I have exciting news for you. The post I've dreamed about writing is finally being written, right now, by me. The purpose of this post is to share those four magical words:
I found a publisher.
Yes, you read correctly. My book is being published. Not just The Trace, but the series. Whitewashed is going to enter the real world. And you're going to ride along with me.
For those following my blog (I know you exist), you'll have seen my woes over query letters, literary agents, publishing houses, etc. You'll have seen my gradual lean toward the autonomy and freedom that self-publishing provides. Well, take traditional publishing and self-publishing, add them together, and you'll wind up with Evolved Publishing.
So, what happens now? Well, it's all a bit new and uncertain, so I can't give you every detail. But I can say this: it's going to be an adventure, and if you stick around, we'll unravel it together. The Trace is getting published. Ella Kepler will enter the real world. And you, dear reader, will finally get the story I've been wanting to give you.
Lurking behind (in front of, more accurately) every great story is the problem of the pesky protagonist. It's an unavoidable conundrum, like 5:00 traffic and colds and popsicles that drip all over the side of your hand. Writers are given the impossible task of creating a protagonist who is well-liked (or, dare I say it, well-loved) by all readers. I say impossible, because it's literally IMPOSSIBLE. I have been struggling with this problem ever since I started writing Whitewashed. “Will readers like Ella? Will they think she's annoying? Whiny? Weak? Stupid? Useless? Boring?” and pretty much every other antonym to character virtue.
What does this mean? Do you want to know what this means? It means that, since spring of 2011, I have dreamed of this day. I have imagined what I would say when it finally came. IT HAS FINALLY COME.
I'll admit: This post is a belated one, which means that you, dear reader, do not get to receive the full fervor of my reaction. That is probably a good thing. But I will say that my immediate reaction was one of confusion. Surely...surely I'm not done. Well, good news: I wasn't. And I'm still (sort of) not.
When I finished the edits I'd wanted to do for The Cost, I had to pull in some readers. Naturally. 3 people read that draft. They gave me their feedback, and I made the suggested changes. Now, one person is reading this third draft, and she's a first-timer--as in, this is the first time she's read any draft of TC. (She also happens to be my cashier at Publix. After building rapport and learning that I wrote a trilogy, she asked if she could read Whitewashed. Well, of course I shrugged her off. But after many Publix trips in which this request was repeated, I finally gave in. And guess what? Now, I not only have another fan, but a super cool new friend. Moral of the story: Talk to the people who ring up your groceries.) The strange thing is, this is only my third draft of TC, and...I sorta feel like it's THE draft. The story feels done. Now, I'm sure once my editor takes a look at it, more changes will occur. It's a pretty long book, at around 138,000 words, so I bet stuff needs to be taken out--I just can't see what. That's what editors are for.
Anyway, I finally reached a point of satisfaction with TC. That meant it was time to comb through Trace and Integer for continuity's sake (boy, am I glad these books did NOT get published before I'd finished the third! Otherwise, I'd be retconning a crap ton). I've done that, which means I'm sitting on 3 semi-done books that are just floating in the awkward space of "Now what?" Now, I wait to hear back from 2 agents. If those are no's, I reach out to that editor. She edits, I fix, and then I pursue self-publishing. So I'm not really done, not at all, because self-publishing requires a lot of work. On an exciting note, I've hired someone to work on a book cover for Trace! I shall keep you abreast, reader.
So, I'm bewildered and amazed that I've finished these books. My heart is sad, and I honestly get excited when I comb through the books and find a random typo, because it means I still get to write in this universe. I've actually started a new book, an idea that was inconveniently cooking while I was trying to settle the conclusion of Ella's life. This book is third-person perspective, and also switches between a male and female perspective. It's totally new for me, and it's totally exciting, though part of me feels that I'm cheating on Ella. With this book, I'm exploring a different writing style, and I'm also venturing into the world of adult books. I would say this book is definitely not for young adults. It has mature themes and deals with controversial issues that I'm attempting to expound upon. I'll be posting a lot about this book in the future as I leave the Whitewashed world and enter the [insert title] world. Right now, I'm just calling it "Post Apoc." Here's a sneak peak of the first paragraph of this very, very rough draft!
"The end of the world turned Ty into a cat lady. She figured it was better than being a rat lady, or one of those old saps who prune their wondrously fake garden all so some squirrel or bird can scuttle into their yard with a lingering hope that organic matter still remains. Thousands of years of existence hasn’t made Earth’s rodents any smarter.
Ty didn’t know the last time she’d seen a bird."
