All Change

I finished the first round of revisions on the novella I mentioned a couple posts back. Which means, of course, that I am now firmly in the “This is terrible why do I even bother trying to write” stage of things.

Which, in turn, means it’s time to stop thinking about it (this is why I pawn it off onto beta readers, because I cannot be even remotely objective at this point in the game), which means I need to think about something else.

Ah-ha. Time to get back to Magic In Disguise! That’s been stuck at 20,000 words for way too long now. I claimed writer’s block when I first got stuck, decided to work on Wings of Song for a while, and when I hit a wall there (not a huge one: it’s Christmas in that story now, and I can’t bring myself to write winter when it’s so lovely outside and our winter was so long and miserable, so I’m waiting until my memory has faded a bit. I’ll probably get back to it in August when I’ve started to melt from heat) I took a break from writing all together until the novella demanded I write it.

The brick wall on Magic In Disguise hasn’t gotten any less solid, but I think I’m finally ready to bash away at it until it crumbles. (Don’t you like my elegant metaphors?) Plus I miss Maia and Len. And Becket. Every so often I feel guilty for not doing more to promote and market Magic Most Deadly, because I feel like I’m letting my characters down. Then I remind myself that the very best marketing/promotion plan is to just write more about them, and write well, and so I dive back once more into their world and determine to give them another chance to shine.

Come July or August or whenever, when I start to feel lonely for Julie &co. from Wings of Song, I’ll give Magic In Disguise a rest, and change once more.

I’m not sure it’s entirely healthy to be this attached to all my characters, but it certainly is the best motivation in the world.

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Make Mistakes Great

I’ve mentioned here before that I’m working on Magic Most Deadly‘s sequel, right? (I know, I could look it up, but … who has the time?) I’ve hit a couple of snags with it, coming up against errors or “oops” moments from the previous book. One little thing was when I wanted to use Sophie and Owen from If This Be Magic, but I realized that I’d given Owen the same last name (Maddox) as Maia’s friend Constable Maddox from Magic Most Deadly. Uh-oh!

I came across a more egregious error when I remembered that I’d let Len use magic to dispel a hangover in Magic Most Deadly, but according to the rules of magic I laid out more clearly, any direct use of magic on a person, whether yourself or someone else, is evil and against the law. These rules play an enormous role in this current book, whereas in the first one they were only a side note, so I didn’t notice the mistake until I came to this one.

That was a big oops.

What to do? I couldn’t go back and change it – the book is already published. I could ignore it and hope that no readers picked up on, but that felt like cheating. Besides, even if nobody else ever caught the mistake, I would know about it, and it would bother me. Forever.

I wrestled with it on and off for a couple of weeks. Then, this morning, the answer came to me, laid out as a beautiful scene. Not only can I use that to add another layer of nuance to magic, laws, and Magical Intelligence work, but I can also use it to add further depth to Len’s character.

Even though I’m not at the point in this story where I can work the point in, I sat down and wrote the scene out as soon as it came together in my mind, so that now it’s ready to insert when I get to that part.

As a bonus? At the end of that scene, a little bit of romance snuck in! (I know some of you out there are Len/Maia ‘shippers!)

And that’s the story of how a mistake turned into something that made the characters, and the world, even better than they were before.

I hope all my human errors in these books turn out as well!

Secret Project, Secret No More

You remember that post I wrote back in February, about the need to finish the first draft I was working on so I could get started on the first draft of the book I was supposed to be writing?

Well, I finished it. The first draft of a story that jumped into my mind sometime in … either November or December, I really don’t remember now … and I knew that I had to start writing it then and there. If all I did was outline it, I knew I wouldn’t come back to it later. The outline would just sit, and languish, and collect metaphoric dust in my documents.

It wasn’t supposed to be very long, only around 30,000 words, a short, fun, MG. Of course, me being me, that turned into 51,000 words, closer to YA than MG, and with some surprisingly deep themes woven in amidst the lighter-hearted bits. In fact, I need to make sure the light-hearted bits are as prominent as I want them to be when I go back for the second draft.

I couldn’t talk about it at all, to anyone, for fear of losing the momentum. I didn’t even tell anyone I was writing it until I was halfway through, and then I finally broke down and told Carl what I was writing – but I wouldn’t tell him what it was about. Only that it wasn’t what I “should” be writing. A few weeks ago a friend asked me on Twitter what I was writing currently, and all I could say was “A secret project.” It didn’t need to be secret for any outside reasons – but I was afraid talking about it would have the same effect as outlining it. Death to the story itself.

So. It’s the messiest first draft I’ve ever had the privilege of finishing, because most of my first drafts are more like third drafts by the time I’m done with them. I break The Rule, you see, of first drafts. I am a compulsive go-back-er. I can be three chapter ahead, realize a way to make that past chapter better, and if I don’t go back and fix it right then and there, it eats away at me until I get it right. If I introduce a character that later on doesn’t fit, I have to go back and take that character out immediately, instead of just dropping the character from then on and removing it entirely later. I write a few chapters, go back and fix a few chapters, write a few, go back and fix a few … which is why I always cringe when I hear someone declare that all first drafts, every time, are junk. Because mine aren’t. Usually.

This one is, though. I just needed to get it written. So I skipped the edit-as-I-go this time (and yes, it drove me nuts, but I did it, and I’m kind of proud of myself for going outside my comfort zone. And I don’t plan to ever do that again) and just got it all done. I’m not going back and immediately fixing anything now that it’s written, either.

I’m going to pretend it doesn’t exist for a while. Go back to working on Wings of Song and Magic in Disguise, the second Maia and Len book (it’s been six months since Magic Most Deadly published, and I think I’m finally ready to get back to their world). And then, once I’ve finished the initial drafts of both of those, I can drag this one back to life, tear it apart, and put it back together again better.

It’s been a fun interlude. And it was what I needed when the stories I was supposed to be writing (see previous paragraph) were not working, and I was feeling a considerable amount on ennui about my writing in general. Sure, it took me almost four months to write a draft I thought I would have done in six weeks, but hey. It’s there. It’s done. And it put the zest back in writing for me.

And now, it’s back to work.

Introducing …

It has exactly one sentence so far, but I couldn’t resist taking a screen shot to show you:

Screen shot 2013-11-01 at 12.47.24 PM

Yes, in the midst of writing Wings of Song, I have started work on Magic Most Deadly’s sequel. Working title Magic in Disguise.

I have a broad plot outline and, as I said, exactly one sentence of story written.

I’ve also come up with a name for the series overall. Intelligent Magic, bringing together the Intelligence work that Len does and the magic that Maia is learning to master. Intelligent Magic was one of my discarded title ideas for Magic Most Deadly, so I’m pleased to be able to recycle it and use it now for the series.

Squee!