Friday, October 29, 2010

Ahh. Relief.

I know I'm definitely on the right track now. I like my book and my characters much better, having straightened out just where to start the story. It feels like an adult historical instead of a YA historical, and I'm eager for the story to progress. Momentum! This calls for (even more) coffee.

New Chapter One is done, and I can incorporate a whole lot of what I'd already written into the first third of this new revision. It will just require a little tweaking to update the voice. We're about to send Pharaoh Thutmose I off to be killed -- adieu, Tut! You've been fun for a book and a third, but it's time to make way for your daughter.

Here's a bit (not the last paragraph or so, but my favorite part) of what I've written today:

On a dais at the hall’s end, King Thutmose, the first of his name, filled the golden Horus Throne with his evident presence. A bright white kilt of the purest linen fell over his knees to the floor, and lying against his broad, strong chest was a glittering Eye-of-Horus pectoral, stern and staring. His lined brow bore the tall, red-and-white double crown of Egypt with a precise care, and beneath the band of the crown his beloved face, common and welcoming, broke into a grin at the sight of his daughter. Hatshepsut smiled, too. It was always a joy to look upon the Pharaoh, with his sharp nose hooked and prominent as a falcon’s beak, his great front teeth gleaming in the light of the hall’s hundred braziers. He had smiled just that way every time she’d seen him for as long as she could remember. She loved him like she loved no other.

To the Pharaoh’s left, Queen Ahmose, the Great Royal Wife, Hatshepsut’s mother, perched small and dainty on her own bright, high-armed seat. Hatshepsut’s face and figure was all of her father’s doing and none of her mother’s. What Ahmose had, Hatshepsut lacked: delicate structure, graceful curve of breast and hip, pretty face and feminine bearing. Hatshepsut’s nurse, Sitre-In, swore that the First Princess would grow to be more like her mother as time wore on. But the closer Hatshepsut drew to her own womanhood, the more she resembled her father, square and rough-cut, strong and graceless as a river-barge, despite her finery. It was Neferubity, her dear dead sister, who had taken after the queen. Hatshepsut was her father’s daughter.

“Mighty Horus,” she said formally, and bowed at the foot of the throne, palms held toward the Pharaoh. “Great Royal Wife.” She bowed to her mother, too, eyes downcast, aware of how her brightness dimmed in the presence of the queen. But she straightened again, and smiled at her father. She had no need of beauty to win his heart. He’d been hers to command from the time she was a babe in swaddling, to hear Sitre-In tell it.

I am definitely feeling better about the voice (I've made my Hatshepsut more grown up and serious in this new version), and I'm not having to fight to put in imagery. I will need to clean up sentence construction until I hit my stride and really start to feel this voice out all the way, but it shouldn't take long to get to that point.

I'm really going to miss Tut. I have personal reasons for adoring this character -- he's maybe my favorite in all my writing to date. Damn, I'm going to hate killing him off! :(

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Aww, crap!

I just realized I started Egypt 2.0 in totally the wrong place. Damn and double-damn! I so hate when this happens. Well, at least I realized it now, and can start afresh without the deadwood of the wrong beginning hanging around my neck.

BLAAAHHHH. I was really liking opening the document every morning and seeing a nice, high number in the bottom left corner. Now starting over from ZERO.

Okay, it'll be a nice challenge. How fast can I get back up to 30K, now that I've started the book in the right place?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wait...when did I get 28 followers?

Hi, new followers. Welcome. Why are you following me? I never update!

But that changes today. Today, I'm going to institute a new feature. I'm going to post the last paragraph I wrote each day. It'll keep me thinking about putting fresh content on this blog, and hopefully it will torment you all and make you want to read my books, so when we finally sell one, you'll be all OMG WANT TO READ IT CAN'T WAIT FOR RELEASE DATE.

First one's free. Then you gotta pay, kid.

So here's the final paragraph or so I wrote yesterday during my new energetic burst of writing-fu. (Bear in mind that this is all rough draft stuff, so parts of it are guaranteed to suck.):

Ordinarily, the sharp arc of his falcon’s-beak nose and his prominent front teeth – so distinctive and unexpected in the face of a king – made her fight to contain a smile. It was improper for the First Princess to grin like a dolt whenever her father looked her way. Today, though, she had no trouble maintaining the solemnity required by the court when Thutmose looked upon her. She straightened and dropped her gaze from his angled fierce-bird face beneath its imposing double crown. But there was no place on the Pharaoh’s person where her eyes might comfortably rest. They skittered over the glittering Eye-of-Horus pectoral on his broad chest, over his strong sun-browned hands lying still and sure on the arms of his chair, over the intense white of the long pleated kilt which fell like poured water over his knees to his sandals. And there her eyes rested at last, on the Pharaoh’s feet (and even they were like the feet of a lion), too shame-heavy to rise when the voice of Thutmose filled the room.


She flinched.

“Hatshepsut, my daughter. This morning I received a report from the Temple of Amun that worried me greatly. I wonder if you can guess what this report said.”

Yeah, I'm still alive.

Okay, so listen. The last three months or so have been among the most distracting and strange in my whole life. But I've gotten through them (officially, as of tomorrow) and while things aren't entirely settled, I think they're settled enough that I'm back into the swing of things and pushing forward at my old pace. Yesterday I pulled out Egypt 2.0 and wrote like my face was on fire before work, and really liked what I produced. Then all day at work I couldn't stop thinking about that book and about writing in general. I sneaked pieces of paper around in my pockets and wrote two poems clandestinely while on the clock and another on my lunch break, and I think they're all pretty decent. I believe this means I am officially Back On My Game.

