Winner of the THIRD Of Sorcery and Snow galley giveaway!

Everyone, please take a moment and please congratulate….

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YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!
CONGRATULATIONS, MAKENZIE!!!

Now, if you didn’t win, I’ve got good news and bad news. Bad news comes first: I’m out of galleys, so I won’t be able to give any more advance copies away.

Now for the good news: I WILL be giving away a signed FINISHED copy of the book in June–the same month that Of Sorcery and Snow releases. Actually, I’m planning to also give away some cool swag at the same time (cool swag = something even better than bookmarks and stickers). So, even if you’ve already pre-ordered your copy of the book, you’ll still get a chance to win something exciting. :-D

Also, it’ll be summer by then, so you’ll all have plenty of time to read and chat on the **SPOILER** Boards about what happens in Book 3. (I’m pretty sure you’ll want to talk about it. I hope so.)

Wow, this year is moving fast. I kind of can’t believe it.

Anyway, congratulations again, Makenzie! WOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

The THIRD Of Sorcery and Snow Giveaway, plus Awesome Art by Tasha K.

Guess what?

I’ve been SO engrossed in writing Book 4 that I totally mixed up my dates. This giveaway was supposed to start on April 13, and I was SURE that Monday (ie. today) was April 13. Not so. It is April 14.

So, I’m a day late! I’m so sorry!! But since I didn’t get any emails from people wondering what was up, I’m thinking that maybe you guys were distracted by the beautiful spring weather outside and don’t mind? Maybe? If you do mind, I really am sorry.

I have something that might make it up to you, something I’ve been excited to share for a while.

Remember how Tasha K. won the last giveaway? Well, she sent me a few surprises after she finished it, and they’re BEAUTIFUL!

When Rory Looks Into the Mirror, by Tasha K.

When Rory Looks Into the Mirror, by Tasha K.

Chase and Lena When Rory First Sees Them, by Tasha K.

Chase and Lena When Rory First Sees Them, by Tasha K.

Happy Belated Birthday, Chase!

Happy Belated Birthday, Chase!

She also sent me a fourth drawing…but I can’t post it yet since it contains a Spoiler. However, I’m considering adding it to the first Of Sorcery and Snow **SPOILER** Board, because it might just be my favorite one.

Thank you again, Tasha!!! And thank you for letting me share them!

Not that you forgot what the cover looks like, or anything. I just like looking at it.

Not that you forgot what the cover looks like, or anything. I just like looking at it.

Without further ado, here we go:

This contest will end at 12AM EST/9PM PST on Wednesday, April 23, and I’ll post a winner on Thursday, April 24. The prize is for ONE Of Sorcery and Snow galley.

Again, you have two options. You can also do both for two chances to win, but to enter the giveaway, you only need to do one:

OPTION #1: You can like THE EVER AFTERS on Facebook. If you have already liked the series, then just go ahead and check this option.

OPTION #2: You can leave a comment on this blog post that answers the question, If you were Lena, what kind of magical invention would you create?

No matter what you do, you need to enter your name/online persona and your email address into the rafflecopter widget (that thing below), so that I know who to contact if you win!

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GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERS!!!

I’m home!

 

Spring!

 

It was a long, busy trip, and the week after my return was long and busy too.

But look! It’s SPRING in Portland! I’m trying not to get used to it–March and April tend to be rainy and dreary here, but it’s been gorgeous outside. I should go outside and take advantage of that more.

In other news, Book 4 is NOT finished. I had to get an extension, so I’m still busy writing, writing, writing. It’s going well, but more slowly than I would like. (I know. I always say that. It always seems to be true, though. I would LIKE to be writing a chapter a day, but that is a very rare phenomenon. It only happens at the very end of books. Luckily, I’m getting CLOSE to the end. It will be a sad and happy day when I reach it.)

I have ALSO been trying to get back to everyone who commented and emailed me while I was away. I’m still not all the way caught up, but I am still adhering to the New Contact Policy (see a more thorough explanation of that here). It’s been nice to hear from you guys, and I really appreciate you being patient with me while I work my way through my inbox.

I think I’m done for the night though! It’s 11:15PM here, and I’m supposed to be at work at 9AM tomorrow morning!

Something tells me excessive amounts of caffeine will be in my near future…. :-P

Happy March to everyone,
and Happy Spring Break to those of you who are on Spring Break!!

