An Apology for Radio Silence & FAQ’s

Hello, readers and lovely new website visitors!

I’m incredibly sorry. I didn’t mean to completely disappear this summer, especially without announcing a formal internet break, but that is exactly what happened over the past couple months. Book 4, as I have mentioned before, is a beast. It is eating up all my time and my energy. I think it’ll end up being a pretty good book, but right now, it is demanding my undivided attention.

Sorry, poor neglected blog! And Twitter! And facebook, tumblr, and instagram!

And most of all, I’m sorry to you readers! I know Of Sorcery and Snow just came out, and you’re probably more eager to hear from me. I feel terrible about letting you down.

And here’s the other thing I’m really sorry about: the internet hiatus isn’t over. I’m only popping my head out of the revision cave for this post, and then I have to get back to crafting this draft.

The only reason I broke my silence?

Well, today is a special occasion. There’s absolutely no reason why you would know why. I actually only remembered, because I marked my calendar months and months ago–in seriously calmer times.

It’s the five year anniversary of me becoming a professional writer. I meant to write a really deep post about my journey, and instead, here I am, apologizing for my long absence(s). I think that gives you a pretty accurate picture of my life right now.

Before I disappear again, I want to quickly answer a few questions I’ve noticed.

So, here we go:

FAQs
(a.k.a Frequently Asked Questions)

Will there be a Book 4?

Yes! Technically, it exists already. In July, it looked like this:

Book 4 - version 2

The first draft was over 500 pages long. Yikes.

This month, it is only slightly less humongous and unruly:

Book 4 - version 3

The second draft was less than 380 pages long. That still seems LONG.

(The bigger stack holds the chapters I still need to rework. Siiiiiigh.)

When does Book 4 come out?

We’re not sure what date it’ll be published, but right now, it’s scheduled to come out in Summer 2015. So, roughly, a year after Of Sorcery and Snow.

I’m sorry! I know it’s a long time to wait! That’s part of the reason I’m working so hard on it now. I want it to come out on time, so y’all don’t have to wait even longer.

Does Book 4 have a title?

Technically yes. I haven’t gotten permission to share it yet.

BUT I think I can tell you that the title was a suggestion from one of the readers who visited the **SPOILER** Boards. I told everyone then that I would share the title suggestions with my editor and agent, and I did. My editor ended up picking one that a reader suggested.

I’m planning a prize for this reader, and I’ll announce who this reader is when I’m allowed to announce the title.

What will be going on with Rory and Chase in Book 4?

Totally not telling. :-)

But seriously, this is one of those **SPOILER** things I’m afraid to even hint around. Plus, since the book isn’t finished, nothing is set in stone yet. So, I really can’t tell you, because it might not be true in the next draft.

The site says I’m a spammer! Can you rescue my comment?

I will try. I’ve been trying to go through the spam folder at least once a week to rescue comments that don’t deserve to be there, but I have horrific news–news that has been keeping me up at night:

The spam folder has been deleting comments faster than I can go through them. In other words, we’re losing some comments forever.

I don’t know why this is happening. It’s never happened before. Earlier this year, I found comments that were almost a year old, and right now, I’m getting so much spam–like actual, slightly gross spam–that the spam folder tends to get overfull in LESS than a week. I think it has started to delete stuff on its own.

I created this website on my own, and I think we’ve reached the ends of my ability to maintain it properly. I think I’m going to have to recruit some professional help this fall.

I feel awful about this, and I wish I had a solution. I hope all of you are saving your important posts before you submit them to the potential wrath or mercy of this site’s overzealous spam folder.

Could we have a fanfiction-only page to go along with the **SPOILER** Boards?

A number of you guys have asked me about creating a page just for fanfiction. I’m immensely flattered that you guys have enjoyed the Ever Afters so much that you want to write a story within its world. I know it’s a pain to try to track a certain fanfiction when a) it’s not the only fanfiction in the 2,000 or so comments on that page and b) Larry, the spam folder/comment devourer, keeps eating your posts.

