November 2014, State of the Writer

Posted in DAW, grovelling apology, writing, Mira.

First: I want to wish everyone who cele­brates it a Happy Thanks­giving! (In Canada, we cele­brate in October).

Second: I’m sorry I’ve been off-line. Tech­ni­cally, I’m still off-line, but I get the sense that people are begin­ning to worry, so I wanted to quickly say: I’m alive.

November 2014 has not been the best November on record. I had expected to be finished GRAVE by now — and in part, I was not writing an update because I had hoped that I would be able to say it was (or at least the first draft was) done. It’s almost done.

Second, I’ve received some email asking about the situ­a­tion at Harle­quin. For those who now wonder why, my long-time editor, Mary­Theresa Hussey, was laid off, one of dozens in an internal restruc­turing. Yes, this happened in November. Cast in Honor came to a grinding, slow halt because of writer anxiety.

I have loved being with Harle­quin, first at Luna, and then at Mira. But even I, head down, was aware that very few editors there were acquiring what I write. Margaret Marbury, the woman in charge of Mira and HQ Teen, phoned me the day my editor was laid off, to person­ally let me know from her, rather than from other sources, and to ask me if I had an editor in mind that I wanted to work with — but, again, head-down Michelle didn’t really know any other editors there. I do know editors at the various SF/F genre imprints, or at least know of them, because I’ve been writing in the genre for a long time.

So: I wanted someone who actu­ally loves fantasy. Not every editor who does love fantasy will like my books; not every reader who loves fantasy will like my books. That’s a simple fact of life. In general, the editor who buys the books does. But when that editor leaves – for what­ever reason – there’s no guar­antee that the editors who remain will. And even if they did, my editor, who’d worked with me for ten books, both under­stood my process and, even if it was unusual, supported it.

I can write when angry, when grieving, when happy – but I have a hard time writing when worried and anxious; the part of my brain that creates is also, sadly, the part that does fren­zied worry. So I struggle with writing in an entirely different way than the usual. And then I get Even Less Done, and then I get anxious about that… it’s not really a very produc­tive or prac­tical cycle and I don’t recom­mend it.

Things were up in the air for a while — but there is, in fact, a new editor who is a big fantasy reader; she has only just started acquiring for Harle­quin, but she had – before working there – read the CAST books, and she was not only willing to work with me — and them — but actively hoping that she could.

I am now trying to refocus on the actual writing, because the anxiety levels are drop­ping. I did finish one book review column; I did get much closer to the end of GRAVE, although I have not — as I hoped to do — finished it. I have sent what I have of Cast in Honor to the new editor, and actu­ally Cast in Honor is going well.

And that’s the state of the writer at the end of November, 2014.

43 Responses to November 2014, State of the Writer

  1. Zia says:

    Oh my that would be quite the stressful month for sure! Sorry to hear Grave has been giving you trouble and that every­thing has been so chaotic. Hope­fully things work out soon.

    Thank you for the update though! And happy very late Thanks­giving to you.

  2. Katy Peppel Holder says:

    I’m sorry things have been so stressful for you. Losing a family member that way (because after working with with someone for so long she doe become a family member) is diffi­cult. I’m thankful (!) that the situ­a­tion is starting to resolve itself and hope­fully you’ll be able to relax a bit after finishing Grave. Thank you for writing the tales that are what get me through my hard times :) Jewel and Kaylin are my go to girls.

  3. Alessandra Porta says:

    I’m sure every­thing will be well. You’re my favorite writer, I’ve read all your books since the begin­ning of the ’90s… I found the Sun Sword in a book­store in Paris, where I was living at the time, and never stopped, not even when I came back to Italy.
    Just one ques­tion: what about Oracle? I direly miss Jewel.

  4. Chris Chen says:

    Thank you for taking the time to let us know what’s going on, and I hope the anxiety levels continue to drop.
    Happy Thanks­giving to you and your family

  5. ralphw2548 says:

    Thanks­giving here in America, is a time for reflec­tion on the bene­fits that we have received over the past year. So, I recom­mend that to you. Reflect, enjoy and move on.
    Harle­quin will, even­tu­ally, see the error in laying off people. I hope they can recover from it.
    Have the Merriest Christmas!!!

    p.s.
    I second Ms. Porta, “I MISS JEWEL”.

  6. Donna Hendricks says:

    I hope that the rest of this year will be better. May 2015 start and continue in a much more posi­tive manner.

