Newsletter #14 mailed out 26 January 2003
Normally these newsletters focus on my writing. There's writing news in this one too, but the major item is the birth of my first grandchild, Tristan David Drake--8 pounds, 8 ounces, at 6:03 PM EST, January 25, 2003. There are no guarantees in this world (well, there's one; but reports regarding Elijah and a few others suggest even that isn't certain), but if Tristan takes after his parents Jonathan and April, he'll be a credit to society and the species.
There's a picture on the website linked from http://david-drake.com/news.html. There isn't a lot of variation in babies, but thus far Tristan looks much as Jonathan did at a similar age; which augurs well for the future.
As for writing, I'm at well over 100K on THE FAR SIDE OF HEAVEN, the third RCN (Leary/Mundy) space opera and am nearing the climax (a blazing space battle, as you may have surmised). It's scheduled for October, 2003, hardcover release from Baen Books; Steve Hickman's doing the cover.
It occurs to me that people who know something about book production may be surprised that a book which isn't complete in rough draft (and which I'll give two more edit passes) has been scheduled already. That's partly because Jim Baen has never believed in keeping a big inventory--it costs him money, and he believes (I think correctly) that books get stale. But it also means that Jim and his staff take it for granted that a finished book will appear when I say it will. (I might die--after all, I ride a motorcycle--but I won't become so distraught over personal problems that I can't keep my promises.) I'm glad to have that reputation, an unusual one among writers.
Jim is planning to bind in a CD-ROM containing basically all my Baen titles. If Tom Doherty agrees, I'll have Lord of the Isles there too. I've also suggested sticking in one of Dave Weber's Honor Harrington novels and John Ringo's A Hymn Before Battle. Neither Dave nor John writes precisely what I write, and as people we're rather more different than that. Having said that, a Venn diagram of Drake, Weber, and Ringo readers would have a lot of common ground. Using CD-ROMs as samplers for the subgenre strikes me as to everybody's benefit (but Jim, Dave, and John will make the final decision).
GODDESS OF THE ICE REALM, the fifth Isles fantasy, is scheduled as a Tor hardcover for September, 2003. Donato has just completed the cover. This has to be seen to be believed, so I suggest you look at it on either my site [http://david-drake.com/news.html] or his [http://www.donatoart.com/monthlyframeset.html].
The painting is unique in my experience. There are covers with a lot of figures in them (Queen of Demons is an example), but I've never before seen a cover that was made up of figures the way a jigsaw puzzle is made up of pieces. It's also as good a depiction of what an ancient battle must have been like as anything since The Battle of Alexander, the 1st century AD mosaic copy of a Greek painting found at Pompeii.
One proviso: though there are no women on the cover, the novel has same mix of male and female characters as earlier Isles books (with Ilna being the one who sounds most like me). (For what it's worth, Hammer's Slammers were co-ed from the beginning also.)
My campaign of feeling upbeat about my writing as I go along appears to be working. I finish a day's text and think, 'Well, that's not bad at all,' instead of 'Jeez, this is as dull as a phone book!' which was more normal in the past. Mind, I worked effectively despite being very depressed about the quality of what I was doing, but my head was rarely as good place to be in.
The change seems to help. I won't say that I'll ever be confused with Pollyanna, but being relatively perky is nice.
A bit of personal information (though involving writing). An ice storm knocked out power for millions of people in our region in December. (Ice brought down treelimbs--remember, this is 'The Land of the Long-Leaf Pine'--across just about every power line.) Our power was off for six days. I hadn't drafted fiction longhand since 1987 when I got my first laptop computer, but I pulled out a legal pad and resumed. By the time the power came on, I was seven thousand words closer to completion. I'm very fortunate in being a person who calms himself down by working.
The Hammer's Slammers miniature project proceeds apace in Britain. I've now received the first 25-mm figure for approval (which I enthusiastically gave it) and a bag of tiny little weapons. The detail is incredible. GZG will begin selling them fairly soon, though the sales website [http://www.gtns.net/gzg/] didn't have pictures when I looked at it. The vehicles (from Old Crow, but I believe GZG will be filling orders) are moving right along also, though here I've only seen jpgs. The game book with rules and history which Iain Dickie will bring out has a complete text by John Lambshead and I believe complete--and excellent--text layout by John Treadaway, but is waiting for the figures and vehicles which will be photographed for the visuals. A reasonable release date is Christmas, 2003.
I'm much more excited about this than I'd have expected to be. The people I'm working with--heck, the people who're doing the work--are amazingly good. I haven't done any miniature wargaming myself since 1966, but I'm delighted by the skill and enthusiasm of the folks involved.
As for books coming out--Killer is in stores, and I've received copies of Grimmer Than Hell and Warlord (the first of two General omnibus volumes) long enough ago that they're probably available also. Conqueror, the second General volume, is due a month later (but I haven't seen it yet).
The website hasn't changed a lot. There’ve been a few edits and updates on the FAQ and News pages.
There are two short pieces up: one is The Elf House, which will be in Fantasy Masters, from Baen Books and edited by Bill Fawcett. That volume is waiting for Dave Weber to write his story. Since Dave's first boy was just born and he's simultaneously back from Cambodia with the pair of lovely little adopted girls, that may be a while in the future.
The other is A Land of Romance, which I wrote three years ago for a DeCamp festschrift which Harry Turtledove is editing for Baen. The last remaining story has just been delivered, so the volume--Aide deCamp--will be out in the foreseeable future. Harry and I were independently referring to the book as 'the DeCamp Festschrift' but Jim's cooler marketing head prevailed.
I'm also determined to put up my translation of Bacchus and the Sailors from Ovid's Metamorphoses up shortly. I drafted the section while I was at the beach with my extended family but hadn't until now taken time to edit it into final form.
Translating Latin and pistol shooting in the sideyard (we have 23 acres) are the two ways I... hmm; bring myself out of the focus I get while writing. That's important to me, since I want to be a man who writes rather than a really efficient writing machine. Shooting--the holes don't lie; they're either in the black or they're not--and serious translation take a great deal of concentration, enough to bring me back from writing. Reading and even socializing aren't effective at that.
In Newsletter 12 I offered people signed bookmarks (courtesy of Baen Books)
if they sent a self-addressed stamped envelope (ideally more than seven inches
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Thirty-odd people responded, and there've been a smattering since then of folks who apparently read the back newsletters and saw the offer. (I'm familiar with the phenomenon: in 1961 I answered an Arkham House ad in a 1950 issue of Weird Tales that my English teacher loaned me. In a way, I guess that ad was the start of my writing career.)
I've still got thousands of bookmarks, so I'll repeat the offer now.
Now, I have a novel to finish and I guess a grandson to see. My best to all of you.
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