A couple of days ago I completed the most recent revision of the first book of The Wolfcat Chronicles, The Spectre’s Warning. I have submitted it to my publisher. Since this will be my third book with Pandamoon Publishing (if it is contracted) it is not the next one in the queue. When and if it is acquired, I’ll let everyone know and a tentative publication date when that information is available. For now I’m seven chapters into revising the second book of the series, A Warrior’s Heart.
I know I have discussed the evolution of The Chronicles previously on this blog, but as I continue to grow in followers, I wanted to sort of bring the whole story together in one place and say a few things about how the series came about.
Whenever I tell people I have a book almost always they ask what it’s about? And if the conversation continues beyond that, invariably the question comes up, where did you get that idea? I’m offering the answer to both here and now for future reference.
The beginning of The Wolfcat Chronicles can be traced back to a creative writing course I took in the spring semester of 1977 at Purdue University. On January 13th, I submitted a character profile as an assignment. It pretty much described a wolfcat. As my instructor hated science fiction/fantasy he picked it apart. First of all, how could there possibly be a creature with he attributes of a wolf, cat and human? I proposed something along the lines of gene splicing but received laughs from the other down of so would be writers in the classroom. My response that anything is possible in fiction was unsatisfactory to one and all. I received a C for the assignment and suffered through the remainder of the course listening to the instructor pontificate about how choosing writing as a career is anything by lucrative (which is true) and that it is next to impossible to get a book published (which was true for him).
Also I spent most of my time in class justifying why I wrote what I wrote as part of in class critiques on writing assignments. You see, my dialogue wasn’t realistic enough to satisfy anyone else in the class – not their their writing was better, mind you. I took that last part to heart, though, and have spent a good deal of effort over the years getting a better feel for dialogue. As a result, I’m told the dialogue in my stories is pretty good.
Anyway, the first novel I wrote was titled Tarot. The characters were based on the major arcana of the fortune telling cards. Of course it was a fantasy story. How could it not be, right? I banged out a typewritten manuscript in 1978. A couple of friends read it and thought it was pretty good. I even thought about having several copies made at the campus bookstore and submitting it to publishers. Realize that back then each page of a manuscript had to be xerox copied.
At some point I decided to read it and as a direct result had serious doubts about my ability to write a decent story. In other words, after the euphoria of having finished something that was novel length had subsided reality set in and I could see the novel in progress for what it was – a lame, pretentious, uninspiring piece of crap. Having said that, I kept the manuscript and still have it stored in a box somewhere. If I ever feel like being humbled, I can always pull it out and read a few pages.
I’ve come a long way on my journey to be a writer.
There are a few things that survive from the story line of Tarot, though. And they found their ways into One Over X, my first publication, and The Wolfcat Chronicles, my current major project.
While I was revising One Over X in the summer of the 2000, about a year before it was published, I spent some of my free time online with several other people in an IRC chatroom. A lot of those folks played Dungeons and Dragons back int he day. They had invented a role playing game where we were all members of a wolf pack. We wrote our profiles and carried out adventures, some of them pretty humorous.
I was working two part time jobs at the time, one delivering newspapers early in the morning and the other involved driving to Orlando from Melbourne each day to service retail stores as a vendor representative. For those who don’t know Florida geography, Orlando is about a hour’s drive from Melbourne. Between driving, delivering papers and completing revisions prior to submitting them to my publisher, I had maybe a few hours to sleep. I’m not sure how I did it, except I enjoyed the role playing game and looked forward to chatting with the people for a few hours each night.
At some point I told some of the chatters I I was a writer and that I was working on a book that was going to be published. Everybody is writing a book, right? It wasn’t a huge deal at all. But one of the folks said she’d like to read it. After explaining it was going to be about a year before it was released she was disappointed. She said she wanted to read something I had written. So, I committed to writing a story about the wolf pack and sending it to her. Thirteen weeks later there was a 413-page rough draft of the core story contained in the middle five books of The Wolfcat Chronciles. So let’s just say that between May and July of 2000 was when I started work on the series.
