I’ve shown you pieces, I’ve shown you snippets, I’ve teased you. (Okay, if you’ve gone to the actual book page, or Amazon or something, I’ve shown you the cover. Look, I’m a novelist, not a publicist.) But now for the first time here, in glorious full size, is the cover for The Reefs of Time!
I think it’s pretty cool, and I hope you do, too. The artist, Chris Howard, was once a student in a writing workshop Craig Gardner and I ran, and now he’s not only an accomplished writer, but an accomplished artist, also. He did the covers for The Infinite Sea and Seas of Ernathe, as well. Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff has done the type for the majority of my ebooks.
(Hey Jeff! C’mon, these blogs posts don’t write themselves, you know. Tell the people! You’ve got a book on special!)
(Right. Here goes…)
Leader: Hey, all—have I got a special for you!
People: How big a special? What’s a special?
Leader: Really big! A special is when I take a really big book—say, f’r’example, an omnibus edition of Three Really Big Novels, All In One—and I set the price way down, for a limited time only. That’s a special. I’ve got one of those.
People: Ooh. We like specials. Tell us more!
Leader: Ask, and you will receive. I’ve got the first half of The Chaos Chronicles, aka The Chaos Chronicles: Books 1-3, marked down to just $1.99!
People: Is that cheap?
Leader: Is it ever! That’s the cost of… of… well, a chocolate chip cookie, in some places. Or a kiddie-sized espresso shared among three people, in others. Yes, it’s cheap.
People:Why would you do that? Hey! Are you trying to sell us something else? Is this a LOSS LEADER? Are you trying to get everyone HOOKED on this series, so they’ll go on and buy the next book, Sunborn (which you just happen to have just released in your own edition)? And then they’ll go on to scoop up the rest of your books, and maybe even PREORDER your new, forthcoming, long-awaited chapter, THE REEFS OF TIME? Is that what you’re trying to do? Come clean!
Leader: Um. Yeh.
So, yeah. Here it is, and if you don’t already own it, I hope you’ll get it. And if you do already own it, I really hope you’ll recommend it to a friend, or several. Or even write a review!
This is a Bookbub special, and it will be repromoted on a number of other sites in the coming days. Yes, I’m really trying to make people want to buy the new book, as you can see! And I sure could use your help!
By the way, my first newsletter will be going out on Monday! It’s not too late to sign up!
Like a runaway freight train. I haven’t posted in a while, and that’s because I’ve been busier than a one-armed steam-locomotive engineer without a fireman, boosting this project toward launch date!
The editing is all done, and both books are out with a colleague for proofreading. The cover for Reefs is done. Preorder buttons are starting to appear. The website is updated (for Reefs, not yet for Crucible.) A newsletter announcement with an excerpt from the beginning of the book is in prep (going out soon!). I’ve submitted advance ebook copies (eARCs) to Publishers Weekly and other review sites, and queried some more. I have not yet seen Avengers: Endgame. This thing is really happening!
Here’s the long and the short of it:
The Reefs of Time (Part 1 of the “Out of Time” sequence) is scheduled for launch on July 23, 2019. Simultaneous ebook, trade paperback, and hardcover. Prices TBD, except that during the preorder period, the ebook is discounted to $6.99.
Crucible of Time (Part 2 of the “Out of Time” sequence) is scheduled for launch on September 10, 2019. Pricing similar. Not yet out for preorder. (The cover is still being developed.)
More news to come. I’m excited! I hope you are, too!
Or in the case of this book, too much time. For you to be waiting, that is.
Here it is: I’m publishing The Reefs of Time in two volumes—two months apart—in both ebook and print.* I’m aiming for July and September. Yes, of this year, wise guy. I want to promote the launch of the first one at worldcon. Each volume will be heftier than any of the other Chaos books except Sunborn. Taken together, they’ll mass something just shy of a neutron star, or maybe a quantum black hole.
Okay, that could be an exaggeration. But I do hope they’ll suck you in, heh-heh.
I have a mountain of work to do to prepare for this. But today I want to talk about titles. Specifically, the title of the second book.
