Sarah Avery (dr_pretentious) wrote,
Sarah Avery

ARC! Blurb!

I've just received the advance review copy for Closing Arguments. That's know when you're at a used bookstore and you find a book with all kinds of stuff on the cover saying UNCORRECTED PROOF, NOT FOR SALE? In the world of print publishing, that's what the publisher sends to book reviewers. Which is to say, those copies in the used bookstore have been sold illegally, but I guess book reviewers are just like a lot of us,unable to bear throwing a book in the trash, only they get a lot more books piling up in their houses than we do.

In the world of electronic publishing, the ARC is just a .pdf file. When you contact a reviewer or an author who might consider blurbing you, you ask whether s/he would prefer to receive it as an email attachment or as hard copy, and send it accordingly.

So, for all practical purposes, now that I've printed out hard copy, I've already held my first book in my hands. It isn't how I envisioned it when I was a kid, but it's still good to have arrived at this moment. Deena's design is delightful, but if I say exactly how, I'll spoil one of the running gags of the story.

This week, I'm contacting authors to ask for blurbs, and Drollerie Press's intern is contacting reviewers to request reviews. Things are really moving along now. It's a pretty inconvenient time for my entire household to have come down with a barking cough. I drink tea, I pop lozenges, I try to keep up with myself.

Meanwhile, I've been reading Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn. His protagonist has Tourette's Syndrome, so I thought that might help me play around with ways of putting Ria's OCD on the page in the next Rugosa story. The Tourette's Syndrome could have been an authorial gimmick, and I was a little worried about that, but damn, Lethem does amazing things with it. He makes me want to be a better writer.

Now I will confess my arrogance.

A lot of the time, when I'm reading someone else's work, I'll think I could do that, or My way of handling that would have worked way better, or I couldn't do that, but why would anyone want to? With books that really blow me away, I can usually tell myself, Maybe I couldn't do that now, but when I've got the years behind me that this writer does, I'll be this good. It's not often that I read a book by a living writer and wonder whether, in a lifetime of honing my craft, I would ever be able to pull off something that cool.

Only twice in the past year have I finished reading someone else's book and, days later, still had the protagonist's voice in my head just as clearly as the voices of my own characters. The last time, it was Tremaine Valiarde from Martha Wells's Ships of the Air series. Lethem's Tourettic detective Lionel Essrog is a very different creature. Poor guy, he's keenly intelligent, well read (albeit poorly educated), and perceptive as only an obsessive person can be because he's unable to stop paying attention to details, no matter how much he wants to. But the people around him, who are not privy to the first person narration of his inner life that we get to read, think he's stupid because of all his verbal tics and his precarious impulse control. His constant struggle to hold in the word soup that his illness is always cooking up from the language around him is tragic and hilarious.

So, yeah, I have a character stuck in my head who uncontrollably blurts out bizarre, occasionally profane mutations of any unusual word I come across. As my virtual Lionel Essrog said when I wrote my editor an email about the ARC and my blurb solicitation plans, ARCadelphia! Blurbopolis!
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