Dear Blog Friends,
If you just started reading now, you’re in the middle of the story, so I’ll recap. Back in 2002, I wrote my first novel. There’s a certain blissful moment only available to novice writers where you have written something and haven’t yet gained the skill to see how much work it needs. So I finished my novel and told my parents I was ready to start another one, and they (rather delicately) suggested that maybe I ought to think about rewriting my first novel to, you know, make it a little better.
“But I have spell check,” I said, not getting it.
They coughed and suggested that it could be that my story just, you know, might need a little tweaking. I, being a novice writer and assured of my own genius, ignored them and wrote the next novel. When I finished the third novel, I still wasn’t convinced that I needed any help. Every word was golden. But then I started a fourth novel that failed, stalling out at 20,000 words (fyi–stationary characters with no ambition make poor protagonists). Since I had a lust for writing at this point, I decided that just to pass the time until I got a new idea, I’d look at my first novel again.
To my shock and horror, the crap fairies had gotten into my computer and turned my deathless prose into sophomoric ramblings. Dear God, had I really written this crap? I spent a couple of months rewriting it. By that time, I had an idea for a fourth novel that would work. When I finished writing the fourth novel (FAERIE KILLER), I went back and revised the second novel (TREEMAKER). Then I wrote a fifth novel. Then I revised the third novel (DAYRUNNER). This has been a pretty good pattern for me. I alternate between writing new novels and revising old ones. Sometimes I throw short stories into the mix.
Here’s a general timeline for my first novel, SEEING THINGS.
August-October 2002: write novel.
February-March 2003: first rewrite of SEEING THINGS.
Summer 2003: send SEEING THINGS off to editors and agents. Get one request for a full manuscript from an agent in San Francisco (who later invited me to attend a conference.) Get other partial requests.
Late 2003: I realize that SEEING THINGS is fundamentally flawed, and decide to rewrite the entire novel, keeping a few of the scenes I like and the characters I was most fond of.
Early 2004: complete the second rewrite, SEEING THINGS 2.0 now has very little resemblance to the first novel.
Mid 2004 (ish?): After over a year, get good feedback from a very nice editorwho told me my manuscript needed work and gave me advice. She had seen version 1.0, so by then I’d figured out she was right.*
Spring/Summer 2004: pass the new SEEING THINGS, chapter by chapter, through the Online Writing Workshop.
Early 2005: begin querying again. Send SEEING THINGS 2.0 to a publisher, where it languishes despite a personal recommendation from a mutual friend of the editor.**
August 2006: rewrite SEEING THINGS, using a new title which one of my beta readers preferred,THE BINDI.
April 2008: decide it’s been quite long enough, clean up SEEING THINGS again and send it to a new publisher.***
August 2009: Kate**** hasn’t got much traction on the novel she took me as a client with (ALTERNATE SUSAN) so I spend a couple months giving Seeing Things an overhaul. A professional editor friend line edits it. Another beta reader cleans it up. I read it out loud to check other typos. I clean up my synopsis and send it to Kate, who then submits it to publishers under the name I prefer, SEEING THINGS.
November 2010: Only one of the editors has loved SEEING THINGS enough to publish it, and she can’t, because it doesn’t fit in line with their other novels closely enough for marketing purposes. Kate suggests epublishing the first three.
April 2011: I decide that epublishing may not be a terrible idea now, especially since I have so many novels in the series. I can afford to lose three whole novels to the ethernet, because I have so many others. Kate has two of my novels out on submission, and I have a YA urban fantasy that I finished in February that she hasn’t even seen yet.
September 2011: SEEING THINGS takes the internet by storm, garnering critical acclaim and brisk sales.
In between April 2011 and September 2011, I am going to go over SEEING THINGS one more time. When I last looked at it, it seemed pretty tight, but I’ve written a half dozen short stories and a novel since then, so I’m probably a better writer. That’s the fun part about revising. You can see how much you’ve progressed as a writer since you last looked at it.
SEEING THINGS is a fast paced, urban fantasy with a likeable main character and a mystery plot. The magic is subtle, the mood noir. It reads quickly. The main character is young (22) so it should appeal to YA readers as well as adults. SEEING THINGS is primped and primed and ready to go to the ball, but since no one’s asked her to dance, she’s going to go out in the world and find people on her own.
Less than four months now. September 1, 2011, you can see for yourself.
* 14 months later
**I think she took 3 1/2 years and several queries to respond. Not like I’m counting or anything.
*** something like a year to reply
****Kate Shafer Testerman, of KT Literary, who responds to queries in less time than it takes to bring a baby from embryo to toddler.