Tales from Rugosa Coven is Out of Print, Seeking New Press

Confirming this news has taken some time: The rights to Tales from Rugosa Coven have formally reverted to me. Yes, that's the one that won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award.

The small press that published it, Dark Quest Books, is in a state of flux. I don't know what their current status and plans are, so I don't want to speak for them. At times it has looked like they were closing up shop, or changing direction, or shrinking the business to fit around the publisher's day job. Whatever the case is, my contract expired at the two-year mark. All I had to do to get the rights reverted is notify Neal Levin in writing that I would not be renewing the contract, and thirty days later the matter would be resolved. And so it now is. I've been holding my breath, and my blog posts, until I knew it to be so.

To make the press's transition -- whatever it ends up being -- a little easier on Neal, I'm accepting author copies in lieu of royalties owed. So I'll have enough stock to keep my commitments to my Kickstarter backers, a few copies to hoard for my kids, and maybe some extras to sell. We'll see.

Meanwhile, Amazon and the other online booksellers still have a few copies in stock. If you've been meaning to buy a copy, it would be a great kindness to me to help them clear their shelves. The more obvious it is that nobody has a claim on the rights but me, the easier it'll be to find a new publisher.

For me, this is actually a good development. Dark Quest Books was not in a position to help me put the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award to work to bring the book to a larger audience. It's one thing to end a contract with a press that shows every sign of having reached the end of its run, and another to ditch a publisher the minute your book wins an award and before the publisher has a chance to benefit with you. The latter ranges somewhere between tacky and unethical, depending on whom you ask; the former can be a mercy and a kindness.

Tales from Rugosa Coven is a single-author collection of novellas by a writer who, until August 3rd of 2015, had not yet proven herself. No big publisher would have taken such a book. For a major imprint, that would have been an insane business decision. The book only got into the position of outliving its press because there was a publisher who took a chance on it in the first place. I'll always be grateful to Neal Levin. Whatever happens with Dark Quest, it's the publisher of record on the Mythopoeic Society's award pages. I'm really happy about that.

Now that the Rugosa book has its award, some larger press will want it.

Not every imprint will have a slot in its line-up that makes sense for a reprint single-author collection of contemporary fantasy novellas. Even presses and imprints that would have such a spot might not have one in a time frame that makes sense for me.

Here's the thing, though: a spot in a publisher's line-up is a little like a spot in a parking lot. You don't need the whole lot to be empty. It's nice when you have a choice of good spaces, but ultimately, your one book can only take up one spot at a time. So, as long as the contract terms are fair and appropriate, you only need one.

The book is far, far from saturating its market. If my information's current, Rugosa only ever sold something on the order of 300 copies, including ebooks. Dark Quest started contracting before I'd even won the award. And considering how many people have begged me to tell them there will be more Rugosa Coven stories, it probably helps that I'm actively working on a sequel.

I'm optimistic -- and, now that things are official enough for me to make this announcement, immensely relieved.

How The Kickstarter Ended: Huzzah!

That last minute rush was amazing to behold.

So now we have a book with Kate Baylay's cover art plus three half-page black & white interior illustrations, and an audiobook narrated by C.S.E. Cooney.

And we have a little extra to spare. I'm not sure how much yet. Tomorrow, when my brain is recovered a bit from the final push, I'll figure out exactly what comes to the project after Kickstarter's well-deserved fees. More of you chose digital rewards than I expected, so I'll need to update my estimates for production and shipping costs of reward fulfillment.

Depending on how much extra we actually have, we could be looking at something small like a colophon, something middle-ish like a bookplate, or something as big as adding a fourth interior illustration. If the best answer isn't obvious, I'll be calling on you guys for suggestions.

You know that Mark Twain tall tale about the guy who gets his tooth pulled? Only the root of the bad tooth reaches all the way to his big toe, so his whole skeleton follows it out, and he has to be carried home in a pillowcase? That's kind of how I feel right now. I'm going to flow into my sheltering pillowcase for the night and let my heroically patient family carry me home in it.

Tomorrow I get to start making a book real!

Looks To Be A Volatile Endgame For The Kickstarter

I'd spent the last couple of days stalled out $600 short of the interior illustration stretch goal. For every new backer I gained (mostly friends and relatives helping me rush for that milestone), I lost another one (all people I didn't know who may have pledged because of the illustrations that were starting to look so unlikely).

I despaired. I found peace. I posted on Facebook about finding peace and then promptly despaired again.

(It's silly to despair. The book, the cover art, and the audiobook will definitely happen. They will all be awesome. What business do I have despairing when I get to make so much happen with -- I remind myself -- other people's money?)

When Jeff Mach, he of the 87,000 Facebook followers, offered to do some signal boost in the morning, I got all hopeful again and posted the project's link one more time.

Three stalwart friends rushed to pledge, outweighing the one illustration fan who defected.

Now we've got 12 hours to raise $440.

The pledge level that's attracted the most backers is $25. If 18 more people did that, we'd hit the current target.

While I wait out the suspense, I'm going to go look at Kate Baylay's sketch for the cover art. We made this possible. You guys made this possible. We'll get to see this one in color:

Hit Kickstarter Goal, With 8 Days To Go!

We did it!

The Imlen Bastard will definitely be a book. We'll get to hold it in our hands. We will get to find out what that Kate Baylay piece looks like when it progresses from preliminary sketch to finished cover art.

If we hit our next goal, which is less than $400 away, we can hear what C.S.E. Cooney does with it as its narrator. The 8 days we have left should be more than enough.

