First, a bit of news. They've changed the release date on book 4. Again. If you care to mark your calendars (but do it in pencil), the release date is now April 29. Apparently, the decision was made months ago, and they thought they'd told me, but they didn't. I'm very sorry about this, and I want everyone to know I had absolutely nothing to do with this decision (which was made by the same person who decided against book 5). Remember, my original plan that I worked out with my former editor was to do the third and fourth books as close together as possible, with book 3 coming in March or April and book 4 coming in September or October of this year. With that plan in mind, I just about killed myself writing two books last year, then found out when I asked if it would be a crisis if I was a week late with book 4 that they'd changed the publication date to January, so I had plenty of time. And now it's the end of April, which totally defeats the original plan and which means that I killed myself last year getting that book written for no good reason. Ugh. I would not have ended book 3 the way I did if I'd known at the time that it would be this long between books.
On the other hand, though this totally sucks for the readers who are anxious to get the next book, it is kind of good for me (if I can't have the publication date we originally planned). January is a terrible month to have a book out, and it likely would have never been shelved and would have been forgotten in the post-Christmas aftermath. There are also all kinds of weather issues that can come up that would possibly interfere with booksignings. People are used to me having books out in late April/early May, and that gives me more time for promotion and publicity. It means the new book will still be kind of new during the summer convention season, including WorldCon, and that means I can recruit new readers and boost sales overall, which could mean the chances improve for getting book 5. Plus, the book will be coming out at right around the time of year it takes place, so the season will match, for a change!
Aside from that bit of news, I had a pretty good birthday and didn't get my usual bout of birthday depression. I made a quick shopping trip to Borders and spent some quality time listening to various CDs at their listening stations. I ended up using my coupon to buy the soundtrack from Order of the Phoenix, not because I'm a big nerd (though I am) but because when I listened to it in the store, it sounded like the soundtrack to the book I'm working on. Instead of seeing images from the movie in my head, I saw my characters in my settings, in scenes I hadn't even written yet. So, of course, I had to buy it. If they make a movie out of this book, this would totally have to be the temp track. Now after I spend all this time listening to it while writing and seeing my characters and my scenes with this music, the next time I see the actual movie, it may be a real jolt to me to see Harry Potter images with that music. I guess it's kind of like the way the music from Battlestar Galactica now makes me think of Damsel Under Stress. Not that the music is any kind of soundtrack for that book, but it was sort of my self-hypnosis trigger to get me into the writing zone for that book when nothing else worked.
I wrote 25 pages yesterday, so I slowed down some, but hey, it was my birthday. I'm still having a blast. I've never written this much of a book before without doing any of the pre-book development, and I'm finding that there are some benefits to playing with my characters before I try to define them. I find that I discover some interesting things I never would have planned. For instance, I suspect one of my main characters is shaping up to fit the Spunky Kid archetype, and if I'd really planned that all out, she probably would have ended up being a clone of Katie. But without planning, some little details are coming out that make her very different. There's one scene that's kind of a crisis, and she finds herself focusing on what the villain is wearing. Later, I needed her to have a needle and thread on her and know how to use it. If I'd planned it, she would have just been hyper-prepared and practical, like Katie, but with that earlier tidbit of her noticing the fabric and design of the villain's outfit, I realized that she liked to design and make clothes. She's not a label-conscious fashionista, but she is a creative person who would carry a needle and thread and scissors so she could totally remake her outfit if inspiration struck. That gives her a very different outlook on life from Katie, and now I've got a totally different Spunky Kid, one who is creative rather than practical. Now that I know all this about her, I can consciously layer in these details.
I guess maybe all those years of working very hard on character development and plotting has trained my subconscious, and now it's doing it all on its own, and my subconscious is generally a lot smarter than I am, so I may as well put it to work.
I still have to decide what to get for my birthday. I'm just not really in a shopping mood right now.