Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Why I haven’t posted lately

It’s been an intense month, as Adora’s litter turned out to be one premature half-sized little puppy who embarked immediately on a roller coaster: He’ll be fine! Wait, I think he’s going to die! Oh, whew, he’s okay. No, what? What? Aspiration pneumonia?

Aspiration pneumonia happens when a neonatal puppy breathes milk into his lungs, and it is always very serious.

Well . . . after putting the poor little guy on every safe and at least one risky antibiotic and tube-feeding him every four hours around the clock . . . he got better! And then he aspirated again and died anyway. Didn’t quite make it to four weeks old.

So that was brutal and explains why I haven’t been updating my website. I was hoping for better news when I got to it, you know?

Plus I discovered — I bet this won’t surprise anybody — that a violent emotional roller coaster is not conducive to writing! I got almost nothing done over the past month, other than dusting the whole house and becoming a world-class expert on tube-feeding tiny puppies.

In happier puppy news: Bree’s puppies, at least, are fine! Nothing cuter than five-week-old Cavalier puppies. Here’s her little boy puppy, and the two little girls sleeping in their ‘den’. I’m keeping both girls, at least long enough to see how they turn out.

People ask me, Isn’t it really hard to sell a puppy and let it go to a new home? And the answer is, No, not really, as long as you’re perfectly certain the new home is excellent. It is way, way worse to lose one after his eyes are open and he starts to have a personality. It is just fine to send one away as long as you get happy notes back from the new owner about how perfect and great the puppy is!

So I have these two stories started, you know, and wasn’t really able to work on either of them over the past few weeks. That’ll change, and I’ll pick one soon and get some major writing done. Why else arrange to be so very, very part time in the summer except to have time for writing? But first!

I’m kinda thinking of working the whole dying-puppy thing into a novel. So it wouldn’t be a total waste, you know? And as kind of a memorial to the one who didn’t make it. I trust that doesn’t strike anybody as stupidly sentimental. (If it does, keep your opinion to yourself.)

I kind of think I know what I might do as far as the plot goes, more or less, and I have this kinda snazzy setting in mind, so I think maybe I’ll see if I can’t write thirty or forty pages of that first and then think about which story to actually finish. I will turn the puppy from a spaniel into some other kind of creature . . . maybe a griffin (not a fire-griffin, though! Different world!). And, I promise you, he will SURVIVE. Depressing endings, faugh. Bad enough in the real world.

So, anyway, after the puppy died, I made a large plate of The Best Cookies In The World and got out a book I’ve been longing to read (The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, which I was saving to read until the third book came out, which it isn’t yet, but August is close enough) and read the book and ate all the coookies. The book was perfect for the occasion. Absorbing story, you know, and all the characters have way worse problems than I do, which at the moment I really appreciate. I totally get why this book garnered such raves all last year! I read Catching Fire, too, and now I’m dying to read the third book. Can’t wait to see the evil Capital pulled down. I hope all the good guys survive to dance on its grave, or at least all my favorite characters, because seriously, I am in the mood for happy endings.

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What’s been going on lately?

1) Puppies! Bree, though suffering through an excessively dramatic whelping, presented me with a tricolor male puppy (bottom) and two absolutely beautiful girl puppies (side by side), one tricolor and the other blenheim. ‘Blenheim’ is what we call the red and white color in Cavaliers. Here they are!

Puppies

2) In a week, I’ll be able to x-ray Adora to see how many puppies she is carrying. She isn’t very large. I’m thinking I’ll be lucky if she has more than one. I am just the archetype for doing everything right and yet still getting smaller-than-average litters, which is very frustrating. Plus if she only has one, that more than likely means a c-section because single puppies are very often oversized. I keep saying that if I get a couple of really nice puppies from these litters, it will make the 2800 miles of driving (to the stud dogs) worth while, but I admit, it would also be nice (and different!) to actually, you know, break even someday.

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Recent Reading

Still working on the stack o’ books. I read Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner, the fourth book in her series — excellent, and what a fascinating series this is if you’re interested in writing technique! I have NEVER seen anybody switch like this in one series, from first person, to third person omniscient, to third person restricted, and back to first person. And always effective choices for what the author is doing! I’m so impressed!

Plus all four are just really excellent, fun books. Wonderful characters, fast paced, unpredictable plot twists — just great books all the way around.

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Reading Through the Backlog

The enormous backlog of books is not shrinking very fast. I kinda bought a bunch more YA fantasy, which did not help to shrink the pile. But I haven’t read any of them yet because The Thief, The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner and A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb were all so good that I really hesitate to read any more YA fantasy right now. Anything else is pretty likely not to be as good, that’s one thing, and then I’m still sort of savoring the experience of reading the above titles and just don’t want to read anything else that might interfere, if you know what I mean.

The four books listed above, plus Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Klause, which I also enjoyed; plus my own City in the Lake, plus a good handful of others, were all reviewed last year by a Tor guest reviewer (Megan Crewe), by the way. I figured that anybody who put City on a best-of-YA list was going to be a reliable guide to books I would love, so I’ve been working my way veeery sloooowly through that list, and so far I’m totally right!

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Quick Catch-Up and Work-in-Progress Report

It’s spring break, so I’m not at work this week, which is GREAT. I should be able to start seeds and dust everything in the house — well, to a rough approximation of ‘everything’ — and finish getting this website updated and update the Puppy page at the other website. I hope. More of the links from this page should be working now. Still working on others! All the book covers should link to Amazon, now, except the last one, which won’t be out until next year. But isn’t it a beautiful cover? I couldn’t wait till next year to put it up.

No deadlines of my own coming up! Devi Pillai says she doesn’t have any significant revisions to suggest for Book Three of the Griffin Mage Trilogy — she says it’s perfect just the way it is. I didn’t know it was even possible to send in a manuscript and not get three pages of editorial comments back! That’s my agent’s doing: her comments helped me streamline the first half of the book and that made a huge difference. I hear that not all agents make editorial comments, but it is hugely useful, believe me.

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