the Author

Happy New Year, and Skirmish Prologue and first chapter

Posted in Miscellaneous.

Well. The end of 2011 was hectic, and I’ve been a little snowed under with work.

I’m an intro­vert by nature. People who’ve met me in real life often find this descrip­tion a bit confusing, because in real life, I don’t gener­ally strike people as shy. But intro­ver­sion is not synony­mous with shyness. I like inter­acting with my readers. Actu­ally, let me rephrase that. I like inter­acting with readers for whom reading is a life­long obses­sion, because that pretty much describes me, and it’s some­thing we have in common.

But inter­ac­tion, when I’m over­whelmed, takes thought, focus, and energy, and when writing is partic­u­larly diffi­cult, that’s where all the mental energy goes – and it leaves me with very little left over. When I am in that state, it resem­bles this, except with more writing, less going outside, and no video store. Given that I am working, and that work frequently involves whole­sale removal of the thou­sands of words I worked on with such hair-pulling diffi­culty the day before, I begin to feel like a bit of a fraud. If you are here because I’m a writer and I am obvi­ously writing so badly that I need to throw out thou­sands of words repeat­edly, how enter­taining can I be?

Intel­lec­tu­ally I know I will wrestle the book into shape. I know that four years from now, I won’t actu­ally remember which words were the product of multiple attempts, and which words came natu­rally and effort­lessly. I know this because that’s what always happens. Because I know this, I don’t want or need sympathy, and frankly, you are not coming here to pat a pathetic person on the head.

I think, a decade ago, it was less obvious when I under­went the inward-focused work collapse – but with online social media and its preva­lence, it’s become much more obvious when I become entirely over­whelmed and have to shut down anything that’s not writing. I apol­o­gize for my absence; my New Year’s reso­lu­tion is to make a daily attempt to gain control over an over­flowing inbox, among other things.

I’ve noticed, as I’ve tried to catch up here, that there’s a sample of Skir­mish on google books. It’s avail­able to North Amer­ican resi­dents because DAW owns North Amer­ican rights for this series, but a UK reader emailed me this after­noon to ask that I make it avail­able for non-North Amer­ican readers who are waiting on copies to arrive. I’ve now added the Skir­mish sample, for those who couldn’t read the Google version. It’s the prologue and first chapter.

67 Responses to Happy New Year, and Skirmish Prologue and first chapter

  1. Ann Kopchik says:

    Happy New Year, Michelle!

    I’m just glad you had a moment to pop up for air and that it was writing and wresting with words that caused your absence, and not anything else. Those are good things, in the grand scheme, because that’s what writers do.

    Though I also know it doesn’t feel like a good thing when you’re down in the trenches… *climbs back into her own foxhole*

  2. DG says:

    Happy New Year!

    I like inter­acting with readers for whom reading is a life­long obsession.”

    Hear, hear! I think this is why I only follow writers around the Internet who have an obses­sion with reading, period. Not just writers who are marketing their next book. I’ll wait as long as it takes for a good read. If that means I don’t hear from the writer on a blog for a year straight, then so be it. I know that when they do release that book it will be well worth the wait and patience.

    Having read your whole bibli­og­raphy so far (some books multiple times!) I know the wait will always be worth it. All your books sit in the “Wow, I love this!” section of my library.

  3. Joey says:

    Dear The Author,

    Happy 2012!

  4. I swear, I just posted this :). I want cham­pagne :D. And choco­late. I’ll settle for writing The End, though.

    @Joey we’re going to drive to detroit for Epic Confu­sion this year…

  5. hjbau says:

    Happy Holi­days and thanks for the end of chapter 1. Good luck with the writing.

  6. Linda says:

    Happy New Year!
    I first discov­ered the “Chron­i­cles of Elantra” through the story “Cast in Moon­light” and powered through all 7 at the end of summer and during Thanks­giving break.  — My Christmas break was really short this year (darn School Board) and I spent it catching up on my Smith­sonian magazines.

