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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Sarah Avery's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, November 19th, 2015
5:39 pm
How The Kickstarter Ended: Huzzah!
That last minute rush was amazing to behold.

So now we have a book with Kate Baylay's cover art plus three half-page black & white interior illustrations, and an audiobook narrated by C.S.E. Cooney.

And we have a little extra to spare. I'm not sure how much yet. Tomorrow, when my brain is recovered a bit from the final push, I'll figure out exactly what comes to the project after Kickstarter's well-deserved fees. More of you chose digital rewards than I expected, so I'll need to update my estimates for production and shipping costs of reward fulfillment.

Depending on how much extra we actually have, we could be looking at something small like a colophon, something middle-ish like a bookplate, or something as big as adding a fourth interior illustration. If the best answer isn't obvious, I'll be calling on you guys for suggestions.

You know that Mark Twain tall tale about the guy who gets his tooth pulled? Only the root of the bad tooth reaches all the way to his big toe, so his whole skeleton follows it out, and he has to be carried home in a pillowcase? That's kind of how I feel right now. I'm going to flow into my sheltering pillowcase for the night and let my heroically patient family carry me home in it.

Tomorrow I get to start making a book real!
12:18 am
Looks To Be A Volatile Endgame For The Kickstarter
I'd spent the last couple of days stalled out $600 short of the interior illustration stretch goal. For every new backer I gained (mostly friends and relatives helping me rush for that milestone), I lost another one (all people I didn't know who may have pledged because of the illustrations that were starting to look so unlikely).

I despaired. I found peace. I posted on Facebook about finding peace and then promptly despaired again.

(It's silly to despair. The book, the cover art, and the audiobook will definitely happen. They will all be awesome. What business do I have despairing when I get to make so much happen with -- I remind myself -- other people's money?)

When Jeff Mach, he of the 87,000 Facebook followers, offered to do some signal boost in the morning, I got all hopeful again and posted the project's link one more time.

Three stalwart friends rushed to pledge, outweighing the one illustration fan who defected.

Now we've got 12 hours to raise $440.

The pledge level that's attracted the most backers is $25. If 18 more people did that, we'd hit the current target.

While I wait out the suspense, I'm going to go look at Kate Baylay's sketch for the cover art. We made this possible. You guys made this possible. We'll get to see this one in color:

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015
5:56 pm
Hit Kickstarter Goal, With 8 Days To Go!
We did it!

The Imlen Bastard will definitely be a book. We'll get to hold it in our hands. We will get to find out what that Kate Baylay piece looks like when it progresses from preliminary sketch to finished cover art.

If we hit our next goal, which is less than $400 away, we can hear what C.S.E. Cooney does with it as its narrator. The 8 days we have left should be more than enough.

Your help getting the word out could make a big difference. And if you haven't yet, please check out the project and consider pledging.

Thank you!
Monday, November 9th, 2015
2:05 pm
World Fantasy (The Short Version), And Two Podcasts From Balticon
The World Fantasy Convention went beautifully for me. It had its logistical quirks, including its now-justly-internet-notorious lack of ramps for wheelchair-using panelists, but I accomplished almost everything there that I hoped to. John O'Neill has asked me to write a convention report for Black Gate, so I'll tell more there.

Meanwhile, check this out:

Tim Dodge, who hosts the Geek Side of Life podcast, recorded several panels at Balticon back in May. I got the chance to listen to the two I'm on, and they came out very well. You can find many more at his site.

Reading as a Writer
With Hugh O'Donnell, Mark Van Name, and Bugsy Bryant
There are some useful bits here about reading strategies for building fiction skill sets that don't come easy to us, as well as a long bit about reading mainstream literary classics as a writer of genre fiction.