I haven’t answered the question until now, because I’ve been considering it.

And right now, my answer is…not right now. :-(

I’ve thought about this long and hard, and at the moment, I can ONLY be responsible for this book. I can’t be responsible for extra content beyond that. That includes the short stories, blog posts, AND fanfiction.

And after the book (finally) gets turned in, well, it’s very rare for an author to be in charge of fanfiction for her own books. I’m not sure I’ll be the one to break the cycle. I’m still thinking about it.

When will the short stories come out?

Sometime after Book 4 is in. I’m going to need a project where I get to say goodbye to these characters, and those short stories will be it.

Have you gotten my email?

Probably. But I’m afraid I’m backed up on the email front–roughly five months behind by today’s estimate. I think I answered all blog comments up until June 23, and then I haven’t since.

I still plan to respond, but it’ll be a while before I can turn my attention to them. It’ll take even longer for me to get back to everyone.

Where are you??????????

Working on Book 4.

Green Bean Book July 30 Book Club

Thank you to Earl at Green Bean Books for the photo!

I did have this fabulous event with Green Bean Books at the end of July (see above), but besides that, Book 4 has dominated my life. I’ve been working ten to fifteen hour days. I’ve taken one day off since early May, and I spent it in bed, watching Call the Midwife. 

I’m telling you this so that you know: I’m not ignoring you on purpose. I am doing all I can.

As I write this, I sense you on the other end of the screen. I sense you getting upset, maybe even angry: I’m gone for so long, and you were as patient as you could possibly be, and then you basically get a post about how I’m sorry but I can’t do the things you hoped I would do (at least right now)? A litany of apologies seems like a terrible way to repay your enthusiasm and your kindness. I know this. I kind of expect to get a few messages that contain varying levels of displeasure.

Please don’t think, though, that this means that I don’t care or that I don’t think about you. I think about you all the time. I think about you especially while I’m writing and revising. Of the five years I have been writing, thinking about my readers has been the only thing that has remained consistent. I imagined you before I learned your names, and after I got the chance to meet you (digitally or in person), you wowed me with your passion and your smarts and all-around awesomeness.

That is why disappointing you haunts me so much.

I would love to be able to give you all that you ask for. I would love to just keep up with this website like I did earlier this year. But I am human–and I’m limited by a human amount of hours in a human day. My human body is starting to struggle under the stress of this year, and I’ve been forced to admit: I can’t do everything.

But I have to finish this book.

Here begins the official internet break. I’ll see you again after Book 4 is done. :-/

Giveaway Winners! And IT’S FINALLY HERE!!

First of all, thank you to everyone who entered!!

It makes me really happy to see you guys excited about the book, so seriously, thank you! As a thank you, I went ahead and added another prize to each category. So we’ll have six winners instead of four.

Without further ado, here are the winners:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WOOHOO!!!! Congratulations to Sage, Amanda T., Emily C., Makenna, Salma, and Christy S.!

(Note: I have already emailed all the winners, so check your inboxes. This was a Emily C with a bird in her email address, and a Christy whose last name ends with an “r.”)

To those of you who didn’t win, I’m sorry–I would love to give a prize to every single person who entered, but I sadly don’t HAVE that many prizes. :-(

But here’s the good news:

The wait is over! OF SORCERY AND SNOW should be making its way to bookstores and libraries everywhere.

of sorcery and snow in the wild

This photo is proof that it can be found out in the wild! 

I hope you all get your hands on a copy soon, and I really REALLY hope you enjoy it. 

After you’ve read it, you should definitely check out the Of Sorcery and Snow **SPOILER** Board (click here) to chat with other readers who finished the book.

Also, if you have any questions after you’ve read it, please don’t hesitate to ask me about it. I can’t promise I’ll answer right away (I’m still toiling away on Book 4), but I do try to answer everyone. The best way to reach me is via the Tumblr* Ask page (click here) or via email (shelby.bach@gmail.com). 

