Book progress…

I’ve just now sent my line editor about 2K words for a re-edit. On June 5th I will submit the “final” manuscript to my proofreader.

I’m assuming it’ll take her about a month to make her edits.

I’ve no idea how long it will take me to go through all of her changes. Probably anywhere from two weeks to a month.

Realistically, I’m guessing the book will launch in August.

All righty…back to writing BK2!

 

BK2

Last week I tentatively reserved January 2018 for the first developmental edit of BK2. I’m using the same editor as I did for my line edit. I like her, I trust her and we have a good working relationship.

Currently, I’m planning two rounds of “content” editing — first one focuses on story, plot, character, etc. Then I get it back and spend ~6 weeks revising. Then I send back to her. She evaluates how well I executed on the suggestions, etc., in the first round.

Then, I spend another ~6 weeks revising. Once I’ve done that, I send it back for the line edit.

Tired yet? I am and I haven’t even done any of it yet.

After the line edit, which focuses more on language use, I again go through and make changes.

Then I go down to the pub and have a few drinks. Or maybe I do that before making the edits.

Once I’ve finished with the line edits, the book is ready for the proofreader. She’ll have it for a month. Then I revise…and THEN I publish.

Rough math, I should be ready to publish BK2 by September/October 2018. Crazy.

And probably somewhere around next year this time (call it May 2018) I’ll ask for the January 2019 editing slot…and begin writing BK3.

I’m not used to these long planning horizons — or writing books, lol — but just thinking about it is helping rekindle my excitement for the series (these months upon months of revision have been really draining).

That revitalization became clear to me this morning after I’d written a scene between Frigg and one of her sons.

It was one of those where you have an idea/sense of what needs to happen, but it’s not entirely in focus. And then you slip into that zone, time fades, and the words just flow. It’s not perfect by any means, but it delivers some solid emotion and achieves what I needed.

I have eight months to get BK2 into a state where it’s ready for an editor. That’s entirely doable particularly since I have the whole thing plotted and planned. And, much of it’s written. Of course much also needs to be rewritten and added, but that’ll happen.

Just gotta get crackin.

Finally, almost done.

After about six weeks of revision, I sent my book to my second editor this past Monday.

Finally.

Six weeks sounds impressive, but it was probably about 70 hours of work. Ish. I’m not really sure. Lot of other stuff going on.

And, of course, I grew so thoroughly sick of looking at the book that revising it became difficult. Multiple times I had to stop myself hating on it by saying: “she edited this already, she didn’t throw up on it, move along.”

There remains a great deal in the book that I’m not happy with. But, I’ve always felt like this about stuff I’ve written & rewritten (ad nauseum); I imagine most writers feel similarly.

I also decided that absent Fenrir-sized errors, it’s time to put this sucker out in the world. If peeps hate on it, well, so be it. Learning experience.

I also realized this past week that it’s been about 6 months since I’ve written anything genuinely new. Depressing.

So, it’s time to move on. There’s more story I want to tell.

 

Line edit’s back…

The graphic above gives a sense of what it looks like. Every single page of the manuscript looks like that. It’s glorious.

The past few weeks I’ve been:

  1. Working on the marketing blurb & author bio … getting close
  2. Finding & finalizing names for stuff
  3. Worldbuilding my fictional culture’s afterlife.
  4. Outlining and re-outlining Book 2, along with some scene writing when the spirit moved me.

It’s been tough really throwing myself into BK2 knowing that I’d have to interrupt that effort by diving back into BK1’s revision.

With this revision I need to work on a few things (as noted by my editor)

  1. Scene opening & closing hooks: I start too many scenes by “describing the stage” — showing what’s there, who’s standing where, etc. She recommended starting with action–which I did in some scenes, but not in all. Nailing these help propel a reader thru the book.
  2. Without even realizing it I’d written more than 300 “half-” constructions (half-dozen, half-slid, half a company…half-assed ;)). I never would have caught those on my own. So, I’m eliminating half of them. 😉
  3. Eliminate “stage business”: These are phrases like turning and looking. Her advice to fix this was to “Use interiority to show what the viewpoint character is thinking or feeling at that moment, or get the characters interacting with the world you’ve built around them.”
  4. Reduce “over-writing” / “purple prose”: I didn’t do too much of this, but where she noted those instances I actually LOL’d when I read them again. I doubt I would’ve noticed  these without her. Note that some writers’ styles involve “flowery” prose. Nothing wrong with that–but it’s not my style, so when I slid into “purple-osity” it was especially jarring.