What Can We Learn from Bad Writing?
With Alessia Brio, Meria Crawford, and Judi Fleming
This conversation developed a lovely, generous spirit -- given the title, it could have turned out to be a real snarkfest, but I'm proud and happy to have been part of what it became instead. We ended up with a long movement about rough drafts and juvenilia, and what writers at all stages of skill can learn from reading their own bad writing on the way to writing better.
Friday, November 6th, 2015
12:57 am
Where To Find Me At The World Fantasy Convention
After an eight-hour drive to Saratoga Springs and several hours of schmoozing, my brain is mush. So, just the facts, ma'am:

Friday, 1pm, City Center 2A
What Does Epic Fantasy Owe the Literary Epic Tradition?

The World Fantasy Convention is odd, in that nobody gets more than one time slot on the program. There are a lot of programming items I'm interested in, but the one on Friday's the only one I'm certain to be at.

Aside from that, your best bet if you want to find me is, believe it or not, the bar.

I'm not really a bar-going person, generally, but the bar is where agents and editors spend convention evenings, expecting writers they don't know to engage them in conversation. Since this year I actually have something they'll want, that's where I'll be.
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
6:13 pm
Halfway Through 30 Days, Almost Halfway To Goal
I just posted my latest Kickstarter update. The short version: I changed the order of the stretch goals to put the easiest ones early (audiobook, black and white interior illustrations), then combined the two hardest into one (color interior illustrations and offset printing), and accepted that the hard ones almost  probably won't happen. Now I can stop putting energy into overthinking ways to reach the stretch goals, and concentrate on the basic goal, which is not a done deal yet.

Initially I included hardcover printing as a stretch goal, but it never really made financial sense, so I've cut it entirely. If you're one of the people who liked to imagine that for me, thank you for your kind thoughts. One day there will be a book like that. Just not this time.
Wednesday, October 28th, 2015
2:36 pm
Excerpt From The Imlen Bastard
If you've come here from my Kickstarter's FAQ, welcome to my blog! Kickstarter's webform for creating a project FAQ couldn't handle the formatting I needed to make this easy on the eye. If you're writing dialogue for a cast that includes both ghosts and the living, italics really are a basic necessity.

Whether you're a newcomer or a friend of many years, I'm glad to be able to show you the opening scenes from The Imlen Bastard. Enjoy!Read more...Collapse )
Tuesday, October 27th, 2015
5:22 pm
Day 7 Update: An Editing Letter Any Writer Would Love to Receive
I just got Betsy Mitchell's developmental and line edit of the manuscript. Her editing letter starts like this:

"The Imlen Bastard" was a delight! Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to work on it. It’s very clean; I sprinkled some notes throughout but there’s nothing major to concern you. I can predict, though, that people are going to be looking for more of this story.... I almost growled when I realized there was no more.

One of the great things this means is that I'll be able to post an excerpt on my Kickstarter page later tonight!

A lot of you have been asking for an excerpt. I wanted to wait until I'd heard back from my editor first, so I knew I'd be able to find a passage that wouldn't change much before it went to press. Now I know I can give you the opening two or three scenes with just a minor brushing up.

All the minor glitches Betsy spotted in the manuscript would normally take a day or two to fix. Because Kickstarter outreach is my main daily task right now, the fixes will probably take a little longer.

Another wonderful implication of Betsy's feedback is that the manuscript itself should be ready to go to the book designer as soon as the artwork is ready to go with it.

Before launching this campaign, I made a list of known potential delays, mostly to satisfy my own curiosity. The first of these -- I worried that Betsy's schedule might be too full to take the manuscript before the winter holidays -- is crossed off as of today. The next one is my job to rule out.
Wednesday, October 21st, 2015
5:28 pm
Kickstarter Update: Some Story-Behind-The Story. Plus, Day 1 Rocked. Day 2's Rockier.
I've got a new post at Black Gate about where "The Imlen Bastard" was hiding before I picked it for my first experiment in crowdfunding and self-publishing.

The Great News: On the first day of the 30-day campaign, so many of you rushed to pledge that we hit 18% of the starting goal. That's a strong start.

The Meh News: Day 2 is a lot quieter.

