Questions?

June 13th, 2006

Wondering when the next Deverry novel by Katharine Kerr is coming out? How David Edelman worked out his Infoquake timeline? What interesting research Carol Berg did for her new series? Why Kate Elliott wrote a seven volume trilogy? What Constance Ash knows about Cuba? How Lois Tilton feels about her recent nomination for the Sidewise Award?

If you have a specific question for one of the authors, ask it here.

We reserve the right to develop a FAQ if certain questions get asked repeatedly, but don’t let that stop you!

310 Responses to “Questions?”

  1. Lynnon 16 Jun 2006 at 1:40 pm

    {!–[if !supportEmptyParas]–} {!–[endif]–}

    design/composition note — the most recent post has some markup artifacts in in – I’ve reproduced them above with curly brackets replacing the angle brackets.

  2. Kate Elliotton 16 Jun 2006 at 1:53 pm

    Thanks, Lynn.

  3. Danny Jurmannon 19 Jun 2006 at 6:07 pm

    Not so much a question as a comment and a question….

    question. Why are books cheaper in the US than the UK?

    Comment…The genre question is an interesting one…here is another take….in a world with various degrees of bad news fantasy & sci fi form escapist literature where (usually) the good ends well and the bad ends badly. I like that. Deep or shallow, generally fantasy is consistent in this regard. If I don’t want to escape I’ll watch the world news.

  4. Caitrín Tuathalon 26 Jun 2006 at 7:14 pm

    Not exactly a question for an author, but a comment/question relating to this blog. I’ve tried three times now to send an email with my 13 lines for the 13-Line Critique, but all my emails have been returned. Hoping there’s a way to get around this…

  5. Caitrín Tuathalon 27 Jun 2006 at 12:29 pm

    Ah–never mind my last post.

  6. Emmaon 27 Jun 2006 at 2:11 pm

    Hello,

    I actually have two questions – a general one for all the authors and a specific one for Katharine Kerr….

    General:

    Alright, I am a young, teenage writer. I am currently writing my…fifth?…story. Three of the others are not anything…their concept died…one I wrote when I was young, but the one I’m on now is my best. When I write it, it leaves me with a really great feeling inside…I can see it going places. But, I don’t know HOW it will get there.
    I was hoping one of the authors, or anyone else could perhaps enlighten me and tell me how they got their manuscript to an editor…or a publisher? Was it through a literary agent? I have found no one who can really tell me anything so far…and I want this book published when it is finished!

    That would be great if someone could let me know ^_^

    Thank you,

    —Emma

    SPECIFIC question:

    Dear Ms. Kerr,

    I must start off by saying a friend of mine got me addicted to your books. In the story that I am writing, I asked a few close friends to create a character for me (Perhaps not a great idea, but they ARE credited in the acknowledgments, and they DID agree to it and knew what they were getting into) The friend of mine who reads your stories…he gave me a character.
    I love this character, he’s amazing. The only problem is…he’s an elf. Grant it, that’s not much of a problem. My problem is, I need to know if my friend gave me a character that hugs too close to your elves. Other elves show up later…the last part of all the male names is -teriel. I am wondering if that is too close to, say, perhaps (the first name coming to mind!) Devaberiel. Also, in the description of the character, he said he had the long pointy ears and cat-slit eyes.
    If this is too close for comfort, I can change it to the normal, pointy at the top end ears and normal (or maybe my own type) of pupils. I’ll find a different ending for the names, either scratching it all together or making the names fancier.
    I would really, really, REALLY appreciate it if you could answer to this, Ms. Kerr, because if I DO get the book published, I do not want to seem like someone who is plagiarizing, because I am not trying to.

    Please, please, please let me know, it would mean a lot to me (this has been gnawing at me since I was given the character.)

    Thank you,

    –Emma.

  7. Erin Underwoodon 06 Jul 2006 at 4:58 am

    Writing Question:

    When writing a first draft I find that I haven’t much of a problem generating the first 10K of words before needing to make sure I have an outline for the rest of the novel. The problem that I am experiencing is that the fire/excitement that spurred the first part of the novel diminishes greatly after developing the outline. This happens to me every time I write an outline for a story whether it is a short or a novel – whether the idea proves to be good or bad.

