Sequel Writing Struggles

It’s starting to become clear to me just how complicated sequel writing can be. In my last sequel update, I said I was done with the first draft of The Embers of Light and was preparing to send it out for developmental edits. That was true. But the more I sat on the first draft, the more I realized that something was missing from the plot, and the ending wasn’t what I needed in order to round out the series as a whole.

When I initially wrote The Darkness of Light, I hadn’t planned on writing a series. I had a story to tell—Mara’s story—and I knew exactly how it would end. But here’s the problem. That last scene that I had pictured in my mind never happened.

Sure, Mara’s story was told, and the main conflict of the novel was resolved (which I think is VERY important when writing a series), but there was more I needed to write in order to get her to that final scene I’d envisioned. As I wrote The Darkness of Light, I began to realize that it wasn’t just Mara’s story I was telling, but Malcolm’s and Corbin’s as well. Like a traditional fantasy novel, I could have written a 1000+-page book with a part 1,2&3. But that’s a big commitment for readers, it might have alienated non-fantasy readers, and I wanted to give special attention to each individual story.

While I wrote the first novel with an ultimate ending in mind, I wasn’t always sure about how I’d get there. The rest came to me after the first novel was written, and so in the revision process, I was able to plant seeds of information that would continue through the series.

The Embers of Light follows the same format as the first novel (told from 3 POVs), but the main arc of the story is about Malcolm. I knew what I wanted to do with him, but tying it in with the first novel, while still planting seeds for the third is a lot harder than I’d imagined. The problem now is that readers know these characters, so I not only have to make sure Malcolm’s story furthers the plot, but that Mara and Corbin’s does as well. They’re all interconnected, and they always have been, which means I can’t forego one character’s development for another. Everyone needs my attention now.

The third book in the series will have a stronger focus on Corbin. Again, I already know where he’s going and how he’ll get there, but I have to let the reader get to know him better if they’re going to want to read an entire book about him. So while I take Malcolm on his journey, I have to make sure Corbin doesn’t get overlooked. His story will be the one that gets to me to that final scene I’d imagined so long ago.

I am STILL working on revisions for The Embers of Light. But the good news is now the third book is plotted out enough to help me understand what NEEDS to happen to get me there. I had to write 34 chapters of a first draft sequel before I figured this out, and now I’m going back over every chapter, word by word, and page by page, rewriting scenes, adding new ones and creating the stepping-stones to carry the story forward.

It’s a lot harder than simply sitting down and typing out a story. Now I’m creating a saga that won’t be finished until I get to that last scene, the one I see so clearly in my mind. At least now I can see the road ahead, but the struggle is walking it to the end.

Dealing With Writer’s Block

On my blog tour one of the most common questions I got asked was, how do I deal with writer’s block? I know writer’s block well. I’ve had small bouts of it, I’ve had a three year stretch of it, and I’m dealing with a tiny bit of it right now, well, maybe it’s more like a slow down than a total blockage, but it’s still frustrating.

I think in order to deal with writer’s block, it’s best to understand what causes it in the first place. For me, I’ve found I get writer’s block for two reasons.

  1. The scene/story isn’t right and I am refusing to change it.
  2. I have disconnected from my emotions, making it impossible to feel passionate about what I’m writing.

When I find myself experiencing writer’s block, I first have to determine which cause I’m dealing with. If the scene isn’t right, I try something new. Sometimes the solution is as simple as writing the scene from another character’s perspective. Other times I have to let go of the chapter, go to my notebook, and re-plot the story.

Emotional issues are a lot harder to overcome. If I feel disconnected from the story, I have to figure out why. Am I upset about something? Is there something I don’t want to face? Am I not connecting with the characters or the plot because there’s no truth in it? When this is the case, it’s important for me NOT to force myself to write. They say a writer should write everyday, but when I am struggling to get words out, the last thing I want to do if frustrate myself more.

