Newsletter #11 mailed out 27 June 2002

Dear People,

I've finished the rough of the fifth Isles book, which still has the working title Goddess of the Ice Realm. This may yet change. Those who've read previous newsletters may note that the only things that've remained constant are the concept of cold and a feminine noun. I firmly turned down an acquaintance's suggestion of The Frigid Bitch, however.

I have a lot of editing yet to do, but for me the difficult part of a book is writing it. Not plotting, not editing: slogging forward, day after day, writing. I find a lot of similarities between writing and filling sandbags. (And let me emphasize, there are right ways and wrong ways to fill sandbags, too.)

I plan my next project to be a third RCN (that is, Leary/Mundy) space opera. I don't have a clue as to what I'll use for the armature of that one, but I figure to dive back into Greek historians when I've finished editing Goddess into shape. Maybe Dionysius of Halicarnassus this time....

The other big positive news recently is that the miniature wargaming book is a go. John Lambshead (who's the British Museum's man on marine nematodes and a wargamer) pitched the proposal to Iain Dickie who publishes a gaming magazine. (All the people involved in this--except me--are British, as miniature gaming is quite a big business in the UK.) Mr Dickie accepted the book project on very satisfactory terms. (In Newsletter 10 I said there was no money in this. I turn out to have been wrong.)

JL is at work on the text including game rules. John Treadaway (a graphics designer and wargamer) has already completed some of the vehicle visuals as well as unit patches. My job in this will be a forward and to oversee the prose and graphics. (Well, I wrote the books to begin with; but that was in the past and I tend not to value very highly what's over and done with.)

I'm involved with lots of books which're coming out shortly. From Baen, the hardcover Hammer novel (three closely linked novellas) Paying the Piper is in stores now. Well, some stores. You know what I mean.

From Tor, the paperback of Mistress of the Catacombs will be an August release. They didn't send me the cover flats, so I don't know if the layout has been improved over that of the hardcover. Donato's art is wonderful, but until I saw the British design I thought the art didn't make a good cover. It can make a wonderful cover, but that may require a British designer.

The Foreign Legions paperback--with the title legible--is due out in September from Baen. (All the rest of these are from Baen Books.)

In October--all the rest of these are Baen--comes Seas of Venus, a trade paperback reprinting Surface Action and The Jungle (both involving naval battles on a watery Venus). This was the first cover my friend Jennie Faries designed for Baen, by the way. (She did the design, not the art, which is by Bob Eggleton. If you think design doesn't make a difference, though, compare the American and British covers of Mistress of the Catacombs.)

The Tide of Victory, the fifth (and second to the last, we promise) Belisarius novel, written by Eric Flint from my outline, is an October paperback.

In December comes the paperback reprint of Killer, by me and Karl Edward Wagner. This one differs somewhat from the previous versions. Jim Baen read the book for the first time last month (he commissioned it in 1984) and found he liked it a lot, most of the way through. When he got to the part that Karl actually wrote (instead of Karl moving around photocopied sections of my rough draft, which is what most of the mss he handed in consisted of) however, Jim went into the sort of rage that I've previously only heard from him on matters involving Bill Clinton or the Democratic Party more generally.

Neither Jim nor I is either Gay or politically correct (trust me on this). But--

I'd written a scene in which the hero uses a child molester as bait for a monster. Karl changed that to a scene in which the hero graphically tortures a Gay to death for no obvious reason and no plot purpose whatever. Jim said he was going to excise that scene and a number of other bits in the last 20% of the book. I'm about to go over his edited version.

The new cover is by Patrick Turner. It's an excellently rendered horror cover (which is one of the ways you can validly read the book. Though it's also SF--and for that matter, historical fiction.)

In February, my collection Grimmer than Hell will be one of the hardcovers. It includes the three Lacey stories and a bunch of my Military SF that's never been collected--particularly the set of six stories from The Fleet shared universe and the two from its follow-on Battlestation shared universe. (Bill Fawcett and I co-edited both series.) The cover art is by Steve Hickman at absolutely the top of his form.

The second February hardcover will be Warlord, an omnibus of the first two of the General series, written by Steve Stirling from my outlines. The remainder of the series (three volumes as published, two as originally written) will be a March hardcover, Conqueror.

Steve and Baen Books parted company in a less than amicable fashion; the series is coming back in print as a result of constant pressure by regulars on Baen's Bar (the Barflies). I think this is a good result, but I kept out of the matter. So far as I'm concerned, it's Baen Books, and Jim has a right to run his company any way he pleases so long as he pays on time (which he most certainly does).

Changes in the website haven't been extensive since the April newsletter. There's another of Ovid's lyrics up (and two more in rough that I probably won't polish till I've sent in the final of Goddess). I did notes on Dagger (my Thieves' World novel) for the bibliography page. And there's FAQ explaining why 'Platt' is often the name of a really despicable character in my books. (One querent said he'd found more than twenty examples.)

In other news, my wife and I visited Natural Bridge, Virginia, for our 35th anniversary. I first saw pictures of the site when I was about three years old, but I'd never been there. Before the opening of the West in the 1850s, Niagara Falls and Natural Bridge were the natural wonders of America that people discussed and painted, so seeing it is a part of history as well as geology.

And I've been having internal engine problems on my 2001 Kawasaki Concours. I may be having worse problems with the Raleigh Kawasaki dealer, but that hasn't been determined yet with certainty. (And yes, I've talked to a friend in the Kawasaki US headquarters.)

This isn't without an upside, however. I bought a Suzuki GS500E for transportation till the Concours is dealt with. It turns out to be a lot of fun (though one friend commented, "You still on that sissy bike?"). It's a light twin like nothing I've ridden in twenty years, but it's sprightly and is quite comfortable at 80 mph on suitable roads. It doesn't have as much carrying capacity (I'm not big myself, but it was nice when I had some option other than a knapsack for hauling heavy packages) and the lack of flywheel effect takes some getting used to (if you don't know what I mean, don't worry about it).

I hope all of you are well; and I hope to get the multiple edit passes on Goddess of the Ice Realm (or whatever it turns out to be) done in a reasonable length of time so that I can write the next thing....

Dave Drake

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