The first three days are really important. Kickstarter aficionados who aren't already familiar with me or my work -- people who just like looking for cool projects to back -- like to back winners. How the first three days go seems to be a big part of how they choose which projects to take a chance on.

So I need to pull out all the stops to get back to the Day 1 momentum.

If you know fantasy readers, art lovers, and audiobook readers who might like what I'm up to with The Imlen Bastard, please do point them over here.

All suggestions for things I haven't thought of, or maybe should do more of, to get the word out would be very welcome.

Meanwhile, my uncharacteristically large collection of exclamation points and I need to get back to work!
Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
12:11 pm
We Have Liftoff!
The Kickstarter campaign for The Imlen Bastard is live right here. Go check it out!
3:13 am
K-Hour Minus 9 And Counting
I launch at noon. Wish me luck!
Sunday, October 18th, 2015
5:55 pm
K-Day Minus 2 And Counting
Good news: I almost sort of understand Camtasia now, at least enough that I'm no longer intimidated. I'm still slow, though. So Jen's saving my butt.

Bad news: I was up until nearly 3am reshooting the entire Kickstarter video so I'd have the footage Jen needs for the saving of my butt. Now sleep deprivation has me so cognitively impaired, I doubt I'll get any more useful work done until tomorrow.

My kids think Kickstarter is somehow guaranteed to make me rich, so they want me to run a vegetillion campaigns. (Apparently a vegetillion is an order of magnitude larger than a gajillion.) When I try to explain that it's not a sure thing, and we couldn't live with me in a constant state of deadline rush even if it were, they argue that they knew I'd win the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, so now they must be right, too. Well, that would be a good problem to have.

At this point, I'd just be relieved to make the starting goal, and thrilled if we managed a few interior illustrations. My respect for people who work in traditional publishing increases with every task they do that I try for the first time.
Friday, October 16th, 2015
3:00 am
K-Day Minus 4 And Counting
The feedback I got on the Kickstarter draft was immensely helpful. Also daunting. I'm curious to see how I'm going to have all my ducks in a row by the 20th.

As predicted, I do not have a knack for video editing. I figured I'd have to cut down what I had by about half, and at worst I'd have to reshoot it from scratch. That involves wearing makeup. Really, isn't five days a year of wearing makeup more than enough for anybody?

Only it turns out that, in addition to wearing makeup again to shoot it from scratch, I need to learn to use an entirely different video editing application because what really makes this campaign is not my smiling face, but rather Kate Baylay's amazing art.

With good reason, Kate's art is the biggest item in the budget, and it's my fervent hope that we can make her slice of the budget even bigger so we can commission more illustrations. So of course me being charming at my cellphone camera will not do. Including one illustration on the Kickstarter page and telling prospective backers to go look at the artist's website is no way to go about it. And I knew that.

What I didn't know was the name of the right video editing application for the job or that I could get it for free for 30 days (Thank you, Jen!). And I need to tinker quite a bit with the rewards structure (Thanks, Sarah and Jen!). It might not have occurred to me to make the project description more user friendly by adding headings, but once the possibility came up, it seemed obviously necessary (Thanks, Ian!).

So, back to work.
Wednesday, October 7th, 2015
9:52 pm
Attention Kickstarter Aficionados: Who Wants To See A Preview?
Kickstarter has approved my campaign to go live whenever I'm ready. As far as I can tell, that mostly means I filled in all the blanks on the endless webform, because the approval came back almost instantly. In a day or two, I can hope to see feedback from their staff of live humans.

I'm hoping those of you who have experience backing or running campaigns will take a look at the page in preview and advise me on how to improve it.

If people who are definitely planning to back the campaign were to post their pledges on the first day, that would be immensely helpful. If the project has legs right away, Kickstarter might make it one of their staff picks and promote it to people who otherwise might not see it.

I had planned to go live on the 13th, but that didn't leave much time for implementing suggestions, and would have meant asking people to rush to take a look at it. When I ask favors, I generally try not to ask people to hurry about them.

