Posts about books by Kaleb Nation.

Five Things

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Starting Monday, I hit the notebooks, staying at the local Pub That Is Not A Pub from morning until near closing time, editing and revising The Farfield Curse. I managed to walk in and get my usual, favorite spot that is one table away from the corner, so that I don’t appear to be hiding in the shadows, my laptop cable will reach the building’s only plug, The Writer Is Workingand I can still occasionally get a glimpse of the sun (which is very quickly becoming a faraway memory: the sun? What sun? Where? Surely you jest). I’m almost beginning to feel like an old, reclusive witch <—-

Things have thankfully been going smoothly. I am doing things in an order, first working on a bit of cutting in the length department, so it’s easier later when I need to add certain things that were missing. This is where the writing of the book turns into a labor of love: editing those words is really, really hard, but entirely worth it for the end result.

I have a goal of cutting a certain number of pages. To do this, I must take a fine-toothed comb to every line, trying to cut any odd words and condensing paragraphs in order to save one or two lines. One or two lines do add up. So far, just by combing the first 120 pages, I was able to cut 20 out in the first few days. It was all vicious (and slightly wicked) glee search-and-destroying those superfluous words. I spent almost an hour trying to condense two lines out of one chapter, so that I could cut the last page of it, which only had two puny lines dangling there.

The best part is that it’s like trimming back a big ugly tree into an Edward Scissorhands-esque plant sculpture. By the time we’re through, this book will be loads ahead of where we started out.

While taking a much-needed break, I decided to answer a question put to me recently: what will you do if you become a really famous author? It sounds thrilling, odd, scary and wonderful at the same time. So, I decided to make a video in response, which includes Lemony Snicket’s head, a phone call to J.K.Rowling, the Electric Light Orchestra, my bookshelf and more. Also, sunburn.

Hope you like it 😀

Contracts, Advances and a Stack of Paper

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There is something special in a writer’s first advance check. Many of you probably have an idea what that is: when a publisher makes a deal with an author, they lay down what is called an advance. This is money paid in advance to the author, in the hopes that his or her book will earn it back; following publication, the royalties an author earns off book sales slowly repays it. The original concept of an advance was probably so the author of old, being intrinsically penniless, might at least avert starvation long enough to finish the book.

Though I signed the contract a while back, and sent it in, there is such a long process on the publisher’s end that it usually takes a few months to get it back with their signature, as well as the on-signing advance. By getting those back in the mail, all has been signed and sealed, and now all that’s left is to prepare the book for publication! Some photos:

Me, signing the back of my first advance check. The Unwritten Manual of Authorly Proceedings & Conduct dictates (Section 2, Article C) that an author should always use a unique pen to sign their checks and contracts, as here seen in the pen-made-of-awesome my agent gave me:

Signing the first advance

While I was writing, I read dozens of writer blogs, and I always wanted to know what exactly a full manuscript looked like, before all the edits. Never finding one, I told myself I’d put one up for anyone else out there like me (by the time I’m through editing, picture about 2/3 this size):

The Manuscript

There is one line in this book deal that represents 6 years of work, a box of notes, a dozen notebooks, two drawers in a filing cabinet, and countless days and nights spent with characters and ideas. That line is this:

AGREEMENT made by and between Kaleb Nation…hereinafter referred to as “author”

Contract and advance

The signed contract, with the check hiding in the back.

Editorial Letters

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Today was the day I received my first Editorial Letter for Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse, and I realize that since loads of the people who read this site are writers as well, some of you might find this interesting.

An Editorial Letter is the first professional edits that an author receives from their publisher for the manuscript. Its purpose is to take my writing and make it the best it possibly can. Authors have a tendency to love their own work and ignore its apparent flaws (we have to love it, otherwise there’d be no point in writing it). Editors, however, have trained eyes for how to make things better, and work their hardest to make newbie writers like me sound professional. It is of great importance, as demonstrated by the below illustration:

An Author’s First Edits

This editorial letter is the first step in getting the book ready to be published. Editorial letters do not go into punctuation or spelling mistakes (which happens later with a copyeditor) but rather overall plot and concepts and larger parts of the book which need tightening up.

