There Are No Ivory Towers

sheffield1Not for us, anyway. Case in point, the illustration to the left. That is Sheffield. He is the elder (we think) of our two cat brothers, Sheffield and Sterling, sometimes referred to here as “Da Boyz.” This is the context–yesterday I started a new story. What it is or how it’s going to turn out is, for now, beside the point. What does concern us is the simple fact I had stolen the time for it from a period when I was supposed to be working on something else, and I had taken the time for that theoretical “something else” from other pressing projects. In short, I was writing in the mode of “guilty pleasure,” which is one of my favorite ways to do it. Seriously, I get some of my best work done when I’m supposed to be doing something else. A psychologist might make much of that, but I really don’t care. It’s just the fact, and being forced into early and I believe temporary retirement hasn’t changed that. Continue reading

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Cats, Skunks, and Audiobooks. Is There a Connection?

YamadaEmperor-600You don’t always dodge the bullet. Carol and I just spent a rough night followed by some non-too-joyous time this morning giving one of our cats a special bath to remove (or at least dial-down) eau-de-skonk. Took us a while to figure out what had actually happened, since he got the concentrated point-blank skunk shot and it smells more like burning rubber than normal skunk. For a while. Then the true nature of the situation becomes way too clear. I hope he’s learned his lesson. I doubt it, because Cats.

In an attempt to move on to more to a more pleasant subject, I just received my free author codes for the Audible.com edition of Yamada Monogatari: The Emperor in Shadow. More than I need, and rather than let them sit idle, I’m going to give them away. No silly contest, no “What was the ghost Seita-san’s favorite food?” None of that nonsense. Just one string—I want you to review/rate the audiobook when you’re finished. That’s it. Hate It, Love It, Meh, Whatever. The review can be long and insightful or short and pungent. Entirely up to you, and doing a review at all is strictly on the honor system. I will not be checking. The only other catch, if you can call it that, is I have only a limited number of these, so it’s first come, first served, and when they’re gone, they’re gone. I’ll put up a note when that happens.

All you need to do is shoot me an email requesting one of the codes, and as long as I have one free I will send it back to you along with instructions for using it. My email address is in human-readable form on the “About” page on the website. Grab it and go, and Happy Listening.

Edited to Add: And we’re done. Thanks to all who participated.

Imaginary Imaginings

YamadaEmperor-600I have a quirk which my wife has often remarked upon. I have conversations in my head which I then forget to have in real life, yet will sometimes believe that I’ve done so. I’m so used to holding up two ends (or more) of an imaginary conversation and spinning scenarios that it’s not always easy to turn off. Unchecked, it can play havoc in a normal relationship, and I do try to keep it under control. Nevertheless, I’d never want to eliminate this quirk, because it is simply too useful a tool. What is dialogue except an imaginary conversation between two beings who do not exist, save on the screen or page?

However….

What happens when the imaginary scenario turns into an imaginary scenario? By which I mean in the writing process an imaginary conversation did not manifest beyond the imagination?

You’re right—I’m not sure I understood that last bit myself, so let me try again, more concrete, less surreal. I finished the rough draft of Yamada Monogatari: The Emperor in Shadow on May 24th. First Reader was kind enough to push it up to the top of her queue because of the time crunch, and the last several days I’ve been working through the rewrite. In the book Yamada needed a crucial piece of information. I worked out a logical way for him to receive said information without alerting the wrong people, and I worked out the scene where it happens. I set the logic bomb in motion and wrote out what followed from this crucial scene to the end of the book.

One problem—I never wrote the actual scene.

How did I manage to do this? Beats me, fore the reason already mentioned. I did not discover this until the read through. There was a hole in the book, left there by me because I had envisioned the scene and its aftermath so clearly, so completely, that somewhere in the twisty lump I call a brain, I thought I’d already written the darn thing. Only I hadn’t. This took all of ten minutes to correct, since the scene was still in my head, down to the last detail, right where I had left it. It was like sentences where someone leaves out a word—or perhaps you do it yourself—in a succession of words which flow such that your brain fills in the missing word even though it is not there. Sometimes you never even notice.

