I didn’t realize it had been so long since I’d updated the progress blog here.  Over the last three weeks, a bit has changed with things.

My new (wonderful) editor, Lauren, sent me her initial feedback earlier in this month, which I’ve read at least half a dozen times by now.  I agreed on most of what she said and will work a lot of her feedback into the story as we go through the (hopefully) final rewrite in the next month or two.

In order to get back into the mindset of A Sour Chord, I’ve ceased working on My Last Days.  Not for good, just so that I can get my mind back into that of my characters from A Sour Chord.  I don’t know of many (if any) authors that write two books at the same time and it’s probably because it’s so difficult to jump back and forth between sets of characters, stories, locations, etc.

As of now, I’m waiting on Lauren to start sending me detailed feedback on a chapter-by-chapter basis.  That’ll allow me to go through and either edit or flat-out rewrite parts of the book to get to the goal that we’re setting out for the ending.  The overall ending won’t change (I stood my ground on that, despite her recommendation to change it), but the story that gets us there will change a little bit.

What I’ve learned during the editing process

  • It’s difficult to find an editor — I didn’t factor cost into this at all, I’d gladly have spent whatever it took to find someone that I felt would take this seriously — despite just being something I’m doing on a whim.  I counted my emails and I emailed back and forth with 15 editors before finding something that I felt took me seriously enough to want to do the project. Many of them were either outrageous in their pricing, didn’t want to offer me a sample edit (why would you pay someone when you don’t know what their style of editing is?), or said they’d get back to me and never did.  A very frustrating process.
  • Go with your gut — if an editor comes across as pushy or difficult during this process, they’re probably going to be pushy or difficult to work with too.  I’m glad I didn’t go with a handful of them that were really unpleasant via their emails.
  • It takes a long time — I finished writing the book nearly six months ago, hoping to have it published by now.  It’s left me feeling somewhat defeated that I missed my own (admittedly completely arbitrary) goal.  Having friends read it and give me their input as well as the actual editing process has been mentally draining, but hopefully worth it in the long run.

From here, the final edit/draft will be completed. The cover will be designed. The book will be on sale.         And hopefully, just hopefully, at least a couple of people will buy it.

Then I’ll finish My Last Days and start this whole horrible process all over again.

word-countOver the last three weeks, I’ve been chugging away at My Last Days, trying to get through the first draft.  You can see the recent word count history there on the right.  A couple of big days early on, but I’ve been slowing and missing days due to “real life” getting in the way.  It’s been a busy month for me and I’m just now getting back to writing every day.

I’m about 40% done now and am finding it more difficult than it was to get through A Sour Chord’s first draft.  Maybe because I had already known how that one would end and what all the main plot points were since I wrote the short story so long ago.  With My Last Days, I’m honestly making it up as I go along.

My goal is to hit 100,000 words with the first draft, though I think I’ll probably end up closer to 80,000 when I’ve written all that I think the story needs.  I may try to push it a little bit, though. If the editing process is anything like A Sour Chord’s first edit, I’ll lose a few thousand words that get cut out during that process, so I think I’m shooting for more so the end result is a more readable book that doesn’t feel too short.

I wrote another 1,502 words this morning in a single chapter and have planned out the next three chapters to help me through the rest of this week.  I realize that at some point I’ll have to go back through and re-think the entire story, its meaning, and organize the chapters into a more sensical order.  Right now I think I’m just writing haphazardly to get the words out onto the paper.

I wonder if other authors struggle with their second book more than their first.  I’d imagine so.  I think most people that write have a big idea for their first novel and power through it and then get to the second and hope they have as good of an idea as their first.

On the A Sour Chord front, editing continues there.  My editor, Lauren, is working through her first edit and then will go back and do a full line-by-line edit, and probably hate every sentence I’ve written, but hey, that’s what you pay an editor for!

I’m behind my own personal schedule with having A Sour Chord available, but that’s due to my ignorance on how this whole process works.  I thought I could power through it more quickly than was really possible. I’m learning a lot as I’m going through things and am thankful that my life leads me the opportunities to not only learn this process, but to follow through with it.