The server where the wolf pack’s chatroom was located went down forever. Some of us who had personal contact through email or instant messenger stayed in touch but it was never quite the same. Also, I lost all contact for a while the the lady for whom I had written the story, my muse. I figured I’d finish the book, publish it and she’d hear about it and get to read it in that way. So, in the background as I continued to work two jobs and revise a book for publication I was also revising a book titled One Pack.
As any writer can tell you the goal of revising a book is taking out all the parts that aren’t necessary or redundant, fixing grammar, misspelling and typos, and making certain the story is clearly written. The idea is making a book as complete as possible while being succinct. What usually happen, though, is the story expands and goes off on all sorts of tangents as the writer follows the characters on their adventures and misadventures. You see, a writer of any story is probably the worst person possible to revise a story. Having said that, who except the writer knows the story better?
While I wasn’t paying attention to page count One Pack outgrew the expected confines of a novel. All I wanted to do was see where the story was headed as it kind of took on its own life and wrote itself.
The beginning of One Pack is pretty bleak. It kind of reflected my overall mood at the time of the writing. Each day I had to drive through smoke from a brush fire that continued to burn for several weeks. At times the visibility was nearly zero and the smoke irritated my eyes, saturated my clothes and stung my nose. Some of that found its way into the story, of course.
I never really paid attention to how long the story was becoming until much later on. But as of December 2000, when I made contact with someone who personally knew my muse who had inspired me to write One Pack, it was probably around 500 to 600 pages. She told me she’d give my email address to her friend and I could send the story to her that way. We made contact in January and I send her the wolf story, as she called it. She later told me she had no idea how long it was until she started to print it out – expecting something a few pages in length but having to halt the printing after twenty of the pages rolled out. She emailed me back asking me how long the story was. Honestly, that was the first time I looked at the page count. Obviously the story had grown in the course of filling in all the background and details about the characters.
So, from those beginnings The Wolfcat Chronicles was born. One Pack became five books. And the way One Pack ended left many loose ends so it demanded a sequel, which became The Last Wolfcat that evolved into another three books. While half way through The Last Wolfcat, I was editing a children’s book for a friend and my publisher suggested I try writing a book for kids. There were some things I need to know about Ela’na and Rotor’s past prior to One Pack so I considered a prequel to flesh out all those details. I originally conceived of it as a children’s book about Elana and Rotor as pups. It would be sort of like The Hobbit served The Lord Of The Rings, a story to set up the epic portion o the story to follow. A few chapters into the prequel, though, it became clear the characters weren’t about to let it be a children’s story. And so, another two books came into being that add a lot of history and detail to the series.
All the while I was working on other projects and working a full time job in retail management. I finished the drafts of all ten books of The Wolfcat Chronicles in 2005. By that time I’d become pretty close friends with my muse despite us living on different sides of the country. Along the way I asked her what her birthday way so I could send her a card. When she told me it was January 13th it didn’t register as significant. It wasn’t until I was sorting through my old papers int he process of throwing away things I didn’t need in preparation for moving that I found the notebook from college. It contained the character profile I had written all this years ago describing a wolfcat – though it did not name the creature or its species. I’d written the piece on the day she was born.
The first revision of the entirety took about a year as did the second revision. In 2007, after a major publisher rejected the first book – from the wording of the standardized letter citing economic conditions and the changing book market it was clear no one bothered looking at it – I attempted to self-publish a part of the series. That didn’t turn out exactly like I planned though it was experience with the fledgling systems available for authors at the time.
I revised the entire series again in 2009 and another time in 2011 after sampling the entire series on Fanstory. Roughly a dozen people followed the story from start to end and I picked up a few fans in the process. One of my fans is a British poetess who composed a poem about my story.
There was another revision to the first seven books of The Chronicles in 2013 just prior to my submission of Fried Windows to Pandamoon Publishing. The last revision of the first two books before this current session was in January of 2014.
As a very wise author once told me you’d best love your story if you ever hope to have it published because you will read it many, many times before it is finished.
#writing #publishing #revisions #TheWolfcatChronicles #authors #muses #origins #PandamoonPublishing #FriedWindows #OneOverX