There is much excitement! Late last night, I signed the contract to sell my shifter story, Taint of Shadow, to Cobblestone Press!
This is really exciting to me. Taint of Shadow is my longest work to date, and writing it taught me a lot. It’s also the first story where I used my crit group, and it absolutely shows in the quality of work.
This book is the first in a series called “Heart of Darkness”. I’ll probably be talking a lot about it between now and the time it’s published, sometime in early 2009. By the time it comes out, I hope to have the second installment done and contracted.
In short – YAY!
I had this story entirely plotted out. The whole thing. All the details, all the technology. A timeline that spanned sixty years.
I also had six and a half thousand words written. Introduction of status quo and heroine. The beginnings of romantic conflict. A bit of world building. But I wanted to make sure it was all clear and interesting. You know, get a gut check before I wrote much further. The hero was about to come on stage.
That was my first mistake.
I let Bree and Donna of Moira Rogers fame (and congrats to them on another sale!) read my story introduction. Donna promptly fell for my secondary character. As I explained the original plot, she threw out a few ideas of her own.
It was something like getting hit with a bat. Hard. On the back of the head. Suddenly, I saw a whole new plot direction. A whole new way it could be. Worse, I kind of liked it. Worse than that, I suddenly wanted to know what happened in this new place. I wanted to see how it turned out, and how the heroine and new hero came to love each other.
And my story ran off the rails.
Sixty years of timeline. A whole section of notebook. A month of plotting. Destroyed in about three minutes.
It’ll be better than I originally planned it. It’ll be terrific, in fact. But this story that’s haunted me for all this time has suddenly gotten rewritten, and it’s all Donna’s fault. I’ll have to give the characters I planned another story, because this one? Yeah. It’s gone a totally different direction.
The lovely Kris Eton did an interview with me for her blog today. Go check it out!
Working at my peak speed, I’ve written about 5.5k words in one day. I was really, really on a roll. But that never happens when I’ve just started a story.
It doesn’t matter how well I’ve plotted it, how tight my outline is, or how full my wiki has gotten. The first 1k words are a bear to get down, at least for me. Why? Because these are the most important words in the story.
These words are not just the hook, but the foundation for everything that’s to come. I know where I’m building to, and I have to be careful not to reveal too much too soon. How much does my reader need to know right now? What’s important to get in their head? What images do I want to create? What initial impressions do I want them to have?
These are also the first words an editor or agent will read. In most cases, I have at least three chapters to really get them interested, but if I can’t catch them right off the bat, I have less of a chance to sell my story.
In most cases, I don’t edit as I write. I just write, then go back and look at it later, sometimes the next day, sometimes the next week. Not with this first thousand words, though. The first two hundred are worse. I go back and comb them, preen them, refine them until they say exactly what I want them to.
I’ve gotten 2k words into this new story now. And I think I have the first half of that right where I want it. Maybe. I’m not sure about one paragraph. I may nix it. Or rewrite it. But the rest of it’s good. I think.
Life often gets in the way of writing, which is only fair, because writing gets in the way of life fairly often. I’ve been unbelievably busy, and I don’t see it getting better for another couple months. At least I won’t be bored.
My husband started a new job last week, and the first week is always a change for the whole family. Before, he worked about two miles up the street, and now he’s significantly farther away than that. His hours have changed a bit, especially during his training period, so the whole household routine has gotten turned about, and will get turned about again next week when he gets his normal hours.
And we’re moving to a bigger apartment at the end of the month, so we have to pack the place up. It was kind of a sudden decision. A place became available, the complex we live in was willing to make a deal with us, so we grabbed it. It means we have to be out of this place by the first of May, though, so just like when we moved last year, we have a short time in which to do a lot. Fortunately, it won’t be as bad as the last move. That was a nightmare.
I finished Hunk of Coal, a Christmas story I’ll be submitting to Cobblestone Press. I’m waiting for my critique group to finish chewing on it, then I can format it and send it in. I started a story called Hangman’s Dues, but I think it might be too dark. I’ve backburnered it for the moment in favor of outlining a science fiction romance that’s been haunting my head for a month. If only it would give me a title, I’d be happy.
And I went to Barnes and Noble on Sunday. I came away with three books: Pandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton, The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie, and Hard Contact by Karen Traviss. Why yes, my reading tastes are eclectic. Why do you ask?