Now that I’ve recuperated (a little) from the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference, it’s time to figure out what happens next. I’ve talked it over with myself, and I think I’ve (more or less) decided how to proceed:
Do another read-through of Courting the Moon.While I don’t plan on making any ground-breaking changes at this stage, there are a few tweaks I’d like to incorporate, plus a general overview of the manuscript before I send anything out.
Write and send out query letters. Since 4 out of the 5 agents I spoke with said I could query them and 3 of those 4 requested pages, I need to get those letters written and ready to go. My goal is to send them out within the next two weeks.
Continue researching agents and publishers. While it’s great that several of the folk at WDC17 showed interest (thank you!), I can’t rest on my laurels or put all of my eggs in one basket. After all, Courting the Moon might end up not being their cup of tea. (Have I used enough cliched metaphors yet?) So, as always, be sure to have a backup plan!
Prep for my next project. With Courting the Moon out of the way and NaNoWriMo on the horizon, it’s time for me to return to Marina. However, NaNoWriMo is best for writing the first draft (or “Draft Zero” as one of the WDC panelists called it) and Ravens and Roses is past that stage. (I still have scenes to write, but they must be more deliberately crafted.) But I do want to get back into that mode, so I think I’ll go ahead and prep the next book in The Mariner Sequence: Seahawks and Storms. I have only the vaguest outline for it at this point, and with so much fresh territory to uncover in an already-developed world, I think it will be a fun project and a worthwhile expenditure of time and energy. (And it’s gotta be done eventually, so why not now?)
Get back to work on short stories.One of the most valuable panels from WDC17, for me at least, was the one on crafting short stories. I even bought a book there that goes more in-depth with the topic. While short stories are not my forte, I still would like to master writing them, especially since they are still the best way to build writers cred. Plus, I really need the practice.
So, that’s the game plan for the rest of 2017. Guess it’s time to start my attack run. ^_^;;
Oh my gosh, I am so excited that I don’t know where to begin. I guess the title of this entry says it all: I’ve actually completed a draft of a novel! Yep, All’s Fair (AFiLaW) is the first one. While I’ve spent a lot of time working on Ravens and Roses and have called each stage its own “Draft,” that story is still missing pieces of it and therefore should probably not be titled as such. But that’s just splitting semantic hairs, so moving on!
I hammered out the plot and characters for All’s Fair in October 2015 and started writing on November 1, 2015. As of January 31, 2016, I have a complete story ready for beta reading. Wow. That’s 170 pages written in 92 days. There aren’t any gaping holes that need to be filled in or scenes that haven’t been written. Obviously things may be adjusted, dropped, or added during the editing process, but you can actually read it from beginning to end. I’m still a little stunned at this; the only other complete novel-length stories that I have finished are fan fiction. (Yes, I know, I need to get back to “Nakishojo.”) And those took me years to complete! The fastest I’ve ever written was for the Dark Crystal Author Quest back in 2013, which took three months, but was still not really complete. Not like All’s Fair.
To put it quite bluntly, they don’t seem to exist.
Very little fantasy or even science fiction seems to address or even acknowledge the idea of gender-neutral pronouns or terms of address. I have seen a few instances in stories that present angels as masculine, feminine, or neuter, using “he” “she” or “se” (pronounced “SEH”). However, in most speculative fiction, the gender binary of male/female or masculine/feminine predominates. I understand why; English just doesn’t have a good system for addressing neutral genders. The only thing we have is “it” which is dehumanizing when applied in a social context. People I know who identify as gender neutral refer to themselves as “they” (which is a little awkward and confusing to me) or they use masculine pronouns because in English, when a gender is unknown, the masculine tends to be the default. I love Japanese honorifics because they can convey titles and respect without being tied to gender most of the time. I can also understand why a lot of older fantasy doesn’t go beyond two genders because authors and audiences either didn’t know about it or didn’t accept it; anything outside heterosexual relationships or traditional gender roles wasn’t readily acknowledged. (The first time I saw a homosexual character featured in print was in 2005 when I read the short story “Lord John and the Succubus” by Diana Gabaldon. I have yet to read a story featuring a gender neutral, asexual, or trans character,)
Luckily, we’re growing up a bit as a society and it would be nice to see the spectrum of gender and sexual identity recognized in fiction.