Revision Xibalba: Theading the Plot

First the good news:  I finished the revisions to The Bloodgate Warrior and shipped them off to Alissa this morning.  Even BETTER news – she likes what she’s read so far!  Woot!  That’s always such a relief.  Did I interpret her revision letter correctly, thoroughly, and then most importantly, did I carry those revisions through the ms in a logical way?

Which brings me to today’s revision topic.  It’s something I’ve been thinking about the last few days and decided I should blog about it in case it might help anyone else working through a rough patch of revisions.

As I told Raelyn earlier this week, I was so deep into the forest that it was hard to see the trees.  All the threads (changes) I was juggling began to get muddled and tangled, and I was starting to lose my grip on what to pull forward when.

What am I talking about?  It’s that chaos theory I’ve joked about before:  A butterfly flaps its wings on page one and you suddenly find yourself revising every single chapter until it’s an entirely different book.

This is why revisions are hard.

I’m not talking about minor line-edit type revisions, but something more challenging.  For instance, Alissa wrote that she’d like to see more of a contrast between Cassie’s driven focus for her job and what happens when Tecun climbs into her bed.  *winks*  I already had some bits of character traits that I really liked for her — her static trait involves her nightly ritual before getting into bed, for instance — but I didn’t go far enough.  (In fact, I realized as I got into the revisions for this element, that I’d gotten a few things terribly wrong that didn’t jive with her character at all.)

Now you might think this was an easy change.  I’ll just throw in a new trait – like maybe she’s OCD about her schedule and has every minute of this “vacation” mapped out down to the minute.  Easy peasy right?

Wrong.  Because if you’re going to ADD something to a finished manuscript, it has to have impact.  If the butterfly flaps its wings, there’s wind, no matter how faint, that must spread and ripple throughout the story.  Otherwise why even bother with the change in the first place?

So if I’m going to add a character trait, I have to SHOW it again and again.  It has to affect the plot in some way, no matter how small, or it’s just noise.  Like a random hair color or scar that I mention without ever explaining where the scar came from or how it changed the character’s life.  Why even bother if it’s not important and crucial to the story?  I couldn’t just mention this trait once and let it drop – that would be doing a lazy injustice to my character.

Everything has to matter.  It has to have impact.  WHY is she doing this?  HOW can I show it?  WHEN does this affect the plot?

And that, my friends, is where the real bite of Revision Xibalba comes into play.  Once you start affecting plot, um… news alert… your plot changes.  Scenes change.  Actions mean something else entirely.  If you change one turning point, then all the others are affected too.

See that trickle down effect?  More than shit begins to roll down hill at this point.  And oh, all those pesky trees.  I had several items I was changing at the same time, not just this one character trait, each one like a colored thread that had to be pulled all the way through to the end in a logical manner.

For example, Alissa mentioned in passing that she liked the idea of the family journal that Cassie brought with her to Guatemala and wondered if there was any way to make that more important.  Well sure.  I could — and did — write several thousand words of journal entries, which became a cool way for me to resolve several items in the revision letter at once.

But which events should the entries cover (I ended up spanning over 500 years!!)?  It couldn’t just be backstory or it’d slow the plot too much.  It couldn’t be all emo whining or moaning about the past.  They had to have real, measurable impact.  Things had to change because of these entries.

What clues could I drop in the journal that would make the reader go OOOOOOOHHHHHH when I finally laid out the live-action scene before them?

Notice that if I’m changing the plot or character…that’s more than just copying and pasting a new journal entry into place.  That means I’m changing significant elements of the plot itself.  Alllllll the way through the ms.

So then it becomes a balancing act requiring a delicate touch and a sharp eye.  If I’m going to drop in this little tidbit here, and make it really really matter, then I have to do it again over here.  I can’t drop a bunch of bright red paint in chapter two and never ever paint with red again.  I also have to remember the green and blue I’m adding and balance that with what’s already there and the new red.  It has to be consistent from start to finish.  All of these new colors are important now so I have to drop some over here, and again here, and then yeah, it’d better become crucial and important before the ending again, or…

Again, why bother?

Threading the plot — carrying these changes through in meaningful and consistent ways — building momentum page after page, THIS is the difference between making your editor happy when she opens up your revised document and making her groan and pull out her red pen again.  I truly believe this is where you can really learn to shine as a hardworking professional.

