End of the Year Thoughts

It has been…a year.  Its totally cliche to say this has been a year of highs and lows, but it seriously has.  It’s been a year of reflection for me – realizing that what doesn’t kill me really DOES make me stronger.  And that things happen for a reason.  Its been a big year for balance for me – there were bad and good things that have happened, but all in all the good and the bad have equaled out.

Hmm.  I wonder how many cliched sayings I can fit into one blog post.

Without going into details, this was a year that my professional life took another step forward — my fantastic agent sold my first two novels — while my personal life kinda cracked apart.  I spent a good portion of the year writing, then rewriting, then rewriting some more, a novel that still needs some room to breathe before its considered ‘done.’  I wrote a good chunk of the intro to my contracted book two, and then set that aside while I was waiting for the book to sell.  And then just recently I picked up a new idea just to wriet “something” and found a whole lot of voice that I wasn’t expecting.

Truth be told, my life is nowhere near where I thought it would be at this time last year.  This time last year, I was still adjusting to living by myself again, struggling with the day job, fingers crossed about my novel, etc etc etc.  I lost some friends, and gained a whole lot of new ones.  Now my novels are sold, the day job is no more, and I’ve spent most of the last month getting closer to my family.

I did some goals for last year and posted them on my blog, but the only one I really managed to accomplish (I think) was to quit smoking.  Which I did back in March.

Total words written in 2009:  About 150K.

Total finished projects: *sigh*  0

New friends made: tons.

And then my writing goals for 2010:

  • Complete edits on WITCH EYES for editor Brian.
  • Finish draft of SPIRIT GAMES and send to agent.
  • Outline sequel to SPIRIT GAMES that’s already mostly written.
  • Send 50 page sample of MOONSET (current plaything) to agent.
  • Finish writing MOONSET.
  • Once edits are done, finish writing sequel to WITCH EYES.

So my goals for 2010 are basically to finish writing 3 books, all in various stages of completion.  I’m thinking I might do a monthly check-in or something, just to see how far I’ve gotten over the course of the year.

Right now at the end of the year, we’re looking at:

MOONSET:

10615 / 80000 words. 13% done!

SPIRIT GAMES: (needs a new intro, and a new climax and ending)

59765 / 70000 words. 85% done!

DEMON EYES (WITCH EYES sequel):

22097 / 90000 words. 25% done!

A Medley of Random

You know what really grinds my gears?  When you’re at the grocery store, and you run into the laggers.  Y’know, those people behind a cart who take their time walking the aisles, or those REALLY annoying people who stop to talk to someone coming the other way – thereby blocking all aisle traffic.  My favorite yesterday was the person who kept stopping and staring around for his wife (who was one aisle over) and kept getting irritated when I kept needing to grab things that he was currently blocking.  Huff and puff all you want, but at least move out of the way.  Sheesh!

Thanksgiving is over, and this year was just as memorable as last year.  At last year’s dinner, one of my younger sisters was told to lead the prayer.  She decided to announce to everyone that if she was leading the prayer, then we were all praying to Satan.  This year, the OTHER younger sister decided to try picking a fight by announcing that she shouldn’t have to pray, since she wasn’t a Christian.

It was a nice, quiet meal, I can tell you that much.  With the occasional snicker from one of my uncles.

Onto book things.  Rewriting the ending to Spirit Games (finally).  I’ve got it outlined for the most part, which has made the writing pretty easy.  Except for the chapter which was totally outlined with all the things that needed to be said to tie up loose ends…and then I got done writing it to realize that I didn’t hit ANY of the salient points.  Oh yeah, that was a fun day.

Once I’m done with the ending, all I have is a few tweaks and changes that need to be made to tie everything back together again, and then the draft is DONE.  Its exciting because for a long time (August through part of October actually) I thought this was the Book that would not Die.

Its funny, because the end result is a completely different book than the one I started out writing.  One of my MCs was a total background character in the first draft, and another got killed off for good about halfway through.  And I think that those first couple of scenes I wrote (the original chapter 1 and 2) aren’t even in the book anymore.  In any form.

Its interesting to look back on how different this book has been to write than Witch Eyes was.  That one felt like it had been so much easier – when it was just as difficult just in different ways.  This time around though, I could put the book down and look away because I already had a book on submission, and I could go back to focusing on that.  Which is SO not a good idea.

Also, something completely unrelated that occurred to me the other night.  Someone on Twitter asked “What’s the one book I should read if I want to write a novel?”  Some people gave answers, but I didn’t say anything.  Because in my head, I was thinking “all of them.”  I guess because if you want to write a book, but you’re only willing to read one book, then you’re not really all that willing, are you?  If you want something, give a hundred percent.  Read every book you can get your hands on – whether its fiction, nonfiction, in your genre, or all about how to write.  There’s no one book that’s going to teach you everything you need to know, just like there’s no fast track to getting your book published.  Just read, research, and absorb as much as possible.

 

At least the bones are right?

