State of the Writing, September 2011

I’ve been revising Silence, the first of the DAW Sagara trilogy now called The Queen of the Dead. It has now returned to my long-suffering editor at DAW.

While working on the revision, however, I have also been writing.

Cast in Peril is almost finished. Which is good, because it is due Soon. I have author copies of Cast in Ruin, and author copies of the mass market of Harvest Moon, which contains my 39,600k word novella, “Cast in Moonlight” (yes, it’s still a novella; it hasn’t broken the 40k word mark which would put it in short novel territory). These go along with the author copies of the mass market versions of Cast in Fury and Cast in Silence, but without toe stubbage.

My husband decided to build a steel shelf in the basement on which to put author’s copies of the various books. He managed to get everything on the shelf, and it all fit perfectly — until Cast in Ruin and Harvest Moon arrived. While he is always happy to see the finished books, because they are totally real, I think over time his enthusiasm for them has waned a bit…

War, the final volume of The House War, is not finished. It is not close to being finished. It is, I think, just under half done. But it does progress. I admit I am dying to know how people feel about Skirmish. Yes, I will post sample chapters, but I’m waiting until we’re closer to the publication date (which is January 2012). Also, waiting for the finished cover, so I can post that.

On my plate now:

1. Redesign the web-site a bit so that it looks more modern. When I say “redesign” what I really mean is find someone who does not have the graphic design acumen of a brick to hire to do it for me. But to do this, I will need to visit a photographer to get an author portrait. And before I do that, I might as well replace the glasses that are slightly broken, and have been for mumble mumble time.

This redesign is supposed to help people who have no idea who I am or what I write find information about both who I am and what I write in one easy page load. Since I demonstrably know who I am and what I write, it’s not always clear to me when things are hard to find, and since I’m the one arranging the links and pages at the moment, I also know where everything is. I have a blind spot. Or more than one.

But…I do frequent some author blogs, and I hate the flash screens that basically pop up a picture which says “click here to enter” or something similar. The things which make a blog useful for people who read and comment on it aren’t always useful for people who just want information – and vice versa. There are one or two which I really, really like, but one is very slow to load (which, being me, I really really dislike).

This will not happen overnight (I can’t even see the optometrist until the 13th), so if you have any comments, suggestions, or requests, I’d be happy to see them.

2. Proof, format, and put out the other fifty-two stories. This is also not going to happen overnight, sadly. It’s the first work-related activity which I set aside when I have writing related work arrive in my inbox. I try to always write new words on a daily basis, but to do things like copy-edits, page-proofs and revisions after that. If there are no copy-edits, page-proofs, or revisions, I use the “after” time to proofread and format. I will be doing that for the next week or so.

3. Continue to write Cast in Peril and War, of course, and this should probably have been number 1, but I take for granted that it’s the high priority of each day.

43 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Genna Warner
    Sep 04, 2011 @ 20:05:31

    And I thought my work life was hectic. :) But I cannot wait to read everything. I look forward to any changes you do to spruce up the old site. I think all you really would need to do is where you have “In the Library” is to add a short bio and reference the about me page for more information. It’s at the top of the page so it would be the first thing the visitor would see. And if you decide to do a landing page of your picture, just remember there is a difference between the landing page and page most people bookmark. I never bookmark a landing page if it doesn’t have what I am looking for instead I bookmark the page I want. :) And the slow load times could be because of where the site is hosted not necessarily the technology used to create the site. Programming and designing a web page is more of an art than a science.

    Reply

  2. Joey
    Sep 04, 2011 @ 20:19:22

    Why do you need to have new glasses for an author portrait? You’ll still have clothing on for the photo shoot, won’t you?

    Reply

  3. Michelle Sagara
    Sep 04, 2011 @ 21:00:35

    @Joey: /bonk

    I avoid cameras like the plague. I’m a terrible photography subject because I move a lot when I talk. I have been told by someone I admire, respect, and can’t tell to drop dead that my current author picture is not suitable. Also, by my sister. Since my sister has spent much of her life dealing with pictures in one form or another, I asked her for advice – which she gave. One of the things she said I should do is to get new glasses, since these ones are a little bent out of shape and since I need to have them replaced anyway. (She also had things to say about clothing. I’m torn, because I am afraid I will look nothing like myself, but that’s possibly the desired effect >.<)

    Reply

  4. Amelia Ann Dobogai
    Sep 04, 2011 @ 22:38:37

    Are you going to put “Cast in Moonlight” from “Harvest Moon” out as an ebook available on nook or kindle? I know many writers are putting their stories out as single titles, or is this a publish decision? I have the paperback versions of the Chronicles of Elantra but recently bought the nook versions, for when I travel. I am looking forward to “Cast in Ruin”, I have it on order. I have really enjoyed your books and re-read them.

