State of the Writer, April 2012

Writing was severely truncated for about ten days while I and a strep bug had a heated battle over who was in charge of my throat and ears. I won. I fell behind in, oh, everything, while I was sick.

I have an on-sale date for Cast in Peril, as the sell sheets arrived at the store while I was sick. The date is September 25, 2012. I’m waiting copy-edits and line-edits, but for the moment, the book is out of my hands.

Touch, the sequel to Silence, is possibly the most difficult book I’ve ever attempted to write, which, given Silence was one of the easiest, is responsible for the loss of great clods of hair. Sometimes books surprise me.

My new web-site is almost ready to launch. I’ll post here when it’s good to go.

And…the real reason I’m posting tonight: at 178k words, I have finally thrown in the towel: War is not going to be a single book. My long-suffering editor was, well, long-suffering. The book that is scheduled for January is therefore titled Battle, and it is not yet done. I almost did what I frequently do – write while the words pile up and hope and hope and hope that I will be finished it any word now. But I did that with City of Night and House Name, and had to split the book anyway, which meant there was a much longer gap between publication of City of Night than there had to be =/.

So this time, I tried to look at things realistically. I expect Battle to be at least as long as Skirmish.

I am going to try to get through the page proofs for the print-on-demand version of the Essalieyan short stories this weekend, because I have let that get completely away from me, and someone in email reminded me of it. I am also going to be working at the Bakka-Phoenix table at Ad Astra on Friday and Sunday this weekend (I’ll be in the store on the regular Saturday hours).

42 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Hugh S. Myers
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 03:00:17

    I’ve been away for a while and am now confused by book titles and story lines. Touch and Silence are part of which series? And does Battle and then War follow Skirmish? There is something to be said for book titles that all begin with the same phrase—‘Cast in…’ comes to mind :)


    • Chris
      Apr 13, 2012 @ 03:15:38

      Silence is a brand new series, set in a new world. So, 1. Silence (due in less than a month), and 2. Touch.

      Meanwhile, Battle and War do indeed follow Skirmish. So, these would be House War volumes 5 (Battle) and 6 (War).


      • Hugh S. Myers
        Apr 13, 2012 @ 03:42:25

        Thanks for the clarification Chris! Michelle, though your editor may suffer, as an addicted fan I can only rejoice! That said don’t over do things, stay healthy!!


  2. ppaulshoward
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 03:23:13

    Hope things go better for you.


  3. Chris
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 03:48:52

    Very sorry to hear that you were ill, but very thankful for the update. Btw, I did see (weeks later) that you had responded to me last time I posted. Thank you very much and I’m quite sorry that I didn’t see the response earlier in order to reply. Absolutely no offense intended, I need to remember to click on the little “Notify me of new posts via email” option in the future.

    Meanwhile, I’m quite amazed and thankful that you write as much as you do. On a completely selfish level then the more books the merrier. But I hope that you consider just how much you *do* give us. GRRM, Rothfuss, etc. take years (and no judgements there from me) but *every* year you give us one Cast book, and often a House War book, and sometimes a short story or even a new book like SIlence? It just seems staggering that you are so prolific (especially when it’s coupled with such quality and depth), and I hope that you can keep that in mind and take some peace from that. I’m sure that your desire to share these amazing words and worlds with us is at least part of how you are able to keep to such a superhumanly productive schedule, but it really is a blessing for we readers. I’m sure that we can be patient if a book or story has to take extra time, especially when your health is concerned.


    • Michelle Sagara
      Apr 14, 2012 @ 01:16:33

      @Chris: I frequently fall off the internet, and expect people will do likewise, so never worry about replying to a reply :)

      I’ve had longer gaps between the West novels than the theoretical ideal because the books are a) longer and b) more complicated. In theory the Cast novels are less complicated.

      Silence was in part a proof-of-concept book for me; I wanted to see if I could work on two different books simultaneously. The answer was yes, and I found that very slow writing days were extremely book dependent, something I’d never known before, when I worked through on one. I might take 6 hours for 400 West words, and then write 1k Sagara words in an hour (which is enormously fast for me) — and it depended entirely on where I was in each novel, and on the emotional context for each scene.


      • Chris
        Apr 17, 2012 @ 07:54:28

        Thanks for the reply. It’s especially interesting to hear about your authorial process. I’m not a writer myself, but I still find the process fascinating. Perhaps, once your new site is up, then you’ll have a section that discusses this a bit and/or allow us to ask some questions?

