Posts Tagged ‘ghost story project’

More drafts, more workshops

Friday, August 18th, 2017

from the Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival. There's metaphor in here somewhere.

Summer is tilting to a close, winding down into the cooler days with a spike of heat. It’s been nuts, juggling kids and writing and marketing and family and the world as it currently stands and all manner of things but still, here we are, hanging on by our claws.

I finished Draft #3.5 y’all. Somehow. <a cacophony of horns>

It’s been three years — two years really, adjusted for baby-having — of working on this Novel about ghosts and identity and prejudice and grief and steampunk-iness and birds. The story itself saw its very first incarnation (the first half of a short story) way way back in 2009. It was a little over 3 pages, single-spaced, and just shy of 2000 words.

Draft #3.5 is 95,736 words, aka 307 manuscript pages.

For those keeping track at home, word counts for the drafts, as compiled:

Draft #3.5: 95, 736; 307 pages (~8 months)
Draft #2.5: 92, 038 words; 295 pages (~5 months)
Draft #1: 96, 089; 327 pages (~ 1 year)

I’ve been working on the third draft since January. So roughly eight months — six adjusted for child sick-time and extended vacations. I haven’t been tracking my revisions with this draft you guys because they have been so extensive. I hacked up Part I and rearranged so much that even I forgot the changes I made when I went back to do my ½ draft this past month. I literally had folders labeled “Rearranging” for each Part so I could move scenes out of order without losing them. I hit two major snags — Chapters 13/14 and Chapters 23/24 — that stalled me for weeks each time.  I feel like I’ve taken this draft as far as I can go.

So what now? It’s with beta (gamma?) readers again.

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More readers? When do I get to read it??

Patience, young padwan, and thank you for your vote of confidence. It’s on my ten year plan to be published before I’m 40, so there’s that?

The truth is it needs more eyes but right now it needs a finite number of eyes and the right kind. What I mean to say is I’ve identified several of the problem areas and potential problem areas. I need other writers to look at the manuscript and help me work through those sections. Those who can give me constructive, actionable feedback. I want you to read it —I do!— I can’t wait for that glorious day. But for now I’m still keeping it close because I want it to be as perfect as I can make it when you do get to read it. I want it to flow and make sense and sear you right down to the inner chambers of your heart.

What’s the most interesting thing you learned during this draft?

This will sound silly, but I changed my chapter length. In the last draft, my chapters were usually around 5000 words, give or take a thousand. I cut that down so now they’re more like 3000 on average. That isn’t to say I cut words. Au contraire. Instead I changed where my chapters ended to increase momentum. So now I have more, shorter chapters. I heard a podcast about chapter length on Writing Excuses and it changed my whole outlook. I think it’s made the book stronger, even as it made some transitions much more difficult.

So what’s next?

I’ll be reading some books and some other folks’ manuscripts over the next month. But mostly I am turning my attention to my nascent marketing business huzzah!

I am hosting TWO marketing events this September:

Bookseller Panel FlyerBehind the Bookshelves: A Panel on Building Relationships with Bookstores

Sept. 10, 2 – 4pm, The Writer’s Loft
I’m moderating an awesome group of bookstore folks —managers, booksellers, connected authors— and we’re going to talk about how stores can be community hubs and advocates for writers at all stages. Join us! It’s (pretty much) free!
Class Spotlight Marketing WorkshopBuild Your Own Event: A Marketing Workshop
Sept. 16, 10:30 am – 1:30 pm, Grub Street Inc.

Yup, I’m teaching my building events seminar again but this time at the illustrious, Boston-based, non-profit creative writing center Grub Street Inc. They have a lot of famous instructors y’all. Steve Almond even teaches sometimes. Anyway, I want to make a good impression so if you’ve been wanting to get a crash course in events/marketing, PLEASE SIGN UP. Or if not, SIGN YOUR FRIENDS UP. Nothing makes a good impression like a full roster.

But what about the writing?

I need a little break. Maybe I’ll writing some poetry. Or revise an old short story. There’s a time travel one that’s been kicking me for a rewrite.

But really, prove to me you wrote something. C’mon.

