Multitasking When Writing a Series

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Image Source: copyright Melody Daggerhart 2016, cover of “Of Snow and Whiskers”, YA novel by Andrea Brokaw.

Ja-ja! The cover illustration for Andrea Brokaw’s upcoming novel Of Snow and Whiskers is done! The book will be coming out near the end of the year, so I was lucky to have lots of time to work on this commission. I will be looking forward to doing a review when it is released. 🙂

Other than cover art, I’ve also been working fast and furiously on three books at once. THREE?! Yes, three. Why? My initial response is, “Because I’m an idiot.” No one in her right mind would do something like that. That’s like NaNoWriMo with a goal of 400K words in one month. And, yes, it is taking a toll. My work days start at 6 A.M. and often last until midnight without very many breaks … even working through meals and weekends. My mind is getting spongy. My eyes are burning. I’m dropping everything I put my hands on. So, I know I can’t keep up this pace for long. And it is for that reason that I will probably take a three-five day weekend over Halloween weekend. I can tell I need some time to just breathe and “be” before I give myself a heart attack.

But my second response to that question is just as simple: momentum. Every writer knows exactly what I’m talking about, right? If your progress has been slow moving on a project, but then suddenly that “A-ha!” moment hits and you clearly see the rest of the path before you, you can’t help but jump on that bike and fly with the wind in your hair. And you refuse to stop until you keel over exhausted. That’s where I’ve been for the past three weeks. But I doubt my body or mind can keep it going for four. At some point I have to rake leaves and do the budget, amIright? Heh …

So, here’s how I’m juggling three books at once, in case readers, or other writers, want to know.

Early morning hours, I open one of the books I’ve already written for this series. I’ve already finished Book 1: The Changeling. I’m currently about halfway through Book 2: The Fledgling. Since it’s been a few years past working on these projects, I can see them through relatively fresh eyes now. (Current bloodshot eyeballs and bags under the eyes being the exception.) I need to read for consistency, primarily, because the series needs to connect as one big story. Stuff I’m writing now circles back to book 1 … and so on. They’ve already been edited to death, so this only takes about one to two hours to do one chapter a day, making notes in my current project along the way. But if I run across an error that was missed in previous versions, or if I see a better way of wording something to tighten the writing and word count, I go ahead and make minor adjustments.

Every time I publish a new book in the series, I offer upgrades on past editions of previously published books. So these new edits will eventually replace the old digital offerings at Amazon and Smashwords. That’s the great thing about digital publications. You can always upgrade them without extra expense.

After a break to take care of myself, take care of my pets, and grab something to eat, I hit the writing desk again to work on my current project, Book 5: The Dragonling. This ends up taking the rest of the day until dinner because, though I am in the fourth draft, there is still a lot of large-scale editing going on. I try to make it through one chapter, same as with the “old” book notes and edits. I have to say I like it more and more as it begins to shine. Still no expected release date, but I’m halfway through the fourth draft now. It’s almost ready for beta readers.

During dinner, I sometimes watch an hour of Netflix, just to give my mind a change of pace. But then I go back to work and either finish the current chapter of work in The Dragonling, or pick up Book 6 (which has only a tentative working title). The original script I wrote for this series years ago had 5 books total. Because of the major changes I created for this version, there will be at least 6. (There will only be 7 books if 5 and 6 are too large for print editions and need to be broken up into smaller units.)  Since this is the end of the series, I decided it was best if I worked on them together. It slows down production on 5 a little, but it also means 6 should be ready sooner than otherwise planned.

Book 6 is only in outline form right now. All of my unused notes have been dumped into 6’s folder. But I have also been doing research. And just recently I’ve drafted the first two scenes. So, I’m excited to see the next book taking shape, even though I haven’t finished the current one. Progress on book 6 looks very different from the other sets of work goals. It’s still mostly in the information gathering and organizing stage. So, if the clock strikes midnight before I complete a scene, so be it. For now, this book is not the one with the deadline. But you’d never know by the pace I’m working on it.

So, back to work for me! And Happy Halloween to all of you. 🙂 Here’s to hoping we all have a safe and fun weekend of autumn festivities.

 

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