Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Progress report

So, pretty good weekend, all things considered.

a) I finished inserting the “epilogue” into Death’s Lady Book 1. It’s around half as long as the actual prelude novella. The novella is around 130 pp and the “epilogue” is around 70 pp. I wound up calling it an “interlude” rather than an “epilogue” for two reasons: 1) it’s so long; and 2) it takes place about eight years after the prelude and thus about eight years before Book 2, so it is truly an interlude; and 3) it’s largely, though not quite entirely, from the pov of a character we will never see again and involves a bunch of minor characters we also won’t ever see again. Daniel and his daughter Jenna both appear, though. Jenna takes the pov for a brief tidbit of the Interlude, which is actually fine as she takes quite a few pov scenes in Books 2 and 3.

Also, the first person to take a look at the Interlude really liked it, so that’s excellent news.

I thought dealing with the Interlude would take much longer. Since it didn’t:

b) I started revising Tarashana. I took the comments of the first three readers (thank you all so much!) and turned them into a single bulleted list. I’m happy because almost all the revision will involve trivial detail work, no matter how important it will be in smoothing out the story and fixing up problems that might otherwise have been jarring to the reader. One element of the worldbuilding will require a little more thought, but even that won’t require a huge revision by any means. Nothing like the massive revision of Tuyo itself, that’s for sure.

Probably I will wind up making a particular revision that impacts descriptive details through about a third of the book, and that means I am absolutely certain to miss some description somewhere and leave the previous description in the story. I can’t believe I will get it all. It’s like when you change a character’s sex and a year later, after you have re-read the story yourself four times, a proofreader says, “Shouldn’t this be “she” rather than “he” in this sentence?” (I actually did switch the sex of one character in Tarashana, but I made the switch early, so by this time I THINK I have switched every single pronoun.)

Anyway, it feels to me like it shouldn’t take more than a week to whip through all these revision notes. That probably means it will be more like three weeks, but either way, barring acts of God and so on, I should be sending the manuscript out for proofreading by the end of the month.

c) I came in to the office on Saturday and spent four hours doing this and that — I swear, I hardly remember what — oh, right, putting The Year’s Midnight into KDP format so I could see how many pages the manuscript is and tell the cover artist. But I also ran through through one million links to services that will promote an ebook for free rather than as a paid service. I got the links here, by the way, if any self-published authors want to take a look. This post is old and some of the links are dead, but many are still functional.

I’m setting Tuyo free on February 5th and using four or five of those promotion services and I will then compare the result to setting the book free for one day and promoting that day via Freebooksy, which is the most expensive promotion service other than Book Bub, as far as I know. As far as I can tell at this point, using Freebooksy to promote a free book will move quite a lot of books, but I think it may be cost effective only if there are more than two books in the series — not an earthshaking revelation, but useful to know. It was definitely cost effective for Black Dog, but not for Tuyo. Of course, I am building toward the Tarashana release, so it doesn’t necessarily matter to me whether promoting Tuyo is cost effective right this minute, as much as whether it pays off in sales later. I put a new endnote into the Tuyo ebook, with a teaser for Tarashana as well as for Nikoles. I do think the Freebooksy promotion also paid off in boosting the number of Amazon reviews from 40 to 50 practically overnight.

Up for this week:

a) Format Sphere for Kindle, KDP, and Draft to Digital. If I do that too early, I may shortly be correcting a few typos in three different version of the manuscript, which is a tedious pain in the neck. But it may be worth the risk of that tedium in order to get the basic formatting done. I will have to come to my office to do this, as MY LAPTOP IS STILL IN THE SHOP and the word processing program on the borrowed laptop is not capable of this kind of formatting. But I can come to work an hour early a couple days and get it done this week, probably.

b) Look for other places I can ask to review the audiobook of Tuyo. I have lined up three reviewers, I think two smaller and one bigger, and applied to two other big audiobook review sites, but last week did not have time to look for more. That, again, is something I have to be at a real computer to do. It may need to wait for next weekend.

c) Revise Tarashana. Yay! This is the fun project for the week. It was painful to tear myself away from it this morning.

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16 Comments Progress report

  1. Hanneke

    I’m hoping to finish Sphere tonight. Thank you for sending it, it has got me out of the stupid doldrums and back to reading enthousiastically!
    It’s very clean already, I only found 6 tiny things in the first 12 chapters.

