Allow me to experience a brief moment of triumph. I have turned in the manuscript for Glamour in Glass. Though I “finished” it back in September, there was an anachronism that was also a major plot point and it had been driving me crazy trying to fix it. Of course, fixing it introduced another complication because that’s how these things go, but finally! it is turned in.
I also turned in the copyedits for Shades of Milk and Honey this week. It was surprisingly painless. Pretty much everything that my dear copyeditor, Deanna Hoak, caught made me wince and nod my head. I don’t think I reversed any of her changes. Whew.
I have been reassured that I am not alone in my reaction. Today a friend pointed out that Shades of Milk and Honey is on Amazon. There’s no cover image yet, but seeing it on the website makes it seem much more concrete.
August 3rd release date, 272 pages. Hardcover.
I went to the bookshelf and pulled down a Tor hardcover (Lamentation by Ken Scholes) and flipped to page 272 just to get a sense of how thick the book would be. Persuasion, by Miss Austen, for the curious, is 288 with introductions.
I just finished Chapter 1 of Glamour in Glassand am starting to dive into Chapter 2. With Shades of Milk and Honey, I posted the first three chapters in the clear as I wrote them and then password protected the rest. All you get today is the first line. Why? Because the third line has an immediate spoiler for Shades.
There are few things in this world which can simultaneously delight and dismay in the same manner as a formal dinner party.
BUT because I loved having you read along as I wrote Shades, I’ll be putting up the chapters in password protected posts. (With editorial permission)
Want the password? All you have to do is contact me. If you remember the password for Shades of Milk and Honey, include that and my email will autorespond with the Glamour in Glass password.
Friday, I turned in the full outline for Glamour in Glass, the sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey. I wrote it differently than I’ve done the outlines for the other novels, which tended to be linear.
This time, I set down the scenes/chapters that I knew had to be there — about fifteen — and then filled in the spaces around them with the pieces that I needed in order to get from point to point. Actually, I think I’ve done that unconciously before in that I’d add things to outlines after I started writing. I expect some flexing will happen with this one too, but it feels more solid than other outlines have.
It might also be a product of writing an outline to make sense to someone besides me. For myself, I only need the line, “Interesting scene with local characters,” to remind myself that for pacing I’ll need a comic scene in a certain place. But it’s almost meaningless to someone else so I fleshed those out.
Granted, one chapter summary does consist of a single word and an exclamation point, but, you know, there still have to be some details I get to discover as I’m writing it.
I feel guilty because I haven’t been posting much lately, but at the same time, life has sort of narrowed down into things that aren’t very interesting. Or, rather, that aren’t very bloggable especially not after the flurry of props and puppetry posts.
Yesterday was fairly low-key, largely because I spent the day hanging out in the kitchen. Maggie would eat a few bites at a time if I was in there, so I hauled a chair in and hooked the computer up. She eventually ate some White Chunk Tuna in oil with a fair bit of enthusiasm and even had some kibble.
Today, mysteriously, she likes the kibble and not the tuna. The ways of ailing kitties are mysterious. The kitchen floor has seven bowls of different food set out to tempt her. It’s a kitty buffet.
My big accomplishment yesterday was finishing the outline for Glamour in Glass, the sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey. With the help of Michael Livingston, I pounded out some details to make them clearer for people who aren’t in my head. You know how it goes. “Interesting scene with local characters” makes total sense to me it’s just, um, not particularly clear to the rest of humanity.
I actually like outlines and at some point will post the two versions of the outline for folks to look at. There’s the one that’s meant for me, and there’s the one that’s “unpacked” to make sense for other people.
I sent the outline off to my wonder-agent, Jennifer Jackson to see what she thinks and spent the rest of the evening hanging out with Maggie and Rob in the kitchen. Today, Maggie seems to be feeling better, so we are alternating between the kitchen and the sofa.
The contract for Shades of Milk and Honey has arrived. I knew it would be thick, but didn’t realize exactly how hefty these things were. Although Jenn had talked me through the terms before the contract arrived, actually having it here made the whole thing just that much more real.
Among other things, I have honest to goodness due dates now. For the curious, Shades of Milk and Honey gets turned in on June 1 and Glamour in Glass (the working title for book two) needs to be completed by January 2, 2010. On the one hand, I panick a little, because that’s not very far away. On the other hand, Shades only took three months to write and another to revise. So I ought to be in good shape. In theory.
I will say, by the way, that anyone contemplating signing a book contract without an agent is playing with fire. My wonder-agent definitely took care of me.
I’ll start with the important stuff. Shades of Milk and Honey, my Jane Austen with magic novel, has sold to Liz Gorinsky at Tor in a two-book deal. My fabulous agent, Jennifer Jackson, and I have been sitting on this news for a little over a week while we worked out details. Hardest thing ever. It was like having a birthday present that I could pick up and shake but not open.
So today, I was sitting in a Thai restaurant with John Scalzi when the phone rang. Normally, I ignore it when I’m on social time, but I had it out because I was on call for the theater. Needless to say, I’m glad that I picked the phone up because Jenn told me the amazing, amazing news that we’ve sold not just one book, but two books. John immediately turned and announced it to everyone in the restaurant and they all clapped. I’m still blushing.
Last week, Jenn called with the initial news while I was frantically mixing disappearing blood for the theater. So I was squealing with excitement while measuring ingredients into a beaker. Then had to run down there without being able to tell anyone. Well… I called my parents, clearly. Here’s what I wrote on the subway after the call.
I’m writing this on the subway on my way to the theater. It’ll be a week or more before you get to read it, but I’m simply bursting. I just got off the phone with my wonderful agent, Jennifer Jackson, who let me know that Liz Gorinsky, at Tor, has made an offer for Shades of Milk and Honey.