When it’s an emotional issue keeping me from writing, I try to embrace it and take a step back. This is my mind telling me that I need to take a break, inspire myself, and recharge. The best way I’ve found to accomplish this is to read. Writers NEED to read in order to write. So I will make an extra effort to read something I love that makes me excited about telling stories. I read books from authors I admire, and books that make me wish I’d written them myself.

I also take time to watch movies that inspire me. While I’d love to sit and watch a Mad Men marathon, I’m a fantasy writer and chances are I will gain nothing from Don Draper and his cigarette smoking dalliances. I watch historical movies, fantasy movies, and nearly anything on the history channel.

Once I take a step back from writing, I find the itch to write comes back pretty quickly, and I usually wait until the itch is so strong that I can’t wait to sit down and continue with my manuscript.

If none of that helps, you can always try some of these terrible ideas…

  1. Get drunk (Maybe not such a bad idea).
  2. Rewrite the ending to Lord of the Rings.
  3. Scrap your entire project and decide to become an impressionist painter.
  4. Spend your days on Twitter and Facebook.
  5. Call every person who ever told you that you couldn’t write to tell them they were right.
  6. Quit writing forever.

So, as you can see, dealing with your writer’s block is probably a better idea than ignoring it.

How do YOU deal with writer’s block?

 

The Dia Chronicles ~The Embers of Light Teaser

Guess what! I have the final cover for Book 2 of The Dia Chronicles entitled The Embers of Light.

Unfortunately, it’s a little too soon to reveal it, but what I can do is give you the back cover synopsis.

Hopefully this will hold you over until I can give you more.

The Embers of Light

The descendants of the ancient gods think they’ve found peace, but the time has come when new magic and ancient powers will collide…
Stripped of his Dia powers and left to rot, Malcolm is a prisoner of Valenia—a sentence he finds worse than death. His thoughts of revenge are the only thing keeping him sane, but when he finally manages to escape, Malcolm discovers that living as a mortal is more dangerous than he ever imagined. After stealing from the wrong man, Malcolm becomes a captive once more, only this time his punishment is one that he won’t soon forget. His only hope of survival is Seren, an enigmatic young girl with golden eyes and a malevolence to match his own.
When he’s led to Mara and Corbin, the two responsible for his fall from grace, their new faction of Dia is in chaos, infiltrated by an ancient power thought to have been banished forever. This only fuels Malcolm’s ruthless ambitions, but he soon realizes that he too is under attack, a pawn in a centuries old game of power and greed. As new battle lines are drawn, Malcolm finds himself in unchartered waters, forced to choose between helping those he’s vowed to destroy or give in to his lingering desire to settle the score.
Debts will be paid, lives will be lost, and no Dia will ever be the same.

 

My First Two Months as an Indie-Author ~ The Good, The Bad, and The Unexpected

Today marks two months since the official release of The Darkness of Light! I can’t believe it’s been two months already, and yet, some days it feels like it’s been longer. Either way, it’s been a great experience so far and I can tell you with all sincerity that I have NO regrets about deciding to publish this book.

The Days Leading Up to Release

I think for any author, no matter how their novel comes to life, the days leading up to release are both exciting and utterly terrifying. You imagine your book coming to life, people buying it, reading it, and (hopefully) loving it. Then you have those moments of terror when you envision your book dying a slow death. Maybe no one buys it. Maybe it gets bad reviews from the start. Maybe the world never even gives you or your book a second glance.

Release Day

Luckily for me, many of my fears we unfounded. Release day for me was exhilarating. My blog tour started off well, with many bloggers giving my book good reviews, and I got lots of messages and tweets from people buying my book. But then the terror kicked in again…Oh my gosh, people are buying my book, people are reading my book, people are going to start telling me what they think of my book…

Again, this is a cycle of excitement and fear that happens to all authors, so I knew I wasn’t completely crazy.

Two Months Later ~ The GOOD

The first few days or weeks…or more…after a book release, chances are the author will be obsessively checking their amazon rank. Until royalty checks come in (or we make the NYT Best Sellers List), this is the only way we can gauge how well our book is doing.