Did I update with the news about Bride of Amun? Don't wet your pants -- it's not super-thrilling news (but not bad news, either.)

My rad agent Natalie (who just sold an adult historical novel earlier this month -- woot!) was not thrilled to death with the sluggish response we've been getting from the five editors who will have BoA on their desks. So she suggested we put BoA on the back burner and go full steam ahead with Egypt 2.0. E2.0 has a lot of good things going for it that can sell commercial fiction: battles, cross-dressing, secret lesbian affairs (yeah, my version of Hatshepsut is bisexual. That's what she told me she wanted to be, so I said, "Okay, Hat, you're the boss."), a plot to poison the kingqueen, and the early emergence of the Cult of the Aten, which, if you are an Egypt nerdo, will excite you and make you drool. Oh, and 150% more adultery by volume. This is basically the Michael Bay version of an Egyptian novel, whereas Bride of Amun's main strength is that the writing is really pretty. Otherwise, it's another book about two women in a rivalry to produce a royal son, which, let's be honest, WE'VE ALL SEEN BEFORE. Even in an Egyptian setting *coughMichelleMorancough*

I still believe strongly in Bride of Amun -- it's got a good story and, to toot my own horn a bit, some genuinely lovely prose. But I think Natalie is right -- it will have a better chance of selling to a really good editor who'll put a big push behind it if it follows something that's easier to sell to more people: explosions and lesbians and sex. Okay, there are no explosions in Egypt 2.0. But there is a totally sweet scene of Thutmose II getting beaned on the head with a rock thrown by a captive Nubian boy. Man, that guy is such a dick. He totally deserved it.

So the plan is to hold off on BoA and to get E2.0 finished PRONTO -- like, six weeks or less -- and start submitting that book right after the Holidays, when those acquisitions people are all fresh and chomping at the bit to acquire.

Can I write a kickass novel in six weeks? Yes. I'd better be able to, anyway. No, kidding. I totally can. I actually write much better and with greater discipline when I have a deadline. This is what will make me a badass professional writer some day. I'll be able to produce like Joyce Carol Oates (but not as depressing.) (Maybe as depressing. I can't promise anything.)

Actually, I can probably make E2.0 my NaNoWriMo project. I've already got about 20,000 words done (I had 20,000 words before but I rewrote them because I hated them), so if I get at least 50,000 done by the end of November I'll have a nigh-complete novel on my hands. Let's hear it for fast typing!

Now I just need to come up with a good working title. I can't keep calling it Egypt 2.0. I love the title Red Land, Black Land, but I think Natalie will hate it and anyway I have a friend whose graphic novel is called Red Eye, Black Eye even though it has nothing to do with Egypt so that's kind of out.

Damn! I hate titles with a passion!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Editing update.

Okay. Editing the old content is, for the most part, done. I want to completely rewrite the first chapter but that can wait until I've finished the book and am ready to send it off to Natalie.

I got some new content written this morning before work, too. I'm looking forward to getting E2.0 finished and sent out into the world. I think I can do it by the end of November. If I could get it done sooner, I would...I hate the thought of it going on submission near the Holidays. It always takes so long to hear anything around that time of the year!

Oh well...onward!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Editing. Uuugh.

I'm working on edits for the first 20,000 words of Egypt 2.0. Still need a title for this beast. And while I'm not dissatisfied with the first 20K words, I'm not entirely satisfied, either. I think it's mostly that I don't want to be working on my commercial fiction right now...I want to be working on my literary fiction.

But it'll be easier to sell something commercial, and the Egypt books are fun and good and well thought out and not terribly difficult to write. They're solid stories. I just need to get them all wrapped up so I can move onto the stuff that has captured my heart and mind.

I need to keep up the push and get this book finished by the end of November. If I can turn it in then, along with a completed and polished synopsis for Egypt 3.0, I should be fully justified in jumping right back into Baptism for the Dead. To sweeten the deal for myself, I'm allowing myself to rewrite Baptism as either a verse novel or a stream-of-consciousness novel...but ONLY if I get Egypt 2.0 and 3.0's synopsis done in six weeks.

Better get cracking, Libbie! Time is a-wasting.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Screw you, blog!

Stop making me feel guilty for never updating you! There is nothing interesting going on in my life right now, although I am now finally, as of today, only working at one job instead of two. Still, screw you! My life is complicated and difficult and I don't need you nagging away inside my brain.

Bite me, blog. Just shut up. Get out of here. I'll update you later. When I have something worth saying.

Here, you can have the poem I brought to writers' group last night. Hopefully that's enough for you.

Argiope trifasciata

We stopped to stretch our legs
above the Pendleton Gap.
The Earth was a bright stone,
the sky grading smooth from facet to facet,
turquoise, cerulean, diamond white.
We ignored the signs -- Danger: cliff edge
and climbed the barrier.
On the crest of the basalt heaves
among splinters of teasel
we lay on our backs to photograph
enormous spiders, white and gold,
fat uneven opals strung heavy
in their platinum nets.
The van ticked, cooling, beside the shelter.
Generations of names eroded out of the wood
where, like glyphs, they had been carved
by vanished travelers.

Every time I pass that way
I recall the name of the spiders,
genus and species,
the smell of dust devils dying in the valley,
the weight of your friendship
a warm stone in my palm.