    Has anyone else experienced this? If so, how do you work around the lost off “writing adrenaline” that comes with writing a detailed outline?

  8. Lois Tiltonon 06 Jul 2006 at 10:01 am

    Then don’t stop to write the outline.

    Start small: write short stories all the way to the end without pausing to outline them. Then you move to Phase Two – revision. You may discover that the story is badly flawed, possibly because you had no outline for it. This would be a good time to outline it. You have already reached the end, so the problem of lost momentum should not keep you from reaching it.

    Working this way – pushing the story through to the end on adrenaline for a complete rough draft – definitely will require a lot more work on the revision process, but it’s possible for some people that having once typed The End will allow you to shift successfully from inspired-rough-draft mode to revision mode, even if revision mode entails throwing the whole thing away and starting over.

    In that case, you should discover that you either don’t need the outline at all, or that it’s just part of the revision process.

  9. Erin Underwoodon 06 Jul 2006 at 12:30 pm

    Hello Lois,

    Thanks so much for the advice. I’ve got a short story brewing that I haven’t yet outlined; it’s just a few quick notes. I’m going to try plowing through, and see how the process it goes!

    In any case, I’m sure the experience will be good.

    Cheers,
    Erin

  10. Lois Tiltonon 06 Jul 2006 at 2:39 pm

    Good luck!

  11. Erin Underwoodon 07 Jul 2006 at 8:35 pm

    I am wondering why Katherine’s new book isn’t listed under “Author News”. It seems to me that this is the perfect place to promoste newly published books by the DeepGenre authors.

    P.S. My copy of The Golden Falon, purchased through Amazon, just arrived today.

    Cheers,
    Erin

  12. Kevin Andrew Murphyon 08 Jul 2006 at 6:49 am

    Emma,

    Let me answer your question to Kit about the elf with the cat-slitted eyes and the name that ends in -terriel: Nothing is specifically original, but plenty of things are terribly reminiscent. Consider this question: In the world with this elf with the cat-slitted eyes, would you also include small people with hairy feet who love food, telepathic teleporting firebreathing dragons who mentally bond with their riders, and a young wizard with glasses and a lightning-bolt shaped scar on his forehead?

    It’s perfectly fine to be inspired by something you read–everyone does it–but it’s both good manners and good form to file the serial numbers off so folk won’t know where you got it. Quite simply, if you don’t, it looks unoriginal. There’s not a problem with pointed ears because elves have had pointed ears since the Victorian age (though not before), but the rest? Invent your own elven name suffixes and perhaps choose a different animal bit than cat’s eyes. Look into some legends and see what looks right.

  13. Rosamundaon 09 Jul 2006 at 12:18 am

    This is a general site question. I’m posting it here in case others were thinking along the same lines.

    What do we do if we have an article/idea/issue etc that we would like to discuss? There was an interesting article in my weekend paper about Google’s plan for an on-line library, and the ramifications of this. I didn’t agree with much of what was said, and I would be very interested to know what other writers think about this. Is this the sort of thing that can be discussed here, or not?

    Just wondering.

  14. Emmaon 09 Jul 2006 at 6:10 pm

    ? Invent your own elven name suffixes and perhaps choose a different animal bit than cat’s eyes. Look into some legends and see what looks right.

    I am working on different suffixes that go well with the prefix of the name already created and have been thinking about possibly doing star shaped pupils. But I might get away from the suffixes and the pupils just so that it’s a lot less like Katharine Kerr’s work than it was before.

    I really love the idea of looking back into legends…though I’m not sure where to start! Thank you for that advice though!

    However, I am still wondering about the publishing thing? How exactly do you get it published?

    Another question…how do you come up with a good title for your story? I’m lost!

  15. Katharine Kerron 09 Jul 2006 at 8:17 pm

    Rosamunda, I think you certainly can discuss such things here. I’m not sure how you initiate a post, since you’re not one of the Blogger Staff, but maybe Kevin knows. He knows a lot more about technical stuff than I do.

  16. Tim Stoopon 10 Jul 2006 at 5:48 pm

    First off, as an add-on to Rosamunda’s question, maybe a forum would be a nice addition to the blog?

