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I finally finished the first draft of the new book. I am tempted to email my publisher to find out if slightly over 100,000 words is OK for a book…I think it is…but it might change the price point, so I go back and forth. I want to write an amazing, non-bloated, perfect book that will make everyone happy, so I’ll just look at it in the second draft and weigh and measure everything carefully.

It’s a good book, though. I feel about it like I felt about The Chocolatier’s Wife…it came out so easily, except the end, which I feel is problematic and does not exactly evoke the feeling I want. There will be a lot of work done there, in the second draft.

I don’t know if I ever talked about the second draft process. It’s going to be slightly different this time. When I usually do the second draft, the first part is to print a copy I can scribble all over, hole punch it and put it in a binder. I accidentally printed this one double sided, (I default to double side because I like to try and be decent to the environment whenever possible) so I will probably keep a stack of lined note paper handy, and insert it next to the page. A (very) long time ago I used to write my books long hand, so I have, hoarder that I am, tons of lined note book paper that I would get on sale. See? Hoarding can be useful.

The reading process will combine two things this time. Usually it’s just comments — I say things like “Need to expand this scene” or “Are his eyes always this color?” “Do we need this?” “Do I deal with this later?” “Need to go back and make sure that we mention this in previous chapter so it makes sense later.” So I’ll mark the copy up, ask a lot of questions. That’s par for the course. Then I will lay the binder open next to my computer, open the file, and start answering those questions.

This time, there will be an added step. I’ve been using Liquid Story Binder to keep track of facts about the characters and the world…when I decided to write a sequel to Chocolatier’s Wife I actually read the book and started a file so that everything would be consistent in the sequel. I wanted to make sure that everything was the same, so I created character dossiers, even for the Wind Sprites, and wrote down every detail of the world that I could, so that there is consistency. I know I am going to write a sequel to The Key to All Things so I need to do this as I go this time, get the data down so I can create dossiers. I also may use Scrivener, and split this book up into chapters as I go.

The dossier for CW will be useful, also, because The Key to All Things takes place in the same world…and the Pandroth Empire plays a very tiny part that will become much more important later. I have this odd little network of books in my head that all take place on the same planet. It’s fun, to create the connections in my head, and I think it makes the world feel more round and real.

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I’d been trudging of late. I am so stuck on The Chocolatier’s Ghost – and I think some of it is mental, that weird fear that it’s not going to be quite as good. The second book never is, the Obsequious They like to tell you.

So, last week, there was enough snow on the ground that it was deemed too dangerous to open the University on time, so I slept in. And as I got ready for work, I thought about another work in progress that I’d started and abandoned. I’d stopped writing on it because it was spinning out of control. I knew what I wanted to do with it, what I wanted to say – I do sometimes have themes, but they are quiet things, under the surface of the mystery – but not how to make it work without making the story extremely clunky. But as I brushed my hair and put in my earrings, I realized how the story would work. Just one simple page of text came into my mind, and the story fell open in front of me. It was sort of like a spell had been broken, the characters jumped out of bed and were all ready to roll. I’ve written several hours a night, every night, since then. I even snuck in some writing during lunch and when someone came in to ask me to do something and it was like waking up from a particularly splendid dream.

I had been worrying that maybe I wasn’t really that much of an author, that whatever spark I had was gone.

It’s not.

I had been thinking I might not ever finish a full length book ever again.

Oh, I will.

I have not felt this connected to a story since The Chocolatier’s Wife, I understand and love the people (mostly…some of them are not easy to like, let alone love) and I know mostly what the lay of the land is. There are a few things to be sorted, a few surprises that will shock even me, and decisions on just how happily ever after we will be.

So yeah. That’s what’s going on. I’m so blissfully happy…it’s a little bit like falling in love, you’re all GUH THIS PERSON IS AMAZING AND I WANT TO SPEND EVERY SECOND WITH THEM sort of foolishness.
I wonder if the challenge will be to not let that fire die again? How do you keep that fire fed?

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I finally updated my Authorgraph Widget on my webpage so that people can, if they want, get any of my eBooks signed. I’ve never done it before…anyone want to be patient zero for me? *tries to look charming*

I like the idea…any idea…of connecting with readers because I am extremely fond of my readers. If I can find a way to make them happy I will.

