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http://mittensmorgul.blogspot.com/

I've gone and done it. I posted today's writing update over at Blogger. It's posted at this link: http://mittensmorgul.blogspot.com/

I don't know which journal to keep, but I like both formats. I've been here so long now, it feels homey and comfortable. I just don't know what to do. I feel all cheaty and dirty, but there you have it. It's already done. It's up and posted. Go see it there, if you wish. I've got to go think about things now.

Yesterday was a blur...

I realized late last night that I never made a journal entry! Yikes! The first missed day in several weeks, but I think I needed a break.

I slept in, didn't even go near the computer until almost lunch time, and then quickly walked away again on a bizarre wave of tidying up the place a bit. I FINALLY got in the right mood to clean out my office a bit, and spent several hours sorting through all the accumulated junk down there. When my old desktop computer finally passed away last fall, I basically abandoned my office, and it's been gathering dust since. I really have to get the old computer out of there, since it's nothing but a paperweight now anyway.

Anyone need a perfectly functioning, but old monitor? Maybe a backup? It's the only thing that still works. I'm going to take the computer to be recycled, but the monitor works fine, and I hate to junk it.

I have to go to the grocery store today, since we're down to cereal and English muffins. We've eaten everything else in the house. I think I might have a jar of spaghetti sauce, and a few chicken breasts in the freezer. Since I can't figure out a way to make a complete meal out of that, I'd better get shopping, so that's on my list for today.

In my rush to clean the house yesterday, and then in the laziness that overwhelmed me during the superbowl, I never really got much editing done. Since I'm still making a lot of changes on this editing round, I think I'll have to go through it at least once more before I let the Betas read it. I was hoping to be able to announce it was ready to go, but it's going to be a little bit longer.

I submitted book one to agents beginning January 2, and I was going to start going back to the ones who haven't responded yet and requerying. There are a bunch (maybe 8 or 9) who never replied, and I want to make sure they actually got it. Just paranoia on my part, but they probably did get it, hit "delete" and moved on with their lives. It doesn't hurt to check, though.

The agent who currently has my full manuscript might like to hear that I've finished a second book in the series. I figure that can't hurt, either. Still, I want to make sure it is really polished and ready to go before I send it out. I don't want to seem like a flaky pest.

All these dilemmas and more are on the table for today.

And in the good news department, my new laptop battery should be arriving this afternoon!!! YAY! Finally, I won't be tethered to the wall anymore. Running downstairs to print something out won't be a sprint to see if I can finish printing before the battery craps out, or a laptop-cable-juggling nightmare, praying I don't trip on the cord and fall down the stairs to my death. Huzzah for new batteries!

Words: 96,390
Pages: 309
Edit page: 57

Pancakes!

I took Lulu, as part of her Girl Scouts service, to a local Senior Center this morning to serve a pancake breakfast. I think some of the nice little old people didn't realize their waitresses were only eleven years old, and were making demands on the poor kids that were well beyond their abilities. I stepped in a few times to handle things, but overall, we had a great time. Sometimes it's good to get out and do something like this. It keeps me from forgetting that someday I will (hopefully) be old and retired, and I'll be glad to have 11-year-old girl scouts bring me coffee.

I tried to enter a lit contest today, but we were driving home from that pancake breakfast at the entry time, and I had to have Lulu press the "send" button on my cell phone. We didn't make it, darned cell lag time. We'll try again next time!

We have a busy week this week, because all 256 CASES of Girl Scout cookies have to be picked up, sorted, and delivered on Thursday, so I'm going to really enjoy this weekend of relative peace and quiet.

So, I finally finished the first full edit of DEVIL MAY CARE, and that's still the working title, even though I'm not in love with it. Still playing around with it, and hopefully I'll eventually come up with something better. I'm just getting started on second edits, and I'm trying to finish that up by Monday morning. I want to be able to tell the agent who currently has my MS for DRAGON HUNTER that I have a completed sequel ready to go, in case she really likes book one. Is that overly optimistic of me, or just practical? I don't know, but I don't think it can hurt to put it out there.

