Diane Duane's 'The Big Meow'

Welcome to the glitzy, murky world of 1946 Hollywood, a smoggy film-noir landscape filled with glamourous starlets, flamboyantly corrupt studio heads, and wicked, pampered cats with hidden agendas; a city of unsolved murders, snoopy screenwriters, scheming PR flacks, and a shadowy, celebrity-ridden cult dabbling in knowledge better left alone -- knowledge which could destroy the world's present and doom its future, if the dreadful promise of the Year of the Black Jaguar is fulfilled...

(Want to read the full "back cover" blurb for The Big Meow? It's now over here.)

And welcome to the weblog for the online Big Meow novel project!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Big Meow" afterthought: of course people can still subscribe!

Over the past few days we've had a bunch of people ask via email or my Twitter account if they can still subscribe to the project -- either because they want an early copy of the paperback, or just want to be a part of the project.

Well, sure, why not? So we've restored the subscription buttons at The-Big-Meow.com -- they're in the left-hand column, under the "search box." People who subscribe get immediate access to the online chapters (or can download ebook versions of the entire novel in Kindle / .mobi or Nook / iPad / ePub format) and will naturally have their names (or preferred handles or IDs) listed in the final print edition of the book as project supporters.

Also, the buttons have been updated for people who're already subscribed to the paperback version and want to upgrade to a hardcover, or want a hardcover with dustjacket as well. Those buttons are at this link.

Thanks again, everybody!

9:10 PM | 0 comments |

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Big Meow: Completion


This is to let the world in general know that the final chapters of The Big Meow, third and last in the Feline Wizards sequence, are now going online for the subscribers to the project. Beyond that bald fact, there’s a whole lot more to be said.

First of all, let me apologize. (And there will be apologies at the end of this, too, and some in the middle.) This project will doubtless be the strongest candidate in any possible contest for the worst-managed online novel publication project in history. If there’s any way to mess up such a proceeding that I’ve missed, even the kindest observer would have to be tempted to suggest that it wasn’t for lack of trying.

In particular, the lack of communication on my part was a major failing, and for this I’m particularly sorry. I just kept thinking that soon things would start to go right again, and I’d come out from under the rock and deal with it all then. But things didn’t… and the habit of being too embarrassed to tell anybody what was going on just got more and more ingrained until I didn't notice it was now running my life.

I don’t want to get too much into what my mother used to call “the organ recital” here – the story of what’s going wrong or what went wrong with me, physically, mentally, or emotionally, along the way during the last half-decade. Five years’ worth of recital would try anyone’s patience at this point. (Even mine, and I’m the one the stuff in question happened to.) All I can say here in my defense is that these last five/six years have been terribly trying in terms of physical health, mental health, emotional and work issues, and much else. It’s frustrating, when the crises start to hit one after another, to be weighed in the balance and found so very wanting, especially as regards what used to be the fairly straightforward business of getting work done. This is a situation I’m going to have to spend the next five years at least dealing with and trying to repair – if indeed it can be repaired. But I hope everyone will believe me when I say that had I had even an inkling of what was about to start happening to me, I would never, never have begun such a project as this at all. Or if I had… I would have written the book first and then serialized it. (And these words are now more or less branded on the inside of my skull: WRITE THE DAMN BOOK FIRST, DUMMY. SRSLY.)

Nonetheless there comes a time when more than apologies are needed, and you have to pull up your socks and try to get things straightened out. This is it.

A surprising number of people forked out seed funding for this project, either as challenge grants or in the form of straightforward subscriptions to the book proper. As regards the grants and donations: I will be refunding them all. I’ll be contacting all the people who made them, and we’ll privately sort out the associated details of hows, whens and wherefores.

As regards the subscribers: it’s been incredibly heartening how very few people have ever asked for a refund in the face of these terribly long delays. And subscribers who want their subscriptions refunded at this point will naturally get them. Again, when those folks hear from me over the next couple / few days as we kick the new subscriber mailing list into shape (the old one was based on one of those well-intentioned pieces of software that sounds like a good idea but in fact is almost impossible to operate without screwing everything up: we’re moving everything into MailChimp instead), I will sort the details out with them. For all the rest of you, who gave me the benefit of the doubt… you have no idea how much your trust has meant, and I thank you. You have been one of the bright spots in a long difficult period, though until now you might not have heard me say so.

