Sunday, May 15, 2022

weekend project

I didn't get much done on MESSAGES this weekend, although I did get the stinger scene for Book 13 rewritten. While editing Book 12, I hit on something near the end that inspired me to write a different stinger scene for 13 than I had originally planned. I think it works much better now. That was only part of the reason that I didn't quite finish the latest round of editing (but am very close).

The bigger reason I didn't get much done this weekend is simple - home improvement project. Our neighbors inspired me to try growing grapes, so I bought a couple of starters from Gurney's to plant. However, I didn't want to plant them before we had something for them to grow on, so we planned out a trellis and where to put it.

It was a beautiful but windy weekend here. Hubby and I put up this trellis for the grapes (and probably cucumbers, instead of putting those in the garden, leaving space for other fruits and veggies). We found a picture online of something we liked (similar to our end product) and decided to make it our own. We designed and planned, figured out materials, and put it together.

It was a b*tch to get those corner posts square to one another, though, which is the only way to make the rest of it fit together. Those took a whole day to get dug (3 feet in the ground) and situated straight up and down and square to one another. The rest went up fast today, along with cutting the tops of the 4x4 corner posts level with one another. The ground is uneven, so we leveled everything. We also situated the 2x4's about 1/16" above the tops of the 4x4's, which was perfect for the cross-pieces (2x2's) along the top. Before screwing on the 2x4's, we gave the ends of those a little angle cut to dress them up.

I'm very happy with how this turned out with just a little know-how and planning. It was a team effort. We both had our parts, and mine was more than standing around. I actually get my hands dirty on projects like this and know what I'm doing around power tools and woodworking, as well as designing and planning. Of course, the tools are his, and he has to feel like he has some control, so you know I let him do that work. 😉 (But without me, he would have had a mess on his hands.)

After we finished the project, I planted a grape plant on each side. Hopefully, in a year or two, we'll have grapes! Eventually, maybe I'll even learn how to make our own wine.

Now, I'm getting back to editing Book 12. I want to finish it and get it published in the next ten days, if not sooner.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Starfire Angels series project ideas (paperbacks, covers, and more)

 ©  Dreamstime.com

Happy Mother's Day to all my fellow mothers! Every day is a reason to celebrate the children who make our lives special. I hope today is a blessed day for you and your families.

Now, on to some news for the Starfire Angels lovers out there. 

I've had some ideas stirring in my head and wonder how readers feel. I have some big projects that I need to take on, but it may further slow down my writing of the next Forgotten Worlds books. Please review the ideas below and the questions at the end of this post and leave your feedback in the comments.

Dark Angel Chronicles and Revelations - Individual Books

I know many people want paperbacks, and I want to give that to you. However, I have a lot of considerations. One is whether to pay extra for the same covers from the current Dark Angel Chronicles ebooks or use the old paperback covers. I may just resort to my old covers. I've also updated the story, so I need to reformat all of the interior files, then upload those and order proofs, check proofs and sometimes make adjustments and order new proofs... and eventually approve the final project. It can be a long and tedious process especially when working on several books at a time.

I also want to recover the Revelations series books, so that could take some days off of writing.

Forgotten Worlds Collection - Omnibuses

Other books that I want to also make available in print are the Forgotten Worlds books. I've played with an omnibus of the first five books of the series but will need to update that file and set it up to make it available; again, by going through the process I stated above with setting up paperbacks. Because that is so big, I think the hardcover option is the best quality.

Because I'll soon be releasing Book 12 of Forgotten Worlds, I think it's time to also work on an omnibus of books 6-10. That will be even thicker than 1-5, since the books started growing in length to be closer to 50K words each. I'm trying to keep them between 40K-50K, but sometimes the story dictates otherwise. The omnibuses are doorstoppers because they are 5-book editions (luckily, short novels).

Because I do all my own work, it can take a while to complete these projects; one of me can only do so much at a time. (Finding someone else to do the work and then double-checking them would take just as much time as doing it myself, plus I'll save the money, which can be put into other things and I have this down to a specific process and format after more than ten years of this.)

Starfire Angels Companion Guide(s)

I am also considering putting together a Starfire Angels Companion Guide with all the character details and world-building extras that I've put together as my series bible/wiki, plus expanding on my notes for dedicated readers to enjoy. This will take a lot more time and effort to organize, depending on how much I want to include - just Dark Angel Chronicles and Revelations or those and Forgotten Worlds to date (updating periodically as new books become available with new details)? Work with an artist for character pictures or no pictures? Ebook only or also print? These wouldn't be very many pages, at least not like the actual books, but that also depends on the formatting style that I ultimately decide upon. I would like a decorative interior (much like the gaming books my husband has collected over his lifetime), so it would take some time to design and format. Maybe I could find a gaming book designer and artists to help me put something really special together. 🤔 

All this is thinking aloud for now...

