Happy New Year, and Skirmish Prologue and first chapter

Well. The end of 2011 was hectic, and I’ve been a little snowed under with work.

I’m an introvert by nature. People who’ve met me in real life often find this description a bit confusing, because in real life, I don’t generally strike people as shy. But introversion is not synonymous with shyness. I like interacting with my readers. Actually, let me rephrase that. I like interacting with readers for whom reading is a lifelong obsession, because that pretty much describes me, and it’s something we have in common.

But interaction, when I’m overwhelmed, takes thought, focus, and energy, and when writing is particularly difficult, that’s where all the mental energy goes–and it leaves me with very little left over. When I am in that state, it resembles this, except with more writing, less going outside, and no video store. Given that I am working, and that work frequently involves wholesale removal of the thousands of words I worked on with such hair-pulling difficulty the day before, I begin to feel like a bit of a fraud. If you are here because I’m a writer and I am obviously writing so badly that I need to throw out thousands of words repeatedly, how entertaining can I be?

Intellectually I know I will wrestle the book into shape. I know that four years from now, I won’t actually remember which words were the product of multiple attempts, and which words came naturally and effortlessly. I know this because that’s what always happens. Because I know this, I don’t want or need sympathy, and frankly, you are not coming here to pat a pathetic person on the head.

I think, a decade ago, it was less obvious when I underwent the inward-focused work collapse–but with online social media and its prevalence, it’s become much more obvious when I become entirely overwhelmed and have to shut down anything that’s not writing. I apologize for my absence; my New Year’s resolution is to make a daily attempt to gain control over an overflowing inbox, among other things.

I’ve noticed, as I’ve tried to catch up here, that there’s a sample of Skirmish on google books. It’s available to North American residents because DAW owns North American rights for this series, but a UK reader emailed me this afternoon to ask that I make it available for non-North American readers who are waiting on copies to arrive. I’ve now added the Skirmish sample, for those who couldn’t read the Google version. It’s the prologue and first chapter.

67 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ann Kopchik
    Jan 02, 2012 @ 23:40:17

    Happy New Year, Michelle!

    I’m just glad you had a moment to pop up for air and that it was writing and wresting with words that caused your absence, and not anything else. Those are good things, in the grand scheme, because that’s what writers do.

    Though I also know it doesn’t feel like a good thing when you’re down in the trenches… *climbs back into her own foxhole*


  2. DG
    Jan 02, 2012 @ 23:45:51

    Happy New Year!

    “I like interacting with readers for whom reading is a lifelong obsession.”

    Hear, hear! I think this is why I only follow writers around the Internet who have an obsession with reading, period. Not just writers who are marketing their next book. I’ll wait as long as it takes for a good read. If that means I don’t hear from the writer on a blog for a year straight, then so be it. I know that when they do release that book it will be well worth the wait and patience.

    Having read your whole bibliography so far (some books multiple times!) I know the wait will always be worth it. All your books sit in the “Wow, I love this!” section of my library.


  3. Joey
    Jan 02, 2012 @ 23:51:29

    Dear The Author,

    Happy 2012!


  4. Michelle Sagara
    Jan 02, 2012 @ 23:57:34

    I swear, I just posted this :). I want champagne :D. And chocolate. I’ll settle for writing The End, though.

    @Joey we’re going to drive to detroit for Epic Confusion this year…


    • Joey
      Jan 03, 2012 @ 01:58:47

      Haven’t been to a ConFusion in years! Hmm, Rothfuss and Hines, plus Scalzi and Bear. Buckell, too (but he’ll be touring in my area in March). Actually, they and you will be @ Chicon, but still. Tom Smith will be doing Rocky Horror Muppet Show again after all these years, so hmm. Tempting!

      If I do attend, I’ll have champagne and chocolates for you.


  5. hjbau
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 00:03:26

    Happy Holidays and thanks for the end of chapter 1. Good luck with the writing.


  6. Linda
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 00:14:18

    Happy New Year!
    I first discovered the “Chronicles of Elantra” through the story “Cast in Moonlight” and powered through all 7 at the end of summer and during Thanksgiving break. – My Christmas break was really short this year (darn School Board) and I spent it catching up on my Smithsonian magazines.

    – Looking forward to reading more Michelle Sagara / West books in 2012.

    (New Year’s resolution: only work assigned hours of 8:30 – 4:00 M-F and not 7:30 -5:00 plus 4 hours or so each weekend. Instead . . . MORE FUN READING!!!!!!!!!!)