I shan’t show you my editorial letter, but this might be what part of someone else’s could look like:

– Sherman P should know that Granny’s Magic Box will destroy the universe 100 pages earlier than you have it. Otherwise, he would have tossed it down Mrs. Lovett’s Corpse Chute.

– There is a certain monkey in every chapter until chapter 23, when he unexpectedly jumps off Mount Slowmore. I am curious as to the point of wasting words on him if he does nothing.

– Change Edlardo Chullens’s name to something more palatable. Like…Edward something.

– There is already a famous frog named Kermit. He will always be more famous than your frog named Kermit. Change his name. Or turn him into a mutant turtle.

– Chapters 13-17 become slow when Protagonist tells the Long Saga of Grandmother’s Achy Breaky Bones.  Fix that, unless this is intended as an intermission time. I realize some people might enjoy taking naps through books here and there. If intentional, good idea.

– Your major villain happens to share my name.  I’m hoping this is a recurring typo.

(all snarkiness courtesy of me and bearing no resemblance to my editor’s own polite notes)

The changes are more so a broad overview of tiny tweaks to be made to make it better.

Mine are thankfully very merciful, well-directed, and I can already imagine the wonders they will work. I have heard horror stories from other authors who received 3-ring binders filled with post-its, blue ink, Sharpie markings, and chocolate to alleviate the murderous rage subsequently directed towards their editor. I got the impression that the aforementioned 3-ring-binder was immediately tossed into here:

Mount Doom

Mount Doom

I, on the other hand, have been looking forward with great anticipation to get to these edits.  It is not every day, obviously, that a professional spends enormous amounts of time to make Your Book the best it can. Which makes editing this a labor of love 😀 . I shall keep you all updated on future progress.

Photos From Alaska

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After surviving the flight up, and discovering the quickest way to wake up an exhausted mind is a very fast takeoff, I spent a week in Alaska– including, as the locals proclaimed, a rare 3 days of wonderful, sunny weather. The mountains were magnificant, especially when the sun reflected off the snow, and I got to see some glaciers and seals and plenty of tourists.

While there, we managed to get to the theater to see Prince Caspian and Indiana Jones– both of which were awesome films. They’re actually more like required viewing, just like everybody just has to see the latest Star Wars or Lord Of The Rings — it’s just one of those requirements set up by Them. Except the upcoming Star Wars Clone Wars, which appears as if it will be abysmal, and will require some intense saving to renew my faith in that franchise after that last set of abominations (shudder).

Anyhow, I also managed to watch Batman Begins, Conspiracy Theory, Man Of The House, Night At The Museum, I Spy, Live Free Or Die Hard, and perhaps more that have slipped my mind. I was there for my friend’s graduation, and it is a tradition to stuff ourselves with movie watching every hour of the possible evening until we drop into an exhausted stupor. This worked wonderfully until the night before I had to fly out, when we didn’t finish Conspiracy Theory until 1:30 AM. Not bad, until you remember I had to be up at 5AM the next day to fly out. That’s where those little airplane pillows come in handy.

One of the primary goals of this trip besides my friend’s graduation was for me to get some much-needed input on elements in the sequel that needed some smoothing out– mainly, the type of house that a certain character lives in and where said house is located. You wouldn’t believe all the things someone’s house tells about them, and this character’s in particular is extremely important.

Last year, when I first started on the sequel in small bits of plotting, I had an original idea for where he lived, but then later tossed it out in favor of a different one. Now months later, after hopping around from idea to idea, I just zipped right back to the way it originally came out and found that it was the right way all along. I work interestingly that way, and on some things in The Farfield Curse spent years debating back and forth only to find that my original idea was better than all the others I had later invented.

Anyhow, I am falling into bed in an exhausted stupor and my posts here and on will be scattered this week. But hopefully those photos will suffice for a bit (I can see some people already packing their bags to go see those wondrous things in the pictures).

While waiting at the airport in Seattle, I also bought two books. One was Tunnels by Gordon and Williams, and the other, coincidentally, was the famous John Green novel Looking For Alaska. It seemed fitting enough as a souvenir.

Signing The Book Deal [Video]

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And thus I affix my signature to the publishing contract. Since my family is back home and couldn’t be there for perhaps one of the biggest moments of my life, I got it all on film.

