Let the minions dance, my friends. Let them shake their little yellow tushies in celebration. Because the first draft of THE SECRET… is finished.
Yes, yes. I know you’re all excited. Trust me, I am too. I spent most of yesterday visiting with my mom, who had a completely routine medical thing, but has to lay low for a while, which (being my mom) she finds very frustrating. But today I might just sleep. Because… yeah, this book has put me through the wringer.
And of course I’m not done yet! Revising and editing needs to happen, but I’m happy to say an end is in sight. And not even a year after the second book was released! (COUGHCOUGH everyone sending me nasty emails and messages about how late the book is needs to just calm down COUGHCOUGH)
But of course, I will not know a release date until I can hash things out with my lovely editor and get all the order stuff out. I would expect it to be early spring if not (hopefully) a little sooner.
It’s a big ‘un. At over 100K words, THE SECRET is my longest book since Building From Ashes. And it kind of needed to be. I can also say with confidence I will be writing in this series some more (as I did with the Elemental World) but I do anticipate taking a pretty substantial break. Don’t worry. Ava and Malachi’s story is wrapped up in this book, but like Gio and Beatrice, I’m sure they’ll end up popping up in others.
Don’t ask me if I love this book right now, because I’m still all emotional about it. I’m pretty sure I WILL love it fairly soon. But this has been the hardest book I’ve ever written. It has some of my favorite moments ever. It has some things that ripped my heart out. And moments that made me cry happy-tears, too. Ava and Malachi are very close to my heart. I hope you’re as excited about the conclusion of their story as I am.
So for now… let the minions dance.
Best always, Elizabeth
Some of you might have noticed that I kind of dropped off the face of the earth last week.
I took an unexpected trip to Houston when a good friend’s father passed away and I wanted to be there for him and his mom, who were (and are) very special to me. It wasn’t wholly unexpected, but I’m still very sad. Sad for my friend and his family. Sad for his wife of fifty-five years. He passed away peacefully, surrounded by family and friends. All in all, not a bad way to go.
Having one of my best friends lose his father is one of those things that reminds me I’m not a kid anymore. I am getting older. My father’s own heart scare a few years ago reminded me that I won’t have my parents forever. It’s not an easy thing to wrap your mind around because parents are so present in our minds. Relationships might be good or horrible, but they are there. Losing them is a milestone that most everyone will face if they live long enough.
I’m getting morbid when, really, it was a very life-affirming trip. I was able to spend time with friends I hadn’t seen in a while. Another one of my best friends got engaged. Two others have new babies on the way. There’s something about keeping the friends who knew you when you were young. I think they remind you of who you meant to be before jobs and bills and mortgages and marriage happened. Hopefully it’s a good thing to be reminded of that person.
I got back very early Saturday morning, so I’m easing back into work after a quiet weekend with my son. I’m hitting the end game of THE SECRET (or the first draft of it, anyway) so that’s very exciting. Early feedback from beta readers who have read the partial manuscript has been good. I’m excited for you guys to read the end of Ava and Malachi’s story. Hopefully, I’ll surprise you. In a good way.
I’ll sign off for now and get back to work, leaving you with a song that reminds me of my friend’s father, Eugene Gerla. A good man. A quiet man. A life-long Texan. A veteran. And a good dancer. A man who loved the same woman for fifty-five years. A man who raised two great kids. A man who invited random college kids to his house for any holiday they couldn’t make it home. Jo’s husband. David’s dad. Conor’s grandpa and so much more to so many people.
Patty Griffin—”Go Wherever You Wanna Go”
You can go wherever you wanna go
Go wherever you wanna go
Fly up to the moon and say hello now
You can go wherever you wanna go
You don’t ever have to go to war no more
Never have to go to war no more
Wear them boots and swim that icy shore now
You don’t ever have to go to war no more
You can get up on some sunny day and run
Run a hundred miles just for fun now
Heartaches and yesterdays don’t weigh a ton now
You can get up on some sunny day and run
Happy New Year to everyone!
First let me say how much I loved reading all your wonderful holiday traditions last week. Though I took most of the week off to spend with family, I had a great time peeking through my email every now and then to read your comments. I’m very happy to announce the winner of the four book signed set is…
If you could please email me with your info at ElizabethHunterWrites@gmail.com, I’ll get your books out to you.
