Swallowing My Pride For Help

Fundraising for an editor, it’s that simple

As I mentioned in the previous entry: Nose To The Grindstone about fundraising… “I have had the odd thought on doing a GoFundMe for paying for my editor, but something seems off to me about that. Almost a disrespect to my own person. I’m not sure I would put myself at such a level. It’s not shame. It’s a principle of myself for my manuscripts for the path that must be taken.”

It has come to my attention that I do need to swallow my pride to ask for help. My work hours at Bartell Drugs Store are an average 10 to 20 hours a week. It will take at least four months to save up $2,500 if these hours keep up like this.

In the meantime, as a boost to that future editor need, I have set up a fundraiser on my Facebook page: Need An Editor You can donate as little or as much as you want. The money will not be touched until August, if all goes well with the fundraiser.

Here’s a sample page of the first chapter.

As of right now, the book has gone through a whole hell of a lot to get to Draft 4 stage. You can see the trek it has taken here: Developmental Date Stamp Catalog

If you donate, thank you for your help.

Nose to the Grindstone

Nose to the grindstone if I want a professional editor, here’s why and how for me

A novel is never created alone forever by one person. It takes an unexpected team of people who believe in the final piece that will be put up on store shelves. How the author is found to gather that team usually goes like this.

Draft 1 – Written by the author alone.

Draft 2 – Basic edits, spell check, punctuation, sentence structure. Things that catch their eye quickly with some notes for further deeper fixes later.

Draft 3 – Sent off to Beta Readers to find any hiccups in the wording, plot and flow. To see if the basics of the story are enjoyable. I had three beta readers at this stage for book 1.

Draft 4 – More Beta Readers to find bigger edit issues. I had four other new beta readers for this stage. One found the critical mistakes that I suspected. We brainstormed to reposition these mistakes for book 2. I then went through the edits that were found and fixed them. Next, I sent it off to a friend, who has currently stalled at her edits/beta reading process due to medical issues, but she isn’t off the case completely. She’ll return when she is fully able. Then one found basics that were not workable to give a stiff idea of what really needed to be fixed. I knew there was far more issues because I know the story inside and out. Then a fourth one for this round, and he’s still working on it right now.

Draft 5 – hopefully a professional editor that can do their part to finally clean it up totally. Then I will send it off to querying for an agent.

Thing is, that Draft 5 stage has hit a snag. I just started working in retail again. Reason – I must pay for my own professional editor. This will cost me $2,500.00 at least for developmental edits. (Yes, I am strongly aware of free editors. However, there is a level of deadline I’m looking for and full professionalism that must be met. I’m far too wary to risk someone filly farting around. It is NOT a slight of anyone in this position to do their craft for free for a future author. It is only that I believe strongly that my work needs a full paid professional hand.) This means any major mistakes will have to be cleaned up before it ever is sent out to querying. It has to be nearly publishing ready. It’s the physical representation of the final product in an interview form, as it were.

Since I just started working for Bartell Drug Store the hours have been seriously slashed to everyone. This means my hours, being part time, I would either work one day a week to two days a week so far. The store manager does not know when hours will pick back up to normal levels. Meaning, I don’t know when I will have 25 to 38 hours a week.

Now that the new minimum wage for Washington state is $15 an hour, and I’m making $16.40 an hour, which is the most I’ve ever had in my life in start pay, because my hours are so drastically cut it will take three times as long to save up $2,500.00 for my editor.

$16.40 an hour x 9 hours per week = $147.60 (before taxes)

Now, let’s say these slashed hours go on for 4 months. $147.60 x 18 weeks (4 months) = $2,656.80 (before taxes)

Now, the drastic thing I could do, once Tim my current beta reader is finished and I’ve fixed the edits he’s found, I could send the manuscript into querying to see how it goes. BUT…if I do that and the manuscript is rejected by all agents (36 I’m going to send this to when the time is right) I would not be able to send the manuscript out again until a professional editor has gone through it. Even then I wouldn’t be able to send it out until the following year, which would continue to slow me down in getting this book into the hands of a publisher. (No, I do not want to self-publish simply because I cannot afford it on all fronts of the process. I’m going after traditional publishing because I know what I have created.)

I very well could take that serious risk and send it to querying in a few weeks to see how it goes. It may be picked up by an agent or two. Who knows? Stranger things have happened to new authors like myself. It is a risk I don’t want to take until I figure out what my work hours are going to be in the next few weeks.

I have had the odd thought on doing a GoFundMe for paying for my editor, but something seems off to me about that. Almost a disrespect to my own person. I’m not sure I would put myself at such a level. It’s not shame. It’s a principle of myself for my manuscripts for the path that must be taken.

While on the sales floor or register I must always remind myself I have this job so I can pay for an editor. I have no other choice because my boyfriend isn’t able to pay for my editor due to financial restraints on property tax, three main constant bills, gas and food, ya know the basics. We in this household are just the two of us. We are working poor. And now I have to do what I can to make my dreams of becoming a published author the only way I know how – nose to the grindstone in editing and working my manuscripts to perfection as far as I can take them and working as many part time hours that are available to me to create a paycheck to put into savings.

There is on other way to do this and I will NOT give up!

