Greenglass House

Greenglass House Cover Day! Greenglass House Cover Day!

I said Tuesday but evidently I can’t read a calendar! TODAY IS GREENGLASS HOUSE COVER DAY!

Go immediately to visit the Book Smugglers. There you will find my beautiful cover and an excerpt from the book, as well as instructions for entering a giveaway for a Greenglass House arc. Later I’ll be joined here at the Clockwork Foundry by Jaime Zollars, the cover artist herself. For all the Greenglass House-related fun you can handle, visit the Nagspeake Board of Tourism and Culture to learn more about the Sovereign City of Nagspeake, where Greenglass House takes place.

The excitement, it is nearly more than I can take…

 

All Because Lindsay Said, “Stained Glass.”

Four days to the cover reveal! How about today I tell you a bit about how this book came to be, and what it’s about.

First of all, here’s the publisher’s description of Greenglass House:

It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves.

If you’ve read The Boneshaker and/or The Broken Lands and/or The Kairos Mechanism, this probably sounds like something different. It is. Mind you, it’s not entirely disconnected to Natalie, Sam, and Jin’s world, but you’ll really have to look for the connections. They’re there, but they’re not remotely the point. So how did this story come about?

About two years ago, my critique group came up with a summer project. Some of us were between projects, some of us had been staring too long at the projects we were working on, and some of us (me) needed to be challenged to write something short. The goal was to take a prompt and write a short, simple book, something around 200 pages. As I recall, six of us decided to play. The other five sent their prompts to me and I wrote them down, stuck them in a hat or something, and pulled them out one by one to assign them at random. I can’t remember now what prompt I gave, but I received Lindsay Eland’s contribution: stained glass.

I’ve said it before, but here we go again: I resist outlines. I like to just dive in and see where a story takes me, so that’s what I did with the story that became Greenglass House. About the only things I worked out in advance were the season (winter), the location (a remote inn in the city of Nagspeake), and the fact that Milo, the main character, was adopted. I think I had fairly recently read Dickens’ The Holly-Tree Inn, in which guests snowed in at an inn share tales at night, because the idea of having the guests at Greenglass House tell stories followed fairly quickly.

I think I started right at the beginning, and the opening paragraphs have basically not changed at all:

There is a right way to do things and a wrong way, if you’re going to run a hotel in a smugglers’ town.

 

You shouldn’t make it a habit to ask too many questions, for one thing. And you probably shouldn’t be in it for the money. Smugglers are always going to be flush with cash as soon as they find a buyer for the eight cartons of fountain pen cartridges that write in illegal shades of green, but they never have money today. You should, if you are going to run a smugglers’ hotel, get a big account book and assume that whatever you write in it, the reality is, you’re going to get paid in fountain pen cartridges. If you’re lucky. You could just as easily get paid with something even more useless.

 

Milo Pine did not run a smugglers’ hotel, but his parents did. It was an inn, actually; a huge, ramshackle manor house that looked as if it had been cobbled together from discarded pieces of a dozen mismatched mansions collected from a dozen different cities. It was called Greenglass House, and it sat on the side of a hill overlooking an inlet of harbors, a little district built half on the shore and half on the piers that jutted out into the river Skidwrack like the teeth of a comb. It was a long climb up to the inn from the waterfront by foot, or an only slightly-shorter trip by the cable railway that led from the inn’s private dock up the steep slope of Whilforber Hill. And of course the inn wasn’t only for smugglers, but that was who turned up most often, so that was how Milo thought of it.

The first seventy-odd pages were written when I showed it to Lynne Polvino, my editor at Clarion. But between the time I wrote those pages and the time I went back to finish it a full year passed, which was the time during which we edited The Broken Lands and I wrote The Kairos Mechanism. I wasn’t able to seriously return to Greenglass House until basically a month before the draft was due. But by then, even if I hadn’t broken down and made an outline, I’d made enough notes that I might as well have, although it was still sort of a surprise even to me as the threads I’d laid down at the beginning, without a clue as to where they’d wind up, began to come together.

