Newsletter #15 mailed out 5 March 2003

Dear People,

I've shipped off the third RCN (Leary/Mundy) novel, The Far Side of the Stars, to Jim Baen. That isn't the title you'd seen before... and I won't bore you with how many iterations that you didn't see that the book went through before we (Jim and I) agreed on this version.

Characters' names and book titles are important to Jim, but I don't always agree with his choices. I will note, however, that my working title for my first book was Tanks Don't Cry. The fact that Jim retitled it Hammer's Slammers may be why I've got a writing career today.

The Far Side of the Stars is due out in October, 2003, from Baen Books. Steve Hickman's doing the cover, but I haven't seen it yet. Steve has done a number of my covers, including that for Lacey and His Friends which is among the best SF covers anybody has ever done. I'm looking forward to the new one.

The book is 140K, a sizable work though not as long as the Isles series fantasies (about which more in a moment). I'm really very pleased with the way it came out. The opening looks like picaresque (there's nothing wrong with that, of course), but most of the bits and pieces turn out to be important at the climax. This didn't surprise me, exactly--I mean, I had a lengthy plot intended to lead to precisely that result--but it's always neat when I read the finished product and think, 'Hey! That really worked!' As I did this time.

Jim is binding a CD-ROM in with the hardcover. It will include all my Baen titles which exist in electronic form (I don't know what that is at this point, but God willing and the creeks don't rise I'll get the information for a later newsletter), and also Lord of the Isles, the first book of the Tor fantasy series (though this may lack the italics; Tor had it only in ASCII and I didn't have it in any electronic form due to my familiar problems with computers).

I called Tom Doherty with my heart in my mouth to ask about using a Tor book on the Baen CD. I don't like to ask friends for something that they don't want to give me, and Tom hadn't wanted me to offer my books free on my website (which is why there'll only be sample chapters of Goddess of the Ice Realms up shortly). To my delight, he agreed with me and Jim that this is a great marketing idea for Tor. (Note that there are still publishers who agree with John W. Campbell that publishing isn't a zero-sum game.)

Another thing planned for the CD is portions of the Hammer's Slammers miniature wargame book which will (we hope) be coming out later in the year from Pireme Publications in Britain. As well as the first troop figurines, I've now received prototypes of a tank with both normal (one-man) and command turrets, and also a combat car. These are in resin, made by Old Crow, and will have metal parts (tribarrels and suchlike) by GZG who's making the figures.

The day job of the guy running Old Crow is to make miniature movie sets and architects' models. To say that these are good--even in the white, completely unfinished--is like saying Robert Heinlein was a good SF writer. I'm more pleased than I can put in words.

There'll be some pictures on the CD, probably in rough paint jobs (the sort of thing a wargamer would provide for his units) and the text of the game book. The bulk of the illustrations probably won't be included because they simply won't be finished in time. To make up for the limited art, John Treadaway (who's doing the book's graphics) may be able to include lots of background information for which there won't be room in the printed version.

Besides those things--and by the way, if there's something one of you thinks ought to be there that I haven't mentioned, e-mail me and I'll consider it--I'm still hoping there'll be novels by Dave Weber and John Ringo. I know people have bought my books because they read something of mine on a Weber/Ringo CD, and I'm very much among those who believe good writers are all on the same side. We have no enemies except the bad writers attempting to copy us.

The next project is an Isles fantasy. After a discussion with Mark Van Name--a prelude you may have noticed before--I talked to Tom Doherty about writing slightly shorter Isles fantasies. The problem with a 200K book isn't that I can't write it (I've done so five times already) but that I can't write one and another, different novel of substantial size in the same year.

It's really good for books in a series to come out annually, but it's absolutely necessary for my sanity that I intersperse books of different sorts--picked from epic fantasy, military SF, and space opera--rather than do one kind straight. That requires the books to be slightly shorter--say about 160K for a fantasy and 120K for a space opera--to fit in a year's work.

(So why did I just turn in a space opera of 140K? Well, Mark and I had our discussion after I'd already conceived the plot, and the particular structure of The Far Side of the Stars required greater length to avoid imbalance.)

We'll see how it works. Keep your fingers crossed, and know that mine are.

I was informed last week that Tor has moved Goddess of the Ice Realm, the next Isles book, up to September, 2003. That was exactly what I was told some three months ago, leading me to wonder what happened in the interim and what may happen tomorrow. Welcome to the highly-organized world of publishing. The Donato cover continues to be just amazing. [].

Oh--let me correct a mistake I made in Newsletter 14. Donato painted the cover with Garric and the Isles series in mind, but he's selling prints on his website under a Lord of the Rings title as a marketing device (of which I heartily approve; I want somebody as good as Donato is to make as much money as possible).

Night Shade Books has just published Sin's Doorway, the fourth of five planned volumes collecting almost all the fantasy of my late friend Manly Wade Wellman. I strongly recommend that those of you who don't know Manly's work to take a look at some. He was probably the best writer in Weird Tales after the deaths of Lovecraft and Howard in 1936. (I wrote the introduction to this volume, but Manly's work is its own recommendation.)

There haven't been any major changes to the website, though I added a FAQ about the genesis of A Grand Tour, my novella in Dave Weber's Honor Harrington universe. There's another of Ovid's lyrics up. (I don't know if anybody else reads my translations, but putting them out in front of God and everybody keeps me rigorously honest.) And there are several pictures from Con DFW, where people were awfully nice to me.

My webmaster, Karen Zimmerman, notes that the newsletter is up to 600 subscribers. This is therefore a good time to mention how much I appreciate her work, since the newsletter and the site itself were entirely her inspiration.

Best wishes to all 600 or so of you!

Dave Drake

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last updated 5 March 2003 by