Fortunately for me and the book, I did notice. Though if I hadn’t, I fully expected to hear about it from my editor at Prime—“How the hell does he know this??”

I spared us both the aggravation, but it was a close call.

The book is turned in, and assuming no major revisions are needed—or I didn’t leave anything else out–we should be on track for a September 2016 release. Now it is on to other imaginary conversations, which I hope I will at least remember to write down.

Zen and the Art of Beating Your Head Against a Wall: Who Am I This Week?

YamadaEmperor-600Most of this post will have nothing to do with the image above. It’s the likely final cover for the next Yamada book, due out in September. I saw a working image much sooner, but since the publisher (Prime Books) has officially put it up on their website, I’m showing it here for the first time.  I am working furiously to make sure the book happens on schedule, but taking a few minutes to surface here because I feel bad about missing my post yesterday. I try to keep the posts themselves on schedule too, but you’re always doing battle with the day, and sometimes you don’t win. Yesterday I made my word quota on the book but the rest of the day was spent on an errand to New Hartford and a new air compressor for the next phase of trim work in the house. Soon: back to painting. The fun never stops on the quirky castle on the hill.

All that aside, a day or two ago I sold a reprint story to a new anthology(details TBA). Writers love reprints for a couple of obvious reasons. 1) It’s money for work we’ve already done and 2) Every appearance helps raise the profile and name recognition just a tad, non-trivial if you’re trying to build a readership, and what writer isn’t? Yet again, the post isn’t about that as such, nice though it is, but an event it triggered.

I have to provide a bio.

Yep, I’m here to fuss about bios again. Probably the one thing none of us should complain about is having to provide brief author biographies for whoever is publishing you. When I was just starting out I’d be thrilled at the idea, and struggle to keep the thing within the 100-200 words you’re generally allowed. Now if I can manage more than a couple of sentences it’s only a victory of the will. I went through a phase of just making stuff up, because that’s what I do anyway, but bios are supposed to be non-fiction, at least in theory. I finally judged it inappropriate to claim I had a side career teaching T’ai-Chi to polar bears, though stressed as the poor things are now, they can probably use it. So I generally end up writing something like this:

“Richard Parks’ work has appeared in Asimov’s SF, Realms of Fantasy, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and several “Year’s Best” anthologies and has been nominated for both the World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature. The fourth book in the Yamada Monogatari series, The Emperor in Shadow, is due out from Prime Books in September 2016. He blogs at “Den of Ego and Iniquity Annex #3”, also known as: www.richard-parks.com

Seriously, can you get any more boring than that? Possibly, but you’d really have to work at it. And they’re all variations on this one. Believe me, I take comfort in the knowledge that a lot of readers don’t even bother with them, and why should they? It’s the story that counts. The paradox is that I hope publishers keep asking me for them for a long, long time to come.

Going, Going…I lied. Already Gone

3rd Story CollectionTo the left is the cover of my third story collection, issued in 2010,  On the Banks of the River of Heaven, which is the title cut. Not only was it the third collection in ten years, but it was my first hardcover collection. As of a week or so ago, it’s out of print. If you look on Amazon it will say that it’s “Temporarily Out of Stock,” but this isn’t so. There may or may not be a few stragglers with the publisher and a few more with me, some in the used market, but basically it’s gone. We’ve talked about that whole thing where publishing short stories is like “throwing rose petals in the Grand Canyon and listening for the thud.” It was definitely true here. I can’t complain too much, as the book sold well enough to finish out its run, which is something a lot of print books never do, but in five years it never got a single Amazon review. Things like that tend to make a writer feel unwanted. Whereas on GoodReads it had sixteen ratings and a score of 4.5 out of 5.0, and anyone on GoodReads knows what a tough crowd they are. It is a good book, and I’m not going to let the fact that I wrote it stop me from saying that, but its time on the physical plane is over. It will live on, possibly forever, in ebook form.

I have to keep it short today because I’m on deadline. I’ve almost never been on deadline in my entire writing life, but there are firsts for everything. Time to get back to Yamada, and today promises to be interesting. I have the strong feeling that an Imperial Princess is just about to tear Lord Yamada a new one. Is it wrong of me to say that I think I’m going to enjoy this?