anthimeria: Swan looking over its wing, words "Not a chance" along one side (Sassy Swan)
Alright, I've finished the first (easier) half of the hardcopy edits.  All the typos I found are fixed, with some easy-to-add or easy-to-delete bits taken care of also.

Next step is applying the macro-level hardcopy edits, which include everything from the half-dozen scenes I marked "needs more sensory detail" to "delete this chapter and replace with something new".

. . . yeah, some of the really big changes may merit their own draft.  We'll see.

At any rate, the current wordcount is 95,719.

Not as low as I'd like but not as high as I feared.  If I do it right, the rest of draft II should take care of a few thousand words.  I hope.
anthimeria: unicorn rampant, first line of Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" (The Novel)
Let Wingless lie fallow for a month, and then took another month (argh life) to do the hardcopy edit.  Now I begin to apply said hardcopy edits.

For the record!

Current Wingless wordcount: 95228

I shall update once I have a wordcount for the end of DII!  Here's hoping it's <95k.


NB: Okay, I admit, I'm looking at the stats I posted when I finished writing the rough and am wondering where 200 words went.  I haven't touched the draft at all (possibly some formatting changes?).

NBpt2:  Oooh, wait, I know where those words went!  Those are the words I cut from the first 3 chapters to bring them under 10k, so I could submit the beginning to the WisCon Writers Workshop.  Explained!
anthimeria: A laptop keyboard and the Latin "Quot libros quam breve tempus" (Quot libros)
Want to send me into a research spiral?  Have me going over my character profiles since it's been more than a week since I picked them up and realizing I don't know what they wear in winter, and my book takes place during a Colorado winter.

Cue an hour and a half of googling trying to figure out not only what they should be wearing culturally (difficult, b/c they're both second-generation immigrants from very different climates), what they should be wearing given the Western/American influence, what they're be wearing considering they're both working class/teetering on the edge of damn poor, what materials would've been available, and whether they'd've purchased said winter clothing or made it.

ARGH.

Mostly research venting )

All right, venting over.  Maybe now I can actually get to the new plot, which is what I intended to work on today . . .

. . . unless I get snagged in another character detail.  *sigh*

(It's such a good thing I love worldbuilding.  Such a good thing.)

anthimeria: Barbara Gordon, in wheelchair, hand fisted, with the word "Not half beaten yet" (Oracle: Not Beaten)
So I have been researching and worldbuilding for a YA steampunk novel for the last several months.  I've got my characters worked out at last, and I think I have the world pretty much nailed down.  (Both of those things took FOREVER and I have disappeaed into so many research spirals in the last few months, y'all.  SO MANY.)

But the plot.

I had a plot in mind, when this was a simple one-off adventure story starring two relatively-recent settler girls in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains above Denver (and don't think 'settler' means 'white').  Then the world sort of exploded on me, and their entire relationship changed and changed the story I wanted to tell with it.

It's now a trilogy, mostly because of their relationship structure, but the action plot I came up with just . . . isn't clicking any more.  Plus the most interesting book, for me, is the second one--they meet and form a relationship in book one, but in book two they're removed from their familiar context and navigating how they want things between them to work and also by the way there's prejudice and new communities and social issues and crazy steampunk explosions.  Book three is them returning to their original spaces, changed and different, and wrapping everything up.

So we can see why I'm most interested in book two, right?

Which begs the question: Should I just write book two?

Actually that in itself begs a lot of other attendant questions, like, "Will anything make sense if I just write book two?" and "Is all the trauma that gets explored and dealt with in book two only worth it if we've already bonded to these characters in a previous book, epic-fanfiction-style?" and "Just how long would book two end up being if I try to make it stand alone?"  and "If I try to make book two stand alone, will it even sell in a YA marketplace that wants trilogies?"

I'm torn in a lot of directions and not sure what to do.  Ideally I'd like to reinvest myself in the plots of books one and three--or at least book one, investment in book three can happen after I've actually written something.

