Category Archives: Revising

Sing revision update #5

I think the end is ACTUALLY in sight this time.

Last night I managed to work through the chapter where everything collides. Lots of things happen, lots of things need to be dealt with, things, in short, are simply everywhere! Some stuff, as well. But I got through it and now I’m on the other side of the mountain, teetering as I peer into the valley at the bottom of a very sharp decline.

How fast can I wrap everything up? My goal is to have it done by Friday night. I hope. If I do, I get to read This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith, which I forgot I pre-ordered! Yay incentives! If I do that, I might also let myself have a weekend of doing nothing. I haven’t had one of those for a while.

Wish me luck! It’s time to gather up all the threads I laid out during the course of the story and try to tie off as many of them as I can. Not all of them, of course (where’s the fun in that?) but most. πŸ˜‰

Sing revision update #4

I am in the home stretch!! Or, at least, I think I am.

Honestly, it’s hard to tell. Every time I think I’m getting close to the finish line, I swear the damn thing moves! It definitely did yesterday. I was sitting there looking at this chapter going, “Am I really close to (insert important moment here)? How’d that happen so fast?”

I stared at it. And stared at it. And the other people in Starbucks must have thought I was completely zoning out because I kept staring at it. Until I finally couldn’t deny the fact that I needed at least one more chapter in between those two points.

I grumbled for a little while and bought myself another drink and then inserted the placeholder for the chapter. Now I just have to go back and actually write it. Which is kind of the important part, I guess. 

Without my ridiculously incapacitating illness this past week, I’d probably be done with the revisions by now. But that is not the case. Since I’m back at the day job this week, I’m hoping to be able to finish by the end of the week. I hope. Have to, really, because deadline is approaching and I have other projects that need my attention. Like book 2. And Secret Project # 1. And Secret Project # 2. And all the other things I have going on. I like to keep busy. πŸ™‚

So wish me luck! I’m diving back into the trenches as soon as I get off work today. Hopefully the finish line is done jumping around on me.

Today is the day I start playing catch-up.

Catch it! (c) Mateusz Stachowski

For the first time all week, I almost feel like my brain is a brain and not a pile of steaming nothing locked inside my head. Excepting a stiff neck, a slight cough, and a runny nose, I’m almost better! Kind of. I did sleep until 10:30 in the morning today, which is really weird for me, but maybe that’s why I’m feeling a little better than I expected.

My day job is closed for Good Friday, so that means I have today, tomorrow, and Sunday to play catch up and revise the rest of Sing, Sweet Nightingale. There’s still a lot of work left and, of course, the chapters yet to be written are the more complex, emotional, conflict-ridden chapters. Well, no one ever said being an author was easy, right? Not like it’s an office job where your work load can be handed off to someone else if you’re sick and a deadline is looming. And I wouldn’t want it to be anyway. But, still, I’m a little worried everything I write this weekend will be complete and utter crap. Although my brain is more awake than it has been the rest of this week, I still wouldn’t say it’s working at full capacity.

So, wish me luck! Into the trenches I go. After, you know, food of some sort. πŸ™‚

Sing revision update #3

Progress is being made! And I finally know for sure that it’s progress in the right direction! Woohoo!

I have to go back and rework a section of this new draft, but that’s okay! Because I get to keep most of what I wrote and that makes me happy. πŸ˜€

Also, just in case you didn’t know this already, beginnings are HARD. Like, seriously. Extremely difficult. Like, climbing Everest difficult. It seems as though I’m getting closer to the top of this particular mountain, but I won’t know for sure until I stand up there and plant my flag in the snow.

WE SHALL SEE, I SUPPOSE.

