the Author

State of the Writer July 2013 edition

Posted in Cast, DAW, Elantra, Essalieyan, Queen of the Dead, writing.

The writer’s brain is melting. This will not come as a surprise to anyone who lives in and around Ontario; it’s been record temper­a­ture hot.

I spent longer than I had antic­i­pated in revi­sions on Touch, the second book in the Queen of the Dead trilogy. It’s gone back to my publisher, and the publi­ca­tion date is January, 2014.

However, it’s a move in the schedule; it’s the time at which my Michelle West novels have been published for the last few years. And War is not finished. It’s not really close to being finished. I’m sorry =/. I lost more months that I can bear to count on Touch, ironic given that it’s the shortest book I will publish all year. In terms of raw words, it’s right up there — but most of the words were, in the end, not useful.

I have started the tenta­tively titled Cast in Flame, the book that follows the upcoming Cast in Sorrow. I’ll be working on Flame and War, and I have to say that I am really looking forward to writing new words. It’s not that I hate revi­sion — well, okay, ask me in a couple of months — but there’s some­thing about the initial act of creation that, for me, is the best part of writing.

I know I haven’t been on twitter, or Face­book, or Live­Journal, or even here very much. It’s the usual social anxiety that creeps up on me when I’m in the black pit of exis­ten­tial writer gloom. But I am honestly relieved, and happy, to have finished Touch, and to be able to get back to things that are not and have not been such a struggle.

I want to remind you of two things: I will be attending the Worldcon in San Antonio this year. Conflu­ence, my yearly conven­tion in driving distance of home, was cancelled because the hotel decided to close its doors perma­nently with very, very little notice, and it wasn’t possible to find an alter­na­tive for a weekend in July.

The one project I’m working on this summer that is not writing is releasing at least ebooks of my West novels into the UK/AU/NZ market. I can’t actu­ally do that with the Cast novels, because I don’t control the UK rights to those — Luna buys world English rights, or they don’t publish the novel. 

When my brain melts, I have been reading, both novels and manga. I’m actu­ally thinking of starting a forum. I’ve been exper­i­menting with the forum soft­ware that the Word­Press people have released — but I find it slow and oddly cumber­some, and in the end, I don’t love it. After some looking around, I think I have a solu­tion that I like (in terms of ease of use).

I want forums because they are more chatty and chat­tery in general, and if I want to babble endlessly about some­thing bright and new that I’ve discov­ered, I feel self-conscious doing it here. I kind of think of this site as a place where people who want to read my books can come for infor­ma­tion — and I want it to be that, rather than Too Much Infor­ma­tion, if that makes sense.

What do you think of forums here?

45 Responses to State of the Writer July 2013 edition

  1. jcceleste says:

    Thank you, Michelle! (For some of us, there can never be Too Much Infor­ma­tion from you, but yeah, I know what you mean. I run into the same thing on my own writer’s website.)

    There are a couple of us who have been discussing the topic of forums and a mutual meeting grounds for everyone who has been lucky enough to be touched by your works, and we would love to share what we have come up with so far, but we do not want to over­step our bounds. Is there a way to get in touch with you, without imposing?

  2. Michael says:

    Congrat­u­la­tions on getting “Touch” off to the publisher! I sympa­thize re. brain melting. Looking forward to seeing “Sorrow” in just over a month.

  3. ELF says:

    I see no reason why you can’t do a forum here…if people aren’t inter­ested, they can just stay away from that section!

  4. Valerie S. says:

    I like forums. They are less formal than websites proper and allow more friv­o­lity in the subjects.
    I think it’s a good means to discuss anything and would love to share one with you and your fans!

  5. michelle says:

    You can post here, or email :). I’ve been actu­ally looking at one partic­ular service because I’ve tried posting a number of places, and I actu­ally like using it. But it’s not one of the many free forum soft­ware solutions.

  6. michelle says:

    Yes, but my thought was to have forums for people if they want to peek into forums, and to keep the blog/website for people who want updates about the writing/books. I know that as a reader, there are things that don’t really interest me — and if a writer posts a lot about things that don’t interest me, I stop checking, which means I miss things I am inter­ested in (i.e. their writing). So I’m trying to avoid that, here :)

  7. Carol Duffy says:

    I say forum away as well! Right here I mean:) I believe that those who just want news will stick to the rele­vant sections and those of us for whom too much infor­ma­tion (or, put another way, too many words)
    Is not a concept that applies can use the rest of the site. I like to find every­thing in one place :)

  8. Dan says:

    I like forums, though I don’t post a lot on most of them.

