Social Distancing Journal 01

Posted in writing.

I have been writing pretty consis­tently in my home under my rock, which is where I often live.

I miss the two days a week at the book­store, because that’s where most of my social inter­ac­tions with other adults actu­ally took place – but I’ve been attempting to use that time to write. Instead of, you know, worry. The best thing about the book­store for me is the ability to recom­mend books to readers I think will like them. This isn’t just a recom­men­da­tion, though — I always ask for three books (or more) that the reader has really loved first. It’s my attempt to trian­gu­late.

I’ve been mulling over different ideas of how to speak into an entirely different wilder­ness, because we’re in this together, even if we can’t actu­ally socialize in the ways we normally did.  This would neces­si­tate my posting more, so those of you who are signed up or subscribed to the blog posts will get pretty much every­thing, just… more of it.

First, I’d like to draw atten­tion to author Kari Sper­ring. She’s been reading her own work out loud – and I love the sound of her voice. Always have. We shared reading space at the Montreal Worldcon, and I thought, of the three readers — that being Kari, Patrick Roth­fuss and me, she did the best job. She was a delight.

She’s made link lists on her dreamwidth account. She’s posted privately to youtube, which is where you’d be watching/listening, so I think you have to go through the dreamwidth links to get to the read­ings, but — they’re absolute worth it.

Second, I’m mulling over a couple of ideas here. Reddit has been the place where I’ve done an AMA (Ask Me Anything) before, but I am consid­ering posts that answer reader ques­tions, what­ever those ques­tions might be. You can ask anony­mously, or you can ask on the post, and I’ll attempt to answer; alter­nately, you can ask in email, and I can make a post of the answer, depending on how compli­cated it might be.

I am open to the idea of informal book recom­men­da­tions, should people ask — with the under­standing that, just like in the store, I’ll ask for three books that you’ve read that you liked or loved.

I am open to the idea of doing actual book reviews of books readers want, for some reason, to know my opinion about.

I am open to recom­mending webtoons or manga that I’ve read that I really like. I am open to discussing video games, with the caveat that I’m not a power gamer (and I am in general terrible at FPS games, although there are excep­tions).

But I’ve also been consid­ering all of the older short stories that I never did manage to get self-published. Why? Because… time. If I am pressed with dead­lines (spoiler: I often am), I tend to drop the things that no one is expecting, and on which no one’s job relies. So: I’ll write the novels and drop every­thing else. I’ll revise novels and drop every­thing else. Copy-edits, page proofs, etc., etc. In those cases, the dead­lines affect publishers and editors – i.e. other people. Whereas self-publishing only affects me, in theory.

Given that so many people are now laid off or out of work, I wouldn’t be self-publishing the older reprints. They would also require covers, etc., which I don’t have at the moment. But I could format them – sans the covers that would other­wise make them commer­cially viable – and put them up here, say once every two weeks, for people to read, or down­load and read.

For those who are still working, many are working twelve hour shifts in absolutely essen­tial places – not just hospi­tals, but jani­to­rial services, delivery services, grocery stores and phar­ma­cies, commu­ni­ca­tions services (can you imagine lacking Internet right now?), etc., they might lack the energy or even time to read the stories, but… the stories would be here if the down­time reading would be at all helpful.

I’m not tech­ni­cally compe­tent when it comes to social inter­ac­tions – I mean, I can use text services like twitter just fine, but video confer­encing, etc., I’d have a learning curve; I tend to avoid cameras like the plague.

I’d prefer to do what­ever it is I end up doing here, on my web-site, rather than split among other plat­forms.

So: sugges­tions? Pref­er­ences?

71 Responses to Social Distancing Journal 01

  1. So, I can walk you through using most of the basic video­con­fer­encing plat­forms to either do a live read, a recording, or both. The key thing I would tell you is NOT to use Zoom. Zoom may be the simplest, but its terms of service give it copy­right over anything that happens on its plat­form — including paid versions of the service. So even though it’s tempting, in your case, it is NOT a good idea.

  2. K.W. McCabe says:

    You can PST them for sale on your site with payment through PayPal. As much as my heart races at the thought of reading your work for free… you need income just like the rest of us, right? I’d pay for anything you write, cover or no cover. 💯 I’ll be looking for those reads with my cash ready 😁

  3. Raeann Schurter says:

    Hi Michelle…it all sounds great to me! I’m not a Reddit user but I love your blog. Federal Employee so still working albeit very differ­ently now. Just super grateful to be employed as I am the sole care­taker of my 78 yr old mum and 3 feline fur babies. My mum intro­duced me to your Cast novels which I devoured…and then I fell in love with Jewel. 3 books…hmmm…can make it 3 series? Your House Wars, CJ Cher­ryh’s Foreigner and LE Modessitt’s Imager. There are tons more…I think my Audible library is around 2500. I had a TBI (trau­matic brain injury) about 5 years ago and since then I do my reading with my ears. Sorry to hear that the rest of the Sun Sword won’t be released in audio but I under­stand that authors have limited say in that. Glad you and yours are hanging in there. My best wishes/thoughts to everyone out there as we are all affected in some way. Thank you so much for sharing your worlds and char­ac­ters with us!

  4. michelle says:

    @KW: It did come through in email, and it’s here on my site, and there’s no “Spam?” comment in the comments folder, so I’d say it was just slow to appear.

    And appar­ently I hit the button before I’d finished =/.

    I think, at this time, I’d rather offer the stories as-is, and for free. I will, at some later point in time and when I have covers, prob­ably collect them and put them up for sale the tradi­tional ebook way, but — not everyone has the discre­tionary income, and many people are looking forward to the months ahead with dread. And people who do want to buy those absolutely can when that times comes.

    At the moment, I do have novel contracts, I can write. How long that continues for, I don’t know. My long suffering spouse is also telecom­muting. That, too, might change, depending on the length of the various shut­downs. There’s just so much uncer­tainty.

