Preorders and Covers and Pages

And a good Monday to you all! Happy end of January!

Why am I so cheerful? Because I finally got the cover for The Chronicles of John Zebedee squared away!

The preorders are being set up now, and as soon as I have the links, I’ll share them. Look for them in the newsletter on Friday! (Are you not getting my newsletter? It’s only once a month, and there are recipes…)

Children of Dreams is up for an award — the Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewers Choice Award. This award is voted on by the reading public, so if you read and enjoyed Children of Dreams, go vote! Voting is open for another few days, and you can find the ballot here. I also had a fun interview, which you can see here.

I’ve been busy with The White Raven: Morrigan’s Wrath, too. It gives me something to do while I wait for the edits on Morrigan’s Heir.

The White Raven: Morrigan’s Wrath
(The White Raven Duology, Book 2)

33415 / 90000 (37.13%)

I’ve seen a lot of talk recently about writing history, and presenting a rosy view of history. Which, I’m not going to lie, I’m totally doing in The White Raven. There are details that are accurate, but the view of Rome… not so much.

The thing is, I know I’m doing it. The White Raven isn’t set at a fixed point in Celtic history. It doesn’t have to be — it’s a fantasy. I do mention Rome in Princes of Air — there’s a comment in Niall’s book about dining while reclining like Romans, and that’s all it was. A throw-away comment that wasn’t meant to do anything more than give the reader an idea of what was going on. To Niall, Rome was a concept, not a place. He’d heard of it, but that’s all.

Lorcan actually experiences Rome as a place. However, the Rome he experiences is only tangentially the Rome that actually existed. There was never an Emperor named Lucanus, for example. This is a fictional Rome set in my fictional universe where Gods walk among men… and sometimes do more than walk. So I can pick and choose what parts of Roman history I want to use, while being relatively accurate to Roman culture and religion.

Which is probably going to get me into all sorts of difficulties with the history people. But it’s fiction, and I’m going to put an author note in the books saying pretty much what I just said to you. That this is my fictional world, that it’s only lightly based on the Rome of our history, and honestly, there are men and women who can turn into ravens in this universe. That doesn’t lend itself to an accurate depiction of Rome…

So we have a fantasy romance, set in a romanticized version of Rome, starring a man who can turn into a raven because reasons.

This absolutely sings historical accuracy, right?

Posted by EASchechter in 2023 plans, awards, Children of Dreams, John Zebedee, presales, Princes of Air, Release date, research is fun, The White Raven, upcoming books, upcoming work, WIP, wordcount, 0 comments

Wait, What Was I Doing Again?

(aka what I honestly just said when I came back to this tab on my desktop….)

It’s Monday again. Who let that happen? But since it is Monday, even though I do not recall saying the weekend could be over already, it’s blog day. Which leads to the weekly question of “what am going to blather on about today?”

Which, if you think that means I’m going to blather on about deciding what to blather on about, you’ll be pleased to know that you’re wrong. I’ll save that for Tiktok — I’ll only have to blather for one to three minutes there.

Work continues on The White Raven: Morrigan’s Wrath, and the list of notes on things I need to address when I get the edits for The White Raven: Morrigan’s Heir continues to grow. For example, did you know that it was forbidden for the Flamen Dialis to handle bread? Yup, me either. Even though I researched Roman religions and the various restrictions on their priests before I wrote the scene in Heir, there the Flamen Dialis is, holding a load of bread. So I need to change that.

The White Raven: Morrigan’s Wrath
(The White Raven Duology, Book 2)

30463 / 90000 (33.85%)

Other changes involve inconsistencies with characters who have changed as I write them in the second book, characters who have come into the second book who were never mentioned in the first one but should have been, and some stylistic choices that need to be consistent throughout. Oh, and double checking that some of the herbs I have our healers using in Rome are things that they’d actually have in Rome at that time.

Yes, I’m going through a lot of trouble for a historical fantasy set in an entirely fictional, very idyllic Rome. I know that. I’m having fun with it. And there will be an author’s note that roughly says “I am fully aware that none of the history in the parts of the book set in Rome is accurate. This was deliberate. Don’t yell at me. Fantasy. Totally fantasy.”

Although… not in so many words, right?