New Contact Policy – Effective on March 1

So, something about 2014 has upped the traffic to this blog in a crazy, awesome, intense way.

Some of you have noticed this too. I mean, we had to a whole new **SPOILER** Board last month! And we’ll probably need a new one before Of Sorcery and Snow comes out!!

I remember the days when I would have been happy to get 50 comments a month on this website. Now, we’re closer to 50 comments A DAY.

It boggles my mind, and it fills me with gratitude and happiness to be part of your lives. I love hearing from you all. I love seeing the conversations we have running on the **SPOILER** Board and the Fresh Discussion Page.

Of course, I’m only one person, and as I’m sure some of you have noticed, I’m having a hard time keeping up. Sometimes, I stay up very late to respond to everyone at least once, and I comb through the hundreds of comments, trying to read everything, afraid I’ll miss something.

I’ve been spending way more time on comments than I have on blog posts and Twitter in the past few months. I figured that was okay, because I was enjoying getting to know you so much. But recently, there have been days when I spent more time answering comments than actually writing Book 4. That’s more troubling.

You readers are extremely important to me. I’ve been putting in all these hours recently, because I really care about you. But my characters are important to me too. And if I don’t finish their story, it won’t get told.

So, I’m afraid I need to make some changes to my comment policy.

We’re going to get the bad news over first:
1. I can no longer answer every comment.

I mean, since you guys are talking to each other so much, I already don’t answer every comment.

But I do try to answer all comments that aren’t addressed to anyone in particular. I think I have to stop putting that kind of pressure on myself. It takes too much time and energy to be so thorough.

I know that this is going to be disappointing to many of you, and I’m incredibly sorry about that. But I really think that it’s the best solution. I’ve seen other writers stop answering comments completely, or turn the comments on their blog OFF so no one can write on their websites. I don’t want to go to that extreme.

2. I can no longer commit to answering every message the same week I receive it.

Up till now, I’ve been responding to ALL the comments and emails and messages from everyone twice a week. Twice a week, I work until it’s done. I often spend most of the day doing it, staying up late into the night.

After a lot of thought, and with a lot of reluctance, I’ve decided I’m going to just answer mail for a set period each week. If I don’t finish answering within that time period, then the remaining messages will have to wait for my next designated reply period.

So, there might be a lag time on my responses in the future. :-(

3. I’m going to step back from The **SPOILER** Boards and The Discussion Boards.

When I created both of these, I wanted them to be the place where you guys chatted with each other, not me. It makes me happy to see that these pages are kind of evolving in that direction anyway. I’ve been commenting there less often recently, trying to wean myself off.

Going forward, I won’t visit it regularly. I may stop by every once in a while to see what’s going on and to create new, fresh boards and pages as needed, but I’m going to let you guys take the reins and have your own conversations.

Now, I still want to be able to answer questions online, so I’m starting something new (see number 2 in good news below).

4. I need to announce another online break–from 3/1-3/15.

I’m going out of town for the first part of next month. I have a few things going on: a school visit, a wedding, and a deadline for Book 4.

It’s really the last one that is going to take up all my remaining brain power.

Now, on to the GOOD news:
 1. I will still welcome every single new person to the blog! No matter what page they comment on! 

I still want to be the hostess to this online party, even if I can’t participate in every conversation.

2. I’ll still answer your questions, whether it’s about the books or about writing or just about like–just not on the **SPOILER** Board or the Fresh Discussion page!

It’ll be a lot easier for me to answer your questions if I know exactly where to find them. So, you guys have a couple options:

If you want it to be private, you can always email me.

If you want it to be anonymous, you can ask me on my new Tumblr page. I set it up this week JUST for that reason.

Tumblr Screenshot 2.25.2014

It should look like this.

I’m not particularly tech-savvy, so just in case you need it, here’s a quick tutorial on how to ask a question on the Tumblr site:

a) Go to this site.

b) Type your question into the box.

c) It’ll go into my Tumblr ask box, and I’ll find it and answer it as soon as I can.

d) Once I respond, you’ll find my reply on this page.

So, it should be pretty easy–for you and for me.

3. I may go back to being more involved later on…

…after Book 4 is turned in this summer.

I would LIKE to be super involved again. I love getting to chat with you guys. You really are some of my favorite people, and I’m sorry that I won’t be able to hang out here as much as I used to.

