One WIP? Or many?

One of the interesting things about authors is how we’re all different. Some of us are plotters, some pantsers, and a large percentage are in between. Some write every day. Some don’t. Some have rituals or a special place to write, while others can write anywhere, anywhen.

And some of us can only work on one project at a time.

I’ve never been one of those writers. I’ve always been able to have three or four WIPs going, save when I was under a real deadline crush. In fact, for me that makes it easier.  If I’m having trouble working on WIP1, then I open WIP2 and tinker with that for a while. A lot of the time, that shakes loose whatever was bothering me about WIP1.

Recently I’ve had 3 WIPs going: After the War, The Horn, and The Sins of the Fathers. 

(I actually have opened a few other files in this time, mostly on weekends, just for fun. Sometimes we need to do ‘fun’ writing just to remind ourselves why we do this.)

But my point is that this strange way of working is what works for me.

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After the War is due to be out later this summer, which means I need to get that last section finished, and then get it out to my editor. I’ve even got a cover commissioned for it, due to me about June 15th.  Now, this is a Portugal story involving Serafina Palmeira and Alejandro Ferreira.point_of_no_return3_by_faestock

(This is the -likely- picture we’ll be using–via Faestock on DeviantArt–for the cover…the rights belong to that artist.)

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But it’s recently been The Horn and The Sins of the Fathers that have taken up most of my time.

The Sins of the Fathers (name may change) is the sequel to Dreaming Death, starting only a month later than the end of that novel. Now, this was primarily concerned with the problems caused by Shironne’s father, Mikael’s father, and to a lesser extent, Deborah’s. Hence the name.

However, the edits on the first book killed off Shironne’s father before the first book happened. He was supposed to die slowly and painfully in the first half of Book 2. Removing him also removed a lot of the issues with Mikael’s father, so…I’m having to rewrite Book 2.  This happens sometimes.

On balance, I’m okay with the changes, but it means that as I was rewriting the sequel, the murder in it seemed to work less and less, making the plot weaker and weaker. Unfortunately, how to fix that problem has eluded me for for quite a while. I’ve been spinning my wheels writing it because it just seemed…wrong.

But working on The Horn provided an answer in a very different way.

I’ve been working on that, a series of novellas set elsewhere in Larossa shortly before the events of Dreaming Death (early summer-fall).  The events of the two story lines eventually tie together.So it was of direct benefit to me to have parts of The Horn solid in my head and written down.

But while I was hunting and pecking through my old files for a spare bit of text (I really need to get in there and rename all those old files because their current names are gibberish) I ran across an old Mikael/Shironne story about a murder that…

Well, I’d never finished that 2005 story. I probably got busy with something else and never got back to it. But suddenly I had in my hands the answer to my problem with TSotF.  I could swap out the short story’s murder for the problematic one in the book. A bunch of names had changed, but  the short story was set right after the book, so there wasn’t much time or age difference.

And suddenly I knew how to fix the broken part of TSotF. I am in the process of stripping out the old murder and working in the new. I’m re-outlining the book, as much as I do outlining. And everything is moving again.

Such a relief.

The point to all of that being: For me, working on more than one project at a time is helpful.  Not true for everyone, but for me, it pays.

 

Does that work for you? Or are you a ‘one project at a time’ writer?

 

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Reminders…

I will be presenting a session on Historical Research this weekend at the DFW Writer’s Conference (as well as participating on a couple of other panels.)

I have a Goodreads Giveaway ending tomorrow for 2 paperback copies of The Seer’s Choice, and I’ll have a giveaway starting tomorrow for 2 paperback copies of Iron Shoes.

And I also have a Giveaway running over on Amazon for Kindle copies of Iron Shoes. So if you’re a Kindle person, you can try there.

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For Patreon supporters, I’m almost to the end of the rough draft of After the War, so you’ll probably see the penultimate chapter on the 1st, and then the final on 6/1.  (And my cover artist is working toward a cover on 6/15.)

Finally, I’m still working on The Horn in my spare time. I’ll post a little more from this weekend’s work in a while (I’ve got roofing issues that have kept me busy, so there’s not much.)