My 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway is still happening for my VIP Readers. I hope you’re signed up! The first four winners were announced the beginning of the week and the second four winners will be announced tomorrow.
I’ve spent most of the last four days writing. I’ve written about 26K on The Secret draft, which has equaled about nine chapters. I’d say I’m about ten chapters or so away from finishing the first draft. What does that mean for a publication date? Well, it’ll likely be late this winter or early spring, but I can’t say more than that, because it will depend on how editing goes and how many revisions end up happening.
A WORD ABOUT PREORDER DATES
So, a lot of people don’t love that I can’t tell them waaaaay in advance when a book will be ready. There’s a couple reasons for that and I want to just touch on them briefly.
In traditional publishing, preorder dates are set very far in advance, often up to a year! That year allows the writer to finish the draft, the editors to edit it, the formatters to do their thing, etc. In order to not cut things too close, a traditional publisher will usually put a lot of extra time in there to allow for a writer to miss a deadline or an editor to get backed up or any number of things. Which makes total sense, because they’re dealing with a bunch of different books.
For me, being a self-publisher, things are a lot more streamlined. I write the book. I pass it out to pre-readers. I revise it. I self-edit it. Then it goes to my editor and proofreader and when I get it back, I publish. (I do my own formatting.) Now, I COULD set a preorder date waaaaay in advance so that you guys can mark on your calendars when a book is going to be available. But if I did that, I’d have to work a lot of extra time in there (because life happens) just like a publisher.
Would you have a definite put-on-the-calendar date? Yep.
Would you get the book any sooner? Nope.
In fact, you’d probably get it later, because of all the time padded in there to ensure I don’t miss a date.
So, I’ve decided not to do that. Furthermore, I don’t like working on a deadline. It’s nerve-wracking and stress-inducing and part of the reason I don’t have a traditional publisher is so I don’t have to work under that kind of pressure. My own self-induced mania is enough for me, thankyouverymuch.
So, I can’t tell you when THE SECRET will be out. I CAN tell you, it’ll be out as fast as possible while still making it the book I want it to be. Trust me, I don’t sit on projects just to torment you guys. That would be mean. Also, kind of stupid on my part, because I wouldn’t be selling it to you; it’d just be on my computer, which does not pay the bills.
ANYWAY, I wanted to give you guys a look-see at what I’ve been writing. So without further ado, here’s a teaser of THE SECRET: Irin Chronicles Book Three:
Damien and Sari exchanged a look that told Ava they’d be talking more about it later. Yeah, so it kinda made her feel like a kid at the grown-ups table, but she had to remind herself that to these people she was a kid.
“Hey,” she whispered to Malachi. “When are Irin considered adults?”
He was following what looked to be a quiet argument between Sari and Mala. “Full adults? Around sixty to seventy-five years. When we’re finished with our schooling. Why?”
She flushed. Wow.
“So, you’re quite the cradle robber, aren’t you?”
Malachi turned to her abruptly. “What? No, I’m not.”
“I’m not even thirty. That’s like… a teenager to you guys.”
She could see the flush crawl up his neck, even behind the beard. “You’re human. You mature differently.”
“But I’m not really human.”
His shoulders were stiff and his posture screamed his discomfort. It was really a shame that Ava found teasing him to be so amusing.
“I mean, what would your mom say if she found out you were mated—and I mean well and thoroughly mated—to what she would basically consider a kid?”
He wiped a hand over his forehead. “Heaven above, please stop talking.”
“So are we going to stop fooling around now?”
He groaned, “Ava.”
“I’m just yanking your chain.”
“You’re going to have to speak up, because the mental lecture my mother’s memory is giving me right now is rather loud.”
She bit her lip so she didn’t burst into laughter.
“Have you ever, ever heard of Irin teenagers finding their soul mate before they’re adults?”
“So, even though I’m young in your world, I’m thinking the universe decided I was an adult a while back.”
He squeezed her hand and said, “I hate you a little right now. You know that, right?”
Copyright 2014 Elizabeth Hunter
- I hope you’re spending some relaxing time with family or friends or both.
- I hope cookies are finished, houses are prepared, and you’re in the fun part of the holiday season and not the “wow, this is so much work” part of it.
