And My New New Book Title Is…

The manuscript formerly known as Enemy Accountant is now known as… Blood Money.

As I’m sure you’re tired of hearing, Blood Money is due to be published in February of next year. I don’t have cover art yet, but rest assured that as soon as I do I’ll share it everywhere. I’ll also be posting the first chapter on my author website soon, so keep an eye out for that.

In the meantime, here’s a brief teaser about what the book’s about:

Blood Money tells the story of Azzam al Abdullah, an Iraqi-born accountant living and working in London for Sun Corp, a corporation serving as a front for global Islamic extremist terrorism. When his employer finds out Azzam’s been informing on him to the CIA, a woman from Azzam’s past is put in danger. Azzam has to choose: Save her life or take Sun Corp down for good.

I can’t, can’t, can’t wait to share this book with all of you. It’s my favorite thing I’ve ever written!

Super Shiny-Clean

Maybe you remember this or maybe you don’t, but my second book is due to be published by Champagne Books in February of next year. Hooray! Exciting! A ton of freaking work!

You see, I’m finding that the trouble with editing a soon-to-be-published-book is, well, editing it. Again. For maybe the umpteenth freaking time.

When my book was born, the first draft was my absolute pride and joy and the very best thing I’ve ever written. Until I dusted it off a few months later for proofreading and found that it was in dire need of some serious tweaking. I performed the tweaks and thought I was done. Then, I took some classes and realized that the entire freaking structure of the book was wrong.

After some serious deleting, slicing, dicing, rewrites, and still more proofreading, I decided it was ripe for sending out to friends and family to read. They all had suggestions and edits, so I scrutinized my manuscript yet again.

Only then did I send it out to publishers for consideration. Champagne Books liked it and referred me to an editor, who has just sent me revisions for the first half of the book.

So now I get to go through my book for the fourth or fifth time and try try try not to start hating my own writing because oh my gosh I’m so sick of reading my own stuff ahhhhhhhhh!!!

But this is the publishing world, no? The book has to be excellent and super shiny-clean to pass muster and be released into the wild. I’d just never realized how much work went into the book before it got published.

All this work just makes me eager to start a new book, though. I can’t wait to go hog wild with a sloppy first draft all full of irregularities and tense changes. Let the creativity flow and the chips fall where they may and leave the rigid days of manuscript polishing behind for just a little while!

But first, I have to finish my edits.

I can assure you that should you choose to buy my book when it comes out, it will be exceedingly polished and really easy to read.

I should know, I’ve read it myself about half a dozen times.

Brand New Procrastinator

I’m discovering something almost all authors have known for almost all time: It is WAY more fun to procrastinate when you’re working against a deadline. A deadline is a surefire way to guarantee that all those tasks you’ve been putting off forever seem really tantalizing.

Example:

Erika’s Inner Monologue: I really should start working on my back cover copy so I can turn that marketing sheet in to my publisher.

Oh, but look how dusty the dining table looks. I should polish it.

You know what would be more fun, though? Getting that back cover copy written. Then you’ll have all the time in the world to polish all the furniture you want.

Yeah, but that table really is pretty dusty. This’ll just take a second…

One hour later…

Hooray! The entire house is cleaned top to bottom. Oh, I’m so tired though. My poor pregnant body feels like someone pummeled it with a meat tenderizer. I better go take a nap. I’ll get to that back cover copy tomorrow…

End scene.

This is so weird for me, I’ve never been a procrastinator. Ever. In school, I was that kid who finished essays the day after they were assigned so I wouldn’t have to stress out over them in the future. I’ve always been all about Making Future Erika’s Life Easier but now that I’ve got a publishing contract…Well, Future Erika seems to always have a better grasp of what’s going on and I keep thinking maybe I should just wait for her to get on it.

Preposterous. Because you know why? Future Erika’s just gonna keep being more pregnant than me. I should really give her a break. And maybe go admire my freshly polished table one more time.

