Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, Draft Zero, Pre-pub, The Unconquered City (Book 3), Writing

From the Debut Trenches: The Copy Edits Are Among Us


Things that I have been unduly excited about since I discovered they were a Thing:
– Flannel sheets
– Bat boxes that have the Batman logo
– Copy edits

One of the things I’ve realized I’m good at over the years has been picky details. Since learning the exact nature of copy editing, I’ve been more than a little eager to see them in the inky flesh. Going through a novel line by line, hunting out spelling and grammatical errors, as well as continuity errors, sounds like my kind of party.

But ohmygoodness, was I not prepared for the style sheet.

See, in order to catch those continuity errors, a copy editor must first figure out what the continuity is. Which for any book can be a load of biscuits and fun, but for fantasy novels gets even trickier. All those made up terms and systems – aka worldbuilding – become Real. And the copy editor must not only understand those terms, but make sure they’re used consistently within the established rules of the world.

So they make a style sheet. And in it, they list all of the characters, major or minor or sub-minor, and their relationships to the other characters. They also list all the bizarre terms you made up. They also create a timeline. It’s meticulous and it’s picky and it’s beautiful.

If this whole writing thing doesn’t work out, I think I’ll try my hand at copy-editing. Just saying.

If it’s weird to see all your made-up people and terms treated like Real, it’s even weirder to see the copy edit document itself. I knew it’d be marked up. What I didn’t realize was that it’d be formatted to look like a book. Guys. This is getting legit.

I did a first pass of the copy edits already, and it doesn’t look nearly as frightening or intimidating as I’d feared/expected. I’ll take my time going over each change, but so far it breaks down to:

– 94% changing an en dash to an em dash
– 2.7% saving my bacon by catching continuity errors
– 1.2% fixing typos/homophones
– 2.1% highlighting echoes*

Bless you, Copy Editor. And bless all copy editors everywhere, because it takes a very keen and practiced eye to catch this stuff.

Progress will slow a little on book 3 while I go through my copy edits, but I planned for that and also one of these is due MUCH sooner than the other, so.

Here’s current progress on Book Three, working title The Unconquered City, the story of an assassin turned monster hunter who’s really sick of people threatening her city. Now with more! terse conversations, monster hunters, and quiet cups of tea.

Project: Book Three, Draft 0.5

Deadline: August

Current word count: 24558 / 80000 words. 31%

Fancy bracelets: 2

Awkward conversations: 4

Broken glass: All of it

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, Draft Zero, The Unconquered City (Book 3), Writing


The forecast predicts we’re gonna get 40s from here on until March, the trees are budding, the bulbs are bulbening, and the river has claimed most of the nearby park and golf course – which means we can officially call it. Winter is fading. It’s Spring-inning.

I can’t lie. I’m going to miss the snow and the painfully cold 10 degree days. But time keeps churning and soon we’ll be eyeballs-deep in bugs and humidity, so it’s best to enjoy each day as it comes.

That’s my mantra in general lately. 2019 stills seems painfully far off, but I will only get to live through the pre-pub debut process once, so I’m gonna enjoy it. So far it’s been pretty calm and chill, with just the occasional inkling of the excitement (and terror!) that is to come and the occasional context-free flailing. I appreciate the slower-than-usual ramp up, because I’ve been able to stick my toe in and begin mentally (and physically) preparing for the Actual Thing because wow, if the last month has been any indication with its softballs, I am Not Prepared.

Wow, how is that for vaguebooking/subtweeting/whatever it is the kids are calling it these days?


Here’s current progress on Book Three, working title The Unconquered City, the story of an assassin turned monster hunter who’s really sick of people threatening her city. Now with more! rioting, Shocking Revelations (TM), and one-on-one rooftop “lessons.”

Project: Book Three, Draft 0.5

Deadline: August

Current word count: 17,723 out of 80,000

Knives thrown: 7

Double-entendres made: 3

Times that I have made myself blush: 11

The Unconquered City (Book 3), Writing

Book 3, Draft 0.5

I started Book Three back in July and got a sizeable chunk done (50k words! woo!), but then edits for 1 & 2 intervened and months passed and now here I am again. Staring into the abyss.

I’ve spent the last two weeks grappling with this book, the plot I have, the words I’ve written. I started and stopped and started again where I’d left off. But I finally realized I needed to just go ahead and start from the very beginning (it’s a very good place to start [now it’s stuck in your head too {you’re welcome}]).

Since I didn’t even reach a Rocks Fall Everyone Dies ending with that draft, I don’t officially get to move on to draft one. But it’s not really a draft zero, since I’ve got a pretty solid handle on what’s gonna happen. So let’s compromise and call it Draft 0.5. Still nowhere close to the finished product, but also not flailing alone in the dark with a blindfold and a basket of chips.

You know the drill by now. I’ll report back here once a week (or month) with progress updates as a way to shame myself into maintaining said progress. ‘Cause I’ve got a deadline to make and a story to wrap up and a whole lot of teeth to gnash. My teeth? Maybe yours. Whose teeth are these anyway? Why am I holding teeth??