Unsung Heroes That Hold Red Pens

A good author has an even better editor, and they deserve every dollar earned.

I really don’t care for ‘recap the year’ type stuff. A year is a time that has come and gone. If I produce any level of productivity in my writing and art, wonderful. If not, that’s normal as half the process is the writing in my mind.

This year has been far more productive, but with a few difficult starts to keep the momentum going. I just went with the flow. My editor, a friend on FB, had answered the call to take on copy edits for my book. She had never done this before but was intrigued to go with it for experience. She had always wondered how some of the processes of producing a novel happen.

From January to May, I was in overdrive to finish revising Act 1. My beta reader on Reddit from 2020 in October to December had found the mistakes. We brainstormed together and I figured it out with his help. Once learning what needed to be added and other stuff moved over to book 2, it was smooth sailing. Then the damn heat of summer slowed me down to a crawl. During that time when there was a break in the heat from June to August, I worked on the outline for book 3. All the while waiting for my beginning editor to finish her sections.

From August to November, she was on a good roll with the work in how she found basic mistakes and tightening sentences and changing the wordiness of spots that needed it. I loved her work. She found things I hadn’t even thought of. She kept the feel of the story as it was. Never overstepping. She feared that so much. But I kept assuring her she was doing a fantastic job. Yet, stupid Covid haunted her family and herself. Along with other family changes that came into her life, it slowed the work. I didn’t want her to forcefully push herself, so I let her have the power to let go of the project. However, I’m keeping her in my back pocket for future editing needs. God damn, she’s good. I wish I had her as a English teacher back in the day I was in school.

So, here it is, December. Took a few weeks off in late November to think things through and plan a form of attack in how to go into finding a professional editor through Reedsy. A more serious look into it, since Act 1 and the last few chapters of Act 3 had been seriously overhauled.

I had to work a power of elimination with the book blurb to become a 120-word size blurb to attract an editor and possibility a new beta reader on Reddit. I have my first Reddit beta reader who will be reading the repaired Act 1 since he hadn’t seen it yet. Then another friend on FB, even though the holiday season is classically crazy for everyone, he’s promised to go through my book blurb after he’s done reading draft 4 of the book as it stands. Reddit beta reader buddy has already edited the blurb a bit and another fellow author has, too, but it’s good to have a third set of eyes on it.

As for the Reedsy contracted editors, 4 out of 8 are still in the running in the hopes to be picked. I have to get in touch with my boyfriend’s sister to see if seed money to pay for the editor is possible. At least I have 2 editors who have given their estimates, which can later be negotiated in payment time and price. At least I know about how much I am expected to pay which is $1,500 to $2,500. Mind, that includes Reedsy fees for database upkeep of $175.

Why the prices are so high, you may ask? I’m paying for a professional service. I’m paying for a skill someone has in following through with a deadline given. The only professional way I can get published down the road is having one or two passes with a paid professional. That’s how this works.

As for my beginner editor from August, she learned a lot. It takes a whole hell a lot of concentration in the details to make the book shine. From her help, from what she was able to do for the edits, I learned a lot about my hang ups as a writer. I noticed the comment mistakes I made. All seasoned authors still make basic mistakes as I did. That’s why the adage – a good author has an even better editor. Editors are the unsung heroes of every single fiction and nonfiction book out there.

I do hope one of these Reedsy editors is able to do their magic for my novel. I hope I can pay them. They deserve every single dollar they make.

Book 3 will be massive

Chapter count and word count recalculated

It’s far too warm in the house to work on the book in any capacity. But, I looked at the outline set up for book 3 and I came to understand exactly where I came up with 84 chapters in my first calculations. These are ball park estimates based on how many chapters Act 1, Part 1 already has set up in the outline…This is a semi-visual representation of single spaced, size 12 font, not full published copy. I used Words Per Page for my calculations.

3 Acts per Part x 7 chapters per act = 21 chapters

21 chapters x 4 parts = 84 chapters

7,000 average word count per chapter x 84 chapters = 588,000 word count

I had an odd feeling that book 3 couldn’t handle be crunched into 200,000 words. There is far more in this book that could never be showcased effectively in book 1 or 2.

For those who may wonder, “Then why not get the third book published first since it has most of the material in it?”…first time published authors are a risk in the market. A smaller book is an easier risk to see how the market reacts to the material. Only until an author is established will the publishing company handle the printing of a larger book like that of nearly 600,000 word count. Paper is expensive and digital file size is also difficult (sort of) in how it’s presented to the reader. Not to mention the price tag attached to a smaller book compared to a much larger one.

I wish we had air conditioning in this house. THEN I could get cracking on this book. I hate summer. Oh, I’d love to stay at Starbucks to work using my tablet and wireless keyboard, but the internet has been difficult in this heat. Plus, it’s too damn hot to walk back to the house, even if I stayed at Starbucks from 4am til 8pm. Until it’s overcast and cool again, THEN I’ll stay at Starbucks to work. But I must remember to bring my ear plugs and headphones. I can’t stand some music they play.

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Scope of a Massive Novel

I wanted to see for myself what I’m getting myself into for my third manuscript. This book will, of course, connect the first two, but will be far larger than the others because there is so much more going on in the story to get to the final climax and conclusion of the whole story.

