Mile Marker 10

Ten years ago today — September 23, 2006 — was my last day at my last desk job. Ten years ago today, I became a full-time freelance editor.

In the last ten years, I’ve:

  • Edited about 80 novels, for at least 5 different publishers, written by new authors, major award winners, and nyt bestsellers
  • Read about 800 novel queries and submissions
  • Published 6 anthologies
  • Read about 3000 short story queries and submissions
  • Sold 14 short stories
  • Sold 2 novels of my own
  • Been a managing editor, a submissions editor, an acquisitions editor, a copyeditor, a proofreader, a special guest, an attending professional, a panelist, a lecturer, an apprentice, and a mentor
  • Been interviewed by 14 magazines and podcasts
  • Attended 5 workshops and retreats
  • Got a wikipedia page
  • Served on award juries 7 times
  • Acquired the first works of about a dozen great new writers
  • Acquired works that have won major awards
  • Met my heroes
  • Made countless deep and precious friendships and connections

Would I take a “desk job” again? Absolutely. I’d take one tomorrow, for the right desk and the right job. Am I supporting myself financially with writing and editing? No. Not really. But when I feel down about that, I look at that list above. No one goes into publishing to get rich quick. We knew ten years ago that getting established would be a long, long tail. I’m immensely grateful that I have the privilege to follow words rather than money. I promise to continue making the most of it.

No Weak Stories

Women in Practical Armor is out in the world, and the reviews are starting to come in!

“A great addition to any library.” –MySF Reviews

“There are no weak stories in this collection; all of them are enjoyable reads.” –Tiamatty, Goodreads Review

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Buy your copy now: at Amazon, B&N, or other fine retailers of print and electronic books.

Of The Essence, In the Flesh

 

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The author, with her precioussssss 

So. Last weekend at CanCon, I got to meet my book. As anyone present can attest, I could not stop hugging my book. 🙂

Yes, that’s a hardcover, with a book jacket and everything! It’s also in trade paperback, ebook, and audiobook. I will be selling the print copies, signed, from this site…eventually. I won’t put ordering info up until I have a box of them safely in my hands. This one? This one is mine!

Here’s a sampling of what people are saying so far:

  • “Harbowy[‘s] ability to create realistic portrayals of otherworldly lives is astounding.” -Lambda Literary
  • “Harbowy writes with the precision of an editor, and the sensibility and passion of a writer.” -Leah Petersen, author of the Physics of Falling series
  • “Can’t describe the radness of Gabrielle Harbowy’s Of the Essence in 140 characters. You’re gonna have to hear it to understand.” -Angela Dawe, voice actor; narrator of Of the Essence

Zae’s gaze

“Zae’s gaze” is one of those awkward things that you don’t realize is awkward until you read it out loud. Which I’m doing, on this pass of Gears of Faith, to make sure I catch all the little things that fell through the cracks of my big rewrite/revision.

Reading my soon-to-be-a-book out loud to catch typos is mortifying and humbling. I’m catching the unfortunate, the unexpected, and the just plain awkward. Also I’m recording them. Chapter 5, for what it’s worth, has bonus cat.

Despite Excuses

This is my second full day back from the Despite Excuses Writing Retreat up near Fort Bragg, CA. I can still hear the sea if I close my eyes and listen hard enough.

It’s called Despite Excuses because we all have excuses not to write. We all have lives and responsibilities and day jobs and things. Despite Excuses is about writing even though Real Life happens, rather than waiting for Real Life to agree to leave us alone for a while. If we wait for that, we’ll be waiting a long time.

I don’t do well with roommates or housemates, but somehow I managed to get along with almost everybody in a ten-person house for a week. “No introvert-shaming” was a big rule and that helped a lot. If someone needed time to themselves, to write or nap or spend some time in nature, there was nothing wrong with that.

I tried out my Rejectomancy and Other Myths exercise on the group. This is a modification of my Rejectomancy presentation from a couple of years ago, expanded to include other myths and “truisms” about publishing. We had a nice mixed group of new writers and veterans, so the input was great and people learned a lot from it.

With a lot of teachers and parents in attendance, I also had the opportunity to crowdsource some ideas and inspiration for my YA novel-in-progress. I’m stuck at the point where kids experience the brunt of other kids’ meanness, and I’m out of touch with the techniques teens use to make each other’s lives miserable these days. We didn’t have mobile phones when I was in high school, so harassment has changed a lot since my day. We had to pass notes…uphill, both ways, in the snow, while fending off bears.

(Minor aside: I did see a mobile phone when I was in high school. It was a giant lunchbox with a brick of a handset attached to it. But it would be about fifteen years from that point until I had my own mobile phone. That phone was a brick of a handset, too, but it was a sleek brick, at least.)

I fell about 750 words short of my writing goal for the retreat, but toward the end I made the executive decision that spending time with people was more important than spending time writing; experiences are writing fodder, and I needed the inspiration more than the wordcount. I can make wordcount at home; I can’t stretch out on my back in a hot tub at home and gaze up at the Milky Way, oohing at the streaks of meteors across the sky.