For anyone who’s following The Horn, it’s a novella series that I’m working on, set in the Dreaming Death world, but taking place in the months before the events of that story. It entails a mystery that’s unfolding in front of the Horn Family and the House of Horn–which aren’t actually separate–involving a stranger they find on their land who claims to be hunting for the abandoned Fortress (Salonen.)

If all goes as planned, I may end up with 2 or 3 novellas, tentatively titled The Horn: Oathbreaker; The Horn: Original, and The Horn: Something Else that Starts with O. 

If you’re reading The Horn as I add bits, then you’re actually seeing what I call a Zero Draft, because I usually show that draft to 0 people. This is truly an experiment for me.

I can already foresee problems, since I have a character named Nora and one named Nohr.  So there are likely to be name changes ahead.  And there definitely needs to be more description. And I need to get someone to check some technical aspects (I can research glaciers, but I’ve never been on one.)

So that’s what’s going on in my sphere….I hope you’re having fun visiting.

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It’s not all bad…

There comes a time in business where decisions are made, and they’re not always fun decisions.

My publisher has decided that they’re not going to put out any more of the Palace of Dreams series. Essentially, Dreaming Death didn’t sell enough copies in its first week. (They actually gave me the sack a week ago, but I’ve had life issues come up which demanded my attention, and therefore I haven’t had time to talk about it here.)

This is a numbers game, pure and simple, and what it came down to is that there wasn’t enough money put down on pre-orders or first-week purchases. Therefore, for the publisher’s purposes, I simply don’t bring home the bacon. Or not enough bacon.

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(I brought this home a couple of days ago. Just to prove that I -can- bring home bacon.)

 

So what does that mean for Palace of Dreams series?

 

Well, I have a couple of options now.

Option 1) My agent and I can seek out a new publisher for the remainder of the series.  [This is a challenging proposition, because it’s like asking someone to purchase your three piece suit, but with the provision that their next door neighbor will actually own the pants. Sure, they’ll have the coat and vest, but the next door neighbor may or may not make the pants available to them on any given day.  And contracts specify that the seller can’t just sew a new pair of pants to sell with the coat and vest. A kilt might happen, but no pants. The pants are under contract to the neighbor. Period.] There are a limited number of publishers who are willing to consider that kind of proposition, so we’ll be hitting them up, eventually.

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(Photo from MetroUK)

Option 2) I can self publish the remainder of the series.  This has its own issues–primarily, that it costs a lot of money to get cover art and formatting for a series of books.  [No, I’m not going to make my own cover art. While that might have been acceptable back in 2012, ebook readers are now sophisticated enough that their expectations for book covers are higher. And formatting? If I spend all my time learning that, I won’t be writing.] Unfortunately, I really haven’t made much money self-publishing. I’ve generally done that to make my work -available-, but I’ve never been a big seller.

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So what will I do?

At this time, my agent and I are looking at option 1. It will take a bit of time to go through this process, and it may not succeed. (Remember the pants analogy above.)  I am in the process of looking at the vest and coat and trying to determine whether I can make them look more like a complete outfit (without touching on the pants). I do have a kilt in the side closet, but incorporating a kilt into a suit is complicated. You can just throw in a kilt, but making it look good is difficult.

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This guy makes it look good (or rather, his tailor does.)

(Photo from Heritage of Scotland. com)

So if you’ll be patient, I hope to get the rest of the series out eventually.

Book 2 (currently titled The Sins of the Fathers) deals more with the Lucas Family itself, as Shironne is placed within a yeargroup (the sixteens) for her own protection. As usual, she finds herself tangled into a trio of mysteries.

Book 3 (no title yet. I stink at titles) would deal with the greater world of the Six Families, wherein Mikael finds himself back under the eye of  the Lee elders, as his grandfather, Lord Vandriyen, finally decides he needs a living heir, and the Horn come forth with information that’s worrisome for -all- the Families.

And if I can get those two out, there’s a duology outlined to follow, which deals more with the eventual heir to the throne. But that’s a story for another day.

So while the news isn’t great, it’s not all bad, either. The story will go on, just on a different path. And there might be a kilt.