I did some calculations by basic calculator with a slight inflated ball park numbers. Average chapter word count x current chapter count set up by my outline.

5,000 word count x 40 chapters = 200,000 word count

This isn’t counting the possible 10 or more chapters extra that I need to add into my outline that is missing from the synopsis.

I found on this site: Words Per Page Calculator where I put in the 200,000 word count to determine the page count, which came to 502 (mind, this is only for printed pages of size 12, New Times Roman font, not a full published book) The page numbers for 5,000 word count is single spaced and comes to at least 18 pages each.

Now that I understand the basic numbers of how many pages I may reach, I can focus more on the outline for setting up that possible marker.

While calculating, I nearly gave myself a heart attack, but more of a mind blowing moment. I don’t know how I came to 84 chapters during my first set of numbers since I couldn’t look back at what I had done, but if it were 84 chapters, 5,000 words per chapter, that came to 420,000 word count and 1,054 pages printed single spaced. OMG, the amount of time it would have taken me to complete such a massive book.

Glad I did a second set of numbers. Now, off to work on the outline.

Spring Flowers Of My Truth

I’m writing this article today because of this YouTube video: The Case For Fan Fiction

Since there are more authors coming forward in telling their reader base: ‘Yeah, I wrote fan fiction and it helped me learn how to write better.’…I feel strong enough mentally now to come forward to tell my piece. To allow my spring flowers to come up from the earth to see the light of day.

Fan fiction to me is an outlet to help jump start or a warming up period to writing something original. To get that feeling of the pen between my fingers. To feel the pen moving across the paper as words drip onto the page one by one. To make limber my fingers at the keyboard to type as smoothly or as awkwardly as possible. (With the joy in knowing the spell checker will always be there)

Writing fan fiction is a glorious way to practice, not just in the basic structure of sentences and word usage, but in the process that little is talked about – practice in remembering a whole story and the character(s) formations within. It takes a lot of work to flush out a whole story even if its based on someone else’s previous or current prose. Sometimes, but most often, getting your mind to wrap around the complexity of character development, plot and subplot structure and basic other story beats, there is a lot to hold onto. Writing fan fiction in the character types you loved such as, for example of my own works: 1980s My Little Pony, Dragonball Z and New Kids On The Block (Real Person Fiction), helped me understand the complexities of juggling all of these critical writing structure needs.

Learning what I watched and read of the above examples of cartoon, anime and real life people that I aspired to, I was able to flesh out fairly well constructed original stories. All the while keeping in mind the basic principals of what made those cartoon fictions and real life people who they are and what they became. Coming up with original characters is hard work, but there are times that writing fan fiction helps you understand the structure of a character(s). Fan fiction is just that important to us writers.

Now, here it is, more and more professional authors are coming out expressing that they got their start by writing fan fiction when they were teenagers. All of us writers also got our basic start in English classes and Creative Writing classes all throughout our early school years, some as far as college. However, when in between writing class assignments, spring break and summer break, what do we do? We write fan fiction to keep our skill in top shape. We keep writing no matter the subject manner as long as it is something we love and can mold to our own enjoyment.

As for my own fan fiction, I have a few, but two of them that I posted live, are made with a twist. My Fan Fiction (Mythian)  “The Island“, it all came from dreams that I put together. I would wake up from the dream with a ‘…To Be Continued’ nearly each morning. I would pick up right where I left off in the dream. Finding at least thirty dreams that made up the whole of The Island, I didn’t start writing it down until 2005. The dream had kept itself hold up for so long, that I’m surprised I remembered it so perfectly to be written the way it was.

The Nightmare” worked the same way. Dreamed it constantly every few days for a while year. Psychologically I was trying to come to terms if being a New Kids fan was worth my time and effort. Later, wrote it down completely in 2005 or so to keep a record of its originality. Years later, I placed this into my third Soul’s Little Lie novel, but shortened it to fit my needs for that collection of characters.

On their own, The Island and The Nightmare would never do well by themselves. The way my mind constructed these dreams the only smart place for them was to weave them into my current novels. As for the My Little Pony and DragonBall Z fan fiction, they will stay right where they are and will never be changed to suit my original works. They were for warm up and practice and I love the time I put into them.

The importance of fan fiction writing can take you farther than you realize. The trick is, how do you weave your dreams into something original that will help you grow to go farther as a writer? That’s totally up to you.

Humble Before My Creation

There is something I came to understand when I was seventeen. Something that myself as an artist and possible many other artists out there, came to understand about their creative works.

This world is full of stories. The world thrives on stories of all kinds – may the stories be of gossip, news of the day by the strumming bard’s lute and song, or by stories to teach from teacher to student. A whole countless collection of fictions and real life tales of days gone by.

Each of these stories, told by many over the centuries, may take on a unique quality of existence. A life of their own far away into the universe. In an alternate universe maybe, just maybe, the stories we create to share with one another, the storyteller’s world becomes flesh; real with time in an alternate universe and world.

If this be true, the storyteller would never know of their creation being flesh. The physics of our world forbids us passage to such worlds, at least for now. The only way close enough for the storyteller to touch their creation is through television shows and movies and plays on a stage.

