I’m starting out today with a word count of *checks Scrivener* 19,201. Should it be higher by now? Oh yeah. Why isn’t it?
Well, let’s take a look at the weekend, shall we? Quite apart from the hellscape that is the current US political situation, I put up King of Blades for pre-order on Amazon. Then I got some excellent advice about the free stories (“A Gentle Fall of Snow” and “Beneath Their Own Blue Sea”) I’ve been making available to newsletter subscribers, and I put them up on Amazon as well for 99¢ a pop. Why? Well, I’m working on the basis that not everyone will want to sign up for my newsletter, but they may want to read the stories anyway so I should make a legal copy available to these folks. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. And judging from the sales I made over the weekend, this was a good move.
Then I wrote 500 words of a short story I wanted to submit to a market (got the rejection today so I’m going to write it anyway and sell it myself like “Snow” and “Sea”). Then I had to update a bunch of pages on the website to reflect the new books, then put out a newsletter and let people know where they could get the free versions of “Snow” and “Sea,” as well as pre-order King of Blades. In between all this I had to adjust my Amazon ads, do laundry, go food shopping, make dinner, and yeah, work on King of Blades yesterday.
So, not quite where I wanted to be at in the book today, but I got a lot done anyway, so that’s all good. Onward!
Today’s word count: 3,009
Total word count: 15,364
Approximate words to go: 64,636
So, today was surprisingly productive, despite the fact that every single member of the J Crew insisted on sitting on me at some point during the day. Which is fine, now that I can dictate, but Jasmine likes to squirm around while I stroke her ears, Jeremy insists on resting his big head on the keyboard, Jessie leaves me with one hand, and Jemma wants to be combed (and believe me, she needs it). JJ is the only one who’s content to just sit on my boobs/belly like he’s doing right now, unbothered by my hand movements as I type. If they were all like this, my writing life would be a lot easier. As it is, I’m going to go out on the patio tomorrow so that I can get a couple of solid hours in without a furry little feline trying to grab my attention or demand that I put kibble in his bowl (to be honest, that’s all JJ, but he’s an old guy who needs to keep his weight on so I’ll feed him separately if he wants it).
I also decided to be a complete loon, not learn a damn thing from Shadow of the Swan, and put King of Blades up for pre-order at Amazon. The release date is October 27, so as long as I stick to my writing schedule more or less and maybe have a couple of 5K days in there I should have the first draft finished on October 5, which will give me more than enough time to get everything through edits, polished and in publishable shape by October 23 (aka Upload Day). Once they finish chewing on it and give me a link, I’ll add it to the new King page here and make it available on social media.
And once the first draft of King is finished, I go back to Cross Current and start work on that. I said I was going to publish three more novels by the end of the year, and by God I intend to stick to my word.
Okay, the word count on King yesterday was 4,186, bringing total word count up to 12,355. I’ve introduced the second of the Four Elements (the leaders of the Aqua, Aeris, Terra, and Ignis magical chapterhouses), Grand High Magister Aeris Petyr Epilonious, who has arrived in Hellas unannounced to evaluate little Luna’s Aeris skills (and flirt with everyone in earshot — think Captain Jack Harkness as a mage). Matthias has just asked Danaë if if would be okay if he skipped day two of the celebratory games and took his old university friend Princess Helene Debare to examine his son Lukas (she’s a healer and apothecary). Danaë is not thrilled about this for a number of reasons, but can’t really say no. And the first of a series of strange events involving Danaë’s twin brother Darius is about to occur.
That being said, I’m grateful for the dictation function in Scrivener because this little gray poppet has decided that she needs to sprawl on my left arm right now, and will not be dissuaded from this belief. So be it.
Yesterday was one hell of a day, my friends — I’m talking fourteen straight hours of work. But the Belaurient edition of Deep Water is now up at Amazon, Smashwords, and Google Play, and I’ve uploaded the print files and ordered a proof so once I get that and approve it the print version will be available. Once Smashwords approves it for Premium catalog inclusion it’ll get sent to Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iTunes, at which point it’s gone wide and I don’t have to worry about it anymore (still need to set up ads on Amazon for it, though) and can concentrate on finishing Cross Current in October.
