Sunday, August 24, 2008

What I've been reading

I just finished NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN by Cormac McCarthy this morning. Brilliant novel. I loved the movie and felt the need to read the source material. Not for those who like things tied into neat packages, always want to see the hero win the day or the bad guys punished, this is a meditation on how a simple decision to be merciful can lead to total ruin, how some forms of evil are simply stronger than most of us. Chilling, brutal, stark, unforgettable.

Before that, I read Michael Chabon's wonderful THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION. His mastery of the English language is unrivaled, and I found myself highlighting dozens of inventive phrasings.

What if the attempt to settle Palestine by the Jews after WWII had failed? Where would they go? In this inventive novel, they ended up in Sitka, Alaska (apparently based on a real plan developed but later rejected by the U.S. State Department). But the land grant came with an expiration date (called the Reversion), which is fast approaching at the opening of the novel.

The story is an often hilarious romp through the Federal District of Sitka,. The main character is a divorced detective, Meier Landsman, investigating the murder of a man at the very hotel where the detective was living. The investigation methodically uncovers a conspiracy involving the return of the Jewish Messiah, "Black Hat" Jewish Mafia, Landsman's dead sister, and a host of other off-the-wall characters. Highly recommended.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Getting behind...again.

I know I promised I would provide more regular updates, but, as usual, life intercedes. I'm really enjoying working on LIFE LINE, the fictionalized version of my main post-divorce relationship that came to an abrupt and incredibly painful end last October. It's really humming along, and I'm loathe to pull away from it to blog here about my current relationship (which is better in almost all respects than the one that ended, as good as that was. So for that small mercy I'm grateful, though I would say I'm still emotionally scarred from the experience).

Anyway, this is my way of saying this is the only update for a couple of days. I'll try to get some pics up of our vacation to Key West soon, but I'm not going to promise a deadline since I'll more than likely miss it!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Next book...?

Turning in THE COMMANDING STONE fulfills my three-novel contract with HarperCollins. Well, technically it's not fulfilled until my editor reads and is happy with the manuscript, no matter how many edits from me that takes. Once she's happy with it -- called "delivery and acceptance" -- I get paid the final portion of my advance (yay!) and the book goes into the pre-publication process.

Right now, however, I'm done with the book until Diana, my editor, gets back to me with whatever changes she would like.

So what's next?

A couple of things.

Once the book is accepted, I'll need to talk to my agent about what my next proposal will look like. There's one more book to finish out the series, so that's a given. But if they want a three-book deal like the last time, what are the other two?

I have a proposal for another novel set in the same universe as my other fantasy novels but with a totally separate group of characters. It tangentially relates to THE AMBER WIZARD, but just barely. It's a cool idea and I already have the first and last line of the book completed!

I have a young adult novel called FOREVERNESS (if you're up for it, you can read the entire manuscript here) with my agent that I'd like to package in as part of a multi-book proposal. It's my favorite book of all that I've written so far. I also have a sort of weird supernatural/horror story about what really happened when Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden!

At the moment I'm working on a mainstream novel called LIFE LINE. I'm about 45 pages into it and enjoying it immensely. No outline for this one, just pages of notes. I'm flying by the seat of my pants on this one, though I again have the very last line all done. It's based very loosely on the relationship I was in last year that crashed and burned in October. I have no feel for it at all right now and can't tell if it will even be publishable, but it's one of those books I need to write.

So for I'm going to keep plugging away at LIFE LINE and wait for my editor to get back to me with changes for THE COMMANDING STONE.


The third book in the series is done and with my editor. I sent it to my wonderful agent Matt Bialer first, who (to my complete surprise) suggested no changes! He said there were one or two minor things to consider, but he didn't want me to bother with them before sending it to my editor at HarperCollins to get her feedback.

This book was easier to write than the others in a lot of ways. For one thing, I'm more comfortable with the characters. They're like old friends, and it was fun to catch up with them for the third time. I still had to stretch them and make them grow as people, but it's just easier now.

And I'm more comfortable with writing in general. I've toned down some of the descriptions compared to the first two. I'm more at ease in sketching in the world rather than painting everything in excruciating detail. I like this book a lot, and hope my editor does too!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

THE AMBER WIZARD just published in Germany

My first novel has just been published in Germany by a division of Random House. For some reason I just think this is so cool! (Yes, I'm a complete geek about this.)

Here's the cover. I have no idea what it's supposed to represent! It looks a little like how I described Castle Ailethon, but since I had nothing to do with the translation or the cover that's only a wild guess.

THE WORDS OF MAKING is due out next April. I have absolutely no idea about this cover! (But I kinda like it!)

Yes, I'm still alive!

I know it's been forever and a day (and then some), since I last updated this sorry little blog! My sincerest apologies! I plan to provide a couple of updates over the next few days. Some will pertain to my writing, others will be of a more personal nature, since I've received feedback that some of you really liked that (or at least liked reading about how my life fell apart for a while after my girlfriend broke up with me last October).

I have no idea if anyone will ever read this since it's been abandoned for so long!

I need to get my son to his first practice for fall baseball. I'll provide at least one more update later tonight.