Sekrit Projekt R&R, Chapter 24: Finit

113 days after we started writing — and one year and twenty-four days after we said, “hey, what do you think of this idea for a novel we could write together?” — the book is done.

Not 100% finished and ready to go, of course. We’ve both done a lot of revision along the way, but there are still things we need to expand on or add in (D—‘s dog appears out of nowhere halfway through the draft), and there are a lot of brackets marking things we need to name: people, districts of the city, cards in the divinatory pattern deck, etc. But you could read it through from beginning to end and there would be no holes, and I don’t expect there to be any major changes to the shape or feel of the story between now and when it does go out. We’ll be refining what we’re doing, not replacing parts of it with something else entirely.

For now, though, we rest. 113 days — not writing every single day, but more days than not, and averaging 1826 words per day across that span, i.e. more than that much on the days we actually wrote. My normal drafting pace is 1000 a day, so I guess this kind of works out to “normal,” just doubled because it’s two people? Except I don’t think that’s how the math works.

Yeah. ima go fall over now.

Word count: 206,347
Authorial sadism: When you pride yourself on your skill as a player, it hurts to realize you’ve been played.
Authorial amusement: It’s a bit like Volkswagon preferring to confess to fraud than be thought incompetent.
BLR quotient: When the blood is over with, rhetoric is there with a mop.

Sekrit Projekt R&R, Chapter 23

We budgeted two days to write the penultimate, climactic chapter.

We did it in one.

Word count: ~199,000
Authorial sadism: Turning V— into a chew toy.
Authorial amusement: Turning V— into a housemaid. Also, making people step repeatedly on the magical third rail.
BLR quotient: So very much blood. But if it weren’t for love, this all would have gone down in flames.

“The Faces of Halloweentown”

Back in 2013 I wrote a small treat for the Yuletide fanfic exchange called “The Faces of Halloweentown,”, about the nature of the place Jack Skellington rules in The Nightmare Before Christmas. That movie always hovers on a knife-edge for me — do I want to watch it around Christmas? Or around Halloween? The story I wrote falls firmly on the latter side of that question, so I thought I might link to it now, in celebration of the season.

Sekrit Projekt R&R, Chapter 22


One down, two to go.

Which is to say: after making our absurd plan to finish the book even more fasterer than we had originally planned (I say “originally” — that was, like, the third or fourth plan after the original original plan), we successfully finished Chapter 22. In which there is more humor than I had necessarily expected for the chapter in which the characters realize just how screwed they are, before they’re in a position to actually fix it. But we had one character high as a kite and getting distracted from telling people what they need to know, and Alyc continues to be good at thinking up vile language for a twelve-year-old to use, and man, you wouldn’t like T— when she’s angry and armed with a knitting needle.

Sunday and Monday, we write the climax. Before then, we need to patch two small holes earlier in the narrative — one a scene that needs to be rewritten to match the later story; the other a small interaction that’s getting added to an existing scene — because Alyc and I share the tic of needing to feel like there aren’t any holes in the draft before we write the end.

And tomorrow we get to take off and play a fun tabletop game, because oy vey do our brains need a break.

But it’s close.

So close.

Word count: ~192,000
Authorial sadism: M— has always been a terrible person, but one of the scenes here is where all masks and gloves come off and you see just how deep that goes.
Authorial amusement: Seriously, O— is the worst. minion. ever.
BLR quotient: Blood’s on top, but really, at this point in the story, the three are all pulling in harness together.

Sekrit Projekt R&R, Chapter 21

I put my cursor into the window to start typing this post, and my mental jukebox cued up “The Final Countdown.”

. . . which is pretty apt. We have three chapters left, but it doesn’t feel like it, because the avalanche has begun. Shit Went Down in this chapter, and while we have one more to go before the big confrontation, that’s all basically the overture, rather than something separate from the throwdown.

We had a nice, sensible plan for how we were going to approach that. Chapter 21 this week; Chapter 22 next week; Chapter 23 over the weekend (when neither of us have anything else scheduled and could give it two days of our unbroken attention); Ch 24 denouement the week after that, finishing up by the 26th. But, well, you’re getting this post on a Wednesday, because we finished Chapter 21 on Tuesday. And while we have something scheduled for this Saturday, Alyc declared that they could take a day off work. Like, say, Monday.

New plan, much less sensible. Chapter 21 and 22 this week; Chapter 23 Sunday-Monday; denouement next week. Done by the 19th.

We have no sense of self-preservation.

And neither do our characters, because they’re charging headfirst into danger. Allons-y!

Word count: ~182,000
Authorial sadism: Cities are easy to save. Broken hearts? Much harder to deal with. (Also, and much less seriously, making a Big Scary Character sit through a chiding, knowing that the random dude rowing the boat is listening to the whole thing.)
Authorial amusement: G— doing his not-so-subtle best to bail out of a Very Awkward Conversation. (Also, making the Big Scary Character sit through the aforementioned chiding.)
BLR quotient: It’s more or less blood from here on out.

