Giant fantasy and sci fi bonanza!

September-promo500

This weekend, the 12th-13th September, sees a great sale for fans of fantasy and science fiction. Aussie author Patty Jansen has organised a whole bunch of indie authors, who are all discounting books this weekend. There are over forty books at the bargain price of 99 cents, including my own Twiceborn, plus several more which are the first in their series at the unbeatable price of free!

There’s a range of books, from epic fantasy to urban fantasy, horror to science fiction, so there’s something for everyone. I have my eye on a few of these, and will be picking up some bargains myself. And if you like epic fantasy, I can highly recommend Pauline Ross’s The Fire Mages, which I’ve read and loved. I’ve read a couple of Patty’s too, though not the ones she has for sale here, and she tells a great story.

Go direct to the page of 99 cent specials here, or click on this link to take you to the main promotional page. From there you can access both the 99 cent page and the free page. (Fellow Aussies please note, some of these books may not be discounted until Saturday afternoon, since it will still be Friday in the US when it’s Saturday morning here.)

Happy reading!

One year ago

At the end of 2013 I bought a beautiful 2014 diary. I put it away somewhere safe and promptly forgot all about it, so I didn’t actually start using it until August 2014. When it came time to buy a diary for this year, I couldn’t find anything I liked, and there was this gorgeous 2014 diary, barely used … so I repurposed the 2014 diary and have been using it all year.

This week I have arrived at the point where I started using the diary last year. It’s like breaking open a time capsule, to see the items on my to-do lists this time last year. Things like “pay the orthodontist”. One year and thousands of dollars later, my daughter now has beautiful, braces-free teeth. Hallelujah! Or “tidy desk”. Sadly that one still needs to be on the to-do list, as my desk is never tidy.

But the most fun is seeing where I was at with my writing one year ago. I was making corrections to Twiceborn, putting the finishing touches on it. I was revising The Twiceborn Queen and trying to plan the third book in the series, then known as Twiceborn 3. Publishing was still a scary thing I was working towards, with things like “start mailing list” and “work on website” making regular appearances on my to-do lists. I remember well the feeling of nervousness: every step of the way there seemed to be some new program to learn, or another process to master.

And now, here we are, one year later. Twiceborn and The Twiceborn Queen have both been published. It’s quite a thrill, even now, to see those real live books lying on my still-untidy desk and know that I wrote them. They are both finding readers, which is lovely, and have been generally well received. I’m hard at work on “Twiceborn 3”, which is now called Twiceborn Endgame, so the end of the series is in sight.

There are other books, too, waiting in the wings. The first book of a new series has gone out for beta reading. It’s based on one of my favourite fairy tales, Toads and Diamonds, and I’m very excited to bring that one out. Can’t wait to show you the cover—it’s absolutely divine!

One year on, I’m finally feeling comfortable with the publishing process. I’m certainly no expert, but it’s good to get past the fear and uncertainty to a place where I know what I’m doing, more or less. I’ve made some wonderful author friends along the way too, who have helped me find my feet, and it’s great to have people to share the journey with. I wish I could go back a year and add an item to those nervous to-do lists: “don’t panic; it will all work out”.

But I probably wouldn’t have listened. Too busy panicking.

Writing the second book

So, you’ve published your first book—congratulations! That’s a huge achievement. Enjoy that feeling of accomplishment. But not for too long! Your readers will be waiting for the next book, particularly if the first one was the start of a series.

That should make it easier, right? If you’re writing a series, you’ve already introduced the main characters and set up some worldbuilding. Maybe you’ve even introduced a series-long problem for your main character to solve. If you’re really lucky, you might already know what the second book is going to be about. Piece of cake!

Or not.

