At some basic, perhaps even genetic level, I know everything that’s going to happen along the road from now until A Darkness Forged in Fire hits the store shelves. I’ve traveled this path hundreds of times with my authors so it’s definitely old hat, and yet, it isn’t. Each milestone/hurdle is a bit more memorable for me now as bright-eyed author than wizened, er, wise, editor. It’s a Yogi Berra-ish like existence of deja vu all over again, but tilted a half degree, shaded a couple of hues, and with different subtitles. Just when I’m ready to shrug something off I catch myself and realize, hey, this is my book. Day in and day out I refer to the books I buy and edit and publish as my books, but this one is truly my book. Funny how simple semantics can hide so much meaning.
I woke up around 1:50am and heard scurrying coming from the kitchen. I got out of bed and turned on the lights and saw a mouse. I reminded myself that she was just as scared of me as I was of her, or something like that, and slowly backed away. She scampered, but a few minutes later reappeared and began trotting around the kitchen floor like she owned the place. At two in the morning she pretty much does. I watched silently for a bit then moved. She scampered again and hasn’t been back.
I’m part of a group that meets in Central Park once a week or so to see which body part will tear, twist, rip, swell, snap or otherwise malfunction. Yup, we’re runners. Sort of sadomasochism without the leather, but lots of lightweight mesh and moisture wicking fabric. The weather yesterday was cool with a breeze which made it ideal for running. Of course, then we decided to tackle the hills at the north end of the park. The Alps they’re not, but those hills do seem steep the longer you go. I survived and still feel the warm afterglow of that endorphin rush of making it all the way up and not collapsing in a puddle. The other cool thing is that it seems to be helping with my writing. The runs clear my head (ok, not exactly a Herculean task) and I sit down to the novel with a new and re-energized perspective.
Many, many moons ago I attended Clarion East when it was still held at Michigan State University. It was six weeks of writing, bitching, kibbitzing, critiquing, and otherwise marveling at our collective brilliance while lamenting our misunderstood genius by the public at large and short story editors in particular. Some of the instructors attempted to give us a reality check, and the wit and wisdom of Sean Stewart stuck with me. I recently found a nugget of his on another instructor’s website whom I enjoyed as well, Maureen McHugh. If you’re writing a novel, and if you’re reading this blog you probably are, then take a moment and have a look at this.
It’s the rare book that is in more than one format at a time (not counting audio, large print etc.) so this gamble by Bantam Dell sounds on the surface to be a bit risky. But perhaps not. The logic has been that some people want to purchase a book at the lowest price while others want something more respectable or enduring on their shelves, or perhaps with slightly larger print. The price and quality gulf between mass markets and hard covers is huge, but not nearly as much between mass markets and trade paperbacks. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. For authors, it means two simultaneous royalty streams – 8% on $7.99 on the mass market and 7.5% – 8% on maybe $12.95 for the trade paperback. My publisher (speaking with my author hat on) Pocket Books of S&S, were the pioneers I believe of the split the difference approach with the premium mass market. These are taller than normal mass markets with heftier prices – $9.99. Publishing is roundly criticized for being resistant to change, so this experiment is noteworthy if for no other reason than they’re trying something different.