Posts Tagged ‘Book 1’

A Matter of Perspective

Hey-a, squiders, how’s it hanging? This week is a Disaster and so mostly I’m eating a lot of chocolate and quietly panicking.

But anyway, let’s talk about my edit and how it’s going! Or, rather, how it’s not going, because Life is doing that thing again.

Now, to be fair, I have made some progress. I wrote 400 words on the new first chapter.

They were awful. Seriously, just the worst over-written, pace-killing words.

And to even write those 400 words, if you remember, I had to get my friends to guilt trip me into writing because of performance anxiety and all the importance my brain had heaped on the re-write of chapter one (and arguably, this revision as a whole).

Imagine, if you will, how frustrating it is to have your brain fight you on doing a basic, necessary task for several days, and when you finally trick it into doing said task, all your fears are justified.

You ARE a hack, you CAN’T write this book properly, you ARE NEVER going to get it finished and published, etc.

Anyway, it was not good.

Later in the day, I had some time to sit and consider why said 400 words were not working, and I ended up thinking, too, about Hallowed Hill. After all, HH has, arguably, one of the best openings I’ve ever written for any story, and I hadn’t hardly had to touch it in revision.

So, I said to myself, what did I do differently for the beginning of Hallowed Hill than I am now?

Well, that was easy. I wrote the beginning of HH in first person.

See, Gothic novels are often in first person, so I set out to do the same. And I made it, oh, maybe a thousand words, in first person before it became apparent that it was not working and I switched to third person. So when I went back to change the very beginning into third as well, I noticed a few things.

While you cannot be as voice-y in third person as in first, you can still maintain some of the voice in third, which makes the passages more engaging. AND it cuts directly to a character’s wants and needs.

Part of the problem with the first chapter of Book One is that there is SO much going on. There’s the war to introduce, and the fantasy world-building, and oh so many characters, and it’s easy for me to get bogged down in all that. And it bogs the writing down too.

So I got up early the next morning, and I wrote 600 words of opening in first person.

And lo and behold, it cut through all the fluff to what was important.

Then I took my 600 words of first person and my 400 words of third person and spliced them together into something actually useable, and now, dear squiders, we are off and running.

Well, off and ambling along because I’ve been having a hard time finding writing time. But it does seem to be flowing much better when I get around to it.

Fingers crossed that this will be the last time I have to rewrite this chapter.

I’ve a cool promo for you for Thursday, squiders, and then who knows what we’re doing next week. Something, I’m sure.



Executive dysfunction is no joke, my friends, and I swear it’s getting worse the older I get–or maybe it’s just manifesting in more annoying ways.

ANYWAY I finished my revision plan last week, like I was planning to. Monday I sat down with my red pen and the paper copy of the last draft of the story, and I scribbled all over, and ta-dah! I was ready to start writing.

A scribbled on printout of a story

Or re-writing, I guess, except I do need to do a new first scene, so who knows.

Anyway, the last couple of days have been busy (Tuesday I needed to run errands after work, and yesterday the roads were a mess, so I came home early and worked here, but that actually made it so I worked longer), so I thought I’d go to the coffee shop after work today, have a nice coffee, and write my opening scene.

Easy peasy, right?

Well, I gave myself about an hour and a half to write, and by the end I had this:

A poorly executed first chapter
Not impressive

What makes it worse is that I suspected I was going to do this. As I arrived at the coffee shop, I said to myself, “Now, Kit, don’t get distracted. I know it’s kind of overwhelming, to have to write a new first chapter, and I know there’s a lot riding on it, because we want this to be the last draft, but you’ve got to just do it, and the sooner the better, because maybe we can catch the end of the critique marathon, and then you can get feedback on whether or not the new beginning is working.”

And then I got a brownie, and I had to wait for my coffee, and I thought I’d play a phone game while I ate/waited, and then it was too late. All I did was make the document and generally panic.

This is stupid. I know this is stupid. I’m predictably stupid in this way too, so you’d think I’d just get over myself by now.

But alas.

Left to my own devices, I will eventually just sit down and write, but it can take a few days, depending on how easy it is to distract myself (spoiler alert: it’s super easy).