    - Looking forward to reading more Michelle Sagara / West books in 2012.

    (New Year’s reso­lu­tion: only work assigned hours of 8:30 — 4:00 M‑F and not 7:305:00 plus 4 hours or so each weekend. Instead … MORE FUN READING!!!!!!!!!!)

  7. David Y says:

    I spent today re-reading House Name — I’m about halfway through it. No way am I going to start on Skir­mish tonight; I’ll wait until Chap­ters delivers it .… sometime.

  8. Peg says:

    Happy New Year and best wishes for this year!

  9. Hi Michelle! Happy New Year, and thanks so much for your posting. As a fellow writer, I was cheering because now I discover my frequent hair-pulling / mass-editing is normal, hooray! I’m working on my first novel *for real this time*, having written several short stories and poems and about thir­teen novels that have been edited to death but never actu­ally marketable. So I love to read your posts because it makes me excited about my own writing again. And of course I adore reading, I was liter­ally banned from my school library because I read too much, and to read your work is pure joy. Actu­ally, since I was despairing a lack of new mate­rial from you, I decided to write my own stories in the interim and I’ve been consis­tently at work on my novel since completing your Elantra series. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Thanks so much for the Skir­mish prologue and first chapter! However, I will obsess about Chapter 2 until it comes out, so for my sanity I won’t read it yet. But when I have it in the mail, the chapter and prologue will be a treat!

    Wishing you the very best for 2012~ and yeah! Have that choco­late and cham­pagne, you deserve it! And you need the calo­ries for writing – those mental acro­batics are hard work! ;)

  10. Chris says:

    Speaking as a fan of certain other writers who take longer than a year between novels, I was very happily surprised to find out that you regu­larly write even one book per year. As a reader, I don’t think that I can expect any more (and don’t really even have the right to expect that). The fact that you actu­ally can write *more* than one book? That’s like getting cake, eating it, and then being given a pie too.

    All that is before taking into account what a great treat it is to be able to read what you have to say here. Thanks very much for the abun­dance of riches and Happy New Year!

  11. Adenike says:

    Happy New Year! Good luck with the writing. I wait for the announce­ment of your next book and schedule time to read. I also have night­mares related to unfin­ished stories. But that is a different issue. You are also the only author that I still buy in print… as well as ebook. :)

    Sepa­rately, I am so happy you didn’t post this earlier because it would have been too painful for me to wait.

  12. Chris says:

    Unre­lated to Skir­mish, but I think that there had been discus­sion of B&N stocking Cast books awhile back. My local Barnes & Noble finally got in a couple of Elantra books a few weeks before Christmas (Cast in Ruin & Cast in Chaos). Not as good as having them in September, but better late than never.

  13. Joey says:

    Haven’t been to a ConFu­sion in years! Hmm, Roth­fuss and Hines, plus Scalzi and Bear. Buckell, too (but he’ll be touring in my area in March). Actu­ally, they and you will be @ Chicon, but still. Tom Smith will be doing Rocky Horror Muppet Show again after all these years, so hmm. Tempting!

    If I do attend, I’ll have cham­pagne and choco­lates for you.

  14. H. Renee says:

    I’m glad to see every post you make, but I don’t expect or demand any. I guess, when you’re not posting, I just assume that you’re doing writerly things. I really like writerly things because they mean books for us to read! :) Thank you for the preview!

  15. Paul Howard says:

    I just got the e‑version of _Skirmish_ and there was mention of a “story so far” to fill in people (like me) who haven’t read _The Sun Sword_.

    Is it up here or should I wait a bit. [Smile]

  16. @Paul: And that, of course, is what I’m working on now. I’ve found it really diffi­cult to summa­rize, in part because some of the summary is prob­ably consid­ered a spoiler for events that haven’t been published yet. I kind of tried to pretend it was still November until the end of December (do not ask what Christmas shop­ping was like >.<).