Well, alright, if you insist. From Chapter 8:

Instead, she leans forward so her hair hangs down on either side of her face and she begins to braid it, cleanly and methodically. The braid is tight and small, right next to her face. “Here,” she says, tilting her head towards me, her dark, straight hair caressing my arm, soft as feathers. “Help me.” I want to ask my questions but I don’t. Instead I take a handful of her hair and clumsily separate it into three strands. She is already onto her second braid.

“Where I’m from, mourners wear their hair braided for a year. New braids, every day. Right after a death, you fill your hair with braids, as many as you can make. Members of a family or community will help each other. By the year’s end, you have one braid. Down the back or to the side or tight against the skull. Some people wear their hair that way for the rest of their lives. Others go back to living.” She gently shakes the bottom of the braid she has just finished, tugging on one of the strands and the whole thing unravels. She begins it again.

“Am I allowed to mourn myself?” she asks “How many braids is that?”

“I don’t know.” I try to focus on the braid, distract myself from the soft feeling of my fingers tangled in her hair. But I’m no good at braids; it’s messy, hairs straying all over the place, uneven. No mourning braids in Eidolon; we have the Order of Days and rituals that are supposed to help. Corna would say following the old ways connects us with the Living and the Dead, the wheel and the Valley. Tearing our sleeves, marking our bodies. But it is never finished is it? Just a never-ending circle of deeply etched grief. Perhaps I’m the only one who feels this way. What am I missing? When you can visit your dead face-to-face, what reason is there to grieve? I know a hundred reasons but I still don’t know how to speak them.

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Spring Revision

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

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There is something uplifting about the early spring: crisp air and hot sun or the neon green of new grass against the grey of cooler rainy days. When I was a kid, our neighbors forsythia would burst into canary yellow blooms and in it’s shade was a small patch of vinca, a spring flowering ground cover. I loved those little purple flowers so much. I would pick a few and put them in a glass of water, then present them to my father with a sandwich for his lunch.

I knew when we moved into this house that vinca grew all over our property because there was still a flower lingering here and there, but it’s another thing all together to see our home blanketed in it. It feels right and special. I miss the gardens we’d begun at our old home – lightly neglected herbs and perennial flowers that bloomed throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Some fragrant, some colorful. But the vinca and forsythia and azaleas are enough for now. I traipsed around the yard with my oldest child this weekend, searching out these early blooming flowers, discovering the plantings around our new home. We started up the grill and I even broke out my iced tea press so you know I’m committed to this fresh, fine weather.

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Spring should be the season to review feedback — see where the revisions you’ve made have born fruit, as it were — but here I am still revising: planting the bulbs late, moving things around, hoping nothing sprouts stunted. This winter/early spring has been mostly snow and sick days. I should just give in to the fact that nothing of significance ever gets written in February in my home. But the sunshine and above freezing temperatures, the pastels and yellows and greens of April are warming me up. So! Writerly updates!

  1. I wrote a short story! And I submitted it to an anthology! And it got rejected! But that’s okay! It was about a boy and first contact with an alien shaped like a tiny pink pony and it was really fun to write and totally one hundred percent different from my novel which was a much-needed change of pace.
    1. I thought writing short stories after writing a novel would be a piece of cake. I was wrong.
    2. I really want the next big project I work on to be funny.
  2. I taught another event building workshop in March. In fact, I’m making a bit of a side business of helping authors plan and market book events. Because apparently I need more to do.
    1. When I couldn’t think of how to fix my novel, I made a website for my event coaching business. I  am now taking select clients.
    2. I have another workshop scheduled in June. You should come!
  3. I’m now doing a monthly marketing blog post for the Writer’s Loft blog, Loftings.
  4. I’ve been plugging away at revisions but it’s slow. I hit a big snag with The Month of February and then working through a really thorny chapter that had me stumped. Plus planning for my workshop. But! It goes!
  5. I read some books in January and February (highlights included Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson and the first few Company books by Kage Baker) but nothing much since. I’m currently enjoying the compilation of letters between Julia Child and Avis DeVoto because I love J.C. and because I can read it in little pieces before bed.

I am almost through revising Part 2 of 3 so that is a good feeling. I need to go back and continue to comb through the rough, messy parts. I was so hoping this draft would be wrapped up in another month or so but it may need longer. And then reading. And probably one more draft (not sure how deep of one, hard to say).

