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orcs are filled with pennies

My thanks to everyone who's voted in the poetry poll. I see we're still just a little shy of the requested one hundred votes, but the results are 100% positive, so I guess there will be a book of poetry somewhere down the line.

It is my considerable pleasure to announce that there will be a Subterranean Press hardcover edition of Daughter of Hounds! I don't have a lot of details yet, but it will be published well prior to the Penguin edition. Details TBA.

Though yesterday was supposed to have been spent resting (sometimes, I almost recall the meaning of that word, then I forget again) and helping Spooky do some work on the kitchen, I wound up wasting much of it resolving a disagreement with Penguin over what I would be charged for copies of the trade-paperback edition of Silk, which, you will remember, is nearing the end of the brief reprieve it was granted in November, when the remaindering was shifted from December to February. In December, when I offered to purchase 500 copies of the book, someone in Paperback Operations quoted me a discounted price — let's call it Price X. They did this by phone, and I had no written record. Yesterday, when I tried to order, the price had inexplicably risen to what we shall refer to as Price Y. Now, I'd not have been able to purchase any of these but for the assistance of a patron who will, for the present, remain nameless, but I certainly wasn't about to go to that patron and say, "Look, it'll be $Y instead of $X." So, a minor tussle ensued. By day's end, after the intervention of my editor, Operations had agreed to lower the price from Y to something more acceptable, which I shall refer to as N. I reluctantly called the person who would be footing the bill, and the increase was approved. Next week, 500 copies of Silk will be appearing on my doorstep. I have no idea where we will store the frelling things, but, this way, I can continue to make the book available to readers and continue to make some income off it until another edition is, someday, in print.

Late in the day, Spooky and I finally started editing To Charles Fort, With Love, beginning with "Valentia." This will be the first story in the book, and it was, I believe, the first story that I wrote after completing Tales of Pain and Wonder. It was written in July 1999, just after I'd done some work in the collections of the American Museum of Natural History in NYC and my head was filled with paleontology (this is evident in the story). It was originally published in Stephen Jones' Dark Terrors 5 (2000). Though set in Ireland, in many ways this short story presages Threshold, which I'd yet to write. Anyway, yesterday was likely the first time I'd read through it since 1999, and I was a little shocked at how much my voice has changed in the last five and a half years. Editing this collection, I'm faced with the unenviable task of deciding to what degree I will allow the stories to be reprinted as they first appeared and to what degree I will correct and rewrite. I thought I'd figured out a compromise, but yesterday I found myself doing quite a bit more rewriting on "Valentia" than I'd expected. I'm very conflicted about this. On the one hand, I don't want the book to be released and regret not having made changes I feel should be made, and, on the other, I don't want the book to be released and not reflect, to some degree, the evolution of my short fiction work over the last half decade. This is an important book for me, and I want to get it right. One thing I was doing yesterday was mercillessly splitting my old "compounderations," which I don't use anymore — "autumnlong," "greygreen," etc. were split apart yesterday. The sundering of collided words. Should I be doing this? Would it be better to let them stay — the compounderations, as well as the sentence fragments and disregarded commas — and allow the reader to see how they gradually fade from my stories over time? Or should the stories reflect more of my present aesthetic? I just don't know, and the editing has to proceed quickly, so I have to make a decision, one way or the other, very soon.

We stopped by Borders last night, where I bought a copy of an anthology in which one of my more recent stories appeared. One of the least things that any editor can do for their writers is to be sure that they receive complimentary copies of books. But the editor of this particular volume, and one other I am still lacking, has apparently decided otherwise. It is a great indignity, I think, to be forced to buy a book that exists, in part, because you contributed to it. Were this a charity project, such as the book to benefit the West Memphis Three to which Poppy and I contributed a story, it'd be understandable (though, those editors saw fit to send me comp copies). There's simply no excuse for neglecting your authors this way.

And here's a thought — perhaps the reason that bad reviews and negative comments seem to affect me more than good reviews and comments, even when they're far less common than good reviews, is that bad reviews are often written so much more bluntly. They often seem almost bloodthirsty. They may, I think, even be written with more passion. This is just something that occurred to me last night while reading someone's online comment that they considered me "the poor man's Kathe Koja." It was funny, at first — silly, even — but then it sort of dug in and hung on. Anyway...

Oh, the cold weather has backed off a bit. We'll have high fifties today, low sixties tomorrow. The mammoths have headed north again.

