Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Quick Catch-Up and Work-in-Progress Report

It’s spring break, so I’m not at work this week, which is GREAT. I should be able to start seeds and dust everything in the house — well, to a rough approximation of ‘everything’ — and finish getting this website updated and update the Puppy page at the other website. I hope. More of the links from this page should be working now. Still working on others! All the book covers should link to Amazon, now, except the last one, which won’t be out until next year. But isn’t it a beautiful cover? I couldn’t wait till next year to put it up.

No deadlines of my own coming up! Devi Pillai says she doesn’t have any significant revisions to suggest for Book Three of the Griffin Mage Trilogy — she says it’s perfect just the way it is. I didn’t know it was even possible to send in a manuscript and not get three pages of editorial comments back! That’s my agent’s doing: her comments helped me streamline the first half of the book and that made a huge difference. I hear that not all agents make editorial comments, but it is hugely useful, believe me.

The copy editor at Orbit has Book 3 now, but seriously, it only takes a couple of days to go over a copy-edited manuscript, so that doesn’t count as work. This time I tried to make the copy editor’s job easier, and MY job easier, by doing some formatting before I sent the ms. to Orbit. I can’t stand to write with underlining rather than italics, I hate the way ellipses look without spaces between the dots, and I loathe M dashes. But via the magic of find-and-replace, I switched all those things over to the officially proper formatting — ta da! — and so I hope I will have many, many fewer red marks to assess later.

Also, just finished going over the copy-edited version of Islands for Michelle at Knopf. That one’s all done, really all done. I’m glad it’s coming out next year and not this year (I bet that’s a rare statement for a writer to make!) because I think it will be good to have a trilogy come out in paperback before the next hardcover hits the shelves.

What’s odd is that I’m already looking forward to starting another book. So fast! That’s normal, though. I always start feeling excited about a new book while wrapping up an old one. It’s amazing how fast I forget the hard work of bludgeoning a plot into shape and the slog of revision as I decide to remove a minor character and reorder events … every book seems easy to have written, in retrospect. Good thing, or I’d probably hesitate to start a new one.

The next book will have to be written ‘on spec’ because I’m out of books required by contracts. I think I will do my best to write a lovely, short YA fantasy, preferably without writing 100 extra pages that have to be cut (this happened for Book Three of the Griffin Mage — ouch!) and preferably something that will SELL. I think the scenes I have in mind might wait for an adult fantasy after that, though I’m not totally sure. I’m bouncing ideas around like crazy. Every new book I read, I’m thinking, Could I have a relationship like this, only maybe with that twist? Could I maybe use a character like this one, only with this kind of insecurity rather than that kind? Maybe I could use this kind of element in my world, only maybe combined with this other idea? So I can’t say that I know exactly what I’ll do. I won’t until I actually write the opening scene.

I’ve been telling people I won’t start a new book until JUNE. But actually, since I no longer really remember the painful part of writing the most recent book and since I do have ideas waving their hands and crying “Pick me!” around the edges of my mind, maybe I’ll try writing that all-important opening scene … I dunno. This week, maybe.

In the meantime, I’m still reading through my enormous backlog of books — and enjoying it so much! It’s been so long since I could really let myself go and read a lot of books!

Most recently —

The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner. I’ve read it before — I read it again to better appreciate the trick, which no, I did not see coming the first time through. Even better the second time! This time I also read the author’s note at the end, thus learning that this book has sequels. I ordered them and read them too — The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia — and I have to say, there is clearly room for another one after those. Both were great, especially the last, which had some very powerful, effective scenes, especially as the king reveals his competence to some of his court.

Turner did something unusual with this series — she switched from first person in the first book to third in the other two. I think she might have done this because she wanted to show multiple characters’ viewpoints in the second book. Anyway, Turner is certainly gifted in setting you up to think one thing about a character, and then tipping what you think you know on its head.

A Certain Slant of Light, by Laura Whitcomb. Oh, I am so jealous. I wish I had written this book! It says it was Whitcomb’s first novel. I bet she has half a dozen others under her bed — or else I’m even more jealous, if this is actually the very first book she’s written and not just the first that got published.

I must, I must go NOW and look to see if Whitcomb has any more books out. This one — don’t want to give everything away — but it’s a ghost story, and it’s beautiful and perfect and I don’t want to throw careless puns around, but it’s haunting. Seriously. It’s certainly the best book I’ve read this year, and I’ve read a lot of books lately and a lot of them were good and some were excellent.

One side effect of the excellence of A Certain Slant of Light is that now I feel reluctant to start another book. It almost certainly won’t be as good. It’s not fair to read anything else new until a little time has passed: I want to be able to appreciate the next book properly, even though it probably won’t be perfect and will certainly be different. This would be a good day to dust! Or maybe I’ll just watch a couple of the DVDs that have stacked up along with the books. I have some that are still in plastic — even though I’ve owned them four or five years! (True fact.)

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