Monday, November 30, 2015

Editing in Process: Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

Central Station
[not final cover]
In my previous blog post, in which I congratulated Tachyon Publications on their 20th anniversary -- "Still saving the world one good book at a time" -- I mentioned that I had just submitted my seventy-fifth invoice to the publisher. That invoice was for work done on Lavie Tidhar's novel Central Station.

Lavie Tidhar is an Israeli-born writer, who currently resides in London. He won the 2012 World Fantasy Award for best novel for Osama, over Stephen King's 11/22/63 and George R. R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons, among others.

But about Central Station, Tel Aviv:
In North Tel Aviv the Jews lived in their skyrises, and in Jaffa to the South the Arabs had reclaimed their old land by the sea. Here, in between, there were still those people of the land they had called variously Palestine or Israel and whose ancestors had come there as labourers from around the world, from the islands of the Philippines, and from the Sudan, from Nigeria, and from Thailand or China, whose children were born there, and their children’s children, speaking Hebrew and Arabic and Asteroid Pidgin, that near universal language of space.

Central Station delivers a complex, idiosyncratic story, with multiple story lines and multiple points of view: robo-priests, strigoi (data-vampires), robotniks (cyborg ex-Israeli soldiers), enhanced humans, revolutionaries, space colonies -- and weaving through it all, flows the Conversation, the stream of consciousness that connects everyone and everything.

Here's more from the novel:
The word rose like a bubble in her paralysed mind. She was losing the memories, losing her own self, awash in the joy, the unbearable pleasure of the woman’s touch, that current of electricity in the brain as her node was raided, her data sucked away by this...thing that had an ancient, terrible name, a word she once heard her sister use, and her mother shushed her angrily—
Central Station is now available for preorder from Amazon and other booksellers.


I just have to add, for those that may care, that I wrote this blog post while listening to the new 2-CD set Bluenote Café, Performance Series Disc 11 from Neil Young's Archives.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Tachyon Publications Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary

My very first invoice for work done for Tachyon Publications is dated February 19, 2002. In another three months -- and hopefully the publisher will still be sending work to me at that time -- I will have worked for Tachyon Publications for fourteen years. That's a lot of time with one publisher. How many editors out there can say they have done freelance work for the same employer for fourteen (or more) years? How many freelance editors have even had a publisher survive fourteen (or more) years?

My last invoice was number 75, and hopefully I'll be blogging about that project (Lavie Tidhar's Central Station) next. Not all of these 75 invoices were for books, though most were. A few were just for front or back matter that showed up a few weeks after I had completed work on the actual book. One of these days, I'll have to consider a blog post in which I list all the Tachyon projects that I have worked on. There are quite a few award winners among those!

So Tachyon Publications is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year. And they did so marvelously with a party this past Sunday, November 15, at the Park Branch of the San Francisco Public Library. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend (granddaughter babysitting responsibilities), so I wanted to express my congratulations in this manner -- since I was unable to do so in person -- with a blog post.

And what's an anniversary party without a cake! Believe it or not, pictured above is the 20th Anniversary cake: the Tachyon Publications logo -- the rhino at the typewriter. This cake was courtesy of Effie Seiberg, who tweeted and posted to Google+ each step of the baking process. Just for the record, this was a confetti cake, frosted with orange-tinted almond-flavored buttercream, covered in fondant. And, to quote Ms. Seiberg: "Parts of it are painted with a combo of edible luster dust + vodka. The vodka is to dissolve the luster dust to make it a liquid paint (and thus a stronger color than when it's a powder) and because it evaporates faster than water, which would make everything sticky."

I asked Effie if she saved me a piece of cake, but, sadly, it doesn't appear likely. I hope you made it to the Tachyon party and were able to snag a piece of this scrumptious-looking guilty pleasure.

And in addition to the cake, everyone who attended the party received a complimentary chapbook: Charlie Jane Anders's Six Months, Three Days, a Hugo Award-winning novelette. (And Ms. Anders was in attendance at the party as well!)

