That Dark and Cozy Time of Year Newsletter from Tad, December 2017

The editing of Empire of Grass begins

I spent a lot of time in emergency rooms and in Europe lately — no connection between the two. Everybody who went to an emergency room is more or less fine now. (Deb just had her gall bladder removed, which wasn’t fun, but she’s recovering nicely.)

The European tour was great fun, albeit a mite tiring, being one of those new-city-every-day tours. We went from Switzerland to Germany, which is where the largest amount of time was spent, then brief trips to England and the Low Countries as well, Netherlands and Belgium. Virtually every single person was nice to us, the readings and signings were great, and we ate a lot of excellent meals in cool cities with cool people. (Deb was with me for the tour, a rarity, and we enjoyed every bit of it.)

Now I’m back rewriting the first, very rough draft of EMPIRE OF GRASS, with a special emphasis on getting it readable for Deb as she recovers in bed. Shortly afterward it will go out to the other first readers, including my agent and publishers.

Thoughts on the book so far: I have none. EOG is too large for me to get a real sense of it from this sort of piecemeal editing. (Piecemeal because the process includes replacing the two or three chapters in total that either got lost during backing-up — I know, how did I manage that? — or didn’t get written because I just didn’t feel comfortable with the details at that stage of the manuscript.)

I can tell you this, however — a lot of stuff happens in this book. To a lot of characters. In a lot of places.

I know that’s not very a satisfying description, but when you have quasi-humanoid squirrel folk, mysterious giant invisible ogres, angry bears, the underground chambers of the lost (but no longer abandoned) city of Da’ai Chikiza, as well as the home of a Sithi wizard — okay, really a Sithi scholar — and that’s just some highlights of ONE character’s plotline, it’s really hard to sum up what’s in a book.

Also, because of the way I’m editing to get it ready, I haven’t really read all the way through (haven’t reached the second half yet) so at present it’s kind of a mystery to me. I wrote this very fast for a 1200 page manuscript, but I’ve been working on it for about a year, so some of the details are already vague. Or maybe that’s just me. I am a bit vague sometimes.

In fact, I enjoyed my time in Europe so much precisely because it allowed me to be vague for three weeks straight. At home I’m always the Napoleon of organization, looking things up, double-checking, calling to make sure I have details right, planning, all that boring crap. But when I’m on tour I tell whoever’s in charge of me, “Just get me where I need to be and give me a general hint about what’s expected. I’ll be fine.” And since someone always gets me there, and then usually — unless I’ve behaved VERY badly — gets me back to my hotel again too, vagueness reigns.

Of course, when at one point we had about four or five hotel rooms in a row with numbers in the two hundreds, we did occasionally forget where we lived, but that’s why they have reception desks. I speak just enough German to be (I hope) charmingly hopeless and stupid, and hotel workers always seem willing to humor me.

The whole experience of traveling, being greeted by people who know my work and presumably like it (or why the hell would they be coming to a reading/signing?) is quite lovely. There’s no way to downplay it. Deborah once said, “You’re like the opposite of a policeman.” To which I said, “Huh?” And she explained that was because in my professional capacity I nearly always see people at their best — smiling, kind people who want to meet me and often want to say kind things to me. As opposed to police, who are often meeting people on their worst day ever, or people who never have what you’d think of as “good days” at all.

I’m very grateful for that, as I remind myself every day, and did so especially just before attacking the family Thanksgiving dinner we had not long ago. I am unutterably grateful for readers, especially MY readers, because without them I would be sad and poor. Instead of generally happy and clinging to the underside of the middle class while doing something I love to do.

So I’m in the deeps of revising a very long book with a ton of plotlines. Did I mention court intrigue? Oh, my golly, there’s a ton of that. The whole Miriamele-in-Nabban plotline is stuffed with drama and awful things happening. And Brother Etan on his tour of the southland, sending back letters — look, Mom, part of my novel is epistolary!

“Go wash that mouth out with soap,” she says.

So at Casa Beale-Williams these days, we are the following: Not missing absent internal organs. Working. Getting ready for the horror & joy of The Holiday Season. Deb’s birthday is just before Christmas, and my early plan of getting her a gall bladder cozy is now out the window, so I’m back to square one on that. Suggestions are welcomed.


NOTE FROM DEB: Not dead yet, kind people! Thank you very much for notes of concern. Tad wrote the above a few days ago & I’ve been in bed & reading ‘Empire Of Grass’. (I’m smiling. I’m just… smiling.) We have a publication date but can’t say till after the publishers read the novel. But hopefully that’s soon. In late winter or spring 2018 we’ll be running an entirely other kind of promotion… More about that next letter. Happy holidays, and all love and all bright blessings to you all.

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