Take The Twiceborn Queen. The mystery of Kate’s memory loss and what was really going on there, plus a big plot twist I won’t mention in case you haven’t read Twiceborn yet, were the things that made Twiceborn such fun to write. But those things were dealt with in Book 1, and Book 2 was going to be a much more straightforward action adventure as a result. I knew who Kate’s two main rivals were, and that by the end of the book she needed to defeat them. But how? And what was the rest of the story going to be about? “Kate defeats X and Y” is only five words long after all, and I needed about 90,000 words to make the book about the same length as Twiceborn. What were the other 89,995 going to say?

In fact, I was so uninspired that I took a year off and wrote a different book that had nothing to do with Kate and her problems, one that I felt enthused about writing. Meanwhile The Twiceborn Queen hung over my head, making me feel all kinds of inadequate. I’d loved writing Twiceborn! Why did the thought of continuing the story make my brain cells run screaming for cover?

Maybe it’s just me, and other writers don’t have this trouble. But maybe second-bookitis is a thing, and it might be helpful to some other writer to hear how I got over this horrible affliction.

First off I started by listing all the unresolved issues and sources of ongoing friction that remained from Book 1. Twiceborn was a complete story in itself, but I’d left a few loose threads hanging in the larger, trilogy-spanning story. Then I brainstormed for each one, thinking of all the possible things that could happen as a result.

Don’t censor your ideas at this stage! Write down everything that occurs to you, even if it seems like crap. Sometimes that crap will spark some of your best ideas. Try to stretch a bit, and think of some really outlandish possibilities. It’s all grist to your imagination’s mill.

Some of the ideas I came up with were clearly never going to fly, but I highlighted the ones that seemed useable, and at least the beginnings of a story started to emerge. I jumped in and started writing. Things went along quite well for a while, but eventually I got stuck again.

This is the part where having at least one completed novel under your belt really helps. You know you can do this, because you’ve done it before. Cast your mind back to what helped you when you got stuck on the first one. Long soaky baths? Going for walks? Timed writing exercises? Bouncing ideas off a friend? Whatever it was, try that now.

In my case, I remembered the planning stages of Twiceborn, and how much fun I’d had researching some new and different mythological creatures for my shifters. So I tried that again, and came across the kitsune, the fox-women of Japan. I’d read about them as a child, but never seen them in an adult fantasy. The decision to include one led the plot in a whole new direction, and gave me a very important new character.

Even better, it got me excited about writing this book. Writing a book is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re not bursting with excitement at the start, making it to the end is an even bigger feat of endurance.

So try to get back to that “this is gonna be so cool” feeling. What made you want to write the book in the first place? What was that initial idea that was so good you just had to turn it into a book?

Got it? Good. Now get writing. That’s the other thing I’ve learned. The more you write, the more ideas you get. Ideas beget ideas, and words beget more words. Don’t “stop to think” for more than a day otherwise, before you know it, Facebook, TV and life in general will have gotten in the way and a week will have gone by without writing—and you still won’t have any idea of what to write next. Just keep writing, fumbling your way forward through the story. There’s a quote I love from EL Doctorow: “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Sometimes it helps to have a deadline. Make a booking with your editor to give yourself a little pressure to get it done. If you’re particularly brave, you could even set up a pre-order on Amazon so you have a drop-dead “finish by this date OR ELSE” deadline. (Not for the faint-hearted!)

Hopefully by the time you get to the end you’ll find, as I did with The Twiceborn Queen, that you’re completely in love with this new book, even though a couple of months before you had no ideas and zero enthusiasm. It’s like a magic trick. You’ve created something out of nothing!

Congratulations! You’ve done it again. But don’t rest on your laurels—there’s still Book 3 to write!

The Twiceborn Queen cover reveal!

Finally! After months of work—more months than I’d hoped, due to the whooping cough making everything take sooo much looooonger—The Twiceborn Queen is almost ready for release.

