September 4, 2013 • 3 Comments
Here is some very good news! The prequel story to my series will be available FREE online this Friday at the USA Today Happy Ever After Book Blog. The Adventure of the Wollaston Ritual will be featured as part of their Steampunk Fridays! Please spread the word and enjoy the story! I’ll post a link when it’s up.
September 3, 2013 • 2 Comments
I got a nice appraisal in the October issue of RT Book Reviews! “Holloway’s splendid first entry in her Baskerville Affair series will thrill fans of steampunk urban fantasy.” That made me very happy, since I’m not exactly the poster girl for fitting neatly inside a genre category. Sometimes coloring outside the lines can earn one a frosty glare from reviewers if they’re of a very traditional mindset. Good for RT for accepting the book on its own terms, and many kisses to them for liking what they read. “The characters are thoroughly charming and the worldbuilding is first-rate.”
Publisher’s Weekly was also kind: “Holloway stuffs her adventure with an abundance of characters and ideas and fills her heroine with talents and graces, all within a fun, brisk narrative.”
Yes, all right, so this post is shameless self-aggrandizement. However, a little encouragement is welcome since I have a thick stack of page proofs to wade through!
August 18, 2013 • 3 Comments
So, I finished the copy edits on A Study in Ashes, which became abbreviated in emails to ASIA. The book seemed at least as big as Asia, clocking in at around 740-odd manuscript pages, which is twice the length of many mass market paperbacks these days. So I had a few plot threads to wind down. Sue me. Readers can’t accuse me of skimping.
I finished the copyedits in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, and now I’m just waiting for the page proofs. After that I’m done with the trilogy, which has been my alternate reality for the last year and a half.
By the time I get to proofreading the printed pages, I will have reread the book so often I barely “see” it anymore, which is why I ask other people who haven’t seen it before to read it at the same time. It’s interesting that after so many pairs of eyeballs, a fresh reader will still find mistakes.
For those that don’t know, the book production process goes something like:
- Author submits draft to editor
- Editor writes a letter to author that can be summed up as “bleh, rewrite it all”
- After a stiff drink, author submits draft #2 to editor
- Editor emails back the book bristling with comments and complaints
- After two more stiff drinks and some curse words, author submits draft #3
- Editor “ “ “ with comments and complaints, hopefully fewer this time.
- After four more stiff drinks, author submits not only a draft but her soul if only the editor will JUST ACCEPT THE STUPID BOOK.
- With a heavy sigh, the editor figures that’s the best she’ll get and sends the book to production
How do I feel about finishing? A bit stunned. A bit lost. Kind of relieved, but sad at the same time. I think it’s like the empty-nest syndrome.
However, there are plenty of plot threads to pick up and run with. I woke up at about three o’clock in the morning Wednesday night and suddenly I knew what one of the secondary characters wanted for her new plot arc. I wasn’t quite ready to hear about it, but I was delighted to know there are still stories to be told about the Baskerville universe. But not until after a brief respite in the real world. I seriously need to clean my house!
July 22, 2013 • 2 Comments
Mid July finds me wishing for a fainting couch and an anxious throng of domestic staff. To be clear, I always want the domestic staff, but not necessarily the couch. However, I have fallen into a boneless heap. Bring on the lavender water restorative cordials.
The third Baskerville book has been editorially blessed and has wafted over to the copyeditors for their attention—though I’m not sure a book with that many pages can actually waft. It probably rolled down the hallway on logs like a building block for an ancient pyramid, a few editorial interns puffing as they haul its juggernaut weight. No doubt some innocent mailroom clerk shall blunder into its path and be crushed. (Yes, I know it’s all done digitally but that’s not nearly as entertaining an image.)
In the meantime, I’ve been blessed with some shorts to copyedit. Yes, readers, there shall be bonbons.
And in honour of all things steampunk and bonbon-ish (for what point are life’s landmarks without treats), here is a video dedicated to the world’s longest vintage steam train chocolate structure, displayed in Belgium: Belgian chocolate locomotive
July 18, 2013 • No Comments
With thanks to a brilliant co-worker who provided this recipe. I haven’t tried it so I don’t know what it tastes like, but I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of absinthe. Click the image to get a version big enough to read.
