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"The Killing God": bad news
My agent has submitted the book to my editor at Berkley. Without reading it (!), my editor informed me that Berkley will not consider publishing the book until I cut 100,000 words. Roughly 35% of the text. On the assumption that I will not do such violence to my own work, Berkley has removed the book from their publication schedule.
Their assumption is correct. At this stage, I routinely prune my manuscripts by 10%. I may conceivably be able to go as far as 15%. But whether or not anyone likes my characters and how I handle them, my stories are very tightly plotted. Each piece relies on--and is implied by--what came before it. I can't mutilate Book Three without making the entire trilogy incoherent.
My agent believes that where we stand now is not the end of "The Killing God." (Never mind of my career.) He has persuaded my editor to go ahead and read the book. He hopes that seeing how strongly Book Three caps Books One and Two (which she loved) will persuade her to rethink her position. I have my doubts. I suspect that her position is corporate rather than editorial: my books no longer earn enough to make them worth publishing regardless of their intrinsic merits. Naturally, I hope I'm wrong.
When I have more news, I'll post it here. I don't expect to hear anything until sometime in January.
"The Killing God": progress report
I've finally finished my first-pass revision of Book Three of THE GREAT GOD'S WAR, "The Killing God" (formerly known as "The Last Repository"). The text is now ready to deliver to my agent and editor. In its current form, it stands at 1100 pages, a bit more than 283,000 words. What happens next? My agent will read the book much faster than my editor will; but I won't start on the next revision until I've received what are politely called "comments" from both of them. At that point, no doubt, Berkley (and Gollancz in the UK) will schedule publication. Sometimes this requires me to do my next revision in a hurry. But not always.
"The Last Repository": change of title
Many years ago, I was fortunate to have a mentor of sorts who introduced me to the realities of publishing. One of the first things he told me was, "It's a rare author who gets to choose his/her own title." Since "Lord Foul's Bane" (not my title), I've had my share of success naming my own books. But not this time. Marketing (the boss of everything, and the doer of nothing) has forbidden my title. So the new title for Book Three of THE GREAT GOD'S WAR is The Killing God. Which, from my point of view, is less than ideal, but not bad.
"The Last Repository," progress at last
Against all the odds, I've finally finished the first draft of "The Last Repository," Book Three of The Great God's War. 1180 pages, roughly 290,000 words. Readers familiar with my process (perhaps from the Gradual Interview) will know that I always do at least three drafts (one for the story, one for me, one for my agent and editor). Unless, of course, something goes wrong, in which case more drafts become inevitable. So publication is still a long ways off. But at least the book exists now. In the event of my untimely demise, no one will have to guess where I intended to go with this story.
The first Thomas Covenant trilogy in audio: widely available at last! Plus other Covenant audio news.
After many unforeseeable (and indeed inexplicable) delays, all caused by an unreliable distributor, Scott Brick's recordings of "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever" are finally available from outlets like Amazon, Audible, and--if I'm not mistaken--iTunes. Later, the readings will become available from a much wider range of outlets, including libraries.
For those who don't know the history: for 35+ years, Ballantine Books had no interest at all in doing anything to support these books; so Scott leased the rights, made the recordings himself, and sold them through his own outlet, brickbybrickaudiobooks.com. Then, at about this time last year, someone at Ballantine woke up to the growing market for audio books. That led to an extension of Scott's license which enabled him to "go wide."
His recordings of "The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant" are still available from his outlet. Eventually, they will also reach wider distribution. But his immediate goal is to get his reading of "Fatal Revenant" (Book Two of "The Last Chronicles") onto Amazon et al. As a particularly stupid example of publisher-think, Penguin licensed Books One, Three, and Four for audio, but refused to license Book Two--until Scott stepped in. At present, "Fatal Revenant" can still be found only on brickbybrickaudiobooks.com.
"The Great God's War" Book Three delayed
I probably should have mentioned this some time ago, but I've been embarrassed. I used to pride myself on meeting my deadlines. But for reasons of ill health (my wife's as well as my own), I've been forced to get a considerable extension. Sadly, I won't meet that deadline either. But in this case, the reason is the sheer heft of the story I'm trying to tell in THE LAST REPOSITORY. The book is already almost 50,000 words longer than THE WAR WITHIN, and I still have (just guessing) 25% of the story to tell. In addition, I never let my agent and editors see my first draft. My need to do a second draft (primarily for internal consistency and style) will further delay the book by 3-4 months.
I regret all of this more than I can say. But I have to live my actual life while I'm writing.