That’s it from me! I hope you enjoy OF SORCERY AND SNOW! :-D

*Note: You do not need a Tumblr account to ask me a question! You can be anonymous! 

Giveaway: OF SORCERY & SNOW finished copies! And SWAG!

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Finished copies are here!

Which means it’s time for the last OF SORCERY AND SNOW giveaway before it’s published!

I’ll be giving away one signed copy, just in time for the release date on June 24, but I decided that I wanted to do something different this year. Some of you have mentioned that you’ve pre-ordered copies of the books, which means that a signed copy won’t be terribly exciting to you at this point.

So, I’m giving away three prizepacks, and they’ll look like this:

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Complete prize pack on the left; detail pics on the right.

Each one includes:

  • a tote bag, which I will sign and put your name on (only if the winner wants!)
  • a notebook (the tag reads, “Not all Chapters of Ever After School keep the current volume of ongoing Tales in their well-guarded library. Young Characters receive one of these during orientation. Writing appears on the first page the second their new Tale begins.”)
  • an M3, a.k.a. a mini-magic-mirror (Lena’s spells are on the back.)

I hope you like them! All this stuff is handmade, so you’ll have to forgive any imperfections.

Important Info:

How to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please use these rafflecopter widgets and follow their instructions! This will let me know which item you’re hoping to win, and it helps me keep track of all your entries.

You can enter both if you want, and feel free to rack up as many points/entries on each widget as you can. :-)

How to use the rafflecopter widgets:

I found this video, which should make it easier for those of you haven’t used rafflecopter very often.

The question you might decide to answer in the comments:

As you’ll soon find out, brothers and sisters are kind of central in OF SORCERY AND SNOW. What are your favorite fictional siblings?

Mine are Meg and Charles Wallace in A WRINKLE IN TIME and Simon and River in FIREFLY.

Dates:

12AM EST/9PM PST on June 23: The giveaway will end!

First thing on June 24: I’ll announce the winners!

GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERS!

Friday Five – the Hopefully-I-Can-Finish-This-Post-Before-Saturday Edition

1. A Shelfie, By Request

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This one is for Dria, who asked me to post a Shelfie on goodreads last week–and then was kind enough to explain what a shelfie was. (I’m sorry that it took me so long to post it, Dria!)

These are a handful of the books in my room. Some of these I’ve read this spring. Others just came out but I got a chance to read them before they released. I loved all of them.

I know–I cheated with THE CROSSOVER: I read it on my Kindle (pictured, second from the top), but it was so good that I had to include it. :-)

2. New York City

I visited New York at the end of May. Have I mentioned that? The whole trip was a blur–actually, you might say that this whole year has been a blur–but I thought y’all might like a quick recap in pictures. Ready?

Click through for Photo Credit--I was too busy devouring to take my own pics.

Click through for Photo Credit–I was too busy devouring to take my own pics.

 On Friday, I took my lovely editor, Julia, out for an afternoon coffee at this yummy place (see above–we actually sat at those front tables). I’d just stumbled off a red-eye flight that morning, so my brain was a little fried. Because she’s wonderful, Julia pretended she didn’t notice.

Saturday morning and early afternoon, I visited BEA, a.k.a. Book Expo of America. I haven’t been since 2008, and I don’t remember it being so crowded! Quite a few pics of this event have been floating around the internet in the past few weeks, so I condensed my best ones into one big picture.

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Sadly, I haven’t gotten a chance to read any of the titles in my book haul. Siiiiigh. Someday, I’ll have free time again.

Saturday evening, I attended the Kid Author Carnival! That event was so awesome that it gets to be #3 in this Friday Five (see below).

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Saturday night, my agent Jo, her husband Joe, and I went to go see MALEFICENT! In 3D IMAX! It was insane and GORGEOUS, and I actually loved it. I loved seeing the way Maleficent was broken and healed, and how she always took responsibility for her actions, even when she did wrong.  I loved how they weaved in stuff from the original SLEEPING BEAUTY too.

