State of the Author, January 2017

Posted in writing.


Where to start. I am not finished the next Cast novel. I’m not finished War. I had a very very very difficult November, which added to future deadline stress.

I am working on both books.

I only barely remembered that it’s January, and I have a new book being published in February (Grave). So I made a post about that. Badly. Everything I ever knew about WordPress has vanished into the backbrain so thoroughly, finding it was an issue >.<.

I promised that Grave would be available at the same time in both the US and the UK. I had intended that Silence and Touch be available before that. And, well. Fail. When I finish words for the day, I am working on making those available. But I confess that the “finish words” part has been severely in jeopardy for most of November, and also the holidays. So, to everyone’s great surprise (act surprised), the UK ebooks are not done.

Also, for the first time ever, I apparently have catastrophically high blood pressure, go figure.  My doctor was unamused, and also surprised, given that I was normal a few months ago. So the last week has been doctor, vampire (well, that’s unfair, but blood tests), cardiogram, etc., etc., etc.

I am one of those people whose blood pressure skyrockets when confronted with medical professionals. I am one of those people who, in the middle of labor, stopped all contractions when I arrived at the hospital, both times. I can brute force intellectual action, but my viscera just doesn’t like what it doesn’t like =/.

Also: the lack of coffee will probably kill everyone around me, if it doesn’t kill me first.


More seriously, my worry brain is my creative brain (this lesson brought to you by nine days in the hospital with my then-three-year-old—who is now 18 and fine), so I have been almost entirely off-line. I have been reading the news as it enters my house (Globe and Mail), and focusing where I can on the writing thoughts and not the state of the world thoughts. This has been difficult, because it’s somewhat isolating.

But doing that enabled the writer brain to emerge from the fog. I can work at the bookstore without pause when everything is crumbling—but I can’t write at all competently. It becomes so much work to attain the right frame of mind (which, with Michelle’s process, is about emotional state and tonal words) that almost anything breaks it. I can logic my way through anything, but the actual writing itself is not produced by logic alone =/.

I am sorry that I have been so unavailable—but my rationalization is that none of you would be here if it weren’t for the books, and if I can’t write the books, there’s probably little point for you to be here now.

(ETA: not, because otherwise the sentence means the exact opposite of what I’d intended…)

55 Responses to State of the Author, January 2017

  1. ProfPowner says:

    Many hugs – I understand! Keep plugging away – we’ll be here whenever you have words for us!

  2. ELF says:

    I suspect that many of us have come to enjoy getting a glimpse into your complicated and complex life, and yes, we are always anxious for the next story, but above all we wish for you to be healthy and happy, so do whatever you have to do to achieve that. Hugs.

  3. @Laura: I tried knitting way back. It…did not reduce my blood pressure. Stitches kept multiplying. I tried to knit a scarf – simple, right? I ended up with a triangle. x3.

  4. MaryW says:

    Personally, I relieve tension by throwing rubber soled shoes at a wall. No damage caused just a loud thud as the rubber meets the wall.

  5. Daniel Catudal says:

    As a reader I believe that we are most unfair, reading within a day art work on which you painstakingly worked on for several months. Knowing you trough your online brief comments helps me enjoy the writer herself. Please do take all the time you need to get well so that I and all your readers may enjoy your work for as long as you may enjoy performing your art for us. Energy well spent is energy spent on well being of mind and body. Love always, I’m sending positive energy towards you and wish you well.

  6. Zia says:

    Thank you for taking the time to post an update, though I sorry to hear things haven’t been going well for you. I wish you a belated Happy New Year, and hope that 2017 is kinder.

    We’re patient (even when some of us are impatient) when it comes to waiting. Would we like the books soon? Always. But having to wait isn’t then end of the world, and it teaches patience. I’d rather your health and state of mind be solid than have you stressed about trying to get something completed. Actually the thought of that stresses me out, and makes me feel like a horrible person because as a fan I’m one of the people possibly adding to the problem.

    The majority of us will wait until the next book in each series is released – no matter the time. Your health is definitely more important.

