Yep, it's done. I have a first draft. I honestly had begun to think hell was going to freeze over (or the ice caps melt) before I had a manuscript to work with. When I typed the last sentence, I had tears in my eyes. Could have been the story's ending, I suppose, but I'm more inclined to think it was the relief of knowing the biggest part of the battle was over.
I'm not sure why it was such a battle. I liked the story idea and I loved my characters, but 30,000 words into the novel I junked 15,000 words and started over. Then other things happened and I lost momentum again and again. I feel as though I pulled this manuscript through a tiny knothole word-by-word.
Altogether, I have written the first drafts of six novels. Number one, The Troubleshooter, which I wrote with my brother, was revised several times and finally released as an audiobook. That manuscript has potential as a mystery if I go back and work on it some more.
First draft number two is romantic suspense, tentatively called Against Her Better Judgment. I started to revise it once, but abandoned it to write novel number three. Number two is still sitting on a nearby shelf, its pages somewhat yellowed with age, patiently waiting until I give it another try.
That number three novel, the mystery The Prairie Grass Murders, was published in hardcover by Five Star, as an audiobook by Books in Motion, and releases in paperback from Harlequin Worldwide on February 1st (eeks, that's tomorrow).
Novel number four, The Desert Hedge Murders, was released in hardcover in August 2009 by Five Star and is scheduled for a September release in paperback by Harlequin Worldwide. I haven't heard from Books in Motion yet, so no audiobook.
My fifth novel, Wishing Caswell Dead, is waiting for revisions. I'm deciding if I want to do a drastic rewrite to change from multiple point of view to a main character first-person point of view.
And number six (known as the untitled Lynnette suspense novel) is the first draft I finished this weekend. I'm going to let it rest for two weeks while I catch up on my To Do List. Then I will begin revising. I'll have a stack of notes from my critique group for the first thirteen chapters, so I'll go through those first. Then I'll do a complete read from the monitor, fixing mistakes as I go. I'll also mark places that need an expanded description, an added scene, or historical information to enhance the plot. I'll go back and make those changes, and then I'll print out the complete manuscript so I can do a full silent read from paper, followed by a full read out loud.
Once I'm satisfied with the novel, the story arc, and the characters, I'll begin the self-editing process. I follow a "one step at a time" program I set up that addresses all of my weak points.
My goal is to finish all of those steps by March 26th. The Northern Colorado Writers Conference is March 26-27, and I have scheduled an agent pitch session for the 27th.
I'll be talking more about each of these steps in the revision and self-editing process as I go along. For now, please join me as I sing along with James Brown: I feel good. Dada dada dada dah. I knew that I would, now. Dada dada dada dah. :)