Hi everyone, I hope you all are staying safe and getting by okay this spring. I wanted to post because I finally uploaded some bread-making videos.
About the Videos
I had the idea to record some of the lessons from my bread-making class, if the class was canceled. I don’t particularly like being recorded, and also I don’t have a terribly nice kitchen. But I started seeing more and more bread-making on Twitter, and friends started texting for help, so making videos seemed worthwhile.
I finally was able to take a week off last week, and I finished six videos: some basic information about ingredients and recipes, two science lessons, and a discussion of preferments. There is also a tutorial of me making English muffins. (This was my “test run” video, where I learned to use iMovie.)
I also have a bunch more footage and hope to post videos soon about kneading by hand and in a machine, followed by shaping, baking, and sourdough starter. (But, I’m back at work now, so it might take a little longer. But I have some momentum!)
I’ve embedded the playlist below, so if you want to watch the whole series, press play.
I’ve been lucky to have editing work (which I do at home anyway), so the stay-at-home rules have not been a burden on me. I did start a new fiction novel in April, and have been trying to do a little each day with a goal of finishing 50,000 words by the end of May. I’m using a Nanowrimo project to track my progress (see curve). The flat places are where I took a few days off to revise a different novel, in order to enter a contest with it, and where I made the videos.
As always, if you’d like to read more about my fiction (i.e., romance novels), please visit https://janebuehler.com.
As always, feel free to send me an email and say hello. Stay well and please take care of yourself.
It’s a weird time right now with the coronavirus spreading in America. While I’ve been lucky to have work, being more isolated has given me some extra time, so I wanted to share some plans.
The Asheville Bread Festival has been cancelled. I’m waiting to hear about my upcoming Folk School class, but it seems likely to be cancelled as well.
In anticipation of not being able to teach this spring, I thought of trying to make some videos of bread-making lessons, like basic kneading or oven tips. So stay tuned for that.
Two friends texted this week to ask about sourdough starter. Making a starter and bread is a great activity to do at home with kids! So after texting instructions twice, I posted instructions online here: https://www.twobluebooks.com/simple-sourdough-starter/. I’m hoping to write a few more basic guides that might be useful to people stuck at home; I’ll write again if/when I do.
I’m not sure if there is space left in my fall bread class; there were a few spots last time I checked, but it has been a while (and a lot has happened). I have two classes scheduled in 2021: Baking Traditional Bread, April 4–10, 2021, and The Science of Bread, October 10–16, 2021. (Registration should open this summer.)
Fiction Writing News
I’ve been querying agents with story #1 of my romance series, and revising story #2. I just started drafting story #3 this week. Realistically, I don’t think the series has much chance of being traditionally published, because it does not fit neatly into any of the genres that already exist. But, I wanted to follow through with trying the agent route.
I’m actually excited to self-publish for many reasons. One reason is a recent idea I had to produce two versions of each book: regular and PG rated. That way, readers who don’t like reading love scenes could still read the books. The freedom of self-publishing would enable me to do this.
For more details about my fiction, please visit https://janebuehler.com and subscribe for updates (I don’t send them often so I won’t fill your inbox).
Here’s a quick update on the bread-making classes I’ll be teaching, 2020 plans for writing and publishing, and how my freelance life is going.
The Asheville Bread Festival is May 2, 2020. I will be there as an outdoor vendor, so please stop by and say hello if you attend. Tickets for classes are not yet available but you can sign up for updates at https://www.ashevillebreadfestival.com.
I’ll be teaching two classes at the Folk School this year:
Registration should open for April 2021 around mid-year 2020.
Gratuitous cat photo 1 (Blackwell)
This month I finally corrected the book description for Bread Science on Amazon, which required that I create a print-on-demand version. This was the only way Amazon would let me control the text (which until now read something like “250 pages, charts, pictures” with no real description).
Plans for later in the year include a new cover and re-doing the ebook to try to reduce its gargantuan file size. I don’t plan to do a new edition, but I want to update a few sections I can better explain now (I will share the updates on my website, for people who already have the book).
