Taylor is off the Assembly Line and Ready for Quality Control

Today I finished my rough draft for Taylor-Made.  I started the reboot at the beginning of February, so this was a very clear two-month novel. I know I started in February because on Jan. 31, I posted about the Rosie debate.  Would I change her from my initial vision or keep her the same?  I ended up keeping her the same…and writing it all from Taylor’s POV.

February saw me write about 20K (there was a little overlap with the 5K of my original in that total).  There was one 10K-Saturday challenge, in which I wrote 8K, so the other 28 days resulted in 12K, including the rebooted stuff.

Then I hit March.  I had another 10K Saturday that first Saturday, and I made the goal that day.  I also was more productive during that week.  In those first 13 days of March I got the novel up to 40K.  Things were getting easier once Rosie and Taylor got together.

And then on the 14th, I had the day off (I work weekends), and I was plodding along all day.  But that was the day that Taylor found out what he was.  And it was amazingly intense.  I stayed up writing because I couldn’t go to bed, not when I was so filled with Taylor’s emotions.  I continued writing until I hit a Justin scene, which I had written in a notebook earlier.  There was no need to stay in Taylor’s head at that point, so I finally went to bed.  But for the next two weeks you could not drag me away from writing.  Working in the lab was wasted time, particularly when my coworkers were around me and wanting to talk to me.  Yeah, there was a lot of “Beware of writer”-shirt-wearing and noise-reducing-headphone-wearing too, in the past couple of weeks.  When I got home, I was instantly on my computer.  My days off were spent hanging out in a cafe writing.

So another 30K was reached steadily in the following two weeks.  Yep, it was pretty much a NaNo novel in March, but the full novel clocks in at 71,675.  At least until the first round of edits.  And, man, do I have edits to do.

Note, that this is my longest novel since Echoes of Silence, way back in 2005 (which was twice as long and is not going anywhere, but anyway).  Most of my novels that I do something with are in the 55-65K range.  Once I pass 50K, I call it a word count victory.  I have had novels that were shorter.  And for MG, that’s fine (In a Pear Tree is safe at 42K), but for YA, under 50k is a tough sell for spec fic.  Anyway, I knew when I hit 50K that this novel was probably going to land at about 70K, and, look, I was right!  It’s a word count I’m really happy with.  But of course, it will change in edits.  I know many things that have to be added, and things that will probably be removed.  It’s amazing to be going into my first round of edits with some of this stuff already figured out.

While I joke about starting a Hero/Villain or Love Sucks sequel right away, I am actually pretty excited to do some of these bigger edits.  First up is to rewrite the first chapter (It’s in Rosie’s POV, oops).

So that’s what I have to look forward to.  You know, besides that little thing where Love Sucks comes out in 4 weeks.  I secretly love editing (don’t tell anyone), so this is not sarcasm in any way.

Anyway, yay for Taylor-Made’s first draft being done!

Lots of love,
Sage

Love Sucks Cover!

I’m very excited to announce the cover for Love Sucks!

Also, I’m four weeks out from my release date.  So my life is pretty full of nervous excitement these days.  I’m trying to fill it with massive bouts of writing.  But… I think I might end Taylor-Made tomorrow…  What will I do then?  (Potential answers: Edit?  Write a sequel?  Write a sequel to H/V?  Write a sequel to LS? (my editor suggested one) Watch Buffy for the billionth time?)

But for now, the cover!

Expect to see this cover basically everywhere I am online 😉

So, what do you think?

Lots of love,

Sage

Teaser Tuesday – Hot Kiss

So here’s a fun little teaser.  I’ve written so many different types of things in this novel this week that it’s hard to believe that this was one of them, but once I went back that far I wanted to share with you.

Previously on Taylor-Made: Taylor found out he was a Simulant/BOIS-friend–an android programmed to be the perfect boyfriend.  He is the one and only Simulant recycled from another one, who was named Justin and belonged to Malinda.  Taylor has been having dreams of Justin’s life with Malinda.  Taylor is actually programmed for Rosie.

“Taylor?” Malinda says softly. She’s looking at me now, and her eyes sparkle in the flickering of the TV’s light. She’s closer too, and she folds her knees under her on the couch, leaning in towards me. “This is so stupid, and I know it’s going to ruin everything…”

“No it won’t. Just say it.” My mouth feels dry. I don’t know what I think she’s going to say.