    Then my question: Names. How do you deal with names in stories? I’ve got a lot of stories in my mind, but every time I start writing them, I get blocked by not being able to come up with any good names. Somehow fantasy authors (the good ones at least) always seem to find names that sound really plausible (pronouncable, easy to use, etc.) and normal, without actually sounding anything like modern names. Ie., I really love the names from Raymond E. Feist’s work. They sound… good.

    But I can’t come up with the right names. I have a problem with using modern names, because people around me will think I’ve been using them as a model. (Always loved the name Jasper, but that’s my best friend’s name. And my story is most definitely not about him.)

    How do you do it?

  17. Sherwood Smithon 10 Jul 2006 at 7:08 pm

    Well, everyone is going to have a different approach. my own feeling is that you do not want familiar names (Bob, Ted, Frank, or even Pierre, Mathilde, Louis) if your world has nothing to do with Earth. Mixing them is even worse, unless you are mixing cultures. In other words, it’s going to be hard to believe in an isolated planet of 2,000 years if you’ve got Bob, Li Po, Maria, and Xinthyqqq–all in the same family.

    some writers think they can get around the familair name problem by weird spellings, or fly-specking the names with a apostrophes that make no linguistic sense. (B’ob, Tyd’d, P’hryn’q) but the problem is, how is the reader supposed to pronounce those? Does the y sound like ‘eye’ or ‘eee’ or ‘ih’? Do the apostrohpes make clicks or glottal stops? Or do they serve to mark where consonants dropped out, as in Irish names (o’Malley) or French when the next letter is a vowel (d’Alembert instead of de Alembert)?

    Some recommend baby books as basics, and then make up your own meanings, adding prefixes and suffixes that are meant to be common to your world. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller use two single-syllable names for their Liaden first names:, like Val Con. Easy to say, recognize, and is culturally distinct.)

    Some take regular words or names and do anagrams or syllable shifts, or just swap vowels around, so a name like Teresa becomes Teeras.

    It’s probably a safe bet to say: play around, but try for names that seem culturally related–like we can usually tell the sound of a Spanish name or a Chinese name. Try to pin down your culture’s “sound.” If you come up with names you like but you’re not sure the reader will easily be able to “hear” them, have someone from outside your culture try to pronounce one and get corrected, or have someone sound it out to spell it.

    And some writers diligently try their names out in language searches (I don’t know how, so I wince and hope) so that the full name of their adventure hero doesn’t turn out to be “Looking up the Snake’s Nostril with a Toothbrush” in Azbekastani.

  18. Tim Stoopon 11 Jul 2006 at 6:10 am

    If I could create a cool name that meant “Looking up the Snake’s Nostril with a Toothbrush” in Azbekastani, I’d used it right on the spot 😛

    Thanks for your reply, Sherwood. I like the one with taking normal words and hussling them around. I think I’m going to use that one. I’ll see how it works out.

  19. Sherwood Smithon 11 Jul 2006 at 9:31 am

    (Me too, about the snake…)

    Good luck!

  20. Ariaon 11 Jul 2006 at 1:37 pm

    What about publishing?

    I was hoping one of the authors, or anyone else could perhaps enlighten me and tell me how they got their manuscript to an editor…or a publisher? Was it through a literary agent? I have found no one who can really tell me anything so far…and I want this book published when it is finished!

    aaaaand titles?

    how do you come up with a good title for your story? I’m lost!

  21. Katharine Kerron 11 Jul 2006 at 5:21 pm

    First off, I answered Emma’s questions to me personally in email.

    Erin, good point about adding newly published books to the Author News.

    Getting published: I found an agent and learned about the publishing process by reading books, free, from my public library. This was so long ago now that I don’t want to recommend any titles — the publishing world has changed mightily in the last 25 years. However, my general advice is: go to your public library and look up “publishing” in its catalog or directory. If yours uses the Dewey Decimal system, the books on the subject will be in the 000’s.

