Category: writing

A Writing Update

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As I posted a few days ago, I’m officially done with the third revision of MEMORY THIEF 2, and I’m very relieved, for a number of reasons. First of all, it was a big endeavor. When I went over the changes my editors were asking for, I initially didn’t think it would take too much to get them done. But as I dove into the rewrite and started mucking around, I discovered some of the changes would require structural tweaks that affected quite a bit more than I expected.

Really, it wasn’t too big of a job. Nothing I haven’t done before. The biggest difference was the deadline. I wanted to get it done before the end of the month, so that the book could stay on schedule. I’m still not sure if it’ll need a fourth draft. I imagine it will, just because I changed enough in the third draft that some elements will need tweaking. Because of that, I wanted to be on track, time-wise, even more. And mission accomplished! That felt good.

Beyond just wanting to be done on time, however, the revision made the book much better. The first third was bolstered significantly, and the last third was very much improved. (I think.) I’ll still wait for the final verdict from my editors, but I’m encouraged for now. If the next draft doesn’t look to be too major, I might even feel comfortable sharing the title with you all. The book takes the magic system I introduced in some pretty interesting directions, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing those directions become more focused as the drafts progressed. I’m mentioned before that I’ve never written a sequel: this was a first for me. So much of my writing has been focused on establishing characters and magic systems and setting. To be able to really explore those characters and magic systems was a fun challenge. I hope I pulled it off.

So where does my writing go from here?

First up is the poor draft of MURDER CASTLE, the book that just can’t catch a break. I think I’ve picked it up three times, only to have to set it aside when some other revision has come along. I dove back in yesterday, and as I reread what I’ve written, I have to say I’m really excited to get into it. This is the first book I’ve written in almost 15 years to feature a female protagonist, and I absolutely adore her. She’s come from a really hard background, and she’s facing some very difficult situations that she’s not well equipped to handle, but she’s got a spine of steel and such a strong drive. I’m really rooting for her, and I’m excited to see how she comes out of it all. I’m very happy to be writing her voice again.

Though of course if a MEMORY THIEF 2 edit comes along again, as I expect it will, I’ll have to set her aside. Again.

Once MURDER CASTLE is done, I’m planning a quick revision of MAGIC AT 30,000 FEET. We’ve had some serious nibbles on it, but they’ve fairly consistently said the same thing: the book felt split between age groups. Parts felt very Middle Grade. Parts felt very Young Adult. So I took some time to reread the book to see if I could see the same thing, and once I did, it was very clear. It’s like I’d taken the tone of the first Harry Potter book and thrown Harry into the middle of Hunger Games. And as cool as that might sound, it definitely splits the audience.

So I’m going to rewrite the book, slanting it more toward the YA crowd. It shouldn’t take much, since most of the Middle Grade stuff occurs in the first few chapters, and then the book is tonally consistent.

After that’s done, I’m hoping to revise UTOPIA. My agent gave me a quick reaction on it a month or so ago, and I have high hopes for that one. It’s looking  like we’re going to try to make it my first non-YA/MG book.

Once those two revisions are done . . . who knows? Maybe I’ll be able to do a real revision of MURDER CASTLE. Or maybe I’ll write something entirely new. This should take me through the end of the year at the very least. It might not be spring until I’m ready to tackle a new project. It all depends on how these various endeavors turn out.

In the meantime, I just tackle things one day at a time, in 1,000 word chunks. Wish me luck!

Revising on a Deadline

I love to write. I love it more than I like to revise, though I don’d mind revising that much. But when you’re writing new material, it’s so freeing. It’s so easy to see the progress you’re making. To know you’ve Accomplished Something. That’s harder to track with revisions.

But writing itself? Love it.

Of course, I also love chocolate cake. If left to my own devices, I would happily eat a slice of the darkest chocolate cake you can imagine, every day. Maybe with some milk or ice cream? Oh yeah. One slice each day is perfect.

However, the thought of having two or three slices of chocolate cake each day? Not as appealing. I’d probably decline the offer. “I’m good with one, thanks.”

Writing and revising on a deadline is like that. I love to write. But to force myself to write more or revise more each day is a struggle, I’m finding. Not that I can’t do it, but that it’s not as enjoyable. Each day, I know I’ve got more of that chocolate cake to eat. And not just a bit. A lot. And so I have to push myself to do it.

Which is to say I have little time right now. You’re on your own, folks. See you Monday.

MEMORY THIEF in Chinese

memorythief_FacbeookIt’s a new week, and I’m still in Utah, but Saturday the news broke, and I wanted to share it with you lovely people. At the end of May I got an email out of the blue with the bestest of news: a Chinese publishing company (Beijing White Horse Time) has bought the Simplified Chinese rights to THE MEMORY THIEF. The news about the film deal caught their eye and brought extra attention to the novel.

It’s kind of strange blogging about something that I’ve known about for so long. It would be so much more fun to share the news right after I found out. But it seems like everything in publishing operates on a delayed schedule, so I get great news and then have to sit on it for a long time until the ink is dry.

