Monday, June 01, 2009

Edits and stuff

Ooooh...and this new coffee I just bought is delicious; Ghirardelli organic Cinnamon Chocolate Almond, especially when I add some French Vanilla creamer to it. Now, I take my coffee black a large percentage of the time--when I drink it, which isn't a lot--so don't jump all over me about my hideous oversweetened tastes. Sometimes I like to try something different, is all. And this stuff is seriously yum. I can happily drink this all day, oh yes.

And why am I drinking so much coffee?

Because work time is upon me.

Today is June 1st. I have thirty days to finish DEMON POSSESSED. So if I am rather scarce for the next month, you know why. I shall try not to be scarce, as I've been so scarce the last few months, but I can't guarantee my presence. Deadlines are deadlines, and I have me one of them.

I'm having fun with it, though. Which is nice. Getting back into the Demons world after so long--it's been almost two years since I've written these characters--was a bit of a challenge at first but once it clicked again, it clicked again, and I'm really enjoying myself. We've had some sweet moments and some funny moments and some sexy moments, and I'm about to start the lead-in into the Moments Which Might Make You Want To Kill Me. Um. Yes, some Bad Things happen in this one. But you must trust me.

Anyway. In the midst of plotting and giggling and worrying, copyedits for the second Downside book arrived; the one which used to be DOWNSIDE GHOSTS and is now UNHOLY MAGIC. Which, btw, is up on Amazon!!

No cover yet--you know I'll share that with you guys as soon as I get it, and I'll post the blurb then as well--but the listing is there, and I'm excited about it.

Especially since...well. I've had a bit of a change of heart about that book. It was my Problem Child before, for several reasons, which I will outline for you now:

* It followed UNHOLY GHOSTS, about which I was more excited than I've ever been about any book I've written

* It followed UNHOLY GHOSTS, which I considered, and still kind of do, to be the best book I've ever written

* It was written while UNHOLY GHOSTS was on submission, and I was terrified it wouldn't sell, which made it hard to write the sequel

* It was the first book I've ever written that required extensive edits (more on that in a minute)

Second books are hard. When you write the first, you have the thrill of discovery; you're creating a whole new world, and whole new people. It's exciting as hell, seriously.

The second? Well. It's still exciting, but that little extra oomph that comes from building a world from the ground up is gone. You're playing in an already-created pond. You're revisiting familiar characters. While that has its own rewards and thrills, they're different. It's awesome to expand the characters and take their stories further. It's awesome to write "what comes next." But it's not as easy as writing the first, at least not for me.

UNHOLY MAGIC was hard to write. It was a second book. It was a second book in a series I wasn't sure was going to sell--I believe I was around 2/3 done with it when we got the first offer--which made me wonder, as I wrote, if there was even a fricking point. And it was heartbreaking, because I was (and still am) so violently, deeply in love with the characters and the world that I couldn't bear to think I might not get to introduce other people to them. I had an agent, and that was extra pressure; what would happen if the book didn't sell? Could I produce something else he'd like as much? Nobody ever talks about how scary it can be to sign with an agent, in that suddenly someone else expects things of you, but it can be a little nerve-wracking.

You all know I'm a pantser, not a plotter. Well. All this stress and worry made UNHOLY MAGIC veer off into odd tangents. It took me something like 13 weeks to write, which is longer than any book has ever taken me. Eeep! It didn't just flow! UNHOLY GHOSTS flowed; I wrote the first draft in seven weeks (well, eight weeks, but for a week of that time we were out of town or I was sick, so techinically it was seven weeks). So if UNHOLY GHOSTS flowed, and I love it so and think it's great, then maybe the non-flowy book, not great?

Things got worse when I got into edits. I ended up cutting over 30k words from that book; a gargantuan amount for someone who rarely cuts more than a few thousand here and there. Whole sections of the book were ripped out, rewritten, and restitched; it was kind of terrifying. I didn't know what I'd written, I was too close to it. Trapped in it. All I could think of was that UNHOLY GHOSTS was good and easy to write, or rather, it came easily and was a deeply exciting challenge, whereas UNHOLY MAGIC was blood, sweat, and tears every step of the way, and not what I'd hoped it would be.

And that is the way I've felt all along. At least until I finished CITY OF GHOSTS, the third book, which true to form I now think is probably just not very good. But UNHOLY MAGIC was the real sticky one, the one I just could not warm up to.

Well. I finished the copyedits last night. It was the first time I've read the book all the way through since...geez, since line edits, seven months or so ago.

And you know what?

I liked it.

I did. The book doesn't suck. It really doesn't! It's pretty good, I think. It held my interest. I didn't want to stop reading it. I found some good lines in it, some writing I was really proud of. Some nice character moments. Some scary bits and sexy bits; I was surprised, actually, by how sexy the sexy bits were.

My point isn't to brag about The Wonders Of Me or to convince you to preorder UNHOLY GHOSTS and UNHOLY MAGIC right now (although, of course, you could. Y'know, if you wanted to). It's not to pat myself on the back. Really.

It's to share a little bit about my editing process and thoughts. And to say that even though I generally hate my work, I do eventually find a place where...I don't. So those of you who also hate your work? You too will probably eventually find a place where you don't.

You are really not necessarily the best judge of your work. I'm not the best judge of mine. My agent, my editors, my cp pals, have been telling me UNHOLY MAGIC is a good book for months, while I frown and bitch and whine and envision readers coming after me with torches and sticks because they hate it so much and I've let them down so horribly.

I feel better about the book now. I think readers will like UNHOLY MAGIC. I think it's a good sequel, it's a good expansion of the story and world; similar enough to work, but different enough that it doesn't feel like a carbon copy or like I'm working from a formula (I'm not, of course.)

So there you go. A full year after writing it, I finally like UNHOLY MAGIC.

CITY OF GHOSTS, on the other hand... Sigh.

No comments: