Owing to my difficulty in typing, I haven’t felt motivated to blog about my editing progress for the past couple of days. The good news is that I’ve been making progress nontheless, and am actually a day ahead of schedule now!
These last six chapters have been hard work in some respects, as I’d moved scenes around and changed my mind drastically about how one storyline should wrap up. On the other hand most of the scenes (apart from the end of said storyline) were pretty good and just needed some gaps filling in. There were still times when it felt like wading through treacle, but I’m past the worst bits of Part One now. I should be able to get the remaining four chapters done before the year runs out, and move onto Part Two in January. That’s when I’ll really have my work cut out…
Unfortunately my writing pace has been somewhat hampered over the last 48 hours – not by Christmas but by a minor back injury that makes it very painful to sit upright. It happened on Christmas Day, a result of vigorous hoovering of the living-room carpet followed by much bending over to build my Playmobil castle. I thus have to type lying down, which is not easy!
However I’ve soldiered on, and just finished Chapter 9. It required more rewriting than expected, as I had an unplanned fight scene that didn’t work out quite as anticipated. Or rather, the net result was the same, but it required the intervention of another character whose own scenes then needed rewriting. I also increased the number of bad guys, which means that victory takes longer and is more complex (my Muse tends to think small in the first draft, hence the second draft involves a lot of beefing up of incidents).
Anyway, I’m now halfway through this action sequence, and hoping to complete Chapter 10 today as well. I’m not going to be able to get ahead of schedule this week, as was my original plan, but I’d like to at least stay on track…
Earlier this year I released desktop wallpapers of the lovely Alchemist of Souls cover art by Larry Rostant, and they proved rather popular. Since I love the cover of The Merchant of Dreams even more, I thought I’d better do the same for it!
So, here’s the lovely Jacomina “Coby” Hendricks for your computer-decorating pleasure. Just don’t say anything ungallant or she might cock that pistol of hers…
I’ve created two versions, one widescreen (8:5) and one standard proportion (4:3), both in sizes large enough for all but the biggest monitors.
Chapter 8 concludes the current revised section; the first scene is the remainder of the brought-forward incident, then three new scenes build on that. Am enjoying the little details that have arisen from this new timeline – I just wish my Muse would do this on the first draft!
This section has also been rather Mal-centric, so I’m looking forward to switching to a new PoV for the next couple of chapters. Time for Coby to show what’s she’s made of!
As I predicted, I was knackered after the AMA so my progress has been snail-like this weekend. I only finished this chapter at lunchtime on Sunday, which means that I’m now way, way behind for the week. Part of that is because I’m tired after a long, hectic year, and part is because I’m having to write new scenes. Restructuring the timeline means I have to add scenes featuring Mal and then make it all flow seamlessly together, which is always the hardest part for me. I’ve also decided to bring forward an important incident, which I hope won’t disrupt the plot later!
The biggest revelation of this chapter has been the opportunity to write a sex scene. I wasn’t expecting any in this book, and part of me worries it’s gratuitous, but on the other hand I’ve used sex scenes before to show character, and in this case I felt it was needed. Oh well, we’ll see what the beta-readers say…
Soooo…Chapter 6 has taken me all week. Of course I have the excuse that this was book launch week for The Merchant of Dreams, which is a pretty big deal, but even so it felt a bit painful.
This was one of those chapters that was OK in overall outline, but lacked tension, particularly towards the end. As so often with first drafts, I was so keen to get on with the story that I made everything too easy for the characters, ignoring potential sources of conflict and thus losing out on tension. Injecting those factors back into an otherwise decent scene can be tricky, because you have to find the right point for the action to diverge, and also work out a way to bring it back on track without it all seeming too convenient.
Anyway I made it there in the end, so I just have to do two chapters a day this weekend to stay on track. Sunday should be OK, but I’m up late on Friday night for the Reddit AMA so it might be a late start on Saturday…
It’s all go this week! Since it’s Christmas I’m not doing a “physical” book launch at a bookshop, so I have a number of online events lined up instead.
