What’s for Dinner? Bento Box.

Have you ever wished you could live someone else’s life for a while? It’s better in your head. Click the link for a sale on the Bento Box e-book!

Closer to the Finish Line

I finished my second book, or at least, mostly finished. It’s out getting dry cleaned and pressed; in other words, getting some line editing done, to make sure it’s grammatically correct and all the spelling errors are caught. You might think that these small functions could easily be done by the author, but allow me to assure you they aren’t. Even today I’m still getting feedback for The Corsican’s follies. I learned from my mistake. Self-editing is a necessity, but I’ll never publish without another pair of eyes again.

I’m experiencing a lot of peaks – excitement, terror, panic – and valleys, which are mostly the adrenaline crash and attempts at calming self-talk. A friend of mine mentioned to me during a conversation, saying that she figured since I was a published author that this would be old hat. I reminded her that I’ve only ever done this once before. One does not simply walk into Mordor; and one does not simply write a book.

I’m terrified. I feel like so much is riding on this book. It’s hard to feel like your entire career hangs on a book, but when you only finish one once every two and a half years or so, it’s important that your book is well received. There are so many books in this world, and I’m adding to the pile. I put my heart into this story, which is exciting and weird and awkward and fun. I am putting myself out there to be read, and judged, but this is what I want to do. This has been my dream since forever. I love to hear what people think of my story, I love knowing that I’ve entertained someone. My favorite is to make people laugh, or to surprise them.

I’m still figuring things out. There are signposts on my particular career path, but it has taken me years to make sense of them. I’m really happy with the book that I’ve made. I just hope that it makes everyone who reads it happy too.

Milestones

After publishing my first book, I looked back and realized how much work went into it. Writing a novel is a long journey. What I didn’t realize is that to get from rough draft to finished work isn’t one leap, but a series of many steps.

For my second book, my husband suggested that I use milestones as a way to break up the long stretches.  Breaking a book down into its parts gives a much better scope of the deed. I didn’t agree with him immediately, but after finding a free project management software, I soon realized how much more I accomplished than I realized.

First, there’s pre-writing. Which is when a writer starts cooking up an idea for a book. Even pantsers (those who fly by the seat of their pants, rather than plot things out on paper) will start developing thoughts about their work before they put pen to paper. Next, there’s a rough draft, which is where the major story is fleshed out. Then, there’s editing the rough draft, which is a different depth of attention than what will be called for in later drafts. There can be an unlimited amount of drafts but generally around three to five is standard for practiced writers.

Let us not forget the humble chapter, which has become my default milestone. Finishing a chapter is generally only finishing a sliver of a novel, but there are definitive earmarks and a sense of completion when a chapter is done, which makes it a great place to checkbox.

I just finished the third draft of Bento Box. It has undergone major adaptations from the rough draft, including professional developmental editing. It’s now ready for a copy editor and then into formatting for sale.

I’m really excited. It’s been two and a half years in the making. I would work a full day at my job, come home, and work a few hours a night on my novel. It’s my best story yet, something that was fun even from the little short story I noodled up one day.

I think it’s safe to say that by June, Bento Box will be available!

300

I had never finished a story.

Technically untrue, there were little short stories I’d pounded out, but I’d never finished a novel. Novel length stories are a considerable undertaking. It’s not just the major plot arc, which is easy to plot out, it’s the details. When you’re writing a story, your only goal is to get from a to b, hopefully by a route that makes sense. But what you wrote on page 40 isn’t in your head when you write the climax on page 350. That one detail can bedevil you, either by missing it completely and having your readership point it out, or by having to backtrack over 310 pages and clean up the mistake.

Naturally, never having achieved this goal before, I had never entered into the land beyond, the land of formatting and proofing and printing and selling. It is a foreign land, with strange sensibilities and arcane vocabulary.

Now that I have seen beyond the curtain somewhat, I understand why publishing is a separate business. My first proofs were rife with errors. The software somehow ate upwards of 300 indents through the story. The cover was overdone. Oh, and the last quotation mark on the last sentence of the book was missing.

My husband was over the moon that he was holding a book in his hand, but I, on the other hand, was horrified. I contacted my publisher and advised them of all the print errors in the proof. This is where I found out about the software issue.

Looking back now, I’m not as horrified by the proof. It exemplified the point of the proof. Of having good communication with the publisher, and the patience to remember that rarely is anything perfect the first time. My first draft of The Corsican wasn’t perfect, it’s not perfect now, and the proof is that reminder. It also reminds me of how far I have come.

I could have been more prepared, but I think only slightly more so, even if I’d reserached. The Publishing Conglom keeps their system under wraps, to maintain their niche. It’s not a good strategy when indie publishers are racing in to scoop up the e-book share of the market. Having spoken with a friend of mine who published about a year before me, I know that the indie publishers lack in poise, but make up for it in chutzpah.

It is a changing world that we enter when we step onto the publishing stage, but if there is anything that remains true, the written word is not going anywhere any time soon.

The proof is in the print

Things are rolling now! I have been bombarded by life changes; new jobs, new schools, new routines, and even new pets. I have truly gone from zero to sixty, and trust me, I feel sixty some days!

Today was a treat for me. I received a box of proofs. In retrospect, one would do, perhaps two, one for myself and one for my publisher, but we splurged. What the hell, it’s my first book, I don’t know what to expect.

This is why I didn’t know to brace myself at the appearance of several editing snarls.

I’ve been reading all my life, since I was four years old. I am as familiar with books as I am with dressing myself or brushing my teeth. At first blush the book is gorgeous, but upon second and third blush, details start adding up to imperfection.

The publisher chose to go with a sidebar title and name in addition to the binding title and name, as well as the title across the top and name at the bottom. Overkill for sure. Not to mention my cover art, drawn by my friend and co-conspirator Heather Gross, loses real estate to this stuff, which is not ideal.

Next, I found two banks of unintended text. Not quite a page worth’s each, but I’ve only flipped through the book. Hardcore combing is reserved for this weekend, when I can devote focused time to the project.

Now, I’m whining and moaning about what isn’t right, but it’s a proof! Ninety percent of it is finished, this is the punch list. I have a copy of my work in my hands, in print, cover, dedication, the works. Someone could write a book report on it someday. Truthfully I’m excited, elated, in a wonderful place. Once these proofs are fixed, I can print copies for my readers, who wait eagerly for my first edition, limited run, autographed copies. I love my readers so.

Of course, next will come ways of wooing the readership at large to read my stories. I have a wide network of friends and appreciate their support. My hope is to get this book to the next tier, where people I do not know get to enjoy my work too.