On April 11th, I had a very similar title, and in the last six months, I’ve edited the first books of the Saintsverse in their entirety. In fact, I just finished edits on Saints 2 about fifteen minutes ago. The ending underwent some major changes, and I’m much more pleased with where it’s at now. It feels more solid, and less like I’ve neatly tied a pretty little bow. Instead, it leaves it open. There could be more.
(spoiler: there is more, duh)
But wait, you say, haven’t we already read this blog? You guys, revision never ends. In April, I said, “I wrote, edited, and completed two full books that are the main series in the Saintsverse.” HA
That’s cute. Saints wasn’t done yet. There were so many holes in the first one, and the second one was just a mess of me being excited. There’s still probably lots I have to do to Saints 2 once Chelsea is done reading, but for right now, they feel solid enough and have both gotten three drafts, so I’m going to start querying.
Quick aside: I still don’t have a title for this book. I’m honestly not even sure it’s actually about Henry. It could be about Sam? Who knows—-not me, that’s for sure. It’ll all become clear eventually, but until then, I’m just going to keep on referring to this as Saints 2.
Luckily, the first one has a title that I really love, King of Saints, and it’s going to start making an appearance very shortly. I’m not giving myself any time off. Tomorrow, I dive headfirst into making up a chart of literary agents that I want to send to, and then it’s down to drafting a query letter and a few summaries of different lengths. Querying is a long and slow business, so I imagine updates on it will be few and far between, but keep your fingers and toes crossed for me, and send out some good vibes. It’s time to send these silly little murderers out into the real world.
And in the meantime?
Yo, but do you remember earlier this month when I was like spooky book for spooky month! And then I never updated on that again. I have a confession to make. It’s not one I’m happy about. It’s not one I even remotely want to make because saying it out loud makes it true, and I am just very not wanting this to be true.
I have to start Pen boys over from scratch. Like, hide the previous draft in a file somewhere and start from the beginning.
I wish you guys could see the face I’m making right now. It’s not pleasant.
I don’t want to start over from scratch. But it’s a literal mess. It’s in complete tatters, and it’s been pieced back together in ways that make sense, but are poorly done, and the only way to tell this story right is to give it the right space that it needs. Sadly, that space is not where it’s at right now, and so, it’s time to clean my hands of the previous two drafts and plunge back in anew. Sometimes, these things happen, and it sucks, and before you try to ask me if maybe I’m just being overdramatic, I promise you I’ve thought about this long and hard for the past couple of weeks, and this is just what it comes down to. The first three drafts of Pen boys are pretty bad in comparison to the level of writing I’m capable of, and I love these boys enough that I want to try again.
That means something else, though. So, sister witches hasn’t been happening, obviously. Most of my time since I wrote the blog saying I was going to write a spooky book for spooky month has been spent either A) reading or B) avoiding the fact that I have to start Pen boys over. I haven’t been writing anything, and it was only this week that I picked Saints 2 back up. Instead, it’s been a quiet battle with myself where I say nahhhhh that ain’t actually true and then shove my face in a book to avoid admitting that yes, unfortunately, it’s very true. This has been good for my reading, though! I’m currently 8 books ahead of my goal, and I’m definitely going to be able to accomplish 100 books for 2018. I’ve stuck with my TBR for (almost) three months in a row. (I say almost because I haven’t finished October yet, but I’m close.) This has not been good for my writing, and while I’m not sure that Pen boys is the next thing I’m working on, it’s taken a while for me to admit out loud that it still needs to be heavily worked on, and that’s been inhibiting me from writing.
Realistically, I’m probably going to stay within the Saintsverse right now. I want to finish editing Saints at sea since I started (and since I now need to go back to the beginning to fix up some things that I changed in Saints 2), and I’m stupid eager to get to Saints at sea 2 and finally the bastards trilogy.
Sometimes, I just quietly Pin things for the bastards trilogy, and it makes me sigh a lot. This aesthetic, guys. It reminds me a lot of Ronan, and that’s partly why I’m so excited to work on it. It’s higher fantasy than the Saints duology is, and while Saints at sea is also more removed from the city/urban fantasy setting, the bastards has got castles and knights and evil queens who have loving brothers that just want to save them AND UGH YOU’RE ALL GONNA HATE RUNA BUT ONLY FOR A LITTLE
Every time I tell Alex she’s only going to hate Runa for a little bit, she’s like ha joke’s on you I’m going to hate her forever, and then I remind her that she said the same thing about Sam and WELL.
(spoiler: no one hates Sam by the end of Saints 2 HE’S JUST BROKEN LEAVE HIM ALONE)
I really enjoy characters
Holland Vosijk that everyone else is like wow this dude is such an asshole, but really they’re just broken, and we don’t know it yet. #hollandvosijkprotectionsquad I also apparently really love those shy, bumbling, awkward characters Wylan van Eck who seriously just need a sweet, kind of silly boy to help them out. I have a type, okay, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I’m also not afraid to use it liberally in my books.
