DAW is a lovely publishing house to be a part of, even a small part.
My first three-book deal is coming to an end and I have a two-book deal just beginning. I am now under contract to write Nimbus (the third Psi-Tech book (space opera) and Silverwolf, the sequel to Winterwood, the second book in the Rowankind sequence (historical fantasy).
There is overlap, of course. While putting the finishing touches to the edits on Winterwood I’ve begun the first draft of Silverwolf, and even managed to write the first chapter of Nimbus.
I had a long phone conversation with my editor, Sheila Gilbert. She confirmed that Winterwood is now accepted as is. It’s a tale of magic, piracy, adventure and love.
It’s 1800. Mad King George is on the British throne, and Bonaparte is hammering at the door. Magic is strictly controlled by the Mysterium, but despite severe penalties, not all magic users have registered. Integral to many genteel households is an uncomplaining army of rowankind bondservants, so commonplace that no one recalls where they came from.
Ross Tremayne, widowed, cross-dressing privateer captain and unregistered witch, likes her life on the high seas, accompanied by a boatload of swashbuckling, pirates and the possessive ghost of her late husband, Will. When she pays a bitter deathbed visit to her long-estranged mother she inherits a half-brother she didn’t know about, and a magical winterwood box containing task she doesn’t want.
The process goes like this: I write the book; I polish the book; I send the book to my editor; I get her comments and rewrite sections of the book; I polish the new version; I send it to my editor (this can be a rinse and repeat situation until she says okay, she’s happy with it, though in this case the second version was okay for her). Once Sheila has okayed it, the manuscript goes to the copy editor who licks the basic prose into shape–changing to American spellings, changing the occasional word choice, and adding a ton of commas because Americans tend towards heavier comma usage than most Brits, and because I’m really good at missing obvious commas out of sentences.
I get the manuscript back with the copy edits marked as track changes in Word, and the occasional comment on research (checking for anachronisms and historical inaccuracies). I can accept or reject changes. Mostly I accept the punctuation changes because the copy editor is much better at that kind of thing than I am, but occasionally I have to re-word something because I’ve used a Britishism that my copy editor clearly doesn’t get. (Dry stone wall in Winterwood. Tannoy in Crossways.) This is my last chance to make any significant changes, but it’s a question of where to stop. When does the artist put down the brush and say: it’s finished? No one would thank me for doing a major rewrite at this stage, but this is my chance to catch any repetition or anything slightly out of order.
As an example: at the very last minute I discovered a very minor character called Walter, a retired pirate, who was originally in two scenes. I’d cut him out of the first one and accidentally forgotten to remove him from the second. My choice was to remove him from the second or add him back into the first. I added him back. I have a fondness for whiskery retired pirates.
So once I’ve made a few minor changes and okayed the copy edits, the manuscript goes back to Sheila for a final check. She has now confirmed that no further changes are required. Yay! That means the hard work is finished. The next thing I’ll see are the page proofs, which are due around 15th October. I usually have three or four days (or maybe a week) to check the proofs. At this point I can only make very minor alterations–say–if I spot a typo or maybe the occasional word error. Once the page proofs have been returned my part in the whole thing is done, though it still goes through another typo check at the publisher’s end before being committed to print.
Publication is on schedule for Tuesday 2nd February 2016.
Silverwolf will be the next book published after Winterwood. The publication date is likely to be early 2017 (but maybe late 2016). I’ve got until February 2016 to finish the first draft. I’m working on it now. 23,000 words and counting. This is about the aftermath of what happened in Winterwood. It’s 1801. Magic has been loosed, a whole lot of things are going to change. Some people aren’t going to like it, and others are going to try and take advantage. What’s a witch got to do in order to be able to settle down with the shapechanger she loves?
After that will come Nimbus, the third Psi-Tech book. I’m actually working on that, too, thinking about plot and viewpoint characters and major scenes, though I’ve only written 7,000 words so far as Silverwolf is my first priority.