Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Paper or Plastic: How Do You Revise?

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I'm trying to decide how to best go about revising Ruby Ransome, and I am curious: How do you revise?

There are various methods I've read about.  One is what Stephen King recommends in On Writing, which is to print it all out, read through it all in a day or two, and mark the sections you want to revise.

I tried this method when I was working on revisions before... before I decided I needed a total overhaul.  I found it wasn't as easy to do as Stephen King made it sound, because I got sucked into rewriting everything there.  Maybe he doesn't revise as much as I do, though, because he said to just mark your changes.

I rewrote whole pages.  Hand written.  In the margins and on the backs of the pages.

Given that now I'm planning on basically doing almost an entire rewrite, I'm not sure that's the best approach this time around.  I want to read through it legitimately quickly.  I don't want to get bogged down in what to change.

I could still use the original printout, and try to make sense of all my written revisions - more than one round of revisions on some pages, I think.  Another option would be to create a digital file and load it onto my Kindle to read through it there.  That would definitely keep me from getting distracted by the temptation to rewrite sections right then and there, but I would also lose the advantage of being able to see all my many rewrites.

Or I could do a combination of both, and skim through the novel quickly on my Kindle, and then go back and look through the handwritten rewrites on the physical manuscript.

Regardless, I need to stay focused.  The point of this isn't to rewrite as I read.  It's to get my head back into the game, basically.  I need to refresh my memory on Ruby's store and the 1920s, so that I can plan out the rewritten version of the novel.

I'm not sure how I'll choose to revise in the future, but I think the last option - the hybrid approach - might make the most sense for this time around.

What about you?  How do you prefer to revise?

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Who Is Ruby, Anyway?

I've written a lot about the 1920s on this blog, but you may be wondering who this Ruby Ransome is, anyway.  Ruby is a modern young woman with a past who gets sucked into the world of vampires in the 1920s.

Ruby works as a typist at Sears by day, drinking and partying in speakeasies with her friends at night.  She and her roommate Genevieve are pursuing their dreams in 1920s Chicago: Ruby of achieving independence and professionalism through her career, Vee of making it as a nightclub singer.  Ruby has a past, though, one that has influenced her life choices and will come to light over the course of the series.

Unbeknownst to her, 1920s Chicago is a den of vampire activity, with the mob as a front.  Nightclubs allow vampires to feed without suspicion, while to corrupt politicians, even literal blood money is valid currency.  This is the world Ruby becomes aware of, unwillingly at first, and then willingly as she agrees to join forces with an ancient vampire to fight the evil hold on her city.

Ruby's story starts in 1923, which will be exactly 100 years from next year.  I'm hoping to finally get her first book completed and published next year, as telling her story exactly a century later seems like poetic justice.

Monday, September 26, 2022

My Introduction into the Alluring World of Vampires

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I've long been fascinated with the 20s, but I'm also a longtime lover of vampire lit, so it was almost natural that when I came up with a vampire novel, it was set in the 1920s - or perhaps that when I came up with a 1920s novel, it had vampires in it.

I first got into vampire lit when I read Interview with the Vampire as a quiet, geeky, bookworm teen.

One of my best friends in high school had recommended it.  This was shortly before the movie came out, although I don't know if I knew when I read the book that a movie was coming out soon.

What I do remember is being completely seduced by Anne Rice's sultry world of vampires.  Like everyone else, I suppose, I discovered that vampires could be sexy and enigmatic and altogether human, rather than monsters.  The angst in Interview appealed to me as a teen, of course, but I quickly went on to read all of the other vampire novels that Rice had published at the time (I think The Tale of the Body Thief might have been the most recent one) and later read each new one as it was published.

Even though Anne Rice quickly cast him aside in favor of her new favorite protagonist, Lestat, Louis was always my favorite.  His self-doubt spoke to me in a way that Lestat's supreme confidence didn't, at that time in my life.  I wonder if I would feel differently if I read the books for the first time now, when I would relate to Louis's angst much less.  But as a teen, it was incredibly compelling.

I was heartbroken when Anne Rice passed away earlier this year, although of course I'd known for a while that it was coming at some point.  I'd been following her Facebook page for years, and knew she communicated with her fans a whole lot less than she used to.  Most of the time, posts were made by her staff rather than herself, whereas I think she used to post herself, once upon a time.

Her legacy lives on, in the new Interview with the Vampire series that recently launched, but also in the entire vampire fiction genre that Interview launched, decades ago.  There have been so many others - Twilight being one of the more prominent (and one of the most controversial) - that I know Ruby may go unnoticed, but I hope my unique setting will attract both vampire lovers and 1920s aficionados.

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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Women's Work in the 1920s

One of the things I've always been most fascinated with about the 1920s is the increase in the availability of work for women.  Women had been slowly gaining grounds in business jobs such as working as secretaries and typists for a couple of decades, and the 1920s saw a lot of independent young women - which, of course, contributed to the amount of freedom they had to go out partying.

