It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, and it was beginning to be time to get back into it. After a winter that failed to come, then roared into life in the last weeks of its existence (snow on the first day of Spring), I’ve fallen neck deep into a new novel and am moving forward at a fairly good clip now. I see some trouble ahead as I try to bridge the beginning to what I see as the ending, and how to merge two POV character’s stories (hint: they were once in love, so that helps), and there are bits and pieces of other ideas to play with. We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, I finished an extensive re-write of SHADOW OF A DOUBT. This will undoubtedly be the last re-write. I got a couple of really solid critiques from my VP peers, helpful in honing in on the remaining “big problems” with the story and what I should consider teasing out. Pacing was re-worked, a major character’s tone was adjusted to be less gross and cringy, the protagonist got more agency, and some elements of the world were turned up to eleven. It’s so much better now, and I can’t say enough how important it is that you have good beta readers, especially if you are writing something with a specific goal in mind.

For me, that goal was to write a story with a strong female lead that didn’t have the bad romance sub-plots of so many, where our hero has to be “saved” by some guy. Where romance, in fact, was a subplot, not a major part of the story. And the romance barely smoulders in mine, which is what I wanted. I wanted it to avoid stereotypes – and failed with that other character I have to admit (oh my god, I’m such an idiot guy sometimes, what I thought was fun and cute was soooooo troubling and I’m really sad at myself that it took two people to point it out to me).

So, SHADOW is back out on submissions now. I spent a portion of this week finding every remaining agent who reps fantasy I could. I’m sure I’m missing quite a few, and there are plenty I can’t submit to because they are at agencies I’ve already submitted the novel to. In fact, the previous version(s) have been submitted so many times I’m running out of agencies I can try. There are a few I might revisit because the version I sent two and a half years ago when I thought it was first done was very different than the current version. But, for the moment, I’ve sent it to everyone left on my list all at once. That’s a fair number of agents and agencies, but I decided to knock them out of the way and, should it not get repped, to self-publish the damn thing. I think it’s good enough that it’ll be a small success self-published (at least break even on costs).

That’s going to mean: another read through to fix any lingering spelling or grammatical errors; finding someone to produce cover art and those associated costs; getting an ISBN number, and probably registering the copyright; developing a marketing campaign; spending on ads. It’s going to be a few hundred dollars more before it’s ready, but I’ll have another three months or so as I wait for agent replies before I’m ready to post it up. I’ll get things lined up between now and then, and pull the trigger when the last of the current list of agencies on my spreadsheet has been changed from “waiting” to “rejected.”

I think this marks the beginning of the end of this part of my writing journey. I hate such whiffy terms for it, the new-age feel good stuff. But Shadow was the novel I’d always wanted to write and thought about for years. The first characters in it appeared in the 1990’s. I made my first attempt at it in the early 2000’s, writing the first chapter or two. Then, when I decided I really did want to be a published author, I hit it hard in NaNoWriMo in 2011 and I’ve been on this course ever since. I’ve yet to be published, but last fall’s inclusion in Viable Paradise sold me on the notion that I was on the right track, was worthy of continuing to explore it. Editing Shadow one last time, and now planning for its future if it doesn’t get repped, feels like I’ve reached the “next point” in the steps I’m taking on this path. My first novel will be behind me, one way or another in the next six months. The second novel will do its thing, and now I’m onto the third. The fourth, fifth and sixth are being thought about and researched. There is nothing but writing for me now, it’s no longer a “am I good enough,” but “how do I turn what I do into a viable career.” VC instead of VP.

Couple of other quick notes: Lost in Space on Netflix – it was okay. Avengers: Infinity War Part I – pretty damn dark and pretty damn amazing (suprisingly great job at managing such a huge cast of characters and making all their various story lines work). Santa Clarita Diet – second season as funny as the first, and huge shoutout to Timothy Oliphant, that guy really has great comedic timing and expressions. Parks and Rec – never realized how funny the show was, we’re binge watching it now and it’s a feel-good comedy (we loved The Office as well, but there was always a little bit meaner spirit to that show).

Happy May folks!

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