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Click through for source. I was too busy chatting to take pictures.

Sunday afternoon, I hung out with Kristen, an old friend I ran into by chance at BEA, and her brand-new fiance. We walked all around Prospect Park (see above) and then to a bookstore. We also spotted this sign in her neighborhood:

That says, "Lemonade & Tattoos," btw. I didn't see any kids manning the booth though!

That says, “Lemonade & Tattoos,” btw. I didn’t see any kids manning the booth though!

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Sunday evening, I hung out with my friends, Arielle and Zack, AND their new puppy, Lucy (see above). She is that adorable, btw. She is very rarely that still, but she’d just tired herself out playing in the puppy park.

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At sunset on Sunday, we got ice cream at a pier in Brooklyn Heights.

Monday, right before I left, I had to stop by a couple places that had been my favorite haunts back when I still lived in New York.

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One of those was Alice’s Tea Cup. The above picture kind of gives you a sense of their general decor. The next one may give you a sense of why I love it so much.

Click through for source.

Click through for source.

PUMPKIN SCONES!!!

On the way to pick up my bags on Monday afternoon, I walked through Central Park.

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I used to go there to calm down in the midst of stressful city life. This time, I found it beautiful, but it made me long for home and the greenery here in Portland.

3. Kid Author Carnival

THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN!

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First off, the Jefferson Market Library was beautiful (see above). It reminded me of the library at Vassar College, where I went to school–something like a cathedral to literature.

The KAC organizers worked amazingly hard, and the kids who attended seemed to have a great time.

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I’m second from the right. (Photo Credit: Joanna Volpe, a.k.a. awesome agent to me and Kody)

I had a blast on my panel. I felt so lucky to sit between Kwame Alexander, author of THE CROSSOVER, and Kody Keplinger, author of THE SWIFT BOYS AND ME.

Kwame shared wonderful stories that had us all in stitches, and he oozed positivity. I was shocked to find out afterwards that he wasn’t feeling well. Also, I got to tell him that his book made me cry in public.

I already knew Kody Keplinger (Jo is her agent as well), but this was the first time we got to do an event together. She’s a hoot, full of lively and insightful stories, and I’m thrilled she has joined the realm of middle grade.

But the person who made my night was Bryn. She came up to introduce herself after the panel, and she said that she had read my books around eighteen times. Of course I gave her some prizes to thank her. :-)

4. School Visit at the Ivy School

Some of you readers have asked me to come to your school, and I’ve had to disappoint you and say no since I live too far away.

But last month, I got to say yes to two young ladies here in Portland!

A few days after I came back from New York, I spoke to the middle school students at the Ivy School. I have to confess: I think that the speech I gave was way too generalized for kids as creative as these students. Afterwards, I watched a play written and directed by one of the girls who invited me to speak, and it blew me away–the talent and the humor in it.

5. OF SORCERY AND SNOW Swag

I have been even more MIA than usual over the past few weeks. One reason was that I’ve been trying to revise Book 4. Another reason was that I’ve been traveling.

But the last reason is that I’ve been making stuff!!!! I’ve been calling said stuff “goodies,” but I’ve just realized that the unofficially official term is “swag.” So, I’ll start calling it that.

And I’ll be giving some swag away in my next post. :-)

Your Darlings’ First Death

So, I wrote this early last month, and I’ve been sitting on it since then.

I think it’s ready now. 

1. Kill Your Darlings

We’re still not sure who said it first, but it’s a common saying among writerly folks: kill your darlings.

People usually interpret it like this: take out all the stuff in your writing that doesn’t work, even if you love it to pieces. Beloved characters, out-of-place jokes, and wonderfully fluffy scenes have all fallen to the cutting floor under this banner. It is good advice.

But you can apply it in another way. Sometimes, our darlings die earlier than the editing stage. We don’t talk as much about the first death, but it’s just as important.

