So the revisions request for Book 2 of the Frontier Magic trilogy have come in, and I’m head down for the next week and a half.
After much emailing, the consensus is that, among many other things, it needs a title change. The editors felt that Circuit Magician was a good title…for a different book. I have to admit, they’re right. Eff is still the viewpoint character, and it’s still about her, but she’s not a circuit magician. Wash is a circuit magician (arguably the best one they have, but I’m biased), but while he has a large part in the book, it’s really not his story. So – new title.
The editors suggested The Far West. Which is the perfect title…for the third book. This is a good thing, a great thing, because I didn’t have a working title for Book 3 and I was beginning to worry about it. However, it still left us without a title for Book 2. I am generally totally terrible at titles; all I could think of was that it should maybe have something to do with magic. Between us, the editors and I came up with a bunch of things that just didn’t work: Dreams and Spells, Border Spells, [Total Spoiler Title], Magical Mammoths (which not only sounds silly but is totally inaccurate and misleading, as there are hardly any mammoths in this one at all, and none of them are magical in any way).
So I did what I usually do when I’m stuck for a title, and started asking friends. And, as frequently happens, I was in mid-conversation with one of them, explaining why The Far West had to be the title of the third book, when I heard myself say “…and while most of it takes place past the Great Barrier, it…OH. Past the Great Barrier?“ Beth, being Beth, thought for a moment and then said “Across the Great Barrier.” The editor liked it, so Book 2 is now officially Across the Great Barrier (unless Marketing hates it, in which case we’ll have another round).
Meanwhile, I have a ton of revisions to make, some of which have serious implications for Book 3. I have at least one full new chapter to insert (editor wants my viewpoint character along on something that originally happened offstage), and I may need a second one for a complication I summarized later on that he wants more details on. I get to take the ending apart and reconstitute it. I need to add some letters from offstage folks. And I have a week and a half to do it in, during which I also have to make my monthly trip to Chicago.
The funny thing is that while this is a lot of head-down-in-the-manuscript work (and tight timing on top of it, which is not all the editor’s fault – he meant to give me three weeks, but his original email got lost in cyberspace somewhere, so I lost a week), it’s also a lot easier than the death march to the deadline was. Because with revisions, I can skip around. I don’t have to work on each chapter in order; in fact, sometimes it works better if I don’t. I can look at something, decide to leave it for a while, and still get other stuff done while my backbrain is working out how to deal with whatever I skipped. I have a framework.
Sure, working like this does mean that I frequently have a whole collection of really hard bits to frantically finish up the night before it’s due in. But they’re just bits; if I don’t get to them, it can probably go to production without (well, not if I don’t finish the whole new chapter, but that’s not the sort of thing I’d put off til last, either). Sometimes, leaving the hard bits for last actually means I don’t have to do them at all, because the other changes I’ve made elsewhere make those last few things work perfectly as they are (I really like it when that happens, though I can’t count on it.) So even though there’s pressure and a deadline, it’s just not the same as that final trying-to-run-while-knee-deep-in-molasses slog to the end of the first draft. For me, anyway.
But you’re probably not going to get much in the way of blog updates for the next week.