The beginning of the end of the middle of the end…or something like that….

Shadows is now over 137,000 words, and I am happy to report that Kathy has finally left the farming village and gone on to Bleak, which I hope will live up to its name. It’s the armpit of the Empire, with starving workers, bloated industrial magnates, haughty overlords and tainted water supplies. A wonderful place.

My production has been ticking upward toward 1000 words or so a day this last week– somehow the idea that I have only about two or three major sequences left is energizing me. It might also be that I’ve gotten past some really tough parts and what’s left feels much more doable. I am hoping that I can finish the draft of Shadows in another month (maybe). I’ll still have weeks and weeks of works after that– the online second draft, the hard-copy red-pen edit (yes, I still do that), and then giving the polished draft to my beta readers. At that rate it will be summer before I publish, but that’s better than where I was three months ago, when I wondered if I would ever finish this thing.

Later.

A quick update and a request for feedback.

Princess of Shadows is now over 129,000 words, and while what I’m putting down at the moment seems kinda weak, I’m plowing ahead. It’s that or sink.

I spent a couple of minutes this afternoon thinking about the blurb for the novel. With Kindle self-publishing, you write your own blurbs. Frankly, some writers on Kindle (not naming names) cannot write a blurb to save their life. Personally, I try to remember all the back-cover blurbs I ever read while looking through the paperback selection at Target or TG&Y, trying to figure out if this particular book was worth spending my very meager weekly allowance on. To me the best ones always seemed to be short, but enticing, hinting at dangers and adventures without describing too much. In that spirit I’ve dummied up a draft blurb. Any feedback would be appreciated.

Kathy Pennington has fallen into the hands of the mysterious Lord Twilight, who plans to sell her to the highest bidder—whether that is Gehman rebels, dissident Val lords, or sinister foreign agents who plan a painful and terrible end for her. Trapped in Twilight’s fortress, Kathy has only her wits to make good her escape.

But even if she gets away, safety lies across the whole of the Empire, along twisting paths filled with deadly enemies and deep shadows.

Not sure about that last line. Anyway, thanks.

Making this up as I go….

Princess of Shadows is at 127,000 words. That’s after couple of minor restarts on a particular scene, some moderate floundering, and a small amount of despair. Actually, fairly large globules of despair, but that’s not unusual. There was also some time off doodling on Dinosaur Planet (another episode coming soon), and even a few hundred words on Princess of Fire, which probably won’t even see the light of day for a year after I finish Shadows.

With most of my stories and novels, to some extent or another I’m making it up as I go. The days when I planned out stories and wrote out elaborate histories and backgrounds and dissertations on economics and social patterns mostly belong to the period of my life I spent far more time planning to write than actually writing. To a certain extent with my actual work I have tended to wing it, try to fix it in the re-write, and pray that I’ve achieved some degree of consistency in the end. I have been making notes on the background for Kathy’s stories, largely because there is so much ground to cover with this whole world I’ve created, and because I want to be able to breathe some life into its details.

But I don’t think I have ever had to wing it quite so thoroughly as with Shadows. And more than once this has forced me to back up, rethink something I have just written, and then rip it out and start over. As the probable final size of this novel keeps climbing (160,000 words? 170,00?) I have been wondering if I would ever actually finish it (that’s where the despair part came in).

The last few days, however, I seem to have come to a slightly different understanding of what has been going on. With Shadows I embarked on what I knew would be a big book, with a cast of thousands and novel situations for Kathy fall into. In this instance, not planning everything beforehand has meant that, not only am I trying to create a believable non-Western society on the fly, but I am essentially meeting a bunch of important characters for the first time and coming to understand them as I write them. And that is a large part of why I have had to start major sequences over again, as the characters took off in directions I didn’t expect. Dragon, Mother Sun, Scar, Dahlia and Cloud are all different people than I initially pictured them (hell, Cloud started out as male and is now female).

And in the process of realizing that, I seem to have taken some encouragement– I’ve just met these folks, and it’s going to take a second draft to get them and their world all down right anyway (some of the important details of the village Kathy stumbles into are now obvious to me only after I’ve written my way past where I need to put them), so I might as well just write and tell my inner censor to go hell (nitpicky little bastard).

At this point, I have at least three major sequences left to do. Thirty thousand more words? I don’t know, but I’m (tentatively) feeling a little more hopeful than I have in a while. Just don’t sneeze.

Later.