Okay, I’ve drifted off into the world of not making sense because I’m avoiding talking about something.
Recently, Apple music did an incredible thing. After years without the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings soundtracks available, they’ve finally released them, which means that I’ve been listening to LOTR non-stop because let’s be honest, why bother listening to the theatrical versions when you know there’s a better one out there. It’s like watching the theatrical movies. It’s dumb. You watch the extended because if you’re me, you’ve seen/heard those more, and then it’s even more confusing when something is missing. But LOTR makes me think things. Meeting Victoria Schwab made me think things. I went to the new moon ceremony at Barefoot Yoga Shala the other day, and that forced me to actually think about things and not avoid them like I have been.
It’s been over a year since the day my best friend told me he never wanted to speak to me again. It’s been over a year since he told me that I was the shittiest writer that he’d ever read, and that he was so happy when he finished my book because it was misery reading it. It’s been over a year since he told me to walk out of his life and never look back. It’s been over a year, and every time I sit down to write, I feel him sitting on my shoulder telling me that I’m not good enough.
Do you want to know the real reason that I’m excited about Saints: the bastards? Because it reminds me of Ronan, and I am so terrified of writing Ronan and it not being good enough that I just don’t write it. Instead, I create different universes with high fantasy elements, but I don’t put in the one thing that has always made Ronan special to me: dragons. Ronan, sometimes referenced in these blogs as Chronicles of Kings, is a series of novels that I started when I was in the eighth grade, that I wrote over and over again for eleven years, and that, when I finally, finally, gave it up, my best friend looked me dead in the eye and said, “Thank god. I was getting so sick of reading that. It was awful.”
Do you know why it hurts so much that he told me my writing sucked? Because he never indicated that was how he felt. For over a decade, he read my writing, and he told me it was good, and he never breathed a word that maybe it wasn’t. When he finally did, it was after I had explained to him that he’d hurt my feelings with some things he’d been saying lately, and that I thought maybe him editing my YA was a bad idea since he hated YA so much. He lashed out and told me that I was a shitty writer, and for over a year, I have been carrying that weight.
So, recently, I went to see Victoria Schwab, and she talked about her writing with Vengeful. She talked about how she worked on the first draft for five years, and that, when she turned it into her editor, her editor said that it was a really good book, but that there was a great one hiding inside of it. Her editor said that she would publish this book because it was good, but that she knew Victoria could do better, and she wanted her to think about that for a few days. Victoria said that she did, that she cried and drank a lot, and that, when she came out on the other side, she deleted the entirety of the Vengeful draft and started over.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that.
Like, a lot. When I went to the new moon ceremony at Barefoot, I wasn’t sure what my intentions would be, just that I wanted them to revolve around my writing. I have a lot going for me right now. The Saintsverse is really coming into its own, I’ve admitted out loud that I need to start Pen boys over from scratch, and so I wanted to focus on this feeling I’d been having, that something was still missing, that I was holding myself back somehow. I opened my notebook to start writing, and it just came out. And I’m going to share them with you because this is the beginning of something powerful.
I want to be open to the possibility of whatever is next in my writing. I want to let go of what has been holding me back. It is no longer a who. I want to let go of Jack. I want to let go of his words. I want to be free to write my own words again, whatever that may be. Bring me to the horizon of something new. Bring me home. Give me strength to face these coming challenges and fears and wonders. I am ready to return.
Only a portion of this was actually burned as my intention that night, and it was worded differently, but these were the words I wrote first. And in them, I see something scary. Something beautiful.
Jenny, who was leading the new moon circle, saw the same thing, and she asked me, very quietly, “Do you still have copies of your books? The ones that Jack read?” I already knew what she was going to say as I nodded. And I knew that she was right. “I think you have to get rid of them,” Jenny said, “Burn them. Physically remove the evidence of him from your life.”
It seems almost fitting, that I’m going to burn Ronan. Because in the end, that’s who I’m holding onto. Bring me home. There’s only one place that could be. I am ready to return. Ronan was the very first story Jack ever helped me on, and though his hurtful words were aimed at Mason, it’s Ronan that I need to let be born anew. And it’s fitting because Mason is fire, so really, I’m using Mason as my tool to set Ronan free, to set myself free, honestly.
It hasn’t happened yet, but I’ve accepted that it’s going to. It’s just a matter of timing. But this is it. It’s time for me to write my own words again because they are good enough, no matter what anyone else says. The Saintsverse has given me the courage to be proud of my writing again. The Pen boys have proven that I can fail and still get back up again. And while Ronan is still on the periphery, he’s closer now than he’s ever been before, and I am not afraid. I am good enough.
Watch out, world. I’m coming for you. I just have a few fires to light first.