For subscribers who want to continue being part of the project as it was originally planned: herewith a timetable.*

First of all: how to get at the final chapters of the book. Everyone will have been mailed a username and password at subscription time. There has been a change to the passwords that originally went out, as the YoungWizards.com hosting provider has changed its password protocols slightly. Emails will be going out to you soon to clarify the change: or if you’re in a rush, use the contact form at the-big-meow.com to get in touch with staff, who will mail back the new info to you.

Once the subscribers have seen the material, in line with the way we’ve always done it on this book, all the final material will go “free range” at the the-big-meow.com website for anyone to look at. This will happen ten days from now, on Feb. 12th.

After that, before it goes between covers, the book has to undergo a professional edit. I have the good fortune to have worked with a number of excellent freelance editors over the years, and I’ll be contacting one of these shortly to hire him/her and sort out schedules and so forth. It would be unwise to assume that this process would take less than a few months.

Once the edit is handled, the new draft of the book will go out to the subscribers again – this time in a single file package. (Yes, we’ll be doing it as an ebook in multiple formats, as well as hard copies, for those who want them. There’ll also be an omnibus ebook of all three of the FW novels, but that’s something to think about later.) Once the revised draft is out, it becomes time to go to print. Over the spring I’ll be looking into what artist will have the time (and affordability) to get involved in a cover – ideally a wraparound, to make the best of the dust jacket that will go with the hardcovers.

And after that, the books will be typeset, and will ship. So in terms of the timeline, we’re talking about late summer for the printed books that come with everybody’s subscriptions.

What happens to The Big Meow after that is still way up in the air. I’m going to be listening with some interest to the subscribers’ opinions of what the work is worth. Certainly it provides a satisfactory wrap-up as regards the main continuity line for the major feline YW characters. I doubt I’ll be coming back to them on their own recognizance, though they will (as previously) continue to turn up now and again in the main Young Wizards books.

To finish for the moment: again, everybody, I’m incredibly sorry for the all the trouble and annoyance that the delays in finishing this book have caused. I’m seriously looking forward now to getting it out there into the hands of those who made it possible.

My apologies again, all… and thanks to all those whose understanding has made this outcome possible.

All the best -- Diane


*I almost typed “Herewiss” there. Just a note: if I hear the phrase “The Door into Starlight” in any correspondence relating to this, I’ll probably run around the house for a while screaming. Just so you know.

7:40 PM | 0 comments |

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chapter Seven of "The Big Meow" now online for subscribers


It's up at last.

There are a lot of places where this notification needs to be posted, and a lot of explanations and profound apologies to be made... but for the moment it just seems best to get the news out.

Chapter Seven is now available online for subscribers: it's linked to from the normal TBM subscriber gateway page. The same old username and password that worked for previous chapters will get you in. (If you can't find your login info, email me and I'll send it out to you pronto.) HTML and PDF versions are there right now --  the mobile .prc versions will go up in due course, as soon as we receive the conversions.

If you're not a subscriber, the chapter will go public on the 28th of the month. Look for the link to its gateway page in the left-hand menu at the project page at http://www.the-big-meow.com. (And for those of you who might feel inclined to subscribe, the subscription button is at the top of the left-hand column, along with info about what you get.)

Once again, I'm deeply sorry for the immense delay. I'm going back on the old one-chapter-per-three-weeks schedule: Chapter Eight will be going up in mid-August. Additionally, the book has become a couple of chapters longer in the course of being restructured -- check the project schedule for the anticipated posting dates.

Thanks again, everybody, so very much, for your patience during this past crazed and difficult year. More info shortly.

7:02 PM | 0 comments |

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Chapter 7 news and project update

Dear folks,

Just a quick note to let you know that things are about to move into a considerably higher gear on the "Big Meow" project.