Gratuitous cat photo 2 (Scruffy)
I’ve been revising book two of my fiction series while querying agents about book one. I’ve thought a lot about where my book fits in to what is currently being published, and concluded that basically it doesn’t fit in. This means I’ll probably end up publishing it myself, but I’m okay with that, and even excited about it.
I won’t write more here as I know fantasy romance novels are not for everyone, but if you’re interested, I have a mailing list for future readers at https://janebuehler.com. I don’t email regularly, only when there is news to share.
Florida versus North Carolina in February
I love working from home! I’ve been editing three or four science papers each week, and using the rest of my time for writing or for the writing-related tasks that never got done when I had a day job.
Due to my new situation, I was able to “work-cation” in Florida in January and attend a writer’s conference while still working from my laptop. I’m hoping to do more of this, although it is hard to be away from Scruffy.
One thing I learned at the conference is that if I want to use Facebook as an author, I need to use a business “page” instead of a personal “profile.” I’ve set up the new page here, using my fiction pen name, Jane Buehler: https://www.facebook.com/Jane-Buehler-107338764179116/
As always, feel free to comment or send me an email.
Happy winter! I’ve had a busy few months and wanted to check in before the end of 2019. I’m now 99% working from home as a freelance editor and writer—yay!
New Novel: The Village Maid
In November I completed National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the fourth time. So I now have FOUR fiction novel drafts to figure out what to do with. The new story is called The Village Maid and is the sequel to The Forest Bride, my fantasy romance. While writing, I made progress with understanding where my stories fit in; they are light-hearted (like the so-called chick lit genre) but set in a fantasy world with magic. So my new “comparable title” description is, “If you like Sophie Kinsella but wish her books had fairies and magic, my stories are for you.”
I also took two classes this fall (one on conflict and one on “killer openings”) and what I learned helped a lot with the new novel. For example, sometimes “writer’s block” is simply a lack of conflict; if a writer is stuck and it feels like nothing is happening, adding conflict to the scene can save the day. (Conflict doesn’t have to mean fighting or adversaries; it can also mean change.) I plan to revise The Forest Bride over the next month, using what I learned, and then query the agents I met at the romance writers conference last summer.
One project I was super excited to finish was a slight overhaul of Somewhere and Nowhere. I learned the importance of having a professional cover that “fits in” in a book’s genre (see diagram), so I had Tugboat Designs create a cover. It was easy to make the new cover available on the ebook version. The past month, I set up the book with the new cover using “print on demand” at both Kindle Direct Publishing (aka Amazon) and IngramSpark. So, print versions are now available! The old cover is still available at a discount. More info here: https://www.twobluebooks.com/somewhere-and-nowhere/
September 20-26, 2020, “Science of Bread”
(register starting ~January 2020)
I’m also excited to finally have time to TAKE a class and am registered for an illuminated lettering/calligraphy class. I figured it might be a useful skill for a fairy tale–inspired romance author to have.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and that 2020 gets off to a great start.
So I have some big news: I quit my day job. For years, I’ve dreamed of having more time for my writing, editing, and self-publishing tasks. Ideas have piled up on Post-it notes on the wall by my desk. This month, I finally did it. Soon I’ll be 100% self-employed and plan to spend time on building my editing business, pursuing my romance writing, updating my bike trip memoir, and renewing my involvement in the bread community.
Freelance editing is one way I plan to pay the bills without a day job. I’ve been editing academic papers (mostly in science) since 2013. Many of the papers are for authors whose primary language is not English, and I’m able to help them transform their writing to be understood by English speakers. I love this work as it’s a way for me to contribute to science without being in a lab.
In addition to research papers, I’ve written and edited all kinds of materials, from test passages to medical brochures to fiction novels. I hope to keep expanding the types of materials I edit and the levels of editing I provide. My editing website is http://www.emilyeditorial.com.
I’ve written three drafts of novels since 2014 and learned a lot about the craft of writing and the business of publishing. My novels had three different genres, so I decided to focus on the fantasy romance genre first, using my middle name, Jane. For me, writing in this genre is a chance to write heroines who learn to believe in and value themselves; I can share with readers lessons I’ve learned and explore issues I still struggle with. I also decided to try a traditional publishing path, knowing that my debut novel might not “fit in” enough for any traditional publisher to take it on. In that case, self-publishing is an option.