  7. Tchula says:

    Happy Thanks­giving (belated) to you, Michelle. I’m thankful Harle­quin found you an editor who can appre­ciate your books as much as your readers do! I’m sure the tran­si­tion must be strange though, after working with one editor for 10 books. I hope she finds a great situ­a­tion as soon as possible with another publishing house.

    Any word on Oracle’s publishing date? Amazon lists May 5, 2015 for the ebook, if that sounds about right? Sounds like 2015 will be a year of many releases for you! ;-)

  8. Agustine says:

    I’m happy and relieved to hear that things are getting better for you, and I’m sorry to hear about your laid-off editor. I can’t imagine how hard the tran­si­tion process will be, as you got through ups and downs with one editor that had been with you for 10 books. Let’s just hope that your new enthu­si­astic editor will even­tu­ally catch up and exceed your expec­ta­tion.

    And i do sincerely hope as well that Mary Theresa Hussey, laid off as she was, will find another posi­tion some­where, and continue to support you within any capacity she can, be it as simple as a fan. =)

    As for the books, I’m looking forward to any of them. I love them because they are your brain­child, and I do sincerely hope that December and 2015 will be a much better time for you. Go go, Michelle! ^^

    Agus­tine

  9. David Y says:

    Michelle:
    I’m glad you found someone who wants to work with you.

    I just remember some­thing I was told, the first time we lost a client that I’d been working on: “You never lose clients for the reasons you should lose them.” Often the same with jobs.

  10. Christine dela Cruz says:

    Hi Michelle,
    Glad to hear things are looking up.
    I just checked today and found a release date for Oracle! Had me grin­ning in delight. It’s always easier to wait with a date in sight.
    I checked the online stores and Book Depos­i­tory, Amazon​.com and .ca all have release dates and can pre-order the hard­book but Chap­ters-Indigo only has the e‑book for pre-order.
    Anyway, I too, miss Jewel (to quote Alessandra Porta also) “direly” so I’m now looking forward to spring 2015 and not just for the end of winter snow and cold LOL!

  11. Salty says:

    Sad news about the situ­a­tion at Harle­quin, but I’m happy that it seems to have been resolved. A universal good wish that your new edito­rial rela­tion­ship works out EXTREMELY WELL. One door closes and all that. Hope­fully things will continue to improve from now on. Happy belated Thanks­giving and wishing you and yours abun­dant health and pros­perity thru the holi­days. I’m looking forward to Oracle, Cast in Honor and Grave and any thing else you create. I have enjoyed every­thing I’ve read of yours, and I hope to see more soon, espe­cially your wonder­filled short stories, novellas etc.

  12. Valerie S. says:

    Happy belated Thanks­giving to all!
    I hope that with the new editor your anxiety level drops dras­ti­caly to allow you a smooth writing December.
    Here to hoping this new part­ner­ship works for the both of you, and us Fans!

  13. Pat pnacsw241@msn.com says:

    Sorry to hear of your loss to the dreaded layoffs…I can guess how impor­tant this rela­tion­ship is to a writer. Hope all can recover. ..and Happy Holi­days to all of you..fans and colleagues!

  14. Thank you for the expla­na­tion and best to you and your family (espe­cially your delightful and patient husband)! I was so jealous when I heard Thea and Ana saw you in Toronto ^^.

    Aside: I love that I can now read the emphasis in your words here and know exactly how you’d sound if you were saying them to me, that is beau­tiful side effect of Loncon to me now (the signa­ture on the Yogapad still exists, I found an acrylic spray that has taken care of the even­tual rubbing effect for all the 8 awesome ladies I had it sign : you, Evelyn Kushner, Terry Windling, Madeleine E. Robins, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Thea & Ana and, of course, Andrea K. Höst — may you all have the fun aminds the annoy­ances which you’ve given to me in your various efforts (be it writing or blog­ging or moder­ating or drawing, etc.)

  15. wow, I really screwed up the meaning of the last sentence (it was parent-teacher day.. I had more than 60 parents coming in — we do a full 6 1/2 hours…)

    may you all have the fun amidst the annoy­ances of your lives — which you all have given to me in your various efforts…

    is that any better?

  16. I Hyland says:

    Thank you for your update. I have been waiting for Cast in Honor since I finished Cast in Flame. I did not realize that cut-backs applied to publishers too. I hope all goes well with you and all the best in the coming year.

  17. Em says:

    Thank you for the update! The news is some­thing to be grateful for! Wishing you smooth sailing from now. So grateful Cast will continue. Each book you write gets better! And weighs down my shelves more. Glad the writing and the writer and the readers are not orphaned by the pub changes.
    Enjoy the winter season!

