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Sisters of Chaos book 2 update June 5, 2018

Posted by thejinx in conventions, enduring chaos, writing.
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book-proofreading.jpg

I haven’t said anything about the progress of the sequel to Enduring Chaos in a long time. It’s intentional, though I’m not exactly sure why. Some nonsensical, subconscious mix of not wanting to get anyone’s hopes up, feeling like people would just be frustrated with me posting about what I’m doing while still not having the book ready, feeling like I’m making too big a deal of it, still taking blog posts too seriously to just sit down and write one, or perhaps some straight-up pride (or guilt). But, it’s coming up on five years since the first book was released, which makes me groan, and I owe you, the readers, if nothing else, an explanation.

If you’ve been waiting for book two, all I can say is I’m sorry.

I have been working on it. After making a push last year and in late 2016, I finally finished the final first draft last summer. I then spent the next few months doing my preliminary edits before sending it off to beta readers in late fall. My beta readers gave me fantastic feedback, which came back in winter. Unfortunately, they made it clear that the story still needed some significant editing.

The editing has been a slog for the last few months. Just trying to figure out how to portray what I was trying to show instead of the less favourable impression the readers got, on one scene alone, held me up for a month or more. This has proven to be a very challenging book to write, and subsequently edit. There are particularly complex conflicts and character interactions, a whole wealth of new characters with their own cultures and histories to introduce, struggles not to bog down readers with too many characters or too much info in a notably bigger story than the first book*, dealing with all the backstory that a sequel entails (which I have never written before), remnants of earlier drafts that more often than not end up mucking up the works and have to be reworked, even hints of character development that the characters themselves aren’t aware of. Getting everything to align properly has also been tricky, because unlike every other book I’ve written, I wrote consecutively occurring storylines one POV at a time, and balancing timelines and spreading out scenes from different characters when I put it all together has required a lot of tweaking. It’s a lot of work and a lot of aspects that are difficult to handle.

* Spoiler alert: I completely failed at that one. Still working on some scenes there.

However, the beta readers are in agreement that it is a much better book than the first. Even though it’s not where I want it to be yet, I am quite pleased with it so far and have high hopes for it when it’s finished. The manuscript has already been through a lot of changes over the years and it has become a much stronger book for all the work I’ve put into it. I briefly considered trying to push it out for Gen Con this year, but I don’t want to rush it just to get it done. I want this book to be as good as it can be before I release it, particularly because it’s already better than the first book.

I have vowed not to write any other novel until I’ve finished this trilogy. I will, though, have a new short story related to the series in this year’s Missing Pieces volume at Gen Con. (It features a minor character introduced in book 2.) I do have at least a soft goal of having the book ready by next year’s Gen Con, if for no other reason than that the short story I have planned for next year’s Missing Pieces will contain a major spoiler for the book. I will admit that a couple years ago, I wrote a mostly unrelated novella that was intended to be for an earlier volume of Missing Pieces, but after finding that it needed much more editing than I could reasonably accomplish within the time frame for the anthology, it has been entirely back-burnered. Aside from that, and despite my muse occasionally (*cough* since last weekend) giving me a massive burst of inspiration for some other story, I have not written anything else.

I have a working title for the book which might end up being the final title, but I don’t want to share it yet because I’m not 100% satisfied with it.

For those who have been waiting for the book, thank you for your patience and I apologize again for the lengthy wait. If there’s anything you want to know about the book or any hints you’d like to see to hold you over until it’s ready, please don’t hesitate to comment here or send me a message through my contact form.

Meanwhile, I hope to see you at any of the Brain Lag events coming up this summer:

June 17: Brampton ComiCon – Brampton, ON
July 13-15: Ad Astra – Richmond Hill, ON
August 2-5: Gen Con – Indianapolis, IN
September 22: Forest City Comicon – London, ON

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Introducing Damian Sires March 1, 2013

Posted by thejinx in art, enduring chaos, writing.
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Character information and fanart has been available under the page for Enduring Chaos for a little while already, but let me use this opportunity to officially introduce the star of my upcoming novel.

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Damian Sires is a young woman from the small town of Aether, where she lives with her father, a cloth merchant who has taken her on a trade route that crosses much of the kingdom of Faneria every year almost since she was born. She is a strong-willed yet shy girl who is close to few. Rumors abound at her home about her, heightened by the fact that she keeps her face covered with a veil at all times, though speculation over things even stranger than what she keeps hidden beneath the veil still linger among the townsfolk. She enjoys traveling and helping her father with his trade route and designing and making clothes, usually incorporating the latest fashions she observes while traveling.

Of course, no proper fantasy novel would allow her the luxury of such a mundane and easy life…

The above drawing was done entirely in ballpoint pen last weekend while I was at Con-G, largely for the purpose of creating new reference art with which I could use to commission a drawing from Artist’s Alley. I ended up receiving the following image from Daphne:

damian-con-g

Huge thanks to Daphne for her lovely depiction of Damian.

Will more character art follow this? Hard to say, given the *cough* infrequency with which I draw these days, and my continued focus on editing the novel. However, I will admit I enjoyed drawing the above sketch of Damian, and even rather enjoyed working strictly in ballpoint pen, so perhaps I will manage to create more in the meantime.

Polishing the words October 28, 2012

Posted by thejinx in enduring chaos, writing.
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Editing is a journey just as long if not longer than writing.

I’ve tried to write a lot of novels over the years. I wouldn’t be surprised if one went through all my old files, including ones I can no longer access, and found 30 if not 50 attempted novels. Some have been well planned, some have started writing spur of the moment, many fall somewhere in between, and a number are different attempts at writing the same book. Yet I have only managed to write five to completion.