Anyway, if you care to, take a look, and get your book signed! I’ll even try and come up with something clever to say! WOOT!

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For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing the edits for the final draft of Wishes and Sorrows.

For me, doing edits is a several step process.

First, you download the file and read through the comments. Wince. A lot. Say things like, “UGH.” And “Oh, but I thought that was clear.” Hate life a little.

Then close the file. I do this to get the whine fest over quicker. In all seriousness, it is painful to see edits, but also good…I trust my editors. They always make the stuff better…if they don’t get something, or if something doesn’t work for them, it won’t work for you, either. And I want it to work for you. I want anyone who is kind enough to read my stuff to be happy.

Then, after a few days (or more than a few…I got a hideous cold that slowed things down a ton) I sit down and start.

Awhile back I was reading a collection of short stories and Neil Gaiman said that he hadn’t edited a couple stories too much out of respect for the author he had been, even if he wasn’t as polished. That’s paraphrasing, and at the time I thought it was a really sweet idea. I get that, and like that…the idea of honoring the writer you were.

I did not do this. BOY did I edit some of the older stories. The writer I was when the oldest of the stories was written was much different. She in or fresh out of University, and she had a much more literary tradition in her veins, which meant her stories were sometimes purposefully unclear, or the voice was a certain way.

The writer I am now is not a less intelligent writer…when I say literary I am not speaking about intelligence or being snarky, rather…there is a training you receive in universities that makes your writing very different. But over the years I’ve found out what a general reader, rather than a university professor, wants. I’ve become more polished, I’ve become better, more experienced. So I needed to use that knowledge to make my stories better.

And my editor’s comments ended up being very useful. As always, I’m grateful for the second set of eyes.

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I keep trying to balance all these aspects of my life. I want to be a great secretary, an awesome fencer, a world traveler, a good daughter, healthier and slender, a well-loved author.

It’s a narrow platform, and I keep slipping off, scraping my knees, bruising my arms, and I shake myself off, and climb back on. And sometimes back on is only a few steps. And sometimes back on is a long drag back up. But I do it. And I try again, and try not to live in fear of the next slip, try not to flinch.

All these hopes, something is going to tear. But I keep going anyway. Things I really want to do slip aside…the scrolls I want to learn how to do, the Big Dress Project, the small doublet project, the beading and embroidery.

I actually broke down and bought a couple of eBooks on how to do stuff. How to build an author platform, how to use Goodreads to generate more readers and connections. It’s stuff I know I could sit and figure out, but why waste time trying to invent the wheel when the wheel is there and I can invent the wagon? I do admit I was a bit bored with the first part of the Goodreads one…I have an author account, I know how to navigate, etc, but I’m getting to the meat now.

OK. Gotta get back on the beam now.

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Today we’re featuring The Author’s Guide to Working With Book Bloggers by Barb Drozdowich. This is written from the point of view of a book blogger. She wants to help author promote their books to her fellow book bloggers more effectively.

I agreed to do the review (my first in ages) because I wanted to see what I, as an author who has worked with book bloggers, could learn from her experience. She used social media to contact her fellows to gather information so it’s not just what’s happened to her.

Her approach is excellent. It’s laid out in a straight forward fashion, so you can have your e-reader of choice open and just follow along. (I would read it through completely first, then mark the things that you want to make sure you do.) I also think this will make it easy for newer authors to use the guide, though there is plenty here for the more experienced authors as well. She shows you how to find blogs that will work with your type of book…and if they will be worth your time. There is also a chapter on etiquette, which I thought would be kind of “no duh!”…be polite, be clear, etc, but there is more to it than that. And if you have been around a bit, some of her conclusions will be old news to you, but some of it solidifies things you ought to know, while adding a lot of information that you may not have run into. For example, she encourages people to thank bloggers who have reviewed your book, and I wondered if, when I did it, it was wrong because no-one ever said welcome! So I wondered if I was doing something unacceptable, though, since I have been on both sides of the fence, one would think I’d know. *grins* She also talks about different kinds of posts, blog tours, and gives a lot of really useful advice.
So, the low down is: this wonderful, well organized book will assist any author in their goals of self promoting their work. I highly recommend it, both for the almost step by step format the book follows, and for the perspectives it offers. Understanding your audience is the only way to be able to reach them, and this book will help in that. Right now the book is 3 bucks on Amazon, so that’s a really good buy.

