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December Update

A cold morning, the sky almost white between the trees at dawn, trying to type with a big Siamese cat curled up in my lap and a black kitten prowling on the desk while my daughter watches Mamma Mia in the background -- I hope your December is beautiful!

So here's what I'm up to, along with some thoughts on revising The General's Mistress.



I'm waiting on the line edits for The General's Mistress, the first of my Wars of Revolution books. I've already done the serious edits, including taking out 13,000 words to get it down to a reasonable price point. One of the things about paper books is that of course the bigger the book the more it costs to print and ship, and therefore the higher the shelf price. In order to keep it to a price of $14.99 in trade paperback it can't really do much more than edge over 400 pages, so I needed to cut enough to get it down to about 400 pages. This was hard, as it was a pretty lean book as it was and just slightly bigger than Black Ships. But I cut out a couple of flashback sections which I think will eventually reappear in later books, along with some introduction and exposition near the beginning. I actually like the effect -- it dumps the reader into the middle of the action. Who is this woman? Why is she doing this? It lets the narrator be a little more mysterious to the reader. Which works because this is a more familiar world.

In the three ancient world books the narrator had to be the reader's window into the world, a world as different from the modern world as any created universe or fantasy novel. In a sense, the narrator needed to be transparent and trustworthy. After all, just about everything the reader knows about Gull's world they know through Gull. The number of readers familiar with Hittite Millawanda is really small! But this is a different situation. Most readers are somewhat familiar with the end of the 18th century in Europe. Most readers can find the French Revolution. They've read Pride and Prejudice or seen Master and Commander. They've heard Les Mis or read Jane Eyre or seen Vanity Fair and they've heard of Napoleon. They can imagine the world much more easily. They've seen a dress like that on Keira Knightley!

This means that the narrator can be more opaque. She can be more flawed. Elza's perceptions of the world are not always right, and she doesn't know or understand everything going on around her. She's nineteen when the book opens, young, impulsive, quick tempered and passionate, and she doesn't always understand other people's motives very well. The reader may suspect more than she does. Does Victor love her? Is Therese playing her for a fool? Why has Michel come to see her? The reader may understand what's going on better than the narrator sometimes.

So some of the set up, which was so necessary to the ancient world books, isn't as needed in The General's Mistress. The reader can get there in terms of setting, and in terms of Elza's motives and background I think it's better for the reader to know a little less, to uncover her a little more gradually. In sort, the cuts are accomplished and I think they work! The General's Mistress is now slightly shorter than Black Ships, and also affordable in paper! (Which I must say is one lovely thing about the ebook revolution. I'm looking forward to a time when the constraints of the production of the physical book don't limit me!)

In other projects, I'm happy to announce that Crossroad Press will be doing an audio book version of The Ravens of Falkenau! Ravens has done extremely well, and I hope that those of you who enjoy audio books will like Ravens.

As you probably know, the third book of the Legacy series, Allegiance, is out in ebook and the paperback is supposed to be ready this coming Friday! That means that my book, The Avengers, is next! Currently the plan is that it will be out in March, but that of course is pending everything moving smoothly through the process at MGM. This is Teyla's book with the B plot being Sam Carter's, and it turned into the women kick butt book. The working title was Three Queens! Also there is a ton of Wraith and quite a bit of John, so all in all a lot of fun for me with my favorite things.

Behind it in the queue is Secrets, which is finished and back to us for first edits, The Inheritors, which we've just started on, and the SG-1 book Moebius Squared, which is finished and waiting for its turn at MGM.

Meanwhile, the second and third books of the Wars of Revolution are finished, The Emperor's Companion and The Marshal's Lover. Hopefully they'll follow The General's Mistress into publication. If The General's Mistress is the story of how Elza left a respectable life for the demi-monde and the baggage train, The Emperor's Companion is the story of how she took charge of that life and came into her own as oracle and companion. The Marshal's Lover is the story of what she did with it and how her decisions not only changed her own life, but the course of history.

I have pieces of the fourth book, but I haven't started seriously writing it and putting the pieces together yet. There is one long thirty thousand word section of the Russian campaign, but that goes near the end of the book and the part before it isn't ready. I wrote that section ten years ago. Readers who have read Stealing Fire may be interested that it was written before Lydias, and so Lydias' "flash forward" scenes are to scenes in that book which was actually done years earlier! In those sections we'll get the other half of that story, the scenes that Lydias saw. That's also where I originally had the flashback to the flood in Gedrosia that I moved into Stealing Fire as Lydias' flashback.

Anyway, please feel free to ask me anything about any of the various books, or about writing in general! I hope you all have a wonderful month.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
gilraen2
Dec. 3rd, 2011 01:02 pm (UTC)
Jo, have you ever read Lavinia by Ursula LeGuin? I'm just finishing it up and it seems very "numinous" in the fashion of your earlier historicals. You might enjoy it.

Edited at 2011-12-03 01:03 pm (UTC)
jo_graham
Dec. 3rd, 2011 01:34 pm (UTC)
I haven't! It came out the same month as Black Ships and I was utterly dismayed that I had managed to write my first published novel on the same topic as Ursula LeGuin and have the books come out the same month. It's like suddenly realizing that I'm playing basketball with Michael Jordan! So I deliberately didn't read Lavinia as I didn't think I could stand at that moment to see how someone I had first read when I was twelve had done all the same things better. Perhaps I'll read it now.
chiliarch
Dec. 5th, 2011 02:52 pm (UTC)
I enjoy audiobooks very much, especially Homer's The Iliad. Hearing a book read out adds a whole new dimension to it, so I shall look forward to hearing Ravens of Falkenau. Who will be reading it?
jo_graham
Dec. 6th, 2011 07:38 pm (UTC)
Her name is Arika Escalona. I think she sounds great -- very flexible, as works with the variety of narrators of the different stories.
niangao
Dec. 7th, 2011 05:28 pm (UTC)
Really happy to hear about the audiobook of Ravens of Falkenau! Do you have an estimate as to when this will be released yet? And is there any chance your novels will see the audiobook treatment?
jo_graham
Dec. 8th, 2011 01:00 pm (UTC)
I don't have a firm date for the release of Ravens in audiobook. It's just going into recording, so I imagine it will be January or February.

There is an audiobook of Black Ships! It was done by Orbit UK, and it's hard to find in the US but it does exist. Here it is available as an audible download from Orbit UK -- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Ships-Unabridged/dp/B002SQ1TB8/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1323349141&sr=8-5

I've been talking with Crossroad Press about doing an audiobook of Hand of Isis, and I have my fingers crossed that it will happen! If so I think it will be late spring or early summer. I really hope it does!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )