Refueling the Fire

First off, thanks to everyone for the many kind words of support after my announcement yesterday. It was a downer of an evening last night, but today’s a new day, and I’m feeling upbeat. I’ve spoken with both my agents, and we’ll be sending MEMORY THIEF out on submission again soon. It sold before, it can be sold again.

One effect this has had that I hadn’t anticipated was a direct jolt on my writing. I’ll admit it: I’d grown a little loosey goosey with the burning desire to keep churning out the word counts. After I finished NaNoWriMo in stellar fashion, I turned to revising OUR LADY. I’d heard back from Joshua on it, and he had some underlying concerns about the novel that he wanted to be sure were addressed. (The good news? They weren’t book breaking. I’d sent him a second draft this time instead of a third draft. Early enough on in the process that you could have a good idea where it was heading, but not so far along that it would be terribly difficult to make big changes to the work. Think of it like cement. Work too much on it, and it kind of solidifies around you. Sort of.)

Since I knew I’d be getting edits for MEMORY THIEF sometime this month, I wasn’t in too much of a rush to finish the edits on OUR LADY. I was essentially spinning my wheels, making some progress, but not too worried about it. After all, I had a book coming out in Fall 2016, which bought me some time for my other books to be finished and find homes.

That time’s gone now, of course.

I worried when I went to write yesterday that it would be difficult. That I’d have to drag it out of me, because I’d be depressed over the loss of the contract. Instead, I found myself revived. The words felt like they came a lot easier than they had for the past month or so. I think it’s because I’m well and truly motivated again. In March, Vodnik will have come out three years ago, which pretty much guarantees that at this point, I’ll have had at least 5 years between books getting published. (If MEMORY THIEF sold again tomorrow, It wouldn’t get published until Spring 2017, thanks to the way the publishing world works.)

This was never part of the plan. As an unpublished author, you look at getting an agent and a book contract as the end. All that comes after that is the “Happily Ever After.” I have close friends who got to that point–it was really all I’d seen of the publishing world. Get the contract, live the dream.

There’s no “wait five years for the next book to come around” in there anywhere.

It’s times like these that I look back at the intervening years and wonder what’s happened. I think it’s helpful to take a close look at your work and see if there are changes that need to be made. Since I signed on the dotted line for Vodnik, I’ve completed the following writing:

  • Revised and published VODNIK. (Yay!)
  • Submitted TARNHELM, a YA noir fantasy that I happen to love. It got a few nibbles, but nothing more than that. Why not? It’s highly stylized and has a narrow audience. Not exactly “breakthrough” material. YA noir isn’t leaping off the shelves, after all–so adding “fantasy” to that genre and narrowing it further doesn’t do wonders.
  • Finished three drafts of GET CUPID, then eventually gave it up as a lost cause. This accounts for almost a full year of writing, and is probably the biggest reason for why things have taken so long on my end. Live and learn, I suppose. I’ve been trying to learn from the mistakes I made in this book–keep my future ones more focused and on track, for one thing.
  • Submitted (and sold) THE MEMORY THIEF. As I said yesterday, events taking that sale away are out of my control. Nothing to tweak there.
  • Finished two drafts of OUR LADY (and am in the middle of a third). It’s going well, I feel like it has a broad audience, and it’s a lot of fun. I’m on track in this area.
  • Finished the first draft of my NaNo book. My writing group just read the first two chapters, and I read the next few to see where it goes from there. Initial verdict? Very positive. I can’t remember what the rest of it looks like, but the first four chapters are really solid for a first draft. Makes me hopeful.

That’s in four years of writing. a book published, five books written and finished, two of them submission-ready, and one well on its way in that direction. Honestly, I don’t think that’s too shabby for this being my second job. Would I be going faster if I wrote full time? Undoubtedly. But I’m on track for a book a year at this rate, and that’s a fine pace for me for now. Take out the GET CUPID blunder, and things would be dandy.

Can I get derailed? Certainly. If things don’t go well with OUR LADY or the NaNo book, then I’ll be staring at 2 submission worthy books in 5 years as opposed to 4 in 5 years.

More than anything, this has been a reminder to me that the sands of publishing are always shifting. (Aren’t I glad I didn’t decide to just wait around and take a break while I was waiting for the MEMORY THIEF edits to arrive . . .) All you can do as an author is tuck your head down and keep writing.

Time to crack the knuckles and the whip and get those fingers flying again.

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