Step(s) Forward

The problem with being a writer, well, one of the many, is that you have to write something that makes sense to someone somewhere and hope that special someone finds your work and admires it. The more someones that it makes sense to, the better. There’s things to do to ensure that number is high. Editing, understanding grammar, plot, character development, etcetera. Then there’s marketing and promotion (which I stink at).

I got this story. It’s huge. I have mentioned it a lot since I’ve been working on it since 2004. I’ve finished it three times now. Maybe four depending on how I look at it. Each version is slightly different and, with each, it makes more sense to more people. I’ve had some people read it and they’ve all enjoyed it. Sure, there’s problems. But for the most part, they’ve liked it.

Problem is, I don’t. Yeah, yeah, I am so addicted to this novel I dream of it. But there’s parts of it I just can’t seem to get right.

The book is Simple Sarah (I can hear the groans from here). The problem I have with it is the Bad Guys and Evil and All That Bad Guy Evil Stuff. Where’d they come from? Where have they been? Why are some religious nuts allowed to kill them? Why doesn’t the gov’t step in and say, “Um, you are killing a lot of people.” It just never really felt right. I’ve danced around the issue in several different ways and I’ve discussed it with Lorna (spouses of writers discuss the oddest things at the dinner table).

Gods and Goddesses are odd beings. Where’d they come from? Are they static? Do they never change? Do the peoples that worship them change them in any way? How do those peoples even start worshiping them to begin with?

I realized the deities within Simple Sarah are like the Greek/Roman gods. They walk among the people at times, although they are not all that accessible on the whole. Which means perhaps that they have faults, just like the Greek/Roman gods did. And perhaps they were also influenced by the who and how of the worship directed toward them.

Many times in the Christian Bible we read of how someone sweet talked God into Plan B. Was that God’s intention to begin with or did He/She really get swayed?

Which led Lorna and I to develop a new religion base for the Simple Sarah novels. It actually feels better now. I feel as if I understand it now and feel more comfortable with the entire story arc. One of the things E. said about it when she read it was that while it was a good story (she finished the whole thing), she didn’t feel that anything actually happens. And she is right. Sure, lots happen but really, it was the WHY, not the WHAT that was missing. At least to me.

Evil plays a huge role in fantasy novels. People, things, places, abstract thoughts. Mean dragons or evil wizards or unholy trinkets wreak havoc on the world and someone has to fix it. But why did that dragon eat that village? Why did the evil wizard become evil and why did he stay that way? How did that unholy trinket come to exist? And, if it is oh so powerful, why does a simple blow from just the right hammer or a toss into just the right fire kill it?

I really feel that this is it for Simple Sarah. I really feel that in a few weeks, it will be done. For real. But I am not recommending you hold your breath. Unless you are underwater, then, yeah, go ahead.

Now, For the Title…

Now I need to come up with a good title for the book.

It started out as Simple Sarah and has maintained that all along. The first version was this huge honkin’ thing and I knew it would have to be broken down into parts.

At that point, when I was sure there would be three books, they were called The Blessed, The Graced, and The Divine. It fit because the first book was about Sarah (the Blessed), the second was to be about Lea (the Graced) and the third was a culmination of the other two and some other stuff tossed in (the Divine). But I am thinking that Lea’s book (which chronologically takes place before the others) would be best saved for after the others are done. But I have another idea that may still fit the title.

If I keep Simple Sarah, I need to come up with something similar for the second book and I can’t, not if Lea’s book is put off (it would have been named Long Lea). Then there’s the naming of the third, which I am drawing a complete blank on in terms of this theme.

Another problem is I know I have enough written and in my head for the second book, but I’m not sure I have enough for a third.

I could go with Simple Sarah and just figure out the other titles as I go. When they are all done, be that two or three, I can update the sub-titles then. I’ve already decided the first book will not say “Book One of the Something Cool Here Series” ’cause that means I’m expected to write more than one more ’cause you don’t have a series with just two books in it. I had considered “Book One of the Castanea Chronicles” but, again, that’s assuming there’s more than two books.

Did I just ramble on enough? Wander about in the thickets of my mind a little too much?

