Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Mysterious Case of the Shuffling Pages

Last week I received the printer’s proof of Nyphron Rising. It looked great. I skimmed over it and gave my approval. Then just to be sure, I started reading. This is the fourth time in three weeks I’ve read it so I can’t really see it anymore, it’s like going snow-blind. This final reading was just for peace of mind.

I was very pleased. There is always the word or two I would change. A sentence that sounds suddenly awkward that didn’t before, but nothing awful. Then I came to page 187. There was nothing wrong with page 187, except that it wasn’t 187 it was supposed to be 188. Page 187 was now 189. For no reason I can figure, the pages were shuffled.

Crap. That’s a show stopper. I can’t let the book go out with pages out of order. I can recognize they are mixed because I can recite the novel by now and know what comes next. New readers will be flying along oblivious to the fact that they are being derailed.

I continued to read and the same shuffling of pages occurred in four separate points after that. The book was toast. It has to be reissued and that means delays. On top of this, I already ordered several cases. Not sure if I canceled the order in time. So I expect I will be receiving a hundred expensive doorstops soon.

Now, with just four days left, I am waiting on the next proof to arrive. No idea if it will make it in time for the Oct 1 release, so at this moment I can’t tell you exactly when the book will be available. The good news is everything else was fine. If the pages come in order with this new edition, then I should be able to push it live the next day. I am guessing it will only be a week delay at the most, but right now, all of us—me included—are waiting to see when the Green Book will be out.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Book Launch

As we get down to it, less than ten days, I thought I’d say a little something about the launch of a novel. Keep in mind my experience is not necessarily the norm.

Launching a book is not like launching a rocket. You can countdown all you want, but there’s too many things outside of your control to be accurate. Nyphron Rising is not having a midnight release. I know. All of you are holding a hand to your mouth in shock right now. Not having that kind of expected interest, neither I nor my publisher, have the power to mount an orchestrated release. Although wouldn’t that be cool? All these people dressed up as Royce and Hadrian giving nasty looks to those dressed up as Saldur and Guy. Perhaps there would be a Montemorcy Vineyard wine tasting, huge inflatable Gilarabrywns and By Mar! t-shirts.

Instead we try to queue things up as best we can so that the book comes out roughly on schedule in all its forms, Amazon, Bookstores and Kindle—sorry still no audio or eBook with this release. Each of these venues takes a different, and mystifyingly unknown, amount of time to process the book and make it available to readers. Anywhere from three to fifteen days, which is an annoyingly vague spread when trying to set up a coordinated effort. Can you imagine the British telling Eisenhower that from the moment he says go it will take between three and fifteen days for the D-Day invasion to actually launch? And that the timing will be arbitrarily different for the paratroopers, infantry and armored divisions.

The result is that Nyphron Rising will not burst on to the world stage with a fanfare, but rather trickle out here and there. Most likely those with Kindle will see it first, then those accessing Amazon, then those getting it directly from me, and finally, the bookstores. The more complex the distribution system the longer it takes to process.

The good news is that it is coming and on schedule—depending on which venue you plan to buy it through.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Nyphron is Rising

The final manuscript was sent out late last night—a little birthday present to myself. Now I await the first proof, which I expect to see in the next few days. If it is good, then the book will be available to you on schedule. Although, like Avempartha, Nyphron Rising will likely have a couple week delay before it gets to the bookstores, just because despite my best intentions, I was still way late in getting this out the door. It will be available via Amazon and directly from my publisher (www.Ridanpublishing.com) and from my website, because the set up time for these outlets is almost instantaneous.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Evolution of Writing

It’s funny how things change. I couldn’t wait to drive. Once I had a license, I loved it. I don’t know when that affair ended—probably when traffic entered into the picture, when “driving” turned into stopping-and-occasionally-going.

For decades I wrote books. I wrote for fun, which placed writing on the priority list right behind playing solo computer games or watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island. It was something I did when absolutely everything else that needed doing was finished. After all, writing was a waste of time. No one ever read the stuff I wrote. I liked to think that I was improving, learning my craft, or that the books I wrote would be discovered in a box years after my death and some professor would declare them masterpieces. Too bad he was never appreciated in his lifetime, but alas the greats never are.

Then I started the Riyria series. Halfway through book four we fell on some hard economic times. A lot of people did. We moved and it looked like I would have to suspend writing the series indefinitely. Once I put a project down I have lightning-odds of picking it up again. Too much is forgotten because so much is stored only in my head. We struggled forward and I forced myself to keep writing. Writing was no longer fun, it was a chore, something I felt I needed to do so I didn’t leave one more thing half done. It was a good story and it didn’t deserve to die the quiet death of inconvenience. I still hoped someone would read it someday…even if that person was the future me. I’ve done that, picked up a book I forgot I wrote years ago and delighted myself. Wow. I wrote this?

