Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author


Yes, you should tell me about typos

So, three of you (so far) have sent me an email to let me know about typos. Two of you wondered if it’s possible or a lot of trouble to correct typos after the book is published.

Yes, you should send me lists of typos you find, if you are so inclined. I greatly appreciate it. No, it isn’t much trouble to fix them. I just correct them, load the manuscript, check it quickly, and hit “publish.” About 12 hours later I get a “Your book has been published” notice, which means the corrected version is now the one that’s on Amazon’s site. As far as I know, there’s no interruption in the book’s availability.

In case you’re interested:

Tawen spotted five typos, four unique.

Elaine T spotted six typos, five unique.

Linda S queried thirty-five typos (!), thirty unique. A couple I decided to leave as-is. The others were true typos or I decided to change them as Linda suggested. Yes, despite Linda’s keen eye, both Tawen and Elaine spotted some that Linda missed.

*I* have spotted six more typos no one else seems to have noticed, plus a good dozen repeated words and phrases.

A good handful of these were already corrected in the paperback version, but — amazingly, or at least I am amazed — not in the kindle version. So obviously I fixed them in the paperback version and somehow did not get them fixed in the kindle version. That’s really maddening in a whole different way.

All of these should be corrected now, for values of “now” that include “as soon as KDP puts the changes through.” Tomorrow or in a few days, if you want to, you should be able to go to Amazon, click on “content and devices,” scroll down, find Tarashana, and hit the “updates available” button under the title. That ought to replace the current version you have on your device with the updated version. If there isn’t an “updates available” button available by the end of the week, you might let me know, since I think there ought to be.

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Accepting feedback

From Jane Friedman’s blog: 3 Traps That Subvert Our Ability to Accept Feedback

Ooh, ooh! I know! Without looking, these might be something like:

  1. It’d be too much trouble to make the changes suggested. Surely the story is okay the way it is.
  2. I don’t know how to make the changes suggested. Surely the story is okay the way it is.
  3. How dare anybody suggest changes to my deathless prose?

So those are my guesses.

Let’s see what the post actually says …

  1. The green-light trap. Let me see. All right, this trap occurs when the author has been told too often by family members and friends that the work is great, when it’s not actually great. The author is then stunned when they get critical feedback. So that’s a lot like my third guess above.
  2. The bear trap. Great name, but what is it? Okay, this one is supposed to be a problem where the author has used their work as a means of working out personal problems, but doesn’t realize it. I think that’s what this means. Or a problem where the author is too emotionally invested in the work, because it is excessively personal. Or something like that. I can see now that this whole post is more aimed at memoir and related kinds of work.
  3. The lottery ticket trap. Hmm. Okay, this is supposed to be a trap where the author sends out work specifically in the hope of receiving validation rather than feedback, and is then crushed to receive the latter rather than the former.

So … yes, the post is mainly aimed at memoir and related works, which I didn’t realize going in. These “traps” are a lot more psychological in nature than I was expecting. For my own list, the first two are very much craft related: I’m bored reworking this novel and just want someone to tell me it’s fine the way it is. Or, I have no clue how to fix this problem, so I’m hoping someone will tell me there’s no problem.

For those sorts of craft-related problems, feedback is useful because it says, essentially, Suck it up and make the changes you know you ought to make. That weakness you see? Other people see it too.

Also, when thinking of craft, feedback can shake loose ideas about how to fix a problem when you may be stuck. More than once, I’ve called my brother and said, “This and that and thus and so, and now what should I do?” You don’t have to have someone offer the greatest idea ever (though that is nice if it happens). You just have to have someone to kick ideas around with, to encourage your very own subconscious to present you with something helpful.

The deathless prose thing is a lot more psychological in nature. I expect everything like that is more difficult to deal with than craft-related reluctance to accept feedback.

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So much to do, so many books to write —

If you’ve already bought TARASHANA, thank you! I hope you enjoy it!

If you’ve already READ the book, wow, that was fast! I hope you enjoyed it.