This is the part of writing where I really miss college, or more specifically, the community of writers it provided.  I can no longer go down the hall and bounce ideas off someone else who's also working on a book or short story.  All my writerly friends are scattered all over the country.

Okay.  Two girls searching for a McGuffin in the middle of a snowstorm in the Colorado Rockies in 1872, in a steampunk alternate history.  I can think of cool things for them to encounter, and this will reinvigorate my interest in the book.  Really.

. . . suggestions welcome.

okay so

Aug. 22nd, 2014 01:26 am
anthimeria: unicorn rampant, first line of Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" (Default)
HAH it's been a long time since I posted . . . mostly that's because I've had my head stuck in my railroading research.  Four volumes on train technology in the nineteenth century, that are well-written, understandable by a layperson, and in-depth?  It's like research Christmas.

It's also like Christmas because it's lasting longer than I could've guessed.  Like, well over a month at this point and I still have two volumes to get through!  But I'm nearly finished with the most relevant volume for the book.  But it's just so much fun!

My latent engineer and history geek have been showing through in a big way with these books.  'Course I've also got a couple of social science volumes coming in, and have been really enjoying a few other books.

There's also a boatload of editing to do on The Novel, but I've been very  very distracted by fun research.  I'll check back in later!
anthimeria: Gears, some magnified (Gears)
I have been miserably inactive on here because I have been doing ALL THE RESEARCH for my next project!

It's pretty set that it's going to be steampunk YA in a slightly-alternate-history post-gold rush Colorado.  My internet activity for the last month has basically been Colorado history, railroading history, Mexican, Californian, Native American (mostly Ute), and Chinese history, with a bunch of Victorian occultism and world mythology thrown in, because steampunk.

EEEE and my interlibrary loan about railroading technology in the nineteenth century just came in!  It's four volumes and there are technical drawings.  I'm ridiculously excited.

My roommate is probably getting tired of me ranting about the gauge controversy and narrow gauge fever.  (Gauge is how far apart the rails are on a train track.)
anthimeria: A laptop keyboard and the Latin "Quot libros quam breve tempus" (Quot libros)
Would you believe I FORGOT that I wrote Trial in the present tense?  I opened the doc to start draft III today and had a "Huh . . ?" moment.

But once I got past it I hit a few fiddly things of the type that are a pain to change but a good way to get re-acquainted with a MS I haven't worked on in months.  Researched medieval heraldry, did some shoe-related clothing extrapolation, fixed some capitalization inconsistencies, that sort of thing.  Then I went back through my notes from the first few chapters and hit the things I knew I could fix right then.

I haven't touched the larger underlying stuff that needs to be added--more magic, and the magic-related subplot I discovered while crafting DII--but that should come soon, hopefully.

In the meantime I'm toying with another YA idea, since the fairy book doesn't look like it'll be going anywhere for awhile.  Steampunk, because it is a genre I love, but with magic this time (there's no magic in Skywatch, and also Skywatch is middle grade).  I'm thinking another dual-POV book, and possibly may involve the transcontinental railroad or a steampunk-alternate-history version thereof.  We'll see!

Plus, since I DID fix that scene in The Novel, I need to query that some more.  Yay, a writing to-do list!
anthimeria: Gears, some magnified (Gears)
Trying to get back into the swing of things is haaaaaard.

Good news: worldbuilding for a new adult novel commencing, we'll see if that goes anywhere, AND my roomate and I hashed out a possible solution to the character arc thing I need to change in The Novel before I send it out to any more agents.

Bad news: After two years of submitting Skywatch to agents (~20, not that many) and 2 full requests that both got form rejections (more worrying), I decide to give my MG steampunk another look.  And it's . . . well.  Let's just say I really don't want to give up on it because I really love the world and the characters, but the writing is mediocre at best and the plot drags.  A MG mystery/thriller should clip along like anything, and Skywatch just doesn't.

Right now I'm hoping this can be fixed with an edit, but it's possible I may sit back after doing a re-read of the whole MS and go, ". . . it needs to be re-outlined and re-written from the ground up."