What does this deal mean? Ideally, authors sell as few rights to their work as possible with each deal. Publishers would love to get World Rights: the right to publish the book in any language and country in the world. Authors try to just sell North American Rights, which is what I did with MEMORY THIEF. That frees me up to sell the book in as many markets as I can. (Germany, France, Indonesia, China, etc. Basically each country is a different market.)

Some markets pay a lot, some pay a little. In this case, I almost got as much for the Chinese rights as I did for the North American Rights, so it was a fantastic surprise. Better yet, it’s another advance, meaning it’s money I get right away. And the most fantastic thing about it is that I didn’t have to do anything else other than sign a contract. No revisions. No drafts. No nothing.

The Chinese publisher will take care of translation, getting a cover, and all that jazz. I just get to sit back and look forward to seeing my writing in a new language at some point in the future.

It’s my first international sale, and that feels like a great threshold to cross. Maybe the interest from China will catch other countries’ eyes. Who knows? But for today, I’m just happy things continue to move forward so nicely.

Huzzah!

Revising on a Fast Turnaround

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If you’ve been following me on social media, you’ll know that I finished the first draft of MEMORY THIEF 2 last Saturday. It clocked in at around 66,000 words, and I’m pretty happy with it, as far as first drafts go. It does the main thing I want my first drafts to do, which is get the basic events of the book down on paper, so that I can take a look at what’s happening and see where I need to revise things into shape.

I’m really big on revision. My first drafts need a lot of work to bring them up to shape, mainly because I typically make most of them up as I go along. It isn’t until the whole draft is finished that I really understand what the book is about. I get that isn’t necessarily the most efficient way to write a book, but it’s what works best for me.

My usual approach is to set the first draft aside for a half year or so after I finish it. Go off and write a different book, or else revise a book I’d written earlier. The thought behind this is that I’ll have forgotten enough of the book to be able to read it with “fresh eyes,” seeing it as if I hadn’t written it. I’m always worried I’ll go easy on a book I wrote, not being able to see the imperfections that will leap off the page to others.

With the MEMORY THIEF sequel, I don’t have this luxury.

The final draft is due in August. If I took 6 months off, I wouldn’t be coming back to the book until October, two months late. So I can’t very well sit back and do nothing. And as I thought about the problem, I realized some of this might just be that it’s time for me to handle my revisions differently. When I’ve revised MEMORY THIEF and VODNIK, there were times when I had to just plow through a revision, and forget all about needing fresh eyes.

So two days ago (just four days after having finished the first draft) I printed out the book and am rereading it from the beginning.

Right off, I’m seeing some good things from this approach. I remember what happens at the end of the book, for one thing, so I can spot places where I need to set things up better than I thought I had. I certainly feel like I’ve been able to write plenty of comments down for ways to improve the book. And somehow, I forgot enough about the beginning that I’m still feeling like I’m encountering it fairly fresh.

Some of this might changes as I get further into the book. Will I still be able to be objective when it’s with material I just barely wrote a month ago? We shall see. But I’m always open to switching things up with my writing. Maybe I’ll discover I’ve been sitting on books too long, or unnecessarily. Certainly having an editor already on board to look at it and give me feedback makes a huge difference.

I should also note that with this draft, I had a pretty strong outline that had already gotten feedback from my agents and editor, which is different than how I’ve worked in the past. I still anticipate making changes in the revision, but the skeleton should be fairly strong and constant. That will no doubt make a big difference.

I’m not sharing much in the way of details of the sequel just yet, mainly because I want to make sure my editor is happy with the book in general before I say too much about it. I don’t want readers to be getting excited for something, only to have it totally get switched on them before it gets published. So stay tuned for more information . . .

Sign Up for My Author Email List

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It occurred to me Friday that I really ought to have an author email list. An easy way for fans to sign up to get updates from me about my writing and my books. Yes, there’s this blog, and I keep it up to date, but it’s requires you to be an active participant. You have to go looking for my page to find out what I’ve been up to, and even once you’ve found it, it’s not like I write updates all the time. You’d have to sort through the posts to find the latest and greatest.

If you miss the post where I talk about my new book or a new release coming out, then it’s doubtful you’ll ever see it unless you really dig.

I’m active on social media, but in those cases, I’m at the mercy of Facebook’s algorithms. The big blue F has really upped its game when its come to trying to use it as a way to stay connected with fans. They’ll gladly let a few people see a post, and then remind you that you can pay more to have it be promoted. Thanks but not thanks, Facebook. Twitter, on the other hand, is very hit or miss. You might get some good retweets of a post, but you’re once again at the mercy of the gods of luck to hope that your fans see a post.

I’m reminded of this fairly often, whenever I talk to a friend or family member and they’re surprised I have another book out, or that I have a new one coming next summer. For all the writing and posting I do online, I feel like I’m already pushy enough. And yet so many people still don’t hear about the latest and greatest.

That’s where the email list comes in. Sign up once, and be passively informed about everything I’m up to. It’ll be delivered straight to your email. No need for you to go hunting anywhere. I promise not to get spammy with things. No more than one post a month, and probably fewer than that. I want it to be so that when something comes out from me, people pay attention and actually read it. Know what I mean?

I should have started this a long time ago, but that’s no reason to not start it now. Just fill out the Google form below, and you’ll be signed up right away. Thanks for reading!

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