Books in all directions! …oh, has it been raining?

So, I’ve spent the last two weeks recovering from poison ivy and punching books through various stages of production: four of them at the same time. There have been times when I’ve felt like that old joke about the one-armed paper-hanger with hives. Fortunately, I have two arms, but I’ve certainly been a juggler with poison ivy. *wry smile*

I haven’t done much more yard work, mostly because of the inclement weather. On Friday, May 6, I got the lawn mower out and mowed the lawns, which were already high and thick enough in spots to slow the mower down. This is the earliest that I’ve ever done the year’s first mowing. That’s not saying it’s the earliest the lawns have needed it, by a long shot, which is why the mower has been to the repair shop four times since I bought it. But once again, I was rewarded for all my hard work last fall, because with so much of the yards cleared out, and so much of the crawl space cleaned out, it was a snap to get the mower and cords out and set to work.

And of course, it’s been raining ever since. The spinach and peas are growing outside, but not as fast as they would be if they were actually getting sunlight. The seeds I started in pots are growing–and getting leggy because it’s been so dark and gloomy so much of the time–the trees I still intend to cut down are all leafed out, the flowering crab blossoms all got washed off the trees and the lilacs, just opening now, are waterlogged. But every time I look out at that big open clear patch outside the west door, I feel very pleased. The peonies and day lilies are growing like rockets because they’re free of all the choking weeds and ground ivy, and I’m getting flocks of birds at the bird feeder (usually bedraggled and sopping wet, which is both funny and pitiful). I probably wouldn’t have tilled the garden and planted seeds yet, anyway–that’s on the docket for next week, I hope, along with mowing the lawns again, cutting some small trees down and continuing to rip up the ground ivy in back. I just hope it’s not going to be another summer like 2009. :-(

The ARCs for Marco arrived and I sent them out for pre-publication reviews. I have a couple left to send out to reviewers or readers who might give the title a cover blurb, but I haven’t been querying for those in earnest yet. The publication date is set for September 1, 2011. I updated the book page on BLUM’s website and put up a PDF sample chapter.

I finished the layout for both of Anne Fraser’s short fiction collections, which Sara Larson very kindly read over to see how they flowed. I had contracted to publish these a year apart, but it was so hard to work on them. I really miss Anne. :-( That’s why I’m bringing them both out at the same time. I wrote short introductions to each collection, and I put so much work into shaping the material, I listed myself as official editor, but I did very little revision. It’s all Anne’s work.

I was surprised that the Gideon and Joshua stories, when I put them all together, made such a cohesive whole. If Anne hadn’t passed away, there’s no question that we could have worked together to create a second novel, a sequel to Gideon Redoak. As it stands, however, The Cliff Road Chronicles is divided into two sections, one of them consisting of the Gideon/Joshua tales and the other, stories about other members of the Brotherhood, some of which are very entertaining. (The tent wall in “Fairy Gothmother” still makes me roll on the floor laughing. You’ll just have to read it.)

The Adrian and Genevieve collection is really to support “Speak Easy,” which I know Anne would have wanted published if no other piece of shorter fiction she wrote saw print. They’re good stories, though, and I’m rather proud of myself for nailing the title. All Places That Are Not Heaven is based on a quote from Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, which Adrian is directing in “Acting’s in the Blood.”

Both the collections will be released on September 21. Once the layout was done, and the PCNs had arrived from the Library of Congress, I set the ARCs up on Lulu and ordered copies. I registered the ISBNs on Bowkerlink. The ARCs for Cliff Road Chronicles are all packed and labeled and going out tomorrow, the ARCs for All Places That Are Not Heaven are still en route from the printer. I created PDFs of sample stories and put them on each book’s page on BLUM, along with cover images and updated information about prices and so on.

While I was doing all that, I was ramping up for Applewood’s official release day on May 15. This involved getting things set up ahead of time because of the time delay for all the various editions and versions. I created separate files for the Smashwords edition (stripped Word file), Barnes & Noble Nook edition (ePub file), Kindle edition (html/mobi file), and Amazon’s Search Inside The Book (web-optimized PDF with cover images and internal bookmarks). I uploaded cover images to Bowkerlink, Google, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and Amazon, all of which had to be different sizes and resolutions (and let’s not even get into the file naming requirements everyone has). I’d already set up the print editions on Lightning Source and CreateSpace and ordered proofs and they all looked good. I redid the Lulu files for the finished book because…well, just because. It’s on Lulu anyway for the ARCs and can be downloaded as a PDF from there if anyone wants it, so, why not? But that means doing a separate paperback cover template according to Lulu’s specs (in fact, I have to do three versions of the paperback cover, for Lightning Source, Lulu and CreateSpace. They all have their own nit-picks, over the spine, mostly). I placed orders for short runs of the paperback and hardcover editions.

With everything set up and uploaded, I had to punch everything over to “live” with enough time to spare so the book was available by the 15th. The Smashwords edition took 48 hours to go through the first time and then was rejected. I put it through again and it went through faster and passed. It looks fine and I have no idea why it choked up. It’s still going through the whole approval process for their “premium catalog” so it will go out to Apple and Sony. The Kindle edition perked right through, as did the Nook edition, and both a Kindle and a Nook copy have already sold. Various third party vendors are taking their time picking up Applewood from Ingram or Bowker. I’m adding links to the book page on BLUM as I spot them. So far, Powells has it, Mysterious Galaxy and (very annoyingly) IndieBound do not. You can get the hardcover from Barnes & Noble but not, just yet, from Amazon. Databases work in mysterious ways…especially with the vast numbers of books being published every year now, the majority of them (like, over 70%) POD reprints of older works.

I’ve been querying reviewers and getting more positive results than I did last year. I’ve sent out about eight review copies of Applewood and I’m still busily working on it. I’ve also sent out mandatory follow-up copies for the ARCs, and there are more to send, to the Library of Congress and for the copyright registration. The author gets comp copies and those are going out tomorrow. Oh, and I set two targeted ad campaigns going on May 15, an animated graphic ad on Google and a set of text ads on Yahoo/Bing. Those got clicks and hits, but I’m not sure about sell-through.

Whew. This isn’t everything. This is just what I can recall off-hand. And this is all in the last two weeks! Publishing is not for sissies. I can’t slow down, though, because I have a whole manuscript to edit and get back to the author and three pieces of cover art to do, all of which needs to happen now. And that’s just the top of the list!

When I go to bed, I read research materials for All the Shadows of the Rainbow until I turn out my light. Then I dream about it. :-(

I also squeezed in my Beltane observance, a church Parish Committee meeting, a Full Moon ritual and even a couple of hours of house cleaning (before the place was condemned, which was imminent). I came this close to forgetting Full Moon ritual: it’s been so gloomy, overcast and dismal for so long, I’d lost track of the phase. I can’t remember when I last saw the Moon, but it was a skinny little crescent!

I’ve been cycling to free episodes of PBS’ Masterpiece online. I just drag the exercycle over in front of the computer and turn up the speakers. It works great. :-) I went through episodes 2 and 3 of the new Upstairs Downstairs, and I have to confess: it made me cry. I’m such a sop! I did like it, though. I then cycled to three episodes of a drama called South Riding, and that impressed me far less. Maybe the book is better, but I found the adaptation to be somewhat disorganized and the ending a bit pointless. I wish there were more episodes of Sherlock online, that was a very interesting series.

I sure am tired of the rain, though. It’s been driving me, not to drink, but to sugar. I’ve been baking cookies and making homemade chocolate sauce and chocolate-cherry brownies, and buying pints of ice cream to wash it all down. This is not the best thing in the world. *sigh*

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