Writing Update, as Promised

g-pen-writing-on-paper

Hello, World,

I promised you all a writing update post, and here it is.

I know I haven’t posted much this summer, but I promise you there is a very good reason. And that reason is…

I wrote another novel!

You may remember that I published my first one, Touchstones, this past winter. Well, I have completed the first draft of book one in a planned trilogy. Its working title is Light of the Oceans. It is only the first draft, and I suspect that it will be cut down to be a good deal shorter in the first round of edits alone, but right now it is 201,054 words long.

It’s not connected to Touchstones, like, at all. Different universe, no crossover characters whatsoever. It’s different, and I like it.

So, that’s what I spent much of May, June, and July doing. Writing that.

I’ve also been writing a bunch of short stories, many of which may appear on this blog, depending on which ones get edited down to be shorter and which ones grow into longer, more episodic stories. And I’ve been outlining—There are several more novels that I plan to write in the future—the other two books that are supposed to accompany Light of the Oceans, a more contemporary, less fantasy novel that I’ve been working on lately, and also… drumroll please… a companion to Touchstones! It’s an idea that I had been toying around with for a long time, and I have finally decided to go ahead and actually get that done. No idea when I will start writing it, but I do at least know what I would be writing it about.computer typing

In addition to all of the long writing projects, I think I have mentioned my job at an art museum. As a part of that, I’ve been doing rather a lot of visual artwork (follow my Instagram to see more about that). I did a post over on Chelsea’s wonderful blog, 100 Ways to Write where I talked about this—working with a medium other than words has really allowed me to open up my creative horizons, and to really stretch to the very limits of my comfort zone, to the point where what seemed impossible before now seems… I don’t know, manageable at the very least.

I am also a member of the Writing Fellows organization at my school. What is a Writing Fellow, you may ask?

WF is an incredible group of creative students, and I’m honored to have been selected. We had to apply, giving writing samples and talking about why we specifically wanted to be a part of the program. We will be meeting frequently throughout the year and discussing writing prompts and workshopping each other’s work. We also are charged with staffing the Writing Center, which is a space where we help other students develop their own writing skills.

I have also been keeping up with my reading challenge for 2015, which is to read 365 books in 365 days. If you’re curious about my progress on that, or you just want to see what I’ve been reading, take a look at my Goodreads page— go ahead and add Touchstones on there, too!

So, as you can see, I’ve been busy, and much of that busy (the part that hasn’t been writing) has had to do with social media– I have also created a new Facebook page—go ahead and like that for more updates, or check out my Twitter.

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THE BOOK IS HERE

TOUCHSTONES.

IS.

OUT.

Well, mostly. It’s not up on Amazon or Barnes and Noble yet, but it is available for purchase here.

I’ve been working on this for over a year. It’s taken up more of my time than anything else has over that period of time. I was up until all hours of the morning last year writing it, and I spent every spare minute I had editing it. There were definitely times when I panicked and thought that all the effort was for nothing. There were moments when I doubted that it would actually become a real, live, book.

But it did.

And it’s here.

And I’m over the moon.

I mean, just look at that cover. And I’ve been looking at the words inside. And they’re my words.

I owe so much to so many people, without whom this book would not have come to fruition.
I’ll hopefully be negotiating with a few libraries and bookstores nearby to set up readings and book signings. I’ll let you all know soon, so you can see if there will be any near you.

Thank you all for the love and support.

–Maxxe

TOUCHSTONES IS FINALLY (ALMOST) HERE!

I am BACK from my (very brief) blogging hiatus to let you all know… THERE IS A RELEASE DATE for Touchstones!

The book will be released officially as soon as the publisher sends me a new review copy, which should be in about a week. As soon as that happens, I will put up links here to where you can buy it.

Eee, I’m getting chills just being able to say that.

The book looks like this.

touchstones

It’s been quite a journey, from the scribbles on the pages of a notebook, to the big fat Word document that sat on my computer for so long, all the way to the literal, physical, BOOK that I’ve been loath to let out of my sight.