Fortunately, there was only ONE plot point that I didn’t resolve sufficiently. Wewt! That said, I do have a bunch of continuity issues to iron out (which I expected). I also have to replace all the placeholders — mostly names for people & things. Not a big deal, thanks to search & replace.

On Feb 28 I send my corrected manuscript to my proofreader. She advised me to take at least a month to work thru the line edits (I’d only planned on two weeks).

I am SO glad I followed her advice.

It’s been 19 days…

Since my last post. Long time. Lotta ground covered between then and now. Proverbially.

With less than two weeks left till my deadline, here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • Revised / tweaked Odin’s plot and, hopefully, improved his character arc.
  • Frigg’s plot & character have been adjusted, too, but that’s not quite finished. I’m currently adding a few scenes that introduce her daughter (Hermod) earlier in the book which means I also have to drip Hermod in throughout the book so she doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb. She gets a POV in Book 2, so it’s for a cause beyond BK1 alone. I’m also giving Baldr a “save the cat” moment…which is probably too “on the nose” as they say.
  • Hyrrokin’s been ripped out, aside from a couple mentions. Her POV has been taken over by Vafthrudnir’s to the extent it made sense.
  • Having given Vafthrudnir a more active role I’ve been able to shed more light on how the Jotunn approach magic (as compared to the Aesir, Vanir and Alvar).
    • I’ve also introduced a new non-POV character named Keila. She’s a shaman who Vafthrudnir’s taken under his wing. She seemed to write herself as I fleshed out Vaft.
    • I expect Keila will have a role to play moving forward, but I’ve no detailed idea what it’ll be. Stupid subconscious.
  • Vafthrudnir appeared in several scenes along with Loki and the Skrymir. That’s no longer the case, as Vaft’s arc requires him elsewhere. As a result, I’ve been able to tweak about half of Loki’s arc and much of the Skrymir’s (since I was working in those scenes already). Now Loki’s plot is better intertwined with the Jotunn’s plan.
  • Vidar’s also been removed from multiple early-middle scenes. I’ve yet to dive into tweaking his entire plot; but there’s not that much to do there (relatively speaking).
  • When I can’t focus on a particular POV, I’ve jumped around making other changes — mostly stylistic (word usage, phrasing, etc.).

I’ve also been reviewing covers with my illustrator. I rejected his first attempt b/c it was absolutely terrible. His second attempt pretty much nailed it, I think (and a few folks have confirmed it). For me, the whole point of the cover is twofold:

  1. Make a promise to the reader — this is the kinda book you’re gonna get if you click
  2. Be cool enough visually to get the reader to click.

I think (hope/pray) my cover will do that. I may post it when I own it.

Other than providing good direction to my artist, my marketing-/cover-related challenges have been writing the blurb, bio and coming up with a title. All three are really, really tough. It’s sales copy, basically. It’s goal is to deliver on the cover’s visual promise and get the “clicker” to click again–downloading a sample, borrowing it (KU*) or buying it.

So, by Dec 5, 9 am, I have to:

  • Finalize the cover, title, blurb and bio (I may have more time than 2 weeks on this)
  • Finish Frigg’s arc off
  • Tweak Vidar’s arc
  • Go through each & every scene at least once to address tone, continuity, etc., so that the book both reads better and there are no glaring snags. Once the line edit comes back, I’ll be doing all of that again, of course, but writing is rewriting and my goal is perfection…to the extent possible given my burgeoning skills.

When I was writing papers in college all those many (many) winters ago, I knew I was done when just the thought of another rewrite turned my stomach. I’m nearly there now.

 

 

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* Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited

The traveling cast…

This past month I’ve eased up on the writing throttle. I dropped from a ~16 hour/week writing schedule back to about 6 hours/week. I’ve written a few scenes, edited some others but, mostly, I’ve focused on outlining.

In prior posts I’d mentioned how bloody that process was (and will continue to be). The new structure works pretty well (atm), but it needs a lot of work. Most of the existing ~60K words will get heavily edited or thrown out wholesale. Much of that’s b/c: the writing’s crap, scenes are moved around, characters removed (or added) to scenes, etc.