  17. (As a novelist, I am really, really horrible at summaries, but on the sixty-seventh attempt — which is an exag­ger­a­tion, but not, sadly, by much — I think I have some­thing I can live with. It’s actu­ally like an out-take of a novel.)

  18. Carol Duffy says:

    Happy New Year Michelle! I’m just loving Skir­mish. Actu­ally, having ordered a “real book” version, I couldn’t wait and last night at midnight, voila! An e‑book version appeared on my iPad. Which was the end of much of my sleeping for the night!

    Glad you’re back. Suspected you were fran­ti­cally writing. And am wondering, who thought *you* were the right novelist to write a *summary* ?????

    Can’t wait to read it.

  19. Carol Duffy says:

    The idea of you writing a summary just makes me smile :) I am firmly in the “the more Michelle the better” camp.

  20. Natasha says:

    I don’t think Pauls ques­tion was answered fully, so I’ll ask…When will the “story so far…” down­load(?) be avail­able to view/purchase? I just bought the e‑book, and I don’t want to read it until I read the “story so far…” portion. Of course, if it makes sense to go back and read the last section or so pertaining to Jewel in the last book of the Sun Sword series…I can do that, instead. :-)

  21. John Chew says:

    I don’t gener­ally strike people as shy”

    You gener­ally strike people with a giant manga hammer if they’re lucky; failing that, the nearest blunt instru­ment at hand.

  22. Edward says:

    Thanks for putting up that first chapter.. Has me cursing even more that it won’t be released in the UK for another 8 or so days..and even then Amazon’s going to take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to ship it out.. >_< I guess I’ll be hunting around for avail­able ebook versions that actu­ally let non US resi­dents buy them to last me till the dead tree is available.. :)

  23. @Natasha: Sadly, it’s not just the portion in Sun Sword (final book) that’s rele­vant =/. It sets the stage very strongly, but if you start there, it’s prob­ably going to be a bit confusing >.<. I am working on page proofs for Silence, the new DAW novel (it’s a May title), and they’re due in the office tomorrow; in between proof-reading, I’ve been writing the story-so-far a hundred times.

    I *hope* to have it up in about three days, though.

  24. Audrey says:

    I just finished Skir­mish and loved it. I will reread it again, but got it last night at midnight and stayed up to finish it. Loved it! Happy new year!

  25. Edward says:

    After fruit­less searching.. all the places I can find to get ebook versions of Skir­mish won’t let you sign in unless you can say you’re Amer­ican or Canadian.

    Curse you people who have read it.. *shakes fist firmly* ;)

    Now the joys of antic­i­pa­tion gnawing at me until I can get hold of a copy..

  26. @jjc: I know where you live.

  27. Hilda says:

    Hi Michelle, Happy New Year !!! So glad you are back with us again. We know you have been extremely busy not only writing but reviewing, doing correc­tions, publishing etc., etc. Happy New Year to your readers too. We all waited and kept each other company in your comments sections; then JOY!!! YOUR NEW BOOK is out and you are back.. I ordered Skir­mish months ago in book format because of the many prob­lems in the delivery of the last book in e format. Amazon deliv­ered it to my local carrier at 1:30 p.m.,today but the local carrier hasn’t deliv­ered it to my home yet. I go to the door constantly. I’s almost 7:00 p.m. and no book..But I’m so glad the wait is over, and we have a new Michelle book to enjoy and comment without spoilers. I’m looking forward to the reso­lu­tion of so many ques­tions. A huge Thank you.

  28. Paul Howard says:

    This is a little off topic, but are the Sacred Hunt series and the Sun Sword series ever going to come out in e‑versions?

    Baen Books got me “hooked on” ebooks.

    I already the Cast series and the House War series in e‑version.

  29. Michael says:

    I’ve only ever been hit with program guides and one or the other side of a hand. What do you have to do to get the hammer?


  30. DJ says:

    Ditto here about e‑versions of the two series. Your notes preceding the summary of Hunters Oath recom­mends starting with Hidden City, so I had no inkling that these other books were actu­ally precur­sors of the House­Wars series. And now esp that Skir­mish makes little sense for the first 47 pages if Sun Sword was unread- The series is nowhere to be found except in hard copy versions- and neither my city nor my county library carry either series (hunter or sun sword). So, I’m kind of stuck in terms of wanting to under­stand Skir­mish as I’m sure I was meant to.

    Next I’ll try the used book­stores here in Houston, and if it’s not there, onto amazon.

  31. Onon says:

    Dear Michelle,
    As you know I posted on here and then emailed you because I am in the UK and could not look at the prologue and sample chap­ters. You very kindly sent me both in an email attach­ment. Fabu­lous. I have ordered the hard­back from Amazon​.com and it has been shipped. Having read the sample, I can hardly wait until it arrives. You have really whet my appetite.

  32. Aaron M. says:

    Well, I just finished Skir­mish and can happily report that I’m very satis­fied with the result. I feel for the folks that haven’t read the Sun Sword series, but I’m pleased that we hit the ground running on this one and only made passing refer­ences to previous mate­rial. Lots of loose ends come together, old friend reunited, a few mysteries cleared up. Also, a few surprising twists

    I did want to note a couple things that stood out for me:

    1. I bought both the e‑book version (kindle) and a hard copy. The spaces in between para­graphs that denote changes in char­acter perspec­tive are not parsed correctly on the kindle version. That makes reading the e‑book wildly schiz­o­phrenic; at times I had to go back and try to infer where the break points were. The print version is much easier to follow.

    2. The Sun Sword series worked on many levels because it was a compli­cated work about a series of jour­neys. I missed that with the House War books, but it was espe­cially notice­able with Skir­mish — though I’m sure folks will disagree with me. Really cool and fun stuff happened, but there’s nothing like the feel of the char­ac­ters actu­ally phys­i­cally moving through the universe that’s been created.

    3. For a moment, I thought that was some *other* kind of glit­tering pendant attached to the chain the Terafin left for Jewel. What a plot twist *that* would have made.

  33. Sujana says:

    Dear Michelle,

    I just finished Skir­mish and absolutely loved it! I have to reread it to make sure I didn’t miss anything but there were lots of fantastic twists and I’m already waiting for the next book! Thanks for another fantastic read : )

  34. DG says:

    Are we going to get another “comments with spoilers are ok”-type blog post for House War? Like what was done for Cast In Ruin? I would be curious to read what other folks thought of the plot twists, but obvi­ously I don’t want to spoil the fun for others.

  35. Crystal says:

    Oh, wow, seven-plus years of waiting most defin­i­tively paid off! Thank you, Michelle, for choosing to share your stories with us!

    And it so totally hear you on the intro­vert but don’t come off as shy thing. No one ever believes me when I say I’m an intro­vert, but when I burn out from being around people, man, it sure does look like that! Thanks for sharing the link, it made me laugh!

  36. Auraya says:

    I loved Skir­mish. Epub (from Sony reader store) has the problem with spacing between char­acter shifts as well. Despite that I managed to finish it in a day and I’ll prob­ably start a readthrough of both House War and Sun Sword now.

  37. lavanya says:

    What a fantastic way to start the new year! Happy New Year Michelle and thank you, thank you, thank you!

  38. David Y says:

    My copy arrived this morning in the mail (from big chain).
    Big chain lists no copies in an of their stores surrounding Milton. Can’t really ask.
    Next year, can I order it through Bakka?

  39. Estara says:

    I totally adored the pay-off of a whole slew of previous devel­op­ments and I under­stand your choice to only cover a few days because every­thing that happens here is so impor­tant to Jewel and her future and past life. The down­side is that I wanted to read the next one right away.

    Having drowned in the book for two days, I’m slowly climbing out and consid­ering my GoodReads review. It’ll prob­ably be mostly squee — I’m not so good at measured reviewing.

