I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo!

Ok, so do you remember this very exciting news? About how in 2017 I’ll have another set of Aerdhverse books coming out with the Zharmae Publishing Press? Let me refresh your memory:

About A Tale of Rebellion
The humans of Elothnin went west, hungry for wheat and space, but the elves were already there. When the humans burned the elves’ homes, the elves rebelled. For forty long years the rebellion smoldered, but the elves have been beaten back into the gnarled forest, forced to rely on guerrilla tactics and strange bedfellows.

Rethnali has only ever known the rebellion. Born and bred to it, raised by a great elvish general and now a captain herself, Rethnali’s whole life is ruthlessness and strategy. Over the course of four books, Rethnali’s will is tested. Some friendships fray and tatter; surprising new ones blossom. She puts herself and her soldiers in danger over and over again, all in the name of winning back the lands stolen from her people. Sacrifice–what will she sacrifice to see this rebellion through to its end? And who will she be once all those sacrifices have been made?

Exciting, right? So, Book 1 (titled Extraction) is already in edits. I’ve got first drafts of the second and third books done. The final book is outlined. I’m using Camp NaNo reread and revised the second book in the series (The Incoming Tide). It sorely needs it. Here’s some of the things I’m planning to work on this month:

  • Pronouns. Several characters have shifted genders over the course of the edits, and this draft has to be brought up to speed. I have to hunt and peck and correct the pronouns, which is a kind of penance for getting their genders wrong in the first place.
  • Pacing. In the current draft, time jumps in weird twitchy ways. Action is glossed over where it should be played out. I’m noting all these weird hitches for the revision stage.
  • Consistency: Tracking all the character names, the place names, the names of the pirate ships. I have a running tally of all the votes taken and the shifting alliances.
  • Changes: At least one character I knew had to die is going to live after all. So that changes things. I’m wondering if someone else is going to surprise!die. Gotta keep track of all these notes in the margins.

Wish me luck!

On Finishing THE INCOMING TIDE

TheIncomingTide_wordle

According to my meticulously kept daily writing records, I started planning out The Incoming Tide last October two days after finishing Extraction. The records show fairly steady work on it, interrupted now and again for a burst of short stories or focused edits on other projects further down the publishing pipeline. Still, I didn’t finish the first draft of The Incoming Tide until May 22nd. It clocked in at 70k words, which is on the slim side for a novel. It took me seven months to crank out 70k words. Maybe that’s not slow, but it certainly felt slow to me—Ariah is a hefty 128k words and I wrote it in a little under three months. Ariah is nearly twice as long and took half the time, so what gives?

The Incoming Tide was an altogether different beast. Ariah was a second draft. It was a substantively rewritten second draft, but still it was a second draft. I knew the characters. I knew the shape and color of the narrative. I knew, in short, what I was writing. So there’s that: first drafts feel different, and for me, they often take a little more time to get out. And, actually, referring once again to my copious records, The Incoming Tide is the only first draft of a novel I’ve written since I started trying to get my work out there. Everything else had been rewrites. Extraction, the volume preceding Tide in the Tale of Rebellion series, is on its fourth draft.

But it was more than that. Tide felt sometimes hard to write. I felt a weird pressure while living in that book. Drafting and redrafting and redrafting Extraction meant that I could never quite move past it. Tide was like a light at the end of that tunnel. Tide was the promised land. It’s strange, you know, getting finally to that blinding light. It takes awhile for your eyes to adjust. It took me some time to find the rhythm of Tide, to find the style and voice of it.

Of course as soon as I finished Tide I started planning the follow-up book, The King and His Makers. Of course I did. But I’ve taken a couple of weeks off from it to queue up blog posts, to work on edits for Ariah, to ponder life. A little bit of space, I think, will take the edge off and make the first draft of King a little less scary.

Call for Beta Readers: EXTRACTION & THE INCOMING TIDE

Hi friends!