This month’s book, however, is King of Blades. The plan for today was to get up and get cracking immediately on King, but a combination of being really tired (ironically) and the smoke from the West Coast hitting Texas blocking up my nose like it was filled with cement made for a difficult night. I wasn’t able to get to sleep until 6 AM, and only got about six hours of sleep and then had to wash a chair cover because JJ had vomited on it (I literally JUST washed this cover a couple of days ago, and shampooed all of his puke spots on the living room rug yesterday. And yes, he’s fine — he’s done this all his life).
So, everything is clean, Ramón has gone back upstairs after his late lunch, I’ve had a bowl of soup, and I’m going to open King now and get started on it. Current word count stands at 8,169, completion date is set to be October 5th, and I’ll do a daily count here just to keep myself honest and y’all entertained.
Structure is fun, yay…
So Shadow of the Swan is out there on all online markets, earning money and reviews, and I’m happy with that (as of this moment I’ve sold 143 copies on Amazon). I’ve even uploaded a free short story titled “A Gentle Fall of Show” about Henry and Louisa’s first Christmas at Bookfunnel (all subscribers to my newsletter got the link; if you want to subscribe, click here, enter your email address, and you can download “Snow” in MOBI, EPUB, or PDF format).
So what’s next, Nic? I’m glad you asked.
Since it looks like we’re going to be stuck in COVIDland for the foreseeable future, I am setting up some structure for myself for the rest of the year. And I know I’ve said that before, but this time I’m doing it partially for income and partially because I really need it to stay sane.
So — today, I am wrapping up the re-edit of Deep Water and uploading it to Amazon, B&N, et al. Tomorrow I go back to work on King of Blades (Two Thrones 4) with a goal of finishing it by Monday, October 5. If I do 3,265 words a day, I’ll make that easily. Moreover, I KNOW I can write that many words a day easily (I knew it before, but 2019 kinda shook my faith in myself). Even better, now that I’ve been testing my lavaliere mike, Scrivener’s dictation function, and Otter.ai (oh, Holy God, dictation is a fricking godsend to anyone who needs to write fast and can handle saying stuff out loud), I should be able to crank out that amount within two hours, then spend another couple of hours editing it into shape. The rest of the work hours will be taken up with promo, cover design, et al, and outlining the rest of the books I’ll be writing this year.
On October 6, I pivot from King and let it cool for a week while I fire up Cross Current (Olympic Cove 4). People have been waiting VERY patiently for this book for about five years, so now that I have the rights back for all of the Olympic Cove books I want to reward them for their patience. The goal is to finish Current on November 2. On October 12, in parallel with my work on Cross Current, I will start editing King with a goal of getting it out to my editor and the betas by October 16. After I incorporate their changes and do the final polishing stages, I’ll publish King on Tuesday, October 27.
On November 3 I let the completed Cross Current rest for a week while I go back to work on Uncertainty Principle (and by then I’ll actually have an outline, please God — this book has been frustrating me for the better part of two years) with a goal of finishing it on December 4. Once again, I’ll edit Cross Current in parallel with writing Uncertainty, with a goal of publishing Cross Current on November 24. Uncertainty Principle will be published on December 22, and I am taking the rest of December off to let my brain cool down and get in some well-deserved relaxation by that point.
IF I HAVE TIME AND INTESTINAL FORTITUDE, I will work on The Crimson and the Black in December once Uncertainty Principle is finished. I am not going to promise anything at this point because, quite frankly, I may need to collapse at that point. Much will hinge on how well the dictation goes, how quickly I can edit, and whether or not I still have extra processor cycles available. If I decide to put it off until 2021, it will be the first book of that year.
I’m not going to post my planned schedule for 2021 yet because it’s still kind of soft and I want to get some details firmed up. But my goal is to release at least four full-length books that year (I’m telling you right off the bat, two of them will be the final books in the Olympic Cove series), along with a handful of novellas and free short stories.
And yeah, I know it looks like I’ve bitten off far more than I can chew, but King, Current, and Uncertainty are all partials so it’s not like I’m starting from square one on any of them. If I can get all of them done and out the door, I will have cleared my backlog and can start 2021 with a clean conscience. Let’s see if I can get this done.
We are 48 hours post-release for Shadow of the Swan and sales are already slacking off, boo, so I decided to post a challenge yesterday on Twitter and Facebook. I said that if I got three reviews on Amazon, I would start work on the sequel (which I already have a half-completed outline for — working title is The Crimson and the Black).
By 11:30 PM I had two reviews. Nice, but not what I asked for. I thought with an admitted sense of relief, “Okay, looks like I’m gonna work on King of Blades and Uncertainty Principle.”
