And She Says “Done!…again”

To Dream is finished. Thank goodness.

To Sleep was a walk in the park compared to this one. I was hoping for at least 90K and got over 109K words in To Sleep. I really like that story. So I jumped right in and started working on the next one.

It was originally titled “The Awakening” but I realized that’s not what it was about. Well, kinda, but not really. So I changed it to To Dream. Again, I hoped for about 90K. Holy crap, I reached 120K. So I edited and rewrote it. Dang if it didn’t end up even higher! And now I just finished again and, you guessed it. It’s higher again.

To Dream just finished at 144,192 words. I could actually cut it in half, put some scenes back in, and make it two books. Not sure where the break would be but that may be what happens in the end. And I like this book just as much as the first. Which is a good thing.

In To Sleep, the reader is introduced to Karen Miller, a nurse studying to be a doctor in Philadelphia. Then aliens come and everything changes. This book picks up the story about a year after the first one ended. Karen and her friends now are dealing with their new lives. I could tell you more but it would absolutely ruin the first book. Not sure how I am going to do the synopsis, actually.

So, it will be going out to the beta reader(s) soon. Then another edit then I will submit it.

AHA Moments

…are so cool.

I’ve got one novel finished and sold (To Sleep) and then I did the huge sequel, The Awakening. By the time I got that one done, I was very frustrated. It was huge and I didn’t want it to be. So I set it aside for a while and tried to write another Butch Girl book (Stereotype This or maybe BG and Stereotypes).

Then today, I get an AHA moment. You know, when suddenly the clouds part and angels sing out a single note (maybe two) and suddenly you Get It.

The first book is called “To Sleep” because I had the phrase, “To sleep, perchance to dream” as the phrase to start with. I looked it up in Wikipedia to see if anything popped out.

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Duh. It did. The second book is now called “To Dream”.

Like TS, this book was to have two halves. One was the dream, the second was the waking up. I never found a true dividing line so it doesn’t really have one. But what if I just did the dreaming part? What if…

And there I went.

PS For those of you who now have that soliloquy in your head, go to No Sweat Shakespeare to read it in full.

It ended, finally

I just said The Freakin’ End to The Awakening, sequel to To Sleep. Holy cow. It’s huge. Absolutely freakin’ huge. As in over 140K words. 141,964 to be exact. My fingers, they are tired.

I really like this book. It is very woo-woo, metaphysical, metaweird. But me likey.

I’m going to let it sit and stew for a while. I need to think about where it ended up and how to get there in fewer words. The MC can’t seem to keep out of the infirmary and I need to decide if that was necessary. Someone once said that every lesbian fiction has to have a shower scene (got that, several), a concussion (actually have two of those), multiple orgasms (yeah, got that too), and a misunderstanding. Ooops, missed that one. There’s a lot of not understanding but no misunderstanding.

Oh, and I made sure I got the Prologue right. Would you believe the submitted version starts off with the Epilogue? Yep, I totally screwed it up. And I didn’t catch it for about 2 weeks into the submission. (insert image of P banging her head on her desk and her niece laughing)

Snippet for the needy:

Prologue
There’s a parable of sorts about these two little boys. One is an optimist, the other is a pessimist. The little boys are shown two stalls in the barn, both stalls full of manure. The pessimist is disgusted but the optimist starts shoveling the manure. “Because underneath all this shit? There has to be a pony!”

Well, we certainly have been through enough shit that there ought to be a pony for all of us. The ‘we’ I mean is me and my friends: Julie, Gin, Chris, Frankie, and Helen. And Mona. Can’t forget her.

and from the first chapter:

“Hey, time to get up.” Julie said. For the fourth time.
“Don’t want to.” I mumbled into my pillow.
“Do you want me to send Frankie in here?”
That did it. I got up. Last time she sent Frankie in with the command to get me up, I got dumped on the floor.

(and yes, I know I got the punctuation wrong in the dialogue. I got them all wrong kinda sorta but not really on purpose. All will be fixed in the edits. I hope.)

It’s Tribbles. That’s what it is.

So I’m trying to finish up the sequel to To Sleep. It’s a good book, in my humble, totally unbiased opinion. When I decided it was getting too big, it was roughly about 120K.

I went through it, really looking at the scenes. Which one belongs, which one doesn’t. I eliminated some characters. I eliminated some scenes. And when I was finished, it was 126K. Yes, it grew.

I then listed all the major events that happen. Then I filled in the events (scenes, really) that lead up to each major event. I am very, very, very visual so seeing the list helped. I trimmed a huge section. My cut file has grown by over 6K words. The book has a better feel so far. I’m on page 264, a little under half way.

