East of Yesterday Complete!

Exciting news! I have finally finish drafting East of Yesterday!

Here’s some quick stats:

  • Genre – Time Travel Historical with light science fiction elements
  • Length – 111,000 words
  • Point-of-View – Third Person
  • Number of Points-of-View Characters 4 major, 5 minor
  • Number of Chapters – 46
  • Oldest file time/date stamp: 6/7/2009 for “brainstorming.doc”

This book is in a better state of polish than I have ever achieved with an initial draft, but that’s mostly because it isn’t really an initial draft. I have stopped resisting the impulse to edit as I draft, and I do think it worked out better for me this way. True, I sketched out the initial scenes back in 2009, but during that time, I rewrote and published The Sevenfold Spell, drafted and published The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf, wrote three Petroleum Sunset stories, self-published two of them, and wrote a significant amount for two other fairy tales (which I may get back to one day). Plus, I wrote a quarter of a Christian suspense that I have indefinitely shelved, and revised Magic by Starlight.

Obviously, I was getting nowhere. Last year, I stopped such a scattershot approach and picked the WIP that I thought had the greatest chance to succeed. Since then, I have been working on this novel exclusively.

The manuscript I have now is in much better shape than any other first draft I have ever managed. When I start a writing session, I go back to reread and edit what I wrote during the previous session.  This helps me continue on with the same tone/ voice (which I alter per POV). Another thing I do, is when I have a revision that affects another part of the manuscript, I drop a bookmark (the word “here” formatted with a special style), go make the revision, and then go back and reread to ensure everything is in sync.

Next steps:

  • Ship off to beta reader
  • Take a two or three-week break–until she sends feedback
  • Sweep the novel according to my manuscript clean-up process
  • Read it aloud/final polish
  • Write synopsis and pitch

I am hoping to be ready to look for an agent by March.

Edit: here is a link to my East of Yesterday page.

I’m Back! And Fun with Names

Wow. My last post was on Thanksgiving. I didn’t mean to take a hiatus, but I guess I did. Tomorrow I go back to work, so I guess life will turn back to normal. Which should mean fairly regular posts (at least weekly) once more.

~*~

A few posts ago, I mentioned that I realized I had written past the point where my book should end, and I decided to end my book at 100,000 words and use everything after that for book 2. Well, I have been hard at work carrying out that plan. I’ll be cutting about 5000 to 7000 words once I reach The End, but I wrote about 15,000 words over the last month, which is extremely prolific for me.

So I’ll likely end up with a novel of about 105,000 words, plus another book’s worth of material. I am thinking this will probably be only a two-book series, with Tinkering With Yesterday as the current working title for the second book.

Along with writing, I’ve been doing quite a bit of revising, so I thought it would be fun to blog about one of my writing tics.

What is it With Me and Names?

I almost always start my protagonists’ names with an A or an E. In East of Yesterday, I have an Adelaide and an Emmeline. I also had an Elizabeth. And for men, I have an Abraham and an Edmund. That’s five out of my eight major characters.

It got worse. Inadvertent alliteration is another problem. Elizabeth’s nickname was Betsy, and another major character’s name is Bethany. And whenever there was a scene with Betsy, she was always with Bethany. Even I was confusing them. Clearly, something had to be done. So Elizabeth became Josephine, with the nicknames of Josie and Sophie. And guess what? I already have a Sophie–a minor character, but she is there. So she will be renamed. And to add to this preponderance of Bs? I also have a Bradley and a Barthelemew, and my main characters’ last name is Blaine.

But I’m not done yet. Edmund’s nickname is Ned, a nickname that I am quite fond of. But I also have a Nathaniel. I am trying to decide if it would be acceptable to keep these names, as I am attached to both, and because poor Ned has already been renamed from Henry and Benjamin. It was hard enough to stop thinking of him as Ben, and sometimes I still do. I don’t think I could adapt to another name for Nate–that’s been his name since the beginning.

And the minor characters? I have a Marissa with an aunt by the name of Amanda, who has a sister named Agatha.  I did manage to get out of the box with the names of Felix and Lysander, but by the time I named those characters, I had recognized this little problem I had.

I know many of you are writers–do you have any writing tics to share?

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope all my American friends enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving!