If you haven't purchased at least one of Tachyon's publications recently -- print or ebook -- well, what are you waiting for? Daryl Gregory's We Are All Completely Fine won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novella just about two weeks ago.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"Old man, look at my life" - Happy Birthday, Neil Young!

My main man, Neil Young
70th birthday, November 12, 2015

Keep on rockin' in the free world!

Now Reading: The Nightmare Stacks by Charles Stross

I'm currently reading The Nightmare Stacks, book #7 in the continuing Laundry Files series by Charles Stross. This in preparation for my working on the novel when the actual physical manuscript arrives within the week from Ace Books. 

I'm reading a MOBI edition using the Kindle for Android app on my Nexus 7 tablet (which just got updated to Android Marshmallow 6.0, for those who care). The author sent me the manuscript as a DOCX file, I then saved it as an RTF file; using Calibre Ebook Management software, I then converted the RTF file to a MOBI file -- and then saved the file in the Kindle folder on my tablet. Works for me!

You can read about my work on the previous Laundry Files novel, The Annihilation Score, in my March 26, 2015, blog post. But as to The Nightmare Stacks, you'll probably have to wait until after the New Year, as the project is due back to Ace Books the beginning of January. (Yes, another set of holidays I must work through, sigh....)

The Nightmare Stacks is due to be published by Ace Books, and Orbit Books in the U.K., in early summer, 2016.

But, ahem, I get to read the novel now.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Editing in Process: The Labyrinth of Flame by Courtney Schafer

Cover art by David Palumbo
The largest project I had worked on in the past year or two was the short story collection Led Astray: The Best of Kelley Armstrong, clocking in at around 148,000 words.[1]

That is, until I worked on The Labyrinth of Flame, book III in Courtney Schafer's The Shattered Sigil Trilogy -- a massive 756 manuscript pages, totaling 219,000 words of wondrous fiction.[2]

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may recall that back in April (April 29, 2015, blog post) I was in the middle of reading the first two volumes of The Shattered Sigil Trilogy -- The Whitefire Crossing and The Tainted City -- in order to get up to speed on the world and characters of Ms. Schafer's trilogy.

Since I read ebook editions of these two volumes I can't speak to their actual length. However, using Calibre Ebook Management software (which I highly recommend), I converted the two MOBI files to RTF files, opened them in MS Word, and have the approximate word counts: 135,000 words for The Whitefire Crossing, and 173,000 words for The Tainted City. That's more than 300,000 words of reading just to prepare myself for this current project.

These first two titles in the trilogy were published by Night Shade Books (prior to its acquisition by Skyhorse Publishing and Start Media[3]), after which Ms. Schafer made the decision to self-publish the final title in the trilogy via a Kickstarter campaign. The Kickstarter was more than fully funded (284% to be exact), unlocking three stretch goals.

Unlike far too many other authors, Courtney Schafer is self-publishing The Labyrinth of Flame properly -- which will be evident to her readers when they receive the finished book: She hired artist David Palumbo for the cover art, the same artist who did the covers for volumes I and II, so that the trilogy's covers would match even though the three books were not from the same publisher. She also hired a developmental editor to review the novel's plot, characterization, setting, etc. I was then hired for a detailed line edit and copy edit. After the author made the content changes I recommended, she then hired another copy editor for a final proof of the novel.

Nothing is more frustrating, at least for me, when I attempt to read -- and inevitably give up on reading -- a self-pubbed novel that has blatant typos and awkward (and often ridiculous) sentence structures. Readers won't find these issues in The Labyrinth of Flame: Courtney Schafer has written and published this novel as the professional that she is, and this volume is the worthy conclusion to The Shattered Sigil Trilogy -- and the harrowing adventures of Kiran, Dev, and Cara.

Those who contributed to the Kickstarter have already received their maps and ebook editions of The Labyrinth of Flame and, according to the author, the print editions are currently in process. In fact, Ms. Schafer shared the book's interior illustrations with readers in her October 29 blog post.

If you didn't get in on the Kickstarter but are interested in the ebook, The Labyrinth of Flame Kindle edition is now available for preorder. Print copies will be available for order on December 1, but Amazon doesn't allow preorders for self-published print editions.