THE ILLEARTH WAR in audio
After an unexplained delay of several months, Scott Brick's reading of THE ILLEARTH WAR is now available from outlets like Audible and Amazon. In the absence of other information, I assume that Brick's THE POWER THAT PRESERVES will become available after a comparable delay.
For the foreseeable future, Brick's reading of "The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant" will only be available from his website:
Finally! LORD FOUL'S BANE on audio
I'm glad to report: SUCCESS! After way too many skirmishes, wranglings, and inexplicable delays, Scott Brick's reading of LORD FOUL'S BANE has just appeared on Audible (through Amazon). Through other outlets as well, presumably. The next two books aren't "up" yet, but we have reason to believe they'll be available soon. This has been a long, hard road, primarily for Scott, but to a lesser extent for me as well. I'm relieved. Also gratified.
New Content: Scholarly
An essay titled, "Violations as Profound as Any Rape: Feminism and Sexed Violence in Stephen R. Donaldson," first published by EXTRAPOLATION earlier in 2019, is now available here (look under "commentary/analyses"). The author is Dennis Wilson Wise PhD, who is on the English department faculty at the University of Arizona. I like his intellectual rigor as well as his determination to treat what I do fairly. He presents a fascinating argument.
THE WAR WITHIN in paperback: bad news for US readers
Berkley, the publisher of THE WAR WITHIN (Book Two of "The Great God's War," has decided not to release the book in paperback. The sales of TWW in hardcover, and of SEVENTH DECIMATE in paperback, were ruinous; and Berkley is unwilling to spend even more money in a doomed cause. TWW will continue to be available in hardcover, at least for a while. It will be available as an ebook almost indefinitely. And it will be available as an audio book from Audible for the foreseeable future.
For me, this is what my son calls "a real boot to the head." But it won't stop me from working on Book Three, THE LAST REPOSITORY.
Audio Books Update: "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant"
I'm happy to report that, after much to-ing and fro-ing, Ballantine Books (now a small subsidiary of PenguinRandomHouse) has agreed to renew Scott Brick's license for audio book versions of Covenant 1-3. In exchange, he has agreed to make his readings available from all the major outlets (such as Amazon and Audible) and several others. Previously, his readings were only available from his web store: www.brickbybrickaudiobooks.com.
When this change goes into effect, I *assume* that Covenant 4-6 in audio will also become widely available; but I don't know it for a fact. That license won't be due for renewal for a few more years.
Sadly, none of this affects Covenant 8 (Fatal Revenant). That license was negotiated with Penguin (a more "respected" subsidiary of PenguinRandomHouse), and so far Penguin seems, well, recalcitrant. I can't explain it. But that book remains available in audio from www.brickbybrickaudiobooks.com.
I was saving this to include in a newsletter. But now that my newsletter is defunct....
Way back at the end of May, I did a podcast interview for something called "author stories." When I agreed to do it, I thought it probably had something to do with THE WAR WITHIN. But it turned out to be more about the story of my gestation and development as a writer than about any particular story. (This is just an observation, not a complaint. I'm not entirely comfortable talking about work that's still in progress, which "The Great God's War" is.) Here's the link:
The End of the Newsletter
I suppose it was inevitable. The company I've been using to create and send my newsletters, Campaigner.com, has finally "improved" its interface to the point of unusability. And in what I call my "reclining years," I can't endure the stress of a learning curve this complex and unfriendly. So October 2018 was the last email newsletter.
My webmaster is in the process of adjusting this website to accommodate newsletter-length "news," and to help interested readers find that information. When the changes are complete, I'll continue writing newsletters, but they will only be available here.
I'll miss the pictures.
A Message for People Who Have Not Been Receiving the Newsletter
A number of people have asked to be included in our newsletter mailings even though their email addresses are already on our list. We're not sure what to do when the newsletter goes out but doesn't arrive. We have to ask: did you check your spam folder? Unfortunately, that's not the only possible explanation. On some occasions, our software reports a "hard bounce." That means the receiver's ISP rejected the email outright. This is not a problem the sender can solve. Sorry about that!
It will come as a surprise to no one who visits this site that I no longer post much news here. If you're interested in more current information, sign up for my newsletter by contacting: NMJen11@yahoo.com. She'll make sure your email address is added to my mailing list.
The War Within
The War Within, Book Two of THE GREAT GOD'S WAR, has finally achieved D&A (delivery and acceptance). Publication is scheduled for April 2019. I'm still preparing myself for Book Three, The Last Repository.
View archived news.