Conflagration of Phoenixes version …what comes after zeta?

So I heard back from readers who beta-ed Conflagration for me. One of them has no problem with how the romance angle unfolds. Two of them have serious how the hell did we get here issues. At least one of them has what the fuck is going on syndrome at the end of the book.

Not good.

Not gonna lie. I was hoping that I would be able to finish the edits by the end of March and send it out to be professionally edited so I could self-publish in May. 

Suffice to say that I don’t think that’s going to happen now. Which is really disappointing since I really, really, really wanted this to be the year when everything came together.

But, you know what? It’s going to be worth pushing it back because I want my first novel to be the absolute best I can make it. You only ever get one chance to catch the attention of a reader. If the first date sucks, there isn’t going to be a second one, much less a happily ever after.

And Ella reminded me that you can have all the plot twists you like in a story — but the reader can’t be wholly in the dark. You have to leave that gun sitting around so the reader knows that there’s going to be a shooting later even if they don’t know how or why or who.

There’s this idea of the ten thousand hour rule, that you cannot be exemplary at something before you sink enough time and effort into it. Most authors agree that their first finished novels are usually completely tragic to look back on.

Conflagration version 1 was 62k words and written in the heat of NaNo 2008. I trashed all of it. This also taught me that NaNo is so seriously not for me it isn’t even funny, btw.

Version 2 was about 70k. Trashed that too.

Version 3 went up to about 82k.

Version 4 was 120k.

Version 5 was when I wrote out an outline, read up on pinch points, turning points, and cut it down to about 63k.

Version 6, which is now, is hovering at about 60k. It just keeps shrinking. I genuinely can’t tell at this point if it’s getting tighter and more focused in a good way or if I’m losing key information points. Hence beta readers.

The next version, which apparently is going to be eta, might balloon back up because I’ll be inserting a lot of scenes that will lay the groundwork for books 2 and 3 and the romantic angles.

And with the way I edit, which usually involves taking the bare bones of a chapter and rewriting from scratch, it’s safe to say that eta is going to be as similar to alpha draft as a human is to a chimp.

The reason I list all this is so I can remember that there is a process and I’m going through it. When Conflagration comes out, it’s going to be the absolute best I can make it for my writing ability of that point, and I’m not going to stress over it. Everybody needs to move on at some point and I feel very close to the point where I know I can be a better writer, but that’s going to gained through writing new stories with different characters and bringing a whole new world to life instead of fine-tuning this book.

At some point, you just have to jump. I’m hoping that my wings will hold. But even if they don’t, I’m not Icarus. I’ll heal and I’ll be back to try flying again.


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