She says nothing at all. She sits up on her knees, putting her face just higher than mine. She pushes my hair back and leans in to kiss my forehead, but before she can, I tip my face up and meet her lips with mine. Her eyes widen in surprise, but she clenches her hands in my hair and practically melts into me. I wrap my arms around her waist, like I’ve been wanting to do all night, to be honest, and I pull her tight against me. Her body against mine, I can’t stop thinking about it that night, her naked body in the moonlight.

She lets out a soft moan, but I push her away. My face is on fire, and my body’s warming up quickly. I push myself off the couch and run to the kitchen for some water. Oh, god, is my body punishing me for kissing someone other than Rosie?

I find a glass exactly where I know it is and pour some water from the faucet. I take a great swig from the glass. It’s not cold enough.

“Taylor?” Malinda hugs the doorway, watching me.

“Malinda, I can’t. I physically can’t. I– God, I’m burning up.”

“Oh,” she says softly. She enters the room and puts her hand against my cheek. Her fingers are cold. “No, Justin did the same thing. It’s okay. You’re okay.”

Justin? I look at her like she’s crazy. There’s no way he kissed another woman. “The same…”

She hesitates and looks around. “Maybe I’m wrong. What… what were you thinking in there?”

I flash back to her body and feel another wave of heat. I get some ice from the freezer and put a cube against my forehead. “I don’t really feel comfortable telling you what I was thinking.” Right now the flush in my cheeks might be unrelated to the rest of the heat in my body.

“O-Oh. No, I mean, that’s right. That’s what happens when you’re not programmed for…for making love.” She twists her hands together and looks down at them, blushing. “When Justin and I– But he was okay after he got some sleep. His system needed to recharge. You don’t want to hear about this, I know, but that’s what he needed. Anyway, that’s what’s happening. I think. I mean, right?” Her eyes flick up to my face.

Sex. Holy smokes, it’s sex.

Hope you enjoyed 🙂

Lots of love,
Sage

Teaser Tuesday – Simulant

Oh, hey, it’s Teaser Tuesday and I nearly forgot.  Which would be tragic since I love everything I wrote this week.  But here I am, and here you go.

This excerpt is in no way spoilery, though in most novels you would expect it to be.  But, hopefully, the revelation Taylor makes in this scene has already been figured out by the reader.

Context: In a dream Taylor’s been having of Austin, a soldier Simulant, Austin’s arm was cut deeply, exposing his electronic bits inside.  Right before this scene, Taylor was told that the only Simulant to be recycled was Justin, who he also has been dreaming of.

I pace back and forth, trying to talk some reason into the jumbled craziness in my head. I just keep seeing Malinda over and over, calling me Justin, and the five seconds it took me to remember that I was Taylor.

“I’m Taylor!” I scream and punch the wall between my bedroom and bathroom. I lean my forehead against it and pound it a few more times with the heel of my hand.

I can’t be a Simulant. Because it would mean that Rosie ordered me, and Rosie doesn’t even like BOIS-friends. And she didn’t want me. She made me chase her for months. I can’t be her BOIS-friend. I can’t be a Simulant.

I look up and right above my head is the poster that she defaced ages ago. The pimply faced girl was supposed to be her apology to me. Saying, “look at how I defaced myself.” The girl is hand-in-hand with a Simulant.

It’s supposed to be me. I’m the Simulant in the picture.

“No.” I rip the poster out of its pushpins and tear it up. “No.”

I run into the kitchen and search the drawers for a knife. I’m not a Simulant, and I’ll prove it. I find my sharpest knife in the drawer near the fridge. I cut along the tip of my left pinkie finger, not deep enough to do a lot of damage, but deep enough that it should bleed. I squeeze my eyes shut at the pain, but force them open to look at the blood.

And wait.

It doesn’t come.

I’m practically hyperventilating now. I take the knife to the bathroom and look at myself in the mirror. “Is that you, Justin?” I whisper. I shake my head. But I remember him getting ready in the mirror. Same wild blond hair, same blue-gray eyes. Who has gray eyes?

I bite my lip and put the knife against my left arm. I know about how deep to cut if I have to, but if I see blood, I’ll stop. That’s all. I’m about to pass out at the mere pressure of the blade against my skin, but I force myself to press down. I hope for blood, but there’s nothing. I press harder and cry out at the pain. I clench my teeth and keep going, but there’s no blood, just a clear liquid starting to dribbled down my arm. I stop when I see a flash of silver that isn’t the knife. I stop when I can see a spark of electricity under my skin. My right arm falls limply to my side as my left arm exposes me for what I am.

I’m a Simulant.

Lots of love,

Sage

Come on, Lucky Seven

Carissa Taylor tagged me to participate in the Lucky 7 Meme.  So here I go!

