This week’s interview is with Mia Hansson. I first met Mia when she and her husband came over from England to do a Vikings re-enactment event. A few years later, they graciously allowed me to use their house as a base as I roamed around to places like York, Shrewsbury, Portsmouth, and wherever else the train decided to take me.
But she’s not simply a great person, she’s incredibly skilled too. She’s also, like so many doing re-enactment, an overachiever. The Bayeux Tapestry is not a small thing. It’s 20 inches by 230 feet! That’s like a receiver catching a 76 yard pass! No one would be brave enough to embroider a full-sized replica would they? Well, here’s Mia…
Interview: Mia Hansson
What is your quest?
I have given myself 10 years to make a full scale replica of the Bayeux tapestry, the way I believe it may have looked when it was first created, before any repair work was required. I was alerted to someone’s attempt to make a half scale version and decided that I wanted to make a tapestry too. However, if you are going to make something like this, it needs to be done properly. I’m now 2 years and 9 months into the project and I have completed over 17 m, which means I have less than 52 m left to embroider.
At a museum in Reading, UK is a replica made in the 1800s by the Leek Embroidery Society. That version was censored. Stallions turned into mares and nude men are wearing underpants. My tapestry will be true to the original, which can be seen at the Bayeux tapestry museum in northern France.
Alongside the embroidery, I’m writing a book in which I try to capture thoughts and ideas, as well as experiences that come with the project. I hope to publish it at the time of project completion.
What is your favorite color?
I love many colours, but if I have to pick one I would opt for red, the kind of red that goes towards blue, not yellow. Blue is a close second and a soft pink. There are both red and blue in the tapestry, which only contains seven shades: red, yellow, light and dark blue, light and dark green and a dark mixture of green and blue.
The basic images on the tapestry are horses, men, ships and buildings. Although ships take forever to embroidery, they make a real impact when they are done and so do the horses. Big blocks of colour and that’s satisfying to create. If someone was to pick one image from the Bayeux tapestry to embroidery, I would recommend a ship or a horse. Stay well clear of buildings with a tiled roof or bricked walls. They are frustrating to stitch, due to the bitty nature of many small details.
There are several different stitches used on the original tapestry and I try my best to use the same in the correct places. The couch stitch is the main one and it has become known as the Bayeux stitch. It is a very efficient way of covering a large area and I really enjoy it.
I find details important, even if they can be frustrating and for me it is a big deal to get the features of the people’s faces right. A hooked or pointy nose, big or small eyes and an upwards or downwards facing line marking a mouth can make a big different. At the very beginning of my project, I remember stitching King Edward’s face three times before being happy with it. I hate unpicking with a passion, but I’d rather do that than leave something I’m not pleased with. This is a project I want to be proud of.
What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?
The flying speed of a paint brush is less than that of a swooping eagle, but more than that of a person not concentrating hard enough to get out of its path.
There are two different shades of blue on the original tapestry, a light and a dark shade, which are two of the main seven colours. As they were hand dyed, of course they differ, sometimes within the same hank of wool. That means a stitched outline can start out light and end up dark, with a mid blue in between. I have to make a choice which shade to use, as I only have light and dark. Even worse is when I can’t decide whether an infilled area is meant to be light blue, dark blue or perhaps a green-blue mixture. Occasionally I have involved other people to help make a decision and at times I have worked with other colours while I try to make my mind up. Sometimes I have changed my opinion after stitching and then had to decide if to unpick my work or not. Funnily enough it is only the blue shades causing major issues. The others tend to behave.
What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?
I hold an awesome stabbing power when it comes to a small needle. Sometimes I stab so fast that I fail to move the hand holding the fabric and I have to make sure there are no blood stains on the item I’m working on. True story.
Neatness is my thing. From years and years and even more years of practice, I can keep my stitches neat, tidy and the same size. Even the back of the piece has passed the approving eye of many experienced needlewomen. I was taught by my nan at the age of 4 or 5 how to embroidery and her lessons included how to keep the backside tidy.
Before starting this tapestry project I was (and still am now and then) making Viking garments for reenactors and for museums. Some of those items featured embroidery. The person would give me an image and I would make it fit as if by magic. Perhaps that’s it, embroidery magic is my Holy Hand Grenade.