    Reply

    • Michelle Sagara
      Sep 04, 2011 @ 23:26:11

      @Amelia: I don’t have the rights to that story. For most anthologies, the editors pay for first publication rights, and ask for a blackout period of a year. But Luna pays a lot more for the stories, and offers a contract that’s essentially the same as their novel contracts. Luna could, I believe, release the story as a standalone novella – but I can’t.

      @Hjbau: Thank you – that was helpful. I am thinking of ways to rearrange things to make things clearer to new readers landing here.

      Reply

  5. hjbau
    Sep 04, 2011 @ 23:11:43

    My only comment would be the bibliography. I think there is something confusing about how it is organized. I do think it is important that you tell readers that you write under two different names because it took me a minute to realize that and you do that in the bibliography by separating your different writings by Michelle West and Michelle Sagara writings. I think you do that because of the different tones between the Sagara books and the West books, but i also think that it is important especially for the West books to make it clear which of your books and short stories are written in that universe.

    I am actually not sure how to do that exactly because we normally refer to that universe as the West books or sometimes the Essalieyan books even though they do not all take place in Essalieyan. I do like how you now have each separate book with a picture of the cover and a little blurb about each book within each series. I just think that the Essalieyan books, all three series, as well as the short stories need to be more clearly listed together as from the same universe. I think that even though it is not necessary to have read say the Hunter series to be able to understand the Sun Sword series or the House War series i still think it is important to lump them together just so that the readers can know they are all from the same universe.

    My experience was that i received the two Hunter books for Christmas. I loved them and looked you up and found the Sun Sword books which i did not realize were in the same universe, but decided to go and get. I realized very quickly that Broken Crown was the same universe and then a few chapters in we meet Jewel again in Terafin and i realize that it is not only the same universe, but many of the same characters. And it also took me awhile to find out that there were short stories in the same universe.

    I am not sure if you are ever going to write West books in tone that are not Essalieyan books so it could be confusing to call the Essalieyan series as a whole the West series, but i just think possibly listing all of the books and shorts from the Essalieyan universe together might be helpful.

    Reply

  6. BlueRose
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 00:45:43

    Definately make it clear in the bibliography and the ABOUT page that you are two different writers with one face (and a new pair of glasses!)

    Even a fixed comment box on the header somewhere “Writiing as both Michelle West and Michelle Sagara” – although as lamented by another author, no one ever reads the fine print, so take that FWIW

    I would break it down by name, as whoever has found you and come looking for more would be doing it via one of the two names, so they can find the books that relate to that series easily and then ” ooooh I wonder what else she has written” and there they go under the other name :)

    Dont do silly currently trendy annoying design features, NO FLASH AT ALL EVAH! And make the text clear and easy to read, no silly colours on silly colours. Website designers are a bit like interior decoraters but with pixels, they will talk you into the silly expensive italian sofa that looks nice but is as comfortable as an iron mary if you let them :)

    Have top and bottom text navigation so you dont have to keep scrolling up to the top to go anywhere. Pathrick Rothfuss has a very clear obviously navigated site that I like as an example.

    Reply

  7. Chris
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 00:56:19

    Hi,

    I’m a fairly new reader who started with The Broken Crown just over a month ago. At this point I’ve read the first four novels in the Sun Sword series, as well as the three House War novels so far published.

    First, I want to thank you for having created and written in this wonderful universe. I am amazed at how fully realized many of these characters are. Each Fantasy series has it’s own strengths and weaknesses of course, but in terms of characterization and plot, it seems that to me that your writing should stand among the best known of the field. Many people speak about authors such as Tolkien, Martin, and Jordan, but imo it is strange that your name isn’t among them, or at least more often in the conversation. Perhaps the fault is mine for visiting the wrong sites? In any event, thank you again, and my apologies for taking so long to stumble across your work.