        Anyway, it’s good to hear that your simultaneous experiment worked well, as it sounds like it will allow you to be even more productive. :)


  4. Michael
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 05:06:28

    If this *didn’t* happen, you wouldn’t be you.
    As your reader, though, I must say I am pleased by this news.
    As someone who values his life (and your well-being), I’m sorry things didn’t go as planned.
    (Or ever…)


  5. Lee Wui Wui
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 06:06:36

    So terribly sorry to hear that you are not feeling well.
    Also to tell you that I have bought the House War Series (well, whatever that is currently available) but not reading them yet. Resisting temptation so to speak because, once I do start, I will be going into denial mode for the next and next… so waiting the get the full series first.


  6. hjbau
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 07:15:24

    New books sound wonderful. Even if it is going to be awhile to get Battle. I wish you good health though and happy writing.


  7. sascha
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 08:42:22

    I love the suprised sound you have with every book: “OMG this book was SO much longer than I thought it would be!” It’s lovely.


  8. Auraya
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 08:56:16

    Sorry to hear you’ve been sick.

    If you’re expecting us to regret War being split you’re in for a surprise. Sure, it’ll pospone “The End of Days” a bit, but more is always better. And it feels fitting that House War will end up being six books, same as Sun Sword. :)


  9. Deege
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 12:06:49

    Hello Michelle: Add my hearty agreement to all things said by my fellow commenter/readers above! I often have mixed feelings about Jewel’s behavior, but as a series it has been utterly engrossing,( which explaines my slavish devotion!).

    Any word when your publishers will actually publish The Riven Shield in ebook form? After SoS, I skipped Sun Sword and went on to read Skirmish bec I just couldn’t wait for RS any longer. I had to stay in Jewel’s world as long as I could! My compromise was to skip probable spoilers for SS, which was kind of hard to do.

    But I know you have no control, so pls don’t sweat it. Maybe if you forward the queries of your readers about the ebooks, they might realize there are people out here waitiing with bated breath to buy their products!


    • Michelle Sagara
      Apr 14, 2012 @ 01:19:12

      I have sent email, and am waiting an answer. When I posted that RIVEN SHIELD would be available within a few weeks, it was because that’s what I was told, and I confirmed it. Since then, though, I haven’t had any further word explaining the delays. I am *really* sorry =/


  10. Liza Ismail
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 12:24:28

    Hope you stay well. Hydrate etc etc and another additonal book, no worries, the more the merrier and FYI Silence at 10.99 is pretty expensive on iTunes ie if the no of pages is correct at 256 pages we pay almost 2-3 bucks extra for a book thats less than half of most of your other books. Only saying tho still am gonna get it.

    R u not offering ur books on Smashwords I’d rather pay that much n make sure u get most of it.

    Take care.


  11. ralphw2548
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 14:24:59

    Please stay aware of your health. We love your books and YOU! Stay healthy. Rest. Take some time for yourself. I believe Chris’s comments echo all of ours. We are truly blessed to have found an author like you.
    Also, I second every comment about another book. Hoo-ray!!! Nothing pleases me, and I suspect the rest of your loyal fans, more than more books.


  12. Samntha
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 14:34:33

    YEAH!!! Is it the 25th of September? I can’t wait to read it… I have read the others several dozen times since I accidently discovered the series in Iraq. Your a great author, keep writing (or I might cray :) ).


  13. jlwylie
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 14:41:02

    Hope you are feeling better soon! Can’t wait for your new releases! :) I’m also very much looking forward to hopefully seeing you at the WFC this Nov, I saw your name on the list :) ~squee~


    • Michelle Sagara
      Apr 14, 2012 @ 01:22:18

      I will definitely be at WFC this year – it’s just outside of my home town (Toronto). I’ll probably be working in the dealer’s room for a large part of the convention, though. This means I’ll be easy to find :).


      • jlwylie
        Apr 14, 2012 @ 08:46:47

        That is fantastic news! I’ll hopefully be in the Dealers room too, haven’t heard back from them yet if we’ve been approved for a table. ~crosses fingers~ I have a new bk coming out from Hadley Rille that will be ‘debuted’ there. My hometown (Kingston) is not too far away. I’m so excited to have the chance to meet so many great authors. :)


  14. Emily
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 15:02:24

    I’ve never found myself disappointed when your books turn into two books during the writing process, even if I have to wait a little longer. :) And as other commenters have noted – keep yourself healthy before you worry about the books (we’ll still love you), and I look forward to reading any and all of your new books! I’ve found that I enjoy your writing in any of the different…tones? intended audiences? Haven’t met one of your books I haven’t loved. You have your own shelf in my library. ;)


  15. Leia
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 15:45:26

    Yea! I began reading your books when The Sun Sword was published back in the 90’s. I loved it so much I located the Hunter duology books and read them while waiting for The Uncrowned King. That world is my favorite of all your works.