- I hope if you work retail you’re still sane and haven’t been arrested for assault yet. (Hold strong. I know the temptation is almost overwhelming at times.)
- I hope you’re looking forward to the new year.
- I hope you have some really great books to read when you get a spare moment.
And I hope you’ve enjoyed being part of this blog community. I always enjoy posting here because I get great comments from readers, enthusiastic feedback, and so much encouragement. Thank you for being part of my writing journey in 2014.
- A boxed set of the four Elemental Mysteries novels
- A short story in the Cambio Springs series
- Three novellas in the Elemental series
- Two full novels (one in the Irin Chronicles, one in Cambio Springs)
Estimating things, that’s around 255,000 words of new fiction written this year. Or almost 700 new words a day if I wrote every day. Not bad, but not my most prolific year. At the same time, I also did these things:
- Took a month-long research trip to China for Shadows and Gold and the new Elemental Legacy series.
- Took a week long research/writing trip to the desert for Cambio Springs.
- Took a five day research trip to Vienna for The Secret (which I’m working on right now)
- Went to the RT Conference in New Orleans
- Attended one signing
- Went on two field trips with my son’s class
- Attended a couple of family vacations
- Celebrated lots of birthdays
- Watched lots of AYSO soccer for my son and various nieces and nephews
- Got a new dog
- Finished taking down the really ugly wallpaper in my bedroom (The plaster is still a work in progress.)
- Finished decorating the new house (mostly)
- Started a barre physique class and got back into yoga
- Took a few more walks than I did in 2013
2014 was all about balance for me. The more I publish, the harder it is to find time to write. That makes me frustrated at times, but I think it’s also inevitable. The business of writing takes time, whether you’re traditionally or independently published. Life also takes time. I’m coming up on my third year of single-parenthood, which is not something I talk much about, but it’s challenging. I balance a lot at home and to do that, sometimes writing time suffers.
It’s all about balance.
So my hope for the new year is that I balance a little better than I did last year. A little less time worrying, a little more time writing. A little less time in front of the computer and a little more time out in fresh air. More time with my son and as little time as possible doing paperwork.
And as much as I’d like to put out four books every year for you guys, I have to realize that, where I am now in life, that’s not realistic. So I’ll focus less on quantity and more on quality. I want to write the best books I can. I want to keep growing creatively. Part of growing creatively is living life. And I can’t do that if I’m shut up in my writing cave all the time. So I have to allow myself that and accept the words I put on paper will be better for the time that I’ve spent living. I also have to hope that you guys will accept that. I’m pretty sure you will, because I have great readers.
As my thank you for being such amazing readers, I’ll be doing a 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway starting tomorrow for my VIP Readers. (If you’re not signed up for the VIP Reader List, you can sign up here.) I’ll be picking a winner every day for the next 12 days to win paperbacks of different books. I have thirteen different paperbacks now and I’ll be giving away one of each (with the two Elemental novellas combined into one day). You don’t have to do anything to enter, just be signed up for the list! I’ll be announcing winners every day, so just check your inbox and email me if you see your name.
I’m also doing a giveaway here on the blog for a COMPLETE signed four-book set of the Elemental Mysteries. Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite holiday tradition and be entered to win. This contest will run for the next week, and it is open to international readers. I’ll announce a winner on New Year’s Eve.
Happy Holidays, everyone! Thanks for being part of this amazing journey.
So much love to you all,
Audible cast LA-based actor Zachary Webber as the narrator for the series and I’m really happy with his voice performance. I haven’t listened to the whole book yet, but the samples gave me shivers. Go ahead, give them a listen….
I know, right?
I’ve never had a male narrator before, but I feel like Zach’s voice is really well suited to the series, so I’m thrilled Audible cast him.
To celebrate the release of the first two books, I’m running a giveaway right here on the blog. If you’d like to enter, all you have to do is comment on this post! If you win, you’ll receive free download codes for BOTH Irin Chronicles books. (You do have to have an Audible account to redeem, but not a paid one.) I’ll be running the giveaway through the weekend. Just leave a short comment and you’re entered to win.
BLOGGER NOTE: If you are a book reviewer who enjoys audio, please drop me a note at ElizabethHunterWrites@gmail.com. I have review copies to send out and I’d love to get them in the right hands.
