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Out with the Old, in with the New… Cover?

When buying your first house/apartment you often hear this bit of advice: Don’t get emotionally attached to any single house, even after you’ve put in an offer. Too many variables, too many things that can change suddenly. It turns out a similar warning holds for a book: Don’t get attached to the ARC cover.

I had gotten quite fond of the big, perky, yellow duck that squats on the cover of the Advance Reader’s Copy of Regarding Ducks and Universes. However, the book’s publisher, the good folks over at AmazonEncore, after some consideration, suggested that that cover felt “unfinished” and “didn’t reflect the depth of the book.” So they sent me a pdf file of a new one. What did I think?

It took me about a day to come to this conclusion: By golly, they’re right. The new cover is better. More intriguing, more indicative of the book as a parallel-universe mystery. “Fun, mysterious, dramatic,” my friend Mary Alterman said. “It pulls you in,” Jo, another friend from my writing group, commented.

In a previous post, I’d merrily informed the giveaway winners that there’d only be minor changes between the ARC, the warts-on version of the book, and the final product. A handful of typos to be fixed, I wrote, a small goof with a date, a runaway case of italics, some small edits in the text, that was all. No major changes, I said. Wrong I was.

So in with the new:

And out with the old:

I’ll probably always feel a bit of nostalgia for the old cover. But, on the plus side, procrastinating on ordering cover-based bookmarks (in lieu of business cards) turned out to be not such a bad idea after all.

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Myriad Myriads

Writing a novel is making a thousand little decisions, some requiring a day of thought or more, but most of them made right on the spot, with no lifting of fingers from the keyboard: Will your protagonist have long hair or short? Do his sleuthing on a foggy day or a sunny day? Pilfer sourdough bread starter, as instructed by his boss, or not?… Many, many daily decisions — a myriad of them, you might say. Which brings me to the topic of today’s post. Myriad. Is it a noun, an adjective, what?

It was more than a point of grammar for me as I wrapped up the final edit of Regarding Ducks and Universes. In Universe B, as it happens, they use Ancient Roman units of measurement: stadium (just over 200 yards) and libra (about 0.7 pounds and where, incidentally, the modern pound gets its abbreviation of lb). But what of myriad?

In our own universe the original Greek word started out with essentially the same meaning it has now (abundant, numerous, countless) according to Gullberg’s Mathematics: From the Birth of Numbers. The word later acquired a more specific meaning — it denoted the number ten thousand. (Tens, hundreds, thousands, myriads…) As it made its way into English via Latin, myriad lost its mathematical meaning, much like decimate no longer means reduce by (exactly) a tenth.

Numbers do come up in Regarding Ducks and Universes a lot: house numbers, cups of tea drank, the number of people in the world, that kind of thing. I had small numbers, I had big numbers, but none of them* happened to be exactly 10,000. I briefly though about using myriad myriads (as Archimedes did when estimating the number of grains of sand), but that seemed kind of awkward. So I took the easy route: myriads of Bygone Times Sourdough Bread Makers in Universe B implies what it usually does, an unspecified large number.

Oh, and the word can be either an adjective or a noun. So it’s perfectly fine to say I hope my next novel doesn’t require a myriad of edits.  It’s also fine to say And that it sells myriad copies.

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*Curiously, I ended up having the number in the book after all: ten thousand libras, for the mass of a typical Universe B car. When writing a novel this kind of thing happens all the time.

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Stats for a Giveaway

The first giveaway of copies of Regarding Ducks and Universes has officially wound down — we had over a thousand people enter (1144 to be exact), a number that is not unusual for Goodreads, but which still staggered me! I’ve never done a giveaway before and it’s nice when people think your book sounds like something they might want to read. So I’ll have the pleasure of mailing four copies to various corners of the United States and one to the north of Great Britain.

A reminder that these are the ARCs (the Advance Reader Copies) going out. There won’t be any major changes in text between the ARC and the finished product. Minor changes, yes. Between the publisher’s proofreading and mine, we’ve found a handful of typos (titled instead of tilted, wondered instead of wandered), one small goof with a date, an ampersand that mysteriously changes shape throughout the book*, and a runaway case of italics. I’m also sneaking in a minor tweak here and there ’cause that’s what I like to do, edit, and this is my very last chance to do so after five years of work on RD&U.

