A quick February update!
1)Edits continue to move along, we’re on track to move onto copy edits by April 1st, and I should have some fun developments to share in March (possibly including the finished cover reveal).
2)To amp up my media presence and mailing list numbers before the launch this fall, I’ve teamed up with several other authors to offer a fantastic giveaway!
If you’re a fan of Stephen King or know someone who is, you won’t want to miss this. We’re giving a ton of Dark Tower swag to one lucky winner!
Russell Nohelty, Devyn Jayse, Shane W. Smith, Russell Newquist, Caleb Thusat, Kyrun Silva, Eli Constant, Katrina Kunstmann, Shane Thomas, Frankie Blooding, Jacqui Castle, Christopher Lee, J.L. Gipson, Susan May, Jason Franks, Joshua Robertson, JD Oliva, Andre Gonzalez, Big Tim Stiles, Dani Dixon, Scott Austin, James Mascia, Craig Taillefer, RJ Blain, and Deborah Munro!
Progress on The Seclusion is happening on all ends!
At some point in the next week or so, my editor will submit the first three beautifully-polished chapters of the book to Ingram - a book distribution company that major retailers, and most indie bookstores, use to stock their shelves.
In other exciting news, the book is starting to pop up on major online retail sites for preorder!
The goal, as of now, is to shift from developmental-edit to copy-edit by April 1st. I’ll be hard at work every day until then to make sure we stay on schedule for a fall release, so that we can get this book in your hands!
I’ve been spending any and all free time over the last couple of weeks combing through the manuscript with two primary goals in mind - 1) Add to the inner voice of the protagonist, Patch 2) Flesh out additional world-building details. I regularly have at least one reference book open next to me as I work to sneak up on each scene from a new angle. My favorite as of late is The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface, by Donald Maass.
Last week, in an effort to soak up new world building inspiration, I used random photos found online and my favorite quick-marketing toy (Canva) to throw together a few concept images. Lately, I have these open as I hammer out my descriptive imagery for any given scene. Below are a few if you would like to take a look:
COMPLIANCE OFFICERS (COMPOS) AND PACIFIER (DIRECTED ENERGY WEAPON)
I am guessing that over the next month I will hear from the Inkshares marketing team, and that cover design will kick off soon.
Back to edits! Until next time.
I’m sitting at my desk this lovely morning, watching the snow fall out the window of my mountainside home and feeling very grateful for all of you. This update is coming a little later than usual, and for that, I apologize. I was waiting to hear back on a few points so that this update could be a bit more substantial than the last few. And, it will be!
I have multiple exciting updates to share with you!
1) Developmental Edit Progress
Since my update at the end of October, I have concluded another round of developmental edit rewrites. The book is now back in the hands of my editor. He is going through one more time (he estimates this will take about two weeks), and then he plans to send the book to a beta-reader to get some third-party, objective feedback. We will then use that feedback to do one more pass before forwarding the book to a copy-editor.
2) Title change
While I like The Walls are Closing In (and we may still use it as a tagline for the book), we have decided that a different title is more marketable, provides a bit of mystery, and is catchier for the future selling of property rights (fingers crossed).
So, without further ado, the new title is:
3) Genre Change
We are making a few changes to the plot and market the book as YA(Young Adult). This will only marginally change the story but will double the audience. It allows us to not only market the book to fans of books such as 1984, Fahrenheit 541, and The Handmaid’s Tale, but also to fans of books such as The Hunger Games and Divergent.
3) Release Date!
The book has been assigned a tentative release date and an ISBN number (this second part is probably not exciting to anyone but me).
The Seclusion is currently set to publish on:
October 2, 2018!
This is a bit later than I had hoped, but I am beyond thrilled that there is an official trajectory. Between now and then I will be doing everything in my power to ensure that the launch is a success.
One last note - the first two chapters on the book’s page have been updated to reflect the changes that we have been making. Feel free to check them out!
Until next time,
Another month has come and gone, and it’s time for another reader update. The Walls are Closing In is still voyaging through the production process. The entire first round of rewrites is wrapped up and has been submitted to my editor.
Portions of my precious story were difficult to part with, and some rewrites flowed easier than others. But, out of the ashes of my murdered darling came a stronger, more piercing novel that I am incredibly happy with and eager to share with all of you.