I didn't need to add as much as I thought to the denouement, so the page count and word count didn't go through the roof, which I'm relieved about. For some reason, I seem to be able to hit 96k words and then come to the end of the book. Maybe it's a pattern. I'm just a 96k word writer. All my books will be exactly the same length! :-D

I think I'm getting a little slap happy. Too much coffee this morning. I better go get back to work.

Words: 96,044
Pages: 309
Current Edit Page: 13

Nearing the End

Well, of my first round of edits. I quit last night at a strategic point in the story, because I wanted to handle the last 30 pages or so as one single chunk of work. It comprises the big finish and the denouement, and I wanted to make sure it was all consistent. The best way to do that is to do the work in one big chunk.

By the time I got about half way through writing this book, I'd gotten in the habit of editing as I went along. I'd sit down each morning, re-read through everything I wrote the previous day, and make it better. I'd make sure the plot flowed along at the right pace, the characters were staying in character, and everything continued to make sense. It was helpful, until I got to the denouement.

Ah, the denouement, where every last thread in the whole novel has to end in a tidy little bow. Or at least not fray apart and unravel. I was in such a rush to get to the end on my last day of writing that I forgot to tie up two threads. Today, while I'm editing those last chapters, I have to work in those two plot lines and still have it all make sense. I figured that would be easier to do in one marathon session rather than split into a lot of little clumps. I sincerely hope I have time today to work it all in.

It's Girl Scouts night tonight, so I'll be out all evening. I've got the school day alone here to get it all done, or I'll probably be working into the wee wee hours. And I actually have to get up tomorrow morning to run a pancake breakfast. Yikes! I'd better stop rambling on the blog here and actually get to work.

Words: 95,662
Pages: 308
Edit Page: 283

Getting there, slowly

So yesterday I was happily editing along, despite severe exhaustion. I was glad to finally get on a roll after lunch, and was making good time getting through pages. I was suffering from a bit of eye strain, and I didn't feel particularly well, but I wrote it off to sleep deprivation. Then I stood up around 3 o'clock because I was getting ready to get the kid from the school bus stop. My head started pounding, and I realized I'd developed a migraine. Ugh. So the rest of the night consisted of choking down dry cheerios to keep the nausea at bay and going a paragraph at a time, followed by five minutes of sitting with my eyes closed, and then another paragraph, etc.

It wasn't a great night, as you might be able to tell. I managed to get some stuff done, but I don't know how well I did with the edits. I have a feeling when I go back for round two, there's gonna be about thirty pages in there that won't make a hell of a lot of sense.

The moral of this story is: When I have a migraine, I really shouldn't try to edit. I should go take a nap.

Today's been better, and I paid the bills and balanced the checkbook all before 9 am! Yay! So that's done for the week. Now I can focus on editing today, and just hope the headache doesn't come back.

Words: 95,284
Pages: 307
Edit to page: 236

And yes, the word count is growing. That's a beautiful thing with edits. When I write a first draft, if I get to a tricky scene and I don't want to stop the flow of the story to work out details, I kind of leave it very bare, with just the bare bones in place to keep writing along. When I edit, I get to spend a little more time honing scenes like this, especially difficult scenes like fights or other interpersonal mush. It takes a lot more effort to "show" what's happening in a complex scenario, as opposed to relating a conversation or something equally straightforward. When I work on complicated scenes, they tend to grow in editing.

Silly me, I was concerned this book would end up shorter than the last. I think it's going to be longer, if not in pages than definitely in words. There's a lot more "show" in this book than "tell." Smaller cast of characters, so a lot less dialogue, but a lot more actual...action.

Tired

I stayed up too late last night. Tuesday night is Tim's only night off work, so when you work the night shift and get one night off a week, if you want to hang out at all, it usually involves a lot of very late-night sleep deprivation. It's either that, or I never get to just relax with him. Kinda sucks, and I'm always zombie lady on Wednesdays, but at least we had some fun last night. We never do anything particularly special, and usually just hang out and watch TV or a movie, drink coffee all night, and generally act like lazy people. It's always fun at the time, but I pay for it the next day.

