The short answer: almost done, but not quite.
As mentioned earlier, I was on-track to be done by the end of the month. Everything had started to align. Cody and I started churning through the polish pass; cleaning up wording, tossing unnecessary sentences, refining entire paragraphs to improve clarity and impact. After (once again) stressing over what I would do for the book’s cover, having a preconceived notion of what I wanted that cover to be, I stumbled across a stock photo1 that — though it didn’t fit the preconception — declared itself the perfect cover for this story, so I even had that part all set.
Then two things happened.
First, it turned out that the last week in March was the best time for Cody to visit her family, who she had not visited for something like a year and a half2. If we were to get our editing pass done for a March 31 release date, we’d have to compress it into the two weeks since my last post. Ambitious, but doable.
Until, of course, I got waylaid by allergies. I’ve talked about it here before; twice a year, every year, I get two sinus-based allergy attacks. Has happened my entire life; once in the spring, once in the fall. For a long time, doctors diagnosed it as the latest seasonal cold, until I’d built up enough history for them to look at the timing of each and say “…huh.” If I’m proactive and start taking allergy meds (previously Claritin, now Zyrtec) early enough, coupled with Sudafed3 to relieve the worst of the symptoms, it’s not much of an issue.
This year, though, I didn’t get the usual early warning signs. Instead, it started with a weird, shallow, occasional cough. At first, I chalked the cough up to being an idiot and not wearing a respirator while using a hot glue gun to assemble my Stormtrooper helmet paper template. My allergies start with sinus congestion, with itchy eyes, or a sore throat–not a cough. It didn’t occur to me that this cough was anything other than a temporary reaction to me being dumb about fume ventilation.
Bereft of my usual Zyrtec armor, my allergies came on in full force the weekend before Cody’s now-planned family visit. We had made it through about a third of the book4 and now I was all but bed-ridden and unable to sleep without interruption thanks to difficulty breathing. I ended up taking that Monday off of work and slept on-and-off for something like thirteen hours. I kept myself on a steady drip of hot water flavored with lemon. That was about all I was up to. I had no voice on Tuesday or Wednesday, though I managed to work on both days. My voice started creeping back on Thursday and more-or-less returned by Friday. Then Cody was gone.
Suffice it to say, that didn’t make for a productive week of editing.
I’ve continued to edit the book solo, but I consider Cody’s input at this stage essential. She hears problems in my phrasing that I miss. She sees errors in my word choice that are in my blindspots. I can go through the whole book front-to-back and improve on those things, but it’s never going to be as good as when we do so together. I considered — for a fraction of a second — pushing forward and just releasing it with only my copy editing pass on the remaining chapters until I realized that for the colossal mistake it would be. It is far, far more important to me that I deliver my readers a worthy sequel to Ashes than it is to hit any particular release date.
Cody returns today and we’ll pick up right where we left off. I’m guessing mid-to-late April is the most likely release timing at this point.
Then it’s on to Alour-Tan III…
- Ashes‘ cover is also a modified stock photo [↩]
- That’s not to say she didn’t see them; they came to visit us and we also rendezvoused with them at the family cabin in New Hampshire [↩]
- Real damn Sudafed, pseudoephedrine HCl, not that placebo Sudafed-PE garbage. [↩]
- The early going was much slower due to the light editing I had done thus far on the first chapter, so we spent extra time there that the other chapters didn’t need. [↩]