Tag Archives: The Tethered Mage

So Many Drafts

Hey there, writers in the trenches! Let’s have a little talk about tweedle beetles drafts. Specifically, numbers of drafts.

I know that when I started out writing novels, I had no idea how many drafts a book went through before it got published. Thinking back on it now, I get all Ming the Merciless and want to tell my past self, “Pathetic writer. Hurling your manuscript out into the void, without the slightest inkling of what is out there. If you had known anything about the true nature of publishing, anything at all, you would’ve hidden from it in terror.”

Uh, no, really, actually, it’s totally great and awesome. BUT! I sure as hell needed to revise more.

So, in case any of you are despairing about how many times you’ve overhauled your book, here is a bit of data for you on my debut novel:

THE TETHERED MAGE went through around 6-7 drafts before it was ready to go on sub to publishers. Once Orbit accepted it for publication, it went through several official rounds with my editor—a major structural edit, minor structural edits, little fine-tuning kind of edits, copyedits, etc. But I did a couple rounds for each of the structural passes before my editor saw them. So it came out in the end to around 13 drafts.

Now, some of those drafts were me getting 20K words in and then going “Ugh! Start over!” Other drafts were just polish passes, where I was buffing up the language to a high shine and not making any major changes. But one of them was me revising from YA to adult, historical fantasy to epic fantasy, AND adding 50K+ words (almost doubling the length of the book from first completed draft to final draft), so I feel like it all evens out.

I created the doc for the very first draft of THE TETHERED MAGE in early 2014. I took some time off from it in there to work on revising an earlier book, but finished the draft that went on sub to publishers around the beginning of 2016. It sold in June of 2016 (BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER), and I continued to revise it for several months; it finally comes out next month (WHEEEE!).

Mind you, that wasn’t the first book I wrote. The book that got me my agent went through about 10 drafts before it did (I started querying it way too soon, though, on like draft 5). And I wrote other books before that.

Every single page I wrote, every revision pass, made me a better writer. The me of 2 books ago couldn’t have written THE TETHERED MAGE. Heck, the me of draft one of THE TETHERED MAGE couldn’t have written draft 13. Revision is where I learned the most, and still where I do my best work.

I’m working on revisions for THE DEFIANT HEIR now (the sequel to THE TETHERED MAGE). I’m really excited about them! I feel like this draft is going to be a big step up from the last one, and it feels so good to see the shape pulling true, and the pieces falling into place. I used to hate revision, but now that practice has given me a better understanding of how to spot areas for improvement and fix them, it feels awesome to make my book sharper and shinier with every draft.

Writing on a deadline, with an editor, is very different than writing on my own, and I don’t have the luxury to allow myself draft after draft. But I’m nonetheless already on draft 5 by my own count (my editor saw draft 4 as my “first draft”), and the version I’m giving her next month will probably be draft 6.

So, my as-yet-unpublished writer friends, if you haven’t already done so, I urge you to embrace revision! The difference between my first drafts and my final drafts looks a lot like the difference between my writing 5 years ago and my writing now, and that’s not a coincidence. You never know how many times you’ll have to tear down and rebuild before you get it just right, but it’s well worth the effort. Every draft teaches you something, and takes you one step closer to the end of the publishing rainbow…

…Even if it’s NOT ACTUALLY A RAINBOW IT’S A WEIRD RAINBOW-COLORED NEBULA THING WITH AN OMINOUS FLOATING CITY IN IT AND YOUR ADVENTURES ARE ONLY BEGINNING.


In Which I Squee About My Cover

Have you seen the beautiful cover for THE TETHERED MAGE?!

Caruso_Tethered-Mage_HC

(Design: Lisa Marie Pompilio; Art: Crystal Ben & Arcangel)

I love this cover so, so much, guys. One of the many reasons I was super excited when Orbit offered to publish my book is that their covers are FREAKING AMAZING. And wow, they did not disappoint all the little writer dreams of awesome book covers I’ve been having since I was a tiny little girl.