    Libraries are a great source of free, reliable information, unlike some websites which are less than reliable or filled with crochety personal opinions. Amusing, maybe, but nothing to start a career with. Libraries have the books you need for research, too, again in reliable sources IF you check the publication dates of the books. Sometimes very old information about, say, planetary systems is very wrong. :-)

    In short, there are no easy answers to questions about how to get published, just as there’s no easy way to write a novel. Once you’ve got the basic terms down on the process, then you can ask specific questions here.

  22. Katharine Kerron 11 Jul 2006 at 5:26 pm

    Erin, that’s why I hate outlines. Lois’s adivice is excellent, as per usual.

    In fact, here’s a good exercise for those who have trouble turning out fnished work. It’s called the Short Story Challenge. I think Nina Kiriki Hoffman is the writer who invented it, some years ago now. What you do is get together with a couple of other writers here online in order to inspire each other. You all agree to write the first draft of a different short story each day for X many days. Remember that the draft does not have to be publishable or good — in fact, it won’t be, for sure.

    The idea is to summon the adrenaline to charge through a bunch of first drafts, even if the drafts turn out to be ridiculous or horrible messes. Then, at a more leisured pace, you can revise them to get them right. The challenge gives you a heap of raw material plus solid experience in finishing pieces of work. Remember: nothing finished, nothing published. :-)

  23. Erin Underwoodon 12 Jul 2006 at 11:15 am

    I have a few world building questions that seem much more applicable to the craft section of the site than the general discussion that is happening on the main page. However, I didn’t see a way to post a question directly to the craft page….. so I am posting them here. I hope that ok.

    When you are building a world that is as complex as the one within Katharine’s Deverry novels (which spans multiple continents, cultures and times), how to you avoid getting lost in the creation process?

    How much time do you spend designing the world before you started writing?
    What are some of the dangers to look out for when your world starts to fill itself in while you are writing?
    How do you manage to keep track of everything? (Family histories, traditions, cultures, food, clothing, etc.)
    Cheers!
    Erin

  24. Charleson 12 Jul 2006 at 11:27 am

    I’m joining Emma and Aria in asking about coming up with a title for a book.

    Do authors have sole say in this, or does a publisher wield some control over the name of the book?

    Also, for the authors, what preferences do you have, if any, for naming your books?

    And, when do you come up with the title for the book? At the beginning? After a completed first draft?

    As I am not a published writer, I cannot say what the final title of any of my stories would be. My naming process for the book is as follows:

    1) I establish what I call a “working title”, which is, more often than not, a location within the story. The location I use is sort of a mental trigger for me for the story. I have a list of potential books for this timeline and most are named after places. Those simple names are placeholders for all of the events that will happen within the book (partly at the location of the working title). That works for me. All I need to do is see the name of the location in my list and I know right away a whole host of information for that potential story.

    2) Events in the book itself, once the initial draft is completed, will often end up inspiring a different title than the working one. While the name of a place works well for me, it most likely won’t translate the same for the reader, with a few exceptions. The trilogy I have embarked on will keep the location name for the third book as the location itself is essential to the whole story. It is, in fact, the very reason for the main conflict.

    This leads me to another question:

    Naming a series (trilogy or otherwise).

    I guess I would ask the same questions as I did above for the title of a book.

  25. Carol Bergon 14 Jul 2006 at 1:04 am

    what preferences do you have, if any, for naming your books?

    I want a name that will make readers want to snatch it up and recommend it to all their friends!!! But, of course there are a few additional considerations. FIrst and most important, I want the title to reflect the essence of the book. I love titles that can work on several levels (like Transformation). Second, I want it to reflect the feel of the book. I write epic fantasy, so I want the name to carry both magic and weight. Third, I’ve got to consider the recognition factor. Transformation, Revelation, and Restoration have that suffix thing going, for example.

    Do authors have sole say in this, or does a publisher wield some control over the name of the book?

    I choose the names. But as in every other case, the publisher – especially the marketing department – certainly has input, and it behooves an author to listen.

    Of course, I can only speak from my experience with Roc (Penguin Putnam) and Orbit (my UK publisher). I have eight books out and I’ve chosen the names for all of them. In only one case did I change a title. The second book of the Rai-kirah series was originally titled Abomination (which is an absolutely “correct” title). But my UK editor worried that it might lead people to mistake the book for horror rather than fantasy, and they asked me to consider different names. Together my UK editor and I came up with Revelation, which turned out to be much, much better. A much better feel.