Perhaps I should create three different guides with only one in print for now for those who want it - Dark Angel Chronicles and Revelations. The other two would be Starfire Angels (the whole three-part series - DAC, Revelations, and FW) and Forgotten Worlds separate from the other two parts, since these would need to be updated regularly until Forgotten Worlds is completed.

So many considerations!

It'll be a LOT of work to put this project together. By the time I have it figured out, I might be done or nearly done with FW anyway. I would like to provide some current reference material, however, for those who are following along with what is happening in the FW series.

In Summary

As I said, all this will take away from writing time, so I'll want to spread it out. My first print priority will be the omnibus of books 1-5 of Forgotten Worlds, since I have a full cover ready to go for that. Then I'll probably work on new paperbacks for the original DAC series and Revelations before worrying about a hardcover for FW books 6-10.

Feedback Questions for Readers

Below is a summary of what I'd like to know of your thoughts. Please leave your feedback in comments to this post.

  1. Dark Angel Chronicles
    • paperback or hardcover?
      • if hardcover, dust jacket or print cover?
  2. Revelations 
    • paperback or hardcover?
      • if hardcover, dust jacket or print cover?
  3. SA Companion Guide 
    • Separate series guides or wait for the whole SA series (all three parts in one guide)?
    • Ebook only, paperback only, or ebook and paperback?
  4. What retailer do you prefer for buying your print books? (so I can figure out what source to use for printing)

Your input is greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

the view from the saddle

Most of Buddy's herd,
still a ways off from me.
I haven't reported on my horse for some time (months!). We made a change last summer in which I moved him closer to me from my parents' farm to a boarding facility. It's been a very good experience for him. He's in a pasture with a large herd of geldings, so he has plenty of freedom to roam and other friends for company and play. But it's a big pasture and can take me a while to reach him when he's at the far end (about a half-mile walk) as he was today. I'm glad he was out today in the pasture, though (maybe not so glad by the end of summer). The grass is starting to green up and he needs that. Hanging out near the barn end of the pasture eating the old hay isn't good for him, especially with better alternatives springing up.

Today was a beautiful day, except for the chilly breeze. In a couple of months I'll be wanting that breeze, but for now, it added a chill on what would have been a perfect day. Nevertheless, Buddy was a good boy, where he used to be a snorty freak on days like this.

He's come a long ways in just the last year alone. This spring, I finally buckled down and started asking for more forward and more attention to shoulder-fore. Now, he's picking up the canter from a trot within a step or two of my asking. No more taking lots of set up or running into it. He's so much better balanced, and it shows.


The view from the saddle
is magnificent
I also figured out why he's always so jumpy and fidgety--something missing in his diet. He needs a complete multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. It's a long process how I figured that out, partly by accident and observations that clued me into the issue. When he's on green grass, he's always calmer than on dried grass or hay (which is leeched of nutrients by the curing process and just by aging). I also noticed that when I changed his sweet feed treat to a complete feed, I had a calmer horse about an hour later. I added some Grand Vite to his before-ride treat and that hits him with more of what he needs immediately for a much better ride. He gets the rest after we ride, along with some digestive supplements and beet pulp. It's made a HUGE difference for him.

And that has made a HUGE difference in his training. He's finally reaching more of a solid dressage first level, although now he's so out of shape that we can't work too long yet. His muscle tone is gone right now and he's a fat boy. (He's pretty stocky / solidly built, but one can see the hay belly and the lack of muscle in his hindquarters.) And after our big spring snowstorm, he quit shedding like he had been, but I'm seeing signs that it may pick up again soon. I hope to have a sleek, shiny boy in another month.

I'm going to try to ride more often this summer, which is what he really needs to overcome his lack of confidence in new situations and to build up his strength to advance his dressage work. He isn't a fancy mover nor very athletic (and certainly not built for dressage), but I know I have the skills from all my years of experience and training to help him become something that he wouldn't otherwise have the chance to be. He's already come very far since I bought him as a youngster broke by horse traders to make a quick buck at the auction six and a half long years ago (he's now 9), when I was looking for just a simple little project horse to play with after giving up on the showing. I bought an ugly duckling (in terms of movement) and with proper training, am transforming him into the swan that was hiding inside. If he can be transformed, any horse can be with dressage training. It's exciting to see this sweet little guy blossom into his potential as an adult horse!