This is where the storyteller who created their fictional world cries; weeps for joy seeing their world made flesh. A happiness that no other artist, save for the team that helps put the fictional world into flesh, could understand what that feels like inside the heart.

Having come to realize this so long ago and revisiting it now, knowing the hard work it takes to edit a manuscript to full polished beauty for agents and publishers, I feel humble and grounded. With the hope of a final product waiting in the wings of my mind and on the page…I am more humble before my creation than ever for whatever it may become.

Acknowledge & Ignore Procrastination

I got the idea for this article of my procrastination process to work for me by listening to  The Writer Files Podcast – titled The Writer’s Brain on Procrastination Part One and Two. I had realized something about the information Kelton Reid and his guests had not quite expressed. This reminded me of what I’ve done most of my life while working on my novels Soul’s Little Lie. I thought, maybe someone might find this list useful.

Don’t get me wrong, Kelton Reid’s podcast on procrastination was helpful as a simple review for myself in which I had previously studied for the past few years. Its good to be reminded of the process of procrastination and now here’s how you can use procrastination to your benefit.

I know what procrastination is and I ignore its existence. This is how I transform the potential for procrastination into working for me.

  1. Ignoring the mental aspect – I see that I am ignoring the writing work in front of me, but I also see that it is a perfect time to breath and rest. Acknowledging that this is only a momentary time of resting my mind, allows my mind to go idle so not to stress myself into over thinking the work ahead or in front of me in that moment. – Take some time for yourself to get up from the computer, typewriter or collection of notes of your prose or article. Just as much as your body needs to stretch from sitting so long, so does your brain.
  2. Not binge watching tv shows – When there is a massive writing project that must get done and I acknowledge the possibility of procrastination that may come about, I don’t give into binge watching tv shows. If I do allow myself to take thirty minutes to three hours or more of time to binge tv shows, this opens up a plethora of creative problems. The tv show stories invade my mind to hijack my already incubating prose. I then find myself thinking of the visual and audio ques of that show feeding into more procrastination. – Once I’ve found myself not watching tv shows for weeks on end (not feeding into procrastination) my prose flow smoother and the chapters start coming along with ease. Even my note taking is fuller for that future chapter. Also, my editing sessions are finished up that much quicker.
  3. Writing Walkies – It takes me thirty minutes to an hour to walk from my house into town and through town. I’ll take these ‘Writing Walkies’ in the evening hours and be out there in the small town for an hour to four hours at a time. I’ll have my IPod with me to listen to my music that pertains to the manuscript project at hand or I won’t listen to the music, it all depends on how I want to think the current chapter or scene through. Writing Walkies may seem like procrastination, but it is more atune with making the brain go idle, to make it be at rest to allow intrusive thoughts to flow to the way side without full acknowledgement. – Once this has been achieved, of the scene flowing as I talk to myself (finding no traffic on the streets and hardly anyone outdoors at night) I’ll walk faster and feel an excitement in me to get back home to flesh out the scene notes by hand or type.
  4. Work Log – Sometimes I’ll look through my Work Log to see how far I’ve come in the progress of my manuscript. The Work Log is put into two visual places – a dry erase board calendar and a book planner calendar. I’ll do my work for a few hours, starting at 6pm (or a little later) up until 2am. On the dry erase board write down the book number, chapter number, sometimes even the amount of pages written or the time in which I’ve worked. Then I’ll transfer that log into the paper edition of the day planner in red pen. Sometimes adding side notes to what else I did in my writing or not writing. – Looking through my Work Logs for a few minutes every few days may seem like procrastination, but it is more akin to juicing myself up for the next day of work.
  5. ‘Soul Team’ Waiting – While I wait for any one of my ‘Soul Team’ in replying back to the pieces of material I sent them for edits or beta reading, I’ll just sit back and do other things. I’ll do basic chores around the house, which coincides with Cleaning Up The Stage process. I’ll do some reading to pick up where I left off, which usually I’ll read a chapter or two. I’ll even go about analyzing my Work Log or go over my notes. Sometimes, depending on the weather, I’ll do some Writing Walkies. To mix it up while I wait, I’ll play some video games and yes, I’ll watch YouTube videos in the morning but only about subjects I’m passionate about: sciences, psychology, nature, art, history or politics. Currently though, no working on artwork since my mind hasn’t flipped that switch cause of the manuscript being the main focus.
  6. Concept Illustrations – Some people would call this part a ‘side hustle’. My Concept Illustrations are far, far away from anything resembling a ‘side job that makes money’. It’s not even a ‘side project’ to me. Reason being – a small 5×7 or a large 24×18 watercolor or basic pencil and ink sketch for my novels is just for me to get a concept idea out of my head. A short fling to amuse my mind to take a break from writing. A healthy procrastination by far. However, if I’m working on my manuscripts heavily for weeks or months on end, Concept Illustration pieces don’t dare come up in my mind. I’ve even forced it, but that painter’s switch won’t click. That’s a good thing. Once my writing binge is over, which can take up to 9 months or less, only then will that painter’s switch get flicked. Then it becomes a short burst of creative juices flowing for a few days to a month at most. Then, it’s back to manuscript studies and writing for another 9 months.
  7. Prep Talk – Not at all to be confused with – Pep Talk, but close. If I feel that procrastination is making its way into a longer period of annoyance, I’ll stab it out by acknowledging it as fear. Once I’ve done that, talking to myself of how I’m feeling of a writing situation I’m in creatively, I’ll pretend those fear elements are people around me that I’ve known or have yet to know or meet. I’ll talk back to the ‘visual hallucination‘ (that I’m conscious of making in my mind) and I’ll act out that situation in the room. I’ll do this when its just me in the house alone, so no interruptions by anyone else crossing my path so I can concentrate. Subjects I’ll confront of this fear induced procrastination are – a) having an argument with an editor. b) reminding myself how much passion I’m backing this writing project. c) the main reasons for wanting to become a published author with a book or two on shelves. The costs I’m willing to make to make my dream come true and how much all of this means to me. – Once this Prep Talk is finished, the lingering leftovers of that possible procrastination has faded and I jump back on board to working on the edits or current chapters of the current or next manuscript. (To add, this Prep Talk also helps me get out some of my PTSD from my past. The coupling of my ‘publishing fears’ and PTSD, talking it out in an empty room in front of imagined people that I confront, helps me acknowledge that I’m still alive and my passions to be a writer keep me going in a healthy direction)
  8. The Process Starts Again at #1 – Then I go back to the top of this list and I find I’ve done more progress in my writing each and every day or week or months worth of material.

