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: unicorn rampant, first line of Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" (The Novel)
Finished my submission package for Strange Chemistry today.  Loglines/one line pitches are HARD.  Especially for a novel that is in many ways an avalanche--lots of things combined cause characters to act and react, rather than a single problem that needs solving, as in Skywatch.

On the other hand, the synopsis for The Novel was much easier than Skywatch's, for similar reasons.  The Novel is a journey story, so one thing leads into the next, whereas Skywatch is a mystery, and characters chase clues all over the place.

At any rate, that's done, and now I just have to work on a query letter if I decide to start querying agents for The Novel.  Since I'm still more focused on Skywatch, and since both my works in progress are also middle grade, The Novel's a lower priority.

Which is not to say I couldn't switch back over to YA if Strange Chemistry said they wanted The Novel, and oh by the way do you have anything else?  My response would be, Let me tell you about my kickass urban fantasy with swan maidens.

In other news, I found out that Kaleidoscope, an anthology of YA spec-fic focusing on diverse perspectives, has gotten funded and will be accepting submissions till the end of the year, so I'm working on a short story for that.  Right now it's more diverse than spec-fic, but we'll see.  It's the only YA short story I have, though, so if they reject on that basis, c'est la vie.

This'll be the first short story I've worked on seriously for more than a year.  It'll be an interesting change from the novels.
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.


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: Open book, says "sometimes you reach what's realest by making believe" (Books)
I think that should be my motto for Trial.  Just finished the applying the hard copy edits, which means I have an official draft II, clocking in at 35701 words.  This is MUCH shorter than I thought this draft would be--though to be fair I cut at least a thousand words, if not more, so the actual number of words added is higher.

The next draft is going to be focused on big picture issues, including the new subplot I discovered needs to be added.  To do it right, I need to do two things: one, step away for a while to gain perspective, and two, sit down and actually read the ms in one go.  Because of the time it took to do the edits that comprise dii, I haven't actually done this yet, and it needs doing.

But not right now.  Right now I need to get serious on the worldbuilding and outlining for my next project, which hopefully I will be able to tell you about in my next post!

Unless I read something interesting before then, in which case you'll get a book recommendation first.
anthimeria: Astro City superheroine Flying Fox (Flying Fox)
Chapters of Trial to edit, that is.

Applying the hard copy edits is actually going slower than the hard copy edit itself, which I didn't think was possible.  Partly it's that I have to actually write something for those spots where I jotted down "insert description of a field and Eva's emotions here", and partly it's because I keep getting caught in research spirals.

A research spiral looks like this: I'll run across a sentence that needs more detail and then spend an hour trying to figure out whether chalkboards existed in medieval Italy (as far as I can tell, no), and if not, what if anything was used intead (. . . nothing, as far as I can tell?  Apparently teachers just lectured and their students copied it on tablets.  None of the art from the era has the teacher referring to anything the whole class can see.  It's annoying because the technology was there--chalk and a black wall!--but nobody put it together).  Then I have to make decisions about the results of my research (like, do I use chalkboards anyway?  No?  Then what?), and then I have to get it into my worldbuilding document (often with comments about why I arrived at that conclusion, because if I don't remember I'll just end up in another research spiral trying to figure it out).

More than one of these in a session makes getting through a chapter and a half an accomplishment.

Current wordcount on the full document is 33,767, which is actually less than I anticipated since I'm a third of the way through the manuscript.  What I'm beginning to suspect this means is that my next few drafts will also add words.

In bill-paying-job news, camp went really well!  I had fabulous students and we had a grand old time, plus their parents were happy, which is always important.

Now that that particular extra work is out of the way, I'm hoping to wrap the draft II edit for Trial in the next two weeks so I can buckle down to worldbuilding and outlining my next project.
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: Stars in space (Starscape)
Finished the first read-through/hard copy edit of Trial last week, took a bit of time for distance and to work at the bill-paying job, and intend to commence applying said edits to the .doc this week.  That might sound easy, but really it's basically an entire second edit of the draft, because I have to read everything again and I'll catch new things to change and also edit my edits.  I also need to decide whether I'm going to do a serious line edit for that final 1/3 of the draft that didn't get line edited the way the first 2/3s did.  Likely I'll make that decision when I get there.

Also, sent a follow up e-mail to an agent who requested the full for Skywatch. We're past the "follow up if you haven't heard by" date, so I'm following up.  I have about a million worst-case scenarios going through my head, and you don't want to know how long (and how much research) it took me to write an e-mail that was literally two sentences.  Now, of course, I have to wait again.  Deep breaths and continuing to send out the query.
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: Astro City superheroine Flying Fox (Flying Fox)
Sent another bunch of queries off en masse in the last few days.  It's still nerve-wracking!  This lot has a longer response time on average than the last bunch, but that doesn't make me any less twitchy, somehow.  It's a logic-versus-emotion thing: I have done the scary thing, now I expect a response . . . or possibly desire a response . . . as fast as possible.  All those NRMN rejections can be hard to take for someone used to always getting a reply, even if it's just a form letter.  "We'll get back to you if we want you" is so ambiguous . . . mind you, I understand why--agents are crazy-swamped--but it's still, well, nerve-wracking from the other end!