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I have days when I swear I am not smart enough for this, that I have nothing original to say. I have days when things slot together like an elaborate line of tumblers, unlocking something deep inside the story so I can see a bit of light shining through from the end, from the place this story could be.

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Deep Revision

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

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The year continues to challenge me, emotionally and physically and ideologically. I’ve learned a lot about open-mindedness, humility, empathy, strength, and endurance. And this is a writing blog and so I will talk about writing. Or the not writing.

I received feedback on Draft #2! And one of the few constants in the past couple months is the time I’ve spent compiling that feedback into a series of documents.

1) A scribbly hard copy: A compilation of everyone’s notes/typo corrections/stylistic changes onto a single paper manuscript.

2) The Hit List: A running list of Big Edits and changes that need to be made.

3) The Chapter-by-Chapter Revision Spreadsheet of Doom: An excel spreadsheet with chapter summaries and the Big Edits/nitty gritty edits that need to be made to each chapter, along with the new characters and ideas introduced.

I think I’ve spent enough time collating and collaborating and cogitating and I need to actually crack open the Scrivener project file and start implementing. Eep. *bites into another chocolate bar*

Most of the feedback has been both enthusiastic and helpful. Some of it is big questions that can be answered simply – the addition or deletion of a sentence that clarifies something, for example. Some of it is big questions that need big thinking. One of the problems I’ve struggled with from the beginning is my protagonist’s motivation in the opening chapters. One reader narrowed it down to the question: “Why today?” Why does she choose to follow a stranger on a wild adventure? What does that stranger offer that fills some lack in the protagonist’s life?  So I’ve been doing some deep thinking. I’m not sure I’m totally there yet on some of this. In a strange infinite-feebback-loop kind of way, I find I do my best writing while… I’m… writing? Meaning once I am hip deep in the story, I can think more clearly about how to implement the changes that I know need to be made and untangle it on the page rather than just in my head. Because the writing is never as glittery-sparkle-diamond as it is in a writer’s mind.

(Trust me, every writer has written a perfect book. It’s shelved upstairs.)

But life has been throwing up obstacles, as usual, both positive and negative. I haven’t written in months. I’ve thought, I’ve collated, I’ve packed books, I’ve unpacked books, and I’ve read an enormous amount (midnight nursing sessions + smartphone + downloaded library ebooks = more reading time than I’ve had in a year). Soon, now, I’ll need to put fingers to keyboard and write again. REVISE. Bring out the scalpel and the needle and cut and stitch this draft into something new.

But it feels close. Closer. Soon.

 

Ps. I’m teaching another event building workshop in March! Stay tuned for details.

Pps. What books have I been reading you ask?

Old favorites:
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede (Morwen4Eva)

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Enjoyable new finds:
Delicious!
 by Ruth Reichl
Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Highly recommend:
Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
The Liminal People by Ayize Jama-Everett
The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching books

 

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Wild Summer Days

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

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My summer has been a wild one and I’ve been having trouble getting my feet under me. It has literally involved a birth, a death, visiting family, unpredictable illnesses, and the slow climb back to health. Despite how much I enjoy the summer months and hot weather, I’ve spent most of my time indoors. I haven’t done much writing this summer (I hadn’t planned to) with the exception of a poem for my sister. I’ve managed to read half a dozen books, including Max Gladstone’s Two Serpent’s Rise and Angélica Gorodischer’s Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire that Never Was (as translated by Ursula Le Guin). My garden is a wild place full of bolted lettuces, overgrown rhubarb, weeds, and herbs run rampant. My preschooler is the only one who’s been harvesting anything: handfuls of fresh mint and sage that she eats on the back steps. I have drunk gallons of iced tea and am not ashamed in the least.

I’m a new parent for the second time. There’s a fullness and an emptiness to the early days of parenting. The days are long and full of needs – hunger, discomfort, boredom, exhaustion – but it feels impossible to meet them all, for yourself or your child. There is so much to do coupled with vast swaths of time just… waiting: for the baby to wake up or fall asleep or finish eating. You need space and you need support. This time around I pressed down my misplaced pride and accepted as much help as possible with an open heart. I’m grateful for all the extra hands and frozen dinners and chances to nap. I’m grateful that the pieces of our life that have slowly been taken apart this summer are finally coming together again in a new shape.

