Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Covers

Tonight I uploaded new covers for Fold Thunder, White City, and Indifferent--you can check them out on the "Books" page. The new covers are already up on Smashwords, should be active on Amazon in the next day or so, and should eventually trickle out to other distribution sites over the next few weeks.

I'd love to hear any thoughts about the new covers--I think they're vast improvements.

Also, to celebrate the new covers (and because it's the only book that has a sequel at the moment), I've dropped the price of Fold Thunder to $2.99 for the next little while.

Monday, March 26, 2012

American Gods

I recently finished American Gods by Neil Gaiman. This was the first book of his that I've read, and I was somewhat surprised by it. Here are the things I really liked:

--the prose; I think he does a great job in rooting his story in the particularities of the physical world, and the prose becomes very neat and precise as he does so. This has trade-offs, but it works well for him, although I do think it leaves the characters somewhat flat (not entirely, just somewhat).
--the twist at the end of the story is brilliant; he sets it up perfectly, and it works so well, it should be a model for anyone wanting to do something similar. In some ways, it's very similar to what Brandon Sanderson does (although Neil Gaiman is able to restrain himself and only have one major twist, which kind of makes it more effective for me).
--the depth of knowledge; Gaiman has clearly read widely and thought at length about how to tie together his research, and I think he does so very well, a la Connie Willis.

My particular objections (if they can even be termed that) are that the book fails to engage seriously with its proposed subject matter. Gaiman's book talks about all sorts of Old World deities (as well as Native American spirits and heroes) who struggle to survive in America, and the frequent assertion is that America is not a good land for gods. Such an assertion, and such a treatment of gods in America, seems to overlook the deeply problematic history of Christianity in America (and South America): its hybridization, its adaptations, its offshoots, its intermarriage with Native American belief systems. The approach also ignores the increasing tensions of Christianity and other growing religions, as well as the growth of atheism, spiritualism, and a variety of alternative spiritual paths. To boil my point down: if you're going to talk about American gods, why wouldn't you talk about the most prominent ones (if only in terms of worshippers)? Clearly he was not interested in those issues, but I think this results from the book's overeagerness to posit itself as simultaneously agnostic (religion is nothing more than a viewpoint) and deeply committed to the power of belief (the symbol is the thing), positions that I think are adopted and put down by the book at need. In other words, I think it fails to work out any sort of sustained, intellectually rigorous treatment of the issues it tries to set in motion.

It's still a great book, and one worth reading for entertainment and to see good writing and plotting, but I did have the above-mentioned issues with it.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Publishing time

Here's an interesting post from Magical Words that I think people might find interesting. In it, David B. Coe (author of a variety of series--I'm reading the first book in the Blood of the Southlands trilogy right now, and I'll post on it soon) talks about things that surprised him about publishing; one of the things that surprised me was the systematized delay of publishing. According to the post, it took almost four years from the time that Coe got a publishing contract to when his first book was released. He admits that so much time is unusual, but it seems that most people agree that time from acceptance to publication can be anywhere from 1.5-2 years.

I recently had a friend get a contract for a trilogy of three fantasy books (I'll post a link when more information is available), but even though the first book is written, it still won't be released until sometime next year. And it took well over a year from when he found an agent (in itself time consuming) to when the agent sold the trilogy.

My point? I have no problem with the delay in publishing; I believe that those people are working hard and trying to produce the best work that they can. There are advantages and disadvantages to the length of that process, just as there are to the speed and facility of self-publishing. But I think it's worth noting that publication with a major press entails massive amounts of time spent in process. Other writers often complain about how that process results in massive amounts of non-writing work (some of which, I'm convinced, is actually generated by the author).

Anyway, just a topic that might be of interest to both writers and readers. It seems there are clear (and unclear) advantages and disadvantages to every publication route, and it's worth being aware of them. I'm grateful for the chance I have to get my work out more speedily; for me, the most important part is getting the work into the hands of the readers.

Wanton is coming along nicely; as far as I can tell, it really should be done by the end of March (the rough draft). Then the long revision process begins (long in relative terms, of course, compared to a major press's schedule).

Friday, March 2, 2012

BN.com + Update

I just wanted to write and let you know that, from what I can tell, "Words" and White City are now available on BN.com (and most likely on other sites too, or should be showing up there soon). Strangely, on BN.com, neither the book nor the story had their cover image, so I'm not sure what happened. If it's not fixed in the next few days, I'll look into it.

Wanton is moving along really well; I am guess-timating that there is about 1/3 left to write. Perhaps a little bit less. That will put it at about the same length as Dew, before revision (usually there is some trimming in the revision process). That also puts me about a month out from finishing the rough draft, which is about what I had been expecting. I will also be writing a short story to accompany Wanton; like "Words," the short story will provide helpful info that bridges the books, but it won't be necessary reading to enjoy Wanton.