Newsletter #10 mailed out 6 April 2002
I'm about midway into the rough draft of the fifth book of the Isles series, under the working title Goddess of the Ice Realm. I say 'working title,' but it isn't written down anywhere (well, I guess it is now) and it may well change or change back. (The previous version was Caverns of the Ice Queen, but that meant two Queens out of five titles. It could still happen, though.)
Midway through a book doesn't sound very exciting, but these are very long books (for me) and I'm trying to cheer myself up by noting that I really am getting somewhere. In the middle of any fiction project, I feel that my story is deadly dull and that it'll bore any reader to tears. After I'm done, it never seems as bad as it does when I'm in the middle, but the problem is getting there. The middles of long novels last a lot longer than do those of a short book.
I really am getting there, however!
There've been several odd things of a positive nature recently. We (specifically, my webmaster Karen) got an e-mail from a junior editor on the Boca Raton newspaper. They were doing a feature on sea monsters and wanted to use the picture (from the website) of me standing beside the giant ammonite in the museum at Drumheller. We said sure and Karen sent the lady a high-res jpg of it.
If any of y'all live in Boca Raton, I'd be interested in knowing whether the picture really did run. They were supposed to send us a copy, but I've dealt with newspaper people before so I'm not surprised nothing has come. They're always on deadline, and you're no longer the story.
And then there's the University of Iowa Book Drop. This is a vending machine in the U of I Main Library set up to dispense handmade books with the profits funding library projects. It's been quite successful. The folks behind it decided to expand to signed paperbacks by Iowa authors. (I count as an Iowa author because I was born and raised there.) I and an Ottumwa IA romance writer donated books for the drop. (For more detail, see http://david-drake.com/bookvending.html.)
I was glad to help, because I have a great deal of affection for the U of I Library. I worked there as an undergraduate, making ninety-five cents an hour as a book page, and wrote my first story (Denkirch) at library tables. When I sold Denkirch, I calculated that if I'd simply worked additional hours as a book page rather than writing, I'd have doubled my income for the period.
The third item is the Friedman quote. A friend of mine was reading Hidden Order, an economics text by David Friedman. He came upon the following:
… Only a few of us have enough willpower, when a new Dick Francis or the latest volume of a David Drake series comes out in hardcover, to wait for the paperback.
Friedman is a respected economist in his own right and the son of Milton Friedman, a Nobel laureate in economics. This is a Good Thing, and the quote will be appearing on various of my books (at least for Baen).
But what it proves is that one intelligent person is a big fan of my work. Heck, many more than one such person has written or spoken to me over the past long while. I'm reminded of the fuss back when I was a kid and JFK said he liked the James Bond novels. So did I, and so did a lot of other people--but the president's comment said more about his reading taste than it did about the intrinsic merit of Fleming's work.
I know that, and I keep telling myself that. But it still feels good.
I'm involved with a lot of books that will be coming out shortly (which isn't quite the same as saying a lot of my books are coming out shortly). The Tyrant, written by Eric Flint from my outline, is a March hardcover from Baen Books. Eric did an excellent job of a difficult task, writing the second half of my outline as a self-standing novel which could nonetheless be read as the sequel to The Reformer, written by Steve Stirling from the first half of my outline. Jim Baen will probably issue them together at some future point, but you can read either without knowing it's part of the whole. The Tyrant has an excellent Gary Ruddell cover.
The Warmasters, edited by Bill Fawcett, is an April hardcover from Baen books. It consists of an Honor Harrington novella by Dave Weber; a novella from the Belisarius series, but plotted and written by Eric Flint alone; and Choosing Sides, my Hammer novella, which will be the opening segment of Paying the Piper (which I'll get to in a moment). The cover is by David Mattingly, but it's misattributed on the flap to Gary Ruddell (which I can imagine displeasing both artists).
The only portion of The Warmasters that isn't or won't shortly be available in single-author form is Eric's Islands; which, however, is excellent. I think it's worth the price of the book, at least when it comes out in paperback.
Speaking of paperbacks, the paperback edition of Foreign Legions, the shared universe based on my Ranks of Bronze, will be out in September from Baen. The only difference from the hardcover is that the cover title will be red instead of the green type on green background (as chosen by a managing editor, now departed, who felt the lack of contrast and legibility was very artistic. She may well have been right about that....)