To reorganize BK2 I focused on travel times. Boring, but necessary since there’s a ton of travel. I’ve already mentioned Hermod’s journey, but along with that:

  • Frigg’s stuck in Gladsheim managing things, but then she leaves to speak with a Jotunn woman named Thokk. She has to be back in Gladsheim for the final scene(s).
  • Vaft & Hyrrokin have to get from Jotunheim to Gladsheim. Because reasons.
  • Odin arrives back (late) and aside from a quick jaunt down to see the Norns and then, a bit later, to the High Seat with Heimdall, he stays in Gladsheim.
  • Freyr and Freyja travel from Alvheim and Vanaheim, respectively, to Gladsheim. And, then, oops, Odin asks if Freyr brought Skidbladnir. No, Freyr, says, I rode Gullinbursti. Well dangit, Odin says, I need that ship. How long to get it here? (BTW, this is all prep for BK3.)
  • Thor zips into Gladsheim (b/c of the culminating event in BK1), Frigg orders him into Utgard’s frozen north (b/c of what Vidar found there), but he then HAS to be back in time for BK2’s climactic scenes.
  • Loki meets Odin “on screen” for the first time and then, at Frigg’s request, goes to Helheim. Then he has to get back to Gladsheim.
  • Vidar has to get back from Utgard, get to Vithi (his home), get to Gladsheim, get to Ifington, get back to Gladsheim and be present for the climactic scene.
    • One of the major changes I made was splitting up Vidar and Loki. In the “first” draft, I had them paired up for what I thought were good, dramatic, tension-raising reasons.
    • Then I decided it was silly and didn’t make sense time-wise. So, now they’re both alone & doing their own things.

So, with all that done, I’m really, really hoping that it’s not work in vain. Because, by Monday, I’ll have my editor’s comments back. Major changes to BK1 will ripple into the subsequent books.

/crosses fingers

Back in the saddle…

This past weekend I started work on Book Two. Right now, it’s ~121K words long and organized into 5 parts, two of which are short “turning point” scenes in which a major reversal drives the book forward. It’s complete in the same way all first drafts are.

As mentioned previously, I’m going to split the current “BK2” into two separate books. The existing word count justifies it based on what happened on my rewrite of BK1. My guess is that I’ll easily add ~30K words to each half just by:

  1. Improving follow through on events foreshadowed in BK1 as well as additional foreshadowing for events in BK2 and beyond.
  2. Incorporating new/revised plot & character elements that have been developed through rewriting BK1.
  3. Adding more involved character building. Here are several examples:
    1. Widening the rift between Odin and Frigg as they increasingly go head-to-head
    2. Hyrrokin’s arc is in flux as I work on new ways to make her cool(er).
    3. Deeper glimpses into Loki’s motivations as he and other characters interact with his children — particularly his daughter, Hel.
    4. Introducing a new POV character, Hermod, who in my telling is the daughter of Odin and Frigg. She’s young, anxious to prove herself and, in some ways, she’s the counterpart to Hyrrokin.
  4. Adding more world building:
    1. Yesterday I improved on my idea of how the Jotunn’s use of magic differs from how the Aesir use magic.
      1. As a sidenote, I started very like “Sanderson” in my magic system — clear rules that were shown (and sometimes told) to the reader (sometimes referred to as “hard magic”).
      2. Over the past year, I’ve basically thrown a blanket over those rules. It’s all still there, the characters do certain things when they’re using magic and they can “run out” of it, but I’m trying now to focus on the cool of what they’re doing rather than the (added) cool of how they’re doing it.
    2. Movement to more places in the world while also spending more time in those places. One example is Hlidskjalf, the High Seat, which Odin uses to see out over all the worlds. He uses it in BK2; it was fun imagining what that experience would be like. Not happy with it yet, but it’s getting there.

Since I get my editor’s critique back by September’s end, I’m going to use this month to plan, outline, revise…and then do it again. I think I’ll get more out of that than throwing myself into the nitty-gritty of writing/rewriting various scenes, POVs and plotlines. Having a more clearly defined idea of where things end up two novels later will help make BK1 better.

It’s away!

My past two weeks have been pretty busy — end of summer, kids went back to school, etc. And, of course, I finished my book’s revision. It is now in my editor’s hands and on her Kindle, so, it’s time for me to put Book One away for a month.