You can read more of The Shattered Sigil Trilogy on the Courtney Schafer website, including sample chapters from all three volumes.


[1] You can read about my work on Kelly Armstrong's Led Astray, from Tachyon Publications, beginning in my August 26, 2015, blog post.

[2] I actually completed work on this project about two and a half months ago, but new, incoming projects have kept me busy.... I'm using the "Editing in Process" tag in order that this blog post will track with my other editing projects.

[3] "For Immediate Release: Skyhorse Publishing and Start Media Acquire Night Shade Books"

Monday, November 9, 2015

World Fantasy Award Winner: Daryl Gregory

We Are All Completely FineIn my February 27, 2014, blog post -- yes, 21 months ago! -- I wrote a bit about my work on Daryl Gregory's novella We Are All Completely Fine. And in that blog post I wrote, and I quote: "...we'll be seeing this sharp-edged story on many awards lists beginning in early 2015."

So, I was extremely pleased, but certainly not surprised, when I learned yesterday that Daryl Gregory had won the 2015 World Fantasy Award for Best Novella for We Are All Completely Fine, from Tachyon Publications.

The complete list of 2015 World Fantasy Award nominees and winners has been posted on the Word Fantasy Convention site.

And let's not forget the other award nominations, and a win, that We Are All Completely Fine has achieved:
Nebula Award nomination
Shirley Jackson Award winner
Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award finalist
Locus Award nominee

Congrats once again to Daryl Gregory, and all the other World Fantasy Award winners and nominees.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Chicon 2000 Card #5 - George Alec Effinger

Card #5
Photo by Ross Pavlac
Back in the day, when I was acquiring and editing for Golden Gryphon Press, I put together three collections of fiction by author George Alec Effinger. Initially, I worked with GAE on the contents of the first book, Budayeen Nights, but he passed away in April 2002, more than a year before this first collection finally saw publication in September 2003. Two more collections followed: George Alec Effinger Live! from Planet Earth (2005) and A Thousand Deaths (2007).

In 2009, I wrote a series of three lengthy blog posts, detailing how these three books came about. Then, in honor of what would have been George's 66th birthday, on January 10, 2013, I republished the series of three blog posts. I am always hopeful that new readers will discover the work of George Alec Effinger.

But what is behind this current blog post is the "card" pictured above: Card #5 in the series of collectible cards produced by the Chicago in 2000 Committee, that is, the Chicon 2000 WorldCon.

Card #5, back
While I was working on the three GAE books for Golden Gryphon Press, I pretty much lived online for days on end trying to find everything and anything pertaining to George Alec Effinger. During my research I learned that he was a die-hard fan of the Cleveland Indians baseball team -- and I also found the card photo above pictured on the Chicon 2000 website.

Knowing what a huge fan of the Cleveland Indians GAE was, I wanted to use the base photo (without the overlaid text) for the dust jacket photo for Live! From Planet Earth. On the Chicon 2000 website, the photographer's name, Ross Pavlac, was linked at the bottom of the page. Sadly, when I clicked on the link, I learned that Ross had passed away in 1997. The obit and appreciations on the page mentioned Ross's wife, Maria Pavlac. Keep in mind this was at least ten years ago, and searching online then wasn't as easy as it is today. Facebook didn't launch until 2004, and Twitter two years later. I don't seem to have any emails on file, but if my memory serves, I did find an email addy for a "Maria Pavlac," whom I contacted, seeking permission to use the GAE photo. Unfortunately, I never received any response, so I may not have had the correct "Maria Pavlac." Regardless, all three Effinger books were published, but no dust jacket included this particular photo.

Now, here it is more than ten years later, and I posted a comment to a Facebook post, and mentioned how I had been searching for the GAE Chicon 2000 card back in the early 2000s, and Steven Silver responds to my comment, telling me to provide him with my mailing address and he'll send me the GAE card. Which I did, and then he did. Not one, but four of the GAE cards!

Though the photo didn't make it onto one of the three GAE collections, I now have -- thanks to the kindness of Steven Silver -- card #5 to add to my George Alec Effinger collection.