Draft 13 and the Crunch Schedule

Draft 13, Track Changes.

Draft 13, Track Changes. No page is untouched.

Since my first editor originally told me that the manuscript for my new novel was due to go to copyedits last October, and my second editor told me in early November not to worry about deadlines and take my time rewriting the last act of the novel, (about 130 pages), I assumed that my book had been bumped a season to 2015.  Season bumps have happened to me before, so I didn’t think much about it.

Then, in mid-January, when I… Continue reading


RipplesWhen you throw a stone in the water, the ripples spread outward in predictably widening circles.  When you throw a stone in a novel, it has ripple effects, too, especially if the stone kills somebody off.  This makes sense as long as I’m writing from the beginning to the end of a novel, in order, but sometimes when I’m revising, I add an event later in the book and realize I have to go back in, earlier, to set it up.  In such a case, I’m working… Continue reading

Listening to Voices

WoodsLooking over my shoulder the other day, my son asked me if the scene I was revising was the scene I’d revised most in the entire novel, because, according to him, every time he looks over my shoulder, that’s the scene I’m on.  Frankly, at this point, I have no idea which scene I’ve revised the most.  All I know is the scene needed more work.

Here’s how one of my scenes evolves through revision.  At first, the characters say somewhat random things that I write down,… Continue reading

No Hearts, Gulps, or Sighs

heartToday I wrote the first draft of an awful scene.  It’s scary and sad and troubling to me, and I hadn’t seen it coming, either.  It evolved naturally in a new chain of events I was trying in Project Next, and then, bam, I had to be responsible to my characters and expand a full-blown, agonizing scene.

It’s hard to write about emotion and have it work on the page.  It’s tempting to throw in tears, beating hearts, gulps, and sighs, but although those feel important and… Continue reading

Splitting Wood, Writing, and Persistence

logsWhen I was last in Minnesota, my brother invited me to help with hauling wood logs to cut and split for the fireplace.  I was game.  Four of us set out together on the job, and at one point, while my older brother manned the chain saw and my younger brother levered out nails with my husband, it fell to me to take a turn splitting logs.

I was not a natural with an axe.  Secretly, I was concerned about chopping my foot off, but I was… Continue reading

Q: Do Your Characters Ever Surprise You?


Shadows in the Attic

A:  Yes.  Regularly.  It isn’t simply that they make choices I didn’t see coming or say surprising things.  There’s this play between what I consciously expect them to do when faced with a problem and what spontaneously happens once they’re in a scene.  Sometimes they do what I expect, but their reasoning for it is more complicated than I thought.  Sometimes they say what I expect, but it turns out to be a lie.

What I especially like is the… Continue reading