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Taken On Grace

Over the weekend I finished writing the first draft of Heirs of Grace, my twenty-something-th novel. (It’s probably the 21st novel I’ve written that’s going to actually be published. Or maybe the 20th, as my forthcoming The Deep Woods is right around 40,000 words, and could be considered a novella or a novel depending on which definition you use. I tend to think of it as a short novel. Which makes Heirs of Grace the 25th novel I’ve actually finished, since I have four trunk books that are complete but not really publishable. A perusal of my bibliography won’t allow you to come up with the same numbers I have here, since I’ve done a couple of pseudonymous work-for-hire books that aren’t listed there. Well. You see the confusion.)

I like this book a lot. It’s a contemporary fantasy standalone with some romantic elements — arguably what I do best, and certainly what I like doing most. I think it has some of my best writing, and jokes, and character stuff, and weird magic. I put everything I’ve got into this one. I hope when the time comes to read it in a few months, you’ll find it worthwhile.

Do people care about metrics? I find it interesting, to understand my own working habits, which are irregular and not really a model anyone should follow. I’m not sure why anyone should care about how anyone else works, though. It just seems to invite pointless comparisons. Most readers likely don’t care how you wrote a book — they just care about how the book turned out in the end.

But Heirs of Grace was a weird book for me, in many ways. I sold it as a serial to 47North, to be published in five novelette-sized chunks over successive weeks, then collected in a complete edition. So it’s a novel, but there are little mini-arcs to each individual section, too. Structuring it that way was fascinating, and gave a solid shape to what had been a somewhat messy book in my mind.

The deadlines were interesting, too. The first chapter was due at the end of September, and after that, I pretty much had a deadline every two weeks, so I was writing 15-20,000 words every couple of weeks — and revising them, so they were fairly polished when I turned them in. I blew one deadline because I got sick and needed a week-long extension, but managed to get the installment after that one done on time, so as a whole I hit my markers. I ended up writing 90,000 words or so over a span of about 50 days — not that I worked on it every day. I’ve always been a binge writer by preference. I like to take many hours at a stretch and produce many words, when time allows.

I stuck pretty close to my outline until this past week, when I realized my planned ending was stupid, morally reprehensible, and — worst of all — boring. I tried to think of a better ending, one that was earned and powerful. I talked out the implications of changing things with a friend at a cafe on Saturday, and I think I came up with something that works.

Those rolling deadlines and the tight time-frame — and the fact that this book is quite important to me, one of the most personal novels I’ve written since Briarpatch — gave my life a peculiar rhythm these past couple of months, and made me identify quite intensely with my characters. I find myself really missing them this morning. I’ll get to spend a few more weeks with them as I work with my editor on final revisions, but soon it will be time to move on to the next book.

I’m feeling happy and accomplished and bittersweet and melancholy today. So, you know. Like a human.

Published inNotQuiteNaNoWriMoIngWriting


  1. R. R.

    Any chance you can give us a hint what “Heirs of Grace” is about? Also, perhaps at some point you could actually give us a description of the original planned ending? (No rush on that second one; I wouldn’t want to read that before reading the book itself anyway.)

    The serial format is interesting, but given that I prefer my reading material to be constructed from dead trees, I’d be getting it in the collected volume anyway. (I’m assuming 47North intends to provide a physical version of the all-in-one edition. They’ve done that with other Kindle serials.)

    Speaking of which, is “Bride of Death” still going to be coming out in paperback? The ebook’s been available for a while now, but neither nor Amazon are showing any indication that the paperback exists, even as a pre-order.

    The Amazon link for “Bride of Death” on the top left of the page is broken; it just links to the current page.

    (Looking at the HTML source, I see that the problem is that there’s an extra set of quotes surrounded the URL, causing the href attribute to be interpreted as blank.)

  2. Tim Pratt Tim Pratt

    It’s a contemporary fantasy with a romantic element. 🙂 When it gets closer to publication I’m sure I’ll talk more about what it’s about. Having just finished writing it, it’s beyond my powers to come up with a good elevator pitch at this point… Basically it’s about a young woman who inherits a house from a long-lost relative that’s full of magical stuff. And then she meets some annoyed distant relatives who are angry she got the inheritance and they didn’t; some of them are monsters. In theory there will be a paperback version when it’s done, yeah.

    Bride of Death will be out in paperback from The Merry Blacksmith Press, though it may not be available until early next year — January, I hope — last I heard from my publisher. I got the ebook out in early November because there was no reason to make people who wanted that to wait for a simultaneous release with the print version. (As for no pre-order option, I dunno. I do the e-books myself, but the print books are the publisher’s bailiwick. I don’t even know how the pre-order pages are generated.)

    Thanks for the link fix!

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