Blackwater passed another milestone today. I finished the first round of edits on the manuscript! This included filling in a couple of gaps – chapters that I had skipped over while writing the original text – as well as making sure things were reasonably consistent throughout. You know, character names, places, time lines. Turns out I had three different names for the dude who gets killed, and that just wouldn’t do.

This was as enjoyable as I expected it would be, and I feel really good about this book. I like the characters and think the plot is good. But most of all, I’ve really enjoyed the process! It’s been a joy to write. While Carry Tiger to Mountain was a necessary book, it was hard. It was a good sort of hard, the kind of hard that makes you a better person, blaa blaa blaa. But the writing was intellectual and emotional and at times, gut wrenching.

Blackwater, on the contrary, as been easy. The characters took on lives of their own. Their dialog with each other came easily. Additions that I made to the plot suggested themselves.

The book stands at a solid 425 pages, and 125,000 words long. During this editing process I added almost 15,000 words, which included writing the better part of chapters six and seven from scratch. It’s in these chapters that Cole Blackwater meets the man who eventually gets killed. In the first go round – which predated this recent spasm of writing – I had a hard time figuring out who this character was. I mean, he gets his head mashed in, so what did it matter? But of course, it mattered a lot, because every suspect had to have a motive based on his personality and actions. But last week while working on this on the ferry, coming back from doing a reading of CTTM, this character just let himself out of my head, and onto the page. Nice. The way it should be.

I got to add a lot of prose in this round, some of it pretty darn purple. Cole of course is motivated by nature, and so I had to have him pondering the fate of the ill-fated Cardinal Divide in order to give his motivation some depth.

And unexpectedly, I found a layer of mystery about Cole’s past that I hadn’t really developed in the first round of writing that I think makes the book so much more tense.

I short, I loved writing this book.

So now what? Well, I’m incorporating a round of revisions from my editor extraordinaire, and then I need to find Blackwater a home. Stay tuned.