"Thanksgiving-Brownscombe" by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe

“Thanksgiving-Brownscombe” by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe – Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal http://www.lakenhal.nl/persberichtendetail.php?id=144. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thanksgiving-Brownscombe.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Thanksgiving-Brownscombe.jpg

We have already had a wonderful dinner and are enjoying a quiet afternoon before we further stuff our faces at about 3, with dessert. It is just us today; we will be visiting family for Christmas this year (and which, in truth, we do almost every year).

For my husband and I, it is the first day in the past 60 days when we have not strictly counted our calories. (I have lost 9 pounds, and he has lost 10.) I plan to estimate the calories so as to not lose my 60 day streak in MyFitnessPal, but I’m not particularly watching them today.

We will put up our Christmas tree sometime over the weekend, but we will not be hitting the shops. Neither one of us are Black Friday fans, but we have been known to participate in Cyber Monday. And I think I’ll probably get some writing done.

If you have a long weekend this week, what are you up to?

Could I Be Finished and Just Didn’t Know It?

I was thinking about how to do this final confrontation at the end of my book when I thought of a plot twist that I loved. But I realized that if I used this plot twist, I would have to spend another 50,000 words resolving it. Almost enough for another book. Or a door-stopper for this one.

And then I realized that I had been wondering how I would continue the series, anyway. Other than some over-arching scenes, I had nothing. But if I proceed with this … well, it gives my characters almost impossible odds to overcome. I have no idea how I would pull it off.

What more can a storyteller want?

So I’m feeling this idea out. I’ll need to move one scene back within the 95,000 or so words that I’d be keeping, but fortunately, the scene is somewhat portable. I’d have to put my confrontation in a different place, but I’m cool with that. It would also leave a well-established villain alive for future conflict, which is always good.

I’m not seeing any negatives. And I’m excited!

Devising a Mathematical Formula for Time Travel

So my husband forwarded me a funny:

Math Geek Funny

It took me a moment to get it, but when I did, I just knew that I had to work out a time-travel formula for East of Yesterday. I broke out my calculator, and got to work.

I mostly did this for fun. I didn’t expect it to be useful for the story.

I am not usually much of a math geek. I got as far as College Algebra, when I ambitiously took an accelerated class. I barely kept up. Matrices almost blew out my brain cells. College Algebra was my only C in college. After that, I barely clung to the Honor Roll. If I had taken the regular class, I might have moved on from there, but as it was, I was done. So I have never learned calculus. It’s right behind Latin on the list of things I want to learn before I die.

Anyway, I started with a real-life formula related to the one spoofed above:

Time = Distance / Speed

And I played with the numbers until I found a formula that worked for the travel times in my story. Here’s the formula for going back in time.

ThB = (ds)2

Time-hours Back equals distance times speed squared.

I suppose an example would be instructive.

distance = 100 miles
speed = 50mph

100 x 50 = 5000
5000 squared = 25,000,000 timehours

25,000,000 timehours divided by 8760 hours per year equals 2853.881 timedays
Divided by 356 days = 7.82 years traveled back.

I ignored leap years. This is fiction, after all. Here’s the formula to move forward.

ThF = π((ds)2)

Time-hours Forward equals pi times (distance times speed squared)

Why pi? Because what fun is a make-believe formula without it? Besides, I wanted travel to the future to be roughly three times “faster” than travel to the past, so I thought, why not pi? The only argument against it was because time is linear, not circular. But a character in my story had another opinion:

“So.” He clapped his hands together, obviously at a loss for what to say, “how was your trip?”

“Faster than I expected,” Adele said. “At least, the time-traveling part was. The rest of it was pretty awful.”

“Oh, yes—that.” He seemed relieved to be on a familiar subject. “It’s the added velocity of time that you experienced.”

“Added velocity?”

“Well, time moves forward, after all. So when you move forward in time, you have all that velocity behind you. When you go back, you have to work against that velocity. The multiplier is pi, to be precise, although I don’t know why that makes sense, since there is nothing circular about time.” He paused and then snapped his fingers. “Unless you’re traveling in time. Of course! Now it makes perfect sense.” He pulled a notebook out of his pocket and began to write.

(Please excuse the crudity of these paragraphs. I have not had a chance to edit or revise.)