    When you redesign the site, it might be worth mentioning why The Riven Shield is harder to find compared to many of the other novels? I’ve tried usual suspects such as Amazon, B&N, Book Depository, as well as a few others (including some who list it in stock but then don’t in fact have it), and have yet to secure a copy. But I saw that you mentioned the Lulu site, and they list it as in-stock, so hopefully I will be able to obtain one from them. Speaking of Lulu, a few posts ago you had mentioned the possibility that they might offer the Short Stories as a print-on-demand book. I was wondering if there was any word on when that might be available? I am very eager to read them, but have no interest in kindles, nooks, or any other sort of online book reader, so the print on demand option seems perfect.

    I very much look forward to Skirmish, to see how things will play out, though to some degree I can’t but help wishing that we could have more of Finch’s rise in the Merchant Authority & Teller’s working for Barston, and Jay’s early days on the Council, Arann’s continued training with the Guards and the finding of useful roles for Jester, Carver & Angel. I know that we couldn’t follow that time period forever, but it was darn enjoyable while could. Thanks again, and I very much look forward to all of the stories that I have yet to read.

    Reply

    • Michelle Sagara
      Sep 05, 2011 @ 02:53:43

      @Chris: The PoD edition of the six novel-related short stories should be available soon. Which is to say, the first version of the typeset book arrived in my email inbox about an hour ago. There will be another round of proof-reading, and the small changes that often occur (we’re looking at font size at the moment), and then it should be ready to go.

      As for Riven Shield, it’s currently out of stock at the publisher, and given the utter loss of Borders’ and the large-scale cutbacks of floor space in B&N, I am honestly not certain when it will be reprinted. I do know it’s in queue for proofreading and ebook publication, but if you’re not an ebook reader, that’s possibly not very helpful =/.

      @Technomom: I can live with flash if I absolutely have to, but given how little I appreciate it when I’m surfing, I wouldn’t pay for it here. If, however, I surf to a site and music starts before I’ve even finished the page load, I don’t read the page or wait. Unless I’m looking at the homepage of a music band.

      I think the reason blogs aren’t integrated into the main site, or front page, is that the front page is supposed to be the landing for people who know nothing, or very little, about the author. They can find the information about the books, and if they’re interested, they can go to the blog and read what she (or he) has to say. But if all they want is information about the books, that’s there; a lot of people don’t actually want more than that. I personally *like* the integration, which is why I don’t have a front page.

      But I’m taking in everyone’s comments (thank you, @Rochelle & @Bluerose) and trying to think like a person who isn’t me. This is much, much easier when writing fiction.

      Reply

      • Chris
        Sep 06, 2011 @ 21:15:38

        @ Michelle Sagara,

        Thank you very much for the response. I’m glad to hear that the PoD is coming along, and I hope that it sells well for you. I know that I’m very much anticipating it.

        Thanks as well for the update on Riven Shield. On my end, I ordered a copy through DeepDiscount, though they’ve since e-mailed me to say that while they’re committed to shipping me one, it is proving harder to do so than they thought.

        I also opened a Lulu account, though that took some effort. Apparently they had a recent software update which is making their system run a bit odd (their representatives words). In my case it wouldn’t allow me to open a new account, or to contact them in any way but through chat. Still, I got through eventually and ordered a Riven Shield from them too (as well as Sun Sword, Cast in Shadow, Hunter’s Oath & Into the Dark Lands). I am optimistic that one of these RS orders will come through, and if not, I do understand about the low probability of a reprint. I know that I’m “late to the party” as it were, and it probably doesn’t make much sense for the publisher to reprint a book that might only sell dozens of copies.

        Reply

  8. technomom
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 01:23:37

    I’m so glad to hear that you’re unlikely to have a Flash intro on your site! They add nothing, are a nuisance, and are inaccessible to many visitors I truly think they are only pushed by some developers because they bought and learned to use the tools and darn it, they need to get a return on the silly things.

    It would be lovely to see your blog integrated into the main site. I’m not entirely sure as to why anyone keeps them separate, but I’m sure there’s something I’m missing.

    Reply

    • Genna Warner
      Sep 05, 2011 @ 11:36:00

      Unfortunately technomom, you are more right than you know. When a programmer (and I am one) learns a new shinny tool set, we like to use it even if the situation doesn’t fully warrant the use. It takes a seasoned professional who is there for the good of the client to not use tools that way. Since programming is an art form and there is no real clear wrong solution to a problem (well until it is coded and in production and too late to change), it would help the developer if Michelle can go in with a very clear vision of what she wants for her site and list of things she does not what to use. Things like Flash, Forums (which actually I would love but the yahoo list works fairly well for me), and ads. And truthfully flash is a neat tool and is very useful in the correct circumstances.