This would make me VERY SAD but is also something I would do for this book.  Skywatch is all the things I want in MG and I'm determined to do well by it, even if that means a whole truckload more work.

It also means that MG-wise, once I decide what to do with Skywatch, I need to refocus on the dragon book, because if I have to re-write Skywatch from the ground up it's going to move back in the queue.

But I don't know yet!  We'll have to see.
anthimeria: unicorn rampant, first line of Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" (The Novel)
BLARGH.

So, when I put together the submission packet for the Strange Chemistry unagented submission period, I did a desultory review of The Novel and concluded it was still pretty tight, and I didn't need to edit it, and I could focus on the business-end stuff.  Then I spent most of November and the beginning of December working on the query letter, and then some more in January, and now I think I finally have a decent letter.

The catch?  In working on the query, I needed to check the MS for a few things (including one instance of "plot logic" someone on a query crit forum pointed out, which needed to be fixed in the MS before I could fix it in the query) and discovered that there's a whole bunch of fiddly little details that aren't quite there yet.  Some of it's worldbuilding or plot stuff that I didn't notice was a hole till a critter pointed it out, and some of it is metatextual/philosophic issues that exist because I did the original worldbuilding and writing for this book SIX YEARS ago and have learned a lot since then.

So while I'm not making big changes, they are very exacting.  I need to find exactly the right place to make the change, then exactly the right change to make in order not to disrupt the flow of the story that already existed, and I need to do this while not bogging the MS down info-dump style.

It's irritatingly fiddly and worse because I have no one to blame but myself.  Myself of six years ago, but still myself.

EDIT, five hours later: ARGH.  Race is complicated even/especially when you're making up all the rules in a fantasy kingdom!  And so is class.  And nationality.  And all the research just makes it more complicated!  And I decided that INTERSECTIONALITY IS IMPORTANT.  Writing is hard, y'all.  (I'm going to keep reminding myself that it's SUPPOSED to be hard, that means I'm thinking at least almost enough.  It's supposed to be hard, it's supposed to be hard, if it's easy it's my white privilege, it's supposed to be hard, yes I'm going to screw up, it's supposed to be hard, it's supposed to be hard . . . )

EDIT II, three hours after the first: Writing a high fantasy while simultaneously, in the same text, engaging critically with the history of high fantasy is also REALLY HARD.

I'd forgotten why I needed to write a middle grade utopia after editing this book for six months.  Now I remember.

(I should be asleeeeeeep.)

#PitMad!

Jan. 7th, 2014 09:57 pm
anthimeria: A scary angular outline of a face, the words "Still Watching" (Oracle: Still Watching)
JUST FOUND OUT THERE'S ANOTHER ROUND OF #PITMAD TOMORROW!

I keep missing #PitMad by just a few days, so the fact that I actually know about and get to participate in this one is exciting.

The catch?  TIMEZONES.
anthimeria: Mask of feathers (Feather Face)
In my experience, an author who wants to improve, especially and author who wants to be professionally published in today's publishing industry, needs to develop both a thick skin for critique and the ability to know when your critiquer is right (most of the time) and when they're so far off base they're in the wrong ballpark.

I use an online forum to get crituqes for my query letters, pitches and synopses, because my meatspace friends all have jobs and lives and aren't, right this very minute, devoted to working on a query letter, whereas people in query letter forums are generally devoted to working on their queries, and if everybody plays fair--crits others, gives return crits to people who critted them--it works quite well, despite the oftentimes huge disparity in writing skill and publishing experience.  I kinda love it, and I enjoy (for a certain definition thereof) both critiquing and giving critiques.  Up to a point.
Anger is a legitimate response, but what we do with that anger matters. Also, lots of opinions behind the cut. And writerly rambling. )

In short: critique ettiquette, I have feelings and opinions about it.

For now I've paused work on my query.  I still feel like I have a good draft, it just needs a few tweaks, and I need to seriously consider several things one of my later critquers said.

Also, I had no idea before I started asking for query critique HOW MANY people would be confused by the fact that one of my main characters is a unicorn.  Everyone who crits the query seems to assume that either a) she's a unicorn in human form, or a human with unicorn magic, or otherwise somehow human-shaped, or b) if she actually is no joke a unicorn, she must not be a main character and should be removed from the query.