Kate’s adventures continue and, while her situation may have become happier, life certainly hasn’t gotten any easier for my poor heroine. Writers are such sadists! We love throwing roadblocks in our characters’ way and seeing how they cope. The Twiceborn Queen picks up the story only a few days after the events of Twiceborn:

“Kate O’Connor’s had a rough week. Thrown into the middle of a war of succession between the daughters of the dragon queen, her introduction to the hidden world of the shifters almost proved fatal. Now, because of Kate and her new powers, that hidden realm has been revealed to the world, which hasn’t exactly won Kate any popularity contests.

Still, it’s not all bad news. After all, it’s not every day you regain a loved one you thought lost forever. Throw in a hot new boyfriend, and suddenly Kate’s got a lot to live for—which is bad timing, because now the queen’s set a bounty on her head and every shifter in Sydney is trying to collect it.

Kate may have defeated a dragon already, but there are plenty more where that one came from. As her enemies close in and the body count mounts, Kate begins a desperate search for allies. The deadly game of the proving continues. If Kate is to save the people she loves, failure is not an option. The rules are simple: win or die.”

And now, at last, I can show you the gorgeous cover:

Twiceborn Queen

The book will be out next month. If you’d like to know when it’s released, and have the opportunity to buy it for only 99 cents, join my mailing list here.

Can’t wait to share this book with you!

Looking for a good book?

I’ve branched out in my reading a little lately, and sampled some non-fiction, crime, chick lit, historical and of course, good old fantasy. Here are three books you might enjoy:

Midnight Confessions

midnight confessions

With all the sparkle of a Jennifer Crusie novel, Midnight Confessions reels you in from the very first scene and doesn’t let go until the end. Jenna, still miserably in love with her ex, is nevertheless attending his engagement party when she meets Mitch, a soap star. Mitch isn’t really her type, and she’s still in love with the undeserving Drew anyway, but as a favour to her friend she agrees to go out with Mitch.

She’s supposed to be pumping him for soap-star gossip, but somehow they seem to spend more time talking about her. He’s so easy to talk to, and there’s certainly a spark of something there—but he’s not her type, right? Except every time she tells herself that, we are less and less convinced, and Mitch is so determined, and so hot …

Sometimes I wanted to shake Jenna! Mitch was so perfect, so patient and understanding, and so hot—did I mention the hotness??—and she was so determinedly looking for love in all the wrong places. But her obsession with Mr Wrong and the insecurity of her bruised heart were very believable. Jenna and Mitch were both great characters, and their verbal sparring was very amusing.

In fact, the narration all the way through, told from Jenna’s point of view, was very entertaining. How could you not love a book whose first line is: “The only reason I even agreed to come to Drew’s engagement party was so I could see if his fiancee is prettier than me”? Jenna is an easy heroine to get behind: her insecurities and her yearning for a lost love would be familiar to most women, and by the end of the book I was rooting for her to sort herself out and find happiness with the delectable Mitch.

The Fire Mages

fire mages

You know how people are always complaining that fantasy worlds shouldn’t be so patriarchal just because most of them are modelled on the Middle Ages, and that someone should write a fantasy where the women have true equality in society?

Well, someone has. Her name is Pauline M Ross, and the book is The Fire Mages. It’s a great read, full of magic and adventure, and tells the story of Kyra, a very level-headed young girl who has big ambitions to be a law scribe and wield magic through written spells. It’s a big dream for a village girl, but Kyra is prepared to work hard, and refuses to be turned aside from her plans.

As the novel opens, the local lord’s steward throws the first roadblock in her way by bringing her an offer to become the lord’s drusse, a kind of legal mistress. Kyra’s mother sees the advantages of this position, but Kyra refuses to be swayed. Through sheer determination she makes it to the city and begins her training, rising through the ranks with her hard work. She even manages to find herself a powerful mage as patron, and everything seems to be going well, until the steward comes calling again, this time for her sister. Her sister agrees to become the lord’s drusse, but begs the half-trained Kyra for a simple favour. Of course it turns out to be anything but simple, and everything goes so wrong that Kyra’s dreams are shattered.