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Now I look down the long lane of the autumn months and the spice of anticipation is mixed with the dread of not knowing how to get back into the rhythm of the work. I’ll be meeting with my beta readers at the beginning of September to get feedback on The Ghost Story project and then will tackle Draft 3. I’ll be teaching a workshop on author events at the Writer’s Loft in October. I want to reconnect with the world of books and writers. I want to write book reviews and blog posts. But after a summer that has fluctuated so wildly between overwhelming and tedious and with an autumn where I’ve committed to caring for my newborn along side my third draft, I feel as if I’m starting from scratch. How can I ensure we’re all getting enough sleep and sunshine and creative time?

It comes down to re-aligning expectations. Taking care of a baby while trying to edit a novel is going to change the way I need to structure my days, both as a writer and a parent. I won’t have the luxury of dawdling on social media or watching TV during naps – I’ll need to be working. If I want to have this project polished enough to submit to agents by the end of the spring, I’ll need to find the time to write — and if I can’t find the time, I’ll need to make it. And I’ll also need to forgive myself over and over again for missteps as I rediscover balance.

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Achievement Unlocked: Draft #2

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Attention, attention, Draft #2 is complete! *horns blare*

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I was struggling viciously with the final chapter, which so disappointed me the first time around, but I finally found the right angle at which to approach it. It’s still flawed and has way too much talking and I’m not quite sure I tied up all the questions properly but it’s DONE (caveat: FOR NOW).

The Numbers for DRAFT #2:

Date Started: January 12, 2016
Date Finished: May 19, 2016
# of Writing Days to Completion:  60
# of Chapters:  21 (divided into three Parts) + epilogue
Final Word Count: 92, 038
Difference from 1st draft: -4051
Number of printed pages: 295
Difference from 1st draft: -34
Number of paperback pages: ~234
# of Words I wrote but then cut or didn’t make the cut: 68,328

I tried my best to track my writing/revision word counts and progress but it’s challenging. Revision makes it hard to sort out how much is new and how much isn’t. According to the numbers as I tracked them, I averaged ~927 words/writing day. Again, this is deceptive because there were days when I would work for three hours and technically only add 80 words because I deleted three times as many.

My most successful writing day was April 27th when I spent 6 hours writing and added 3806 words. Some of that included scenes I had removed and reinserted, which is why it is such a particularly high number. See? Like I said, confusing.

If you count all the words that currently reside in this project and are retained in my Scriveners folders (the full draft, notes, outlines, deleted scenes, character sketches, research, etc.)  we’re looking at 275, 612 words . That’s a lot of creative brain juice right there.

So what’s next?

Sleep. And chocolate.

No, in all seriousness, there probably will be some sleep. There will definitely be chocolate. And the reading of books and enjoying of summer. But the next step for this manuscript is to put it in front of a few key sets of eyes: my beta readers.

Is that some kind of fish?

No, beta readers are actual people.  I’ve picked a couple writer friends who have experience reviewing Works-in-Progress (WIPs) and am sending off the manuscript to them as we speak for review sometime this summer (I hope they will forgive the fact that I constantly confuse “its” and “it’s” and use commas far too liberally). Yes, someone is going to finally get to look at this raw honeycomb of a novel. Then in the fall, once I’ve gotten their feedback and taken some space from it all, I’ll start trying to figure out what still needs to be fixed and how best to do that. Aka, DRAFT #3.

Then… I don’t know! More beta reading? More revising? Or finally on to querying? I would love to start querying sometime next year, but we’ll have to see how it all goes down.

But how do you FEEL about it?

Good, actually, thanks for asking! I feel much better about this draft than the first. It’s so much less of a rambling mess. Interestingly enough, in the first draft I felt as if the beginning was strongest, as it’s where I did the most writing/development and the ending was bare bones. With the revision I had to slash and rearrange so much of the beginning that now I have no idea if it’s any good. But the ending feels much more earned and secure.

When can I read it?

Eventually? But because you asked so nicely, here’s a little excerpt from Chapter 1:

I leave the shelter of the woods and head up the long, steep hill in front of me to the overlook. The grass is tall and golden and dampens the legs of my pants as I climb through it. On this side, the hill is pockmarked by mounds, some fresher towards the bottom and older as I reach the top.