SERIOUSLY.  I am fairly certain I wouldn't be having this problem if she were almost any other kind of mythical creature.  Which, admittedly, is part of the culture I'm talking back to with The Novel, but still.  It never occurred to me that anyone would question her being a unicorn.

anthimeria: Open book, says "sometimes you reach what's realest by making believe" (Books)
Forest War is stalled in the outline, because I realized there's a huge structual flaw in the middle (basically, an extended sequence in which the POV character is inactive, an observer rather than an actor), and I haven't figured out how to fix it yet.

I'm also debating whether it's worth it to fix, which is irritating, because I really enjoy this world.  It's just--the more I write the outline, the clearer this story becomes to me, the more obvious it is to me that it's YA.  But I can't actually imagine how one would sell a YA book where the characters are fairies--not the fae/sidhe/underhilll fairies of legend, but Fern Gully/Tinker Bell-esque hand-sized forest spirits with butterfly wings and nature magic and pretty colors.  If it were a movie, we could rate it PG and move on.  Since it's a novel, I'm becoming dubious about its saleability, because its target audience is 10-14, maybe even 12-16, for the character and writing and plot stuff, but--I'm not sure we could get a 14 year old to overlook the fact that the main characters are fairies.

So I'm still thinking about it.  I would hate to abandon this project, but like Moxie, it might  be something that'll have to wait until I have a few books with decent sales under my belt.  It just might not be a good project for me right now, while I'm still unsold.

I've also been tinkering with other projects in their early stages, especially since working on The Novel's submission package for Strange Chemistry got me thinking about writing YA again.  The Novel is still in a place where I'm happy with it, so no editing there, but I do have an urban fantasy YA trilogy I've been poking at.  I haven't mentioned it much because it's been troublesome--I've rewritten the plot concept half a dozen times--but I think I finally got a solid concept for the first two books.

A bit ago I essentially tossed all the plotting I'd done for months out the window and rewrote the concept for book one, but couldn't get into book two.  Today, after basically everything else went wrong, I sat down and hammered out a concept for book two, which is the only thing saving this day from total miserable uselessness.

Also tried to edit the mermaid pirates picture book, but it turns out exacting word choice is not something I'm capable of when miserable, but plotting urban fantasy YA is.  Things you learn about yourself!
anthimeria: Close up of cecropia moth wings, the words "Don't judge a fairy by her wings" (Fairy wings)
Remember when I said I'd tell you about my new project in my next post . . ?  Well, after eating my words, I am NOW going to tell you about my new project.  A month and a half later.  Oops?

After many moons of research, worldbuilding, more research, more worldbuilding, character profiling, and oh yeah, even more worldbuilding, I'm about to embark upon outlining a new middle grade fantasy.  About fairies.

Spoilers:

Right now, my target age range for this is upper middle grade, 10-14.  Of my middle grade novels, I seem to have run the gamut: Skywatch is either true middle grade, 8-12, or edges into upper, 9-13.  Trial is young middle grade, I'd call it ages 7-10.  And this is 10-14.  That's mostly because of the subject matter--this is about war and death and disability and prejudice and racism and systematic oppression and anger, a lot of anger.  Aster is my angriest protagonist yet, and that's a contributing factor as to why this story has taken me so long to get a hold of.  Aster is angry and reckless and self-involved.

The working title, which I came up with literally as I was writing this post, is The Forest War.  (Previous working titles include the terrible and too-obvious Night and Day, and then Epic in homage to its inspiration.)  Interestingly, unlike Skywatch and Trial, The Forest War is a standalone.  I think it's also going to be longer than both of them--pushing the advisable length for middle grade long.  We'll see.

Now I need to get down to outlining.  Here goes nothing.

anthimeria: Comic book panels (Sequential Art)
About a year ago, I wrote my first-ever picture book manuscript.  For quite awhile it appeared to be the only picture book I'd ever write, and I know nobody wants to publish a one-off, so after I worked really really hard on it and ended up with something I was actually pretty proud of, I shelved it.  I had novel work to do, and I'm definitely a go-the-distance girl where novels are concerned.

