I already had this post scheduled for the first week of March, but wow, how little faith I had in myself. Honestly, this post is probably timely given how psycho I sounded on Monday with my Madhouse savasana story, so this’ll just amplify the fact that not only are writers absolutely bonkers, but I literally felt like I was having a mental breakdown over my writing this weekend.
I don’t think I’ve said this recently, so, as a reminder, all of my novels exist in the same universe. Looking back at the fourth edition of my current projects:
- Andrew, the MC of vampire detective, is the actual MC of the entire universe. Given that he’s a vampire, and thus immortal, he’s threaded through every single story, in one way or another. Some, he has more of a part to (sister witches), and some, he just plays a very minor role (researcher & librarian). Eventually, he’ll have his own book, too, but that’s a whole other problem to tackle when I’m in a very different mindset.
- Mason, my faery MC, well–I’m not actually sure if Andrew will show up in his story, but they do meet eventually, in sister witches. There’s a theme building here.
- Pen boys is the most vague of all of them, and while I’m not going to name Andrew, there is a scene where the boys are in Boston and pass a cop that will look strangely familiar to readers. They, along with the bookstore boys, exist on the outskirts of the universe, which is kind of funny, given.
- I’m skipping sister witches.
- And Saintsverse because to try to explain that is to spoil a lot.
- Given that the owners of the bookstore in Will & Émilien’s story is definitely one of the Pen boys, and I’m not revealing who, but there may be a name drop at the end of the story. We’ll never actually meet them, but the bookstore boys takes place the farthest in the future from everything else. There’s also no magic in bookstore boys (there is, technically, since it exists in the universe) because it’s a contemporary.
- You know what, circle back with me about space thieves in a probably distant future.
- Eyyyyy, then there’s the researcher & the librarian, which I just know is going to piss people off to no end because sister witches takes place a mere 30ish years after Freddie’s story, so they were THAT close to interacting, but don’t get to. Either way, Andrew has a prominent role in Freddie’s story, even if he only ends up having a couple scenes.
Okay, I skipped sister witches because that is the entire point of this post, and it’s exhausting.
I haven’t dropped some sister witches aesthetics in a blog in a long time, and it feels so good to be doing it now. Goddess, I just love this story so damn much, and I can’t wait for all of you to read it someday.
Hopefully someday soon? If I don’t keep trying to make myself miserable?
Sister witches is the culmination of the entire universe. Ignoring bookstore boys for a moment, which does take place farther in the timeline, but which is also the one that’s tied in the least, sister witches is pretty much the future, and subsequent end, of the timeline. It’s got a very Endgame vibe to it. It’s a trilogy, and, in the first one, we’re introduced to our core characters–Henley, Adelaide, Margot, Theodore, and Finn. The second one, however, builds on that by a lot. In addition to our original coven and original two demons, we get Ileana, Kiran, and Zariah as new witches, Diego & Hector as new demons, and, you guessed it, Mason & Andrew.
I mean, I could end this here, and you’d probably get the gist of why this is so difficult. Spoiler alert, Andrew has been alive for two thousand years, which means he’s going to be in any book that I ever write, as long as it exists within this universe, because he’s literally always been there. (This is a little not true because he won’t be in my desert witch story, since that takes place pre-him, though he will be very briefly in it at the end, but as an infant.) And, not only that, but if you made me pick three MCs out of my universe and say, “Okay, these are the ones to watch,” they would be Henley, Andrew, and Mason. They are the biggest stories out of everyone’s. Sure, Freddie’s great, and I adore him, but those core three are the ones that make up the largest section of the universe, and they all come together in sister witches.
I just–why did I do this to myself?
I won’t lie, I was really lazy with the second sister witches. I have the entire trilogy written because the way my brain works is that I’ve got to get everything out before I can work on revising it into a cohesive story, so the entire trilogy was written before I even started revising the first book, which I finished revising last summer. Well, I thought I’d finished.
They tell you that middle books are hard, and I always read in acknowledgements that authors don’t really believe that until they’re actually struggling through a middle book, and I’m here to be a literal echo and say yup, it’s true. They’re the worst. I don’t know why they’re so hard, but they are, and it probably has to do with the fact that most middle books are meant to act as a bridge between one huge plot point and another so they always feel like they’re falling apart because middle books are the building blocks that are creating something larger, so it’s a lot of heavy lifting without a lot of forward momentum. And that’s very much what the second sister witches is–I love the first book, and I’m always going to be excited about the third book, so the second one just kind of flounders, which meant that I sped through it so that I could get to the exciting bits in the third book.
Now, I’m in no way mad at myself for doing that because the direction I’m headed now wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t first failed so miserably, but it’s still just–I got real angry this weekend. I don’t know how to describe this in a way that non-writers will understand, but if you’re a writer, you’ll get it. One of my CP’s edits was that the introduction of Mason & Andrew felt unnecessary the way it was written. She knew why the characters themselves were necessary, but the way I was currently threading them in just didn’t work. And look, she’s dead on, and I’m so happy that she was able to help me get to that realization. But that kind of work, restructuring the introduction of two major characters, is a lot.