    • Michelle Sagara
      Jan 07, 2012 @ 15:24:50

      @Linda: I think that’s an admirable and sensible New Year’s resolution! I was afraid of coming up with more ambitious resolutions because, well. I like to try to choose ones I won’t immediately fail in mid-January


  7. David Y
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 00:19:31

    I spent today re-reading House Name — I’m about halfway through it. No way am I going to start on Skirmish tonight; I’ll wait until Chapters delivers it …. sometime.


  8. Peg
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 00:29:38

    Happy New Year and best wishes for this year!


  9. Joanna Celeste
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 00:36:23

    Hi Michelle! Happy New Year, and thanks so much for your posting. As a fellow writer, I was cheering because now I discover my frequent hair-pulling / mass-editing is normal, hooray! I’m working on my first novel *for real this time*, having written several short stories and poems and about thirteen novels that have been edited to death but never actually marketable. So I love to read your posts because it makes me excited about my own writing again. And of course I adore reading, I was literally banned from my school library because I read too much, and to read your work is pure joy. Actually, since I was despairing a lack of new material from you, I decided to write my own stories in the interim and I’ve been consistently at work on my novel since completing your Elantra series. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Thanks so much for the Skirmish prologue and first chapter! However, I will obsess about Chapter 2 until it comes out, so for my sanity I won’t read it yet. But when I have it in the mail, the chapter and prologue will be a treat!

    Wishing you the very best for 2012~ and yeah! Have that chocolate and champagne, you deserve it! And you need the calories for writing–those mental acrobatics are hard work! ;)


    • Michelle Sagara
      Jan 07, 2012 @ 15:27:09

      @Joanna: All writers have days or weeks of hair-pulling frustration. For every book. Our reader selves sort of expect that authors of our best-loved books are somehow writing words that are irreproachable – but I’ve discovered (because, at the store, you meet authors) – that while I considered their words irreproachable, on the wrong days, they certainly didn’t .

      Also, my first editor told me there are no Great Writers, only Great Rewriters.


  10. Chris
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 01:23:47

    Speaking as a fan of certain other writers who take longer than a year between novels, I was very happily surprised to find out that you regularly write even one book per year. As a reader, I don’t think that I can expect any more (and don’t really even have the right to expect that). The fact that you actually can write *more* than one book? That’s like getting cake, eating it, and then being given a pie too.

    All that is before taking into account what a great treat it is to be able to read what you have to say here. Thanks very much for the abundance of riches and Happy New Year!


    • Michelle Sagara
      Jan 07, 2012 @ 15:30:26

      @Chris: I am so behind on responses to the web-site I will never, ever catch up – but I wanted to say that I saw your comments on another post. (I think they were yours, if I’m wrong, I have a large rock to crawl under). Thank you for finding my books – and yes, I’m very, very grateful that the readers I have have supported these books for so many years.


  11. Adenike
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 01:24:54

    Happy New Year! Good luck with the writing. I wait for the announcement of your next book and schedule time to read. I also have nightmares related to unfinished stories. But that is a different issue. You are also the only author that I still buy in print… as well as ebook. :)

    Separately, I am so happy you didn’t post this earlier because it would have been too painful for me to wait.


  12. Chris
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 01:47:30

    Unrelated to Skirmish, but I think that there had been discussion of B&N stocking Cast books awhile back. My local Barnes & Noble finally got in a couple of Elantra books a few weeks before Christmas (Cast in Ruin & Cast in Chaos). Not as good as having them in September, but better late than never.


  13. H. Renee
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 02:11:16

    I’m glad to see every post you make, but I don’t expect or demand any. I guess, when you’re not posting, I just assume that you’re doing writerly things. I really like writerly things because they mean books for us to read! :) Thank you for the preview!


  14. Paul Howard
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 03:23:06

    I just got the e-version of _Skirmish_ and there was mention of a “story so far” to fill in people (like me) who haven’t read _The Sun Sword_.

    Is it up here or should I wait a bit. [Smile]


    • Michelle Sagara
      Jan 03, 2012 @ 04:34:50

      @Paul: And that, of course, is what I’m working on now. I’ve found it really difficult to summarize, in part because some of the summary is probably considered a spoiler for events that haven’t been published yet. I kind of tried to pretend it was still November until the end of December (do not ask what Christmas shopping was like >.<).


  15. Michelle Sagara
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 04:42:27

    (As a novelist, I am really, really horrible at summaries, but on the sixty-seventh attempt – which is an exaggeration, but not, sadly, by much – I think I have something I can live with. It’s actually like an out-take of a novel.)