So I think tomorrow I will ask some friends to bother me until I actually write. I read an article today that said that, for people with ADHD, just sitting with other people, or having people expect something from you, can be the impetus to have you sit down and focus. Now, I don’t have ADHD, or, at least, I’m not diagnosed, but I don’t see any reason why it won’t work for me too.

(In fact, I know this can work, because if I’m goofing around at my desk and my husband comes and sits next to me to work, I tend to switch to doing things I’ve put off.)

Anyway, wish me luck! If all goes well, I’ll have a finished first chapter ready in time to post next Monday for the critique marathon (I think there’s only two weeks left on it), and I think once I’m past the first chapter and, indeed, just the initial hurdle of starting, the rest of the revision should go faster.

See you next week, squiders!

Finally! Movement

Howdy, howdy, squiders. How’s February treating you?

Aside from the SkillShare issue, mine’s been decent! Because, miracles of miracles, I’m almost done with my revision plan FINALLY.


And I moved my cards around a bit more, and I realized…

…I was thinking about it too hard.

What is the expression. Something, something, weeds… hold on. Oh, it’s just “in the weeds.” Maybe combined with a little bit of “can’t see the forest for the trees.”

When I started this revision, I knew where the problems lay. Specifically that my female main character lacked decent internal motivation and that the beginning of the book felt a little disconnected.

And then, somewhere along the way, I got lost. I got so deep into checking my plots and subplots that I lost sight of what I was trying to fix, and then I started to try and fix things that didn’t need fixing.

No wonder I was feeling overwhelmed and frustrated!

So, oh, Friday I want to say, I was like, hey, maybe, you know, things are mostly in the right order, and we just need to tweak things based on observations we made when we did the readthrough, including fixes for things that actually are problems (which I had figured out, I’d just…not stopped there).

And, oh, hey, guess what was suddenly a million times easier.

Anyway, I’m almost done with my revision plan for the beginning of the book (which is where the majority of issues reside), and once I’m done, I’ll finish the revision plan for the rest of the book, which is mostly streamlining things to make sense with the changes to the beginning of the book, and fixing clunky writing, and adding in one scene (or maybe a whole chapter) about three-fourths of the way through the book.

I’d like to say that I’m frustrated at myself for going completely off the rails and therefore halting the whole process unnecessarily, but I’m just so happy that things are finally moving! Hooray! Progress!

Anyway, things are moving now, and hopefully we’ll be able to start the actual revision next week! Eeee!

An Exercise in Creative Thinking

Hey-o, squiders. How’s it going? My brain is still in full freak out mode about figuring out the plot order at the beginning of the book, fully convinced this is the hardest thing it has ever had to do, somehow completely forgetting that we somehow made it through Calculus 3 that one time in college.

I did make progress today though.

I made note cards.

I put each of the things that needs to happen in Act 1 on a card, and then I spent the afternoon shuffling them about upside down and putting them in random orders.

What, you may ask, is this accomplishing.

Well, a trick I learned from Holly Lisle is that, if things aren’t working, sometimes it’s best to re-arrange things, even in orders that seem like they make no sense, because it forces you to look at your story events in a new light. What would have to happen for the order to change to match the order on the cards? Is that better than what you currently have? Does it add new tension or fix some other problem? Does it change something boring into something with a better twist?

And so forth.

So far the orders are completely bonkers, but I can feel things start to loosen up. I’m going to do this exercise at least five times, no matter what crazy order the cards come up with.

Fingers crossed that it all falls into place soon.

A Lack of Focus

Maybe even an avoidance of focus, if I’m being honest.

I am SO CLOSE to being done with the prep work for the revision. I basically just need to finalize a new order and outline, and then I can write and fix and hooray!

But my brain does this thing, when I am close to the end of a project or when I am at the hardest part, where it’s like “This is obviously VERY HARD and requires MUCH CONCENTRATION, and so I can only work in the PERFECT CONDITIONS” which tend to be never.

(For example, the smaller, mobile one is sitting next to me singing camp songs with all the wrong tunes, which is both very distracting and also triggering.)

This tends to go on for a few days until I’m like SCREW IT, WE’RE DOING THIS which normally goes fine and then I feel silly for letting my brain be weird about it for however long I have let it go on.