I’m really excited.

I toted around the book for a couple of days, because I was so excited. And that wasn’t even the final version.

But this one will be.

I don’t know if I will be perfectly happy with it. I can pretty much always find something for my perfectionist brain to nitpick over.

But you know what?

I WROTE A FREAKING BOOK.

The Book Now Has a Title!

I know I said that editing was actually the hardest part of writing a book. Well, I was wrong. As it turns out, finding a title is the most difficult step.

I thought that I could just write a book and be done with it.

I thought that my working title would be perfect, and that I would be able to sum up the story easily, meaningfully.

I don’t know what I was thinking, but clearly it was wrong.

I finished editing the book a couple of weeks ago. I finished writing almost five months ago. And I have been trying to find a good title for a little longer than that. I’ve been trying out new ones, sticking them at the top of the page, and discarding them. I tossed them out in casual conversation with my parents, blurted them out over the phone to my brother, and I scribbled them down constantly. And none of them were right. So yeah, it’s been a journey.

But now I have one!!!! (Drumroll please)

My book will be called Touchstones.

It will hopefully be released in late November, or in very early December. I’m not entirely sure which yet, but I am shooting for November. And I am really, really excited.

The next step is to get some comments back from my beta readers, and the step after that is to put in the dedication and the acknowledgements. While all of that is happening, I’ll be working on a cover design with my talented photographer of a father. And after that? It’ll be completely finished. In book form. With a real physical cover and pages and everything.

I’m very excited about this, and very grateful for a lot of really amazing people!

But back to the title. It turns out that summing up an entire novel in one or two words is not easy. I think I’ve always taken the titles of books for granted, but now I’m pretty sure that they are the most difficult part. I went through at least ten before finding something acceptable for the working title, and then I decided I didn’t like that, and it took me at least thirty more to find the one I have now.

And now that I have it? It feels very final. It feels like the book is really and truly out of my hands.

And I can’t wait to see what happens next, even if it’s nothing at all.

Really Big Book News

I have posted on here a few times about my book. Well, another milestone has successfully been passed.

I am finished editing!!!!
(those exclamation points pretty much violated every writing rule I have ever been taught, but you know what? Creative license. Answer to everything.)

It was a process that took a lot of time, and probably well over a thousand revisions. But I am DONE.

Well, except for a title. I do kinda need one of those.

We’re in the process of converting it to a PDF, which will be sent out to a very small number of beta readers, who will respond to me with their initial reactions to the book. Then I’ll probably make a few last-minute tweaks. And then? The next step? The next step is an actual, physical book. Like, with a cover. And paper. And I get to hold it in my hands.

I really should be excited, but I have no idea how I feel about this. I expected, you know, angelic music or something when I finished. But that didn’t happen. Nope. Everyone just went on with their days as normal. But that’s okay. Because I didn’t exactly feel all angelic-music-y. Finishing felt… cathartic. But also like I’m missing something. I’ve been working on this piece every single day for almost a year. I probably know these characters as well or better than I know my own family.

And now, it’s out of my hands.

I am notoriously protective of my work. Probably overprotective.

I did not allow anyone to see this book until I was typing it up, and my tendonitis-y wrists were in agony, at which point, my mom (incredible person that she is) typed up parts of it for me from my notebook, where it was handwritten. Even then, I convinced her not to read the whole thing, and not to think about what she was typing up.

Then, it was a tough decision, but I let people edit it. Three whole people. Record-breaking numbers by my standards.

And now I’m about to let more people in on it.

And after that? Even more. And that number won’t be under my control, not at all.

I know that as a writer, I’m supposed to want an audience. I’m supposed to want my work to take off. But I just want to point out that letting go is a really scary decision. It’s exciting, I’m not going to lie. I do love the idea that someone on the other side of the country might be reading my book in just a few short weeks. And you know what? An idea of that magnitude is sort of incredible.