  18. I am glad things are working out for you and your anxiety is drop­ping. I hope your former editor is able to continue doing what she obvi­ously loved. I know as a reader I was shocked and worried when I saw that infor­ma­tion because she had an influ­ence on so many stories I loved in the fantasy genre.

    May your December be much brighter and smoother!

  19. Janet Warden says:

    I would think they would have consulted with the authors before just getting rid of editors. I would have been very angry. The conti­nuity and the trust you had built up in your editor is impor­tant. I would not think you could just plug someone else in and that there not be a differ­ence. Hope­fully, since at least the new editor has read your other books, it will not be too much of a change. Hope it works out. Waiting ‚not very patiently, for Cast in Honor.

  20. otterb says:

    Wishing you tran­quility and peace of mind in which to continue writing. I’m sorry to hear about your previous editor but am glad you have a new one who’s not just willing but enthu­si­astic about working with you. Count me as another one waiting for Cast in Honor.

  21. Coral says:

    I am sorry to hear that. I got a new boss about 3 months ago and had my co-worker quit (he got the new job before the new boss). Which been a huge stress. Even if we have to wait sounds like the publishing house wants to keep you!

  22. Tarun Elankath says:

    Hi Mrs West,
    I only discov­ered you in the last six years but in that time I have devoured all your books like Allasakar himself :). I was wondering why Oracle was taking so much time and started visiting your blog. It is terrible that your editor was laid off. Losing a job due to internal re-struc­turing is rather horrible. I am sure she will be equally successful else­where and I hope your new editor keeps your anxiety at bay

  23. Hilda says:

    Glad to again hear from you and to hear that publishing issues are resolving them­selves which hope­fully will make your publishing aspect of your work easier. It really would be very stressful for a writer to lose the person that facil­i­tates the printing of books. I’m confused with the read­er’s comments on Oracle since I had preordered it a few months ago when Amazon gave a date for it. I thought it was for earlier than May. I’ll go back and check for it. Like others here, I wait anxiously for your books, for Jewel and Kaylin, but when events you can’t control inter­fere, the most we all can do is hope and pray things improve for you. The Holi­days are around the corner; I stopped in the middle of tree deco­ra­tions to take a break from standing up searching for one more avail­able spot.. Take time to enjoy the Holi­days too, rest and write. I wish you happi­ness with your family and writing the books you love.

  24. Fox says:

    Hi! I just wanted you guys to know that Rising​shadow​.com have

    the cover for the Oracle at their site.

    To the left is a small box wich says Main Menu, click on Library and

    then you get a big center box with the Words Library Data­base.

    Type in Michelle’s name and enjoy the Oracle cover.

    Fox.

  25. Madame Hardy says:

    I wish you well. I hope you have a December surrounded by people who love and admire you, and a December in which you surround lots of good food and drink.

  26. Leanne says:

    I recently discov­ered your books and devoured the Elantra series, liter­ally just finishing Cast in Flame. Thank you for this new world I have so enjoyed exploring and when life becomes some­what chaotic
    remember to breathe.

  27. jereth says:

    Im .ore pleased that the cast series will continue flame was great and i love helen soon as ypu have a release date ill be pre ordering id preorder now but its not on amazon:) hope your holi­days go wellje

  28. Kitiara green says:

    Michelle I feel for you. My thoughts are like racing often times so I can’t seem to orga­nize my ideas even tho ppl are inter­ested to get my story actu­ally onto paper. I can defi­nitely relate to your anxiety but I’m glad your having it easier now. Cast in honor is sure to be just as fantastic as ever. But those who want night­shade and kaylin.…you guys I think are nuts!!! He wants to control kaylin!! Severn aston­ishes me with how much he loves and respects kaylin. And how patient he i . Heaven knows I wish I had someone like that who loved me. I can see some good points to nightshade…especially if he’d admit he actu­ally does love her (despite the barrani asser­tion that love is weak­ness) but I still hope things work for her and severn. I’d really love to see him move in with her and Helen so maybe they would slowly become the pair I think they’re meant to be. After all…he waited so many years for her. He loves her so much and he did some­thing so hard I cannot imagine the pain it still causes him. How can night­shade ever win her? And I think he would have to be a lot more like severn in order to even deserve kaylin. Seems destiny for her and severn and it drives me crazy waiting for her to realize this! (I am not as patient as Severn can you tell? Lol. As I said before I’m very like kaylin )