As a side effect of my brain being stupid about whatever it’s being stupid about, it gets super productive in other ways.

For example, yesterday (when it was, of course, not good working conditions because the small, mobile ones were off school) I read two whole books, did multiple loads of laundry, wrote a blog post (for TDP), did research for my newsletter, cleaned my car’s floor mats, emailed my doctor, took down the Christmas decorations, texted two people I’d been forgetting to text back, worked out, and made Hungarian goulash for dinner.

Today I’m blogging and I’ve run some errands (though I don’t have a ton of time after work), and I also watched some ghost videos on YouTube, which is a sure sign I am procrastinating. (Also my coffee filter got messed up and dropped all sorts of coffee grounds into my coffee, which was just gross.)

We’re supposed to possibly get a foot of snow overnight, so it’s possible we’ll have a snow day tomorrow, so either it’ll be yesterday over again (with the addition of working from home) or I’m sure I’ll find a way to use the snow as an excuse.

I mean, if I’m being totally honest, it’ll probably be Friday before I get my brain under control. But maybe tomorrow! Fingers crossed and all that jazz.

One would think, as this has been an issue for literally ever, that I would have figured out a way around this, but every project only has one sticking point, and they’re often months apart, and quite frankly I forget things pretty easily. I leave notes but the thing about notes is that you have to go back and look at them or they’re useless.

Anyway, all this is just to say that, hey, I don’t have a project update today cuz I haven’t done anything but think about working on it since Saturday.

(I mean, the thinking is useful, but not useful enough.)

If YOU have ways to get around weird brain procrastination, I’d love to hear them.

I’m Not Trying to Ignore You

God, I am so sleepy. Where did I leave you guys?

Oh, yeah, my FAILURE OF READING. Alas.

Anyway, despite my inability to update my blog on its normal schedule, I have actually been making pretty good progress on the planning for the Book 1 revision.

I finished my visual arcs, and I broke down what needs to stay in the story in the currently messy beginning bit.

I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about this before, but the first, oh, 8 or 9 chapters take place over about five or six months, and they feel a little disjointed. Moving the war to the very beginning of the book and fixing Lana’s internal arc will help that, but if I can consolidate the timeline down to, oh, three months or less, that will also help, especially if I can link the chapters together better.

So now I have a list of just the basic things that need to happen, which looks something like this:

  • Prophecy needs to be around
  • Midwinter component has to show up
  • Bandicore attack
  • Coming of age
  • Midwinter (in some form) so Dan/Lana romance can get going
  • Letters from Queen
  • Meeting with Queen
  • Dan and Lana need to make connection of themselves with prophecy
  • Kira and Cerin need to meet

The bandicore attack has to happen before the letters from the Queen, and those have to happen before the meeting with the Queen, but everything else is up in the air. My plan is to play around with the order to see what makes the most sense from a pacing and arc standpoint, so that’s where I am at the moment.

I also got a bit sidelined by some research. Chapter 8 has existed in some form since the first draft (I think) though it has undergone a variety of changes over various drafts. (Especially since the original version was basically there to show off how badass my MCs are, and that’s not terribly useful.) In short, chapter 8 focuses on sparring to get ready for the war, and it’s awkward and boring and continuously bad, though it does have useful things happen in it (Kira and Cerin meet, from the bulletpoints above, and it provides major motivation for a side character that the MCs will cross paths with for all three books).

Anyway, while I was poking things this past week, I was kinda of like, well, how would they have trained for war? Is there a better exercise they could be doing which is more interesting, or can tie in to other things that have to happen or into character arcs?

And I realize this is something I really should have already researched, and maybe if I were starting the book from scratch today I would have, but this is what comes from having worked on a book for twenty years.

So I spent quite a lot of time looking at medieval armies and how they would have trained (including watching some random documentaries I found), and now I have notes about that, but I haven’t had a chance to go back in and figure out a better way to do the activity (or if I really even need it), but at least now I am informed.

And knowing is half the battle. Pun intended.

Anyway, once again, sorry for the bizarre posting schedule. Things are getting done!

Also, I submitted Hallowed Hill to a contest which was very scary and I almost backed out of doing so like three times, but I did it, and now, while I wait, I don’t think about it.