Favorite Muppet? Miss Piggy, of course!
Best Thing From the 80s? Leg warmers and permed hair. I had both.
Your Wrestler Name? Magic Mia – Poof and she is gone…
And Signature Wrestling Move? Run and hide, preferably as far from the arena as possible.
Favorite Weird Color? Pear ice cream green. Not pistachio green, but pear ice cream green.
How Will You Conquer the World? I’m already the ruler of my own pink clouded world. I will stitch something so amazing that people will willingly enter my world to view it. They will realize how pleasant Mia Land is and before they know it, they will be trapped and made to see the world through my eyes. Me being crazy? Pffft, not in my world. You’ll see…. Mwoa-ha-ha!
What Cartoon Character Are You? Lilla My from the Moomins
Best Present You’ve Ever Received? A soft cuddly frog when I was a child. He was my companion for far too many years.
What Do You Secretly Plot? To make people see the world the way I do. (See above)
Brought to you by the letter ___? M, of course. M for marvelous, meticulous, merry, magical and mustard, sweet mustard that is.
Favorite Sports Team? I don’t do sports. I like watching ice dancing, but that’s not really a team sport.
Cake or Pie? Pie! Oh yes, I had a piece of amazing pecan pie in Michigan last year at a place famous for its cherry pie.
Lime or Lemon? Lime, because it is small, green and cute.
Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Abba! At least one of my US friends couldn’t name a single Abba song. However, if you know the phenomenon that is (was) Abba, I’ll pick Marianne Flynner, a Swedish country & western singer.
Whisky or Whiskey? Whiskey, I can spell…
Favorite Superhero? The Phantom. I even know a song about him… in Swedish. I’m singing it right now.
Steak Temperature? I don’t do temperature. I squish it when frying. It needs to have some squish to be rare.
Favorite 1970s TV show? I loved Happy Days
Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Spring, when the trees are light and bright green, before the summer heat kicks in. I love when nature comes back to life and I can be barefoot again.
Favorite Pet? Our two dogs, the Princess and the Pirate or Buffy and Bruin, if you want their real names.
Best Game Ever? The King’s Circle
Coffee or Tea? Black coffee, of course.
Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Fantasy, although I do like a decent alien.
What question(s) would you like to ask me?
When will we get to see you again? It has been far too long. We still have the wooden piece of art you brought back from your travels.
Rob’s Answer: I don’t know, but I’d really like to come back. I had a great time both times I was in England, and I really want to do another walking tour. I’ve been reading a lot of Dick Francis lately, and I want to walk the Ridgeway Trail and then maybe time it so I can go to the Cheltenham Festival. I’ve never seen a real steeplechase, and I really want to.
When you write, how much of your own experiences do you include in the storyline? Are any of the characters based on you, however loosely? Do you plot the entire storyline before starting on a new book or does it take on a life of its own and take you on a journey during the process of writing?
Rob’s Answer: Wow, a number of questions there. Let’s start with how much me is in there. It’s hard to say, sometimes. My normal style is to create a character, put them into a situation, and role-play what they will do. I try to give the characters agency, but every part an actor plays comes at some point from his experiences.
I do base characters on people, but not much on me. I suppose I could fancy myself as Edward, but I’m probably closer to Ragnar if I’m being honest.
I’m a pantser, actually, which means I write by the seat of my pants. Plotting to me is a generalized where I want certain characters to end up. I suppose I’m doing a little more plotting in the sense I’m trying to pants barebones first drafts and then fill them out in the editing process. They serve as sort of a chapter plan.
I’ve found that short stories can sort of spring up wholly formed, like “Far Better to Dare,” my entry in the naval alternate history anthology Those in Peril and my most recent story, “The Chaos of Well-Seeming Forms,” which will come out in We Dare this summer. It doesn’t always happen like that, but it can.
However, novels always take a journey of their own for me. In A Lake Most Deep, I was writing the scene where we meet Katarina for the first time. I intended it that scene to be merely a placed Edward had to go, or it would be an obvious plot hole. Instead, Katarina grabbed me by the throat and changed the story completely, and in so doing, all of Shijuren. While it’s often not as dramatic as that scene, the truth is novels are too big with too much going on for them not to be shaped by characters at some point during the process.