First, thanks to the lovely chaps at my publisher, Angry Robot Books, there’s a competition to win both The Alchemist of Souls and The Merchant of Dreams in audiobook format. Just pop along to the Angry Robot website and tell us your favourite Christmas joke!
The competition closes on Sunday 23rd January, so get your answers in quick!
The second launch event this weekend is an AMA (Ask Me Anything) over on Reddit. The post is up now, awaiting your questions and I’ll back at midnight (evening US time) to answer them.
You know, I really can’t believe it’s only been eight months since my first novel came out – it’s been such a crazy hectic year, I feel like I’ve been doing this forever! And yet…today is the day that most editions of The Merchant of Dreams officially see the light of day (just waiting on the UK paperback which, owing to distribution schedules, won’t be out until 3rd January).
Back in the summer, after the manuscript was handed in and being copyedited, I started getting really nervous about how it would be received. Not because I thought it was terrible, or because it’s markedly different from the first (it isn’t), but there’s always the fear that you were a one-hit wonder and that the book you dashed off in under a year cannot possibly match up to the one you poured your heart and soul into for five times that long.
Apparently I needn’t have worried. Merchant has been getting some glowing reviews, most of which reckon it’s actually better than Alchemist. Maybe it’s the pirates, maybe it’s the steamy sex (well, steamier than the first book at any rate), but whatever it is, I’m just awfully relieved that readers are enjoying it!
Meanwhile The Alchemist of Souls is still humming along – it’s been chosen as the Nov/Dec read by The Book Club on Goodreads, and I’ll be recording a podcast in January with Steve Aryan.
If you have any questions about either book, I’m doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit on Friday 21st December – do come along and join in!
* Christmas Market – a fun bit of flash fiction for Literary Escapism, in which I take Mal Christmas shopping in Cambridge. Includes a contest to win copies of both The Alchemist of Souls and The Merchant of Dreams!
I haven’t blogged these chapters separately as I powered through them in one day – go me! – and only stopped between them for tea and mince pies 🙂
The reason they were so much faster to edit is that this was mainly existing material that just needed a prune and polish. I had some research I needed to do for Chapter 3, having finally worked out the plot borkage, which gave me an opportunity to change the name and identity of a minor character. In the first draft he was Thomas Walsingham, cousin of the spymaster, but I thought this might be confusing to readers so I replaced him with a different man of similar social standing living a scant twenty miles away. The fact that I’d used the replacement character’s home as inspiration for Walsingham’s (whose manorhouse of Scadbury is now in ruins) helped the transition considerably!
Chapter 4 was a breeze, needing only some tidying, and Chapter 5 was one of my “smoosh two draft chapters into one” exercises. I don’t often overwrite, but in the first draft I had two events happening in parallel and kept switching between them. I realised during this edit session that it would be much better for them to happen one after the other – not only does that allow me to cut surplus material, but I can involve Mal more closely in each storyline because I’m not faced with trying to have him in two places at once! It also gives me a reason for the passage of time between incidents, which is important since I need to cover several years in this first half. All in all, a very satisfying result.
So, I’ve done my five chapters for the week, which means I’m on schedule. The next several are mostly editing rather than major rewrites or additions, so hopefully I can stay on schedule in the run-up to Christmas. I really need to, because I have a lot of work to do on Part Two!
Chapter 2 took me a little longer than expected – there are too many interruptions this time of year! On the plus side, when I started the final scene I realised it would fit better into Chapter 3 (and the last scene of Chapter 1 would work better as the beginning of Chapter 2), so I juggled things around et voila! Chapter 2 is finished.
This means that Chapter 1 is now relatively short, but I feel that’s no bad thing. Better to draw readers in with something short and intriguing, then settle down to telling the rest of the story.
Anyway, I still have three chapters to edit this weekend, so I’d better get cracking! Thankfully they’re all existing material that just needs tidying and a bit of research adding, so they should go a bit more smoothly.