The Eyelet Dove – Teaser Chapter

I’ve never really been someone who can sell myself, and that’s been one of my biggest worries about trying to start a writing career. But this Keycon, I was involved in several panels – more than last year – and now that it’s over, I’m realizing that it’s been a very different experience than last year. By Sunday I’d had people familiar with my blog come up and introduce themselves to me, random people who’d heard the first page of The Eyelet Dove, or who had heard me talk about Dieselpunk in the panel with Anne Aguirre and Leia Getty, wanting to know if I had anything published, and I’ve had emails from people who met me at con, offering to beta read. It’s like, suddenly I became popular.

What did I do to deserve all that attention? All I did was put myself out there and talk about the things I love. You know how people say, just go out there and be yourself, and people will respond? Well, it just happened. It’s a huge confidence builder. I mean, I knew I had something interesting to say with my writing that people will enjoy, but now I know I’ll be able to convince people to buy it and not be that poor writer whining “Please buy my book, it’s good, trust me!”

The other big one was the positive reaction to the opening page that was read at Writer Idol. It’s enticed people to approach me looking for more. And that first page is so crucial – that little bit is the first thing people read when they pick up a book after reading the back cover copy. I know I’ve bought books and put them back on the shelf based on that.

A while ago, I had my opening chapter posted up here on the page I had set up for my novel. After going to the SIWC, and hearing Donald Maass describe what makes a good opening, I realized, wow, I have all of that stuff he just rattled off!

In Chapter Two. Claire is an engaging, passionate character, and her introduction goes straight into her primary conflict.

And since Chapter One was, structurally, a prologue, I did what I keep joking I always do, and cut it. Now, after Keycon, I have unequivocal validation that it was the right decision.

After Keycon, though, J. M. Frey, in my Blue Pencil Session with her, pointed out that the opening contained an element that was not only a tad cliched, but also apparently nearly identical to another unfortunately (well, fortunately for that author) well known book in the Steampunk Subgenre, Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan. I had Claire disguised as a man to sneak into a world dominated by men, and I certainly don’t want my book looking from the first page like it’s a ripoff of Leviathan, especially when the disguise thing doesn’t last through the end of the opening scene. And maybe an editor would overlook it once they got to the end of the scene, but would they get to the end of the scene once they saw that similarity? Not gonna count on it.

But it was easy to fix, and I think it’s overall better for having that element removed, for several reasons. And so do others, it seems. In any case, I’ve decided I’m ready to put it up as a teaser chapter, for all those who wanted more than the first page. Here it is.

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NaNoWriMo 2012 – Here It Comes

I can’t believe it’s only a couple days before I leave for B.C.! I’ve got all my shift trades in to make sure I have the days off, and I have littel travel sizes of toiletries, and a lint roller. I finally found my good flat iron! Can’t wait, getting nervous and excited. But in the meantime….

It’s that time of year again, and this year will be year seven for me. I’m fairly confident in my ability to make it to 50k this year – I have two weeks of vacation booked in November, so while it’s never a piece of cake, there shouldn’t be too much stopping me from making it.

As usual, my screen name is Lindenfoxcub, for anyone who wants to friend me.

And this year, I’m changing gears. It’s been a very very long time since I’ve continued something longer than one book. The only one so far, really, is my first work, which I had figured to be three books worth when I wrote it, was really only around 130k total. God knows what it would have been revised though. Granted, it was all but unsalvageable. There were a couple of characters and concepts I’ve pulled out and put into other novels, but the first novel itself will never get revised.

Anyway, this year, I’m doing a sequel – the sequel to The Eyelet Dove, no less. ‘Dove was originally planned as a standalone. Or rather, it was originally a short story, believe it or not, those of you out there who have beta read this thing for me. But then Michel showed up and lured me into a novel. ‘Dove stands alone as it is now, as a single novel, but there’s a bit of a hook at the end – and open door so to speak, hinting that there’s more to come.

The sequel will be titled “Redwing”, and it will be a loose sequel. I hadn’t thought to write a sequel at all because the two most central characters, Etienne and Claire; their stories were told, they went through their character development, and found their satisfying ending. There was one character whose subplot doesn’t get resolved – not in a happy way, anyway – but that’s life.