I hope this article helps you or someone you know that is having a hard time with procrastination. Show them these helpful tips in taking control of procrastination to work for them. You’ll be surprised how far you’ve come in your writing.

Cleaning Up The Stage

Cleaning up the store before opening the doors to customers. Preparing the canvas before placing the first paint filled brush stroke. Sweeping the stage before rehearsal begins. Prepping your work space before you type at the typewriter for that important article or first draft of a new novel.

Not all writers do this process, but it does help…at least that’s how I noticed a shift in my work whenever I cleaned up the stage.

I was always a tidy child and teenager. I did as I was ordered and told to do in keeping my room clean or maintaining some form of space to keep organized. Even if it meant that my mother with her bipolar with residual schizophrenia on top of that which the littlest thing would upset her of whatever I did ‘wrong’ to her whims. I grew accustom to maintaining my room as perfect as possible. Reason being for the most part, I danced in my bedroom all the time. I understood early on my own observations while taking ballet class in 1985, that the cleanliness of the studio and stage was important. It kept accidents from happening. There is nothing worse in the world than tripping over the smallest object when dancing.

I took that basic training of cleaning up the stage to heart and still do it today, but with a twist.

I discovered in my early 20s that I had a niche in recognizing a pattern of thought whenever I finished cleaning dishes, laundry and sweeping the floors or cleaning anything else in one day. Once the chores were done for that day, my mind was free to focus on my writing for the rest of the week. I would have 5 or 6 days devoted to writing even if it was only note taking and study of my works. I would finish one to three chapters in that week span. Then the cycle of come Sunday or Monday I would clean house once more to prep for the next work week of writing.

Why would I go to such lengths to clean house in one day, even if all I needed to do was 2 to 3 loads of laundry? Imagine for a moment you want to write a whole chapter. The story is flowing out of you, but your mind is bogged down at the forefront of – ‘There is a load of dishes in the sink’ – ‘there is a load of laundry that needs to be washed’ – As you notice there is something keeping you from your work, you stop and go finish that other thing, for my case chores. If I find that this is happening inside my mind and I know physically there are chores to be done, and I continue to ignore those chores, I get depressed for the next few days cause I’m being lazy to myself and neglectful to my writing.

Writing is the reward for when I’m done with basic household needs. I look at this way, if you can not maintain your household of the basic clutter around you (basic chores as I described before) then how can your mind be calm and at peace to help you focus on your creative work in front of you? As much as a cluttered mind can not focus, neither can a cluttered house, stage, etc. When you have not kept to a basic once a week schedule of maintaining the house needs (your needs, mind you) then the creative work before you will and can suffer as a result.

On a Sunday or Monday I’ll see the dishes need to be done. I’ll see if one or two loads of laundry to be done. I’ll notice there are dust bunnies on the floor and sweep all the floors and clean the cat box. Then come Tuesday onward I’ll have nothing better to do than write a new chapter(s) until the next Sunday or Monday rolls around. Then the cycle starts all over again.

Don’t get me wrong here. There are authors out there of all kinds that just focus on the writing and keep going all the while neglecting the household needs to keep them sane, healthy and happy. Especially the healthy part. If you have a partner in your life that can help with the chores to keep you on task at writing, then ask them to help you with the house chores from time to time. It will help you lessen the load.

These are all crucial processes before you begin any body of creative work, before setting a dinner party or office meeting or before you fill your car with vacation essentials for that road trip adventure. If the stage is not cleaned and ready, how can you focus on the task at hand that will then keep you mentally fit and healthy?

Comparison of the Two

For the last few days I’ve had a mental and soulful breakthrough. I had realized again, but more deeply this time, that I was free from the abuse of my family and it had been five years since I left the abusive husband. I felt it was safe to really let it all go.

