Back in college, I had to complete a short story project for one of my creative writing courses and the outcome was a fully-edited, ready-to-publish (essentially) short story collection. And since this was back in the day of free proof copies for NaNoWriMo winners, I decided to go ahead and publish it. Why not, right? And I did so using my real name. Then I entered a Harlequin contest and did decently well (top 12 — so not placed or anything, but still a huge success in my mind), using my real name. All of the self-published short stories in the AugNoWriMo Compendium Milestone: under my real name. I was already starting to establish my name as my author brand, even before ever thinking about it. To then start over with a pen name? Not something that really appealed to me, personally.
One of the things I have always found most interesting is taking a look into other writers’ spaces. My writing space looks nothing like my editing space, mostly because when I edit, I need to get rid of any potential distractions and background noise so I can really hone in and focus on how specific words sound and figure out if they’re really the perfect one for the situation. Sometimes that takes reading things aloud to figure out pacing and rhythm, so I like to be away from my computer / the abundance of noise and videos that come with it. Sure, I can always just turn those things off… But if they’re there? And super convenient? It’s hard.
Plus, when I’m editing, I tend to do it for hours at a time. There’s so much more time that goes into editing for me than I ever commit to writing, so sitting at a computer chair, motionless, hunched over things I’ve written, or squinting at a screen? That sounds simply miserable.
I prefer to print my document, grab a clipboard and an Inkjoy Gel Pen in the color of choice for that particular manuscript, and curl up in the cozy corner of my couch with a few pillows, a fuzzy blanket, and a puppy.
March in the WriMo community has traditionally been reserved for editing as long as I have personally been a WriMo participant. From what I can tell, the logic is you write your 50k in November, finish your plot with a 30k dash in December and then pretend the writing jaunt didn’t exist for two months while you recover and try to put some distance between yourself and the novel… Before diving back into it and polishing up the draft in March.
Piggybacking off of that, as well as the fact that part of #Pub2020 is editing our novels to perfection before sending them out to seek representation for publication, my friend Liz over at her blog Words N Books, decided to host #editnfriends this March. And I, being a sucker for a community challenge, have joined. I mean, I need to edit regardless… Might as well use this as the kick in the pants to get me going, right?
Let’s meet the novel that I am going to be diving into, shall we?
Title: Sky of Light
Genre: Women’s Fiction / New Adult
Current Word Count: 113,489
Word Count Goal: 85,000 – 95,000
Place in my Universe: SoL is the middle book in Audrey’s Trilogy, preceded by Sky of Dust and followed by Sky of Stars.
Summary: For once, Audrey Laurent is keeping her clothes on as a runaway runway-model. Fleeing from France and an abusive boyfriend, she finds herself in the sun surrounded by new friends, new adventures, and new romance. After a series of misadventures including a courtroom wedding, a maid of honor, and a secret divorce, will Audrey finally get the happy-ending she ran to find?
How do you plan to edit? / What are your goals for this draft?
This is the final draft I am editing by myself. I have the entire draft printed out and am going through with a fine-toothed comb and scribbling all over the manuscript by hand. I think the middle is still a little squishy from where I split the original novel into a trilogy back in 2010 / 2011 or so. If I need to do major content changes still, I’ll create a chapter-by-chapter outline and then put all the pieces together again within the manuscript before poking at things like word choice. As you can see above, I have about 20k that needs to be cut from this novel at the moment so that it is a feasible fit for the genre / market when I start shopping it around for publication, so I’m definitely looking for places to tighten up my prose. From there, I’ll be seeking out detailed, nit-picky line edits from crit partners or potentially even hiring someone to really beat the novel into submission.
What’s your update schedule / editing plan?
This novel currently has 37 chapters and I’ve already edited 4. So basically, I’m looking at a pace of 1 chapter per day, and then 2 on a few incredibly productive days, if I want to get the entire novel finished within the month of March. Realistically? I know that won’t work in my schedule with work and class and a memorial family trip. So, my goal is going to be 2 chapters per week. That will bring the edited chapters up to chapter 12, which will put me in a good place to continue along that pace and finish the edit by the end of June to start sending it around for others to read and keeping that ball rolling!
I plan on updating weekly on my #editnfriends progress — posts will go live every Sunday — to share my tips, tricks, successes, and woes of the editing process. If you would like to keep up in real time, check out my Author Twitter. I promise I’ll try not to whine too much. 😉
The blog writing hasn’t really taken off yet, but I’ll get there. For now, here’s the monthly WriYe Blog Circle post, at the very least!
Is romance necessary in all fiction? Why or why not?