Feel free to ask any questions–either here or on the Tumblr site. The changes go into effect on Saturday, and I’ll try to answer as many as I can before my online break in early March!

4. ETA (2.28.2014): No matter what, I’ll still check the Spam Folder every few days to rescue comments.

I know a lot of you have been frustrated about being called Spammers and your comments not posting. I’m really sorry about that, and I’m still trying to fix it. In the meantime, I’m going to make sure I keep double checking the folder every few days to rescue any comments that end up there.

If you don’t see it return, feel free to email me, and I’ll go ahead and check again.

2013 vs. 2014

So, I usually do a recap of the previous year every December/January–a blog post where I try to wrap my head around what I’ve learned over the past twelve months. You might have noticed that I haven’t written about 2013 yet.

There’s a reason for that.

2013 was a rough year. The first six or seven months were dominated by stress: I managed to finish Book 3 on time, but only barely. I was worried until I turned it in to copy-editing. So worried that I worked crazy, unhealthy hours. So worried that I literally started losing my hair.

(For those of you imagining a bald Shelby, don’t fret: I didn’t lose that much of it, and what I lost grew back. But gray.)

During the last chunk of 2013, I wasn’t as busy, but I was filled with a sort of bone-deep sadness I couldn’t shake. I think it had to do with my great-grandmother’s death, and how I threw myself into writing Book 3 instead of processing the loss. I think it also had to do with dealing with a lot of change, both the good and the bad. (I didn’t blog about it much at the time, maybe just here and here.)

So, here’s what I learned from it all:

Painful periods are unavoidable. Life is going to scar you, no matter how much you plan or how well you juggle your life. It happens to everyone at one time or another. It doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong. It means that hard things happen sometimes.

But it’s just a period of your life, and it carves out rooms inside you that you didn’t realize you had–places where joy can come in and compassion can fill up. You’ll notice them when the gray clears and happier times arrives.

You can see why I’ve been avoiding talking about it. A little bit depressing, huh?

As you can probably guess, I would really rather not spend this year like I spent 2013. I don’t feel like I need to learn that lesson twice.

So, late in December and early in January, I talked about with people I love and brainstormed during intense journaling sessions, and I made an EPIC PLAN–one that I’m finally going to share with you guys:

In 2014, I want to find a sustainable way to live and work, one that will give me the resources* I need to make good books** and help me live a healthy life,*** so that I can have a long, fruitful writing career.****

*By resources, I mostly mean time and energy and creative fun that feeds book-making. And the emotional reserves and support that’ll help me through rough times like last year.

**The fourth and final installment in The Ever Afters counts as the first of these. I hope that the books will be good; honestly, I don’t know.

***By and large, the first four years of my writing career have been riddled with sinus infections, late hours, and lack of exercise. In other words, NOT healthy.

****We’re talking about not the Ten Year Plan, but the Seven Decade Plan.

(That was a lot of asterisks. Hmmmmm. It might be confusing.  Sorry! Skip those bits if they throw you. The important part is the bolded part.

Moving on.)

Now, we’re almost two months into 2014. It’s taken me this long to actually get around to discussing my goals for this year. That should give you an idea of how the whole sustainable lifestyle thing is going.

Frankly (and most unfortunately), not awesomely.

I started off pretty well! I was going to the gym regularly! I was writing a lot, but not in the middle of the night! Then January 18 brought a cold into my life, and I’ve been sick in varying degrees since then–I’ve had lots of sleep, lots of fluid, and even a round of antibiotics.

I’m still not better, and because I’ve tried so hard to get well, I’m started to think that my body is trying to tell something. It’s basically going on strike until I listen.

My best guess? It’s trying to say, Shelby, you’re trying to do too much. Slow down, and restructure so you can go at a healthier pace. Trying to handle ALL the things in a short amount of time isn’t sustainable. I’ll need to reassess and plan to do what is humanly possible (instead of what is superhumanly possible/makes my hair fall out).

So, even though I would like to do more, I’m going to have make some changes.

And some of those changes are going to happen here on this website.

This saddens and scares me, because I hate disappointing people. I’m deeply afraid of disappointing you guys. You readers are some of my favorite people in the world.

But the idea of being sick all year long and doing permanent damage to my body scares me more. So, I’m afraid the change must come.

More on that tomorrow.