Matt has already marked up Act 1 (of 3) for round 2 of the developmental edit, and I have completed those changes as well. I am now waiting for him to return Acts 2 and 3 with notes. It will likely be about two weeks before he gets those back to me. So, in the meantime, I am going to dive into National Novel Writing Month.
Every November, authors around the globe strive to write 50,000 words of the first draft of a novel within the month of November, and I have jumped on board.
Someone stop me, please.
The rewrites of The Walls are Closing In will take priority whenever it is in my hands, but when the manuscript is with Matt, I am going to strive to meet the quota (1,667 words per day).
During this time, I’ll likely resemble the undead roaming the streets this all hallows’ eve, and will accept all offers of free caffeine and chocolate.
Until next time,
Autumn is here, and the cogs are steadily turning...
In my last update, I explained that the developmental editor and I were working on the rewrite 100 pages at a time. He edits one section while I rewrite the next... Well, I am pleased to report that I am roughly half-way through with the third and final segment. I hope to have that turned over in about two weeks. I’ve combed through and rewritten all of the existing text, and am now drafting a brand spanking new ending that will get the blood pumping a bit more than the original.
There will be at least one more round of developmental edits as I address the notes that Matt makes on the new draft. Each run-through should be swifter than the previous. After that, we move on to copy editing, then proofreading, then ARC printing and marketing. Cover design will take place alongside the final steps.
I am crossing my fingers that an estimated release date will be assigned once we have an idea of how long the rest of the developmental edit will take. My best guess is Summer ’18 (based on the trajectory of other books further along in the production process). If the last two months are any indication, I will be hard at work until the last minute (and after). As always, thank you for your support.
Just a quick update to let everyone know that the beginning stages of the developmental editing process are proceeding nicely. I promised a behind-the-scenes look, so read on if you’re interested in hearing more....
My developmental editor, Matt Harry, and I have spent the past month passing an 11-page outline back and forth. At this point, we have settled on the arc for the story as a whole, and the arcs of the main characters.
I am thrilled with the tweaks to the original storyboard and feel that the alterations and additions to the initial plot will serve to reinforce the themes. I am eager to see where it leads.
Now that the outline is complete, we are moving on. I am currently spending a few hours a day working on rewriting and editing the first 100 pages to turn over to Matt so that he can provide page-specific notes. As of now, I have worked through about 60% of the first section, and hope to complete it within a week.
Matt will then work through the first 100 pages as I edit and rewrite the next 100 pages. We will then do this with a final section (the book will likely end up between 250 and 300 pages). Because we are adding new scenes and drastically altering others, the second and third segments will take a bit longer to work through.
After the first round is complete, we will rinse and repeat a couple of times until we are both happy with the story.
So, there you have it. As always, thank you for the support. Every day that I sit down and write, I think of all of you. I am forever grateful for this opportunity.
Glorious news! The Walls are Closing In has begun developmental edits.
I received a thorough twelve-page document with insights, as well as several notes within the body of my manuscript, from the Head of Story Development at Inkshares, Matt Harry.
I was so pleased to read Matt’s feedback and suggestions, as he certainly seems to understand what I am striving to accomplish with this novel. I know that he and the rest of the team at Inkshares will guide me in strengthening the story, ensuring that all of you receive the best version possible.
Matt has worked on Tal Klein’s Punch Escrow, which recently signed a deal with Lionsgate, and JF Dubeau’s recently released A God in the Shed, optioned by Skydance. Matt’s own book, Sorcery for Beginners, will be out in October.
Check out a recent video with Matt Harry, discussing the development of A God in the Shed.
Over the next several weeks I will be hard at work incorporating Matt’s suggestions, and then I will send the revised manuscript to him for round two. It also sounds like Inkshares has started kicking around some ideas for the cover. I will keep you posted on all fronts.
Just a quick note today to let you all know about a contest that is taking place over at Inkshares. If you are a fan of science fiction, you might want to scoot over and check it out.
It is called the Nerdist Sci-Fi Contest, and there are currently 182 submissions that are competing for the top three positions. The prize? A full-fledged publishing contract, sans having to campaign to 750 preorders. For those of you who were along for the ride with me and The Walls are Closing In, you have an idea of what a big deal this is.
Today marks the very end of the contest - it wraps up at midnight tonight. I would like to draw your attention to one book in particular - Mission 51.