But enough of this stupid new book--I just want to talk about Whitewashed. Wahhhh. I WILL NEVER FINISH THESE. I will intentionally not make the edits that I need to, and the books will forever remain unfinished, and no one can stop me. Ha.
Actually, who am I kidding? How many times have I said that I was finished with Trace or Integer? I will tell you: A LOT OF TIMES. Here I am, pining over the end, when I'm most likely at the beginning. You're not done with me yet, Whitewashed. You will never be done... *smiles maniacally*
Don't worry, I'll keep you posted.
1) Book 3 has a name, and it is "The Cost." The title was harassing me while I wrote, cropping up repeatedly until I finally went, "Oh, I see--you're trying to tell me your name. Fine, calm down, already."
2) First draft of The Cost= completed. I finished it yesterday. I wrote the last sentence, changed around a word or two, and then didn't feel anything else coming afterward. My brain went, Wait, is this it? and my mouth hung open a little. Then I clicked Save and proceeded to run around my house shouting with glee. My cats gawked at me with giant pupils, but I screamed nonetheless.
So what happens now? Well, you know the drill. I went straight to OfficeMax and printed all 418 pages (how in the world did it get so long?). The stack of paper is sitting on the floor beside my desk, calling for me to dive into it, but I'm resisting. Resistance is futile. I've already combed through the first couple of pages and found 1 error. And I did that in the parking lot of OfficeMax. I'm being stern with myself now, however. I won't touch it for a week or two, allowing my mind to digest and refresh. Then it's back to my favorite grind of editing. This is the roughest first draft yet, complete with pages of straight dialogue without any mention of tags; brackets that say ["X" happens here]; and a whole escape from a prison where I have yet to figure out how exactly the escape occurs. I did the whole [she escapes] thing, and then proceeded to what happens afterward. Needless to say, I'm a bit frightened to begin approaching this book. I'm also ecstatic, of course.
The end is near, folks. I'll finish The Cost, and then comb through Trace and Integer for any discontinuity. And then...Whitewashed will be done.
Let's not talk about that quite yet.
*Anamnesis has since been changed to Whitewashed, but I wanted to keep this post to remind all readers (mainly myself) that stories change and grow and develop, and that's not a bad thing.*
First, it is a real word. Merriam-Webster says it is a "recalling to mind." It is a memorial, a remembrance.
Second, it is the official title of my collective trilogy. The Trace, The Integer, and The Cost now belong to Anamnesis. How possessive of you, Anamnesis.
Initially, I thought that Integer was going to be called The Anamnesis, but then I decided that the word was too grandiose to belong to a single book. With all the depth and meaning attached to the word "anamnesis" (which IS a word, computer, so stop doing the squiggly red underline!), how could it fit a single book? It couldn't, so I stole the word and gave it to the whole trilogy, formerly called Evolution. In the end, Evolution was too small, and didn't quite apply any longer. Once I got to the final book, I realized what I was trying to accomplish with this trilogy, and so Evolution lost its meaning and Anamnesis took over.
I am super excited about this, although my tongue gets tied every time I try to tell people about Anamnesis. "So I'm writing this trilogy called Anam-eh-nem-e-sis." Then, when I do pronounce it correctly, people are still confused, because no one has heard of this word. Why doesn't anyone know this word?! It's so cool! It deserves to be known. I don't really have a right to judge, because I didn't know what it was, either, but now that I know, it has become my mission to ensure that everyone knows this word. Therefore, I shall now direct you to Wikipedia for a more thorough explanation. The word also happens to have a religious meaning that I find very cool.
So, why is this trilogy called Anamnesis? All I can say is...spoilers.
I've been going through a voice funk lately, and by that I mean I've been trying to answer to the different styles pulling me in multiple directions. It's been overwhelming trying to sort out blog voice from work voice from Ella voice. I've found Ella speaking in a journalistic style, and my food column diving into some confused, eighteen-year-old girl introspection. How do I compartmentalize those voices in my head? Well, when I figure it out, I'll let you know. In the meantime...
I'm really only slightly joking here. I haven't figured it out completely, but I do think it helps to switch up writing mediums, and of course to get in the right zone prior to writing. I've decided to assign particular mediums to whatever it is that I'm writing, so my laptop, tablet, and various journals serve different purposes. Since I did that, getting in the right mood has gotten so much easier.
