Phew! At last!

I finally wrapped up the editing/rewriting job on Book 3: Lineage. The fully-edited (as in, Gayle had gutted through the line and the content edit) manuscript is complete through Chapter 12. So six more chapters to touch up, and then, we are good to go!

While this is by no means the first time I’ve written or published a book, every time I do one, I look back and think of what happened when I first conceived the plot for this part of the series, and the effort that it took to produce it. This book, however, is a joint effort on many levels, and although I’m the sole concept copyright holder for the series and the content, it belongs equal parts to everyone who contributed to the manuscript, whether directly or not so much.

So, now that I’ve wrapped it up, I’m looking back to November of 2008, NaNoWriMo. I’ve had my one-year anniversary of working at the Day Job. By then, I had my first tax season. And I booked my very first jazz vacation, the All Star Cruise 2009. And I was rereading the past two manuscripts, even in their woefully incomplete state, and asked myself, “What should I do with the third book? I don’t quite have the Big Picture of the overall series plot. And I know I want to introduce a character or two…or five.”

You read correctly: I didn’t have the full series, or at least the arc, plotted through just yet. I just didn’t! Books 1 and 2, respectively, while related, could’ve clearly stood as separate books, but I wanted to have something maybe a little bit a la J.K. Rowling, at least in the sense that as the series progressed, every book became connected. I just had no idea how to make it happen at that time. And it was November 1st! You know what that meant: time to write. The what to write part…I clearly recall saying something like “screw it, I’ll wing it!”

Except, um…I was still editing Book 1.

Oh yeah. That was an interesting time. For those of y’all who didn’t know me then…and that’s a lot of you…I wrote, edited, prepped, and published Book 1 completely on my own. This was before Gayle took the reins of editing. I sent the draft to several friends who pointed out whatever small errors they could find, but the bulk of ferreting out plotline errors, phrasing, scenery, etc. fell to me. And it was a grueling task. I wrapped the first manuscript in Christmas 06, spent most of 2007 rewriting the beginning half, and the bulk of 2008 editing the rewrite. To say that choosing that time to start writing Book 3 – while Book 2 stood on the sidelines, awaiting an edit – was a bad idea is an understatement.

But I did it anyway. And before I knew it, the characters were writing themselves. And, as I kept going back and referring to Books 1 and 2 to help me set the stage for the Book 3 plot, I realized that the overall plotline was getting clearer too. The arc was now set up to the point where I knew I could at least scene-block the opening bits of Book 4, which would help me immensely later on, when it came time to write it.

I won NaNo that year, went on the cruise in January of ’09, finished the edit of and released Book 1, and dug back into Book 3’s first draft full force.

That’s when I realized that I’ve had some key contributors that I couldn’t ignore.

One of my best friends, a fellow writer, and most crucially someone with one of the wackiest senses of humor I’ve ever met, had been my sound-board for a lot of the fun scenes. I will tell you this: suggestions on shenanigans involving Jason Watson involved things like, “Turn him into a chicken!” and “Put him into Underworld? If you wrote Kirare as you did, he’d kill him first!” The infamous s’mores scene came about in a plotting conversation with her, when I exclaimed, “If Jason were to experiment with his powers, he’d make s’mores, knowing him!”

My friend’s response: “WRITE IT!”

And so I did, right then and there. And I still chuckle whenever I think about it!

I can’t forget Jenna either, and her you may know already: you see her artwork on the first two covers. The first cover, she did at the age of 14, second cover happened shortly before her 16th birthday. Now, she’s 17, and has been continuously evolving as an artist and graphic designer in her own right. And you know – she gave the characters a face. You may see The Index Series Facebook page, it has all of her artwork related to the series, and even with the sketchpad cover art, she had contributed every bit to making the books come alive. It’s fair to say that without her, I would really not have “met” my characters.

Of course, then, there is Gayle. By now, I no longer remember how we connected, but I do know this: I will never hire another editor if I can help it. So far, she’s been a key counsel on various plot points, hashing them through over the phone, via chat, via email, or otherwise.

The other contribution came very recently, and came well after I began the official rewrite of Book 3, and about this one…well, I’ll tell you the who, the what, and the how after I release the book. But suffice it to say, this contribution, which came around almost accidentally, is an interesting one. For one, it made the cover of the third book a joint effort across three individuals. For two, it kind of tied my music and my writing in an entirely different way; while I write at jazz shows, this one is clearly a new twist on a creative link.

This series isn’t just mine anymore, and few things make me happier than to say that. Creatively, it is very much a joint effort, and it brought together a lot of influences from friends and creative counterparts alike.

And now, it’s a slow slide to release…which will happen soon!