It wound up being a harder book to write than any of the previous books. In part this was because of the way it had begun, with me jumping into a story based on a prompt without a clue as to where that story was going. In part it was just the fact that the story was so different from the rest. I think I kind of felt that without the fate of the world or at least a whole town somehow hanging in the balance I might not be able to tell a compelling story. I’m still kind of afraid about that, even though I desperately love Milo and Meddy and the adventure they have. But it isn’t the kind of story I’m used to telling, so it’s still hard to know how successful I was. It helps that my editor loves it. It helps even more that the Kid Editors who’ve finished it love it. At least two have declared it their favorite of my books so far, and one of those two, Emma, admitted that she was surprised by that.

So, cautiously, I am beginning to let go of my fear about this very different story. And one of the things that’s really helping me to do that is the perfect rendering of Greenglass House on its perch over Nagspeake’s Quayside Harbor district that you’ll see on Tuesday.

More soon…

Five Days ’til the Greenglass House Final Cover Reveal!

It’s happening this coming Tuesday, September 23rd over at The Book Smugglers! Mark your calendars, friends, because (and I can say this with humility because Lord knows I am not responsible for it) the Greenglass House cover is beautiful. Really fabulously wonderful. I am completely and wildly in love with it. It’s the work of Jaime Zollars, and rather than listening to me talk about how awesome she is, I encourage you to visit her here and see for yourself.

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Super-helpful (not) drawing I made to help explain how Greenglass House could have elements of architecture from Malta, Riga, China, (and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn), all at once. Jaime did it better.

Now, a few of you out there might have gotten a bit of a sneak peek, you lucky ducks. Shh. Don’t tell. But on Tuesday we’ll be revealing the final cover in its full wraparound glory, which I promise you don’t want to miss. And if you can’t stand the idea of waiting until next August to read Greenglass House, you’ll definitely want to stop by, as we’ll be giving away an ARC.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting like a madwoman here to help get you ready. Like every day. Like maybe even more than that, Griffin-permitting.

So MARK YOUR CALENDARS, I SAY! Tuesday the 23rd! Book Smugglers! Be there or you’ll be sorry!

Well, Hey There, September!

I’m not even going to look at when my last blog post was. But three months ago I had a kid, and they were right (because they all told me I would get negative-everything done). I have been getting nothing done.

Except I have been getting some stuff done. Since June 12th, I have done the following, in the following order:

1) Had a baby.

2) Completed my first round of offical Greenglass House edits.

3) Nearly finished Bluecrowne. And by “nearly,” I mean I hit page 155 of what was supposed to stay (for budgeting purposes) under 120, which was roughly the length of The Kairos Mechanism.

4) Conferred with my ace Kid Editors about Greenglass House in preparation for the next round of edits, which I expect to receive this week or beginning of next. Once again, they delivered. These young readers are AWESOME and thoroughly deserve having their praises sung in capital letters.

5) Read the following approximately a hundred times each in the last week alone: 

  • Red Truck
  • Orange Pear Apple Bear
  • Polar Bear Night
  • Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You
  • Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? 
  • If You Want to See a Whale

I have also done the dishes several times.

You’ll shortly be hearing more about Greenglass House. Among other things, Ana and Thea, the fabulous ladies at Book Smugglers, have offered to do a reveal for the cover, so there’ll be that excitement. And the cover is amazing, folks. Jaime Zollars is the artist, and although I’m fairly certain she’s never been to Nagspeake, she managed to capture my beloved home-away-from-home perfectly. (Greenglass House comes out in August of next year, but it’s already available to preorder here and there around the interwebs.)

But since I had initially thought I’d be releasing the next Arcana Project novella this summer and clearly that’s not happening, let’s talk Bluecrowne.

Thing number one: I don’t think I can reasonably call it a novella anymore, since by my best guess it’s going to come in around 175 pages. Thing number two: this throws all my previous calculations out the window. And by “all my previous calculations” I mean my budget. Which is fine, considering I haven’t put together anything in the way of a crowdfunding campaign yet. My initial reluctance to do that before now was due to the fact that I didn’t feel right somehow putting up a campaign when the book wasn’t done. I now see how very pragmatic I was being, even though at the time I thought I was just being paranoid.

There’s also the fact that my slower post-baby writing pace has implications for everyone else involved with this book, including (but not limited to) the wonderful Andrea Offermann, who’s returning for the Bluecrowne cover. 

So here’s the new plan: I’d like to have Bluecrowne to you for the holidays. This still depends on a lot of factors, but I think it’s doable.