Doppelganger reborn!

cover art for THE DOPPELGANGER OMNIBUSLadies and gentlemen, the Doppelganger series is back!

I mean, it technically never went anywhere. But in the decade-plus since it was published, it was getting harder and harder to find the books, and so for the last year or so my agent and I have been working on getting the rights reverted to me. Once that happened, we turned around and produced some shiny! new! ebooks! Not only of Warrior and Witch, but also the prequel novella Dancing the Warrior, and then for those who prefer to get the whole thing in one fell swoop, there’s an omnibus edition that contains all three titles.

(Note that I did these through my agency, so if you’re used to picking up my ebooks through Book View Cafe, they are not on sale there. You can, however, get them from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, iTunes, and Kobo, as well as Indigo in Canada and Amazon in the UK.)

Sekrit Projekt R&R, Chapter 20

I have to admit, the strain is starting to set in. Not badly so; I’ve written books where I felt completely burned out at one or more points along the way, and I’m not that tired yet. But Alyc and I have written 174K in fifteen weeks — more than 11K per week. Closer to 12. Even for shared work, that’s a lot, and especially so when it’s sustained for such a long period of time.

Especially since I’ve been editing as I go. I’ve done this in the past with other novels — usually when I have a deadline breathing down my neck and need to make sure I’ve got a workable draft very soon after I have a draft at all — and even though revision doesn’t take it out of me the same way drafting does, I think the lack of downtime from thinking about the story starts to get to me. Writing a novel is an endurance sport to begin with, and writing + revising is even more so.

Mind you, I have only myself to blame. No egging on was required to make me sign up for the escalations of “why do only 5K a week when we could do a whole chapter?” and “why do only one chapter when we could do two?” And I don’t actually have to be revising as we go. I’m doing it because I’m so excited about this book that I’m impatient to see it out in the world, and since I can’t do anything to make the submissions process go faster, the only way I can hurry it along is to get the draft ready as soon as possible. All wounds here are self-inflicted. 😛

Fortunately, the end really is in sight. We’ve got four chapters left, but as of this post going live, we’ve already started on 21. We’ll finish that this week, give ourselves a short break, and then it’s a pretty straight run through to the finish line. We may collapse on the other side in a pile of exhaustion, but we’ll have set ourselves a new record in the process!

Word count: ~174,000
Authorial sadism: Putting G— in a conflicted position all chapter long, then making him dig his heart out and present it for someone else’s inspection before they’ll listen to him.
Authorial amusement: “Aren’t you afraid of drowning?” “Only in the metaphorical sense.”
BLR quotient: When blood and rhetoric have a baby, we call that a riot.

The threshold is somewhere behind us

There is no redeeming the Republican Party.

Hasn’t been for a while, I suspect, but I don’t know when they passed the point of no return, and at this stage I don’t care. They have no respect for the rule of law. They have no respect for ethics. They have no respect for the safety or well-being of anyone who isn’t white, straight, able-bodied, male, and evangelical Christian.

They have no respect for anything but power.

And they are gutting this country. Hollowing it out so they can eat the entrails of our democracy and grow fat upon them. This isn’t hyperbole; this is for anyone with eyes to see.

In a few weeks we go to the polls. I don’t want to look back five, ten, two years from now and realize we’ve passed the point of no return as a country — so get out there and vote. Don’t fucking tell me “my vote doesn’t matter” or “the two parties are just the same” or any other excuse for not voting. If you have the right — if the Republicans haven’t found some way yet to strip that from you — then use it. Vote. Vote for the elections at the top of the ballot and the elections at the middle of the ballot and the elections at the bottom of the ballot, and all the measures and local bits, too.

And do not vote for a SINGLE FUCKING PERSON with an R after their name.

Even if they don’t seem so bad. Even if they’re just a local official. Even if, even if, even if. At this point, the letter R after a politician’s name is — and no, I am not exaggerating here — the equivalent of a swastika. It is a declaration of allegiance to the party of bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia, plutocracy, and naked selfishness. They don’t get to say “no, no, I’m not for those things; I’m a different kind of Republican.” They chose to join hands with the bigots, and guess what: that makes them a bigot, too. Because they’re saying “I’m willing to accept all that shit in order to get what I want.” The spiraling horror that is our nation’s government right now is aided and abetted and made possible by just that kind of crony and bootlicker at every level beneath it.

Burn them out. Purify this atrocity with fire and water and your vote. Do it while you still can — because the thing that terrifies me most about Kavanaugh isn’t Roe v. Wade; it’s the way we cannot trust the Supreme Court to uphold any fairness in our elections going forward. Our only option at this point is to armor ourselves so thoroughly in democracy that the result doesn’t go near the Supreme Court.

Do it now, before your vote really doesn’t matter.