I’ve been trying to find the gentlest way to address this, and–well–there isn’t one, so here’s the thing:
My third book, and the second in the Blood of Ages series, “Divided They Fall”, isn’t going to be ready for the beta draft on the date I originally planned, at the end of September.
Please don’t cry.
I won’t bore you with background as to why this book won’t be ready for deadline. Let’s just say that the story was going in the wrong direction, and fortunately, I picked it up before it reached a stage where I couldn’t fix it. Unfortunately, these wrong directions are not an easy fix. They’re an entire re-write fix…like, all the scenes, everything I’ve been working on for the last twelve months, my precious baby…it’s all got to go.
I know that there are (a handful of) people out there in the world who are waiting for this next book. I know there’s not many of you, but I know you exist, and I appreciate you all hanging around in the first place. I’m asking now that you bear with me.
I can’t give you a date right now, because I’m back in the planning stages of this book. Once I have a solid plan–like, a 100% solid plan this time around–then I’ll have a better idea when you can see this thing.
It’s still coming. I’m still working on it.
Questions and comments (angry or otherwise) can always be directed to my twitter.
So a couple of weekends ago, Muse and I got together for one of our usual writer’s weekends.
Amongst other–more important–revelations over that weekend, I learned that I don’t actually hate vodka and orange juice, as I’ve always thought since I tried it as a teenager, but rather that vodka is just a tricky beast that hides inside your drink, undetectable, and slowly takes away the ability to string a sentence together.
We spent the majority of the time drinking and watching Catfish (the documentary and then the TV show, because why not?).
* Put the streamers away. It’s only the first draft.
I’ve been waiting SO LONG to be able to make this post.
I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF DIVIDED THEY FALL LAST NIGHT!
You have no idea how freaking happy I am right now. I’m still on a high.
Last night, I slept SO well.
Yes, I know I’ve used this GIF before. It’s as relevant now as it was back then, if not more so.
So Divided They Fall has been in my mind since around 2002, making it technically 12 years old now, although it didn’t exist in its current idea form until around 2009.
The DTF2002 (that’s my special name for it–it’s code, see if you can figure it out) outline was as, um, “imaginative” as the very first outline of The Genesis (which had the door knockers that talked, and the genetic experiments that also talked, and the injections that could make vampires immune to sunlight for a time, and the car with the SUCKIT licence plate…I should stop telling the world about my early drafts. It’s really not good for anybody).
Its main focus was this shape-shifting spider demon (called Dark Nation, because I’m awesome and also like to steal things from Final Fantasy VII from time to time) that had the ability to change specific events in time, and this demon used her power to stop Catrina from ever being turned into a vampire, for some reason. I think she wanted the Genesis power, or to get in on the Clan, or just to get into Fox’s pants or something, and Catrina was getting in her way–I don’t remember, it was over a decade ago.
Anyway, while the idea was obviously gold, it had absolutely no value in terms of the series (plus, it broke a lot of things, because…well, because a lot of things that happen in the series are Catrina’s fault–mostly indirectly, but still–and let’s face it, if we’re being 100% honest, things probably would be better for everyone–at least for anyone who isn’t Catrina…and actually no probably for Catrina, too–if she’d never been turned).
Maybe when the first series is finished (ha!), we can revisit something along this line, to ask the question of whether changing the past could improve the future. (Future spoiler alert, the answer will be no.)
I started working on the real serious draft of DTF in March 2013, then it meandered for months.
Writing this book frustrated me, perhaps is a better way to phrase it. Or planning it frustrated me.
Back in the day, I used to write a book out of order. I’d do the classic idiot thing and write all the scenes I was looking forward to writing the most first.
Helpful advice for you, if you’re just starting out on writing a full-length novel: this is a terrible way to write a book. It’s pretty self-explanatory, really, since if you write all the bits you really want to write, what you’re left with when you’re done with those is all the scenes you don’t really feel so much love for. And then you don’t want to do them. And then they don’t get done. And what you’re left with is a bunch of scenes that don’t really fit together and no drive to fill in the bits in between, an unfinished not-a-novel.
At least, that’s what happened with me. And I’ve been trying not to write like that anymore. And it’s hard.
But anyway, the important thing is it’s finished for now!
And now…some exciting graphs!
Total word count over time.
I didn’t start recording the daily word counts until around August.