More updates coming soon and hopefully a sample chapter (once we have a final draft of one!) will go up on the site as soon as possible.  Thanks for checking in!

I was so excited about the progress this week (not to mention busy) that I didn’t have a chance to write a blog about this week’s big milestone: the first edit is complete!

Austin really pulled through and edited the last half of the book in about a week, and I managed to get through all his notes and changes in two days.  My eyes are still bothering me from it but I managed to get it done anyway.

While chatting with him as I went through his edits, he let me know that he felt like I took greater care towards the end, saying that the last few chapters had very few edits.  Which I found a bit surprising given that the last few chapters seemed to just fly out all at once — I blinked and before I knew it, I had the last chapters and was done.

My one question (so far) to him was whether or not he could predict the outcome — which he couldn’t.  I enjoyed that.  My whole point (with the story) was the surprise the reader and to end it on a note that would be unexpected but (hopefully) satisfying.

To prepare for the next round of edits I’ve printed a hard copy (which to my surprise was 226 pages and a whole black ink cartridge in my shiny new Epson printer) so I can mark it up with pen.  I’ll be on a plane in a little over a week to Vegas for a long weekend and will be doing some story and character editing on the flight there and the flight back.  I figure I should have enough time to write some notes and get down some thoughts after I get through a full reading for myself.

I’m really excited that I’m moving through this process at a greater speed now and with Austin’s notes, I feel like I’m almost unstoppable.

In case you’re wondering what the book looks link printed, here’s a picture I took:

Printed!

I’ve been chugging away at the edits that Austin sent over before he left for a vacation in Greece (I know, I’m jealous too!) and I’d guesstimate I’m a little less than halfway through the list of edits he had.

So far I’ve trimmed a few thousand words out through the various edits, which I think is good.

Going back through and editing has allowed me to read a lot of the actual book myself.  It’s helped me realize that there’s some changes I’d like to make.

Most notably, I want to change my lead female’s name — for reasons I won’t get into here.

I also want to change the name of the band — as a placeholder I’ve been using Resolute Resolve, which makes no sense and is flat-out stupid.  I’ve known since I started writing that this would be a placeholder, I just have to spend the time to come up with a different name.

I need to revisit describing some of the characters — I’ve done this twice so far already, but need to do it again as now months after writing some of the characters I’m having a hard time remembering what I wanted them to look like.

The story needs some work — there’s certain keys that I wanted to hit to make sure that the end is really powerful.  It’s not a twist in the traditional sense, but I think the ending comes as somewhat of a surprise.  My hopes is that I pulled it off well, but I know that there’s some work that needs to be done.

I’m still pretty well on schedule for where I wanted to be at this time.  I’m hopeful that when Austin gets back from vacation we can plow through the rest of the edits, and then I can use my (fancy new) printer to fire off a printed copy to mark up with a pen.

I was hoping I could do that on the plane on the way to my vacation at the end of the month, but I don’t think that’ll work out with the timing.  Perhaps I’m wrong, but time will tell.

I’ve been chugging away at doing my first read through and am just about halfway there.  It’s such a surreal experience to read your own work, especially since I’ve been reading it on the iPad.

Though I decided the other day that once I’m done with Austin’s edits (which should hopefully be soon), I’m going to print a hard copy to markup with my changes.  I’ve been finding things as I’m reading through that would be easier to just jot down on paper, and go back and make those changes. Nothing major, but little things here and there: this reads funny, this character was taller earlier. That sort of stuff.

I also started interviewing some editors through a number of online services, and will hopefully be able to nail that down before I’m done with the actual first draft.

The whole process is taking quite a bit longer than I anticipated and I still have quite a bit of work to go.  But I’ll get there.  Seeing as how I don’t have a deadline or a publisher to report to, there’s no immediate rush on getting everything done at a specific date or time.  Being my own “boss” has its rewards.