Sunday, June 15, 2003

Small things, like puppets and minis and the spaces after full stops

Hi Neil,
It made me very sad to read that the "Labyrinth" puppets are sitting around, rotting. What a creepy image -- Muppets wasting away inside that old house. I'm surprised that they weren't put in a museum or somewhere they would be appreciated. Is there any chance someone could restore them, or at least give them a proper burial?

The saddest truth about old puppets is that aging latex does not last very long. Cloth puppets last for a good while, but latex loses its stretch and it simply crumbles away. Often it has also been extensively sweated into, back when it was used. Hensons are pretty good about both preserving puppets, and also good about disposing of them (I don't want to know how they do it. the idea of a skip fulled with puppets is a sad one; the idea of an underground tomb filled with quiet, rotting puppets is a deeply creepy one...). Most of the ones Dave and I played with were from a box that had been rescued from the tip, but weren't really ever going to be useful -- or used again -- as puppets.


I have asked about NEVERWHERE on dvd at book chains like Borders and Hastings and all I get is a sort of confused and blank stare and though they try to helpfully look it up...there is just no mention of the dvd. Will it be carried at these book chains or will I have to order it online? Please, tell me it will be available somewhere other than just online as I have a mild phobia about shopping online.

Oh, and I did purchase a copy of American Gods tonight. I can't wait to begin reading it as I love all of your other books and comics I have seen so much!

Sean Murphy

If they sell A&E DVDs then they'll be able to sell NEVERWHERE. It's shipping in 4 weeks, but initially only through the A&E website. (See last post for details.) You could print out the product details, and show it to the store, and I'm sure someone there could order it for you...


Do you have any survival tips for a Sussex lad uprooted from his native landscape and plonked down in the Twin Cities?

Kelvin Green.

I think most of them begin "If you think you know what cold is, you don't...". Let me ponder the various other "Had I but known...." things from a decade ago, and get back to you on that.

Hi Neil

I'm an Irish writer and I've just finished my first novel. I'm in the process of formatting the manuscript, and I'm slowly losing my sanity as every book I read gives different advice. So, I have a few questions I was hoping you might be able to give me a definitive answer to...

Anyway, my questions are:

1. When using Courier font, what is the standard font size: 10 or 12?

2. Is it one or two spaces after a period?

3. Does the main body of text immediately follow the title, or does it begin on the next page?

Any help would be much appreciated. I'm going to be in New York in Sept, so I hope to get to your signing to say thanks in person.



If memory serves, a Courier 10 pitch on a typewriter is a Courier 12 point on a computer font (and smaller than that is hard to read), but no-one ever complains if the font's not Courier (except in movies), as long as it's a readable font in a readable-sized typeface. Make your title sheet a spare page, and start the book on the next page. I've never used more than one space after a full stop, and no-one's ever grumbled. It occurred to me that Tor books probably have guidelines up on the web, and they are probably fairly sensible, so I googled, and I was right.

Type your manuscript on plain white paper, double-spaced, using only one side of the page. Do not staple or otherwise bind your manuscript; a paper clip will suffice. If you use a computer and printer, do not submit low-resolution dot matrix print-outs; they will not be read. Please do not use a fancy font (this is almost as difficult to read as the palest dot-matrix), and please make sure you use a font large enough to read easily. Please turn off margin justification and proportional spacing; pages with ragged right margins are easier for us to read, and easier for our production department to set.

6. Please indicate italics by underlining and indicate boldface by drawing a wavy line beneath the affected characters. Copy to be typeset needs to be marked in very specific ways, and if you use italics or boldface in the manuscript, they will still need to be marked up by production.

No-one will ever reject a great book because there aren't enough spaces after the periods.

If it's literally too hard to read, though, it may not get read. Tiny fonts, weird fonts, written in crayon on butcher's paper, these are things that put editors off. Tor Editor (and veteran editor of everything from Edwardian porn to comics) Teresa Nielsen Hayden has a marvellous blog, and may well be persuaded to share her wisdom in these matters. Also her book, Making Book, is terrific for giving you an editorial (and copy editorial) point of view on things, and should be compulsory reading for authors to be.

I'm a dedicated city-dweller, but I just got offered my dream job, which is unfortunately about ten miles outside Boston. So I find myself having to a) get my driver's license, b) buy a car, and c) drive said car in a city notorious for its non-Euclidean geography.

So, naturally, I want to buy a Mini.

My questions are: How do you like your Mini? And did you get metallic black with a black roof (which I think would look cool, but doesn't seem to be an option) or is it all-over metallic black?



It hasn't arrived yet -- I just checked the online "order tracking" thing, and it's built, and apparently is currently crossing the ocean. Its status is "En Route".

I ordered it in metallic black and, to quote the order page description from their tracking website "roof in body colour". And there's nothing on the ordering website to say that they gave me a Union Jack roof instead, so possibly I did something you can no longer do, or just no-one told me I couldn't. We'll see...

(Looking at the web site, it seems to rule out a black roof with a black car. but it lets you do "roof in body colour." And how exactly do you"trick your Mini" as it suggests on the opening page? Loudly pretend you're trading it in for an SUV?)

I'll report back on everything when it arrives and I've had a chance to drive it.