No, I don’t mean you have to blindly accept every change proposed by your editor.  But when you dig in and begin to make those changes, carry them through.  Don’t just plop a few things in and send it back.  Really think and dig.  Yes, it’s more work.  Yes, it’s painfully hard to come up with new ideas once the story’s already done.  Trust me, I know.  I added over 5K to this story (net – I added way more new words but deleted other passages that didn’t work any longer), and wrote another couple of thousand words of journal entries that I didn’t end up using at all.

But you know what?  I loved Tecun and Cassie before I sent The Bloodgate Warrior to Alissa (or I wouldn’t have submitted it, obviously).  But now?

Well.  I always say this but I think with her help, it’s become the next best thing I’ve written.

Revision Xibalba

No Friday Snippet or zombies this week — I’ve been deep in Revision Xibalba, otherwise known as Revision Hell.

Okay, not hell, not really.  Because it’s not been as bad as I feared, not at all.  Of course I’m just now getting to the last 26 pages where I think I need the most work, but the rest was pretty good. 

I don’t want to jinx myself but I really love this story.  There are parts that I have no memory of writing, and I’m shocked, surprised, and thrilled that I wrote it, because it’s so good.  Then I think, wait a minute, I’m not supposed to think that.  Am I?

But it is.  There’s just something sparkling and intense about these characters.  Maybe it’s the first person narrative.  Maybe it’s Tecun Uman the great national hero himself.  But the way this story came together is magical. 

And the humor.  *chuckles*  It’s not blatant slapstick sort of humor, but there are several nods to some of my favorite things, including a joke at my expense.  Remember some of The Bloodgate Guardian discussions I had with Alissa about Ruin?

Ruin?  Honestly, that was the jaguar guy’s name?  I looked up at Tecun’s face, but he didn’t seem perturbed by such a strange name.  I suppose that was easier to pronounce than Itzpapalotl.

“Or Kukulkan,” he whispered silently in my head.  “One of his true names is Xbalanque.

Okay, then, Ruin it was.

 
(Yes, both Ruin and Jaid make a brief appearance as the Gatekeepers of Chi’Ch’ul.)

Natalie (the heroine’s best friend) came out way more interesting than I expected too. So interesting that I can’t leave her hanging like I am in this first draft. Fixing her story thread will be one of the harder threads I need to resolve in these last few pages, but very important.  She deserves better than what I originally gave her.

And the sex.  *wipes brow*  Whew.  I joked to Raelyn the other day that one scene just went on and on and eventually I’d gotten tired in the first draft and simply left the scene because I didn’t know if they were ever going to finish.

Much different than The Bloodgate Guardian, I know.  Ruin and Jaid just weren’t going to get together any quicker, no matter how much I wanted them to.  They had a completely different story to tell.  However, Cassie and Tecun were burning up the page before I even started the first draft.  The Maya elements and research are still there, but whoa is this a sexy story!

Now, I’ve reached the pyramid scene, the culmination of everything that’s happened between Cassie and Tecun up to this point.  This is the scene that generated the ENTIRE story.  Everything came from the sacrifice at the top of El Castillo.

Um, literally.  *winks*

Let’s hope I can pull it off.

Revision Xibalba

While I’ve been blogging mostly about Vicki and “dream writing” this week, the real “work” I’ve been doing is Revision Xibalba.  I got the revision letter from my new editor at Carina Press last week and a deadline of 2/28, so I’m rocking and rolling through her notes.  Vicki is actually my cookie at the end of the day for a job well done.  Er, hopefully well done.

So I guess it’s only fair that I talk about revision process too, right?  Holly Lisle has made the “one-pass revision” her bread and butter.  I can’t think off-hand of any other author who has blogged about their revision process (if you know of any useful resources, shout them out).  So here’s a bit about what I’ve been doing this week.

Of course, the HOW depends on WHAT the changes actually are.  I’m not working on the line-edit phase yet, correcting typos, answering the copy-editor’s notes about eye-color change or questioning the word choice with a suggestion.  No, this is high-level revision, and quite honestly, pretty tough.  I can’t just point to one little spot, make the change, and be done.  Several scenes have to be touched, and tiny changes here affect changes deeper in the story.  I have to keep things consistent and tight, while still addressing the issues.

First:  read the revision letter, all the way through.  Then put it away for a day or two and just think about it.  Let all the comments soak in.  Rumminate.  See what makes sense, organize any questions or comments on paper.  I did so, and by Sunday, I had a plan of attack in my mind.

It’s deceptive to see a little bullet or short paragraph like “make sure you continue the heroine’s wry sense of humor all the way through–it sort of disappears near the end.”  (Not a direct quote – just a paraphrase.)  My first thought was oh.  Didn’t I do that?  I thought I did.  Hmmm.  I should read a few passages in the last third or so and see. 