I’ll admit, I did this for at least the first few weeks. I’d wake up in the morning and instead of checking twitter or Facebook, like I usually do, I would go straight to Amazon.

I was shocked that for the first month after release, and sporadically throughout the second month, my book was always in the top 100 of the US, UK, or Canadian Kindle store under the Mythology and/or Historical Fantasy categories.

Screenshot_2014-03-07-04-48-27(1) Screenshot_2014-03-09-23-12-15

At that point I was so excited about being in the top 100 I didn’t even care if I made a penny in royalties.

During these last two months I’ve also had a book launch party, saw my book on the shelves of bookstores, received a lot of great reviews, had a newspaper article written about me, and had Anne Rice post on her FB and Twitter about the article. I can’t tell you how excited every step of the journey has been.

And Then I Got Paid.

This is the part everyone really wants to know about. Since releasing The Darkness of Light I have received 2 royalty payments. They weren’t enough to pay my way to Paris so I could move into a pied-à-terre, eat baguettes, drink wine, and write all day, but they were enough to satisfy me. In fact, they were more than I expected my first royalty checks to be. The notion that I have received money for writing a book still amazes me. While I can’t run away to Paris just yet, I have made enough to start covering the expenses of my next novel, and that was always my goal in the first place.

I knew from the start that I wouldn’t make a profit off this book. Any money that came in from it would go straight into producing the sequel. One of the keys to being a successful indie-author is to keep writing books. Chances are you won’t make a profit to start, but hopefully with the next book, and the next, and the next, you’ll begin to see higher royalties from multiple books being purchased at one time. That’s the hope, anyway.

So as far as the GOOD goes, I couldn’t have asked for a better two months and I have never regretted my decision to publish my novel.

Two Months Later ~ The BAD

Yes, yes. I’m sorry to tell you that, while it’s been an amazing journey watching my dreams come true, there have been some challenging moments, as well.

The Royalties ~ Yep, they are part of the good, but they are also part of the bad. The money I’ve earned so far has not been enough to get excited about. Sure, it’s helping me produce another novel, but if I had to earn enough money to live on, I’d be living in a box by now. As I said before, I am happy that I earned money at all. I don’t care if I make $10 or $1 million, but if I was under any kind of idea that I’d be rich from writing one book, I’d be very, very wrong.

The Work ~ Once a book has been released, there is A LOT of time spent promoting it, tracking sales, tweeting, searching book blogs etc… I don’t love this part. It’s incredibly distracting, and while it can be exciting, it takes time away from what I should be doing, and that’s WRITING! It’s hard to find a balance between promo and production. I still haven’t figured that one out yet.

The Reviews ~ This is the part authors fear the most, and I am certainly no exception. While I have received many wonderful reviews, the fear of a bad one was enough to drive me to drink. Three weeks after my book launched, I’d managed to convince myself to stop looking at the reviews. I knew a bad one was coming (it happens to every author) and I was determined never to see it. But then, one day as I casually browsed Goodreads and Amazon for another book I was looking for, I decided to check on my book and GAH! there were the bad reviews. I didn’t want to look, I promise you I didn’t, but I couldn’t seem to look away.

I read these reviews between my fingers, taking in every word like 1000 needles to the heart and, while I thought I’d prepared myself for bad reviews, as it turns out, I was NOT prepared at all.

It took me a full 48 hours to finally realize I was being ridiculous. First of all, I ASKED for reviews! I got on the loud speaker of social media, asked for HONEST reviews, and that’s exactly what I got. I have to appreciate the fact that someone took the time to buy my book, give it a try, and then commit more time to telling people why they hated it. :). Either way, it’s what I asked for.

I spent a lot of the next day reading bad reviews of the books I love, which helped me to realize (and truly understand) that not everyone likes every book. Who do I think I am, Virginia Woolf? Ummm, no. So, once I got over myself, I realized that I’d just lived through my worst fear and survived. (That’s the good part).