The 20k before that day is a mystery, oooOOOOooooo!
And here’s my EditMinion Report Card:
All looks good, in summary! It’s only when we get into the details where it starts to fall apart. Also, not entirely sure why it’s saying there’s only 94,000 words in there. I think it might be because EditMinion.com has a limitation to the number count. I did write 115k, I swear!
Lastly, here’s a lovely-looking word cloud, showing the most used words in the manuscript.
Seems Devaux is the main character in this book, after all!
(If you want to make your own word clouds, you can generate them at Wordle.net)
Now, I’m a firm believer in the quantity over quality, when it comes to first drafts. Because you have all these ideas flying at you from every angle, you should just throw them down onto the page. Yes, they might be tragically pathetic, and they might not work, but you could find one very important snippet of character development in that terrible scene, which you can use somewhere else.
It’s like the idea of comparing writing a novel to carving a sculpture. You start out with this big block of clay, and you have to make it into something beautiful. Somehow. Using your mind.
This is only a first draft, an alpha version, if you will. It’s very inconsistent, tonally and thematically. The characters are all over the place, in particular the new main protagonists, Devaux and Damien. Catrina is consistent, particularly on being stupid and doing stupid things. I really don’t mean to make her that way (or do I?), but it just seems to happen in the early stages. The biggest changes will be making her decisions less stupid, but with the same results.
The two new POV characters aren’t really solid yet. I know I’ve failed terribly with at least one of them. I’ve never written anything from the Agent’s point of view before, except for that one scene from Nathaniel Rae, and he was King of the Dicks, so writing that was easy. Damien, on the other hand, is supposed to be this complex character who’s supposed to go through some incredible character development, and that’s…just not there yet. He’s just Nathaniel Rae with blonde hair right now.
This draft is not for public consumption, because, in the words of Greg Davies, “It’s fucking awful.”
I sent it to my two alpha readers last night, and they can tear it apart for a while, and theeeeeeeeeen, I’ll be taking it back to start the next monstrous task of the beta draft.
I expect the beta draft will be due around late July/early August.
And now, I’m going to go take a break, maybe play some WoW, or just bum around on Tumblr for the next month.
I’m FINISHED! Weeeeeeeeeeee!
Want to be a Beta?
If you want to be a beta reader for me, you can sign up to my list here. Just bear in mind that since this is the second in a series–unlike From The Ashes, which is a companion novel–I will need you to have read The Genesis first.
I need blunt, honest people to work with. I don’t want things sugar-coating.
I appreciate that I’m not really “selling it” to you with the above post, since all I’m doing is calling it dreadful. But I promise you, it will be better by the time it reaches beta stage.
Alright, nobody freak out, but I’m pushing back the self-imposed deadline of the first draft of Divided They Fall to mid March.
I have been working on this book more-or-less non-stop since November 2013.
I need a break.
I know people are waiting for this book (which is something that freaks me the fuck out. I mean, I have my usual 3 friends (Muse, Richy, Dee–see there’s actually 3) who ask me when the next one is coming, but now I have Internet friends and relative strangers asking about the next instalment. That kind of thing is just…my mind, it’s boggling at the very idea. The Internet, man. It’s a powerful beast.).
And I am working on it, but the going is slow and painful. And at the rate I’m going, I just can’t see a finished, workable first draft being ready by the end of January.
So to save myself the stress, and to save the alpha readers’ future disappointment, I’ll just come out and say it now: you’re not having a book at the end of the month.
Were I in a traditional publishing environment, I’d have already spent my advance and be crying into dust as my publisher and agent both abandon me by the wayside to be eaten by wolves or whatever.
But I’m not. I’m independently published. I’m my publisher. I’m my agent. I’m my publicist, and my media guru and marketing manager and finance department and customer services representative, and that creepy lady that hangs around the copier making awkward and uncomfortable conversation. And I’ve made a management decision to extend the deadline.
So I’m going to set a new estimated date for the alpha draft (not the beta draft, that will be 6-8 weeks later) by 15th March 2014.
I will be taking a short break from writing in the meantime.
Nothing major. Just a week or two.
I might work on something else (*cough*DARKWING*cough*), or I might just not do anything. I don’t know yet.
Only a week or two.
Then it will be back to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel, and all the other well-known work phrases I can’t think of right now.
I have set myself the challenging (but by no means impossible) task of completing the remaining 60k~ words of the first draft of my third book for NaNoWriMo this year.