In July I attended the national Romance Writers of America conference, where I met other authors and pitched my novel to agents and editors. I was excited to find that people in the business are excited for fantasy romances with less violence and less aggressive heroines. I’m currently following up with contacts I made. I’m also looking for ways to connect with other fantasy romance readers and writers. And, I’m planning to participate in National Novel Writing Month in November to draft the sequel. My romance author website is https://janebuehler.com.
Somewhere and Nowhere Update
In 2017 I self-published a memoir of my cross-country bicycle trip, Somewhere and Nowhere. I regretted some of the decisions I made in the process, mainly not having a cover designed by a professional. This summer I had a new cover designed, which I plan to use on the ebook as soon as I have time. I also rewrote the book’s blurb, hoping to better convey the contents to potential readers.
At the conference in July, I met the owner of Draft2Digital (D2D), one of the many companies that work with authors to self-publish ebooks. I’d meant to look into D2D as a way to expand my ebooks’ availability to more platforms, and talking to the owner made me feel positive about using that company. So I have an “ebook overhaul” on my to-do list as I upload the updated versions and try out D2D.
A future step is to explore print-on-demand options as a way to have print books available with the new cover, while still selling my stockpile of traditionally printed books with the original cover. I’d like to do this if only to learn about print-on-demand, which I have not yet used.
More Bread Science
Since publishing Bread Science in 2006, I’ve managed to keep teaching a handful of bread classes each year, but otherwise I have not been as involved as I’d like in the bread-baking community. I miss keeping up with news, researching bread topics, and presenting science material in simple language on my blog. Once I get some of the above items done, I hope to spend some time getting back into bread. I’d like to learn more about topics like what current research is saying about gluten or sprouted grains, and as always, to share what I learn. I’d like to attend more bread and fermentation events, as a teacher or vendor. I know opportunities exist to network with other bakers online. (I also hope to have time to actually make bread again!)
This might be a longer ways off but it is on my planner. My currently inactive food blog is here: https://foodchemblog.com.
Happy May! Here’s what I’m up to this spring and summer.
I had a great time at the Asheville Bread Festival on April 13. While I was sad not to teach, I really enjoyed staffing my booth throughout the fair and talking to bread enthusiasts. I always wish I could attend more bread gatherings (like the Kneading Conference in Maine), and hope that someday I’ll have the time.
I’m heading to the Folk School at the end of May for a week of “Making Traditional Breads.” This class is full, but I have two classes scheduled for 2020: Making Traditional Breads in late April, and the Science of Bread in September. Registration is not yet available, but should open for the April class this summer.
Book News: A New Cover
Over the past few months, I’ve been studying book covers and considering the cover of my bike trip memoir, Somewhere and Nowhere. I created my own design for a few reasons: to save money, because I thought I could create something not-too-bad, and because I didn’t know where to begin finding a designer. And, the self-made cover was never a problem with Bread Science.
I quickly regretted the decision, as I realized how much harder it is to market a memoir. A concept I’ve come to accept is that “No one wants to buy your book” and people are looking for any excuse they can not to buy it. Unfortunately, a homemade cover signals that the writing might be sub-par and gives people an excuse to pass up the book. And, readers are more likely to pick up a book that fits in with the genre, simply because they feel comfortable with it. While some cover designs break from trends and succeed, these designs often have huge budgets behind them, or an already famous author. So, much as we artists like to be unique, book covers are one time when it is best to blend in.
So, I’m having a professional cover designed! Initially I’ll use it with the ebook, and eventually it will be on the print version as well. I don’t have anything to share yet, but look for it this summer.
As for the back cover… I thought I had written some pretty catchy back cover copy. But I wrote it targeting a general audience—that same audience that is actively trying not to read my book. Over the past two years, I’ve felt very anxious about trying to promote Somewhere and Nowhere. I realized that I’d feel more comfortable promoting it to a more specific audience—the people I think will really “get” it.