I use the strangest comparisons when I try to explain why I think the revisions to Spirit Games are so intensive.  The other day, I said “well, all the bones are in the right place.  It’s like Frankenstein’s monster.  The bones are right, but all the meat and potatoes need to be replaced.”  I wasn’t sure if I was comparing myself to a mad scientist or a cannibal planning People Stew.

Essentially though, that’s where my problem’s lied.  I had to step back and reconsider how my the rules of my supernatural world worked, and how they’d impact the characters.  Oh, and there was the TEENSY detail of how I was setting up the wrong person to be the Big Bad.  I mean, it happens.

When I was drafting and revising, I got so caught up with the characters and how they’d react to certain stimuli, that I completely forgot about things like setting and plot.  So what if chapter 13 totally contradicts what I said in chapter 2.  I’ll fix it in revisions.  It’s great that I knew my characters inside and out (hint – the insides are squishy) but I forgot about how everything was working together.

I can pretty much guarantee that I won’t be doing that again.  Next book that’s not already outlined will spend some time in percolation, and I’ll really try and look it all over to see where the problems lie.  Because this has NOT been fun. 😉

In other news, a bunch of writers have sworn off Twitter for the week.  November 1st through the 7th.  And I didn’t realize how much I actually missed Twitter once I wasn’t tweeting all the time.  Its an easy distraction, a way to fill in time between things on the agenda, or as an escape once a certain amount of work’s gotten done.  So for a week I’m not going to have that, and we’re going to see how much work I get done.

Good luck to everyone else who’s going on the Twitter sabbatical this week!

What I’m Up To

I keep meaning to work up a real blog post, but despite all the best intentions, I haven’t actually finished one just yet.  But at some point in the near future, I’ll do a whole post on Creating Your Own Fake Town.

And there will be pictures.  I can’t promise there will be spider monkeys, but there will definitely be pictures.

For the moment, I’m really just focusing on getting Spirit Games as close to done as I can.  I set myself a deadline of Halloween – but major changes to the first half of the book really have required a lot of work.  The last ten days alone have been spent on the same twenty percent of the whole thing.  The bright side, though, is that a lot of the issues I was having with the story (being too dense on backstory and confusing) have been alleviated in all the right ways.  The fact that I have my own personal cheerleader (hi Tiffany!) has helped tremendously.

This is, officially, the last time I write a book without a road map.  Had I had a road map, I probably wouldn’t have wasted so much time writing the WRONG stuff, and instead had a halfway decent, maybe not GREAT story.  Writing the WRONG stuff, though, requires quite a bit of work in rewriting, cleaning, polishing, taking apart, reassembling, repolishing, squinting, sighing, and grumbling.  Not necessarily in that order.

After that, my wish list is pretty simple.

  • Finish Witch Eyes sequel (almost one quarter complete)
  • Outline possible Spirit Games sequel
  • Witch Eyes edits (whenever they come in, they go to the top of the list)
  • Send Spirit Games out to betas and then to agent.
  • Deep breath.

I’ve been kindof smart, and whenever I’ve had an Idea for something that could have book-merit, I’ve taken the time to flesh it out enough that I can go back later, and have a good sense of where I was going with all that.  I have a confrontation scene on one project, and a whole outline/concept for another.  I’m not planning on working on anything new until after I get my wish list completed, but stranger things have happened.  Maybe I’ll just keep adding to the list.

Just a Taste

It’s been a pretty strange week.  But now that things have settled down, I’m trying to get back into old routines.  Writing being one of them.

The current WIP, which I’m calling Spirit Games, is in this perpetual state of “almost there.”  Once I figure out what I’m doing with this beginning, I think I can finally start making some headway on the rest of it.  And then hopefully send it out to some of my betas and get feedback. At this point, I’d just be so happy to have a finished, workable draft.  This book has been a pain in the butt to write.  And I think it’s my perfect lesson for not writing by the seat of my pants again.  It may work for some people, and its worked out okay for me in the past, but this time it really just fell apart.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying something different with new ideas that pop into my head.  Inevitably, I’ll get stuck for a moment on what I’m working on, and then while I’m trying to wrap my head around the problem, suddenly this new and shiny idea pops up and begs me to work on it.  So I’ve come up with a simple solution.  If it’s a voice thing, like a character is just talking about something, I’ll sit down and write it for a bit.  Just to see where it goes.  Or if it’s a concept, like “what would happen if X happened during Y” then I play around with the ideas and see where it goes.  I’ll look for pictures that inspire the ideas I’m thinking of for the new work, think about music, research setting.  All very minor things that go into files for when I’m ready later.

At the moment, I’ve got two or three really solid ideas that I’d love to work on.  Except I can’t.  Because of the monster known as Spirit Games.  😉  So the sooner that’s out to Betas, the sooner I can start flipping through these other ideas and see which one wants to be worked on the most.

And in the meantime, I’m trying to figure out a way to hit up the SCWBI New York conference at the end of January.  Because of a lot of my friends are going, and I think it would be a good time.