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.

the countdown begins

The release date for Doppelganger is April 1st. Unless you’re a Big Name Author like J.K. Rowling, though, and people will line up around the block to get your book, release dates tend (I am told) to be flexible. What this means is that Doppelganger will likely start appearing on shelves some time this month, and ought to be out everywhere by April.

I hereby vow not to go looking for it more than once a week. Because otherwise, I’m going to be a wreck.

But you have a chance to feed my twitchiness! If you come across a copy of Doppelganger on the loose in a bookstore, let me know! Bonus points if you take a picture of it. In fact, the first person to send me a picture of my novel in the wild wins the right to be Tuckerized: I’ll name a character after you in the urban fantasy I’m working on right now. (You’ll probably be a psychic working for the government.) So keep your eyes peeled, folks, and in the meantime I’ll be making my nest under the bed, to hide in when the time comes.

unexpected finish

This really wasn’t my plan for the night (I thought I’d write a bit, then stop), but I finished “A Mask of Flesh.” Total of 4296 words, when all is said and done; 2538 of that was tonight.

I found the description in this story to be interesting. Ordinarily, me describing something (a person, a building, an object) is a sign that it’s important. For much of this tale, though, the two most important people in it — the lord of the land, and Neniza herself — were not described at all. Those omissions, surrounded by description that’s lusher than my usual and should probably get more lush when I revise, speak quite loudly. It’s an interesting inversion.

And I had fun with the description overall. I’ll need to go back and consult some visual references when I edit it, to make myself be even more concrete, but it was neat to sink my brain into a Mesoamerican context. So many details change. The people coming into the city don’t have carts, just packs — I didn’t have to keep to real-world Mesoamerican technology, of course, given that this is a fantasy setting, but I wanted to. They don’t eat beef or mutton or goat, but peccary and monkey. Clothing, even for the elite, is minimal, because of the heat of their environment. I had to fight not to shoehorn all of my ideas and research into this one vessel, and even then, I couldn’t resist slipping in touches like bloodletting and the World Tree. The whole point of this project, after all, is to present a society that is not what we’re used to.

So it’s done, which is nice, given how few short stories I’ve been writing lately. <looks around> Okay, what next?

something for everyone . . . .

. . . but particularly Moonartemis, Tooth-and-Claw, Gollumgollum, and heck, even Oddsboy (just to make him twitch).

What’s better than gay guys or cowboys?

Gay cowboys, of course.

What’s better than gay cowboys or figure skating?

Gay cowboys on ice.

And yeah, that is Kurt Browning out there, and Alexei Yagudin too.

guest blogging

I’m doing my first-ever stint as a guest blogger on behalf of Tobias Buckell. He’s hunkering down for a week of solid work on his second novel, and arranged a lineup of seven stand-ins to entertain his readers while he’s gone. Today is my day.

Now to decide what to do with it . . . .

meme from Mris

I’m not sure this was designed as a meme, but I ran off with the questions anyway, because I’m in a mood to be moderately introspective.

1. If you’re a novelist, how many books have you finished at least first drafts of?

Seven. Two of which are on their way to print.

2. How many of these are books you want to pretend don’t exist (so your teenage angst-tastic stories DO count, people!)?

I didn’t actually finish my teenage angst-tastic stories, though I wrote quite a bit on them. I wouldn’t quite deny their existence, but neither The Kestori Hawks nor Sunlight and Storm (numbers three and four, respectively) is fit to be seen at present, and may never be so. TKH would require obscene amounts of rebuilding, and I’m not sure I have sufficient enthusiasm to do so — though every so often, Eleanor pokes her head up and asks me to. (The fact that Eleanor, and secondarily Luke, are the characters who make me want to go back and work on it, is a telling point. Neither of them is technically the protagonist. Leonard, I mostly want to kick in the head. And at present I am not, like Dunnett, able to make you love a protagonist while simultaneously wanting to kick him in the head.) S&S I may revisit some day. I’m not sure. I think there’s something there, but in two radically different drafts, I haven’t yet found it.

3. How many do you especially like?

Depends on my mood, but generally two or three. The Vengeance of Trees (number five) is quirky fun; I wrote it in seven weeks flat, which says something about it. The Waking of Angantyr (number six) is tougher to love, but something about its grittiness and mythiness pleases me immensely. And then there’s the urban fantasy I’m trying to not call by its title because I’m working on coming up with a new one, which is the first one I wrote, and the next one I hope to sell, once I’ve given it another rewrite. That will always have a particularly treasured place in my heart.

4. How many do you have starts of (like, frex, you started, then got a better idea, so went somewhere else)?

I’ve got bits of . . . let’s see . . . twelve that I can think of. Four Winds (the S&S sequel), Manifestation (urban fantasy prequel), a title-less urban fantasy sequel, The Iron Rose (several beginnings for that one), The Changing Sea, the “Second Troy” and exploration SF novel bits, the Book-of-Kells-esque thing, the Nine Lands thing, the really old dragons thing and polarization thing and shadow-side thing . . . .

5. How many novel first drafts are you working on currently?

Actively working on? None. Noodling around with? Mostly the urban fantasy sequel, or at least that’s what I intend to noodle around with soon. My attention’s been on short stories, and on revising the first one (again).

6. How many are polished? Like you don’t think you can look at them again or you’ll explode finished?