Contract-ing Universe

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about this yet. Maybe it’s a testament to how much it rocked my world that I haven’t even managed to put fingers to keyboard here in well over a week (though if you “Like” me on Facebook, you’ll always have updates first. Just sayin’…)

Anyway, enough coyness! On Monday of last week, I heard back from one of the publishers I’d met at the PNWA Writer’s Conference last year. I opened the email without any trepidation whatsoever, fully convinced it’d be a standard rejection letter I could chalk up to paying my dues.

Which is why I had to read the email three times before I understood what she was saying. She wanted to publish my book Enemy Accountant. Like, actually publish it. As in, here’s a publishing contract, I’ll put you in touch with your editor.

It really did feel like my universe shrank in that moment. There was only this amazing, unbelievable email and the blood I could hear rushing around past my ears. Bunches of phone calls with loved ones later and I believed it a tiny bit more, but it really didn’t sink in until I signed the contract and sent it back a week later.

So, barring some unforeseen circumstance, I’ll be an officially official published author in February of next year. Yes, I know, I published PWNED which technically makes me a published author, but this is different. There were no contracts with PWNED. No professional editors. It was just me and whatever friends were willing to read and critique it for me, plus an amazing graphic designer who did me a favor, plus the handful of early supporters and readers who were kind enough to give my work a chance.

This will be different in some ways. Cover design, title, and layout are all out of my hands. I’ll still be primarily responsible for the marketing and footwork in getting the book out there, but I’ll be able to say the book was published, that I stand with the full support of my publisher who read my work and thought it was worth sharing.

This is going to be a wild ride, and I’m so glad to be on it with all of you who have encouraged me, supported me, bought and read and reviewed my writing. You guys are the best, and I can’t wait to share Enemy Accountant (title likely to be changed) with you soon!

The Perils of Being Fast

I read a fascinating Slate article today on how to write faster. This is, either fortunately or not, something I never struggle with.

Blogging helped me learn how to write quickly, for one. Blogging is a terrific way to hone writing skills, because it’s almost always really easy to write a blog post when you’ve got one roiling around in your brain. NaNoWriMo helped too, because you have such a huge daily word requirement that you have no choice but to just get stuff on the page.

So how fast is fast? I’d consider myself a fast writer. I can consistently churn out about 1,000 words per hour, but this number can go up or down depending on how much research I have to do. If writing was all I did every day, I could conceivably write a handful of novels and short stories every year providing my fingers and supply of ideas held up.

Still, there are pros and cons to writing fast. On the pro side, if you have a short attention span (like me, and almost everyone I know who’s my age {darn Internet, making it easy to access short, easy-to-digest morsels of information}) it’s much easier to stay engaged and interested in a story if you’re able to write it quickly. Plus, it’s a huge rush to complete an entire novel in a month or two. I met people at the writer’s conference earlier this month who’d been writing their books for years. I was almost a little afraid to tell them I wrote my first draft in a month.

On the con side, quantity doesn’t always equate to quality. The more I learn about writing, the more I realize this. For example, the value of an outline. I don’t outline, as a rule. I like to meet my characters, get them in trouble, and then watch how they get themselves out of it. It’s fun to write this way, and can lead to some surprising twists.

However, this also means I end up with some pretty ragged first drafts. Take the novel I’m working on right now, Enemy Accountant. I wrote the first draft last November, and now I’m “revising” it. And by “revising” it I mean I’m rewriting the whole freaking thing because I know I’m capable of telling the story so much better and I’m unwilling to send it off to agents and publishers when it’s anything less than the best I can possibly do.

One could argue that my first draft has become my outline. Bob Mayer has a great quote about this, he says, “I would offer that all writers outline. Some just write a really extensive outline called the first draft.”

My writing style is consistent with my personality type, though. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda person, whose spontaneity works out great sometimes and gets me in huge trouble at other times. I admire people who think things through and have a perfect plan and know exactly where they’re going with their writing. That’s just never going to be me.

So I guess it’s a good thing I write so dang fast. This way I can just proliferate bunches of mediocre first drafts every year, and then spend the rest of my time cleaning those drafts up and rewriting them entirely. This makes me feel like a crappy carpenter who’s perpetually measuring once and cutting twice, but hey. It’s working for me so far.