Revising East of Yesterday – Plus Stuff

People's DrugstoreHere is a cool drugstore pic from the 1920s. Whenever I blog about East of Yesterday, I’m going to try to find a cool old picture to go with it, to get you in the mood. Click to enbiggen. Shorpy has another picture of the same store, restored and in high-res.

I took my three-week writing break and am now neck-deep in revisions.

I took a different approach with this revision, because I have already revised East of Yesterday quite heavily. I am reading the story aloud to my husband. In the process, it has grown from 111000 words to 115000. I have found some I can cut, and probably will do so tonight, but it won’t amount to more than about 2000 words, if that. All the scenes really do advance the story. I guess it is officially an epic. But historical fiction is often lengthy, so I think it should be okay.

In between read-aloud sessions–I can only go for about 2 hours at a time before my voice gives out–I am doing some revisions further along in the book that I know I need to make, such as rewriting a few scenes in another point-of-view.

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Other than that, I read a fantasy that was very good, but the reviews on the 2nd book are not promising and it is a bit expensive, so I have not purchased it yet. This is the second such novel that I have read. (With the other book, I actually did purchase the second novel, but the plot crashed and burned half-way through) Both started out as self-published Amazon sensations. Hmm.

Does anyone know of a good Google Reader-like website, for reading blog feeds? I prefer RSS feeds to getting a bunch of emails from individual blogs, but have not found a replacement for Google Reader. Therefore, I don’t read blogs as much as I used to, and I’d like to get back into it. Neither Facebook nor Twitter a very good substitute, IMO.

7 Things I Did During My Writing Break

Well, it’s been two weeks since I took my “writing break” and I have one week to go. And what did I discover? I do a lot of writing. When I am not writing, I actually have some free time. Here are some of the things I’ve done over the past two weeks.

  1. Reread Petroleum Sunset Episode 3 – Prince of Hicksville – and contemplated whether or not I want to publish it by itself or bundle it up with the first 2 episodes. I do think I should rewrite the whole series, and keep the voice while eliminating the dialect spelling. On my ToDo list for when I have time. But hey! The cover is already done.
  2. Revealed to my husband a scheme I had been hatching to collaborate on an epic fantasy based on one of his role playing game plots. It really is a terrific plot with this highly claustrophobic setting. Plus, it has paladins. He is intrigued.
  3. Went over to my old Fantasy Debut site and spruced it up, removing the sidebar notices about it having moved to this site. No, I have not restarted that blog. This is in the “thinking about” stage. When I ran Fantasy Debut it was manageable alongside my fiction writing, whereas Debuts & Reviews was not.
  4. Reread my Christian supernatural and made a few edits here and there. If I move forward with this novel, I will self-publish. This plot is probably the most intense one I’ve ever attempted. Only The Sevenfold Spell comes close.
  5. Played a lot fewer video games that I expected. My Morrowind character seems hopeless, and I am daunted at the idea of starting over. Again. I tried Dragon Age, but I can’t get out of that stupid and endless Fade subplot. What were they thinking? And then my Xbox crashed (we have one of the bad power packs, and the replacement we ordered was just as bad) and I lost interest. I’ve played a lot of MineCraft with my daughter. We are building Elsa’s ice castle.
  6. Discovered Star Trek Continues. Watched all 3 episodes. Considering funding the next Kickstarter. Yes. It was that good. Review upcoming.
  7. Started to teach my daughter calligraphy. Bought some fresh marker pens, and a calligraphy ruler.

So what do I do in my spare time when I’m not writing? Well, as it turns out, I’m … mostly writing.

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.