Summary:
Simple Sarah – with the other(s) getting non-themed titles
The Blessed – with the others getting the other two mentioned above (which would mean Lea’s prequel getting an odd title)
Castanea Chronicles: The Story of Simple Sarah – would make the other books fit I guess. Even Lea’s book would fit. Hmm….

Edits Done!

Okay, done with that round. It came out to 117,574 words. The pages came to 391 but that is with .5″ margins. With the publisher’s submission guidelines of 1″ margins, it comes out to 501 pages. Whoa! Big difference! Wait, I use Verdana when I type ’cause it’s so big. Changing to Times New Roman….Wow. That shrunk it down. 399 pages now. In comparison, BGCFA final copy (with chapter breaks and other stuff) came to 78,303 words and 302 pages. So after the chapter breaks are put in, Simple Sarah is going to be huge. Coooool.

Anyway, I diverted myself.

Next, off to the beta readers!

Then, edit in their suggestions/changes.

Then, print it out, pull pages at random, edit one page at a time*, and enter those in.

Send it off!

Hope it sells!

*In pulling pages at random, you see just that page. You don’t get caught up in the story. You see the words on the page as just that, words. You can see a lot of errors this way, especially commonly skimmed over errors and sound-a-like words such as their and there and they’re.

Words of advice: make sure you print it out with the page numbers! Made that mistake once….

Editing Continues

I realized I’d not posted in a while. Not since I went off and ranted on a few things. Nothing like gaining friends that way, eh?

Anyway, edits on Simple Sarah continue. To recap, I printed it all out (402 pages) and went through it to edit. I then started inputting those edits including hacking off bits and chunks. It ended at 121,103 and, right now, sits at 118,457 and 393 pages. I’m at a place where I’m having to pause and think and it will result first in a huge hack of words but then some other words put into its place.

It is going much slower than I thought it would. I had some issues I needed to iron out. And even still, there’s a few places where I have just decided to leave in and worry about later based on beta reader opinion and, perhaps even later if it sells, the editor’s opinion.

My goal is to get this damn thing done by this weekend. My self-imposed goals were not realistic but I learned a lot from them. I still want to get two BG books out this year but I will be happy to get one written and edited and sent and get the other at least written. I’ll re-evaluate that as soon as Simple Sarah is out of here.

Paper Edits

I finished the edits already. Now to enter them and other changes into the manuscript. After that is done, I’ll send it off to the Beta Readers.

Over all, I really like this book. It has some issues here and there that I think I can fix or I can get good suggestions from the Beta Readers.

Speaking of which, any one want to be one? A Beta Reader, that is?

And the Edits Begin

I hate editing. I really do. I wish I could say I’ve gotten better at it.

But this is daunting, don’t you think?

That’s 402 pages, double spaced, .5″ margins all around, with a footer. Oy.

That small amount I’ve got separated by my finger is pages 1-83. I’m on page 50. Oy.

My printer did a good job of it. It only got itself hung up once and I hung it up twice trying to feed it paper. I only had to reprint 3 pages! Not bad. It did it really fast because I remembered to put it on “economical/fast draft” setting. Ink is expensive!

I’m doing a slash and dash type of editing right now. If it don’t forward the story, out it goes. I’m thinking a huge chunk of the beginning is going to go. So I’m glad I ended it so big.

Oh, and I’m getting a cross-cut shredder. That stuff will be mulch after I’m done with it.

121,103

Sarah waited for the others to finish the preparations for the trip to Whitehaven. She reflected on how far she had come since she had left what seemed to be a lifetime ago. How she had changed during that time. She was more sure of herself, for one. Her faith had gotten stronger and she had no doubt Abbess Irys would be proud of her.

“I left Whitehaven to join the ranks of Servants in the best way I could. I was a simple leather crafter’s daughter. Now I am a Keeper, chosen by the goddess. Me. Sarah, daughter to Eliza.” Sarah whispered.

The Freakin’ End

121,103 words. 402 pages w/ .5″ margins.

(picture me with a glass of ice tea in one hand and 3 Musketeers bar in the other)

(to hell with glucose levels. I’m celebratin’!)