  29. Janet Warden says:

    I don’t think Night­shade wants to control Kaylin, I think he just likes her amuse­ment value. Remember he is bored living forever. I also think the inter­ac­tion between Severn and Kaylin is a lot more inter­esting like it is. Do you really want to see another fall in love and live happy ever after story? Think about the changes she has gone through. So far I have not seen any indi­ca­tion that she is getting older. Maybe the marks on her body keep her from ageing until she finally manages to find homes for all the marks. She might find out she loves him to only realize that he will die and leave her if she does not age. We don’t know where this story is going. I think how funny it would be for the female dragon to start laying eggs and have Kaylin to maybe help them to hatch. Also, she told the Emperor that she would help him. I can not even begin to think how she is plan­ning on playing match maker to dragons. lol

  30. ElizabethN says:

    Happy holi­days Michelle and fellow Sagara fans.

    I’m saddened by the loss of your long time editor in the re-struc­turing but happy that your new editor has read the cast stories and is excited to work with you.

    Looking forward to the rescue of Night­shade and Kaylin’s match­making attempts.

  31. I Hyland says:

    Good luck and all the best for writing “Cast in Honor”.
    Best wishes for the coming New Year and Happy Holi­days.

  32. Kristin says:

    If you look closely at where progres­sion of time is mentioned all the books to date seem to be, at most, a few months apart. I would be inter­ested to know the exact progres­sion, but I would say close to a year is all that has passed since we first met Kaylin in her own time­line.

    As for her love life, or lack there of, I think it will end up being a split. With Severn she could actu­ally love him the way he loves her even­tu­ally, but her nervous­ness would be a detri­ment because she does care what he thinks. Whereas her inter­ac­tion with Night­shade is more how far he can push her before one of them breaks, and who has more power at that time as she grows into hers.

  33. Janet Warden says:

    If you look closely at where progres­sion of time is mentioned all the books to date seem to be, at most, a few months apart. I would be inter­ested to know the exact progres­sion, but I would say close to a year is all that has passed since we first met Kaylin in her own time­line.
    As for her love life, or lack there of, I think it will end up being a split. With Severn she could actu­ally love him the way he loves her even­tu­ally, but her nervous­ness would be a detri­ment because she does care what he thinks. Whereas her inter­ac­tion with Night­shade is more how far he can push her before one of them breaks, and who has more power at that time as she grows into hers.”

    I think she was 13 when we first see her in Cast in Moon­Light and I think she is about 20 years old in Cast In Sorrow. I still think she has more brother/sister rela­tion­ship with Severn rather then boyfriend. Remember Severn has watched over Kaylin since she was 3 years old and her mother died. I only think she is attracted to Night­shade because he is beau­tiful not because she loves him. I don’t think she can really develop a true love till she learns and accepts who she is. Right now she loves everyone she meets as family.

  34. Kristin says:

    She’s 20 when we meet her, there are flash­backs to when she’s 13 and she doesn’t see Severn for 7 years and tries to kill him when she sees him again for the first time, so she has a lot she’s worked through to even see Severn as more than the one who killed her girls and come to terms with why he did it.

  35. Orbdoc@yahoo.com says:

    Thank you for letting us know. I love your books (all of them) and I was hoping you would post some­thing about your “state of the writer”. I am sorry to hear about your previous editor. I wish you a blessed Christmas and New Year, and wonderful times with your new editor. I hope she is as much a fan as I am!

  36. A. Williams says:

    Was FINALLY able to read Cast in Flame, and loved every word of it! The meeting with Darian­daros (a great name, by the way; your struggle was not in vain!) was defi­nitely NOT how I expected it to occur, which was wonderful! The intro­duc­tion was prob­ably one of my favorite parts of the book.

    I’m so excited to see where the story continues, and can only wait for Cast in Honor because I have no choice. I hope that your new editor works well with you, and that your prior editor has stabi­lized and settled in some­where she loves.

    I hope your holi­days were awesome, and that you have a fantastic New Year. I look forward to reading a great many more of your incred­ible books.

  37. Danita Lee says:

    Placed my order for Cast in Honor with Amazon US this week. No blurb or cover yet but still did the snoopy dance of joy as I clicked the buy button. It’s in the wild, ready to be snagged!
    Danita

  38. Agustin says:

    I wonder how’s Michelle doing these days. We haven’t heard of her since her post last November, and it’s already mid February. I hope all is fine with her. >.<

    Agus­tine

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