My first thought was, The Reefs of Time (Vol. 1) and The Reefs of Time (Vol. 2). But that doesn’t work, because it’s already Volume 5 (and 6) of The Chaos Chronicles and the potential for confusion was endless. So I started noodling around titles for the second part. Until a few days ago, I thought it was going to be:
The Reefs of Time (and) A Triumph of Time
But then I had an epiphany. How about this, instead:
The Reefs of Time (and) Crucible of Time
I actually like both. But I think “crucible” sounds more dangerous. Riskier. Anything can happen.
What do you think? I’m inviting comments, or even alternative suggestions!
*In case you missed it, these are no longer going to be published by Tor. I am publishing them under my own Starstream Publications imprint, in cooperation with Book View Café.
Grab a partner and hold tight!The Reefs of Time have taken a sharp left turn. My long-time publisher, Tor Books, has declined to publish it, sight unseen.* This came as something of a shock. The reason given is that it’s been too long since the last book—which is certainly true.
Fear not—the project is not grounded! But it has changed direction abruptly. I will publish it through my own imprint, Starstream Publications, in cooperation with Book View Café. While at first glance this seems like a setback, I choose to regard it as a blessing and an opportunity. I’ll get the rights back to the earlier material, and can now control the entire series, top to bottom. And I can publish the new work the way I want.
It does mean I have a lot of work cut out for me, and I don’t just mean publishing Reefs. Before the new book can come out, I need to have all the first four books available in new print editions, so that new readers can start at the beginning and read the whole story. These books are already available in ebook, but many people still prefer print. And then, of course, I need to do all the production of ebook and print book on the new novel—including cover design.
I have hired an assistant for the promotional efforts. I have called on artist and writer Chris Howard, who has already done two covers for me, to outdo himself. Various of my colleagues, both in and out of Book View Café, have stepped forward with offers of help. It’s been amazing, really. Still others have offered strong encouragement, including some terrific authors who have been dropped by traditional publishing and gone on to do exactly what I’m doing, and done quite well at it.
This all happened suddenly, and it’s too soon to have a realistic time frame sketched out. But my goal is to have the new work out in time for the World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin, in August.
Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!
*This might seem odd, since I’ve been working on the book with my editor for about eight months. But he’s working on a consulting basis for Tor, and it was only when the books were ready to go into production in-house that the editorial oversight team at Tor said no. I’m not taking it personally; in fact, they’re settling graciously, and unlike many authors I’ve known in similar positions, I’m getting all my rights back without a fight. It’s an amicable divorce. There are no hard feelings on my part.
It’s been quite a while since I posted anything about the book. The reason is that the editorial process has been excruciatingly slow, and it’s not done yet—though I’m done with my revisions, at least for now. For reasons I’m not going to get into, the work process on this book is unusual, and the primary editing has been handled by an editor not on staff at the publishing house. Now it goes to an in-house editor, and that may entail more work; I don’t know yet.
The long and the short of it is, I don’t have a publication date yet. I think it’s likely to be published in two volumes, hopefully close together. But I don’t know that for certain, either.
Do I hear you groaning? Oh, me too! Me too! In fact, your groan is just an echo of my own! But I’ll post more info when I have it. Please keep hanging in there with me! I can’t do this without all of you behind me!
Lest you think that veteran (i.e., experienced, tempered, refined—don’t say old!) writers are immune to beginning writer mistakes, all I can say is, think again. It’s confession time here in the Star Rigger foundries, where we labor 24/7 converting raw words into story for our ravenous audience. I’m going to share some revealing facts.
My editor, in the course of a long email full of editorial suggestions, helpfully provided me with a list of words and phrases I used too often. Now, all writers have verbal tics—that is to say words and expressions that they use habitually, without even noticing. Turns out, I have my fair share. And with my editor’s list in hand, I used the Find functions in Scrivener and Word to, er, find them and see if I could root some out. Turns out I could—by deleting, by using other words, by recrafting sentences (usually making them stronger in the process). Here’s part of the list, followed by the number of times I used the expression initially (in the 268,000-word book), and then the number after I’d gone through and cleaned things up:
indeed 50 / 14
very 323 / 96
draw(n, ing) 68 / 28
drew 89 / 29
further 76 / 27
farther 31 / 43 (some furthers got corrected to farthers)
clench(ed) 27 / 7
knot(ted) 25 / 9
. And 546 / 209
Did I really use “very” that many times?? Turns out I did. Usually in phrases like “very much want to…” And the last one, in case it’s not clear, is sentences starting with “And”—not unlike this one. Sometimes that’s a very—um, an effective usage. Other times, it’s just lazy habit. I still haven’t gone through and looked for excessive em-dashes—or ellipses… but I will.
