I’m still plugging away at the YA project (currently called PUBLIC ACCESS), which is making me paranoid about surveillance cameras, and MARVEL, which is making me incredibly sad thinking about how hard it is to love and be loved.
I sent off about 100 pages of the YA project to my agent, which means that I need to get down to business on the baseball/mermaid/triplet project. Of course, my brain has other ideas and keeps planting little seeds about my Big Ass Fantasy books. Yes, it’s plural now. There are officially 3 of them and counting, because my brain is evil and rarely takes orders from me.
I am now officially working on the baseball/mermaid/triplet story (Code name: MARVEL), and a contemporary YA. Having only ever written a creepy YA ghost story, this is a new one for me, but after all, every project is something new.
Summer is a magical time of year, because it’s filled with stolen moments to write. Right now I’m waiting on edits for ALL THE UGLY AND WONDERFUL THINGS, and in the meantime, I’m working on a whole slate of things. In the last two weeks, I’ve added words to my baseball/mermaid/triplet story, my influenza epidemic YA story, the Big Ass fantasy novel, and this crazy project about a magical gun that works like a revenge chain letter.
The best part about having multiple projects on the table is that when you hit a wall with one, you can just shift to another. That’s what happened to me with my baseball/mermaid/triplet story. I just ran out of steam. I’m hoping the inspiration comes back with baseball season, but in the meantime, I’ve been pecking away at this Big Ass Fantasy novel that I started years ago. From a publishing stand point, it’s a bit of a problem, because it’s a real doorstopper. (The first book runs to 600 pages, the sequel nearly the same.) That said, it’s a ton of fun to work on it, not least of which because it involves maps! I love maps!
After the sale of ALL THE UGLY AND WONDERFUL THINGS, I took a little writing vacation. In so far as writers ever really take vacations. At any rate, I took a three-month rest from working purposefully on any projects and did a bunch of reading instead. As I know I’ll have an editorial letter coming one of these days, however, I need to get back in shape. I can’t help but feel that writing is similar to an athletic endeavor. If you take a break, you lose strength and stamina. Now that I know I have work ahead of me, I have to go back to more regular workouts.
I’m having a bit of a writing vacation this month. In July, I completed a round of edits on Thirteen (which is really more of a codename than a title at this point) for my agent in preparation for submission to editors in September. I think for August, I’m going to close the laptop and catch up on my reading.
Now that Lie Lay Lain is out, I’m trying to stop frittering away time on random projects. I mean, I’m having a lot of fun working on that sequel to Ugly and the Beast, but considering I didn’t sell the first book, it’s not the most practical of projects. Time to go back to the Night Train or the mermaid stories.
A bit late, I’ve turned in the final copy of Lie Lay Lain, and now I find myself wandering around my writing files, opening things and reading, trying to decide what to work on next. I’m tempted to take another run at Other People’s Dead Relatives, if only because I’m finally of an age with the main character. When I started the book, I was a young 30, happily married. Now I’m forty and divorced, just like the main character. It definitely provides a new perspective.
The book that was four and is now one officially has a title, Lie Lay Lain. Of course, it had a title to begin with, but it’s official now that I’ve sold it to my publisher, Stairway Press. Now comes the hard work of doing edits, which is always less exhilarating than the first draft. It funny, because when I was first shopping Last Will, plenty of editors and agents rejected it because it had multiple narrators. Some even went so far as to suggest that just wasn’t done. Never mind the various classical examples I could name off the top of my head. After that whole experience, I’d sworn I wasn’t doing multiple narrators again. I did. The two main characters of Lie Lay Lain, Olivia and Jennifer, alternate chapters.
I’m plugging along at a project that used to be four separate novels. I finally had a bit of breakthrough and realized that all these disparate threads are ONE novel. There’s a church secretary, a special events planner, a lying paramedic, and a little girl who has gone missing. Somewhere, in the middle, or more likely at the peripheries, they meet.
I am at cross purposes with myself. It seems like for every ten thousand words I manage on one of my more “serious” projects, I come up with a new idea that is completely off the wall and doesn’t fit with much of anything.
Thirteen (under a different title) is out on the rounds of miscellaneous agents. With that off my writing plate, I’m tackling a project about a rich man plagued by hungry ghosts, a poor girl being worn thin by hunger, and a train that never stops. I’m jokingly referring to it as Night Train! Hope it doesn’t drive me to drink. And hat tip to Dana Fredsti, as I’m trying to do a little food porn in the book.
My “writing” time has mostly been a slog of revisions lately. I’ve been simultaneously wrestling with The Hornbeam Door, and trying to get Thirteen into shape for querying, which means not only revisions, but somehow pulling a query and a synopsis out of my hind quarters.
