Tuesday, March 30, 2010

And it begins...

Sometimes "no" isn't a bad thing.

For example, if one went out on submission in February of 2009 and one had yet to hear any kind of response from those eight editors, then one's agent sent a reminder to those eight editors and discovered that one of the eight no longer even worked for that publishing house, and then one's agent submitted to another six or seven editors in addition to the seven who had had the manuscript for a year...

Well, getting a response—even a no—would be a welcome thing. It may comfort one with the knowledge that one isn't completely delusional about having a manuscript on submission. Perhaps said manuscript wasn't being used as kitty litter or whatever the digital equivalent of kitty litter is, as one had begun to suspect.

It's true, I don't like to wait. But after a year? I'm getting rather good at it. You know what else I'm good at? Handling a pass. One from a publishing house that I'm not really fussed about working with? That's not even a pass, it's more a mutual agreement that we wouldn't be a good fit. (Also, learning to recognize what's a real issue and what's a philosophical difference.)

I'm not going to lie. I went through a phase where I thought I would take any offer, any editor. But that's desperation talking, and it's so not sexy. The idea of having any editor doesn't do it for me. I want the right editor. I want to work with someone whom I can trust not to have ridiculous arguments with me because we have completely incompatible visions of what a book should be.

It's a compliment to know this editor couldn't stop reading the manuscript and enjoyed the narrator and the dynamic between the two main characters. When someone will tell you that, even if they won't say say yes, it means you have something good. Even if they don't like another aspect. Even if they don't offer. You still wrote something they enjoyed. Maybe they didn't adore it, but they liked it—and the right editor will love it.

Had this editor made an offer pending a request for revisions to alter what they didn't like? I would have told them no. (Not that it really matters, as they didn't say they'd look at the manuscript again if I made changes.)

I know who I am. I know what I write. It's different and it's hard to pigeonhole, and that's not going to change. I'm looking for someone who wants to make my manuscript better, not make it into something that it isn't. If that means waiting, then I wait.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

One Book, One Twitter

I love Wired.com. When in doubt for content, I go there and I always find they've got something cool for me to read.

One Book, One Twitter or #1b1t is this nifty brainchild of Jeff Howe@crowdsourcing—who has conceived of trying to get as many people as possible on twitter to participate in all reading the same book at the same time. Like what the city of Seattle's been doing since 1988 or the Canada Reads program CBC sponsors. Except international and in 140 character bursts. Three of the top possible titles thus far? American Gods, 1984, and Fahrenheit 451.

I submitted Cory Docotorow's Little Brother, because it's more relevant to our generation—and way less depressing than Orwell—as well as Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely, because it's an accessible recent fantasy that's readily available in multiple languages.

If you were going to choose one book for all of twitter to read, what would it be? Reply in the comments—or better yet, submit your choice.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Well, it took until nearly the end of March but I finally found my first great book of the year. Which isn't to say that I haven't read a few others that I enjoyed, just that this is the first one I feel the need to encourage everyone I know to read.

Catherine Fisher's Incarceron is one of those ambitious epic stories. However, to Fisher's credit and obvious writing experience, Incarceron never becomes overwhelming. Finn's epic fantasy quest is balanced by Claudia's more intimate Regency-esque plot. On their own, either storyline would make a decent—and very different—novel. Together, they form a brilliant one.

Dual narratives are not easy to do well. Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan stubbornly adhered to its single POV per chapter even after the narratives intersected. This created a very choppy novel by allowing the structure to dictate whose POV we followed. Incarceron is more successful, as the POV follows whom it needs to follow for the sake of the story.

Ironically, my only technical complaint about Incarceron is the few instances where Fisher jumps POV while in a scene. She'll do a paragraph or two with Finn then switch to Claudia. I understand why it's happening—the scene isn't linked to perspective as much as purpose—but it did jar me out of the narrative once or twice. Largely because we're well into the novel before this more omnipotent POV is employed—giving the impression that the structure is alternating limited third person. Thus, my confusion.

I've read that Incarceron has been optioned by Fox; it doesn't surprise me someone wants to do a film adaptation. One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book is the amazing world and it's stunning imagery. There is a forest of metal; stop for a moment and consider how brilliant that is going to look onscreen.

Incarceron draws on everything from Dante to Jane Austen. There's adventure, intrigue, a tiny dash of romance, and lots of chewy philosophy. I emphasis that this is a fantasy novel. In a section overstaturated with paranormal romance, Incarceron is a refreshing find.

This book is all about the cells that we build for ourselves, both psychologically and physically. You're going to be hard-pressed to find a more interesting antagonist than a living prison.

As for the plot? Incarceron could be a long lost Square Enix game. It has those comforting familiarities, but it's different enough to keep you interested. You feel compelled to see it through to the end. I knew a "twist" from about chapter four on—and it didn't get in the way of enjoying the novel. That's a rarity. Usually knowing where a book is headed bores me, but Fisher's vision and method of fully employing her world kept me hooked.

When I wasn't reading Incarceron, I was wondering what would happen next. As a result, I read most of the book in a single day because I didn't want to do anything else. When I reached the end, breathless, all I could think was "there has to be more!"

According to Catherine Fisher's website, there is a sequel called Sapphique. I've gone looking for the UK edition because I can't wait until December to see if Finn has a total identity meltdown and hits things with the Key. (Yes, that was a Kingdom Hearts II reference.)

So go read Incarceron. If you can't get access to the UK edition of Sapphique, the US version is set to drop in late December.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It's not that I don't have anything to say; it's that I don't have anything I want to blog.

When I do, you'll know.

Until then: use twitter.