The Other Shoe

A series of texts between me and my first reader, who has been getting sections of the new draft to read as I finish them.

Me: So I was skimming the next few chapters…I have this sinking feeling I’m gonna be rewriting more of this motherfucker than I thought.

Firstie: LOL, it won’t be so bad.

Me: Well, maybe it will at least be fun. That’s pretty much what was missing, any sense of fun. No wonder it was so hard to write the first time, LOL

Firstie: Yeah, and now you seem like you really know where you’re headed.

Me: Welllll…I WAS headed to the point I just reached. Only problem is I don’t like the look of the highway I thought I was gonna merge onto. So I think I’ll keep driving…but now I don’t know to where.

And that, ladies and gent’s, pretty much sums up the second shoe dropping. If I am not at a merge point but rather at a second divergence, and one that I haven’t really plotted out yet, then I have no real idea how much further I have to go on this book. If I have to write the entirety of Act II from scratch it’ll be another goddamned five months probably.

I dunno. It may only be a few more scenes than I originally thought that nee to be re-written versus tidied. But I just have this feeling….

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Progress Report

I am finally at the part of my novel revision where I am done writing entire scenes and chapters from scratch and am able to integrate part or all of a given segment from my original draft. There will be a few new scenes to write, simply because the current of the story changed a little from its original course, but for the most part the new words are generated. Now on to the endless evaluation, trimming, and restructuring of the 75,518 words left in my doc of the original draft that is not yet integrated into the new one.

I have no idea how long it will take me to make this revision a cohesive whole. Hopefully not too much longer.

The last few weeks (month, even? Basically since I kicked the bronchitis finally and recovered my life equilibrium) I have moved things forward at a good clip. Keep it rolling, keep it rolling, keep it rolling.

Last night I was trying to remember when I actually started writing on this revision draft. Had to check the create date on my Word doc, because I didn’t make a good note of it inside the doc, nor did I make a note of it here anywhere. January 7, for the curious. Basically 5 months ago.

I’ve written 35,000 in five months. Okay, fine, SOME of them were already written, but I am sure at least 20,000 were brand new words. Which is, yeah, okay, not fabulous, but also not that bad when I consider just how little time and energy I have had to devote to this project. I will be happy with my stat’s if I can finish revisions on the rest of my first draft by the 6 month mark.

July 7.

That’s 23 days from now. If I do the same amount of work every day, that’s 3283 words a day moved from the old draft to the new (with necessary trims, additions, and reworkings). If I count it by chapters, it’s a little more than one chapter per day on the old counting (because I am up to Chapter 15 of 42 in the old draft).

Those measures are not unreasonable. They are not unattainable – provided I touch the project every day.

Eye on the prize. Keep it rolling. Come on, muse, just hold your shit together for 3 weeks and 3 days….

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A Long Lost Story and a Reader HEA

Or, In which I write a love letter to Gail Dayton

Today is a day I feel particularly grateful for frictionless self-publishing.

Five years ago…back when I had a Borders on my commute home from work and would pop in on a semi-regular basis for new reads, I found a book on the shelf that immediately intrigued me. The title was Heart’s Blood, by Gail Dayton. It was a paranormal romance but a Steampunky one, before that became a trend, and a rare paranormal in that it didn’t have a single damned vampire in the book. I gave it a try and loved it. Loved every page. Immediately ordered the first book in the series, New Blood (different couple with almost no overlap, so zero issues reading out of order), and loved that one, too. I eagerly looked up any sequels – there was to be a third. Yessssssss!

But Heart’s Magic never got a solid publication date, and it never came out, and it never came out. I kept checking Amazon every few months for the release date. For three years I did this. Then I saw the author make a comment about having gotten the rights back after the publisher essentially decided to just not publish the book, and that she was going to self-publish it. That took a much longer time than I expected, too, and apparently she almost didn’t publish it, but finally everything came together like she wanted, and it’s out today, and if I could have called in sick so I could stay home and read it while my child is at daycare I would have.

I am sad that I had to wait so many years to get this story, but ecstatic that I actually get to read the ending to this trilogy. I literally teared up at my desk the day I saw her Tweet listing the release date. I had almost given up.

If the drop from publisher had happened 10 years ago, and not 5, would the author have bothered to fight for her rights back in order to self-pub, or would it be sitting under lock and key in the publisher’s office, never to be read by anyone?

I don’t know that I am the only person who has been waiting for this book. I hope I’m not, because I would love to see Ms. Dayton do very well with it, well enough to want to write more (either in this world or a different one). But even if I am the only person who’s been waiting…I get my HEA as a reader. I GET TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.

For the interested, Heart’s Magic can be found on Amazon here!

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Not Yet Integrated Countdown

The new graft point dropped the number of words not yet integrated into my revision from 90K to 75K. Considering that I am already at 30K, the prospect of adding 75 is much better than that of adding 90. Alas that even the 75 is really going to be, in aggregate, adding about 50K of previously written words and writing 25K new ones because the first version wasn’t right.

There is a segment of the darling section I’m debating keeping in. I don’t think that I will, because I don’t see the narrative function that it serves, but reading back through it, I enjoyed it quite a lot. Perhaps it can be a “deleted scene” that I can post somewhere (here, probably) as an extra to the book when it comes out.