I’m registered to attend the Romance Writers of America conference in New York this July. I’ve decided to focus on my fairytale romance, Rose Fair, since it is more polished. I’ve been working on how to pitch it and trying to find comparable titles. I plan to meet agents and editors at the conference, to make connections and see if I can sell the novel. I’m not opposed to self-publishing, but am interested to explore the traditional route.
I haven’t been able to find good comparable titles yet. My book officially falls into the category of “paranormal romance,” unless the publisher has a separate fantasy category. Regardless, mine is much more “light” and happy than most of what I’ve found, where magic is full of darkness and violence. And certain things seem to be “in”: one reviewer was sure the dog would turn into the love interest. Nope, just a dog.
On one hand, I might not mind changes to help the book sell. But on the other hand, I believe there are readers for my book, even if publishers haven’t yet recognized them. I read a piece about Generation X, and how we don’t like our characters to suffer. But we’re sandwiched in between generations that do, and writing teachers are often from an older generation that promotes this suffering. I would like to write for my people. So I know that my book might not have a place in the traditional publishing industry, but I’m interested to find out.
Here are my other recent blog posts, in case you missed them. If you already saw these come through your inbox, just ignore this!
Save the date for my free talk on “Old-Fashioned Self-Publishing” at the Orange County Main Library on September 22 at 2 PM. The talk looks at self-publishing with as few intermediaries as possible as a starting point, and then discusses where and why an author might value an intermediary. I’m working to streamline the talk so it will be a little shorter than last time. The slides from last time are still available, here: https://emilybuehler.com/miscellany/how-to-guides/
Each year around the start of spring, I find myself making plans for the rest of the year. I value winter for the time indoors (i.e., without yard work), but it’s hard not to be excited when the daffodils appear and the weather warms. The year feels filled with promise.
Due to some scheduling complications, I’m not teaching at the Asheville Bread Festival (April 13). It turns out I am able to attend, however, so look for me outdoors at the Bread Fair with a bread science booth. Learn more and sign up for classes: https://www.ashevillebreadfestival.com
I’m teaching Baking Traditional Breads at the Folk School in May, but I believe the class is already full. If you want to get on the wait list, you can do so here. Tentative dates for 2020 are April 26 to May 2, 2020 (Making Traditional Breads) and September 20 to 26, 2020 (The Science of Bread).
I’m giving my presentation on “old-fashioned self-publishing” at the Orange County Public Library on September 22 at 2 PM. The talk looks at self-publishing with as few intermediaries as possible as a starting point, and then discusses where and why an author might value an intermediary. I’m working to streamline the talk so it will be a little shorter than last time. The slides from last time are still available, here: https://emilybuehler.com/miscellany/how-to-guides/
In other news, I am hoping to attend both the Romance Writers of America conference in July and the Editorial Freelancers Association conference in August. (The writer conference is what I need right now, but last time I attended the editor conference, I felt so much like “These are my people!” that I’d hate to miss it.)
My Writing Career
I’ve got a new plan for my writing endeavors taped on the kitchen cabinet. What I’ve gathered from classes and reading is that to have a career as a writer, I need to produce a lot of books that are in one genre. Readers will expect consistency, and I don’t want to let them down. At first this concept seemed stifling, but I looked at my favorite authors. For example, I’ll read anything by Sarah Dessen because I know there will be a teenage girl protagonist struggling with family issues and figuring out where she belongs.
So my current situation is, I have three manuscripts in three different genres. I need to pick which genre to focus on—which genre I think I can produce more books in, and which manuscript I want to pitch to agents at the conference this summer. (I’m not opposed to self-publishing but am interested to give the traditional process a try.) I’m currently trying to read as much as possible, to figure out where my books fit in.
I’ve also become more clear-eyed about readers. Most Bread Science readers are not going to be interested in a bicycle trip memoir or women’s fiction. Even among women’s fiction readers, those who value one type of book may not be interested in another. Thinking about the inevitable one-star ratings and hateful reviews that every book gets on Goodreads made me imagine a book-sharing website where the ratings and reviews you see are from other readers who have the most “book overlap” with you, based on your own ratings. I blogged about this here: https://emilybuehler.com/2019/my-wish-for-goodreads/
I’m currently thinking about the themes and character growth that are likely to keep popping up in my books. It’s kind of a relief to realize that I don’t have to come up with a brand new theme each time—I only have so many major life lessons to share! I’m wondering how to convey these themes to reach readers who’ll appreciate them. Two related bog posts:
After the busy-ness of the holidays, January seems like a good time to round up my latest news.