In the meantime, here! Go visit Cracked.com and let them entertain you while I try to make my brain stop sending smoke out my ears…

Sing revision update #2

Guys, after working 14-16 hour days since last wednesday, I totally feel like this right now:

Study 2 (c) Colin Adamson

HOWEVER, progress is being made and I’ve been told from trusted sources that it’s GOOD progress! So, yay! There’s no time-back guarantee that my editresses shall agree, but I will just have to take that chance and go where these revisions are taking me. Because right now it’s a really fun place. EXHAUSTING, but fun. πŸ™‚

This also means that my brain is not really capable of thinking of non-SSN related things for very long right now. Because, you know, this happened:

[Co-worker comes into my office. I look up. Their mouth is moving and the words are completely lost.]

Co-worker: … Right, Erica?
Me: Did you say something about dreams?
Co-worker: [blank look] What? No.
Me: Right… of course. Sorry, what did you need?

So…. yeah. I’m going to go hide in my editing cave again. Because that’s where my brain is anyway.

Sing revision update #1

I am full throttle on revisions! Movin’ right along, I tell you. The longer this goes on, though, the more this is both a good thing and a bad thing.

Bad news first: Sing, Sweet Nightingale is starting to creep into my dreams again, which hasn’t happened since I NaNoed the novel in 2011. For most authors, dreaming about your book probably normal and/or welcome, but this series… well, let’s just say my dreams is the LAST place I want them.

The good news: I’ve managed to revise two chapters a day for the past two days. IF I can keep this pace up (and that’s a big IF), I might actually have a chance of finishing these revisions on time! Yay! Honestly, I wasn’t sure that was possible. I’m still not sure, but I guess we shall see.

Okay. That’s all I have for now. Back to the day job and sneaking in revision whenever possible!

Fun, Fate, and Farewell

I am a HUGE Stephenie Meyer fan. Seriously. I’ve been a fan since Twilight first released and have been going to different signings and events since 2006. So far, I’ve been to Nashville, Phoenix, Miami, and Los Angeles specifically for Stephenie Meyer events. When I saw she was doing a signing in Coral Gables yesterday? Yeah. I was totally there. Especially since it was a Host-centered event and The Host is the ONLY book of hers I never got signed. Problem solved. πŸ™‚

Because fate is a funny thing, I ended up standing in line next to a girl named Michelle Madow. She’s an author and was passing out bookmarks for her self-published series which starts with Remembrance. We started talking and slowly realized we’ve known each other for years! We were both early addicts of the Twilight Lexicon, fanfiction writers, and a bunch of other coincidental things. So the two hours standing (we were both really early) in line breezed by! In addition to also selling her debut traditionally published novel for a March 2014 release and apparently not being able to take a bad picture, Michelle is energetic and really fun! Check out her books and if you see a blonde girl wearing sequins at a book event this year, go say hi! It’s probably Michelle.

It’s been so long since I was at a Twilight event I forgot how much fun they can be. Book events in general, actually. I’m starting to go to more this year and it’s awesome! Definitely looking forward to the rest of the amazing events on the lineup. What are they? Well, BEA in May/June and Vegas in November! Hopefully I’ll get to sprinkle some other events between the two, but even if I can’t at least I know I have two weekends of awesome to look forward to!

In other news, my revision on Sing, Sweet Nightingale has officially begun. As of this morning, I am in editing mode. So, yeah… this post may be my last coherent one for a while. My disappearance is for a good cause, I swear! πŸ˜‰

Because it’s HELLA RELEVANT: The Five Phases of Revision

Like I mentioned before, I recently got my first official edit letter. So now I have to start, you know, editing. And so, of course, my brain is going LH KHGF LKSHKZHJGHADFU:KG<MSV!!!!!

A while back I wrote a post I called The Five Phases of Revision. I liked it a lot and I think I need the reminder of how awesome the end result is going to be to get me through the really hard work ahead. So, for my benefit and yours, here it is again:

The Five Phases of Revision:
(originally posted on this blog August 22, 2012)

I had a phone call with my wonderful editresses last night and we went over some things that essentially mean I will be rewriting 3/4 of Sing, Sweet Nightingale. We were on Skype, so I could tell they were kind of waiting for me to start going crazy. The fact that I neither started crying nor tried to jump through the computer screen to maul them seemed surprising, so that got me thinking about the way authors handle revision suggestions. The psychology major in me was intrigued and thus we end up with this post.

