Willow Update: THE LAST ONE (unless it gets picked up)

It’s done.

The final revision of my novel is done.

I’m all done.

I started writing this in 1994. On April 28, 2019, I completed the final revision of the novel. During that time, I wrote, rewrote, tossed out, threw away the novel entirely. Started over. Revised. Finished. Threw it out again. Started over one last time, revised, went through hell, came back, and now it’s done. It came out to 140K, which is a little more than I wanted (I was shooting for 120K), but overall, I’m pleased with the word count.

Second book should be easier now, right? Right? Hello??

Part of me is freaking out and going oh-no-i’m-done-what-do-i-do-now and running around in circles. But the writer me, the short story me, the one who has sent out hundreds of submissions and racked up sales, is grabbing the panicking me and saying, “Stop. You already know the next step. It’s okay. Take a deep breath, do some celebrating, and then, do the thing.”

So I’m taking a week or so off to recuperate. Clean my house. Play some video games. And then there’s some things I need to do:

  • I still need to format my novel, which means compiling it from Scrivener into Word, then spell check and format it.
  • It’s finally, finally time for me to start researching agents.
  • I need to put together a list of said agents. I also have a couple of publishing houses I plan to submit to outright, but it’ll be good for me to look for an agent who can negotiate well.
  • I have to put my synopsis together, which will also include doing one for the whole series. And yes, Weeping of the Willows is the first book in a series (I was hoping a trilogy but I had to split this book in two in the initial draft, so at the least, it’s a 4-book series).
  • Then, the query letter.
  • And lastly, start submitting my book!

I don’t know how long it will take. I don’t know if it will get picked up by a publisher. I don’t know if I’ll run out of options and publish it myself. I don’t even know if I just shrug and say, “well, it was a good learning experience,” and I just never make it public.

But I can honestly say I wrote and finish a novel. That’s a huge thing to celebrate in itself. For all of you who had stuck with me this long, thanks!

In the meantime, I can finally, finally, start considering my next project. Stay tuned!

The Next Big Thing – The Weeping of the Willows

There’s this meme post going around called "The Next Big Thing" where new authors answer questions about the books they’re working on. I’ve been tagged by Sofia Samatar back in October, and then tagged again by my VPXV classmate Blair MacGregor in December. So I am really, really late on this. But never late than never, hey?

1) What is the working title of your next book?

The Weeping of the Willows.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

Different elements of the story came from different parts of my life.

When I was in college, I had a friend who had kept swords in his dorm room. Sometimes, we would stage  fake fights. From that, I got the idea of a black girl assassin.

Because of my Christian charismatic background, I wanted to write a world that explored the nature of prophecy. I combined that with the madness of the Greek oracles to come up with the concept of voices in my story. I also love growing herbs, and that’s where I got the idea of herbmasters instead of doctors.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Epic fantasy.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I doubt it would ever get turned into a movie, but I think an older version of the girl who played Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild would be perfect as my main character, Coren.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A black female assassin is assigned to kill a herbmaster, but becomes a bodyguard to his son, the prophesied destroyer of the world.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

When I finish it (and by God, it will get finished), I plan to send it to agents, but also to publishers. We’ll see what happens then.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Officially, I started writing this in 1992 and made it up to 15 chapters before I stopped in 1997. I picked it up again in 2004, decided I had no clue what I was doing, threw all those chapters out, and started rewriting from scratch. I finished the first draft in July 2007 and saw that I had enough for two books. So I broke them in half, and I’ve been in rewrites since.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Hm…probably the closest would be the Sun Sword series by Michelle West.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Over time, the story evolved to the theme of identity. What is identity? How can you claim identity when it’s been taken from you without your knowledge? What must you sacrifice to forge your own identity? In a way, the book mirrors my own journey as I wrestle with these questions.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Swordfights! Plagues! Talking trees! Politics! Meddling aunts! And lots of swears and oaths…

To be honest, I’m still in the revision stage, but I’m always posting updates here at the Café in the Woods. Feel free to follow me here, or on Facebook and Twitter if you want more timely updates.

Include the person who tagged you, and add other people if you like:

As I said, I was tagged by both Sofia Samatar and Blair MacGregor. I’m going to return the favor and tag my other VPXV classmate Veronica Henry, as well as fellow Madisonite Monica Valentinelli, and David Steffen who is one of the masterminds behind The (Submission) Grinder, an alternative to Duotrope.

LaShawn’s Writing Project Status Update for February 2010

I missed the boat on creating my new year resolutions at the start of 2010. That’s because I was busy writing. Can’t come up with a better excuse than that.

So, Willow-wise, what have I been up to? I feel like I’m finally starting to pick up speed on the revision. Currently, I’m on Chapter 12. At first glance, it looks disheartening. Seeing that I started rewriting Willow in March, it almost looks like I did only a chapter a month–and with about 60 chapters planned, if I keep at that pace, it will be a long time before Willow is finished. The thing is, I don’t feel so bad.

I’ve said before in my Willow updates that I knew the first opening chapters were going to be hard. I would be basically establishing everything that would be coming after, and this included fine-tuning the world to be consistent and in some cases, starting a new chapter over from scratch. I believe I’m getting past that stage…the last chapter I worked on went much faster since the story was now established and things were finally moving.

I’m also perfecting my revision method. At the beginning, I just rewrote and rewrote the passage I was working on until I felt like I got it right. Now, I’ve been utelizing the comment feature in Word 2007 and highlighting areas that I feel needs more work to come back to later. I’m finding that instead of wracking my brain to come up with something right away, highlighting it give me a chance to continue working on the passage without losing my flow. And chances are, the right words will come to me later and I can easily plug them in. Now it’s just figuring out when’s the best time to do that.

So basically, I’m 20% into the second revision of my book. If I finish my short story for WOTF on time, then I plan to make April an "all-Willow" month, meaning that the only project I’ll work on will be Willow. I don’t have a set end date planned, but if I can finish by the end of the year, I’ll be happy. We’ll see.

And with that, I’ll lead into my short story status update. Back in September, I ran out of short stories out there on the markets. At the time, I decided to quick edit 5 stories and get them out on the market by October 9; I was only about to get four out: two poems and two short stories (I also promised to put up a progress meter; that didn’t happen.) At least I do have stuff out there now. I’m also hard at work with my next WOTF entry, which I have dubbed "Cotton Picker". I’m hoping to get it done by the March 31st deadline—and that’s coming up pretty fast.

The good news is that "She’s All Light" had been published and received rave comments and a good review. And I have another story coming up in the March issue of Ideomancer called "Future Perfect", which is actually the first science fiction story I ever wrote. This will be my second story published with Ideomancer, and I’m quite pleased this one made it in.

One final thought: I’ve been feeling a little burnt out on the creative side of things. So when Mur Lafferty announced on her I Should Be Writing podcast that she was starting a Facebook group on The Artist’s Way, I immediately jumped on board. I’ve always wanted to do The Artist’s Way, specifically the morning pages. I tried to to do a version of them on my own, but that didn’t last long. I’m hoping with the actual book and a community, I’d be able to get back into it. Feel free to join if you’re a writer or any kind of artist. Or even if you’re not an artist. From what I read so far, The Artist’s Waycan be used for anyone wanting to bring more creativity into their life.

While I’ll participate in the Facebook group, I’ll also post most of my thoughts on Twitter (my handle is @TboneJenkins). Feel free to follow along and let me know what you think.