The Heavy Lifting
So Generation V has now been out for three months! Pretty amazing, actually, when I think about it. I’ve learned quite a lot over the last three months – namely that the Amazon sales rankings make little to no sense, and seem simply designed to break my heart.
Now, what should I be expecting from a three-month-old book? Well, as always, the Internet provided an answer:
Your 3-month-old is growing bigger and becoming more aware every day. By this age, your baby should be settling into a schedule, and giving you some much-needed rest!
Your 3-month-old’s nervous system is maturing, and his stomach can accommodate more milk or formula. Those changes should allow your baby to sleep for a stretch of six or seven hours at a time, which translates into a good night’s sleep for you.
If your baby does wake up in the middle of the night, wait about 30 seconds before heading into the nursery. Sometimes, babies will cry for a few seconds and then go back to sleep. When you rush in at the first sound of fussing, your baby won’t learn how to fall back asleep on his own.
When the cries don’t stop and you do need to go into your baby’s room in the middle of the night, stick to the essentials. Feeding and changing should be done in the dark, if possible, and then it’s right back into the crib. Eventually, your baby will get the idea that nighttime is for sleeping only.
Your baby’s daytime sleep schedule should also become more routine by now. Most 3-month-old babies take a few naps of about 1 1/2 to 2 hours each day.
Thanks, WebMD! I’ll definitely keep those things in mind. Somewhere between improving its nervous system and working on not waking in the middle of the night, Generation V got reviewed again – this one is from Book Lovers, Inc. I also had a great time recently writing a guest post about naming the Generation V characters for Shadowhawk’s Shade‘s ongoing series on the topic. If you haven’t been reading these posts, I really recommend that you go over and check them out. Abhinav has gotten a really great roster of writers, and it’s very fun to see so many different perspectives.
My posting recently has gotten fairly erratic – August is a pretty busy month right now. I just finished the copy edits for Iron Night and mailed them back to Roc last night (WOO!) – it really helped clean the manuscript up, and hopefully we’ve caught all the typos and little bits of weirdness that always seem to hold on no matter how many eyes go through the manuscript. (until the first real reader, of course. THEN they pop out.)
Here’s something interesting that I learned during the copy edit – apparently “Wookiee” has two “e”’s? What the hell is up with this? Now, I actually read a not-insignificant number of Star Wars books when I was younger (for those curious – the Thrawn trilogy), and somehow this missed my notice. What is up with all those extra vowels? One “e” would’ve been sufficient!
That took a little under a week, but now I can fully shift back to work on the yet-unnamed Book 3 (it has a working title, but it’s pretty horrible, so I’m not going to mention it at this time… or EVER). The deadline on that one is September 1, which is getting just slightly stressful.
On top of that I’m teaching two classes this fall (that part isn’t so bad – usually I teach five) which each need a syllabus before classes start – on August 28. Usually wouldn’t be too bad, except some jackass decided to assign new books. What jackass would that be? Yeah. Me. Fuck you, me from April! Stop making more work for August Me just to try to stop plagiarism! (Meanwhile October Me is probably all, “Yeah, fuck off, August Me. I am totally not dealing with that shit.”)
Aaaaand WorldCon is the last weekend in August. Which should be awesome and all, but Jesus Christ, at this point it would be redundant to even throw up a .jpg of The Scream.
So if I’m frothing at the mouth and twitching spastically in another two weeks – that’s why. Not all is gloom and doom, though. My brother wrote me an inspirational haiku! (seriously, this is an ML Brennan’s Older Brother original. If you want to use it, you MUST credit him)
Bare slate beckons man:
“Fill the page ere dusk descends.
Words don’t write themselves.”
–ML Brennan’s Older Brother
Isn’t that nice? Clearly my brother got the poetry gene in the family. (which I am actually very, very okay about)
So, what are the odds that I’ll be delivering a Book 3 manuscript on deadline? Here, I will defer to the master.
The State of Monday – June 17
Somewhat quick update today – firstly, some extremely exciting news! Iron Night now has listings on Amazon.com and Goodreads! So this means that I can finally do the reveal here (in a tiny picture because I don’t have a larger one yet, sorry):
Underemployed by day. Undead by night.
Underachieving film theory graduate and vampire Fortitude Scott may be waiting tables at a snooty restaurant run by a tyrannical chef who hates him, but the other parts of his life finally seem to be stabilizing. He’s learning how to help rule the Scott family territory, hanging out more with his shapeshifting friend Suzume Hollis, and has actually found a decent roommate for once.
Until he finds his roommate’s dead body.
The Scott family cover-up machine swings into gear, but Fort is the only person trying to figure out who (or what) actually killed his friend. His hunt for a murderer leads to a creature that scares even his sociopathic family, and puts them all in deadly peril.
Keeping secrets, killing monsters, and still having to make it to work on time? Sometimes being a vampire really sucks.
