Rain has returned to Portland. The weather is turning cooler. I’ve taken out my favorite boots, which I’ll don nearly every day until next May, and my red rain jacket, which I’ll wear until the middle of July.

So? What’s with Untitled Companion? The word from Acquisitions at Ooligan Press is hopeful. However, as the sign says on the store that will occupy the first floor of the Janey II, I’ll have to wait a bit longer. The final decision should be made in about another month. That gives the acquisitions folks time to give the manuscript a thorough read and prepare a report to pitch to the rest of Ooligan Press. There will be edits in my future, I am sure. There will also be a title for Untitled Companion, a title that everyone (or at least the press and I) will like.

Decision coming late 2015. I am ready! […]

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Back in January of 2014, I started a race with the construction crew that was building the Janey II, an apartment complex about a block from my place. A sign that eventually went up on the site noted that the building would be ready in Spring 2015. Spring turned into summer, and now it’s fall. The building looks to be nearly finished on the outside, except for work on the eco-roof. Still, I don’t think the building is yet ready for its first tenants.

And Book Three? Well, first off, the title of Book Three has morphed into Untitled Companion to Blue Thread and The Ninth Day. I guess that means I’m not quite done either. The manuscript has been written and revised and revised and rewritten. About the only bits of material that haven’t changed since the winter of 2014 are the names of the three chickens: Yetta, Tillie, and Louise. […]

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The sign on the crane across the street reads: LINK-BELT. The construction crew is probably focusing on what the crane is hauling up to the roof. As for me, the Book Three writing crew of one, I am focused on the words.

Link. Belt. Link. Belt. That’s exactly the stage that Book Three is in right now. Having finished a first draft, and a second draft, and several partial revisions, I am now ready to put these 70,000 or so words to the Link-Belt test.

Link. Does every scene flow naturally into the next scene? Does every paragraph in the scene flow naturally into the next paragraph? Does every sentence in the paragraph flow naturally into the next sentence? Does every word in the sentence flow naturally into the next word? I leave the letters in every word to Spell Check and the dictionary.

Belt. Even if all the individual links work, what about the story as a whole? […]

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It’s already June (how did that happen?). The construction crew is finishing up their work on the Janey II, which is supposed to have an official opening in “Spring 2015.” They are not going to meet their deadline.

Neither am I.

I am proud to say that I did put together a complete first draft in time for students at Portland State University to review a few months back. As I worked through those excellent comments (thanks, guys), I gave the draft to Viva Scriva to do their critique group thing. More comments. More ideas. That’s when I realized I wanted to add one particular scene, just a few hundred words, really. I followed the writer’s maxim that when things look easy for the protagonist, make them harder. Raise the stakes. Quicken the pace.

In other words, mess up the whole second half of Book Three.

Which is what I am doing now. […]

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Cinco de Mayo. The fifth of May. The historian in me notes that the holiday commemorates the victory of Mexican troops over French invading forces in the 1862 battle of Puebla. The Mexican victory was short-lived, and it would be years before the governance of Mexico was back in the hands of Mexicans. With the French engaged against the Mexicans, however, France was unable to give strategic support to the Confederacy during the Civil War in the United States. Had the French done so, who knows what might have happened.

The leader of the Mexican forces at the battle of Puebla was Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin, but the writer in me is thinking about Ignatius Rivera. While the construction workers are busy finishing up the Janey II, I’m working with Ignatius on Book Three. Who is this guy? Here are the basics.

On this Cinco de Mayo, Ignatius is a 23-year-old U.S. […]

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Brick by brick, etc., etc. Does anyone out there remember the old expression, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? Here’s an aside for the curious: According to the Web, the expression is a translation of a 12th century remark (in Medieval French) by a cleric in the court of Phillippe of Alsace, Rome ne s’est pas faite en un jour.

So, Rome took a long time. The Janey II is still getting built likely years after an architect first conceived of its existence, and Book Three is…chugging along. We’re not stagnating here, folks, although sometimes the process seems way too slow. I have the luxury of not being bound to deadlines (unlike some in my Viva Scriva coven). This means I can take my time trying to polish every chapter and every scene.

I’m in the feedback stage on Book Three. The Book Editing class at PSU has reviewed the first draft. […]

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I wonder what’s going on beneath those huge tarps on the Janey II. Surely they are not there just to keep the construction dry. What else is happening?

As you know from the last post, I’ve wrapped up the first rough draft of Book Three, and given all 69,000 words to a book editing class at Portland State University.  Meanwhile, I’m doing four writerly projects:

critiquing submissions from the other Viva Scrivas; honing my revising skills by reading Elizabeth George’s Write Away; rereading my own draft of Book Three (yikes!); and hosting a stop on the Sydney Taylor Book Awards blog tour which  is Feb. 8 – 13.

My blog  tour stop is February 10, when I’ll post an interview with the three young French guys whose children’s book took top honors in the older (child) readers category. Cyber-corresponding with three young French guys? What could be bad? See you on the 10th! […]

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Here we are in 2015. The sign for the Janey II apartments still boasts the official opening in Spring. Look at all the windows they’ve put in! The place is really shaping up, at least on the outside.

So, what’s happening with Book Three? A lot. I wrote like crazy in December, which is why this blog has been comatose for weeks and weeks. The first very rough draft is done. DONE! Now I rest my Book Three brain and get some distance from the manuscript, all the better to revise it later.

The best news is that while I’m taking a vacation from Book Three a bevy of bright and creative graduate students at Portland State University is not. Per Henningsgaard, the Director of Ooligan Press, will be using Book Three as the literary guinea pig for his class aptly titled Book Editing.

What a delight! Let’s do the math. […]

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In case I haven’t mentioned it before, the Janey II building is under construction right next door to the original Janey apartment building. As you can see from this picture, there’s all-done Janey on one side and work-in-progress Janey on the other. Will they be identical? Probably not. I figure the blueprints are very similar, but the builders learned a bunch from constructing the first apartment building, and they’ll use that knowledge in building the second.

That’s how I feel about my companion novels. Book Two aka The Ninth Day is similar to Book One aka Blue Thread. Both have similar blueprints. Time-traveling Serakh appears and intertwines two teenage girls living centuries apart. Book Three aka Book Three shares in that blueprint, although one time period is in the past and the other is yet to be. What I learned in writing Book One went into writing Book Two. What I learned from them both is going into Book Three. […]

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Seeing as it’s the end of October in Portland, the rain is back. Nothing new there. But what is new on my street is this wooden canopy over the sidewalk, a neat way to stay dry thanks to the construction crew of the Janey II. There’s a lot of building activity on the upper floors of these apartments-to-be, and I expect the wooden canopy has nothing to do with precipitation and everything to do with protecting pedestrians from objects raining down from above.

Book Three has no such canopy. I sometimes wish it did. I sometimes wish that the scenes I write in later chapters wouldn’t drop inconsistencies and other pesky problems on earlier parts of the narrative. I sometimes wish that all aspects of every character and plot would stay just as I originally conceived of them months ago. How much easier writing Book Three would be!

And how boring. […]

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