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Breaking the Silence with Milkweed Updates

August 24, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Sometimes silence is good, right?

Because it means I've been working hard.  (No, really.)  Not that it justifies another two months without updating the blog, but, well...  At least I have something (several  somethings) to show for my latest disappearance. 

Two Down, One To Go

As I mentioned a while ago, I finished the first draft of Milkweed #2, The Coldest War, back at the beginning of May.  Well, we're much further along now!  I managed to finish the comprehensive cover-to-cover rewrite in timely fashion; the manuscript went off to my editor on June 28, just before the July 1 deadline in my contract. 


The cover-to-cover rewrite is, to me, the most fun and rewarding part of the process.  As I've said many times before, I enjoy rewriting far more than the actual rewriting.  Editing something that's already on paper is much, much easier for me than conjuring those words from whole cloth in the first place.  It's during this step that I incorporate all of the feedback I've received over the past year from Critical Mass, our local writers' group.  It's also the place where I incorporate notes and fixes suggested by valiant and kind-hearted beta readers (thanks especially to Char Peery and Sam Butler).  Page by page the prose gets tighter, the story elements fall into place, and the book starts to look like a book. 

Now that Coldest War is off my plate for the time being (until it comes back with editorial notes and copyedits), I'm hard at work on the third and final volume of the Milkweed Triptych, Necessary Evil

But speaking of copyedits...

One Down, Two To Go

What did I find on my doorstep last Wednesday?  Nothing other than editorial notes AND a copyedited manuscript for Milkweed #1, Bitter Seeds.


Thanks to Worldcon, the copyedits got to me a little later than they normally would have, so I worked like a demon to review everything and FedEx the package back to Tor by tomorrow morning.  I'm amazed (and humbled) by the sharp-eyed work of the copyeditor-- the manuscript is much cleaner and stronger now.  It's somewhat disheartening to see how many typos and infelicities of language can persist after so much time and effort.  And it wasn't until I saw every single instance specially marked for typesetting that I realized just how badly I overuse em-dashes.  (As this paragraph demonstrates.)  I'm like some kind of crazy, out-of-control em-dashing machine.  I also feel guilty about all the umlauts...  Somewhat unavoidable in a World War 2 novel, I suppose, but no less a burden for the copyeditor and typesetters.

The editorial notes showed a similarly keen eye.  Surprisingly (but also gratifyingly) there weren't any major structural notes on the manuscript.  That was a nice surprise.  Especially since by now I am utterly sick of Bitter Seeds, and wholly convinced it is one of the worst novels ever written.  I've read and reread it too many times to believe the manuscript is anything less than a high crime against the English language. 

God only knows how I'll feel about the novel after I've read the galleys.

But, anyway.  If FedEx keeps their end of the deal, the CEM for Bitter Seeds will be back at Tor in time for production to continue as scheduled.  Which means...

ISBNs and Amazon Listings

The hardcover edition of Milkweed #1, Bitter Seeds, is on track for publication on April 13, 2010.

My first novel is slowly becoming more real.  It even has ISBN numbers and an Amazon listing.  Other bookstores should (I hope) follow soon; the novel should be landing in your favorite bookseller's database before too long. 

I was alerted to the ISBN numbers from my friend Kathryn Zimmerman, librarian extraordinaire, who found Bitter Seeds listed in the Books in Print database.

ISBN: 0-7653-2150-5
ISBN13: 978-0-7653-2150-3
EAN: 9780765321503

And in case you missed it, here's the Amazon listing again.  Please feel free to pre-order to your heart's content.

(Addendum, 8/26:  I learned today that Bitter Seeds is included in Tor's Winter 2010 catalog.  Yay!  Another step toward become a Real Book.)

Blurbs and Art

There aren't a ton of things that I can say publicly right now, but I will say that I can't wait to see the cover art for Bitter Seeds.  I got to speak with Irene Gallo briefly in Montreal a couple of weeks ago.  (Irene is the head of Tor's art department.)  What she said has me on edge with giddy anticipation. I'm superstitious, so I won't say anything in public until I've actually seen the artwork.  But I'm pretty happy, and cautiously optimistic.

And I know that a few copies of the manuscript have gone out to  solicit blurbs.  Whether they net any is a separate issue, of course, but I'm still excited to see another part of the process playing out before my eyes. 

Meanwhile, there's nothing I can do but cross my fingers and hope that all the blurbs don't say things like, "This novel is a high crime against the English language."

(Hey, that gives me a contest idea.  I'll be having a few giveaways in the run-up to the publication of Bitter Seeds, so keep your eyes open for a chance to win a signed copy.  And in the meantime, dream up the strangest blurb you can imagine...)



Ty August 25, 2009 at 11:04 am
Can I win a signed copy? Also, "This novel is a crime against the English language" is a great title for a novel. Did they decide to go with my cover idea? A chainmail bikini clad German warrior goddess riding a dragon and carrying Hitler's brain in a jar? If so, I'd like to get some royalties for that.
Ian August 25, 2009 at 5:55 pm
You may in fact be the only contestant. In which case I'd say your chances of winning are very high indeed. I mentioned the "Aryan valkyrie in the chain mail bikini with a swastika tramp stamp carrying Hitler's brain in a jar" idea to Irene Gallo, but I forgot to include the dragon. Which is probably why she didn't seem very excited about it. The dragon would have changed everything.
Shane August 26, 2009 at 11:07 am
I'd like to be a contestant! Now your odds are only 50/50...
Ian August 26, 2009 at 11:15 am
Hey, thanks for stopping by! It's great to hear from you. Hope you're doing well. Right now I'd say the contest -- erm, if there was one right now -- was neck and neck.
TEngland August 31, 2009 at 6:25 pm
A-hem. I seem to remember suggesting items for the cover art, maybe the head in the jar. Not that I'd ever publicly say so.
Ian August 31, 2009 at 10:22 pm
Indeed you did make some excellent suggestions. I seem to recall you were voting for an image of a giant deconstructor mech striding across the English channel, its swastika-shaped claws clacking in anticipation.
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