Greetings, Loyal Reader!
Loyal Reader Tina asks in the comments a question I am sure other Loyal Readers are asking too–Where the heck is Noble Cause?
A fair question. This book has been long in the writing. How long? It depends when you start the clock. By one measure, at least twenty years. I turned in the manuscript for Dirty Work in early 1991 (thought it did not see print until 1993) and, arguably, have not written an entirely new novel since1 For Loyal Readers who joined us with Hero Wanted, the wait for Noble Cause has been just over two years now. In my own estimation, I’ve been writing this book for about a decade, counting various false starts and abandoned incarnations. I recall deciding to write an “in-betweenquel” set between Jason Cosmo and Royal Chaos sometime around 1999 or 2000.
By any measure, this book is taking me a long time to write. Too long, really.
Part of the problem is I consistently underestimate how long various other projects will take. The basic plot of Noble Cause was set, and large chunks of the book written, by early 2009, when I suspended work on Noble Cause to prepare Hero Wanted for publication. That took longer than I thought it would, but I still expected to push on and finish Noble Cause by year end. I then wrote Rainy Daze, which I thought would be a two week project, but was more like a month. Same for Sarah Palin: Vampire Hunter and the character profiles and mini-scenes I wrote for Caladon Falls. All of those side projects sidetracked me from finishing Noble Cause, along with the usual suspects of work, travel, and the occasional illness. When I get away from the book for a while and then come back to it, it takes me a while to get back into the groove, to get my head back into the story. That slows things down too. So side projects ate 2010.
This year I made a conscious and knowing decision to again put Noble Cause on the back burner to help my mother Andrea Parnell, republish several of her previous novels: the Gothic romance tales Dark Splendor and Whispers at Midnight, and the Western romance Delilah’s Flame. Okay, yes, I put my Mom ahead of my Loyal Readers. For that, no apologies!
I also decided, belatedly, to release the original versions of Jason Cosmo, Royal Chaos, and Dirty Work as ebooks, both separately and in an omnibus edition of the entire original Jason Cosmo Non-Trilogy in one ebook. That might seem like a no-brainer, but my original plan was to ignore the original versions and only publish the revised and rebooted books starting with Hero Wanted. But Loyal Readers asked for the originals as ebooks, so I took on that project too. I’m glad I did it but, again, it was time-consuming and took me away from Noble Cause.
So, now, we’re staring at the end of 2011 and my Loyal Readers are still waiting for Noble Cause. Well, assuming you haven’t forgotten about the whole thing and moved on. But, if you’re still with me, I have good news.
The first bit is this — even when I wasn’t working on Noble Cause, I was working on Noble Cause. That is to say, even when one of those other projects was at the forefront, I continued to open up the Noble Cause file and tinker with the story…add a bit of dialogue that occurred to me, make notes for a scene to write later, figure out some of the knotty plot points I got stuck on, etc. The book may have been on life support at times, but it never flatlined. And, I believe, it keeps getting better. Tighter, leaner, faster, funnier.
The advantage of stepping away from the book for a while and then coming back is that it allows me to see with fresh eyes what’s working and what isn’t. I’ve come back from a hiatus and junked entire scenes and chapters because I could now see a better way to move the story at that point.
Which is to say, I believe your patience will be rewarded. Noble Cause is a much better book now than it would have been if I finished it six months or a year ago. Or two years ago. Or five years ago.
Super awesome, McGirt. When can we read it?
Well, my friends, the time is nigh. I’ve blazed through ten chapters so far this month, bridging most of the gap that loomed in the middle of the story. (For those who came in late: I had the first third and last third written some time ago, but the middle was a complete muddle.) That gap is almost closed–three or four chapters to go. When that is done, I will have, for the first time, a complete manuscript beginning to end. With that milestone reached, the next step will be revisions.
Which, fortunately, is my favorite part. So I’ll work my way through the book a few times to punch up dialogue, cut wordy bits, resolve inconsistencies, tie up or snip off loose ends, etc. Then a thorough proofreading. Then formatting for Smashwords — where the first release will be, followed by Amazon (because formatting for Kindle takes a little longer), and then preparation of the print edition.
How long will this take? I’m always reluctant to throw out a definite schedule because in my mind that pretty much guarantees something will go wrong. But my projection is to finish those last few chapters by the end of October — i.e. “this weekend” — and then get all the revising and editing and formatting done in November. It will be my National Novel Writing Month project — except for me it will be Novel Finishing Month. More on that to come…very soon! Stay tuned.
- since Hero Wanted (2009) is a revision of Jason Cosmo (1989), it doesn’t count as entirely new. [↩]