Kind of like for parents, it is necessary for a writer to love her book. NECESSARY. I will accept no arguments on this point, kay? Good. Now that we have that established, let’s talk about what happens when someone tears into your work for the first time and points out all the holes, inconsistencies, pacing problems, character issues, and generally sucky spots.

Sad Snot-Nose Kid (c) Mike Gieson

That’s right. You end up looking like this child. Either that or you turn into rabid lioness and try to shred anyone stupid enough to get to close. The problem is, neither of these reactions are productive! They can be, however, the first phase of the revision process.

1- Hurt
“WHY DOES EVERYONE HATE ME?! HOW COULD THEY SAY SUCH MEAN THINGS?!Β  THIS IS MY BABY! THEY JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!!”
This reaction, while overblown, is completely natural. Someone is telling you the idea you nurtured from infancy and shaped into this beautiful thing called a book isn’t working. It’s flawed. Maybe heavily. Feel it, live through it, and then let it go so you can move on to:

2- Denial
“They signed me and read it in one sitting and they’re supposed to be my best friend, but they don’t actually know anything about books. They have to be wrong. They THINK they’re being helpful, but if they hadn’t absolutely loved the book they wouldn’t have even read it. SO THERE.”
Nothing is perfect. Ever. There’s no such thing. We just have to try to get ourselves and our work as good as we can get it and chances are you’re not going to do that on the first try. And maybe not even on the tenth. The sooner you accept that, the happier you’ll be. And this applies to both writing and life in general.

3- Bargaining
“Well, what if I sent so-and-so to Sibera?! That would fix the plot problem, right? And then I would get to keep this little shiny section I love so much that doesn’t really fit here, right? RIGHT?!”
You might come up with some crazy ideas and try to pass them off as good. Maybe you’re stuck and maybe you’re trying to save a particular part of the story you adore, either way if you’re getting weird looks when you explain your ideas you might want to reconsider actually putting them in writing.

4- Slow Acceptance
“I finally reread the book and I guess, MAYBE, I can see what they mean about this one part told in second person totally distracting from the rest of the first person narrative. But it seemed so quirky and original at the time!”
This step is arguably the most important. This is when you once again become capable of rational thought and are able to look at your book through the editor’s eyes and see what they’re seeing. Then you can look at it again through your knowledge of the world and hopefully end up hit with:

5- Inspiration
“OMG! I just had this brilliant idea! What if A and B went to X and did Y?! It would fix everything and it’s SO MUCH BETTER than what I had before! How could I have been such an idiot? Why didn’t I think of this the first time around?!”
All the pieces have finally come together! You see the editor’s changes and raise them a rewrite of four other chapters that suddenly you’re absolutely certain you can make shinier. YOU ARE AUTHOR! Nothing can stand in your way. Now go lock yourself in a room and start typing. πŸ˜‰

If you ever get stuck on any of the phases before Inspiration, just try imagining how shiny and wonderful and compelling and three-dimensional and addictive and beautiful your book will be once your editors are done with you. Then, suddenly, you feel like this:

Happy Young Woman (c) Vera Kratochvil

And that, friends, is a very great place to be. πŸ˜€

Good times they are a’comin’!

Jumping Man (c) Asif Akbar

Yesterday, out of the blue, I heard from both of my editors! We’re finally getting close to the time when I have full permission to pelt them with questions and revisions and ideas and new plot points and anything else that pops into my head! I am so excited about this it’s kinda ridiculous. What’s even more exciting is that their texts perfectly coincided with my day-of-final-tweaks on SSN. Yesterday (excepting the three-hour break after a rodent electrocuted itself in my backyard and blew our transformer–yes, really), I went through SSN with my CP’s notes and made little changes per their suggestions. Now I just have to go back through it one last time before I can send it to Danielle and Patricia and start holding my breath in hopes they like the changes I’ve made. Cause they are numerous. And important. And OMG. O.O! Please, please, please like the changes!