I simultaneously feel like it's been a month since Nova Albion and like barely any time has passed.  I've been working a lot, both at the paying job and the business end of writing.  I've about come to the end of my latest list of agents for Skywatch and will need to do more research there, plus I'd like to start querying The Novel but the materials aren't as ready as I'd like.

So: lots of work down, lots more to go.  For all that I know my workload will increase (possibly exponentially) when I get a novel picked up, I can't wait, because at least then it'll be work with a visible effect.  Right now it's all front loading, working and working and working in the hopes of paying off down the line.

I think I can I think I can I think I can . . .
anthimeria: Open book, says "sometimes you reach what's realest by making believe" (Books)
Coming in at 31,426 words: the rough of Trial is finished!

And I've continued the tradition established by The Novel of blasting Ever Ever After when I finish a rough draft.

I reached a natural stopping point after writing three chapters in pieces throughout the day today and took a look at the clock.  It was just after eleven, I had one chapter left, and I basically went, That's it, I'm doing this.  Finished just before midnight, wrote over 3k words today, and now I might be listening to Ever Ever After on repeat.  After the drawn-out process writing this book has been, I did not expect to speed through the last six chapters in two days.

Now I need to go ice my wrists, which, if I recall from finishing Skywatch, is also a tradition.

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!


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!

anthimeria: unicorn rampant, first line of Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" (Default)
Being up at all hours for FogCon apparently killed my immune system; I spent a week and a half with "stuff coming out of both ends" to quote Dawn from Buffy.  TMI?  Probably.

Needless to say I haven't gotten any writing done.  I have, however, gotten two more rejection letters for Skywatch, including from the agent who requested the full.  Sadness.  I'm gearing up to send out more queries and approaching the deadline for the long-wait NRMN agents, so more agent-research is nigh.
anthimeria: Astro City superheroine Flying Fox (Flying Fox)
Three rejections and one full MS request for Skywatch, plus two more NRMN (no response means no) rejections.  I need to spend an afternoon sending out new queries, but I've been focused on some editing for others that I promised and on polishing the outline for Flying Machines (finished through Act Two, just need to get Act Three done).

I also read two awesome books, one YA and one grownup urban fantasy.

The YA is White Cat, by Holly Black.  This book is a few years old, but I avoided it because I barely got through Tithe.  It wasn't bad, just . . . meh.  But I really enjoyed White Cat and the questions about rights and agency and safety that are raised throughout the book, and also of identity--we find out as the book goes on that Cassel, the POV character, is beyond the definition of an unreliable narrator--he's unreliable even unto himself.  How that effects who he is and how he reacts to things is fascinating.  I started the sequel today, and I'm interested in seeing where the series goes.

The urban fantasy is, of course, Seanan McGuire's latest, Midnight Blue-Light Special!  McGuire is pretty much my favorite author for adults, and MBLS lives up to her standard.  It has all the cryptids we know and love from Discount Armageddon and a plot that moves like anything.  Plus the Aeslin Mice, perennial fan favorites, play a big role--I think they were sort of fun background in Discount Armageddon, but they have plot purposes and are integrated into Verity's life in MBLS, which I really appreciated.  HAIL THE SEQUEL!
anthimeria: Comic book panels (Sequential Art)
I mentioned I put Trial on hold to work on the outline for Flying Machines, right?

Plus waxed poetic about the citybuilding I've been doing for Flying Machines, in addition to the outlining?

So why, oh writer's brain, did you decide that whenever my thought processes wandered too far from the City in the Sky, it would wander to my dragon book?

Long story short: the bones of the outline for Flying Machines are finished, after something like twenty-three hours of intensive work over the last five days.

And also I wrote a chapter and a half of Trial, because WHY NOT.

Seriously brain, I do not understand you.

Also, I really really want to wax poetic about citybuilding and how it brought my whole outline together and how knowing how something works means knowing how to break it and then also how to fix it, but I wrote that post already and everyone I live with is sick of hearing about it, possibly literally, so I won't.  Suffice it to say that building the City from the ground down was AWESOME FUN and I feel sorry for spec-fic writers who don't enjoy worldbuilding, because I can get GIDDY doing that.

Not as giddy as getting a full request from an awesome agent, but still.  SO EXCITED.  I have built the City, and it is steampunk-y!

And then there were dragons, the end.

(NB: The steampunk and the dragons are entirely separate projects, though if anyone knows of a story where those two elements are combined, sign me up.)
anthimeria: A laptop keyboard and the Latin "Quot libros quam breve tempus" (Quot libros)
Y'all, it's been so long since I did any nitty-gritty worldbuilding stuff that I forgot how much I LOVE it.