Here’s how it works:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines – sentences or paragraphs – and post them as they’re written. No cheating
4. Tag 7 authors
5. Let them know

Pretty easy, huh?  Here’s seven lines (I did literal lines on the page) from Taylor-Made.

“I’m having trouble getting the connections in the forum to link up properly,” Alex says. “Everything else is ready for you to take over, but I want to get this done right the first time. Do it right, and you won’t every need to see programmer mode again.”

“Thank goodness,” I say.

She laughs. “Thought you’d say that.”

I glance at her as she works. Her eyes get so intense, which is accented by the contact lenses she wears to make them red. Some girls call her the “computer demon” because of this. I think it’s kind of cool.

Let’s see.  Who to tag?  Who to tag?

Cat Hellisen

Elissa Janine Hoole

Gracetopia

Hannah Moskowitz

Rae Mariz

Ryan Gebhart

Suzanne Young

Lots of love,

Sage

Teaser Tuesday – Electives

Quite  a lot has happened in the novel since we last saw Taylor.  Like, now he’s dating Rosie.  What?  I know.  Here’s one of their few happy scenes before I send the world crashing down on them again.

Context: When they finally got together Taylor promised Rosie he wouldn’t kiss her until she’s ready and that meant that she could initiate all the kisses.  Oh, and Rosie told Taylor about her current ideal guy, basically describing her ex. BOIS are android boyfriends and soldiers.

I’m lying on my stomach in the grass outside the auditorium, trying to fill out this form. “What classes are you signing up for?” I ask Rosie, peeking at the form she’s filling out on top of a textbook.

“None of your business, nosy,” she says, pulling it away from me.

“Hmm.” I flip through the elective book. Most of this form is easy. We fill out the classes that come next, no problem. But now that I’ve finished my gym requirement, I get an elective next fall.

“Senior year’s soooo hard,” Kara says. Only last week did she start hanging out with Rosie and me at lunch again. Rosie had been spending time with her after school, but she refused to see the two of us together. She still won’t come to PET-BOIS. I don’t think she liked it much anyway.

“Yeah. It’s all about our future,” Rosie says. “As if we don’t have enough to worry about with applying to college and stuff.” I know she’s thinking about her scholarship speech. It’s coming up, and she’s been worrying about it a lot.

“What do you want to do in the future?” I can’t believe I’ve never asked her this before, actually.

“Fight for BOIS rights, of course. So, let’s see. Maybe something social science-y.”

I make a face. I definitely prefer real science to social science. “I hope I get Craig in advanced chemistry. Science won’t be the same without him.”

“He probably wishes the same thing,” Kara says. “He’s always talking about how grateful he is that you’re his partner on dissection days.”

“Not much dissection in chemistry.” But I grin at her because it’s a compliment and because she and Craig are talking even though they don’t share a club anymore.

Then it’s back to business. I stop at the industrial arts section of the booklet, remembering how Rosie wished for a guy who was good with cars. Even though I know she was just listing Graham’s qualities, I still want to become the guy she always wanted. There’s an auto shop class listed, and it’s during a period I have free.

Of course, maybe I should learn to drive first.

“I should join drama,” Kara says.

Rosie grins. “You’d be great at that.”

“You think?”

I let their conversation slip to the background as I continue flipping through the book, slipping in a mental bookmark for that industrial arts page. I don’t find anything else that interests me until I get to the computer science section. “Hey,” I say, lifting myself up on my elbows.

“What?” Rosie asks.

“Computer science. I want to take that.”

“Really?” She wrinkles her nose.

“Yeah. I love our website, and I’d really like to know more about how to make something like it. It’s really interesting the way Alex can make all those numbers and symbols mean something.”

“Oh. Alex.” She snaps her booklet closed.

“What?”

“Nothing. You just seem to like her company a lot.”

“Yeah, she’s nice.”

Rosie glares at me. Oh. “Aw, Rosie, are you jealous?”

“As if.”

“You know there’s nobody for me but you.” I push myself up to kiss her. I know this is okay now because last week she totally told me that if I didn’t pick up the slack and stop making her do all the work kissing, she was going to punch me in the gut. I kind of believe her.

Hope you enjoyed the only happy romance scene I’ll probably ever post.

Lots of love,

Sage

 

Whose Story is it? (Or why do I like writing Justin/Malinda scenes so much?)

It’s been said that when a character takes over a story or is more fun to write than your MCs, you’re probably focusing on the wrong character’s story.  But I don’t think that’s necessarily true.  The idea, I suppose, comes from an assumption that your MC is doing boring stuff while this secondary character is being really exciting, so you find the secondary character more interesting, as would most people.