  5. Julianne says:

    Hi Michelle, love hearing from you. Was glad to see an expected post which I want to tell you came at a great time because I’ve been spending too much time when not working (I’m a pedi­atric nurse so we’ve been lucky but because of low census have been deployed in non patient care roles to help the more heavily affected adult units) so basi­cally instead of also worrying and spending time reading or watching news and spending time in point­less argu­ments with people who think thier basic freedom has been taken away and we should all get herd immu­nity well it was much better to come here. Because stress I don’t think I’m very good at avoiding it and since we are between Elantra novels and I just finished Briggs latest Mercy novel and Andrews book is in editing, Buchet’s is at least due in a few weeks and who knows when the next Outlander will be out (but nearly done writing) I find myself in between books.
    I can’t seem to concen­trate on anything I’ve started several books or series but keep leaving them partway in or give up after one or two books. I have at least taken up my craft hobby of crochet again and I’m getting better at making an even square that isn’t bigger or smaller at one end. (Wash cloth are appar­ently a great beginner project who knew?)
    Well anyway so sorry to ramble and prob­ably not helpful to the ques­tions you asked I guess I was just happy to have some­thing else to talk about and honestly it is great to talk about books to read or your books or favorite things and distrac­tions. I love also the idea of short stories. I’ve always been impressed with your ability to publish at least one novel every year while gener­ally working on more than one novel series. I’m not surprised that short stories get lost along the way.

  6. Carol Duffy says:

    I would love to read your stories and would be happy to pay for them as stated in a comment above “cover or no cover”. Having said that, I think all of those ideas would be terrific!

  7. michelle says:

    @Leanne: I’ll file this away for possible future use — I’m not always great on camera =/

    @Julianne: I can’t seem to concen­trate on anything. Yes; I call them reading slumps, although often they’re anything slumps. I once tried knit­ting and ended up with trian­gles instead of scarves because the wool I was using split stitches easily. It’s … not one of my strengths. My sister is truly impres­sive with her knit­ting, and is highly visual – neither of which describes me in any way.

    But times of stress shift reading and enter­tain­ment needs, and they always have. It’s why the term comfort reading exists. There are times when things are going well and I have the mental band­width to expand and exper­i­ment and there are times when I … don’t.

    And actu­ally, ramble or no, all of it was helpful to me person­ally. As an idea, the more frequent posts might provide momen­tary distrac­tion for people who need it. This prob­ably includes me as well.

  8. Anna M Wick says:

    I have found rereading Elantra series for the 3rd time (every 2 years says my Goodreads tracker) is enter­taining but at the same time not asking me to focus and figure out a new world. I have some new books in queue but just can’t.
    So it works for me.
    I kinda like that more people are having the time and incli­na­tion to read now.

  9. Peter says:

    I loved the “Sigurne” short story you posted back in 2015 from mate­rial that was edited out of ORACLE. It’s still out there at the following link in PDF format here http://​michelle​sagara​.com/​w​p​-​c​o​n​t​e​n​t​/​u​p​l​o​a​d​s​/​2015​/​12​/​S​i​g​u​r​n​e​.​pdf

    ANYTHING like that for any of your worlds would be wonderful. Just please leave the link active for more than a few weeks… I’d hate to miss some­thing because I forgot to check my mail.

    All is well here. My wife has been sewing masks so we are very fashion forward when we hit the super­market.

  10. michelle says:

    @Peter: The posts will stay up :). The Sigurne short story wasn’t really a short story – it’s a bit struc­tural – but was a strand cut from a book. Some of the cuts, though, don’t work well in that context, because it’s harder to stitch them together; I’ll lose words in multiple places, rather than a contin­uous chunk (which the Sigurne portion was).

    I’ll look through the books I’ve published to see if there’s anything more along those lines, though.

  11. Jim Kellogg says:

    I would enjoy anything you would care to post. As far as my favorites The sun sword series, The fion­avar tapestry and anything else by Guy Gavriel Kay, The Lord of the Rings. I am 83 and have read constantly since I was 5 or 6 so have many other favorites in other genres. Zane Grey, Max Brand and Louis L’Amour. Mickey Spillane and John D. McDonald. Since I am currently rereading things and recom­men­da­tions would be appre­ci­ated. Waiting for the next series after the Sun Sword.

  12. Alia Sweedan says:

    I have read every single read­able thing I could get my hands on that was written by you. So I would follow what­ever it is you decide to do. But I would loooove if you post some stories. Im in the process of rereading House Wars in proper chrono­log­ical order with the Sun Sword. For the third time. For me you can do no wrong. So what­ever you decide to do I’m with you
    Alia all the way from Egypt

  13. Jamie Rawlings says:

    I really appre­ciate your will­ing­ness to post and share more, as reading has been one of the few pastimes to help me relax and escape for a little while. Luckily I’m still able to work, but it’s meant longer hours and stressful inter­ac­tions with people. I’m on my second read through of the Elantra series, and I find the inter­ac­tions between char­ac­ters even more inter­esting after under­standing their moti­va­tions a bit better. I’ve also redis­cov­ered Patricia Dean’s Tam and all of Octavia Butler’s books. And I’m thinking of revis­iting the Fire­keeper series by Jane Lind­skold and the Chrestom­anci chron­i­cles by DWJ. There are so many great books out there, and if you have any recom­men­da­tions, I’m sure we would all love to hear them. I also wasn’t aware of your doing AMAs on Reddit, which I will go and discover after submit­ting this. A reading from you would be amazing. You mentioned not liking cameras, but even audio record­ings would be fun to listen to. Thank you again for posting, for sharing your words, and for giving us an avenue to interact with you. Wishing you and your family well.

  14. ANNE says:

    Glad you are well and doing ok — other than maybe stir crazy.
    Love the idea of stuff posted here for reading.
    Thank you!

  15. Julianne says:

    At Michelle thank you. I should prob­ably say I can’t concen­trate on anything but the things that are stressful haha. But the crochet helps. I think we all know those people who make the hobbies we are strug­gling to master look effort­less. I’m self taught and so far I’ve not made anything harder than a dish­cloth. I think it’s some­thing I’ve always wanted to make hand­made items but sewing machines intim­i­date me as do power tools. I spent some time researching crochet and knit­ting and read from many who did both and teach say crochet was easier (only one hook for starters) and more versa­tile and I was drawn to crochet because you can make little animals called amigu­rumi much easier and that was some­thing I wanted to do.