I’ve spent the morning adding buy links to TUYO and NIKOLES and updating their endnotes to make it clear TARASHANA is now out. This is not at all difficult, but it’s a little tedious, plus I do have to preview each book to make sure I didn’t accidentally do something weird to the formatting.

Also, it’s tedious because I’ve decided on the title for Book 5, but forgot to change it in the “Also by” section, which meant loading and previewing each book yet again.

It’s odd to have titles already settled for books that I haven’t even started yet, but for a change, I do. The full TUYO series should be:

  1. Tuyo
  2. Nikoles
  3. Tarashana
  4. Keraunani
  5. Tasmakat

I expect you remember Tasmakat-an, who appeared briefly in Tuyo? I don’t know that she’ll be actually dead center for the fifth book, but she does have an important role. As a perk, using her name as the title means that all the books in the direct story line — the ones with Ryo telling the story in first person — have titles beginning with “T”.

No, I don’t know what the suffixes such as -an and -erra and so on actually mean. Obviously sometimes they’re attached to the name and sometimes not, so probably titles of some sort? But maybe something else. Eventually I’ll have to work that out, but no rush.

At the moment, I’m still planning to write Keraunani this year and release it probably early next year; then write part of Tasmakat this year, finish it next year, and release it either late next year or early in 2022. But of course all those things are subject to change because until the manuscript is basically complete, it’s hard to be sure when it will be finished.

It is amazing how thinking about things like this makes me feel that 2021 is practically over. The crocuses are just barely blooming, yet already I feel that the end of the year is speeding toward me.

Anyway, after the five-book series, is it possible I might write more books in this world? Yes — but almost certainly not with Ryo as the pov character. I see clearly how the story arc involving Ryo and Aras will continue and resolve, and I can’t see beginning a new arc with these two characters as the central protagonists. The story so far already includes multiple interesting and appealing characters that I could see picking up as protagonists, particularly Tano. There are also other secondary characters that could work, some you’ve met and some that you haven’t. So … don’t know, but it could happen. If I do write anything else in this world, it might be possible (and neat) to have Ryo and/or Aras turn up as secondary characters.

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I just hit “Publish” on the ebook.

The paperback cover should be ready very soon and I’ll hit Publish on that one as soon as that cover is available.

KDP says it can take up to 72 hours for a new title to become available, but in practice, this usually is more like twelve hours. So … I bet by this afternoon.

Update: yep, it’s available now! I hope you all enjoy it!

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Tarashana cover

Okay! Here’s the cover —

At the very last second, I remembered to add three bright stars near the moon. These are, of course, the Dawn Sisters, which are referred to in TUYO and then mentioned quite a few times in TARASHANA.

Also, I will just mention I added two or three sentences this morning because I realized I ought to, in order to clear up a potential “But how about this?” response to events that might happen later. I may be hitting “publish” on the ebook version as early as this afternoon. The paperback should follow in a few days. Then at last I will finally be able to stop myself from continually fiddling with this book.

My goodness, I am looking forward to releasing this book so much.

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Final back cover copy: Tenai trilogy

Or I should say, The Death’s Lady trilogy. I am most likely going to think of this as the Tenai trilogy forever, but I will make an effort to refer to it by the name I’m actually putting on the cover(s).

This time, I just want to show all the back cover blurbs in a row. I haven’t done that for the final drafts. So, here:

I. The Year’s Midnight

A gifted psychiatrist, Daniel Dodson is perfectly aware that he’s in a tough place personally following the death of his wife. Then a mysterious new patient offers a welcome professional distraction.

The world of swords and magic that Tenai so vividly remembers obviously can’t be real. The deadly enmity and long war that left such deep emotional scars obviously symbolize something else. But perhaps Daniel can use the signposts of those confabulated memories to aid Tenai in moving forward into a new life in the real world.

2. Of Absence, Darkness

Down the rabbit hole, but not to Wonderland.

Daniel never imagined that Tenai’s memories of her earlier life might be absolutely true. But when he and his daughter are swept up in the plots of her enemies and dropped abruptly into a world of dark magic and darker history, Daniel must find a way to aid Tenai against the all-too-real echoes of her past.

