At Last

Hi everyone,

I apologize for not answering comments left here in the last months. All that time, I kept thinking, I should post to the blog today, but I’ll be finished with Breaking the Rules and can give good news in a couple of more days. Hah. As ever, I’m optimistic and wrong.

Breaking the Rules really was 80-90% done when I last posted here at Christmas time, so I had reason to believe I’d be finished shortly. What happened was I had an idea that I was sure would make the story better. Of course it required rewriting a chapter near the beginning. I fought it for days, but in the end couldn’t resist doing it. And as always changing that one thing required rewriting parts of all the chapters that followed since there are always references to early events later and indeed consequences and emphasis change. In fact it undoubtedly made the story longer and more involved than originally envisioned.

So I ended up with another story that’s either a very long novella or a short novel. Breaking is about the same length as A Grand Race. I also realized I didn’t want to post a link to download it from my website when my site was such a mess. I’ve been adding this and that from time to time, and things no longer were consistent, the home page was out of date and the present layout wouldn’t take another book, etc. So I spent the last couple of days fixing that. I still need to fix the sidebar here and will in the coming days.

Also, I had a great debate with myself. As you all know, Rachel’s Eyes and Luke’s Eyes are short follow-ons to Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold in that they feature the Bennett family and Anne and Cord. Someone at Goodreads even labeled Eyes as #1 as if it’s a series. I understand the reasoning and even concede that it’s probably right, but somehow labeling these shorter stories as if they’re in any way equivalent to Eyes offends me. It was and is a standalone, and nothing’s going to change that in my mind.

So I published Luke’s Eyes Friday, updated the cover of Rachel’s Eyes to match, and labeled them both as “Eyes of Silver Revisited #__.” I’m going to continue that with the future stories for Pete Bennett, Rob Wells, and Anne and Cord with the Stones again. It may confuse some, but that’s what I’m doing, and it’s not as if I have so many books out no one will get the idea.

So a notice should go out from Mailchimp, the company that handles my mailing list, later today or maybe tomorrow. (Isn’t that the stupidest name ever?) I don’t do this often enough to know how fast that works. It will say that Luke’s Eyes is published and available, and give download links for Breaking the Rules.

Here are the covers. I’m not sure if Amazon has the change to the Rachel’s Eyes cover or the Luke’s Eyes one up yet. Last time I checked they didn’t, but you can see larger versions on my website, oconnellauthor.com.

Finally, some of you have from time to time asked me about beta reading. I didn’t send Breaking out to anyone for feedback. It’s short, I was late getting it done, and some of my best readers have had life changes that makes them no longer able to read for me. So if any of you would like to be beta readers for future stories, consider giving it a go on Breaking and email me your feedback.

A few hints:

While any feedback is good, generally things like punctuation are a waste of your time because what goes to beta readers from me isn’t a final draft and may be substantially revised after that. That doesn’t mean things like wrong word usage that I haven’t caught up to that point because if I haven’t caught it by then, it would get by me forever. For instance, with Beautiful Bad Man one reader caught that I cited the story of Androcles and the lion as from the Bible when it’s from an Aesop’s fable.

“I loved it” with no criticism doesn’t work for me. As someone who can think of improvements that could be made to even her mostest favoritest stories ever, I simply don’t accept that someone can read something and not find things that could be improved, and the purpose of beta reading, at least in my mind, isn’t sentence-level editing, but improving the story.

I read my reviews. Not everyone loves my stories, and some people who love one don’t even like another. You aren’t going to hurt my feelings with criticism, although I may hurt yours by ignoring something you say.

Which can be a problem on your side. You have to be able to accept being ignored. For instance, 5 beta readers all hit on the character of Gaetan in Dancing, in ways ranging from “I loved him” to “I hated him.” After much internal debate I decided if that many people had trouble with the character I couldn’t ignore it and revised every scene with his POV  and added a couple to soften him.

So only 1 of the 5 readers really got what she suggested, the other 4 either got something they didn’t suggest (they loved him as is, and I changed him) or their ideas were ignored (I didn’t soften him anything like as much as the hated him readers suggested). I consider every suggestion, but only implement those that either strike me as right or that several readers all mention in the same way. If 2 people say the same thing, I may change something even if I like the original. If 3 people say the same thing, I’ll change it whether I prefer the original or not.

So with Breaking, it is in pretty much final form (and wrong commas would count). I tweaked Luke’s Eyes a bit before publishing but only changed a few sentences, not the basic story or characters. Unless someone suggests something that really resonates, Breaking will probably be the same (and I’m sure there will be reviews on Goodreads soon, even if most of them will say “too short).

So if you want to give it a try and use Breaking to see how it works for you, go ahead. Keep in mind if you were to do this in the usual way, you’d get a story early, but it wouldn’t necessarily be the final story.

Thanks for your patience, everyone. Hope you like Breaking the Rules.