Best of luck!
First news: Karina and Vika over at Nocturnal Book Reviews host a great series every year called “Christmas with…” which features a bunch of great authors contributing holiday stories. Grace Draven posted one yesterday called The Light Within, which is set in the Master of Crows universe.
I love the cover.
Grace has also made the book available for sale over on Smashwords! I’m sure it’ll be at all the big outlets eventually, but Smashwords is the fastest, so if you want to buy it, you can do that right now.
Today, Karina has “Christmas with Elizabeth Hunter!” I wrote a short scene called “A Bloody Family Christmas” featuring Carwyn, Brigid, and lots of the UK gang of the Elemental World, so check it out on her blog today!
From “A Bloody Family Christmas…”
“I can’t do this.”
“You can do this.”
Brigid closed her eyes and took a deep breath, pushing back the tickle of fire that teased beneath her skin. It was a constant struggle. Some said it always would be. It was why fire vampires were given a wide berth. How they often ended up killing themselves. Her mate, having no concerns for his own safety—or exhibiting a startling lack of caution—stood behind her, rubbing her shoulders to calm her down.
“Carwyn, I’m just… I’m not prepared for this kind of thing.”
“Were you prepared for the drug dealers in Dublin?” he asked. “Or vicious Russian-Mexican mobsters? Human traffickers in Copenhagen?”
She blew out a long breath. “So you’re saying if I fear for my safety I’ll be able to burn someone? Excellent.”
“Brigid, it’s a family Christmas dinner. If Cathy’s managed this long without killing anyone, then you’re more than capable of doing it too.”
For those of you wondering if I’m ever going to put up a collection of the shorts and extra scenes I’ve written for various blogs or published on the website, it’s probable. I’m putting all of them in a file and once I have enough, I’ll probably publish a small collection for you guys if you want to buy. But I’d like it to have something new in it, and I’m neck deep in Irin world right now, so it won’t be right away. Maybe spring? We’ll see.
Second news: I’d like to offer an enormous THANK YOU for the stunning release of SHADOWS AND GOLD last week. It was phenomenal. Far bigger than I expected, especially for a story that had been previously published for free. I cannot thank you readers enough for supporting my work. Shadows and Gold is currently sitting at #13 in the Hot New Releases for Paranormal Fantasy, which is a huge accomplishment for a novella. It’s also now available at all the usual suspects, so you can find it on iTunes, Nook Store, and Kobo.
Likewise, the Christmas collection I published with Grace Draven ALL THE STARS LOOK DOWN has been seeing wonderful sales and very positive reviews. Still plenty of time to grab it and enjoy the holiday goodness of Gio and B, along with a wonderful novella by Grace called “Sunday’s Child.” (Mmmm, Andor…) Both stories are novella-length and available for just $2.99 for both. So it’s a great bargain. Also, we’re hoping that the Christmas collection will soon be available in paperback, which would make a fun little stocking stuffer for the book-lover in your life.
In fact ALL my books (excepting a few shorts and one novella) are available in paperback edition. Books are an awesome present. Just saying…
Next week, I’ll be posting my top ten moments from the year, along with my annual “10 Things I Learned About Indie Publishing in…” post, which might actually come the week after. Until then, I’ll be humming along on the first draft of THE SECRET: Irin Chronicles Book Three. Unfortunately, it’s not going as quickly as I’d like and it may be closer to a Spring release than a Winter one. But since I’d rather take my time and make it the best book it can be, that’s just the way things go at times.
Hope all your holiday preparations are going well!
I’ve been thinking a lot the past month or so about the intersection of creativity and the marketplace.
(Cue the sound of everyone clicking away from the blog post.)
Wait, no! Don’t go. It’s an interesting discussion for both readers and writers.
(Eyeballs hover tentatively.)
See, this is something that affects everyone, because it impacts the art that gets made.
Who is allowed to make the art? Who gets access to it? See, all that stuff, the art—the distribution, the audience—is changing right now. Everything is in flux. How does this affect me, as a writer? How does it affect you, as a reader?
Ursula Le Guin, who is pretty much an institution in science fiction and fantasy circles, received the National Book Award last month. During the ceremony, she gave a speech (as you do), and she had some really interesting things to say:
“Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art… I have had a long career and a good one. In good company. Now here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want—and should demand—our fair share of the proceeds. But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.”