Someone who has taken calc could perhaps critique my formulas. All I know is the numbers work for my story, and they let me know when the characters have moved too quickly (or slowly). And it made for some interesting revisions.

So the effort turned out to be more useful than I thought.

Pressing on to The End

My last post was very valuable to me. I have sorted out all the issues with the manuscript, and am now pressing on to the end. I had to cut about 3000 words of redundant and irrelevant scenes, but once I did that, I had nothing in front of me except blank pages and plot markers. Therefore, I was able to write almost 4000 words since my last post.They all came in a rush–just like they have done for most of this book. Too bad I got mired in so many plot changes…

This experience has shown me that I need to post weekly–it keeps my inspiration flowing.

Recent Research

This week, I researched STDs and confirmed an earlier decision that one of my characters is going to get syphilis. Naturally, he totally deserves it. But he’s kind of an ally to my protagonists–a shades-of-gray type of character–so they’ll have to get him fixed up in a future book. He just has to get north of 1950 or so.

Why syphilis? Mostly because it is curable. I want to use the guy in future books. And I need him healthy.

I noticed something … well, disturbing when I was doing the research. Here is a bust of a man with advanced syphilis. Note the skull protrusions:

Tertiary syphilis head

And now, a beloved character from children’s animated film:

90s-Hunchback-of-Notre-DameI am fairly weirded out.

Research Road Trip?

Google Maps has been greatly helpful with imagery from the various towns and cities that my characters pass on the road-trip portion of my novel, but I keep thinking that I’d like to make the drive for real. It would involve driving up to South Carolina, and driving back down south on my non-interstate route. It will probably be a three day trip–one day there, and allow for two days back. So this may be something I’ll do early next year. All my vacation for this year is spoken for. If I do this, I will definitely be posting on it. My family loves long car trips–even my daughter–so I expect it to be a good time for all.

Multibook Commitment

Another thing I decided on in the last few weeks was that this will definitely be a multibook commitment. I toyed with the idea of trying to tie everything up in one book, but it would end up being about 150,000 words and would definitely have pacing problems, because the last 25,000 or so words have been sloping toward an ending. Plus, I know how I am going to segue into that book.

So that’s it for now. Thanks for the support and encouraging words.

Writing Engines are Humming

What a week. Using the road map I made for myself last week, I finally gritted my way through a very difficult rewrite, pushing East of Yesterday up to over 100,000 words. Then I started cutting scenes that had become either redundant or irrelevant after the rewrite, and chopped it down to 97,000 words. And now I’m back up to 99,000 with nothing but blank pages before me.

And right now, that’s a beautiful thing. I don’t have blank page syndrome–I had full page syndrome. I had page after page of irrelevancy and redundancy, with tiny dollops here and there of stuff I needed to keep. I was daunted at the thought of straightening it all out. But I pressed on and pressed through, and now I can see the end in sight.

One thing I keep running into is what I call temporal inconsistencies. I don’t do a lot of twisting time in knots–because it’s really difficult to follow–but what little I do has to be consistent from either end of time. It’s hard to explain. You’ll have to read it for yourself. Well, I caught myself writing in an inconsistency when I was going to have someone warn someone else about something he has already done, but has yet to do. And then I realized the warning made no sense. And then I realized that it could make sense, if I just tweaked it a little bit.

Here’s a snip, from Mike’s point-of-view. He’s talking to his friend, Brad. It starts with Mike.

“Wait. Did you say you were going to ride home with him?”

“Yup. All the way to 1975. Remember that weird problem I had back then? When you said I’d been in a fight, but I really wasn’t?”

“Yeah?”

“Well, you described a guy that looked a lot like this Lysander cat. I don’t know what I did, but I guess I’ll find out, right? And we do know I pop him a good one and he’s down for the count?”

“Well … yeah.”

“So you head back to the 20s and hang tight. I’ll misdirect him back to the 70s, use my Good Knight on him, and I’ll be back before you get home.”

“But how—“

“Look, I can’t stay—they think I’m out to take a piss. Just get out of here, for the love of God. They’re still looking for Adele.”

And he ran off into the night.

The Good Knight is what he calls is famous (or infamous) right jab.

It’s fun to write. And I’m hoping it’s fun to read as well. :)