      Reply

  9. Rochelle Inselman
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 01:46:12

    No flash, ever – totally agree.

    My biggest complaint when going to an author’s page is that they do not have what I am looking for – a list that clearly marks the order of a series. I have only recently started reading anthologies and something that I’ve noticed is that fellow readers want to know exactly where those short stories fit into the series as a whole. I’ve noticed a numbering scheme starting to evolve, as in, a short story would be considered, say, book 3.5, of the series.

    The Sookie Stackhouse series is an excellent example of an overall series with many, MANY short stories. Some of the shorts would make no sense whatsoever if read out of order and some don’t really matter. I’ve found that Wikipedia is often the best place (as opposed to the actual author website) to get the story order. See example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlaine_Harris#Sookie_Stackhouse_.28Southern_Vampire.29_Series In this case, “Fairy Dust” would be considered book 4.1 and “Dancers in the Dark” would be considered 4.2. Authors who don’t have *quite* so many shorts would instead have, say, one short between main novels and it would be considered as a .5 (like 3.5). I mention this because it would be nice to have a list like that for each of your universes.

    Which ties into…the publication reading order vs the author suggested reading order vs chronological reading order of books. Sometimes they are the same and sometimes not so much. Current readers already have a pretty good understanding of the order, but new readers could become confused quickly. Little ruins my enjoyment of a series as much as reading it out of order.

    I like the general setup of http://www.ilona-andrews.com/ where the main home page is a one stop quick glance at the current status of the various projects, a quick bio & pic, order of the books, and where to get the books (hyperlinked in the order list). I think that would especially work quite nicely with links to Smashwords* for the various shorts. I also like the information given in the top title bar – its very easy to find what you are looking for, and maybe even a bit more. Perhaps something like the ‘worldbuilding’ (a word I think isn’t used quite correctly for what it leads to) link would be a great way to give new readers an idea about your various worlds. I hesitate to mention the current status updates: it is nice to see where the author is at in the writing process, but it can put undue pressure on the author and create unrealistic expectations from the readers. I think a current projects update suffices.

    Another author who has published under many names is Jayne Ann Krentz (aka Stephanie James aka Jayne Castle aka Amanda Quick). Her website (http://www.amandaquick.com/) makes it clear that she is a many named author, but it doesn’t really do a very good job of explaining the differences or the whys of the names (each name is used for a different genre, basically).

    Another thing that I would LOVE to see is a character list/bio as you sometimes find in the back of the bricklike fantasy books. Nothing to spoilerish, or overly detailed, but something to refer to when I find myself wondering who were Carralonne’s parents and can’t remember what page that was on. ;) I am not a big fan of maps (as I get lost with or without them) but I know some fans are serious map lovers. Obviously, something like Kevin Hearne’s recent google map (http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=210645352171921451875.0004a29f517bf5aa7c2fa&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=33.422433,-111.945062&spn=0.011802,0.014999&t=h&z=16&vpsrc=6) isn’t possible, but I could understand how detailed maps of each country & large cities would interest some. Other authors have included other visuals like cover art, foreign covers, fan art, etc.

    Of course, your own wikipedia page has much of the information you’d want to have available already and you have a great fan base that would help as they could. Goodreads is a great resource too.

    ummm…I have really gone on here. I worked as a software quality assurance/web site tester/business analyst for quite a while before I became disabled so this is something I am familiar with. I have more free time than I know what to do with, and would be happy to help out in any way!

    *Smashwords doesn’t do a very good job of linking authors with their pseudonyms. For example, to find all of the stories you have available there, I need to search under each exact name and ‘Michelle Sagara West’ gives no results.

