Novel #2 Progress: Easy Peasy

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I’m feeling pretty good about this week’s progress on Novel #2. Not only did I manage to get through a week without a major crisis, (a victory I celebrated with a much deserved nap), but I got a good bit of writing done! Two more chapters are done, leaving only nine more chapters to edit. If my calculations are correct and I don’t lose focus, I should have revisions done by the end of March. Hold me to that goal, readers!

Word Count Progress:

Draft #1 Word Count:

  • Start Word Count: 48,749
  • End Word Count: 52,576
  • Total: 3,827

Draft #2 Revised Word Count:

  • Start Word Count: 50,025
  • End Word Count: 54,012
  • Total: 3,987

Writing Process Notes:

  • As it stands today, there are 59 pages left to revise. To reach my goal of finishing revisions by March 31, (which is 35 days away), I’ve calculated that I need to revise 1.6 pages a day. Considering how hard I’ve been working over the last couple of months, this number is very reasonable. Barring any major distractions, I should have no problem staying on track. If anything, I’m going to treat the next 35 days like the final push of “NaNoWriMo.”

Novel Tidbit:

Chapter Breaks in Reverse:

  • Last week, I explored the last lines of various chapters, so I thought it might be fun to get a peek at some first lines. One of the things I’ve learned in this process is how the start of a chapter is just as important as the end. Make the reader glad she decided to keep reading even though it’s 2:00 a.m. and she has to get up at 6:00.
  • With this novel in particular, I’ve noticed I like to stop a chapter in the middle of a key conversation and then pick it up again at the beginning of a new chapter. Tricky? Yes, but that tactic has kept me up way past my bedtime more than I care to admit. For example, I’ll pull a line I revealed last week and pair it with the first line of the chapter that follows:
    • Last line: “I’m not. I just want to know what you are.”
    • First line:  “Amanda, I can’t,” Ian says. His face twists in pain; he wants to tell me, but those unspoken boundaries continue to bind him.
  • These are some of my favorite first lines, only because I know every teenage girl has felt these emotions at least once in her life:
    • I wake up the next morning with a ridiculous grin on my face.
    • I remain pretty raw for a few days.
  • The best first lines, however, will remain a secret until the book is finished and ready to read!

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c.b.w. 2013

Novel #2 Progress: Big Leap!

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This week I found myself with a couple of unexpected days off due to a family emergency (yes, another one), so in the midst of a lot of hurry up and wait moments, I worked on my novel. It is times like these that I’m grateful to have an imaginary world where I can escape a sometimes difficult reality. On the family front, all is well which gives me an even bigger reason to be thankful.

Word Count Progress:

Draft #1 Word Count:

  • Start Word Count: 43,814
  • End Word Count: 48,749
  • Total: 4,935

Draft #2 Revised Word Count:

  • Start Word Count: 44,980
  • End Word Count: 50,025
  • Total: 5,045

Writing Process Notes:

  • This week was a big reminder that writing can happen even in the strangest of places as long as my muse is switched on. In addition, when I am stressed out or worried, writing is an outlet that preserves my sanity. I need my imagination about as much as I need air.
  • Part of the reason I amassed such a large word count this week had to do with the fact that I’m working on a section that doesn’t need a lot of revisions. I’m happy with it as it is, so I’m simply transferring the segment into the new draft. My first novel taught me that I don’t have to revise every single word. The need to revise everything is a trap a lot of writers fall into, but it’s important to know the difference between what needs to be re-worked and what can be left alone.

Novel Tidbit:

Chapter Breaks:

  • One of my favorite things about Novel #2 is how each chapter ends. After reading more than my fair share of YA novels, one of the things I noticed was how every chapter ended with a bit of a cliffhanger. It wasn’t always a major plot point, but it was enough to make the reader wish they could stay up a little bit later to keep reading!
  • I worked really hard at making sure the majority of my chapters end with sentences that will make the reader beg for more. Here’s a small sampling of sentences that sit at the end of chapters in Novel #2:
    • The porch is empty and I am by myself. I think I imagined the whole thing.
    • I walk him to the front door and sure enough the deadbolt is securely locked.
    • Before I can say another word or attempt to stop him, Ian is gone.
    • “I’m not. I just want to know what you are.”
    • “Then stay,” I say, shocked at my boldness.

– – –

c.b.w. 2013

Novel #2 Progress: New Ground

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As I move into the second half of Novel #2, I’m becoming very aware of the tonal shift between the two halves. I take this as good sign as most YA novels have a similar shift between the beginning and end. My characters are growing and changing as the plot unfolds, which is the ultimate goal of a good story (in my humble opinion!).

Word Count Progress:

Draft #1 Word Count:

  • Start Word Count: 41,548
  • End Word Count: 43,814
  • Total: 2,266

Draft #2 Revised Word Count:

  • Start Word Count: 42,761
  • End Word Count: 44,980
  • Total: 2,219

Writing Process Notes:

  • Chapters 11-15 are now in the hands of my beta reader. Fingers crossed that they are received as well as the previous ten. In this chunk, a secondary plot starts to unfold, leading to the more fantasy based elements of the novel.
  • I expect the coming week’s revisions to go relatively fast. I’m moving into a segment that serves as the launch point for the final third of the novel. This is where my characters make the decisions that will carry them to their fate. Despite the upcoming action that most readers will likely enjoy, its these quiet moments of character evolution that I love best.
  • In case you missed it, I wrote a guest post about the decision to write both of my novels in present tense and first person. Check it out here.