See you hopefully Tuesday, squiders!

Chipping Away at It

The hell? WordPress is giving me prompts now. I guess that could be useful? Anyway, moving on.

I’m making decent progress on my chart. I do think that’s going to be helpful. Right now I’m putting in the plot points that already exist in the story, and then I’ll go back in and add in additional things that are missing. From there, I should be able to map what changes need to go into what chapters, and revision can finally get going.

Well, the actual moving parts bit. I do think the planning portion is the most important part of any revision. It’s best to make sure you know what you’re changing and why before you start messing around.

I’m not going as quickly as I would like, but again, as I keep reminding myself, it is Christmas, it is December, and I am regularly working on it and making progress, and that’s really the best that can be done.

As for the holidays, I mailed out the last of my Christmas cards this morning and bought the last of the presents today (except I’ve remembered I still need to get something for the dog), and I have about half of everything wrapped. All in all, Christmas is in excellent shape, so I’m feeling pretty good about that too.

I do need to read three more books to hit my yearly goal of 50 books, but I’m about halfway through two, and a third of the way through another, though I’ll probably drop that one until I get through my stash of Christmas mysteries. Mmm, Christmas mysteries. Single-handedly helping me reach my yearly reading goal for like five years running now.

One of the books I’m a little over halfway through is The Ghosts of Christmas Past, which is a short story collection of ghost-related Christmas stories from the last 200 years or so. It is excellent, and most of the stories have been quite good. Maybe I’ll write a Christmas related ghost story here sometime. But I recommend it if you like that sort of thing.

I am also working on the content edit for the next Turtleduck Press release. That is definitely going slower than I would like, but oh well. It shall get done. It shall all get done.

I make no guarantees about posts between now and Christmas, or, hell, now and the New Year. Fingers crossed, but I promise nothing.

Happy holidays to you, squiders, whichever ones you celebrate, and if I don’t see you before, I shall see you in 2023.

Good Job, Past!Kit

Good news, squiders. It turns out that earlier in the year, before I switched the revision/marketing for Hallowed Hill, I went through and outlined the current state of Book 1, including notes on what the chapter was versus what it needed to be, and where the three major plotlines were, and so forth.

So, yay! I don’t need to do that again. Though it does underscore how far I’d gotten into revision planning before I had to reverse course. Sigh.

(Though I did have someone this week tell me that Hallowed Hill was really good, and that they had to stop reading it at night, because it was too creepy. Bwhahahahahaha!)

So I went back through the notes past!me made, and I read through and expanded some freewriting and plot thoughts, and poked at the wonky subplots that I mentioned on Tuesday. So all I need to do now is to line up my three major plotlines (in the current draft they’re a bit bunchy) and make sure they’re progressing properly and without bunching, and then I can outline my revision and get going.

I tried to do this earlier today (actually that’s why this is so late, I was hoping to have it done before I blogged) but I tried to do it using the tracker I use for my subplots, and that wasn’t working because I couldn’t see the plotline versus the other plotline.

So I’ve made a visual tracker.

A mostly empty notebook sheet

As you can see, I haven’t populated it yet, but I’m hoping I can lay the major plot points out versus each other here, so I can see where they’re interplaying and make sure they’re not bunching, and also that all three are progressing throughout the entire book. I’ve got my chapters across the top for reference.

I’ve not tried a visual method like this before, so fingers crossed that it’s going to work and make sense.

Who knows, by the time I blog next week, I might actually be getting somewhere. Fingers crossed!

Also having medication for my back is helping so much. Like, it still hurts, and I’m still getting nerve pain, but it’s all dulled and I can mostly operate normally. SUCH a huge difference.

Right! See you guys next week!

Everything Hurts and Nothing is Getting Done

I mean, to be fair, every year I think I’m going to be productive in December, and every year I am surprised when I am not.

(Imagine the Surprised Pikachu meme here.)


surprise pikachu meme

Right, moving on.

There’s holiday stuff, of course. Our cards showed up today, so I’ve addressed, oh, five of them and then have given up for the day because I have to double check addresses and I don’t actually have stamps yet. (Well, I have Day of the Dead stamps, but somehow that doesn’t seem seasonally appropriate.) Most-ish of my Christmas present shopping is done, including the selection and purchasing of our traditional Christmas Eve books, though one child still needs a gift, and I do need to do stocking stuffers (including for myself and the spouse). But in general, sitting fairly pretty. It just takes time and effort.