    Thank you! More (at some point where you feel fairly comfort­able you’re happy with the quality of what you’ve written — in other words no need to rush for me, although I want to read it soonest, heh)!

  40. Estara says:

    I second this view! ^^

  41. Estara says:

    I got my copy from Amazon​.de on January 4th, I can’t think they’d be any slower in the UK.

  42. Estara says:

    I feel for the folks that haven’t read the Sun Sword series, but I’m pleased that we hit the ground running on this one and only made passing refer­ences to previous material

    So this!

  43. Paul Howard says:

    The House War novels have been in my “to be read pile” but I just finished reading them (including Skir­mish) and they were good reads.

    I’m sure I’ll enjoy Skir­mish more after I’ve completely read the Sun Sword series but I’m glad I didn’t wait. [Smile]

    By the way, is _Silence_ the next House War novel?

  44. Eleanor GunShows says:

    Dear Michelle,
    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!!
    I had completely misplaced when Skir­mish was coming out by a few weeks and your post and sample chapter made my day!! Sadly, this meant my co-workers got to see me complete nerd-out in the office and then see me fever­ishly try to read the sample within my allotted break time (I heard it was quite comical) :D. I then had to beg the nearest book­store to hold a copy for me to pick and then obses­sively read it at home. Now that this was accom­plished, I can now quietly re-read the three series with a smile and patiently wait for what comes next. It was awesome!!!

  45. Natasha says:

    Unfor­tu­nately – or if I’m being totally honest, fortu­nately – I sorta inhaled the book in a day and a half. (I worked it in around my job, three kids, and husband. :-)) So.…though I’ll read the ‘…story so far,’ it’s not as high a priority as it was a few days ago. :-)
    I can’t end my post without saying that Skir­mish was (in the words of my four year old), “total­lyf­reakingAWE­SOME”! Thanks so much for letting me take a peek into your wildly untamed imagination!

  46. Paloma Doveny says:

    Greet­ings and wishes for a pros­perous and fulfilling New Year for Michelle and all of us. I have just finished reading the ‘teaser’ (prologue and 1st chapter for Skir­mish) for that it surely is! Michelle, Skir­mish is, from the get go, compelling, capti­vating and engrossing (no surprise)!!!! And I join the ranks of those waiting its arrival in the mail. That you have the time, any time at all, to add to this blog is aston­ishing. Please, you have a family, a job, and a gift for writing that in many ways is unpar­al­leled, please don’t ever feel oblig­ated to your readers to chat or update us or keep us abreast of your progress (announce­ments are welcomed for sure). That you do make the time, is a loving and generous gesture but should never be under­taken as some­thing required or expected. That you manage, in this incred­ibly complex era, to have your family, job and chosen art form is enough. Wholly enough. I know I speak for more than myself when I say we sit in awe of your talents and are happy to partic­i­pate in your world through the joys of reading your prolific works. Many thanks. And my New Year’s wish for you is to take what time you can, when­ever you can, to recharge, relax, breathe and dive back into the creative well­spring of your soul. We are all the richer for your efforts. Many thanks and Happy Happy New Year. I for one am yelling “Yahoo” about the prospects of reading another ‘House’ novel!I Never knew it would come so soon! my other favorite authors take years. Consider your­self a welcome rarity.

  47. Paloma Doveny says:

    Forgot to say: Spec­tac­ular cover !!!! Love it love it love it, so much more than the Cast series covers. there is some­thing about the paint­ings that evoke so much more imag­i­na­tion with the artist’s rendering whereas the ‘Cast” covers are more like photographs. These are more myste­rious somehow. I wish the ‘House” covers were avail­able as greeting cards. Fabulous.

  48. Estara says:

    I don’t knew if Jody Lee does greeting cards, but she does have an Etsy shop with glass art and some orig­i­nals in oil (of which I bought a post­card sized one and am totally happy ^^), and if you had loads of money she does portrait work, too. And I know she sells some of the book orig­inal covers at her website.