Tell me again where we can find your stuff?
I run two Facebook groups, Mia’s Bayeux tapestry story, where you can follow my project:
Every so often I take my tapestry out for a talk & display, fairly local to where we live. Most of the events are private bookings, but occasionally I organize something for the general public. Those will be advertised on Mia’s Bayeux tapestry story Facebook page.
Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?
You should have asked if I use a frame for my embroidery. Everyone else asks this question, so why not you? No, I don’t. I have one, but don’t get along with it. Years or practice have taught me how to get the tension right without a frame.
What am I going to do with the tapestry once all 69 m have been completed? Hopefully I’ll find someone with deep pockets who is willing to take over ownership. If not, I have had 10 years of enjoyment out of it and it will live out its days as a giant roll of linen and wool in my hobby room.
Rob’s Note: Y’all need to buy a lot of books, because I really want to have deep pockets when the time comes.
Thanks to Mia for taking the time to answer my questions.
If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.
Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.
I am at the Southern Charm Restaurant in Blue Ridge, GA on my way to FantaSci in Raleigh, NC next weekend. It’s a lovely day to drive around Appalachia, sunny and comfortable.
Comfortable is a good way to describe this year’s Gulf Wars weather. It was the best weather I’ve ever seen at Gulf Wars. We had major rain one night, but nothing huge during any day. It got warmish one day. There were a few days that got to the cool side of things, but nothing like the cold of the past few years. It was great.
For the first time, I had my own booth at a major war. I was located across from the Gode Bakery along a major road, so I had people coming by my booth constantly. I was a little worried that my traffic would drop off dramatically by not being in Calontir Trim, but the location worked out well.
The setup also worked well. I had my books and the CDs I carry on one side of the front. The other side held Lobster Rose Pottery. It was a nice combination, actually. Gwen’s stuff drew in some eyes my books didn’t, and vice versa.
Overall, sales for me continued the trend of rising each year. I did real well on A Lake Most Deep, which is nice because I get a lot of return readers, so hopefully that means even more business next year. I was actually surprised how few sales with multiple items happened. Usually, I have about a third of my total sales from people buying two or more at once. This year, I only had about one in five or so. I’m not at all sure what that means, only that it was striking.
CDs continue to add a touch extra. I broke even on CDs this year because I added Wolgemut’s latest and three of Vince Conaways. It’s a nice sideline that’s easy and continues to add a little here, a little there.
I managed to fulfill my responsibilities as Their Majesties’ herald, though it wasn’t always easy. I caught the cold/cough/allergies that seemed to be going around and it slowed me down. I made it through court, if only barely, on Thursday. Then I fell down, go boom. Friday, I felt much better, though.
I mentioned yesterday that I have a bunch of people to thank. I surely can’t remember everyone, because there’s so many, but here are some that come to mind.
I’ll start with Master Andrixos for helping me along the path of SCA merchanting. He also brought over Master Blackhawk, merchant-o-crat of Ragnarok, Dagorhir’s version of Pennsic. I may go this year. Drix has been a major boon to me, and I can’t thank him enough.
Seraphima, the Gulf Merchant coordinator, for putting up with my questions and helping me. I’ll also include her staff, who made things much easier. Thanks guys, I appreciate it.
Gwen for making the pottery in the first place, but more importantly, Ulf for handling the pottery setup and take down. Thanks very much. I didn’t break anything, which was a huge concern on my part.
I learned how hard it is to run a booth by oneself. Thanks to Kierstie and Catin for taking time out of their schedules to watch the booth. Also to Nest and Dissa, who dropped by a number of times to see if I needed anything. There were also a number of people who hung around for five minutes while I went to the bathroom or across the street to the Gode Bakery. Thanks guys, I couldn’t have made it through the war without you.
I want to thank Their Majesties for being patient and accommodating with my work schedule. They adapted and overcame when I wasn’t around as things changed and they needed a herald on the spur of the moment. Also, I really appreciate you allowing me to tag in Dawi to serve as stunt herald for opening ceremonies.