Coming January 7, 2014! Very cool, right? When I saw the cover my first thought was that Fort had leveled up in attractiveness! (he went from Fortitude the Grey to Fortitude the White!) But I do love the cover – particularly the way that the artist used the background V to tie the two books together. And the architectural interest behind the model. Oh, and the gun – that’s exactly how I was picturing it. Okay, I just love the cover.
I’m finishing up the primary edits on Iron Night this week, and after that it will be turned over to the copyeditor (which will be, you know, delightful). But I’m really excited about where the book goes, and I can’t wait until it gets released.
But, returning to the book currently making its way (hopefully) onto shelves and into hearts – some new stuff for Generation V as well! Reviews this past week went up at Coffee and Characters and Ladybug Literature, and I did an interview with the Little Red Reviewer. That last one has a giveaway attached to it as well, for anyone interested.
So if you haven’t read Generation V yet, the countdown is now on!
Hitting the road this weekend for a trip up the New Hampshire. Limited internet access, and hopefully a chance to put in some solid work on the Iron Night edits.
Hope everyone has a great few days, and a few last links:
There’s an interview posted today over at SciFiChick.com along with a chance to win a signed copy of Generation V.
Plus a very nice review over at All Things Urban Fantasy — four out of five bats can’t be wrong, people!
So if you’ll have any free time over the weekend, wouldn’t you like to curl up and meet this Fortitude Scott guy that everyone in my links is talking about? Of course you would.
Generation V release day
It’s 12:30am, and it’s the release day of my debut book.
This is a good day. I worked a very long time to make this happen, and it definitely wasn’t easy. I’m hoping a lot of things right now — that the book is well received. That people are excited about my characters. That the book does well financially. I’m thinking about these things, and those thoughts have been present basically since the book found an editor, but most of all today (and it’s still really tonight) I’m feeling really grateful.
I’m grateful to my teachers, who taught me how to hone what was good and cut what was weak.
I’m grateful to my husband and family, who gave me tremendous support.
I’m grateful to my friend Sarah, who was the first person I ever showed the draft of Generation V to. She read about three versions of the book.
I’m grateful to friends who gave me good career advice, and listened to lots of my whining.
I’m grateful to my agent, Colleen Mohyde, who worked so hard for this book.
I’m grateful to my editor, Anne Sowards, who liked the book enough to take a chance on it, and then did so much to help me make it stronger and better.
I’m grateful to all the people at Penguin and Roc who put their time and talents into this book — particularly the cover art team, the copy editor, and Brad from publicity.
I’m grateful to all the friends I made among other writers while I was tweeting and posting while waiting for the book to come out, many who were incredibly generous with their time, advice, and passing the word about this book, especially Michael J. Martinez, Django Wexler, and Barb Hendee.
And I’m so very deeply grateful for all the bloggers and review writers who read the book and got excited about it — Julie from Yummy Men & Kick Ass Chicks, Candace from Candace’s Book Blog, Tori from Smexy Books — and all the other dedicated and wonderful bloggers and reviewers who gave so very generously of their time and platform to help give my book the best possible start — just a few among them are RT Book Reviews, Kirsten at A Book Obsession, Abigail at All Things Urban Fantasy, Sally at The Qwillery, Carolyn at Book Chick City, Kristen at My Bookish Ways, Theresa at Fade Into Fantasy, Star at the Bibliophilic Book Blog, Angela at SciFiChick.com, Kristie at Dark Faerie Tales, Stacy at Urban Fantasy Investigations, and Amy Phelps at News & Sentinel.
Thank you all, so very very much.
Five days to go!
Only five days to go, and things are incredibly exciting and busy for me! The very nice publicity rep at Penguin gave me a list of every blog that he’d sent an advance copy of Generation V to, and I contacted a bunch to ask if it would be possible to do an interview, or a giveaway, or some kind of guest post, and everyone has been hugely supportive and wonderful. So I have a lot of stuff coming up the pipeline (including some really fantastic interviews that were so much fun to do) over the next week or so.
Exciting stuff for today:
Check out the Top Ten list I did over at All Things Urban Fantasy. They are also hosting a giveaway, so if you would like to win a free signed copy of Generation V, check it out there!
Everyone should also check out Kirsten’s review of Generation V over at A Book Obsession. Four out of five butterflies can’t be wrong!
I’ll be posting again tomorrow, but for now — wouldn’t you like to pre-order Generation V? You know that you would!
How I Built My Vampires — Part One, Apex Predators
Two weeks until Generation V is on the shelves! This is amazing, because I can try and work it into conversations in a very fake-casual kind of way. “Oh, week after next? Well, I have that dermatologist appointment, and then I thought I’d swing over to the bookstore. No big deal. Thought I’d buy Munchkin Chtulhu… and MY OWN BOOK THAT GETS PUBLISHED THAT DAY!”
Very exciting times right now. Advance copies of Generation V have gotten three really nice reviews on Goodreads, which everyone should go and read. Here’s a snippet of what David Caldwell wrote about Generation V:
This isn’t your typical vampire/shapechanger novel.The author has come up with a new and creative take on vampires.The idea of the host is great and gets rid of a lot of the problems presented in most vampire tales.Vampires aren’t immortal, just very long lived.They continue to grow strongeras they age.They also gain many of the weaknesses(like having to avoid the sun) as they age.