So, winners, be on the lookout for the books (after I figure out how best to package them). Everyone else, be on the lookout for the next giveaway — signed copies of RD&U — which I’ll do as the book launch date nears.

My thanks to everyone who entered and to Goodreads!

Update:  *The mysterious changing of the ampersand shape didn’t turn out to be mysterious at all, but merely the result of a font change from normal type to italics, i.e., not an error at all. My bad.

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AmazonEncore Press Release

The AmazonEncore press release went out about a month ago and I’m just getting around to posting it (having been working on the second novel while editing the first). Below is an excerpt; the whole thing can be found here.

SEATTLE, Sep 28, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced that AmazonEncore will introduce eight exceptional new books this spring. The list features compelling works of fiction including “Catcher, Caught” by Sarah Collins Honenberger; “Stalina” by Emily Rubin; “The Summer Son” by Craig Lancaster; “Regarding Ducks and Universes” by Neve Maslakovic; “Faking It” and “Ordinary World” by Elisa Lorello; and “Nickel Plated” by Aric Davis, as well as the physical edition debut of J.A. Konrath’s “Shaken” (available first on Kindle in October 2010). The spring 2011 list also marks the imprint’s first diet book, “Get Real and Stop Dieting!” by Brett Blumenthal. AmazonEncore books are available in print format at www.amazon.com and as wireless digital downloads in less than 60 seconds from the Kindle Store (www.amazon.com/kindlestore) to Kindle devices and Kindle apps. For more information on AmazonEncore and upcoming titles, visit www.amazon.com/encore.


“We’ve been happily overwhelmed with great books to share with readers this spring,” said Jeff Belle, Vice President, Amazon.com Books. “With four great additions to our fall publishing list–including AmazonEncore’s first picture book–and spring books ranging from our first diet book to a science-fiction twinged tale from a Yugoslavian immigrant, we hope every reader finds something to enjoy.”


Neve Maslakovic’s “Regarding Ducks and Universes” is a novel about a culinary writer who learns that he has an alter ego in an alternate universe and who sets out to snoop around his alter ego’s life, with dangerous consequences. A native of Belgrade, Maslakovic earned her Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University and is a member of the Loft Literary Center. She currently lives in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. “Regarding Ducks and Universes” is her first novel and will be published on Feb. 22.


Announced in May 2009, AmazonEncore is a program which identifies exceptional books and emerging authors using information on Amazon.com, such as customer reviews and sales data. Amazon then works with the authors to introduce or re-introduce their books to readers through marketing and distribution into multiple channels and formats, such as the Amazon Books Store, Amazon Kindle Store, and national and independent bookstores via third-party wholesalers. AmazonEncore is a brand for titles published by Amazon Content Services LLC.

Galleys of these titles are available for the media and can be obtained by e-mailing encore-pr@amazon.com.

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The ARCs of RD&U have arrived!

There they were, a whole boxful, sitting on my doorstep. Because the box was addressed to my pen name, I knew what it contained immediately. The ARCs were here. The Advance Reader Copies of Regarding Ducks and Universes, my debut novel. My six-year-old son ran to the box, opened it with some trouble, and exclaimed, “Mommy, did you write all of these?” In a sense I had. He soon figured out that they were all copies of the same book, chose one for himself, and carried it off to his room. I took one out for myself. The duck on the cover was perky and eye-catching. The text size and font inside were pleasing and easy on the eyes. And, best of all, the book had little ducks as section breaks! 

Once the initial excitement in the household had died down and I had taken pictures of the books with my iPhone and emailed them to family members, we moved the rest into my study. I noticed that on the front the copies had the words, “ADVANCE READER’S COPY – UNCORRECTED PROOF,” alerting anyone who ventured further that the occasional typo was to be expected. I had already (virtually) put aside five of them for my Goodreads Giveaway. It’s open till November 10 — enter if you’re interested in reading RD&U. ‘Tis the tale of a cookware writer, his alter ego, and a wayward rubber duck. 

Starting tomorrow I’ll be at the local Caribou Coffeehouse embarking on the final round of edits. Exciting stuff. 



UPDATE: I’ve been getting questions about whether you have to be a member of Goodreads to enter the giveaway – you do need to join, but it’s free. One caveat: when you join up, you probably want to skip the step where you provide access to your email address book (otherwise you might find yourself accidentally spamming friends, or anyone you’ve ever sent email to in the past.)