  2. Rachel

    That’s great, Hanneke — I’ll tell my mother she must’ve done a really excellent job. I should count up the ones she marked. A LOT. Plus I’m really glad it bounced you out of a reading slump; I’m sure that’s a good sign that it’ll appeal to readers.

  3. Pete Mack

    I am so looking forward to Sphere. It and House of Shadows are my favorites. Though for characters, I think Tehre is my favorite.

  4. Rachel

    Yeah? It’d be interesting to do a poll and see which books are everybody’s favorites. And which characters, sure. I do like Tehre! But I don’t believe I could pick a favorite character.

    I can tell you for sure, almost every book has people who pick it out as their favorite and people who DNFed it and left a review saying why they hated it. House of Shadows definitely got both responses. I’m not sure about Islands. Most people like Islands, I think. Though I see it’s got 4.4 stars on Amazon, so I suppose some people did not. Ha, yes, it has one one-star review. Luckily that does not look like a particularly thoughtful review.

    I could arrange my books in SOME kind of order of personal preference, but I think there would be a good many ties.

  5. mona

    It would be really cool to see a poll! I don’t know if I could choose just one of your books or characters though.

    Also very interesting to read your progress reports. So thanks for that.

  6. Hanneke

    I would find it hard to rank my favorites, as they really depend on what I’m in the mood for. I do know that the only books of yours that I won’t reread are the Griffin mage trilogy – I liked those less the further I got into them, and Copper Mountain because there is too much horror imagery in that – I don’t want to feed my mind those kinds of images to use when it wants to give me nightmares. I hate the sense of helplessness, that even good people can be corrupted into doing awful things near instantly.
    Because I like the Black Dog stories and want to keep on following them, on a first read-through I try to skip over the text lightly and quickly so the images aren’t as detailed and viscerally felt; or concentrate so much on the details of proofreading that the images are pale background to the text. On a reread they anchor themselves too strongly in memory.

  7. Rachel

    Interesting, Hanneke.

    I know a good handful of reviewers didn’t like Kes and didn’t care for the first book. Personally, the second Griffin Mage book is my favorite of the three and remains one of my personal favorites. There’s a fairly well known YA and MG author who told me the third one is perhaps her favorite of all my books — this was some time ago, so I don’t know if she’d say that these days or not. It’s so interesting to see how opinions stack up.

    I’m not sure how the fifth book of the Black Dog series is going to look yet, but I’ll keep in mind that at least some readers aren’t too keen on taking the series right into horror. In Copper Mountain, I wanted to make it crystal clear that (a) demons are bad, and (b) dealing with demons is bad. I guess that came through very clearly! All I know for sure about the fifth book at this point is the shape of the basic problem, the probable shape of the basic solution, and that the good guys will definitely win.

  8. Pete Mack

    The shape of the problem and shape of any useful solution was quite clear by the end of copper mountain. Witchcraft is utterly corrupting: it’s right out. Even the limited kind that Natividad has doesn’t work in the long term. The remaining possibility is some combination of white magic, black dog, and church magic–as foreshadowed at the very end of the novel.
    The other problem remaining is moonbound shifters. Locking them up for 3 days every month is surely a temporary solution.

  9. Rachel

    Well, actually, there’s another problem other than black witchcraft and black witches … not as flashy, but potentially pretty serious. So they’ll have to deal with both of those problems. And I bet something else will also turn out to be an issue, too.

  10. Allan Shampine

    I enjoyed Copper Mountain, but it was at the upper limit of the amount of horror I am able to tolerate these days. You referenced Seanan McGuire – I like her stuff generally but DNFed her zombie stuff.

  11. Elaine T

    I haven’t reread Copper Mountain, the first time through was all I could face. Every time I think of it I remember the uncanny valley of possessed Miguel and choose something else.

    My Teen favors Kes of all your protagonists. I like Bertaud, even if I wanted him to be less unsure back in book 1. I also am very fond of Tehre – competent problem solvers are rare to read about. Mostly I tend to like your protaganists, and favorites vary with what I’m seeking at the time.

  12. Rachel

    Yes, I remember you commenting about that, Elaine. I must confess that those sections were actually a lot of fun to write.

