Got a wonderful surprise on my birthday: several hardcopies of “The Earth Is All That Lasts” showed up from my publisher. Thanks, Shahid! I like ebooks, I read them all the time, but there really is nothing like the trill of seeing your name on the glossy cover of a beautiful, thick, honest-to-goodness paper book. Whee!
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And they are so much easier to autograph than the digital version! <smirk>
It’s Nov. 8-10, and I’ll be there, bragging about my latest short story sale to the e-zine “Intergalactic Medicine Show.” It’s a near-future SF piece called “Into the Desolation.” It will run sometime next spring, probably the March issue, but I’ll post when I have the definite info. It takes place in a small desert town on the edge of The Time Wastes, where time has fractured and you never know when you’ll wind up.
TusCon is a great little con, not huge so you get a more intimate experience, a chance to visit with the pros, take part in the costume competition, etc. Find out more here:
I’ll be on a two-part panel on time travel–very apropos, considering the story I just sold! Oh–and Part II is on Friday, while Part I is on Sunday. Should be interesting.
I’m also tickled that my trilogy will be coming back into print early next year. “The Earth Is All That Lasts” is in process, and I’m proofing the galley for “Children of the Earth” now. Again, no definite pub dates yet, but I’ll post when I have them.
See you at TusCon!
It was 60 degrees when I woke up this morning, the first time the temperatures in Tucson have dropped that low since last May. Ahhh! I don’t care if it gets up to 90 today, autumn is coming. We’re on the cusp.
I’ve been semi-retired–not from writing, of course–since last November, and although it wasn’t my idea, I have to say I like these 5-day weekends. And now that the weather is moderating, I’m looking forward to spending more time outside. There’s not much yard space in my 10-per-acre lot, but I’ve acquired a new outdoor hobby: walking the neighborhood picking up trash. Really. I take a grocery bag, wear a rubber glove, and get a bit of bending and stretching to go with my heel-strikes. (Woman over 30, pay attention–you need load-bearing exercise and heel-strikes to preserve your bones.) I read somewhere that neighborhoods that are well-kept and show pride of place have less trouble with litter, so I think of it as creating a milieu that breeds a better milieu, but that’s not why I do it. Truth be known, I’m something of a compulsive personality. A place for everything and everything in its place. (My mother would laugh–she remembers my bedroom when I was growing up. I was *not* a neat freak.)
So with this extra time on my hands, am I writing more books? Tons of short stories? Not really. I have a stockpile I’m trying to sell, so I spend a lot of time editing existing works and sending out queries. And waiting. I hate waiting. Waiting is not my strong suit.
But I have a new book idea germinating, an SF/Fantasy novel that has reminded me of the second most important question in writing fiction. The first, of course, is: What if…? The second is: Why? Why do the characters do what they do? Why does the action take place here and not there? And why should the reader care?
Much to ponder.
I cut 16,000 words out of the novel I’m editing, and now I need to let it sit for a while. I also just got the digital galley for “The Earth Is All That Lasts,” which is coming out as an ebook from Phoenix Pick, and I’m…stalling before I start on it. Just don’t feel like getting my head into that today. And I’m still fiddling with the ending of a short story and have to let that rest again, too. So what better time to post on my blog?
But let’s skip the writing topics and talk family for a minute. Our younger daughter and her husband are opening a brewpub in Prescott Valley, AZ–exciting times! More news when I have it. And our other son-in-law is applying for a position in the same town. Wouldn’t it be nice to have them all so close by? My husband retires soon. We’ll be able to travel more, spend a little time helping the kids with their exciting projects.
Writers never really retire. Sometimes I get discouraged and think I should, but then I get back into a novel or short story I’m working on and I get all wrapped up in it again. Then I know I’ll never quit. Now, if I could just find an agent who believed in me who didn’t retired, die, or leave the agency…. Yeah, I know, helps if I put queries in the mail. Another thing on my to-do list, right after proofing “The Earth Is All That Lasts.”
I made it till almost 8:30 this morning with all the windows open. Then I could feel the house getting warmer, so I closed everything and turned on the AC. Welcome to Tucson.
I’ve been editing a novel I wrote in 1997. It’s amazing how things have changed in the past 15 years. The Internet was new, and the characters use a dial-up connection. People think one of the characters looks like Antonio Banderas because he has a ponytail. Another character makes a joke about Loni Anderson. Do readers today even know who Loni Anderson is? I think they’ll remember the A Team, but I’m not sure.
Back to work.