To that end, it's now officially "afternoon" here, and I still haven't edited a single page today. Gak! At least I managed to get through a lot yesterday. I've got to sit down and pay some bills, but I think I'm going to put that off until tomorrow, after I've had a decent night's sleep. Seems like the smarter thing to do.

I'm relatively happy today, though. I'm over the depression I felt the last few days about manuscript rejections, but I might just be too tired to care. Either way, I don't mind anymore, so that's an improvement.

Also, I read two particular passages in my editing last night, and both almost made me cry. Since I wrote the words to start with, and I knew they were coming, I have to say I really impressed myself. Both passages are probably some of the best stuff I've written so far, but now I really can't wait for someone else to read this book. I want to know if the words are as well honed as I think they are.

That's one of my favorite parts about writing. Every once in a while, I'll really surprise myself like that, and its a great feeling to read something like that, and remember I was the one who created that. It's kind of the same feeling I get when my kid does something spectacular and impressive. It makes me smile.

So back to work now.

Words: 94,738
Pages: 305
Edit page: 183

Editing and Melancholia

I knew I should have revised book one just one more time! I don't know if it would have helped, but I have my first rejection on a partial MS submission now. Sadness. It's one of those, "Why the hell did I ever think I could write and/or sell a book?" moments. Writing is turning into a roller coaster of extreme highs (like when I first sent out queries, or even better, when I got my first request for a full), followed closely by doubt, self-criticism, and rejection. I'm getting a headache, and I feel a little nauseated today.

I'm trying to figure out why it seems to be that every time I find a spate of "The Publishing Industry is Doomed and Writers Will Never Succeed In In" articles and blog posts, I'm in one of the doldrums of writing already, and it just seems to reinforce the negativity I'm already feeling. So, needless to say, despite a great round of editing yesterday, and getting through nearly seventy pages of rewrites, I'm feeling kind of blah.

I think I should get right back to edits today. I don't want to let myself slump into the chair and just surf the net looking for more proof that I never have a chance to get published ever.

Words: 94,399
Pages: 305
Edit: up to page 97

Two weeks of Nonstop Blogging

Wow! This post marks two weeks of writing something here every single day. If nothing else, I wanted to keep a record of my writing progress, but this is really starting to be an important part of my day. I enjoy getting my thoughts together first thing in the morning. It's helped me focus better on the actual book writing. Who knew? It's like a little practice session to get me warmed up and in gear.

No actual writing today, though. It's all revision and rewrite today. I'm 33 pages into that on book 2. And finally it has what you could call the working title. I'm not terribly satisfied, but it's something to call it other than "book 2". For right now, It's titled "Devil May Care."

I kind of slacked off yesterday, and spent most of the afternoon watching TV with Tim. We had a lot of stuff on the Tivo, and we finally got all caught up. We FINALLY watched the series finale of Chuck, and the series premier of Touch. Both very good. But today, I can't let myself get distracted again. I only managed to do a tiny sliver of the editing I planned to get done, and I've come to the conclusion that when I sit down to edit, the best policy is to dive in and push through the whole book as fast as I can. It helps with things like continuity and details if I'm not super distracted by other things while I'm trying to make sure the book flows properly.

Writing itself might happen in fitful bursts, but editing should be more fluid, to smooth out all the rough places. I've already spent about an hour on it today, but I have to stop now to go file my taxes. Once that's out of the way, I'll sit down and impersonate an editing machine. At least the taxes are essentially done. It's just a matter of getting on Turbo Tax and pushing the "file now" button, or whatever it is.

It was a good weekend, but after two three-day weekends in a row, this Monday is hitting me a little harder than it should. I wish I could just go back to bed for a while, but no. Must. Do. Something. Productive.

The page count is up a bit, due to edits. I broke up the first chapter a little better, leaving blank lines between a few "flashback" sections to make it easier to follow the character's train of thought. It works better with the gaps, but artificially inflated the page count. Go figure. Hence, the word count's true importance.

