I spent an intensive month editing A Lonely Magic. It was grueling. Lots of rewrites, many chapters completely rewritten. I finally sent it off to the editor two weeks ago, which means it’s time to get back to writing. But my head is still in ALM and my list of edit changes for my next round gets longer and longer. I know that I’m going to learn a lot from having a line edit (or at least I hope I am) but I wish I had another month to spend on it before sending it to the editor. If it was being copy-edited, I’d be even more annoyed at myself, because there are entire chunks of text that might get changed, maybe even a couple of big chapter revisions. I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t want to turn into one of those authors who spends forever trying to make a book perfect. It’s just a fun little fantasy, not some literary masterwork.

I got one strongly negative beta read back. It’s the first time that’s happened to me. I want to say that most of my beta readers have been a lot more professional. I guess I can say that, it being my blog and all. But I was so unimpressed by the comments. Not that they were negative but that they were, well, I’m searching for a word that means not well-read, without being quite as pejorative as all the ones that come to mind.

Examples: She thought the use of attractive people who were older than they looked was too much like Twilight. Um, yes, or any story about elves ever, because that’s who they’re supposed to be based on. Please. Lord of the Rings, maybe. (Not that anything happens that is in any way similar to LotR, but the Sia Mara are meant to have that graceful, ageless quality.) She also thought a scene at the end was too much like Star Wars, because of a piece of technology. Right, or you know, all of Star Trek or The Matrix or Quantum Leap or… you get the idea. She thought the names were too complicated, picking one out as the “last straw”–it was a generic Spanish name. I did my best to respond with appropriate polite thanks for her time and efforts, but she’s a lesson in picking beta readers more carefully. But I’ve got lots of other sensible and smart suggestions from my other beta readers and I’m really looking forward to diving back in and implementing them. Not until I get it back from the editor, though. June 1.

I gave a presentation at a library on Saturday on using criteria-based content analysis to choose the right kind of details for your writing. I think I need to find a writer’s conference to present at so that I can get feedback on whether I’m stating the obvious or actually telling people something interesting. My library audience consisted of 6 people including 2 kids and I have no idea whether I gave them anything valuable that they will be able to use. I think it’s really interesting stuff, though. Contextual embedding is my favorite.

In an attempt to provide evidence that thinking this way has improved my writing, I went and read some of the Goodreads reviews of A Gift of Time. I read the Amazon reviews, usually, because sometimes those reviewers ask questions or say things directly to me, and they tend to be very nice, but I mostly just check Goodreads for messages and don’t read reviews there. Wow. Some of my reviewers are better writers than I am. “…the author handled this shocking twist in the story with surgical precision. The narrative vibrates with tension…The villain is terrifying despite his lack of paranormal abilities. He is as mundane as your neighbor and as dangerous as a suicide bomber.” And, “The writing is almost lyrical, and Ms. Wynde’s ability to weave magic from one page to the next is remarkable…. It’s paranormal without being overly supernatural, if that makes any sense; you can actually believe that such things (even ghosts) are possible in real life. That’s how dense and lush the world Ms. Wynde has built truly is.”  On May 23rd or 24th, I’ll be putting AGoTime into NetGalley and I’m definitely going to be using those reviews in the Advance Praise section.

Anyone interested in learning more about Criteria-Based Content Analysis and how to use it in your writing? If I get some takers in the comments, I’ll do a series of quick blog posts based on the different elements and my presentation. It’ll keep me distracted while I wait to get ALM back. Of course, I should be writing the next book instead, but… well, so far it’s just not stirring around in my mind. I’m going to have to do some free-flow writing to try to get back into the habit and it might as well be about a writing-related topic.