I’ve had a request for more information on “Mother Grimm.” It was a finalist for the Phillips K. Dick Award in 1997 (that’s right, folks, I didn’t win Dick), and you’ll find a brief write-up on my web site under Publications. Or you can check it out at amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mother-Grimm-Catherine-Wells/dp/1612421156/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1364068599&sr=1-1&keywords=mother+grimm
I wrote a short story last week, for the first time in a very long time. I’ve been editing old material, polishing novels, and even started a new novel, but this was a brand new idea with brand new characters, and the process was … exhilarating. I had forgotten what an addiction this can be.
When I write a novel, I usually know the general direction I’m going before I start. True, I usually wind up changing everything about five chapters in, and I often don’t find the theme of the work till I’m two-thirds of the way though, but at least I know the general course of the action and who the main characters are.
With this one, I sat down with only a concept of the place and the time shifts that go on there, and even that was fuzzy. I picked a character with whom I could identify, and then I picked another one to tell the story, and I employed my favorite technique: I let them talk to each other. (If you have never seen the play, “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” you really should.)
Then, like places in the story, things began to shift. I thought thia was going to be about her, and it turned out to be about him. He collects data on a phenomenon, but he’s become intrigued with things that shouldn’t affect the outcome, and at the end of the story it all clicks into place for him. Which is exactly what happened to me as I was writing the story. I felt like the guy in Close Encounters: “This means something.” But I honestly did not know what it was until I got there and the words came out on the page. And, click: there it was, the point of the whole story.
The subconscious mind is an amazing thing…
Don’t be fooled if you go to amazon.com and see “Temporarily out of stock” for the paperback version of “Mother Grimm.” That just means it’s a “print-on-demand” edition, and they won’t print stock until they have an order. You will get your book promptly, rest assured.
Yes, after more than a decade, “Mother Grimm” is back in print. This is a near-future story that was a finalist for the Phillip K. Dick Award in 1997, and ARC Manor has brought it back for me in electronic formats–available now–and paperback, which will show up on amazon in about 10 days. Just in time for Christmas!
The novel is set in New Mexico in a biosphere-like habitat where people are so afraid of disease that they won’t touch one another. Brrr. Has one of my favorite villains of all time, who is so confounding *rational.* Double brrr.
My cousin Peggy contacted me recently to ask how a friend of hers would go about getting a book published. You know, that’s a darned good question, and one I get asked from time to time. So I thought I’d post a few words.
First, you have to write a really good book. If you think your book has promise and a professional editor will help you get it in shape, it’s not ready to send to a publisher. Hire that professional editor if you have the money–there are plenty of them around. If you don’t, then look for free advice from 1) writers groups–online or in person; 2) friends who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth; 3) avid readers who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth. Oh, yes, you can ask other writers, but bear in mind that most of us are busy writing and editing our own stuff and we don’t really have time to look at other material, especially from someone we don’t know. But if you have the good fortune to know another writer, and that writer is willing to look at your material, please–listen to what they tell you. You may not like it, but it’s probably true. Don’t get your back up and think the other writer is jealous; I don’t know anyone in this profession who wouldn’t go out of their way to help another writer get started. It’s like an addiction–you want everyone else to be addicted, too. And please: grammar, punctuation, spelling. Yes, they really are important. If you want to be taken seriously, take your tools seriously.
Second, do your market research. Find out who publishes the kind of book you’ve written. Check the Writer’s Market or Literary Marketplace or any of the dozens of online sources available. (But be sure you check when the information was written/posted–old information won’t do you any good.) Many publishers will not take unsolicited manuscripts; and many will not take manuscripts from unagented writers. (Getting an agent–that’s a topic for another day.) Once you have a publisher in mind, check their submission guidelines and FOLLOW THEM! Seriously. If you ignore their guidelines, they will ignore your manuscript.
Third, sell your book. To the publisher, I mean. Tell them why they should buy this book: give them your credentials (are you a subject expert ? have you been published elsewhere, maybe some nonfiction?) and any marketing plans you may have (have you got 10,000 fans who follow your blog, just waiting for your book to come out?). Then give them an exciting synopsis of your work. Paint the characters. Outline the major plot points. Show how the characters change during the action. And yes, you must tell them the ending. Don’t give them a teaser and hope they’ll read the whole book to find out how it ends. That’s won’t be intrigued, or amused.
If you search the ‘Net, you’ll find lots of information posted about how to write a query letter and synopsis, much of it written by editors and agents. I can’t overstress doing your research.
But first, remember, you have to write a really good book.