Newsletter #6 mailed out 9 July 2001

Dear People,

Rather than being an account of things that've happened, a lot of this newsletter is about what's in store for the next few months. (Assuming the asteroid doesn't strike, of course. I learned a long time ago the truth of the adage, 'Man proposes, God disposes,' and I live in that knowledge.)

Some things have happened, however. Tor Books flew me to New York City on June 6 and put me up for the night in the Carlton, formerly the Savile, a really nice Grand Hotel which has been fully modernized. A startup outfit called Bookstream is doing videos of authors to be streamed on the web by outlets like Amazon. If you click on the cover of a book, instead of getting simply a bigger cover you get a lot of information and four or five short clips of the author answering interview questions.

This is brand new: the producer (Steve) explained that their initial problem had been that the retailers said, "Well, that's interesting. Line up some publishers and come back to us." While the publishers said, "Well, that's interesting. Line up some retailers and come back to us." Tor is one of the first to gamble with the idea, taking five author slots--of which I'm one.

The Bookstream people are extremely professional and a delight to work with. The interview and filming took place in Steve's large apartment on 24th Street rather than the uptown studio as originally planned. Street sounds--particularly garbage trucks backing and a pile driver--complicated the process, but there was the benefit of having Tim, a 47-year-old Eastern Box Turtle (Steve's pet of twenty years) racing about. She (hey, it's hard to sex turtles!) was one fast little turtle, let me tell you.

Steve complimented me on my website, saying that it stood well above the others he'd checked for the project in terms of providing useful information in an accessible fashion. I told him that the design (and the fact there was a site to begin with!) was a result of the skill of my webmaster. Karen's background is in instructional technology, so her emphasis is on providing information to the user instead of glitz that shows how clever the designer is.

After the taping (the result is supposed to be ready in time for the mid-September release of Mistress of the Catacombs), I went to the Tor offices in the Flatiron Building; I'd never been there before. The elevators are individually quite small. I got out of mine on the 14th floor, vaguely wondering where I went next, and nearly collided with Tom Doherty--my closest friend in the firm, and coincidentally the publisher--who was getting out of the next cage. He zipped me into his office on the apex of the triangular building with a gorgeous view over Madison Avenue and 23d Street. My editor, Dave Hartwell, and folks with whom I'd been working for years but who were just names to me, came in and chatted as we were having coffee. Amy Crump from publicity then guided me around the rest of the suite.

Tom's office is spacious, with trophies and neat shelves of recent Tor titles. The rest of Tor Books looks a lot like my own work areas: piles of books, papers, and goodness knows what stacked most of the places there are. Dave is Tor's out-of-copyright western editor, so I went off with Owen Wister, Johnston McCulley, and Clarence E Mulford titles stuffed in my cargo pockets.

After a conversational lunch with Tom, Dave, and Stephanie Lane (who's as much a pleasure in person as she's been to work with by phone over the years) I flew back home.

NYC has in the past been one of my least favorite places. My most recent trip there had been in the late '80s and was not a good experience for reasons which were not entirely the fault of the city. I told the Tor publicity people that if their studio was in Viet-Nam, I'd return there with just as much enthusiasm. In the event it was so nice a trip that I'd say that averaging it and the last previous made my NYC visits pretty decent.

In addition to the Bookstream project, Tor is sending me on an honest-to-goodness author tour for Mistress, flying me between cities in a circuit of the Southeast and Eastern Midwest. The dates and places (subject to change, I suppose) are up on the website under News, and any changes will be plugged in as soon as we know them. This is really a Good Thing; but I gotta tell you, it sure makes me nervous. I'm a pretty retiring person, and I'm going to be in public mode for several weeks straight.

On Friday, July 13, I'm taking my wife Jo, our son Jonathan, and Jonathan's wife April, to Belize for ten days. I've always been fascinated by ancient jungle-covered cities. That means Mayan sites in Central America; Angkor Wat in Cambodia stopped being a viable alternative for a family vacation at about the time I was in the general area riding a tank. I'm really looking forward to this. I'll answer accumulated e-mails when I get back, but I'm not taking a computer into the rain forest. (My son the techie is taking one, to download pictures from his digital camera; I'll let you know how it works out.)

I finished the second of the four Hammer novellas for my next Baen title. This one is 45K and titled The Political Process. I'm hoping to have the finished plot of the third done before we leave for Belize so I can stare at it thoughtfully in between howler monkeys and bushmasters. (Well, we're supposed to see howler monkeys; and romantic that I am, I'm hoping for a bushmaster also.) The first of the series, Choosing Sides, is up on the website now for free download.

Apart from that, the new Baen paperback of Ranks of Bronze ought to be out realsoonnow. And Warner's has the reprint military SF anthology Dogs of War scheduled for January, 2002. I did the intro to the volume and afterwords to all the stories while I was in NYC--which is a good thing, because when I got back my editor Betsy Mitchell said there was a rush on it. As an example of the real world of publishing, Marty Greenberg and I had completed everything to do with the collection before boilerplate contracts made it through the Time-Warner legal department.

I should have more to tell you after we get back from Belize--and pictures, I hope. Till then, hang in and think positive thoughts.

--Dave Drake

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