Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Finished book 3

So, I've finished book 3. Only I haven't really finished book 3 because it still needs massive edits, replacing, and glueing the two strands together. That's the craft part really, rather than the creative part of pushing the story onto the page and following the different perspectives. I wrote 5,500 words yesterday - all day, the last 3 chapters of Kelleys' journey, just leaving the finishing half a chapter for today. I'm reluctant to end - I want to follow their story on to the next few years, really!  

I have been asked a gazillion times by new writers - how long should a book be? Well, you'll get lots of different answers, but you won't get a look at less than 85-90k and you will struggle with over 120k (unless they are epic fantasy). Big books take up too much space on the shelf for a début and less than 90k makes it hard to write a full, character-led book. This ones at 103k at the moment and will finish around 110k. Because it's the last book of the trilogy I need to work at finishing story arcs, especially for less important characters.

The hardest thing has been killing off a couple of my characters. Their race is run, I can't see them doing anything essential, and the drama of their sacrifice works. So it has gone off to my son, Carey (who really is my no.1 editor) who has been hunched over all the chapters, sorting and making notes. He will help me stitch it together in the next few days then - Pow! Off to Charlotte, my agent (I still love saying that). Really, I write for Carey and Charlotte first, then start to refine the book for a family audience (all of whom come back with a million things they would like to change) and then off to my editor, Michael Rowley. It occurs to me - this is the end of my present collaboration with Del Rey, and then I go back to being like every other aspiring author - looking for another book deal! Scary thought, especially as I've just got used to working with Del Rey UK and I think the relationship has been a great learning curve and safe place for me, as I got used to the publishing world! I'm lucky to have an editor who really loves fantasy and sci-fi. I'm also dying to see what book 3 will look like - here is book 2.

Now I just have to come up with a name for the book. Secrets of ... what?Bloody hell, this is the hardest bit... suggestions on a postcard...

Friday, 25 July 2014

When it's working, it's working...

I'm so enjoying writing at the moment. I've written a third of a sequel to A Baby's Bones and I've nailed sixty thousand words of Secrets 3, with just fitting the historical strand in and writing the last three chapters to go. At last! It was a very long dry spell. Worrying about cancer and selling the house and just the everyday stresses of a big family all reacting to their Dad's illness just killed my concentration or even the interest in writing. But the last few weeks have been great. When the writing is flowing, it's like being in a boat of a fast flowing, straight bit of river. Despite a family emergency a couple of weeks ago I seemed to have kept the momentum going. 

Pulling the last book of a trilogy together was both very hard and surprisingly satisfying. In the end, it all seemed to slot into place as I followed up each character. I still have a couple of loose ends and people to chase up but the first draft will be able to go off to my agent shortly. Yay! It's been a long slog. One of the things that helped me deal with an unwieldy, lumpy manuscript was to pull out the two strands and write them separately. Within those strands, I found there were story arcs I could dissect out, write as one continuous narrative (so I was sure they worked) and then pop them back into the flow. Now all I have to do is assemble what I have, write those last chapters (now I know what has to happen in them) and package it up for Charlotte. Then I can back to my heroine in ABB 2, who I left in the dark, surrounded by strange sub-human creatures in the night, defended only by her handsome cousin and her husband. 

Monday, 7 July 2014

Found some writing mojo

It's been a whole month since I blogged, and I have been busy with writing but not just the creative kind. Editing for publication is a serious business. What goes out has to be perfect, or at least, as close as you can get, so lots of blind corners, repetitions, awkward sentences and other mistakes have to go. The copy edit came back with lots of useful suggestions, thank goodness, sorting out the temporal problems.

I have a problem with numbers. A real problem with numbers, like I struggle to remember 4 digit numbers,and can't hold a 6 digit number in my head long enough to dial it. So keeping dates and days in my head as a story progresses - nightmare. Anyway, the copy editor not only found where I had made mistakes but suggested ways to get out of trouble. Then I worked on the manuscript for a couple of weeks and the book was gone through at the publisher's end. Finally, a whole load of typeset pages came my way courtesy of editorial assistant Emily - to be gone through one more time. Three pages of corrections later it is off, and finished.

This has released a flood of pent up story that just needed to be told. A Baby's Bones just cried out for a sequel, so in between mornings spent wrestling with Secrets 3 I have been writing ABB2. It's just steaming along at two or three thousand words most days. I've got 23,000 words in ten days, all of it historical. I've decided to try and write one whole story, then write the other strand as a separate story, a bit like I did with The Secrets of Life and Death. So satisfying to be writing original words again! I'm also writing linking chapters with book 3 - also very satisfying. This is what I want to do, write for a living, but the editing, rewriting and other writing related concerns do take up a lot of time. Meanwhile, the wait for a second book deal goes on... Just because you get one doesn't mean you'll ever get another one, a humbling thought.

We also got kittens...
These are anti-cancer, anti-depressant kittens. I recommend them. maybe they are responsible for the writing mojo. Yeah, baby.