I've been writing in the Anamnesis voice for about five years, so I have no idea what sort of writer I'll be once this trilogy is complete. As I'm sensing an actual completion date in 2016, I've been wondering about who I am as a writer more and more lately. What will happen when I start something new, with a fresh POV? My books are in first person, from Ella's perspective, which I originally thought would make writing easier. As it turns out, it's immensely difficult, and I won't be writing first person for awhile after this! There are pros, but the cons have started outnumbering them. While I'm writing these books, I can't know anything that she doesn't know, and (duh) everything that happens is from her perspective. As the plot gets more complex, it's gotten harder for me to figure out how she can learn things in an interesting way, or how the reader can suspect something without Ella suspecting it. I guess that's why they say writing isn't easy, right? On top of this complicated dynamic, writing as Ella actually started affecting my mood, which hadn't really happened before. She's depressed for half of the third book (spoiler?), and I was finding myself down and morose. It was only once Ella started perking up that I noticed that I was starting to cheer up, and I had a "Wait a minute!" moment and was glad to be over that unhappy hump.
Have I digressed? Probably. I think I can reel it back in. This post is about voices, right? So, Ella's voice has affected me both as a writer and as a person. I'll probably finish these books and realize that I hate oranges and love spiders.
Have you ever struggled to separate your writing voices? If so, do tell me how you overcame the hurdle.
No, this post is not about the Relient K song. It's an honest piece about the fact that, sometimes, I feel like I'll never be done writing.
Here's what happened.
I decided that, for my first serious approach to writing, I was going to start with a trilogy. (Note: this was a really dumb idea.) Sure, I'd begun about twenty books before. I'd even completed a draft of one or two. I'd never, however, decided that I was going to pursue a book to its total and final completion. Then came The Trace, an idea that festered and stuck around long enough to reach its conclusion. Thus, my first time writing a book that I really wanted to finish, was a complicated trilogy that only got more convoluted the more I wrote.
There are some people in the world, those strange, magical, confident people, who have no problem sharing something they have created. I'll be real clear. I am not one of those people. I am the person who immediately gets paranoid when someone mentions the possibility of, potentially, maybe in the future, reading my writing. I panic. I run home and hide my laptop and flash drive where no one will ever find them. Except maybe my cat, because she's fat and nosy and can find anything I don't want her to find. I hold onto my book like it's The Ring and I'm Gollum. No one can touch the Precious except us.
When I first started writing Le Trace, people wanted to read it, because people are nice and want to support others. Friends, family, classmates, coworkers. I was thrilled. "Wow, people want to read what I'm writing!" So I shared my half-written little (who am I kidding, it was giant) book with whoever asked, because at that time, I didn't believe in drafts. Drafts were for aliens. When I wrote something, the finished product was the first product. (More on my draft aversion in, like, ten other posts.)
I finally realized that no one, ever, types everything in Microsoft Word, then slams shut their laptop and declares, "Alright, I'm done!" Because of this realization, I came to the conclusion that, Well, crap, I probably shouldn't have shared my un-finished story with a bunch of people who are going to think that I just handed them a complete story. Because I didn't. I take it back. Pretend you never read it. That was awful. Ella was annoying, her best friend was evil, there were random characters like Joe and Peter, and nothing happened in the story except Ella was confused a lot.
Thus entered the Gollum Rebecca, who will inwardly look like this if you ask me if you can read my book:
Characters make a story. Every reader and writer knows this. That is why creating characters is such a scary, intimidating, and stressful endeavor. It's also pretty great.
I have a few favorite characters from Whitewashed (halfway there!). Ella is my automatic number one because she's the protagonist and she's been with me for so long. Of course I have to say she's my favorite--and, well, she is. Besides her, my favorites vary between a few others, people who are goodies and baddies. Sometimes, depending on my mood, I might prefer one character over another. A constant, however, is Ethan.
When I first started writing The Trace, the main characters were totally different than they wound up being in my final draft. Ella was shallow, Kara was selfish and rude, and Ethan was the angsty, brooding, impatient guy with anger problems--the male love interest every teen has come to expect from a YA novel. He was short with Ella, cryptic, and a little possessive. Why was he like this? Because those were the types of male characters I'd read about, and I thought that was all a teenage guy could ever be.
Initially, his name was "Ian." Actually, I guess his name was originally "Josh" because, as I've said before, all my male characters were named "Josh." Josh turned into Ian, a rude guy I didn't really like.
Senior year of high school, we did a lot of peer editing in my English class. That was when I first realized that I used a syntax technique that my classmate thought was something wrong that I made up. So then I got paranoid until college, when my Shakespeare professor said that he used too many em dashes. Then I thought, "Wait, I use dash-thingies. M dashes? Is that a dash-thingie? I thought that was a hyphen. Is using too many hyphens wrong? I use them a lot. But so does he. I don't really like him. Is this bad?"
That is when I started researching dashes and their uses. I found out that there are three dashes: the en, the em, and the hyphen.