I’m supposed to be writing Queen of None right now, which is over 3/4 of the way there. I’ve just brought my heroine to the tipping point: the climax is the next two chapters, where everything she’s been planning and plotting is finally coming to fruition. Exciting, fun; I’ve never written as book so fast as this one (hoping that’s still a good thing).

So why was I up last night writing something else? Oh dear. Somewhere between making chili last night and tucking the kiddo in, some gears started moving. Since I finished The Aldersgate, those characters have been very polite in leaving me to Anna Pendragon and her family. But last night, they all crawled back out of the creative primordial ooze and started talking. Like, all of them.

So after a (mildly disappointing) episode of BSG, I sat down and opened up Scrivener, staring a totally new project. I tried one name, Googled, found a movie. Tried another, Googled, found it was another book series. Third time’s the charm: Ward of the Rose it is. I like the sonic play on “war of the Rose” and the fact that it has a kind of medieval tinge while using a word we associate with Victorian: ward.

With the name in place I started writing. Here we go again…

Okay, more effective if I actually liked champagne.

But, at approximately 3:3opm, EST, here on a very chilly blustery day in North Carolina, I completed the second draft of The Aldersgate.

That’s thirty chapters and a hefty 161,000 words. (Like me, it could stand to lose some.)

I started The Aldersgate two years ago, and finished the first draft one year ago. This has been the single largest project I’ve ever undertaken, and certainly the longest book I’ve ever written. Of the original 100K in the first draft, I salvaged somewhere around 5K, and rewrote everything else.

There were days that I honestly never thought I’d get to this point; sincerest thanks to some of the most awesome readers/listeners/Tweeters out there, too.

So, yes. In the meantime, I’m going to finish another WIP that is single person, pure fantasy, and will hover around 90K when said and done. Then, well, of course, I have to work on the sequel!

I want to share stuff with you that I’m writing now. Really, truly. I’m excited. Today, in spite of being a bad podcast day (thank the dog and the complex gardners for that…) it was a marvelous writing day. I’m like, two chapters from the end as we speak. You know what this chapter’s title is? Do you? The Aldersgate. That’s the chapter I’m working on.

This is where it get hard, and where everything is rewriting. My original draft’s ending was the weakest part of the book. I got so excited that I just… kinda threw everyone off a precipice. My husband, upon reading the book said, “Well, so much of this is awesome… except it sort of just stops, and the end is really hectic.” So this time I’m reinventing the wheel. I’m sanding, polishing, making the grain stand out.

The problem of course is balancing the narratives, a handful of which convene. Instead of jumping from character brain to character brain in each chapter, it’s happening multiple times within a chapter. It’s a bit like learning to shift gears in a car. Except, well, I can’t drive stick. So it’s still a little hectic at this point, at least from this perspective. When it comes time to record these chapters, I do hope you’ll weigh in.

Did I mention inventions? I’ve got some awesome inventions. Deadly and delightful!

Oh, yes, another metaphor. This time, to writing and woodworking. Usually I go blacksmithing, of course but today I’m feeling like woodworking is best. It’s the whole grain/stain thing. You pick out a good piece of wood (ideas, first draft, etc). Then you shape it and sand it; and at first glance, that piece is beautiful. The curves and lines are there, the form is right. But the details are off.

I remember as a kid I was riveted whenever I saw this one infomercial about some random varnish or stain that you put on wood. It would make the most hideous, scratched, stained, boring piece of lumber into a magnificent work of art. And although no woodworker would ever admit to the process being as simple as that, I still hold that a finished book is like a finished piece of wood. When you apply stain, the natural details in the wood just pop. It’s why when you select a piece of wood you dampen it, to see what the deeper colors and grain will look like with the application of stain and varnish.

Of course, I’m just finishing off with the stain. That’s the second draft, and the Big Edit. Which, honestly, for all intents and purposes was a complete rewrite. Sure, the characters are theĀ  same, and some of the premise is the same. But I went after my selected piece of wood with a hatchet when I should have chosen a chisel. Or something.

I am hovering around the 135K mark at the moment, about 15K from the end of this book. And as always I feel a little like a kid poised at the top of an icy hill in a snow tube. It’s going danged fast. When I emerge at the other side, which may be in a few days if the speed is any indication, I’ll dance around and celebrate and likely buy a bottle of expensive wine and some Brie. I’ll record it so you can share in my revelrie. (The last draft’s celebration–nearly a year to the date–was a tattoo.)

