Started Book 2 of The Osteomancer’s Son. I’ve never written a sequel or a continuation of a series, so this is new territory for me. I do have a basic understanding that I’ll need to pick up unresolved threads from the last book and raise the stakes and up the antes and goose the aunts and uncles or whatever. That last one might not be right. Like I said, this is new territory.
Every now and again I reach a point in the composition of a novel where I have to ask myself the following questions:
1. Is there a beginning, middle, and an end? In other words, is the book complete?
2. Is the book perfect?
3. Can I make the book better?
4. Can I make the book better right now?
5. Is the book due?
If the answers to questions 1 and 5 are yes, and the answer to question 4 is no, then I send the book to my editor and I allow myself to say that I have written a novel.
The Osteomancer’s Son, Book 1, is the fifth novel I’ve written (counting my first, trunk novel). I hope the book is good. I hope my editor thinks it’s good. I hope things from here lead smoothly and steadily to publication, and I hope readers will think it’s good.
Sending a book to your editor is not anything close to the last stage. There’ll be more revisions, and going over copyedits and proofs, and all the crazy things you have to do before a book comes out, and all the things you have to do in order to not go crazy before a books comes out. There’s still work.
I’m yet a young man, and I have a lot of books left in me. But I am not immortal, and I will not write an infinite number of books. So a day in which I send off a completed book will never not be a big deal to me. I’ll have a celebratory drink tonight, and we have dinner reservations at Searsucker for Friday night.
What I want from my life is to love people, to be loved by people, to enjoy a million small moments of pleasure, and to do good work. On these rare, few days like today, I allow myself to feel satisfied with how things are going.
I was sitting on a bench outside the doctor’s office with the dog, and it was just remarkable how many people smiled, cooed, or actually came over to pet the animal. It’s amazing how his simple presence gives total strangers a moment or two of happiness.
He’s too hyper to bring into an old folk’s home or a hospital to cheer up patients — you wouldn’t want a crazy little dog jumping on people and running around in situations like that — but sometimes I wonder if I should just sit with him outside places where people are stressed or sad.
There’s an elderly woman who lives in my neighborhood, and whenever I walk Dozer by her house she comes out and fawns over him. The first time we met her, she thanked me, saying she really needed a pick-me-up, and I could sense from the way she was talking that she was going through a hard time. A few months later, she told me her husband had just passed away. I haven’t walked by her house in a while. I need to make a point of doing that.
I feel good when people react so positively to my dog. I don’t believe any of us was put here for anyone’s particular purpose. I believe we define our own purposes. Dozer’s purpose seems to be bringing people small moments of delight and joy, and it makes me feel good to help Dozer serve his purpose.
I was just asked on Twitter for my eggnog recipe, but it takes a lot more than 140 characters to make eggnog. So, here’s my eggnog recipe:
3/4 cups milk
3/4 cups half-n-half or heavy whipping cream if you like it super-duper thick
2 tbl spoons sugar
nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon, cloves to taste
brown booze (if you’re old enough and you’re into that sort of thing)
beat your eggs
add in other ingredients except for brown booze
stir over heat until it comes to almost a boil
reduce heat drastically and stir for another two or three minutes
strain to remove the inevitable scrambled eggs bits
stir in generous portion of brown booze and refrigerate over night, or stir in brown booze when serving
So I finished a draft of The Osteomancer’s Son (a novel) last week, and then gave it a read-through/tweaking pass, and then sent it off to my agent for feedback, and while I’m waiting for that I’ll be starting another draft so as to make it’s the best book I can make it before my December deadline.
What did I do to celebrate completing a draft? I ate wings. People who’ve known me for a while may assume that I eat wings all the time, as I used to eat wings frequently and blogged about wings a lot. But anymore, I have wings a few times a year, so eating wings is a Big Deal for me. I also celebrated by cleaning the bathroom ceiling, which I do less often than I eat wings.
Anyway, in addition to eating wings this weekend and cleaning the bathroom ceiling this morning, I also worked on a character design for a project that’s not so much a sekrit project as it is one I don’t feel like talking about yet. It’s not under contract or anything. Just something slowly taking shape in my notebook. Here’s a very sneaky peek:
It feels like a did a million and eight things this weekend.
Friday afternoon I visited the Casita Center for Science, Technology, and Math elementary school in Oceanside and faced down 300 third, fourth, and fifth graders with nothing but a microphone, a copy of The Boy at the End of the World, and a PowerPoint slideshow and LCD monitor that rendered all my slides green.
At first the kids’ attire confused me, because a bunch of them were dressed in jeans and white t-shirts and leather jackets, and I don’t keep up with fashion and I wondered if Arthur Fonzarelli was a thing again. Turned out it was 50’s day, which made sense, because we had 50’s days at Linwood E. Howe Elementary, so what was initially strange became suddenly familiar.
I think my favorite moment from the visit happened when I was setting up at the front of the cafeteria and a girl sitting on the floor leaned forward and told me she liked the cover of my book because the boy is brown, like me.
