reader mail

on the vagaries of publishing

bridgette wrote:

I’m just wondering about your little note, stating that from your editor The Endless Forest will not be published until early 2010. Why is that so small of a note on the website but no explanation? I dont mean to be rude but we were all
looking forward to this book, first I heard it was Feburary 2009 that we would see the book, now another year? I check your website everyday and there is absolutely nothing regarding the book, obviously most of the people who come
here are for news on the book. Help us out.

I was surprised, reading this email, that anybody might feel underinformed. I’m always worrying that I go on too long about details, and I certainly have posted enough about Book Six over the last months. Mostly whinging and tearing of hair, but I have tried to provide you all with a basic understanding of what’s going on.

So a couple things.

You can find all posts that mention Book Six by clicking on the appropriate tag: The Endless Forest (Book Six). If you would like to wander around via tags, a cloud of them is to be found in the tabs at the top of the main column.

I have never stated or claimed that the book would be out in February 2009. Bantam may have said so, but publishers are notorious for their wishful thinking.

Book Six was late, something that  I wrote about many times. Missing deadlines is not something I take lightly, but I tried not to provide too much information on my laundry list of personal catastrophes that stretch back over the last two years.

You all  found out that the pub date was December 2009 the same day I did. As soon as I got the note from my editor moving the pub date from December 2009 to early 2010, I put that up here in an obvious spot. I suppose I could have posted about that, but I wasn’t happy about the change, either, and things to say didn’t come to mind beyond: damnit.

But for those who feel underinformed, let me say again: the book is in production. Cover art and endpaper maps are being created. Marketing plans are being laid down.  Copyreaders are sharpening pencils. And: I’ll let you know as things happen.

acknowledgements & you

Quick note: I’ve got a long list of names of peoplewho hang out here who have been encouraging and helpful over the past couple years. I’m going to try to put them all in the acknolwedgements. However, I know I’ll miss names out. So if you think you should be on that list (and you probably should be), please email me. Also, if you KNOW you’re on the list, please email me anyway and let me know how you want to be identified. asdfg: I’m looking at you.

Reader Responses to Sex Scenes

This entry is part 11 of 15 in the series The Art and Craft of Writing Sex Scenes

Susan left a comment on the so-called wall in the sidebar. I really like that wall, because people who otherwise don’t comment seem comfortable leaving notes there. Susan is one such person. She left a comment this evening that I feel I have to respond to, at least briefly, so I’m pulling it up here:

I just finished reading “Into the Wilderness” and was spellbound. Very adventurous as well as historically interesting. I have one comment, however, that I must pass along. Is it necessary to have such graphic sex scenes dotted throughout the book? I found them very distasteful and unnecessary. I found myself skipping pages to get past those parts and disappointed that such a great work must lower itself to vulgarity. Having said that, I did order the next four books from Barnes and Noble and looking forward to continuing the saga.

So, first things first: it is always a wonderful thing to hear that a new reader has found enough to like about one book to read the rest. To Susan and all of you who don’t leave notes, my sincere thanks. Publishing is getting tougher all the time, but the readers make it worth the uphill climb.

Susan raised some concerns on the topic of sex scenes. This is one of those issues that seem to come around in a cyclical fashion. The question gets raised, discussed, and fades away for six months or a year.

To be clear: I am not offended by Susan’s take on this question. That she liked the story enough to continue despite her discomfort with sex scenes is a compliment. But she does ask a question: are sex scenes really necessary? I can only answer that from my own perspective as a reader and writer, so here goes:

When I started out telling Elizabeth’s story, I had an idea of what I wanted to explore. What it was like for her to move from such an ordered and restrictive society as Oakmere to the upper New York state wilderness; how her understanding of herself and human nature would evolve. She thought of herself as a finished piece of work, settled into a very specific identity: a woman whose whole world revolved around philosophical issues having to do with education, specifically the education of young women.

Elizabeth’s story opens up soon after she arrives in Paradise, and it was important to me to consider all aspects of it. That included her discovery of herself as a sexual being.

So I wrote those scenes in the certainty that — if I did my work well — they would contribute to the readers’ understanding of the characters, and move the plot forward at the same time. I personally believe that it’s possible to write sex scenes are not vulgar — at least, as I define that term. Whether or not I achieve that goal — that’s something every reader will decide for him or herself.

happy new year! ask me questions!

I intend to get back into a regular posting schedule, really. It would be great to have someplace to start, so what’s on your mind? Ask me questions, I’ll do my best to answer them.

Also, the Long Dark Episode of DHL (the Horrible) and the Computer may finally be … you know. I can’t say it, something will be sure to go wrong. I have purposefully not been reporting the details because they would make you weep. Weep. Or laugh hysterically. Or both. However. I may actually get the durn thing back by Tuesday. And then I’ll have all my notes and the emails with the addresses about who gets what. Because there are at least five of you waiting for things you won, and you probably are calling me names under your breath even as you read this.

I do apologize for the ongoing delay.

Go ahead, ask me questions.