Thanks for bearing with me as I finish this. I’m excited, and thrilled, and can’t wait to hear the response when the last podcast goes live. I’ve got some surprises that even I was taken by; it’s so mind-boggling when the gears all move into place as if moved by some pre-destined hand.

Back to Home Depot, then, to pick out the last bits of inlay and contemplate the right varnish.

I am determined to finish this edit in a week, and so, I’m up now, and I have a dizzying scene in my head, trying to weave in my ends (to use a knitting metaphor).

As you know, The Aldersgate is told in a multiple-POV. Every chapter, a different POV. This, of course, can’t last forever. I’m not as clever as George R. R. Martin, and I need to bring them together, and shift perspectives now and again within one chapter.

But boy, is this hard. I’m in the pre-climax. The chapter before the Big One, and all of these characters are coming together, and it’s like a thunderstorm; hot air, warm air, hail and rain. Toss in a gunfight between three factions with a fourth there for good measure, and you’ve made for one exciting little maesltrom.

I have geared bullets that bore holes into you, and keep boring, unless you get them out (and someone is currently working on getting said bullet out of someone elses’ thigh). I have blood and fear, I have betrayal and anger. I have a demon (of sorts) on the loose. I will not say more at the risk of being a total spoiler for those of you following along, but let’s say this… I’m juggling a lot of things. And some of them are knives, or fiery brands, or whatever dangerous things jugglers throw into the air. I started this chapter this morning, and I’m at the halfway point as we speak.

It’s 11:30, but I feel like I’ve got days of work before me if I ever want to get to sleep.

A moment’s reflection on the hard numbers of The Aldersgate as it stands right now.

  • Total completed chapters in current draft: 22
  • Total chapters in original draft: 30
  • Total current word count: 119,115 (not a word less)
  • Total P.O.V.’s: Cora, Brick, Emry, Ellin, Sylvan, Kaythra (six even; half gals, half gents… listed in order of ages)
  • Total chapters expected in final draft: 30
  • Total chapters podcasted: Twelve (thirteen counting the prologue)

Just in case you were curious. Suffice it to say I’m ten chapters ahead of where the podcast is. As the New Year approaches I want to start getting the podcasts out every week to week-and-a-half, and try to keep it on a more strict schedule. I have some other projects brewing, including finishing my NaNoWriMo book but I’d like to see the next eight chapters written as soon as possible. We shall see. This “Editing” section is the most difficult, as the end of the novel is vastly different than the original–such things happen.

But I can do this. The end is in sight. I tend to pick up my pace a great deal when I know the end is near. Last time I finished (the first draft, that is) I printed it out at Kinkos, double sided, and read the thing to myself over a couple of days. I plan to do the same this time. Then, comes a resting period. Then, more editing. Then? Well, hopefully we’ll have made some good progress, and I’ll have something ready to submit.

Movin’ right along. Footloose and fancy-free.

Day one of NaNoWriMo has come to a close, and I’m tentatively upbeat. I clocked in at over 4K yesterday, just clacking away and willing myself not to go back, not to edit, just to write, just to tell the story. It’s been admittedly challenging, moving from novel editing mode back to novel writing mode, and trying to stop being so self-critical.

The biggest challenge at the moment? I’m all about plot and not about character. I’m already having a hard time getting “into” Maddie, which is ironic as I’m moving from a multi-POV to a single-POV. You’d think it’d be easier getting back. But character development is slower in these situations, and rather than tell everything, I’m trying to show. And show more slowly.

It’s an odd place to be in, truth be told, as the characters are usually what drive my writing. Although the 4K is far and beyond what I expected for the first day, it’s still with tentative enthusiasm that I temper my success. Word count is never my problem, it’s motivation. It’s keeping going. It’s sustaining. I think people concentrate so much on word count with NaNo that sometimes they forget the other, and to me the most important, lesson. It’s about keeping it going. It’s about learning to apply the frenzied writing of November later on in the year, next month, two years down the road, whatever. I know from painful experience that you can have 50K if you want it, but sometimes it’s not the right 50K. Sometimes only 20K is good, or none of it is good, or all of it is good. Sometimes 50K is just the beginning…