Something really neat happened last week.
After almost eight weeks of writing five times a week (some days, 200 words, other days, 4,000), 151 pages and 80,000 words later, the first full draft of Blood Price is complete. I write “full” with extra emphasis because, in case you haven’t stumbled upon this tidbit in previous posts, Blood Price was an idea I originally tried to write last year, getting 50 pages in before starting over from scratch, only to write another, new set of 50 pages before shelving it entirely. Yet it was a novel–an idea–that I couldn’t get out of my head. I really wanted to write this story.
Here’s what it’s about, if you’re curious:
For the Hanoak, the Creators have blessed them with the resources and land they need to survive, yet granted them the free will to live as they see fit, with little intervention from their gods–with one serious exception.
Only a woman may kill.
It is an responsibility, honor and burden that only women have been equipped to handle, for the price of killing creature or beast and absorbing the soul that once lived within them into their own, is high. The price a woman is able to pay is revealed during her first period as a young girl, the amount of blood lost reflecting the type of souls she can steal during a kill—light periods for animals, heavy periods for humans. For the rest of their lives, women are expected to pay the blood price once a month to cleanse their souls from the corrupting poisons within them.
For Natanni, she is the greatest warrior the Hanoak have ever known.
Her blood price is heavy.
Until the Creators take it away.
Suddenly, Natanni’s problems grow beyond understanding her promised betrothed, defending her border from neighboring tribes and worrying if they can survive the winter after a surprise attack leaves them weakened. Instead, she is thrust into a world of confusion and betrayal as she goes through the ultimate test of faith, forced to choose between her people and her soul, embarking on a journey to the heart of the Creators’ Realm: The Peak, seeking answers only they can give before she loses herself entirely.
So, I pulled up the old draft and opened up a blank document and was truly, pleasantly surprised when the first 10,000 words were salvageable. But not only that. I actually enjoyed reading them. The next 10,000, thanks to a change that I made, didn’t make the cut, but the fact that I got a 10K headstart is the reason I was able to finish this book three weeks before my self-imposed deadline.
Honestly, I don’t think Blood Price is my favorite novel I’ve written. Artemis truly does have that place in my heart and I’m not giving up on that story yet. In fact, I’m going to do one more read through of Artemis, starting in July, to try and catch any missed errors and little things, before I go and widely query it. Then, while that is on submission, I’m going to edit Blood Price once through, before I reach out to some awesome betas I’m hopeful will be willing to help me out. After that, I’ll edit the hell out of this manuscript and get it up to top shape by the year’s end, so that if Artemis doesn’t get any bites, I’ll be ready to go back to it with Blood Price.
Even though I just admitted it isn’t my favorite novel, I don’t want that to come across as a novel I don’t love. I do. It’s probably the scariest novel I’ve ever written–not in it’s content, but in it’s risks. It’s the first book I’ve written from a female protagonist’s perspective (I know, I can’t believe it took so many for me to finally do that) and her background is very different from my own, yet she has a strength I only wish I could emulate. Considering the plot centers so directly around periods, as well, I think, if it does get published, there is going to be a lot of discussion around that very fact.I am not shy in my descriptions, as readers will discover from the very first page. That makes me excited–and nervous.
But those are potential problems for a future me.
I know I have a lot to do, editing wise. I definitely want to make the Hanoak’s culture more prominent and amp up the descriptions throughout. I need to also amplify and solidify Natanni’s voice. Wouldn’t hurt to do some character arc checks. The ending scene could be better. The middle definitely needs some work (since it was the hardest bit to write, so I know there is something wrong there; just a matter of figuring out what). There’s a lot of work ahead for this novel, but right now, it isn’t about the work ahead.
It’s about the work that’s been done.
Coming back to a novel I trunked (something that resulted in almost a year long writing drought for me, thanks to a lot of internal demons) is something I’m ridiculously proud of. It’s a new accomplishment for me. Digging deeper into this story and finding the heart of it was a really awesome moment and I do honestly believe this book has a place out there in the world, as controversial as that place might be. I’m excited to work and hone this book so I can fight for that space.
Not only am I excited about this book, but I’m really excited about all the opportunities ahead. I’ve written two books this year: the first draft of Blood Price and the first draft of Artemis Smith and the Steam-Powered Fallacy, the second book in Artemis’s quintet. For the rest of the year, I am going to focus on editing, like I outlined above; editing and querying. And for the first time, if querying doesn’t work out, I’m going to start seriously considering self-publishing, at least for the Artemis series. Because it’s a series I really want to tell and I’d like it to make it out into the world, just to see if people will love it like I do. Then, there’s looking even further beyond, to series I haven’t even considered yet, because I know there are so many stories still inside me, waiting to be discovered. I just haven’t thought too much about them, yet. Yet there is this character, by the name of Echo-451, who has a story I think she wants me to tell…