Then, for reasons I don’t understand myself, I checked again at 11:45 PM. There was the third review, calling Henry a cinnamon roll lawful good vampire hero. Talk about torn.
But I am a woman of my word. So The Crimson and the Black now has a Scrivener file and I’m working on Chapter One in conjunction with King of Blades. I’m also trying a new system whereby I dictate books while I walk on a treadmill. Apparently it’s a hell of a lot faster than typing, which is good because I’m gonna need it if I want to get four more full-length novels and two novellas out by the end of the year.
And get the re-release of Deep Water out as well. Oh, well. Sleep is for the weak.
So, the last time I spoke with y’all, it was August 18th and I thought I was on the downhill slope for Shadow of the Swan. The book was supposed to be 80,000 words or so, and I had just crossed the 60K line so I figured (quite logically at the time) that if I spent the next five days doing 4-5,000 words a day I could be done and dusted by 8/23/20. That would give me a few days to get it cleaned up before I sent it off to my editor and betas. Since I didn’t have to have the final version uploaded to Amazon until 9/4/20, I had plenty of time.
Ha. Ha ha ha. Hahahahahahahahahahaha*SOB*
Yeah, no. For one thing, I felt like absolute crap on the 19th and 20th, so no wordage was achieved. By the time Friday the 21st rolled around, I knew I had lost valuable time and had to make it up with minimum 5K days. But Friday through Monday would do it, right?
Well, it would have if the book had stayed 80,000 words long. But as I got stuck in, I quickly realized two things:
One, my word count included chapter synopses that I stuck in months ago to tell myself what was supposed to happen in each chapter. As I deleted these and replaced them with actual story, I wound up losing anywhere from 500 to 1,500 words. So even though I physically wrote 5,000 words a day, I only wound up with 3,500 – 4,500 words in the end, which meant that I had to write even more to hit my 5K word quota.
Two, this book was not going to be 80K long. When I hit the 80K mark on Monday, August 24th, I still had the climax of Act II to write and all of Act III. Many, many bad words were said at that point.
So I kept on keeping on. Wrote 5K+ day after day, and watched in helpless terror as my characters got themselves into deeper and more complex trouble, and wondered how the actual fuck I was going to resolve all this. By Friday, August 28th, I still had three chapters to go and less than a week now before I had to upload the final version.
I don’t remember much of Saturday, August 29th. I do know that it was a personal best when it came to output because I wrote 8,672 words that day. (And in case anyone is wondering, yes, I got up to take regular walking breaks on the treadmill, stayed hydrated, and did everything I could to keep moving and avoid deep vein thrombosis. I was frantic, not foolish.) I wrote until 5 AM, when I finally added Louisa’s last words in the last chapter, then I checked my total word count.
106,620 words. I wrote 40,839 words over eight days. The old fashioned way, with my fingers on a keyboard. I was honestly shocked that my brain wasn’t leaking out my ears by that point.
I slept until noon, got up and frantically edited, then sent it out that evening to my editor and betas with abject apologies that they were getting, in effect, version 1.5. I immediately turned around and went back to work on a full edit. Is this recommended? No. Is this something I could handle? Yes.
In the end (and I attribute this to experience gained over twenty-five years of professional writing along with a healthy dollop of naked, abject fear) I had somehow managed to write a fairly clean, coherent draft that only needed tweaks here and there to fill the occasional plot hole. I still don’t know how I managed that. My editor, bless her angelic heart, sent me changes live as she went through the book, which helped immensely. My betas both turned it around in record time and got me their lists of grammar, spelling, and punctuation goofs. A very kind reviewer friend who got an ARC sent me a handful of missed goofs and a couple of plot points that needed a bit more work, so I was able to get those incorporated, as well.
By 9/2/20, I had a reader-ready edition. I spent Thursday formatting it, giving it one last review and polish, then uploaded it and the cover to Amazon for release on 9/8/20. So here it is, the day before release (and Labor Day as well), and my stomach is in knots because this is my first new release since November 2018 and I just want people to like it.
So, that’s where Shadow of the Swan currently stands. I now need to finish re-editing and formatting Deep Water and get that out, then go back to work on King of Blades. Because the best thing you can do when you finish a book is start writing the next one.
Although I may indulge in a rum and coke. I think I earned it.