So what would the story be in a sequel and what characters would I use to tell it? Ideas mulled in my head, new characters appearing, and I realized what the sequel would have to be. It will pick up more or less where ‘Dove left off, but with an almost entirely new cast of point of view characters. The Admiral will return as a point of view, but that will be the only one. Claire and Etienne will be around, just not central. Instead, they’ll be supporting the new characters with new stories to tell. And heckling. Lots of heckling, and dramatic irony. I love me my dramatic irony.

The other way I’m changing gears is in preparation. For some time I’ve found success in writing a loose outline before I start writing. Just a bunch of scenes with the big events, and some connecting scenes, just so I don’t lose my way, or have to think too hard to get back on track if I’ve sidetracked. Then I revised ‘Dove, and hacked that wreck of a first draft to pieces and sewed it back together with 3/4 new parts. There was a lot of rethinking and reworking the outline that went into that revision, and I started thinking, as I started drafting my outline, is that thinking that I can do before I start, without hobbling my creativity? And I think I can. I think the problem with that draft was that I hadn’t thought through the logistics of a lot of things, or worked out a lot of the relationships in the story. I’m starting to think in those terms more fluently now; learning to use relationships and character motivations more to drive the plot, and I think now that I’ve learned it, I can apply it to the novel on the first draft, rather than on revision.

I know Nano is all about spewing crap all over the page, and believe me, it’s still going to be crap. But with just a little luck, it’ll be crap with a little bit more solid structure that isn’t going to have to be rebuilt from the ground up this time. Crossing my fingers here that experience has brought me wisdom.

Finished the Revision *Phew*

So last night I finished revising The Eyelet Dove. I don’t know it it’s really sunk in yet, that I have a finished novel. I’m really proud of it — it’s definitely my best work, and I’ve learned so much from revising it, I know it’s going to be only the beginning of great writing to come.

I’ll probably tinker with little bits here and there, but it’s at the point where whatever nitpicky things I might change, are not going to make the difference between getting an agent or not.

I have my query letter written. I need to touch up my synopsis, but it’s at least got a solid start. I’ll start sending stuff to agents over the next few days. So tired from helping out with the brother-in-law’s social on saturday, though, I have no energy to be excited, even though I am.

It’s Margherita Monday at our place. I decided to start a thing when we moved. I like margheritas, and Mondays suck, so I improve them with magheritas for me, the husband, and the mother in law. So I’m sitting sipping my celebratory drink, with a bendy straw. (Can’t have margheritas without a bendy straw. Ooh, I need to find some of those little umbrellas, that would be awesome!)

Anyway, we’ve done another draw over at http://thepunkettes.blogspot.ca/ but there’s lots more prizes to be won, so check it out. For tonight, I’m signing out dead.

P. S.: For all those who have said, “That’s great, you’ll have to let me know when you get it published,” fear not. When I get it published, I will be telling FUCKING EVERYBODY.

General update and thanks to Beta Readers

So, the big revision has been done for a bit, and I’m going over beta reader critiques. There’s definitely stuff to be touched up on, but it’s very close to being done an this is by far my best work yet. Of course though, it must be shiny as shiny can be before I want to send it to editors. I may start sending out queries to agents though – it’s at a stage where I don’t think the touching up I have yet to do is going to change an agent’s answer. It’s mostly fiddling at this point. Possibly adding one scene, but I have to figure out what’s to be in that scene. I might have it though, just involves some rearranging, which may even make another scene run a tad smoother.

And thanks to my beta readers giving me valuable feedback. There will always be things I don’t pick up on myself because I know what I’m trying to say in my head. I think writers will always need a second set of eyes to keep them honest.

But there comes a point when the author needs to decide how much fiddling is enough, and send it out into the world to fend for itself. I’m edging towards that point. I’m sure I want to have at least one person finish the novel (besides the mother in law, who’s biased :P) to get feedback on the ending. There’s one other point in the ending I may change, and the more I think about it, the more I think I’ll need to change it, because it’s just not as meaningful if the character making the decision hasn’t got anything left to lose.

That and one other scene might need some delicate treatment for potentially triggering subject matter, and a minor character’s dialogue needs to be completely rewritten so that he doesn’t sound uneducated because when I originally wrote the character, he and another character weren’t brothers, and there was no need for them to have similar backgrounds in education.

Down to nitpicky things, mostly though. And then, copyediting for flow – I have a friend who’s really awesome at that.

And I have written a query letter, and said friend has gone over it to beat the lumps out so it reads smooth and makes sense. I will touch up my synopsis too, since it’s a 1 and 1/2 page synopsis, and I should be able to get away with two for most queries.