    Can I say that I loved that Kaylin didn’t much like knit­ting? Though she should try it again, one time isn’t enough for profi­ciency it takes a while to figure out how to turn out some­thing recog­niz­able. Though I also enjoyed Bellus­deo’s long dialogue on knit­ting

    It makes me think of some of those knit­ting and crochet blogs, where you are trying to find a pattern and the author goes on about yarn and hooks and and gauges with affil­iate links and piles of pictures. I wonder what it would look like if some of your char­ac­ters had a blog or diary.

  16. Joey says:

    Avoid plagues. Embrace cameras (or not).

    If you’re doing your own version of AMAs, I think it would be useful to have some sort of cross-refer­encing for the future. There are likely a big bunch of the same ques­tions asked by people who have come to your work at different times. I realize there are prob­ably those who ask simply to engage with you and might ignore the FAQ anyway; I’m one of those who prefers to do a lot of looking and checking before asking (well, most of the time). Your website FAQ is slim, so maybe the one coming out of the MSW AMA can be linked.

    Btw, were all of your Live­Journal posts ported to Dreamwidth?

    Lastly, Hi and Hugs!

  17. Melissa says:

    How about posting the chap­ters from Wolves that the editors asked you to remove? The ones that provided insight into the Emperor ‘s moti­va­tion & plans for Elantra. I found those extremely inter­esting. It would be some­thing new, specif­i­cally for your already diehard fans, and kind of a teaser for the upcoming Wolves book. A very special gift because they won’t find it in the published book.

    The most impor­tant thing you can do for us is to keep writing. Your books are our refuge. Our escape from the stress of … every­thing. So even though your inner helper is screaming “What more can I do for people,” You may already be doing enough. You ARE writing several books at once, and taking care of your family. I do enjoy more frequent posts though. And the reas­sur­ance that you and yours are healthy & strong. It’s prob­ably very selfish, but knowing you are okay means that the books won’t stop or slow, lol. Which brings me immea­sur­able amounts of peace. Thank you.

  18. michelle says:

    @Julianne: That’s a really clever idea — personal diaries of specific char­ac­ters. Although I can guar­antee that some would be absolutely blank. I’m now wondering what Haval’s would be like. Sedari­as’s. Severn’s (blank, almost certainly).

    @Joey: Yes, this is all true, and yes, I’m TERRIBLE at updating the FAQ. Yes, all of the LJ posts were ported to Dreamwidth. *virtual hug*. How are things going for you on the west coast? I’ve heard from some of the editors I person­ally know in NYC and … it’s not good =/.

  19. michelle says:

    @Melissa: That’s also a good idea. But… the book isn’t coming out until October, and I’m not sure how *good* a thing it would be before then? Let me run it through my stuck-working-with-schoolage-chil­dren editor. (i.e. responses are natu­rally a lot slower. I couldn’t write a single word when my oldest was that age. Not one. I had to wait until he was sleeping.)

    In the mean time, the stories I’d post are already written – but, my second hesi­ta­tion is, some were written over a quarter of a century ago, and I fret at things I wrote three years ago T_T

  20. michelle says:

    @Alia: thank you! The stories I post won’t be set in the world of those books — I did post those because almost all of them were out of print, and I am *lousy* at sepa­rating written word conti­nu­ities. I tend to forget the sepa­rating bound­aries between books/stories. So: some of them were canon­ical, and also unavail­able.

    But, the other stories, I will post.

  21. michelle says:

    @Jim: Have you read the Riddle­master trilogy, by Patricia McKillip? In modern terms, it starts slowly – but in modern terms, so much of what I loved so much does.

    I would also suggest, if you haven’t read her, C. S. Fried­man’s BLACK SUN RISING trilogy. It’s darker, but — ulti­mately there are things in it that moved me in the same way that Kay moves me.

    And last: Tad William’s MEMORY, SORROW AND THORN. Again, it starts slowly – its char­acter and tone, but.

    So much of the fantasy I’ve tried recently goes into grim-dark terri­tory. While I like a lot of it, it’s… grim-dark, and it’s not the same.

  22. michelle says:

    @Joey: I would also take Captain Awkward style ques­tions, if those arose, which would prob­ably be very much more in keeping with the LJ tone that you liked :D

  23. Joey says:

    Thanks re: LJ/DW.

    Re: FAQs. I think it’s a better use of your time to write fiction than to keep track of what you write _about_ your fiction. Perhaps your nerdier fans with time on their hands could help with indexing your responses, and you could just review the end results?

    Friends in NYC have simi­larly reported “not good” there. I never ques­tioned the San Fran­cisco Bay Area’s “shelter in place” mandate and took early precau­tions (without hoarding, of course). Health-wise, I’m doing fine and, despite being consid­ered “elderly” (LOL!), I’m helping various friends who really do need to be extra careful and safe.

    Who is the best mask-maker in your house­hold? =:-O

  24. michelle says:

    @Joey: I write five days of the week, and work 2 days in the book­store. The book­store *is* paying us – to stay away, at the moment; we have one person who is going in to handle the mail orders which, thank god, are still being placed.

    So: I’d use the book­store time to write and post here, and my normal writing schedule for the books, which at this point are CAST 16 and The Burning Crown book one. And I’m consid­ering, if there’s time or impulse, another Augus­tine story.

    There are no mask-makers in this house. Sewing machines – and we don’t have one here – scream in pain and break rather than having to deal with me (I seri­ously forgot 5 times to move the needle before I’d started to try to sew which… breaks the needle T_T. I survived this, but the people who owned the machines were less than highly pleased, and rightly so).

    HOWEVER… my mother has dropped two thou­sand masks on our back porch. This might be a slight exag­ger­a­tion.

  25. Joey says:

    That is so good of the book­store to keep paying you. At some point would the Canada Emer­gency Response Benefit (CERB) come into play?

    I’ve made three masks following Youtube video instruc­tions, none requiring sewing. I think the one using an old t‑shirt is the best of them. But I also already had a bunch of N95 masks from when all that smoke came down to the Bay Area during the Sonoma fires a year and a half ago.

    Go Mom! Maybe you could do a video’d reading of your latest work … wearing one of those masks?