But you can’t forget about the writer brain.  We like to procrastinate.  You know what I’m talking about: that thing where we sit down to write and end up reorganizing our CDs (or in my case, playing around with the soundtrack on iTunes).  So we have this great story going along, but suddenly it just seems so haaaaarrrrd.  The character is doing exactly what we need him to, but we planned that weeks ago.  Or, worse, we planned the next scene, and we have to get MC to it, but that seems like a chore because the current scene isn’t as exciting as that one.

This is why lots of authors drop projects and begin shiny new ideas instead.  They’re shiny!  And new!  Of course they’re exciting.

It’s also why some novels take detours from the plot.  Why trudge on to point B when your character could have all these subplot adventures over here?  (You can’t see me, but I’m waving my hand over there, far away from the plot which is clearly right here.  See it now?  Doesn’t over there look more fun than right here?)

And sometimes we have secondary characters that seem to have all the fun while the MC has to do the work of carrying the plot.  One good example for my stuff is when I added Dean to DownLoad.  Here Kristie and DL had done their part and gotten me 35K through the novel without help, but, man, it was getting hard to have them just keep interacting with each other.  I already knew them and how they react to everything.  Suddenly, here’s Dean, silly and flirty and unpredictable, and the complete opposite of DL who I had spent so much of my book on.  Of course he was fun to write about.  He was new and different!  But trust me when I tell you that writing a novel about Dean was not as fun as I had expected it to be.  When he had to drive the plot, all the fun drained away.

To take a more better-known example, in Doctor Who, Captain Jack Harkness was a lot of fun.  I adored him and still do.  And so do many other people, which is probably why they gave him his own series.  But the Captain Jack of Doctor Who is not the Captain Jack of Torchwood.  When he became the hero, he became less fun.  Yes, he still has his fun moments.  The problem is that he could be sexy comic relief on DW, but once he has to drive the story, especially a story that was more serious and darker, he also had to become more serious and darker.

(And at this point you lost me to a ton of DW Jack Harkness clips on YouTube, so I thought I might share one)

Oh, hey, I’m back.  So in Taylor-made, Taylor is haunted by two other BOIS.  One is Austin, a soldier Simulant still fighting in the war.  The other is Justin, the BOIS-friend who was returned and recycled into Taylor.  I enjoy writing scenes for both of them, although Austin’s getting harder.  But it’s Justin (and Malinda) that I most enjoy writing.  Yet, I would never consider making him the MC.  Why is that?

Well, there’d be no plot, really.  The plot of the book is driven by Taylor’s love for Rosie (who is hard to win over), distress at finding out he’s a Simulant, and confusion when Malinda shows up.  The plot of Justin’s story is his love for Malinda, which is easy to come by.  Yes, there is conflict there, but Justin is mostly ignorant of it.  And then he’s shut off.  End of story.  This is not a very compelling story… until you add it to Taylor figuring out about himself and to the Rosie-Taylor-Malinda love triangle.  Only then does Justin’s story have a point.

So why do I enjoy writing Justin?  No lie, part of it is he’s so innocent and it’s cute 🙂  But most of it is that it’s a romance that starts off easy.  It’s an interesting twist to me to have the love at first sight, because that’s not what I write.  Now Taylor’s in love at first sight too, but Rosie’s so vehemently against their romance to start off with that there’s nothing easy about it.  The whole way he’s fighting his way into this romance and he has to win her over.   And it’s exhausting.  So sometimes it’s nice to take a little break and slip into Justin (or Austin)’s POV

But I think what really makes me love Justin is that he’s like a secret.  Okay, a very loud secret that I shared with all of you, but in the novel he’s like a secret.  (BTW, this is the time for me to shout “Simile!” because my writer friends and I are doing that every time we write one this week).  Even assuming that not all the readers I will ever have read this blog, in TM the reader has a pretty good idea that Taylor is a Simulant.  They even have a good idea that Justin was recycled into Taylor.  But Taylor doesn’t know that.  He doesn’t know why he’s being haunted by these Justin scenes.  Justin’s whispering, “Pssst, I’m giving you insight into me.  It’s important, but you don’t know why yet.”  And I just love the knowledge that eventually it does all tie together.

So, yeah, totally love writing Justin scenes.

But, no, would never want to make this his novel.

So, assuming I didn’t lose you to a defabricated Jack Harkness, have you ever had a secondary character that you preferred writing instead of your MC(s)?  And what convinced you that it was still the MC’s story?

Lots of love,

Sage