    To summarize, I think the must haves are:
    1. A list of books, in order and where to buy them
    2. An explanation of the different worlds under the different names
    3. A bio/pic
    4. FAQ
    5. Links (yahoo group, LJ, etc)
    6. Samples

    Reply

  10. Rochelle Inselman
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 02:12:36

    Chris, I felt the same way when I finally found Ms. West’s books! I was just talking about this last night – I’ve started reading the Yahoo messages (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MichelleWest/messages/1) and have noticed that the recommendations for other authors is something we all have in common. I just finished a full re-read and I think what the key difference between Michelle West (& Tad Williams & Janny Wurts & Gene Wolf & Guy Gavriel Kay & Patrick Rothfuss, etc) and other authors like Robert Jordan is how I perceive the author’s relationship to their readers. For example I feel like the first group of authors have opened their kitchen door, invited us in for a nice cup of tea and then tell us a story about people they care for deeply. They invoke a deep emotional response to their characters and the events of the characters’ lives.

    The other type of author seems to be unwilling to share much of the story, other than a recital of the events. Its dry and heartless and the main thing that is expected to keep the reader’s interest is figuring out the small mysteries during the telling – like who is the long lost, supposedly dead, heir to the throne. :p. I also perceive an adversarial tone in much of what I have read. It feels to me like the author begrudgingly gives information, plays games with readers, and has a superior attitude. (I direct you to the comments made about how very easy it should have been to figure out who killed Asmodean :p).

    Another difference that I’ve noticed is in worldbuilding. Some authors do worldbuilding by writing a travelogue and we are supposed to think that even though the people are exactly the same character, they are different because they live in a different city or country. There are no real different attitudes and mindsets in people of different places, despite a supposedly different culture. Its like the characters are developed using D&D char sheets where one is labeled ‘the mage’ or ‘the barbarian’ but it has no bearing on the character – its just another adjective, rather than an actual characterization.

    Characters are the main attraction for me, along with thoughtful prose and I am a total sucker for a well developed history. Books are like going on a journey with the characters and I’d rather not travel with boring people who have a very limited vocabulary. :)

    Reply

    • Chris
      Sep 06, 2011 @ 21:34:09

      @ Rochelle Inselman,

      I appreciate the response. I wouldn’t necessarily have described my thoughts in exactly those terms, but I think that substantially we are in agreement. I have heard that, for newer authors particularly, there is sometimes encouragement or even pressure to keep a novel slimmer. If that’s the case, I can see how “excess” characterization might be a focus of the “necessary” cuts. I also wonder if some authors, especially those where money is tight, might feel the need to keep things shorter so as to more quickly publish and then start on the next novel. Perhaps, and I am just throwing out a theory here, some writers might “open the kitchen door” to a greater degree absent some of these factors? I am sure that it wouldn’t make a difference to some, but perhaps it might to others?

      Pat Rothfuss is a great example that contradicts my theories, but his experience (from what I’ve heard) doesn’t necessarily seem typical of most new authors. Which I am glad of, I am definitely a fan of his work as well.

      Reply

  11. Giusy
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 03:59:13

    Really??
    Already finishing Peril?!?
    Fantastic!!
    Isn’t Severn book??
    When is scheduled to coming out??
    Do you need a beta reader?? I volunteer!!
    Absolutely privacy!!
    Pretty please?
    Great work!

    Reply

  12. Aaron
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 07:55:04

    My only additional suggestion would be to make sure the revised site has some sort of search functionality. While you don’t have copious posts, they do tend to be lengthy and cover multiple subjects.

    Also, your post titles tend to be frustratingly vague – probably because you cover so much information in a single post that it’s impractical to try and title it with more specifics. That’s why meta tags for the individual posts would be extremely helpful (especially to newcomers!), allowing groups of posts referencing a particular title, subject, or rant to be displayed. So…yes…tags are tasty…use them. /OCD

    Reply

  13. Michael
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 08:13:14

    I’m a fan of the picture of you on facebook where you’re threatening the camera with a fist.

    Also, any photograph you get taken where you aren’t wearing that hat is completely disingenuous, in my experience.

    Aside from that brief bit of author-baiting, I’m happy to hear things are progressing (even if they aren’t progressing *quickly*).

    And I am desperate to get my hands on chapters of Skirmish (not that I *technically* have time to read at the moment, but damnit, I want your words (and your word counts, but that is something altogether different)!)

    Reply

  14. hjbau
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 11:47:11

    I am going to agree with everyone in that i like that there is no flash and no music. I do like the pages with the photos of the covers and blurbs about each book which i already said. I also like that it is easily readable with dark lettering on a light background. I like that you can comment on each new update individually.

    I also like that you have a forthcoming section at the top of the bibliography with the month and year for books coming out soon. I like how it is written there with the title of the book in bold and then after which series it is in and then the month and the year of release.