Second.  Read the manuscript (at least sections).  Look for trends and patterns the editor has pointed out.

Oh.  Yeah.  I started to see patterns where I had the wry humor coming from the wrong character.  Or I could expand Jaid’s dialogue or introspection just a bit and make it bigger. 

Third:  Fix.  Maybe not as easy as it sounds.

Fix Phase 1.  Doubt.  I wasn’t really trying to make Jaid funny at all.  I had this sudden surge of distress and doubt.  OMG, how can I make this funny?  Wry humor, what is that?  I did it on accident!  I swear!

Fix Phase 2:  I read the beginning of the book and jotted a few examples of where I thought Jaid had been slightly funny or self-depreciating.  I had several examples.  Again, I started to see patterns, lines of subtle humor that had been laid down at the beginning and never mentioned again.  Dropped threads, missed opportunities. 

Hello, she’s the Un-Indiana Jones.  I made a big deal about this a couple of times in the first half of the manuscript.  Yet when she’s actually racing through the jungle, chased by demons, and nearly drowning in a dark cave, I never once had her go hmmm, maybe grading and lecturing isn’t so bad.

Fix Phase 3. Go through manuscript and watch for slight moments of humor.  Make sure it’s centralized with Jaid.  Amplify if it makes sense.  Watch for moments of high action followed by a quiet moment.  See if it makes sense to drop in a comment.  Mention “Un-Indiana Jones” at least one or more times in the high action events of the climax to bring it all together.

Yay, one bullet done!  How many more do I have to make? *groans*

Actually, I’m almost done.  The humor one was one of the hardest to fix (other than the name change), because I had that moment of panic.  Last night, I had to fix the reunion with Jaid’s father.  I’d totally gone off the deep end in the last revision (to make it romance) and the sap was just oozing all over everywhere.  Ugh.  I think I made it more realistic, and even opened myself up for all sorts of good stuff in the next book.

Final:  Once I make all the changes, I’ll create a new copy of the manuscript just for me.  I’ll accept all the changes, delete any comments, and read it one more time.  I actually prefer to use Google Mail’s “read as html” option for this phase (which is why I remove the comments).  Seeing it outside a Word doc just gives me more clean space to see how it’s really going to read.

This gives me the chance to look for formatting problems (sometimes it’s hard to see paragraph breaks when Track Changes are on), as well as check the flow and make sure I didn’t break anything. 

So by the time this revision pass is all over, I bet I’ll have read the manuscript AGAIN at least five more times.  I’ll read it at least one more time for the copy-edit phase, and we may have more than one revision pass before we get there.

So yeah, “one-pass revision” just doesn’t work for me.

Making Mistakes

Nobody likes to make mistakes.  For one thing, it’s pretty damned embarrassing, especially when it takes someone else to correct your mistake.  But I tell you now that there’s nothing that’ll open your eyes quicker than a humiliating mistake — if you’re willing to learn from it. 

It’s like the joke that Jeff Foxworthy tells:  When he was a kid and stuck his finger in a light socket, his dad said, “Hurt like hell, didn’t it?  Won’t do that again!”

Making writing mistakes hurts like hell too.  And yeah, I won’t be making this mistake again.

So what’d I do? 

Because of my lack of rules, boundaries, and limitations (see yesterday’s post), I didn’t make good choices from the beginning with the Maya story.  Remember all my posts about Revision Xibalba?  All that work?  Wasted.  Because I didn’t know what my genre was, and I didn’t stay within the lines.

To correct my mistake, I had to:

  • delete two subplots that convoluted and detracted from the main romance line.  Painful, because I loved these two stories.  Clue: I loved them enough, I should have given them their OWN book!
  • axe 25K
  • kill over a dozen characters.  Can you say too many characters?
  • rewrite the ending

Was all that work worth a little jaunt on the wildside?  In the end, I have to say yes, because it opened my eyes to the path I’d chosen.  I had to make a choice about whether to keep going and ignore the mistake, or correct it.  I chose to correct it, and I learned a lot from it too.  I can’t tell you how much better this ms is now, but I’m much happier with it.

And the real sign that I’ve made the right choice?  Before, I was blocked about what the next book would be in that series.  I jotted a few ideas, but I really had nothing beyond a general “I need to do this” sort of feeling.  As soon as I committed to the changes above, I immediately started getting excited about more things I could do — now that I had opened up the stable door and stepped inside.