I love the colors. I love the way the bird silhouette grabs your attention right away, but you can keep seeing more details as you look closer (the city in the wings!). I love the swoopy line thing on the M. (See that technical term I used there?)

I look at this cover anytime I start losing steam as I work on Book 2, and then I’m like HELL YEAH! and rev up my writing pace again.

Anyone who knows me well will also not be surprised to hear how ridiculously happy I am to have a raptor on the cover of my book. Let’s just say it’s no accident I called my magical military unit the Falcons… I’ve been a bit of a bird geek since I was in third grade. (I’m a really low level bird geek, though… That particular XP tree goes up REALLY HIGH. I only have my skill bought up to, like, the point where I’m the person my friends ask what the cool bird they saw was. And then I nod sagely and say “Probably a red-tailed hawk,” which is an accurate statement for, like, I don’t know, 80% of the raptors you see over highways in Massachusetts—bear in mind I just MADE THAT NUMBER UP AND IT’S NOT REAL. Not to indulge in a huge parenthetical digression about birds when I’m supposed to be talking about my cover or anything, but suffice to say I THINK I JUST MADE MY POINT about how I like birds.)

Also, I was really amused to realize my cover reveal came on the Ides of March. As I said on Twitter, it’s kinda appropriate… Let’s just say there maaaayyyyy be a certain amount of political intrigue, betrayal, and murder in this book. (That’s really not a spoiler. Like, if you look at the nutrition label for this book, it says “CONTAINS INTRIGUE, BETRAYAL, AND MURDER,” right there.)

I can’t wait to see this cover ON MY BOOK! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


My 2016 Writing Life In Review, One Email Quote at a Time

2016 may have sucked for humanity, but it was pretty awesome for my writing career. As the year draws to a close, just for fun, here’s a look back on my 2016 writing life through email quotes!

I always am fascinated at anything writers, editors, or agents post about submission and publishing timeline stuff, because the timing in publishing always seems so shrouded in mystery. So for your entertainment, here’s one actual quote per month from a writing/publishing-related email I sent in 2016, tracking the evolution of THE TETHERED MAGE in its journey toward publication.

Actual email quotes are in blue, commentary in black. Enjoy!

January:

OK, here it is with the changes! I took all your advice. 🙂 All changes accepted, all comments deleted, ready to go.

EEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!

In January, I put the then-final touches on what was at the time a YA historical fantasy called A FALCONER OF VENICE and sent it off to my awesome agent, Naomi Davis. Uh, a lot has changed since then. Though Naomi is still awesome. (And still my agent.)

February:

Now I gotta get back to working on this WIP, but it’s hard to type with so many fingers crossed… 😉

In February, the book then known as FALCONER went out on sub to a small, select handful of editors. (Repeat after me, kids going on sub: “And now, we wait.”)

March:

It’s good to have news, even bad news—silence is unnerving! Thanks for sending along the feedback, too. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the remaining fulls & pitches.

In March, I got my first rejection for FALCONER. See, it really does happen to everyone!

April:

You know what’s really awesome when you’re a writer waiting for an email? Dozens of notification emails about someone updating a work thing.

This one is actually a tweet, because in April, I got no news of any kind on FALCONER and pretty much just sat there gnawing my fingernails and freaking out. And also working on my new WIP, which is a thing you should always do when on sub.

May:

Everyone I know seems to be in the same boat of publishing being just plain slow these days, so I’m not freaking out (honest), but I’ve basically managed to get myself superstitious that if I send you an email something will magically happen, so, uh, here’s the email. (Hangs head in embarrassment)

In May, as you can see, the waiting of being on sub got to me, and I snapped and sent my (wonderfully communicative, to be clear) agent an OH GOD I KNOW THERE’S STILL NO NEWS BUT THE SILENCE IS KILLING ME PLEASE SAY SOMETHING ANYTHING JUST SO I KNOW I’M NOT ALONE HERE IN THE DARK email, as you can see. I, uh, don’t necessarily recommend doing this. And she was being great about keeping me updated and everything. I just snapped. She was very nice about it.

