Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Wow - What a Ride!

Me, reflecting, not in Mexico.
Once in a while it's good to stop and ask: "Wait, where am I?  How did I get here?  Wait, who am I???" Or, you know, maybe not that last one.  Check your ID.

In March 2009, my first novel, Princess of Light, was published by Absolute XPress. I remember doing final edits between Christmas and December 31.  They were due at midnight and I sent them off with 5 minutes to spare. It was a fun but crazy time, especially since some of my close friends were down from Windsor.  I hate missing out on any of the action, so edits would occur at night while we were all sitting around, chatting or playing games.  Well, they were chatting and playing games.  I was sipping coffee and shutting them out (I should mention here that I have the best friends in the whole world.  I've done research, too, so this is factual.)

When Princess was released, I had a heck of a learning curve to climb, and I kept climbing it for the release of Warrior of Darkness that August.   The learning curve was tempered with trying to write Warrior.  Every morning from 6:30 to about 8:30 I'd write.  I spent most Sundays with my book.  I even hid in a convent for a bit, to get away from everything.  I had the first draft, second draft and reader feedback all taken care of by June.  I was revising final edits from my editor while camping with my friends in Quebec City (again, my good friends from Windsor were down. I only see them twice a year, but they seem to come with deadlines.)  I edited under a canopy on a campsite, by a campfire, and then in a coffee shop in Quebec City so that I could e-mail the whole thing off.  It was a break-neck race to get the book finalized and out in time for WorldCon in Montreal.  We made it, but just.  I was picking up my box of books at the post office as I was leaving town for Montreal.  Good times. 

Me, not sleeping.
There was no time to chill - Sorceress of Shadows was due by December 31.  I should point out that I agreed to these deadlines when I signed my contracts.  (I'm a sucker for punishment, apparently, and my friends will attest that I don't learn from past mistakes.)

So I undertake the same writing schedule, somehow fitting in cons, workshops, storytelling shows and a full-time job in there, too.  On December 31, while visiting my friends in Windsor, I'm finishing up the manuscript to send it off.  I wasn't happy with the ending.  I felt that I'd missed an opportunity, but I couldn't figure out what or how.  This WAS the conclusion to the story of Cassara, Avarielle and Shirina, and I wanted to give them a good ending.  I loved those characters, and had pretty much just spent a whole year with them, non-stop. I sent in the manuscript expressing my concerns, asking for a bit more time.

One thing I never wanted to become was one of those authors who continuously misses deadlines. Seems unprofessional to me.  But in this case, I needed some wiggle room.  And I got it.  My publisher, Brian Hades, was leaving the country for a month, the editor was swamped, and we pushed back the release date to May, giving me two more months.  I love my publisher (and his wife too, so it's okay).

I went back to edits and fretted and swore and cried and was a general mess for a while, and then I figured out the ending I needed.  Really late at night.  Kept my roommate up pounding the keys.  And she didn't tell me to stop, even though she had an early start the next day.  Like I said - good friends.

Edits were done without my friends from Windsor around (weird, I know), and the book was out in time for May.  I took a few breaths of relief.

For a month.

Then Destiny's Blood, which had been sold to Dragon Moon Press in November 2008, came back with edits.  I buckled down and attacked.  I love the editing process. In the editor I find an ally for the story, and I learn so much during it.  So I edited, we went back and forth, and it went to lay-out and the cover went to design.


Me, as a pony.  No kidding.
It was exciting.  I needed the printed books in time for CAN-CON, where I was Guest of Honour and intended to launch Destiny's Blood.  I knew there would be a quick turnaround on the final lay-out proofs, and I was well aware they were due any day as I left for Kentucky to bring my roommate to a My Little Pony fair (she's a collector.  The trick to having good friends is to be a good friend, too.)  On the way over, we decided to stop in Windsor and crash there for the night.  I admit - I didn't check my e-mail that night.  Guaranteed the proofs for Destiny's Blood were going to be in my inbox, since I was with my "deadline friends."  The next day we arrived in Kentucky in the late afternoon, and I logged into my e-mail as soon as we were checked in.  And yup, the proofs had arrived the previous day.

I e-mailed my publisher, confirming that I had received them and was about to go through them.  She wished me a happy vacation and told me to get them back to her ASAP (I love my publishers.  They all have a wicked sense of humour, which is the only way to stay sane in this business, I think!)  So, after two days on the road, I sat down and edited.  Then I went for a swim and then edited some more (legs were cramping up).  The next day we went to the fair, and as soon as we were back, I edited.  And the next morning I answered questions from my editor, who was also going through it again.  And then I re-read the manuscript, and everything was somehow done in two days, and I was once more in Windsor on our journey back home, having sandwiched edits between seeing my friends from Windsor (a better model).

And now I take another breath, while preparing for several shows and cons.  And then it's time to throw myself back in.  The tentatively titled Destiny's War is due at Dragon Moon Press by end of year.  It's not where it should be by now, though I'm happy with how it's shaping up.  September is going to be a writing month - a pure race to the goal, an adrenaline-filled ride that hopefully won't result in a crash, and I'm gonna love every second of it.  When I'm not whining to my roommate, anyway.

With any luck (meaning I'll send in a good enough manuscript that doesn't require massive rewrites), Destiny's War should be out in about a year.  After four book releases in less than a year and a half, it's a different pace, and I'm certainly not against it.

All right, pause over.  Back to the manuscript!  Have a good one, everyone.  See you in October!