    I’m glad The Teen puts Kes at the top! It’s good to see every protagonist get some thumbs-ups.

    I’m not quite willing to say which of my books is my personal least favorite. I will say, it wasn’t the book’s fault. At the time, I really wanted to work on something else, but it was under deadline and I had no choice but to work on it. That book has never entirely recovered from that experience in my own preference list and remains close to the bottom for me, even though objectively I actually think it’s pretty good.

  13. Rachel

    Allan, I basically really liked the zombie novels. I had major problems with failure of suspension of disbelief, but not with the tone or the level of horror. Of course, that was then. I’m not sure I would be interested in reading that series right at the moment.

  14. Hanneke

    Yeah, I liked Tehre too, I like competent people who solve problems.

    It’s long enough ago that the details of why I really didn’t like the series, especially the third book, have grown blurry in my mind, so don’t take this too seriously, but I can try to explain so you know it’s on me, not your work.

    From what I remember, in book 2 I didn’t like the acceptance of systemic slavery & lack of rights for women in the society in the second book – I don’t like it when great inequality and structural helplessness to improve one’s situation is still regarded as ‘that’s just the way it is’ by the end of the book or series, even though that is quite realistic. I know, expecting a whole society to be put on a path towards a possibly better future in one book/series is not realistic but I really like it when the story manages to create some wriggle-room that others too can use to improve. I remember not having that sense at the end of book 2 of the griffin mage, but hoping it would improve in book 3, which it then didn’t; likely because this which was important to me was a totally beside-the-story-goal bit of the background world-building for the story.
    What I was hoping for was like in the Sharing Knife: society hasn’t completely changed, but a line of communications has been opened and is widening, giving options for better understanding and cooperation, and improving the situation for (or at least giving some better options to) mixed-blood kids (or women and slaves respectively). The big malice problem isn’t solved, and can’t be, but their society is started on a path towards slowly improving from what it was like before. That hope, and disappointment when the hope isn’t realised, is totally on me as the reader! “It was not the story I wanted to read” says nothing about the quality of the story, but volumes about my mood and expectations, and possible hot buttons…

    I didn’t like what the griffin magic did to the previously human protagonist from the first book, nor what happened to the land.
    It’s logical and necessary that their experiences change the protagonists, but when that means a nice person gets changed into an inhumanly unfeeling one by griffin magic, or like in the later continuation of the Dreamhealers series by Hogarth a caring person who’s inclined to self-blame gets turned into a masochist by torture and rape, begging friends to hurt him, I really *really* dislike that! That is serious and lasting harm done to someone I came to care about. They may have found a way to live with the results, but I mourn the nice and caring people they were before.

    I also dislike when there’s lots of collateral damage to the environment and/or to lots of people uninvolved in the story. I sort of accept that it’s a part of every epic fantasy, as there are always epic wars, and wars do that kind of damage; but as long as they are not dwelt on I can mostly sort of relegate the damage they do to “fantasy background, not real, no need to worry about” instead of thinking about the consequences for the people and animals living in those countries. Remaking country into desert or stony walls is very bad for all that lived there before. If I’m in a mood where I continue to think about the consequences, those hit me hard and can take away a lot of the joy in the solving of the protagonists’ problems.

    This may well be why I really enjoy those ‘slice of life’ epilogues, showing everybody returned to a normal and reasonably upbeat existence sometime later. No need to kerp worrying then!

  15. Hanneke

    The collateral damage part is part of the reason why I cannot allow myself to reread or even think longer about Copper Mountain – the enormous harm that must have been done to all those people who survived their city being possessed!

    I need to go distract myself now with something else, quickly!

  16. Rachel

    That makes sense, Hanneke. Yes, I love that about the Sharing Knife series, but that’s not what was happening in the Griffin Mage. I thought Kes was okay by the end of the third book — not human, not back to where she had been, but fine with where she was and moving toward a better place. Actually, that’s probably more clear in the story that’s included in Beyond the Dreams We Know. In that one, the reader can definitely see that Kes is fine.

    As for the Black Dog world, well, yes, pretty awful things are happening. Pretty sure Dimilioc will find a way to make sure that sort of awful thing stops happening in the 5th book.

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