Writing Progress Report: January

Pretty much how I look and feel every day.

Pretty much how I look and feel every day.

The first month of the new year has been productive, even if my submission output to magazines and agents has remained minimal (something to fix this next week). So far this year I have:

1. Completed a full revision of my hardboiled dystopian mystery Reaper City, cutting it down from 109,000 words to 103,000 (after having cut it down from 130,000 last spring). This book has been in the works since 2007 so I’m hoping that this revision will be the one to finally earn the book a home somewhere.

2. Completed my last major revision to my upcoming short story collection, What Lies In Wait. These fifteen stories (fourteen shorts and a novella) span everything from horror, the surreal, and the apocalyptic to more literary and humorous autobiographical pieces. The inside is pretty much set, the cover image is ready, and now I am sharing advanced copies and PDFs with some readers for final feedback and back cover blurbs. If anyone out there is interest in taking a peek, let me know! I also plan to reveal the cover image sometime in the next month, once I adjust a few elements on the back cover. I’m excited to share it with you all!

3. I’m halfway through the second pass of my novel temporarily titled Beacon, which follows five people in the small city of Beacon, NY, an artistic enclave on the Hudson River just outside of NYC, detailing their crisscrossing storylines, their loves and failures, their dreams and misery, as well as a murder in town that changes all of their lives in some shape or form. This is a much shorter novel, only 58,000 words at the moment with a projected final count of 65K, but that was my intention, to write one half as long as all the others I’ve worked on so far. I’m incredibly excited as I am reading and editing through this one and I feel it may be my best writing to date. I’ll post updates when I finish because I’ll be looking for a couple of test readers.

4. I have a poetry collection that is only semi-formed, about 40 or so pieces that need adjustments, new poems added, a few removed, the basic shaping of poetic clay until it looks ready to cast, bake, and solidify. This one originally dealt with childhood memories of growing up in a remote trailer park in the countryside, but recent life events have made the process of “looking back” especially poignant and I think the themes and lesson learned can become deeper and more meaningful with some work, so after revising Beacon I plan to jump into this.

5. Finally, I have started to review where I left off with my noir detective novel that I only half finished last year, one I am basing on an actual missing person case from 1945. It’s working title is The Girl In The Mountain, and my main worry is I am not giving the female lead, a reporter who is secretly helping the new-to-town investigators, enough individual face time, so I’m investigating ways to expand her role and importance to the case. I think it will add some much needed balance and allow me to view the town from the inside rather than from a stranger’s point of view. Lots of work to do on that one, and the projected first draft word count is already inching closer to 120,000. So round two later this year will likely see me cutting a lot of what I’m about to add. So it goes.