Your help getting the word out could make a big difference. And if you haven't yet, please check out the project and consider pledging.

Thank you!

World Fantasy (The Short Version), And Two Podcasts From Balticon

The World Fantasy Convention went beautifully for me. It had its logistical quirks, including its now-justly-internet-notorious lack of ramps for wheelchair-using panelists, but I accomplished almost everything there that I hoped to. John O'Neill has asked me to write a convention report for Black Gate, so I'll tell more there.

Meanwhile, check this out:

Tim Dodge, who hosts the Geek Side of Life podcast, recorded several panels at Balticon back in May. I got the chance to listen to the two I'm on, and they came out very well. You can find many more at his site.

Reading as a Writer
With Hugh O'Donnell, Mark Van Name, and Bugsy Bryant
There are some useful bits here about reading strategies for building fiction skill sets that don't come easy to us, as well as a long bit about reading mainstream literary classics as a writer of genre fiction.

What Can We Learn from Bad Writing?
With Alessia Brio, Meria Crawford, and Judi Fleming
This conversation developed a lovely, generous spirit -- given the title, it could have turned out to be a real snarkfest, but I'm proud and happy to have been part of what it became instead. We ended up with a long movement about rough drafts and juvenilia, and what writers at all stages of skill can learn from reading their own bad writing on the way to writing better.

Where To Find Me At The World Fantasy Convention

After an eight-hour drive to Saratoga Springs and several hours of schmoozing, my brain is mush. So, just the facts, ma'am:

Friday, 1pm, City Center 2A
What Does Epic Fantasy Owe the Literary Epic Tradition?

The World Fantasy Convention is odd, in that nobody gets more than one time slot on the program. There are a lot of programming items I'm interested in, but the one on Friday's the only one I'm certain to be at.

Aside from that, your best bet if you want to find me is, believe it or not, the bar.

I'm not really a bar-going person, generally, but the bar is where agents and editors spend convention evenings, expecting writers they don't know to engage them in conversation. Since this year I actually have something they'll want, that's where I'll be.

Halfway Through 30 Days, Almost Halfway To Goal

I just posted my latest Kickstarter update. The short version: I changed the order of the stretch goals to put the easiest ones early (audiobook, black and white interior illustrations), then combined the two hardest into one (color interior illustrations and offset printing), and accepted that the hard ones almost  probably won't happen. Now I can stop putting energy into overthinking ways to reach the stretch goals, and concentrate on the basic goal, which is not a done deal yet.

Initially I included hardcover printing as a stretch goal, but it never really made financial sense, so I've cut it entirely. If you're one of the people who liked to imagine that for me, thank you for your kind thoughts. One day there will be a book like that. Just not this time.

Excerpt From The Imlen Bastard

If you've come here from my Kickstarter's FAQ, welcome to my blog! Kickstarter's webform for creating a project FAQ couldn't handle the formatting I needed to make this easy on the eye. If you're writing dialogue for a cast that includes both ghosts and the living, italics really are a basic necessity.

Whether you're a newcomer or a friend of many years, I'm glad to be able to show you the opening scenes from The Imlen Bastard. Enjoy!Collapse )

Day 7 Update: An Editing Letter Any Writer Would Love to Receive

I just got Betsy Mitchell's developmental and line edit of the manuscript. Her editing letter starts like this:

"The Imlen Bastard" was a delight! Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to work on it. It’s very clean; I sprinkled some notes throughout but there’s nothing major to concern you. I can predict, though, that people are going to be looking for more of this story.... I almost growled when I realized there was no more.

One of the great things this means is that I'll be able to post an excerpt on my Kickstarter page later tonight!

A lot of you have been asking for an excerpt. I wanted to wait until I'd heard back from my editor first, so I knew I'd be able to find a passage that wouldn't change much before it went to press. Now I know I can give you the opening two or three scenes with just a minor brushing up.

All the minor glitches Betsy spotted in the manuscript would normally take a day or two to fix. Because Kickstarter outreach is my main daily task right now, the fixes will probably take a little longer.

Another wonderful implication of Betsy's feedback is that the manuscript itself should be ready to go to the book designer as soon as the artwork is ready to go with it.

Before launching this campaign, I made a list of known potential delays, mostly to satisfy my own curiosity. The first of these -- I worried that Betsy's schedule might be too full to take the manuscript before the winter holidays -- is crossed off as of today. The next one is my job to rule out.

Kickstarter Update: Some Story-Behind-The Story. Plus, Day 1 Rocked. Day 2's Rockier.

I've got a new post at Black Gate about where "The Imlen Bastard" was hiding before I picked it for my first experiment in crowdfunding and self-publishing.

The Great News: On the first day of the 30-day campaign, so many of you rushed to pledge that we hit 18% of the starting goal. That's a strong start.

The Meh News: Day 2 is a lot quieter.

The first three days are really important. Kickstarter aficionados who aren't already familiar with me or my work -- people who just like looking for cool projects to back -- like to back winners. How the first three days go seems to be a big part of how they choose which projects to take a chance on.

So I need to pull out all the stops to get back to the Day 1 momentum.

If you know fantasy readers, art lovers, and audiobook readers who might like what I'm up to with The Imlen Bastard, please do point them over here.

All suggestions for things I haven't thought of, or maybe should do more of, to get the word out would be very welcome.

Meanwhile, my uncharacteristically large collection of exclamation points and I need to get back to work!