Now, since I have not done a review in many moons, I have to tell you (thanks to FTC regulations) that I did receive a free copy of this book, my opinions are my own and were not paid for.

Though you should comment below, and check out the rest of the tour, as one lucky reader will receive a gift card from Barns and Noble! You can find the other stops, here.

More importantly, time for links!

Her Website
Her book blog

Buy the book on Amazon (I do not have any affiliate thing set up, this is just to make your life easier if you want to look at it.)

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I have to confess, I have a love of social history books. I don’t care when so and so lead what to who during this date, but if you can help me compare and contrast different horse drawn conveyances in Victorian times, I’m a happy camper.

Especially if they are glossy and have lots of lovely pictures. I love text, don’t get me wrong…but I’m also visual and I love pictures.

So I am mad in love with these two books, and want them badly:

(I will note, I recognize some of the pictures from the Library of Congress files…)

Technically, they are useful writer’s reference books. I plan to set a series of murder mysteries in a traveling circus in that time. Fulfill my fascination with gypsy wagons, old time magic and old time circuses in one big swoop, right? They are very expensive (though most of my college student friends would look at the mid-40 buck price tag and laugh…) but still. There was an article with a lot of photos from this book…lots of awesome pictures of people from the time, so if i’m serious about the series…and I think it would be awesome…this would actually be an excellent buy.

Usually when a book is too expensive for me, I borrow it through Interlibrary Loan. For me, ILL is a way to test drive a book before I plop down the money. If it’s not worth it I take a few notes, photocopy the front matter for attribution’s sake, and move on with my life. But only a couple libraries have it, and they aren’t shipping…possibly because the books are rather oversized. So oversized that if I buy them off Amazon they don’t qualify for Super Saver Shipping, which is the first time I ever saw that for a book.

So, guess what I’m getting for Christmas?

Are there any quirky history books that are must haves for your bookshelves?

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So, anyway, I posted a comment to the Bloggess today, because her newest post is hilarious (yes, yes it is, go here: http://thebloggess.com/2013/09/i-doesnt-take-much-to-make-me-happy/#comment-322176)

and the comment auto generated a link to the last thing I posted here…which, I realized, was in April. Actually, I sort of should have realized, as one of my non-Internet friends — one of the few who actively supports my career with helpful suggestions and encouragement visited and made someone of a comment in a subtle way (Hello Ivan) that should have made me twig sooner, especially since this is the friend who also has encouraged me to blog here instead of soley on Live Journal, but hey. And yes, I get lots of support from friends, really, but…I think it’s hard to actively encourage a friend who is an author. I think it’s part…you’re not a prophet in your own country thing (i.e. they know me so don’t think of me as some awesome author, it’s hard to believe in success if you don’t see it) and just…I don’t know. Guilt that they haven’t bought my books, or that they don’t want to so they avoid the topic altogether? Or that they don’t know me in a writer context? I don’t know…and I’m not particularly worried about it…I don’t want them to change and I’m not complaining. Just observing how things are.

The point is, I haven’t posted for awhile.

So, what shall I talk about, I ask as I dunk my Death Star shaped tea infuser…(Ok, that was a cruddy segue. But yes, they exist, and isn’t it so cool? http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/ed08/) that one of my friends brought in yesterday. She’s actually my work study, but she’s also a good friend, I hired her because I knew she would work hard, I knew she would work hard because I got to know her through the Medieval Club. She shoots archery and delights in everything that’s good. She has a quiet magic about her, sometimes I wonder if she’s a fae changeling. It is so rare to find someone who opens herself up to joy and finds happiness in the smallest things. So I find her utterly delightful.