In the meantime, I’m going to:

  1. Take a break.
  2. Look at Book Two
  3. Rip Book Two’s guts out
  4. Create a timeline outline for BK2, then a per-character outline. And make them detailed.

The over-arching plot arcs won’t change — they can’t (certain things happen in Norse myth; those are my signposts). But, there are plenty of other changes to make thanks to this year-long rewrite process.

I first completed BK1 in September 2015. That version was ~145K words. This rewrite (just submitted) clocked in at a cool ~186K words. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’d guess that most of those original ~145K words were rewritten.

So, as I move into revising BK2, my plan is to make it — at most 90-100K words. There are several reasons behind that, but I want it shorter b/c it may be easier to produce.

Writing short can be harder than writing long, but if I break the existing BK2 up into sensible time groupings, then I limit the narrative arc for each book. And that means that what I’m calling BK2 now will eventually be Books 2 thru N.

Ultimately, I want to publish BK2 within one year of BK1’s publication, sooner, if possible. I’d like to ramp up to producing two books per year, but I need to change my process (2K to 10K, better outlining, etc.).

But that’s all for later in the week. For now, at least, there’s some rest for the wicked!

 

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Yes, that bird’s a crow, not a raven.

Progress?

So, I pretty much lost a week of writing — business travel, kid stuff, etc. It happens.

The little I did do involved further tweaks to Frigg’s story. Here’s the basics:

  • Kept making her more active & made that activity directly related to earlier plot events
  • Turned the new activity into a diversion for Frigg — i.e., things that happen to her cause her to look one way while the real threat is from the other direction.

Here’s how I have it the plots interleaved before the run up to the final event (Midwinter celebration):

  • Odin is in Helheim figuring out what’s going to happen b/c he’s summoning, finally, a dead seeress. You know, as ya do.
  • Vidar is in Utgard getting his butt kicked.
  • Hyrrokin is on the team that’s doing the kicking.
  • Hodir is on his way to Gladsheim to reconcile with his family.
  • Vafthrudnir is with his buddy, the High Chief of the Jotunn, getting the troops ready.
  • Frigg is figuring out that there’s a plot against her son Baldr’s life. ZOMG. However, Odin’s learning the same thing — from the dead seeress.

Which character has the real scoop? The reader knows. Frigg thinks she knows, but she’s wrong. Hopefully that creates some tension. Also, the reader doesn’t really know why this “major event” is happening or how it ties into the overarching plot. I hope.

Looking ahead, I’m 23 days from sending the manuscript to my editor. Tick, tock. Next week I hope to publish something more involved on the nature of the struggle between the Aesir and Jotunn, but we shall see!

 

Radio silence

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been knuckling down to get through my revisions.

My first step, as was suggested in 2k to 10k (and detailed in my previous post), I made a scene map. Since I already had done a time line, and kept that organization in my manuscript, it was easy enough to identify some problems.

The major issues are still with Frigg. The latter chapters just didn’t include her enough. It’s been tough figuring out what to do with her b/c she’s the “left behind” character — she’s stuck dealing with the everyday while everyone else is out doing things. For example, Vidar’s fighting in Utgard, Hyrrokin’s on the opposite side watching him. Odin’s off summoning the dead. Vafthrudnir is plotting; Loki is doing what he does best.

So, after some struggles I stumbled into a solution that ties an earlier event (Frigg arbitrating a divorce) directly to an event that interrupts her everyday, boring preparation for the Midwinter festival — which is where the major plotline, and hers, ends. I think it works well, but then I would 🙂

 

In the process of all that, I added 8K words — bringing my grand total to a whopping 183K. A standard fiction novel is ~80K; a standard fantasy is ~120K. I’m not thrilled about the word count, honestly, b/c I’m worried it’s bloated.

So this morning, rather than write a Frigg scene that I’ve outlined, I ripped apart four Vidar scenes and tweaked two Odin scenes that occur in the first 25% of the book. I streamlined them — removing excess exposition, navel gazing, redundancies and purply prose. In the process, I also fixed a couple timeline issues. Those scenes are better now and, bonus xp, after I was done, the manuscript was a cool 1500 words shorter — dropping me down to the 183K mentioned above.

So, all that’s the reason for radio silence — not enough brain cells to spare =D