The Month That Wasn’t

I’d start off by saying what a quiet month January was… if I wasn’t secretly convinced that January was far less than a month this year. I’m reasonably certain that it was roughly 1-2 weeks long, and if someone told me it had actually only lasted a handful of hours, I’m not sure I’d be inclined to argue.

All I know for sure is that I’m not used to typing 2018 yet, and somehow it’s already February.

So… Happy 2018?

Hmm. That doesn’t seem quite festive enough, does it? I was promised confetti and celebrations!

month that wasn't - celebration

 

Much better. On with the update!

Part of the reason last month felt shorter than usual1 was that very, very little happened outside of the confines of my day job.2

See These Bones update

I started querying literary agents for See These Bones just before the holidays. Rejections have been slowly trickling in ever since, but there’s otherwise very little movement to report. I would’ve loved to have an agent read my query and, manuscript unseen, offer me representation and a multi-volume, six-figure contract on the spot… but that doesn’t seem to be the way these things go. With the John Smith series, it took almost half a year before I started getting full (or even partial) requests back from agents, so I am trying to remain patient, even though I feel this book is head-and-shoulders above the last one in both quality and marketability.

month that wasn't - cute dog

Still waiting. Always waiting.

 

The Stars That Sing

Between the holiday season and the first few weeks of January, I did at least manage to complete my short story, The Stars That Sing. As I’ve mentioned before, the story takes place in the same world as See These Bones, but in a different location and with a different cast. It was a lot more challenging to write than I’d originally anticipated, and I’m still trying to unpack why that was. Part of it was the format–everything has to be a lot tighter in a short story than in a 400-page novel–but I think a bigger reason was the change in point of view. See These Bones is told in first person by a character with a love for expletives and a very skewed view of the world. The Stars That Sing is told in third person and was intended to have more of a ‘tale told over a campfire or passed down through generations’ vibe.

The end result is definitely different3.

I feel like first person offers an immediacy and a singularity of voice that is hard to match in 3rd person. On the other hand, third person gave me greater freedom to delve into imagery and descriptions that my first-person narrators would never have noticed or called out themselves. In the end, I still prefer first person, especially for long-form storytelling, but this was a good opportunity to stretch and try new techniques. I’m not a good enough writer yet4 that I can afford to rest on my non-existent laurels. Challenge and experimentation are the best ways to ensure I continue to grow and improve.

The story is currently out to beta readers5 and feedback so far has been very positive. Unless something comes up, my plan is to share that story here on the site. Despite the radical differences between it and See These Bones, I’m hoping it will serve as an interesting introduction to that world, and even a means of whetting your appetites for when the novel itself is published.6

 

The Never-ending Story Revision

I’ve also been kicking around the idea of revisiting book 1 of the John Smith series (Investigation, Mediation, Vindication) for yet another revision. I think I’ve revised the start to that book more than anything else I’ve ever written7, but most of those rewrites have been restricted to fairly basic tweaks… a new intro, the removal or streamlining of a scene, etc. This would instead basically junk the first 20+ pages in favor of starting in the middle of the action. I’ll try to get that done sometime this month, (again, assuming February ends up being a month and not a handful of hours), and see if it helps at all or if I’m just still rearranging deck chairs on the metaphorical Titanic.

Once that is done8, it will be time to start on the sequel to See These Bones, tentatively titled The Red Right Hand. I wrote the book’s beginning a number of months ago, and have had dozens of scenes jostling for position in my head ever since, but I have yet to put any of those scenes down onto paper9. As usual, and in a classic case of the grass always being greener somewhere else, I couldn’t stop thinking about The Red Right Hand while I was supposed to be writing The Stars That Sing. Now that I’m done with the latter and moving onto the former, I’m sure my brain will try to distract me with thoughts of other series… or even later books in the same series. 10

 

Conclusion11

Anyway, look for the first few chapters of The Stars That Sing to be posted in the next week or so, with subsequent chapters to follow over the course of the next month. Whenever I do finish my rewrite of the beginning to Investigation, Mediation, Vindication, I’ll follow that up with a blog post detailing the path that the many, many, many rewrites of that book have taken. Hopefully, it’ll be an interesting window into the writing and editing process. If not, it’ll probably just convince you all that writers are insane.

 

The Art of Negative Space
The Stars That Sing: Ch. 1-2

Footnotes

  1. Beyond the still very real possibility that it was shorter than usual, thanks to sun spots, sorcery and bitcoin’s imminent demise.
  2. Which is not to suggest that my job is a prison and I dislike receiving a salary. Please don’t fire me.
  3. I’m trying to decide if I liked it or not.
  4. And I’m not sure I will ever be.
  5. My professional-sounding designation for friends and family
  6. Hopefully later this year.
  7. A good sign that there is something there that bothers me.
  8. Again.
  9. Digital paper, technically.
  10. In fact, I’ve already written the beginning to book 3. It’s good and I like it very much, but it also has zero value until I actually write book 2!
  11. I think this post was longer than all of January.

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