News, commentary, and fiction by Barb Hendee, co-author of the Noble Dead saga (; author of the Mist-Torn Witches series, the Vampire Memories series, and more.

The Yearly Writing Cycle

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JC and I went to full time writing in 2007, and we moved from Colorado to Oregon almost immediately after.  The first year here was a bit rough, as we were in a strange place with no friends or family, and we had a house to remodel and a huge back yard to turn into a combination of vegetable garden and orchard.  

Five years later, we're still continuing both those projects.

But . . . we've also settled into a yearly writing cycle that has become second nature.  Around the end of May, we start outlining the Noble Dead book that is due on our editor's desk January 1st.  We actually spend almost as much time outlining those books as we do drafting them.  There are two of us working on the books, so we need to know the story (in detail) from beginning to end before we begin drafting.

May is also the time when JC tills up the gardens, and we start serious planting (due to heavy spring rains and cold temps, Oregon has a late planting season).  From May through the first half of August, we outline in the morning, and then we either work outside in the garden or inside preserving what we've grown in the afternoon.  This is probably my favorite time of year.  Around mid-to-late August, I start drafting the book.  By September, I've got my head into the plot and I'm hard at work.  We're still doing some harvesting, mainly apples and tomatoes, at that point, but I'm at my keyboard longer.  JC starts coming behind me in the book and doing his revisions.  By October, I'm on my keyboard from dawn to dark.  Once I've finished the draft, I start coming behind him.  We normally take a two-day break for Christmas, and we have the book ready for our editor by January.

I tend to take two or three days off, and I write a new story for the "Tales" project.  Once that is done, I take about two days off, and then I start an independent novel (meaning that I write it alone, not that it's an "indie" novel.  I have a contract with Penguin).  This used to be a Vampire Memories novel, and now it is a Mist-Torn Witches novel.  I work a lot faster on my own (I think anybody would), so I have this book ready to submit by April.

Somewhere in March, I get the veggie "starters" going in the kitchen for tomatoes, zucchini, basil, bell peppers, cucumbers, etc.

Once my independently written novel is turned in, I launch full throttle into getting more stories done for the "Tales" project, so they are ready when JC needs to put up a new one.

Then in May . . . we start outlining the next Noble Dead novel.  I know this cycle cannot continue forever, but for now, it is comfortable and familiar and joyful to me.

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NEWS FLASH: New Books, Now You See Them…Oops, No You Don’t.

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This morning, Barb came across the following article in the New York Times. Though it pertains to print books in physical bookstores (at this time), it is of interest to both readers and writers where print and electronic books are concerned for the future.

Special arrangements for display space and/or positioning of new books in bookstores has been the standard for a long time. This new battle affects wholesale purchase of books before display arrangements are made… specifically which books (or which author’s books) a vendor will purchase based on past sales records.

This is too close to the issue of vendor-based “culling” that J.C. speculated on in our recent edition of the “Writer’s Corner.” Chilling stuff for how it will affect which new books—and new authors—you will (or not) discover in stores into the future. So how long before the same happens in online stores? Please have a look right now!

Orders Cut, as Publisher and Retailer Quarrel
Published: March 22, 2013

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Writer’s Corner: This Decade’s Challenge for Authors is… Exposure!

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17889273-young-nude-woman-showing-open-book-to-you-isolated-on-whiteNo, not exposing themselves (come on now) but their books. J.C. here, this time, with some thoughts on this scary (rather than titillating) topic.

How is it that a reader (of fantasy or other premise genre) discovers not just a new book but maybe a new author? Both the casual shopper and the specific fantasy shopper are of great concern here. Neither are served by online stores the way they used to be served by physical stores. The author, as well as the reader, is shorted by this. Let us face some assumptions in place of hard facts...

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Barnes & Noble

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Yesterday was our 28th wedding anniversary.  We had a very fun day in which we'd planned an "outing," and we left about 10:00 yesterday morning to go do various things to celebrate.
But I did have one moment of discomfort and worry.  JC and I stopped by the huge Bridgeport Mall up in Tualatin.  There used to be a large Borders there, but it closed down when the company went belly up.  However, B&N picked up the lease a few months ago. 

We were so happy to learn of this.  This is a big store.  But the way books are being displayed now is soooooo different from just a few years ago.  Nearly half the bottom floor of the bookstore is now a big circular center for the Nook (and the layout of that area reminded me of walking into an Apple Store).  When Dhampir came out in 2003, Borders had stacks of new mass market paperback releases on tables right inside the front door.  No one could miss them.  That's how Dhampir got initially noticed, and word of mouth did the rest.  All genres were stacked there.  B&N did something similar, but in racks set up through the heavy traffic sections of the store.  Again, customers couldn't miss those books. 

All that is gone now.  Borders of course is gone.  But yesterday, at B&N, I noticed all the mass market racks were gone.  Mass market paperbacks have all been relegated to the "New Release" section of their genre.  New Mystery.  New Romance.  New SF/Fantasy.  So, people will see a new mass market only if they take the trouble to go to that particular genre and look at the New Release shelf.  I'm hoping this is a fluke and that other B&N stores haven't given up on the mass market center aisle racks.  I'm afraid no one is ever even going to see The Mist-Torn Witches when it's released.

