State-of-the-Thing: Yes, There’s Still a Thing Edition

I haven’t actually done one of these full-fledged updates since…

*checks notes*

2020. AKA the Time of Corona. AKA that time we were all trapped indoors and thought we were going to be super productive hermits but were all actually too stressed out from the rapidly intensifying spiral into the weirdest timeline to be creative.

Or maybe that was just me.

It truly does feel like the past two years got sucked into some kind of time void for all of us collectively, which I’m sure is a kind of mass trauma response, but global fuckery aside, most of my writing stall can be blamed on good old fashioned work-stress-induced malaise from volunteering for extra responsibilities until I burned myself right out.

Me volunteering as tribute for shit that was well above my pay grade.
It’s fine. It’s totally fine. Everything is fine. Let’s write this book!

Long story short, all that strife paid off and deposited my burnt-out husk in a better place where I could recoup and get my creativity groove back.

Anyway, that’s enough about excuses.

So where are we at with the Thing? I finished the first draft some time ago, but there were a lot of things that just didn’t work. I kept hitting a wall with one sub-plot in-particular.

Exclusive sneak-peek into my super organized method of revision management.

I took the couple of months before NaNoWriMo 2022 to really work through outlining my plot and patching those issues without having to stress about the writing itself. I didn’t get all the way through plotting before NaNoWriMo kicked off, but the event did exactly what it was designed to do–it put me back into the habit of daily writing, which I’ve been doing consistently since.

I’ve set new writing goals every month since November and have managed to power through about half of the rewrite so far. I’m pretty pleased with how it’s shaping up too. There is, at last, light at the end of the tunnel.

But there’s definitely still more tunnel to travel.

Once the rewrite is finished, it’ll be time for revisions, which is really about polishing up the writing a bit and putting final patches on the plot. After that, I’ll be looking for a few sacrifices beta readers to make sure what I’ve written and rewritten and rewritten and rewritten is suitable for human consumption.

I do have a release date in mind, but it’s a bit of a stretch goal. We’ll see how things are progressing in another month or so.

In the mean time, I’m trying to learn how to actually market my books to a wider audience, which involves me overcoming my shyness and general aversion to being in the spotlight. It also involves me figuring out how to do the whole BookTok thing, so wish me luck or send up a prayer for me to the eldritch horrors that undoubtedly serve as our social media gods.

If you’re still with me after all this time, though, I think you deserve a treat for continuing to hang (and for making it through this update post). Unfortunately, I don’t have any treats to give, just an out-of-context excerpt.

Don’t get too used to it. I only have so many of these I can share. Very minor spoilers after the gif (because I don’t remember how to hide text anymore). Please join me for a game I like to call “take a shot for every time our main character threatens violence on someone’s genitals.” It’s about to get lit.

A bell jangled over the door as she entered. The air inside stung her nose and the back of her throat with the acrid bite of lingering smoke, and the hum of the yellow lights overhead nearly drowned out the chatter of the small TV positioned along the back wall behind the cash register. A half-dozen monitors scattered the space around the TV with different slices and angles of the scene inside the store and the car lot outside, each image displayed in muted, fuzzy colors. The far side of the store was cordoned off by a long glass counter hosting assortments of jewelry and handguns and electronics with handwritten price tags. A grid of wire fencing spanned the space between the counter top and the ceiling and a chain link gate guarded entry into the space, creating a cage for the man sitting on the other side. He had a cigarette pinched in the hard line of his mouth. A shot gun leaned against the wall behind him.

She approached the counter with her hands in plain sight.

“I need a vehicle. No paperwork. Something that can off-road.”

The bitter wrinkle of the man’s mouth split into a tobacco-brown grin as he removed his cigarette. “I’ll bet you do.”

As if on cue, the benign weather report flashing across the TV behind his head changed. Two news anchors with expressions of practiced grimness flanked a headline graphic that declared “Murderer at Large.”

With another flash, her own face stared back at her from years past, unmarred by the bite of the knife. Her lips spread in a careless grin as her arm looped around the shoulders of another woman whose face remained just outside the shot. Scrolling text beneath the image read, “Senora West, wanted for murder. Armed and extremely dangerous. Contact the Sheriff’s Office if spotted.”

Ice trickled through her blood, though she shouldn’t have been surprised. The photo had been one of the few mementos salvaged from Well Spring’s ashes. Jolene had pinned it to the refrigerator as they were settling into the apartment. The Deputy’s face hung just out of frame, a mere inch or less from ruining her reputation by revealing her connection to an alleged murderer.

Senora swallowed past the barbed tangle in her throat and tried to focus on the man behind the counter. “You going to call the Sheriff? Into your shop full of stolen shit?”

“They’re offering a really nice reward,” he said. “’Sides, I got friends can come drag you outta here and up to the nearest station.”

Finesse or force. The persistent throb in her side and the ache that flared up again in her left arm guided her toward the former.

“Listen,” she sighed, “I’ve had an exceptionally shitty night. I’m really just trying to get out of everyone’s hair since all involved parties have expressed pretty plainly that I’m not welcome in this city anymore. Give me a truck or something. I’ll pay you more than it’s worth and you’ll never see my face again. Nice and easy.”

His gaze flickered not to the shotgun, but to something else hidden on the other side of the counter. An alarm, if she had to guess.

Finesse had never been her forte, anyway.

“If that doesn’t appeal to you, I can shoot you right in the asshole and steal the damn truck instead.”

He lunged for the shotgun and slammed the alarm button with his hip. She drew, faster by just a millisecond, and was already firing at the first glimpse of the shotgun barrel. Her bullet struck his shoulder, jerked his shot wide. She dodged aside, but still felt scatter-shot skim burning paths across the side of her neck and hip and arm. He stumbled against the counter, fumbled his gun, gave her time to close the distance and aim through the fencing straight at his head.

“Put down the gun and open the fucking gate,” Senora shouted against the roaring alarms.

He glared murder at her, but shoved the shotgun down the counter and slapped the release button with his other hand.

The gate to the back unlatched with a warning buzz. Senora shoved off the counter, leaving bloody fingerprints against the glass, and shouldered inside. She found the panic button and flicked her knife against the wire running beside it. The noise died, but she knew her time was still running short.

“Which one of these?” Senora asked of the key hooks along the far wall.

“Fuck you,” he croaked with his hand clenched to his bleeding shoulder.

He didn’t bother to back up as she crowded his space, didn’t fight as she put him on the ground with one hard shove from her bad arm. She reached along the counter, snagged the shotgun, and tucked it under her arm.

“Thanks for this. Now which fucking key? Something sturdy that can off-road.” He was silent a beat too long. “Which fucking key and what does it go to? Next time, I’m asking with a bullet to your balls.”

“Lower right hook, goes to an old jeep,” he grunted out, then added, “bitch.”

“It’s not like I don’t understand why none of you like me,” she muttered as she snatched the key from the hook. “I find out you lied, then coming back and making puree out of your genitals will be my last pleasure before they take me down.”

She was already pushing her way into the back office as she said it. On the other side of the cramped space, a side door let her out into the car lot. The hulking shape of the old military jeep was easy to spot among the dented sports cars and ancient family vans lined up alongside it.

She’d barely snatched her legs into the cab before the first shots peppered the side. In the rearview, she could see silhouettes crammed into the back doorway. She ducked against the steering wheel, revved the engine, and gunned it for the slouching wall of chain link in front of her.

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