In her quest to find out what went wrong, Kyra discovers power she had never dreamed of, and uncovers the mysteries of the deadly Imperial City of the ancient mages. She faces many dangers along the way, and does so with a refreshing pragmatism. There are no hysterics for this capable young woman.

I loved Kyra’s world. It was full of women being real people, not just serving wenches and prostitutes. There were female stablehands, translators, wagoners, inn managers and guards—just about any job you could imagine had women working alongside the men. In a nice touch, there were even male “companions” to be bought for a night’s pleasure at the inns, as well as female ones. How’s that for equality? It certainly made a nice change from the usual male-dominated fantasy worlds. Throw in an interesting new magic system and you have a very well-developed world. Ross has obviously put a lot of thought into her society, its politics and its history. It’s a fascinating place, so I’m glad she has other books set in this world to explore. This one was certainly a compelling story.

Pope Joan

pope joan

This was a novelisation of the life of the probably-real female pope, Pope Joan. So few records remain that historians cannot agree on whether she actually existed, and the “facts” of her life are few, so the author had lots of scope for invention. Her use, more than once, of amazing coincidences to get Joan out of trouble bothered me, but I couldn’t fault the historical side of the novel. She obviously did a lot of research, and has recreated the look and feel of an often-overlooked part of history, which made for a fascinating read.

And, reading this book, you know why they called it “the Dark Ages”. Her vivid descriptions of the life people led back then, and the terrible attitudes and superstitions of society, made me very glad I didn’t live in those times. Everyone suffered, even the wealthy, but the poor lived short lives of deprivation and hardship. To be a poor woman was the worst of the worst, with men firmly convinced that women’s brains weren’t able to be educated–that even to try was a sin and an abomination–and that women were no more than a useful chattel.

Joan, in desperation to escape this limited life, seizes her opportunity to impersonate her dead brother, and takes his place as a monk at a monastery, where her clever mind delights in learning. Thus her gender-bending life begins, a life that takes her all the way to the Church’s highest office, with no one any the wiser that “John Anglicus” is really a woman.

I particularly enjoyed seeing the mindset of the people of those times. Though their attitudes were enough to make a modern woman grind her teeth, it was interesting to get a feel for how people saw the world in those times. These characters aren’t just modern people parading through the book in ninth century costumes. They truly are from another world. I’m glad that world is gone, but it was interesting to read about.

I’m not dead

Just dropping in quickly to say I’m not dead (though this whooping cough is making me feel pretty dodgy). I’ve been busy—between coughing bouts—working on the revision of The Twiceborn Queen. (Yes, that “sinus infection” I mentioned a couple of posts ago turned out to be whooping cough, which, alas, is also known as “the hundred-day cough”. I’ve had it since mid-January, so I still have a few more weeks of coughing to go.)

I finished the first, most labour-intensive, revision, and am now halfway through the second one. With a bit of luck I’ll get through the rest of that tomorrow. Then it’s on to smaller-level stuff like smoothing out the prose and hunting down and exterminating overused words.

I’ve already sent it to the beta readers, and will continue to work on it while I’m waiting for their feedback. The deadline to get it to the editor is the 1st of April, so I had to get the beta readers started on it before it was as beautiful as I would have liked. Feedback so far is encouraging.

Nearly there now! I’m hoping to publish in late April or early May. Can’t wait to share it with you guys!

Here’s an extract to whet your appetites:

 “Now you’re back you can check if anything’s been taken,” Tanya said. “The police will want to know.”

“Sure.” I turned the mug over in my hands, wondering which was the lesser of the two evils: ignore the police and risk them chasing me up over the supposed burglary, or file a report and draw Det Hartley’s attention to a burglary complete with random blood stains connected to my already-sullied name.

“I had to come in when I saw a strange car in the driveway,” Tanya said. “I wasn’t sure it was you. Why didn’t you tell me you were coming back? I could have picked you up at the airport.”

