It's been a couple weeks since my last blog post and I thought this would be the perfect time to update everyone on my progress concerning Kira and the Rat Queen.
Last week I invited a number of family members and close friends to participate in my Beta Reading conference for Kira and the Rat Queen. This was my first opportunity to hear feedback and impressions from an audience older than 11 years old.
I always enjoy this stage of the writing process, even though receiving criticism (even when that criticism is constructive and well-intentioned) is rarely fun. I remember writing a blog post about a year ago about my first negative review and how much it affected me. You can read all about it here: suck-it-up.html
I'm happy to report, after a year's worth of online criticism, my skin has gotten considerably thicker. It's easier now to separate the intentions behind someone's critique from the emotional impact the words might otherwise carry. The end result was the best Beta Conference to date. I was able to listen to criticism without jumping in to defend myself, and to their great credit, my cadre of Beta Readers have refined their criticism, honing in on the issues I'm most curious to hear about.
The group had a bunch of questions and some really good suggestions that I'm going to try and incorporate into the third draft of my novel, and the end result will only be a better final draft.
I've contracted again with Liam Carnahan and his team at Invisible Ink Editing to comb through my prose for any additional missteps, and I anticipate publishing Kira and the Rat Queen right around Thanksgiving, just in time for Christmas.
In other news, now that Kira is almost finished, I've once again turned my attention to my sequel to ANOM: Awakening. I'm sorry to say I fell down on the job last spring when I thought I could balance, both narratives. ANOM moved to the back-burner for most of the summer as I pushed forward with Kira, but now the tables have turned and ANOM is once again my priority. The good news is that the first draft is halfway finished, and the time away has truly crystallized the story in my mind.
Finally, we continue to work on the audio book for ANOM: Awakening. A very talented voice actor, Owen McCuen, has recorded the novel, and now we only need to wait for the editing to be complete. With any luck, the ANOM: Awakening audio book will be available before the end of the year.
Next week I would love to answer your questions about any of my upcoming projects or the writing process in general. Submit your questions to my contact page and I'll answer as many as I can.
If you've followed along with my blog over the last year, you'll know that Walt Disney World played an important role in jump-starting my first novel.
The short version of the story goes something like this... on a flight back from Disney World, I talked to my brother Michael about an idea I had for a story. Thanks to his encouragement, I returned to writing after an extended hiatus and published my first novel, ANOM: Awakening in June of 2016.
Feel free to read the extended version of the story here: how-my-brother-inspired-my-book.html.
This summer I had the opportunity to return to Disney with my family, and I started to think about what the "Happiest Place on Earth" could teach me about writing, and the answer is ... a lot!
At first glance, Walt Disney World should be just another theme park. There are lots of shows, and a variety of foods, and rides... lots and lots of rides. But none of that is special. Disney doesn't lay claim to the tallest roller coaster on the planet like Kingda Ka in Six Flags. They don't feature famous headliners like every casino in Las Vegas. And a turkey leg at Disney World is really no different than a turkey leg at your local renaissance faire. So what's the difference?
The difference is in the details!
There are a million insignificant details at Disney that work together to create something greater than the sum of its parts. From the scripted interactions between cast members and guests (having someone wave and say goodbye to everyone who exits the park) to the amazing cleanliness in the parks (Disney has a trash can every 30 feet) to the stories incorporated into the rides themselves (Space Mountain isn't just an indoor roller coaster - it's a mission to space!).
The parallels are obvious. The details of writing - point of view, diction, even punctuation - can make all the difference in a story.
After all, a sentence like this: "John slithered down the alley, his eyes cut in thin slits against the light."
Creates a very different picture from the alternative: "I walked between the buildings, squinting in the sunlight."
But there's also a word of caution for every writer in Disney World too.
There's no doubt that the details of your story are important, but obsessing too long over the perfect word or comma can lead to a kind of writing paralysis. As a writer, you can never allow yourself to sacrifice your story on the altar of craftsmanship.
In other words, just like no one goes to Disney World because the trash cans are thirty feet apart, no one will read your perfect prose with an incomprehensible plot or one-dimensional characters. They want to read your book for the experience, and that starts with your setting, characters, plot, and theme! The details can only make it better (or worse).
My advice to every writer is to get your story on paper first. Then you can perfect the details in the revision process. Otherwise, your story may never get told.