Pieces

Michelle D. Argyle shares all information about her New Adult contemporary novel Pieces, a sequel to The Breakaway, a popular novel about a kidnapped girl who falls in love with her kidnapper.

Accepting Yourself as a Blind Author

I’m deep into revisions on my novel, Out of Tune, which I submitted to my publisher a few weeks ago. I waited and waited for an answer and received a lovely editorial letter thick with the message, “Your book is great! But you need to change all this stuff before it’s ready for publication.” And it’s some big stuff. Ouch, because I thought all the big revisions I did before sending it in were enough. Wrong. So, that’s what I’ve been busy doing lately because #1, I want a publishing contract for this book so bad, and #2, I want to get this book out of my way so I can continue working on my new novel, the forgetting book.

As some of you may know, I tried to query Out of Tune awhile ago. I wrote the thing in nine weeks back in January and February, and can you believe I thought it was a great novel at that point? These were my thoughts:

This book is so good! I ADORED writing it, so it MUST be great. It won’t need that much work at all. Remember Pieces? I wrote that one fast too and it all went so smoothly, even with revisions. This one will be the same! I’m growing so much as an author. I SO ROCK! I’m going to query this and get an agent and go super-big super-fast and my life will be all sorts of happy-unicorns-and-cupcakes-sugar-induced awesomeness.

Yeah, kind of forgot that Pieces is a sequel/companion to an existing book. Characters already solidified. Backstory already completed. World already created. Out of Tune is a whole new story, a whole new world, a whole new set of problems.

I was so blind.

I was stupid and queried it way, way, way, way too early. I had beta readers for it before that, and I did some big revisions, but nothing painfully extensive. Obviously, I didn’t get an agent. I think I screwed up some good opportunities I probably won’t ever get back, so yay for me. You know what I was thinking? Really? I thought:

The more I write, the faster I should get, the less work I’ll have to do on each novel.

To an extent, that might be true, but I was blinded by that thought. I let it give me an excuse to be lazy and arrogant. So, I realized if I want a book out in any decent amount of time, I’d better submit Out of Tune to the publisher of my other books instead of chasing after different publishing opportunities for the next year or longer. And I love my publisher, so it’s not like this is a bad thing, far from it. But now that I’m slogging my way through some heavy revisions, embarrassed out of my mind that I queried this book in such a horrible state, I’m learning my lesson that every first draft I finish is going to suck. This is what I said to a friend last night:

It’s just … you know, after doing revisions like this (and it’s not like I don’t go through this with EVERY book), I go to work on a new book, and I’m terrified. I keep thinking, I’m going to do everything wrong and there’s no way to stop it. The only thing to do is just write it and then fix it later, no matter how long it takes or how hard it is.

I’m blind. In every first draft I write, it seems like I’m totally 100% blind, traveling through an unknown world, charting things I have no knowledge of, and most of it will need major reworking.

I’ll admit, I feel completely foolish putting up this post, because most of this seems like it should be obvious to any author. I just thought that since I’m writing my tenth novel, I would have figured it all out by now. Apparently not. So learn from my mistakes, I suppose, and accept your blindness and keep writing anyway. Unless you’re so brilliant that you churn out perfect first drafts. In that case, can we switch brains?

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Out of Tune, Pieces, Writing Process, 12 comments

The Post-Revision Antsy Blues

So I’m not really into post-revision on Pieces yet since I’m waiting for two more readers to get me feedback, but after getting feedback from my other readers, and doing major slit-my-wrist revisions on the book, I’m sitting here staring at my computer and wondering what the heck to do with myself. I’m antsy. I’m nervous. I’m hungry, but I don’t want to eat. My brain feels like it was a rubberband all stretched out and then somebody let go. Now I’m lying on the floor, helpless. I’d watch a movie, but I’m too antsy. I’d read a book, but I’m so tired of reading after reading through my book like five times, forward and backward and up and down. The worst thing of all is that I’m exhausted. I’ve been exhausted for a long time now because when I do revisions, I DO REVISIONS. I don’t do anything else. I don’t do laundry. I don’t cook (much). I don’t clean (much). I don’t sleep (much). I just revise until I make myself sick, which I’ve done.

