The past few weeks have been crazy, guys. I managed to get a hideous fever-and-wet-hacking-cough illness the same week I had to host Thanksgiving dinner and teach/manage an intensive week-long test-prep course for international boarding students. On Monday-- the first day the course was over-- I slept for 16 hours.
While I'm still not 100%, I am feeling much better, and excited about the new month, the Christmas season, and getting back to writing. I'm going to go for 60 hours again this month. And what will I be doing with those hours? Some combo of the following:
1) Tension-building exercise for Mender. This one comes from Donald Maass-- I think he pushes it in all three books. The exercise is simple: flip to a random page in your MS, let your finger drop down onto the page, and increase the tension in the sentence you picked. If that sentence is already bursting with tension, do the next one. Rinse and Repeat 350 times. Literally. That's what the directions say. I've printed out the latest version of the MS and put it in a 3-ring binder, and I'm going to try to do 10 of these a day for the month of December.
2) Submit TOB to 20 more agents. I was feeling very discouraged about my 30ish rejections, and then got a "Girl, that's nothin'!" pep talk from one of my beta readers (she got something like 80 rejections before finding her agent). I've been meaning to do this for months but am also dreading it. I'm making it a firm goal for December, and also counting the hours it will take toward my hours writing this month.
3) Process beta feedback as it comes in. For each set of feedback I need to read it, absorb it for a few days, make notes about it, make any easy changes to the printout of the MS, and start formulating a plan for addressing trickier issues. I'm assuming my betas will probably get back to me some time this month, so my plan is to do the third draft of Mender in January.
4) Start story building work on the next book. I won't write book two of The Sacred Talents unless I sell Mender, so for now I'm going to start something totally new. I've been pondering what to work on, and I think I've settled on book 1 of YA Sci-Fi series. Series name is Terra Astra so far, and the heart of the story is a character I've been thinking about for a long time. I feel like I finally understand what his story is supposed to be-- he belongs in an ensemble piece. I've changed his name because this is YA Sci-Fi and I think Ezra is now too strongly associated with The Illuminae Files. So (for now) he is Jay, and he has a cohort of other teen characters named Emmy, Liev, Koa, and Isabeau. I still don't know what the Big Thing of the plot is, but that's fine-- I never do until fairly deep into the story building process. I also don't know how many books this will be or what the structure is, and that's a bigger deal to me. Right now I'm thinking trilogy, but for me there has to be a reason WHY it's three books and not two or four.
So that's the state of the writing as we enter this last month of 2016. I'll do a one-third check-in if I don't have anything to say before that!