My Third “Third Book”

I recently came to an interesting realization: I am currently in the middle of writing my third “third book.” The first was the last of a trilogy I started in high school, the second is the third installment in a series I started a few years ago, and right now I’m in the trenches of the third book of a YA trilogy.

And I realized something else: third books are the hardest books I have ever written.

I don’t know what it is, but for these three different projects, it all came down to the same exact formula:

Book One – “Eh, it’s not perfect and I’ll need to revise it a million times, but I’m still pretty proud of it.”

Book Two – “Holy crap this is awesome!”

Book Three – “Everything seems to be going oka—WHAT THE HELL IS THIS”

The first books are where you get the lay of the land, the feel of the story, the scope of the characters. The second book is a little more familiar, but still in that lovely stage of discovery.

The third book?

Well, the third book is usually when everything goes to hell, and apparently I go to hell right along with it. “Is this okay? Does this character’s journey make sense? Is this ‘big’ enough? Does it fit with everything that happened in the first two books?”

Not that I don’t think these third books aren’t good, or that I shouldn’t have written them. I just feel that by the third book, I get really tangled up in the world and characters, and it messes with me a bit. All I see is the ending, and instead of strolling to it like I would in the first two books, now I’m sprinting towards it and waving my arms and yelling like a lunatic.

JUST STAY RIGHT THERE I’LL BE THERE IN A MOMENT

 

Of course, all of this can be fixed in revisions, and I can address those questions when the first draft is finished. Still, the actual writing of a third book is intimate and challenging, and usually makes me want to rock back and forth while eating lots and lots of ice cream.

But I still love writing them.

 

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Pitch Wars: Why I Wrote My Book

As part of a fun Pitch Wars 2014 blog hop, a question was asked of all the mentors’ picks: Why did you write this book?

In the spring of 2010 I did something I thought I would be too terrified to do: I studied abroad for four months in London. And it was terrifying. It was one of the most memorable periods of my life peppered with great memories, but the chaos of public transport and the panic-inducing necessity of interacting with strangers ALL THE TIME took its toll.

But there are these little moments I have, snapshots in my memory, that transcend all the anxiety and confusion I felt. One of those moments is seeing Big Ben for the first time, and the handful of times I managed to see it after.

It is absolutely beautiful. Not quite as big as I thought it would be, but still pretty big, and the details in the tower are insane. I don’t know why, but whenever I spotted it in the distance, or stared at it across the Thames when I went to the Embankment, I felt calm. That clock tower centered me. It fascinated the hell out of me.

A few years later, jump to 2013. There was a contest going on at that time for unconventional love stories. So I thought, well, why not? As I was driving to work, I thought about the little golden keychain I have of Big Ben, which I bought when I was in London. And then I got the idea for a book.

What if the world relied on clock towers like Big Ben to run time? What if there are mechanics who have to maintain these towers? And what if one of these mechanics meets the physical embodiment of a clock tower? And–here it is–they fall in love?

Oh yeah, and they’re both boys. In Victorian England.

I couldn’t concentrate on work the entire day. I ran back home and started writing the first scene immediately. It’s a story that was bizarre to me, a category and genre I’ve never written before. But I really, really liked it. And then I loved it.

After some big revisions, I entered TIMEKEEPER into Pitch Wars without much hope. It’s a weird story, and maybe I’m so used to writing adult novels that my YA voice sucks. Then my mentor, Elizabeth Briggs, wrote me and said she loved it. I ended up becoming her alternate, but due to some good news received by her first mentee, I graduated to her mentee instead. Thanks to her, I’ve made some awesome revisions to the book that help make it more well-rounded and complete.

I’m ridiculously excited about this trilogy. My characters get to explore not only the well-trod yet always fascinating Victorian London, but also India during the rule of the British Raj. It’s a diverse YA book with a gay main character, but focusing more on his adventures rather than the fact that he’s gay. Book Three is (slowly) coming along, so while I continuously work on Book One, I’m still chipping out the sculpture of this story. Pitch Wars has been so helpful in that regard, and I’m really proud to be a part of it!

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