  9. I like forums and having setup two different ones for MMOs, my only sugges­tion is to have a few people help you out with user admin­is­tra­tion so you don’t get bots posting ads. I find that is the hardest part of setting up forums is making sure to stop the bots but keep the user admin­is­tra­tion needed on your end to a min.

  10. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard says:

    Brain melting? What’s a Brain? [Evil Grin]

  11. Rhyssia says:

    I am so looking forward to next month. *grin* Actu­ally, having a forum connected to here works well. The biggest problem I’ve always had is /finding/ the forums to read/post on — so a link off your main page is a sure-fire way to get people to follow that rabbit.

  12. Stephanie says:

    I’m all about acces­si­bility. As long as there’s a visible, bright, lovely button to take me to the forum (wher­ever it may be), I shall be happy, and happy that there is such a forum.

  13. dr susan says:

    I have no feel­ings on forums, but I wanted to let you know that your work to get Touch to be the best possible book is greatly appre­ci­ated. I love Silence, and will wait as long as neces­sary for Touch.

  14. Hilda says:

    So glad,Touch is now an accom­plish­ment for you. I’m so looking forward to read it, plus Sorrow and War. Although I really was looking forward to start the New Year with War. I’m assuming it will be now some months later since all the publishing steps take so long to complete. It’s always great to have a new book from you. Next, we can spec­u­late on “why Flames”. Maybe you are trying to please the fans who asked for more “dragon”, and this may be dealing with “dragons flame”. Don’t know anything about forums, but I like to hear from you and I find easy to use your website. Stay cool: the Beach if you can, and one of your oldest books to reread.

  15. Jennifer says:


    As a profes­sional forum admin­is­trator with 15+ years under her belt for some pretty big-name compa­nies, I have to say I’m very excited about the thought of a forum. I may be a bit biased there, though. :D

    I’m very much looking forward to your new publi­ca­tions — I’ve just finished re-reading (again) several series, and am anxiously awaiting January!

    If you’d like some help (volun­teer, of course) figuring things out, setting things up, or what­ever, please don’t hesi­tate to poke me.

  16. DebbieH says:

    I would love a forum here. Easy to find and like minded people to chat with. Am counting the day to Cast In Sorrow — really need chapter one. I have re-read all the books too many times to count. Thanks for many hours of enjoyment.

  17. salty says:

    I would love to have a forum. They are such a good way to get great inter­ac­tion between people going. Also a great way to get ancil­lary info out, (for instance calen­dars, char­acter lists all that kind of stuff) I too, would be willing to volun­teer, at least after I retire in March.

  18. michelle says:

    I think the forum soft­ware I’m hoping to use has some built-in spam traps. I do get a lot of spam on the blog, but the spam-filter catches most of it (and some of it isn’t spam >.). I want to use: http://​www​.invi​sion​power​.com soft­ware, because having looked at a variety of forums in the past month-ish, it’s the one I person­ally find easiest to use as a reader/poster. But I’m open to suggestions.

  19. michelle says:

    It’s the thing that zombies would starve to death trying to eat, in my case >.>

  20. michelle says:

    I’d have it on the navi­ga­tion bar. I actu­ally have a “forum” link there now, but it’s testing forum soft­ware that I’m NOT going to be using because I don’t really like it >.>.

  21. michelle says:

    Thank you :). My general feeling is this: readers will forgive delays. Three years from now, the delay fades. But if I’ve rushed a book that doesn’t work for me as the writer, and the book is bad, three years from now it will still be a bad book. It’s some­thing readers notice. 

    But I’ve got to tell you — blowing big dead­lines like this one is guar­an­teed to make a writer feel incompetent.

  22. michelle says:

    I’ll ask what I asked Genna up above: is there any partic­ular forum soft­ware you’ve used that you like? I don’t care as much about the backend; I do care about the usability on the front end. 

    I installed BPpress as a plug-in, but I have never managed to make myself like it. So I’m leaning toward http://​www​.invi​sion​power​.com, because I have partic­i­pated in forums that use it, and I find it easiest to use on the front end.

  23. dr susan says:

    So, my reply to that is melty brains and writing do not always adhere to dead­lines. You have to write the story you want, and that is not always an easy or smooth process. Wanting to be proud of what you write does not make you incompetent.

  24. amergina says:

    Congrats on kicking Touch out the door! And I am very much looking forward to Cast in Sorrow. Well, actu­ally, I’m anxiously awaiting it so I can stay up way too late and read it in one sitting, then walk into work groggy the next day… which is pretty much what always happens when I read a Cast book.