If you do school visits, you probably already know this, but it’s a good idea to have giveaways — bookmarks, post cards, whatever — that you can sign, because you will be swarmed by kids wanting your autograph. On slips of paper. On their binders. Or their backpacks. Or their shirts. Or arms. I ran out of bookmarks and it was scary. But also, of course, really, really funny and sweet.
After the visit, I spent a few hours writing at Starbucks and then grabbed a quick dinner at a corporate restaurant. I always feel safe with the innovative egg roll appetizer product. Having successfully fed, I headed over to the Oeanside B&N for a two-hour signing held in conjunction with a Casita Center fundraiser. The kids had traded their fifties outfits for jammies, and I felt a little like a delicate vase perched in the middle of a slumber party. Chatted with a bunch of the kids and a bunch of parents and signed a bunch of books. Fun.
Saturday, Lisa and I spent the night at a B&B in San Clemente, where we did the things we usually do on trips: walk a lot, eat, and troll bookshops. Found a really good one, where I bought The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell, about King Alfred vs. Danes. So far I’m rooting for the Danes.
Then, Sunday, we broke through the Orange Curtain and headed up to Costa Mesa for the Orange County Children’s Book Festival. I think I read they got 30K attendees? I was on a middle-grade author panel with Gitty Daneshvori, Greg Taylor, Mark Jeffreys, and Helen Stringer. Here’s a short clip:
After the panel, we all signed at the Mysterious Galaxy booth. Here’s a pic of that. It looks like I’ve got the rapt attention of these people. What’s really happening is the little boy is putting a bookmark in my display copy, and the dad is telling him the book’s not his, that it belongs to me, and then he’s trying to drag the kid away without either the book or the bookmark, and the kid is trying to tell him that the book may not be his but the bookmark is.
That’s how it goes.
There was also a petting zoo. I liked the baby goats.
There’re a lot of people who work really hard to get kids reading and to get them excited about books and authors, and I saw a lot of them this weekend: the principal and librarian and teachers at Casita Center, events manager Connie at B&N in Oceanside, the crew at the always awesome Mysterious Galaxy, Robin Hawke and all the staff and volunteers at the OC Children’s Book Festival (including the ladies directing traffic in the parking lot who exuded huge excitement whenever someone pulled in and told them they were an author), and, of course, the kid readers, who treat authors as though we’re much bigger deals than most of us are.
I’m struggling to finish revising my current book, and it’s hard. Weekends like this help.
I’ve got two events this coming weekend. It is strongly advised that you attend both of them. Even if you live at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. Even if you live on the International Space Station. Even if you live inside the Hexagonal Crystal Mall at the center of the Earth. In all these cases, attendance is advised.
On Friday I’ll be at the Oceanside Barnes and Noble, from 6pm – 8pm, in support of the Casita Center for Science, Technology, and Math elementary school. A portion of all proceeds during the signing (and by all I mean not just my books) goes to the school. Details here.
On Sunday I’ll be at the Orange County Children’s Book Festival. Specifically, I’ll be on the Teen & Young Adult stage at 10am for the “In-Be-Tween” panel, with fellow authors, Gitty Daneshvori, Greg Taylor, Helen Stringer, and Mark Jeffreys. After the panel, I’ll be at the Mysterious Galaxy booth if you want to say hello and/or get a book signed. More information about the festival here.
I understand it’s going to be a miserably hot day at the center of the Earth, so I’d encourage you to escape to either or both of these events.
So I’m on several panels at Conjecture (a San Diego science fiction convention) next week. Please come to Conjecture. Please come to all my programming items. Especially my reading. And my autographing. Please cancel any other plans and do this. Please. Thank you.
Panel 1: Fri 9/9 3:00 PM, 60 minutes.
Title: Organic vs. Outlining
Robert Mitchell Evans
Greg van Eekhout
Precis: Some authors write an outline, describing the exact path
their characters and plots will follow. Others start
writing and let their stories flow from their fingertips.
What are the pros and cons of each style, and how do you
determine which one is right for you?
Panel 2: Fri 9/9 5:00 PM, 60 minutes.
Title: Care and Feeding of Writers’ Groups
John W. Oliver
Greg van Eekhout
Precis: When you can’t find the right writers’ group for you, you
may have to start one. How do you find and screen members,
schedule meetings, get copies of the stories to everybody,
and organize the critiquing? There are lots of tools
available online to help you.
Panel 3: Sat 9/10 12 Noon, 60 minutes.
Title: How to Edit Yourself
John W. Oliver
Greg van Eekhout (Moderator)
Precis: You don’t always have access to a critique group, a beta
reader, or an editor. How can you polish your own
manuscript without that kind of help? What tools will let
you look with fresh eyes at text that you already know by
heart, so you can find the flaws?
Panel 4: Sat 9/10 2:00 PM, 60 minutes.
Title: Reading: Greg van Eekhout
Participants: Greg van Eekhout
Precis: I read stuff, I guess?
Panel 5: Sat 9/10 4:00 PM, 60 minutes.
Title: Autographing: Greg van Eekhout
Participants: Greg van Eekhout
Precis: I sit around, looking awkward and lonely unless people come up to get something signed.