But once I'd written a picture book, I knew I could do it again, if I ever had any ideas.

I've had a few, but one arose from a teasing conversation at work.  There's a picture book series called Captain Flynn and the Pirate Dinosaurs, because the author knows what four year old boys want, and it was discussed that we could make pirates out of all kinds of things.  Somehow mermaids came up, and while we were laughing, we were also surprised we couldn't think of a single book--picture book or chapter book--about pirate mermaids.  (I know of one short story, but it's not aimed at children.  At all.)

Until today.

The manuscript's a mess, since I was still figuring things out as I wrote it, and it's a little long--I'd like to cut at least 35 words, 50 might be better--but there you have it.  I've written my second-ever picture book, and it's about pirate mermaids.

BECAUSE WHY NOT.

anthimeria: A scary angular outline of a face, the words "Still Watching" (Oracle: Still Watching)
The US government shutdown is actively impeding my research.

I keep needing to access information on native plant and animal species, especially distribution, and guess where a lot of that information is stored?  Right!  On websites run by institutions like the National Parks Service, or the Department of Agriculture.

Fortunately state-specific websites are still up and running, but the national sites being down is a PAIN.  I've already written my senators and representative, urging them to fight this thing, and now I'm really glad I did.
anthimeria: Open book, says "sometimes you reach what's realest by making believe" (Books)
Started in on applying my hard copy edits to the .doc for Trial, and as expected, I'm essentially doing another round of editing.  Finished chapter one today--it took four hours and my total wordcount went up by 750 words--but I'm fairly pleased.  There's a few spots I think I went overboard with, and in a book where my goal chapter length is 1,500 words chapter one is 2,400 words, but it is chapter one and there's a lot of exposition and description to work in, so.

RL is being a bit insane right now (good insane, not literally being stressed to death by my job the way I was at this time last year), so I don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to prioritize Trial, but I hope to get at least draft II finished before I'm forced to focus on other things.

In related news, I meant to work on Trial yesterday and instead ended up doing more worldbuilding for my next potential project.  There's still a lot of little details, and a more organized outline, that need to happen before I jump into it, but it's looking more and more like it'll be a thing.  It's another middle grade novel and my first true standalone (technically The Novel is a standalone, though it could have a sequel).  The rest of my current manuscripts--Skywatch and Trial--work just fine by themselves but have series planned.

anthimeria: unicorn rampant, first line of Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" (Default)
A week and 112 pages down, 15 pages to go.

While I have not sped up, I hope the quality of my edits has held.  Though I could tell when I hit the last 1/3 of the book, because I started hitting a lot more typos.  Seems like doing that as-I-wrote copyediting of the first 2/3 made at least a little bit of difference.  I don't know if I'll do it again unless I write a book this way again--more momentum than thoughtful writing.  I needed it, but boy has the editing so far been hugely time-consuming.  I hate to think how long an editing process like this would take if the draft were 90k words instead of 30k.

Also spent some time today on my list of questions to ask prospective agents.  I've been putting it together from suggestions all over the web since I got the first full manuscript request for Skywatch.  It isn't finished yet, but I have all the pieces.  I just need to assemble it in such a way as it makes sense for me and for Skywatch.  This is easier said than done, as per usual.  Good thing I don't mind hard work.

I have some other irons on the fire--you didn't think Skywatch and Trial were my only projects, did you?--but both new projects threatened to implode the way Horizons did, so I haven't spoken about them here.  Now it's starting to look like at least one of them might be steady enough to be my next real project, and the other pulled itself back from the brink of getting shoved aside, though it's not nearly ready.  So once I have a solid draft II for Trial and a little more agent work finished for Skywatch, I'll start in seriously on the next new book, and let y'all know what it is.

