My second novel, The Dark Behind the Stars, is complete and in the mail to my agent. We'll talk soon about where he's going to send it first. The -435 words shown above is a bit of a surprise; I'd thought it was up a bit since my last blog post. Whatever. It's been see-sawing around 120,000 words for the last week, because even as I've been adding text (mostly deepening Rachel and the Anvilites' religious lives) I've been continuing to try to tighten it. In many cases I was able to resolve a problem simply by cutting a paragraph or two. (For example: The Anvilites' concept of the Devil was inconsistent -- now it's not mentioned at all.)
One of the key open issues was exactly what Rachel thinks has happened in the climax. Did she kill God, or just a powerful alien being? I had left that unspecified in previous drafts... I think I was hoping the reader would draw their own conclusions, but I see now that this was a cheat. But I now know Rachel well enough that for her to see what I see happening in the climax (yes, she killed God) is not in character for her. So I let her reach a different conclusion than I would have in her place (she killed a powerful alien being, who may or may not have been the God of the Old Testament, but there is still an ineffable something... still more to the universe than that which can be observed and measured.)
One other change is that a main character now dies onstage instead of off. The weird thing for me is that, even though I jumped straight to that page and just dove in and wrote it without even reading the scenes leading up to it, I still cried (a little). Shows how important it was to show the character's death, I think.
I also spent a good hunk of the last two days trimming the 14-page synopsis down to 7 pages. I think it's too choppy now, and leaves out too much, but I'm assured the previous one had too much detail. I accept that I am not yet good at synopses, and move on.
I'm not sure I agree with all of the comments I decided to do something about, but almost all of them came from more than one person so I think they were worth doing. I also ignored a lot of other comments. I did the best I could with some other comments, but don't feel I've completely addressed them. I think the book is stronger than it was, but it's still imperfect -- abandoned rather than completed, as they say -- but what the hell, it's done.
Also done: the bathroom is now effectively complete. We've hung the shower curtain and everything. There's still a few minor details, which will probably be taken care of while we're in Calgary, but mostly now the ball is in our court (we need new bath mats, curtains, trash can, etc.). When we return from World Fantasy Con I plan to get the house professionally cleaned to get rid of lingering dust.
And finally: we voted. Oregon is 100% vote by mail, and I took my ballot to a voting party at andrine's. We didn't discuss the partisan races (just about all of them are no-brainers anyway)... the big discussions were around ballot measures, such as the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't Measure 57. No consensus on that one, but at least I feel I've made an informed choice.
Heading to Calgary tomorrow for WFC. You may or may not hear from me before I return. If not, Happy Halloween, and don't forget to vote!