  16. Carol Duffy
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 09:25:54

    Happy New Year Michelle! I’m just loving Skirmish. Actually, having ordered a “real book” version, I couldn’t wait and last night at midnight, voila! An e-book version appeared on my iPad. Which was the end of much of my sleeping for the night!

    Glad you’re back. Suspected you were frantically writing. And am wondering, who thought *you* were the right novelist to write a *summary* ?????

    Can’t wait to read it.


  17. Natasha
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 11:54:55

    I don’t think Pauls question was answered fully, so I’ll ask…When will the “story so far…” download(?) be available to view/purchase? I just bought the e-book, and I don’t want to read it until I read the “story so far…” portion. Of course, if it makes sense to go back and read the last section or so pertaining to Jewel in the last book of the Sun Sword series…I can do that, instead. :-)


    • Michelle Sagara
      Jan 03, 2012 @ 18:31:41

      @Natasha: Sadly, it’s not just the portion in Sun Sword (final book) that’s relevant =/. It sets the stage very strongly, but if you start there, it’s probably going to be a bit confusing >.<. I am working on page proofs for Silence, the new DAW novel (it’s a May title), and they’re due in the office tomorrow; in between proof-reading, I’ve been writing the story-so-far a hundred times.

      I *hope* to have it up in about three days, though.


      • Natasha
        Jan 07, 2012 @ 00:10:21

        Unfortunately–or if I’m being totally honest, fortunately–I sorta inhaled the book in a day and a half. (I worked it in around my job, three kids, and husband. :-)) So….though I’ll read the ‘…story so far,’ it’s not as high a priority as it was a few days ago. :-)
        I can’t end my post without saying that Skirmish was (in the words of my four year old), “totallyfreakingAWESOME”! Thanks so much for letting me take a peek into your wildly untamed imagination!


  18. John Chew
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 12:37:05

    “I don’t generally strike people as shy”

    You generally strike people with a giant manga hammer if they’re lucky; failing that, the nearest blunt instrument at hand.


    • Michelle Sagara
      Jan 03, 2012 @ 19:37:03

      @jjc: I know where you live.


      • Michael
        Jan 03, 2012 @ 21:49:52

        I’ve only ever been hit with program guides and one or the other side of a hand. What do you have to do to get the hammer?



        • Michelle Sagara
          Jan 07, 2012 @ 15:59:46

          @Michael: to get the hammer you have to a) by my oldest son’s godfather, b) live across the lane, and c) come over with your family for dinner twice a week while d) defining the word “sarcasm” more less as “breathing”.\

          I am certain your wife would not be the biggest fan of the attempt, though …

  19. Edward
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 15:48:37

    Thanks for putting up that first chapter.. Has me cursing even more that it won’t be released in the UK for another 8 or so days..and even then Amazon’s going to take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to ship it out.. >_< I guess I'll be hunting around for available ebook versions that actually let non US residents buy them to last me till the dead tree is available.. :)


  20. Audrey
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 19:09:27

    I just finished Skirmish and loved it. I will reread it again, but got it last night at midnight and stayed up to finish it. Loved it! Happy new year!


  21. Edward
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 19:36:39

    After fruitless searching.. all the places I can find to get ebook versions of Skirmish won’t let you sign in unless you can say you’re American or Canadian.

    Curse you people who have read it.. *shakes fist firmly* ;)

    Now the joys of anticipation gnawing at me until I can get hold of a copy..


  22. Hilda
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 20:14:08

    Hi Michelle, Happy New Year !!! So glad you are back with us again. We know you have been extremely busy not only writing but reviewing, doing corrections, publishing etc., etc. Happy New Year to your readers too. We all waited and kept each other company in your comments sections; then JOY!!! YOUR NEW BOOK is out and you are back.. I ordered Skirmish months ago in book format because of the many problems in the delivery of the last book in e format. Amazon delivered it to my local carrier at 1:30 p.m.,today but the local carrier hasn’t delivered it to my home yet. I go to the door constantly. I’s almost 7:00 p.m. and no book..But I’m so glad the wait is over, and we have a new Michelle book to enjoy and comment without spoilers. I’m looking forward to the resolution of so many questions. A huge Thank you.


  23. Paul Howard
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 20:25:43

    This is a little off topic, but are the Sacred Hunt series and the Sun Sword series ever going to come out in e-versions?

    Baen Books got me “hooked on” ebooks.

    I already the Cast series and the House War series in e-version.


    • Michelle Sagara
      Jan 07, 2012 @ 16:01:36

      @Paul: I have been told that the two Hunter novels are scanned, proofed, and ready to be uploaded/published – but that there is a backlog on the non-DAW end. Also, I believe Broken Crown is in that queue. The others haven’t been proofed/processed, but are in progress.