    And, when do you come up with the title for the book? At the beginning? After a completed first draft?

    Sometimes the title hits me early. I knew that Flesh and Spirit would be the title of my next book after one chapter. The same for Transformation. Whereas the second book in the series is still under a working title. I just haven’t got the sense of as yet (and I’m almost halfway in) – but that’s mainly because I’m looking to mirror the dual word title of the first book. Yes, series can cause more of a problem…

  26. Carol Bergon 14 Jul 2006 at 1:20 am

    I was hoping one of the authors, or anyone else could perhaps enlighten me and tell me how they got their manuscript to an editor…or a publisher? Was it through a literary agent? I have found no one who can really tell me anything so far…and I want this book published when it is finished!

    There are lots of resources available. One decent book is “How to Get Happily Published.” The annual “Writers Market” often will have essays about getting published. You do need to learn about the business before setting out. Get to any good-sized bookstore and you’ll find shelves of books on getting published.

    Local writers’ organizations will often sponsor workshops or presentations on publishing (in Colorado we have the Rocky Mountain FIction Writers in Denver, for example, or the Pikes Peak Writers in Colorado Springs). These organizations will often sponsor weekend writers’ conferences that offer LOTS of information on the craft of writing (as well as on publishing) in multiple workshops. These can be expensive, but if you are serious, it can be a great experience. Science fiction conventions are generally less expensive, but will often have panel discussions on publishing, as well as on writing sf and fantasy and lots of other topics. Some of the panels are good, some aren’t.

    I actually got my break at a writers’ conference. I signed up to read the opening of my book for an editor from Roc. She liked it and wanted to see it when it was completed. Having the interest of an editor helped me get an agent. So that when the editor made an offer on the book (and two other books) I had someone to negotiate the deal. I had done reading and gone to a couple of conferences and learned the basics of the business before it happened. And I had a completed manuscript. That is very important!

    Carol

  27. Ariaon 14 Jul 2006 at 6:45 pm

    Thank you, Carol. I’ll finish my manuscript and see what I can do!

    A question for Katharine Kerr:

    Do you, perhaps, know when the paperback version of the Gold Falcon comes out??

    –Aria

  28. Erin Underwoodon 14 Jul 2006 at 9:09 pm

    How important is it to have other publications, such as short stories, on your resume when submitting your manuscript to an agent or editor? Are you more likely to get it read if you have previous publications?

    Cheers,
    Erin

  29. Kevin Andrew Murphyon 14 Jul 2006 at 9:31 pm

    Erin,

    If you have any professional short story credits, you can get a SFWA membership, and in theory at least, “Member SFWA” will move you to a higher tier of slushpile. Of course that’s with short stories.

    Most folk I know have agents for novels, and the agent is already using their credibility to sell the book.

    Kevin

  30. Carol Bergon 20 Jul 2006 at 11:53 am

    How important is it to have other publications, such as short stories, on your resume when submitting your manuscript to an agent or editor? Are you more likely to get it read if you have previous publications?

    This is not a direct answer, because I’m not in an editor’s chair. It stands to reason that someone who has made a name selling stories to Azimovs or other “name” publications is going to get a read if they have a halfway interesting proposal. But some of us just don’t write short. I am an example of a person who did not have short story or any other publication credits when I sold my novels. I got editors interested in my work by reading in front of them at conferences. I know a number of other people who sold novels without any prior credits.

    Carol

  31. Ariaon 22 Jul 2006 at 2:39 pm

    *sheepish* does anyone have an answer about the paperback Gold Falcon??

  32. Erin Underwoodon 22 Jul 2006 at 3:27 pm

    Hi Aria,

    I’m not sure when the paperback of The Gold Falcon will come out since the hardback was just released this month. I’d guess that you have at least a six-month wait.

    I just finished The Gold Falcon, and loved it. You can buy the hardback on Amazon for $15.74. I know that’s about $9 more expensive than the paperback, but let me tell you it’s worth it. More than that I can’t say because I’d spoil the story.

