At long last, after being born with a single, vivid image in the spring of 2011, Artemis Awakening is officially released and available for you to read.
I’m really happy with the cover. When my copies arrived, the first thing I did was turn a copy of the book around so I could get a look at how the art looked wrapped around the spine. I was thrilled. I love how the puma’s dark eye looks out at the viewer. Hopefully, its haunting gaze will tempt people to pick the book up, not scare them off!
Spring of 2011 is a long time ago, so some of you are probably wondering what the heck my publisher and I were doing between then and Spring of 2014. Certainly, no one involved was in the least idle. Let’s take a wander behind the scenes, beginning with the image that started it all…
You’ll encounter this part very early in the book, so I don’t think I’m providing a spoiler if I share it here:
“He hadn’t meant to crash the shuttle. That was Griffin Dane’s first thought upon coming to, hanging upside down in his retraining harness with his pulse thundering in his ears.
“His second thought was that his first had been incredibly stupid. No one ever meant to crash. Crashes by definition were unintended. His third thought, how he supposed in some cases a crash might be intended – as in sports or certain forms of combat – died half-formed as Griffin became aware that the thudding noise in his ears was not solely his pulse.”
So I met Griffin Dane. A few paragraphs later, I met Adara and Sand Shadow. I was hooked, determined to keep writing while my enthusiasm was hot.
(Those of you who are reading this Wander after reading the novel will have noticed the section quoted above is not the one that opens the novel. That’s often the way of things. I’ve written many novels where my first chapter or so ends up getting dropped entirely. In this case, the lines were retained, simply moved to a very little bit later in the book.)
However, even when one makes a living writing, what one wants and what one gets are not always the same thing. For one, I was involved in writing Fire Season with David Weber. I also had a couple of short projects going on. And, just because “real life” is also part of the picture, one of my cats was diagnosed with cancer that spring. He’d have his leg amputated (which involves a lot of aftercare) and we’d fight, but lose the battle in the autumn, breaking our hearts.
Since I couldn’t start the novel right away, what I did was write a proposal for my agent to shop around. The proposal included the starting point of the novel, but not a resolution. This is because I’m an intuitive plotter and, at that point, I didn’t know the resolution! However, to demonstrate that I knew where I was going and what I was doing, I included a lot of background material regarding the setting. At that point, I knew that Artemis and her history would be key to the novel. I also provided biographical sketches for key characters.
Those of you who have been reading these Wanderings for a while may recall my announcing that the novel had sold in August of 2012. Actually, we’d had the offer back in mid-May of 2012, but I’ve seen enough of the ups and downs of the business that I didn’t make a public announcement until I was certain the project would go ahead.
Does that mean I wasn’t writing between writing the proposal in spring of 2011 and the sale in 2012? Not at all. Not only did Weber and I finish Fire Season, we came up with a proposal for what would become Treecat Wars. As soon as the proposal was okayed, we started writing. I also worked on and finished a yet unsold YA fiction project that I enjoyed a great deal.
However, once I was certain that the book then called Huntress was indeed sold, I switched to writing it. I also had to pause periodically to work on world building. Oh, and by then I was writing two essays a week – the Wednesday Wanderings and the Thursday Tangents. And some other non-fiction projects.
By mid-February of 2013, I turned the book now officially known as Artemis Awakening over to Claire Eddy, my editor at Tor. While I waited for her feedback, I did a lot of stuff, much of it non-fiction, research, or world-building. I did not start work on the sequel – as I often did with the Firekeeper books – even though I had a contract for it, because I didn’t know how Claire would react to Artemis Awakening. A new relationship with an editor always takes some settling in on both parts.
By early April of 2013, Claire sent me notes via e-mail. We also had a phone consultation. Then I set about revising. When we came to an agreement on what needed to be done, I had to research material for a new scene and do an overall review of the text. By early May, however, I was done with the revision. I had the weekend off for a Mother’s Day visit with my mom. As soon as I got home from the airport, I had a phone conference with Weber…
And so it goes… Really, time flew!
Release is always an interesting time for a writer because this is when the book stops being yours alone. Readers will bring their own lives, experiences, and expectations to the story. What will resonate for one person will be alien to another. Readers develop favorite characters and questions about what the next book might bring. It’s actually fun seeing people get engaged with what used to be your own private realm. If I didn’t like it, I would simply write for myself, not go through the trouble of publishing.
So, it’s your turn…
While you read – and hopefully enjoy – I will do what I always do. Write!