And what a hell of a road it’s been. And a hell of a month for that matter. Between closing on a house (we’re buying a house! closing on the 28th OMG), the release of my book, studying for a designation exam (on Tuesday, just took the practice exam and got an 85 boom! only need a 70 to pass, and that’s all I’m looking to do!), and my dad ending up in the hospital on Friday (turned out to not be a big deal, but that didn’t make the day any less awful), I’ve had a bit going on. So with CURSE OF STARS’s release I’m equal parts relieved, excited, and nervous as hell. How’s it going to do? Will people like it (eh? advanced ratings are okay, certainly nothing to sneeze at, but there’s room for improvement, certainly)? Will anyone be interested in the sequel (Bueller?). The blog tour begins on the 27th and there will be excerpts, interviews, playlists, top 10s, and of course a giveaway (follow the Facebook page for that, so much easier for me to post all that there, plus that’ll be my moving week, GREAT TIMING DONNA). What would a tour be without a giveaway? Lacking, I’ll tell you.
So while I sit at my rather pathetic desk (literally a glorified folding table, I can’t WAIT to get myself a proper adult desk to go in my DEN, I have a DEN that will be my writing room/library, I <3 adulting) in my very empty office (it took me literally about 12 hours to clean it out and pack everything I’m going to keep, this is not a big room, maybe 10×10? 12 freaking hours) I just wanted to take you on a short trip through COS’s birth, transformation, and publication.
It all started about 10 years ago with an idea about a man dragging his daughter out to a hillside by her hair. There they waited for some men to come and pick her up. Why? Because she cried diamonds and thus belonged to the ruler so he could harvest her tears. And there it began.
This was back when I wrote everything longhand and I ended up with literally piles of notebooks with my scribblings in it (I say this as if I didn’t just start writing directly to computer like four months ago, literally).
I always felt that the words just flowed better when I was writing them out. And I still feel that way. But I can type a hell of a lot faster than I can write and I’ve come to accept that now. I’ve also come to accept typing directly into a computer. I always thought starting at a blank page stymied me. Turns out it didn’t take my brain much to adult to Word (or, more currently, Scrivener).
Especially when I was trying to write and keep up with my thoughts, when I went back to type it all in it was sometimes like reading another language. Seriously, I write in this weird hybrid cursive/non-cursive script that needs to be deciphered, especially if I’m tired. And I write a lot at night. I’ll let you figure out what some of those pages looked like. Ugh.
So once all that was done then came the first round of edits.
This was where, once I would type the manuscript in (which took FOREVER) I would print it out and literally red pen the thing. And this I still do. I just feel like I read it differently and can pick up different things when it’s on paper. Sucks for my ink bills, but whatever. It helps. So I’m still sticking to that.
Only on the original version of COS, I wanted to light the thing on fire. I hated it. I hated my main character, still named Sabina. I hated my plot, I hated the secondary characters. It was just awful. So I trunked it.
I want to say I picked it back up maybe five or six years after I originally started writing it. So while I say it took me ten years to write the final product you can carve out maybe four years from that number. This thing collected some serious dust in that time.
But once I finished what I was working on during that break time, the new incarnation of COS had firmly planted itself in my brain and was begging for me to pick it back up. And for all the hate I had for the original manuscript, I still loved the world and the concept. I couldn’t let it die. So I didn’t.
I went back through everything I had, from world-building notes to the original manuscript itself, and took notes (still hand-written at this point).
Lots and lots of notes. I kept most of the world-building from the original incarnation. The characters and the plot are what got total overhauls.
After the total rewrite came more edits.
And even more edits (I was running out of glitter pens at this point, love those things).
I thought my eyes were going to bleed by the time I was done editing this thing. Words were starting to look foreign, I was glazing over, starting to dream this stuff. It was part of my soul at this point.
Once that was done I needed a blurb. Blurbing causes so much freaking anxiety for me I would literally break down in tears at my desk over my damn blurb.
My husband even helped me with blurbs, giving me notes and such. Since he is just a reader he provided valuable insight into what I was missing in a blurb, what was confusing, and where I was hitting it. It’s why I married him, among other things.
Just a little bit of advice on blurbs, only take blurb advice from people you trust or people who you know have sold books with their blurbs. Nothing is a bigger pain in the ass with blurbs than getting advice from people who, for all intents and purposes, have no idea what they’re doing and think they do. I can’t count how many times I wrote myself in damn circles trying to get a blurb right only to have new people evaluate it than who evaluated it before and tell me to change things and end up turning it back into the original blurb. Such a pain in the ass. Please don’t let that happen to you.
But then finally I had something resembling a book close to completion.
And me using the front page as a glitter pen tester. I was still working off the original pack of glitter pens (it was a suitcase of glitter pens, literally, I think it had 90 in there or something, gotta love Costco). Many of them were dried out by this point (this point being around Halloween of 2016 or so, so no surprise there).
Ooooooo. Formatting. Purdy. Although getting the page to fit right on the printout was a huge pain point for me. See how the margins are gigantic? Thanks to a very kind stranger that’s actually a rather easy settings fix (so easy I saved the email because my brain doesn’t absorb shit like that so for next time I have it) to allow me to print using IngramSpark and not have it get all messed up.
And then my finished product!
Ten years of work. All right there. Pretty and bound and finished. I don’t think it’s actually hit me yet because I don’t feel one way or another about it (or that could just be the sociopathy working). But it’s done.
And now on to the sequel . . .
First draft’s already done and I’m halfway through the first run-through on it (basically me reading through it and remembering what I wrote and working out how I want to change it against the final product of COS). It is going to require some serious work because I wrote and finished this before I was finished editing COS so I had some major character shifts that are not reflected in this first draft of the sequel. It’s making for some interesting reading and note-making, that’s for sure. But I at least expect it won’t take another 10 years to complete.
No. I’m really hoping to get the series done within the next two years. If I really focus on it (meaning no more side projects like BEFORE I’M DEAD, I’ll allow myself fanfiction because it’s my brain’s release and I need that) I should be able to buckle down and get it done. I know self publishing is supposed to have a much faster publishing rate than that, but I just don’t write that quickly. I’ve tried it. I’ve done NaNo. It was really hard for me that one time where all I did, aside from work, was devote time to writing. Now I’m working, working out, and working toward a designation (that will also take me the next two years or so) so I have to compensate somewhere. If my only job were to write (one can dream), alright. No excuses there. But I have to make due with what I have, so I will.
That’s my story’s story and I’m sticking to it.
If you haven’t already, buy your copy of CURSE OF STARS at your favorite online eBook retailer for only .99! I’ll keep it at that price at least for the blog tour. After that it’ll increase to it’s normal $2.99 price (still a steal). Print versions are also available at Barnes & Noble online and Amazon for no more than $9.99 (looks like BN is running a discount on it and you can get it for $9.01)! Pricing on the print version is fixed. That’s not a promo price or anything. If you do buy a copy and read it, please do me a solid and leave an honest review where you happen to review (Goodreads and Amazon would be the best places, but at the other retailer sites and places like LibraryThing certainly wouldn’t hurt either). Reviews and ratings help me immensely in drawing attention to my book. I will love you forever for doing that!
Until next time, everyone! Goodnight and beware the stars!