The hill rolls down to a fog-laced field of flowers, pale as moths. The daffodils grow all the way up to the rocky edge of the mountainous cliffs surrounding the Mouth of the Valley. The mountains are massive; they glint grey, silver, and gold in the morning sun and they break in two places: to my right, past town, where they hit the ocean and bend away from sight, curving out to the sea; and straight ahead where the deep v-cut cut of the Mouth yawns before us. To the left the cliffs ripple and spike their way into the haze of distance.

In daytime it’s hard to see the lit torches, but they’re there: small licks of flame casting molten shadows on the rust-colored earth at the base of the Mouth, no matter the time of day or night. On the other side bleeds the field of poppies like a red lake, the flowers turning their ruddy faces to the sun. And beyond that, strangely normal pastures and houses of the Valley. A funnel of birds wends it’s way out, rippling against the pale blue sky above the cliffs, before passing over my head.

Looking out over the landscape, the muscles in my shoulders begin to relax. The sun is finally warm against my back. I imagine I can feel the thrumming of the ghost roads around me, pouring down into the Valley, pointing spirits toward the next plane. I don’t let my eyes settle long on the Mouth itself, but instead wrap myself in the heady scent of daffodils, the fresh green of their unfurling leaves. The beginning of daffodil season always feels like some kind of dangerous invitation to closed spaces.

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Whodunnit or Why I’m Stuck on Ch. 14

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016


somehow writing always feels like this

I am just over halfway through my revision [*yay!*]. Today I spent nearly the entire day working on the logistics and choreography of a scene the isn’t even going to be in the book [*boooooo!*]. Let me explain.

I am going to assume that you have seen the movie Clue because if you haven’t then what are you doing sitting here reading my blog for goodness sake it is on YouTube go watch that first. It’s no problem, I’ll wait.

Ok.

In the movie Clue, as in the board game, there is a Murder(s) or Apparent Murder(s), a bunch of suspects with different motivations and weaponry, a few red herrings, and a ticking clock. These are all part and parcel of your typical Mystery Plotline. When The Murder happens, the lights go out, we hear noises, a gun shot, and then voila, lights, camera, dead guy on the floor. As the movie progresses, we slowly learn what may have happened under the cover of darkness – but everyone has a different interpretation.

The scene I’ve been working on today is similar, though the lights don’t go out. It’s a scene that is central to the Mystery Plotline that my first-person protagonist is trying to unravel. It’s an event that occurred before the start of the book. But she wasn’t there. She needs to eventually know what happened to understand the Full Implications and Who the Bad Guys Really Are but all she has to go on is the word of several witnesses/participants who showed up at different times. One or two of them have motives to lie or direct blame on someone else. Clues and Important Information get exchanged, but not everyone knows what they mean at the time.

So obviously I, as the writer, need to know what actually happened. This is harder than it sounds. There are certain details I want to be true: Person B shows up after Person  A and misinterprets her actions; Person C tells Person A to take the Clues to another location; several Persons need to wind up dead. But working out the the order in which people die and, hence, the logistics of how information is exchanged, is crazy hard. Especially since some of my characters can talk to dead people. And the dead can often fight as brutally as the living so some of my victims need to be injured or knocked out instead. There’s a coat that is important but I can’t figure out how to get it off of one character and on to another while at least one of them is alive and keep everyone in the scene together.

This is all coming to a head in Chapter 14 because I want my protagonist to return to The Scene of the Crime where More Information is Revealed. I just have to know what that information is, both in it’s entirety and what she learns at this juncture versus later.

In Clue, Tim Curry helpfully runs everyone through various scenarios of Whodunnit. I wish he would come to my house and help me with this. All I’ve got is a notebook with lots of brainstorming ideas and some fledgling scene starts.

(Oh, and a lasagna. That’s not a metaphor; I made an actual lasagna. Sometimes it helps to switch gears when the story juju isn’t working. Didn’t help much but at least now I have dinner made. Was worth a shot.)

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Draft #2 or Revising the Ghost, Take 1

Monday, February 22nd, 2016
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That’s iced tea not beer. Though if I drank beer, I totally could have used one.