Two Months Later ~ The UNEXPECTED

There were some things I didn’t plan for prior to the release of my book. One of them was the pressure. It seems to come from everywhere all the time now. I have eager readers who want a sequel, friends at parties constantly asking when the next book will be out, slowing sales that scream at me to get another book out fast or watch my series die.

Of course, this pressure is completely internal. No one is hounding me to get things done and I have no deadlines to meet other than the ones I set for myself. Whenever I feel myself getting stressed out about writing the next book, I have to remind myself that I’m the boss and I make the decisions.

Another thing that came as a completely wonderful surprise to me was the support I’ve received. I’ve had so many people send me pictures of themselves with my book, I’ve had friends introduce my novel to their book clubs, and I’ve made many wonderful friends whom I may not have known had I not written a book.

~

All in all, I’d say the last 2 months have been better than I ever could have imagined. I’ve definitely learned a lot along the way, which I hope will make my next publishing adventure a lot easier. I can’t wait to see what the next few months have in store for me and I am very grateful that I’ve managed to see my dreams come true. Now it’s time to aim higher. :)

The Darkness of Light ~ Available now on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and Through Select Retailers.

websize

 

Release Day for Night Moves by Kristen Strassel!

Good morning Everyone!

NIGHT MOVES, the next installment of Kristen Strassel’s Night Songs Collection is available NOW and it’s also Kristen’s birthday!

happy-birthday

kristenpic 2

Be sure to stop by her twitter @KristenStrassel and wish her a happy birthday, and pick up your copy of Night Moves today!

Amazon

B&N

Goodreads

NIGHT MOVES COVER

We bonded in darkness, over darkness.

Melanie Vaughn’s job ruined everything. Her social life, nonexistent. Her relationship with her boyfriend, a hostile roommate situation. She resolves to fix everything one snowy afternoon, but instead comes home to discover her boyfriend is already exploring other options. Blonder, bustier options. Rage drives Melanie to do the unthinkable.

When Soul Divider was on the top of the world, so was Ryder Maddox. When the band faded into obscurity, Ryder’s luck plummeted with it. In a last ditch effort to rekindle the band’s heyday, Soul Divider teams up with powerful vampire clean leader, Talis de Rancourt. In return for her services, the band pays the ultimate price for never ending fame.

Now on the run, Melanie meets Ryder in a middle of nowhere hotel. She never expected her teenage rock star crush to be as lost and as in need of a companion as she is. Their connection is all consuming, even before they find they share another kinship: murder.

The newly turned vampires in Soul Divider still have a lot to learn. The police and public begin to connect the girls that go missing or die in sync with the band’s tour schedule. Back at home, clues are also adding up against Melanie as well. Between constant media coverage and unrelenting attention from the authorities, Melanie and Ryder find themselves in unchartered territory

 

 

COVER REVEAL ~ Night Moves by Kristen Strassel!!!

I LOVE cover reveals! And today I have a cover for a book that I can’t wait to read!

You know how much I loved Kristen Strassel’s Because the Night, so I’m REALLY excited for Night Moves, the next installment of the steamy vampire romance series The Night Songs Collection.

The book release date is March 26th, but while we wait, here is the cover.

NIGHT MOVES COVER

Night Moves Press Kit

Book Name: Night Moves (The Night Songs Collection, #2)

Book Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance

Book release date: March 26th, 2014 by Fast Foreword Publishing

Night Moves (book  #2) on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20815056-night-moves?from_search=true

Night Moves book blurb:

We bonded in darkness, over darkness.

Melanie Vaughn’s job ruined everything. Her social life, nonexistent. Her relationship with her boyfriend, a hostile roommate situation. She resolves to fix everything one snowy afternoon, but instead comes home to discover her boyfriend is already exploring other options. Blonder, bustier options. Rage drives Melanie to do the unthinkable.

When Soul Divider was on the top of the world, so was Ryder Maddox. When the band faded into obscurity, Ryder’s luck plummeted with it. In a last ditch effort to rekindle the band’s heyday, Soul Divider teams up with powerful vampire clean leader, Talis de Rancourt. In return for her services, the band pays the ultimate price for never ending fame.

