March 23, 2012

the chroniker legacy, ABNA, and other things

So, a few things today. First, fun fact: yesterday was Petra’s 126th birthday. In fact, today is the one year anniversary of the day I decided to write a steampunk novel, thanks to the encouragement of my friend Darby. I had two sentences, and had decided to call it Chroniker City. The sentences will probably be familiar to you if you read the book. The very first words of the novel derived from this core idea: “A machine is more than its moving parts. The gars, pinions, and springs, they make the machine tick, but deeper than that, a machine is truth.” So, Happy Birthday to Petra, and to Chroniker City, essentially.

Progress is slow on The Chroniker Legacy. I’ve been putting along, up to 38,000 words now. I’ve only been averaging 1000 words a day for the past two weeks, and I’m not sure if it’s because something is wrong with what I have or what I’m about to write next or if I’m just having a slow few weeks. I was hoping that things would speed up now that I’m getting to the scenes that I’ve been dying to write since I plotted this book. I think this book is going to be shorter than the first, at least initially. I already have ideas for revisions—scenes to add, subplots to weave in, and additional description. Some scenes need to be lengthened, I know. But that’s the thing about first drafts. They’re works-in-progress, and they don’t have to be perfect right off the bat.

I think another reason writing is going slow is because my attention is stretched in too many directions. I’m about to start a new Dungeons & Dragons campaign, from scratch, so it takes some serious concentration to switch from steampunk to hardcore fantasy and back again. I’m trying to read more, but I have trouble writing when I’m only halfway finished with a book I’m in love with. However, I do write better when I’m reading good fiction, so there’s that. The Renaissance Faire is fast approaching, and I haven’t finished my costume yet, haven’t even started my husband’s costume. Sales are slow—I mean really slow—this month, which is a tad depressing. And, I found out Tuesday that The Clockwork Giant didn’t make it to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, which definitely put a damper on my spirits. It’s been a pretty awful week morale wise.

However, I did get two reviews from the ABNA “expert” reviewers, which I’m going to share with you here. The first one: meh. The second one: I want to find this person and hug them, repeatedly. Mind you, they only read the first chapter, not the whole thing. So here those are:

ABNA Expert Reviewer #1

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

The writer has obviously done his research as the technical writing is authentic.

What aspect needs the most work?

What do we know of Petra? We read that she has brothers but not much else. Why does she have this passion to attend University? All from her work, repairing things?

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

Though well written, I'm not sure it's a topic with broad appeal. Many books deal with similar topics -- a young girl of a certain era longs to have the same opportunities as men but this seems like it will include more technical passages and jargon than would appeal to the average teen.

ABNA Expert Reviewer #2

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

I really love the premise, this excerpt, these characters. There is so much here to feel good about in sharing this book with girls and boys, but it won't patronize them, and adults will love the series as much as teens will. The prose is lovely and finely edited. Pacing is perfect-- just enough time and detail for each stage of the story-- nothing lingers or drags too long, and nothing is underdeveloped. Petra is an endearing character, and the world created around her is fascinating, lovingly detailed, and convincing. In some ways this initially reminded me of the Fever Crumb series; however, it is very different in that it has a likeable heroine, a much more ground-in-reality feel, and a much more richly detailed, convincing, compelling, and engaging setting.

What aspect needs the most work?

I cannot see ANYTHING I would change here, which is saying a lot. I don't have the words to describe my enthusiasm for this book. I feel like I just discovered something amazing and wonderful, and I wish I could share it with all of my other book loving friends. PLEASE PUBLISH THIS BOOK! I am feeling an acute pang that I can't read the next chapters. I have that wanting-to-stay-up-all-night-reading-it feeling, and I feel really excited, as if I have been a part of discovering an author who will make a real mark upon the next decade of fiction. I am itching to read the entire planned trilogy, and think I might end up reading this series over and over. That's how good this excerpt is.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

Amazon, this is it. This has to be the contest winner. I am absolutely blown away by this excerpt--the so-appropriate prose and story-telling style, the wonderfully paced and detailed character development, the sense of a completely realized world that this short excerpt indicates, the sense of adventure and investment I feel in this book already. Most important of all, I am totally invested in Petra, her story, her fate, and wanting to follow her adventures, her development, and her life in this fascinating world. I love the positive hopeful energy I feel because of her spunk, even in the face of a very oppressive and limiting society. I love her achievement, her belief in herself, her humble acknowledgement of what she still has to learn, and her sense of possibility in life. I love her connection to others and the emotional growth that is possible for her. I loved the experience of reading this excerpt and feel an unbelievable pang that I can't read on. In my opinion, this book has to be the contest winner. I can't imagine not being able to see this book published. I can see this book earning millions for the author and the publisher and establishing a lucrative and much-loved series. It is truly outstanding YA fiction-- the kind of YA that will engage both adults and teens and kids. I see this book tumbling into the public consciousness like The Hunger Games, as a wonderful discovery of a new character, a new world, and a new author we can love. Please publish this book, and let me read more about this wonderful heroine and her fascinating world. Please don't let this be the end of my time with Petra! If I could give this book 10 stars in every category I would.

So yeah. That second review definitely made me feel better.

We’re going camping this weekend. It will be nice to get away from the Internet and civilization for a while.

What are you doing this weekend? Anything new going on in your lives?

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