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Naughty Kitty

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Miss Ashes was raaaaaaaather naughty yesterday.  First, she tracked cat litter all over my clean hard wood floor, and then she somehow got up into the bedroom closet, got into a bag of yarn, and managed to pull down a pretty good sized ball.

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Coming Next January… A Wind in the Night

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S3B2_usaThe final detail—the title—of the next volume in the Noble Dead Saga has been settled after consulting with our editor. Series 3, Book 3 is officially titled…

A Wind in the Night

We will add it to the books listing at, though further details are still pending. This next volume will again contain three stories intertwined.

You will briefly step back to the end of S3B2: The Dog in the Dark and catch up from there with Wynn Hygeorht, Chane Andraso, and Chap’s daughter, the black majay-hi called called Shade… as well as one other character we will not mention for fear of spoilers linked to the current book.

Nested within the first tale is a second one out of the past providing missing pieces and possible implications of how that fourth character was transformed. All four of these protagonists stumble upon a new adversary, perhaps linked to an old enemy they have faced more than once. And in their search for clues to another orb, they must protect a young sage from his own past.

MW1_usaAnd of course, the third tale intertwined with these two moves forward with Magiere, Leesil, and Chap, as they head onward in their own search for another orb, one of the lost Anchors of Creation. Along the way, something else begins to change with one of their other two companions that presents them with a puzzle. And there are more threats to their endeavors than they may be aware of.

As soon as cover art, content description, or other details come available for S3B3: A Wind in the Night, you will hear of it first if you stay tuned to various Noble Dead news and social outlets. In the meantime, do not forget that a whole separate series of adventures in the world of the Noble Dead begins in less than six weeks.

Excerpts for the first volume in the new Mist-Torn Witches series by Barb are now available in the “Books” page at both and

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The Writer’s Corner: Authors and Their Books (and other Fairytales from the Internet)


J.C. here to introduce Barb’s new entry in this article series. You might think the internet’s rapid growth makes information more accessible to all. “Information” is not the same as “fact” or “truth.” Add in that the amount of misinformation (and disinformation) is growing exponentially, and the internet now empowers rumors like nothing else before it. It is probably not surprising to any of you that there are people who actually think those rumors are true… a fact.

All of this applies to what some readers think about authors and their works. Worse so, now that the e-self-publishing craze is approaching critical mass. Perhaps too many (or more) think all authors are now self-publishing every work that appears for sale on the Internet.

Does anyone look at the publisher of the works they purchase? Do they realize that the author is separate from what is listed there? Okay, so a lot of the e-self-publishers are faking that part with a made up imprint or house in order to look like a professional publisher produced the “product,” but still…

Here is a little tale from Barb concerning a reader who came across a listing for the coming first book in The Mist-Torn Witches series. The topic of Barb’s post might even become the first in a subseries about myths concerning authors and their works. I hope not too many of you are surprised by what we (still) hear about how people think we authors work and play…


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Sequel Drafted!

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Okay . . . so it's been a long couple of months--good but long.

First, I have to say that I LOVE the new look JC has given to this website.  I'm so lucky that I married a webmaster.  Without him, I'd have to pay someone to set all this up for me.

Second, yesterday, I completed the sequel to The Mist-Torn Witches.

This second book is titled Witches in Red, and it's a who-done-it murder mystery in a fantasy setting . . . with werewolves.  I also threw in a bit of dark magic, spears, crossbows, some angst-ridden kissing. Should be fun.

But it's strange how all this works regarding due dates.  The book isn't officially due until May 1st--because that's when the first book in the series will be published.  So, I've completed book two before book one is even available for purchase.  That's just how things work with a series.

Anyway, the fabulous thing is that I can take today off.

Happy day off to me!

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The Mist-Torn Witches… A Preview



A while back, we decided to discontinue hosting book “excerpts” at our sites, and Such are available at all online vendors for the ebook editions of our works. Hosting our own excerpts seemed redundant, but things change..

Excerpts of the first volume in the coming Mist-Torn Witches series are now available at both of our sites. Go into either site’s “Books” page, select the book’s title in the right-hand menu, and you will see the link directly below the book’s cover. Click it, and the excerpts will appear in an overlay panel. The prologue and the first two chapters are ready for you!

So now you have a little something to tide your over until MW1: The Mist-Torn Witches hits the shelves this coming May.


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Two Month Countdown . . .

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Okay, gang, we are now two months out from the release of The Mist-Torn Witches, and I'm going to start marketing actively.  JC should have excerpts up for me this week--so that readers can get a taste of the story.

I haven't been this excited about a book launch since Dhampir was waiting in the wings.  The Mist-Torn Witches is a truly fun novel with murder, intrigue, ghosts, adventure, and a touch of romance.

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