So it looks like we'll go live on Tuesday, October 20th. And then I'll have as frenzied a 30 days as I ever did for National Novel Writing Month.
Thursday, September 24th, 2015
5:41 pm
In Which I Address Awards Controversies Slantwise With Stuff Nobody Else Seems To Be Saying
Come check out my new post on Black Gate. It's an essay on awards and the psychology of motivation, with a studies-have-shown riff about why motivation doesn't work the way most of us have been led to think it does, and a pull-the-wool-over-your-own-eyes riff about preserving self-motivation from stuff that might deplete it.
1:59 pm
Where To Find Me At Capclave
It's a lovely little convention, not overwhelming in scale, with an unusual emphasis on short fiction. When I meet a writer who hasn't tried the convention circuit, I propose Capclave as a good first experience.

I love it, too, when a convention comes within bicycle range of my house. In this case, it's more my husband's bicycle range than mine, but I'll count it. Anyhow, although I won't be sleeping at the Hilton Washington DC North (a disingenuous name for a hotel way out in Gaithersburg), I'll be on premises pretty much from the start of programming to the end, every day of the con.

The programming volunteers have sent me the current version of the schedule. I'll post an update if anything changes. Here's where I'll be:

Friday, 9 October 2015
5:00 PM-5:50 PM
Writing in Series

8:00 PM-8:50 PM
The Right Length For Your Story

Saturday, 10 October 2015
2:00 PM-2:50 PM
The Epic Blockbuster

3:00 PM-3:50 PM
Creating Your Setting

Sunday, 11 October 2015
12 PM-12:25 PM
Reading - Sarah Avery
(I'll be reading from The Imlen Bastard, since I'll be launching the Kickstarter to self-publish it two days after the convention ends.)
Monday, September 7th, 2015
11:28 pm
Now That's How To Celebrate A Life
There are funerals that are totally unabashed about being funerals, and that can be perfect. There are funerals that try not to funerals, that want to be celebrations of the life of the beloved dead, but they don't quite take off, and turn out to be funereal celebrations -- that can be what needs to happen, sometimes, too. And then there are memorials in celebration of a life that's ended that really flower into jubilation. Jubilation punctuated by people taking turns breaking down in tears, but still. It doesn't sound quite right to call those celebratory funerals -- a celebratory funeral would be something else, I suppose, and I'm lucky that I've never been to one. But this thing that happened yesterday, it was like nothing else.

I'm just home from a memorial that broke, for a little while, into a dance party.

After the ritual was over, with its storytelling and singing, one of the mourners who's a wedding DJ by profession set off a playlist of the music Keith had loved. It was quiet enough for everybody to converse over, just loud enough to give us a steady stream of Keith's aesthetic as a sort of undercurrent.

Until we came to Delta Rae's "Dance in the Graveyards." Now, before you run off to YouTube to hear the most joyful song I've ever heard that also deals honestly with loss, consider whether you have some tissues handy and you're someplace where it's okay to have watery eyes for a few minutes -- in which case, watch this heartbreakingly beautiful video. If you're someplace where you can't let your hair down quite that much, here's a version that gives just the audio and the lyrics. It's okay to go check those out. I'll be here when you get back.

So you see why dancing erupted.

We were under the stars, with candles lit in the hundred or so candle holders Keith left behind (because that's how we Pagan hoarders roll). "Careful of the candles!" said some wise person. The only word that made it through the burst of perfect song was candles, so we all found ourselves picking up those hundred candle holders and holding them aloft while we danced.

Our resident DJ being awesome, he put the song right back on, louder, and we sang along at the tops of our lungs, improvising harmonies as we went.

So many moments in the shockingly brief time between Keith's diagnosis and his memorial have unfolded perfectly -- perfectly except for happening about forty years too early. Keith would have made an excellent octogenarian. Aside from that one rendingly wrong thing, I'm thinking what most of us are: when it's my time (long and far may it be), if you can't find my instructions and I can't tell you how I want things, just ask the people who were there what they did for Keith.

