Vacancy Book One: The Weary Traveler will be here on 2/24/2021!
I am absolutely losing my mind, Dear Reader. Just freaking brain matter all over the walls and the ceiling and the floor. I’m slipping in it, I’m drenched in spinal fluid, and little chunks of skull? Oh, you know they’re embedded in my feet!
Okay, admittedly that is not where I thought this blog would go right off the bat (or at all), but at least I didn’t say I’m losing my shit.
I’ve finished all the big prose edits and all the little prose edits, and now I’ve just got grammar and typo edits to do. Tomorrow I start listening to the book by compiling it in Microsoft Word and using Read Aloud. Zira will be my bestie for next couple days, and I love her because she never gets worn out (even though she also never pronounces “read” right). This step is crucial in fixing those little things my eyes gloss over or the really dumb mistakes like using “lead” instead of “led” or “rogue” v “rouge.” The Read Aloud function also points out when I mix up the tiny, two and three letter words, like “on” instead of “in” or “off” and “of.” It’s all easy stuff a brain on auto translates because I already know what’s happening, but would probably stick out to a new reader as sloppy because god forbid in 100k+ words the author transposes two fucking letters, right?
Having the book read to me (that’s “red,” Zira, not “reed”) also lets me feel how the story sounds. Zira doesn’t have much emotion in her voice (but for a robot she can be surprisingly good and navigating punctuation, questions, and even exclamations), and this is a pretty good thing for a last step edit. See, when I read to myself, I do the voices, I read the lines with the tone I intended, humor, anxiety, passion, but Zira does not play that game. She just drops my attempts at comedy onto me like a lead (that’s “led” not “leed”) balloon, and sometimes it falls so flat I have to take a second to reassess. This is great for using the same word close together and sentence variation too, and helps me rein in my tendency to just write the longest fucking sentences imaginable. Don’t get me wrong, I am still wordy as fuck, but I am starting to figure out how to portray what I want without overloading the reader. At least I think so anyway. (Though reading all this Pratchett and Gaiman is not helping.)
This is also when I go back and make myself chill the fuck out. In the original drafts I tend to put in a few more…suggestive lines, then as I edit I take them out, then on my last real revision (the one I just did) I find myself putting some of the choicest ones back in because they never leave my mind. Now the real challenge comes where I have to hear them read back to me and go, “Okay, would he really say this or do I just think it’s funny?” You know that writing advice “Kill your darlings?” Well, for me that translates to, “Take out the dick jokes, Ashley–you can only reference one sex act per 20k words, and you burnt them all by chapter 3!” (This is not an accurate representation of The Weary Traveler, this is hyperbole.)
Side story: I had a dirty joke in The Association that I kept in until the last minute. Husband insisted Hunter would not say it. He was absolutely right, of course, and I hated cutting it, but the final version of that book came out on 10/30/20 without the joke. Then when I listened to the audio book at the end of January and the part where I cut it came up, it was the first thing I thought of. It wasn’t there, but it was in my head, and I laughed, and then I felt a little sad it was gone, and then I felt like a moron because I know it’s better without it. Why am I like this?
Anyway, I’m getting closer every day to finally realizing my dream for Vacancy. Well, my dream is a TV show, but a series of self published novels is close enough in this lifetime. I’m over the moon and all that jazz, and I’m so giddy that I can’t stop expressing myself in idioms. Thankfully the book is already written.