Though the hidden schemes of Tenai’s enemies offer peril enough, the worse threat comes from within: if Tenai cannot master the vast rage she still carries, her own fury may shatter her world.

3. As Shadow, a Light

Sometimes the past does not let go.

Tenai is determined that no one will use her to break the fragile peace of her world, even if that means she must support and defend the son of her bitterest enemy. But set against four hundred years of fury and hatred, that determination may not be enough.

Daniel has come to know far more about Tenai’s adversaries than he ever wanted to — more than she knows herself. Forced into unwilling cooperation with these enemies, Daniel must find a way to defy their plans, protect his daughter, and help Tenai overcome the shadows of her past — before it’s too late.

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Trust between human and animal

Here’s a nice column by Judith Tarr at tor.com: Understanding Horses: Trust Between Human and Animal

This post is not about horses. It’s about sled dogs.

I have a friend who has Alaskan Malamutes. One of her dogs can pull almost 2000 lbs — I think his personal record is 1800 something. That is nowhere near the real record for a Malamute, either.

That’s not really relevant here, though, as the article is about the willingness of the dogs to take direction from the person, most of the time, with no real way for the person to control the dogs by force. This is with modern methods of handling sled dogs, and while on that subject, kudos to Sarah Butcher, who revolutionized the way sled dogs are trained and handled by being (a) gentle, and (b) very, very successful at racing.

I will just add that I personally train my dogs to heel entirely off leash, so that it is impossible to hold them in place or correct them physically for getting out of position. This is to make darn sure that the dogs actually learn where heel position actually is and how to stay in heel position no matter what weird thing I might do, and also to make sure that I never correct a dog physically, because jerking on the lead is super unhelpful with Cavaliers. They are mostly very “soft” dogs, best trained with a minimum of corrections and zero physical corrections.

I once literally arrived at a dog show with a dog that had never once been on lead for heeling practice, ever. I realized this only after arriving at the show, so I very quickly introduced the dog to the idea that heeling could be done with a leash, that the leash was something to ignore and pay no attention to, that there was not the slightest reason to notice the leash. We went on to do just fine in the ring, though I don’t recall if we placed in the top four.

I always prefer to show in Advanced or Excellent, which are done off-leash. That prevents me from having to worry about switching the leash from hand to hand, and it makes no difference to my dogs.

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Writing from the ending

From a post at Jane Friedman’s blog:

Because we are anxious and insecure, we tell ourselves that a better beginning will give us the momentum we need to reach the end. But it won’t. It doesn’t.

I paused right there. That is a powerful statement. I think it is absolutely true. The author of this post — Sharon Oard Warner, and the post is an excerpt from her book  Writing the Novella — goes on:

In her book The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master, Martha Alderson lays out the four challenges writers face when they sit down to write. The first one she lists is procrastination. The fourth is “The Going-Back-to-the-Beginning Syndrome.”

I can’t recall how many times I have seen or heard someone say something along the lines of, “I keep revising the beginning chapters; how do I make myself finish my novel?” Each time, I think, For heaven’s sake, leave the beginning ALONE and stop messing with it and just go FORWARD and FINISH THE NOVEL.

That actually reminds me of a particular student in English Comp I. She wasn’t writing a novel, of course, but some sort of ordinary essay. I finally handed this student a stopwatch and said, “You have 10 minutes to revise this paragraph and then this paragraph is finished. Do not look at it again, period. Go to the next paragraph and you have 10 minutes to write that paragraph. Go.”

That student was a very good writer, by the way. She just could not bring herself to leave anything alone once she had written it and therefore was having trouble turning in papers on time. The stopwatch method finally gave her a way to get moving forward and quit looking backward. She got an A in the class, I’m sure, though I don’t specifically remember.

Anyway, finishing the novel is the key. After that you can go back and revise the opening if you find it needs revision.

The author of the post adds:

 … don’t get me wrong: I am all in favor of revision, both large-scale and small-scale revision. I’m also in favor of editing and proofreading. But the occasion for revising the first chapter is after you have written the last one.