It has been moons, fair readers. Like, a ridiculously long time. But I am sure you are all dying to know how The Ghost Story novel is coming along. Good news: IT’S COMING ALONG.

In November I took a class on revision at The Writer’s Loft in Sherborn, hosted by the delightful and talented Erin Dionne. I had grand plans to dive right into the revision process but that didn’t really work out. In all honesty, I barely did any real writing at all at the end of 2015… I read through my draft, made notes, did research, twiddled with outlines, notecards, and all the various tools Erin walked us through. I was scared, intimidated, and frankly, tired. A lot. And so, I didn’t get cracking on actual revision until January 2016.

The first week was wonderful and terrible. It felt good to be writing but I kept having existential moments of GAH WHAT IS THIS and HOW DO I FIX and OH THE FUTILITY. It took me two weeks to get through most of Chapter 1 and I thought: This will take forever. I have at least twenty-two chapters to go through. And this is just draft two. But I realized I just had to sharpen my scalpel. I have to be unforgiving and relentless with the writing, but forgiving and patient with myself. And that revising can contain just as much writing as it does cutting.

Authors have consistently said at events I’ve run/attended: “Oh yes, I had to cut the first 100 pages of my first draft” and it always made me blanch. How? Really? Impossible! Well…

For the numbers people, as of 2/18/16:
Number of writing days since revision began: 20
Chapters Revised: 6.5 (mostly)
Word Count (New Material): ~16,000 words (50 pg)
Word Count (Revised + new material): ~25,700 words (85 pg)
Word Count (Cut from 1st Draft): ~24,500 words (80 pg)
Current goal for 2nd Draft Completion: April 30, 2016 (then a month of “polishing” before off to beta readers)
Cups of tea consumed: Countless

Want to know what has needed the most revising? (more…)

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Photo evidence

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

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What you see there is 327 pages worth of words, my friend. 327 PAGES. My kiddo helped me pick the attractive lime-green binder. I bought new colorful pens, index cards, and post-it flags. This is all supposed to make me feel confident about editing and revising.

Right.

Truthfully, I feel daunted. What if I have to re-write all 327 pages? What if I get halfway through and realize the book is hopelessly, irrevocably unsalvageable? What if my first-person protagonist is boring? What if I’m boring? What if I just don’t know enough to write this book yet.

{I know the answer: write the next one.}

I’m not afraid of work. I’m afraid of time. I’m afraid of gnawing at this project for years and years and not moving forward, of not knowing when to push harder and when to back away slowly.

Books don’t get written and shared by authors who were too afraid to do them justice. I know this. It’s just… it’s a really big binder. And there’s a lot that needs work in there. Right now it’s a foreboding mass of pages and words and way, WAY too many characters (anytime I hit a plot snag, I added a character…oops). I won’t know what (else) needs fixing, really, until I read it from the beginning to The End.

Wish me luck!

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Finished First Draft

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

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On Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, I completed the first draft of The Ghost Story novel. I COMPLETED THE FIRST DRAFT OF A NOVEL YOU GUYS!

Also, I turn 31 today. Happy birthday to me!

**fireworks to the tune of the 1812 Overture**

So how does it feel? Exciting + anti-climactic. I’m not super pleased with the ending, not to mention the last, oh, third of the book (Ch. 19 excepted). When I got to the last lines my first thought was “Really? This is it? This is how you end it?” But heck, I WROTE A NOVEL. It’s 120k words closer to something I can be really proud of. That much closer to sharing a remarkable with you: a story, a vision taken out of my brain and put into yours.