And guess what, I’d like to thank Dawi for handling opening ceremonies. It’s a fun gig, but it’s a lot of hurry up and wait, and by doing the job, it meant I had that much more time to work.
I had a ton of customers during the week. If I’m accounting correctly, I sold books, CDs, and pottery to over 60 different customers this past week. That seems like a lot to me. I don’t have most of your names, but thanks for coming by, I really appreciate it
To count off on the final results. I liked my location. I sold more than ever. Gwen liked the results. I learned a ton about what I need in my own booth, too. If they let me, I’ll be right there again next year.
Wow, I just realized I never actually posted this on Friday when I had it ready to go. My apologies, I was waiting on an email from ACX confirming the exciting news. You get two updates this week.
What exciting news, you ask? Well, the Audible version of A Lake Most Deep went to Audible for proofing today. For a variety of reasons, it has taken much longer than expected, but it’s just about ready to go. It’ll be live as soon as Audible reviews it and I’ll be posting it. Fair warning, I’ll probably post a special announcement here when that happens.
My voice actor is Rob Saladino. His IMDB page is here: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm5238545/. There’s not a ton there now, but he’s plugging away and he’s got some interesting projects coming along.
This has been another productive week, though I slowed some to consolidate some of the writing. Plus, of course, there was ChattaCon. Still, I’m making significant progress at around 70k. And that’s what I’m going to go work on right now.
Current Playlist Song
The Mountain of Power Processional from the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack. This soundtrack is amazing. Basil Poledouris did an amazing job, and, frankly wrote music to emphasize heroism. It’s great writing music.
Quote of the Week
Since I’m listening to the soundtrack, let’s start with the words that start the film. This quote concludes with my aim as a writer.
“Between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis, and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of. And unto this, Conan, destined to wear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow. It is I, his chronicler, who alone can tell thee of his saga. Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!”
– Akiro the Wizard, Conan the Barbarian
News and Works in Progress
The Feeding of Sorrows (approx. 70,000)
Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions
Not a great week for me on the blog front. I doubt I’ll do much on that this week either as I am really pushing on A Feeding of Sorrows.
I might have a couple more to add, one the first weekend of March and one in April, but still figuring out details.
This week’s spotlight is on Jason Cordova because I found Rob Saladino because he did the audiobook version of Jason’s book. Wraithkin, by I really enjoyed the book and the narration so I was excited when he agreed to narrate my books. He also is a part of the Four Horsemen Universe, and he’s got a bunch of good stuff out there.
Today’s Weight: 388.4
Updated Word Count: 14,507
Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries
Four Horsemen Wiki: 518 entries
Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at email@example.com. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.
This week’s interview is with Jesse Oak Rise, an author and videographer I met in Pittsburgh last year when I went to Confluence during the middle of Pennsic. I was struck in our conversations about how much they have studied technical details of making videos, something I know very little about and Jesse taught me about.
Interview: Jesse Oak Rise
What is your quest?
Presently I run a blog dealing with topics surrounding the trans and non-binary community, mental health, and Crohn’s Disease. In the future I have several plans for my YouTube channel, The Knighted Nerd, which are creating video reviews of trans related media as well as video game content through a trans perspective. This would include Let’s Plays of various games. Interviews with trans and non-binary community leaders. Hopefully gain interviews with politicians and political leaders. Attend trans and mental health related conferences and, hopefully, document them.
I wouldn’t say I have success. My influences, however, are as follows: Lyndsey Sickler, educator and advocate, among other things. Created and runs TransPride Pittsburgh. The late Nancy Evelyn Gold, who inspired me in the first place to learn Adobe Premiere Pro / Final Cut. Anthony Q. Artis, author of The Shut Up and Shoot Freelance Video Guide and The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide, Voice-Over Voice Actor: What It’s Like Behind the Mic by Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt, The Art of Voice Acting: The Craft and Business of Performing for Voiceover by James Alburger.
Also these YouTubers: Caleb Wojcik, creator of FIT Video Guy, DSLR Video Shooter, Lindsay Ellis, Chase Thomas, PushingUpRoses, MarzGurl, and, of course, Markiplier / Jacksepticeye
What is your favorite color?
