The book marches on. Editing is complete. The senior editor has passed the manuscript on to the publisher. I feel a massive sense of relief. I no longer have to fear that I will be asked to make unbearable changes. The story really is good enough, and it will be told. One aspect took a day to sink in. My editor isn’t mine any more. He’s on to other things now. Other stories, other authors. I feel a strange sense of loss, as if summer camp is over and I must get ready for school.
Sure enough, the next email I got was from the publisher. They like a photograph I sent them. They’d like to use it for my author profile, maybe even the back jacket of the book. I am left shaking my head in wonder. Sure, I’ve pictured my book as a physical thing, with a cover and a title. It just never occurred to me that my photograph might be on it. Let alone squinting, with my eyes nearly shut. I sent that photo in a sense of amusement. It shows me writing in the back of one of the planes I fly. Before you ask, the plane is on the ground, parked. It was taken by one of our other pilots as we sat around and I typed. My tablet and keyboard are propped up on the table that unfolds for the passengers to use. I know this is not how most writers work. I thought it was funny. But the folks at Five Rivers seem to think it illuminates me; shows everyone what and who I am.
I hastily sent a better picture, in which my eyes are actually open. This time, the cockpit is in the background. Casual observers will see the overexposed sky, and might conclude that I have vacated the cockpit while the aircraft is in flight. Pilots will note that some of the instruments are displaying gyro flags, indicating that the plane is shut down. So please take my word for it: the picture was taken on the ground, while we waited for our passengers to do their thing and return. It shows me getting set up to work on the final edits on Avians, though, so that’s pretty appropriate.
The publisher likes this one, too. While I’m at it, she adds, could we have you write a blurb for the back cover? Make it sing, she says, we’d like something scintillating. Oh boy. I’m okay at telling a story, I think. I can keep the action moving and I can evoke a mood now and then. But write a compelling tease in just a couple of hundred words, that introduces a character, a situation and a conflict? Umm. Better give me a couple of days. On my computer, I have a disjointed document that is the digital equivalent of a waste-paper basket full of crumpled sheets. It goes back months, nay, years. I tried different angles. A version that plays up the conflict between Raisa and Mel as they struggle to relate as equals instead of master and servant. A version that focuses on Raisa’s jeopardy and desperation. And a longer version that tries to do both.
Right now, I’m leaning toward a blurb that starts with some very short sentences. It doesn’t sing, it shouts. It doesn’t scintillate, it takes a swing at your face. If I can complete it, and flesh it out with the character/situation/conflict thing without losing momentum, it’ll be good. Or perhaps I’ll have to go back to the drawing board.
One other thing. Antipodean SF has accepted another bit of my flash fiction. So I get something published this year after all, despite being preoccupied with the big novel project most of the time. “Zeta Series” will appear in October. I hope you like rats.