A word first about the health situation here, since it has been interfering in a big way, and some of you will want to know how things are. My gall bladder is stable at the moment, and though surgery is going to be a necessity shortly, the doctor has let me know that I should be able to keep going as I am without too much trouble for the time being. I am therefore taking the rest of the month of July off to deal with the task of finishing the book, so that it can go off for editing. (There are other circumstances affecting this, but more about those in a moment.) I want to also apologize for not having updated everyone on this situation sooner, but it kept looking like (each few days) it would be okay, and then (again each few days) something would go wrong again. I'm very sorry about this, all -- I'll work to be better about updates.

Chapter Seven is now nearly ready (after having been reworked a couple of times) and will be posted over the next few days, ideally on Friday. Other projects are all in a "quiet period" at the moment, so I should be able to get down to the business fo completing chapters Eight through Thirteen (and there may be a fourteenth -- I have to see how the structure starts acting in the book's final stages, as some new plot material has turned up that I wasn't expecting).

The only factor likely to interfere with this is one which some of you will already know about from Peter's blog at petermorwood.livejournal.com. His mother is in the hospital with an exascerbation of her longstanding heart trouble, and at the age of ninety, you'll understand that we both feel our place right now is up there with her rather than down here at home. We will therefore be heading up for Belfast today, and I'm not entirely clear how long we may be up there (though right now the plan is to stay, on this visit, only until Saturday). This relocation may slow down my work somewhat, but with the laptop and the speech-to-text software with me, I should be able to keep going at a good pace. However, not being home means I will not have access to the mail server software from which the chapter-is-ready announcements come -- so I'd ask everybody please to check the weblogs here and at the-big-meow.com for news as to when individual chapters will be going up. As usual, subscribers will be seeing their chapters ten days before everybody else does.

Thanks again, all. Keep an eye on the blogs starting Friday.

Best -- Diane
11:56 AM | 0 comments |

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Big Meow: Chapter Six is up

Chapter Six has now gone freerange for those of you who're not subscribers. Enjoy, folks!

(Chapter Seven should be going up on Sunday for the subscribers. Check the Big Meow site for details.)

1:59 PM | 0 comments |

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The-Big-Meow.com is up and running again

The transfer to The Big Meow's new hosting provider at Lunarpages has gone smoothly, and the new installation of Drupal 5.0 is now up and running. Everything seems to be working OK, but if those of you who read this and venture over there should find anything strange going on, please register so that you can comment at this blog entry and tell us what's happening.  ...Otherwise, there's still a little grooming-out and adjusting to do -- rewriting of old legacy links to the old PHP-based site, fixing-up of graphics and tweaking of CSS, etc -- but that's a matter of a few days' work on and off.

Over the next few days I'm going to start making my (online) research materials for the book available via RSS feed through the website, so those of you who're interested in any of the base subjects of the book -- the LA of the 1940's, etc etc -- might want to run through some of the material. (And some of you will naturally start to indulge in the inevitable guessing games about where I'm going with some of the stuff you're going to find. Have yourselves a party: you can all get together and swap conspiracy theories over at the new TBM discussion forums.)

The only hitch in the transfer process, BTW, has been that I was not able to directly transfer the old Drupal database into the new installation (not Drupal's fault: something went wrong with the MySQL database export from the old server. Those of you who were registered at the old site, would you please just register again?


(BTW -- for those of you who may be seeking a new hosting provider -- let me just plug Lunarpages here. I'm already very impressed with their support, and the one-click website / database backup via cPanel X is just delightful.)


11:40 AM | 0 comments |

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The-Big-Meow.com is moving...!

...to its new hosting servers at Lunarpages, starting today.

This means that the site will disappear for a while as the domain registrar passes the domain's internal change-of-address information (DNS) into the Net.

The site may take as long as seventy-two hours to reappear, so please don't panic if the absence seems to be getting prolonged.

The content of this weblog won't be affected. However, links to the main website in the left-hand column will not work until the domain change is complete.

Also, if you want to subscribe to the book, that function won't be affected by the website move, as the "subscribe" buttons speak directly to e-Junkie and PayPal.

Thanks for your patience!

2:40 PM | 0 comments |