So I guess I’m glad I made the mistake, but geez, I wish my head was a little less thick.

The Best Damned Story I Can Write…Today

This morning, I reached a place in this writing journey that I’ve never been before.

Awhile back there was some blog storm about when a story should be submitted.  Jessica Faust at BookEnds wrote that Good Enough is Never Enough, and obsessive-compulsive writers everywhere panicked.  At the time, I totally agreed with Jessica.  I would never send out less than PERFECT work, but I also realize that perfect today is not what I will be able to write in a year or more. 

Heh, at one time I was perfectly happy with a little story titled “My Beloved Barbarian” and proudly sent it off to an RWA contest, only to be mortified when the judge sheets came back.  Head hopping?  What’s that?  You mean, the horse can’t have its own point of view?  *wails*

*snickers*

Personally, I’m always driven.  I’m in a rush to finish, and submit.  Now, not yesterday.  NOW! Go go GO!  However, I’m also painfully obsessive about making sure the work is my best. 

If you’ve been reading here long, you know that I’ve been struggling with the Maya story.  I’ve already detailed its long painful history, but suffice it to say that I just couldn’t get the blasted thing RIGHT.  Every time I thought it was done, I decided it needed yet another revision pass.  I’ve spent months in Revision Xibalba since the first draft in 2007, toiling over massive, painful revisions or struggling to whip out a synopsis that captured the spirit of the story.  I felt trapped in Xibalba myself — constantly drowning in this imperfect project that I simply couldn’t get off my back. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love this story, absolutely.  It’s a total heart-wrencher and satisfies my personal craving for Story and Mythology; however, even though it’s one of the most complex and rich stories I’ve written, I could not get it to a place where I felt like I could really say I was finished.

After at least four major revision passes and four different attempts at a synopsis, I made my declaration yesterday:  Synopsis or Death!  I wrote out that synopsis in painful, brutal detail, refusing to go to bed until a cohesive draft was prepared.  Nearly two full packs of index cards met their death in the attempt.

Braced for the worst, I re-read my synopsis this morning.  I made a few slight changes.

And then I kicked that blasted submission package out of the nest with the first query.

Yes, friends, I reached a point where I was so sick of a story that I knew it was time to let it fly, or crash and burn.  If I polish the manuscript one more time, I think its obsidian-mirrored shine will simply rub off.  If I dink around with the synopsis again, I’m going to cut out my own heart and offer it as bloody sacrifice at the peak of the pyramid.

It’s the best damned story I can write today, and so, farewell blithe spirit.  I wish thee safe travels out in the scary wilds of Queryland.  May your hunt for Agent be fruitful.

It’s time for me to move on.

Victor, here’s fair warning that Gregar and I are coming.  We’re coming for YOU.

Synopsis Hell

If I can just get this blasted synopsis written, then The Bloodgate Codex is ready and waiting to go out and face the cold, cruel world once more.  I’ve never enjoyed the synopsis, but this one is proving harder than usual.

Maybe because I’m still iffy in my head about what genre this story actually is.  You would laugh, seriously.  I set out to write an Urban Fantasy. Nope, didn’t make it.  Since I’ve gotten rather tired of the kick-ass heroine, vamp, werewolf triangle–or some permutation there in with demons, witches, whatever–I tried to change it more for my personal reading taste–and ended up a long ways from UF.

So then I started calling this story a Paranormal Romance.  Nope, BGC ends on a cliffhanger, and although it’s a very romantic, heart-wrenching act, it is not “happily ever after.”  Plus, the book just isn’t as steamy as what I typically write.  Only one big O scene, if you know what I mean, and only after at least 250 pages.  [I think all will eventually end well, never fear; it just won’t happen in this book.  I’m too much of a sap not to give the good guys a happy ending.  Eventually.]

So then I thought, what the hell did I write?  Contemporary Fantasy? It’s strong  in fantasy, yes.  Tons of Maya mythology.  But it doesn’t exactly feel like a fantasy.  It sort of feels like Science Fiction (the original inspiration was Stargate), but it’s definitely MAGIC that powers the world, not SCIENCE.

May suggested Thriller.  *I always hear Michael Jackson’s Thriller when I type that*  I was like, huh?  Seriously?  Yeah, I balked, until she reminded me of some of the Preston/Childs books I’d read and enjoyed.  I could see some similarities there.  So I punted and agreed.  However, I didn’t think about “suspense” so much when I wrote the book, so that required another revision pass to try and make it as tense and thriller-like as possible.