And I was torn. Because while I understand what she was saying creatively, the person who makes my living with words says, “Yes, but the rewards need to include profits, too.”
And then I had a really wonderful and lively twitter conversation with a few other writers during which the ever-wise Ilona Andrews reminded me that this thing right here:
was a commission. This was a work for hire by Michelangelo. This was the intersection of art and commerce. This is an important thing to remember.
Today I read this really interesting piece over at Flavorwire about the death of the mid-budget film, and how it’s leaving some of our most thoughtful filmmakers, people like John Waters, David Lynch, and even Francis Ford Coppola behind.
“But slowly, quietly, over roughly the decade and a half since the turn of the century, the paradigm shifted. Studios began to make fewer films, betting big on would-be blockbusters, operating under the assumption that large investments equal large returns. Movies that don’t fit into that box (thoughtful dramas, dark comedies, oddball thrillers, experimental efforts) were relegated to the indies, where freedom is greater, but resources are far more limited.”
And that article intersected with one over on the Globe and Mail that The Passive Voice linked to called “Are Book Publishers Blockbustering Themselves Into Oblivion?” It references a recent Publishers Weekly article about the recent rise in seven figure advances for debut writers:
‘There are a few other things in the Publishers Weekly article that don’t make any sense. The story claims that the fierce competition for new novels stems from “a dearth of great material.” One anonymous publishing insider is quoted as saying, “The whole pool of talent is shrinking.” He or she even claims that there are “fewer submissions” nowadays.
Come again? A shrinking talent pool? In the middle of the greatest explosion of writing in human history?‘
Art and commerce. Creativity within the market. We have to think about these things! They’re important. I tend to think writers who write with no thought to the market are one of these things:
- Very young.
- Very wealthy.
- Have no external responsibilities.
- Don’t really care about being published.
And I’m sure those things are not true for everyone, but for the most part, if you write something, you want someone to buy it because that gives you the incentive and money to write more. Time is money. If you’re writing with no thought to how you’re going to pay your bills, your lights are going to be shut off. That’s just life.
And that affects what kind of stuff you write. It’s inevitable. It’s inescapable.
Because while Le Guin is correct that the intangible benefits of writing are amazing and important, John Waters isn’t going to make the next Hairspray for free. He has employees to pay. And when the giant corporations who control studios and publishers are only interested in the next blockbuster, that means the midlist author and the mid-budget filmmaker are left behind.
And that’s bad for consumers. Readers don’t like the same thing. Neither do movie-goers. We are not a homogenous culture.
Whether we like it or not, commerce influences art.
When I see writers I love moving genres, I wonder: Did they want to move, or did their agent or publisher tell them it was a smart move because of the market? I don’t get to judge them for that, no matter how I might want to, because I’m not paying their bills.
But does it make me sad that some writers feel pressure to move to a more popular genre because their publisher isn’t putting as much money or promotion behind their books? Yes. Absolutely.
So what is a writer or any kind of artist to do? Do we get day jobs and make writing a hobby? Do you bend to the Corporate Art Distribution market? How far do you bend before you break?
Or do you just leave? After all, didn’t they say the talent pool was shrinking?
Here’s a heads up, Corporate Art Distributors: There’s no shrinking talent pool. Let me repeat that: There is no shrinking talent pool.
Your talent pool is moving.
They’re bypassing you. They’re funding themselves with Kickstarter and Patreon. They’re publishing independent of the corporate publishing culture.
We talk a lot about the economic benefits of indie art production, but we need to talk about the creative ones, too. Because they intersect in a positive way.
And that brings me to a really upbeat post by the band Pomplamoose about their recent tour. I want to end with a quote from them, because it speaks to a beautiful reconciliation between art and commerce that I think is achievable and healthy for art producers and art consumers:
‘We’re entering a new era in history: the space between “starving artist” and “rich and famous” is beginning to collapse…
We, the creative class, are finding ways to make a living making music, drawing webcomics, writing articles, coding games, recording podcasts. Most people don’t know our names or faces. We are not on magazine covers at the grocery store. We are not rich, and we are not famous.
We are the mom and pop corner store version of “the dream.” If Lady Gaga is McDonald’s, we’re Betty’s Diner. And we’re open 24/7.