But the biggest issue is the slipped disc I told you guys about.

It turns out I have one slipped disc and another one bulging, and the slipped one is pressing on my L5 nerve root, which is what is causing the nerve pain down my leg. I’ve been trying to get on top of this, so I’ve been seeing my chiropractor twice a week, and last week I also started seeing a physical therapist (mostly because the orthopedic surgeon I went to see said insurance was unlikely to approve an MRI without doing physical therapy first, but then they went ahead and approved the MRI anyway). As you can imagine, four appointments a week is really eating into my time.

And well, last week I would have said I was getting better. But over the weekend I caught a cold (I actually slept most of Saturday) and as you can imagine, coughing and sneezing in combination with a messed up back was a bad combination. I literally only had that cold for Saturday and Sunday, but by Sunday night my back and leg pain was at the worst it has ever been. I haven’t been able to sleep because I haven’t been able to get comfortable, and exercises and positions that have made things better over the past few weeks have now proven to be useless.

Today I made an emergency visit to my doctor to hopefully get some relief, so now I have prescription painkillers and some steroids, and hopefully these will calm the inflammation in the area enough that my body can repair the discs on their own. Fingers crossed!

All this is a long way to say, uh, sorry for not blogging last week. Did I blog last week? I have no idea anymore.

The good news is that I have sorted out the character issues with Book 1, and am working on a slightly wonky subplot, and then I have another slightly wonky subplot to poke, and then I’m going to do a scene outline and identify what needs changing where. Not as fast as I hoped to be working, but definitely making progress.

Every little bit counts. Progress is progress, no matter how slow, and sometimes I have to remember that.

I hope your December is going better than mine! (And if you have disc tips, I’d love to hear them.)

In the Depths of Character Exercises

Where did I leave you, squiders, before I forgot Tuesday existed? Oh, right. With the grand plans that I was going to have an updated revision outline and be ready to dig into actual revision.

Well, we haven’t gotten there. But there are definitely ideas swimming around, on that front.

When I found the notes for the revision that I did before Hallowed Hill took priority, I also found some character notes I’d started.

You see, back in, uh, 2017, I think, my sister and I went to the Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference. Which was a bit of a mess emotionally, for me, but I went to some good panels and reconnected with other writers I knew, and so forth and so on.

One of the best panels I went to was run by a writing acquaintance of mine, Stant Litore. I don’t remember what it was about (though, hold on, I’ll check the archives here…) Aha. I did a panel by panel breakdown, good job me. The panel Stant did was called Bringing Characters to Life on the Page. Anyway, long story short (too late), I was so impressed by the panel I went and bought his book on the subject, Write Characters Your Readers Won’t Forget.

This is a short book full of character exercises and, at some point between May of 2017 and whenever I started poking at Book 1 again, I did the first couple of exercises with both Dan and Lana and then gave up on the whole thing.

(I am not and have never been great with writing exercises, which is probably a failing of mine.)

Anyway, since they were literally on the page before my revision notes, I was reminded that I own this book and, since a lot of the beta feedback I got was specifically about Lana (we talked about that two weeks ago), I thought, hey, I should run through the book and do the exercises and focus specifically on Lana and see if I can fix the whole thing that way.

Except, of course, this is taking a while. I’m on exercise 11? of 40. The last few exercises have been on character work in general instead of character work in specific, which is less helpful, so I may jump ahead to save time. Characterization is not a weakness of mine, so I’m finding this section a bit tedious.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of things.

Anyway, that’s what I’m up to. Maybe next week we’ll be outlining, but who knows with the turkey holiday (I must procure a turkey) coming up and the small, mobile ones being out of school. Monday, at least, I’m thinking of proclaiming Sewing Day, where the smaller, mobile one and I will finish the Loch Ness Monster stuffies we started over the summer, I will finish my mending, and the bigger, mobile one can work on the cloak he so desperately wants (we bought the supplies for it a few weeks ago).

Thoughts on character exercises, squiders? Any you’ve found especially helpful?