2. Ann Patchett nailed it.

201401-omag-read-9-284xfallOnly a few of us are going to be willing to break our own hearts by trading in the living beauty of imagination for the stark disappointment of words. I never learned how to take the beautiful thing in my imagination and put it on paper without feeling I killed it along the way. I did, however, learn how to weather the death, and I learned how to forgive myself for it.

–Ann Patchett

(You can also find this quote in her book, which I very much enjoyed.)

3. Break Your Book.

I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot, especially as I approach the final chapters of The Ever Afters 4. I’m struggling with them.

Usually, when I get this close to the ending of a book, something sparks inside and ignites a typing frenzy. I usually can’t wait to fly through the scenes. This time, I just feel wistful, not excited. Only stubborn determination powers me through a scene, and Ann Patchett phrased the reason perfectly.

I’m writing a tough scene this week. The idea for it came to me in 2009, soon after I began developing the series. In the four and a half years since then, the scene in my head gained detail. Emotions snowballed around it. Bits of Books 2 and 3 have set it up. It was always coming, this scene, and it was going to be epic and heartrending and moving beyond measure.

Now, I’m writing it down, and pretty much every sentence makes me cringe. In my head, it’s so intense that I hear a very dramatic singing every time I think about it (that might be my EAS#4 playlist, though). On the page, it’s only these ugly little paragraphs–full of substandard dialogue, clumsy descriptions, and confusing plotting.

In other words, I’m breaking a beloved scene. I keep ruining the moments in this series that I’ve been looking forward for most of my adult life. A terrible suspicion strikes me every time I look at what I’ve done:  that I don’t have enough skill to write the book that’s living in my head.

4. Work Past the Doubt.

I wasn’t going to write about this feeling; I was going to just grit my teeth and power through it (see the bit about stubborn determination above).

What changed my mind is this: I’ve heard from tons of aspiring writers who say the same thing: what’s in my brain doesn’t match what ends up on the page. These readers are convinced that this means they’re not very good at writing.

But here’s the thing. ALL writers feel like the prose on the page doesn’t measure up with the epicness in our heads. Ann Patchett does. I do. This guy does too (btw, if you haven’t watched this video, YOU SHOULD).

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Doubt like this is a badge of honor. It means that you care about what you’re writing. It means you’re motivated to work on it until you make it better.

5. Break in order to Mend.

I’m not actually ruining my book. I recognize this in my saner moments, even if it’s only in a distant logical way that doesn’t have anything to do with how I feel.

But by writing it down, I am breaking it. It might not be a bad thing.

I believe that humans can be stronger after breaking open. I believe this, because something has to mend the fissure along the broken pieces. Something has to pour out of the person or out of the universe to fill in the scar. It could be something as small and mundane as your own stubborn determination or it could be something as grand as restored faith in the goodness of people. Whatever it is, a scar can make a broken thing more than what it was before it was broken.

That’s true for anything that has the potential to grow. It’s true for manuscripts. Maybe even the manuscript of the series you’ve been writing for five years.

Yes, I’m breaking these beautiful scenes into pieces. Yes, I probably don’t have the skill I need to write the book in my brain, but I WILL have that skill after this draft is finished. I’ll develop it while I’m revising. Through a lot of work and many drafts, I’ll take all the broken pieces, and something unexpected will rise up out of them to bind the rough edges together. It won’t be the beautiful scene I imagined. It will be something better–something I never could have envisioned while I was drafting. What grows over the scars of the scenes I’ve broken does something I could never do on my own–it makes the book more than the sum of its parts.

Of Giants and Ice, Of Witches and Wind, and Of Sorcery and Snow all grew through the exact same journey. That’s how I know.

I just need to have the courage to keep breaking beautiful scenes into lackluster words. I have to keep reminding myself: sometimes, you have to let your darlings die their first death, so something better can grow in their broken places.

Disclaimer: This blog post was brought to you as the author’s pep talk to HERSELF. She has to go back to writing and revising those pesky scenes now. (Hopefully, this way, she’ll be more cheerful about it. (And hopefully, she’ll never again talk about herself in the third person.))