Charms is finally off to beta readers (interestingly enough, exactly 2 years after A.C. went off to betas). Finally seems an odd word to use since Assassin's took over twenty years from start to finish, but Charms was a hard book for me in different ways. I wasn't as familiar with the setting or the story (unless I spent twenty years at it, there was no way to be as familiar with it), and it became a real test of my process. I'd been told every book is a little different, even if the basic process is the same, and I think in this case, the books were very different, so there had to be some changes to account for that. But one thing remained the same: I go through a hate phase during the revisions, and it's when I'm coming out of that phase that a book is about done.
I'm not 100% happy with Charms, but I do think a lot of that has to do with not being too sure of the genre. It's one I read, but not one I imagined writing until flaws in the Anita Blake series began to frustrate me enough to bring out that "I can do this" feeling. Even the YA I've begun working on falls in the epic fantasy genre. And while urban fantasy is still fantasy, it's definitely not my comfort zone, so me being less than 100% happy with it is to be expected.
My process with Charms was trimmed down some. I skipped a few drafts and discovered the important parts of the process for me are the foundations, the plotting form and outline, the first narrative draft, and the notes draft. I did do a separate building draft, but it felt more like a sketchy rough draft than an individual draft, and I suspect it won't be as necessary in a lot of my future novel work (though some novels may indeed require that extra step). The revisions were easier, but only because there was no separate revision to deal solely with language, so a lot less hair pulling. Still, there was a lot I had to work out that was genre related as well as specific to the story that made the revisions frustrating, just in a different way.
What I think was most interesting happened when I sent it off to betas. When I sent Assassin's out, I was at a loss for a week or two. With Charms, I was diving into the YA before I even sent it out. I'm sure the time difference in writing (two years versus twenty) made a huge difference—I wasn't nearly as attached to Charms as I was to Assassin's. Doesn't mean that I'm not wondering how it's going and checking email hoping to see an early response, but it was definitely easier to let go of and move on to the next project.
I still have one more step to go through with Charms: polishing and submitting. And there's already one difference I'm aware of between the books: epic isn't in a good place right now, while urban is (granted, paranormal has overtaken urban, but urban isn't down and out the way epic is). I sent A.C. out knowing the chances of it being picked up were slim even if agents felt it was well written and publishable. There's just not much of a market for it. Charms has a better chance, assuming I've written the story well. At this point, I'm no more nervous about it than I was with Assassin's, but then my finger isn't on the send button either.
For now, I'm working on a YA and developing the Charms sequel as a weekend project. I'm actually pretty happy that I made the transition from one novel to another so easily. I hate flailing around. I really do. So, I'm kinda hoping this is one difference that will stick with me, that it's not just a difference, but a way in which I've grown as a writer.
Milestones, Process & Craft, The Shunned