June 4, 2013 • 2 Comments
I do love interesting junk, which is clearly evident if you look around my house. Note that I say “look around” as opposed to “walk through” because all that interesting junk has a way of piling up and challenging my already feeble housekeeping instincts.
Anyway, a recent addition to the funky item collection is this critter. I was innocently walking by a collectibles store not that long ago and it was sitting all forlorn on the table outside. Of course it followed me home, because I have always loved timepieces and this one was unlike anything I’d encountered before. It’s a rotary clock called a “tape measure clock” (you set the time by twisting the top around until the pointer indicates the hour on the tape measure). These were made by Lux around the 1930s and this one still keeps perfect time. No plastic in this puppy. Unfortunately, it has a huge tick—kind of apocalyptic, actually—so I don’t wind it often.
June 1, 2013 • 2 Comments
I recall my undergraduate days in the manner I suspect most people do: fondly, with exasperation, and accompanied by many lingering questions. Will I ever voluntarily read anything by Dryden again? What was I thinking when I specialized in the Romantic poets? And what was in that orange stuff they served in the cafeteria? Did it emerge from the applied sciences or fine arts department to quiver upon our plates?
However, at least I—though a lowly female—got to go to university and get a bachelor’s degree of my choice. I was able to compete on equal terms for whatever fame and fortune accrue to undergrad English lit students (ha!). In other words, when it comes to education, women are very lucky to live here and now.
In researching A Study in Ashes, I had a look at the world of co-education in the Victorian era, both in the US and UK. Though my protagonist is in London, I set up my fictional collegiate university with features from several historical examples. Even though the school is only one setting in the book, it’s worth taking advantage of real life insanity.
Overall, the circumstances of women’s education were pretty much what one would expect: not every place offered the full meal deal to the girls. They got shorted on science and engineering and were offered floriculture and elocution instead. Academic terms were shorter, they couldn’t always access the same classes, and not every institution awarded them equivalent bachelor degrees. It goes on and on with the sort of hair-curling examples that make me realize just how far we’ve come in the last century and a half.
I would like to say that female education eventually came to be on equal footing with male schooling through the inexorable forces of social enlightenment. Um, well, I’m sure that had some effect but, as always, economic practicalities had a role to play as well. At first, many courses were segregated and professors had to teach the male students in one location and then trek out to another site to give their lecture (or a diluted version thereof) to the female class. Needless to say, efficiency won out and bit by bit the two groups became amalgamated. Another factor was, of course, the lure of commerce. Women were paying customers, and the revenue stream from their tuition was nothing to sneeze at, especially for the up-and-coming universities in America.
My source for much of this is University Coeducation in the Victorian Era by Christine D. Myers, which goes into detail about both the educational and social aspects of early co-education. It’s an academic study, but it’s good reading for anyone interested in the realities of the period.
May 20, 2013 • No Comments
Subscribing to the boomerang theory of manuscript submission – book 3 went in and came back again, landing on my desk with a wet plop. Revision time! But at least the page proofs for book 2 are done, waiting like an eager puppy for the courier to take them back to New York. I’m rather glad to be focussed on the third volume now–I knew it needed more attention, and now I have the clear desk to give it the attention it needs.
The primary objective: more battle scenes. I think I need some of those toy armies, except maybe with giant steam-powered armadillos. Or dinosaurs.
May 8, 2013 • No Comments
One may ask why I have been so desultory in terms of social media over the last few months. The answer is simple, dear reader. Before gamboling about the aether talking about my projects, there were dues to be paid, pages to be covered, and words to be slung. In other words, book first, schmooze later. Plus, I can’t think of anything an editor would find more annoying than hearing from me how I couldn’t possibly make my deadline while it was clearly evident that I’d been all over Facebook.
But turning in book 3 means that I’ve touched the end of this trilogy, even if it was just a brief brush with finality prior to editing. After plunging headlong into this writing project, it felt strange and terrible to think of coming up for air. I got up from the computer for a breather and found myself feeling terribly solemn about the whole thing.