Ah, August. Hot, sweaty August. When I lived in Spain, it was the month when everyone left Madrid for vacation, and the city was flooded with tourists. Twenty-five years later, it’s most notable (to me) for being the birth month of my angel-wife, and that’s more than enough to make me love it, even when it’s so hot outside that the asphalt wants to cook you from the feet up.
I haven’t seen much in the way of asphalt this month. Or the outside in general. Part of that is the continuing pandemic–didn’t I post back in June that things were getting back to normal?!–but mostly, I’ve just been trying to finish my latest book, Red Right Hand.
Thankfully, I did. Finish it, I mean. The rough draft, anyway1.
Last Thursday, I wrote the final lines of the epilogue, which I’ve since shared on social media. The rough draft is officially 133,231 words long. That makes it ~440 pages and just a bit longer than See These Bones. I suspect edits will trim the fat a bit, but this is still another lengthy, complicated, and expletive-filled book.
It was also a surprisingly difficult book to write. I spoke back in 2019 about the difficulty I’d had finding Damian’s voice again, but it turns out that was the easy part. This is not the first sequel I’ve ever written2, but it is the first time I’ve written the middle-book of a trilogy. And middle books are weirdly hard.
As the first book in the series, See These Bones had a lot of freedom; to paint the picture of the world, to set up the threads that would drive the other two books, and of course to introduce Damian and the ridiculously large cast. The third book, One Tin Soldier, will largely be about bringing everything to a hopefully satisfying conclusion. But Red Right Hand has to function as connective tissue between the two other books, moving the very many different plot threads forward to where they need to end up, while still being a satisfying story in its own right.
That was a surprisingly hard balance to find. One of my biggest concerns is that it will feel overstuffed. Or that one of the very, very many internal arcs will feel underserved. Or that I’ll have forgotten a character or two entirely along the way.
At times, it felt like I was juggling blindfolded. Come to think of it, that might explain all the typos!
So… is it good?
That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? And the answer is… I have no idea3. Honestly, I barely even remember the first few hundred pages! When I write on a compressed schedule4, everything tends to devolve into one long blur in my mind. I rely heavily on my alpha readers’ feedback throughout the sprint, because I’m far too close to the material to know if things are working well or not.
The good news is, my alpha readers have been very happy so far. And I’m thrilled with the ending, which has a nice mix of closure and hooks for the third book. But I’m anxious to dive into the editing process to find out how much work still needs to be done. If I’m lucky, I’ll mostly be hunting down typos and fixing basic continuity screwups5. If I’m unlucky… well, partial or not-so-partial rewrites are never out of the question..
So, September is going to be almost as busy as August was, except this time I’ll be mostly reading instead of writing. I edit my own books6 and, in addition to beta reader feedback, that process involves a lot of full read-throughs on the computer, my Kindle, and (once author proofs are available) in print. By the end of September, I will have done somewhere between ten and fifteen full-reads. I’ll also no doubt be heartily sick of the book. If I’m still able to find passages that move me or make me laugh at that point, I’ll know things are in a good state.
While I work on editing, I’ll also be commissioning the cover for Red Right Hand. We’re using the same cover artist who did See These Bones, so I’m hopeful that process will go smoothly.
Once both the edits and cover are done7, I’ll upload the book to NetGalley in October for reviewers. As a still unknown indie author, advance reviews are one of the few tools I have to get new readers’ attentions prior to the release itself, so it’s not a step I can afford to skip. Hopefully, pre-launch reviews will be positive!
As for the release date itself? I’m not sure yet. I was originally aiming for the first Tuesday of November, but there’s already something else happening then, and it’s understandably going to be the focus of everyone in the USA. So I’m leaning toward a November 10th release date instead. We’ll see if the world8 is still in a state of utter chaos at that point. I’ll be doing the usual full month of promotion on this site beforehand9, so the release shouldn’t creep up on anyone!
After that? I’ll take a bit of a break and write my next novelette, Fire of Unknown Origin, and then it’ll be time to edit Blood is Thicker Than Lots of Stuff, the sequel to Investigation, Mediation, Vindication. Both stories should be released sometime in the spring of 2021. I hope.
I’ll reveal Red Right Hand’s cover right here in September. Until then, have a great month, and stay safe!
If you’ve read this far, you’ve got gumption, kid. In fact, you’re just the kind of person that would make an awesome subscriber to my newsletter. Come join the fun!
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I promise that I will never spam you… because spamming takes effort, and I am way, way too busy for that.
- As you can tell from this paragraph, I’m still learning how to use words again.
- Although it’ll be the first I publish.
- I didn’t say it was a good answer!
- This month, I wrote 55,462 words, or roughly 181 pages. Between July and August, I wrote over 94,000 words. For some people–total lunatics, one and all!–that’s a few weeks’ worth of work. For me, it’s insanely productive.
- I already noticed that Earthshifters magically became Earthshakers halfway through the book. That’s one of the more benign issues I”ll find, I’m sure.
- A statement that will fill most industry people with horror and despair.
- Really, really, really done.
- And the USA, specifically
- And sending out notifications via my newsletter!