I love my editor’s idea to have the entire series planned out before SSN releases. I’m also very happy they intend to help me do that because I am so not a plotter. Most of the time, I have an overview in my head and let things unfold from there. It’ll be an interesting experiment working with an outlined story. The closest I’ve come to this before is when I turned the short story version of SSN into a novel. But even then I had to expand it so much from the core idea it was almost like writing an entirely new story.

Updates on progress shall continue here throughout the publication process with as many details as possible. I really can’t wait until I can share real things like cover copy or, you know, a cover. Which I don’t have yet so don’t hold your breath for that one. The release date is still so far away it’ll be a while before any of that happens, but you can always check back here for updates and you should definitely consider adding Sing, Sweet Nightingale to read on Goodreads!

Okay, self-promotion over. The next six months will be full of amazing writerly things and I’m all atwitter to dive into it. I have new projects in the works and heavy edits to look forward to. All I have to figure out is how to fit it all in.

Wish me luck!

Revisionary lessons and revelations.

Wow. My previous post was prophetic or something. I finished my edits yesterday! Just in time to come back today! It’s a fabulous feeling and I really think the story is stronger. And I know it will only get more so when my editresses dive into the full tear-down with me at the beginning of the year. My next project while I wait for my critique partners to get back to me with notes is to start fleshing out the vague outlines I have for books 2 and 3 of The Dream War Saga, but for the next couple of days I’m just going to let my brain rest and enjoy the accomplishment of achieving what seemed impossible a couple of weeks ago.

Maybe it’s because this is my first guided edit, but I feel like I learned a lot from this process.Β  I have a feeling this is going to be the case with every edit on every book for the rest of my (hopefully) long career, but it’s especially impactful right now because this is the first. In honor of this, I’m going to talk about some of the revelations I had and lessons I learned while trying to be as vague as possible and leaving out any details my editors may hurt me for sharing without their permission. πŸ˜‰

Blackboard (c) ilco

Lesson one: Even the most overwhelming projects can be tackled if you break them up the right way. What’s the right way? No clue. For this particular edit, the right way involved creating a new file and only keeping the chapters that I knew weren’t going to change much. This is when I started freaking out because I watched my book drop from 96,000 words to 27,000 words. As scary as that was to see, there’s no way I could’ve made headway on this edit as fast as I did any other way. If I’d kept the original and tried to work within it, I would’ve been trying to fix what’s there instead of reworking it to fit the new structure.

Which brings me to lesson/revelation number two: Say you decide to take out a major part of your book. You go back through the story, take out everything related to that part, reread the book, and then realize the story isn’t that much different. Does this mean the part you thought was so major wasn’t actually that important or did you do something wrong along the way? O.o? Honestly, I’m still wondering about this one. I guess I’ll see how confused my readers are.

The third thing I realized is that changing the structure can teach you new things about your characters. The request my editors made ended up changing the motivations of one of my main characters. His goals shifted and the way he approached what happens for the first third of the book changed. I love the new beginning and it was really fantastic bringing out this stronger, more determined side of my character. This wouldn’t have happened if the revisions hadn’t been suggested.

And last, but probably most importantly, just go with it. In this revision I ended up with three different versions of the end. Two of these versions extended the book by a chapter and a half. In fact, my word count for the whole book is just over 100,000 now, something I’m worried my editors might not like very much. Hopefully they’ll like the changes so much that the word count won’t even matter. I can hope, right? But that’s not the point. The point is to go in the direction the revisions take you, even if it’s slightly out of the original reach of the story. If it’s going to change your book completely, you might want to talk to your editors before running with it because otherwise it could end up being a lot of wasted effort, but don’t discount the idea out of hand. Don’t change for the sake of change, but sometimes, change is good.

So, that’s all for now. I’m going to take a break from the book for a few days and spend some time working on a couple of other projects before diving into my outlining for the rest of my series. Hopefully I’ll also be back to my regular posting schedule, too. I found a few articles I definitely want to share, so look for snippets and links this week.

Happy Monday!