By the way, The Excalibur Option--Dave Weber's expansion of his Foreign Legions novella--was a February Baen hardcover.
Paying the Piper, a Hammer novel in the form of three self-standing novellas, will be a Baen hardcover. (It is a novel, by the way; unlike the original collection Hammer's Slammers, which was a group of stories set in a common universe.) The cover's by Larry Elmore (and no, those aren't exactly the way I visualize my combat cars, but the purpose of a cover painting is to sell the book to a reader who'll like what's inside, not to act as an engineering drawing).
My webmaster has put up the three novellas which comprise Paying the Piper on the website as I finished them, but I think she's taken them down now. Baen's webscriptions program will be running the book (maybe already is? I don't keep up with this) in early electronic form for those who can't wait but missed the website appearances.
Seas of Venus will be out as a Baen trade paperback in October with a really spiffy Bob Eggleton giant octopus on the cover. The volume contains the two short novels I set in the Venus of Henry Kuttner and CL Moore's Clash by Night: Surface Action and The Jungle. I've also included my Belize travelogue (in slightly edited form); that's on the website with pictures. (The Introduction is online at http://david-drake.com/dwintroduction.html.)
And having mentioned Clash by Night, a formative story for me, let me note that Dogs of War, a reprint Military SF anthology which I edited, was a January mass market release from Warner's. It contains Clash by Night and a lot of other stories which I think are particularly good.
Boy, talk about breaking news: Eric Flint just phoned to tell me Baen Books will be reprinting the General series by Steve Stirling from my outlines. The regulars on Baen's Bar (the Bar Flies) have been bugging him till he agreed. I have no idea when or in what format, but for all you people whom I told the series probably wouldn't be reprinted--I was wrong.
Jim Baen prodded me mildly to get the Lacey stories back in print. The problem is that the three stories in the series total only about 25,000 words and I very much don't want to get back into that mindset. That got me thinking about stories that fit the tone of the Lacey pieces, and I remembered the series I did for the Fleet shared universe.
The collection's title is Grimmer Than Hell, and trust me as to its accuracy. Besides the Lacey stories and the six from The Fleet, it includes the pair from the Battlestation shared universe, the stories I did for Drakas! and Armageddon, and a never-published piece I wrote for a computer game a decade or so ago.
As I put the collection together, I realized that the Fleet stories are really the precursors of Redliners. That is in many ways my best book and in addition was cathartic both for me and (based on comments from veterans) for a lot of other people who've seen the elephant. Thank goodness I wrote the Fleet stories, because if I hadn't I might never have written Redliners; and if I hadn't done that, I'd be in a less good place mentally today.
There've been a number of little changes to the website. More Ovid--the Perseus section of the Metamorphoses and an amusing lyric--has gone up. I've corrected the caption to the picture of me with Bockscar in Dayton: that isn't the casing of a bomb like the one idropped on Nagasaki but a later nuclear weapon in front of me. And there's a few more pictures, including one of Jim Baen, Mark Van Name, and Jennie Faries (a friend of mine who's now doing some of the cover and brochure design for Baen Books) at dinner in a very good local steakhouse. (Thank you, Jim.)
The miniature gaming book on Hammer's Slammers is on hold while John Lambshead, who'll be writing the scenarios, deals with marine nematodes (his day job). John Treadaway, the modeler, is the third partner in the project. (Well, really, I'm the third partner--they're doing the work.) Two top miniature companies, Old Crow and Ground Zero Games, have offered to build free models for the project to our specifications so long as they can sell the line to the public as 'approved by David Drake'. GZG has further offered to do spaceships for us and provide a license for their space war rules, Full Thrust, on the same terms.
There's no money in this, but it's fun. It's also the way communities--and capitalism--are supposed to work. I'm pleased to be a part of it.
A fan has started a David Drake e-mail group at yahoo.groups.com. (To subscribe, send e-mail to email@example.com.) I have no direct contact with this; that is, I won't be participating or even lurking. The fellow asked me to mention it in a newsletter, which I'm now doing. I hope that if any actual questions arise, though, somebody will ask my webmaster so that she can forward them to me.
Now back to writing Goddess of the Ice Realm; at least I really think that's going to be the title....
To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your e-mail address, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org