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:
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.
I know you’ve probably already seen this, but I’m putting it here because it’s that kind of day, and I’m happy. Happy Saturday, kids.
This is it! The campaign ends Saturday, June 9th, at 10am EST. 35 hours left! Let’s make those hours shine.
As of this evening, The Kairos Mechanism’s Kickstarter campaign has topped $7500, meaning the book will be published and illustrated in one of its editions by 14 young artists who, thanks to the amazing backers who’ve pledged so far, will get a bump in their paychecks. Backers will also get a crossroads story that I wrote for my visit to the fifth graders of Deer Hill School in Cohasset. It’s about the Devil and a character you’ll meet in The Broken Lands, a girl with silver eyes. I hope you’ll enjoy it.
Everything that’s raised from here on out will go into the bank for Arcana #2. If we get to $9500 by some outrageous miracle, I’ll post a poll with three options and ask backers to vote on what the next volume will be, and I’ll announce that next title in September at the book launch for The Broken Lands and The Kairos Mechanism.
So, 35 hours to go! Go here. Have a look if you haven’t already, spread the word if you don’t mind. But no matter what, I am so grateful for all the support, feedback, comments, questions, everything. Thank you so much.
First of all, LOOK AT THE PRETTY!!
Beth at McNally Jackson took my PDFs of The Kairos Mechanism‘s book text and front matter and laid them out all sorts of pretty. Then, since I won’t have Andrea Offermann’s cover illustration until about mid-July, Erin at McNally made a basic cover from my title page (the back cover has the disclaimer on it about this being an advance copy and to check all quotes against the final text). Then, ten minutes later, there it was. The books come out warm, like cookies out of an oven or something. It is honestly and truly a really beautiful little book. I am going to be so proud to show it off.
Now. For the second half of the title.
You heard me. I literally have a grammatical error on the first page. Plus I also somehow deleted two lines of text from the last page that make the first line of one paragraph seem a bit like a momentary non-sequitur. Neither are things that will spoil the read, if I stifle my emotional reactions and look at them academically. Still. Perfect brackets, on the first page and the last. Plus, reading it through last night, I decided that Christine Johnson, the final editor to comment on this before my last round of revisions, was right about my needing to spend more time explaining how the mechanism of the title works.
Having read my previous posts about the editorial panic attacks I’ve been having, you might be thinking that I’m having a bit of a nutty here at Milford Command Central. The truth is, I’m not. On the one hand, the grammatical error on page one (although it’s such a common error that most readers are likely not even going to catch it) is exactly the kind of thing I don’t want happening even once in the book, and I certainly can’t have issues of the “this needs more explanation” variety in the final copy.
On the other hand, this will be the third time I’ve experienced the exasperation that is the Advance Review Copy.
The first time I saw the ARCs of The Boneshaker, I was ecstatic. I was over the moon. My book, in actual-book form for the first time, with its beautiful shiny red cover and everything. I was too starry-eyed about that to freak out about the typos inside that were still being ironed out behind the scenes. With The Broken Lands, it was a bit different. I got the ARCs a week after I’d mailed the first mechanical pass back to Clarion, and the number of corrections I made on that mechanical pass made me look sideways at the ARCs because I knew none of those changes had gone into them, and because they were being mailed out to reviewers all over the place. The changes were mostly cosmetic matters of verbiage and poetry and that sort of thing, but there were a LOT of them, and I knew the ARC had been printed from a draft something like three iterations before the one I’d just edited. You can’t freak out about that. You just have to make sure everything’s caught before the final manuscript goes to the printers.
So, although it goes against every instinct I have, I am not going to freak out now, either. Well, not much, I’m not. I’m going to fix what needs fixing, and pass the ms on to the copyeditor. (This is not her fault, by the way; she only just received the manuscript last week. I’m the smartypants who up and decided last week that she wanted some ARCs for BEA. It’s also not the fault of any of the readers who edited the manuscript up until this moment; I’m the genius who somehow deleted the sentences at the end while formatting the manuscript to the specs required by the Espresso Book Machine.)
And ultimately, the professionals of the book world understand what an advance copy is: it’s a snapshot of the book at a stage when it is (to the best of everyone’s ability), fully presentable while still being decidedly still in-process.
Plus, they’re just too pretty and–well, too real not to be overjoyed about. I love them, and with the help of some wonderful, brilliant, dedicated friends and a hundred or so Kickstarter angels*, I made them myself.
So, in the immortal words of Vampire Weekend, who gives a f*ck about the Oxford comma?
*There is still time for you to become one of those angels, you know. The campaign ends June 9. No big deal. I’m just sayin’.
That’s right, one week remains. Seven days, friends, count ‘em. If at any point you were thinking you might want to get involved with the glorious insanity that is The Kairos Mechanism and its equally glorious Kickstarter campaign, now’s the time! Here’s the link. What’s in it for you? My endless thanks, plus goodies. There are so many ridiculously exciting rewards, you just won’t believe your eyes. BUT BELIEVE THEM!!
At the time of my writing this, the campaign is sitting pretty at 110% (that’s $7205). Let me remind you why I still need you:
And, as always, re-tweets, re-blogs, and spreading the word by any means at your disposal are hugely appreciated. On that note, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to some wonderful folks who’ve hosted me on their sites and programs in the last week.
So, here we go! The last week! What will I be up to?
Evidently this post is all about bullet points.
Seven days! Here we go! Let’s bring it home, kids. And, as always, thank you, thank you, thank you. I would hug each of you and bake you a cake if I could.
That title’s a big fat lie.
I let go of none of my fears (ever), and I’m terrified of bombing. I worry about what people think all the time. There is no learning to stop. It’s just part of who I am. On the other hand, there is a time to let go, if only because if you don’t, the larger project fails. That’s right about where I am now with The Kairos Mechanism.