As a result, November will be a stressful month for me while I try to extract all these conflicting ideas from my brain and kind of smush them into words and paragraphs and scenes and eventually an entire novel that make sense from beginning to end.
So I apologise in advance for if you get caught up in any of the following that I do in the month of November:
Being quiet/unresponsive both on and offline.
Talking about nothing except word counts, targets, goals and word counts.
Demanding to be left alone.
Drinking excessive amounts of caffeine/alcohol, depending on the time of day/day of week.
Threatening to “punch you in the throat” or “slap you in the dick”, or just generally being nasty.
Stress turns me from a mild mannered, fairly decent human being into Aunt Irma, so this will be me in November:
I’ve been mostly offline, chillaxing, recovering, and generally soul-searching, which has so far resulted in the possibilty that I don’t have one. I also spent many hours watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which I still can’t decide if I like or not after four and a half seasons.
And I’ve been speaking to my proofers and going over the small army of typos that made it through to ARC stage, including my possible favourite, referencing a scooter as a Vesper (which is a cocktail) instead of a Vespa (which is what I meant). I thought I’d already corrected that one, but evidently not!
As well as a few instances of rearranging word order, like so:
I have nothing with which to defend myself, other than to say I can be an idiot, at times.
Anyway, I’ve put all the changes I’ve had so far in now, and I’m probably going to take some time to do a reverse read this weekend (a reverse read, as you may have worked out, is when you read the book from the end to the beginning, a sentence at a time, which better helps spot typos without being as distracted by the story itself).
I’m taking this one last weekend to relax and recoup, and then I’ll be picking up where I left off with the next book.
I’ll be spending my free time attending my baby sister’s 3rd birthday party (oh God, small children), and also cleaning out my bin-on-wheels Fiat 500 ready for it going back on Wednesday.
I’m not going to miss this car. Out of the three I’ve had, it’s been my least favourite.
Yes, it’s cute, but then that’s mostly the problem. I command no authority in it whatsoever, especially with its ridiculous horn that doesn’t so much blare as much as kind of toot, “Excuse me, I don’t think you realise you’re in my way.” And I have enough of a Napoleon Complex as it is, I don’t need a car that accentuates my inferiority–a nice, big car will do away with that anxiety.
So yes, I won’t shed any tears at having to give it back.
Yeah, Yeah, Nobody Cares. What About Your Next Book?
I’ll start resume work on Divided They Fall from Monday, 30th September.
I will get back into the routine of minimum word counts, time counts, and I’ll be logging it all on a public Google Docs spreadsheet and on my Tumblr, so if you give that much of a shit, feel free to follow/like/reblog/show support.
I appreciate it all.
Finally, here’s how the rest of the year should pan out for me:
October to November 2013 – Creating the initial draft of Divided They Fall. [track]
December 2013 – Creating an initial draft of the first Blood of Ages short story, A Demon’s Share. [track]
Firstly, Don’t worry, I know progress tables aren’t that interesting to those not directly involved with them. I won’t post these often, if ever again.
Secondly, The ISBW in brackets by my name is an indicator of how I came across this resource. ISBW stands for the “I Should Be Writing” podcast by Mur Lafferty, which is great for all authors, both published and aspiring.
In other news, I got “From The Ashes” back from the editor the other day with the line edits and a critique.
Good news, there wasn’t too much in dire need of revision.
Bad news, I don’t have much time to make the suggested changes, as I’ll have to order the paperback versions of the Advanced Reading Copies for the Goodreads giveaway before the end of the month.
I am going to be working on “Divided They Fall (Blood of Ages, #2)” from now until I get the edited version of “From The Ashes” back at the end of August.
I’ve been trying to find a song to best summarise all the next book, but it’s hard.
A lot happens in Divided They Fall: it’s easily the busiest of the three novels. Readers get to see other sides of the war. The world gets bigger. New characters arrive. Old characters leave. The order shifts. The field gets levelled.
Basically, shit goes down.
I think the below summarises the story’s sentiment quite well, although Idohavesomebackup tracks.
In all, I’m hoping to get the first draft of Divided They Fall finished by the end of November.
* This isn’t technically the first draft, since I’ve had bits of this story floating around since 2010. However, I’m planning on writing an almost “from scratch” draft, so it’s basically the same thing.