The shadow shows me on his back.

Monday, May 2, 2022

The great editing cycle

I'm in that stage again... edits... edits... and MORE edits!

I'm preparing MESSAGES for release to the world--you, the readers--sometime this month. I don't know when but it will be this month. All I know is that I will publish the book when I feel that it's ready, and that takes several rounds of edits at this point.

As usual, after time off from the book, I'm captivated by reading it again. That makes editing difficult to do, but if I take it slow, I will see the issues more clearly to fix them. And I need several rounds with it to immerse myself in the story for this stage.

Book 12 will mark the halfway point of the series.

Thanks for your dedication and patience.


Saturday, April 16, 2022

Writing update

The first draft of UNBROKEN BONDS, Book 14 of the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series, is done! The final scene is written (and rewritten). The final word count... 50,000 words.

As readers know, the books of this series are not the doorstopper novels readers have come to expect from most series, but they are still novels (40K minimum words by SFWA standards), except for the first book, which is just under the minimum novel word count. As I've posted before, I try to keep these in the 40K-50K range on word count. Several books now have come in near the 50K mark. This shorter length allows me to explore different plots without getting too complicated and burning me out, and they also make it possible to release more frequent stories (3-4 per year). It also allows me to keep the prices low; and while prices on everything else continue to spike, $2.99 for a few hours of reading enjoyment is quite reasonable.


I now will begin shredding aka editing MESSAGES to publish that soon, just in time for summer reading. Book 12 will mark the halfway point of the series that I have planned (24-25 books total).

Here are the books available in this series so far:

1) A New Beginning

2) The Rule of Yonder

3) Vault of the Celestials

4) In Darkness, Light

5) The Destruction of Walls

6) Disposition of Dreams

7) Remnants

8) Racing the Orast Belt

9) Ferious

10) Dragon and Fury

11) Voices in the Dark

Written and coming in 2022:

12) Messages

13) Soul Shadow

14) Unbroken Bonds

You can find information on the Forgotten Worlds page of this blog or by going to melanienilles.com.

Keep in mind that projected release dates are only estimates. Some books can be easy to write while others present difficulties and take longer to write and edit. I have my goals, but I don't always meet them, especially when a book ends up longer than anticipated or something comes up to take my attention away from writing. This is why I no longer post books for pre-order but publish when they are ready and post the announcements and links as they become available.

If you want to keep track of each new release, follow my Amazon author page, this blog, and/or my MeWe page. If there is enough interest, I may even set up a new-release newsletter. You can sign up for that by completing the contact form on my website.

Thank you for your continued reading and support!

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Forgotten Worlds 14... cover reveal

A day after I last posted about Book 14 having no title, I settled on a title. Now, I have a cover also.

I'm nearly done writing the first draft. It's currently over 40,000 words and in the midst of the climax. I worry about it being too predictable, which means I'm going to not be doing what everyone might expect in some aspects.

You'll have to wait and see.

I can say this, however, Book 14 will be the culmination of a romance that I've been developing, but it's not the Nik and Ann romance, even if the setting is their wedding.

So, without further introduction, here is the cover for UNBROKEN BONDS, the fourteenth book of the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series:




Sunday, March 27, 2022

A book without a title

Book 14 of the Forgotten Worlds series has been one of the more difficult books in the series to write, but it is moving along. I've been average only about 500 words a day of progress that stays, which is good but not my best. If you take into account my deleted items (whole scenes or pieces of scenes), you could double that. This one has had me writing and deleting a lot more than usual, although most of that is from before I figured out how to write this story. I keep my file of deleted scenes just in case there's something there I might want to rewrite or a detail that I don't want to lose.

Book 14 still doesn't have a title that fits. This one could be a little trouble in that regard, along with trying to find the right cover image. As for the book itself, as of last night, I hit 35,500 words.

The pieces are slowly coming together for the characters to solve the mystery and rescue their friend. I also want to resolve some of the character issues in this that have been carried over from past books. With a long series, there are nuances that need to be addressed at some point. You can't ignore them and pretend they didn't happen. However, touching on them in a way that is right for the characters and fits into the story can by tricky.

If you're following the series, thank you. If not, it's a great time to jump in, since the series is about halfway done. With eleven books out and the twelfth to come later this spring, you have plenty to keep you reading for a while.