October 1st, 2012

blue box

An Earthshaking Day

Two big events happened this weekend. First, I managed to write 2,000 words. That's lower than my usual daily total, but this was the first time I've been able to write in about a month, so I feel like I'm back in the saddle again.

Second, we had an earthquake Saturday night. It was different from the previous earthquake, so I didn't realize it was an earthquake until I saw the story in the newspaper the next morning. The previous earthquake was more like a gentle rippling, where I felt like I was in a small boat on a lake even while I was sitting on the sofa in my living room. This time, I was reading in bed when there was a sudden "boom" and my whole house shook. I felt like someone had jerked my bed back and forth. My first thought was that something really heavy upstairs (like maybe the upstairs) had fallen, so I got up and went around the house checking things. The upstairs bookcases hadn't toppled over, and the floor upstairs seemed to be intact. I had to wonder if maybe a truck had crashed through the brick wall around the yard (it's happened before) and into my neighbor's side of the building, but I didn't hear any sirens approaching, and their response is usually really quick for stuff like that. I went back to bed, and soon there was another, fainter jolt. I just figured that maybe something heavy had fallen in my neighbor's house (I live in a townhouse, with four houses in the building). So then I open the newspaper the next morning and see that there was a 3.4 earthquake the night before, with the epicenter just down the street, followed by an aftershock. This is rather unusual around here. I've lived in this city for more than 20 years with no earthquakes at all, ever, and now we've had two in less than a year.

In other earthshaking news, today is publication day for No Quest for the Wicked. I'll post updates when I know about it going live at various online booksellers, but it should definitely be available at iBooks and for Kindle now.

I look at this book as the start of the second "season," so to speak. In fact, that's the way I described the idea to the Japanese publisher, and I noticed they put that on the cover of the book. I'd wrapped up the major story arc in the fifth book, but didn't really plan to end the series there (as you can probably tell by the way it ended). But I didn't really know for sure what the next arc would be. I had a sense of what the character arcs might be, but I had no idea about a plot. Then the Japanese publisher asked for another book in that universe. They said it didn't have to continue the same story and could be about other characters in that universe. I wasn't quite ready to go there and I had more stories to tell about Katie and Owen. I just had to figure out what they were.

So I went to my literary bucket list, the list of things I want to write someday. One of those things was a classic quest story. The other was a story in a very short, defined timeline. I thought then that it would be fun to send my characters on a quest and to make it a really tight timeline, so the entire book took place in one day. Around that time I came down with my annual bout of bronchitis mixed with a killer cold, and one of the things I did to amuse myself while I was lying on the sofa and coughing up my lungs was watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And then I charted the stages of the quest because I thought it would be fun to semi-spoof what's probably the best-known quest in fantasy fiction. That was the framework I built my proposal synopsis around.

Except it turned out when I started writing that I'd plotted a short story, not a novel, so I had to go back to the drawing board and add some subplots and some complexity to the framework I already had. And then things started to get a bit silly. That tight timeline meant the pacing was pretty relentless (the copyeditor even put in a note about how she hoped everyone got some rest after the book ended because she was worried about them, and didn't they need more of a break during the book?). It also meant it wrote "fast." I didn't give myself too much time to second guess, so if something popped into my head, I went with it. So we get stuff like antique zombie gargoyles, which started as a joke but turned into a plot element. I probably had more sheer fun writing this book than anything else I've written. Book 5 is a little more serious and angsty. This one is mostly a romp, with some serious undertones and real danger, but still generally funnier (I think) than any other book in the series. I cackled to myself a lot while writing it.

So, I hope you enjoy it, and the usual drill applies: please tell people, tweet, post to Facebook, blog, etc., and if you feel so inclined, post reviews at the bookseller sites, Goodreads and places like that. It's a little harder to get publicity for self-published books, and I don't want there to be fans of this series who don't know there are new books.