Now on the run, Melanie meets Ryder in a middle of nowhere hotel. She never expected her teenage rock star crush to be as lost and as in need of a companion as she is. Their connection is all consuming, even before they find they share another kinship: murder.

The newly turned vampires in Soul Divider still have a lot to learn. The police and public begin to connect the girls that go missing or die in sync with the band’s tour schedule. Back at home, clues are also adding up against Melanie as well. Between constant media coverage and unrelenting attention from the authorities, Melanie and Ryder find themselves in unchartered territory

About the author Kristen Strassel:

Kristen shares a birthday with Steven Tyler and Diana Ross.  She spends each day striving to be half as fabulous as they are.  She’s worn many hats, none as flattering as her cowboy hat: banker, retail manager, fledgling web designer, world’s worst cocktail waitress, panty slinger, now makeup artist and aspiring author.  She loves sunshine, live music, the middle of nowhere, and finding new things to put in her house.  Kristen is represented by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg of Foreword Literary.

Kristen on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7267647.Kristen_Strassel

Kristen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/KristenStrassel

Kristen’s Blog: http://deadlyeverafter.com/

Other books by Kristen:

Because the Night (book #1) on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18489280-because-the-night

Because the Night (book #1) on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Because-Night-The-Songs-Collection-ebook/dp/B00GFCRJRO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384802462&sr=8-1&keywords=Because+the+Night+kristen+strassel

Seasons in the Sun (book #.5) on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18774105-seasons-in-the-sun

Seasons in the Sun (book #.5) on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Seasons-Sun-Kristen-Strassel-ebook/dp/B00H3NQ1DW/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=05QAF8Z4ZKZ1CHA5016F

Blog Tour Spotlight, Review, and Giveaway ~ Taming Darkness by Kat Daemon

I’m excited to bring you a spotlight and review of an amazing debut novel by Kat Daemon.

Title: Taming Darkness (Taming Darkness #1)

Author: Kat Daemon

Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance

Release Date: March 3rd 2014

Taming Darkness Cover1

Since he was sentenced to earth eons ago, Lucifer has always lived by three simple rules: Humans are toys that are meant to be played with, love is a useless emotion, and the only creature worth fighting for is himself. To him, nothing matters but his own enjoyment, whether it be manipulating those around him, or indulging in the sins of the flesh with Lilith. Then he found young, sweet, and innocent, Maria, who is everything that Lucifer detests. She has devoted her life to her one true love, God. Unable to resist a challenge, Lucifer sets his sights on tempting Maria away from his enemy. Disguising himself as Lucas Starr, he creates a world that not even Maria can resist. He never planned on having the tables turned on him. Imagine Lucifer’s surprise when Maria brings him to his knees and shows him a glimpse of heaven once more.

Blinded by his arrogance and an unlikely vision, Lucifer falls again, this time forgetting that some lines should never be crossed. When his greatest opponent, Michael, shows up, all Hell breaks loose. Will Maria be able to accept Lucifer for who he truly is, or realize what Michael already knows: some destinies can never be changed?

Review

5 Stars

I was really surprised by how quickly this book had me drawn in. I think I expected a devilish love story where the antagonist is a mysterious villain. But when I discovered the story was told from the devil’s perspective, and when I saw how brilliantly the author created the mind of Lucifer, I was intrigued. Let’s be clear, Luc is certainly a devil. His malevolence is unquestionable. But he also comes across as very human, which I loved. Despite his wicked inclinations, he has human characteristics, like falling in love…with a NUN! If that kind of irony isn’t human, I don’t know what is.

There also seems to be a curiosity in him, a human tendency toward boredom, and an inner struggle that makes him feel so believable as a character.

I really loved this book and look forward to reading more from this talented author.

About the Author

Kat Daemon Pic

Kat Daemon grew up in New York where her imagination always seemed to get the best of her.  When she’s not hanging with demons, she’s usually armed with a strong cup of coffee and dreaming up her next tormented character.

You can find out more about Kat and her books at www.katdaemon.com

Tour Wide Giveaway!

