2/14/2019

The snow-based excitement has died down now, so while I revised very slowly over the first half of the week, I made a massive jump today and am facing the beginning of Chapter 20.

I had thought I'd knock 20 out today, but there was a comment from a beta reader on the first page asking what the Oak and Ashe College mascot is. I was absolutely stunned to find that I'd never determined that. What kind of school doesn't have a mascot? Even schools without athletic programs have mascots!

So I asked myself, what would a tiny liberal arts school in Washington chose to be represented by? I asked Google what was already taken... We have a college that's repped by geoducks (that's a type of shellfish...) and a bunch of dogs, cats, and birds. There are bears. There's a school with orcas. But you know what's stunningly missing? The Sasquatch!

So I darted back through the first 19 chapters and added a handful of references to Sassy the Sasquatch and the Oak and Ashe Sasquatches. And I won't lie, I now find myself in the situation where I really want swag from my fictitious college.

(Image is "Forest Bro" by RedBubble user robowtie. There's a bunch of stuff one could buy featuring it, and I may just...)

2/8/2019

While watching the snow fall, I revised three chapters today. The first two went quickly because I didn't change much, but the third took a while because I completely ripped it apart.

I've been slacking this week, but knocking out three chapters in one day means I should make my goal of the week, which was getting to the end of Chapter 12.

Tomorrow, I plan on working on my weekly short story and sending out a newsletter. If there's time, I'll also look at Chapter 12, but if that gets put off until Sunday, that's cool too.

2/3/2019

I haven't done any revising in my novel this weekend and with the Super Bowl starting soon, I can't imagine that I will. HOWEVER, I did write a three thousand word short story yesterday and revised it today.

For people who don't speak word-count, let me just say that three thousand is the longest short story I've ever written. Some authors have chapters in novels that run that long, but I don't think I ever have. It's not something that will take you all afternoon to read, but it's still a sizable chunk of words. And, yes, I honestly do think I needed them all.

The story follows a senior Enchantments major at a fantasy-world college, and I have to say I'm in love with her world. Humans don't have magic, so they channel dragon magic through familiars. Over time, the dragons change to reflect their connection to their humans, and I suspect that works both ways even though it's not established in this piece. I'm really thinking I want to think up a larger project to set in this world, although I'm not sure if I'd use these characters are not.

The story, if you wish to read it, is over on my stories blog and entitled A Tale of Two Enchanters.

1/31/19

I have now edited up through Chapter 8. A higher than normal level of tension is slowing me down considerably. I think part of it comes from focusing so heavily on Maggie's anxiety, because that involves invoking my own anxiety. It's not necessarily an unhealthy thing to do; in fact it's a valid form of therapy to imagine going through stressful situations, letting yourself feel your distress and then calming it. It's a method of making the calming techniques automatic and hopefully getting to a point where you learn to skip the distress step. It's exhausting though.

At any rate... In addition to adding a few anxiety tells, I also tweaked a few details to get the narrative to make more sense, and turned a faerie vet into a human. Several of the betas felt I had too many faeries in my town and I realized that the vet was only one so that she could explain how Maggie's spayed cat could be pregnant. I decided it was okay to have the vet just assume Maggie was wrong about the cat being spayed and to let someone else explain that there are faerie cats who could have regrown her reproductive bits. While I was doing that, I came up with a name for the faerie cat species and established that the full-blooded ones are both healers and shapeshifters. We're told hybrids aren't usually shifters but that healing powers are a strong possibility.

I'm not going to work tomorrow because I'm going to Seattle to talk to some people about the house my family is building and Saturday I plan to focus first on composing my weekly short-story, but hope to get a little bit of revising done afterward.

And now I'm going clean my floors and walk through the woods in hopes that one of these things will help release some of this tension.

1/29/19

Made some relatively minor changes today. I adjusted the scene that introduces Quin slightly to mention that they draw manga, went back to Chapter 4 to send someone on a business trip to Arizona, and improved Chapter 6 a hair.

It's another day when I feel I should do more, but I'm overly tense from going Outside today to run errands. I peopled myself out to the point that even writing about people is seeming like a strain.

1/28/19

I tackled the fifth chapter today. I would have liked to do a little more, but I'm fighting off a plague virus and am limited in how much energy I can put into anything other than not getting more sick.

As in previous chapters, I added more about anxiety. I also hit upon a character I'm planning to change quite a bit about.

This character was previously named Chris. Somethings about them haven't changed. They're still nonbinary, still faerie, and still one of the other character's exes. But they're named Quin now because I decided Chris was too generic a non-gendered name. This person has too much personality to have chosen the name Chris. (And they did chose their name. At birth they were given a name which was very gendered. I'm not telling you what it was, though.) Having picked their new name, I started to realize all sorts of nifty things about them that I think will make them much more interesting and vibrant. And I have always known they'd do something rad in Book 3, but now I know what that thing is! And all because I found their real name. It's like I wasn't really seeing them before, but now I am.

I had already decided on some changes to Quin's arc, having realized that I can know they'll be awesome in Book 3 all I want but that doesn't mean it's okay for them to exist in Book 1 solely to be victimized and make other people look caring. (Which isn't what I intended when outlining Book 1 but is pretty much what I wound up with.) I was simply going to take one of these victimizing incidents and have them kick ass during it, but I've now hit on a series of cool things that they get to do.