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If you’d like to help out, as always, buying a book is an option. That’s cool.  (I’ll eventually have a page here if you want to purchase a signed book, but I’m still setting that up.)

I’ve also started a Patreon to help out with expenses of publishing ebook stories in the Golden City or Dreaming Death worlds.

Or you can pick up a copy of The Seer’s Choice, my newest story in the Golden City setting. It’s currently only for Kindle, but I hope to have that out for other formats and in print by late March.

 

And thanks for actually taking the time to read this! ;o)

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The Big Idea +

Today I’m a guest over at John Scalzi’s blog, where I talk about the Big Idea of extreme sensitivity.  

FWIW, at the signing last night I answered some questions about this, including quite a bit about how difficult it would have been for her to eat at first (which is why she went from a plump child to a rather slim young woman–she basically couldn’t tolerate food for some time.) One of the guests at the reading last night asked is she was a vegetarian, to which I answered yes, although she does tolerate fish in the second novel.

in addition, I’m interviewed over at Beth Cato’s blog, so you can drop by there and pick up a few other little tidbits.

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I also had a signing last night at the Barnes and Noble, Lincoln Park, Dallas.

12651077_10208167419960634_5114741014135867214_nHere I am holding forth on some topic, fortunately away from the microphone by then (I only learned later that the microphone broadcast all over the store!) But I’m talking, which I hope is enough of an explanation for that expression…

The signing went well, although it’s difficult to get people to come down to a store on a school night. Next time I shall opt for a non-school night if possible.

Thanks to everyone who showed up, and to the staff there that arranged everything for me.  (And to Rhonda Eudaly, who actually thought to take a couple of pictures, because I FORGOT!)

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And if you’re looking for a signed copies of my books, they have some there at the Lincoln Park location!

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Cover Reveal: Dreaming Death (Feb 2016)

As I’ve been given permission by my editor, I can now show you -all- of my pretty cover, not just a snippet like I did a couple of weeks ago.

So without further ado:

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In the Novels of the Golden City, J. Kathleen Cheney created a “mesmerizing” (Publishers Weekly) realm where magic, history, and intrigue combine. Now, she presents a new world ruled by psychic talents and fatal magic…

Shironne Anjir’s status as a sensitive is both a gift and a curse. Her augmented senses allow her to discover and feel things others can’t, but her talents come with a price: a constant assault of emotions and sensations has left her blind. Determined to use her abilities as best she can, Shironne works tirelessly as an investigator for the Larossan army.

A member of the royal family’s guard, Mikael Lee also possesses an overwhelming power—he dreams of the deaths of others, sometimes in vivid, shocking detail, and sometimes in cryptic fragments and half-remembered images.

But then a killer brings a reign of terror to the city, snuffing out his victims with an arcane and deadly blood magic. Only Shironne can sense and interpret Mikael’s dim, dark dreams of the murders. And what they find together will lead them into a nightmare…

 

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Once again, I have to say that the art department at Ace/Roc does an amazing job! Thanks, guys!!!!

Also, my editor, Jessica Wade, worked hard to get the cover to capture the feel of the story. She asked for pictures and ran ideas past me, which was really amazing. I would -never- have thought to do this kind of cover, which is why I rely so heavily on them for this. It turned out beautiful, and I LOVE it.  Thank you so much, Jessica, for getting it right!

 

And the book is available for preorder on Amazon, although not the other retailers so far.  It will be coming out in February, and everyone will need a book to cuddle up with then…so it won’t hurt you to preorder now.  (And I’d really like that, as well.)

Also, it’s blue!

 

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ETA: If you’d like to read an earlier story about Shironne, hop over to my Free Fiction page and find “Touching the Dead”.

 

Dreaming Death Release Date: February 2016

I now have a release date for my fourth book, Dreaming Death.  It is currently scheduled to hit bookshelves (physical and virtual) on February 2, 2016.

Release dates are somewhat fluid, so this might change, but I do hope we’re on schedule for that release.  I can’t show you the cover yet, either, but I’ll tell you that it’s quite different from the Golden City novels, as Dreaming Death is the first book in a new series.

(Psst…I’ll show you a tiny tiny bit….I don’t think that will be too premature…It’s BLUE!)