In that realization, I found myself drawn to my original first draft manuscript. I was afraid for years to read it – 22 years since I began writing it and only since 2006 had I finished that first draft finally. Thing is though, it was a terrible mess. It was a complete blundering Mary-Sue with hardly any action, inner dialogue, plot or any form of character development. I was a teenager at the time when I started writing it on September 1, 1995 to May 9, 1996 of 18 chapters by hand in ruled notebooks and later in my mid 20s I continued from chapters 19 to 26 and still after all that time it was a damn mess.

In 1998 I submitted the first three chapters to Baen Books. I have since lost the rejection letter, but I still remember the poignant words from the editor –

“It has potential, but it needs work.”

Ever since reading those words potential and needs work I’ve kept on typing a new manuscript. Later those three manuscripts would become something more. As for the original manuscript, it has now become a distant memory and is barely noticeable as a story to be continued with the new three books. A whole new fourth manuscript will be so different than I originally had intended back then and that’s okay. It’s part of the process of being a writer.

Now, I’d like to share with the world something I’ve only shown to a small handful of people. I’m only going to show one page that should give a good enough comparison of the new revised from scratch chapter 12 of the original manuscript.

(Book 4 is far from getting started in writing. I just did this revamp of chapter 12 to help myself understand how far I’ve come as a writer and how I can continue to improve.)

MythiaCh1202Yes, I edited a bit of it last night in red pen. It needed it so badly.

Now, for the revamped version….

November 18, 2017

A disclaimer – Twenty-two years have passed since I wrote my first manuscript titled Mythia. Chapter 12 from that manuscript is being rewritten to showcase a comparison of writing styles to see how I have progressed. This is the finished example.

Mythia

A Manuscript

by: Tara B. Dobbs

Chapter Twelve

The Isle of Sperotus was bathed in cool blues giving the plant life a haunting effect as the evening crept in with the double moons hanging in a partly cloudy sky. The southern side of the island, with its long sandy beach was kissed by the full moon in silver light; the pale blue moon at quarter. Ocean surf gently fell over the sand and in the distance waves crashed among the rocky outcrop of a massive plateaued cliff.

Ynycornus had arrived first to the island a few hours earlier. His mind raced with doubtful thoughts with fear nipping at his heart. He had to tell her how he felt this time; finally for the first time. It had been a thousand two hundred years since he last laid eyes on Mythia’s princess.

Princess Ira had been imprisoned in a crystal orb by the actions of a malicious criminal by the name Katema – a noblewoman who was displeased with her lot in life at court that she had to stoop to kidnapping the Princess in hopes for a ransom. Ira was only a child and Ynycornus could do nothing to save her once the little girl was placed in the orb. A powerful magic had sealed her in and to add more pain, the little princess thought she could be crafty in protecting herself with a spell she had found hidden away in the lost pages of the Book of Anora. The single spell for continuous sleep Ira put on herself.

Ynycornus thought of this a bit more in hopes to understand Ira’s actions. Maybe she was afraid Katema would take information from her? As long as Ira was in the clutches of the Eternal Slumber spell, Katema, not even Ynycornus or anyone in the kingdom, save for maybe Tibrus, could wake her. The spell had been designed to work itself out once the danger had passed. There was no telling how long the sleep would be. For that, Ynycornus was the most angry with Ira still to this day for her actions.

While she slept for 1,200 or so years, Ynycornus was voted by the High Council and the Noukadian Priesthood to be Steward of the Kingdom. There were no heirs to the throne since King Cyrus and Queen Tamera, Ira’s parents, were murdered by Katema that same day as Ira’s imprisonment. With great pride Ynycornus accepted the position but with a lingering broken heart.

Tonight though, Ynycornus would get a chance to speak with Ira alone. The princess had meetings with the High Council and the Priesthood for months now on how to go about taking over as Queen and leaving Ynycornus back on the High Council as Second Command Councilman and return to the Priesthood as High Priest. To Ynycornus’ disbelief, the Princess gracefully declined for Ynycornus to return to his original duties. She wanted him to stay in the position the people had voted for. The Council and Priesthood had informed her on all the good hard work he had done for the kingdom in her absence and had begged to differ that Ynycornus was in need in current affairs of Temple and Council. Ynycornus was grateful for her loving gesture, but how would she react to him of what he had to tell her; of what his heart must confess?

Far into the distance a small row boat, adored with the royal crest at its bow, came into view. Far out away from the shore behind the rowing boat the Mythian Fleet’s Galian ship laid anchor. Ynycornus could see Ira cloaked in black to hid herself from any possible prying eyes. She had only been awakened for three months and only the High Council and Priesthood were allowed to see her for that time. Not even the four men rowing the boat to shore were allowed to see her.

As the boat came ashore, the four rowers jumped off; pulled the boat further in away from the surf. Ira sat, her head down as she waited for Ynycornus. No one had touched her hand, let alone her shoulder when she awoke from the orb’s shattering. The best physicians looked her over, barely touching her for the examination and found her to be in perfectly good health, save for one major change – she had grown and aged to a full adult, but how? The Eternal Slumber spell could not force someone to grow and age and yet stay physically one age for so long. Under natural circumstances Ira would have been in her elder years by 1,200 years and possibly close to death.

