Summer Wrap Up and Beta Gratitude
Since summer appears to have flown in the blink of an eye, I figured I’d wrap up the past few months with a more general blog post. Life has been more than a little busy, which is wild since we’re not fully out of pandemic yet. As a result, my mental health has taken a bit of a turn. On the bright side, this isn’t my first rodeo and I’m turning to the tools that will get me through it: therapy, journaling, and long conversations with friends. And even though I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself lately, I’m pretty proud of where I am with writing at the moment.
Querying the witch novel (currently titled Witch on Fire) is one hell of a rollercoaster ride. I had one full request for the manuscript a couple months ago and nothing but form rejections since. I’ve since done heavy revisions on the first three chapters and I’m much happier with the manuscript as a whole. I haven’t heard from the latest batch of queries, but I’m hopeful it’s just because folks are on vacation right now. I have so much love for this novel. I’m not ready to give up on it yet!
The warrior novel (currently titled Daughter of Steel) has now been revised twice and is currently in the hands of one of my Beta readers. The feel of this novel is completely different from Witch on Fire and it was definitely an adjustment to get the voice right. The feedback I got from my first beta was incredibly helpful and I’m curious about what this next beta will think and if the changes I made land right. My MC, Naoni has a lot of me in her, so even thought Witch on Fire will always be my beloved first child, I care for this book so much. While I have two more books planned out for the trilogy, I am waiting to write those until I start querying. Even if it doesn’t get picked up, I’d like to write the next two, but for now I want to focus on other stories. And speaking of…
I’ve moved through two new WIPs and the one I’m focused on now is sticking. I made it about 17,000 words into a fantasy heist, but lost a lot of steam. I just can’t figure out the plot! It doesn’t mean I’ll abandon it forever, but it’s in time out at the moment. And while I was struggling to make it through that novel, my mind kept returning to oceans and pirates and curses.
A few years ago, I started writing a story about an ocean spirit who is turned mortal. I loved this story, but I had written this before Witch on Fire. Before I had proof that, yes, I can finish writing a novel. So I dug through my old drafts, dredged up a document titled “Ocean Song”, and now we’re on a roll. I’ve made a lot of changes to the initial draft (now there’s a dual POV and queer MC’s and I’ve added a lot of Jewish themes), but the concept was right there waiting for me. At the moment I’m ~24,000 words into it and still going strong. I love the voice in this one and I’m currently longing for oceans and sea serpents and old, wooden ships.
Given that I’ve read 12 books since April, I figured I would keep this brief, but go into more depth about one that I am rereading at the moment (my second read this year). The total list includes:
The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier
Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
The Vine Witch by Luanne Smith
We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
A Universe of Wishes (A short story collection published by We Need Diverse Books)
Austenland by Shannon Hale
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He
The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
I read House in the Cerulean Sea for the first time in May and I am already rereading it. I loved it so much the first time that during my latest bought of insomnia, I decided to pick it up again. And wow. This book! It pulls you into this immersive world and wraps you up in a big giant hug. I think V.E. Schwab said it best when she described this book as “It is like being wrapped up in a big gay blanket. Simply perfect.”
The prose in this book is delightful from cover to cover and it has me laughing out loud one minute and clutching my heart the next. With where I’m at mentally at the moment, I simply want to live in this book. The main character, Linus Baker, has so much heart and is full of surprises as we follow him on his journey to an island with magical children. And every main character we meet hops right off the pages and into your heart. If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor an pick it up!
Finally, I wanted to talk about the revision process. Daughter of Steel is still relatively early in the revision process, but Witch on Fire has been through enough revisions that I’ve lost count. And it’s only because of beta readers that I have been able to improve this novel each and every time. I have two beta regular beta readers that have been with me since almost the beginning and I’ve been lucky enough to acquire a couple more in recent months. I also have a critique partner who is a pro with editing prose and she is kind enough to give me feedback on smaller pieces of my writing. Sometimes the feedback has me saying “Oh yeah! You’re totally right!” Sometimes I disagree with a comment, only to come back to it later and see the merit in it. But in every case, I have been fortunate to receive feedback that has made my writing stronger. Sometimes the feedback is hard to hear, but my beta readers have always been incredibly constructive, telling me what works well and what needs tweaking. All this is to say, I am so grateful for the beta readers I have been working with since I wrote “the end” in my Witch on Fire draft. I look forward to many more revisions to come!
Thanks for reading! See you next time!