Originally, this month, I was doing pretty good. There are 35 chapters in total, two of which I still have to add, but I was powering right through. I managed to restructure Mason’s introduction without a ton of huge changes. Most of the groundwork for him was already there, so it was just a matter of tweaking a few things, adding in some scenes, and gently building him into the framework of the story so he made more sense when we finally were introduced to him. There were other big things, too, that needed changing that ended up working in tandem with adjusting Mason’s introduction to the story, so it was all just very homogeneous and fun to work on.
I should have known Andrew was going to be the problem child. You don’t just live two thousand years without creating a few impossible problems, and one of those was apparently being introduced into sister witches. I’d say I probably spent a solid twelve hours wanting to pull my hair out while I was trying to figure out just how, exactly, Andrew fit into the story. How I had it currently wasn’t working enough, and in order to make his introduction at the end of the second sister witches both believable and impactful, I needed to thread him in a bit earlier. I’d been slowly doing that work over the course of the book, but, on Saturday, as I was finally approaching the point where we actually meet Andrew rather than just hear about him, I could see that it still wasn’t enough.
My poor friends, honestly. All they got to hear from me this weekend was my frustration, which mostly constituted long silences followed by “okay but what if” before another bout of aggravation while we did other things until I circled back again. I couldn’t get away from it. And I kept poking at it both because I was so close to the end of the book and because I was so close to figuring out the solution. Normally, too, I would walk away. Do some yoga, go for a walk, read a book, whatever that wasn’t writing, but I couldn’t convince myself. I had to keep yanking at these threads. I could see how close I was to figuring it out, but there was something missing, something that I was totally blind to, but that I also couldn’t let go of. I was being stubborn as hell, and though everyone was telling me to walk away for a bit, I couldn’t.
I do a lot of writing thinking while driving, showering, or practicing yoga. They’re my biggest writing revelation moments, and, sometimes, I’ll just catch myself staring off into the distance, my whole body still, breathing really slow, with no idea how long I’ve been like that. Truthfully, I have no idea how I didn’t crash my car this weekend on my way into Salem to pick up my lunch, but thank Satan for that drive because it finally started to click. I’d been going back and forth with my friend, Erin, first over video chat before we watched a movie, and then all morning as I toed the line of not enough and YES THAT’S IT. I started to pull in Sara, my new CP and friend, since she’s read the first one, but it still wasn’t there.
I literally wanted to put on my sneakers, go outside in the 19°F cold, and run. Guys, I HATE running. It is my least favorite thing in the world. I’d rather read Chaucer than run. But I was feeling so trapped, so furious, that I needed an outlet.
And so, I ordered some Life Alive, hopped in the car, and literally drove myself to the answer.
When I got home, it wasn’t fully there yet, so I ate lunch, called Sara, and got back in the car to drive to the grocery store. And over the course of the following hour, we finally got to the root of the problem, yanked it all out, and realized some even more exhausting things.
I have to go back to the first book. I’m not going to go into the specifics of how Andrew is going to be threaded through the first book, but the why is pretty simple. If you’ve got someone that old in your universe, and he’s meant to be a large part of one section of it, you’ve got to know he exists long before you ever actually come in contact with him. And, of course, like all good revisions, it meant strengthening something else in the first book that I was kind of leaving for later to figure out. This is how it always happens. When you finally figure out the thing you’ve been struggling with, it opens up doors all around. My villain is lacking in the first book, and I wasn’t totally sure how to build a sturdier foundation with her, but now, with the knowledge of how I need to incorporate Andrew into the first book, well. That’s practically doing the work for me.
This does mean, however, that even though I only have five gods damn chapters left of the second sister witches, I’m stopping for now. The changes to the first book, though minimal, in truth, are going to have huge impacts in the second book, and it’s going to shift things a bit with how our characters view Andrew when it finally comes time to meet him. That doesn’t mean the edits I’ve already done last month are null & void, but it does mean that continuing to revise would just be futile, and it’s better for everyone involved if I finally walk away–now that I’ve found the answer, of course–take a bit to breathe, and start all over from the beginning.
Revision is definitely going well, even if it seems like it’s going miserably, which is really just revision in a nutshell. I really thought I was going to be posting this update saying that I’d finished revising the second book, and I was super excited, and while I am definitely in a good place with them, I’m so far from being done with the second book. I do think that work will go pretty quickly from here since there aren’t huge structural changes that have to happen in the first book, just a new chapter to write and some revision to a few other chapters. And, when I do finally get back to the second book, I’ll mostly breeze through until I get back to this same place where I was stuck before, and hopefully, all these revisions will mean that this goes really easily the next time around.
Sometimes, writing is easy and fun and a grand old time. Sometimes, I’ll write two books in four months, and there won’t be big, messy things that have to change. Sometimes, it’ll just be go, go, go.
And, other times, it’ll be the worst. I’ll want to ditch it altogether. I’ll be so frustrated that I’ll make everyone else miserable around me because I won’t stop picking and prodding and pulling it all apart until, finally, there it is.
Revision sucks, but it’s also like doing a puzzle, and I can’t wait to see what this picture looks like when it comes together.