    Reply

  15. rcoane
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 13:55:45

    Like other readers here,I am happy at the thought of sneak peek at chapters,but on the other hand they are there own form of torture. I always fight with my self, to read or not to read? Mind you, I always lose,I can’t help but read and don’t want it to ever end.

    Please no more back story!! I have been waiting so long to find out what happens with Jewel and co. since the begging of the Riven Shield. I just finished reading again, and i really want to know “what happens next!!”. In this respect the Kaylin book are easier to read being self contained stories, with out heart breaking cliffhangers. Thank you for that.

    Sorry, this ended up not being much about your post. oops!!

    Reply

  16. fyreink
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 14:07:45

    I took a class in web design last year, and I agree with the posters here that it is best not to use Flash, as it would limit the number of people that would see it, as there are so many people on iPads.
    Amazon has begun updating its website, so that it would be compatible with their (rumored) tablet that’s supposed to come out in the near future. The website utilizes a lot of white space and is simplistically designed. Someone earlier put up a link to Ilona Andrews website and I really liked the style as well.

    Oh, I also wanted to ask if you could tell us a little bit about what your new trilogy for DAW is about?

    Reply

  17. Giusy
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 14:19:35

    I quite like the site, it’s only need some little improwment..
    Have you never think of posting a map of Elantra??
    It will be quite interesting..

    Reply

  18. Viviana
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 14:58:57

    Actually, I like your author’s photo – you look as if you spend more time writing than blow-drying your hair, which I rather appreciate in an author. I also prefer photos of writers actually outdoors or doing something, but I guess those might be a bit passe as well.

    I won’t try to talk you out of changing it, because every marketing/PR person in the world will tell you that you need a new one.

    And I’m so looking forward to the new Cast novel, as are a bunch of other folk I know.

    Reply

    • Michelle Sagara
      Sep 07, 2011 @ 13:02:57

      @Viviana: I like that photo, myself. Yes, I am at home, and yes, it’s not a great backdrop for a picture, and yes, I’m wearing the glasses I always wear, but, ummm. That’s what I look like. To me.

      However, it is not apparently what I look like to Other People .

      Reply

  19. Theresa
    Sep 06, 2011 @ 08:52:34

    I would just suggest a section that has upcoming releases with tentative dates.

    Reply

  20. Wendy Good
    Sep 06, 2011 @ 12:25:25

    I have a couple of questions:
    1. When is Cast in Peril due out? If you have listed it somewhere and I missed it, I apologize. I am just looking forward to it already, even as I wait with bated breath for Cast in Ruin.
    2. Do you have any plans for more short story or novella back-stories on Kaylin and/or Severn? There were many stories hinted at in Cast in Shadow that surely tease those of us who re-read all of the previous books in the Cast series before each new book comes out.
    3. How many more Cast books are you currently contracted for with Luna? Will you seek contracts for further Cast books or is that too far reaching of a question? I dare to ask because I don’t want them to end. I know all good things must eventually, but would love some reassurance regarding the next few years, if at all possible. : )

    Reply

  21. MaryW
    Sep 06, 2011 @ 13:35:58

    You write the book and I promise to read ti.

    Reply

  22. MaryW
    Sep 06, 2011 @ 13:37:36

    Ooops.
    ti=it.

    The granddaughter is here today. No proofreading allowed.

    Reply

  23. Michelle
    Sep 06, 2011 @ 14:22:12

    The stuff that I have the hardest time finding on your site are the outtakes, like the first three chapters in the Sunsword series that focused on Kiriel’s childhood that were cut. Some of this was posted on your site, but finding it takes major effort to locate the links in the Archive (or Blog?). On one author site I visited, she included a link to her favorite deleted scenes and chapters that had to be cut to make the story flow correctly or cut the length of the novel down. I think Anne Bishop has something like this and possibly Stephanie Meyer. They didn’t include every scene they cut, just the ones they loved but had to take out for various reasons. If you could put something like that on your site, it would be fabulous!

    Reply

    • Chris
      Sep 06, 2011 @ 20:58:42

      Deleted scenes organized together would be great! After reading this post I found the 1st Kiriel Chapter on LJ. I am still trying to track down the 2nd & 3rd, and a Anduvin-Meralonne scene. Having all of these in one place would be terrific.