    Katharine,
    When I looked at Amazon just now, I realized that they don’t have any kind of blurb listed for this book. It seems like they should put something up there so that buyers (who may not have read the rest of the Deverry series) know what they’re buying. I don’t know why Amazon does things like this. I’d think that they would sell many more books by putting the blurb from the book on the sales page.

  33. Ariaon 23 Jul 2006 at 9:55 pm

    Hey Erin,

    yea, I realized that the hardback was released…and I really want to read it! Argh! But my mom refuses to get it UNTIL it comes out in paperback…it keeps with all the other books of the series we have…*sigh* but a…er…friend?…of mine has his copy and is willing to lend it to me, I’m just not sure if I want to wait until I have my own copy 😛

    Thanks for replying ^_^

    –Aria

  34. Caitrín Tuathalon 24 Jul 2006 at 8:54 pm

    A Writing question:

    What are the differences between short stories, novelettes, novellas, and novels? I know it’s based mostly on length (a novella is shorter than a novel but longer than a novella, etc.), but is there a specific cutoff where one ends and the other begins? A certain word-length or page-length?

    Also, can a novella have chapters, or is that a strictly novel thing?

    Or are there no specific rules to any of it, and I’m gnawing my fingernails off for absolutely no reason?

  35. Laurieon 25 Jul 2006 at 4:55 pm

    Aria,

    I feel your pain.

    My mom would never spend the 20ish dollars on a hardback so I’d have to hit the library or borrow from a friend or – gack – wait for paperback. However, once I got my first ‘real’ job, I swore I’d never wait for any book I wanted, ever again. Since then it’s been all hardback, all the time, baby!

    Now the only problem is finding the space to store them all. 😉

  36. Sherwood Smithon 25 Jul 2006 at 10:30 pm

    Caitrin: I don’t think there is an iron-clad rule on lengths, but for the Science Fiction Writers’ Association, here are the stats, for purposes of the Nebula Award categories:

    http://www.sfwa.org/awards/rules.htm

    Also, I’ve seen novellas with chapters–novelettes as well.

  37. Caitrín Tuathalon 25 Jul 2006 at 11:30 pm

    Thank you, Sherwood. I worry (obsessively) about breaking the rules of writing, even though I know there aren’t really any rules that have to be followed… But I feel better knowing that chapters in novellas are “allowed.”

  38. Erin Underwoodon 27 Jul 2006 at 11:43 am

    I’ve just finished a rough draft of a fantasy short story that seems better suited for the Young Adult market. I’ve still got quite a bit of revision to do on this story, but I was wondering if anyone had any advice on the YA fantasy market. Most of my subs have been to geared for older audiences and I feel a little out of place here.

    Thanks!

  39. Tim Stoopon 28 Jul 2006 at 7:48 pm

    A question about copyright:

    When you go to a publisher and you finally find one that wants to publish the book, do you need to sell the full rights? Ie., if you publish a story and after 10 years you notice it’s not being sold anymore and (because everyone likes his/her stories being read) you decide to publish your full story on the Web. Is that allowed? Or will you need to “buy your rights back” or something?

    I’m not currently considering having anything published, but some of the people who read my stories are telling me that I should try to get them published. I’m afraid I’ll loose the rights to do with my work what I want to do with it. How does this work in The Real Worldâ„¢?

  40. Carol Bergon 03 Aug 2006 at 3:41 pm

    Tim,

    Rights are always specified in publication contracts. Those who publish short stories purchase specific rights and specify time limits. Always read their guidelines before submitting. And always make sure you understand the terms before signing anything. (My colleagues who sell short can answer your specific questions about what are common practices.)

    With a novel, the copyright is taken out in your name, but all publication rights are a matter of negotiation. There are paper publication rights, either North American or worldwide (including translation rights), electronic publication rights, audio, gaming, movie/TV, etc. The publisher’s standard contract will specify certain ones of these that they want, and the author is wise to consider whether to sell or retain some of those. The size of your advance is a factor in this negotiation. (Agent Kristin Nelson just went through a great series of explanations of novel rights negotiations on her blog, PubRants.)

