It’s me, and if I’m warning you that this will be long, well.
This is probably going to be long. I did consider splitting it into two posts, but there doesn’t seem to be a length limit in WordPress, so. (For the record, my long-suffering husband suggested that I split it into three. Yes, he survived.)
So, first: The Sun Sword has been reissued in trade paperback (which is the larger, non-standard-size paperback format). Yes, this means they are more expensive, sorry =/. This happened in July, but I didn’t find out about it until the end of August. I’ve added the relevant information to the book pages here.
I am not, as will become immediately obvious, much of a photographer >.<. As you can see, there’s been some changes to the cover cropping and type. I’ve put my reference copy of Shining Court beside the new version (which has reflected light on it that I only notice now T_T) to give you a sense of the size difference.
Below is a page spread from the trade paperback of Broken Crown. The books have not been re-typeset — it’s the same page layout as the mass market original, blown up in size.
They are all available now.
Next up: It’s official. Mira has bought two Severn novels. Neither of which are written yet. These novels started as a novella, long over-due to the person who donated to a charity to be allowed to give me a short story prompt. >.<. In my defense, I did refuse to commit to a length — but I believe I also said it wouldn’t be a novel. Technically this is sort of true.
It’s early Severn, and the Wolves. I can’t really say more than that at this point, in part because the first seven chapters did not go quite the way I thought they would (which is why this is novel(s) and not “novella”.
And as for the State of the Writer:
I spent a few years doing nothing but revisions, subjectively speaking. In the real world, it was a couple of months.
First, Firstborn. It has more words in it than it did when I first split the book, and it was not as straightforward as any other split in my DAW career (of which there have been many), because I wrote the book knowing I couldn’t split it; War was supposed to be the final volume. But then at 430k, we had a book that couldn’t be bound. So.
I chose the only emotional point from which the end of a novel could naturally arise and then… had to restructure things to give that ending the impact it deserved. In the end I chose to open up something that seemed obvious to me, if off-the-page, from the end of the entire 430k monster. My alpha reader told me that this was not obvious at all in the former iteration.
This is a problem I often have; things that are not obvious seem obvious to me, because I know how they work. Things that are obvious to others seem more difficult to me because I can’t always see forest for trees. Examples of both abound >.<.
After I sent Firstborn off to my editor, I then sat down with what is now called War. (Sun Sword was a moving title as well; I started every book after Broken Crown with the rough draft title Sun Sword. It only stuck at the end, because it was the title meant for the last book.)
War, however, now started in the middle of a book.
The middle of a book is not a great place to begin a book. So the revision on War was both necessary and front-loaded. I think, in the end, Firstborn is actually a bit longer than War. Both are now with DAW, and I will not see them again until page proofs arrive, which in the case of the former, should be any minute now.
But, they were done, and sent to Sheila! Yay! I sat down and started the first book of the last arc — which, for a West novel, means iterative approaches to the beginning of a book. This did not last two days.
The universe decided I had not actually done enough revision; there was clearly not enough revision in my life. Cast in Oblivion came back from my Mira editor, and so: Revisions! Again!
By the end of those revisions I had reached an important conclusion: do not revise three books in a row. Revisions on one book — and I’ve only ever had one, with actual writing breaks in between — are fine. It’s bumpy in that I approach a book looking only for things that don’t work — things that I messed up, things I knew in my head that never quite made it to the page — but it’s positive in that I can make it better.
Three months of seeing nothing but the things I got wrong? Even the joy of fixing things or adding things is so heavily shadowed by the fact that I wouldn’t need to do this if I could just get it right the first time. And that mythical ‘get it right the first time’… never happens. There are always things I miss. I know no authors personally who can claim that they never revise. There might be authors who don’t — but I’ve never met them.
I’ve been doing this for a while now. I understand that revisions do not mean the work is garbage or terrible. I understand – pragmatically speaking – that I have always revised, with editorial feedback in hand.
But the pragmatic understanding did not stand up well to three novel revisions in a row. I’m never doing it again; I will take time to write actual book words – to create – in between. As it was, reading for the F&SF review column saved what remained of my sanity, because I had a book review column due, and had read only 2 books for it. I read, I wrote the column, and I sat down to new book words again.
The Cast in Oblivion copy-edits arrived in my inbox.
In the mean time, the gloom had the effect it always has: I avoid the internet. I avoid being on-line. I avoid being an author in public. Because I feel like a fraud; if I were the author that readers actually wanted to interact with, I would never be this incompetent, right? The little voice that says, “but you’ve always worked this way since day one” is too quiet.
The part of me that is Eeyore in real life?
Is finally taking a nap. I have sent in the copy-edits for Cast in Oblivion (which is the stage after revisions and approval of same). I am looking at: three possible places to start the first of the End of Days books, and two possible places to start the Severn book (the beginning that’s there doesn’t quite work for a novel; it would have been fine in a short story), and my creative brain is now starting to be excited rather than cowering in embarrassment.