“No, no, it was fine. I had Garth.”

“Have you?”

“What?”

“Had Garth.”

I choked. I hoped he hadn’t heard that. Werewolf ears were pretty sharp. “God, Tanya, don’t you ever stop? He’s just a friend.” And thanks very much for putting that idea in my head. As if my dragon libido needed any encouragement to start thinking inappropriate thoughts about my employees.

She pouted. “You always say that. What about that gorgeous hunk of man flesh you work with? What’s he going to think when he sees you running around with this Garth guy?”

“Actually—” I could feel my cheeks warming as the image of a naked Garth persisted. “Actually, Ben and I are, um … together now.”

The Work in Progress Blog Tour: The Twiceborn Queen

I’ve been tagged by the fabulous Ceinwen Langley in  “The Work in Progress Blog Tour”. The rules are simple:

  1. Link back to the post of the person who nominated you.
  2. Write a little about and give the first sentence of the first three chapters of your current work-in-progress.
  3. Nominate some other writer(s) to do the same.

Ceinwen sounds very busy with all her projects at the moment! She’s a working scriptwriter (with fifteen Neighbours scripts under her belt) as well as the author of The Edge of the Woods, a YA fantasy which I loved. My review of that is here.

I’m not working on quite so many things at once: basically I have two projects on the go. One is The Twiceborn Queen, the sequel to Twiceborn, which I’m busy revising.

Only … not quite as busy as I should be, because I’ve got distracted planning the revision of the first in a new series. It’s a YA fantasy called The Fairytale Curse, and is a modern take on the fairytale Toads and Diamonds. I’m very excited about it, and OMG you should SEE the beautiful cover it’s going to have—but I’ll tell you about that another time.

Back to The Twiceborn Queen, which I really must get finished very soon. I have eight scenes to go to finish the first (and biggest) round of revision.

There’s no rest for the wicked, they say, and Kate must have been very wicked in a previous life, for no sooner does she achieve her (mainly) happy ending in Twiceborn, but she’s thrown straight back into the fray to face even more difficult challenges. Now she’s not just fighting for survival against the daughters of the dragon queen, but facing the queen herself, with all the might of the empire behind her. Not good odds when you only have a ragtag band of survivors on your side.

And of course, being the sadistic author that I am, I throw all manner of complications in there, just for kicks.

So here’s the beginnings of my first three chapters, still not entirely polished (it’s still a WIP, after all):

Chapter One

They say hindsight is 20:20 vision, but still I can’t help that niggling feeling, the one that whispers that I should have known. Mothers are supposed to have ESP, right? Or at least eyes in the backs of their heads. There must have been some sign that things weren’t right, some little clue to tip me off, if only I’d been paying more attention.

Chapter Two

We spent three more hours at the hospital, answering the questions of every uniform that went past, watching the parade of police and hospital staff coming and going. Photographers and forensics, and whole hordes of other people whose jobs I couldn’t even guess at, made their way into the room, then reappeared, checking me out as they went past as if they couldn’t quite believe what I’d done.

Chapter Three

We headed across the Harbour Bridge, its great steel girders criss-crossing above our heads, their huge size making the cars below look like tiny coloured toys. Five nights ago Valeria had been perched up there like some nightmare bird, even her great size diminished by the mighty bridge.

Up next I’m nominating Pauline M Ross, author of the epic fantasies The Plains of Kallanash and The Fire Mages. I haven’t read The Plains of Kallanash yet, but I plan to remedy that soon. The Fire Mages was great, and I’ll be putting up a review of it shortly.

A boy, a sphinx, and an unanswerable riddle

I have a new story out! It’s only a short story (quite tiny at 4,000 words), but it makes me feel all accomplished and author-y to have two books to my name—even if they are only ebooks at present. (Don’t ask my why the paperback of Twiceborn isn’t out yet. Sigh.)

So, new story: it’s called “The Family Business”. Here is the cover. Cute, no?

