Cookiepocalypse

That’s a Draft!

That’s a Draft!

And at 2AM on Sunday morning, I posted the final wordcount of Valley of Shadows (after increasing it by 3000 words the day before.) That’s a draft, folks.

The Patreon is scheduled out until late January, so I’m projecting a release in early February, but possibly sooner. Once I see how edits go, I’ll have a better idea. I will say that I think the ending is a little weak and fluffy, and it might change. 2AM writing isn’t necessarily quality writing, after all.

Edits will start tonight — I already have my printout and two general notes on things to change. Cookiepocalypse, however… that starts tomorrow, and will continue for the rest of the week.

Last week, I said that I was considering taking the rest of the year off, and I’m going to do that. So this will be the last blog post until the New Year. I’ll still be active on social media — cookie pictures must be shared, after all. But there is one exception — I will no longer be found on Twitter/X. My account will be there, but all that you’ll find there after this week will be a redirect to my other socials. (For the record, Blusky, Mastodon, Facebook and Instagram.) The only reason I’m not deleting entirely is that I don’t want anyone to hijack my name there.

What will I be doing for the next three weeks? Other than baking? Edits. I have to write a blurb. Finalizing the book cover (which you’ll see when the blog comes back.) Business planning, and getting back to my research. And catching up on both reading and TV — I still haven’t seen Loki season 2, and I have to watch the New Who episodes. Basically? I’m refilling my tanks and resting my creative brain.

So, this will be the last message until 2024. Here’s hoping that you have a happy whatever you celebrate, that you hold your loved ones close, and that we all come back together in this virtual space in the New Year.

Love you all.

Works in Progress

Valley of Shadows
Heir to the Firstborn, Book 7

78617 / 78000 (100.79%)

Now on to edits!

Promotions!

The Smashwords End of the Year sale is coming up December 15th. My ENTIRE self-published catalog will be on sale for 25% off ONLY on Smashwords!

Now, because of the Draft2Digital/Smashwords merger, I have TWO author pages on Smashwords (actually, I have four, but two of them are from publishers and I have no control over those.) The two that I maintain will be combined at some point, but until then, the catalogs that will be on sale are here and here.

Posted by EASchechter in 2024 plans, accountability, baking, Cookiepocalypse, Grateful writer is grateful, Happy Holidays!, Heir to the Firstborn, Patreon, post novel ennui, Ta-da, thirty, upcoming books, upcoming work, Valley of Shadows, WIP, wordcount, 0 comments
Lofty Goals

Lofty Goals

Lofty goals, I have them. I have perhaps three chapters left to finish in Valley of Shadows (which drops my wordcount from 90K to 75K.) I am saying this to the public at large, and with my WHOLE chest!

This week I am going to finish this book!!!

As I said, lofty goals. Doable lofty goals, but lofty goals. I’ll be posting my daily wordcounts on Mastodon and Blusky, so you can follow along as I race to finish.

Then… COOKIES!!!

I’m honestly looking forward to the break this year. Although getting me to actually stop doing ANYTHING will be… challenging. I’ve been going at a fever pitch since I started Written in Water in 2018, and I’m not sure I know how to do downtime anymore. Even my vacations are high energy (I vacation at Disney…which means I have fun, but I don’t necessarily relax.) So I’ve decided that once Valley of Shadows is done, I’m taking time away from the laptop. I’m not going to get back to The Sea Prince until January, and I might not even blog! (We’ll see if I hold true to that!)

So what are my plans for the break? Because it’s me and of course there have to be plans? Reading. I have multiple stacks of books to catch up on, and I just added more. There is SO MUCH TV to catch up on — I still haven’t watched season 2 of Loki, and there are about a half-dozen Star Wars shows I need to binge. I want to go down to Disney to see the holiday decorations and do the gingerbread crawl (I’m not sure when that will happen — our park passes black out the 19th.) And I have knitting projects I want to finish.

So, knitting and reading and bingewatching and cookies? Sounds like a plan.

Cookiepocalypse will start next week, so you can keep an eye on Instagram for that. So far, I know I’m making three color cookies to start, and struffuli (which Owyn makes in Wings of Air) to finish. In the middle? I haven’t decided, although I did have a request for oatmeal carob chip. (Hrm… I haven’t made molasses cookies in ages. Maybe I’ll make those, too.)

