I finished major edits of the Last Mayor series right on target at the end of 2019, but there were a few little bits to rework in book 1 in the first week of the new year.
We had a holiday! Su and I went to Stratford on Avon for 2 nights, stayed in a great hotel with good spa facilities. Our days we spent being inspired by the Bard, our afternoons in the spa (sauna for me), our evenings editing and reading.
Wonderful. A mini writing retreat. I chopped The Last a little, then put it up. Now I really want to buy out the audio rights and get the whole thing remade. 9 books, 500,000 words, it’ll look like fantastic value to Audible listeners – I’ve heard they pick up the biggest books they can using their one free pick. 9 books should cut it.
We will see – because right now I’m focused on making Wren in audio!
I put Saint Justice up on Findaway Voices, but they took so long and offered so few narrators that I decided to float it on ACX, and in the last 3 weeks 40 narrators read the 8 minute sample text. Wow. Thank you all.
I’ve now made a selection. It was damn hard. Su and I listened again and again, drawing up favorite lists – but one guy in particular kept rising to the top.
I’m doing this with upfront payment, and it’ll be exclusive to ACX, so only on Audible and iTunes. I’ll do all 3 books as quick as the narrator can do them, then release the text/audio boxset at the same time as book 4 comes out.
Big splash. Kindle countdown on the box set. Get eyes on the audio. Conquer.
In prep for the audio – which fixes the text in a pretty permanent format – I’ve been running last minute edits on Saint Justice. Nothing structural was needed, so not major changes, but lots of little bits in response to feedback and reviews:
- Both my writer friend Matt and Su told me that Wren often runs too far ahead of the reader. He may spend a few pages setting something up, while the reader has no idea why. This requires constant suspension of expectation and understanding. It’s better to say – Wren needs to do this now. Here’s what he does. So, I straighten those out. In particular when he goes to Chicago – we expect him to follow up the receipt, but he spends ages with Cheryl, and it’s not clear why.
- Another pass for gore. I keep finding more. I thought I’d got it all, but there was a lot. Missing eyes, noses, etc… Easy to remove when I find them. I mean the references, not the actual body parts 😉
- Swapping Wren’s employer. This was a big one I’ve been aware of for a while. I picked CIA because FBI seemed old hat, but CIA don’t operate within the USA. Problem. Reviews pointed it out. I thought I would shuffle this – Wren seconds himself to multiple agencies: FBI, CIA, etc… But still, he needs one big boss. So9 – I discover DHS! Department of Homeland Security. Massive umbrella agency, works with the others, specific remit is terrorism and homeland protection, so works well for Wren. Done throughout all 3 books.
- De-superhero Wren. I found one section where he doesn’t sleep for maybe 2 days. Actually, initially I had him sleep in the warehouse, but it seemed such a null time, so I cut it. Now I have him sleep in an Uber while en route. Faintly ridiculous, but whatever. In other areas – Mason beats Wren up as torture – I reduce the impact and severity. Wren gets shot/knifed a lot, so I grade these down. Make it a bit more realistic. Honestly, I thought I was being realistic by having Wren get injured in each fight. But now it is unrealistic in another way. Hopefully fixed now.
- Sexualised women. A reader mentioned this. Sinclair definitely is sexualised, on purpose and as a weapon. Cheryl is – her backstory. I found a random woman walking around in high heels though – and changed those to sneakers. Something to bear in mind.
- Cut some noodling. Wren, like Amo in the Last Mayor, occasionally stops to think about all his huge guilt. A bit boring and self-obsessed, so cut these right back. A reader mentioned it was boring, and they’re not wrong.
- Su said she wants to know more about who Wren is. Part of my approach with these books is to gradually introduce Wren – but he needs a bit more upfront. Make him a little more sympathetic. So now I don’t only talk about the ‘fog’, but also nightmares, night terrors, and panic attacks. On the first page. Likewise in his interactions with Eustace – he comes across as a bully. I added a few paras to explain why Wren does what he does – based on experience, for Eustace’s own good.
It’s quite a lot! But each one was pretty fast. Definitely improved. Wish I’d known all this prior to publication, and prior to the Bookbub!, but feedback comes after readers see it, so…
Or I get an editor? Maybe that is next step. I don’t know what I don’t know, and I want to learn it.
No new words! When will I get some? I don’t know. Busy now with reworking Wren books 2 and 3 in advance of the narrator getting stuck in. Also the secret editing project which I want to finish up this month. So maybe next month new words?
I planned out, roughly, Wren books 4, 5, 6. I came up with the concept for my new apocalypse books. Now need to do the work! Oh, I also have a new job, so that jumbles my schedule quite a bit.