But, dammit to heckaroni, the damn thing is getting BIGGER! What the hell? It is now at just under 128K.

I am really hoping that it will start shrinking soon. I didn’t want to do a third book. I may have to, just to make this one light enough to carry.

I wanted some events to happen by now but they aren’t fitting in just yet.

Anyway, just wanted to say I am still writing.

Chasing Tangents

If a scene, character, or even a setting, does nothing to further the story along, then it doesn’t need to be in the book. It is far too easy to get into “developing a character” or “setting the scene” and yet none of it helps the story. Several years ago, I began seeing plot bits as strings. And they had to come together in form the rope that is the novel at some point near or at the end. If a string didn’t tie to that, well, it didn’t need to be there. Tangents can be fun and even educational but if it is a tangent, and not a true plot string, snip it.

In Simple Sarah (the book stuck in perpetual edits since I started in ’04), I killed a character. Not in the ‘had a funeral’ kind of way. I killed her by removing her from the book. I kinda sorta liked the character but it was her horse I liked more. When I realized that, out she went (wow. just realized I wrote that post 3 years ago…).

In The Awakening, I had this family of five. In one version, I had them be all pissy and grumpy and struggling with their new reality. I back tracked a little because this attitude had no basis so I put one in. Didn’t like it. Didn’t know how to end it. So I backed up again and made them all nice and sweet. And that’s when I realized they did nothing to further the story along. There’s enough conflict and tension without them. So, yeah, out they went. One of the characters actually had a good role and I didn’t want to get rid of the role, just the person in it. I spent two days thinking (yeah, smoke was everywhere) and decided who to put there instead. I played a little with that direction and liked it better.

Which is why I am going through the book again but this time, my tangent radar has an upgrade.

I know I’ve said this before, but

I. Hate. Editing.

So I started editing The Awakening because it got to 120K and wasn’t really going anywhere. I stopped writing and backed up to go through and remove/trim several tangents. Which I did.

So why the heckaroni did the novel GROW, rather than SHRINK?

And now I am going through it AGAIN to trim yet another tangent. I like what this one adds to the plot but I agree I do too much dialogue within it. As I go along, I am trying to also narrow down the purpose of the book.

In To Sleep, the reader discovers several things. It ends with the MC and her friends going somewhere to recover and decide what to do next. In The Awakening, they are starting the task of “awakening” others like them. I need to decide if awakening them is the single purpose (besides growth of the characters). If so, then do I need to include the details of that or just the growth of that. And how much does the reader really want to know? Does the reader want to know every single meeting or just the results of the meetings? At the same time, I need to keep the MC grounded. She cannot go from a simple Human to being what amounts to the head of the new nation unless she is strong enough. The reader needs to find this believable. And they can’t find it believable unless I show her growth. And I can’t show her growth without displaying the details.

‘Round and ’round I go until I, like, barf.

And meanwhile, the wee little novel fairies sneak into my computer in the morning (between 8 and 10, to be specific) and add random words so that the word count rises instead of falls. Either that or I’ve been drinkin’ a wee bit too much Buffalo Trace and/or Knob Creek.

120K of Not Much

Well, The Awakening, the sequel to To Sleep, reached 120K today. And while there are a lot of good scenes and a lot of good words, the connection between them all are thin tendrils of ‘kinda sorta’ and ‘where was I going with this?’. I really like this book but it there’s not an underlying continuing purpose underneath it. I guess the theme is flawed maybe or the plot itself.

I kept writing, thinking maybe perhaps it would come together and some point and I’d know what it was that was missing. But it never has. And when I realized I’d hit 120K (120449, to be exact), I finally admitted there was a problem. So I gave up on saying the end in its current format. I was tempted to just keep going, hoping maybe I’d find it, but there reaches a point (like, 120K words) when it’s time to do something.

So, I did a ‘save as…’ on the original file ‘the awakening 1’ then did it again to save as it’s original file name. That way the original mass of words is saved for posterity. And now I edit before I even finished. I’m going to read it and tame the tangents I kept going off on. I already know several plot lines are going to be cut because, frankly, I was wincing as I wrote them. But I followed along, hoping it would lead somewhere.

I considered setting it aside for a while, letting it settle, but I don’t want to lose the MCs voice. This is why I jumped into it even before To Sleep had sold. Written in first person, it is very very important to maintain the same voice of the character.

It is times like this that I admire (and hero worship) those writers who outline first. While it is not my style, I wish it were.