Now, this is a very tricky topic for me, since 90% (or more!) of my own novels wouldn’t exist without romance, simply because that’s my “home” genre. So, for me? Yes. It is necessary. Is that to say I couldn’t write something without romance? Absolutely not. In fact, I’ve done it several times. But those pieces are rarely what come to mind when I think of my best works. And if it’s a book that I’m sitting down to read for enjoyment, I could go either way if there’s no “pairings” to speak of within the pages of the book.
But here’s the thing, I don’t think romance is limited to the romantic love (or, delving deeper into the genre and thinking about erotica, lust) that most people think of when they start to consider romance in fiction. There’s always platonic love between friends or familial love between siblings / parents and children / cousins / whatever. Or, and maybe my favorite, self-love — again, not the erotica version — wherein the main character really learns to love themselves and everything they have to offer their respective world. And when you start including all of those kinds of love into your consideration, I think you’ll be even more hard-pressed to find a book that doesn’t include at least one of them.
So, is it necessary? No, not entirely. But does it usually benefit the depth of your story and characters? Absolutely.
If you do have romance in your fiction, tell us about your favorite pairings. Why are they your favorite?
If we’re talking about tropes, I very much love a good girl / bad boy (or the reverse!) where each half of the couple is from an entirely different world and they bring each other into their own world and find their own, combined place to build their happiness somewhere in the middle. I am also a huge fan of long term friends slowly growing into lovers. It feels like it is among one of the more realistic ways to build a relationship to me and just generally makes me happy.
However, if we’re talking favorite ‘ships in our own writing, I also have two favorites in this category within my huge universe and cast of characters. One is Nick and Audrey. I adore them for a few reasons. One, they were the couple that started it all. Without them, my series wouldn’t even exist. So, for that reason alone, I feel like they will be my forever favorites. However, I also just love how pure their relationship is. The two of them are truly just two halves of the same whole and always have each other’s backs, no matter what.
My second favorite couple in my series was actually an accidental couple. Back when I used to consistently write and share short prompt-based pieces based in my universe with a Livejournal community called Runaway Tales, a whole new plot arc developed in my universe that sprung forth a new relationship between Colin and Erika in the coffee shop they both work for. They quickly became my favorite likely because they fit into both of my favorite tropes listed above and they’re both incredibly sarcastic people who really play off each other well.
What are your thoughts on romance in fiction?
As goes the old cliche, a new year has brought forth a new beginning. In my life, that has manifested itself in several ways. Most notably, however, is the sudden resurgence in my focus on my budding writing career. Since I was a child, I’ve wanted to publish stories. About ten years ago, I started the process of researching the publication process and got all the way to the point where I felt comfortable sending out query letters and looking for an agent… But then, before I mustered up the courage to actually click send, I chickened out and went back to “just” writing.
Then The Great Writing Exodus of 2014 happened and I basically dropped off the face of the writing planet, disappeared into the abyss of full time job (and then full time career) having, and basically walked away from my unrealized goal.
It happens all the time; people move on and life happens to all of us. But there was something that always called me back to writing. As December was coming to an end, I knew that I was going to make this year my year to return to writing and decided to do so by going back to the first writing community that I ever loved: WriYe. And so… Now that we’re all up to speed, I’m here to deliver to you, the January WriYe Blog Circle post!
What’s your WriYe Word Count goal for 2019? Why did you choose it?
My WriYe Word Count goal for 2019 is 250,000 words. I broke each month up with a different goal, depending on how busy I expect my life to be at that particular time of year (since June / July is much easier to write a ton of words than October / November, for example), but overall, by the end of the year, I would like to have a total of 250,000 new words overall. I went with this goal because it was small enough to not be terrifying and overwhelming, but still large enough that I can’t slack so much that I stop halfway through the year because I’m not feeling challenged. It seemed like the perfect amount to keep me productive and ease myself back into the writing world.
What are your plans for the year? What do you want to accomplish with your writing?
The biggest plan I have for the year is part of the reason why this blog even exists — I’m on the road towards publication. I want to pinpoint which of the two completed novels would make a best first / breakout novel (currently leaning towards Sunshowers in Bluebell Fields), editing it to perfection, and then hopefully finding someone to represent it and love it in the same way I do.
Part of that relates to my other plans for the year, which is creating this blog / website, my official author Twitter and Facebook profiles, and just basically maintaining my professional writing life throughout the entire year and really honing in on my skills.
As for what I’d like to accomplish, it’s probably pretty easy to guess that traditional publishing is the route I’m pursuing and I’d like to continue to grow towards that goal all year long.