And that’s not just because she brought in loose tea for me to try to make my work day brighter, and her best infuser. I am determined this weekend to go through my loose tea at home and make her little baggies of some of my favorites. When I was in San Francisco I bought a TON of Uncle Filbert’s Desert Tea from the Spice Exchange on Pier 93, and maybe some rose marzipan…

This is why I do not post more often. My posts tend to be pretty random, and you know, I read all these things pretty much titled HOW TO BECOME A FAMOUS AUTHOR THROUGH SOCIAL NETWORKING and they say that my posts are bunk. Which is why I tried to write about travel, then failed, then about writing, but failed because really, how many posts do you want about me sitting at a desk typing?

I think that the problem with the Internet is that there are SO MANY opinions. I know that’s a good thing but they have a side effect…they weigh you down. They make you doubt yourself, they make you rethink.

Sometimes I think about abandoning Apenandfire and buying…actually, I should buy it anyway…cindylynnspeer.com and starting a new blog there. Maybe archive this one and start over fresh, accessible so we can see my past but with a new main blog to unchain us. Start over fresh.

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So, in 2004 I started writing a book. I wrote 80,000 words, but got stopped, and tried to fix it by adding a subplot. The subplot made things messy, and wrong, and I stayed stopped.

In 2004 I’d not written a lot of the things I have written now, such as The Chocolatier’s Wife. I’m a different person, both by years and by experience. And I think, maybe, I’m ready to open this baby up and fix her. But it is so much work…writing has never been this much work for me. Cutting the subplot out without mercy. Getting angry at my heroine for being so completely wet…how could I have written someone so wimpy? She’s a sweet girl, yes, but seriously.

So, that’s what happens. I write on something (like a promised sort of sequel to CW) and I am hot and it’s all coming out and I know the ending…and I get stopped. I come up on a wall. I claim that I never get writer’s block, but really, I do. And if I can’t clear the path, then I do something else for awhile. Sometimes nine years later, but, eventually.

So, back to the operating table. I’ve cut away a lot of stuff, added some…there’s some good stuff in here, I just need to polish it.

And figure out what the bloody point is. Kind of need to build towards that.

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The problem with being a published writer is that you have to keep writing. Now, the writing part is easy…it’s the finishing part that sometimes gets hard. You all know the drill…too many ideas, not enough time to write them, yes, but also the idea that if you are not a full time writer you have less time ti write, so you lose the thread or you look back and you think, “This is all garbage.”

That’s what I did, recently, with the book I was passionately writing all last summer. Read it recently to get back into it…and I hate it.

Then I remembered that I had started a book, written in first person zombie, and thought, “I should write that before the whole Zombie craze is over…” and I did a couple of dumb things, there…originally, Minerva Corvae was not a zombie, she was a big part of the mystery that had to be solved, and I wrote it and got to the end and needed to second draft the book but was eh on it. Then I decided to write her character as a zombie, and I wrote it in this wonderfully snarky voice and fell in love with her all over again. So I started writing that and then thought I would try and use the old story and…yeah. Now I’m stuck, there, trying to decide whether to throw out the other book, or two go with these two other story ideas. Ashton and Minerva have about three books in them…

And I want to write another book in the Chocolatier’s Wife world, especially since I have lots of requests for a sequel. I have three non-sequels set there…I wanted to explore different aspects of the spell (what if the person the spell chooses for you dies/is not your social station?) and set a story in the Pandroth Empire.

I need to do some serious gardening in my head, get everything organized neatly. I had been using http://www.mywritingnook.com/write/, which I loves even though I had a heart attack awhile back where nothing was loading (I back up often, but you know…) and now I have a USB with Kingsoft Office’s word processing software. I’m trying it because it has….drum roll…my long desired tabbed word processing! It’s not perfect…what I really want is how, in Excel, you have ONE spreadsheet, and it has lots of tabs? That’s what I really want. But this is pretty close. I like Writing Nook…I can write on my iPad then sync, write at my desk during lunch hour, go home and write some more (I only have to sync the iPad, not the others) and I don’t have to worry about forgetting something. But if you are like me and your mind is an over grown garden in desperate need of weeding, then maybe it is not the best solution?

So, since I have time away…two weeks vacation, and the college break is six weeks total, I am focusing on cleaning my garden. Organizing my writing, seeing what I have. It’s nice right now, in the offices…so quiet. The campus is peaceful and very pretty (even though a Hollywood movie is shooting here…Fox Catcher, I think…) so all is kind of well with the world right now.

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