The Family Business small

The blurb is:

“Renardo and his brothers are up to their eyeballs in debt, with one last chance to save their merchant business (and their gonads) from the moneylender. The great city of Tebos is holding its Festival of Song in three days’ time, and they have a wagonload of songbirds to sell.

There’s just one large, man-eating problem: the bored sphinx who guards the city’s gates, and her deadly riddle game. Renardo doesn’t even want to be a merchant, but somehow it falls to him to outwit the sphinx. No pressure. All he has to do is come up with an unanswerable riddle.”

It’s on sale at Amazon for only 99 cents. Grab a copy and fill in a happy fifteen or twenty minutes on your next commute, or while you’re waiting at soccer practice/the doctor’s surgery/whatever.

And speaking of 99 cents: Twiceborn is also on sale at that bargain basement price for the next few days, so if you’ve been meaning to grab a copy of that but haven’t quite gotten around to it, now would be a good time! It was featured on Valentines Day on the Kindle Books and Tips blog. Not exactly your typical Valentines Day fare, unless your idea of romance includes homicidal dragons, but oh well. Not being much of a romantic myself, the significance of the date had slipped my mind when I made the booking!

So, you may be wondering why “The Family Business” has suddenly appeared. Weren’t you supposed to be working furiously on The Twiceborn Queen, Marina? You never mentioned anything about some random short story being published in that big long list of things you were going to achieve that you blogged about recently.

Well yes, that’s true. Life, as they say, is full of surprises, and one that landed in my lap mid-January was a sinus infection that is still ongoing. Surprise! At its worst I was getting maybe three hours’ sleep a night, and let’s just say that the revision schedule fell a little behind.

I decided to call it early on and shift my deadline with the editor from 1 March to 1 April, which meant that it would be four months between releases instead of the three I’d planned. So I decided to put out a short story instead, one that had already been published a couple of years ago in a magazine, so it didn’t need any work from my end apart from organising a cover and the formatting.

I’m still on the first revision of The Twiceborn Queen, a little over halfway. That’s not where I’d like to be, obviously, but all the new scenes I had to add were in the first half, so hopefully progress will be quicker from here.

The Carnivore even took the ducklings out on Valentines Day so I could work without interruptions. To a writer, that’s the best Valentines Day present ever!

When they came home, Drama Duck presented me with a single rose, nicely gift-wrapped.

“It’s from Dad,” she said.

They were both grinning like idiots, and she couldn’t hold it in any longer.

“We totally didn’t find that on the train where some guy had left it behind,” she added.

The Carnivore gave me a fond smile. “You’re worth it, honey.”

Hope you enjoyed Valentines Day, if you celebrate it. Did you get anything nice from your significant other (scavenged or otherwise)?

How to get down off a mountain in record time

So, we climbed this mountain recently. Okay, maybe I exaggerate. In reality it was more hillish, but try telling that to my quads. It was a steep kilometre of nothing but stairs, which took at least twenty minutes, and to my aching legs it felt like Mt Everest.

The reason we subjected ourselves to this torment—in searing heat too, mind you—was to see the lovely views from the top.

DSCN1859

And they really were worth the climb. I know it looks a little hazy in the photo, but that’s because I’d accidently knocked my camera’s setting off “Automatic” onto something called “Effects”. Naturally I didn’t notice this till the next day, so all my hard-won photos of the view look like they were taken through a lens smeared with vaseline. In fact it was a brilliant clear day, but you’ll just have to take my word for that.

Anyways, back to the getting down in record time thing: so we finally arrive at the top of Mt Quad-buster, and there are gorgeous 360˚ views. It’s quite a large area at the top, with trees and boulders scattered around, so you have to move around to see all the views.

Did I mention it was stinking hot? We were all dripping by the time we got to the top. One particular viewing platform caught the sea breeze, and we spent quite some time there cooling off.