It was a miserable task, forcing myself to write. Some people say pain and depression gives birth to art. I prefer to be happy. Writing when depressed isn’t fun. It did help to escape. Rather than alcohol, or drugs, or even the television, I would slip into my computer and like a C.S. Lewis character pass into another world—a better one, one that I controlled.

When I learned Crown was going to be published it became exciting—first-day-of-school exciting. One part scary, two parts kiss-the-dog delirium. Suddenly writing has merit, it has respect, it is legit. What I used to do to entertain myself is now my job—sweet! Like someone saying they will pay you to eat ice cream.

The rollercoaster comes after that. Ups and downs. Good reviews. Bad reviews. No reviews at all. No money. Things get quiet and I wonder if the ride is over. Do I get out now? I look at the t-shirt souvenir they handed me, the one that says, “I’m a Published Author,” and think—at least they can never take it back. After a few washes it might fade, but I can always wear it with pride. It’s mine to keep.

Then people start talking, not to me, to each other as if I died or something. “Have you read those books? I can’t wait for the next one.” They can’t wait? “I’ve read the first one three times already.” Three? “My son and I will be fighting over it when it arrives.” Starting fights?

Writing changes again. It is no longer for fun. It is not a chore, but most of the initial excitement is gone. What replaces the vacuum is a most unexpected sensation. I knew writing wouldn’t always be fun, I certainly guessed getting published would be exciting, but there is no way I could anticipate this. Yet as comments are made, small insignificant posts discovered on obscure blogs and forums where they never think I’ll find them, statements of hopeful anticipation; it sinks in. These people really like the books. Some love them. They make comments that make me think of when I read those few great books in my youth that stayed with me. I’m doing that? The story I am writing is doing that to people? That’s when I realize this isn’t mine anymore.

The writing changes. It’s no longer what it was, but what it’s become—a duty, the good kind though, the kind called an honor. When you realize there are people who have fallen in love with your characters, you suddenly feel an obligation not just to finish the story for them, but to do the best job you possibly can.

Sometimes change can be good.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ready, Set, Proof!

The countdown timer ticks...

Robin finished last night and handed Nyphron Rising off like the baton in a relay race. I was up at 6am this morning checking it, re-writing the first sentence and now it is printing. When done I will sit down with my coffee and a pen and begin the final read through.

Geez I hope it's good!

And the countdown timer ticks...

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Countdown Timer Ticks…

The countdown timer ticks…

Looking back, I find it astounding that The Crown Conspiracy hit shelves only a year ago, but the rush of Avempartha is still with me. Now I am back in the countdown again, but I haven’t seen the book in weeks. Nyphron Rising went off to the editors in August like a kid on his first day of school. Since returning, Robin has had it. Being one of those detail-oriented people, she volunteered to compile all the changes from the various editors and proofreaders for me. I’ve purposely stayed away from the book. Reading it too many times can make you blind to the words.

I will receive it Tuesday—like starting a new year at school.

I’ll have exactly one week to read it over, proof it, and make any changes necessary before it has to fly to the printers in order to make it on shelves by October 1. The book was in good condition when last I saw it so I’m not too worried. I just have to make certain the editors didn’t change something important thinking it was an error when it wasn’t.

So far all who have read it like it. Robin is my most reliable critic. She loves the books, but she also isn’t shy about being honest. Like Avempartha, she began unsure about this latest release, but now, after the polishing, she says she likes it best. She always likes best the last book she’s read in the series. Hopefully you will too.

That is the goal of course, to make each book just a little better than the one before. As a reader, that’s what I’d want. Some mysteries explained, more introduced, greater excitement as the stakes rise steadily, all the while learning more and more about the characters and watching them grow. The hard part is restraint in the early books while still managing to make them good enough to pull in an audience. Give away too little and no one is interested—too much and there’s no place to go.

The countdown timer ticks…

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

One Month Left

If you've been looking at this blog and watching the countdown to Nyphron, you might have noticed it was off by a month. I think I've got it fixed now give or take a day.

The book just returned from the editors. Robin is busy inputting some changes from hardcopy corrections. When she is done I will begin my final read through. I've purposely not read it in a month so I could approach it as fresh as possible.

I now have less than two weeks to review all the input and make any last minute changes. I always have last minute changes. I already know I have to change the first sentence. The first sentences are always the hardest. I'm never satisfied until I've beat myself bloody over them.

Feel free to start the buzz about this book. Just start asking people if they are ready for Nyphron Rising. I think you will find there are a surprising number of people who aren't. Sadly, at the moment, I'm one.