Progress report

After putting Justine Grown Up on hiatus for over a month so I could focus on editing and polishing Little Ragdoll (as well as writing in left-handedness for 13 of the characters, something I’m still embarrassed and shocked I left out) and doing some more extensive edits, revisions, and rewrites of my Russian novel, I got back to work on it. After losing momentum, it took awhile to get back to speed, but I got over the bump and started back in earnest.

I wrote several thousand new words in Chapter 13, “Crossing the Point of No Return.” David has finally found out that Justine is a virgin and that he’s the first guy who’s gone past first base with her. He’s also told her he loves her, the first time he’s said that to any of his girlfriends, though Justine hasn’t said it back yet. Justine’s 21st birthday is going to be 2 March 1980, only a few weeks away, and Justine (who’s currently having her first weekend at David’s apartment, on the sofa bed) is going to make her sexual debut then. (I freaking HATE the term “losing your virginity,” and how the very idea of “virginity” has survived into the 21st century, but that’s a topic for another post.)

This chapter, and the next chapter, “One-Track Minds,” will be full of lots of sexy, erotic making out and various types of sex. Even though I’m not a romance or erotica writer, I’ve really grown to lose my former hangups and inhibitions about writing sex and makeout scenes that go beyond PG-13 or vague, tasteful descriptions and suggestions. When it fits into the plot, and since I do write a lot of love stories, why not go for it and be tastefully sexy? Once you’ve crossed your own point of no return and have started writing them without reservations, it becomes easier and easier to do.

Who knows, perhaps I was just hung up for so long because I was an antique virgin and didn’t have firsthand experience for longer than most people. At least I started writing sexier, more R-rated sex and makeout scenes before I made my own belated sexual debut.

Anyway, I put Justine’s story back on hiatus, but only for a little while, so I could finally get back to my significant rewrite of The Very First so I can enter it for March Madness Agent Pitch Match, which is only open to completed young adult and preteen manuscripts. I was surprised when I converted it out of MacWriteII last year and discovered my old-fashioned word counting estimation was a fair bit off. It wasn’t 43,000 words, it was only 38,000, and as I came to realize, it needed a very significant rewrite and restructuring.

Baruch Hashem, I only need to finish up Chapter 14, “Happy Halloween,” and write the bulk of Chapter 15, “Happy Birthday, Max,” and it’ll be done. (Chapter 16, “Happy Birthday, Sparky,” was already written, and is meant to be the shortest chapter.) I got it up to 51,000 words, and I’d assumed even my rewrites would still land it at novella-length. Perhaps by the time I finish it in the next two days, it’ll be around 55,000, the length of one of my shorter Max’s House books! Now I can’t wait to see what I can do with revising and fleshing out The Very Next, which currently stands at around 35,000 words!

And in other great news, I went back to Cinnimin and am slowly but surely getting back to speed on it. A lot of great stuff is going to happen in Part LVI, also called “Crossing the Point of No Return,” for much the same reasons as I named the chapter in Justine’s story. I hate that my people have been stuck in the fall of 1998 for over a year now, while I was working on other things. And there’s going to be lots of intense action and drama in the penultimate Part of Saga VI, “Requiem for a School.” It’s a good thing I’ve had all these stories memorized in my head for so many years and that remembering all these details has always been like second nature to me.

Perhaps one of the reasons I had it on hiatus for so long was that I’m not looking forward to writing the final Part of Saga VI, “And Lauren Lived.” Shortly after the new millennium dawns, my beloved Lauren Irene Laurel is going to die of AIDS. She got HIV in the Spring of 1985 and now has full-blown AIDS and is slowly getting sicker, so it’s not like her death is going to be a surprise, but it’s still not something I’m going to enjoy doing. I got misty-eyed when I was writing the old-age death scenes for Butler Reagan and Cinni’s stepsister-in-law Eleanor; it’s going to be even harder to write a death scene for a character I’ve been with since I was 17 years old, a woman who’s not even going to be 50 years old at her death. And her only child Brenna (born a month before she got HIV, and herself completely disease-free) is only going to be a month away from her 15th birthday. At least my dear, sweet Brenna has a nice love story to look forward to when she’s in college, a happy ever after story with Reuven Brandt, one of Barry’s grandsons who lives in Boston.