Last night I finished all but a couple of the final edits from my friend, author and ace editor Christine Johnson. In the grand plan and timeline for Kairos, Christine is the last person to weigh in before the manuscript goes to Adjua Greaves, my copyeditor for this project. And I have a couple hours left this afternoon before I can call Christine’s edits done, but after that, I sort of have no excuse not to send the manuscript on to Adjua.
Now, careful readers will note that there is still a whole other person left to edit the thing, and therefore plenty of time for me to make changes before the text becomes permanent. So why the panic?
I guess because I’m still sort of kicking around the idea of printing some advance copies to take with me to BEA. I still don’t know what I’d do with them–I’m not booked on any panels or anything, and I’m certainly not planning on wearing a sandwich board that says ASK ME ABOUT MY BOOK. But there is a certain temptation in the idea of having a few on hand, which means I need to be reasonably certain the novella is in passably-readable advance copy state.
I just still don’t know if I am qualified to determine what that looks like. For instance, just to show you the kind of thing I’m (irrationally?) worried about: Word likes to configure ellipses without spaces between the dots. My editor at Clarion always re-configures them the other way, space-dot-space-dot-space-dot-space. But when I do that in Word, I end up with situations where there are two dots at the end of one line and one dot at the beginning of the next one. Do it the other way, and it causes problems when I justify the lines. So clearly I have to go through the entire PDF and fix this issue. File under: dumb-but-obvious-in-retrospect layout stuff to panic about.
Then there’s story stuff. I have a note in the manuscript that I’ve been vacillating about for like 3 weeks. Ongoing story issue? Critical thing I haven’t figured out yet? Nope. There’s a reference to Arcane’s schoolyard, and one of my critique mates wants to know where it is in the town. Literally, all I have to do is pull out my map of Arcane and decide on a spot. There are no ramifications to where I place the schoolyard. None. It’s also kind of unnecessary to actually place it; the story works fine without that detail, so I could reasonably just delete that note. But I need to know where it is for purposes of planning (see my earlier post on organization), and adding that one line won’t slow things down at all. So I should do it. It’s not a difficult thing. It’s easy and logically a good thing to do. And yet…I keep putting this stupid detail off, for no reason I can figure out except a reluctance to let go. File under: dumb-but-nagging detail stuff to panic about.
I could give you more examples, things to file under the following categories:
And really, I invented all these categories to avoid thinking about the big elephant in the room with me right now: panic that people simply won’t like the story. If people don’t like the story, it’s not going to be because of anything left on any of my panic lists. If people don’t like the story, I have no one to blame but myself. There’s no editor and no acquisitions committee that gave me a measure of validation in advance. It’s only me who thought this was something worth writing, worth my time to complete, worth your time to read. Only me who thought it was ready.
Well, only me, my critique group, the Kid Editors, two in-depth story-editors…every one of them a person I trust. And really, if I’m honest, when I read what I’ve written, I truly, truly love it. If I twist my own arm and make myself answer honestly, however hard it is to let go, I do think it’s ready. So maybe I need to stop worrying after all.
I mean, I won’t–I’m still me, after all–but I’m going to try.
It’s my first-ever podcast, and it was so much fun! Thank you to Dave Bartram, Peter Cox, Ali Gardiner, and Dr. Sue for letting me join the fun.
Short post today, because I have other things to devote my considerable freaking-out-energy to, but remember how I was having a panic attack about potential editorial mistakes I could make? Here’s one I’m stressing about right now. Give me your thoughts.
I’ve now heard from five of the six Kid Editors. I’ve also heard from four critique mates and my husband. Most of the comments have been consistent: I need to spend a bit more time making sure that things are clear for readers who aren’t familiar with Arcane and the events of The Boneshaker; there’s a major Tom Guyot reveal, but I didn’t have a scene between Tom and Natalie after that big reveal and everyone felt that was a missed opportunity; everybody felt I needed to clarify someone’s motivations at the end. Fair enough. Fixed, fixed, and fixed. (I think.) I’m waiting to hear from the last editor reading The Kairos Mechanism before it goes to the copyeditor, so we’ll see what she thinks about the changes I made.
I’m also very eager to see what she thinks about The Thing I’m Worried About. The Thing They Don’t All Agree On. The Subject of This Post. Here it is, and it’s a perfect example, I think, of the problem of having to rely on yourself to edit your own work.
Everybody quotes that “kill your darlings” thing. I hate that thing, but I understand the importance of being willing to let go of what you love if it doesn’t serve the story. But what about this stupid situation?
At one point in the story, the two protagonists (Natalie Minks and Ben Claffan) venture into a garden behind the home of Arcane, Missouri’s most mysterious citizen, Simon Coffrett. Simon is a big question mark, and I wanted to give readers a bit of an extra glimpse into his world. So I let Natalie and Ben explore the garden for a bit. Arguably, I let them explore a bit too long.
The thing in question involves five pages of text. Considering the manuscript only runs 130 pages at the moment, five pages is a pretty substantial chunk. On the other hand, it’s not five pages of description. There’s one major thing that happens and one major discussion that happens. So, let’s say it’s three and a half pages of contested material, once the substantive stuff’s been removed.
Most of the adults were very put-off by the fact that I spent three and a half pages meandering there, and suggested strongly that I cut it back. The kid beta-readers, however, wanted–no, demanded that I spend more time there. They wanted more details, more color, more description.
So it comes down to this: do I cut it back, because the adult readers (who are, not coincidentally, the readers most in touch with the pacing and narrative expectations of the publishing world I know) think it’s a bit too meandering and detail-geeky? Or do I leave it, because the kids think it’s great, and gives them some sort of insight into a character they desperately want to know more about?
No, seriously. I’m asking.