Here’s what you can win;

Prize pack #1 – A Red Heart Necklace & a $15 Amazon Gift Card

Prize pack #2 – Essie “devil’s advocate” nail polish and a $10 Amazon gift card

Prize pack #3 – $5 Amazon gift card

(All prize packs will also include a signed postcard from the author)

Rafflecopter giveaway link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/320ab744/

Review ~ Seasons in the Sun by Kristen Strassel

Seasons in the Sun (The Night Songs Collection, #.5)

Seasons in the Sun Final

My Review

5 stars

I loved reading this novella. Being that’d I’d already fallen in love with the characters in Because the Night, I was really looking forward to reading about Tristan in his pre-vampire days.

Callie is a much more naive character in Seasons in the Sun, but all of that changes when she meets Tristan, the handsome bad boy that draws her in immediately. I didn’t feel like the connection between Tristan and Callie was insta-love, but rather a more realistic view of teenage romance; it starts off with an attraction and the feelings developed from there.

I liked getting to know Tristan. He was a pretty big jerk in Because the Night, but in this prequel, you can see that while he’s always been a rule-breaker, he has (or had) a very likable, sensitive side at one time. It’s not hard to see why Callie fell in love with him.

I think Ms. Strassel did a great job of creating the perfect continuity between Because the Night and its prequel. The characters were well developed through the two novels, and knowing Callie and Tristan’s back story makes me want to read the sequel all over again.

Be sure to get your copy on Amazon

And add it to Goodreads

Other books by Kristen Strassel:

Because the Night, on Goodreads

Because the Night, on Amazon

Seasons in the Sun

Summer has finally arrived, along with a boy who will forever change the life of fourteen-year-old Callie. After growing up hearing stories about Tristan Trevosier and his famous family, Callie finally meets him when he spends the summer on Martha’s Vineyard. Seventeen-year-old Tristan is a hurricane of destruction and rebellion, and he quickly blows a hole right into Callie’s sheltered life. Callie sees a side of Tristan that he doesn’t show anyone else. She’s determined to make everyone see what she sees in him.

Callie defies her parents by leaving the island with Tristan. But when his ugly habits rear their head, Callie realizes maybe she’s the one who’s wrong about him. He’s beyond her help. But it’s too late for her to walk away. This summer, she learns that love can be stronger than reason.

kristenpic 2

Kristen shares a birthday with Steven Tyler and Diana Ross.  She spends each day striving to be half as fabulous as they are.  She’s worn many hats, none as flattering as her cowboy hat: banker, retail manager, fledgling web designer, world’s worst cocktail waitress, panty slinger, now makeup artist and aspiring author.  She loves sunshine, live music, the middle of nowhere, and finding new things to put in her house.  Kristen is represented by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg of Foreword Literary.

 

Exciting News This Week!

Happy Friday!

What a crazy week this has been.

A few weeks ago my hometown newspaper interviewed me about my book. I didn’t see an article right away, so I figured they’d decided not to run it. Then, last night I saw it pop up. From a Writer’s Fantasy to an Author’s Reality

I was so excited to see the article, and then I discovered that I got a whole page feature.

1796957_10153926092550077_139378399_oWhen I was being interviewed I was asked what it’s like to see my book out there and get such wonderful reviews. The first thing that came to mind was something Therin Knite wrote to me a couple of months ago: It’s a process of disbelief.

And it really is. Everything that happens along the way, from the first draft to the cover proof to the actual book in my hands had been a series of moments that don’t feel real.

After I posted the article, Anne Rice shared it on her Facebook page. That was pretty amazing!

1941532_629144877153060_1156109688_o

And this morning I woke up to find The Darkness of Light ranked #14 in mythology and #96 in Historical Fantasy on Amazon

combine_images

Pretty crazy, eh?

I’m really grateful for the support from my community and fellow authors. Every step of the way still feels unreal.

Anyway, I’d better get back to the revisions on The Embers of Light! More details on that one coming soon!