  26. Lesa says:

    Keep doing what you are doing now. I love that you are emailing more. I’m also rereading your Chron­i­cles of Elantra series and C.J Cherryh’s Foreigner series. And I can barely wait for the new books coming out in May. The bad thing is that I don’t get a chance to treat myself to lunch, when buying a new book.😂

  27. Tchula says:

    I’d love to hear your manga/anime recs. You rec’d me Tower of God years ago, and now it’s an anime on Crunchy­Roll! So good! I don’t know how much anime you catch these days, but they are remaking Fruits Basket (and finishing the story this time). The second season has just started. It’s my absolute favorite manga, so I’m thrilled it got the reboot treat­ment!

    If you are looking for some good shoujo manga recs, I am really enjoying Yona of the Dawn, which is ongoing and has a season of anime to go with it, and Dengeki Daisy, which is complete. The latter series’ mangaka has a new series that started with 3 volumes of QQ Sweeper, then they changed the name to Queen’s Quality for some reason. It’s shoujo, but with many psycho­log­ical and super­nat­ural elements. Very enjoy­able, although I preferred the orig­inal title tbh.

    If you’ve played any cool video games lately, I’d be inter­ested as well. I’m giving Salt and Sanc­tuary a try. It’s a 2D RPG side scroller with Dark Souls-like elements. I’m enjoying it, although I’m stuck on the Kraeken Wyrm boss in Castle of Storms right now. T_T

    You could defi­nitely have sepa­rate threads for this kind of thing on here, that way, those who aren’t inter­ested, could just not follow the posts of the stuff they don’t care to follow. I get most of my social inter­ac­tions these days with stuff like this through my various face­book groups. :-)

  28. Julianne says:

    Michelle: also news­paper arti­cles or reports if not diaries? I’m sure the worlds must have print news if there are print books its just a natural sort of evolu­tion. And then once you have a printed news­paper or maga­zine you have news stories, gossip columns, advice columns, human interest stories, adver­tise­ments for miracle cures and other things.

  29. Michelle: As others have stated, we’re always happy to read anything you want yo share (and pass it along to others). Not to hijack this post but Charles de Lint (another wonderful Cana­dian fantasy author) and his wife MaryAnn run a Face­book group called the Mythic Café. It’s not just for Charles’ work, but mythic arts in general. Start here: https://m.facebook.com/groups/114379772019551/

    Thanks for you, and (virtual) hugs to you and those close to you.
    M&M

  30. Tome Collector says:

    Love your work! I think I’ve read every­thing you’ve written, but I also like the audio format. Do you know when the rest of the Sun Sword series (and the Hunt Brother duology) will be avail­able on audible​.com?

  31. Tracy in Texas says:

    So great to hear from you Michelle. We’d love what­ever you want to share in any format. Your writing is amazing! I love the sharing of good books, plan to check out the Guy Kavriel Kay trilogy recom­mended by @Jim Kellogg and Michelle’s recom­men­da­tion of the Tiddle­master trilogy above. I’d love to share two wonderful authors Robin Hobb and Jacque­line Carey — between those two you have several weeks of amazing tales to explore. Kushiels Dart, the Farseers and Live Ships are sure to trans­form your world during quar­an­tine. Enjoy! :-)

  32. Tracy in Texas says:

    Had a total typo above, trilogy Michelle recom­mended was the Riddle-master trilogy not Tiddle­master ;-) and I forgot to include an old favorite, this author got me into reading fantasy in the first place L.E. Mode­sitt with the Spell­song Cycle series. Defi­nitely worth checking out . I went from that series to the Sun Sword series and never looked back! Appre­ciate all the recom­men­da­tions. I’ve just down­loaded the first Riddle-master book and can’t wait to start with that. Does anyone have any recom­men­da­tions like Robin Hobb’s works?

  33. Kerry aka Trouble says:

    It’s wonderful to hear from you between books, Michelle. I agree with Joey (*waves at Joey*) about it being great the book­store is paying you during this. And you aren’t the only one who can’t knit or sew.

    I moved last year (just from Schaum­burg to Des Plaines) and my son (you remember, I also have an autistic one) now has his own apart­ment in the base­ment. A funny/strange thing happened yesterday. I am still clearing out the old house and yesterday I found a large box of N95 masks in a cupboard — from when my step-sister was doing some demo­li­tion in the base­ment back in 2006 I think. I stopped by a friend who is immuno-compro­mised and let him take a large handful of them so he can do some grocery shop­ping.

    I just checked my box of “to-be-signed” and it’s been a while since I’ve seen you — there are 5! Cast books, Grave, and 2 House Wars books in there — so not since Sasquan? I know I saw you and Joey there. And met your husband at San Antonio — please tell him I said Hi.

    You want ques­tions? What hobbies besides knit­ting and sewing have you tried? Do you have any you still do or did they all fail as spec­tac­u­larly as the ones you’ve already mentioned.

  34. michelle says:

    @Joey: CERB has already arrived for many of my furloughed or laid off friends. As for me, I wouldn’t qualify. The majority of my income comes from writing, and for 2020, I would be consid­ered employed.

    @Tracy: I’ve read Robin Hobb and the first trilogy of the Carey books (and also: her Shake­speare retelling); I both loved Hobb and found her crush­ingly depressing at times. Have you read Stephen Erikson?

    @Tchula: I love Yona, and have for a long time :D. I even liked the anime, because they ended it at the end of the manga arc. I really, really wanted more of the anime (but: I haven’t seen the OAV that’s Zeno’s arc).

    As for video games, the one I played that continues to run through my head — late, because it’s me, so I played through the updated version (and when I say *I*, what I mean is mostly front seat driving while sitting beside someone else, because: FPS) — was THE LAST OF US.

    I had gone through the UNCHARTED series because I liked the actual dialogue and the general writing; I liked the visuals — it’s very modern day Indiana Jones — and LAST OF US was done by the same studio, and the same actual people as the first few UNCHARTED.

    It is … very, very different. And honestly, I could write a book about it. Not a *story* about it, but a book about it. I wasn’t really inter­ested to start because… zombies. Post apoc­a­lypse. Not really Michelle’s thing.

    But… playing through the prologue set the tone (it’s a zombie pandemic), crushed me, left me silently weeping… and I honestly had to see where it went.

