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Revising, fleeing, and screaming
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Hooray! I've heard back about both of the short stories I revised this weekend, and my edits have been accepted for both. And can I just do a quick plug here for Beneath Ceaseless Skies? It's a brand-new market, so there isn't a lot known about it publically yet, but so far my experience with the magazine has been incredible - not only did the original acceptance come fairly quickly, but the edits I got for "The Five Days of Justice Merriwell" were smart, sharp, and exactly on-target - they genuinely made it a better, stronger story, for which I am really grateful - AND it's the fastest-paying pro market I've ever sold to. (I sold the story last week and have already been paid - this is NOT the norm for short story publications!) So: fellow fantasy writers should definitely put Beneath Ceaseless Skies on their submissions list! And both writers and readers can sign up online to receive email notifications when they put up new stories online. I'm really looking forward to reading the first issue!

Yesterday I ran straight into the big Revision Wall in the middle of Kat by Starlight - the point at which I have to start doing major choreography rewrites to try to make my magical action scenes actually fit the Regency layout of the Hot Baths, rather than the original Roman layout I'd relied on in my first draft. Aaagh. This is my very least favorite kind of rewrite, and the kind that intimidates me most. I stared, I fiddled...and, shamefully, I ran away. We spent the afternoon in town instead, browsing through bookstores (yay Waterstones!) and shopping (without luck) for a new pair of cell phones.

Today, though, there was no excuse and no escape. I had to get down to work. Luckily, I'd read a really good, relevant blog post yesterday at SFNovelists: Conquering Procrastination 101, by Mindy Klasky. There are lots of really good points in the entry, but here's the one that really did it for me:
1. Define the project. I need to know, in advance of starting work for the day, what my goal-point is. Today is a writing day? Great, how many words do I need to get done? Today is an editing day? Wonderful, how many chapters must I get through? Today is a research and plot day? Fantastic, what, exactly, do I need answers for by the end of the day.

Read the full entry.

When I read that, I realized what I'd done wrong yesterday. I'd sat in front of the computer, knowing that I eventually had to fix the choreography of all the Baths scenes in the novel, and the prospect had completely overwhelmed me. Too much! Too hard! Too scary! Too--!

Today, after having read that entry, I felt the same panic start to rise, but I fought it down. I didn't have to fix ALL the Hot Baths scenes today. All I had to do was fix the descriptions in one 8-page chapter. Only 8 pages. How hard could it be?

Well, it was hard, actually. But every time I wanted to give up, I reminded myself that I only had a few pages left to go. All I had to do was get through those, and then I could quit for the day having succeeded, instead of having fled. And I did. Chapter Twelve has been revised, and I feel so much better for having managed it. Tomorrow, I'll fix the descriptions and choreography in Chapter Thirteen...and so on, until I'm out of the Baths and back onto dry ground again. It's suddenly feeling do-able again, which is great.

And thanks to the people who reminded me of why all this scary work is worth doing, by sending me Kat's Publisher's Marketplace announcement! I screamed out loud when I saw it (scaring poor Maya!). Reading it made me sooooooooooo happy. :)

Stephanie Burgis's KAT BY MOONLIGHT, plus KAT BY STARLIGHT, and KAT BY GHOSTLIGHT, set in a society where magic is the greatest scandal of all, and 14-year-old Kat, who has recently discovered she's inherited her dead mother's magical abilities, is determined to use all her powers to help her family find happiness, even if she has to turn highwayman, battle wild magic, and confront real ghosts along the way, to Namrata Tripathi at Hyperion Children's, for publication in Winter 2010, by Barry Goldblatt at Barry Goldblatt Literary (NA).

The plot description is for the trilogy as a those of you who've read a draft of the first book can now see a few hints of what comes afterwards! ;)

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