      Reply

  24. shauntel
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 12:04:20

    The site only needs a little fixing up, I don’t know if it is because i read it so often for updates that i’m use to navigating it.
    I am waiting, waiting, waiting for cast in ruin. I’m so happy it’s almost here.
    Sorry this question might be a spoiler, but can you say in what book you are going to have the egg hatch. I have been wanting to know since cast in chaos. if you can’t answer I understand, but it is driving me crazy.
    I always anticipate each of your new works and they do not disappoint. I read multiple authors, and after a while their long series can become dull or boring, but yours don’t, Thank you for the second chapter of cast in ruin.

    Reply

  25. Mary
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 12:27:51

    I too would like to find deleted chapters. I also would appreciate a printable page with just titles of books. I am anxious for your next book. Did I remember it wrong or is the telling of the first fight under the city a little different if you are reading Hidden City vs Hunter’s Death? I keep and re-read your books. I want to know more about what Anya and the Lords Fist will do after the war. Is the series going to go past the end of the battle at the end of Sun Sword with the characters I mentioned?

    Reply

  26. Michelle Sagara
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 12:29:18

    @shauntel: The egg doesn’t hatch in Cast in Ruin; it does hatch in Cast in Peril, the book I’m almost finished now. I don’t think this is too spoilery.

    @Wendy: I don’t have a date for Cast in Peril yet; if I had to guess, I would guess August of 2012, which is when the Cast novels have been released when there are no mass markets of previous books planned.

    I would like to write at least 2 Cast novellas in the future, in part because “Cast in Moonlight” ended at the half-way point of what I thought would be the novella when I started. But I won’t have the time to write either until the end of the year, given deadlines =/.

    @Michelle: The only chapter of the three Kiriel chapters posted in public was the first chapter, so it’s that and the one short scene. I don’t generally post out-takes, though, in part because they’re not canonical. For instant, when I cut the 11k words from Cast in Silence, what I cut were Kaylin’s first lessons with Diarmat. I couldn’t move those lessons forward because in that book, Tiamaris was taking the classes with her, and after Silence, that was no longer a possibility.

    @fyreink: The Queen of the Dead, as I am now calling the trilogy, is the first contemporary fantasy I’ve written; there are no Vampires, Werewolves or Faerie (or Angels, come to think). But there are the dead. And there’s Emma Hall, a high school student whose boyfriend died in a car accident in the Summer before the start of the novel’s school year. I am not terribly good at romantic entanglements as a writer, but in this case, they’re not germane, because Emma is not looking for a boyfriend, the loss is so new. She’s not really looking for anything. She has her friends, her mother, and her aging Rottweiler.

    When I figure out how to say more without instantly spoiling large parts of the book, I promise I will :)

    Reply

  27. Michelle Sagara
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 13:55:45

    @Mary: Did I remember it wrong or is the telling of the first fight under the city a little different if you are reading Hidden City vs Hunter’s Death?

    The telling of the first fight is different because it‘s told from different viewpoints in the two books. The fight is the same; some elements of it aren’t on the page in House Name because of the viewpoint shifts, and the variance in the concerns of the viewpoint characters.

    I keep and re-read your books. I want to know more about what Anya and the Lords Fist will do after the war. Is the series going to go past the end of the battle at the end of Sun Sword with the characters I mentioned?

    Yes, but not in House War. The upcoming Skirmish is Jewel, her den, and the aftermath of the assassination. Oh, wait, there is one small scene with one of the Lord‘s Fist. In War, the war in the South is over, and the armies have made their trek back to the Empire, but the action and event are contained in Averalaan.

    When I have finished House War, yes. Anya has a role to play, as do the kialli, because events in the South have caused seismic shifts in the background of the world, some of which are already becoming evident in War.

    Reply

  28. Giusy
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 14:19:49

    We are going to wait almost a year for Peril ç_ç
    Will be a teaser in Ruin?
    Thanks! Can’t wait!

    Reply

  29. Michelle Sagara
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 14:21:07

    @Giusy: There’s no teaser in Ruin, no =/. And I am not finished writing Cast in Peril yet, but I should be in a month :)

    Reply

  30. shauntel
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 16:28:58

    Thank you for the answer about the egg. It’s great, we’ll find out what’s inside, although sad it’ll take a year, but I’ll have your other stories to hold me over until then.