Author Ferd Crotte was a very early supporter of The Walls are Closing In, and I would be remiss if I didn’t do everything in my power to help him come out in the TOP 3. Right now he is holding on to 3rd place, but the competition in the top 4 is fierce.
Check out the contest, and consider throwing your support to one of the top contenders. If you referred someone to The Walls are Closing In at some point during the campaign, using a link from the website, then you may have some credits on your account to use.
After a tragic, fifty light-year voyage, sole survivor Mat crash lands on a beautiful, sometimes hostile alien world ... the planet Earth! Mission 51 is an immigrant story that is out of this world!
In other news, I have been in contact with the authors who met their publishing goal ahead of me, and many of them are starting the production process. It looks like The Walls are Closing In is moving up the queue and only has one or two books ahead of it that have not started production. I hope to be assigned a developmental editor soon, and along with that assignment should come an estimated release date. My best guess is still late spring/early summer 2018.
I have been racking my brain trying to think of something interactive to do with my marvelous followers here in the interim. And.... I think I have come up with a fun idea that will involve sneak peeks into the story and amusing prizes. Stay tuned!
It has been just under a month since the campaign ended for The Walls are Closing In, and I am standing in line clutching my ticket to the developmental editing show.
Inkshares groups books by season, and they are swamped with their summer releases. Some great titles have hit the shelves recently and others will be in the coming weeks. It has been a pleasure to watch the journey of these fellow authors and to get a sneak peak of what is to come.
It is my understanding that once Inkshares can turn their focus away from the new releases for a spare moment, they will be assigning developmental editors to a few of us at once. My hope is to be grouped in with the late spring/early summer 2018 releases. I will provide an update on that as soon as I know - try and stop me.
On my end, the full manuscript has been submitted, along with several pages of intimidating, exciting paperwork on topics ranging from ideal launch locations to cover design concepts. I was given a Properties Page that will be used to sell (fingers crossed) Movie & TV, Foreign Language, and Audiobook rights. I have also reworked the book’s main page to reflect the ’in production’ status.
Since everything is all turned in for the moment on my end, I have done what every author is to do instead of thumb twiddling, I have started the next book. If everything goes according to plan, The Walls are Closing In will be a trilogy.
So, for today’s update I am going to include an interview that I had with an online magazine, Inigo Online, during the campaign for your reading pleasure. Feel free to read on, or hit delete, or go to bed, or return to binge-watching Orange is the New Black.
Until next time!
Melanie: Jacqui, why do you think The Walls are Closing In is so relevant today?
Jacqui: Well, we are living through a profound time in history. Almost every day, some days it seems like every hour, a breaking headline emerges that shifts our current paradigm and leaves many of us struggling to regain footing. This is a time when most, regardless of political standing, are asking ‘what if?’ This story is simply my imagination’s answer to a few of the many ‘what ifs’ floating around today, and what the world could look like if they came to fruition. How would future generations be impacted? The main character, in my mind a future granddaughter/great-granddaughter living in 2090, struggles with living under the omnipresent eye of her government while attempting to separate her thoughts from the propaganda surrounding her. What would individuality and truth look like in this kind of world?
Melanie: Give us a short summary of the story.
Jacqui: The Walls are Closing In takes place in a post-border wall America in which mass surveillance, confinement to city centers, and addiction to mindless entertainment keeps everyone subdued and in line. Citizens are conditioned from a young age regarding acceptable conversation, history and world geography are classified, and a charge of ‘treason’ is slapped on just about everything outside of strict compliance. The protagonist, Patricia Evans, is a scientist who has the rare opportunity to work in some of the last remaining locations where one can have an unrestricted conversation— dilapidated national and state parks only protected because the uncontaminated soil contains final strains of the healthy bacteria needed for medicine and food production. While on a routine assignment, Patricia and her co-worker Rexx discover unedited banned books in a pre-wall van tucked out of view. This leads them on a destructive journey to dissect the truth about the time surrounding the erection of the border walls.
Melanie: What inspired you to write The Walls are Closing In?
Jacqui: Believe it or not, the story began over a year ago, when the reality of what we are currently witnessing didn’t yet seem probable. The idea for The Walls are Closing In came to me during the primary election campaign. I started it as a short story, and it snowballed from there. At the time, I sincerely thought that the story would forever remain in the ‘alternative history’ category, but as the events of 2016 unfolded, the story evolved.