Then I announced my intention of going to the other viewing platform, to look at the view back the other way. My beloved decided to join me.

DSCN1865

Pretty, isn’t it?

The two youngest ducklings decided that they’d rather stay where they were and enjoy the breeze. We told them we’d come back for them before heading back down the trail. (I bet you can guess where this is going already, can’t you?)

While we were admiring the other view, the oldest and most sensible duckling joined us. We chatted, I took photos, then we went back to collect the other two …

… who were no longer enjoying the sea breeze where we’d left them. A quick search of the area made it clear they were no longer anywhere on the top of Mt Quad-buster.

“They must have thought we’d gone without them,” said the Carnivore. “I bet they’re rushing down, trying to catch up with us.”

It seemed hard to believe. I mean, Demon Duck is fourteen, and usually quite sensible. We’d told them we’d come back for them, and we’re really not the kind of parents that would absent-mindedly wander off and abandon their offspring on the top of a mountain anyway—if indeed anyone is that type of parent.

Being the worrying type, I briefly considered they might have both somehow fallen off the (well-fenced) lookout and crashed to their deaths on the rocks far below—without anyone noticing—but even for me that was a bit of a stretch. So I had to agree, ridiculous as it seemed, that they’d both suddenly decided they had the starring roles in Hansel and Gretel, and had rushed off to find us.

Which brings me, of course, to the “how to get down off a mountain in record time” part. We practically fell down that mountain in a mad attempt to catch up with the stupid children who were dashing down in a mad attempt to catch up with us. We were lucky we didn’t break our ankles.

It took us twenty minutes to get to the top. It took perhaps three to get back down. But they were a very tense three minutes! The whole way down, all I could think was: what the hell do we do if we get to the bottom and they’re not there? I sure wasn’t climbing back up again!

Fortunately our story has a happy ending. We found Hansel and Gretel at the bottom, walking back up to meet us, pale, stressed, and very apologetic. There were some tears of relief and grateful cuddles.

So yes, a very quick method of descending a mountain. Not really one I’d recommend, however!

A Round of Words in 80 Days: Goal-setting

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. There are four rounds each year. You set your own goals for each 80-day period, announce them on your blog, then track your progress. Your goals can be anything writing-related, as long as they are measurable.

And why do we like writing challenges? Apart from the fun of hanging with other writers who are also beating their words into submission? Because of the Big A: Accountability.

No, it shouldn’t make any difference, and yet, somehow it does. Whatever works, I say. Anything that helps me achieve my goals. And what are those goals?

So glad you asked! This round of ROW80 started on 5th January, and finishes on 26th March. As it happens that fits very neatly into my most immediate goal, which I’ve already been working on: get The Twiceborn Queen published!

The first draft is written, and the revision all planned. Last week I started working my way through the revision. So, by the end of March, I need to:

  • finish first revision, which includes going through the whole manuscript, writing new scenes and revising existing ones, fixing all the big problems;
  • finish second revision, which goes through the manuscript again, focusing on smaller issues, like smoothing out prose, making the voice consistent, adding setting details (which I always forget) and checking facts;
  • finish third revision, which goes through the manuscript again focusing on more sentence-level detail, checking for typos, overused words, repetitions, rewording ugly bits;
  • send to beta readers. While it’s away, fret, write a 1000-word short story, begin planning revision of another novel, fret some more;
  • when it comes back from beta readers, do another pass through manuscript, making suggested changes where applicable;
  • send to editor 1st March;
  • when it comes back, go through editor’s changes, accepting and rejecting as appropriate and rewriting;
  • one more read-through (on the kindle this time) checking for typos, then send to formatter;
  • finally, when the formatter’s finished, upload to Amazon!

Gosh, I feel overwhelmed just thinking of getting through all that. I have to remember it’s like eating an elephant. You do it one bite at a time.

Four scenes done so far out of 33 in the first revision. Yum yum. Love the taste of elephant.