Ask the Author: Lois McMaster Bujold

“Ask me a question.” Lois McMaster Bujold

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Lois McMaster Bujold
I've been asked before, not least by my publisher, and the short answer is No. Riding herd on such an enterprise is way, way more work that most people realize, and it is antithetical to the way my creative process works.

Ta, L.
Lois McMaster Bujold
SubPress is sold out, but Hugo's can still get a few copies, signed, in either trade or leatherbound. Since copies are priced at $295 out in the general collectable resale market (well, the one copy I see for sale on Amazon, not that anyone's biting at that price), it will probably be offered at above list price, but not that high. Check with Hugo's by email and see what they can do for you.

Ta, L.
Lois McMaster Bujold
Sure. People can convince themselves of anything. And the appearances of the gods are usually subtle, through the material world or in visions and dreams, uncheckable by outside observers. (The Temples do have systems for sensitives to check each other, which reduces false positives and negatives greatly -- much, much harder for witch-hunts or spiritual con artists to gain traction -- but a sufficiently determined person could dismiss this.)

Ta, L.
Lois McMaster Bujold
I've not read The Road, so I can't compare and contrast. But everyone processes the same work of fiction differently, sometimes by a little, sometimes by a lot. So the answer, if any, is more likely to be found in you than in me.

Other readers may have insights on the question to offer, below.

Ta, L.
Lois McMaster Bujold
There are dozens of real-world places named Lodi, mostly I suspect after the original one in Italy. I'd selected the city name somewhat idly back when it was just a throw-away line in an earlier Penric story, with no expectation of its ever becoming a live setting, because it sounded suitably Italianate, implying but without obviously being Venice. And so I was stuck with it. (Same goes for the planet Jackson's Whole, btw. No, it never had a hidden meaning, it was just a bit of word-play.)

Glad you enjoyed the story! The filched canal-city setting-inspiration was a lot of fun, once I got down to it, and suggested all kinds of useful plot developments.

(And, yep, I also remember the old CCR song.)

Ta, L.
Lois McMaster Bujold
Right oh...

A tip, follow-up comments to Q&As are better placed in the comments section following, so they don't get separated from the thing they refer to. Unless you select the "newest first" button, entries are randomized.

Ta, L.
Lois McMaster Bujold
My input has varied wildly over the years, from none to much, and a lot of experiment has shown that how much input I have has no relationship to how satisfactory the outcome is. Regardless of what you ask artists for (especially in words), what you get back will be related to the pictures in their heads, or maybe their favorite reference materials, and not at all to the pictures in yours. Words are nearly useless; giving them pictures helps some (an old tip from Jim Baen) but not much. It's a crap shoot.

I had the same amount of input to all four of the Sharing Knife, covers, same artist. What I got back was never the picture in my head I'd started out with, and sometimes not even what prelim sketches had led me to expect.

When one has been handed a finished painting, there is very little that can be done to revise it. First, the artist, who imagined it was just fine, gets very cranky about being asked to go back, and not only because they aren't being paid for that. Note also another limit is that all paper book covers are contracted, ordered, and paid for by the publisher, not the writer.

I've also noticed a phenomenon in myself which I've mentally dubbed "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." If I'm presented with a piece of art that is Just Wrong, I'll fix upon little details that seem easy to repaint, getting pickier and pickier about them as they fail to fix the underlying problem. (And getting the artist more and more irritated, as one naturally would be.) The real solution is to sink the whole boat and start over, which I can only do if I'm paying for it (twice), and there is no hard publication deadline. I've done this once, to good effect, but that was very far into my lifelong learning process. I should do an illustrated blog post about that one, some slow day.

Artists will argue that covers are just advertisements, little billboards that have done their job if they get the prospective purchaser to pick up, or pick out, the book, and the details don't matter. I argue that they are the very first moment of the reading experience just as much as the opening page of text, coloring the reader's expectations about what comes after. Wrong covers start the readers off on the wrong foot, from which they may not easily recover.

Ta, L.
Lois McMaster Bujold
Thanks for the kind words!

L.
Lois McMaster Bujold
If the Goodreads messaging system doesn't work for you, which is what I prefer for private messages on Goodreads, I have a semi-public e-mail addy as lois@dendarii.com

More generally, using the Author Q&A for private messages creates dilemmas, and I'd rather folks didn't.

Ta, L.
Lois McMaster Bujold
Thank you! I'm looking forward to a nice quiet day.

bests, Lois.
Lois McMaster Bujold You're welcome!

Typos in printed books are beyond correction, natch. If it's a recent e-edition, well, maybe, but it involves putting my e-handler through a hassle. But there is space for typo reportage in the spoiler-discussion posts I put up on my blog after every new e-work. You could stick it in there, I suppose, even if it's not for the story under discussion. Keeping it all in one place is good. (Actual discussion of the stories is even better. I notice folks tend to get pretty distracted by minutia. Not sure just why.)

Ta, L.
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Lois McMaster Bujold
Just a coincidence. I tend to gravitate to certain names or syllable collections as seeming euphonious to me, which, if I'm not careful, can lead to inadvertent duplications. Illyrica iirc is a variant on Illyria, which is or was a real place. I think. I got it out of Shakespeare, so not swearing to its historicity.

Ta, L.
Lois McMaster Bujold
Saints of the Son are not impossible (that shaman in "Penric and the Shaman" was nearly one, functionally) but they would be rare. As are all saints, really. But Pen is more professionally likely to run into them than most folks would be; a biased sampler, as it were.

I have no idea what may turn up in a future story. I generally have to write them to find out, myself.

Ta, L.
Lois McMaster Bujold
(Writing at the end of October 2020): The novella has only just been offered to SubPress, ink not dry on the contract, so nothing definitive there yet. Since there are now 3 loose novellas, enough to make up market weight in word-count, I would hope for another omnibus someday, but the earliest that could happen is one year after the last SubPress volume is published.

My next thing due out from SubPress is "The Physicians of Vilnoc", which has been scheduled for release July 2021.

It's likewise only just been offered to Blackstone for audio, too soon for any news from that quarter as well. I'll post it on my blog if/when there is.

We've only placed the first of the e-text novellas, "Penric's Demon", on Overdrive so far, along with a handful of other titles for experiment. They remain available as far as I know. Sales have been disappointing compared to the extended hassle of getting them up to Overdrive's specs, so I don't think we'll be doing that as an indie again. The regular publishers and Blackstone have their own arrangements.

Remember the Baen paper versions for your libraries, please!

L.
Lois McMaster Bujold
As of tonight, 10/21, the upload attempted last Thursday has still not emerged on the other end. Repeated attempts to reupload have run afoul of various blockages. B&N's system won't allow another upload of the same thing, I'm told, though once it does go through, updates should be possible, we hope.

So yep, we know, but the problem isn't one we can solve from our side. We'll keep trying, but it may be awhile. (Think of how long paper publishing takes...)

Meantime, yep, iBooks and Kindle are working OK.

Ta, L.

Lois McMaster Bujold
Short request is, Don't, but more helpfully, any Goodreads member whom I have friended can use the GR private messaging system to send email within the system. The trick, it turns out, is that one must have been friended to make the address box populate. This isn't hard to achieve, since I friend pretty much anyone who asks, there being too many to vet.

If you feel you must use the Q&A for this off-label purpose, please make it clear the message is not meant to be publicly posted, and be aware I have no way of answering.

Ta, L.

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