It’s got a rather large cast, three major plot lines not counting the romantic thread, lots of bad guys, and even Melville references.  [I’m sure I’ll take a hit on that one but he’s not a professor this time!  No Shakespeare.] The plot stretches across Texas, Guatemala, and the Yucatan.  Ironically, it’s all in the same time zone.  (You laugh, but I had it in my silly little head that surely Guatemala was in a different time zone than Dallas, TX.  Nope.)

Because this really isn’t a romance, my normal synopsis methodology isn’t working for me.  I can’t describe one plot line without bringing in the other two threads, which means introducing those POV characters, which complicates everything exponentially.  It’s so much easier in a romance to introduce the heroine/hero and maybe the antagonist and that’s it!  I can’t even easily introduce the antagonist because there are so many LAYERS of bad guys.  Let me count:  1 cursed warrior with no heart, 2 betrayers, 3 demons loose,  more demons trapped in hell and dying to get out, one crazy cancer patient, and his wealthy powerful friend determined to save him at any cost.  Did I miss anybody?

Crazy, I know, complicated, messy and yet…..I found myself reading it eagerly last night, savoring the twists and complexities.  I haven’t written anything quite like it before.  Which I know is bad in a whole different way, but this book PUSHED me.  In a good way.  I have the spreadsheets and diagrams to prove it.  :shock:

So I’m trying a new synopsis method outlined here, only I think I’ll have to introduce the two other POV characters and highlight their plot threads too, or the final resolution makes no sense whatsoever.  Yes, this calls for index cards, colored pens, and maybe Post-It Notes.  Be very afraid.

Synopsis Suckage II

When all else fails, return to pen and paper.

I sat down over the weekend with my favorite pad of paper — purple legal pad — and my favorite pen.  I pulled up the Synopsis Lesson with Dr. Connagher.  And I started over from the beginning.  Oooh, I thought Conn was a taskmaster in his classroom, but geez, he’s really been a hardass about this synopsis.  Even The Rock has been walking around on pins and needles, occasionally sneaking over to stare down at my messy pages to see if I’d written about his character yet.  (I haven’t.)

Haven’t seen hide nor hair of Gregar, the smart-mouthed Shadowed Blood.  Smart man.  I’m sure he’s tucked away nearby, laughing his ass off each time Dr. Connagher loses patience with me and begins cursing in poetry.

After about 20 sheets of scribbles on purple paper, I finally have a somewhat decent beginning.  I have the hook, my protagonist’s intro, background, and inciting incident.  A decent start. 

Where this synopsis is going to get tricky is the “suspense” or “thriller” angle.  There’s a TON of plot happening in this story, and it’s crucial that I capture some of that in the synopsis.  This isn’t just a Boy Meets Girl kind of story.  Demons are running amok, some mad scientists are making things worse, the FBI is on the case, etc.  I think what I’m going to do is treat each plot suspense thread sort of like a “love interest.”  I’ll write up a paragraph to set up the thread, and then see if I can neatly (hahaha) summarize in between the inciting incident and the resolution. 

The nice thing (groans) about writing a synopsis is that it forces me to see the story clearly.  I have to define the events and characters very carefully, fine-tuning threads into as few words as possible.  Often that makes a puzzle piece slide a little tighter into the big picture.  I realized tonight that I’d missed a slight opportunity to up the suspense a bit more once Jaid arrives onsite at Lake Atitlan.

*dies*  More revisions.  This is becoming the project that never ends!

When Dr. Connagher finds this synopsis satisfactory, I’ll write up a post like I did for the original “Letters” synopsis.  I’m sure it’ll be a hoot.

Revision Xibalba: Asking WHY

The end is in sight!

I had some dialogue that contained crucial information the reader needed to know–but it was borderline “technical” or “infodump.”  I didn’t want the section to read like a Maya textbook, but if you didn’t understand the background mythology, none of the “Gate” magic would make sense. 

After reading Donald Maass’s The Fire in Fiction, I knew I needed to add some subtle tension between Jaid and another character to punch up this dialogue scene.  I’d already laid the groundwork with Dr. Reyes — I just needed some crucial details.   I knew he believed, but WHY did he believe?  It had to be more than “he’s Guatemalan.”

One of the most crucial questions in the writer’s toolbox is WHY. 

But I was really drawing a blank tonight.  I worked late for the Evil Day Job (I have a 6/30 deadline there, too, actually 6/29 because I’d like to take the holiday off starting 6/30) and I was just braindead.  I finally decided to read back through my notes on Guatemala City, where Dr. Reyes lives and works.  In the last revision pass, I created a crucial tie between him and one other “extraneous” character.  It would make perfect sense if I beefed up that connection, so I concentrated on the key event that drove Dr. Reyes meeting/knowing this other character.

