From May 2023:

196,385 words. Survival training. Felt right.

From March 2023:

185,150 words. Had to do research. *sigh* Learned cool stuff. *smile*

From January 2023:

175,317 words. Had to take some time to plot out birthdates (month and year) of nine characters and to map out the effect of this on major life events. I know there will be some detail edits in the earlier and later chapters due to this (and due to floorplan/living arrangement changes that have developed), but I’m actually looking forward to this part (oddly). There’s only one scene that I still need to write in its entirety, but there are many little things that need to be added, both to flesh out what’s going on and because there are some references in later books that I think, as a matter of right, ought to be mentioned because they did, in fact, happen during this earlier time. I guess there’s a balance, though–not everything that contributed to making a character who he or she is necessarily needs to be included in a book–some of those things, maybe it’s sufficient for only me to know them and to write the character with those in mind.

From December 2022:

167,721 words. At a decision point. I had intended to leave a break of three years at this spot. But it looks like there’s some necessary story during these years. I thought I was so close to being finished with the first draft, but I guess the editing muse will just have to wait for me a little longer. Unfortunately, she’s always in bad temper, and this delay might make it worse…

165,200 words. I wish I could tell you about this scene I just finished, and which I love to death. Unfortunately, it would be a major spoiler. I guess I’ll just say that it takes place during a dance, and it’s in the last third of the book.

From September 2022:

140,665 words.

From July 2022:

130,000 words. This book is going to be longer than my others. I’ve decided to stop worrying about that.

From March 2022:

105,222 words. Working on the necessary horrible scenes that I left as “***” to return to later. Having to hide my tears as I type at my table at Chick-fil-A. I knew these scenes had to happen–everyone who’s read books one, three, and six knows the bare facts of what happened–but that has only added to my dread of doing this part of the work.

97,000 words. So much story left to write. Making highly unfavorable comparisons between my own and Brandon Sanderson’s output. Love what I have, wishing I could read the finished product, bizarrely having the same annoyance at myself as I’ve had at other authors who’ve taken longer than I wished to complete the next installment in a series I liked.

From November:

I’m just over 80,000 words in Book Seven. That’s after cutting 4,000 words and placing them in Book Eight, where it turns out they always belonged. I had written several pieces of the beginning section, a middle section, and an end section, and all the beginning and middle sections are now knit together. But I have a huge swath of post-middle/pre-end to write. I hope 40,000 words will be enough to contain that and the edits I’ll inevitably be making.

From September:

I’m about 70,000 words into Book Seven. I had wondered if I could fit all the story I wanted to write into one book. Nope. But, I do have an idea of where this first of the Thomas/Ben books will end. I have a NaNoWriMo goal of 25,000 words. I might have a finished first draft by Christmas…

From June:

I’m about 55,000 words into Book Seven, and the feel of the writing work is different– much less grind and much more flow.

From November:

I took some time to write down a summary of what I believe the plot of this book, and a few books after it, will be. Then I went back to writing Book Seven, and I’m now about 18,000 words into it.

From September:

I’m about 8,000 words into Book Seven. My process right now concerns me– I’m writing rough sketches of what a scene ought to be, then skipping ahead to write the scene I really want to write, then going back and writing some scenes between existing rough sketches.

From July:

I have several ideas for the beginning of the next set of books in the “Stasis” series. I’ve sketched out in my mind some vague plot lines and opening scenes. These plants are weedy and overgrown, and I’m not sure what their adult habit and structure is supposed to be. But I’m ready to start putting pencil to scrap paper. I hope to start writing in earnest by late August, and possibly have a rough draft of Book Seven by the end of NaNoWriMo.

From June:

I’m currently at about 127K words. The final edits are done, and now I’m working on getting it formatted for print. Once I get the author proof copy, I’ll go through that with a red pen. The cover art is shaping up nicely.

I’ve written a couple of chapters in the next series. Unfortunately, what they proved is that the next series isn’t at all what I thought it was– those “Thomas Books” outlines are going to stay outlines (and helpful world-building fodder) for the foreseeable future.

From early January:

I typed “The End” a couple of days after Brandon Sanderson tweeted a similar comment. His was to a 400K+ word book, and was anticipated by hundreds of thousands of fans. Mine was to a 106K+ word book, and was given a hearty congratulations by my ever-patient husband. It gives me some satisfaction to think that both of us are now under the relentless influence of The Editing Muse– an uncompassionate sawbones, a tiresome nitpicker, a dictator of hideous aspect.

I’m currently focused on repairing the potholes I knowingly left in the highway during construction (small ones like “***choose eye color,” gaping ones like “***fix this,” and everything in between). Book Six is a long way from the “read aloud to a captive audience” stage of editing, and solely focusing on its faults is an ego-punishing task. But there’s a tired, transitory happiness that comes during this stage when, after a few days’ work on a previously rotten section, you read it over again and feel satisfied.

From early December:

I’m starting to get that (now recognizable) conflicted happy/sad feeling that the story might be nearing completion. Too bad my plot summary was partially blown up. I keep falling asleep or waking up while having really bizarre endings playing through my mind, and then my waking thought becomes– “[character name] would NEVER do something like that… would [she or he]?”

I’m also concerned that the ending I keep working on in my head (and have a few tentative outline-ish pages drafted on) might require tens of thousands of words more to do it justice. I don’t have room for that many words– when I go back and edit a new book a few times, I’ve always ended up adding a net 15K-20K words. That’d push this book over the 120K word mark. I’m extra concerned because the last time (okay, two times) I was at this point, I had to end the book and begin a new one with the “ending” that was supposed to conclude the entire Marcel episode. There can’t be a Marcel Book 4, right? The Thomas books are calling, and I don’t have the genius required to write two separate lines of novels at the same time. I mean, I think I don’t. I’ve never tried.


Report from NaNoWriMo

From July:

I had what I thought was a pretty firm plot outline, and I liked it a lot– there were parts that made me smile, a couple of things that I thought were even a little clever, and some resolutions that felt like “at long last, all is right with the world.”

All that is out the window. A bunch of crazy stuff has happened. Some people I thought I could trust implicitly I’m not so sure about anymore, and others have become more interesting.

I had to stop everything for a couple of weeks and think, and then go back to my vague “Thomas Books” outline document and give them a much more detailed layout and some timeline sketches (at this moment I envision them as a trilogy). I’m back to working on Book 6, now.