I hope to have the edits for The Chronicles of John Zebedee finished by the end of the month, and I hope to have a cover reveal sometime in the next week. The latest cover mockup is really good, and I think we’re almost in the right place. Once this is published, I really need to start figuring out timelines and storylines for Children of the Swords — which is the series that will tie The Chronicles of John Zebedee into Swords of Charlemagne. No, I’m not sure how yet. There must be research because I know nothing about Edwardian England or World War I, and I’m not going to rely on Downtown Abbey as reference material. (Although I did use a floorplan of Highclere Castle as a reference for the Sussex estate in Table of Stone.)

Also… ah… surprise? There’s going to be a sequel series to Swords of Charlemagne. It will be focused on Margaret and Douglas’ children, and there are going to be elves in there! The series will start with Wesley, the working title of his book is Seer, and that’s about all I know at the moment.

Other irons in the fire? Getting back to The Sea Prince, which will happen once I’m done with John Zebedee edits, and getting started on either Tales from the Arena: Dead Man’s Hand or Tower of Light. Both of those are fully plotted out and just need to be written. Although I might stay in a seafaring mood, in which case I’ll start The Iron Virgin.

That should be enough to keep me out of trouble.

Stop laughing.

Posted by EASchechter in 2023 plans, accountability, Children of the Sword, John Zebedee, research is fun, Swords of Charlemagne, Tales from the Arena, The Iron Virgin, The Sea Prince, The White Raven, thinking thinky thoughts, Tower of Light, upcoming books, upcoming work, WIP, wordcount, Worldbuilding, writing, 0 comments

COLD!!!!

This morning, for the first time in nearly 17 years, I had to scrape a significant amount of ice off my windshield in order to go somewhere. Florida has forgotten how to Florida.

Thankfully, my office is the warmest room in the house in the winter (because of the sun positioning. The outside wall gets warm enough to make the wax in my wax warmer melt slightly.) I have writing gloves and fuzzy blankets if it gets cold enough that the room is chilly (which has happened a couple of times in the evenings over the past month.) So my office is comfy. And the words are flowing.

The White Raven: Morrigan’s Wrath
(The White Raven Duology, Book 2)

27510 / 90000 (30.57%)

I have reached the part of the book where my characters are going “Nope, the outline was wrong. We’re doing it this way.” Which happens in every book, so I’m not complaining. The villains are revealing themselves to be not the people I thought they were, and one of the characters who I thought was a villain has decided to redeem themselves entirely. Writing is being fun again.

I’m also on the final editing pass of The Chronicles of John Zebedee, which means that I printed the manuscript out and am going through it with a green pen. I’m waiting for the newest cover revision, which I hope will show up this week, and then I can start the preorders.

I think it was last week that I mentioned that I’m trying to split my week — the weekdays are for writing and editing, and the weekend is for admin. Part of admin is taking classes, and I took an interesting one on Facebook ads over the weekend, which introduced me to a nifty thing called Amazon attribution tags. If you use these custom links in your advertising, Amazon will track your conversions and spending so you can see which of your ads are performing best. It’s pretty neat.

Facebook DOES NOT LIKE THE LINKS. I started up an ad campaign with two ad sets of two ads each. (Four ads total). Each ad has a unique link generated by the Amazon attribution, and they all point to the Amazon page for the book.

Facebook kicked out all four ads because of adult content contained IN the URL.

Let me repeat that — FB THOUGHT THE URL WAS NAUGHTY!!!

They cleared the ads on review, but I foresee this being a regular thing — set up ads. Have the ads kicked out because FB thinks my URL needs a XXX rating. Ask FB what they’re smoking. Have the ads reinstated.

Here’s hoping the data and sales are worth the headache, and that FB doesn’t suspend my ad account because they think my finely crafted links are not safe for work.

Oh, and the best part? It wasn’t even an ad for one of my steamier books! This was an ad for Written in Water! Quite possibly the tamest book I have ever written.

Make it make sense?