    End of first act of the game and I couldn’t have stopped. It’s so bril­liantly struc­tured, in my opinion. There had been talk of a big screen adap­ta­tion — but the “small screen”, with it’s many, many hours, and in which key elements of dialogue come up in the actual play as opposed to the cut scenes, seemed to require no adap­ta­tion. I couldn’t see how it could be made better.

  35. michelle says:

    @Kerry: I will answer, I think, in longer format. I have short answers, but — actu­ally, because it’s me, they’re either single word or, hmmm, a longer thought process about hobbies in general.

  36. Mary Allen says:

    I will read anything you post. Am in Alabama with my Cast books so am rereading them. Nook was offering three Dannika Dark and three Ilona Andrews for .99 so tried the Dannika. It was alright but a little too much sex. Both are urban fantasy. Had already read the Ilona Andrews but bought anyway as much of the price was being donated to charity. I started reading fantasy way back in the 60’s with Andre Norton and the Witch series. I down­loaded your summary before Skir­mish and the stuff about the head of the Guild. Mark Lawrence has written a fantasy series starting with The Red Sister. I may reread my Lyn Viehl Stardoc stuff as I have those books here too. I read 237 books including rereads in 2019 so read a lot of mystery Science fiction and romance but don’t read horror. I read the Tanya Huff s/f but couldn’t get into the fantasy. So would like some recom­men­da­tions I am not a a writer but so enjoy every­thing you have written. I am so pleased you are okay and able to continue writing.

  37. michelle says:

    @Mary: You have a really broad reading range, in terms of likes. If you remove the Lawrence, it might be clearer to me. Have you read, and if have, what did you think of it, Anne Bish­op’s BLACK JEWELS trilogy, and also her ongoing series THE OTHERS?

  38. michelle says:

    @everyone: When I thought of how I recom­mended books in the store, I forgot this inter­me­diate step. A reader will give me three books, and then I will suggest a few; they will either have read them, or have not read them, but if yes, it refines the recom­men­da­tions.

    So, I might ask ques­tions like this, and it’s not meant in any way to be discour­aging. In this, I have no vested inter­ests: it’s just trying to match readers with books I think they might like.

  39. Julianne says:

    @Mary Allen I’ve read Danika Dark and while I liked the story lines I kinda felt the strong inde­pen­dent heroine got lost in angsty rela­tion­ship stuff. To others that mention Hobb I’ve read as well, and great world building, but she has a terrible habit of whumping her char­ac­ters emotion­ally and phys­i­cally, and some­times I think the progress a char­acter makes in devel­op­ment in one book back­tracks in the next as they have to over­come some flaw. And poor Fitz. (Sigh)

    I like Briggs Mercy Thompson for a strong central heroine and somehow all the rela­tion­ship stuff doesn’t over­whelm the main char­acter it just becomes a part of the char­ac­ter’s life. Briggs also has an unfor­tu­nate habit of whumping her char­acter.

    Not that I have anything against a little whump. Its just when a char­acter say, gets all beat up hanging by a thread but wait here is a magical healer or elixir or what­ever and then rinse repeat and they go on like nothing happened to me then there is no point in beating up your char­acter if you don’t have an impact somehow.

    Recently I read Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song. Its mili­tary fantasy and dark, but I was really impressed with the char­acter and the world building. Defi­nitely not a light read.

    For some­thing a little less bulky I found self published author T.A. white very good she has several different seties in various sub genres that I found worth reading.

    And while we are talking about knit­ting… if you want fluffy mysteries with a happy ending and a touch of urban fantasy try Nancy Warren’s Vampire Knit­ting Club. Because Vampires. Who knit.

  40. Julianne says:

    @Michelle do you like matching readers to books? It almost feels like a game if I list three favorites and you try to recom­mend some­thing new :D.

  41. michelle says:

    @Julianne: It’s the best part about working in the book­store, tbh. Because: I get to talk about books.

    But it’s not just books I like. One long term customer and I had barely a 10% overlap in tastes, and I’d gener­ally say, “Don’t touch that, I liked it” and he say, “Ewwwwww!” and drop it instantly. BUT, his taste over­lapped very well with our then manager, so I could find him books he liked – and our overlap matched well with my overlap with the manager.

    It’s much more focused on finding books for readers who will like them, than it neces­sarily is on selling books I person­ally like. Although of course I like that too :D

  42. Julianne says:

    I think it would be so cool to work in a book store instead I worked in a nursery and crafts store while I went to college for nursing. But I imagine the print book seller strug­gles nowa­days. I used to think I would never give up real print books I still have shelves of favorites. But the ease of ebooks was too tempting espe­cially being able to instantly get a book. Still there is some­thing special about walking into a book­store that brings back memo­ries. Spending all my babysit­ting money and birthday money mostly as a kid.

    The main draw­back of giant online search engine driven book­sellers though is the tendency to lump all fantasy together no matter the subgenres and throw all the age groups in. Like if you read Char­laine Harris you will like Twilight.

    Ok, so if I said I prefer char­acter focused work over multiple POV story focus (though not excluded I will read them I just like char­acter devel­op­ment most) with bonus if it’s a strong central female char­acter. I’m into fantasy or urban fantasy but also accu­rate histor­ical fiction. So if I had to pick my three favorite series at the moment are Outlander, Elantra and Mercy Thompson. I think I also always enjoy even if it gets a little dark, that bit of humor that makes it REAL.

  43. Tchula says:

    @Michelle I’ve not yet seen the Yona OAV either, although I’ve read past that point in the manga.

    I played a bit of Last of Us. Like you, I’m not a huge zombie/horror fan. I find post-apoc­a­lyptic settings like Fallout depressing. All those gray, crum­bling build­ings, prob­ably. I didn’t get too far in Last of Us, mostly because there’s a lot of stealth in that game, and I suck at stealth. I lack the patience for it, I think. Sneaking past those Clickers was the worst! I’m so bad at it. I’d much rather a game where I build a tanky char­acter who runs up and hits things in the face with an axe. ;-P

    But I know the story with Joel and Ellie gets good. Maybe one of these days I’ll watch some YouTuber play it all the way through. Talia enjoys stealth games a lot. I’ll recom­mend it to her. She loved Horizon Zero Dawn, which has a lot of hiding in bushes to jump out and attack robot dinosaurs with a spear in it. I’m just waiting for From­soft’s Elden Ring, although they haven’t given us much more than a trailer to go on as to what game play will be like. I’ll also check out Ghosts of Tsushima maybe.