I spent literally days of the most tedious editing imaginable doing this. But it was necessary, and you will all be happier for it when you read the story, though if I did my job right, you will never notice.
Most of this happened when I was in Florida helping my brother. I was intending on my flight home to sprinkle all the deleted very’s and And’s and clenched fists out the window as bread crumbs for the birds and the fish below; but alas, I did not get a window seat. I’ll sell them to you for cheap.
Now that I have The Reefs of Time revised to the point that I can send it to my publisher, the time has come to face the question of whether I have written one book or two. At 268,000 words, it is the length of two substantial novels. Before I get into the marketing and art questions, I’d like to ask you readers: Which would you rather see? One big, honking book at a higher price (and probably with small print in the paper version), or two reasonably priced and sized volumes with a cliffhanger and probably a year’s wait between the two?
Do you have a preference? Sound off in comments. The question is open to the floor!
For comparison, the standard length of an SF novel used to be, oh, 60-90,000 words. But it’s grown over the years. Here are rough word counts of some of my other novels:
On the other hand, GRRM’s A Game of Thrones is 284-298,000 words, depending on whom you quote.
The Chaos Chronicles was originally supposed to be a long story arc told over a series of short-to-medium novels, each of them pretty self-contained and written quickly (hrrm). By the time I wrote Sunborn, that plan was reeling toward the open window. With Reefs, well…
From a publishing perspective, there are many good reasons to split the book, and, hell, maybe earn some money on the project. From a storytelling perspective, it would be a sea change for the series—a single story, broken in two. Not unlike many TV programs nowadays. Or, um, the Avengers movies. In books, think Connie Willis’s Blackout and All Clear.
Drum roll, please! The End Times have arrived! The End Times! The End of waiting for me to finish The Reefs of Time.
Yes, I have reached the end! The Reefs of Time is substantially DONE. That’s right—I’ve finished the major rewrite of the 268,000 word manuscript! Most of those words, I now believe, are the right words, and in the right order. That works out to about 1327 manuscript pages in Courier New, with two spaces after many periods, and one space after others, because habits die hard.
Ten years in the works, this novel has been through the fermenter, the extractor, the refractors, the distillers, the boilers, the oven, and aged in camphor-wood in the cellar. Here’s what the manuscript looks like, with its tired but happy progenitor.
[CUE “cheers” and more “cheers,” and maybe a few “huzzahs”!]
“But wait!” you say. “Is that some kind of weasel wording, ‘substantially done’? What are you trying to pull here?”
Really, I’m not trying to pull anything. Over the next week or so, I’ll be cleaning up some edits I’ve made notes to myself about, and responding to final suggestions from my stalwart (if annoyingly discerning) writing group. And then off it goes to the editor.
The editor will edit, and I’ll do a polish pass over the whole thing as I respond to his editorial suggestions. And after that? Why, you get to read it! At last, at long last!
This is only going to run for a couple of days, so look sharp! As Bookbub readers already know, I’ve marked down The Chaos Chronicles, Books 1-3, to the ridiculously low price of $1.99 in all major ebook stores! That’s three full novels in collector-quality DRM-free ebook binding for less than the price of a decent chocolate bar!
Neptune Crossing, Strange Attractors, and The Infinite Sea, all in one volume. It would make a terrific Christmas, Hanukah, or Solstice present for that e-reading loved one!
(This omni edition is regularly $8.99, which is already a supersaver price for what we all hope will soon come to the screen as an HBO miniseries! Or maybe SyFy.com! Or Netflix Original! Or Amazon Prime! Or one of those, for goodness’ sake. Come on, all you producers hungry for new material. What are you waiting for? Make an offer!)
This really will end soon, so don’t wait. And please, if you like it, consider posting an unbiased review at Amazon, or Goodreads, or any of the other stores! You have no idea how important those reviews can be. Thanks in advance!
Call this my White Sunday sale. (Get it: White? Snow? Clever, no?)
Update: I’m happy to say that this sale is going very well! Thanks to everyone who bought a copy or passed on the word!