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Here’s my description from Amazon:

In the Novels of the Golden City, J. Kathleen Cheney created a “mesmerizing” (Publishers Weekly) realm where magic, history, and intrigue combine. Now, she presents a new world ruled by psychic talents and fatal magic…
 
Shironne Anjir’s status as a sensitive is both a gift and a curse. Her augmented senses allow her to discover and feel things others can’t, but her talents come with a price: a constant assault of emotions and sensations has left her blind. Determined to use her abilities as best she can, Shironne works tirelessly as an investigator for the Larossan army.
 
A member of the royal family’s guard, Mikael Lee also possesses an overwhelming power—he dreams of the deaths of others, sometimes in vivid, shocking detail, and sometimes in cryptic fragments and half-remembered images.
 
But then a killer brings a reign of terror to the city, snuffing out his victims with an arcane and deadly blood magic. Only Shironne can sense and interpret Mikael’s dim, dark dreams of the murders. And what they find together will lead them into a nightmare…

The book will be coming out in Trade Paperback and Ebook versions at the same time, with a mass market to follow later (I assume.)

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Also, I have to say here that this is my mom’s favorite of my novels.  So that means it’s good. ;o)

There’s a pre-order link on the upper right sidebar, so if you’d like to help out and keep a writer in paper, you can order the book now!  Thanks a million if you do!

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The countdown has officially begun…

…to the release of Book 3, The Shores of Spain on July 7.

And I know it’s official because yesterday afternoon, I got my ARCs.
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So that makes it official official.

The Mass Market paperback of The Seat of Magic also comes out the same day, and eventually I hope in the UK and Europe.  I know that’s when the MM of The Golden City hit foreign shelves…a couple of weeks after the US release.

That means 4 months until the series is closed out.

Because of the double book drop, I’m beginning to send out bookmarks to people willing to drop them on swag tables at various cons, or put a few in their library. 10982493_10206248018222403_2845584311878409762_n

So if you’re heading to a cool con in the next 3 months and are willing to put out a few, let me know and I can mail some to you.

And I’m working on Book 5 right now, tentatively named The Sins of the Fathers. There are already about 300 pages written, but since one story facet was edited out of Dreaming Death, that will actually drop that down to about 200, giving me some wiggle room to get the book wrapped up.

So the next 4 months will be full of crazy….scary crazy.

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Publication Process: Drafts

Not everyone does this the same way, but for me, editing from a hard copy is best.

Here’s what I printed out Monday: The 0 draft of Dreaming Death.
dreaming death 0 draft

Now I call this the 0 draft because that’s how many people I’m willing to let look at it. Not even my husband gets to read this draft. Not my agent, and certainly not my editor, who would be aghast that anything comes out this bad.

Generally a 0 draft is about 75% the length of the final for me. I have to go back in and ADD description, setting details, and basically check to make that the POVs are consistent. (In this case, I have a special issue: one of the POV characters is blind. So if I have her describing how something looks, I definitely have to fix that!)

In this case, I’m working the other way. I”m at 145K, when I should be closer to 110K.

My editor wanted some material added to the front of the story line, so I’ll be cutting on the other end. Basically, I’ll be eliminating one murder and one character. That should make a huge difference for word count.

But I also need to rethink all my naming schemes for this novel. In other words, I may change a bunch of character names. Fortunately, I’m not one of those writers who freaks out over that. (Yes, I do have some I wish I could keep, but I may not be able to come up with a convincing argument to do so–the person I have to convince is me, BTW.)

And so this step–the Post 0 Draft Edit–is a vastly important one for me. I’ll probably even work up a new outline for the book, and may rearrange some scenes. But this one will be predominantly done on paper….because that’s what seems to work for me. ;o)


 

Random News: I have a release date now for The Shores of Spain, mid July of 2015.  It’s probably not a hard date, but that’s the best I have for now.

Sorry it has to be so far away, but I will be releasing a novella set in the same world in between now and then, I hope before Christmas. This will be the story about  Rafael Pinheiro, wherein we discover that, among other things, he plays football and actually likes Tripas à moda do Porto. 

 

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