Over the weekend, I participated in an author event called Beers & Books. I joined four other writers and read from a new short story, Quiet Town, which will appear in Lightspeed Magazine next month. One of my readers drove from Tacoma, Wa., for the event, and some adopted readers (borrowed now and then from my friend Erik Wecks) also came out. It's always a bit of a surprise to find that people actually want to come hear you read your work aloud, you know? Or that they'll tolerate hearing you read aloud while they enjoy a beer or four.
There's no way to know if Eleanor will be a hit when it's published next year, or really even what "hit" means—though I'm told you usually know it when it happens—or if the book will briefly float, then sink out of sight. I'm hopeful it's the former, but I'll be happy if it just doesn't sink. There may be events in the future where it's purely the Jason show, which makes me grateful to be invited to events like Beers & Books, so I can get a little more practice in, scrape a little of the rust off. If there are such solo events in my future, I maintain that I'll be surprised as hell if anybody shows up. After all, I'm little more than a stealth author at this point.
Which is kind of fun, in its way. There's little pressure. Nobody recognizes me on the street, which is good, because I'm not convinced I'm all that approachable. Or at least I don't think I look approachable, which I might be able to solve by dropping a few pounds and inverting my face so that the hair's all on top, not gathered menacingly below my eyes.
Eleanor, meanwhile, is still available for sale. The date of its removal from online booksellers has shifted once or twice; each time I've announced that its disappearance is imminent, the date has moved out a little further. April, I'm told, is the official vanishing date, when all of the publishing mechanisms are officially moving, and the independent book must be quietly ushered from the scene in order to prepare the way for its more polished older sister, who will arrive in January.
For the time being, I have turned my attentions to a new project. Limbs is fully outlined and underway, and I'm a whopping 7,000 words deep into this manuscript. Unlike Eleanor, which took so many years, I know where this book is going—at least, I have a map, and though the map may change along the way, I think it's somewhat reliable.
The nice thing about Eleanor's distant release date, I'll say, is that there's also no pressure on the writing of this new book. I don't yet know if Eleanor is going to do well (though rest assured I'll do everything I can to make sure every planet in our system is aware of its publication) but not knowing makes writing Limbs a little more stress-free than it might be otherwise. If Eleanor was a blowout success, maybe I'd choke while trying to write its followup, with its newfound weighty expectations; if it failed miserably, then maybe writing Limbs would feel a bit more frantic, as though I were building a lifeboat, struggling to hold on, and attempting to drag Eleanor up from the depths behind it.
Thankfully I have many, many months during which to pretend neither is the case, during which time I'll simply keep writing this really, really weird story about, um, trees. And stuff.