Tomorrow morning at a little after seven in the morning I will be getting on a plane and a couple hours later getting off it at Reagan International Airport in Washington D.C. As president of the Missouri Center for the Book I’ll be attending the National Book Festival this weekend. The following weekend, I’ll be back in town at The Big Read in downtown Clayton Missouri, also with the MCB.
I thought I’d take a few moments here to let you (my hidden and presumed Reader) know what’s been going on. At least two people who have signed the new Guestbook asked about future book projects, so…
Right at the moment, Nothing Is Happening.
Let me explain. In 2003, Peace & Memory came out from Meisha Merlin Publishing, the third in my Secantis Sequence. No, there’s no link to Meisha Merlin. They no longer exist, at least not as a viable publishing company. A part of them is still putting out the Virginia Edition of the Heinlein Collection, but for all intents and purposes Meisha Merlin is defunct. I have reacquired all the rights to the three novels of mine they published, which include Compass Reach, Metal of Night, and the aforementioned Peace & Memory.
In 2004, ibooks, the publishing arm of Byron Preiss Visual Publications, released a media tie-in I wrote, a Terminator 2 novel called Hour of the Wolf. After that, I began some talks with the company for any number of new projects—a new Asimovian robot novel, a novel or two in The Prisoner series, other ideas. Byron Preiss died in 2005. My editor there (though he had gone freelance by then) Steve Roman called me on a Sunday to tell me and I thought for a few seconds that it was a joke, but no, Byron had been struck and killed in his car by a bus on Long Island. The company limped on for a few months, but finally shut down.
This was shortly after my last novel, Remains, came out from BenBella Publishing.
Remains is my favorite novel to date. I worked very hard on it and I had excellent editorial help at BenBella. It was shortlisted for the James Tiptree Jr. Award, which precipitated a visit to WisCon, a convention I had always intended going to but till then had never gotten a chance.
With the publication, also in 2005 of Of Stars & Shadows, a novella packaged as a double from Yard Dog Press, the year closed with what I considered my tenth book. Ten novels, all published since 2000. That and the 55 or so short stories constitutes a career. That’s a lot of work, a lot of words, and I am very proud of it all.
Like other aspects of the entertainment industry, though, you are only as viable as your current or next project. So what’s been happening?
I’ve been writing and searching for a new publisher. I joined the Missouri Center for the Book in 2002 and in 2005 they elected me president. I’ve been working part time at a fading job as a lab tech (photographic).
I’ve been trying to figure out what to do next.
The vicisitudes of the publishing industry are daunting and byzantine enough that one need not attribute malice to anyone or anything to explain problems. It’s big and complex and things Just Happen.
So. Here’s what I’ve been working on.
There likely won’t be anymore robot novels. With the demise of Byron Preiss, that franchise has been all but shut down. Should the opportunity ever arise for me to revisit the three novels I wrote in Asimov’s vast and accommodating sand box, I shall be glad to.
There is a fourth Secantis novel currently knocking on doors, looking for a home. I have plans for at least two more.
I wrote an alternate history, the first volume of what I hope will be a trilogy, which is also trying to find room at the inn.
I am working on a quite different science fiction novel (apart from the Secantis Sequence) and just sent the first third to my agent with a synopsis.
Because of the alternate history, my interest turned to a more or less straight historical idea, and I am working on it. I have a full draft of it, which now needs rewriting. Since it is a “straight” historical, a genre I’m not used to working in, it will require more revision than I expected. Some time in the spring, it ought to be ready.
Interestingly and annoyingly, my short fiction production has gone right down the drain. I had a short story published in the program book for this past NaSFic (Tuckercon) and now and then I get a notion and start, in anticipation and hope, a new short story, but I’ve been doing novels steadily since 1999 and I’m having trouble shrinking my efforts down to such a small package.
Back in May I was a guest at the annual Missouri Writers’ Guild conference and I gave an address and taught a workshop. I discovered that I loved it. So I’m open now to doing workshops and certainly to lecturing. Soon I’ll have contact information here on the website for anyone wanting to discuss that with me.
So that’s what I’ve been doing. I thought it was time to update the website and with that in mind I found a new webmaster who has done a marvelous job. At his suggestion I’ve decided to use the Distal Muse as a kind of blog. I do blog at two other sites, mentioned in the Bio, so I may reserve this for news and occasional long rambles like the previous piece on YES.
You might wonder at my state of mind after reading this. Let’s just say I’m optimistic. I’ll be 53 soon. I’ve been working at 110% for a long time and it’s taken a toll, but nothing a six month long vacation wouldn’t cure completely.
Anyway, when I get back from Washington D.C. I’ll have a few remarks. Till then…