    Dave likes puzzle games – he’s bugging me to play Portal 2. I played the first game but got stuck halfway through. (I’m terrible at puzzle games.) If I can’t figure it out in 10 minutes, it’s “to the internet, I go!” I seri­ously have no patience, lol. I enjoyed the reboots of Tomb Raider, which Dave is finally playing now, but unlike him (he refuses to give in and ask the internet if he gets stuck in a tomb puzzle) I liked the shotgun/bow and arrow parts of the game better.

    I haven’t played any of the Uncharted series, although iirc our old PS3 came with one of the games when we bought it. Longest game I’ve played was Persona 5, but it was totally worth it. Took me 110 hours from April to August to finish, but what a great ending! I haven’t played any of the newer DLC versions though. Don’t want to invest the time since I know how the main story­line ends.

    If you enjoy dialogue heavy games, all of the Dragon Age series are very much dialogue-oriented. The inter­ac­tions with the char­ac­ters changes depending on how you talk to them. I finished all three of those games and will defi­nitely play the next one Bioware makes when­ever it releases.

    Nier Automata, was another fun game I played, with a heavy story­line, although I admit I got stuck after getting endings A and B. I just couldn’t get ending C and kinda dropped it. The hacking parts of the game were chal­lenging and not intu­itive to control for me; I liked the smashing robots with swords parts better. I should go back and try again and try to get to ending E, which tells the whole story. (There are 26 endings for the game, but the rest are joke endings.) The OST for that game was so fantastic I had to buy it on iTunes.

    I just have too many hobbies, and not enough time, even with the quar­an­tine! ;-P

  44. Tracey says:

    Hi Michelle,

    I’m stuck at home in Toronto as well. Gotta say, when I head out to buy groceries, everyone is so friendly. I’ve never had so many people say hi before.

    I’m reading a lot more right now. My Goodreads chal­lenge was set at 30 books for the year but I’m already 5 books ahead on it. May have to adjust the bar on that one.

    I’m playing way too much Over­watch as well. Which video games are you playing?

  45. michelle says:

    @Julianne: Try (I mentioned above) Anne Bish­op’s THE OTHERS series — first is: Written in Red. I really liked Mercy because I found her very different — she was a bit older and she had a job. But… I think the Ilona Andrews books — with the more isolated main char­acter *who has a good reason for that isola­tion* also build well with time.

    I also recom­mend the Ben Aaronovitch RIVERS OF LONDON series, if you like urban fantasy; it’s one of the very few I can think of set in the real world in which the main char­acter is a police officer.

    I think the problem I have not yet resolved for myself is that I gener­ally start walking past all the shelves, looking at titles, because some that aren’t imme­di­ately in mind will leap out at me once I have some sense of what I’m looking for.

  46. michelle says:

    @Tchula & Tracey: I was surprised by how some youtube playthroughs of LAST OF US worked the stealth, because by and large, the person behind the steering wheel doesn’t really care for stealth, but has great twitch reflexes.

    I liked parts of DEATH STRANDING but felt, by the end, that if you have to tell your story through hours long post-ending cut-scenes, you’ve made a total mess of the story struc­ture. But I’m told I would have expected this had I played any of the other games for which the designer is known.

    I have been played World of Warcraft Classic. I started when it released in August, and now have a level 60 char­acter… which, I admit, took way longer than anyone else I know who is still playing it.

    It is… not nearly as visu­ally appealing as the modern version. And it takes way longer to do anything. So I’ve been mulling over why it works better for me. And I do have some answers, but, well. They’re very game specific.

    One of the manga I love, and I have sent emails to all kinds of manga publishers *begging* them to license the series, is Kono Oto Tomare. It’s a “sports” manga in the same way Hikaru No Go or March Comes in Like a Lion is — but I love the char­ac­ters, and really like the actual art.

    I do have a thing, though, for broken people learning how to work them­selves out of the pit in which they’ve landed.

    Oh! Also: The Step­moth­er’s Marchen — that one I’ve been rereading. It’s the rein­car­na­tion as a trip back through time trope, but I really like the way it’s handled. I like that the mistakes made in the past were made by a terri­fied 16 year old, and the person in the present who went back is actu­ally … 30, and she notices different things, and makes different deci­sions. And also, it’s building family, which… often works far better for me than romantic rela­tion­ships.

    I read horror manga and novels but won’t watch any of it, go figure. But horror manga has no overlap with anyone in my house­hold or directly connected, so I gener­ally don’t talk about those as much.

  47. Julianne says:

    @Michelle thank you. I’ve actu­ally read Anne bish­op’s other’s and I must have liked it well enough to complete at least that series but I guess it didn’t resonate as much because I couldn’t tell you much about it. But I didn’t not like it if that makes sense?

    I haven’t heard of the London one will have to look it up.

    I do love Ilona Ilona Andrews, their series are great and I’ve read the three main ones. I love the innkeeper and hidden legacy books the best, maybe because of the humor without going into parody. Like ok, we are just picking up aliens at Walmart just a normal day. My friend who I hooked on Andrews likes Kate Daniels the best and won’t read innkeeper because aliens.

    Oh well I’ve spent a chunk of my day looking for a large blue tote with yarn in it. It is diffi­cult to admit that you are disor­ga­nized. It is even more diffi­cult to admit that you are so disor­ga­nized you can misplace an entire large blue plastic box inside of a very small house with one occu­pant. Plus the cat. Maybe the cat stole it cats like yarn.

  48. Linda says:

    Like others, I will read anything you write. I’ve reread all your books more time than I can count. Any side short stories would be great. Do you have a Ko-Fi account that we could contribute to? I love the various recom­men­da­tions that I’ve seen. I’m a west coast gal that has been busy planting a veggie garden and playing at my job/hobby of digi­tally coloring comics. Not a knitter (but SO admire anyone who can finish some­thing).

