Saturday, November 2, 2013

"Lost Book" Journey, and What's Next

Picture The Lost Book of Anggird has been out for about a week now, and I've been really happy with the response! It's been my most successful novel launch yet, and the feedback from readers has been very positive :) I extended the introductory price of $.99 through this weekend (Nov. 3), so there's still a day or two left to get it at that special low price at Amazon and Smashwords.

It's amazing to think that Lost Book is finally finished and available for readers to buy. I started writing it about 15 or 16 years ago, in a spiral notebook in pencil. I have no idea why. I got up to what is now about the 55% mark, and it was just getting weirder and weirder and I really had no idea what I was doing with it. So I stopped writing it. But the characters wouldn't leave me alone, and I finally realized I had them all wrong. In the original version, Roric was truly insufferable, instead of just, um, let's say "idiosyncratic," and Perarre really was in love with the guy back home, which qualified her as TSTL (too stupid to live; one of those technical writing terms :)) And the relationship between them took a *lot* longer to get off the ground.

The big breakthrough came when I finally got a handle on Roric and Perarre's true characters. It's funny how it works with characters. For me, and a lot of authors (not saying this is true for all), you don't just assign a name, an age, a gender, and a menu list of phyical characteristics and personality traits. My characters come to me as an already-existing entity, and then it's up to me to discover who they are. So I listened to Roric and Perarre and let them tell me about themselves instead of trying to impose my own ideas on them, and learned that they were very different people from what I thought at first. Especially Roric; when he told me about his past, I was shocked. But it all made perfect sense, and really explained why he was the way he was and why he did the things he did. Oh, and by the way, he and Perarre felt like the relationship needed to move along a little faster.

After that, everything started to fall into place. I had to figure out exactly how the magic in the story worked, since that's a major element of the plot, but once I had a clear idea about the characters I could see their world a lot more clearly too.

And then it was time to write. At first I had tried typing out my old handwritten version, but quickly gave up on it since 1) it was so eye-gougingly bad and 2) there was very little of it I was going to be able to re-use. So, instead, I rewrote the whole thing from scratch. It took probably 3 or 4 months (slow for me, for a first draft, especially since I started doing NaNoWriMo), and just kept getting longer and longer as I tried to find the right ending. The original ending, with Roric and Perarre returning in triumph after totally #&%$ing up the world's magic, made no sense at all. Finally, though, I found my ending.

Then I took my 139,000 word manuscript and started revising. And revising, and revising, and revising. Some of the revising made it much better, and some of it made it worse. I got it down to 105,000 words, then realized I'd taken out a lot of stuff I actually wanted to keep, so I added a bunch back in. Then, when it came back from the test readers, I had another heart-sinking realization - the writing had been "polished" into bland, boring mush. So a couple more rounds of revision, fixing some problems the test readers had pointed out and "un-revising" the prose into something (hopefully) more lively and interesting to read.

Then the proofreads (where I was still actually adding in some significant things I'd left out/taken out earlier) and then finally I decided that was it. It was done. The final version is about 130,000 words. The formatting and putting up on Amazon and Smashwords only took a couple of days (the paperback version is now also done and waiting my approval of the proof copy), and now it's done. It's hard to believe, after all those years and all that wrestling with it and all the seemingly-endless rounds of revision, it's done, and out there, and people are buying it and reading it and liking it.

So, what's next? I'm getting the feedback on Sarya's Song back from the test readers, so as soon as I finish the draft of Book 6 of Daughter of the Wildings I'll start on that revision. Sarya's Song will be my next novel coming out; I'm aiming for Feb. 2014, though it could be March instead. Overall reaction to the book is positive, but it does need a lot of work. In the meantime, during November I'm also doing National Novel Writing Month. I'm writing fanfiction (another post for another time), which I haven't done in a couple of years. December is when I'll start on the big gigantic revision of Daughter of the Wildings. Also in the meantime, I've got a couple of stories loosely related to Chosen of Azara that are kind of halfway through being revised, that I'll finish and put up for sale.

Lots more stories to come! To stay informed of new releases and special offers, sign up for my email alerts. No spam, I promise!

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