Posted by EASchechter in annoyance, facebook, John Zebedee, promotions, The White Raven, WIP, wordcount, Written in Water, 0 comments

Not a Bad Start

Week two of 2023, and we’re getting back into the swing of things. Getting up for school isn’t as much as a slog, and the 30 day yoga challenge is going nicely. And the words are flowing, although I have learned my lesson — do not save all of the sex scenes up to write them later, because then… you have to write them later, which takes FOREVER because writing sex may be fun, but it’s also SLOW.

The White Raven: Morrigan’s Wrath
(The White Raven Duology, Book 2)

23631 / 90000 (26.26%)

I’m working my way back toward a sustainable schedule, which means that writing and editing happens during the week, research happens whenever, and administrative stuff happens on the weekends (unless it’s something I can’t put off.) So I did inventory this past weekend to count the books that I have on hand.

Anyone want to buy some books? Signed and personalized!

Funny story about that website. I was discussing doing sales through your own website and not through a third-party site (in this case, Etsy), and I mentioned that I use the Square API through my website which helps with inventory. And I gave them the link I just posted above, and went to look at the site myself.

And that’s when I noticed I’ve been using an outdated graphic for months. Out of all the covers on the old graphic, only a couple were current! And I use that graphic on the website, and on my newsletter, and on my Facebook page and… lots of places! So now there’s a nice, new, current graphic in all the places.

Next up for administrative stuff? Taxes. Once the royalty reports come in, that is.

The edits on The Chronicles of John Zebedee are coming along nicely. I could wish that the cover art revisions were going better, but… it can’t all be lightning in a bottle. I’m using the same designers who worked on the amazing covers for Heir to the Firstborn, so I was expecting something amazing for Chronicles of John Zebedee. What I got was something that read strongly as space western. Then more space western. After the third space western, I had to be clear that I’m not writing space cowboys. Not this time, anyway. The next two covers were western, hold the space. And the one I got today was… well, I’m not sure what it was, but it was not fantasy or romance. The book doesn’t come out until March. I have time. But this is getting frustrating. I can’t run ads without a cover, because I can’t set up the preorder until I have a cover image. Well, I could, but changing out the “cover coming soon!” graphic is a pain in the fundament. I have a couple of books on Goodreads that the default cover is the Cover Coming Soon graphic, and I can’t get them changed to the actual cover. (I change it, and GR changes it back!)

I found out this weekend that I wasn’t chosen as a program participant for Boskone this year, which I’m fine with. More applicants than places to put them, which I understand. I had a lot of fun last year, and we’ll see if I can get invited back another year. I’ve booked my room for ICFA, so that’s the next place I’ll be. Possibly running around doing tech again, because that was fun last year. And I haven’t yet heard when the applications open for Necronomicon, but I do want to go back. We shall see what comes of the wanting.

Catch you all next week!

Posted by EASchechter in 2023 plans, accountability, cover art, edits, John Zebedee, publishing, The White Raven, upcoming books, upcoming work, WIP, wordcount, writing, 0 comments

Rabbit, Rabbit!

So… here’s 2023. Let’s see how this goes. Here’s hoping for better than the previous three years.

Back to work for me today. There was a little noodling around with words over my break — it’s hard to stop. But on the whole, I really took time off for the first time in ages, and I feel so much better for it.

What’s in the cards for 2023? Well, I’m back to working on The White Raven: Morrigan’s Wrath.

The White Raven: Morrigan’s Wrath
(The White Raven Duology, Book 2)

20875 / 90000 (23.19%)

I have edits to work on for The Chronicles of John Zebedee, which should be coming out in March, and edits for The White Raven: Morrigan’s Heir will be coming in at some point.  I’m keeping a list of things that I’m noticing need to be updated in Book 1 as I work on Book 2. Things like… I wrote Morrigan’s Heir before I wrote Heir to the Firstborn. Now that Morrigan’s Heir is going to be published, I really need to change the name of that one character… Lorcan has a friend in book one named Owyn. Nope. Can’t use that name again. Needs to be retired. So once those edits come in, I’ll make the changes. I found some stock photography that I loved for the cover, and sent it on to the designer. His mockups look amazing and I can’t wait to see the finished cover!