This video is a five-minute short about the idea, writing the book, and signing the deal. I go back to the original black journal from that fateful night when I first had the idea, then to my filing cabinets and boxes of papers and drafts which make up the five years of writing it, and while filming I even inadvertently discovered my first writing notebook ever, from when I was 10 years old. This is a bit of my own tale as well as that of The Farfield Curse.

The Day Has Come: Bran Hambric Will Be Published

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So the news is out and it’s my turn to make the announcement I’ve been dreaming of for years. I just got word that my debut novel, BRAN HAMBRIC: THE FARFIELD CURSE, is to be published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.

The First Idea - 3/3/03

That picture is from my journal in 2003, when I was 14: the very night I had the idea that would become this book. I had no clue.

It is impossible to explain to someone who doesn’t write books how amazing it feels to receive the call you have been anticipating for most of your life. That call came last Thursday, March 6, when I was in Rhetoric class and my phone started to buzz. I picked it up and saw my agent’s name on the caller ID, and it was at that moment I knew I was really, finally, going to be an author. I barely finished the last five minutes of class, dashing out and across campus, playing his voicemail nine times on the way. I made it into the building for the next class and called him back, and he had a deal.

Of course afterwards I couldn’t shut up about it. I did have a wonderful excuse for being ten minutes late to my next class, and after everyone started clapping I just barely made it through my speech (my assignment was to talk about web design) and I can’t honestly remember one word I said. People next to me at my next class somehow overheard my whispered phone call to my mom and started congratulating me as well. And when I got home, my roommate and I ordered pizza to celebrate.

Writing the Book - 3/18/03

There are so many stories behind the writing of this book and it would be impossible to tell them all: back when I used to punch drafts out on a monochrome Palm Pilot while watching my baby brother taking a nap; when I had the revelation of a The Whole Food’s bag on which, for lack of paper, I worked out Shamblescharacter’s backstory and had to write it out on a Whole Food’s grocery bag; when I talked to the security guard at that publishing house who told me that he hoped he’d get to guard my books one day. This is truly just the beginning of what will be the culmination of dreams I have held since before I can remember. I never could have possibly imagined five years ago when I had the first idea that anything like this could have come about: never in a million years would I have thought that one day, the words I wrote through all of my teenage years would one day fall into the hands of people who would enter into my world: this strange world I made and thought was so crazy and yet just had to write about because I loved it so much.

I can’t begin to imagine what my life will be like in another year when it’s out, or another three years or six. To actually step foot on what has been your lifetime ambition is mind-altering, and once you’re there you’ve got to set a whole new list of goals. More than anything, I wanted a radio show and to be an author. It looks as if I’ve gotten both.

I do not know exactly how much I can say here until I have the official press release from my publishers, but I do know that the book is currently set for a late 2009 or early 2010 release. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky is one of the nation’s largest independent publishers with many bestselling titles under their belt and sales upwards of $50 million. They are very innovative in their approach at publishing and I have complete confidence that they will be a wonderful home for my series.

We’ve got a long road ahead of us to make this happen: this is just the beginning, the first book, the start of it all. Things can only get better!

Random Updates On Books and Such

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Super congratulations to Jeff Kinney, who happens to own the top two spots on the New York Times Bestseller list, his first book at number two and his latest one debuting at number 1. I know Jeff through slight acquaintance and attended his panel at the Texas Book Festival. Since I doubt he’ll brag about it I’ll do it for him, and point out that he’s six places above the National Book Award winner and has been up there for over 41 weeks.

The Thirteenth Reality On other news, I’m passing this around as something you should keep an eye on. The first book in this series is coming in March and already things are starting with their grassroots hype. I absolutely love the music on this site, and if it’s got anything to do with the feel of the book it’ll be spectacular. I emailed James Dashner, the author, and he is so excited about this book coming out. Once I get my hands on one I’ll write something up here.

Also, I just got word that my friend and bestselling author Kaza Kingsley has finished the third book in her series! As you read in my interview with her, the book will be called Erec Rex: The Search For Truth and continues the adventures of Erec on his journey to become king. Kaza will have all the latest news on it at her site. My site also had the honor of debuting the first word of the book as it stands now, which happened to be ‘It’.

As for me, I watched Pan’s Labyrinth last night and was captivated all the way through. I will write up a short review soon.