I learned yesterday that Elizabeth Nicholls, a paleontological colleague at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta, died back in October. I've been so out of touch with that part of my life the last couple of years, I wasn't even aware that she'd been seriously ill now for some time. Betsy was a great inspiration when I was starting out in paleontology back in the '80s, and we shared at least one discovery (the taxonomic synonomy of the mosasaur Platecarpus tympaniticus with both P. ictericus and P. coryphaeus, with the binomen P. tympaniticus having seniority). She reviewed the original draft of my mosasaur biostratigraphy paper in 1989 (published in 2002) and made many helpful suggestions. In her own work, she published on marine reptiles (mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, turtles, ichthyosaurs, thallatosaurs, etc.) and, most recently, was instrumental in recovering what might be the largest-known ichthyosaur, from a very remote region of British Columbia (see the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 24(4), pp. 838-849), a specimen that the Discovery Channel aired a special about a few years back. I'd not corresponded with Betsy since 2000 or so.

As I said last night, after this week, we'll be taking a few weeks away from eBay, so please check out the auctions now. And congrats to Eric, who gets a dinosaur for his troubles.

Comments

( 12 comments — Have your say! )
jack_yoniga
Jan. 25th, 2005 06:42 pm (UTC)
"Should I be doing this? Would it be better to let them stay — the compounderations, as well as the sentence fragments and disregarded commas — and allow the reader to see how they gradually fade from my stories over time? Or should the stories reflect more of my present aesthetic? I just don't know, and the editing has to proceed quickly, so I have to make a decision, one way or the other, very soon."

My advice, for what it's worth, would be to leave the compounderations alone, let folks see how you've evolved—that's part of the fun of reading collections that span a certain time period.

And I think I know which editor you're talking about—I'm still waiting for my comp copies and payment, too. . . .
wishlish
Jan. 25th, 2005 07:26 pm (UTC)
Quick thoughts:

1. Leave at least some of the compounderations in. I like them, though I did find it easier to read the beginning of Low Red Moon without them. They do create a certain magic, but they're not without cost, as the cycles of brainpower used to create the effect in my head don't get spent on other aspects of reading comprehension, so I have to think harder about the story. This isn't a bad thing, just a different thing.

2. Have you thought about selling PDF or text file copies of Silk while waiting for the book to go back into print? I'd PayPal $10 for such a copy (and I already own a copy of Silk), as long as there wasn't any DRM to deal with (not that I want to pirate your work; I just hate dealing with DRM). Given that I spend much more time reading digital content than paper-based content, I like digital books.

3. In a customer service class I took some years ago, I learned that while a customer will tell 2 or 3 people about an exceptionally good experience, that same customer will tell 11 people about an exceptionally bad experience, and those 11 people will tell 6 more people. I don't know if those numbers still hold, but the result is that people will talk more about bad experiences than good. (And this is the basis for Britney Spears's musical career. Oh, and boobs. Almost forgot.)

Thus, if you want to ensure yourself commercial success, write an outstandingly bad novel and get yourself some fake boobs, and you'll be an overnight sensation.
greygirlbeast
Jan. 25th, 2005 07:50 pm (UTC)
2. Have you thought about selling PDF or text file copies of Silk while waiting for the book to go back into print? I'd PayPal $10 for such a copy (and I already own a copy of Silk), as long as there wasn't any DRM to deal with (not that I want to pirate your work; I just hate dealing with DRM). Given that I spend much more time reading digital content than paper-based content, I like digital books.

My lit agent and I have discussed this a little, not much. The proble is that, right now, publishers are leary of anything that's been previously offerred as an electronic ms. That is, unless you're Stephen King, Tom Clancy, J. K. Rowling, etc. Her advice is that making the book available as a PDF would probably destroy the odds of selling the rights again in the future. So, for the moment, no e-Silk.

Thus, if you want to ensure yourself commercial success, write an outstandingly bad novel and get yourself some fake boobs, and you'll be an overnight sensation.

This is so obvious. Why have I not thought of it before?
wishlish
Jan. 25th, 2005 08:13 pm (UTC)
"So, for the moment, no e-Silk."

Boooooo.

