Out With the Fantasy–In With the Mystery

2010, Lakeview Drive-in, Lake Chelan

I’ve warned y’all that for me, 2012 is largely going to be the year of the novel edits. I figure it’s about time to give the curious a bit of an update on that process. Does this mean I’ve hit a milestone?

You’re goddamned right.

A little over a year ago, I put the finishing touches on the first draft of Ink Calls to Ink. To say that I love this book would not be an understatement. I don’t even think it’s a stretch to say that it’s the best, and most accessible, novel that I’ve ever written. So when the year of the novel edits got underway, it was hands-down my highest priority.

I finished my last pass of edits and rewrites on Saturday.

There were certain scenes that I remembered hitting me hard when I wrote them. Coming across them as a reader/editor devastated me all over again. It was so difficult saying good-bye to these characters. While their story is done as of this novel, I’ve been inspired with the idea for a sequel set in the same world. There will be a few minor characters flowing between the books, but the protagonists/antagonists will brand new. I don’t want to give too much away about the book, save that I look forward to outlining it sometime later this year.

So with Ink Calls to Ink behind me (in the actively working on sense–the marketing/shopping process is ongoing), it’s time to undertake the next project.

That next project is the first of a mystery series set in Tuscon. Featuring a retired grunge rocker and his two Boston Terriers, Friday and Bosco, it pokes around the seedy juncture where music and drug trafficking meet. When the son of his friend and neighbor is killed in a seemingly random act of violence, Harlan promises to look into it and make sure the death is being investigated. He quickly realizes that if he wants justice for the young victim, he’ll have to find the killer himself–and try not to get himself killed in the process.

Having grown up in the Southwest, and being a huge fan of the Tuscon music scene, this is somewhat of a dream project for me. The biggest catch, of course, is that I really need to get down to Tuscon to help fill in some of the local color details. I’m going to try and make the trip in June, knowing that it will be godawful hot. I can get a room with a pool and air conditioning and do a week’s worth of edits. But I want to get a good head-start before I do that. So work on the current draft will be starting this week.

As a bonus pro-tip: don’t forget to back up your drafts.

I had a few drafts of this novel laying about on two different computers and a memory stick. I had copies of those as email attachments when I sent it out to beta readers. I thought I was covered. Then Sunday I got to the end of the document–and was stunned to realize it wasn’t the end of the book. Somewhere along the way, I lost two-and-a-half chapters. About 6,000 words all told. By total random chance, I managed to discover them again within an hour. Apparently past-Nathan heard my cry of horror when the chapters went missing as it rippled though space and time. He wisely emailed the finished novel to future-me with the title “Emergency Backup.” Honestly, I don’t remember doing this. It isn’t generally something I do. But man did it save my bacon this time!

Consequently, I’ve since gone through and backed up all important finished drafts, and even a few less-important unfinished ones.

You never can be too safe.

Now, with the confidence of one finished novel in the can and one good working draft, I’m starting the next adventure. With a bit of determination, I should be able to start working on something new by the fall. And I can hardly wait to see what that will be!

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