Then, out into the wide scary world with it!

Celebratory Alcohol: The Eyelet Dove revision is done

It’s not absolute final draft, but it’s close, and it’s worthy of human eyes besides my own. I have made it as good as I can make it, and Beta readers will help me polish it.

This was a lot of work, and I’m damn proud of myself.

My mother in law is reading part 3 now – she’s already read part 1 and 2. She gets the honour of being the first person to ever read the ending. Besides myself, of course. And she has no idea what’s coming. I’m kind of curious, and half worried what she’ll think of the piggyback ride scene. She reads fast – she’ll likely finish tonight. She’s liked it so far. Lets see if she hates me after she reads what I’ve done to my poor unsuspecting characters.

In the meantime, I’m drinking till it feels real.

Next is polish up a query letter an synopsis while I go through beta readers comments, and then send this puppy out.

This will get published. It’s my goddamned turn.

Soft Deadline for Finishing this Draft

So, my work is likely offering full time hours at the end of the month, and we’re broke, so I have to take it. That’s going to leave me with a lot less time to write. But I’m almost done this draft, and I have worked full time and still revised a novel, so it’s not going to *stop* me from writing – not even stop be from making significant progress on my writing.

Still, I’ve been at this revision a little over a year, and it’s going to be annoying to settle into a new routine, worse with having moved in with my Mother in law, and busing to work now – my routine is all messed up. Nothing going badly – the move went as well as it could have, and everyone’s getting along in our little combined household, it’s just, changes, and adjusting to changes is stressful, and even more so for my poor little Aspie brain.

So I want to get this draft done before july 28th. And then I’ll be able to do full novel trades, and have a couple lined up, even. I’m excited to have found a critique partner (through Miss Snark’s First Victim Critique Partner Dating Service) who’s actually pro published and repped. She was looking for a writer of similar calibre to trade critiques with, and I seem to have passed muster. I look forward to our partnership. 🙂

I’m through part one, with only revisions based on critiques yet to do, and those have been pretty much cosmetic so far. No major changes in the plot.

Anyway, today I’m off to the first critique meeting of Winnspec, a new sci-fi-fantasy writer’s group, at the library, so I’m off to print off my material.

The Eyelet Dove Progress and General Update

I’m finished pretty much all the edits, and I’m on lesson 21 of Holly Lisle’s How To Revise Your Novel course, which has been great, review to come when I’m finished. I have to take a break from the revision though, not for another project this time – this time for life interrupting.

Our building owners, Sussex, want to raise our rent by 40%, and there’s no way we can afford it. This news came less than twenty four hours after settling with the insurance company over my husband’s disability benefits, so we have some money we had hoped to use to put a down payment on a house, but I’m stuck working part time, and we’d never get approved for any house worth living in. We’d end up in the north end, best case scenario, and probably end up paying two or three times what the house will be worth in a couple years when the housing bubble pops.

Crazy hard to find an apartment that’s affordable in this city these days, let alone one that will let us keep our cats, and we’re not getting rid of our babies.

But this apartment is not worth what they want for it, and they want more than we can pay without whittling away at our nest egg. So we’ve looked at all our options and the best one seems to be moving in with my mother in law.

Who is an awesome woman, by the way. Combining our household incomes will help her as well as us keep our finances stable and secure, and I could keep working part time rather than scramble to try to get a full time position or a second job. If I had to get a second job, that would be tantamount to having to give up writing. I wouldn’t have time. Working part time, while we’ve been strapped for cash, I’ve been able to get a ton of work done on the revision, and even a couple of short stories. I’ve used the time I have. I remember working full time and commuting an hour both ways, and while I pushed myself to write and revise a novel doing that, it was wrecking me.

And I’d choose writing over money, because, well, I just can’t not do it. If I don’t have time to write for too long a period of time, I start to get really grumpy, and depressed.

*le sigh* We were supposed to have a bit of time to sit back and breath after the insurance thing was over. Instead, the next day we started the stress of having to figure out where we’re going to live. Life does not want to give me and mine a frelling break. I’m blaming this on the Harper Government, btw. I voted for the other guys.

So yeah, it does feel a little bit like taking a step backwards, moving back in with parents, but with the Husband’s health what it is, it’s the best option for us. We’ll pull together as  an extended family and support each other, and it will let me continue chasing my dreams of being a pro author.