Writing and Editing News
Last November I completed NaNoWriMo, writing a 50,000-word draft in thirty days. The new novel, Kensington, originated as a contemporary romance idea but turned out differently than I’d expected: there was less kissing and more plot. This result has led me to further consider what sub-genre I’m writing—light romance? new adult? chick lit?—and I’ve been stepping up my reading in the genre to try to find comparative titles.
The next steps I’m leaning toward are making some changes and then looking into other agents.
Right now, though, I am excitedly swamped with editing work! I’m providing feedback on an applied science textbook and writing a new booklet for the American Cleft Palate–Craniofacial Association. I’ve had a steady stream of academic papers for copyediting and language editing. And I’m starting a new test passage writing assignment and a report for the National Academies of Sciences in the coming weeks.
Events: A Bit of Sad News
I’m dismayed to report that, because of a scheduling conflict, I won’t be able to teach at the Asheville Bread Festival on April 13, 2019. I’ve never missed this festival since it began, and feel like it kicks off my spring each year with a good dose of bread. If anything changes, I hope to attend, but at this time, it is not looking good. Still, I encourage everyone to go. Info: https://www.ashevillebreadfestival.com.
My May class at the Folk School is already full. I hope to offer classes in 2020, but am waiting to hear from the Folk School’s new cooking resident artist. I also hope to have time for some local events, like a replay of my self-publishing talk at the library, but nothing is currently scheduled.
Recent Blog Posts
In case you missed any, here are the blog posts I’ve written in the past two months.
I’ve been busy the last two months, and I’m glad to report I’ve been doing a lot of writing!
I’m super excited for the first ever Hillsborough Local Author Book Fair, sponsored by the Friends of the Orange County Public Library. As you may know, Hillsborough boasts a disproportionately large number of famous authors, and many of them will be signing books and giving readings: Jaki Shelton Green, Lee Smith, Allan Gurganus, and more. The lesser-known authors (ah-hem) will have our own tables to talk to readers and sell books. The event is 10 to 5 on November 24, with book sales from 11 to 4. There’s an event page here: bit.ly/OCFriendsBookFair
As of posting, there is one spot left in my Science of Bread class at the Folk School, January 6 to 12. (Register here.)
Last weekend I attended the NC Writer’s Network fall conference in Charlotte. I had some excellent sessions about the craft of writing: scene sequencing, writing authentic characters who are different than you, and detailed world-building. I also learned about pitching a novel to an agent or editor.
On November 1, I started writing Kensington, a contemporary romance, as part of NaNoWriMo. Earlier in the fall, I actually created an plot outline for the novel, which has made it easier and more fun to write. I blogged about the plotting process in two posts:
I’m really excited for the new novel, but after NaNoWriMo and finishing a first draft, I plan to return to my previous manuscripts, The Knowledge Game and Rose Fair, both of which are mid-revision.
As part of being more “out there” as a fiction writer, I added a “Thoughts” category to my blog. The idea was to write about topics that might interest readers of my fiction. I’ve been nervous about getting started (does anyone really want to read my thoughts?) but I’ve had these posts so far:
Happy September, everyone! Just an FYI, I am working on adding categories to the subscription form, to allow subscribers to choose which content they receive notifications about. This is in anticipation of adding some additional types of blog posts, as I ease into the world of being a fiction writer. I don’t want to subject anyone to “Emily’s Thoughts” if you just want tips for writers or news updates. I’ll keep you posted.
Here’s what I’ve been working on all summer, and what I’m looking forward to this fall.
Continuing Education on Self-Publishing
I’ve been a fan of self-publishing since I published Bread Science in 2006. I’ve tried to capture and condense everything I know about it many times (see the summary in this blog post), most recently in a presentation I gave at the local library this summer (view the slides PDF, here). I plan to refine this presentation and offer it again.