There are all these people on the train and I’m surprised that they can’t tell that I’ve just SOLD A NOVEL because I’m glowing. Since it’s still in the offer stage, it’s a secret beyond telling a few friends and family but I want to turn to the man sitting next to me on the train and say, â€œExcuse me. You don’t know me, but I just found out that I’ve sold my first novel and I had to tell someone.â€ Heck, I want to tell EVERYBODY.
I’ve called my parents, of course, but Rob doesn’t know yet, because he’s at work. Tonight is a late night for him, he won’t get off work until three. How in the world am I going to contain myself until he gets home?
ooo… Weeping with joy on the subway would probably be a bad plan. But I’m so thrilled. So very thrilled that I don’t think my vocabulary is large enough to express it. On the other hand, it can be summed up as, â€œI sold my first novel!â€
So a funny thing happened on my way to Wiscon. I mentioned that my flight was oversold and I volunteered to go on a later flight, right? The airline gave me a food voucher so I wandered over to the nearest kiosk. As I was standing in line, a woman said, “Mary Robinette Kowal!”
I turned, in some surprise. She looked familiar, but I couldn’t immediately place her so I cleverly said, “Um… yes!”
“I’m [editor]. I just had lunch with your agent.”
My jaw dropped. She’d spotted my name on my luggage tag as we were standing in line. And this, my friends, is a good reason to have a distinctive name.
We realize that we’d actually met at World Fantasy last year and ridden back on the same train. This time we did not have the same destination, so running into her was totally random. She was on her way with her boyfriend to spend the weekend with his family. And then she said, “Your manuscript is one of the ones in my bag. It’s sort of Jane Austeny, isn’t it?”
“Jane Austen with magic!” I said.
“What could go wrong with that combination?”
“Well, lots of things go wrong. Chaos ensues. And then matrimony.”
So the lessons learned today are:
Volunteer to be bumped
Distinctive name is good.
Have the elevator pitch ready.
I mean, now I’ve got a free round-trip ticket from the airline and had the bonus of making a connection with an editor right before she reads my manuscript. I think that’s worth the price of being late to WisCon.
When I was in high school on the debate team, and then again in college, my coaches emphasized the importance of finding primary sources. My debate partner and I had that particular lesson hammered home when we lost a round because we had relied on a secondary source, a newspaper article. It was reliable, the Wall Street Journal, but our opponents had gone back to the primary source — the study quoted in the article — and was able to produce two different quotes that showed ours was out of context and in fact represented the opposite of what we had presented it as. It was humiliating.
So, when I’m researching now for a show or a story, I’ll follow the bibliography trail back as far as I can trying to find my way back to the primary source. This has lead to everything from realizing that in fact we had picked the wrong sacred tree for a show set in India, to discovering that a historical character in a story had a death in the family during the period I was writing about them. That moment of discovery is wonderful and leads to richer stories.
Now, it’s not always possible to get primary sources, but a whole slew of reliable secondary sources will often do the trick.
But my favorite of all sources is called, “the expert witness.”
For instance: I’ve been trying to find out what fake cherries would have been made out of for millinary purposes. I have a scene in which Jane is trimming a bonnet. It’s a small detail, but I wanted to know. I checked online first, because it’s easy. Then I headed to the library. Loads of stuff on period hats and how they were trimmed, but nothing on what artificial cherries were made of. It was very frustrating.
This meant it was time to contact an expert witness since I had exhausted my other availble avenues. I wrote to Mr. Keith Dansey at Hat Works Museum and explained my question.
He just wrote back and has given me permission to excerpt his answer here.
We do have at least one hat in our display collection trimmed with imitation red currants, not precisely the same fruit, to be sure, and dated 1920 somewhat later than the period you have focused on. These are made of glass and possibly exemplify a millinery tradition encompassing the early 19th century.
Additionally, an 18th century German chemist by the name of J. Strasser developed a method if making imitation gems from â€˜pasteâ€™ which is a lead glass compound. Possibly imitation fruits might be made from this. On the basis of this flimsy evidence, my money would be on some kind of glass. Other malleable materials, say, wax or plaster present with obvious problems.
His flimsy evidence beats anything else I’ve got. So now, not only do I have my answer for the scene I’m writing, I have a great detail for a later scene in which the hat reappears. It gets thrown to the ground on a marble floor. I’ve got glass cherries on it. Making a cherry crack on impact is the perfect accent to the emotion of the moment. I’m delighted on so many levels.
The post labled, “The Bride Replete” is about half of my current story in progress. I wanted to show it to some folks who were helping with my chemistry question to give them some context, so I posted it password protected. If you were reading Shades of Milk and Honey, it uses the same password as that.
If you are curious, I’m happy to give you the password, but realize that it is raw text and cuts off mid-sentence.
I just finished Shades of Milk and Honey. I’ll let it sit for a bit before starting the revisions. And for those of you who have been reading along, I’ll post a chapter a day for you. Thanks for reading along!
So, I’ve added two new things to the website, plus some back end and minor revamping. First, you might notice little “Share This” buttons at the bottom of posts. These are for those of you who use things like technorati or like to email articles to other folks. I think they are fairly self explanatory once you click on them.
The other is that I can now group posts in a series, for instance, my Shades of Milk and Honey posts are all collected together now. At the end of each chapter, you’ll see a table of contents showing all the other chapters. Handy, eh? (By the way, While I was at it, I un-protected the first three chapters. If you want to read the rest, it’s not too late to ask me for the password.)
Are there any other things that you really wish the site had or did?
(Tor Books — August 21, 2018) Continuing the grand sweep of alternate history laid out in The Calculating Stars, The Fated Sky looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well-established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars. Of course, the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, […]