I would like not to depend on crowdfunding at some point, but as you see from the progress bar on the right-hand sidebar, I’m nowhere close to having enough in the bank for my original budget yet. Since Bluecrowne’s going to come in so much longer, I’ll be printing fewer paperbacks to start with, but other things like the costs of paying the editor and the reader artists will go up. So there will be a Bluecrowne Kickstarter campaign, I suspect in mid-October, or whenever I get the next Greenglass House edits turned in. And once again there will be a whole bazaar of fun rewards, including another previously-unseen story from The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book in the ebook for Kickstarter backers. (What’s The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book? You’ll have to wait for Greenglass House for the answer to that.) And once again the fundraising will include money to commission a dozen or so young artists to illustrate a special edition. (Don’t want to wait until October to help out? You rock. Click here.)

What will you encounter in Bluecrowne? Well, you’ll meet some new friends and those of you who haven’t yet visited the Sovereign City of Nagspeake will get your first glimpse. But some old friends from all three of my previous books will be returning, too. No, I won’t say who. Not yet, anyway. 🙂 So ends this status report from Milford Command Central. Comments? Questions? No? Great. Here. Have a picture of a few of the research books involved in Bluecrowne, Greenglass House, and The Left-Handed Fate.

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That’s right. I said “a few.”

Float a Bone in the River

Greenglass House deadline: T-13 days. The good news: I’m really close to done. The bad news (earmuffs, Lynne Polvino): some of what I have left, I simply haven’t figured out yet.

Except that this isn’t exactly bad news. Not to me, anyway. For me, part of the joy of finishing a book is seeing all the pieces come together, in much the same way that it’s part of the joy of reading. Part of the reason I like writing by the proverbial seat of my pants is that when I start out with a certain percentage (say, 50%) of the pieces in hand, I like the way the rest of the pieces find me. Or re-find me, by twisty turny means. Last week this happened to me not once, but twice. Since one of those happenings also included a friend and a very cool piece of art, I’m going to tell you about that one.

Exhibit Number One, because it’s the coolest exhibit:

Doodling tonight, remembered your “float a bone in the river” tidbit. -apq

 

The caption is the text of the email that accompanied the image. But let me back up.

Ashley Quach is an artist, screenwriter, and Twitter-turned-In-Real-Life friend who was first introduced to me when my husband, Nathan, found her blog post entitled A Tender Ode to Bloodsport. We also became crowdfunding buddies in a sense; my Kickstarter campaign for The Kairos Mechanism concluded just as her Indiegogo campaign to finance the short film Appleseeds began. (The first screening of the rough cut happens this month, by the way, and if you’re planning to be in Berkeley, CA, on October 14th, you should definitely consider attending the party.)

But to return to how pieces come together, here’s Exhibit Number Two:

One month ago exactly.

 

Now, if you’ve read The Boneshaker, you might remember a moment during the past of Dr. Jasper Bellinspire in which a woman hands him a small bone and tells him it’s the one that floated upriver. This is a piece of lore I came across somewhere: if you take a black cat, reduce it to bones, and set them in a moving river, one bone will float against the current. That one can be used to summon the Devil. So it’s something I already knew, something I had made use of. Maybe because of that, it lived in a different part of my head than the part that needed to find the remaining story pieces for Greenglass House. Until, that is, Ashley sent me her “doodle.”

Who knows why we compartmentalize the way we do? I can make a guess about myself in this case: Greenglass House isn’t about devil folklore the way The Boneshaker and The Broken Lands are–which is to say, it isn’t about devil folklore at all. But it is about folklore; specifically, the folklore of Nagspeake, which, fortunately, has an elasticity that allows me to manipulate it basically however I want. And I realized when I saw Ashley’s message sent picture I realized that Nagspeake needed this bit of lore. And not because it is devil lore or summoning lore, but because it is orphan lore, which my adopted protagonist Milo, who is deeply concerned about his heritage and identity, would be very interested in. Greenglass House isn’t a chosen one story. It is, in fact, an anti-chosen one story, if anything. Still, this piece, the story I wrote after receiving message sent is a critical part of Milo’s adventure.

Very little of this story will actually appear in Greenglass House–Milo encounters it in a book of Nagspeake folklore he’s reading, The Raconteur’s Common-Place Book. But because the grand plan is to release The Raconteur’s Common-Place Book as Volume 3 of The Arcana Project, I wrote the story. Here’s a bit of the first draft (a “doodle,” if you will), with thanks to Ashley Quach for giving me one of the missing pieces I was looking for.