For those following along at home:

  • According to Scrivener, I wrote a 123, 670 word manuscript, which comes to 383 printed pages, or ~313 pages in a paperback book.
  • I began the draft in earnest on Sept. 1, 2014, so it took me 386 days to complete.
  • That means I averaged something like 380 words a day for a little over a year. More accurately, since I mostly just write three days a week the averages comes out to ~750 words/writing day.
  • If you just include the chronological chapters and not the folder of documents I’ve entitled “Scenes That Need Chapter Homes” etc. the actually manuscript comes is closer to 97k words and around 300 pages
  • If you count all the words I’ve written in Scrivener, including: brainstorming documents, outlines, research, character sketches, freewrites, notes, and the occasional old draft, the total word count comes to 182, 603
  • The book has a prologue, epilogue, three Parts, twenty-one chapters, and about a dozen “interludes” or mini-chapter/flashbacks.
  • The most I ever wrote on a given day (since Jan. 1) was on Sept. 2nd when I plowed through to the end of Chapter 19 with 2143 words in about 3 hours (that chapter’s a doozy, let me tell you)

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Most of you are asking: What’s next? When will I see it on the shelf? while I appreciate your enthusiasm and faith in my abilities, the truth of the matter is this is Step 1, Phase 1. First step: writing a novel! CHECK! Now I need to make it the best possible novel it can be. And let me tell you, iy will need to go through several rounds of revision before it even makes it in front of beta readers, then another round or two before it gets to the point where I can start querying Literary Agents (as I plan to go the traditional publishing route to start).

Let’s put it this way: If I managed to revise everything perfectly on the first go, then queried agents and got the very first one I queried, then they pitched the book to editors and the first one of THOSE bit, and they put it on a rush schedule to publication with no edits… it would still be at least two years from now before I’d be announcing a publication date. That’s just how the industry rolls.

For now I have two major plans:

  1. Begin a 6-week class on Revision this evening at The Writer’s Loft
  2. Read & Research: issues of gender and race, the transmigration of technology and ideas, PTSD, the psychological implications of grief, river ways, how dams work, ley lines, mourning practices, political history, and all KINDS of other things.

So while I’m classing it up, I’ll be reading it up too and spending lots of time in the library and on the internet diving down the rabbit holes of these topics. So come November I can really jump into MASSIVE REVISING TIME and have a bunch of fresh ideas and strategies to tackle it. Hi-yah!

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Workshop, Readercon, Updates, oh my!

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Allison PH flyer final

  1. What are you up to? First off, I want to let you all know that I am giving a presentation. on marketing books to bookstores. Yes! Me! Being knowledgable on a topic in front of a large group of people! It’s on July 22nd at The Writer’s Loft in Sherborn, MA. There will be snacks, a powerpoint, and yours truly. I know I’m looking forward to it and I hope you are too. Apologies if you feel bombarded about this through my social media but I know there are many things that vie for our attention these days.
  2. I haven’t used Powerpoint to make a presentation in over a decade. So this should be interesting.
  3. NicolaThis past weekend I attended my first ever fan convention in the form of Readercon. It was fascinating. I have things to say but that is another post entirely. In summary: books are wonderful. So is writing inclusive + informed narratives and Nicola Griffith (who is even more wonderful in person than on the page, if that’s possible).
  4. How’s the writing going? You may recall that I had given myself the arbitrary deadline of May 31st to be done with Draft #1 of The Ghost Story. Alas, while I am only 3,800 words away from my 100k word count goal, I am about seven chapters, or approximately 30 – 35k words away from the actual end of the book. I know this because last week I had a “hot coal” moment and outlined the last third of the book. This is fairly remarkable because I’ve considered myself what is known as a “pantser” or a writer who “flies by the seat of her pants” but it seems my pants have flown away and left me with some semblance of a plot so there you go. My new goal is to be done with draft one by the end of the summer.
  5. How does that feel? I’m okay with the continued work and with the first draft wrapping up at 135,000 words. There are chapters-worth of words I already know will be cut. My writing/logic process re: plotting (with or without pants): “How can I make xyz happen here? Oh well, it’d be so much easier if Character already knew about abc. OH OH OH, if I just re-write chapters 4 and 5 then chapter 14 will work!” No idea if this proper form or if it will come back to bite me in subsequent drafts, but it’s sort of working so damn it, someone hand me a chocolate bar.
  6. What’s taking you so long? Well, well, impatient aren’t we! I’ve been somewhat stymied in my fervent attempts to write because an old RSI (repetitive stress injury) in my wrist has flared up again making extended time at the keyboard incredibly frustrating and painful. There’s also been Family and Travel and whatnot so summertime has been a slow time for writing.
  7. What have you been reading? Kelly Link’s Get in Trouble; Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy; Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist; Mary Roach’s Spook (which I am totally counting as research)
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