And Matt Lunn:
M.L. Brennan develops a very likable hero and excellent surrounding characters to go with an interesting new take on old vampire myths.
And Django Wexler (full disclosure, I know Django, and his first book The Thousand Names is incredibly cool and amazing and I reviewed the crap out of it already.):
It’s always nice to see an original take on the vampire mythos. (Including, for once, a reason why vampires haven’t overrun the world!)
I’ll brag a little here – all three of those reviewers also gave me five out of five stars. (fact: I am going to bawl my eyes out the first time someone give a nasty review)
But what all three reviewers were talking about was the way that I reimagined and rebuilt vampires in this series, so I thought that this could be something useful and interesting to blog about today.
Firstly, I’ve always had a bit of an issue with the vampire myth as it usually plays out, for pretty much the same reason that Django refers to – if vampires are immortal and all they have to do to make more of themselves is bite someone, have that person drink a little bit of blood, and then you have another vampire? You have a massive population control problem that will fairly quickly result in the entire world being covered by vampires!
I knew before I even started planning the series that I wanted my vampires to have a lifespan. Because, let’s face it, immortal characters are boring. They have no life cycle, they have no particular stake in doing anything. But then there was the question of what kind of life cycle? I didn’t want this to be a thousand years kind of thing, because then you’re only ever within two generations of the time of Christ, and honestly, that’s a little weird to think about. “Oh, that guy? Yeah, my grandpa was drinking buddies with him. Man, did that Nazarian like to put back a few bottles of wine.”
I also really didn’t want a protagonist who was a few hundred years old. Unless I made it a completely separatist society, the vampire would have a really tough time rolling with the constant changes in time. And half of his memories would involve women in corsets, a lack of flush toilets, and the days when Mozart’s music was banned for being too racy.
When I started constructing my vampires, I wanted them to make sense in a biological way. Not a lot of sense, granted, since this is still fantasy and my field of study was in the humanities, but just enough that I felt like I could work with it.
My first step was to think about how vampires would fit into the natural world. Essentially we’re talking about an apex predator in its ecosystem – big, in charge, eats what it wants and no one eats it.
Vampires are basically Great White Sharks.
Now, Great White Sharks are amazing, and badass, and the entire reason behind Discovery’s Shark Week. But like all apex predators, they are also inherently vulnerable because of this important fact – prey species must reproduce quickly, because it’s through sheer numbers and fecundity that the species can continue, since just about everything eats them (think bunnies here). But apex predators are different. For one thing, it usually takes them much longer than their prey to reach maturity – both physical maturity and then sexual maturity. After all, nothing is eating them, so what’s the rush? Secondly, they tend to reproduce less often, and in smaller numbers, because, again, no one is eating them, so no worries.
Which is fine… as long as nothing effects that ecosystem.
Here’s the thing about an apex predator – they are far more vulnerable to changes than their prey species. They are also far easier to wipe out, because of those important traits – slow to mature, slow to breed, and then they produce small numbers of offspring.
This takes us back to the badass Great White Shark. We don’t know a whole hell of a lot about them, but we do know that they live 30+ years, and that they don’t reach sexual maturity until around year 15. They also have an eleven-month gestation cycle, and deliver between 2 to 14 live pups, which then swim off and have to fend for themselves while they get bigger.
That long maturation period and relatively low amount of young makes them very vulnerable. For example, if suddenly another species comes along with boats and the interest in sport-fishing them and/or making tasty soup out of their fins, a huge dent can be made in the population, and this is a population that can’t bounce back very quickly.
And that led me to an idea I really liked – that vampires were a species that was barely hanging on, because the long maturation period and the low birth rate had been a disaster once humans began developing technology that could offset the natural power imbalance between them. Imagine a rabbit vs. a wolf. Now imagine if the rabbit is carrying a rabbit-sized AK-47. Those big teeth don’t make such a difference now, do they?
So vampires are strong, and powerful… but it takes them a while to get that way, just like baby Great White Shark. And if normal humans (the rabbits) traditionally reach sexual maturity around 15-18, then my vampires don’t hit it until they’re around 250. And the birthrate is very low – usually between one or two offspring in a regular vampire’s lifespan.
Now my primary vampire, Madeline Scott, is unusually fertile in the vampire world. Her oldest is Prudence, who was born in 1775. Then Chivalry in 1864. Then Fortitude, who is now 26. And none of her children are old enough to either leave home or start a family themselves, though Prudence is getting close.
To me, that seemed both interesting and plausible that this was a species that A) hadn’t overrun the entire world, and B) could be pushed right up to the edge of extinction.
But most importantly, C) would be neat to write about.
That was how I imagined I used the idea of vampires as apex predators to construct my species. But I also had a second way of interpreting vampires, which I’ll go into more next time –
Vampires are apex predators. But they also are very specific predators, feeding solely on the blood of another species. Which to me made them…