I’m looking for a few brave and candid beta readers to provide feedback on the first two novels in a series. I’m sketching out the third novel in the series, and I’m 99% sure there will be a fourth volume as well. Leave a comment or use the form below if you’d like to get in on the ground floor of this series!

extraction_wordle

Times are desperate for the red elves: a generation of rebellion has brought them nothing but a decimated population and a shrinking army plagued with low morale. Dealing with heavy losses and now out of options, the elvish captains retreat to devise a new strategy which just might turn the tide of the war to their favor. While the captains bicker about theoretical tactics, their beleaguered soldiers are left behind to hold off the Lothic Army.

EXTRACTION follows the Cardinal’s Clutch: last fighting band of elvish guerrilla strikers left on the front lines. Old loyalties are sorely tested when their captain, Li, returns with orders for a suicidal mission. As the strikers of the Clutch travel across mountains, through deserts and back into a country that would see them dead, three of Li’s soldiers—the young and ruthless interim captain Rethnali, the bitter medic Sellior, and Li’s old friend and confidant Vathorem—begin to suspect this last mission is not what it seems.

Set in the unique and finely realized fantasy universe of Aerdh, EXTRACTION is the first of a series of books about the Lothic Elvish Rebellion. EXTRACTION is about the toll of war, the price of loyalty, and the cost of building a better future.

TheIncomingTide_wordle

As hard as guerrilla warfare on her own turf was, negotiating with pirates is far worse. Following the events of EXTRACTION, Rethnali finds herself and her crew mired in deadly pirate politics, surviving a sea voyage and finally laying siege to an unsuspecting port city. Lives are lost and new lives come into the world. Friendships splinter, and new ones blossom in their place. Everything changes.

Set in the unique and finely realized fantasy universe of Aerdh, THE INCOMING TIDE is a completed fantasy novel 70,000 words in length and the second in a series of books about the Lothic Elvish Rebellion. THE INCOMING TIDE is about victory, grief, and hope.

Stuck in Rewrite Mode

It’s hard to write the second half of a story when you’ve only ever written the first half. Extraction is done, and I’m working on its sequel, which I’ve tentatively titled The Incoming Tide. Drafting The Incoming Tide is a completely different experience than rewriting Extraction—as I mentioned in this post , Extraction brewed for years and was the fourth completely overhauled draft of the book. Extraction was a matter of writing the same story over and over; I knew what its themes were, and I knew where it needed to go before I ever sat down at the keyboard this time around.

The thing about The Incoming Tide is that it’s only ever existed as sketched-out worldbuilding notes. Because I’ve written past this moment in Aerdh’s history (notably in Ariah and sections of Sound and Song) I know how the story ends. And I have a fairly detailed outline worked out already. I know what I’m writing, but writing it the first time and writing it the fourth time are different experiences.

Since The Incoming Tide is yet in its infancy, it’s a strangely reflective process. According to my writing log*, I started The Incoming Tide on Halloween, which means I’ve been working on it for about three weeks. And I’ve made progress:

ATOR_IncomingTide_01

16k words in three weeks is not bad at all. Three chapters in as many weeks is nothing to smirk at. So, the writing is clipping right along. The thing about it is that I’m trying to work how how to write the story right along with what the story actually is. This two-headed discovery process characterizes first drafts for me, and sometimes it’s thrilling and sometimes it’s unnerving. This time, for whatever reason, it’s unnerving. I’m second-guessing everything—are these the right viewpoint characters? Is the pacing alright? I think I have to many plot threads going already and need to scale back; Extraction really crystallized as a book when I pared it down. Right now, the draft has two storylines working in parallel, and I think they could feasibly be split into separate books. But I like writing the characters in both! Argh.

The solution is simple, but it’s not all that easy: just keep writing. Just write it all and sort it out in the rewrite. Just write and write and write some more and get some fresh eyes on it to get it where it needs to be. Something about moving from a final iterative draft of Extraction to this completely new initial draft of The Incoming Tide has me doing something I haven’t done in years—it’s got me trying to approach a first draft like it’s the final draft. 16k words in and I’m still struggling to change my internal frame of reference.

*Spreadsheets for everything! It even has aggregation formulae and shit embedded in it!