Melanie: Most often an idea snowballs and the story morphs as you write it. It’s like the voice of the muse grows louder and stronger the longer you are with the story and subplots emerge and before you know it, you’ve created a 3-d world. What are the subplots in The Walls are Closing In?
Jacqui: Though it does walk the line between fact and fiction, more than anything The Walls are Closing In, like other fictional stories, is about the characters. There is a splash of romance and a healthy dose of perseverance as the main characters explore what makes life worth living by finding joy in unlikely places. It is about digging deep, figuring out how to tap into your own truth in a society that conditions residents since birth.
Melanie: Tell us about Inkshares and how it works and why you chose this route over self-publishing.
Jacqui: It is a tough and long road out there for first-time authors, and Inkshares offers a unique opportunity for writers to present their work directly to those whose support matters most – the readers. With the topicality of my book, I knew that I wanted to throw it out there to see if it resonated (and not wait a year or two by making my way through the traditional querying and publishing process, or have to bear the burden of being the sole marketer of my book for the rest of my life through self-publishing).
Inkshares is crowdfunding, or reader-selected publishing. The author throws a few chapters of their book up for the public to read, the book is listed as available for preorder for a specified length (usually 3 months), and if a certain threshold is reached, then Inkshares steps in and offers everything that a traditional publishing house would offer. If a book does not reach a preorder goal, then readers are refunded once the campaign ends. Backers receive updates on the publishing process as it progresses, and are the first to receive a copy of the book once the production process is complete.
The response I have received has been remarkable, and at times overwhelming. The Walls are Closing In has been selected for five syndicates on Inkshares (groups of members who pool together to support one book per month by each preordering a copy. There are currently hundreds of books funding [campaigning] on Inkshares, so to be selected by even one is an immense honor).
The community is unparalleled in the publishing world, as far as I am concerned. The moment I joined, I began forming connections with other authors that have been priceless. The Walls are Closing In recently surpassed the Quill light-publishing goal (250 orders), meaning that the book will be published. I am still striving for full publishing (750 orders) for increased visibility. However, even if I had run the campaign and not reached any level of publishing, joining Inkshares would have been worth it just for the community.
Melanie: Writing a book or any piece for public consumption makes you feel a little vulnerable. You’re putting yourself out there, even sometimes exposing inner thoughts that you yourself most often don’t realize you have. What would you say you learned about yourself while writing The Walls are Closing In?
Jacqui: Yes, especially with a book like this. I have received comically mixed reactions depending on the which side of the political fence my readers are on. As a professional journalist, I have discovered how much I enjoy fictional writing. The novel thing is a fresh endeavor for me. I have been a freelance editor and writer for about ten years, and a journalist for the past five. Honestly, I never saw myself writing fiction. Now, I can definitively say that I envision myself writing fiction for a long time to come. Fiction writing is cathartic in a way that non-fiction is not. Being able to express frustrations and desires through characters that you mold in any way that you choose, is strangely liberating.
Melanie: What do you hope your readers get out of your novel?
Jacqui: First, like any novelist, I hope that readers simply enjoy spending time with my characters and being transported to a different world for a little while each day. Also, The Walls are Closing In is a poignant story that confronts some of our worst fears about the current administration and speaks to the need to ‘find one’s voice’ in even the direst of circumstances. I hope that it resonates with readers and takes them on an inspiring, frustrating, poignant, and exhilarating ride.
Melanie: For people who have always wanted to write a book but are a little intimidated what advice would you give them?
Jacqui: Well, I will first say this, and it is a bit cliché, but cliché for a good reason. Write every single day, and you will be surprised at how quickly a book comes together. A novel generally sits at about 80,000 words. So, if you commit to writing 1,000 words a day (only an hour or two of writing), you can have the first draft of a novel completed in less than three months. Don’t worry about it being perfect, just get the first draft down. Also, don’t worry about the story emerging in any sort of linear fashion, you can address that later. If you have an idea for a scene that takes place several chapters away, write it, and connect the dots later. Just write, something, every day. Even if your book doesn’t spark political backlash, anything you write will feel intimidating once you put yourself in front of an audience. But, the first jump is the hardest. If you have a story to tell, tell it.
Melanie: Jacqui, thank you so much for taking the time to tell us about your book. We hope The Walls are Closing In does very well and reaches a large audience. Our best to you and your journey!