It’s been over a year since I wrote my “Meet the Project” post introducing you (vaguely) to my WIP, code name KJ. No, I don’t have publication on the horizon yet, but a lot has happened in the past year, and I thought you might like to check in and see where things are.
In that post I mentioned my goal to finish the draft by the end of the year. Sure enough, by the grace of God, I wrote the last lines in December 2020, with a very messy draft weighing in at 125,000 words. (My goal was 100,000.) New Year’s Day, 2021, I jumped back in and started revisions.
A small, Christian-run press called Mountain Book Ink was running a manuscript contest that opened in January, offering a full professional edit and possibly a publication contract for the grand prize winner. The edit would be great, but I really had my eye on that potential contract.
I submitted my first 10,00 words in time for the early bird discount and moved on with revisions. (Talk about nerves, sending my first three chapters, a cover letter, and a whole plot synopsis to a publisher! I literally had to close my eyes to hit the “send” button.)
I made it to semifinals (announced in April) but not the finals (announced late June). It really worked out for the best though, because finalists had to turn in their manuscripts by mid-July, and with half a book still to go, there was no possible way I could finish revisions by then. Besides, the judges’ feedback pointed out some things I need to fix–like making sure my ending has a proper climax. Oops. 🙂 This way I have more time and less pressure to make KJ the best book it can be. God knows best!
I took three weeks in June to hide–I mean stay–at my aunt and uncle’s house in Maine, where I could recuperate after finishing grad school, work on KJ, and get hands-on “book research” of the New England setting. I hoped to finish revisions there, in case I made it to the contest finals, but my brain wasn’t very cooperative. Once I learned I didn’t place in finals, I let go of the stress of trying to revise so much so soon and ended up letting go of the revisions themselves for the rest of the summer.
It’s late September, and I’ve jumped back into KJ–again. 🙂 My goal is to finish all revisions and have the manuscript ready for outside eyes (beta readers) by the end of the year. Three months. A part of me still freaks out when I think about all the work I have waiting for me (half a book yet, with significant changes between here and the end) and how hard the writing still is some days. But little by little, chapter by chapter, by God’s grace and for His glory I’ll get there! Even if takes longer than I want.
What has changed the most in KJ?
The first half has remained largely the same, with only small changes or developments that deepen the story, characters, and themes. The middle section (which I largely skipped over last draft because I didn’t know what to write, and where I’m currently revising) now has the support and tension it needs to keep from sagging. From here to the end, individual events have mostly stayed the same, just with a new/enlarged plotline that links them all together and yes, builds to a climax this time. And man, what a climax. I’m stoked, guys, seriously. 😀
After 13 years of construction, I feel like KJ is finally taking shape into a story I can be confident in and proud to share. Have I mentioned I’m excited about it? 😉
What’s the best way to sum up these changes?
Lord of the Rings meets To Kill a Mockingbird. A quest, a trial, adventure, emotions, honor, racism, and a good dash of covid–I mean plague–and chronic illness just to spice things up. (In my defense, I had the plague ideas well before the pandemic. Pretty sure 2020 stole my idea . . .) I’ve also enlarged the role of [character’s] chronic illness, modeled after my own, of course. It’s been both exciting and a little nerve-wracking to delve so deep into such personal challenges and weave them into the rest of the story.
What can we do?
Pray. Pray for me to be patient with my health and the delays it puts in the writing process, for me to stay excited about these ideas, for the story to continue to develop in the way that best honors God, and for perseverance and discipline to keep writing (and wisdom to know when to give myself grace).
And if you think of it and want to ask about the writing or let me know you’re excited to read the finished product, I welcome those words! Knowing someone cares about my project and is interested in it goes a long way in keeping me motivated!
If you want the monthly scoop of the behind-the-scenes details, along with books I’m reading and other stuff I’m doing, you can sign up for my author newsletter.
See you around! 🙂