    I have severe anxiety issues (to be honest, I have a long list of issues) so I tend to find a park and swing while listening to music. It’s not something most adults do, but for me that’s a great way to just do something that requires absolutely no thought.

    Again thank you for taking the time to post an update, and thank you for all of the works you’ve given us over the years.

  7. Laura Lima says:

    I’ve wanted to write to you for a long time and this most recent post from you convinced me that this is the time. First, let me say that I understand the stress/anxiety=physical breakdown. I have MS and it is the same for me…damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
    What I want to convey to you, if I can, is an understanding of the true gift you’ve given and will continue to give all of us through your writing. My 24 year old son died this past year. I was and continue to be “barely here”…
    The ONLY time since his passing that I have been able to step away from this horror is in the reading (and re-reading) of your House and Sun sword series. I can submerge myself in your worlds and take myself out of mine for a brief time. I want you to understand how great of a gift that is to me.
    When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, remember me and know that not only are you “enough”, you touch people’s lives in a way you cannot imagine.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  8. Ruth Lee Wexler says:

    Wishing you a quick recovery from your stress… I got a kitten and that helped me to unwind and calm down.. Be well

  9. Raine Kloud says:

    Don’t worry about it, I will read/listen to them when they come out. Your health is important and comes first. Read first sentience again. I am quite happy waiting, It is so much better than the alternative ( I spent 10 years as an EMT, I know the alternatives quite well. Take care of yourself.

  10. Merril says:

    just focus on getting unstessed. I know easier said than done. The rising blood pressure with doctors thingy has a name”white coat syndrome ”
    Know we are more likely and willing to wait for my next fix than to have your doctor in an unamus d state after all we have to consider his/her state of well being

  11. Kerri Knorr says:

    Hypertension is tricksy. My BP was fine at one check up and sky high not 6 months later. I hope the normal medications do as well for you as they have for me.

  12. Katie says:

    Please take care of yourself. Without you, there are no books. And without joy in your life, the books don’t matter.

  13. Vance Marker says:

    Get well!!! All else is secondary! Thank you for the update. Prayers for swift recovery and calmer waters!

  14. Lesa says:

    Good for you in recognizing that you need quiet time away from the world. I learned that lesson after 21 years teaching and I’m retiring Jan. 20th. Take care of yourself. I LOVE YOUR BOOKS!!!! I will now have time to read them when they first come out. :)

  15. Debbie H says:

    I think we would all still be here for you even if you couldn’t write, all the pleasure from the books already written would ensure that. Wishing you all the best and take time to relax and enjoy life. Do something that you always wanted to, but were too busy to do. As a loyal fan, I will patiently wait for what ever treasure may come. Thank you for all the effort and joy your books bring.

  16. Ellen says:

    It’s more important that you are well and in a good frame of mind than churning out books at a regular and frankly quite astonishing pace. I’m happy to wait I’ve yet to be disappointed by anything of yours I’ve read. Cut yourself a break and we’ll all still be here.

  17. Tchula says:

    Michelle, please take your time and treat yourself well. We readers are loyal and will be here for you, so don’t push yourself to the point of making yourself unwell. I see so many folks in my optometric practice that have so much stress, and it really can make one physically ill.

    2016 was a rough year for so many; I am really hoping 2017 will be better. Grave is a lovely way to start things off, and the rest will come when it comes. I like to remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect, I just have to be “good enough” and that helps me deal with the craziness that is life sometimes. (In fact, if I believed in having a tombstone, I think I’d put “good enough” on it, 1) because I think it’s funny, and 2) because it describes my point of view pretty well. ;-P

    Be kind to yourself, and know we are all wishing you good health and peace of mind.

  18. Chris says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your series featuring the world of Jewel. While, like many if not all, I would love seeing a new book come out like right now, I know from my feeble attempts to write – it just doesn’t work that way. So while I patiently await the next novel in the war series, know that prayers have been lifted for you today: prayers for your health, your family, and gratitude for your contribution to my escape from reality. God bless!