 

How I Write a Second Draft

Whether you’re a veteran author or new to the writing game, getting to the end of that first draft is a major accomplishment. You’ve spent weeks, months, maybe even years toiling away in a caffeine fueled ocean of excitement, self-doubt, and determination to get a finished manuscript. But you did it! You have a completed, (possibly disorganized) first draft. Now is the time to break out the champagne and celebrate, because in the coming weeks, you’ll learn just how much more work lies ahead.

This is a follow up to the post: How Did You Write a Book?

How I Write a Second Draft

Before I Begin the Rewrites

“Put your work in a drawer and walk away.” You may have heard this tip before, but I’ve come to realize that setting your work aside for a while is VERY important. It’s always hard for me to do this, but I know that taking a step back from it, even for a couple of weeks, will give me some perspective on the story. Plus, it’s a good time to recharge my writing muscles. I read books, watch movies that inspire me and do some research if needed.

Revision Prep

The first read through – This is the part I dislike the most. It’s the part where I realize just how much work I still have to do. After I’ve had a little time away from my manuscript, the first read through can either surprise me or horrify me. I might love a chapter so much that if feels like I didn’t write it at all, and then others might make me cringe so bad that I wonder what the hell I was thinking. I’m sure this happens to a lot of authors, so I’m just gonna go ahead and assume I’m not alone here.

The mantra “Let it Go” – I prepare myself ahead of time to let things go. Nothing is written in stone at this stage and everything is subject to deletion. As a rule, I never write the last few chapters of a novel in a first draft for two reasons: 1. Even though I know how the story will end, I feel like ending it in the first draft is bad luck, and 2. I don’t want to have to cut and ending this early on. By not writing the ending, I am totally open to changing it if need be.

Revisions

Once my manuscript is all marked with red pen and looks like a crime scene, it’s time to start writing. At this point I know what I like and dislike about the story, and I have a good idea what needs to be cut, what needs more work and what needs to be added to round out the book.

Full rewrite – I’m not a fan of copy and paste and once I write a draft, I don’t continue working in the original document (*note – I write each chapter as a separate document). Instead I print off the pages and start a new folder called “2nd draft”. From this point I rearrange the printed chapters into a new order and begin the long process of typing. But this isn’t simply a copy job; this is an elaboration on the existing work. Sometimes I keep many paragraphs without adding much, other times I start from scratch, knowing exactly what’s going to happen in the scene. My favorite part of revisions is the completely new chapters I get to add. These are fun because I know the story well enough to create the chapter with subtle plot hints, more character development, and maybe even some new challenges for the characters. Ever wonder how an author makes so many things connect throughout a book? How they added so many hints? This happens in the rewrites.

For me, the second draft manuscript is still in the development stages. That’s important to remember. I am still “writing” the book, not editing. It is NOT finished yet.

Once I’ve rewritten the entire book to the point that most of it makes sense and most of the plot holes are closed up, I write the last chapters. At this stage I should feel confident enough to let someone else read it. But I also keep in mind that I may still need to cut and rewrite once fresh eyes have been on it. The purpose of a second draft (for me, anyway) is not to have a final product, but to make it readable to others.

 

Beta-readers and the Developmental Edit

This is the scary part. Other people are going to be reading your work. Some writers use beta-readers (other writers or friends who give feedback on your work) or they can also use a professional developmental editor (usually a published author, agent, or someone working in the publishing industry.)

For my sequel, Julie Hutchings will be doing my developmental edit. I will send the manuscript to her and wait. While this can be an anxious time for a writer, I try to use it as a break. I go back to reading or start writing something unrelated to my series. Once I get notes back from the developmental edit I will read through them, consider them carefully, make notes and then, after taking some time to think, I will rewrite for the last time, hopefully.

I hope this helps anyone stuck on a 2nd draft. Just keep in mind that it’s not over yet, but you’re so close you can’t give up now! You have all the pieces to the puzzle; you just have to keep rearranging them until they create a beautiful picture.

Stay tuned for a 3rd draft post, which will include details on the copy-editing stage.