    I enjoy the Cast books and Silence has been pre-ordered, but I cannot lie. I am so happy to hear that the last book in the House War series is now going to be the 5th of 6 book series. More to love. The only downside is having to wait a little longer for End of Days series as Auraya stated, but I am okay with that. I think you should start out and say that End of Days will probably be a six books series as well, get it over with : )


  16. Hilda
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 16:10:07

    I’m sorry you were so sick, I know by my own experience how bad that was. But then, I had to laugh with your update. Didn’t you tell us the same thing in the February update with the West March Cast book? Couldn’t make it one book!!! And your poor suffering editor had to give up. And I’m beginning to think, with what you wrote here, that the “complicated” Touch will go the same way. But for us readers, the more, the longer : THE BETTER. Now War is breaking into Battle, to end House War series. Questions here: will both of them still deal with the Terafin selection and the fight for power? All three books have “fight” names (I used to think War was the fight against Allasakar), then comes the End of Days series. Can you tell us the difference between Battle and War? Unless it’s a spoiler. Since you probably have War already cover, will we have War published in less than a year from Battle? I really, really hope so, I’ll have the pleasure of reading The End of Days complete before the end of my days.


  17. Aaron M.
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 16:17:31

    Ugh, now I have to go back and reedit your wikipedia page…


    • Michelle Sagara
      Apr 14, 2012 @ 01:23:33

      @Aaron: >.>

      Otoh, I don’t believe I’m allowed to edit my own wikipedia page; I think it’s frowned on >.<


      • Aaron M.
        Apr 16, 2012 @ 04:29:46

        It is, but other than the dubious distinction of being a Japanese-Canadian, I don’t think you’re quite famous enough to require regular policing. In any case, I take it as a personal point of pride that I’m doing something to promote your work and keep you at the top of the google ranks. So…tongue firmly in cheek.


  18. Laura Chrzanowski
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 19:35:16

    So sorry to hear that you were ill. Strep is a nasty little bug. Happy that you are better! Yes, hydrate, hydrate hydrate! Why are 6 books bad? Its just a double trilogy! I love the depth and complexity of your novels. I have been catching up with the Sun Sword series, in order to read Skirmish, and it has been an absolute delight! I am on Sun Sword and thrilled that I have another book to read. Thank you for sharing all of your amazing worlds!


  19. Alecia
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 21:28:57

    I am happy to hear that you won the war against strep. HAPPY to get the date for Peril!. Like all your fellow readers have said it’s okay to add another book to our library. Cast… introduced me to you, and I read all of them the same day I get them. The praises that the other readers are giving your other masterpieces has made me decide to get them (there goes my decision not to start another series..they are hell on my book budget). Fellow fans, any suggestion on which series I should start first?


    • ralphw2548
      Apr 17, 2012 @ 16:54:49

      We, over at the MichelleWestYahooGroup, have had this discussion many times. Here is the answer I would recommend:
      If you have all of the books, I’d probably do it one of two ways:
      #1: Hunter duology, Hidden City, City of Night, House Name, Sun Sword
      series, then Skirmish, or…
      #2: Hidden City, City of Night, House Name, Hunter duology, Sun Sword
      series, and Skirmish.

      These make the most sense in terms of the timeline, IMO. I hope you
      enjoy your reread! I always do! :-)


      Tchula is our listMom and tries to keep us in line. Come join us, we enjoy comments and controversies. And, we behave (mostly) :).


      • Hilda
        Apr 22, 2012 @ 14:03:33

        Ralph, I’m glad you and Paloma are giving Alecia the best way to read these awsome books. Some of you who had been reading these books for years, helped me by giving me the names of the short stories that clarified a lot of matters which had no explanation in the longer books. Maybe Alecia would like to have those too.


    • Paloma Doveny
      Apr 17, 2012 @ 21:37:53

      I totally agree with ralphw on the reading order. Back when Michele was saying she wondered why she wrote the books backwards I didnt get it. Read Sun Sword series and was so lost, then hunter duology then the House series. Now that i’ve got my 86 year old mother reading them (I started her on Hidden City) I am racing to reread everything ahead of her (great for questions) and realized Sun Sword of course must preced Skirmish for continuity and it makes it SO SO much better. Happy reading!

      and… everytime I read that Michele is making two books out of one because they are so long, I whoop for joy. I think it’s time Michele, to just accept your own genius and realize everyone is thrilled with the depth and characterizations.