  19. ElizabethN says:

    The joy, not, of hypertension, the silent disease. Hope lifestyle and medication get it under control. The mighty purrs of the cat on my desk and some medicine help me with mine. Take care of yourself please, be kind to yourself.

  20. br60103 says:

    It seems to me that we just had a book from you. After all, you’re not Mercedes Lackey who is actually a whole platoon of writers.
    My wife was prescribed a home blood pressure monitor; they recognized that it goes up in the office.

  21. 2016 seems to be doing its best to leave an indelible impression on 2017. And this Christmas and New Year is bringing a lot of not good news for aquaintances and close family alike.

    I wish you and yours (and me and mine) a Healthy New Year (it’s still January so I figure I can ^^) and lots of patience, endurance and excellent sleep to gather our resources. (Hey, I can always hope!).

    Be well, Michelle. All my love to your hubby, specifically ^^.

  22. Mary Allen says:

    Your books are so worth waiting for. You give all of us hours of pleasure and escape. I hope you get the blood pressure under control and the stress. Both my husband and I have high blood pressure and I have a family history of high blood pressure and strokes. My husband was hospitalized a few weeks ago – turns out he was being over medicated for the high blood pressure. There was some study done in 2014 that claims 120/ over 70 for older people is too low. My blood pressure has been under control for over a decade with medication but honestly if I would lose 20 pounds and exercise more I probably could come off the medicine. If you can take a walk when you are stressed maybe that would help – holding a pet or hugging a loved one sometimes helps too.

  23. gary says:

    Hey: easy does it! One day at a time. Keep up the “OUTSTANDING WORK.” It will be when it will be! UR #1 in my book!!!

  24. Bobbi says:

    Take care of your self please – your health is important. I love your books. Thank you for sharing your gift.

  25. Elizabeth S says:

    Your books are more than worth the wait. Your health and overall mental well-being are far more important.

    One small note, speaking as a cardiac ICU nurse: don’t quit coffee cold turkey. It is actually way more harmful than continuing to drink it as it will drive your stress levels up even more. You don’t even need to quit it completely, just cut back.

    Here’s to a better year than last!

  26. Farrell says:

    I recently started the House series, after rereading Hunter’s. I am enjoying it as much as the Cast series(which I didn’t think was posible, I reread the entire Cast series each time a new book is coming out). Thank you. Take care of yourself. That’s by far more important!

  27. Stephen Engel says:

    Be encouraged, your fans love you. I do. You are special. You are the best writer alive. I truly believe that. You have the best characters and that is because of your character. I am praying for you. I ask for your health; physical, mental, spiritual.
    Thanks for your work.

  28. Crystal says:

    The first rule in successfully completing any project is to take care of yourself. I enjoy your books, used them to get through chemo and recovery from surgery, thank you. Hope all calms down and gets easier for you soon.

  29. Trina A. says:

    I’ve been a long time reader of your series, but this is my first response to your blog posts. Get better. Breathe. Renew. Exhale. Return. We will be here. I love the complexity of your characters and story lines. I love the strong female leads. I love their quirks and personal growth. I sit on the edge of my seat devouring words waiting to see what happens next. I love all of your series I’ve read (House, Sunsword, Queen of the Dead). I read so fast I probably need this time to re-read the stories for nuances I’ve missed. Take care of yourself.

  30. @all: you guys are the best :D.

    I think it would help if I did not have to attempt to take blood pressure three or four times before getting a reading that is unpredictable. I’ve looked at different cuff sizes, but they seem to be either up to 9” or between 12-13”, and I haven’t seen one in between (we have the latter, which is considered normal). I’m 10.5. so: frustrating, and at this point I can’t even tell if any of the numbers I do get after attempt 3 or 4 are accurate. Sometimes they are 120/80 (and my hand is purple because the cuff tightens until it gets something—or gives up) and sometimes they are 191/108. And this is TMI >.<.

  31. Laura Lima says:

    Lol…and now your blood pressure will go up over the frustration about not being able to get an accurate reading. :)
    It’s not TMI, maybe someone here will be able to offer help. You need to find your own “Michelle” to help you escape!