From The Summons of the Bone

It took her a few days to find a black cat, another few after that to find enough wood to boil water. When all that was left of the cat were its bones, she made her way to the river’s edge and set the bones on the water. The frothing river took all but one. That one spun gently as if it were caught in the mildest of eddies. Then it slid against the plunging flow, upriver and out of sight.

             A moment later, the dark figure of a tall man appeared at the bend in the Skidwrack around which the single bone had disappeared. He strode upon the surface as if it were a road, with a long overcoat wrapped around him and a grey fedora keeping the rain from his head.

            Nell watched with her heart in her throat as he approached until the strange figure stood before her with his coat whipping about his ankles and rain dripping from his hat. “I received your message,” he said in a voice like thunder rolling far, far away. She couldn’t see his face, but she sensed that, in the shadows under the brim of the hat, a pair of searching eyes was considering her curiously. “Put forth your question.”

             She folded her shaking hands and cleared her throat, and she saw the dark man smile very slightly, as if there was something endearing about her fear. “I want you to stop the water rising.”

            The man put his hands into the pockets of his coat. “That isn’t a question.”

            “Please stop the water rising?”

            “That is still not a question. It’s a request with a question mark at the end of it.”

            “Well—can you stop the water rising?”

            He smiled more. “You called me all this way to ask me a question I can answer with a single word?”

            The girl realized her mistake and raised her hands quickly. “Wait. No. Let me think.” And as she thought about her question, she realized she had a problem. She had expected to be allowed to make a request, but what the dark man had offered was something different. She could perhaps ask, will you stop the water rising—but even if he answered yes, that didn’t mean he would stop it now, or at any time before her city would be wiped off the coast. She could not think of any way to ask him to solve the problem of the rising water.

            At last she asked the only question she’d come up with. It didn’t accomplish what she’d wanted to accomplish from this meeting, but it was the best she could think of to do. “How can I stop the water rising?”

            “Ah. Now that is a good question…

Novellablog: Oh, Hi, July!

It’s been just about a month since the Kickstarter campaign to fund The Kairos Mechanism closed successfully. I have been very sporadic in my posting since then, but I’ve been hard at work, I swear. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • Churning out pages of the book tentatively entitled Greenglass House, which is due in October and which comes out from Clarion in 2014.
  • Doing final cleanups on The Kairos Mechanism to get it ready for the copyeditor.
  • Meeting with the good folks at Vook about creating the digital editions of Kairos.
  • Meeting with the good folks at Gumroad about selling the digital editions.
  • Traveling to San Francisco for fun and meetings (which were also fun).
  • Getting food poisoning the morning of the flight back to New York which continued throughout the entire flight (no, I have never been so miserable in my entire life).
  • Sending Kairos to the copyeditor, the wonderful Adjua Greaves.
  • Corresponding with Andrea Offermann about her beautiful cover illustration, and sending the illustration off to the designer, the wonderful Lisa Amowitz.
  • Attempting not to panic at the number of emails that got buried in my inbox for the three days I was out of commission with said food poisoning.
  • Attempting to placate fast-reading reader artists who want to get moving while attempting to gently hurry along those who haven’t finished reading yet.
  • Writing ridiculous, multi-page to-do lists and scratching things from them far less frequently than I’m comfortable with.
  • Going to Maryland to spend the Fourth of July with my family and watch Sir Oliver Patrick Lloyd watch his first parade.

Also I ran a ten-mile race with my sister and introduced Oliver to the joys of wearing pajamas like a cape. Plus today I half-cleaned my writing room. I blame my lack of getting stuff done on the room being messy.

What I haven’t managed to do is to get over my fear of setting Kairos loose in the world. But I’m getting close, thanks to the hectoring of the artists chomping at the bit and a late-night lecture from my little brother, who, on my visit to Maryland, woke me up at two in the morning when he got home from work, demanding to discuss the book in-depth despite the fact that I wanted to sleep. He claimed this was fair play because he’d started reading Kairos before bed one night and hadn’t been able to stop until he was done. He also did a lot of swearing during our discussion, explaining that if he didn’t swear he didn’t trust me to understand the depth of his feeling about things. So, all in all, high praise. He also managed to solve two lingering story issues I knew I had to tighten up before finalizing the manuscript.

So…July. Vacation’s over: it’s back into the insanity for Kate. Here we go.

