September 23rd, 2009


Jellyfish Love.

My love for you is jellyfish love. It is the kind of love that you can only give when you happen to be a delicate floating construction of diaphanous membranes, primarily water-based fluids, and stinging tendrils. That makes it very difficult to see before it brushes up against you, and kind of cool, but not if you happen to be adverse to lumps of formless ooze. Or stinging fronds. But because my love for you is jellyfish love, you are not on my list of things to sting, paralyze, and eventually engulf. Be glad.

Jellyfish spend most of their time floating aimlessly through the ocean, going wherever the current takes them, generally just chilling out. When they encounter something they can eat, they casually wrap it in their stinging fronds and keep on going, off to do whatever it was they were doing before lunch came along. Jellyfish things, like processing edits, or picking blackberries, or watching too much television. Or maybe just bobbing around in the surf and sending unsuspecting swimmers to the emergency room, if you want to be literal about things. It doesn't matter to me. Because see, those jellyfish float along in huge, beautiful schools of delicately layered membranes, and once something has been caught by the tendrils of one jellyfish, they all get a little bit to eat. They aren't greedy, those jellyfish. They share.

If you watch jellyfish floating along, you'll see that they're constantly twining over and under and around and even through one another, like this giant, glorious underwater macrame, and yet somehow, they never get knotted up. They're always together, but they're always willing to let each other go. And that? That is how I feel about you. I totally spend my days wrapping my long, stinging tendrils around delicious things, because I know that even if you float away from me, you'll come back, and you may need something to engulf.

Only they aren't real stinging tendrils. And we all have skeletons. And if you decide to try to exist by absorbing raw fish and plankton through your porous skin, you're probably going to need to eat a sandwich, too, because man cannot live by metaphorical osmosis. But the basic concept is there. I spend my days floating free, loving you.

My love for you is jellyfish love.

Bloop bloop bloop.

"T" is for "Toby," not "trilogy."

So here's the thing: the Toby Daye books are not a trilogy. According to Wikipedia, a trilogy is "a set of three works of art—usually literature, film, or video games, less commonly visual art like paintings or musical works—that are connected, and that can be seen either as a single work or as three individual works." So, for example, the original three Star Wars movies are a trilogy, but three randomly selected episodes of Veronica Mars are not. The Evil Dead movies are a trilogy; any three given Nightmare on Elm Street installments are not, and so on. Having three of something gives you a trio, but it doesn't necessarily give you an actual trilogy.

Why does this matter? It matters because the word "trilogy" comes with a certain degree of expectation. People say "the Toby Daye trilogy," and they're creating the idea that, come the end of An Artificial Night, everything will be finished, wrapped up nice and neat and ready to move on. They're also creating the idea that—or at least the option for—A Local Habitation to end on an unfinished note, a literary device that's become increasingly common in trilogies over the past few years. (I actually find myself getting angry at books that don't announce themselves as part of a trilogy, and then release a "middle book" with no real ending. Tell me up-front that you're writing a trilogy, and I'll be braced for the mid-trilogy cliffhanger. Tell me you're a series and leave me hanging, and you may have just lost yourself a reader.)

Rosemary and Rue has an ending. A Local Habitation has an ending. An Artificial Night has an ending. Just so you know.

It's true that currently, only the first three Toby books have been purchased by my publisher. This is because three is a very good number for proving a series has legs and can manage on its own. The sales on your first book will be first book sales—they'll be made on the strength of your cover, your back cover text, and your pre-existing fanbase, if any. The sales on your second book will hopefully exceed the sales of your first, and be accompanied by a bump in first book sales, because some people like to wait for proof that a series is actually going to, y'know, continue before they invest their time and dollars. By book three, your publisher will have a pretty good idea of whether the series is a success, and will be able to market and support you a lot better as a consequence. Three book chunks help series succeed. But they still aren't trilogies.

I have nothing against trilogies. The Newsflesh books (Feed, Blackout, and Deadline) are a trilogy. They follow the standards for trilogy pacing, construction, and narrative arc. But the Toby books are very much not a trilogy. Great Pumpkin willing and the creek don't rise, the Toby books will continue for quite some time, and range very, very far away from that initial set of three. The fact that I'm currently neck-deep in book five should definitely tell you that there's a lot more story to tell.

Word count -- Discount Armageddon.

Current stats:

Words: 3,674.
Total words: 50,660.
Reason for stopping: finished chapter fourteen.
Music: a lot of angry goth-punk. I'm in a mood.
Lilly and Alice: sprawling atop high things, dozing.

Progress continues! Discount Armageddon has now shattered the 50,000 word mark, which is always a milestone for me, since by that point, I'm so fully committed that it isn't even funny. Also, under my current estimate of length, I'm within 3,000 words—or one more day of really solid writing—from being to the halfway point. That makes me incredibly happy. Since I have three books going right now (by which I mean "three books I'm really actively writing, as opposed to just plinking at"), anything that makes it seem like one of my babies is preparing for bed is just delightful.

Things that this book contains: ballroom dance. Cryptozoology. Snark. Free running. A strip club with a funny name. Mixed drinks. High heels. Snares. Throwing knives. Talking mice. Illegal sub-lets. Coffee shops. Math. Things this book does not contain: vampires. All told, I'm pretty happy with my "have" to "have not" ratio, especially since Verity keeps kicking people in the head.

Life is good.