We have not “made it.” We’re making it.”’
Hey all, guess what?
My editor finished work on Shadows and Gold way early. So I just decided to release it a week ahead of schedule.
Everyone’s okay with that, right?
Amazon paperback: http://tinyurl.com/jw6ok4t
Right now, these are all the sales links I have, but it will be at iBooks and Barnes & Noble and Kobo as soon as it gets approved to distribute over on Smashwords. Normally, I try to have all that stuff lined up before release, but when you decide to do everything early, that’s kind of the way it goes! Anyway, I’ll update the post as I get the links.
I hope you enjoy it! It’s gotten some really great advance reviews already:
Ben and Tenzin make a very interesting pair and you are not sure of anything much about the future other than the fact that Tenzin is going to drive Ben crazy. …5 Stars for entertainment, interesting characters/plots and consistency in writing through all these series.
—Douglas C. Meeks, WICKED SCRIBES
Shadows and Gold offers up an adventure for ancient Wind vampire Tenzin and the now grownup Ben Vecchio and kicks off a new series with Ben in the lead – and does it in a very satisfying manner.
—Melindeeloo, “AMAZON TOP 1000 REVIEWER”
I’ve pretty much put NO blog tour or promotional stuff together for this, so if you like my work and are willing to spread the word on Facebook or Twitter or wherever you hang out online, I’d really, really appreciate it! You’re the best!
In fact, I’ll make it a contest. Share the news about Shadows and Gold releasing today and link to it in the comments here. You’ll be entered to win a lovely little signed paperback of the novella (priced at only $6.99 on Createspace and $6.64 at Amazon!) of your very own. I’ll also run a giveaway over on my Facebook page and you can enter that one, as well. Giveaway is international!
Happy reading, everyone!
It’s that time! The last chapter of SHADOWS AND GOLD is posted on the Elemental Mysteries site today, so I thought it would be a great time to share the cover for this story with you:
Do you love it? I love it. I don’t think I’ve ever done a red cover before. So I think this is pretty darn cool. Damonza put up with me being a bit of a diva on this one, so all the love to them. (As always, if you’re looking for a great cover, I will always recommend them.)
The novella will be officially out on December 15th. It will be available everywhere in e-book and in paperback through Createspace and Amazon only. (Usually, I publish my paperbacks everywhere with expanded distribution. But to do that, I have to set the price higher to account for distribution costs and I just don’t want to do that for a novella. It’s shorter. I don’t want you guys having to pay ten bucks to get the paperback.)
I am NOT doing a preorder for this book, but you can add it to Goodreads here and of course, you can always sign up for my New Release Mailing List, and I’ll send you an email anytime I have a new book out.
I’ll be leaving the novella up the rest of this week, then I’ll be pulling it from the website. (I love posting free fiction for you guys, but hey, a girl has to make a living, too.) The final chapter is posted today, so the story is really complete. There will be a short epilogue you’ll get if you decide to buy the ebook or paperback on December 15th, but all the major action in the story is resolved.
I’m hoping you like it and don’t come after me with pitchforks. It could go either way, really. Just remember, this is Ben and Tenzin. They’re kind of… unpredictable.
Here’s a quick teaser of the chapter to whet your appetite. You can find the full chapter HERE.
At the human’s scream, dockworkers and security officers came running. A small crowd gathered in moments. Tenzin landed on the ground near him. His hand was already drawing the second blade.
“Stop,” she said, putting a hand on his. “Cheng wants to make an example of him.”
Ben glanced around at the crowd. Mostly humans, but with a number of vampires thrown in to spread the word. All had their eyes trained on the two vampires circling each other, one with his hands in the pockets of an eight thousand dollar suit, the other holding his eye as blood dripped down his face.
“So, Kesan, you thought you would betray my friend?”
“She has no loyalty to you,” Kesan hissed.
“And you do?”
Kesan said nothing, and Ben knew the vampire had underestimated the old pirate.
“I faced a mutiny once,” Cheng said, stepping close to Kesan. “Do you know who won?”
“You,” the other vampire muttered.
“No, actually. My crew did. I learned a valuable lesson that day.” He grabbed Kesan around the throat. “Mercy is forgotten. Only cruelty is remembered.”