On Tuesday I delivered the final edited manuscript for Mark Teppo's novel Heartland: The Second Book of the Codex of Souls to publisher Night Shade Books. The due date for delivery of the edited manuscript was that day, September 1, but the manuscript had in fact been completed a few days prior. I told Mark that I would sit on it until the 1st just in case he or I came up with any thoughts, issues, or last minute edits. Neither of us did, which is always a good sign.
Just as a point of information, the "Codex of Souls" is a planned ten-book series, though I believe only the first three titles, so far, have a home at Night Shade Books. Personally, I have no doubt that all ten books will assuredly see publication. Book one, Lightbreaker, was published this past June, and Heartland will be forthcoming in early 2010. Each book contains a teaser for the next title in the series; book 3, Angel Tongue, is scheduled for publication in 2011.
I've been working on Heartland for most of this past month. I read through the author's manuscript twice: making notes and minor edits the first time, then I gave the manuscript an intensive editing review the second time around -- sending the author an email as each question/concern arose. At this stage I was working on hardcopy -- I only edit on hardcopy! Once the editing and review was complete, I then keyed in all the edits and notes directly into the author's manuscript file using MS Word's "change tracking." Without "change tracking" I would be forced to deal with hardcopy from start to finish: I would have had to photocopy the marked-up pages and mail them to the author. However, "change tracking" negates the need for all of that. For those unfamiliar with "change tracking": My initial edits/changes are entered in a red font; the author's follow-up edits/changes are entered in blue. So it is easy to keep track of who entered what. Plus, anything deleted is automatically moved into a box in the right margin so one can view deletes as well as adds. And, of course, any change can be rejected by either person. Comments can also be added anywhere, when necessary, to explain edits, to ask questions/clarifications, etc. A great little tool. How did we survive without this years ago? Yeah, I know, photocopy and mail.
So far Mark and I have churned out at least 165 Heartland-related emails discussing the finer (and not so finer) points in the manuscript.
Before I proceed any further, I would like to include an excerpt here from Heartland -- just one paragraph from the hundreds of paragraphs and more than 132,000 words -- with Mark Teppo's permission, of course:
It's a funny way to remember someone: as a sensory phantom haunting you when they are gone. They become a collection of elusive details; you cannot remember them completely, and the more you struggle to put the puzzle together, the more you obsess about the gaps between the pieces. But, when you find these people again, when you crush them to you and inhale their smell, when you hear their voice, when you feel their touch, the pieces arrange themselves and you can’t fathom how you didn't see the whole picture before.
If the Codex of Souls series had to be classified/boxed/labeled, then I would be forced to say it is Urban Fantasy (with a strong male protagonist). But this series is so much more than that. I don't read much contemporary fantasy these days, as the stories are so overrun with romantic supernatural vamipiric zombies, but you won't find any of that in the Codex of Souls. Blue Tyson, in his mini review, called Lightbreaker "An urban fantasy novel that is a lot more Hellblazer, Mage and Highlander than it is high heels, hot pants and horizontal vampire mambo. There's even a Watcher society and sword fighting." Lupa, at Pagan Book Reviews, writes: "Teppo's story is based on Western Occultism, particularly Qabalah and other forms of ceremonial magic. To be sure, there's a lot of fantasy element to it -- souls shoving each other out of bodies with visible results, qlipothic spirits zapping rival mages -- but the author knows his stuff as far as basic Western magical theory goes."
Recently, I was interviewed by Charles Tan for his Bibliophile Stalker blog. In that interview I mention one summer during college in which I had read Castaneda’s The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road – all in succession. If Lightbreaker had been published at that point of time in my life, the book would have fit in quite perfectly between Castaneda and Kesey. How about that for a summer's beach-reading experience!