Making his way toward the boat, the rowers holding the boat steady, Ynycornus took Ira’s gloved hand helping her off. Ira’s grip onto his hand was strong and warm. A warming slipped through his body as she stepped onto the wet sand. It was now that Ynycornus felt as though she had come home at last.

Leading Ira onto dryer sand near the tree line Ynycornus turned to the four men, “You may go. Give my thanks for Anya for this meeting.” With that the four rowers pushed their boat back into the waters and began rowing toward the awaiting Galian ship.

Once the rowers were far out of sight and the ship took up anchor, heading back to the mainland going North, Ira slipped off the black cloak. Long dark brown wavy locks fell down her back and over her shoulders. Her blue eyes the color of topaz finally set sight on Ynycornus’ elder face.

With a gasp seeing how old he had become, she stepped back covering her mouth to restrain a scream.

“I’m sorry,” Ynycornus apologized. “Maybe we should have met sooner, but this was the only way I could get you here.”

Dropping her hand to her chest, taking in some deep breaths, “You’re so handsome, but you’ve aged. Are you in good health?” What was she expecting anyway? Ira was not allowed to see Ynycornus until all the meetings were done. It was Tibrus who had found her slumped in the clear gelatinous substance of the broken orb in the Grand Ballroom which was also the throne room. Even while she slept in the orb, no one was allowed in that room save for Tibrus who worked all those years trying to break the spell. All those she saw were of the Highest Council, higher in rank than Ynycornus by far and only three Priests and many physicians. Ynycornus was the High Priest, the highest in rank anyone could go, so why wasn’t he allowed to see her? This flew through Ira’s mind as she continued to look him over to get her barrings.

The last she saw Ynycornus was when she was a child, maybe as far back as a baby. She remembered him holding her, rocking her to sleep and at times feeding her when her mother Queen Tamera slept and while her father King Cyrus was off doing kingly duties of state. Ynycornus looked young back then when she was little. He looked no older than late teens at least. To the royal family Ynycornus was more than just High Priest and Second Command Councilman, he was a surrogate brother to Ira. Her love for him showed through her smiles, cries and worries she bestowed on him over the few years she got to know him.

The realization of having lost her surrogate brother, her best friend finally hit her. She kept up a fecade of royal duty for just a few months, not allowing herself to grieve. Her parents had been taken away from her which made it all the more worse.

Her breath calming, she looked around seeing the island, which was forbidden to all but the High Priest Ynycornus, she fell to her knees burying her face in her hands as the long, long awaited tears poured from her eyes.

Kneeling on both knees in the sand, his blue and silver robes flared out on the sand, Ynycornus pulled Ira close to his chest. Dropping her hands from her face, she pressed her tear filled face onto his chest slowly soaking her sorrows into the fabric. Her arms wrapped around his neck and shoulders as she sobbed to nearly screaming.

Once she had calmed enough, Ynycornus helped her to her feet. “Follow me. I want to show you something.”

Guiding her through the tropical forest onto a well warn path to nearly the center of the island, a creek flowed beside them. Far up ahead the sound of a waterfall flowing into a pool echoed amongst the trees. Just at the entry way to the falls, a pale blue barrier flickered as Ynycornus walked through. Ira hesitated. “It’s alright. It’s a circle barrier of the magic that lays here. Once you’ve crossed it you can’t speak while inside the space. See there?” pointing to the trees and bushes, the flowers began to wilt and the leaves began to dry and fall to the ground. Putting a finger to his lips, Ira stepped through the pale blue lighted barrier in silence.

For many minutes the pair spoke nothing to one another. Slowly the plant life around the waterfall returned to its former beauty. The flowers grew swift; blooming with radiant colors. It matter not that the nighttime had come. This place was strange and yet beautiful in all it showed inside the circle. Even the waterfall and the pool below seemed to glow a delicate blue.

Sitting on the ground, near the pool, Ira looked around slowly. She sighed, turned to Ynycornus and pointed to her throat.

With a gentle smile, Ynycornus answered her telepathically.

“Are you strong enough to speak with your mind?” he asked.

Hesitating, she took a breath, closed her eyes, “I think so. Why couldn’t I come to the island when I was a child? I have memory of this place.”

“You did come here once before, but you were very little. You were barely learning to walk when your parents brought you. It was forbidden even for royalty to be here. I was there in the forest watching. I could have easily removed you all, but I couldn’t allow myself to do it.” Ynycornus smiled softly at her as he remembered that day so many years ago. “You loved it here. Even though you were only allowed to be on the Southern beach. I could not permit you and your parents any further.”

“I’m glad to be here now then,” she paused, blushing, “with you, but it’s too quiet. I’ve had my fill of silence. Not enough beauty though.”

For just a little longer, they sat and watched the flowers bloom and grow. The waterfall sparkle in the moonlight and then Ira realized it – there were no birds singing. On Mythia there were plenty of nighttime birds that would sing softly, but here at this waterfall, this closed off area of the island there was no sound of birds. The water made splashing sounds, but no birds. Ira began to panic. Standing in a hurry, she gathered her long white and silver dress and ran out of the circle. The thin lighted barrier flickered as her legs went through.

