; if those turn out half so well, I’ll be pleased.

return from ICFA; contest results

The only bad part about going to Florida for a weekend in March is coming back to Indiana’s winter weather advisories.

My fourth ICFA was delightful. My paper (on Meredith Ann Pierce’s The Darkangel) went well; Pythia’s paper went better, winning the grad student paper award. Go her! The Bloomington posse is beginning its domination. I also got very publicly promoted by Rick Wilbur of the fomerly-Asimov-now-Dell Award, who, in accepting a different award for his service, talked about the successes of the finalists, and made me stand up and display a copy of Doppelganger to the entire banquet room. I am so very very glad that my author’s copies arrived in time for me to take some south.

And speaking of the novel . . . .

Adam Zolkover wins the contest for spotting Doppelganger in the wild. There will be a character named after him in the urban fantasy sequel I’m working on. Even though the contest is done, though, go ahead and send pictures! Or, if you don’t have easy access to a digital camera, just tell me when and where you see the book appearing. I’d like to track its progress. The local Barnes & Noble has called the people who special-ordered it, so the process has begun.

Time to hide under the bed, I guess.

Unfortunately, I do have an excuse for being hermit-like. Two papers and a grant proposal to write in the next week and a half. Urk. Guess I’d better get to work.

BOOKSIES!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, my author copies have arrived.

I had pretty much given up on them coming in time for me to take any to ICFA, but here they are. And yes, I am indeed giggling and clutching one to my chest. I had to convince myself to put it down long enough to type.

Remember: first person to send me a picture of copies on the shelves of a bookstore gets a psychic government employee named after them in my next book.

The Production Process

In my busy-ness on Friday, I neglected to make any mention of the fact that I’d posted the next installment of my series of “My First Novel” essays, discussing the production process a book goes through. I’m up to five essays now; I figure there will probably be seven when I’m done (with the last two covering promotion and reviews), and possibly an “epilogue” essay about my second novel.

On a completely frivolous and unrelated note, I like this quiz result:

Your Theme Song:

“The Sound of Silence”, Simon & Garfunkel

‘What is your theme song?’ at QuizGalaxy.com

It’s been one of my favorite songs since childhood.

progress report, part two

It’s a miracle. 11 pages, and I’ve said pretty much everything I need to. Of course it needs polishing and refinement and there are no doubt tidbits I’ve missed, and I haven’t read it aloud again to see how long that actually is, but I think that if I compress my overview of the Tale-Type Index and the Motif Index, I’ll probably be okay.

I should do some of that polishing now, but I’m so desperately in need of a nap I can’t stop yawning. Since I have what could legitimately be called a first draft, I think I’m going to accept it as a good day’s work, and leave the next stage for tomorrow or Sunday.

progress report

Jacob H. Grimm on a cracker. (Hmmm, must find some “G” word to use instead of cracker.) I’m less than halfway into my ICFA paper, and it’s seven minutes long. Must cut down. Good-bye, I suspect, to the entire first page (single-spaced), where I do what I thought was a quick overview of other folktale scholarship. Demonstrating my credentials is nice, but since I’m really just talking about all those resources I’m not using (as preface to why I am using Lüthi), it really isn’t contributing much to the paper as a whole.

I’m tempted to keep it in there for the version I turn in to my panel moderator, though, for consideration for publication in the conference volume. I’ve already established that I’m going to turn in a different draft than I’ll be using in the panel, since that one’s meant to be heard, not read.

Break over. Time to go back to work and talk about how folktales let you cut your own heart out without saying “ow.”

February recommendation

Yeah, I know it’s March. Hush. Go find out why you should read The Outlaws of Sherwood, by Robin McKinley.

This puts me back on schedule for recommendations, assuming I manage to put up this month’s before, y’know, the end of the month. That shouldn’t be hard, right?

In other news, I give you the Typo Of The Night: A Swiftly Titling Planet. Discuss.

gear-shifting

I’ve come to realize, in the last week or so, that being a Professional Writer involves one skill I didn’t anticipate, and that’s the ability to gear-shift.

Before I started getting paid for this stuff, there were basically two stages for any given piece: writing and revision. Writing might require multiple sessions, and it might go through several rounds of revision, but those were the basics. Now that people are buying stuff, though, there are other stages: revision for the editor. Page proofs. Etc. And things like that don’t happen on my schedule anymore, so I can’t predict when I’m likely to have to shift gears into a story I haven’t thought about for months.

In the past week alone, I’ve revised “A Mask of Flesh,” worked on a synopsis for a novel, page-proofed “Sing for Me,” and gotten revision requests for “Such as Dreams are Made Of.” The only one of those I knew was coming was “A Mask of Flesh.” Everything else was a message showing up in my inbox, alerting me that I now had another item on my plate. I’ve done each of these things before, but this is the first time I’ve had enough pieces at enough points in the pipeline to find myself juggling unexpectedly.

I’m not complaining, mind you; it’s awesome that I’ve got two novels and half a dozen short stories on their way to publication. But in my daydreams, I always thought of myself as a novel writer, and so I mostly envisioned one project going on at a time. The necessity of going from Mesoamerican revenge weirdness to collegiate urban fantasy to imperial machinations to personified buildings didn’t really occur to me, and I’m having to develop my facility for rapid changes of mental gear.

Now, the day I get good enough to work on two novels at once, I’ll really be in business.

But I’m not holding my breath for that.