I understand their reluctance, and I want you to make all the mad money you deserve. But there was an article in some magazine (Reason?) that decried Apple's 99-cent song structure as bad because it priced all songs the same, regardless of the value to the individual. And to some extent, this is true. I'm listening to Terence Trent D'Arby's amazing album "Symphony Or Damn". I've bought the CD a few times, and am now listening to it on my iPod, and if I hadn't found it last night in the 6 boxes of packed CDs, I'd have bought it at either iTunes or the evil allofmp3.com (100 MB of mp3 for a $1, site's in Russia, no artist or executive gets paid). Just because I'm crazy enough to want to buy a copy of Silk in PDF for $10 doesn't mean I won't pay $12 for it in book, too. (Heck, owning both an ecopy and hard copy of Cryptonomicon was the only way I got through that book.)

But they're the starmakers, the guardians of the gate without which no ink will be spent, so okay.

"This is so obvious. Why have I not thought of it before?"

If this works, I want a cut. Baby wants a house.

Heck, next time you get stuck on Daughter of Hounds, write something outstandingly bad. See what happens.
resonantserpent
Jan. 25th, 2005 09:53 pm (UTC)
The comment about Koja is pure bullshit. I was an avid fan of hers until she started riding the kid's books bandwagon. I can see where people might compare you two, and I did at first until I read more than a couple of your books. I consider you All that she wishes she was. You've actually lived through the scenarios in your book, and your imagination is MUCH larger.

I really don't see how any new readers will be able to compare you two since Koja's disowned her first works. They're not listed on either her bio, or her books page. I've begun to wonder if she really meant what she wrote, or if she was just riding that early 90's wave of alt-horror/splatterpunk fiction.

When I read your work, I feel like I'm getting the truth from you. It's been very hard for me to find Art that is actually worth purchasing. I need complexity. I need truth. I find both in your work.

On that note: If you change the stories in your comp, I'll be forced to buy the older stories, and I'm a poor person. I spend wayyyy to much money to keep my studio up and running.

Short story comps are like a storm that has the wind blowing in all directions. Dynamic range is interesting. Evolution is interesting. Then again, it is Your Work and I know that no peice of Art is ever truly finished.

I make it a point to never go back and rewrite a musical track because I know that that energy would be better spent putting out something new.

Is that blunt enough for you?
resonantserpent
Jan. 25th, 2005 09:55 pm (UTC)
Ignore the second 'that' in the last sentence.
stardustgirl
Jan. 25th, 2005 11:56 pm (UTC)
I love the compounderations. They were part of your style at that time of your writing, and I'd hate to see them go. It's one thing to see them leave as you evolve, but another to see history re-written.

It's depressing to see that you've been overlooked for comp copies. Earlier today I was wondering why the MirrorMask trailer at Sony's site made no mention of Dave McKean. Both of these instances should make me feel better about getting dicked out of credits, but it doesn't. It just further hammers home the realization that a lot of times creators may as well be invisible.

Oh wait... I'm supposed to save the bitching for my own LJ aren't I?
greygirlbeast
Jan. 26th, 2005 12:20 am (UTC)
It's depressing to see that you've been overlooked for comp copies.

It's a rare thing. It hasn't happened to me often. My contracts state that I will be provided copies. On those very few occassions when it does happen, it's very frustrating, though. Most editors are good about this sort of thing. It's a courtesy, but a crucial courtesy.
sa_jathan
Jan. 26th, 2005 03:43 am (UTC)
Worse company
"the poor man's Kathe Koja."

Hunh. I've spent far more money on you than Ms. Koja. And I LOVE her work.

Or maybe that's WHY I'm poor . . .

Hmmm.

Sa'jathan
sovay
Jan. 26th, 2005 04:08 am (UTC)
(In which I delurk.)

I would also rather see the stories in their original state than have them brought more into line with your current style. I found the compounderations evocative, they didn't make my brain stall out, and they are a historical feature of your work; same for the sentence fragments. Besides, it's particularly fun to pick up a collection and read not only a set of very good stories but an archaeology of the author's style.

What feels like it needs changing?
mendokusai
Jan. 26th, 2005 08:58 am (UTC)
I agree, I'd rather see the stories as they were. In fact I'd go as far as to say the stories should be exactly as they were originally printed (except for typos or similar errors obviously). To me it's part of the appeal of a collection that covers a long period of time. Having said that, I can understand how painful it would be to leave in something that to you perceive as a flaw.
antonstrout
Jan. 26th, 2005 09:54 pm (UTC)
I was trying to figure out your subject line here yesterday, but then I watched X-Play and now it all makes sense!

I've always suspected as much though...
( 12 comments — Have your say! )