In other news, I’m still working on Imaginative Anthropology, reading through various anthropology and folklore texts. The outline is slowly coalescing, and at some point, I’ll actually start writing the book instead of just researching.  Rebel Mage will be published wide next month — I’m taking the ebooks out of Kindle Unlimited and putting them up everywhere. That should happen sometime around February 10th or thereabouts. And I’m still working on figuring out what’s going to happen with my Patreon, and if I’m keeping it open or shifting my serialization over to Kindle Vella. I should check in with my Patrons about that. I’m still not sure what the next serial will be — maybe I should serialize The Sea Prince? I don’t know. I have to get back to poking away at that one. It was moving when I put it to the side again. I need to open the file again. But not yet. I’ll wait until John Zebedee edits are done before starting back in on The Sea Prince.

What else in in the cards? ICFA in March, and I’m not sure what else. I haven’t heard anything from Boskone about being a virtual guest, and it’s too early to plan Necronomicon. We will be doing some traveling this year because Teen Boy has college on the horizon, and there are some colleges that we should tour. And at some point, I should really decide what I’m doing about going back for my MFA (the two real questions are If? and When?) I should nail that down this year.

And that’s my 2023 in a nutshell.

Posted by EASchechter in 2023 plans, Happy New Year, Imaginative Anthropology, John Zebedee, Patreon, Planning, progress, Rebel Mage, The White Raven, Updatey things, WIP, wordcount, 0 comments

Traditions, Stories and Three-Color Cookies

So I wrapped up Cookiepocalypse today. If you haven’t been following me long, you may not have experienced a Cookiepocalypse yet. It’s the time of year when I bake for a solid week, making all the traditional cookies that my mother made, and that her mother made. Pictures go up on my social media, and this year there were process videos in my Tiktok.

Now, why do I do this?

Part of it is tradition — this what we do because this is what we’ve always done. But most of it is connection. These recipes are part of the story of me. This is my history, and it’s a story that I’m passing on to my son, and that I share with you every year.

Let me show you:

 

This is the recipe card for the Three Color cookies that I make every year. I copied this recipe from my mother’s recipe book. Now, if you look at that, you can see it makes NO sense to someone who has never made them before. But I know exactly what this means.

So allow me to translate:

Three Color Cookies

1 can of Solo Almond filling OR 1 box of Solo Almond Paste.*
1 1/2 cup butter (dairy or plant based) softened.
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free One-to-One flour)
pinch of salt.
Red, Green and Yellow food coloring
Jam (your choice)
Dark or white chocolate chips 1-2 bags

*If you have a stand mixer, use the almond paste. If you have a hand mixer or no mixer at all, use the almond filling. Trust me on this.

Set your oven to 350 degrees F/177 degrees C.

Put your almond filling or paste into a bowl with your softened butter. Add sugar and mix until fluffy. If using the almond paste, make sure there are no lumps of almond paste left. Mixture should be smooth..

Add eggs one at the time.

Add almond extract.

Slowly add flour and salt. Mix to combine. It will be sticky.

Separate your dough into three equal parts. Color each one — one red, one green, one yellow. I use gel coloring to get a better color, but you can use what you have on hand. I don’t recommend natural colorings, because the color won’t stay when the layers are baked.

Take three 9x13x1 foil pans. (They don’t need to be fancy — I use EZ Foil pans that I got three for a dollar at the Dollar Store maybe ten years ago. Why? Because they work the best.) Line each pan with piece of parchment. Spread your dough evenly in each pan. I find an offset spatula helps for this.

The recipe card says bake until done. Done depends on how thick your layers are, and your oven, but it’s usually about 30 minutes. I rotate the trays at ten minutes, and start testing at 20.

You end up with this:

Let them cool completely, then start the sandwich.

You have your choice of jam here. The very traditional jam is apricot, but you don’t have to use that. I use strawberry. Starting with the green layer, cover with the thin coat of jam. Put the yellow layer on top of the green, and add more jam. Top with the red layer. Yes, in that order. Why? It won’t taste right if you change them. No, I’m not kidding. Also, the layers may crack when you move them. That’s fine.

Wrap the sandwich in plastic wrap, and put into the refrigerator under weights overnight.

The next day, unwrap your layers and melt your chocolate. What chocolate you use and how you melt it is up to you. You don’t want to go too thick, because that makes it harder to cut. (A mistake I make EVERY YEAR!!!!)