  32. Tchula says:

    Michelle, have you considered a wrist cuff? You may find it easier to get more consistent measurements at home. My dad uses one and I have one in the office that I use on patients from time to time. Positioning is key for accurate results: sit upright with legs not crossed, use the cuff on the left wrist only, and bend the elbow and place the cuff firmly over your heart with the arm elevated. It does eat through AA batteries though. The wrist cuffs are not particularly expensive, maybe $35 at Walmart or CVS. It’s nice, because people don’t have to half undress to check their bp also. ;-P

  33. As an avid reader I have read books where it was obvious the writer forced the process to met a deadline. Personally I would rather wait and read the best book you can write. Plus Michelle you are a person not just an author and I would be surprised if real life didn’t get in the way once in awhile. One last thing. You are my all time favorite author and your books have been one of the few things in my life that never fail to reduce my stress. As much as I love something new, I would never want that at the expense of your health. I can always re-read what I have to tide me over. Take care of yourself and thank you for caring so much.


  34. Mjw says:

    Long time reader and big fan. Honestly you don’t owe us a thing. Your books are like wonderful jewels I return to again and again. Please take care of yourself.

  35. @Tchula: I’ll look at wrist cuffs. I’d take getting a reading reliably (instead of trying 3 or 4 times) over a more reliable reading. Honestly, by the time I do get a reading, I am ready to rampage through the house destroying all the medical tech in the process, which apparently is not good for the blood pressure…

    @all: thank you again. I *am* writing; it’s just taking longer for the same number of words. I’m trying very hard not to let this frustrate me.

  36. I revisit your “House War” books regularly because of their insight into human nature and deep humanity. And your delightful noise-some cats! Your books have profoundly touched me and enriched my life. Please place your health first. I can wait for the next installment.

  37. Heather says:

    We love your books, so we will be here when life gives you a chance to breathe and live, and then can let your creative voice shine.

  38. ralphw2548 says:

    I want to second everything Tchula said. I am an Infusion Nurse Specialist. Many times, I am required to take a patient’s BP every 15 minutes over an hour. The wrist cuffs work well and are reliable, as long as you follow Tchula’s directions. Take your BP meds as directed, even if you feel good! And, you take your readings around the same time, every time. And, don’t stress out over the numbers. Those readings are only a snapshot. If you had taken the reading 20 minutes earlier or later, you would probably get different readings. All your MD wants is consistency ( keep a written log ).
    Personally, I will wait for as long as I must for WAR. Your health is more important. “Don’t make me come up there and get you” ( my mother’s favorite threat to keep me in line :) ).

  39. Honour McMillan says:

    So trying to reduce stress while trying to live up to your own standards? What would you tell your daughter? :)
    You provide us with more pleasure and finer words than I have the ability to convey.
    If you write 200 words today, well then that was obviously how many should have been written.
    If you write none today then no words were needed.
    Reset your standards to that which you can accomplish. It is what it is.
    People might bug George RR Martin or Patrick Rothfuss – but you’ll notice neither of them are expected to apologize.
    Be at peace – Elantra will come to us when it’s ready.


  40. Monica Westmoland says:

    Take care of yourself. You are one of the few authors whose books I can re-read and enjoy them as if it were the first time I read them, only it is better than the first time because I always notice details that I missed before. So take your time……we’ll be here for you.

  41. DeDe says:

    Michelle, your stories are worth the wait to all of us. But you are more important. Take the time you need. Figure out the medical stuff. It can take a while to settle in with the meds if you go that route.

    BTW – while ‘getting ready to rampage’ may not be good for your blood pressure – some actual cuff carnage might be satisfying. :-)

  42. Tanya Shively says:

    Thank you for your stories. They are a wondrous treat for all of us. Hope you have taken some time to de-stress and take care of yourself.

  43. Joyce Ronquillo says:

    I hope the state of the author has improved. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that I want a new Elantra book but not at the expense of your health or peace of mind. Please ignore the world because your books help your readers ignore the world.

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