    Contracts will (or certainly should!) have clauses that specify when rights will automatically revert to the author, for example, if the novel is out of print for some specified time.

    An understanding of the business is certainly very important, and you should be aware of it. But there are lots of good sources to learn these things.

    Carol

  41. Madeleine Robinson 05 Aug 2006 at 5:42 pm

    When you sell a story or book to a publisher, you’re not really (or not usually) selling the whole thing lock-stock-n-barrel. You’re essentially leasing the rights to publication to the publisher, as well as some subsidiary rights, in return for a chunk of money. Once the lease runs out, the property reverts to you. The fine print stuff, of course, is what rights you’re selling, and how long the lease runs.

    Magazine rights tend to vary with the magazine. Fantasy and Science Fiction, for example, buys specific rights (first world rights or first English language periodical rights or something like that) for a specific time only. They copyright the story in their name, with the copyright reverting to you within a specific time (I think it’s a year, but all my contracts are currently buried under a pile of books and kid-stuff). You’re free to resell the story to an anthology or secondary market, so long as it doesn’t appear before they get their chance to publish it. And in fact, I’ve had at least one experience where a story’s original publisher took so long to publish (thirteen years) that I got permission to resell to a magazine which published it years sooner.

    As far as books go, most contracts I’ve seen set out very specific rights–not only for your benefit, but for theirs (there are horror stories in publishing circles about publishers who didn’t specify rights in new technology venues like CD-Rom and wound up having to buy them later at huge expense, just as there are horror stories in writing circles about people finding their work showing up on CD-Rom without compensation or acknowledgment). If you find a publisher for your book, they’ll offer an advance based on a specific rights purchase: first world English rights, or first world rights, or first American rights. What are the differences between the three? First world rights means the right to be the first publisher of the work anywhere, in any language for the first time; first world English rights means the right to be the first publisher of the work anywhere, in English only. First American rights means the right to be the first publisher of the work in America. And so on (note that these rights are probably meant to be for book form only; periodical publication is a whole ‘nother issue).

    What doesn’t this include? If you’ve sold English language rights, it means that every time translation rights to your book are sold, you (or, depending upon how the contract is worked out, you and your publisher) get the money. Same with movie options, TV sales, video game proceeds, and all the slew of secondary rights that publishing is heir to.

    However, unless you’re doing work for hire, you hold the copyright. If, after a certain period specified in your contract, the publisher isn’t selling a book, you write them a letter demanding that they return it to print forthwith, or revert all rights to you. If they revert, you get a letter back stating that they have done so, and you can go find someone else to publish, or put the work up on the web, or whatever seems good to you.

    The single most important thing, when you get a contract, is to read it carefully and make sure you understand what they’re asking for. If you don’t, ask questions. If you don’t understand the answers, ask more questions. I doubt that anyone is going to say “you ask too many questions, forget about it” if you’re trying to clarify a point or increase your understanding.

  42. Jellyn Andrewson 05 Aug 2006 at 9:20 pm

    I’ve read a lot of books and essays on writing and publishing. Yet I haven’t run across too much discussion of pseudonyms or pen names. I’ve pretty much decided to use one rather than my real name, though I do waffle on it. There is something thrilling about the idea of seeing your name in print.

    Yet even though I’ve mostly made up my mind to use one, I’m having trouble deciding on what one. Are there names that sell better? Are more memorable? Get better placement on shelves?

    If anyone here writes under one, do you have a Doing Business As registration for it?

  43. Rachel Dunneon 09 Aug 2006 at 12:18 pm

    I sent a story in to a competition, and the results aren’t due out for another few months; but my question is can I put the story I sent online–as in, post it on my website? Or should I wait for the results of the contest, and decide what to do based on the results?

  44. Kevin Andrew Murphyon 09 Aug 2006 at 2:03 pm

    Rachel,

    It depends on the rules of the contest. Is the prize publication, or something else? Check the rules.