      I am going to print out my smashworks orders to keep with the books. Those details are priceless! I suppose it is unfair to ask but is it possible there will be any romance and partnerships for Teller or Finch or Arann or Devon or Serra Theresa? Or really Jewel? Obviously we all want to know what happens to Serra Diora and Valadan as well.

      As for strep..”Andrographis” supplement by Medi-Herb (distributed by Standard Process) along with Medi Herb’s pharmaceutical grade “Echinacea Premium” works wonders (9 a day each) and to keep it away Sambuccas Elderberry syrup whenever your immune system is fading.


  20. eilidhdawn
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 21:31:36

    glad to hear you are feeling better
    more books more words YEAH feed me
    can’t wait


  21. Amanda
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 22:57:48

    Agree with EVERYONE that I’m excited for an extra House book, even if it means the wait for the conclusion is that much longer – I, too, have been completely hooked on this universe since the Sun Sword. Hope the rest of your spring is healthy and productive!


  22. Miki S
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 23:32:50

    Take care of yourself! We’ll wait. :)


  23. Mikaela
    Apr 14, 2012 @ 10:39:30

    Can’t wait for Cast in Peril…but it would be good to see Cast in Ruin first! It’s still not available in UK…is that going to change at some point in the near future?


  24. ed baker
    Apr 14, 2012 @ 13:06:14

    as a new fan i think you should take some time off to recover
    i can wait for your next book
    im selfish you see
    the healthier you the more books


  25. Carol Duffy
    Apr 15, 2012 @ 16:35:57

    Glad to hear you’re feeling better; sorry you were sick at all. Not at all surprised that Jewel and her den are taking more than one additional work to get to the end of the House War ; I think this falls under the hugely admiring and fond “Michelle being Michelle” category… For me personally, it’s a “Hurray! More books!” moment. I hope it was the same kind of moment for you as an author…



  26. Aaron M.
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 04:32:58

    Also, I mentioned this on the yahoo groups, but anyone who’s read Skirmish shouldn’t be at all surprised by this news. One book wouldn’t have done Jewel justice in resolving what took you four books to set up. I hope this gives you some much needed breathing room.


  27. Deege
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 14:24:10

    But remember guys: Cast in Peril was split in two bec of too many bytes. So what you REALLY want is to know publish date of book 2 (Cast in Power?) of the split. Then if you ait, reading the two together will be like PB&J, PB & chocolate, oreos and milk… it’s time for dessert! I digress- it’ll be all the Elv- I mean, Barrani/Nightshade intrigue you can stand for like, 700+ pages, straight. I can wait for the second pub date to experience such a wondrousl event!


    • Hilda
      Apr 17, 2012 @ 10:29:15

      Deege, I agree, and same situation goes for Battle and War. It would be the best ever to be able to read part 2 of Peril (Power?) and Part 2 of Battle (War), close to their first part, within a year, instead than a year apart. However, Michelle is so productive (and Human?) that we need to give her space to breath, get sick, get well, and enjoy family :) . But we can always wish… I discovered her less than 3 years ago. When I first saw her incredible series of books, publishing 2 or 3 times a year, I joked that she has a magic room in her house where time runs at double speed. She is just amazing. And she does keep us busy reading. (sigh!!!). And she still makes time to keep in touch with us, her fans. Fans that have been with her forever, must be used to the printing schedules (they probably have no nails).


  28. Agustine
    Apr 21, 2012 @ 00:24:07

    Michelle, I’m glad to hear that you won against the illness. Pls do take care of your health; we do love your novels, but we also do care about your welfare.

    I love your novels and can never get enough of them. The complexity, depth of character, the plot, everything! I especially love your complex Essalieyan universe and am especially fond of Jewel and Avandar. And reading your post saying that we’re going to have ‘Battle’ AND ‘War’ instead of only ‘War’ only gets me ecstatic! YAYYY!! ^^ But sometimes it gets me a bit sad when good novels are approaching the end; 1 thing that i love the most about your books is that there’s a continuity between a serial and another (Hunter Duology, Sun Sword, House War, and then the upcoming End of Days series) and they’re still in the same timeline and generation.

    I’m very looking forward to having your upcoming books. Great job, Michelle! Pls do keep it up. You’ve got all your devoted and addictive fans cheering you all the way. =)


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