Follow the Instagram for the cookies — it’ll be a surprise!

In other, other news, my publisher said the most fascinating words to be the other day. Foreign rights. As in, they’ll be shopping them around, so they needed some info from me to put into the pitch. 2024 is promising to be very interesting indeed!

Works in Progress

Valley of Shadows
Heir to the Firstborn, Book 7

66861 / 75000 (89.15%)

This book will be done this week! I have said it!

Promotions!

The Smashwords End of the Year sale is coming up December 15th. My ENTIRE catalog will be on sale for 25% off ONLY on Smashwords!

Now, because of the Draft2Digital/Smashwords merger, I have TWO author pages on Smashwords (actually, I have four, but two of them are from publishers.) The two that I maintain will be combined at some point, but until then, the catalogs that will be on sale are here and here.

Posted by EASchechter in 2023 plans, 2024 plans, a-writers-life-is-never-dull, accountability, baking, Cookiepocalypse, forthcoming works, From the Writer's Kitchen, Heir to the Firstborn, Planning, progress, The Sea Prince, the-end-is-near, upcoming books, upcoming work, Valley of Shadows, Wings of Air, WIP, wordcount, Write Faster!, 0 comments
Back to Work

Back to Work

It’s the first Monday after Thanksgiving, and it’s time for me to get back to work. This book won’t write itself. Valley of Shadows has three, maybe four chapters left. And my incentive to get this done quickly is that December starts Friday, and that means…

COOKIEPOCALYPSE IS COMING!!!

I need to sit down and decide what cookies I’m making this year. There will definitely be three color cookies — there have to be three color cookies or it’s not Christmas. There will be struffuli on Christmas Eve (and if you want that recipe, check out Love at First Bite, which is a collection of recipes available as a free download from the Cavalcade of Authors.) But in between? I’m not sure yet. I need to ask the family what they want. As always, there will be pictures posted to my Instagram — I know there are some of you who wait for those pictures every year!

As I bake, I’m also going to get back to my research for Imaginative Anthropology. I’ve been putting that off because I had too much on my plate, but baking and reading seem to go hand in hand. There will also be the planning for next year, revisiting my business plans and setting up my annual goals for 2024. The end of the year is a busy time for the small business.

At some point, we have to put up the tree, and Hanukah starts next week (blended household, in case you didn’t know.) Fall semester is over next week, and we’re all very much looking forward to Winter Break. We found out last week that Teen Boy has been accepted to his top college, but we haven’t committed yet — we want to hear from the last two and see what they’re offering. But top school has started the process of evaluating the college credits he already has, so we’ll see what they come back with.

Spring semester will be all kinds of interesting and exciting — here’s hoping that senioritis holds off until the first week of May, though!

So much happening in 2024! But I need to finish 2023 first, so back to work!

Works in Progress

Valley of Shadows
Heir to the Firstborn, Book 7

62071 / 90000 (68.97%)

New Release!

Snowbound dropped today! You can get it anywhere you find ebooks!

Snowbound — because brown paper packages aren’t the only things getting tied up…

Promotions!

Cyber Monday Sale is Live!!!! You can find the first three Heir to the Firstborn books for $0.99 cents each! In addition, Hidden Things and Counsel of the Wicked are also still $0.99!

Posted by EASchechter in 2023 plans, 2024 plans, accountability, baking, Cavalcade of Authors, Cookiepocalypse, Counsel of the Wicked, Draft by the Solstice, Heir to the Firstborn, Hidden Things, Imaginative Anthropology, promotions, publishing, short story, the-end-is-near, upcoming books, upcoming work, Updatey things, Valley of Shadows, WIP, wordcount, Write Faster!, 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

C is for Cookie. That’s Good Enough for Me!

Cookiepocalypse 2021 is done, and because my website is being a bit strange today (to go with everything else!) I can’t load the pictures to show you. But I can link to the Instagram hashtag, so you can see all the cookies in their carby goodness!

Writing also happened last week, in and around cookies. I’m now just about at the halfway mark for Heir to the Firstborn: The Way Home, and it’s coming along nicely.