    Bummed that Conflu­ence was cancelled, since it’s the one time of year I get to see you. I wanted to thank you for some help you gave me a while back, etc. 

    Forums could be fun. I’m pretty heavily involved on a writing forum, and I love the friend­ships and inter­ac­tions I’ve built there. Hope­fully, you can find soft­ware that works for you. (I know next to nothing about that aspect.)

  25. Jennifer says:

    My soft­ware of choice is defi­nitely vBul­letin. It has a few draw­backs in record-keeping that annoy me a little bit, but they are able to be worked around. It’s also highly customiz­able and fairly easy to work with, and has solid statis­tical tools.

    Another good one (that is also free) that I’m currently working with for the first time, and am liking a lot, is Simple Machines. I’m still learning the ins and outs, but so far it seems really good for free soft­ware. Easy to configure and modify to meet needs.

    In looking over the one you posted, it also looks like it is solid, and has every­thing I’d want in a back-end. I’m pretty sure I’ve used it from a user’s perspec­tive and didn’t notice anything lacking there, either. 

    I would recom­mend that you go with the licensed version, rather than the hosted one, though, if you already have a hosting solu­tion in place for your blog that you could use. Have you already spoken with your hosting site to see if they have any restric­tions or recommendations?

    Good luck, what­ever you decide! Forums are really fun :)

  26. Irene Hyland says:

    Happens to everyone, writer or not, You work through it.

  27. Hilda says:

    I think you are very right that although we constantly express the feel­ings that we want more and sooner, we really know that you are working hard to give us the books we love best as we love to read them. We wait for you. Won’t the knowl­edge that you ended up with a much better book cancel that feeling ? I have been with you for about 3 years and I see the readers support growing stronger with every new book. I never under­stood with other writers efforts to meet dead­lines the concept of creating publishing dead­lines for a work that is solely the product of imag­i­na­tion, a fantasy, non exis­tent char­ac­ters, facts, scenarios. It’s all in the mind and feel­ings of the writer, and ‚I believe, forming and becoming precise as he or she is writing.
    How can this then have demanding dead­lines? Your books speak very well for your respect of your own writing.

  28. Tchula says:

    Congrat­u­la­tions on finishing Touch! Take a deep breath and some time to enjoy your summer. I’ve almost finished rereading Peril in prepa­ra­tion for Sorrow’s release next month. Have fun in San Antonio! (I can’t say I’m surprised that the hotel in PA closed though – it was seri­ously stuck in the 80s and needed some major reno­va­tions!) Hope­fully they will be able to get Conflu­ence up and running next year. I’d be inter­esting in a forum set-up – although I have no clue about how to set one up. Would this take the place of your live journal? Seems like they’d serve sort of dupli­cate func­tions? Either way, as long as there’s a link, I’ll be there!

  29. jccoadmin says:

    Thanks, Michelle! I couldn’t locate your email, so maybe it’s easier if you email us? Here is the email from our fansite (fansofmichelle­sagarawest) — jc.​msw.​fanweb.​coadm1n@​gmail.​com. If you could please let me know the best way to contact you, we’ll send the ideas. Between us (five coad­mins), we have a lot of expe­ri­ence with handling fan commen­tary and moder­ating forums. Thank you!

  30. michelle says:

    I tend to think of the Live­Journal as thoughtful ranting, with some thoughts about my own parenting of an ASD child thrown in. 

    It’s not so much a place where I enthuse about things that people might possibly have no interest in. But I confess that I tend to stay offline when books are being intran­si­gent. It’s not that I want a place to whine, because that’s what real life is for  — I kind of want a place to squee.

  31. Tchula says:

    Having a place to squee is good! Espe­cially if you are going to squee about awesome manga you’ve read. Please share, because I wanna know! hee hee

  32. You are prob­ably the only author on the planet who is success­fully pulling off three series simul­ta­ne­ously and releasing A WHOLE NOVEL a year for each one. We do not care if you are terribly late on Touch. You still gave us Battle and Cast in Sorrow, and now we have War and Cast in Flame and Touch to look forward to. Seri­ously, you are the oppo­site of incom­pe­tent. When­ever I feel like I can’t do anymore writing, I think of you and I feel better. Take what time you need. If that niggly voice says you stink and you’re a fraud, remember what Neil Gaiman said about the Fraud Police. They just like to harass us but they have no basis in truth, really. :)

  33. Chris G. says:

    Thanks for the update and the insights. 

