At Last

May 1, 2017

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 I’ve been adding this and that from time to time, and things no longer were consistent, the home page was out of date and the present layout wouldn’t take another book, etc.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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This and That, Christmas 2016

December 24, 2016

For the longest time I’ve been meaning to write a post with tidbits of this and that and somehow always get distracted by other things and don’t get it done. But today is the day.

You may remember back when we were discussing favorites for some of the AAR lists, that I mentioned Candace Proctor’s Whispers of Heaven. McD recommended this to me sometime ago, and I was lucky to find it at the library. Whispers is not a Western novel in the way that Quigley Down Under isn’t a Western movie, and yet in the same way they really both are Westerns at heart. Both are set in Australia, Tasmania for Whispers.

I had to get it from the library because at that time it wasn’t available as an ebook, and I’d already stopped buying anything in paper. I don’t remember if it was even available in paper except used. The same problem is probably going to keep me from ever reading one of McD’s other recommendations, Beloved Savage, which isn’t in any library I have access to.

Anyway, I was following an Also Bought trail of something or other on Amazon, and there it was! Ebook. And reasonably priced. When I went to the page (I now have the ebook and liked it as much on rereading as the first time), I discovered that Penelope Williamson’s The Outsider, which has been available in ebook for some time but only at an exorbitant price I wouldn’t pay, was also available reasonably, so now I have it too.

It’s nice to see traditional pubs holding rights to older books like that get reasonable with pricing. Surely I’m not unusual in refusing to bite when an old book is priced like a new bestseller, and with traditionally published books, the library is often a solution.

Other than that, I’ve been trying once again to write a novella that I can send to the mailing list. Since I’m not done with it yet, I can’t say for sure I’m succeeding in keeping the story from taking off on an unplanned path, but so far so good. I even have a draft cover:

breaking-rules

Other than that, I’ve been spending far more time than I’d like doing rehab on my youngest Rottie girl, Teagan, as she needed cruciate surgery. The hope is that putting in the time and effort now will enable her to do the rally, obedience, tracking, carting, drafting, and maybe barn hunt activities I had planned for her. Agility is out. Even if her surgically reconstructed knees could handle it, mine couldn’t. She’s only two, so we have time.

Finally, I thought you might enjoy a look at my Christmas tree. It’s only a little over a foot high, but it’s cuter than all get out, and the detail on it is fantastic. I wish I could post a higher resolution photo, but the large file size stops me. I think you can see it pretty well here, though.

small-xmas-tree

Why I finally managed this post on Christmas Eve, I can’t say, but I will say Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, to each and every one of you. I’m sure you all have your own family traditions—I’ll be indulging in mine this evening, nothing Western, but the annual viewing of Die Hard. Go ahead and laugh. If either Quigley or The Outlaw Josey Wales had a Christmas tree in it, things might be different.

~ Ellen


Hello, again

June 1, 2016

Well, I’ve been MIA again for a long while, haven’t I?

What inspired me to post today is an email from Regan Walker. She is featuring Dancing on Coals on her blog today, and her review is really exceptionally nice. Check it out:

http://reganromancereview.blogspot.com/2016/06/new-review-ellen-oconnells-dancing-on.html

Regan also reports she is getting 14,000 visits to her blog site a month now, which is fantastic. Also don’t forget Regan writes romance herself – Georgian, Regency and Medieval – so you may want to check those out too.

As to my news, such as it is, the good is I have been writing, working on the Jamie Lenahan/Caroline Tindell story. The bad news is, of course, that I’ve been doing it slowly, very slowly.

At least until recently when I seem to actually be in gear, which one can hope means I’m over the blahs. There is, of course, always the chance that I just have close-to-the-end-hurry-and-get-it done-itis. That’s not to say the story will be out next week or anything. Even after I’m done, there’s more research to this one than I realized when I started, and I’ve just skipped over and left it for the end in some places. Also, beta reads, editing, proofing, but I’m finally close.

The plan, you may remember, was to write a novella to send to the mailing list and publish Luke’s Eyes. Alas, as usual I’ve screwed up my own plans. I have at least 3 scenes left to write, and this “novella” is venturing into short novel territory. I think I’ve set out here before how writers and publishers divide things by word count:

Short Story – 1,000 – 7,500 words
Novellette – 7,500 – 20,000 words
Novella – 20,000 – 40,000 words
Novel – 40,000 -110,000

Of course hardly anyone has ever heard of a novellette, and what most writers do is ignore the category and add it to short story. So anything up to 20,000 words is labeled short story (except for some indies, who happily label their 10,000 word stories as novels, but that’s ignorance or perhaps deliberate ignorance on behalf of aggressive marketing).

There’s also a lot of debate over where it’s reasonable to start calling something a novel. I think that 40,000 is low. Some change that to 50,000, and I’d put it more like 60,000. Anyway, this new story of mine has just crossed the 40,000 mark, and I plan to keep calling it a novella.

For those of you that only want to hear about pages, this novella is going to end up at about half the page count of Beautiful Bad Man and Into the Light, so it would be 140-150 pages.

I don’t have a title yet. The first one that occurred to me was Race With A Rogue, which made me laugh because it sounds like a Regency. Right now I’m torn between The Truce and The Journal, both of which are apropos.

I don’t have a blurb yet, but the basic premise is that Jamie Lenahan and his brother-in-law Nolan Burke, who you may remember started the Hubbell Automobile Company in Into the Light, have agreed to drive a 1,000-mile automobile race for a wealthy collector. When Nolan falls ill the day before they are to leave, Jamie sets out alone. To his surprise and hers, who does he see at the start but Miss Caroline Tindell, the girl her family sent to Europe to end her affair with him some years before. Also the girl he lied to his best friend about and said he was never serious and knew she wasn’t either.

So most of the story is the race, but it ends up in Hubbell, Kansas, where the Van Cleves and Suttons pop up again for a scene or two.

Check out Regan’s blog, why don’t you?

~Ellen