A sample of ebook code and the ebook it generates, showing an error
The trouble is, in addition to self-publishing being a huge topic, many aspects of self-publishing keep changing, as new services and software become available. And I’m always learning new bits. Most recently, I delved into the code of the Bread Science ebook to fix an error that prevented me from uploading the ebook to OverDrive. I posted about that experience here: https://emilybuehler.com/2018/tinkering-with-ebook-code-for-beginners/
I continue to read articles and attend sessions on self-publishing, always hoping to learn something new. In August, I attended a talk at the Durham library by author Nancy Peacock and author/publisher Nora Gaskin. At first, I felt disheartened; how did other people know so much about self-publishing? Then Nora described how she struggled to compile a self-publishing process for herself to follow, a process she now shares with others, and I realized I was just having another incident of imposter syndrome. Her struggles sounded similar to mine.
Writing, Writing Associations, and Writing Conferences
Brooke Warner’s excellent book
Last spring I worked with developmental editor Tanya Gold on my new-adult dystopian fiction novel, currently titled The Knowledge Trick (#KnowledgeTrick—although I keep changing my mind and have not actually tweeted this hashtag yet). I revised heavily based on Tanya’s feedback, and plan to attend the NC Writers’ Network’s fall conference in Charlotte, where I’ll participate in the “Manuscript Mart” to get feedback on pitching the novel. I’m reading up on how to pitch, but I’m keeping my options open. While I want to explore a traditional publishing route, I’ve been reading Green-Light Your Book by Brooke Warner, which makes me wonder if traditional publishing is right for me. I’ll continue to learn more and hopefully the right path will become clear.
The first day of the writing retreat
On my self-funded summer writing retreat, I got back to work on my romance novel, Rose Fair, using everything I had learned from working with Tanya. I finally joined the Romance Writers of America (RWA), as well as the local chapter, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, and hope to learn more about the romance industry and to find where my novel fits in. It’s a big industry, and I’d like to find the authors and publishers with goals similar to mine: writing well-written, easy-to-read stories with smart, empowered female protagonists and with deeper meaning behind the actions on the page. I plan to attend the RWA conference in New York in July 2019.
I’ve been busy with my editing business. I’m still copyediting academic papers, and I’ve been formatting longer reports, which has an appeal similar to that of copyediting: making it all consistent. Occasionally I do some writing work. Last winter, I drafted the summary of a report I had edited, and then I revised with feedback from the report authors. The report was titled, Reducing the Threat of Improvised Explosive Device Attacks by Restricting Access to Explosive Precursor Chemicals. The summary is now available from the National Academies Press, here.
Possibly my favorite freelance work is what I call “beta reading,” for lack of a better name: reading the manuscript and pointing out places where the reader is pulled out of the story, or where the point-of-view accidentally shifts or the action is confusing. It’s a step between an early developmental edit and a later stage copyedit. I think I like this service best because I sense that I’m making a difference to the writers, not just correcting one text but informing their writing. A few authors have approached me this year, and after seeing my sample edit of their work (which pointed out recurring issues), all decided they’d better do some more work on their own before hiring an editor.
PerfectIt at work
With all the writing I have been doing, I’ve noticed a reduction in my blog posting. One final post I did this summer is about using PerfectIt, a tool for writers and editors that finds inconsistencies in text. It’s not that PerfectIt is hard to use, but before I did, I didn’t understand how it worked at all, so I wanted to share that experience. Read that here: https://emilybuehler.com/2018/editor-tool-perfectit/
I say “appearances” because some of my upcoming events are brief ones. I’m participating in a new book sale featuring local authors at the Orange County, NC main library on November 24, sponsored by the Friends of the Library. If you’re in town please stop by and say hello. I’ll also be the local author giving the “art moment,” a brief reading to open the Orange County Board of Commissioners meeting, on December 3. I’m actually quite nervous about this—I attended this month’s meeting and remembered how big the room is, with about a hundred attendees.
The bread display at the student show at the Folk School last June
I have two classes scheduled at the Folk School, and registration is open:
The January class comes with the added bonus that you’ll get to meet my mom, a.k.a. the Two Blue Books distribution office. I also plan to teach my usual “Beginner Kneading” at the Asheville Bread Festival, date tba.