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Well, that what happens after school gets out for the summer, disrupting my routine. I completely lost track and forgot to blog yesterday. Catching up today.

So, I’m now in the mode of switching from starting the first draft of DUAL MAGICS BOOK 4 (title to be determined) to making the final revisions on BEYOND THE PROPHECY (Book 3).

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I’m currently making revision notes, chapter by chapter, based on the three critiques I’ve received from my beta readers. (One critique is still out, but she told me in the beginning that she’d need extra time.) But, if I’m going to have this ready to publish in September, I’ve got to get started.

A lot of the revisions will be relatively small. A little more context or background in a few places. Some things may get shifted around.

And not throwing out so many names all at once. That’s a big one right at the beginning. Starting sequels is hard partly because I already have all these characters. They’ve all been introduced in the earlier books. But that doesn’t mean I can name eight of them right at the beginning without expecting to confuse the reader. Yet, I have to identify them before the action starts, which is in Chapter 1. Well, I’ll work that out, too.

There are a few larger issues I’ll have to work on throughout the manuscript, too. Like doing a better job of centering the story on the main conflict.

Then there’s the blurb. That’s really been fighting me this time around. I’ll get it eventually.

New Covers

I have a new cover for “Becoming Lioness” now. It looks more like it belongs with the series and might even give a reader the idea that it’s a fantasy story.

Becoming Lioness Cover 2For reference, the old cover looked like this:
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“Modgud Gold” has proven to be more difficult. But, thanks to some helpful internet friends, I think I finally have a direction to go.

Meanwhile, progress on the still-untitled Book 4 of the DUAL MAGICS series continues. Though, by next week I expect I’ll be ready to set it aside for a short time while I take care of revisions and polishing edits on BEYOND THE PROPHECY so I can publish that in September.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????And, I’ve started writing out a concept for another story. Like I don’t already have several in the pipeline. But you’ve got to write down the ideas when they come to you or risk losing them. And nobody wants that.

 

The covers for the Dual Magics series (so far–the release of BEYOND THE PROPHECY is planned for September):

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The covers of the two tie-in short stories:

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????You see the problem, don’t you? The two short story covers don’t look like they belong to the same series.

Heck, the covers don’t even telegraph that they’re fantasy stories. “Becoming Lioness” could be something about an African safari for all you could tell from the cover. Well, except for the subtitle. Dual Magics might give you a clue.

“Modgud Gold”, again, except for the subtitle, could be a gold rush story.

In my defense, “Becoming Lioness” was released long before I had covers for the series. I have no excuse for “Modgud Gold” other than the image is a really good representation of a scene in the series. But, see, that’s not what a book cover is supposed to be. It’s supposed to entice a reader and give them some idea what kind of story to expect. This one fails.

I think I need to do a couple of new covers.

Plotting

We all know by now that I’m a discovery writer. (Unless this is your first time visiting my blog. In which case, welcome.)

But, however I write them, all stories have plots. Sometimes, I just arrive at the plot backwards. Sometimes not.

I’ve also said that the only time I really get detailed plot ideas is when I’m actually writing–just in the quiet times when I step away from writing for a few minutes.

Well, last Friday seems to have been a day for that. I didn’t actually get much writing done on Friday, but I did get solutions to three plot issues–two for Book 4 of the DUAL MAGICS series and one for the final revisions to BEYOND THE PROPHECY (Book 3).

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????For BEYOND THE PROPHECY, it was an issue raised by one of the two critiques I’ve gotten back so far. I figured out how to refocus certain elements of the story to help the plot be more centered. So that’s good.

The second idea was about something in the first chapter of Book 4. It’s a minor thing, really. A bit of background. But I realized that it’s probably not very accurate. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll do with that bit, yet. I don’t go backwards in the first draft unless it’s something really major. I make notes of things I need to look at in the second draft. I’ve made such a note and I’m sure I’ll find something that will work better by the time I get to it.

The big plot idea, though, was about the climax of Book 4. See, I know what the climax is (unless another, better idea comes along first–which I doubt.) But for what I have planned to work out, my main characters have to be forced to do something that they wouldn’t otherwise choose to do. And the logical way for that to happen is for the antagonists to do something that implies knowledge of one of the two kinds of magic. Or, at least, the basis of that magic. The kind of magic that the antagonists don’t know about. Hmm. That’s a conundrum. But now I know how they’re going to learn just enough for them to do what I want them to.

What makes a discovery writer is that we’re willing to jump into the story anyway, even with a gaping plot hole like that, and have faith that we’ll figure it out by the time we get there. Moments like Friday are what feed that faith.

Backstory

Backstory is such a delicate line to walk. How much is too much? What serves to add verisimilitude? Which bits enrich the story and which just drag the pace down? How can it be brought in elegantly?

I know the history of my world for the DUAL MAGICS series and how it got to be the way it is at the beginning of the story, but only snatches of that have made their way into the story so far. (Some day, I may write a prequel series about all of that.) For now, I try to keep to just what is needed for this story. But it looks like I haven’t put in quite enough.

I can’t emphasize the importance of critiques enough. Beta readers can tell me things about my story that I can’t see because, no matter how hard I try, I’m just standing too close. The first of my critiques for BEYOND THE PROPHECY has come in.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Among other things, it’s clear that I need to work in more background on part of this world. There are places where I can do that, I think, without slowing the story down.

 

Titles

Some people seem to have a gift for titles. I’m not one of them. I struggle to find appropriate titles.

In the DUAL MAGICS series so far:

THE SHAMAN’S CURSE fits that story well. The shaman tries to curse Vatar, but equally, the shaman’s obsession with vengeance curses him.

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THE VOICE OF PROPHECY was originally THE IGNORED PROPHECY. Both fit the story pretty well. The new title hopefully does a better job of telling the reader what kind of story they’re going to get.

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BEYOND THE PROPHECY is just so-so. The characters at least feel that the prophecy is now behind them (when, really, they’ve just survived the triggering event.) I suppose I have time for inspiration to strike. It wouldn’t be too hard to change the cover.

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The last book in the series is right now known by the highly original title of . . . Book 4. Ideas I’ve had so far:

  1. The Price of Magic
  2. Magic’s Price
  3. Magic’s Warrior
  4. Warrior of Magic
  5. Paladin (or Champion) of Magic
  6. War of Magic
  7. War Magic
  8. Magic Paladin

None of them are so far striking me as anything close to perfect. I’d like to have at least a best guess by the time I publish BEYOND THE PROPHECY in (hopefully) September so I can use it for the teaser excerpt. We’ll see.

Sometimes I’d really like to be able to outline a story and know exactly how it goes. But that’s just not the way it works for me.

I do at least map out the high (and low) points of a novel before I start. (Though they have been known to change as I go, too.) But I could sit and stare at the screen for days waiting for the inspiration to know how to fill in the very wide blank spaces that leaves. It just would never come.

The only time those ideas come to me is when I’m actually writing. Well, not necessarily when I have my fingers on the keyboard. But, you know, when I’ve gotten up for a little and I’m walking the dogs or (infrequently) cleaning the house. That’s when I get the ideas for how to get from point A to point B. But only if, when I sit back down, I’m actually writing the story.

And, anyway, sometimes a story will just take a left turn and go somewhere else instead. And that’s often better than what I’d planned.

Not going to happen in the last book of the DUAL MAGIC series. (At least, I don’t think so.) But that is exactly what happened in DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING.

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