I don’t know how most people go about writing novels, at least those that can finish them. For me, while the first book I wrote to its end was before I gave it an earnest effort, NaNoWriMo has been a transformative experience. Speed, in fact, seems to be the key. What has mainly bogged down and ultimately destroyed those many attempted novels – aside from those thoroughly unplanned ones in which I didn’t even know where it was going – was dissatisfaction with what I wrote, which made it too difficult to continue writing rather than wanting to go back and improve what I wrote already.

NaNoWriMo’s philosophy of quantity over quality, however, changed the way I wrote. Momentum built on itself and I learned to ignore the editing I know I would need to do even if I wrote a really good first draft. In fact, all of the novels I have written to completion since I started participating in NaNoWriMo have been started during the challenge, in one form or another.

Now as I sit with a new completed draft of my latest book, that other vital part of writing looms before me: editing.

It is perhaps a drawback of this style of writing, that forcing oneself to continue even when one has issues with parts of the manuscript results in a rougher work than if one takes more time to create the initial draft. I still prefer it, as I still get it written that way, but it does make editing a bigger task.

In any case, I’m not certain more time taken to craft this draft would have improved this particular book, as I’ve only recently accepted a fairly significant – though quite fixable – issue this story has. My opinion of this work is somewhat interesting; usually I either love a story and get admittedly rigid if not defensive in the face of criticism – true as it might be – or I recognize that the book needs so much work that I hardly even want to touch it afterward.

With Enduring Chaos, I do believe I have a strong story, largely pretty strong characters, and overall fairly good writing. However, I have realized an issue that was pointed out even in the previous draft of the book, that the star is somewhat weak. On the bright side, this should be fairly easy to fix without affecting any of those parts I thought did come out well.

I went over the comments from my husband, my first reader and collaborator, which is always a lesson in humility. I’ll admit it; even when I feel iffy about a story it’s hard for me to accept criticism, to draw the line between criticism on a story and criticism on me. (Fortunately, he understands this and inserted some positive comments as well to soften the blow.)

With Chaos, however, I found that his initial comments on the story were very insightful and accurate, and there was little he commented on that I’m reluctant to change. Perhaps it’s simply the state of mind I was in when I read them – I never know what’s going on in there – but it was a lot easier to accept his critiques and suggestions this time. Actually, I find them almost nothing but helpful in getting the story to what I want it to be.

Maybe I’m maturing as a writer, or maybe I’m just lucky this time. And I still have a big task ahead of me in editing this book. And, of course, I need to turn my focus to book 2, which I will start writing Thursday.

But overall, I’m feeling optimistic about the next step for this book.

Writing update February 6, 2009

Posted by thejinx in aurius, enduring chaos, halcyon, writing.
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More responses to submissions today than I’ve ever received before!

Both of them rejections.

The second publisher to which I submitted Aurius for publication does not think it can sell the story.  Not quite as polite as my first rejection letter – it may have been a form letter that’s been in the files for decades, but there’s something satisfying about the line, “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to read your work” – but honestly, I wasn’t expecting a response at all from this publisher.  According to the estimates on their website, I should have received a response last August.

But, that means that it’s off of other people’s desks and I can focus my attention on a publisher whose submission requirements suit Aurius better.  And, it gives me closure that can spur me into crafting a better pitch for it.  I’ll admit it; Aurius works better as a complete novel.  The opening chapter or so isn’t the strongest way to sell it.  The fact that the publisher to which I’m looking now accepts only complete manuscripts is encouraging.

At the moment, Halcyon is complete.  It needs a few more read-throughs, with some time to sit in between, and perhaps some feedback from other readers, before I can truly call it complete.  But, my edits were driven by and focused on the Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award, the submissions process of which is currently open.

I entered Halcyon into the contest Monday, just as it is.  I’ve spent some time pondering over various aspects of the contest entry through the week and have altered it as such, but now, I’m letting it go.  It is entered; it shall stay that way.  Wish me luck.

Last year, I believe I took something of a break from writing after I completed Aurius.  I took the time to go through those extra read-throughs and time to stew, as I didn’t have a contest to enter at the time, and when I deemed the story fully complete, I basked in the satisfaction of completion briefly.

Since I’ve been focusing on Halcyon non-stop since I began writing it in November, however, I didn’t have any breaks as precedent to take time off from writing, and to not be writing simply didn’t feel right.  So, due primarily to recent inspiration and brainstorming, I immediately delved back into The Fire Within.  This is the revise/rewrite of my first truly completed novel – which was only two years ago – which I had begun last spring, but eventually set aside as fundamental story issues remained unresolved and inspiration flowed in for Eyes of a Dragon, my first attempted novel.  I’m still much farther along in Eyes than TFW, and though I am mildly disappointed that I’m not working on the former, I’m enjoying getting back into the latter.

It’s going pretty well so far, considering I only got up to the fourth chapter before I decided my revisions could be improved upon.  The entire chapter has been rewritten this week, taking only parts of one scene from the previous incarnation, and I am working my way back up to chapter five, which shall now be chapter six.

I was concerned with the length of the story when I was writing it initially, but its 115,000 words or so don’t come close to the roughly 200,000 words of some of my favourite novels – possibly more, Mistborn was a hefty read and its sequel is even longer – so, this time, I’m going to allow the story as much time as it needs to get where it’s going.  And I’m going to enjoy the ride along the way.

In any case, I don’t think traditional publication is an avenue I can necessarily explore for TFW, as for all practical purposes, it has already been published.  This whole “professional publication” idea is a relatively new one for me.  But no matter.  I’m not doing this for money, and my only desire is for my work to be read.  I had to start an account with CreateSpace for ABNA, anyway; perhaps when I’m done with the novel I’ll make use of it.

For now, I have a lot of writing to do to get to that point.