Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gone Between

I woke up this morning to the news that Anne McCaffrey, one of sci-fi/fantasy’s great legends, had passed away. And while I always find it sad when we lose one of our greats, as the day has gone on, this one has settled heavily on me.

I don’t remember how old I was when I first read one of her books. I’m pretty sure it was Dragonsdawn, the prequel to the Pern series. I know that after that, I devoured anything I could get my hands on. I fell in love with Pern and all its inhabitants, from the beautiful gold dragons all the way down to the lowliest watch-wher. Oh, how I wanted my very own fire-lizard. A bronze one. He’d have been awesome.

It wasn’t just her dragons, though. The Rowan and her descendents found a special place in my heart as well. I think those books were the first time I actually remember feeling fear and joy and anguish right alongside the characters. I bled with them, because of the power of the words on the page.

And I think that’s what I learned from Anne McCaffrey. I learned about the kind of stories I wanted to tell, and the kind of writer I wanted to be. Some of the first lengthy things I ever wrote were essentially fanfic, either in the Pern world or in the Rowan’s world. Always for my own entertainment, of course. I don’t think I ever showed anyone those stories. They were just because I didn’t want those worlds to end when I was done reading, I wanted to live in them a little while longer.

I’m pretty sure she knew the kind of mark she left on the world. Her fans are legion, and very vocal. They have conventions, and role-playing games, and forums and all kinds of things. She didn’t, of course, know what influence she had on little old me, or on a lot of other writers I know who are all thinking over what her death means right now. Maybe we don’t even know for sure how her writing shaped who and what we are today. All we know is that it did.

A great lady has gone Between. She will be missed, and never forgotten.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

And the Beat Goes On

Last night, I turned in my revisions for A WOLF AT THE DOOR, and a lot of people have asked me “Okay, what happens now?” So, this is my attempt at explanation, which is sadly way less informative than I (or anyone else) would like it to be.

First and foremost, WOLF has to be officially accepted. This is an actual contractual term that basically means when your publisher says “Okay, yes, I like what you’ve done here, we’re definitely going to publish it.” The alternative to this would be them coming back and saying “Hey, could you do a few more revisions first.” I don’t expect that to happen. My editor, the amazing Anne Sowards, always knows just the right notes to give so that I get it right the first time.

As for time frame on official acceptance? I have no idea. Depends on how soon someone has time to read through it AGAIN (and trust me, so many people read through a book multiple times in its process, you have no idea), make sure it’s all they had hoped it would be. Whether or not someone has time depends on how many manuscripts are lined up in front of mine, in various stages of their own production. I expect/hope to hear something before the end of the year, at the very least.

In the meantime, other parts of production will continue. For the past two books, I’ve always had cover art somewhere in mid-ish November, so I’m hoping that pattern will continue. There’s always something fun about being able to go to my family’s place for Thanksgiving and saying “Hey, wanna see what I got?” Also, since my birthday is at the end of the month, it always seems like an early birthday present.

So once Wolf is officially accepted, it will go on into copy edits, and then through page proofs, and then drift magically toward the August 7th release date.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, people are still wanting to know “Will there be more JJD books?” And the answer to that is, I don’t know yet. We haven’t had That Talk yet. Do I want to hazard a guess as to what That Talk will entail? Oh hell no. The publishing world has changed drastically over the last few years, not the least of which was the closing of all the Borders stores. While it remains to be seen how that development is truly going to play out, I know how it’s affected me and my sales personally, and it isn’t a happy situation. I’m in the same boat a lot of authors are, for the same reasons, none of which have anything to do with our skills as authors.

Is it on my mind? Oh yeah. All the time. Part of it is just that I don’t want to fail at this. Being an author was/is/always will be my dream, and I don’t want it over before it really gets started. Part of it is that it would break my heart to leave Jesse’s story unfinished. And more than that, even, I don’t want it to remain unfinished for everyone who has followed along with me so far. People invested time and money in me, an author they knew very little about, and for that at least, they deserve to know what happens next.

Folks have asked me “What can I do to help?” And to them, I say this. Just go buy books, either physically, or on your e-readers. Not just my books, ANY books! ALL books! If you love an author, let it show! If you can’t afford books (and face it, we've all been there, especially lately), go check them out from libraries. Libraries buy books too! Request books you’re looking forward to from your favorite bookstore or library. Requests turn into orders, orders into numbers, and hopefully numbers turn into more books from all of the authors that you love.

Remember, only YOU can prevent, wrong message.

You guys know what to do. Go forth and conquer.