Novel Tidbit:

Secondary Characters:

  • It isn’t until the second half of Novel #2 that new characters begin to interact with Amanda, Ian, and Miriam. This is not the norm for most YA novels, but given Amanda’s isolationist tendencies and Ian’s little secret, the idea of hanging out with other people just didn’t fit the scope of the first half of their story. That being said, Amanda and Ian can’t stay in their bubble forever!
  • A trio of secondary characters from Ian’s realm arrive in response to a problem that can’t be solved without their help.
    • Gaelan – As Ian’s longtime friend, he knows things about Ian’s past that Amanda does not. He is fiercely protective of his best friend, even when he becomes aware that Ian has broken a cardinal rule. Extremely calm and wise, he has a special gift as a mediator.
    • Amarantos – At first she appears harsh, but she has a warm spirit. Her name means “unfading,” which is a reference to her stubborn nature. Once she sets her mind to something, there is no going back. In many ways she is a lot like Amanda, which leads to a friendship between the two.
    • Ligeia – With a name that means “shrill whistling voice, clear toned,” it’s easy to see why this character is at the root of some intense conflict. She and Ian have a long history, but she is more attached to that past than Ian. As a result, she has a bitter streak.

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c.b.w. 2013

Novel #2 Progress: Back to Work!

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The Inconsiderate Virus is still holding on by a thread, but my muse and I decided to ignore its efforts to knock me down for another week.  Work on Novel #2 continues at a steady pace even as I work through some scenes that need a lot of work both in terms of story flow and grammar gremlins.

Word Count Progress:

Draft #1 Word Count:

  • Start Word Count: 39,221
  • End Word Count: 41,548
  • Total: 2,327

Draft #2 Revised Word Count:

  • Start Word Count: 40,378
  • End Word Count: 42,761
  • Total: 2,383

Writing Process Notes:

  • This week I completed the next chunk of five chapters for which my beta reader is anxious to receive. I can’t even begin to explain how motivating it is to have someone excited to read the next segment of the story. Perhaps, this is the key to staying on track with editing. I don’t want to make her wait too long and I love getting feedback while in the midst of the revision process. It’s a lot easier to make changes when I haven’t wandered too far away from a section that might need to be fixed.
  • Call me overly optimistic, but I started researching possible agents to query. I found a few that could be a perfect fit, so I’m eager to yank out that query letter draft and polish it further.

Novel Tidbit:

Term usage and invention:

  • Part of the fun of writing urban fantasy/re-imagined mythology is the freedom that comes with redefining common words and inventing new terms to describe elements in the story that do not exist in the real world. Because Ian isn’t quite human, I had to reach back into history to discover the origins his kind. My research took me into some well-tread areas of myth, but then I stumbled across one sentence in an ancient text that offered a golden opportunity to create an entirely new world.
  • Without giving too much away, I can share some of the words I’ve changed (i.e. turning common nouns into proper nouns) or invented as a means to describe Ian’s realm:
    • Wake
    • Block
    • Call or Calling (depending on how it’s used)
    • Unseen
    • Oathmark
    • Lineage Mark
    • Summoner Mark

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c.b.w. 2013

2013 Goals: January Status Report

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1) Complete final draft of Novel #2.

This month, I continued the revision process and I’m on track to achieve my sub-goal of completing revisions within the next 2½ months. In the middle of January, I crossed the halfway mark!  I expected to hit this milestone at the end of January, so this is a major victory on multiple fronts.

Overall, revisions are going really well. Those who have kept up with my Novel #2 Progress posts know my beta reader has given me some great feedback. I am so encouraged to keep plugging along on this project!

Lastly, in conjunction with another sub-goal, I am keeping track of progress via a bar graph on my sidebar. This widget tracks my progress as I work my way through Draft #1. As I work through each section, I keep track of how many words have gone through my radar.

Start Word Count: 27,507
End Word Count: 40,103
Total: 12,596

2) Work on converting Novel #1 into first person.

Novel #2 continues to occupy my attention, so this remains shelved until revisions are complete.

3) Submit 5 pieces of writing.

I love it when an opportunity presents itself in the most unexpected of places. While perusing Facebook I came across a post from Simon’s Cat announcing a poetry competition. I jumped at the chance to enter because it sounded like so much fun, but also because it would hit two of my 2013 goals at once:

  • Submit one series or piece of poetry
  • Submit one item out of my element

Earlier this week, I submitted a poem that my readers voted as their top choice. While this is a small competition, I think its a nice place to start the year.

4) Submit three query letters for Novel #2

I made a few more adjustments to my query letter, but I’m hesitant to do much more until revisions are complete on the manuscript. Then, I can devote my full attention to polishing the query.

5) Continue building author platform

While I was very present on Facebook, I spent the majority of my time exploring Goodreads. I’ve joined two groups, one focused on reading and another focused on writing. The writing group offers multiple opportunities to submit poetry to the Goodreads monthly newsletter, so I’m looking at that as another possible submission outlet. In addition, I’m making it a point to write reviews for the books I read and join in conversations.

Overall, it was a good month for growth in followers:

My Facebook Page has grown from 241 Likes to 262

On Twitter, my followers have grown from 462 to 504

As I revise, my musings often end up on either venue of social media. There’s nothing more entertaining than a writer who’s had waaaaay too much caffeine. See my sidebar to join in the fun!

6)  Read three books on the writing/publishing process.

For Christmas, I got The Writer’s Compass by Nancy Ellen Dodd. It’s nearing the top of my “to read” pile.

7) Inspire others to keep writing.

As always, I can only hope I am a positive presence!

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c.b.w. 2013