And if you're reading this, you are cordially invited to dance in my graveyard.
Friday, August 28th, 2015
3:59 pm
What The New Website Can Do (We Hope)
My website is now faster to load, easier to use on a wider array of devices, and subtly more intuitive. The things that worked about it before it crashed work again in approximately the same way, at least from the user's point of view, as they did before. So the homepage picks up my blog posts from Livejournal automatically (which is much less time consuming for me than posting it on my website first and having LJ pick it up), and the overall aesthetic is the same.

The email list subscription works now -- I know because some of you have subscribed in the past few days. Thank you!

We've got plenty of updating left to do, especially of content. The bio, biblio, and event calendar pages still need to be caught up, and we'll be adding a new section for free reads. Dan is working on making the site mobile-friendly. There may be technical problems that don't show up in our humble testing environment. We just have to survive the first week of the school year and hosting a child's birthday party, and we'll be able to turn our attention back to the website. (Have I mentioned recently the awesomeness of my spouse? He's devoted just about every second of his free time over the past three weeks to this project.)

Meanwhile, if you feel so inclined, please go poke at sarahavery.com. If anything breaks, doesn't look right on your hardware or in your browser, or could otherwise use improvement, I'd take it as a great kindness if you'd let me know.
Thursday, August 20th, 2015
4:47 pm
Website, Kickstarter, And Other Rumblings Of Progress Under The Surface
My website's nearly done getting a major overhaul, and it'll go live probably in the next week or so. The most significant change is that it'll put all the links to stories available for free online in one place, and I'll be offering an e-reader friendly version of a story never published elsewhere to anybody who signs up for my email list. This offer will include people who are already signed up. I haven't used the list yet, so I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do with it.

I've also chosen a start date for my first Kickstarter campaign. Tuesday, October 13, the day after I get home from Capclave, I'll be... do people really use the expression "pulling the trigger" about crowdfunding campaigns? Weird. I'd like to have a way to talk about that phase of the project that doesn't sound like I'm deploying a weapon at people who are helping me bring a book into being. Anyhow, October 13, definitively, with hopes of getting the book itself out in the early srping of 2016, subject to the artist's availability and how many illustrations we end up commissioning from her.

Meanwhile, I'm acting on some excellent and friendly advice on how to fix one of the Beltresa novellas. Apparently, if I take the last 5,000 words and cut that part back to 1,000 words, it will no longer feel like a fragment of a larger book. Okay, let's see if that works. I get all the best personalized rejection letters!
Saturday, August 8th, 2015
12:29 am
Return of the Grail Bearer 3: What Is Remembered Lives
(You may wish to read the first episode, in which Sir Percival and his companion set out on the River of Story to bring the Grail to a Fisher King in need of healing, and the second episode, in which our wanderers brave rough waters. You may also wish to read Percival's first appearance in 2006.)

The knight and his author made their way down the Delaware River, across two centuries, and catty-corner from winter to summer. "Is it this one?" Percival asked when the next creek poured in from the west.

The author squinted upstream, tasted the wind. "No." They paddled on. "Look, I've got no quarrel with your king. He was probably the best game in town at the time."

"I just don't see how you can disbelieve in kings after seeing your General Washington for yourself. If any man after Arthur was kingly enough to have pulled the sword from the stone, it would be..."

"This one," said the author. She leaned west to listen for something. "Yes, this is definitely our tributary."

The creek poured from a concrete pipe whose diameter beat Percival's height by two handspans. "Do we go in?"

"Let's try portaging first."

So they stepped out into a gulping mud that swallowed the author's right shoe and left both travelers mud-spattered to the waist. Hefting the boat shoulder-high, they followed the outside of the concrete pipe to its start, where the tributary sparkled over its bed of smooth stones.

"Upstream," sighed the author.

"Of course," Percival said brightly. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."
Read more...Collapse )
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