 

 

MEGA-GIANT (non-Kickstarter) ANNOUNCEMENTS!

As if it wasn’t already a flipping awesome week here at Milford Command Central (for those of you who weren’t aware, The Kairos Mechanism exceeded its funding goal yesterday around 1:30), I have two very exciting announcements. Since I cleaned up the lair, I am able to couple these announcements with their related TBR research piles. They will be presented in an order chosen for maximum hilarity.

Exhibit #1:

This is the to-read/research pile for Announcement the First: a beloved book I’ve been working on called The Left-Handed Fate has gone to Noa Wheeler at Holt!

I’m wildly excited about this. It allows me to indulge my family’s Baltimore and Navy roots, while going a little bit crazy with arcane devices and taking the story to my equally-beloved home-away-from-home, the city of Nagspeake. Here’s a little bit about the story.

1813: Amidst the seemingly-endless wars in the Atlantic, Oliver Dexter, 11 year-old newly-commissioned U.S. midshipman, finds himself (thanks to being the most expendable officer aboard his ship) suddenly appointed the acting captain of a captured British privateer.

It should be a short cruise back to Baltimore; however, the privateer Left-Handed Fate is not what she seems to be. Lucy Bluecrowne, daughter of the clipper’s deceased captain, isn’t quite ready to abandon her father’s mission; and Maxwell Ault, the natural philosopher responsible for the Fate’s quest, believes he and Lucy and their shipmates have a chance to end the wars if they can somehow convince Oliver that peace is in everyone’s best interests. Then, perhaps, the three of them can find the pieces of the legendary–but potentially deadly–device Max has hired the ship to seek out. On the other hand, Napoleon’s spies are everywhere. Even worse, the Fate is being followed by a strange brig crewed by a mysterious crew in black-on-black uniforms whose motives no one has quite figured out.

The TL;DR: The Left-Handed Fate is like Master and Commander meets Indiana Jones meets The X-Files. You will love it. Look for The Left-Handed Fate in Fall of 2014. Bonus: I’m told it will be lavishly illustrated. I can barely wait.

Exhibit #2:

This one’s just crazy fun. All I can give you is the working title, Greenglass House. I imagine that will probably change, if only because the premise requires something far, far more awesome. This one went to Clarion Books; pub date TBD.

This is going to shock you, but Greenglass House is set in…drumroll…THE PRESENT! It’s also set in the city of Nagspeake (I seriously can’t wait for you to get to know Nagspeake, guys).

Greenglass House is an inn run by Mattie and Ben Pine, where our hero, 12 year-old Milo Pine, is eagerly awaiting his winter vacation. Most of the patrons of Greenglass House  (thanks to its unique location) are smugglers, and winter is the slow season. Milo is predictably shocked when, just when he expects to have a quiet few weeks alone with his family, guests start turning up, and not the inn’s normal type of patrons, either.

In the space of a few hours, Milo, his parents, the cook and her kids are snowed in with a dozen oddball guests who have no apparent reason for wanting to spend the winter in an isolated old house. Milo, who had his heart set on a little solitude, is just about ready to have a panic attack when the cook’s younger daughter Meddy, a role-playing game enthusiast, suggests they create a real-world campaign to find out what the other guests are up to. When they discover that each guest seems to believe Greenglass House is hiding something precious, the two kids modify their campaign, intent on discovering the inn’s secret first.

Note the very small research pile. It makes me very nervous. In the meantime, though, if you’d like to poke around the city in which both of these books are set, you’re welcome to visit the official Tourism and Culture website. I do some travel writing there, and at a linked site called The Expat.

And what about The Kairos Mechanism, now that the Kickstarter goal has been met? Well, firstly and most importantly, The Kairos Mechanism will be published this September alongside The Broken Lands! I am so excited I can barely contain myself.

But what does this mean for the second half of the Kickstarter campaign? There are 21 days left, and I don’t want a single one to go to waste; until it’s over, please help me keep the momentum going! The Kickstarter doesn’t end just because the goal’s been met–we can keep raising funds until the scheduled end of the campaign, on June 9th. Here’s what will happen with the extra money raised:

  • At $7500, the young artists’ paychecks will be increased.
  • At $9500, I can commit to Arcana #2.
  • At $13500, I can commit to a reader-illustrated edition of Arcana #2.

There are still lots and lots of very exciting rewards for backers, too, don’t forget!