Alas, no joy for Ugly and the Beast, despite my revisions. It seems that agent and I have reached the end of the line with editors, and Axyl goes into a drawer, where he can be kept from too much mischief.
8 September 2010
Still waiting on news about Ugly and the Beast. Strange things afoot, with lots of dreams creeping into the edges of my writing brain. A “mermaid” in a circus freak show caught in a drug gang shoot out in a South American backwater. A tiny cocktail sword with magical powers of vengeance. And that old recurring theme: what to do with the body when I’ve accidentally killed someone? What, you don’t have those dreams?
17 March 2010
Better late than never? I hope so. The outline and sample chapters for proposed revisions to Ugly and the Beast took a lot longer than I expected. Two months longer to be precise. Regardless, they are now done and sent off to the (hopefully still) interested editor. This leaves me in a mooshy place of indecision. What to work on now? Edits on Thirteen? The last push to finish The Hornbeam Door? A new project?
23 December 2009
With initial edits on Thirteen done, I’m setting it aside to tackle something a bit ominous: an outline of proposed revisions to Ugly and the Beast to send to an interested editor. The editor loves Axyl, but wants to see some changes to the story. So I must now tackle a form of writing I’ve never been terribly fond of. Outlines have always seemed so restrictive and cruelly brief.
15 September 2009
Now I know where the girl in the hayfield came from and where the man on the motorcycle was going. It became a novel called Thirteen. In the last week, as I started recruiting my beta readers, I’ve been called a machine, a monster, a freak of nature. Yet aside from the lost sleep, I feel about normal for me, despite writing 130,000 words in three weeks. I don’t recommend it. If you have the option, approach writing with sanity and a respect for your circadian rhythm. It’s why I’ve never understood the allure of National Novel Writing Month–why force yourself to write like a fiend if you don’t have to? I understand it’s only supposed to be 50,000 words in 30 days, but included in those days are Thanksgiving and holiday shopping frenzies, which pretty much kill an entire week. All the same, with this project drafted, I look forward to some leisurely editing and perhaps returning to work on The Hornbeam Door. I also look forward to going to sleep at a decent hour tonight.
12 August 2009
I have moments where I write prodigiously for a brief period of time. Last July, “vacationing” at my sister’s house while she convalesced, I wrote the first draft of Ugly and the Beast. 60,000 words in 6 days, with breaks for the necessities like eating and sleeping. Of course it took another nine months to reach a point where I felt the book was ready to see the light of day, but the bulk of the heavy lifting was done in less than a week. It’s happening again. Driving home from a trip to Arkansas on Sunday night, a story idea hit me. It was sunset and I was driving along next to a hayfield in the middle of nowhere. I had this vision of a little girl hiding in the hayfield. From what, I didn’t know. Coming along on a dirt road that cut through the field was a man on a motorcycle. The girl, there at dusk, all alone, watching him ride past startled him. He skidded on loose gravel and spilled his bike. Where does it go from there? I’ve been looking into that at the rate of about 7,000 words a day ever since.
8 July 2009
Despite my best efforts to re-commit to the church secretary story (Lie, Lay, Lain), I’ve only gained about 2,000 words. On the young adult fantasy/horror project (The Hornbeam Door), though, I’m making steady progress toward my original goal of 60K words. It’s sneaky the way characters seep into everyday life. I know that a project is in fifth gear on the open highway, when I assess every situation for what my characters would think, do, and say. I’ve had glimpses of the church secretary and her urge to deflect attention away from herself, but with Oona, the narrator of Hornbeam, I’m getting a steady stream of her increasingly cynical and frightened commentary on the world. Every kind word smacks of pity to her. Nothing she does feels natural. It’s all an act. Reaching that point of connection with a character is a fun moment and usually the story comes tumbling out after that. It certainly was with Axyl, although I knew I had to reign it in when I started leering at women’s breasts and wanting a cigarette.
30 March 2009
Well, I ended up going to the store for more groceries. I finally dipped my toes into the pile of library books I have on gay subculture in 18th Century London. It’s a marvel of open secrets, subtext, and class warfare.
While I work my way through that, I’m slowly re-considering a series of short stories about an alternate history in which Kansas and Nebraska have been leased to China as a form of debt repayment, turning the inhabitants to global sharecroppers.
10 January 2009
The last few months, my writing has mostly consisted of revising, getting the new book ready to query. Now that those revisions are done, and the queries sent, it’s time to start writing something new.
In pursuit of that, I’ve been reading through my last journal full of notes. I’m hoping that something in there will catch my eye with sufficient force that I’ll immediately launch into writing more. It feels a bit like standing in the kitchen, trying to decide what I can cook without going to the store. If nothing comes together in the next few days, though, I may have to go buy groceries and start something entirely new.