  49. Shawn Foley says:

    Michelle, I love your posts just as much as your books. You are my top favorite author who is still alive, closely followed by Neil Gaiman. Over all you are in my top 3 with Terry Pratchett and Emily Bronte. You and Terry are the ones who helped me find words for the stories in my head. Though, finding time to get them down is hard. I am a full­time Nurse, have five kids, and my wife also works for a nonprofit that helps the home­less in our commu­nity. I have been chal­lenged by my oldest, who turns 18 in 3 days, to finish a book this year before he does. I just finished the House War (for like the 20th time) and real­ized I so want to hear more about Adam, and the others who still have so much to do outside the city. Your worlds are great. I can wait for The Emper­or’s Wolves. Your work is just as essen­tial as all the others. You help keep us sane.

  50. Zia says:

    I’m a bit late to this. I’m a credit union teller so I’ve been labeled essen­tial. We’re also the only lobby still open in town so while I meant to reply to this when you posted it, I got side tracked :(

    It’s always great to see a new post from you and I’m glad you and your family are still safe.

    I’ve been rereading all the Cast and House books lately to get my mind out of the state of the world and my usual concerns. Since I have the kindle/paper copies of all it makes it easy to take the ebooks to work for lunch resets and the book copies at home.

    I’m not on reddit as I’m not great at the whole social media thing of any kind and reddit sort of terri­fies me, but I would defi­nitely read all the comments that occur if you were to do another AMA.

    I don’t have any sugges­tions, but all of the ideas you’ve posted sound great. I would love to read some new mate­rial though I am very happy digging into my favorite series over and over again.

    Thank you so very much for offering to do all these things for us and for taking the time to not only reach out to let us know you’re okay but also to reply. It was one of the brightest parts of my week to see another post by you. Even though it took a few days for me to remember to comment.

  51. Tchula says:

    @Michelle I watched a bit of Death Stranding by some YouTu­bers I like, but the game mechanics didn’t really grab me. It just didn’t seem like a game I’d enjoy, although I know many who really liked it. I’ve never played a Kojima game – not really a fan of horror games in general.

    I tried Alien Isola­tion – because I loved the movie, Alien – but had to stop (because jump scares make me pee my pants and scream, which scares my husband and my 3 cats to death, lol!) I’m mildly inter­ested in the Death Stranding story, so I might look up a complete play through online one of these days. I agree about not being a fan of too many cut scenes in games. Gimme the intro, the cut scene for each indi­vidual boss, and a cool end game scene, that’s all I need. Lemme play the game, for real! Not watch a movie!

    Kono Oto Tomare seems like a manga I’d really enjoy. When I went to Anime USA a few years ago, a lady put on a learning panel where she brought her koto and explained the history of the instru­ment, and demon­strated how to play it. I love the sound of it, so elegant!

    I like sports anime in general. Have you watched Ping Pong? It’s short (11 eps iirc) and is in the same vein as the ones you mentioned, but is more psycho­log­ical than a sports drama. Haikyuu!! is also a favorite of mine and the 4th season is out now. I absolutely adore March Comes in Like a Lion. It’s in my top 5 anime of all time. I can’t wait for the new season!

    You might enjoy Chihaya­furu. It’s classed as sports, and josei for some reason, although the main char­ac­ters are in high school and play in their school’s Karuta club. It has fewer psycho­log­ical elements than March Comes in Like a Lion, but is still highly enjoy­able. Season 3 of the anime is out now, and there is spec­u­la­tion the series will have four 25 episode seasons total, to match the “Hundred Poems” in Karuta.

    I’ve wanted to watch Hikaru No Go for years, but never seemed to find it on a legal source. I know a lot of anime studios are releasing older anime for free now, so once I pare down my “currently watching” list, I should really go searching for it. For all I know, CR, Amazon Prime, or Netflix has it and I just haven’t real­ized. >.<

  52. Steve Faught says:

    Just sending my posi­tive thoughts and wishing you well in this not so great envi­ron­ment. Incred­ible intro­vert here, but it’s still trying. On holi­days myself but I’ll soon be back stocking shelves at Walmart, which feels more and more like an apoc­a­lyptic urban fantasy setting every day (no chloro­phyll monsters thank­fully).

  53. Peter Moore says:

    Thank you for your update. I have always been a BIG fan of your short fiction. I have tried to track down every piece that’s out there. To be truthful, I’d prob­ably avidly down­load and read your grocery lists. Of every­thing you have written, including all of your series, my favorite piece of yours is “Memory of Stone” I was ecstatic when you revis­ited it in War. It was the first bit I reread when I finished the volume. The one piece of short fiction I would like to see from you more than anything else is a short story/novella of Teresa di’Mara­no’s arrival at Senniel College and her subse­quent educa­tion and (hope­fully) acco­mi­da­tion to her loss of her Voice. I have to say that of all the strong female char­ac­ters in that series, (actu­ally in both Sun Sword and House Wars) Serra Teresa di’Marano is, if not my absolute favorite, at least in the very short list of the best female char­ac­ters in both series.

  54. Candace says:

    That’s very thoughtful of you Michelle, thanks. I’m with @Melissa when she noted it was our refuge.
    My likes tend to vary greatly as well from the “Jane Yellowrock” series (Hunter), “The Priory of An Orange Tree” (Shannon), to one of my favourites which I tend to go to in times of stress-“The Fion­avar Tapestry” (Kay). The most diffi­cult part of this exer­cise was to narrow it down to just three :)

    But in terms of char­ac­ters, I am fairly consis­tent with enjoying strong female leads the most.

    Working from home has its chal­lenges. My cat has walked over my keyboard several times already and a few of those times managed to do some­thing that no amount of turning the computer off and on would fix. Thank­fully, our tech­nical support is still in full swing (my cat is now famous and they know him by name). So I’ll be happy to access anything you post ‑cat willing.

  55. michelle says:

    @Shawn: Adam will make an appear­ance, but not, I think in the first book of the series, which has gone to Breo­danir and the Hunters :).

    @Candace: Actu­ally no narrowing is neces­sary at all. I ask for three because some­times people take time to come up with three – but as we go through the store, they remember more. I think some people find it harder, or feel more that they’re put on the spot, if that makes sense?

    And yes, that’s a broad range, as well :). I’m assuming that everyone has already read Name of the Wind, so if no, that’s a good one. Also: I adore Kay’s work. I would suggest some of C. S. Friedman, if you haven’t read them. I haven’t read the Jane Yellowrock series myself — can you maybe give me another urban fantasy series you’ve liked?