Companies such as Sears - where Ruby works - were huge employers of women typists.  Young women went to typing schools to learn to type, and when they went to work, they would work in a room filled with dozens of women, all typing away at rows of desks.  It was pretty monotonous as far as work goes: rigid work times and breaks, strict rules about talking during work hours, and close supervision under a manager on high.  It was an era when the concepts of Taylorism were taking hold in office work as well as factory settings.

Most young women, when they went to typing school in the 1920s, probably aspired to be secretaries and typists in private offices, where they would perform a variety of tasks and enjoy better pay than what companies like Sears paid them.  The work at Sears had to be repetitive as well, since Taylorism encouraged an assembly line-like approach to all things.  Rather than typing up interesting correspondence for the boss in a private office, for instance, typists at Sears typed up orders at a time when the company was primarily mail order.

But working at Sears was also not a bad job, even if you had to have roommates to get by.  Sears was like modern day "millennial" employers, offering employee culture and benefits as incentive.  The Sears complex was a city unto itself, with cafeterias for the employees, a library on-site with the ability to send out for books from the public library as well, and company picnics and sports teams.  It even had its own station on the L, so that carless young women could get to work from all over town.  Above all, it was a reliable paycheck for young women who wanted a taste of independence before they got married.

Ultimately, not all that much had changed for young women's expected paths.  It was still expected that the young women who worked for places like Sears would eventually get married, and once married, would give up their jobs to be homemakers and mothers, leaving the paycheck for other single young women in need.  Working young women in the 1920s dated a lot, trying to find that special someone, but also because their paychecks typically didn't support the cost of going out, even when they had roommates - dating often fed them and provided entertainment that they wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise.

It wasn't a perfect setup, but it was progress.  Working and a certain amount of financial independence was becoming more acceptable for single young women.

This is the era where Ruby's story starts.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

How Ruby Ransome Started

I don't remember exactly how the idea came to me, but one evening about 11 years ago and change, I started thinking: Wouldn't speakeasies make the perfect cover for vampires?  And then of course the next idea that followed was, wouldn't the mob make the perfect cover for vampires?

I've always been fond of vampire stories, ever since I discovered Anne Rice in my teens, so it occurred to me that something like the 1920s would be perfect for disguising vampire activity.

I started researching, and the more I learned about the culture and the politics of the 1920s, the more I could envision vampires running everything behind the scenes.

That was earlier in 2011.  I started writing the novel earlier in the year, and I think I had around 30,000 words when I started NaNoWriMo later that year.  I finished the novel off with an additional 50,000 words that November.

I've been thinking about all this again because of my plans of reviving Ruby Ransome this November.  I still need to start reading through the original novel and refreshing my memory on both the story, and all things 20s.  These details used to all live in my brain, and I'm sure they're still there somewhere, but it's going to take some excavation to help me remember it all again!

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Will Ruby Make a Reappearance This November?

I wrote the first draft of Ruby Ransome back in 2011, an entire decade ago.  It's hard to believe it was so long ago.  I started the novel earlier in the year and wrote the final two-thirds of it during NaNoWriMo that year.  The following year, I wrote the second novel, even though I still had yet to edit the first one.

I have struggled with revisions of the first novel over the years, and have had some thoughts of what I want to do with the second novel, and whether I want to have a novella set between them.  About five years ago, I shelved revisions of the first novel semi-permanently when I realized that I wanted to rewrite a significant portion of the novel.  Some time later, I had a revelation about why the novel didn't seem to "work" in some parts: I had the main characters' motivation all wrong, and was still trying to force through the events I wanted, and I could tell in rereading the novel.

So I need to rewrite huge portions of the novel, if not all of it.  The main plot points of the novel will largely stay the same, but the character motivation will be entirely changed, in a way that makes the events seem much more believable.

I've been thinking about Ruby a lot lately, as I've been working on some of my other websites, and in doing so, have been looking at this one.  I realized that next year will be 2023 - a hundred years after the year Ruby's first novel takes place.  (I have plans to make the series span the remainder of the decade.)  It would be incredibly fitting to publish the first novel in 2023.

I've always planned on self-publishing Ruby Ransome in order to maintain creative control, so it's not unfeasible to get a novel ready to go sometime between now and next year.  It would, however, take a substantial commitment of time between now and then.

Can I do it?  Probably.  A year is a fair bit of time, and should be plenty long enough to rewrite the novel, revise, and get all the self-publishing things into place.  It'll probably require setting some goals and sticking to a timeline.

With that being said, I am strongly considering starting the rewrite of Ruby during NaNoWriMo this year.  In order to make it work, I will need to be ready to write come November 1st.  That means I have a lot of work to do before then, though, as I will need to read through the existing novel, review my research materials, and reacquaint myself with Ruby's world.  I may need to consider rereading some of the books I read while researching, too.

With any luck, Ruby will be making a reappearance here soon!


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