Finally, the key hit me right between the eyes.  I bet you’ve probably never heard of Kaminaljuyu, even if you’re familiar with Tikal, Palenque, or Chich’en Itza, yet Kaminaljuyu has been called one of the greatest archeological sites of the New World.  It just happens to be in Guatemala City, too — actually beneath it.

So I completely fabricated a believable little plot element that explains why Dr. Reyes believes in the Gatekeeper.

Only one item remains for Revision Xibalba II — just a little Oedipus Complex.  *snort*  Then to the dreaded synopsis revisions and a careful read through, preferrably hardcopy but I’m low on ink and paper.

Revision Xibalba & Project Update

Whew, that was some hard work!  I finally managed to cut a scene from around page 130 and move it very early in the story arc.  This scene sets the stage better and provides true motivation for Jaid, the “Un-Indiana Jones,” to risk going to Guatemala, even to save her father.  It wasn’t cut and paste, though.  For one, the character cast was entirely different in the beginning scenes.

More difficult, though, was deciding how much Jaid would say to other characters, in particular, Sam.  Would she tell him what she’d seen?  Why or why not?  Could I use the tape to complicate her doubts and confusion in one way, while providing better motivation on the other?  Turned out, I could.  At least I think I did.

There are only a few more items left on my list.  One is strictly emotional conflict.  I began worsening Jaid and Sam’s relationship in the last revision, but I don’t think I made it quite bad enough.  I missed some good opportunities to make Jaid squirm.  The other item on my list requires me to do a little more background work on Dr. Efrain Reyes.  I need to know in particular why he believes what he does.  Once I do, I can make some of his dialogue scenes with Jaid all the more tense.  She knows, but doesn’t believe.  He believes, but doesn’t know the details.  They could each hold the secret the other needs–or end up deadly enemies, depending on how the cards fall.

Good stuff.  I should be able to wrap these items up by the weekend as long as no new fires crop up.  That gives me a few days to revise my synopsis and query.  Gah, I dread messing around with the synopsis.  I know the draft I have sucks bracken swamp water. 

Meanwhile, I have a tentative title for both of July’s projects and I did some really good character work tonight.  This may show how anal compulsive obsessive I am, but I created Gantt charts for my projects through September, color coded by project.  June = 3 projects in various phases; July = 3 (one will be querying the Maya story); August = 4 (remember when I said I’d take some time off?  hahaha); and September = 3.  This includes major revisions to the Maya story, Return to Shanhasson (first draft was finished last year for NaNoWriMo), and Seven Crows, assuming I can get the first draft done in August.  Ironically, this schedule does NOT include the two projects I’m writing in July.  Assuming either is contracted, I’ll have to fit in revisions somewhere.  If anything slips, it’ll be Seven Crows, but only for a month or two.  I’d really like to finish it this year, along with Victor’s story.

Yeehaw, it’s going to be a scorcher summer!

Schedule From Hell

July is going to be hellacious.  No time for the dog days of summer here!  Victor and Shiloh will need to wait just one month longer so I can get two shorter pieces whipped out by 7/31.

Right now, my number one priority continues to be Revision Xibalba.  After screwing up majorly this weekend (working on the WRONG file!), I need to grind through some fairly significant surgery.  I axed a scene from around the first 1/3 of the book and moved it up to the beginning, so there’s trickle down all through the story until I reach the original spot — which needs triage to blend.  Then I still have several other small revisions to make.  I’m getting there, but slower than I’d like.

Meanwhile, I’m doing character and plot work on two short pieces.  One will be anywhere between 5-20K.  I don’t think I can do 5K easily and I want to stay away from the high end just because of time constraints.  Guessing about 10-15K right now but I’ll know more once the plot is finalized.  All sorts of interesting research going on for it, which is good an bad, obviously.  I love research…but it’s a time hog.

Lastly, I’m working on a Christmas piece set at Beulah Land, Miss Belle’s B&B.  I have the characters and loose plot figured out, but it needs tightening and details.

Details, details.  They’re so important.

If…WHEN…I make both of these deadlines, I’ll probably crash a week or two in August and read everything I can get my hands on.  Then watch out Victor and Shiloh!  I’ll be ready to begin their first draft in September I think.  Or I might work on Seven Crows instead.  I’ve had some interest in it and I’d love an excuse to get it going…