Here’s a little bit about the work that went into my debut novel.
I started Mage Slave as a NaNoWriMo project all the way back in 2010. Nanowrimo—aka National Novel Writing Month—was huge for helping me learn to quiet my inner editor. It’s a month where writers get together and try to write 50,000 words in one month, on top of their lives and Thanksgiving and everything. And I learned SO MUCH! I practiced just not worrying about anything and letting the words come. Letting the story happen! It was liberating! If you want to write, even if you don’t think you’ll have the time, I highly recommend giving NaNo a try.
I didn’t “win,” though. (Winning is finishing the 50K in one month and uploading it to the NaNoWriMo site.) I did get to 33K at a rapid clip, but when I realized I was about 33% of the way through my novel, and that novels were 100K, no 50, and that it would take me until likely January to really finish, I lost momentum. Especially when Thanksgiving and tryptophan hit!
But I did continue to push on. And I’d gained some good habits during Nano! In particular, I chose 3 days a week to designate as writing days. I put reminders in my calendar that would go off when I was at work to tell me: tonight is a “Write Night!” I would commit to spending at least one hour writing, although that usually turned into two or three, really.
One big thing that helped me make progress more than ever before was that I didn’t beat myself up when Write Night didn’t happen. But I stayed committed to 3 nights a week, so if it didn’t happen, I would immediately mentally reschedule it for another night. This helped me keep up regular writing when the whole “write every day” thing didn’t work for me or my life.
I also kept a spreadsheet of my word count and entered each session how far I’d gotten. This was primarily so I could give myself rewards! I made small rewards like a new journal or a piece of cheesecake for when I hit certain milestones, with a big one at the end. (It was technically a piece of jewelry on Etsy… which I could never pick because analysis paralysis lol.)
I also had a small ritual and lit a candle every time that I sat down to write. I think that’s the only Yankee Candle I’ve ever burned all the way to the ground… 😉
I used index cards for an outline and spread them out on a big piece of white drawing paper to help me see the story as a whole. It also helped me feel a sense of progression. I wrote in Word, but did a lot of my editing in Scrivener. I also went to a great workshop that helped me learn about condensing the essence of a story down into one sentence on one index card… That helped me really see where I was going.
I also used Pinterest for inspiration and character and setting research. You can see the pinboard for Mage Slave here.
I ended up being delighted to finish my first draft that February.
Then began the long process of editing. And editing. And editing some more. There were large chunks that were completely boring and had to be excised or enlived. Overall, I’m not really sure why editing and revisions took so darn long, except that it was so mentally hard and not the fun part of writing. I also had some big life changes that meant a break for about two years, and another large side project that took center stage for a long time.
But writing would not quit me, so I kept going.
As you can see, it took almost 6 years to finally finish the painful editing and get Mage Slave into your hot little paws. And that doesn’t count all the failed books before hidden away in my hard drive that helped me learn how to write it!
That said, I am so honored to have been given the chance to tell you Miara and Aven’s tale. I truly hope you enjoyed it.
I just devoured ‘Mage Slave’ in one sitting. I am a voracious reader — a preference for urban fantasy, with a bit of high or epic fantasy and sci fi thrown in for variety 🙂 — and I have to say that there are not many authors who keep me reading without breaks and leave me wanting to re-read the book almost immediately. Your website says ‘Mage Bound’ is coming soon; I hope that is true because I am eager to read the next installment. I hang out a bit at the Ilona Andrews blog — with a bunch of other rabid ‘Innkeeper Chronicle’ fans 🙂 — and will mention Magic Slave; that group is always looking for new authors and stories 🙂 Thanks for hanging in there to finish your book, and for sharing your talent.
Jan, Thanks so much for reaching out! Wow, one sitting?! You are truly voracious!!
I am so honored that you enjoyed the book. It helps to make the hard work worth it! I am hard at work on Book 2 and about 35% of the way through, and I’m also working on a short story prequel that I hope will be interesting.
And thank you for the shout out as well! I am hoping to get started on some of the Ilona Andrews books once I finish the Mercy Thompson series I’ve been caught up in! Which reminds me, I should add that to the inspiring books page. =)
R.k. I too would like to say thank you for sticking it out in writing this book. I also could not out it down. I started to read it around 5 am till 8am. I read a bit on my lunch break (about an hour) then continue to read from 5pm till 7pm. I could not put this book down. I am so engrossed. I can’t wait till the second installment.
So nice to hear from you, Mary! And I’m very glad you enjoyed the book. The first draft of Book 2 went off to my editor on Saturday, so it’s on it’s way. Hope you have a great day!
I love finding a new author to read. You made the list. Keep going.
Thanks so much! =)
Just finished Mage Slave a whole 30 seconds ago, excellent world building I must say. I too started reading epic fantasy and science fiction much younger than should have been allowed! 🙂 Looking forward to the audiobook for Mage Strike!
I could not put this series down. I read both books in 5 days. It only took me that long because I have 3 small children. I’m lacking in sleep but it was worth it. I loved that we had several points if view. I could totally see this as a movie. I’m very much looking forward to book 3! Any updates?
Yara! So sorry this reply is delayed. Thanks for your kind words! And I’m so glad you enjoyed. Book 3 is well under way and in editing. Hopefully it will be available next month, September at latest! Stay tuned!
I will admit I was wondering about your books. I have been looking for a new author and I am so happy I took a chance on you. I started 4 days ago and blew through the first two. By the 5 page of the first book I was hooked. I have the books on my Kindle but was wondering if you have hard cover or just paperback? Also I was wondering if there would be anyway I can get a signed copy of either of the first two books of the enslaved series. I am also going to be telling all of my friends about you and style of writing. Can’t wait to see what you are doing next and thank God you came back to writing!!!!
Hi Cory! Thank you so much for your kind words! And I’m so happy you enjoyed the books. Book 3 should be going on pre-order very soon. =) I’m working on the edits diligently.
You can definitely get both books in both hard cover and paperback. Here’s a link to the first book in hardback! http://amzn.to/2vFS3UE And of course, I’m happy to sign copies that get sent my way and return them, check out the instructions here: http://www.rkthorne.com/contact/
Just finished reading and listening to your first novel, it was fantastic! I am currently reading and listening to the 2nd novel. Can’t wait for the 3rd one. Do you plan on continuing the books or story? Book 4? Also are you working on any other books. I loved the characters Aven and especially Miara!
So glad you enjoyed it, John! Book 3 is the resolution, but there may be more books in this world… We’ll see! I have the beginning of a sci-fi series that will be out before the end of the year, with what I hope will be more lovable characters… 😉 Thanks for reading!