So this is deadline week where I want to get the book finished by Saturday, which will require 5K days from today through Friday. Mind you, I can DO that. It’s not pleasant, but it’s doable.
It helps that as of last night I cracked 60K, which means I have about 20K left to go. This is all the exciting stuff in the story, which will make the 5K/day slog a little easier. I’ve had Louisa meet the Swan King (and he’s as creepy as advertised), she and Henry have had an argument, Henry’s off to play supernatural squash with his partner in order to blow off some steam, and Louisa, the housekeeper, her female lover (and one of the most powerful sorceresses in London) and Henry’s Maker Fyodora are about to settle in for a Victorian version of a Girl’s Night In. Yes, I know women from different classes wouldn’t usually mingle like this, but 1) this is a very special situation, 2) Louisa really needs some expert female advice right now, and 3) it’s a fantasy so my world, my rules.
Now if Jeremy would just stop whining and wandering around the house looking for a sister to harass, that would make things absolutely perfect.
Sorry for the extended radio silence but I have been flying, people. I’m currently at 53,380 words on Shadow of the Swan and intend to top that off at 54,000 by the time I’m finished today, leaving 26,000 to go. Easy peasy.
The goal right now is as follows:
- Have the first draft done and dusted by 8/21.
- A quick edit done over the weekend to fix things I know need to be fixed but don’t want to spend time on right now.
- Off to the betas and editor on 8/24 while I dive in for a deeper edit. I rely on the betas to find any grammar/punctuation/spelling errors, plus anything that doesn’t make sense to them, and the editor does a high-level pass to make sure the story flows well from beginning to end.
- Ideally I’ll get all of their edits back in 8/28. While I’m waiting on that I’ll do a weasel word pass, a grammar/spelling/punctuation pass, and a fine polish.
- When all the edits arrive, I’ll get everything incorporated, polished to a shine, and formatted into ebook form by 9/2.
- 9/3 I read it through as a reader would, catch any last infelicities and fix them.
- 9/4, I upload to Amazon for the 9/8 release.
I genuinely can’t wait for all of you to read this — I’ve been describing it as the Brendan Frasier-era The Mummy meets Bram Stoker’s Dracula with a touch of Carnival Row, and it’s an absolutely wonderful romp. I so very much enjoy writing in this world, and if people like it and buy enough books I may even get to write another book set in it. Let’s hope!
In other news, I got the rights back for Deep Water so that will be edited over the weekend, formatted, and released as soon as the Evernight ebooks are down from all online retailers. I’ll probably work on the print book after I send Swan off to the betas and editor on the 24th.
Even better, this means that I can finally start releasing the new books in the Olympic Cove series so you can expect to see Cross Current (Book 4) out in December, and the remaining two books sometime in 2021. Yay!
The weather has cooperated with me for the last two days, allowing me to sit out on the patio and work without the J Crew demanding my attention. As a result, the first eight chapters (out of a projected total of 21) of Shadow of the Swan have now been retrofitted with the new plot.
I have to say, it flows SO much better this way, so clearly this was the right thing to do and I feel like I’m finally, finally on the right track. This revision also meant I got to add in Miss Pandora Philips, the granddaughter of a ministry official, in a place where she really needed to go and in a manner that endeared her to Louisa. I swear, this cast is growing on me SO much.
Still not turning it into a series, though, nope, no way, uh-uh … at least not until I get the Olympic Cove series finished, which should be sometime next year.
Speaking of the cove and its delightful denizens, I’m plowing ahead on the revisions for Deep Water (as I realized over last weekend that, no, my schedule was wrong, I can request the rights back next Monday instead of in December. D’oh), and I’ll get the cover done for that sometime this weekend. The graphic is left is pretty much the finished cover — I still need to do a few tweaks, make the text stand out a bit more against the background, but all in all I really like it. And since it’s the first of the OC books with an MMF (technically MFF if you include the original trio) menage, I figured I’d go with a feminine eye on the cover.
Believe it or not, I’ve also been plugging slowly away on Cross Current (OC 4), so if I can get a move on with that once Swan, King of Blades, and Uncertainty Principle are out, I should be able to have it ready by January, and the last other OC books (Landlocked and Undertow, respectively) fairly soon after that.
Then I’m done with my first series, and hopefully that will convince people who prefer to wait until a series is completely finished to buy it will do just that. Man, that sentence looks weird, but you know what I mean. After that, if Swan has enough buyers and interest, I’ll see about doing a sequel.