Nice Surprises and Not Surprises

Taylor312e-caseIn general I’m not a big fan of surprises, as they’re more likely to be nasty than nice in my experience. But every now and then…. On Saturday I was doing some of the finishing work on our hall bath (long story, and even longer process). Carol had gotten out of the house rather than strangle a contractor, and when she returned that afternoon she had a surprise for me.

That’s it in the picture. A Taylor 312e Grand Concert. I did have a decent acoustic but I’d realized the size wasn’t a good fit for me and I was looking with lustful eyes at a used Martin Custom and a Taylor Mini GS, but the Martin had sold and it was out of my price range anyway. The Taylors I’d tried had a bright, chiming tone that appealed to me as much or more than the warmer Martins. I had some writing money coming so I was thinking of the Mini GS, but then my darling wife beat me to the punch with this beauty, which is a few steps further up the line and cost over twice what the Mini GS would have. I had to ask her why, and she just said, paraphrase, “You settle too often. You deserve a good guitar.” Not really, not yet. I don’t deserve her, either. Life isn’t fair, and as often as not that’s a good thing.

In the category of Not a Surprise, To Break the Demon Gate has been pushed back to May. Of course, I only know this because of the Forthcoming  Books section of Locus Magazine. What? You don’t think they tell the writers these things, do you? Silly people.

Also in the NAS (not a surprise, or at least not to me) category, I’ve sold another—and at the moment, only—Yamada story to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. The only odd thing about that was this story had already sold to Weird Tales for their fairy-tale issue a couple of years ago, then became unsold. This doesn’t happen very often, and usually because the venue in question has died (lost one, for example, when Realms of Fantasy ended). Not this time, and in a circumstance I hope never repeats. Regardless, I’m glad I found a new home for it. It’ll probably be published this year, but maybe not until fall.

I need to write a movie review of a very odd Japanese fantasy flick. Maybe next time. If my fingers ever recover from practicing barre chords.

Everything Happens All at Once Slowly

Snow-Jan-2014To Break the Demon Gate proceeds to manifest. One thing most everyone agrees on as to the nature of the traditional publishing paradigm is that everything happens at a pace somewhere between “Don’t Hold Your Breath” and “It’ll Possibly Happen in Your Lifetime.” The exception, of course, is when it comes time to check a copyedit or sign off on a proof. That always had to happen yesterday, or possibly the day before.

I don’t know exactly where we are in the process. So far as I know, we’re still on track for the PS Publishing edition to come out next month. It’ll be close, but still that’s the plan. The cover art is done and approved. The text has been copyedited and proofed. I’ve supplied bio, cover copy, and (gag) author picture. There may or may not be a signed edition. Right now I just don’t know. That was the original plan, but time may argue against it. Since the Prime Books reprint is already set for December, any more delays are not to anyone’s advantage. Still, publishing is like that.

I’ve always been a big believer in traditional publishing, and I still am. I sell a lot more books and get a lot more readers when I go through regular channels rather than when I go it alone. That said, it’s good to have options. I try to be selective about what I do on my own, mostly the kind of stuff that I enjoy but isn’t terribly commercial. I keep my expectations low and I’m rarely disappointed, but It does, however, have the advantage of not driving me loopy.

Waiting tends to do that.

Tis the Season…Again


Now that the contracts are signed I can go ahead and mention that Jonathan Strahan is picking up “Cherry Blossoms on the River of Souls”  from the October 2013 BCS for The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 8. This is the first time I’ve made it into one of Jonathan’s year’s bests, so I’m pretty chuffed. It almost makes up for the fact that we just had to spend three grand to repair and upgrade our hall bath. Nothing like a forced remodel at Christmas to put things in perspective.

Speaking of which, I’m still not done with my Christmas shopping, but that’s pretty typical. One present is definitely going to be late and another might be. I just don’t handle the holidays as well as I should and the stress doesn’t really end until after Easter. A character flaw in me, I know, but there it is.

The next step in the publication of To Break the Demon Gate is the final selection of the artist (which is the publisher’s remit) and reviewing the preliminary designs of the cover. I have to say that I like this part of the process, since other than rendering an opinion—something I usually have no problems with—I don’t have to actually do anything. It’s all on the artist and the publisher at that point. When the book is out, of course, that’s another story. And I like that part too.

Come January I have two novel manuscripts to send off to Prime Books. One’s publication is already settled (the reprint), the other’s isn’t. That’s stress, too. But it still doesn’t compare to the holidays. I hope ya’ll are handling it better than I am.