Current word count is 56,638 and growing.

1/26/19

I'm not sure whether I should be saying that I worked on Chapter 3 today or that I worked on 4. This chapter used to be Chapter 3, but then Chapter 2 got split, and now it's Chapter 4... I think I'll call it 4 because that seems like the way least likely to lead to madness.

I added quite a few words. 1,371 words, to be exact. It was nearly enough for me to say this chapter needs splitting too, but I don't think I need to. As it stands, it's a little longer than I think most of my chapters were. But splitting it would make two chapters that are a little short.

Most of the additions come from adding descriptions of anxiety and from Maggie finding a tool that helps control it some. I think they are good words.

When most writers revise, they try to cut things, to make the writing tighter. But my rough drafts always lack description. They focus on dialogue and quick depictions of action, so I then need to go in and add things like what the speaker's expression looked like as he spoke, and what it felt like when the love interest brushed up against the main character, and whether the rain was a light drizzle or a downpour that soaked all the way through everyone's coats. I don't usually add as much as I'm adding this time, but most of my revisions do result in longer stories. Since most of my rough drafts are pretty short, this isn't something that bothers me even though I recognize that bloated word counts are a thing to avoid. So far this revision, I've gone from to 52,010 words to 55,807 words. I doubt the entire book is going to grow at the same rapid rate, though.

1/22/19

Sometimes an early reader will say something that has more consequences than they intended. When I was told that Maggie didn't seem upset in my original opening, it came with advice to cut the bit where she claims she's alarmed as she clearly wasn't acting that way. That would have been easy enough to do. But instead, I altered things so that she did act upset. Not only that, but now I'm doing a rewrite with one of my objectives being to do that to the entire book, to turn Maggie's anxiety disorder from something she mentions a few times into one of the main characters of the book.

Similarly, it was established in my previous drafts that the two types of faerie are light and dark, and that they tend to be either pale or dark-skinned depending on which they are. One of my betas has made several comments along the lines of "How often has Maggie met a pale faerie?" that got me thinking more about this. One of the things that came up during this pondering was that I had taken Earth racism and reversed it (the dark faeries consider themselves above the light ones, who are politically disenfranchised), but that I wasn't sure that's really what I wanted to do. Might it be more interesting to base faerie racism on something that doesn't have a physical tell?

After some consideration, I realized I only went with light and dark in the first place because of the concept of seelie versus unseelie, which tend to be referred to as light and dark. (In fact, in the original rendition of this story, I actually used the words seelie and unseelie.) But.... Those courts aren't defined by skin tone in most approaches. It has more to do with culture or heritage or some other thing that humans don't always grasp easily.

I've decided that my faeries are still from two races, but in most cases it's not obvious from appearance which they are. You need to feel their magic to know. One race's magic is warm, the other cold. This is seen in some faerie literature, summer and winter courts being used rather than light and dark. I've decided I prefer it here because it allows the faeries to continue to be racist themselves but act confused by human varieties of racism.

I went through Chapter One again today and made appropriate alterations. I'm hoping to get through the first six chapters this week, but will be reminding myself that right is better than quick, so won't be too upset with myself if I don't get that far.

1/15/19

Between the last two days, I've done a good day's worth of work. That's a little frustrating... Yesterday I got started on work late due to things like being lost in the woods, then had to stop early because a family member wanted to talk. I can't really regret those things happening, but it meant my "work for three hours" became "can you squeeze in an hour?"

I thought to make up for lost time today, but there was unexpected turmoil because the clinic that manages my mental health care is spontaneously going out of business. They gave two weeks notice, even they surely know that isn't enough time to find new care. I'll be fine; I'm actually in a pretty solid and stable place right now. But the announcement caused no small amount of excitement and I find myself tense and exhausted now.

It also probably doesn't help my speed that I'm actually adding a lot of stuff, nor that most of the that stuff is draining to write. Trying to portray Maggie's anxieties in a more elaborate and realistic way means I have to think about being in such situation myself, so I'm feeling anxious along with her. That hopefully means I'm doing a good job of it, but definitely means I fatigue faster than I normally do while revising.

So I've made less progress thus far this week than I wanted, but I did make progress. And every little bit counts.

Below is an unrelated image taken after I returned from being lost in the woods to discover that the Post Office had left me an empty envelope with stamps claiming it got to them that way. It seems somehow appropriate.


1/12/19 - Revising Again


Today, I finally started going over the notes my lovely betas made on Faerie Story book 1. Between those and the things I have listed to change, the story is getting better. Longer too, and it was short enough I don’t have a problem with that. I tend to add more description on each revision and I’m doing a lot of that. I added so much to the second chapter that it is now the second and third chapters.
One of the things I’m adding is more details about Maggie’s anxiety disorder. In the early drafts, she said she had one but seldom showed it even in the scenes she claimed to be distressed during. Now she’s showing it a lot. Enough I’m nervous people will think I’m dwelling on it. That’s kinda how anxiety disorders work though. The anxiety isn’t just there when it shouldn’t be, it screams for attention like a toddler demanding his mother’s focus.
Made it through two chapters in my allotted time today. Kinda. The page I’ll be starting on next workday says “Chapter Three” at the top, but we’ve already covered how that’s part of the old Chapter Two.
I have shied away from trying to guess when I’ll be done with this revision. I don’t want to rush and feel making a deadline would lead me to do that.