    I feel like the West books are some of the greatest works in the Fantasy genre and if other writers who are of similar quality, such as GRRM or Roth­fuss, can take years, then you should be able to do so too. (Not that I’m advo­cating for that, but if it comes to it, then it’s under­stand­able that you can’t rush genius). 

    In the smaller, and ulti­mately unim­por­tant, picture then I am a bit bummed by the release dates as I’ve told some people that you are more produc­tive than Sanderson, despite not getting the same sort of acco­lades for produc­tivity that he does. And releasing only one book in 2013 will hurt that argu­ment. But I’ll find a way around that and continue to advocate!

    I’m likely alone in this, but I think that a Cast book focusing on the Humans could be inter­esting. We assume that we know about them, but proving that assump­tion wrong might make for an inter­esting twist or two. Also, I wonder if you’d ever have any interest in writing a Cast book where every­thing was not quite as Elantra shat­tering? Maybe some short stories, connected or not, where there was more oppor­tu­nity to hang around, chat, spend time with foundlings (espe­cially one who we haven’t seen in a couple books), deal with some smaller mysteries or cases maybe? 

    I like the idea of Forums, whether here or else­where. Just point me where to go when the time comes. :)

  34. Tess says:

    You know what??? I will look at Forums later, all I want is an excerpt of Cast in Sorrow.…please a tiny teeny little peek…that’s all I want.…

  35. Amanda says:

    I can’t wait till War comes out. I keep rereading the house war series and sun sword too! I love the char­acter of jewel. You’re awesome, Michelle! Also, make war the longest book yet ;)

  36. Kate says:

    Re: forums. I’m not sure to what extent/depth your refer­ence to social anxiety goes.

    If you have to deal with consid­er­able social anxiety forums might be a double-edged blade. On the one hand hearing endless adora­tion from your sucking-up-in-desperate-need-of-glimpse-of-next-book fans might over­whelm you, or perhaps it could give you a short term high boost to esteem that might wash away too easily and leave you in a high/low mood merry-go-round. The highs are wonderful, but the lows can be so very low : / 

    On the other hand what if you had the occa­sional post from those most abom­inable people The Internet Trolls, or even an honestly crit­ical post?

    Then there is possibly an even worse response from your fans — no inter­ac­tion on the forums at all…

    The problem with social anxiety is trying not to end up hiding your­self away from the world alto­gether, so perhaps forums as a way to engage people is a posi­tive thing. Though it can never take place of non-virtual human inter­ac­tion, of course : )

    Then again maybe I’m reading too much into this and your comment about social anxiety was simply a momen­tary thought in passing.

    What­ever your circum­stances, if you go ahead with the forums idea I hope you go into it with real­istic expec­ta­tions of what you might get out from it, what time you need to commit to in order to main­tain civility as the moder­ator, and how you will be able to manage your own reac­tion to what­ever comments/content might occur there.

    Best Wishes.

  37. Kate says:

    Oh yes … and I second what others have asked … please please may we have an excerpt please 8D.

  38. KatButtan says:

    I am a forum ho. Forums, PLEASE! :D Even if you don’t make many appear­ances, just being able to chat with others at *your* forum would be ever so neat.

    As for the rest, I am ever your faithful reader, and gush about you just about every chance I get. I will wait! I will be excited! I will still claim you as my favorite author whether it takes you one year or ten! (seri­ously, I still love George Martin and we all know how long he takes)


  39. Tad says:

    You know, a series of short stories acting as inter­ludes sounds pretty good to me. Gives you a place to intro­duce or flesh out some minor char­ac­ters we haven’t had much chance to interact with.

    And we all know that short stories a la Sagara are likely to result in.…novellas. =)

  40. michelle says:

    Nooooooooo >.>.

    (Cast in Moon­light was 39,600 words long – and it was half of the story I thought I would be telling when I started T_T)

  41. michelle says:

    I am working out the forums now, and they should be ready when Cast in Sorrow is released into the wild. I know that people talk to each other on the various spoiler threads — and I think forums would actu­ally make it easier to follow those discussions.

    And, as for the rest: Thank you :)

  42. dr susan says:

    Um, Michelle, wouldn’t a more appro­priate emoticon be x.x?

  43. michelle says:

    LOL! No, no — I’m crying, I’m not dead :)

  44. Tad says:

    Stories, like chil­dren, grow up to have a life all their own. You can provide guid­ance and struc­ture as they develop and strive, and they’ll still end up surprising you more often than not.

    Thanks for inviting us all along for the ride.

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