Pour your melted chocolate over the top and smooth it down the sides. Use that offset spatula, if you have one. Let the chocolate set until it’s no longer runny, then cut. If you let it set to the point it’s hard, it will crack. Again, mistake I make every year.

Cut into squares. The corners WILL fall apart — those are the cook’s treat.

Keeps in the refrigerator for… well, we always finish them before they go off, so I’m not sure just how long they will keep. They also freeze beautifully.

Three Color Cookies are Love.

If you decide to try these in your house, let me know how they come out!

Now, I’m going to be taking the rest of the year off, so my next blog will be in 2023. Whatever you celebrate this time of year, make it a happy one.

Posted by EASchechter in baking, Cookiepocalypse, From the Writer's Kitchen, Happy Holidays!, 0 comments

First Day of Taking a Break

I’m not counting last week as taking a break, because I spent all week cooking. A little relaxing — I do enjoy cooking — but not exactly restful.

I did start on my “I need to catch up on reading/watching all the things I’ve missed.” However, I started slow. I caught up on Tasting History with Max Miller, and I watched (and was very unsatisfied by) Behind the Attraction: Haunted Mansion. (they kept stressing how if an attraction works, then you don’t change it, but completely fail to mention the major renovations and changes made to the Haunted Mansion in Florida in the early 2000s.) Then I watched the first episode of Lost Treasures of Rome, which was fantastic! I need to watch the rest of that series.

I’m also into a new book for my Imaginative Anthropology project. I finished The Art of Being Human by Michael Wesch while on jury duty, but hadn’t had a chance to pick up the next book on the pile, which is Folklore 101, by Dr. Jenna Jorgensen. I started it yesterday, and I can already tell that this is going to be pivotal in showing the role that creating folklore has in worldbuilding, and how much of effective worldbuilding rests on having a solid foundation in your world’s folklore.

(insert anthropology geeking here…)

Cookiepocalypse is coming up soon, and I still am not entirely sure what I’m making. I’m trying to keep it reasonable this year. Three color cookies are definitely on the menu, and a white chocolate oatmeal cookie (because I found dairy free white chocolate chips and may have bought too much…) I’m not sure what else. Maybe chocolate chip cookies? Maybe? But I’m the only one who can eat them so not a lot of those. Biscotti? Maybe those, too.

Trying to be reasonable is hard.

I’ll be doing a deep dive into my office and cleaning it up. There’s a lot of stuff in my office closet that should not be there, and if I can get that out, I can get the show supplies out from under the day bed and make them more accessible. But that might also take the rest of my break.

And in the meantime, The White Raven: Morrigan’s Wrath is buzzing away in the back of my head. I have ideas and scenes that are going to be coming up, but they have to wait until January. I’m refilling my tanks.

 

 

Posted by EASchechter in 2022 plans, 2023 plans, baking, Cookiepocalypse, From the Writer's Kitchen, Imaginative Anthropology, post novel ennui, public displays of geekery, The White Raven, 0 comments

It’s Still Monday.

So this totally counts as a Monday blog. Right?

Children of Dreams is now out, and I am officially taking a break until the end of the year. I’m holding The White Raven: Morrigan’s Wrath until January. I intend to spend the next month refilling my creative bucket, planning for next year, working on some edits, and doing some research.

The White Raven: Morrigan’s Wrath
(The White Raven, Book 2)

19677 / 90000 (21.86%)

Now, that being said, what am I doing?

Cleaning my house, that’s what. While doing my pre-Thanksgiving prep.

I’m both tired and bonkers. But the house has to be clean before guests arrive, and I have to have something to feed them, so there you go.

I am a little worried, though. My turkey has been in the refrigerator since last Wednesday, and it’s still a 16lb block of ice. I need to it thawed by the day after tomorrow so I can brine it. So… ummm… that’s a thing. And the guest of honor for Thursday’s dinner may need to have a long soak in the bathtub tomorrow.

I’m very pleased with the reception that Children of Dreams has had over the past week — the first review hit two days after the book released, and the reviewer loved it! It is, I think, a satisfying ending to the series, to know that readers are loving it.

It’s a good way to end the year.