    Reply

  31. Giusy
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 15:26:11

    Seconded!
    Thanks for aswering (and really nice to know about the egg)!

    Reply

  32. Betty Hyland
    Sep 09, 2011 @ 14:51:50

    I arrived at your new(?) website today in my search for the next book to be out.
    I was happy to find there may be 2!
    Thank you. It was interesting to read all the comments too. I knew you had many more short stories that I have read but they have not crossed my path. The e-books do not fit my lifestyle so I have to wait for the bound versions. after the recent hurricane naming I am using my common name.
    Betty Hyland

    Reply

  33. Sarah D
    Sep 12, 2011 @ 22:23:06

    Hi Michelle,

    I didn’t read all the comments/suggestions so if I’ve repeated some of them please forgive me. Also, these are just suggestions, I’m sure you’ll do whatever works best for you :)

    Home Page: I would say that your home page should have information of your most recent release [and/or info. about your upcoming release(es)], a short blurb as you as the author and an easy to find link to your blog. From here people should be able to navigate easily to your blog, and a landing page for all your books. I like your current top navigation, it’s clear and easy to follow.

    I would suggest the short blurb about you (on the front page) tell people right off the bat that you are Sagara West & West. When I discovered the Broken Crown series (your first series I read) I was confused by the differing names and it took a bit of searching to figure it out.

    Interviews & News: I would suggest your “Interviews” and “News” pages have maybe the past 4 or 5 interviews/pieces of “news” so new people can read what’s been written about you and/or read interviews that you’ve conducted.

    Bibliography Page: I would actually suggest breaking it up into two pages, or three even. One page for your novels & novellas, and another for your short stories & other publications (if you go with two). Your current list is quite extensive and is a tad overwhelming. I would suggest on your novels & novellas page adding links to places where we can find the books/short stories/novellas for sale (as available, and as possible). Excerpts where possible would also be nice and photos of the book covers! :)

    Most people discovering your site will want quick, easy to access information about your books and about you. Your frequent visitors will bookmark your blog to return and follow later. You may balk at creating multiple pages for your bibliography but research shows that most people scroll only to 2 or 3 pages of depth maximum before moving on. The best web designs are simple, easy to navigate, information is easy to find, and the pages are not too deep.

    Flash:I would recommend NOT using flash, opting instead for clean web graphics. If your web developer/designer does not know how to design “lite,” Flash can be slowwwww to load. Additionally, Flash doesn’t play on mobile devices/tablets. I’m not bashing Flash, it’s useful in certain instances but I think there’s no value in it, or any other web element when people have trouble accessing information.

    If you feel you MUST incorporate some sort of flashy movements then I would suggest using animated, artistic gifs (http://thenextweb.com/shareables/2011/04/25/theres-no-describing-these-beautiful-animated-gifs-you-have-to-see-them-yourself/).

    This turned out rather longer than I expected (oops!).

    Reply

    • Sarah D
      Sep 12, 2011 @ 22:24:44

      I forgot to mention! I’ve read some research that indicates that using sans serif fonts makes text easier to read on web pages. Ok that’s it, I’ll let you be now :)

      Reply

  34. Aaliya
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 17:13:58

    My only pointer from a reader’s perspective would be to provide a ‘coming soon’ section, to list books that you know will be upcoming even if you dont have a release date.
    It always helps to know that your desperation for the next book will be answered at some point, even if you dont know when – it gives you something to come back to and check regularly.

    Aside from that pointer for your re-design, I just wanted to say I’m addicted to Kaylin’s story – nothing ever gets repetative and each challenge makes you wince, laugh and admire Kaylin’s character even more. I dont know where you will take us next and thats the best thing about the whole Elantra series. Every other fantasy series books I’ve read, just repeat the same storyline, good guy – bad things happen – good guy overcomes – we all go home happy. Kaylin’s world is full, vibrant and always evolving – like her journey with the tha’lani (sorry if not spelt correctly)

    I’ll stop praising your work now and finish with one question – Will cast in ruin be an ebook with anyone else other than Barnes & Noble? I’ve tried looking for pre-order with all my usual ebook outlets but have had no luck. I try to stick with ebooks because I’m a book hog – if I own it in paperback, I’ll hold onto it and never let go – and unfortunately I dont have the space! With over 350 books already in residence, I’m trying to be good and not add to it (too much)!

    Ace work every time!

    Reply

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