In short, if you have a chance to drop everything, go to the coast, and write…take it. Despite excuses.

 

Revision Purgatory

Revision Purgatory is a much better place than Revision Hell. I’m fortunate to be working with an editor who has a great developmental eye and a lot of patience for “what if we…” emails, so I’m definitely not in hell. If I were in Revision Heaven, I could just wave my hand and say “Let it be done,” and lo, it would be all done. So I’m definitely not there, either. But Purgatory is a good place to be. It’s neutral, it’s not distracting, there are no loud parties. Just a few loud cats, but that’s my own fault.

The down side of working from home is that every afternoon my office mates start yelling at me about how hungry they are, several hours before the cafeteria opens for dinner. They also walk across my keyboard and try to rename my characters with their feet.

Anyway. I’m about two-thirds through the big, substantial edits on my Pathfinder novel. I still have to go back and brush up a few things, but I’m trying to focus on the big picture first. I’m pleased with the shape it’s taking. Zae, Keren, and Appleslayer are a lot of fun to write, and I’ve had enough of a break from this story that I can see it with fresh eyes now. I’ve written a whole separate novel since I turned this one in, and having that extra experience at this is also helping me now.

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This sign (on Route 580 in Oakland), is my measure of how deeply into this novel I am, in my own head. If I read this out of the corner of my eye as “Zae and Coliseum” as I’m driving past, I know I’m thinking about the story.

There’s not much to say from Revision Purgatory. It’s hard to update when my updates would essentially be things like “this scene you know nothing about? it now happens after this other scene you know nothing about, and I have to find another reason for them to be doing the thing I can’t tell you so that this other thing I don’t want to spoil can happen.”

I took yesterday off to visit the SF Maker Faire, which was a lot of fun and a needed break, and was also inspiring on a tinkering / creating / inventing-weird-stuff level, which of course is a perfect thing to get me into Zae’s world.

Zae’s world, as it happens, is an interesting place to visit. Check out some of the other Pathfinder Tales novels while I polish this one up. I’m looking forward to sharing more of her story with you!

Of the Essence is In the Wild!

Twitter Stream Sharing

Quills and her story are now out in the world! Ebook and audio book are now live, with hardcover and trade paperback to come.

I spent my book birthday at a casual writing day with a few friends and my beloved writing partner, Steve Bornstein, who came out from Austin for a visit. Steve and I have been writing together for ten years now — we originally met while playing on a text-based roleplaying environment called Twisted Kingdoms, which was also where the first incarnation of Quills was born.

I’ve got Pathfinder edits due in a month (more on that in another post!) and a short story due in August, and I’ve got two novels in my editing queue (a normal workload for a freelancer), but I took time out from all of that to spend Quills’ Day penning the opening lines of her sequel.

I’ve listened to the sample teaser of the audiobook, and it’s amazing. There was actual out-loud squeeing.

Where can you get it?

Directly from the Onder Librum store

or from Amazon or Barnes and Noble or other fine retailers.

Onder Radio

Have you checked out Onder Radio, the first podcast from Onder Librum (aka the Ed Greenwood Group)? In the first episode, Ed Greenwood gives a lovely shout-out to my debut novel, Of the Essence, which will be out at the end of April. (This month! Eee.)

Ed says:

Mysterious and dark, it brings more than a few daemons to VERY vivid life…and explores a lot of England, too. It’s by Gabrielle Harbowy, a very talented writer and author whom I’ve had the honor of working with on FOUR anthologies now.
[…] I think it really captures what it feels like for the daemons who live among us and are happy to live among us — or at least, are happy to live on earth. And how cruel daemons can be with each other, and what happens when daemons start putting pressure on each other.
It’s a deliciously dark book.
Thank you, Ed!    🙂

Presenting Quills [Cover Reveal!]

Cover Reveal: OF THE ESSENCE at the Onder Librum website.

Meet Quills: she’s a daemon with an affinity for ink, and her medium is magical tattoos.

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When a powerful daemon is killed on modern-day Earth, all signs point to his nemesis, a daemon named Tehru. But Tehru knows that at least one other daemon has access to her unique power: Quills, who takes life essence in payment for her work. Now the murdered daemon’s followers are coming after Tehru for retribution. Quills has five days to find the murderer and clear Tehru’s name. If she doesn’t succeed in time, Quills will be the one who takes the fall.

My debut novel will be on sale April 30, 2016. It will be in audio (narrated by the amazing Angela Dawe!), hardcover, trade paperback, and ebook formats. Some of those formats may take longer than others to propagate on Amazon and the Onder Librum site, so please be patient. I think the audio CD is the only thing up on Amazon for preorder at this point, but please keep checking back.

The art is by Hellmaw Art Director Eric Belisle. I saw this portrait and knew right away that this daemon had a story I could tell. I’m excited to be the first Hellmaw author with a Daemon of Color, the first story to take place outside of North America, and the first Hellmaw novel told through the daemon’s first person point of view.