I thought I had it in me to write the next scene tonight, but I made the mistake of reading the not one but two prior iterations of it, and now they are reverberating inside my head too loudly for the actual character voices I was hearing before to be intelligible.

If I want to finish by the end of the month I have to integrate about 2500 words per night, inclusive of any rewriting. Ten thousand word deletion sprees are easier.

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Subplots Falling Like Flies

I am up to 30,000 words on the revision of Anything But a Gentleman and very nearly at an end of the sections I will have to write from scratch. As in, the next scene or two I write might well be the last. Thank God.

I had a thought a week or two ago while driving to work, about more events that could simply be cut out in order to streamline the narrative a little better. It took a bit of mulling on the matter and rolling the new vision around in my head for a few days, but ultimately I realized that I had a darling in my sights. I could shoot to kill without regret.

It was a short intuitive leap from there to realizing that a whole sequence of events that took place basically at the point of integration for old beginning/new beginning were pretty contrived (“plotted”) happenstances rather than natural and organic occurrences that led from what came before. When I took them away and grafted the new beginning to a point a little later on, like a surgeon cutting out a diseased piece of intestine, everything still made sense and still worked – in fact it worked better. The revised sequence of events was cleaner, tighter, and kept the focus a little better on the couple.

I will say that re-thinking the transition between Act I and Act II made me realize how much work I still have to do on the hero and heroine’s interactions and relationship-building, but in a good way. I am both excited to work on those scenes and excited for what enhancement means to the story overall. This story really was one I had to construct all wrong in order to comprehend enough to construct right.

I had meant to cease work on this and start work on the project I mentioned last post in June. Well, today is May 31. I feel like I had a breakthrough today, and I am loath to squander that. I am sure I’ll find new shoals to wreck on soon enough, eh?

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One Month Later

As predicted I am at least physically well again. I feel like I’ve finally gotten into a good balance again, where I am not stressed out and exhausted all the time, and I have a little time in the course of a week for my own pursuits. It’s been a long time since I’ve had this kind of equilibrium, so I don’t take it for granted. I am doing my best to enjoy it, while keeping one eye open for the next shoe to drop.

It’s possible that I will be the shoe. I might get pregnant again (we aren’t necessarily trying again yet, but we’re not strenuously avoiding, either). We might finally start making moves on the move. And, if nothing else, I have a project that I’ve mentally committed myself to finishing by the end of the summer – regardless of if I have to drop other work unfinished – that is going to take a lot of focus and dedication to complete. My GOAL is to finish revising the novel and send it off to betas who can then take their sweet time with it, and shift focus to the other, but if I can’t get the novel revision finished in the next month or so then I’m going to have to abandon it again in favor of the new one.

Really it’s a new old one – another piece that needs to be revised and expanded but that has a solid base from which to build. It’s not a romance, nor is it something I will directly be discussing here much. It’s a project that I think would actually benefit from being traditionally published, therefore it would be done under a separate name and not one that I would cross-reference in either direction. I have thought long and hard about how to handle it. If it’s as good as I think it is (and as a friend who is knowledgeable in such things says it is) then I might be able to gin up an auction from several publishers – and THAT is a scenario an agent would be helpful in making happen. I have a short list of agents I would be willing to work with, and a list of editors who have shown a passion for this type of book to approach directly if none of my acceptable agents are interested. I would still be entering any agent and publishing negotiations with self-publishing the book as a fall-back position. There are certain terms that would still be deal-breakers, even if some that I would not accept for my romance career would be okay for this one-off project. I am genuinely curious to see if anything comes of my attempt to find a trad-pub home for this project, both in terms of publisher interest and my ability to actually sign away rights and control.

I don’t know how regularly I’ll be blogging this summer, but I am finding myself with posts I want to write bubbling up inside, so perhaps I can at least get back to once a week or so. Onward and upward!

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Muggin’ Down with the Sickness

It’s been a quiet few weeks here, and it’s probably going to stay quiet for the next little while. After almost a year, motherhood has caught up with me. I’m run down, sick, exhausted, and exasperated with my lack of ability to fix any of the circumstances creating those states of being. Changes on the horizon in the next month include weaning the baby off breastfeeding (I have never wanted to go beyond a year, or at least not further than a gentle weaning by stages would necessitate) and me getting over this damned virus by virtue of a month from now being a month from now, and surely by then my immune system will have gotten its shit together.

In the meantime, I am focusing on controlling what I can – namely, and sadly, jettisoning all activities other than those related to day-to-day living. No blogging, no sewing, no writing. I read a few posts over the weekend about people who “got it done” by whatever means necessary, ignoring their kids, neglecting their spouses, driving their health into the ground by staying up as late as they had to to write those 2000 words for the day, and it just sort of hit me: I can’t do that. I love writing. I love finishing books. Both are intrinsic parts of who I am at this point in life. But I am not going to kill myself to do them.

Right now, for this little stretch of time, I need a goddamned break, and the only part of my life wherein I can get one are the obligations I foist on myself in pursuit of a larger dream.

So if I’m quiet for a bit, this is why. I’m spending my energy killing off bronchitis, or walking pneumonia, or whatever the hell this is, and my evenings sleeping instead of trying to force out a few hundred words after a day at work and an evening of chores, when my hands are trembling with fatigue. To hell with that. I wanna live.

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