Heir to the Firstborn: The Way Home
(Heir to the Firstborn, book 6)

72587 / 150000 (48.39%)

Tomorrow is the day that Table of Stone goes wide — it’s out of KU already, but I give it a day to make sure that Amazon doesn’t get grumpy at me because I had the temerity to put something that’s coming out of KY up before they release it. Not all the bookstores are up in that link yet, but the book will be in ALL the bookstores. Which reminds me — I need to add it to Eden Books.

And it’s either a good thing or a bad thing that there were so many cookies in the house, because last week, in the midst of baking, I made the very difficult decision to walk away from the Romance Writers of America.

No, I’m not talking about it. I’m still processing. I probably will be for a while. But I know that the work I started will go on — I’ve passed all my notes, and all my contacts on, and I’ll be sitting down with my replacement tomorrow. The Romance Education Initiative will go on, so there’s some comfort in that.

But 2022 is going to be an interesting year.

I may not blog next week. We’ll see. If I don’t, then I wish you all the happiest of New Years.

 

Posted by EASchechter in 2022 plans, a-writers-life-is-never-dull, accountability, Best laid plans, Best planned lays, Cookiepocalypse, Happy Holidays!, Happy New Year, Heir to the Firstborn, Release date, sadness, Swords of Charlemagne, Table of Stone, Updatey things, WIP, wordcount, 0 comments

Cookiepocalypse Now!

It’s that time of year again!

But you don’t get pictures until next week. Because I only just started yesterday. So far in the containers are Coconut-all-the-way-down macaroons, three color cookies, and carob chip. Baking will go on for the rest of the week, and you can follow on my Instagram.

Heir to the Firstborn: The Way Home
(Heir to the Firstborn, book 6)

66848 / 150000 (44.57%)
I’m almost to the point of stopping for the rest of the year on writing, too. I need a breather, so once I hit the halfway point, I’m done for the year. I’ll pick up again in 2022 to bring this thing home.
Not much else to say, really. The last show of the year was this past weekend. It’s time to put 2021 to bed. And not soon enough, really. It’s been a busy, busy year.
And my alarm just went off, so I need to head out to pick up High School Boy from school. Short blog post this week. But again, there’s not much else to say.
See you next week with pictures!
Posted by EASchechter in 2021 plans, accountability, Cookiepocalypse, forthcoming works, Heir to the Firstborn, upcoming work, WIP, wordcount, writing, 0 comments

Where’d This December Come From?

No, really. November was RIGHT HERE a minute ago! I blinked and it was gone!

Seriously, I feel like I missed most of November. There were things that were supposed to happen in November, and I think they happened? Maybe? I don’t quite remember them. But no one is grumbling at me that they’re not done, so I must have done them.

I think.

There are still a lot of things to do before I take time off (starting the 19th). I have Keiser Supercon this weekend, and I have meetings this week and next. I have plans to make — I need to start putting together the information for the Kickstarter to have Swords of Charlemagne made into audiobooks, and 2022 is the year I finally make a business plan, and marketing plan, and a financial plan. This is my business, right? I need to treat it like one!

I have a couple of holiday things to finish, and Cookiepocalypse starts next Sunday! (I’ll be working on business planning while cookies are in the oven.)

My goal for writing is to have half the novel scheduled out on Patreon before I go on vacation. Which… yeah, I’m really darned close to that!

Heir to the Firstborn: The Way Home
(Heir to the Firstborn, book 6)

61163 / 150000 (40.78%)

The writing slowed down a bit this weekend because I hit a heavy emotional scene, and my brain didn’t want to go there. Yes, there was sniffling when I wrote it. I’m right in the heart of it now, and everyone is dealing with the fallout, and I still have to wrap things up and get them moving again. But yeah, I’ve known this scene was coming since book one, and now that it’s here, I don’t want to write it!

But, if I don’t write it, no one will get to read it. So… time to put words on the page!

Cookie pictures start next week on my Instagram! Cookiepocalypse is coming!

Posted by EASchechter in 2021 plans, 2022 plans, accountability, audiobooks, baking, conventions, Cookiepocalypse, Heir to the Firstborn, Keiser SuperCon, Patreon, promotions, Swords of Charlemagne, upcoming books, upcoming work, WIP, wordcount, 0 comments