I’m, by no means, a professional videographer, voice actor, or YouTuber. What I am is a person that has worn many hats.
No matter which of these you do or want to do the biggest lessons I’ve learned in all three are: Make sure your audio is on point. No $10 microphones. Go for a Blue Snowball or Yeti. If you want to go XLR, go for Rode Mic with a usb interface. Make sure you’re audio is shielded in some way, even if you have to build makeshift plywood walls to stick soundproofing on, it’s better than having anything under or over your voice.
Video, depending how you want to do it, look for either a quality web cam or a camcorder. If you got the bucks, look into getting a DSLR camera. Look into 3 or 4 point lighting. This will bring your video game up a notch.
If you’re going to do green screen, YouTube and your local library are your friend to learn. These are how I have learned everything I know now.
What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?
What do you mean? African or European paint brush?
The biggest challenge I have has plagued me all my life: money. I don’t have the funds to do the things I want to do the things I mentioned above, much to my dismay.
What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?
I’ve been taught all my life that I’ll never amount to anything. Over the last two and ½ decades I’ve learned that I have an innate ability to quickly learn almost any skill quickly. With this tool I know I could succeed at almost anything, if given the opportunity.
Favorite Muppet? The mahna mahna guy
Crunchy or Creamy? Both at once
Favorite Sports Team? What’s a sports?
Cake or Pie? Piecake
Lime or Lemon? Lemon
Favorite Chip Dip? French onion
Wet or Dry? Yes.
Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Myself, Jesse Oak Rise.
Whisky or Whiskey? Jagermister
Favorite Superhero? Deadpool
Steak Temperature? 650
Favorite 1970s TV show? All in the Family
Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall, cause every day is Halloween
Favorite Pet? Can I own Death as a pet?
Best Game Ever? Will it blend
Coffee or Tea? Tea
Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Yes
What question(s) would you like to ask me?
Have you thought about adding authentic transgender characters in your writings?
My Answer: Thought about it, yes? Done it? No, because it’s never been relevant to the story I’m telling. Given that I write hack and slash, swords and sorcery action novels, I generally focus on whether my characters are strong, smart, fast, tough, or wise because those things matter in a fight. Rarely does plumbing of any type affect the outcome of a fight or a story, so I don’t talk about it much.
If it ever matters to a story, I have no problem including transgender characters. However, I’m not going to throw one in simply to throw one in. I think that sort of thing is dishonest and disrespectful if the only reason to do so is to say, “Here, look at me, I put in a transgender character, aren’t I awesome!” If and when I put a transgender character into a story, it’s because the “transgender” part matters. Otherwise, transgender people are simply “people.”
It all boils down to what makes a good story. If a character being transgender makes a better story, I’ll make that happen in a heartbeat. If it doesn’t, I already try to strip everything I can in my writing that doesn’t push the story along.
If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.
I had a great time at ConQuest last weekend. Met some cool people, sold a few books, learned some things. Good stuff. My complete AAR is here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1142.
The first edited copies of Brief Is My Flame are starting to come in. I’m truly humbled by all the work my Advance Reader Team is doing for me. Thanks for helping me make a better book.
It’s clear to me that I’m getting more skilled at the technical aspects of writing. I have dramatically reduced certain mistakes that I commonly made in A Lake Most Deep. I still have a long way to go, of course, but it’s progress. I may not be designing better furniture and it may not have fantastic decoration, but at least I’m building the items better than ever.
This weekend is Wichicon, a small con held as part of Wichita’s Riverfest. I don’t that it will be a great selling con, but Wichita is home and it’s a chance to see Mom.
Today, I’ll start going through some of the edits, though next week will be when I start focusing on that. I’ve also started the short story for the next 4HU anthology. I’m in the throw words at the page and wait for me to make some sort of connection that actually turns into a story.
Current Playlist Song
“Piano Man” by Billy Joel. I know it’s overplayed, but I really appreciate the line “they’re sharing a drink called loneliness.” I’ve been there often enough.
Quote of the Week
Today is Walt Whitman’s birthday, so this quote seems obvious to me. He was so good with evocative language. We remember this part of Song of Myself mostly because of the “barbaric yawp” and perhaps Robin Williams in Dead Poet Society, but here’s more just to give the ‘yawp’ its context.