Does anyone else get like this?

Also, let me clarify what revisions are. Jennifer Hubbard did a great post about what revisions are for her. She sums it up better than I can.

As Jane Lebak notes, this is about more than fixing commas. This is about deleting entire scenes, moving chapters around, writing new scenes. Bringing in new characters, or getting rid of old ones, or merging two characters who have too-similar reasons for being in the story. Changing the plot: changing what happens or when or in what order. Chopping unnecessary pages from the beginning, or the end, or even the middle. Introducing new subplots. Jane Lebak discusses the most thorough kind of revision: the rewrite that starts from a blank page. Sometimes it does come down to that.

And, yeah, I’ve done the rewrite that starts from a blank page before. More than once. Thankfully, this book does not need that extensive of revisions. I’ve restructured and rewritten and added and deleted and shuffled stuff around. Now I’m onto the line stuff, and then a final read-through for copyedits. Then it all goes to my editor and I get to do all of the edits she sends to me. Then more copyedits.

I guess all I’m saying is when people ask me how hard it is write a book, I honestly don’t even know where to start. It’s definitely a job that goes beyond the mind. It’s physical too. Revisions, for me, are the equivalent of running a marathon. I’m pretty sure I end up burning as many calories.

The post-revision antsy blues get me every time. Like my friend Becca said to me, last time this happened to her, she sat in her office chair in the middle of the room and just spun around forever. Sometimes that’s all your mind can handle! I really just don’t know what to do with myself while my brain gets back to normal. Yoga. Maybe some yoga.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Pieces, 16 comments

A Sequel for The Breakaway?

michelle-d-argyle-the-breakaway-coverEver since I first wrote The Breakaway years and years ago, I have had friends and family interested in knowing more about how it might end beyond the conclusion I gave it. If you haven’t read the book, the ending is bittersweet and not what you might expect, so I think a lot of readers get very attached to the characters and want some more wrap-up with them at the end. For me, the ending does wrap everything up, but there is definitely more that could happen.

Since The Breakaway’s release, I’ve received dozens of emails and tweets and FB messages asking about a sequel for the book. At first I was a little defensive because I kept thinking that maybe my ending wasn’t enough for people. They were disappointed or it wasn’t written well. That may be the case for some readers, I imagine, but the more I’ve thought about it and talked to my publisher, I’m seeing that it’s more because readers enjoyed the story enough to want more.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that there are very few sequels I enjoy, and so far in my writing career, I have had no desire to write a sequel to any of my stories. But with The Breakaway, I have always had in mind what happens to Naomi and Jesse  beyond the ending I give them in the novel … I’ve just never really shared that with many people, and honestly, over the years I’ve altered what has happened in my head. First it was a tragic ending, then very happy, then bittersweet again. The fun thing about writing is that while you have control over the story and your characters, it’s not always as much control as you want to admit. I’m the kind of writer who allows the story to control itself and guide me, the writer, to where it needs to go. The Breakaway has definitely taken its own course.

Because I’ve always had in mind how The Breakaway expands beyond its current borders, I am quite open to sharing that expansion with others. The question is how do I want to share it? The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’m comfortable with writing a long short story or novella and sharing it with fans. At the moment, my publisher is open to this idea as well, although the idea may not be cost-effective for them. In that case, other options for publication are available.

Now that I’ve rambled long enough, if you are a fan of The Breakaway and are interested in a somewhat unconventional alternative to a “sequel”, make sure you sign up for my newsletter so you’ll be updated when and if this short story will be released. I’ll be open right now and say that it will probably not be available until 2013 because I have to finish my current novel before I can begin anything else. Good things are worth waiting for, right?

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Pieces, The Breakaway, 0 comments