Also, I lied. I was totally freaking out.

June:

(June was the month I got my book deal, so I give you several different email excerpts, because I can’t pick just one!)

I am certainly around this evening! And totally can make it until then without dying of suspense. 😉

This was about setting up a call with my agent when I knew she’d been talking to an editor who had my book.

I was lying. I actually died. But then I got The Call and it brought me back to life.

I’m still bouncing off the walls! My daughters think it’s hilarious. They have also reminded me that years ago I promised them if I ever got a book contract we’d go out for fondue, so that is definitely happening very soon. 🙂

We did. It was delicious.

Woo hoo!!!!! Still waiting to wake up from this amazing dream… 🙂 🙂 🙂

Six months later, STILL waiting. This is a hell of a long dream.

July:

“THEY’D BETTER USE THE OXFORD COMMA!”

In July, I signed my contract. This quote was my gut reaction to the section in my contract about following the house style guide. (Not sent to my editor, of course! Just joking with my agent. Well, mostly joking. I have strong feelings about the Oxford comma.)

August:

In other news, the revision is coming along great! I’ve got some good momentum going and am trucking along.

In August, I was busting my butt adding 50K words to my book and making it adult rather than YA, and original universe rather than alt history, among other structural revisions. “Trucking along” is want-to-seem-professional-ese for “OH GOD I’M WORKING SO HARD MY SOUL IS BLEEDING.”

September:

SO DELIRIOUSLY HAPPY to finally be able to tell everyone about this!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!

In September, my book got its final title, THE TETHERED MAGE, and we announced it publicly. Oh, and I turned in that first huge round of revisions.

October:

Thank you so much for all the fantastic feedback! This is all incredibly useful. I’m excited to get going on the edits!

In October, my awesome editor, Lindsey Hall, got back to me alarmingly quickly with feedback on said enormous and soul-breaking round of edits, and I plunged straight into Round Two. NO REST FOR THE WRITER.

November:

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In November, they sent me an early look at a cover concept. The quote above is my reaction! I loved it and I still love it and it made everything seem like maybe it was all real. I also turned in my second round of edits.

December:

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s incredibly exciting! WOW!!!

In December, I learned that Orbit would publish my book in the UK as well as the US. I also got feedback on that second round of edits and am now working away on the third, which is nice and small and manageable, comparatively speaking.

You will notice a trend toward more and more exclamation points and capital letters as the year wears on. Clearly, by release day, I will be reduced to nothing but exclamation points, and all my emails and tweets will just be “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Gotta say, I look forward to it.


Big Announcement!

Sooooooo… I have some news.

I have AWESOME news.

I have the VERY BEST NEWS IN THE WORLD!!!!!!!!!

I am giddy with delight to announce (and I cannot believe I’m saying this and it’s true and this is really happening) that Orbit has acquired my fantasy novel, THE TETHERED MAGE, for publication in Fall 2017!

NO SERIOUSLY THIS IS A REAL THING THAT IS HAPPENING! HOLY CRAP!!!!!!!!

(I am being totally professional about this, as you can see.)

And you know what else? You know what? IT’S GOING TO BE A TRILOGY! So I really hope you like my book, because there’s going to be THREE OF IT! WHEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

LOOK! Here’s proof I’m not dreaming:

deal-announcement-tethered-mage

You guys, I can’t even tell you how happy I am. This has been my dream since I was literally five years old. And Orbit is an amazing publisher, and my editor (Lindsey Hall) is amazing, and my agent (the incredible Naomi Davis) is a goddess.

I am so far over the moon I can’t even SEE the moon from here. I’m past the Oort cloud in deep space. It’s crazy. I probably need some oxygen and I might die. OF JOY.

YAAAAYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!