Now, Cookiepocalypse is coming, so I will still be blogging. But the writing year is over for 2022. And it was a good one. Weird, but good.

On to 2023?

Posted by EASchechter in 2022 plans, 2023 plans, baking, book reviews, Children of Dreams, Cookiepocalypse, From the Writer's Kitchen, Grateful writer is grateful, Heir to the Firstborn, post novel ennui, reviews, The White Raven, 0 comments

Worlds Begin. Worlds End.

And tomorrow, the world of Adavar ends. At least for now. I can’t think of any other stories that will be told in the world of Heir to the Firstborn, but that might change. I don’t think they will involve any of the current characters, though. Their story wraps tomorrow.

(click the graphic to go to the Amazon series page)

It’s strange. When I first started this series, it was supposed to be four books. If you’ve been with me long enough, you’ll remember me talking about how there was too much story for four books, so I was going to add a fifth one. And… yeah. Six books. Characters who REALLY got under my skin — I still say Owyn is my favorite out of all the characters that have walked out of my subconscious.

And it’s all over tomorrow. My part in it, anyway. Now it’s your turn, oh Reader.

(I will say that there’s one character who’s sort of poking at me, but I don’t know what they want yet. If they tell me, then there might be some more Adavar. But until they start doing more than a mental “I’m not touching you!” I’m going to ignore them and focus on Lorcan.)

The White Raven: Morrigan’s Heir
(The White Raven, Book 1)

18418 / 90000 (20.46%)

 

Now here’s an amusing tidbit. I wrote The White Raven: Morrigan’s Heir a few years before I started Heir to the Firstborn.  And there’s a character in Morrigan’s Heir who I now need to give a new name.

That was the first time I used the name Owyn. And he’s nothing like Heir’s Owyn, who is so much of a strong character and strong voice in my brain that the name Owyn is now being retired.

So when you finally meet Bran in Morrigan’s Heir, his name was originally Owyn.

And, with the Heir to the Firstborn coming to a close, I’ve made an executive decision.

I’m taking the rest of the year off. I need to reset and recover from what’s been a heck of a year, so I’m taking some time off. I have books that are piling up to read, research I want to do, movies I want to watch, and my house needs cleaning. I need to plan for 2023, and set my goals. Oh, and Cookiepocalypse is right around the corner! So I’ll be taking my winter break early, and I’ll pick up Morrigan’s Wrath in January.

You may now open book on if I can actually make it to January without writing new words.

 

Posted by EASchechter in 2022 plans, 2023 plans, baking, Children of Dreams, Cookiepocalypse, forthcoming works, Heir to the Firstborn, new books, post novel ennui, Release date, Ta-da, The White Raven, the-end-is-near, thinking thinky thoughts, upcoming books, upcoming work, WIP, wordcount, 0 comments

Civic Duty or Something.

And today, I’m writing this blog in the jury room of my county courthouse. It’s slowly filling up with people (mostly unmasked people because… well… Florida).

Yes, Dear Reader, I’ve been summoned for jury duty.

I’ve been summoned before in Florida, but the last time, I was a homeschooling mom of a child under ten, so I was excused. No excuses here. So welcome to the jury pool.

The last time I was in a jury pool, I lived in New York, where I had the interesting situation of being chosen for a jury, then having to be excused because the opposing counsel was the husband of my Weight Watchers leader. Which had apparently never been brought up as a reason for excusing a juror before because I clearly remember the looks of abject confusion on the faces of the judge and the lawyers. “Wait, you… what? Does that count? I… okay.”

I’m not sure how long I’m going to be here today. Or how many days this week I’ll have to report. But they have wifi, and I can bring my laptop, so there will be words.

The White Raven: Morrigan’s Wrath
(The White Raven, Book 2)

14424 / 90000 (16.03%)

Visions in Smoke drops tomorrow,  and Children of Dreams next week. There’s still time to get those preorders in!

And that’s about all I’ve got today. This room is now packed, and it’s 8AM. Time to go be a responsible member of society.

Posted by EASchechter in a-writers-life-is-never-dull, Children of Dreams, forthcoming works, Happy Book Day, Heir to the Firstborn, Release date, The White Raven, upcoming books, upcoming work, Visions in Smoke, WIP, wordcount, 0 comments