~Ellen

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14 Responses to At Last

  1. Rosheen says:

    Yah! Good to here from you. Even your blog is interesting, clear and entertaining. Much work to do this next two weeks but if I get it all done, and now I have a great incentive! Breaking the rules will be my reward! Take care

  2. Jane L Knisely says:

    Glad to hear from you and with such good and interesting news too! Well worth the wait I’m sure. I do like the new covers, they follow your theme so well.

  3. Mary Higginson says:

    HI Ellen – I’d like to give beta reading a go. I’ve often wondered how you get to do it. I always post reviews and have loved all your books. It might be me but I can’t get a download to work on the mail I received – or did I read it wrong? I’m sure Luke’s Eyes will be a great success, I absolutely loved it.

  4. Mary Higginson says:

    Sorry – got it in another mail. Thanks will give it a go.

  5. Thanks, Rosheen and Jane. And thanks for the nice review. No matter what shows up later, I think the early reviews set the tone.

    Mary, go for it. As I said, after you’ve read it, just send me your feedback on story and characters, etc. The email is
    ellen@oconnellauthor.com.

    To my surprise, Luke’s Eyes is selling some copies. If that’s all those here who have already read it from a downloaded copy and are buying it anyway, THANK YOU. I really thought since so many copies went out already, it wouldn’t sell to speak of. Very nice surprise.

    ~Ellen

  6. Pam says:

    Hi, Ellen – I wanted to let you know that I bought Luke’s Eyes and downloaded Breaking the Rules, which I am currently reading. I can never resist a bad boy and your bad boys are among my favorites. (men with spines of steel, ruthless when they have to be, protective when they need to be). My only question is, why am I not also buying Breaking the Rules? It’s awesome!

  7. Thanks, Pam. I really appreciate those who are buying Luke’s Eyes even though they read it after downloading it from my website. And the nice comments I’m getting here and via email. I hope the same will happen with Breaking the Rules when I publish it, which I will do and hopefully sooner from finishing it than I did with LE.

    ~ Ellen

  8. DallasE says:

    I read Breaking the Rules last night. It was a wonderful read. Like Pam, I was wondering why it wasn’t for sale! I would gladly have paid for it. Thank you Ellen, for writing books that are so good I can read them multiple times!

  9. I’m glad you like Breaking that much, DallasE. I wrote it intending it for the mailing list because I wanted to publish Luke’s Eyes. LE had been going out to the mailing list for over a year, and I really wanted to stop sending it out like that and publish it.

    Originally A Grand Race was supposed to free up Luke’s Eyes, but when it grew into a short novel, I backed away from that. This time when Breaking also grew and grew, I decided to go ahead with my plan rather than try for something shorter again. I will publish Breaking as soon as I have something else for the mailing list, hopefully in less than a year, so you’ll have your chance to send me money then. 🙂

    I really wish I could write short stories for this purpose, but so far, except for Rachel’s Eyes, I’ve been devoid of short story ideas.

    ~ Ellen

  10. Jane L Knisely says:

    Ellen, I do art and have the same problem. I’ll start what I intend to be a small project and it just grows and grows! Almost like it has a mind of it’s own. I’m sure you feel the same with your characters and stories. You just can’t ignore it. l hope you get the same satisfaction when the creative spirit finally let’s go and you have a complete and satisfying product that you can be proud of.
    p.s. Loved, loved, loved Breaking the Rules!!!

  11. Claudia Lafrenz says:

    Ellen,
    I would love to be able to read the draft of “Breaking the Rules”! I am not sure where to put in a request to have a copy. I’ve read all of your books with exception of “Luke’s Eyes” and “Rachel Eyes”. Just finished “Dancing on Coals”. I wasn’t sure what to expect with comments of some readers liking and some that didn’t like the story line and finish. But I should have had more faith in you, the writer. The story grabbed my interest until I finished! You have never disappointed me, the reader, in any of your books. As long as you will write stories, I will be delighted to read them!
    Claudia Lafrenz

  12. Hi Claudia,

    You have to join my mailing list to receive a copy of Breaking the Rules. There’s a link to do that in the upper right-hand corner of this blog and in the middle of the home page of my website.

    I’m glad you liked all the books you read so far and hope you enjoy Breaking too. What I’m sending out isn’t a draft, but a pass through from what I’ll publish. I sent Luke’s Eyes out this way for more than a year and the published version has something like three changed sentences and more/better proofreading. I will say Breaking may get an Epilog when I publish it. I’m thinking about that.

    ~Ellen

  13. CeJoLaf@aol.com says:

    Thank you for response and instructions! I didn’t realize how much effort and time is taken in getting a book ready for publishing! Thank you again for sharing all your hard work and writing talent! Sincerely, Claudia

  14. Rosheen says:

    Hey Ellen . In the middle of a reread of Breaking the Rules. Really enjoying it again. Really like your writing style and wording. Recommend that you could let it out in the publishing world as is (yes mark it a novella, but it’s a great tight story ) 😃 Just saying I will happily pay money for this 😃. Hope all well in your world 🌎

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