The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.
I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow’d wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.
I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
First, thanks to all the people who joined the mailing list at Gulf Wars. I finally got a chance to add you this week.
This week in general was a week of catching up on things that need doing. I added a new regular feature to the blog, which I hope will become a weekly event. I’ll be interviewing a number of independent creators with a partly whimsical set of questions that will still talk about different creative methods. I think it’ll be pretty fun for all of us.
The big project this week has been catching up on A Lake Most Deep audiobook files. Yes, you read that right, the audiobook is a-coming round the mountain. All the chapters have now been recorded, and I’m going through each one to catch any mistakes. I’m still not sure of a release date, but by the end of next week I will have gone through all the recordings. We’re getting close there.
That took away from my writing, though, so I’m only around 54000 words in Brief Is My Flame, though I’m really pleased with where things are going. The two main threads are both progressing, and each have the kind of action I lead to read.
If I don’t enjoy reading a book, I can’t expect you to enjoy it either, and I’m enjoying it.
Current Playlist Song
“Gaudete” by Steeleye Span
I just got a new Steeleye Span album, which I will soon add to my writing playlist. Another is on the way. If you don’t know these guys, they do a bunch of traditional English and British Isles folk songs and mixing them with the 60s and 70s folk and rock traditions. Great stuff, especially “Saucy Sailor,” one of my favorite songs.
Quote of the Week
Today is opening day of baseball. In my mind, this should be a national holiday, so this week’s quote is a longer one. However, it’s a great one, delivered by a fantastic actor.
The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh…people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”
― Terence Mann (James Earl Jones), Field of Dreams
First, I’ve added those who signed up at Pennsic. Many thanks for all who talked to me there, and I am already looking forward to Pennsic 47. Welcome to my weekly slice of Robness.
The biggest news is that one of the short stories I’ve been mentioning for a while was just accepted to be part of the For a Few Credits More, the second anthology in the Four Horsemen Universe.
The 4HU is one where humanity is one of hundreds of alien races living a loose arrangement whose sole goal is to ensure that the overall peace is maintained. Within that, however, are all sorts of smaller conflicts involving mercenaries, and the universe centers around these mercs fighting in a Byzantine universe of plotting and treachery.
I love it.
You can find these books here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074KHFMQT?ref=series_rw_dp_labf
The cover is here.
I’ve never been more excited to be called “AND MORE” in my life.
But that’s not the only exciting thing going on here. Rob Saladino will begin recording A Lake Most Deep in audiobook form starting around 1 September. He’ll be doing my other Shijuren novels soon after, too. I don’t yet have any clue when actual release dates will be, because it takes time to do all of this well, but they are a-comin’.
In less productive news, because of my travel schedule, the move, and recovery from Pennsic, I’ve not done much other than lie in bed and contemplate bad things happening to my characters in Brief Is My Flame.
I’m just going to say that I think my characters would prefer me to sit and write than lie and plot, because I’m much nastier to them in the middle of the night snuggled in my bed with my cat sitting on my head than I am typing on my laptop. Far nastier.
Quote of the Week
This week’s quote sort of encapsulates my writing philosophy. I write about people, and whether they are wizards or use fusion-powered starships or wear powered armor, stories are about people.
“War has changed little in principle from the beginning of recorded history. The mechanized warfare of today is only an evolution of the time when men fought with clubs and stones, and its machines are as nothing without the men who invent them, man them and give them life. War is force- force to the utmost- force to make the enemy yield to our own will- to yield because they see their comrades killed and wounded- to yield because their own will to fight is broken. War is men against men. Mechanized war is still men against men, for machines are masses of inert metal without the men who control them- or destroy them.”
– Ernest J. King, as quoted in the prologue (page viii) of his memoirs, Fleet Admiral King: A Naval Record (1952).
News and Works in Progress
Brief Is My Flame (about 10k)
Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions
Nothing yet this week, but will have some additions to the Wiki tomorrow
In honor of the release of Where Now the Rider, the e-book version of A Lake Most Deep is free on Amazon starting tomorrow and running all week long. If you have been wanting to tell your friends about my books, now’s the perfect time.
