Service interrupted

Well, in about an hour the family and I jump into the car and drive north, headed about 120kms away to the small-ish seaside town of Lancelin. It’s my mother’s 70th, and our very tiny clan is gathering for a family celebration.  I expect to be back Monday afternoon.  No idea if there’ll be any kind of internet there, so expect no email responses or blogging till then. You all take care and have fun, now.

New swords and sorcery…

There are always a few projects bubbling away in the background, and I’m really delighted to be able to say that another one has moved from being something I’d love to do, to being something I’m actually doing.  Last October I was sitting in a bar in Saratoga Springs talking to Lou Anders.  I looked over his shoulder and saw Steven Erikson engaged in energetic conversation with some friends. I mentioned to Lou that I’d had this idea of editing an anthology that collected new stories from some of the really cool newer writers who were writing swords and sorcery at the moment, and mentioned a list of writers.

Lou basically looked at me and said “Me too”.  We’d discussed doing another project together, so it seemed natural to suggest we do this one together. It seemed like a great idea, but it was late, so we decided to let the sun rise on it and see if it still seemed good. It did.  We’re both fairly busy, so we headed home and worked on a lot of other things, but earlier this year the project suddenly picked up momentum.  A proposal was drafted, my incredibly cool agent Howard looked it over, and it went out to publishers.  And, not so very long ago, the wonderful Diana Gill made an offer for the book that we couldn’t refuse.

So, over the next few days emails will be going out to all of the authors we’d approached during the proposal stage to let them know that the book is going to happen. Next August Lou and I should be delivering the manuscript of a 200,000  wd original swords and sorcery anthology, very tentatively called Conquering Swords, to Harper for a 2010 publication.  I’m thrilled to be doing the book, and couldn’t wish for a better bunch of collaborators.  I love Lou’s work. The writers who’ve committed are amazing. And, I love working with Diana and Harper.  More as it happens.

Sending me electronic files for review and year’s bests…

I was sent a novel yesterday. It popped into my email inbox, attached to a message from a very nice publicist who seemed awfully pleased about having sent it to me. And there was a time when I would have been delighted to get it too, though I’m becoming less and less thrilled as time goes by.

Why? Well the novel is one I really want to read. It’s written by a terrific writer whose work I very much admire and enjoy; someone I’d happily buy a pink drink, should we meet on some continent or other. And definitely someone whose work I would always read.

But, this was a PDF. I get sent a lot of PDFs, or even more helpfully, links to PDFs that I can download. PDFs are, no matter what anyone says, designed to be printed. They are a portable document format. Monday’s PDF was about 500 pages long. There’s not a lot of reformatting to be done in a PDF, so the length is fairly much a given. I’m happy to absorb the cost of downloading handfuls of multi-megabyte PDFs every week. I’m even willing to read a bunch of them, though less and less so. Middle-age is synching up nicely with my short sightedness, making reading on screen uncomfortable for long periods. And that means printing.

Printing out Monday’s document means about $6.00 worth of paper and about $20.00 worth of printing costs. Call it $25.00. That’s close to what the final book will cost to buy, once it’s been published. I can justify that cost from time to time, but not day after day. I get emailed PDFs of novels, anthologies, magazines, and individual stories by publishers, publicists, and whomever. Let’s say an average of $40.00 or $50.00 in printing costs for the various things I do print out. I’d say that’s incredibly low, but it’s a ball park. That’s a couple thousand dollars a year for books I’m reading or looking at to keep up to date as a reviews editor for a magazine, or to consider for my year’s best annual.

I’m seriously not sure this is sustainable. I’m considering restricting year’s best reading to printed copy only. That would mean I’d need pages or whatever of anthologies and magazines. I’d still accept single stories via email. As to novels. I don’t know yet. I need to keep up to date, but this is getting harder to sustain.

We’re going away this weekend, so I’m going to give this some thought and will start to email people. I would say, though, that if you want your magazine issue or anthology considered for my year’s best (and year in review essay) it would be best to send me a printed copy. That way it’ll definitely be considered. If you think you might be affected, or this might be a problem for you, drop me an email and we can discuss it.

Jonathan is: reading

Well, this is the scary part.  One or two things to sort out, but this week I’m reading through a stack of paper to see what kind of book the stories I’ve accepted for Eclipse Two actually will make.  They’re a disparate bunch.  I like them all, and I really love a few, but this book is a different beast from its predecessor – a lot more science fiction, less fantasy, less slipstream.  It’s not going to please people who weren’t happy with the first book, but it’s not going to ring the bells of everyone who loved the first one. I think a lot of other people may love it, though  Hmm. Wish me luck.

Up too early.  Marianne was away for the weekend. Spent the time taking the kids here and there, and doing family stuff.  I thought we had a good time. The youngest then assures me, on her mother’s return that the entire weekend was boring.  She even had her mother re-read her a chunk of the book we’d been reading together.  Hey man, now we’re really living.

I read Mr E’s beautiful book, Things the Grandchildren Should Know, over the weekend too.  A wonderful book. It looks like it should have been published by McSweeeney’s, which is probably Dave Eggers’ real influence on the world. It’s smart and scary, but beautiful and filled with sentences that read like the greatest opening lines to novels you’ll never see.  Check it out.