Words: 94,070
Pages: 304

Finished. Well, sort of.

I got to the end of the book last night. Which technically means I'm finished. At least, I'm finished with the first draft. Now the real fun begins. It's like I'm building a skyscraper, and I've got the actual structure in place, but I haven't painted, put carpeting down, and I think one of the elevators only goes half way up. It's time to work out the bugs, get all the lights installed, make sure all the toilets flush, and put some furniture in. And maybe knock down a few unnecessary walls here and there. So now the real hard work begins.

On a similar note, I haven't reread book one since I started shopping it around to agents. I revised and rewrote that book about a dozen times before I started sending it out. I started rereading the first few chapters last night, and I was appalled. I don't know what I was thinking when I sent it out in that state! Gah! And a few agents have the whole darn thing. I only hope someone can look at it and see that I forgot to get the electricity hooked up in it, or maybe someone will think the thirtieth floor just needs another coat of paint. I can't imagine what anyone else reading it would think of it. I'm sorely tempted to do a complete rewrite on it and then submit it again in a few months. But I can't do anything about it until I hear back from those who still have it under consideration. So, painful as it might be, I'm going to shelve any changes for a while and focus on the new book.

I've already started rewrites, only 20 pages in so far, but rewriting the first time is always the hardest. After that, it becomes more about style than structure. Right now, I just have to make sure the skyscraper won't come tumbling down the first time someone walks through the door.

On that note, I should get back to work before the building inspector shows up and shuts me down.

Words: 93,887
Pages: 304

An interesting conversation

The other day, despite feeling behind in my writing, I agreed to drive my neighbor somewhere when he knocked on my door. He needed to get to his wife's office and pick up his spare keys. I knew it would take nearly an hour, and I was in the middle of writing, but I figured I could use a break, and I had an errand to run anyway. It turned out to be a great decision.

I mentioned that I'd written a few books, and was in the middle of another. I told him I'd had a couple of agents interested enough to request manuscripts. It turns out this neighbor was fascinated, and he didn't know I'd written anything. He asked what the book was about.

I explained the basic plot, and essentially narrated my query letter at him. This was about ten minutes into the drive. He asked interesting questions, and it made me look at my characters and their world in a whole new way. I've explained my book's day by day process to my husband, and he's read the first book in this series (I'm working on the second now), but since I finished writing that first book, I've never tried to sit down and explain it to anyone like this. I spent the next half hour or so discussing my characters, their motivations for what they do, the reasons they might be hated or feared by the general public, and found new ways to make their past relevant to their present choices. I had to make the characters real enough in a thirty minute conversation for a stranger in their world to understand them.

As I dropped him back at home, I offered to let him read the book. I just hope he thinks I laid everything out well during our chat.

I'd never thought about doing something like this before: corralling a relative stranger and introducing my book to them as if it were something important happening in the national news, and attempting to convey the important details and make them real enough to be believable. It helped me think about what in the plot might be lacking, or what was unrealistic or difficult to believe. I suppose the biggest trick to making this kind of conversation a success is finding an attentive listener who knows how to ask good questions!

Anyway, I've been a 4k word a day machine lately, and almost made it there again yesterday. I'm just so close to the end, I can see it off in the distance. I might get there today, or maybe tomorrow. I was getting concerned that the page count for this book was so much lower than the last, but the word count is almost identical. I thought this book might just be description heavy, with less dialogue, but then I realized I never put the headers in. When I add in headers, it will add about 20 pages, because one line on each page gets displaced for the header. Duh. I should have put them in from the start, but I hesitated. Why? I DON"T HAVE A WORKING TITLE YET!!! I'm about a chapter from the end, and I haven't a clue what to call this book. The first book is currently titled Dragon Hunter, and I was playing around with similar names for this book, but I'm truly stumped. I hope some flash of inspiration hits me on edits.

So the page count I've been giving here is going to jump today. I'll give the "old page count" and the "new page count" with the headers inserted.

Words: 91,759
Pages: 279
New Pages: 296