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.
There’s a little bee buzzing around…says my first four book are going to be reappearing sometime in the next year…
Yes, mi amigos, I’ve been approached by a publisher who wants t0 put “Mother Grimm” back into print, along with my trilogy. So those of you who missed Coconino the first time around, you’re in luck! He’s coming back. I have the contract in my hot little hands and I’m just getting the additional paperwork together to send back with it. I’m told that within the next year–18 months tops–all four books will be back in print.
And if you’re wondering about that sequel to “The Aztec Eagle”…I’ve pitched it to another publisher, and I’m waiting to hear. Stay tuned!
Two and a half months? I haven’t posted in two and a half months? Egad! I’ve been a busy girl. We signed up last minute for a cruise up the wine coast: San Diego to Vancouver. Then realized we had let our passports expire. So we did a lot of rushing around and paid extra money to get them renewed in time to go. Yes, children, you need a passport to go into Canada. But it was well worth the effort and expense. We had fabulous weather every day, not a drop of rain! Okay, so we did have gale-force winds on one of our sea days and they wouldn’t let anyone on deck, but I’m proud to say I weathered it all without any motion sickness, and all I took was a couple of ginger root capsules. As long as I could sit at a window and look out, I was just fine.
Now summer is hard upon us with temps over 100 degrees. It’s Tucson, baby. I’m ready to go cruising again.
I’ve been scouring the ‘Net to see if the EPIC Award winners have been posted yet, and I can’t find them. So on to another topic …
It’s spring here in Tucson, which means that any day now the tiny ants will start showing up in my kitchen sink. The first time they appeared, we tried spraying under the sink and all around the edge of the house, but it quickly became clear that they were coming up through the drains, so spraying was ineffective. Pretty much everything was ineffective. The tiny ants had their trails and pathways established long before humans built houses, and I expect they’ll still be here long after our concrete and stucco buildings have crumbled to ruin.
The neighbors have tried various remedies, toxic and non-toxic (for we are an eco-conscious neighborhood), but after a few months, or a few weeks, or a few days, the tiny ants are back. Myself, I have learned to keep a vinegar-based spray cleaner on hand. When I’m through working in the sink, I spray all the surfaces with the vinegar cleanser. I don’t know if it’s the acid in the vinegar or something else that the ants don’t like, but it keeps them pretty well at bay–as long as I don’t leave food of any kind on the counter. A jar of honey with a drip, a fleck of orange juice pulp that didn’t get down the garbage disposal, and the tiny ants are all over it.
No, I’m not looking for alternatives. I’m happy to co-exist with the tiny ants, as long as my vinegar spray keeps them from encroaching on my countertops. Pax insecta. Just don’t leave the door open and let the scorpions in.
Wish I could be there. Not only do I love San Antonio, but “The Crystal Desert” has been nominate for an EPIC Award. Think good thoughts for me! They’ll announce the winners on Saturday night.
BTW, I have just been offered a contract to bring it out again. Too bad it’s not in time for the awards announcement.
I wish I had an excuse like Enrique does for not posting. When he gets popped into one of Mike Harley’s training regimens, you know you aren’t going to get posts for a while.
Me, I’m plugging along. Finished editing “The Aztec Eagle” for re-release this year; still no date for “The Crystal Desert.” In a couple of weeks I’ll be headed to San Diego for a few days and plan to work on the next one, working title “Dawn of the Eagle.”
Anyone out there planning to attend EPICon next month? Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend. Think good thoughts for me; “The Crystal Desert” is up for an award.