Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Yup, I'm still at it.

July 2014, I started writing my next romance novel - live with reader feedback (after all, what's the point of telling me you hate something after the book is finished and it's too late for me to do anything about it?) and keeping a log of how it's going. Here are the latest updates:

UPDATE 10/19/15 
So last week I oh so triumphantly announced that I’d finished the first draft of this live written manuscript, and would be starting on the editing today. But then, over the weekend, I thought of an extra scene I needed to make the last ones pay off. So it’s back to the drawing board…

UPDATE 10/30/15 
It took me a long time to learn to like editing. With my first book, “The Fictitious Marquis,” back in the dark ages of 1993, when editorial notes actually came scribbled in the sides of a printed out manuscript’s margins, the first time I got a revision letter, I actually left it on the kitchen counter and tip-toed around it for an entire week before I had the stomach to read it in detail. Revisions? What do you means, revisions? Isn’t the manuscript perfect? Isn’t that why you bought it?

Cut to (I also write for TV) twenty years and over a dozen books later and I’ve worked with editors who had suggestions for nearly every line, and also ones who would give vague feedback like, “This scene doesn’t work. Make it work.”

I haven’t gotten much better at dealing with those sorts of notes, but I have taught myself to enjoy editing my own work. I look at it as sifting through the garbage and finding the decent story that’s buried underneath.

Usually, writers are advised to let their work sit and “air out” for a bit before diving in for a 2nd go. But as you can see by the dates, I started this manuscript over a year ago, writing live so aspiring writers could see what a real 1st draft looks like. I figure, by the time I got to the end, the beginning has aired out enough.

Writers are also advised never to show anything other than their very best work. That ship has obviously sailed.

Now that I’ve demonstrated what a real 1st draft looks like, I’m going to do an equally ill-advised thing and show what happens in a 2nd draft edit.

As a reader, I like a tight manuscript that gets right to the good stuff. No description, minimal introspection, just tell me what happens next! During the course of writing the 1st draft live, I found that plugging a sentence into Twitter and making it fit the 140 character limit is a great way to hunt down excess words and unneeded adjectives. I intend to edit my entire manuscript using that method.

As of today, this document runs 96,566 words. My goal is to get it down to around 80,000 without sacrificing story - well, actually making it better.

UPDATE 11/9/15
During today’s live editing pass, I cleaned up some typos, turned paragraph-long run-on sentences into two or three shorter sentences and, most important, got rid of at least a dozen “he said,” “she swore,” “he insisted,” etc.... Reading it over, I found I didn’t miss them. The dialogue conveyed the emotion (as it should). What do you think? How does it read?

UPDATE 11/30/15
The key to being a professional writer is writing even when you don’t feel like it. I am exhausted from the 4 day break (yes, I clearly don’t know what it means to vacation) and then the work I needed to turn in this morning to make up for the short week. I don’t really feel like writing or editing. But I’m going to do it anyway. (In my experience, afterwards there is no difference between work written with enthusiasm and work that forced to meet a deadline.)

Follow along as I edit live at:

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