Book Two Update

I’ve had a few people asking me about the follow up to The Girl with the Green Eyes lately so I thought I’d share what I know so far:

  • My publisher/editor asked for the manuscript a few weeks ago so I gave it a quick once-over (read: week-long panic-edit) and duly sent it off. I’ve not heard anything since so it’s been a bit nail-bitey waiting to hear what they think. Unlike Green Eyes (which had been read, at least in part, by competition judges and plenty of literary agents and therefore undergone a number of edits by the time I submitted it to my eventual publisher) this book has only been read by me and my mum (who said it was really good, but, you know, she’s my mum and has to say that). So anyway, I’ve honestly no idea whether it will come back with lots of red marks requiring extensive re-writing or a few typos and queries here and there as was the case with Green Eyes. Fingers crossed for the latter. It is a uniquely tummy-squirmy sort of discomfort knowing that out there are people reading words that you’ve drawn from the darkest parts of your imagination… Still, the notes do give you a chance to laugh at what a fucking twat you are as well. The first round of edits on The Girl with the Green Eyes induced many a facepalm. For example, there was a part where Bella is making a coffee. I am, admittedly, a coffee snob who mostly uses a machine, yes, but I do know how to make an instant coffee. I know it’s a teaspoon, maybe a teaspoon-and-a-half if you like it strong… And yet for some inexplicable reason I’d written her ladling spoon after spoon in there. This is a lot of coffee, said the note. Yes. Yes it was. Because I am a fucking twat. On the other hand, there are times where you don’t make the edit, too. I had Ariana, 12, doing a lot of stomping in the earlier version. She stomps upstairs, she stomps downstairs, she stomps here, she stomps there. If the girl was going somewhere, she was stomping. The note said something like: a lot of stomping, but if that’s what she does… and I had to have a bit of a think because yes, it was a bit repetitive, but also, she’s a 12-year-old moody git and this is what she does. So I took out some but left a lot.
  • I have a few beta readers working their way through my manuscript at the moment as well. I really should have asked more people to read Green Eyes but to be honest I was horribly self-conscious about it (see tummy-squirming note point above). I am still self-conscious, but at least this time people already know I’m a weirdo with some very odd and disturbing ideas (a vivid imagination, as my husband’s nan very nicely put it). Incidentally, Hub is one of my betas this time round, fresh from his (recent) first read of Green Eyes in which he helpfully pointed out my embarrassing overuse of the word suddenly.
  • I am still not 100% sure what the book will be called yet. This is because I’m extremely indecisive. It’s also because I’m trying to work with a (largely self-imposed) set of restrictions, including the length of the words and trying to shoe-horn them into a sentence which also works with the prospective title for book three and the name of the trilogy (TAKE HER BACK). The words need to be short(ish) if they are to stack one on top of the other on the spine like the first book’s paperback. And I came up with the idea that the three titles could work together to make a complete sentence, which my publisher loved. Easier said than done, though, in hindsight. Particularly as I really like a title with layered meaning (ie, there is more than one girl with green eyes). I literally have a 10 page (and counting) word doc with nothing but possible titles for the remaining two books. I would probably have changed the title of Green Eyes if it hadn’t been long-listed for the Bridport Prize under that name, not because I don’t like it but because I called it that before I decided on the sentence thing and I’d have probably made it shorter if I’d known I was going to do that. I might not actually do that anyway. Like I said, indecisive. At the moment, I’m tempted to just call it Bella and All The Fucking Tedium.
  • This week I got a request for a synopsis to send to the cover designer. That really was exciting. Actually writing the synopsis (cramming a 100k word dual-timeline story into a summary of around a page which gives away all the twists and turns as concisely as possible) was less so.
  • 48. There were 48 suddenlys in The Girl with the Green Eyes. Which, actually, if you consider as a percentage of the final word count, is astonishingly few.

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