    If, otoh, you haven’t read Karen Memory by Eliz­a­beth Bear, that’s a strong keeper. I think it’d make a great movie.

  56. michelle says:

    @Steve: You do under­stand that more and more of the country (either one, really) relies heavily on people who are willing to go back to work at, say, Walmarts or Costco or Loblaws, etc, and that we’re grateful for it? I work in retail, so I under­stand that customers can, on bad days, be very diffi­cult — but regard­less, you’re doing neces­sary work. Thanks :)

  57. Autumn says:

    I’m very slowly working my way through War, only because I don’t want the series to end! I’ve been to the book­store twice when I’ve been in Toronto for work, but I’ve been to shy to ask who was working for recom­men­da­tions. I really enjoy all of your books, as well as Terry Good­kind, and Terry Brooks. I’ve finished the first book in the Expanse series, but I’m not sold on it yet. I have found that since I took up knit­ting, I don’t read nearly as much — but I’m a phys­ical book in hand type reader.

  58. Joanne says:

    Thank you so much for your update.
    I have enjoyed your books from The Sundered, through to The House War and Chron­i­cles of Elantra. I partic­u­larly enjoyed The Sacred Hunt and the Sun Sword books and novellas, and would love to see more short stories about those char­ac­ters.
    I am an essen­tial worker, so I have less time on my hands than most, but I am currently engrossed in a Malazan Book of the Fallen reread (along with all of Essle­mont’s accom­pa­nying books). I was happy to see you recom­mend it in one of the comments above. It is truly an epic read. I also loved Robin Hobb’s Farseer / Rain­wild books, and have just lent my copies to a friend.

  59. Tamra Hart says:

    Thanks for the update. I never seem to read stand-alone books. My favorite series are Elantra, Green Rider, PC Hodgell’s Rathe­lien books (Godstalk etc.), Murderbot, Brigg’s Mercy Thompson, every­thing by Bujold, and CJ Cher­ryh’s Foreigner books. I also have all the Dresden books, every­thing written by Devon Monk (love her series about the vaca­tioning Gods on the Oregon coast), all the Valdemar books…did I mention that my husband thought I own too many books until the shut­down started and he real­ized I prob­ably would survive without any book purchases? Anyway, I’m currently re-reading the four-book series of James Schmitz’s Hub short stories edited by Eric Flint — Telzey and Trigger are strong female leads consid­ering they’re from the 50s/60s! I recom­mend all four books.

    Wouldn’t Severn’s diary be a running list of what Kaylin ate that day? And maybe an occa­sional note to himself to check the latest missing persons list.

  60. Wendy says:

    The Elantra Series is prob­ably my absolute favorite. I relisten to it on Audible every year in antic­i­pa­tion of the new release and have done so since I discov­ered the series in 2014. I’m a little behind this year and am only on Cast in Peril now. If you decide to take requests for your short stories posts I’d love to see how Teela and Tane met and the initial discus­sion regarding him taking the test of name and just how exactly did they join the Hawks, who took that job appli­ca­tion and inter­view?! (Please forgive me if any of that is in the newest book). Also anything with Severn, I am so excited for the Wolves book. Did I miss an update on a final deci­sion for the narrator? I love Khris­tine Hvam and just can’t imagine listening to the voices of Elantra from any other narrator.

    For those wanting book recom­men­da­tions, if you also like Khris­tine Hvam, I enjoyed the Queens of Renthia trilogy by Sarah Beth Durst and the Onyx and Ivory Duology by Mindee Arnett. While I listened I tried to figure out who had the “Severn”, “Kaylin”, “Teela” etc voices.

    I enjoyed both the Raven’s Shadow Trilogy by Anthony Ryan that you mentioned and the Live­Ship Trader’s series by Robin Hobb that others listed and have relis­tened to them prob­ably two or three times.

    I haven’t read Martha Well’s Murderbot series that you recom­mended and prob­ably won’t, but her Books of the Raksura are another one of my favorite series that I would relisten to in antic­i­pa­tion of a new release and are just go to books when between series like the Cast novels are. You can finally pre-order the last book in the series on Audible. The book has been out in print for about three years, but appar­ently someone thought it wouldn’t make enough money to put the last book of the series (every other book was on audible) on audible, so I’ve had to wait what feels like forever to finally hear the end of the series! I couldn’t bring myself to read it because it just wouldn’t be the same without hearing their voices. This gives me hope though that the last three books of the Sun Sword series will even­tu­ally get picked up for release on Audible even if we have to wait awhile. Maybe when people are able to go back to work and sales pick up again the Sun Sword series can get another shot?

    Other series I’ve enjoyed are the Green Rider series by Kristen Britain, the Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep, the Guild Hunter Series by Nalini Singh, and the Storm­light Archive by Brandon Sanderson (His Mist­born books are also good, but I confess I like the Wax and Wayne contin­u­a­tion, which reads more like a western, better than the orig­inal trilogy).

    Thank you for all the writing that you do, and like others have said it brightens my day to read your posts. On a side note- I started knit­ting a sweater in January of 2016…and finished it last week…

  61. Kelly Harwood says:

    So, I have a ques­tion: how do you keep track of your storylines/storyboards? I love to read authors who do contin­u­a­tion stories, those that keep threads running through multiple books. You and Jim Butcher are my favorites when it comes to the “long haul” story­lines and I would love to know how you keep track of all those threads or bread­crumbs that are dropped early on in the series. I’m a highly orga­nized, process oriented person and I’m picturing a room with every inch of the walls covered with post its and string or maybe a giant box full of index cards!😂😂 however, expe­ri­ence has proven to me that those methods take an extreme amount of time, so what is your secret?

    Thanks!
    Jelly

  62. Naomi Booth says:

    As an essen­tial worker (and one unable to get into Reddit or any of the other of those sites as I’m never allowed back in after joining), I’d love anything that I can down­load and read when able. I prefer Kindle but will also save from Adobe where that isn’t avail­able. Please?

  63. michelle says:

    I have posted the first of the shorts in the Social Distancing Journal 02. The down­load is .pdf (but has the cover), and it’s the next post (the first if you go to the “blog” link above).

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