  24. DJ
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 17:22:02

    Ditto here about e-versions of the two series. Your notes preceding the summary of Hunters Oath recommends starting with Hidden City, so I had no inkling that these other books were actually precursors of the HouseWars series. And now esp that Skirmish makes little sense for the first 47 pages if Sun Sword was unread- The series is nowhere to be found except in hard copy versions- and neither my city nor my county library carry either series (hunter or sun sword). So, I’m kind of stuck in terms of wanting to understand Skirmish as I’m sure I was meant to.

    Next I’ll try the used bookstores here in Houston, and if it’s not there, onto amazon.


  25. Onon
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 17:54:33

    Dear Michelle,
    As you know I posted on here and then emailed you because I am in the UK and could not look at the prologue and sample chapters. You very kindly sent me both in an email attachment. Fabulous. I have ordered the hardback from Amazon.com and it has been shipped. Having read the sample, I can hardly wait until it arrives. You have really whet my appetite.


  26. Aaron M.
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 19:51:16

    Well, I just finished Skirmish and can happily report that I’m very satisfied with the result. I feel for the folks that haven’t read the Sun Sword series, but I’m pleased that we hit the ground running on this one and only made passing references to previous material. Lots of loose ends come together, old friend reunited, a few mysteries cleared up. Also, a few surprising twists

    I did want to note a couple things that stood out for me:

    1. I bought both the e-book version (kindle) and a hard copy. The spaces in between paragraphs that denote changes in character perspective are not parsed correctly on the kindle version. That makes reading the e-book wildly schizophrenic; at times I had to go back and try to infer where the break points were. The print version is much easier to follow.

    2. The Sun Sword series worked on many levels because it was a complicated work about a series of journeys. I missed that with the House War books, but it was especially noticeable with Skirmish – though I’m sure folks will disagree with me. Really cool and fun stuff happened, but there’s nothing like the feel of the characters actually physically moving through the universe that’s been created.

    3. For a moment, I thought that was some *other* kind of glittering pendant attached to the chain the Terafin left for Jewel. What a plot twist *that* would have made.


    • Auraya
      Jan 05, 2012 @ 10:27:39

      I loved Skirmish. Epub (from Sony reader store) has the problem with spacing between character shifts as well. Despite that I managed to finish it in a day and I’ll probably start a readthrough of both House War and Sun Sword now.


    • Estara
      Jan 06, 2012 @ 08:48:07

      I feel for the folks that haven’t read the Sun Sword series, but I’m pleased that we hit the ground running on this one and only made passing references to previous material

      So this!


    • Michelle Sagara
      Jan 07, 2012 @ 16:08:03

      @Aaron: I’ve emailed DAW to let them know about the kindle version. I don’t actually see the ebook versions (and, to be honest, would probably *cry* if I had to proof them in all of their variants, because the proofing takes a long time and always makes me feel inadequate), but this is something they would want to know.


  27. Sujana
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 00:46:20

    Dear Michelle,

    I just finished Skirmish and absolutely loved it! I have to reread it to make sure I didn’t miss anything but there were lots of fantastic twists and I’m already waiting for the next book! Thanks for another fantastic read : )


  28. DG
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 02:14:31

    Are we going to get another “comments with spoilers are ok”-type blog post for House War? Like what was done for Cast In Ruin? I would be curious to read what other folks thought of the plot twists, but obviously I don’t want to spoil the fun for others.


  29. Crystal
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 02:25:29

    Oh, wow, seven-plus years of waiting most definitively paid off! Thank you, Michelle, for choosing to share your stories with us!

    And it so totally hear you on the introvert but don’t come off as shy thing. No one ever believes me when I say I’m an introvert, but when I burn out from being around people, man, it sure does look like that! Thanks for sharing the link, it made me laugh!


  30. lavanya
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 12:03:46

    What a fantastic way to start the new year! Happy New Year Michelle and thank you, thank you, thank you!


  31. David Y
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 23:01:45

    My copy arrived this morning in the mail (from big chain).
    Big chain lists no copies in an of their stores surrounding Milton. Can’t really ask.
    Next year, can I order it through Bakka?


  32. Estara
    Jan 06, 2012 @ 08:34:47

    I totally adored the pay-off of a whole slew of previous developments and I understand your choice to only cover a few days because everything that happens here is so important to Jewel and her future and past life. The downside is that I wanted to read the next one right away.

    Having drowned in the book for two days, I’m slowly climbing out and considering my GoodReads review. It’ll probably be mostly squee – I’m not so good at measured reviewing.