And to get there, I have to let go.

On Editing

Editing is actually really, really difficult.

I did not set out to write a book. I started with an idea, which then became a story, and then that became a longer story, and then I had free time over the holidays and it became a much, much longer story… You get the idea. I kept writing, and it still wasn’t done yet, and the plot was growing considerably more convoluted. So I wrote more. And then I had a document 400 pages long, just sitting on my computer.

400 pages is long.

It actually qualifies as (gasp) a book.

But now, it’s only 375 pages. I’ve been editing. A lot. My parents are both writers for a living, and my brother is a journalist who comes from a school where any factual error, be that conceptual or grammatical, is an automatic failure. They have become my editing staff.

Together, we’ve spent the past four months revising this conglomeration of words that I wrote. This has led to a lot of mediocre phraseology being cut out, and some conceptual reworking. There are whole pages of unnecessary insights into my main character’s thought process, there are countless markings of “don’t need this”, or of “this doesn’t make sense.”

But at its core, it’s a pretty good book. The trouble is GETTING TO THE CORE. I’ve been editing for almost four months, and I’m almost done. It’s completely different from the original story, and it’s better. And it has taken so much freaking work. I am ready to be done with this, but I have to see it through to the end.

Fortunately, it will be done by this November, and hopefully available to the public then as well.

Now, I’m going to go edit some more.

Looking At Books as a Writer is Different from Looking At Them as a Reader

I used to look at books simply as stories. Stories involving words that I would read in a period of time shorter than four hours. Stories that I would just devour, and then they would be gone—I could revisit them, but the original mystery would be diminished. In other words, my experience with books used to consist of only the first four-ish hours I spend with them, and not really much more than that.

My perspective on this has changed drastically.

See, I wrote a book. It’s pretty long. I spent almost a year writing it, bit by bit every day. And now I’m editing it. A lot. And all of that put together takes a lot longer than four hours.

Now, when I look at my bookshelf, I don’t just see a bunch of stories that I have devoured and will continue to reread from time to time. Instead, I see a ridiculous amount of work that I don’t think very many readers appreciate.

I know I’m pretty judgemental about anything I read. If I don’t like it, I say so. If I do like it, I say that too. If I dearly love a book, then I will rave about it for a very long time to come. One of my best friends and I had our first-ever conversation because we both adore The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. My friendship with another close friend is existent partially because of a debate about Asimov vs. Bradbury. Yet another friendship came about from Richelle Meade and Rainbow Rowell books.

I have, at some points, decided that some books are more or less valuable than others. And now I’m starting to rethink that. Because even the most derivative, overwrought, overthought plot line in existence took effort to write, and took a lot of time to be completed. I can say with some authority that all of that effort? It does not happen without some belief that the book is good.

I have doubted my own work. I have worried that no one will read it. I have been terrified that all of my work is for nothing, because it will just sit on a dusty webpage in an unclicked-on browser, and no one will think about it for more than those four initial hours. Maybe not even that.

So who am I to judge other people’s books?
I am coming to the conclusion that nothing anyone writes can be downright bad. Maybe it could use a little work. Maybe it could use a little originality, or a little finesse. But I think any book should be appreciated, solely because it is a book. Someone took all of that time and effort to write it, and someone believed that it is good. I appreciate that. I have to. No, a “bad” book will never end up on my bookshelf. From a reader’s point of view, it will never be one of my favorite stories. There are many things that it will never be from a reader’s point of view.

But from a writer’s point of view? I will also never believe that I am better, or a better writer than anyone who has managed to finish a book. I may have written a story that I consider to be better, but books are more than stories. And that writer will still have done all of the work to make that book more than just a story.

I stare at my bookshelf sometimes and I know that every spine on it, whether standing perfectly straight or very slumped, is the result of an unconscionable amount of work and time to accomplish.

As such, every book deserves more than those four hours of attention. I may not like every book I read. That’s okay. I don’t have to like it. I just have to appreciate it.