Fresh From the Box

Fresh From the Box

Fresh From the Box

I guess you could call it a perk of being the author that you get to see the books straight from the printer instead of, you know, actually waiting for the publication date. Only the irony of seeing them first is that I’ve already read the darn thing. Multiple times. I do consider it a good thing that they exist, and will soon be going into sales channels and possibly a B&N near you.

My thanks to the publisher, Sean Wallace, and the editor, Paula Guran of Prime Books for making it happen.

Rocks in His Head

Herkimer Diamonds Mixed with Dolomite in Matrix

Herkimer Diamonds Mixed with Dolomite in Matrix

We spent most of yesterday at a Gem & Mineral Show just outside of Syracuse. Carol uses stones in her work and I’m just interested. Sometimes I think I might have turned into a rock hound if I hadn’t been born and raised in Mississippi. Some people managed it anyway, but I was never clear on how, since the place I grew up was just a small section of what was, for most of its geological history, a shallow inland sea. Dirt, I knew. Rocks? Not so much. I am reliably informed that there are rocks there, and you’d occasionally see evidence of it when the highway department had to cut through a hill to make a road, but outside of a few river pebbles and the odd chunk of exposed limestone, it was rare. I had to content myself with searching for fossils within road gravel, but seldom found anything other than fish vertebrae and sections of crinoids, which no one would believe were fossils because, you know, road gravel. I find it just a little bit ironic that now I live on the side of an ancient—really ancient, as in some of the oldest rocks on earth are less than a mile from my house—river gorge. There are more natural, native stones in our several retaining walls than I ever saw growing up. Go figure.

Received an email last week that Yamada Monogatari: The Emperor in Shadowis already going into production at Audible.com. That didn’t take long, considering they’d only had the manuscript for a few days. It’s likely—and hoped—that Brian Nishii will be doing the narration again. It’s possible that the audiobook edition will be available right around the same time as the print and ebook editions. Also, I may be doing a local signing for the book come publication day. Details are yet to be worked out, but I’ll post them here when/if they are.

Fireworks and Final Edits

YamadaEmperor-600Happy 4th to all those stateside. Our across the street neighbors apparently chose to celebrate by re-enacting the Battle of Bunker Hill. Our cats disappeared for a while but came out unscathed when the coast was finally clear. Not that I should complain. I went through my own phase of being enamored with firecrackers, but that was mostly because I was a kid in a small southern town and often there was literally nothing better to do. Read all the books/comics I had multiple times (no internet). Run out of scrap wood for tinkering. Night too cloudy for stargazing. I know! Let’s set off low-scale ordinance! What I have trouble understanding is why alleged grownups want to do it now. I grew out of it before I’d left my teens, and count myself fortunate I still have all my fingers.

Good thing, too, as I needed them to make final corrections on the typeset manuscript for The Emperor in Shadow, which from the link you can see now has its own Amazon page, and an official release date of September 6th. Which means it’ll more than likely be available in August, because that’s how these things usually work. Since it’s July now (What gave it away? Oh, right, fireworks…), that’s not very long, but why wait? You can pre-order it now and have it as soon as it’s available.

On that subject, I want to give a shout-out to my editor, Paula Guran, who turned the manuscript around in a short time under extremely trying circumstances, only one of which was me cutting it so close to the deadline. It’s a much better book for her efforts. Anything you don’t like falls squarely on me.

Playing Hooky

WRITING 02I shouldn’t be here. By which I mean that the line-edits for Yamada Monogatari: The Emperor in Shadow have arrived and I really should be working on them instead of fiddling with the blog. In my defense, I did work on them most of the morning, and will likely go back to them once I’m done here. For the moment I am, to put it bluntly, playing hooky.

Is that term still in use? It’s kind of old-fashioned, I know, and hardly anyone agrees on the derivation, even though it’s likely only 19th century in age.  It once meant something very specific–cutting school. By expansion, at least to me, it has come to mean doing something by preference when you really ought to be doing something else. There’s some irony there. In college I would often play hooky by writing stories when I was supposed to be be studying for a Technical Writing test or something of that–allegedly–more serious sort. For a time I considered writing the same thing as playing hooky, since there was always–always–something else I really should be doing. That’s no less true now.

There’s always another demand on your time. There likely always will be. Odds are you have a day job and have to fit the writing around that. Or tests to study for. Or a dinner at the in-laws. It’s always something. So I never got anywhere until I gave myself permission to choose writing over something else. Dealing with the guilt, yes, because we are free to choose but never free from the consequences. You have to decide for yourself where the balance turns. But if you fear anything, it should not be the guilt. It’s the time come and gone that will never come back.

So treat yourself. Play hooky.

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.