    Thank you! More (at some point where you feel fairly comfortable you’re happy with the quality of what you’ve written – in other words no need to rush for me, although I want to read it soonest, heh)!


  33. Paul Howard
    Jan 06, 2012 @ 12:39:46

    The House War novels have been in my “to be read pile” but I just finished reading them (including Skirmish) and they were good reads.

    I’m sure I’ll enjoy Skirmish more after I’ve completely read the Sun Sword series but I’m glad I didn’t wait. [Smile]

    By the way, is _Silence_ the next House War novel?


    • Estara
      Jan 07, 2012 @ 11:20:46

      Paul, I think Silence was the beginning of a duology? Something new and published by DAW, in any case – not connected to Elantra or the Essalieyan books.


    • Michelle Sagara
      Jan 07, 2012 @ 16:15:25

      @Paul: What Estara said, but Silence is the first of three books. It was written as an experiment; it was my attempt to see whether or not I could work on two novels concurrently. (The answer is: Yes – and more, when I’m stuck or having difficulty with one novel, I’ve discovered it’s often the book, and not my brain; the other book will give me no problems. It switches between books, because of course, difficulties occur at different points in each manuscript. That, and at the end of a book, I shut down the 2nd novel, and work only on one, because at that point, I can’t do two.)


  34. Eleanor GunShows
    Jan 06, 2012 @ 19:58:25

    Dear Michelle,
    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!!
    I had completely misplaced when Skirmish was coming out by a few weeks and your post and sample chapter made my day!! Sadly, this meant my co-workers got to see me complete nerd-out in the office and then see me feverishly try to read the sample within my allotted break time (I heard it was quite comical) :D. I then had to beg the nearest bookstore to hold a copy for me to pick and then obsessively read it at home. Now that this was accomplished, I can now quietly re-read the three series with a smile and patiently wait for what comes next. It was awesome!!!


  35. Paloma Doveny
    Jan 07, 2012 @ 03:04:46

    Greetings and wishes for a prosperous and fulfilling New Year for Michelle and all of us. I have just finished reading the ‘teaser’ (prologue and 1st chapter for Skirmish) for that it surely is! Michelle, Skirmish is, from the get go, compelling, captivating and engrossing (no surprise)!!!! And I join the ranks of those waiting its arrival in the mail. That you have the time, any time at all, to add to this blog is astonishing. Please, you have a family, a job, and a gift for writing that in many ways is unparalleled, please don’t ever feel obligated to your readers to chat or update us or keep us abreast of your progress (announcements are welcomed for sure). That you do make the time, is a loving and generous gesture but should never be undertaken as something required or expected. That you manage, in this incredibly complex era, to have your family, job and chosen art form is enough. Wholly enough. I know I speak for more than myself when I say we sit in awe of your talents and are happy to participate in your world through the joys of reading your prolific works. Many thanks. And my New Year’s wish for you is to take what time you can, whenever you can, to recharge, relax, breathe and dive back into the creative wellspring of your soul. We are all the richer for your efforts. Many thanks and Happy Happy New Year. I for one am yelling “Yahoo” about the prospects of reading another ‘House’ novel!I Never knew it would come so soon! my other favorite authors take years. Consider yourself a welcome rarity.


  36. Paloma Doveny
    Jan 07, 2012 @ 03:08:59

    Forgot to say: Spectacular cover !!!! Love it love it love it, so much more than the Cast series covers. there is something about the paintings that evoke so much more imagination with the artist’s rendering whereas the ‘Cast” covers are more like photographs. These are more mysterious somehow. I wish the ‘House” covers were available as greeting cards. Fabulous.


  37. Linda
    Jan 07, 2012 @ 21:40:47

    Just read “For the Love of God”. Loved it! IMHO strong writing and powerful emotional content in alternate history format.
    Will avidly read more short stories and other series while waiting for “Cast in Peril”.


  38. Edward
    Jan 08, 2012 @ 08:52:39

    Michelle, finally got my hands on an ebook version while I’m waiting for my dead tree copy to arrive. Lost out on my geek points by not spending a minute on my Star Wars The Old Republic game while I sat down and firmly plowed through the book. Thoroughly enjoyable and now keenly anticipating the next one..


    • Crystal
      Jan 10, 2012 @ 14:30:01

      Ah! Me too! I didn’t even get on Star Wars for two whole days…now my husband and brother are about 8 levels ahead of me. But it was worth it! Loved the book!


  39. Theresa
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 08:12:06

    Hi Michelle,

    Just finished Skirmish. Great read. I just wanted to share the following link with you, so that the next time you feel like you’re spiralling you have something to laugh at.



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