  49. Estara says:

    Ditto! And much better expressed than I could have said it ^^.

  50. Estara says:

    Paul, I think Silence was the begin­ning of a duology? Some­thing new and published by DAW, in any case — not connected to Elantra or the Essalieyan books.

  51. @Linda: I think that’s an admirable and sensible New Year’s reso­lu­tion! I was afraid of coming up with more ambi­tious reso­lu­tions because, well. I like to try to choose ones I won’t imme­di­ately fail in mid-January 

  52. @Joanna: All writers have days or weeks of hair-pulling frus­tra­tion. For every book. Our reader selves sort of expect that authors of our best-loved books are somehow writing words that are irre­proach­able — but I’ve discov­ered (because, at the store, you meet authors) — that while I consid­ered their words irre­proach­able, on the wrong days, they certainly didn’t .

    Also, my first editor told me there are no Great Writers, only Great Rewriters.

  53. @Chris: I am so behind on responses to the web-site I will never, ever catch up — but I wanted to say that I saw your comments on another post. (I think they were yours, if I’m wrong, I have a large rock to crawl under). Thank you for finding my books — and yes, I’m very, very grateful that the readers I have have supported these books for so many years.

  54. @Michael: to get the hammer you have to a) by my oldest son’s godfa­ther, b) live across the lane, and c) come over with your family for dinner twice a week while d) defining the word “sarcasm” more less as “breathing”.

    I am certain your wife would not be the biggest fan of the attempt, though …

  55. @Paul: I have been told that the two Hunter novels are scanned, proofed, and ready to be uploaded/published — but that there is a backlog on the non-DAW end. Also, I believe Broken Crown is in that queue. The others haven’t been proofed/processed, but are in progress.

  56. Paul Howard says:

    Thanks for the info. [Smile]

    I’m aware that with ebooks, the author can be the last to know.

  57. @Aaron: I’ve emailed DAW to let them know about the kindle version. I don’t actu­ally see the ebook versions (and, to be honest, would prob­ably *cry* if I had to proof them in all of their vari­ants, because the proofing takes a long time and always makes me feel inad­e­quate), but this is some­thing they would want to know.

  58. @DG I will do that after I’ve finished the Story So Far :)

  59. @David Y: Yes, next year you can order it through the store :). I’ll even sign it. Unless you specif­i­cally request that I don’t >.>

  60. @Paul: What Estara said, but Silence is the first of three books. It was written as an exper­i­ment; it was my attempt to see whether or not I could work on two novels concur­rently. (The answer is: Yes — and more, when I’m stuck or having diffi­culty with one novel, I’ve discov­ered it’s often the book, and not my brain; the other book will give me no prob­lems. It switches between books, because of course, diffi­cul­ties occur at different points in each manu­script. That, and at the end of a book, I shut down the 2nd novel, and work only on one, because at that point, I can’t do two.)

  61. @EleanorGunShows: Thank y ou :)

  62. Linda says:

    Just read “For the Love of God”. Loved it! IMHO strong writing and powerful emotional content in alter­nate history format.
    Will avidly read more short stories and other series while waiting for “Cast in Peril”.

  63. David Y says:

    Thank you, Michelle.
    I finished Skir­mish tonight at about midnight.

  64. Edward says:

    Michelle, finally got my hands on an ebook version while I’m waiting for my dead tree copy to arrive. Lost out on my geek points by not spending a minute on my Star Wars The Old Republic game while I sat down and firmly plowed through the book. Thor­oughly enjoy­able and now keenly antic­i­pating the next one..

  65. Theresa says:

    Hi Michelle,

    Just finished Skir­mish. Great read. I just wanted to share the following link with you, so that the next time you feel like you’re spiralling you have some­thing to laugh at.


  66. Crystal says:

    Ah! Me too! I didn’t even get on Star Wars for two whole days…now my husband and brother are about 8 levels ahead of me. But it was worth it! Loved the book!

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