Avians Blurb

In my last entry I wrote that my publisher wanted a scintillating blurb for the back cover of Avians, which Five Rivers plans to release in August of 2017. I mentioned then that I was working on something with short punchy sentences, and it turned out well, winning approval from Lorina.

Here it is:

Orphans. Runaways. Thieves. The Avians don’t ask questions about a girl’s past. Or her age. They need glider pilots, and the smaller the better.

Raisa is fourteen. Born to a line of powerful silk merchants, her rebellion against an arranged marriage is doomed. The Avians are her only alternative.

Mel is the young servant blamed for Raisa’s disappearance. She meets an Avian recruiter and seizes the chance to spite her employer.

When Mel and Raisa are sworn in with two other girls to form Blackbird squad, their simmering conflict undermines the whole team.

The flying is difficult, the discipline is fierce, and the older pilots don’t even bother to learn their names. The Blackbirds are starting to look like the weakest squad in years.

Then a deadly accident reveals the truth: only the best survive.

If I’ve piqued your interest, keep your eye on this blog; an excerpt from the beginning of Avians may appear here soon.

Footnote: my author profile is up at the Five Rivers website, confirming that Timothy Gwyn is the pen name of… well, go see.

Avians Update

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.


I Have a Publisher

I have signed with Five Rivers Publishing.  They are tentatively scheduling release of Avians for August of 2017. I’ll be taking champagne to tomorrow’s meeting of the Fantasy Five critique group. Five is my lucky number, it seems!

It all began in October, at Can*Con 2015.

The bizarre thing is, I didn’t intend to pitch Five Rivers at all. I didn’t think my novel, set on a lost colony planet, was a good fit for their preference for Canadian voices. I just wanted to find out from an acquisition editor why my opening pages were being rejected, so I signed up for a Blue Pencil Cafe with Dr. Robert Runté, Senior Editor of Five Rivers.

But when I introduced myself to him at the hotel coffee-shop before the convention started, he wanted to hear about my book. I was unprepared, and bungled it badly. Luckily, he gave me a second chance at the Bundoran Press party that evening. He offered to take a look at thirty pages, if I would wait until January to submit them.

Which meant that the day after he offered to look at thirty pages, I had to show him the first three of them at our Blue Pencil. The three that kept coming back. He didn’t hate them, but more importantly, he saw what the problem was: a weak opening paragraph and an unnatural patch of dialogue. Go back to my post called It Takes a Village to see how I took his suggestions and turned the opening around with the help of my critique group.

With revisions that strongly matched Robert’s wish list, the thirty page sample quickly generated a request for the full manuscript. When I got it back a few weeks later there were some preliminary edits and a contract offer. This is a first for me, so I had to take a little time to quiz friends and mentors about the meaning of it all. Now I’m enthusiastically on board.

This August, at Calgary’s convention for writers, When Words Collide, I’ll be attending a master class on Working With an Editor. The class is open to any registered attendee, but for me, it won’t be an editor, it will be my editor. Dr. Robert Runté is the presenter, and I’m pretty stoked about the chance to get three hours of face time.

It feels good to say “my editor.” It feels even better to say “I got an email from my publisher today.” A warm glow spreads up  from my heart to my mouth, and I grin.