  45. Mattineon 15 Aug 2006 at 2:18 am

    Ok I have a question for Ms. Kerr. I’m severely dyslexic so it is very difficult for me to read without assistance. Many author’s books are coming out on tape or CD now and I am wondering if there is a particular reason why your books don’t. I love your books, but having my neighbor read them to me is getting taxing on and annoying her. I used to just have my sister or mother read them to me but since my husband joined the army I am no longer anywhere near them. I do get books on tape from the Library for the Blind and physically handicapped, but I don’t get to keep those. They are for loan only. I like own the books that I like so that I can reread them whenever I want. I currently own most of yours, but with my husband in Irac and this being the last thing my neighbor is willing to do for an indeterminate lenght of time, I am soon to be “jonesing” for one of your stories. Sorry for all the explanation…. I’m also sorry if this isn’t the appropriate place to post this…. I was just hoping you would have a suggestion for me.
    Thank you for your time.

    typed by: Aja

  46. Erin Underwoodon 16 Aug 2006 at 11:34 am

    Could I get a little help with the definition of the “unreliable narrator” and how this type of narrator can be effectively used? Is it a first/second/third person thing or is it based on POV in the third person. I’m just not grasping the “unreliable” narrator concept very well right now and how this type of narrator can be useful.

    gulp… I hate admitting that! :-/ Thanks for your help.

  47. Kathrynon 19 Aug 2006 at 11:12 am

    This question really relates to the short story, draft writing idea to get things done.

    Along with my many other stumbling blocks in the way of writing I often find myself reworking constantly. I will begin writing a scene and before I’m even at the end I’m reworking the beginning. This is really slow going and often means I put something down before I’ve finished coming back to it only to rework again. (I seem to have a taste for it that I could have used while studying!)

    I often have short story ideas but they are rarely if ever for the genre of fantasy. Also I tend to find the reworking process is less of an inhibition to finishing the project just because it is shorter. In this case is it worth altering what works for short stories to remedy my novel issues or are there other ways to achieve the same affect?

    Alternatively maybe someone can give me handy tips on identifying what made me pause in my flow and re-read and maybe some tips to keep on same track?

  48. Madeleine Robinson 20 Aug 2006 at 8:25 pm

    I’m an obsessive re-writer, particularly in the earlier parts of a story or book, where I’m building stuff. About five or six chapters in (or about 2000 words in for a short story) I tend to freeze briefly: I’ve done the building part, now I have to start pruning away possibilities. So what makes me stop there and re-write is very often the search for hidden cues I’ve left myself, as well as the inspiration to go forward. Sometimes I revise because the weight of a couple of words can shift the balance of the story into something I can’t wait to go on with. And sometimes I reassure myself that I know what I’m doing by editing what I’ve written.

    When I really get caught in revising without going forward, I find one tack that helps is to set very strict limits about how much I’m allowed to rewrite that day: “Okay, I can go back two pages from the end and look through that as a way to get into the flow of writing forward from there, and if I need to do some tuning up…”

    A more serious reason to stop is that something is structurally wrong with the story and on an unconscious level you realize it. More often than I like to admit, this happens to me: if I’m going to do something I’ve planned, there may be some underpinning that won’t support the weight of that event until I’ve added an extra strut. “Wait, how does she get there on time?” “Wait, how do they pay for this?” Very often the solution is a simple one, but identifying the problem and coming up with an elegant solution can take time.

  49. Katharine Kerron 21 Aug 2006 at 3:12 am

    Mattine, the reason my books aren’t avaible on CD or tape is that none of the companies that put those things out have offered to buy the rights. I guess the commercial outfits don’t think mine would sell enough to make it worth their while.

    Like most authors, I have agreed to let any non-profit organization that tapes books for the blind tape mine without having to pay me for the right to do.

    I’m wishing the best of luck for your husband, too.

  50. Kathrynon 21 Aug 2006 at 10:26 am

    Well at least there is hope for finishing longer works even without entirely changing my habits, thanks Madeleine!

    Maybe I need to concentrate on getting further before I allow myself to go back over what I’ve done, starting with one chapter, then two and so on. Hopefully I can trick myself into to do longer drafts.

    The beginning is so important though, like you say because of how much is set up for the future and that might be why I keep re-jigging things. Even just the vocabulary for things in the world starts developing and I don’t want to feel too attached to terminology later that I find to have a connotation I didn’t anticipate.