More Research Required

When Mr. Quinn and I sat down to discuss his alpha read of The Star of Time he suggested some major/minor changes to the scope of the book.

He wanted a stronger, more emotional opening to the story (good call), and that one was easy because it’s contemporary. Phoebe starts her story in 2016. I was able to use my own experience to write that and I knocked it out in a couple of days.

The other change – giving a secondary character a stronger backstory – required more research because his story takes place in areas of the book that I had previously skipped altogether (I mistakenly thought that the story didn’t happen there). All of that is historical. New settings require internet excavation to see how things would have been accomplished in 1776. Three days in and I know what I think I need to know.

Frustratingly, I could have written the scene and just guessed, but I really want to be as accurate as I can (knowing that someone who is an expert may still come along and say I got it all wrong!). The location plays a role, but not a big one. The reality is that I needed to know how my people would cross a river. And where. So where was that old road? Which ferry was along that road? How far was it from where they started? Would they have come to the crossing on their first day of travel or the second?

Every question has an answer and every answer inevitably creates another question. The good news in all of this is that I think I have reached a point in my career where I can make the call on when I’ve got enough knowledge to proceed. At this point, I can quit excavating and start writing again.

I think this is the last major added scene for this round of edits. Then I have to fine tooth comb the rest of the book, punch up some stuff and then it’s off to the races on getting book 3 first drafted. That one’s The Star of the Dead, for the record.

I may get these books done and published soon. It’s certainly starting to feel more real!

Quinning the Internets | June 2017

I thought I’d post an update and share a bit about what’s going on these days:

  • I finished the first draft of book 2 in my Alchemy Stone series (that’s a trial balloon series title. We’ll see if it sticks, yeah?). It will be called The Star of Fire and centers around Chicago in 1871 (you’ll never guess what happens in Chicago in 1871. ;))
  • My alpha reader (aka Mr. Quinn) finished his deep dive into book one. We then spent 3 hours hogging a booth at a (mostly empty) restaurant talking about ways to make it better. I start my edits today. There’s some that have to be added – our brainstorm for the opening of the book will make it much stronger, I think. I also have some characterization that was weak, especially around one character whose role changed drastically between version 1 and version 6 (the one Mr. Quinn read). So he needs to be beefed up and given a better story.
  • I participated in NaNo Camp April 2017 and missed my goal by 2100 words. In my defense, I was driving for 12 hours to vacation at the end of the month, but whatever. I haven’t decided if NaNo Camp July 2017 is in the cards yet. Our summer looks vastly different than it has in the past and I may be able to make it work this year.
  • I’ve started work on Book 3 of the Alchemy Stone series. It takes place in New Orleans in 1875. I made a map (because of course, I did!) and I’ve been researching like crazy. The plot is starting to take shape in my head. Yesterday was all about the Battle of Brandywine Creek. I know, I know… The Battle of Brandywine Creek takes place in Pennsylvania in 1777, but it will all make sense… someday. I’m just excited to have the old plot boards back out and my oversized map of New Orleans with all of its colored dots marking interesting places Phoebe might come across.
  • Otherwise? Life goes on. We finished our school year and started our unofficial summer schedule, which means sleeping in a little. The two youngest have a list of requirements to complete every day before they get any screen time. It’s working well with the older of the two, but has resulted in less net screen time for my youngest, because he thinks, “the list is stupid!” and “you’re just trying to punish me!” He is entitled to his wrong opinion of course, but then again, he has always been the one of my kids that would cut off his nose to spite his face. <shrug> What can I say?

So, that’s what’s going on. I’ll be in and out over the summer. The plan going forward is to work on getting The Star of Time (Book 1 of the Alchemy Stone series) ready and hopefully hit publish this fall. I plan on spending June plotting book 3 and editing book 1, then switching it into high gear again and trying to finish book three first draft by August 31. I’m basing that timeline on how I did book 2, so we’ll see if it sticks, or even, if I can beat my record now.

Write on my friends…