The Process: Fiction Novels

the centaur in a coffeehouse
Recently I commented on Facebook that I was working with editors on Frost Moon and a friend asked:

“I’ve always been curious about this process. Generally speaking, what kind of changes are they asking you to make?”

Well, my writing process involves many, many drafts before it ever hits the editors, so the changes are generally minor. I write large chunks of everything I write in a writing group, reading sections aloud and making corrections before the first draft is ever finished. I then print out the first draft, read it myself, and make corrections to produce a second draft, which I give to trusted “beta readers”. Some of my beta readers give me very detailed comments, almost copyediting, so the “gamma release” that I send to the publishers is pretty polished.

However, the editors have an eye for the market and audience, and will generally ask to tighten things up. At Bell Bridge Books, you work with an editor who first tackles theme, plot and logic – in Frost Moon, she asked me to reduce the emphasis on the romance in a few places, to improve the clarity of the action, and to clear out some of the deadwood; in response to these changes I send them a revised draft. For Frost Moon, the same editor then did a closer edit with some suggested changes right in the text using Microsoft Word’s track changes feature, focusing on on general style to sand off the rough edges – intensifying some scenes while muting others to make them more realistic. I tweaked these changes, she approved them, and then I sent them a cleaned up copy with all formatting and Track Changes removed – a “final author’s draft”.

From then on the editing of the document is in the hands of the publisher, so they know what changes are happening to the text. This goes through several stages. First was a “line edit” where a new editor looks at the sentence structure for clarity. That’s what we’re doing now through an email exchange and I have to say it’s been a pleasant and professional process. Next up is a “copy edit” where a third editor specifically looks for errors that the I and the other two editors have missed. In parallel with the whole editing process they’re also putting together the bio, acknowledgments, cover art, cover text, frontispiece, etc., usually generating the materials themselves but occasionally asking me for input or text or images (like the author’s headshot above). Finally there will be “galley proofs” where we all look at a quasi-finished document for anything that looks wrong.

And once we’re all happy with that … then that will be it.

-the Centaur

Pictured: me, in Atlanta Bread Company, as taken by Bolot Kerimbaev at the time of this post. This will most likely be my author’s picture on the back of Frost Moon

I’m very depressed…

… I researched the Blogger issue. Three, maybe four of the blogs I manage will work well with the new system.

This one, the one I post on the most, won’t. And there’s no good workaround yet, though I am looking into it.


I’m pretty sure I *can* do this – keep the Library of Dresan site completely static HTML pages so that there’s no software on it to hack – but the existing FTP blogging clients seem pretty niche. And using WordPress or MovableType in this mode will, as I understand it, require that I set up WordPress on my laptop or desktop and write some software to rewrite the files and FTP them up to the site. You know, the feature Blogger handled automatically for me.


-the Centaur

Blogger FAIL

Blogger is discontinuing FTP:

In evaluating the investment needed to continue supporting FTP, we have decided that we could not justify diverting further engineering resources away from building new features for all users. For that reason, we are announcing today that we will no longer support FTP publishing in Blogger after March 26, 2010. We realize that this will not necessarily be welcome news for some users, and we are committed to making the transition as seamless as possible.

Looks like it’s time to find a new blogging provider.

-the Centaur

Sooooo gooood….

Old Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City. Get the “naked lobster roll”, that’s all I’m saying. Full review later.

Lovecraft on Youtube

Yes, it’s apparently a hoax. But a good hoax:

There, in what appeared to be a 30s-era newsreel, was H.P. Lovecraft, uncomfortable and uneasy, gaunt and pasty, speaking in an educated 19th century New England accent, displaying socially awkward mannerisms, and sitting at a desk talking about his work. I’d read a lot about Lovecraft, and had never heard any mention of him ever having been filmed, but the illusion was so well done, that it had me thinking, just for a second, that somebody had dug up some long-lost footage of Lovecraft. It is part of this attention to detail, for example the use of material drawn directly from Lovecraft’s voluminous body of letters in the newsreel monologue that really places this portion of the film a cut above.

It sure sounded like him. That’s because the words were by him.

-the Centaur

How quickly can lava burn through your shoe?

Not fast enough:

There was a case a few years ago where a geologist accidentally stepped into some lava. The nylon laces of his boots burned off almost instantly but the thick leather did not, and he had only minor burns on his foot. After that we all made sure that we only wear real leather boots out on active flows, not the lightweight part-nylon kind.

Revenge of the Sith, it ain’t. Still, I’m not swimming in it.

-the Centaur

UPDATE: Reading around a bit on the site, it turns out if you aren’t wearing one of those metal bunny suits you can catch on fire from radiant heat, so Revenge of the Sith, it is.

Hey, *my* birthday is coming up *too*…

… you might think about this:

Space shuttle for sale, fully loaded, air conditioning, one careful owner. It’s the ultimate bargain. NASA has cut the price of a space shuttle to $28.8 million. The vehicles will go on sale after they finish constructing the International Space Station, scheduled to be later this year.

I take no credit for the “my birthday is coming up” joke, which I stole shamelessly from my coworker Othar Hansson.
-the Centaur

The RTS That Would Not Die

starcraft at christmas

Over the Christmas holidays I and my friends like to play some kind of cooperative computer game. The realtime strategy game (RTS) Starcraft is our current favorite, though Left For Dead 2 is nipping fast at its heels. This Christmas, I went into a Best Buy, and idly checked to see if it was still for sale. As I expected, it was. But still, this shocked me:

starcraft is still 19.99

In case you don’t get the point, it’s an eleven year old computer game – and it still sells for19.99. Even, as of this blogging, on Amazon. That’s eleven million copies – a million a year – at $20 bucks or more a pop, for a total of two hundred and twenty million dollars. I’m sure that copies sold for more or less, but counting all the related media, you’re talking a quarter billion dollar franchise.

starcraft ten year anniversary game

If you’ve ever played it seriously, you know why.

-the Centaur