Flying Machines (which I suspect will need a new name sooner rather than later; hopefully the outline will reveal one to me) takes place in the bowels of the City in the Sky.  Because the City is held up by gas bags underneath it (yes, I know this is not the way lighter-than-air flight really works.  Please keep in mind that I did research, seriously considered all my options, and then threw the laws of physics out the window for what would work better culturally and look the way I wanted), this meant googling airships and lighter-than-air craft till my googler was sore.  Much of the City's infrastructure is going to be involved in this story, which means I need to know more than the vague outlines of infrastructure that I put together when I was initially worldbuilding for Skywatch.

Thus, instead of working on the story outline, I bent pencil to paper and sketched out schematics of the City's Envelope, the very structures that keep it aloft.  It took three and a half hours, three sheets of paper, almost an entire lead for my mechanical pencil, and a lot of erasing and re-drawing, but I think I have the basic structures, their names, and their origins worked out.  Since this is all going to figure into the plot, I am excited!  It was a ton of fun articulating what I'd sort of known in the back of my head into specifics that I could put on a page.  Though I did wish for a 3-D modeler a couple of times.  I suspect that some of my sketches will only ever make sense to me.

Now I need to figure out what's directly under the City, between the building foundations and the Envelope.  Obviously maintenance tunnels, but what else?  So much of worldbuilding is cultural, historical and biographical that I forgot how much I love building buildings.

This feels very much like a tiny glimpse of what it's going to be like to put Moxie's city together when I get around to her books, and I think I'm going to spend way too much time on it and have a marvelous time.

Worldbuilding FTW!

anthimeria: Open book, says "sometimes you reach what's realest by making believe" (Books)
. . . first full request!

I've had two responses to my Skywatch queries: one rejection and one request for the full manuscript!  Statistically, this is like hitting the jackpot.  I'm still a little slack-jawed.  My second-ever query response for this book is a full MS request?  Within the response times of all the queries sent out?  Seriously?

Mind you, this agent always requests fulls after the query if they request anything, so it is not quite as exciting as an agent who goes query-partial-full, but it is nevertheless a positive response from a really awesome agent.  So I will remain excited and optimistic while also attempting to be realistic about my chances.


. . . ahem.

This did give me a kick in the pants re: Flying Machine's outline.  In that I should have one.  So I'm putting Trial on hold (that poor book) and working on hacking out a respectable outline from "City-spelunking!" and like seven hours of polio research, mostly devoted to outbreak trends and trying to figure out historical names for the disease so I could come up with a good name in Cityspeak.  Mind you, the relevant polio epidemic in the City happened 5-6 years before Flying Machines, but it's extremely relevant to Julien and thus: research.

I still have a few swallows of ginger ale left, so I'm going back to outlining until the can is empty, and then sleep.


anthimeria: Gears, some magnified (Gears)
One rejection letter so far for Skywatch!  Whoo!

I actually have it out at eight agents right now, because I ran across an agent who got me really excited, so when I sent out my query to bring it back up to seven queries out, I sent another.  Because why not!  But I do intend to generally keep it to seven queries out at a time, give or take those who have a no-response-means-no policy (but I will wait till their reply-by date).

I've also been doing research for agents for The Novel.  I found a lot more potential Skywatch agents that way, but fewer for The Novel.  Steampunk and middle grade are in right now.  YA is not less in, but when agents say they want "YA fantasy" I have learned that they mostly mean urban fantasy.  And the sheer number of agents who straight-up don't want high fantasy or anything with unicorns, even if they take basically all other spec-fic, is higher than I thought (though if they don't take unicorns, they also tend not to take vampires, werewolves, angels or dystopias, either).  I get it, being a person who generally doesn't enjoy high fantasy or unicorns, but it's discouraging when I have a book that plays with those things (or at least, talks back to the stereotypical presentation thereof) and I'm barred from submitting.

Strictly speaking, I could submit anyway, but that's on every agent's pet peeves list I've ever seen--submissions that don't pay attention to the guidelines and agent preferences!  So, I will likely have a smaller pool for The Novel, especially since I can't re-submit to agents I submitted to before, unless their guidelines specifically state that resubmissions with significant revision are allowed (which is generally a no-no).

So, yeah.  More research to do, but I'm feeling pretty okay.
anthimeria: Gears, some magnified (Gears)
There is stuff going on IRL that's been messing with my writing concentration (including being sick), so today I stared at my Netflix account and then decided I was well enough to accomplish something other than finishing the third season of West Wing.

So I got together all my research, double-checked it for accuracy, and spent the day specializing and sending out query letters for Skywatch.

It's about bloody time.  Seven so far.  A fellow aspiring writer at WisCon suggested sending out a new query for every rejection or assumed rejection I get, and I think that's a good plan--so I'll always have seven query letters out.  It's a little bit odd sending one piece around--I did it for The Novel, but it was a while ago and I have a lot more experience submitting short stories, which are pretty much always single submissions.

Now, since I did get a rejection letter for The Novel from HarperVoyager, I need to get started researching agents to submit queries for that book as well.  It's been going on three years and two significant revisions since I last submitted The Novel, and I have a lot more confidence in it now than I had then, so.

Wish me luck!


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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