If you want to hear about my writing philosophies, you can check out Write Pack Radio today. This week’s podcast talks about Plutarch and Writing Non-Fiction.
The last few days, I’ve been in final preproduction mode for Where Now the Rider. Right now, I’m close to complete because I had a very productive weekend.
At Comicon I mentioned that was my plan and someone I talked to asked what I meant, so I thought I’d write a blog post for what I do. It’s easy to say that preproduction is doing all the things that turn a manuscript into a publishable novel, but what does that entail. Here’s a sort of checklist for me.
Create a title page and colophon. This is the basic stuff that says who is involved in the copyright, like the artists and editors, and the normal copyright disclaimers. This page is in every book, so this part is easy for me as I have one written already and I cut and paste, changing the relevant information.
ISBN Numbers: I assign an ISBN three numbers to each book, one for the electronic version, paperback version, and audiobook version. I don’t necessarily have to assign one to the electronic version, but I think there’s an advantage and since I buy the numbers in bulk, it costs me very little. In any case, this is generally a tedious but fairly quick process. I then add these numbers to the colophon.
Dedication and Foreword. I often do these ahead of time when I feel motivated. They need editing, after all, though I’ll admit I don’t worry about editing these as much as I do the text.
Double-check the map. Make sure it’s only 300dpi and fits in the space. At this point, it’s a standard thing and all I’m doing is making sure nothing’s gone wrong.
Adding the people, places, and glossary. This is the longest part of preproduction. I could cut a bunch of hours if I didn’t do this, however, I think it’s important to make things easier for my readers. Also, I find it extremely helpful to me to keep the online wiki at www.shijuren.org updated. I’ve done many of the entries while I’m writing the book, but this makes sure I haven’t missed any. I’ll discuss this section more in a moment.
Adding the world-building appendices: the calendar, magic, and religion of Shijuren. These are written and I think they’re pretty good as the stand, so this is just cut and paste right now.
Adding extra pages. I’ve discovered that if I need to make an edit, I want to have some extra pages at the end. Not many, say 5-6. However, when Patrick McEvoy makes the cover, he has to know how many pages wide to make the spine. This is tricky. If I add any pages, he has to make the spine wider. Rather than risk this, I add some ahead of time so if I need to make an addition to the book at the next printing, I can do so without bothering him. What if, for example, I want to put a snippet of Edward, Book IV in the end? I’ve started adding a snippet of the book immediately following to A Lake Most Deep and The Eyes of a Doll, by the way.
Cover blurb. I hate this part. How can it be so hard to write a cover blurb when you have written a 100k-word novel? For whatever reason, this is incredibly difficult to me. I suppose I’m getting better, but it’s still tough.
Double-check all the other cover items. this really isn’t much, actually, since we’ve done this before. I like my author description so I’m not changing it right now.
Look for orphans. Theoretically, Word is supposed to do that, however, I’ve seen a few of them appear. It’s less of a problem since I started writing in the format I end up printing in (6×9, half-inch margins plus an extra half in for gutter, Garamond 12pt font). If I find any, I see if I can cut a line or two somewhere in the chapter. Usually I can.
The last, absolute last, thing is creating a Table of Contents. Fortunately, Word does most of the work for me however if you make any changes to the text that might add or subtract a page messes things up. I do it last, then clean it up a little to look like how I want it.
That’s basically it. There’s probably more I’m not thinking of right now, but that’ll do except for more on the people, places, glossary, and wiki.
I enjoy working on the wiki. It’s usually a relaxing way to spend time because worldbuilding is my favorite part of this. Part of the adding the list of people and places is to add links to the main copy of the text. I always work with what will be the electronic copy as shifting to a print version is much easier than vice versa. Thank you, CTRL-SHIFT-F9, which removes every hyperlink in a selection, when combined with CTRL-A, I can eliminate all the hyperlinks in two keystrokes. The print version does not need them, after all.
Anyway, I get the electronic version done and updated, mashing every mistake I can find. I then upload it to Amazon. Only then do I convert to the print version and send to CreateSpace.
And that’s it. It’s a lot of detail work that takes me days because I need to be focused for it to work, and of course I still make mistakes. Fewer now than when I started, though.