I once naively thought that writing was simply sitting down and beginning, then continuing until you reached the end. It's much more than that. The imagination, the research, the planning and plotting are logical processes. Now it's also become cartography, painting and photography.
If you've seen my Twitter feed or Facebook posts in the last week, you'll know Warrior Pledge has been contracted with Dreamspinner Press.
I'm really excited about this release. There are so many elements in this story that are unusual. It has cat shifters - but different to what you usually see in stories. It has dragons - but they're different to the usual dragons. There are characters that have skills that you don't usually see, and not at all in a human being (that I know of). And I've never read a story that has birds like mine. The danger from these carnivorous hunters originated in a story I was told years ago about a young man who had Tetanus.
It took a lot of work to make all the disparate elements work together. I had to chop a few of them out completely to make the story flow as it should. For example, Warrior Pledge was originally written as a sequel to The Planet Whisperer, but it didn't work. So when I rewrote it the last time, I removed anything that could obviously connect it to that story. Sometimes, when you want a story to work, you have to remove something you love about it. Hopefully I'll be able to use those parts somehow in the third book of the series that begins with The Planet Whisperer.
When I was writing Warrior Pledge (the first time), I got to chapter four and realised I needed something to show me where everyone was and where they were heading. I needed to know the lay of the land. So I drew a map. I don't know how good my cartographic skills are, and I have no idea of scale, but it looks pretty.
The original drawing now has notes all over it and the names of some of the places have changed, so I needed to draw another one. That led to me experimenting with water colour painting. My first attempt was an abysmal failure. There wasn't much map-like about it by the time I'd finished. It didn't even fall into the category of 'possibly artistic'. My second attempt was much better.
I tried scanning the good one but the colours are all wrong and when I converted it from pdf (the default result of the scanner) to jpg, I lost half the writing - randomly. Bizarre.
This weekend I'm going to try photographing it to see if I can get a better quality product.
I've spent some days tearing my hair out, convinced I can't make No Evil Star do what I want it to. Every time I look at the section I'm trying to edit, I get bogged down in all the ways it could change and can't work out where to start. I had decided to give myself a couple of days off, give it a rest, then come back to it with fresh eyes over the weekend. But I still wasn't particularly enthusiastic.
Then I received an email from Dreamspinner Press. They've taken Warrior Pledge! I'm so excited I'm bouncing.
Warrior Pledge is my cat shifter story. It's been rewritten so many times I barely remember where it started. I kept persevering because I loved the story. I just had to find the right mix of plot elements - there are always too many - and the right point of view to write it from. Structure was a big problem with this story too. I wrote it in a three act structure but it needed to be a Hero's Journey.
So now I have two stories I'm working on. Last night I received the pre-production documentation to complete for Warrior Pledge, and I still need to finish No Evil Star and get it to Beta readers.
This weekend, I'll finish the pre-production documents and send them in, and I'll also redo the map of Thalazar I created when I was writing Warrior Pledge. It was created for one of the early incarnations so there are a few changes to be made. I'll draw it on better paper so it looks more professional. I've posted part of it here. The names are now different and it has more information than it really needs, but you can see what the country looks like.
I'll also work on at least one section of the edits for No Evil Star. It's going to be a busy weekend. :)
I thought I was nearly finished No Evil Star but one of the editing notes I made told me to create an up-dated scene map. In the process of that - it took five hours to complete - I ended up with a list of things still to fix taking four pages, instead of the original six items, and I identified seven scenes in the beginning of the book that were shorter than 500 words. Suddenly the amount of work still to do felt overwhelming.
I began to wonder if I really wanted to do this writing thing (I hate editing). To get my head back in the right space I started reading some of my old blog posts. I found one from 2013 that still works for me. The file is labelled 'June Blog submission' which is not at all helpful in remembering where it was originally published. I've learned a few things since then and now name my files something useful. I've edited the end bit to make it current:
I was in my mid-thirties before I finally decided what I wanted to be when I grew up. I took a couple of short writing courses, just to see if I had it in me to work at it. I also joined some writing groups that critiqued members’ work and learned a lot about how to critique writing and about editing. I learn more every day.
I write to find out the end of the story. I write because it’s fun; I bounce for hours after a good writing day. I write because if I don’t, my family tells me I’m cranky and sends me to my office.
There’s one main reason I write M/M romance: conditional love makes me weep. Everyone deserves to be loved and accepted unconditionally, without judgment. I try to show that it’s the way things should be, even if some of my stories don’t have a happy ending.
I was very fortunate that Dreamspinner Press picked up my short story Between Love and Honor. It’s a M/M historical romance without a happy ending and not many publishers take that combination at that length. You can find all my stories published with them on their website. The Courage to Love continued David’s story.
My hard drive is full of completed and partially completed science fiction and fantasy stories that I’ve begun to edit and submit. The Planet Whisperer was released just before Christmas and I’m currently working on edits for No Evil Star, the story of Jonah’s younger brother. It should be ready for submission soon.
You can find me—and a number of free short stories—on my website: http://www.eemontgomery.com/ and blog: http://firstname.lastname@example.org; on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ewynelaine.montgomery; on Twitter: @EEMontgomery1; Pinterest: https://au.pinterest.com/eemontgomery11/
I'm still editing No Evil Star. I'm down to the last dozen notations that something has to change but I didn't do anything on it today. I know why I've left those last few things to the last.
They're the kinds of things where I need to read back and forth and find exactly the right spot to drop one or two words, then do it again for another few words, then again and again until the picture has built up gradually to give me the impact I want. The constant scrolling up and down and reading, or skimming, makes it really easy for me to lose track of what goes where and what shouldn't be there at all. I just know I'm going to end up with an unreadable mish-mash of rubbish that's worse than the original was.
Or, it could be brilliant.
Meanwhile I'm really enjoying my new Surface tablet computer. I have a nifty stylus that I can write on it with. It's enough fun that I almost enjoy editing. Almost.
I'm working on the sequel to The Planet Whisperer: No Evil Star. It's the story of Jonah's younger brother, Starr.
The actual writing of this story was a great, rollicking discovery from beginning to end but, of course, the plot was too complicated to work well. I've spent time removing extraneous, unresolved plot lines and beefing up the character arcs. It worked, but there was still something not quite right. My two main characters kept sliding into the background.
It wasn't because they weren't good characters, although they could both stand with more emotive responses. It was that the third major character was so strong and charismatic that he took over.
I decided he had to go.
Enter problem number two: I couldn't kill him. He's the hero in the third book in the series.
My solution? Remove him from at least half the book. Leave him there at the beginning, then bring him back when he's needed to help win the final battle and segue into the next book.
Easy right? Surely there's a convenient place for him to disappear, severely rocking Starr's newly-built trust in him. I found the perfect place, then began rewriting... only to come across a scene where he absolutely had to be present. Hours of work and I'd hit a dead-end.
That's when I packed up and went to bed.
I need to decide if that scene has to remain or if it can be deleted or changed so the other character plays the part. Or can I leave my guy there until a later time? There's another place that would work well for him to leave. That means undoing all I did yesterday.
It's a good thing I have strict version control with my manuscripts. Going back to an earlier version is as simple as opening that file. (That was a lesson learned the hard way!)
It means I lose yesterday's work, but I can redo that from my notes - which are in a different file. I'm going to need to reread the book to choose the absolute best place for my guy to disappear. I've already made extensive notes on where he comes back and what happens then.
I'll do the general edits I've already planned first, then read and edit again. That will put it at Beta-reading stage.
It's getting close to finished! I love this part.
E E Montgomery
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