Very true! Or at least MOSTLY very true! I mean, going over the beginning a bit is just fine. Spending a week revising the opening chapter is fine; going back a few weeks later and spending a day on it is fine; realizing you’ve made a mistake in the opening scenes and going back to spend another day or two fixing that mistake is fine; but spending month after month on the first scenes and getting stuck doing nothing but that is … I can’t think of a strong enough way to say totally pointless. In order to move forward, you have to move forward.

The author of this post finishes this way:

Having revised the whole book seven times and the first chapter dozens of times, I threw it away and very quickly wrote something entirely new and much better. It stands to reason. All these years later, I knew the story—and the characters. I also knew precisely how the novel ended and, therefore, at long last, how it began.

I won’t go so far as to say it’s generally a good idea to throw away your first chapter and write a new one. I sort of think I might have done that once … no, thinking again, I believe I just moved the previous chapter one into the novel a bit farther and wrote a new chapter one to go in front of it. In general, the first chapter I write is in fact the the real first chapter. Normally I find beginnings easy, then the beginning of the middle difficult, then the slide toward the climax pretty okay, the climax itself difficult, and the denouement a great pleasure to write — my favorite part is almost always the denouement. All of that is personal. The only thing that seems really typical for most writers, as far as I can tell, is that the middle is a slog. But to get to the point where you’re slogging through the middle, you do have to finish the beginning.

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Back cover copy, last time this year, probably

Oh, look, it’s Monday! Well, here in Missouri we had really nice weather all weekend, which is never super helpful when getting stuff done. However:

a) I wrote nine pages for the new chapter I’m inserting into Death’s Lady book 3. I want that to be a short chapter, so I should finish that in the next day or two. Then I’ll be able to drop the ms into the KDP template and check page numbers, which will be good as the cover artist just sent me a draft and, given how fast he works, I expect I will need to give him the page count as soon as possible.

I will also need to give him back cover copy, so please critique the following:

Sometimes the past does not let go.

Tenai is determined that no one will use her to break the fragile peace of her world, even if that means she must support and defend the son of her bitterest enemy. But set against four hundred years of history, that determination may not be enough.

Daniel has come to know far more about Tenai’s enemies than he ever wanted to — and more than she knows herself. Forced into unwilling cooperation with those enemies, Daniel must find a way to defy their plans, protect his daughter, and assist Tenai to overcome the shadows of her past — before it’s too late.

Seriously, all comments on the above are very welcome! Please tear that apart.

While on the subject of Stuff I Did This Weekend:

b) I got distracted by re-reading bits of Tarashana and darned if I didn’t spot like ten new typos that have apparently appeared in the last week. “Because” without the “c” and “along” instead of “a long” and HOW DID THESE TYPOS NOT GET CAUGHT EARLIER? No fewer than, um, five, no six, people, missed those. Unless they literally just appeared, which I guess is conceivable since I tweak a manuscript all the time until it is actually published.

Regardless, that made me read back over a lot of the manuscript. I didn’t catch a lot more actual typos, but catching that many in the first place was honestly a little disconcerting. It also took some time to read a significant fraction of the manuscript. And naturally I tweaked it a little here and there. I won’t be able to really put this away until I hit Publish.

c) I took quick notes on the Black Dog story I have in mind for Tommy, Amira, and Nick so I wouldn’t forget the basic idea for that story, and then I got sucked in and took quick notes on eight more stories. That is twice as many as I planned to write. More than twice, considering I have one already written! In fact, last time I poked at ideas for stories, hardly anything occurred to me and I felt somewhat concerned about that. Lack of inspiration is definitely no longer a problem, though I have a better idea about some of these potential stories than others.

I may not write all the stories I thought of, but it looks like I will probably write more than four. So either the 4th collection will be longish OR there may be a 5th collection set after Silver Circle — oh, look, I’ve decided on a title, btw. Also, I think there may be an epilogue set after Silver Circle. Maybe not a full novel. But a longish story to tie things up and show where some of the characters wind up after a year or two or five.

The Black Dog stories will be the next real project after I get Death’s Lady sorted out. I will be ready to switch to the Black Dog world by the end of the month, hopefully. Surely well before the end of April.

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