Chancing after her, she was heading back to the Southern beach, Ynycornus grabbed her arm pulling her back gently her back against his chest. Her breath was fast and uncomfortable to hear.

“I can’t have any silence like that for long!” Ira cried as she turned around to look at him. “Didn’t anyone tell you? Tibrus learned quickly I couldn’t take it. I have to have someone talking aloud or music playing somewhere at all times. I can’t handle the silence. So much silence all these years!”

Ynycornus had not been told of her condition. A thousand and two hundred years in silence with only your own thoughts to keep you company. By the Five Lords, how could a little girl handle such a thing for so long? It was then Ynycornus understood that part of Ira’s mind was still a child. How could he confess anything to her now? She was still just a child inside.

Shaking away the disgusting thought of his mind, “I’m sorry, Princess. No one has kept up in telling me anything of what you’ve gone through.”

“No one? How? Why?” A rage formed behind her eyes. A rage Ynycornus had never seen from her. An unease crept into his soul as though he had done something terribly wrong to her somehow.

“Let’s not worry about this now. I’ll have a talk with the Council and Priesthood tomorrow morning.”

Taking a breath, stepping away from him, “You must have wanted to talk to me about something important to take me away from my duties.” Ira touched his chest where his heart lay inside beating. “I appreciate the effort to give me time away from the work, but what was it you wanted to really talk to me about?”

Now wasn’t the time. The only thing he could think of on the spot was to show her the truth. She had only known of him in his humanoid form for six years. She deserved the know the truth. Only the Highest Council of the main eight and two Priests know of this truth. A few others in the past had known, but they were long dead. Not even Ira’s parents, the King and Queen of Mythia, knew of this truth. It was hidden as though the kingdom depended on it.

Looking around at the clearing Ira had run into, he nodded to himself. Closing his eyes, dropping his hands slowly from head to hips and then finally bending over just slightly as though his arms and hands would touch the ground, within a few seconds his whole body transformed in the shape he was original born – a white unicorn.

Flowing pearly white mane and long thin tail with thick tufts of hair at the end. A tall strong build, a foot taller than a typical farming draft horse, but with cream cloven hooves and nostrils at the end of his muzzle looked different almost the shape of a deer. A single spiraled bone white horn in the center of his brow and his eyes the same stunning blue as the ocean.

Stamping one front hoof to the ground, he nodded his large head at Ira. His flowing mane catching the moonlight.

It was quite the sight to behold as Ira found herself trying to find a tree to steady herself against as she walked backwards. Once she found a tree to lean against, she looked the beast over carefully. Her eyes were the size of skipping stones. Face nearly pale with shock.

Gently to her mind, “It’s okay. What you see is the truth.” The only thing he expected next he would not be angry at her for.

Sure enough, within a few more seconds Ira ran. She ran as fast as she could with the long dress clutched in a thick gather of fabric. The only way now off the island was natural to her – she had to fly.

Once she was clear of the trees and on the sandy beach, she spread her white feathered wings wide. She had not flown since a year before her imprisonment. Not having much practice her instincts took over. Higher she climbed with the occasional misbeat of her wings to flap in unison. She had to find her way back to Hayemore Castle as soon as she could. She could not understand what had happened. Everything was happening far too fast.

In the forest, Ynycornus still in his natural form, he watched through the break in the trees Ira flying away from the Isle of Sperotus. Once she was out of sight, he made his way through the forest back onto the beach. Finding the wet sand more sturdy for his large equine body, he pawed at the water a bit and slowly pawed at it some more and more until the sand turned the water to mud. Neighing aloud with a snort of anger, Ynycornus galloped down the beach at full speed. Turning around, he galloped again even faster, but once he was close to the rocky cliff, having done this time and time again with ease, he climbed his way to the top on the gagged rocks until he was safe on the plateau face.

How could he be so foolish? He was the High Priest of the Noukadian Temple and Second Command of the Council. He was one of the highest ranking officials in the kingdom – that had made a grievous mistake. It wasn’t that he had transformed to his born form in front of his precious surrogate sister and possible love, it was that he had forced her into something that was against nature and now there was no going back. The realization of his mistake from centuries past had come to full form.

It was then he realized, “Maybe no one will know. If I just help her adapt back into her the life she had lost, maybe just maybe she’ll be free.” He paused, looking out over the night sky and ocean below, slowly transformed back to his humanoid form, but this time a young man, “As long as the Council doesn’t know, but I have to tell my brethren at my side.”

But could they keep even this secret? They had before of his born unicorn form for thousands of years, but this – how long could sealed lips last?

***********

I don’t think I’ll repair any other chapters in the original manuscript. It’s just too painful to look at anymore, save for the 1% of notes I found that I’ll use in book 4 later in the next few years.

If you are expecting some more excerpts of book 4, I’m sorry to break your heart but this is the only excerpt I am willing to showcase until it’s truly published. It took me many, many years to get up the courage to show any piece of the original. I’m ashamed of the mess the original had become, but at least I got that work of 197,000+ words out of my system to show to myself that I can write novels.

And here I am, 22 years since I wrote my first, I’m still writing them. Knowing that, makes me the happiest person alive right now.

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