In the meantime, happy writing/reading/consuming of stories!
anthimeria: A laptop keyboard and the Latin "Quot libros quam breve tempus" (Quot libros)
Conclusion: The pace sped up some, but not much.  As of midnight and eightish hours of work (I ate twice), I've finished through page 34.  That's just over four pages an hour.  With 93 pages more to go, I'm thinking this is going to take significantly longer than I budgeted.

Weirdly, I'm not displeased with this.  I'm a little irritated that it's thrown my revision schedule out of whack, but this book hasn't yet run to schedule, so I don't know why I thought it would now.

I'm doing good work, and shall be content with that.

(PS: no tea-spilling, though I did use up a tea bag down to the dregs.  Kind of proud of that, actually.  Because I'm weird.)
anthimeria: Barbara Gordon, in wheelchair, hand fisted, with the word "Not half beaten yet" (Oracle: Not Beaten)
I have the day off today, and it's my first day off since WisCon that I don't have doctor's appts or any other errands to run.  If I were most other people, that would mean relaxing, since my job is about to expand and this might be my last stress-free time to relax for awhile.

Since I'm a writer, it means I'm working on a first-read-through-and-edit of Trial.

As I type this, it is 5 pm.  I began working at 2:15 pm.  How much have I gotten done?

Six pages.

This is not because I'm getting distracted; on the contrary, my focus has been excellent.  This is because each page is so covered in ink that I'm a little bit afraid it's going to smear everywhere.

Beginnings are not my strong suit.

Fortunately for my sanity all the edits have been good additions or changes, I think I'm getting what I need down on the page, I'm reminded that I actually do like this universe and the people in it, and I'm having fun incorporating new worldbuilding details.  I'm, somewhat surprisingly, enjoying myself immensely.

We'll see if that holds out, but I have faith.  Trial is going to take many drafts to edit, and I saw that coming and prepared for it.  This draft might be brutal, but with hard work, it'll make every draft after easier.

Okay, back to the grindstone.  I shall endeavor to check in again at the end of the day and see if I've gotten through the whole manuscript, which is my goal, or if I've fallen asleep and spilled tea everywhere somewhere around chapter twenty.
anthimeria: A laptop keyboard and the Latin "Quot libros quam breve tempus" (Quot libros)
I am thiiiiiiiis close to finishing the rough of Trial.  Pushed through on two of the hardest chapters today, the first one I've been dreading since I outlined it because it involves a plot device I'm not good at, and the second because I realized in reading my outline that I'd stuffed way too much into it and half of it belongs in the next chapter.

But they're done, and I managed 2900 words today, which is pretty decent considering the dearth of writing lately.  I'm just so ready to be finished with this rough, because it's the editing process that's going to make the book worth anything, and I'm not going to get there till I finish the rough.  Writing this thing has been like the death of a thousand cuts--the chapters are short, the book is short, there's nothing complicated, but because it keeps getting backburnered, I've been writing it for months!

*breathes*

The end is in sight, however, and I know I'm going to get there.  This'll be the first novel ms I finish since Skywatch, which was--geez, three years ago almost exactly.  That's depressing.  On the other hand, in between I've been published twice, moved two thousand miles, and changed jobs.  Plus started two other books that I had the foresight to realize weren't going anywhere as they were, and thus stopped.  Failure matters--it's what a good writer calls a learning experience, and it's worth a lot.

Editing Trial is, I think, going to be very different from editing Skywatch.  Skywatch only took me a few months to write, I never took any long breaks, and it was 20k longer than Trial is going to be.  Skywatch was always all of a piece.  Trial, I suspect, is going to be very disjointed, both because of the story structure itself and way I ended up writing it.  But I have a lot more editing experience now than I did the first few times I went through Skywatch--I have Skywatch, obviously, but I also seriously revised The Novel.  Every little bit helps, or so I hope.

22 chapters down, 4 chapters to go!

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anthimeria: unicorn rampant, first line of Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" (Default)
Lauren K. Moody

Positive Obsession

There is hope in error, but none at all in perfection.
--Ursula K. Le Guin

The universe is made up of stories, not atoms.
--Muriel Rukeyser

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

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