Here’s current progress on Book Three, working title The Unconquered City, the story of an assassin turned monster hunter who’s gonna keep her city safe no matter the cost. Now with more! monster fights, healing magic, and tragic backstory.

Project: Book Three, Draft 0.5

Deadline: August

Current word count: 1,974 out of 80,000

Body count: 0

Monster count: Baker’s dozen

Sand?: Everywhere.

The Unconquered City (Book 3)

Giving Up Twitter for Lent

I have had a love-hate relationship with Twitter right from the start. Its ephemeral and impermanent nature is both a draw (no obligation to understand context or scroll back for days!) and a drawback (everything exists in the void!). I initially joined to assist in my search for agents, and then I stayed because of the thriving writing community.

But while Twitter’s writing community is a good place to start, and very useful (it’s how I found out about Sirens and ConFusion and where I find all my agent sibs), it’s certainly not everything. It’s like the enticing display in the shop window – all cupcakes and glitter, but with very little substance. And as delicious as they may be, one cannot exist on cupcakes and glitter alone.

Alas, my personality is such that if the cupcakes and glitter are right there, then I will attempt to subsist on them anyway despite all of my knowledge and experience to the contrary. I am not very good at moderation.

So I’m going to give Twitter up entirely. Well, at least for the next 46 days. Aka, for Lent*.

It’s not like I’ll be bored. I have the draft zero for Book Three to complete by April and I’d been planning/hoping/dreaming to also get the synopsis written by then, too. This will give me a chance to focus and see if Twitter really has been sapping my creative energy as much as it has been sapping my time.

I also intend to recommit to blogging/reading blogs. I grew up on LiveJournal (gasp!) and enjoyed the community born and grown there, fueled by longer posts about everyday minutiae. I migrated to WordPress over the years and have likewise enjoyed the community here. There is far less glitter, but a considerable amount of honest sandwiches. I miss the longer form, the context, the gritties. Twitter has allowed for longer tweets, but it’s still a forum for Public Displays of Being Clever.

This is not intended as a screed or rant against Twitter. It has its uses and I fully intend to return to all the glitter and cupcakes. But in the meantime, I need to step back, breathe, reconsider, and refocus.

Hopefully, that means I’ll get to see more of you guys here. ❤

* I’m not Catholic, but the idea of occasionally giving something up that you feel you can’t live without is a good exercise, IMNSHO.

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, The Perfect Assassin (Book 1), The Unconquered City (Book 3), Work In Progress, Writing

Stop! – It’s Beta Time!

Betas, man. What would we do without them? They’re magical creatures, willing to take the time out of their days, weeks, (months?), to glance over an unpolished manuscript and not only give feedback, but give supporting details and thoughts and comments and maybe – hopefully – a few ideas on what they think might help.

When we’ve been elbows-deep in the entrails of our book for months (years) on end, a beta helps us step back and see the body instead of the gore. Or, perhaps, a better metaphor: when we’ve been behind the scenes, constructing the scenery for our play, all we can see is the bare wood, the struts, the bad paint jobs. Our betas help us see the scenery from the audience side, where it’s clearly a quiet night scene in Paris or a warm rooftop in Peru.

Thing is, we writers spend a long time trying to capture what’s in our heads in words that will somehow, perfectly and exquisitely, recreate those same scenes and moments in the reader’s head. This is, of course, impossible. Until we become telepaths or create the technology for brain-to-brain transfers, that translation will be imperfect. Some things will always be lost. And we, the writers, will always be acutely aware of those gaps and errors.

Our betas, however, cannot see into our heads. They can only see what every reader will see in the end: what’s on the page. So – thank you, betas. Thank you on behalf of all writers, but also thank you on behalf of just me. At a time when I was 100% frustrated and done with my WIP not lining up with what was in my head, you helped me to see what was actually on the page. And also fix what was there. Without betas, I’d be running endless editing loops for the next 5, 10, 15 months. Instead, now I have a plan and a way forward, an end in sight.

That said, where have I been the last few weeks? I usually update on Tuesday because that’s when I have the most time, but these past Tuesdays I’ve been feeling the crunch. First I was finishing up one last round of edits so that I could get Book One out to betas, then I was beginning the next round of edits courtesy of those amazing betas. Now I’m 100 pages into the last heavy edit / mad attempts at polishing with my deadline fast approaching. Today I added 2600 new words and an entire new chapter that will need to be polished once they’ve had some time to sit and ferment. I have 160(ish) pages left to go, two more new scenes to write, and seventeen days. I got this.


Without further ado, here’s current progress on Book One, working title Redacted, the story of a historian turned assassin turned detective who’s more than just a little tired of this shit. Now with more! tense talks over tea, avuncular uncles, and exciting! research! scenes!

Chapters: 14 chapters out of 33 edited

Current word count: 90002 out of 90,000

Fun Google searches this week: What the parts of a screwdriver are called