ARC contest update: Judging Is Imminent!

Aside

After an unanticipated delay (for which I offer my apologies), ALL of the entries for the “Sworn In Steel” ARC giveaway have now been uploaded. I will be putting all thirty-two(!) entries before the judges tonight, right after they get home from work and school. ;) The three lucky winners will be announced shortly thereafter, and I will contact them directly to get all the pertinents necessary for sending along the ARCs.

In the mean time, go take a look at the entries. I think it is safe to say I have a bunch of fun, clever, talented readers who really know how to get into the spirit of a contest.

Good luck everyone!

Free books are FREE

My publicist sums up the plight of these poor, poor books. Won’t you give them a forever home?

Woot! My publisher, Ace/Roc, is giving away 15 copies of AMONG THIEVES over on Goodreads in anticipation of the release of SWORN IN STEEL. Contest closes April 4. So, if you know someone who hasn’t read the book yet but would like to win a free copy (or if you want to win a copy for a friend or the like), send them/head over!

 

Stumbling on the Up Slope

Last night was the biweekly meeting of my writer’s group, the Wyrdsmiths. Things have been a little light lately with the hand outs, what with some members either being between contracts, or in the middle of a hiatus, or just general attacks of life. It’s summer, it gets that way.

For the first time in a long time, I had handed something out for the meeting. It felt both good and strange to be on the receiving end of their critiques, and I have to admit that I had a little flutter in my gut as the group turned away from the general pre-business chatter and got down to going over my piece. You have to understand that I started with this group long before any of us were published, and long before I’d finished my first book. The people know me, know my writing, know my strengths, know my weaknesses. We’ve grown (and in some cases, grown up together) as writers. If anyone was going to be able to help me tear apart the material I’d handed out and figure out if it could be knocked into some form of marketable prose, it was these people.

That can be both reassuring and terrifying, especially if you’ve gotten out of the habit of being the one in the crosshairs.

All of which makes me appreciate something that has been going around in some writing circles on the web lately, and especially my friend and fellow Wyrdsmith Sean Murphy’s take on the matter. The subject? Stumbling as a beginning artist.

Notice I don’t say falling down. We all do that early on, and we expect it. No, it’s not the falling that’s hard–it’s the stumbling that comes later, after you’ve learned how to walk but are still figuring out how to run. The hurdles we face that arise from our growing self-awareness of our art, and the gap we find between what we produce and what we desire to produce.

Sean does an excellent job of talking about it from someone who is in the trenches, facing that hurdle right now, and I urge you to go read his piece Mind the Gap.

The only thing I would add is that that feeling of being dissatisfied with your work never fully goes away–the perspective and focus merely shift. But more on that another time.

“Sworn In Steel” U.S. Release Date

Sworn in Steel US high res

 

This just in: SWORN IN STEEL is slated for a U.S. release date of May, 2014.

But wait!, I hear some of you say. What about a release date for the U.K.? Australia? Poland? Germany? France? Bulgaria? That, I’m afraid, I don’t know. I wish I did, but those are things that can’t be determined until we have a U.S date. Now that we have one for SIS, my foreign publishers will start fitting the book into their catalogs and timelines as well — but that may take a bit, especially if we are talking translation. And I don’t always hear the release dates right away. So the best I can tell you that is everything is in process for everyone else to start figuring out release dates as well.

On the plus side, the book doesn’t need a lot of editing. We’ve by-passed structural editing (that’s where my U.S. editor sits down, reads the finished manuscript, and then tells me where all the plot holes/confusing bits/parts that could use polishing and/or rewriting are) and have gone straight on into the copyediting phase (which is where they catch all they typos and fiddly punctuation bits and continuity errors–you know, where “Angus” on page 24 suddenly becomes “Andrew” on p. 128 and “Angie” on p. 376…or something. There’s no Angus or Andrew or Angie in this book but you get the idea). This means my editor and publisher think the manuscript is clean enough to go straight into production, which means less overall time getting it from me to you.

Which, by the way, is both cool and scary from my side of the keyboard. Cool in that they think the book is good enough “as is” to jump that particular hurdle and rocket on towards print. Scary in that, as the writer I tend to sit back and go, “Really? Because, um, that one part with the thing? Where Drothe does that other thing with the people? And then the plot’s all like ‘ka-pow!’ later because of that other thing? I was thinking that if I just tweaked the part with the whatchamajigger and added a tiny scene with this other bit and then tweaked this other section where…” until my wife kindly walks into my office and smacks me in the back of the head and says, “LET THEM PUBLISH THE DAMN BOOK!” Even after the smack and my acceptance that, yes, I need to let this (especially this) book go, part of me still sees all of the other things I wanted to accomplish with this book that never quite worked or never quite made it on the page.

But that’s the nature of art, isn’t it? It’s never truly finished, but at some point it has to be done. The reality at the end never meets with the vision you had at the beginning. At some point, you simply need to step away and trust yourself (and others who believe in your art) and let it go.

And so I am one step closer to letting the book go and out into the world. May 2014. Look for it. And watch this space for updates on other release dates.

As for me? I need to start thinking about research for the third book because, as much I may sometimes wish otherwise, these things still don’t write themselves….

 

Elizabeth Gilbert on Artists & the nature of “Genius”

This is an interesting TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert on how society views artists, and how there might be a better way. Not so much a solution as food for thought, but the more I do this writing thing, the more what she says here resonates. I especially like the classical view of “genius” that she cites.

The approach to art and inspiration she discusses at the end is something I hope to achieve at some point. Not there yet, but a worthy goal (and a sanity inducing one, I think).

I may have more thoughts to add when it isn’t on the wrong side of 12 AM; but in the meantime, enjoy.