Another Quick Update

Yamada_DH_FinalCover_smlAccording to Locus, the hard cover limited edition of To Break the Demon Gate from PS Publishing is now scheduled for March of next year. The trade paper reprint should follow next December from Prime Books. That is, of course, if PS keeps that schedule. Otherwise Prime may wind up doing the original and the ltd edition becomes the reprint. Publishing is funny like that.

A story of mine, “Cherry Blossoms on the River of Souls,” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #131, Fifth Anniversary Issue) has scored a “Recommended” rating from both Lois Tilton and Rich Horton. First time that’s ever happened. Wonder if I can do it again…

The rewrite on The War God’s Son has been delayed slightly by domestic issues, but I still expect it to be finished before the end of the year. I was shooting for the end of November, but obviously didn’t make it. As it stands, it’s pretty much eaten all my writing time for the entire year of 2013. Novels are a huge commitment, and a huge gamble. The potential of course is that one which is well-received can advance your readership by leaps and bounds because there is a large category of readers who never touch short stories. The potential for losing ground is there also, simply because it takes just as long to write an unsuccessful book as it does to write a successful one, and in the meantime you’re not writing anything else. You’re both out of sight and possibly out of mind with your readers during that period.

I think I’ve written a good book, a worthy follow-up for To Break the Demon Gate that continues Yamada’s journey and shows the inevitable changes in the character. It was worth doing. How well it does or doesn’t do is almost beside the point. Yes, I know, but I did say “almost.” Yamada Monogatari: Demon Hunter sold better than anyone expected (me not least of all), and that was nice, but I need To Break the Demon Gate to do well also so that the publisher will want The War God’s Son. I need it to do well so that…well, you get the idea.

But I promise to get back to Power’s Shadow (sequel to Black Kath’s Daughter) next, whatever happens. I’ve been telling Marta’s story for a long time. I think she’s a little tired of waiting, too.

PS: An update to the update–First Reader finished the final section of the book last night and pronounced it Good. Which for First Reader is like fireworks and party hats. I took care of the last revisions this morning so, short of any editorial revision requests, I’m calling The War God’s Son done. So I wrote a page of Power’s Shadow to celebrate.

Yamada’s Saga – Timeline

Japanese Mask

It occurs to me, with the mixing of short fiction and novel-length stories that make up the Yamada timeline, that it might not be a bad idea to set this all out now, at least to the degree I understand it (and if you think the writer knows everything about what they’ve done, think again). Most of the stories occur in the timeline/continuity in the order that they were written, but the novels do throw one or two curves into the mix, so here goes:


“Fox Tails” – First Yamada story written. Knew it was a series then, didn’t know where it was going.

“Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge” – Second Yamada story. Yamada’s sad history with Princess Teiko is revealed. This was the story where I think I first got a good handle on who Yamada was and what he was about.

YAMADA MONOGATARI: DEMON HUNTER.  First Yamada collection. The stories contained therein were usually a reader’s first introduction to the series and were published over a span of years and appear in the order they were written, but the continuity is not complete in them because….

Here’s where it gets a little complicated:

TO BREAK THE DEMON GATE.  First actual Yamada novel. TBTDG incorporates “Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge” which forms the first section of the book, and no, I didn’t know that it was the first section of a novel when I wrote it. I figured that out later. The balance of the novel concerns the events leading up to Yamada’s final confrontation with Lord Sentaro. This was written after several of the stories appearing in YM:DH but before “The Ghost of Shinoda Forest,” which ends the collection, but in the continuity of the series, they all, except “Fox Tails” and “Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge,” occur after the events of the novel. At the end of TO BREAK THE DEMON GATE, Yamada has still not made peace with the memory of Princess Teiko. That comes later (see “The Ghost of Shinoda Forest.”) I’m not sure when the PS Publishing limited edition is coming out, but Prime Books has the trade reprint scheduled for December 2014.

“The Sorrow of Rain” – If you have no idea what this story is, that is because it hasn’t been published yet. But it falls in the timeline before “The Ghost of Shinoda Forest” but after TO BREAK THE DEMON GATE.(Edited to note: Oops. It falls after “The Ghost of Shinoda Forest.”  I misremembered.)

THE WAR GOD’S SON – complete but under revision. The events of this book occur about seven years after “The Ghost of Shinoda Forest,” and take place after all the short stories written to date in the continuity. The novel is set during what is usually referred to as The Nine Years’ War in Japanese history (though, with delays and truces, it was more like twelve). The tearing of the social fabric that will eventually bring about the end of the Heian Period and the rise of the samurai is already evident, but won’t manifest completely for another hundred and twenty years. We also get to meet Yamada’s elder sister. There is no current publication date scheduled.

And that’s where it stands. Confused? I would be. I often am.