I finished the book yesterday, and I think it's pretty much in final shape (at least, until my agent points out something I totally missed). That makes two complete books I'll be sending my agent next week when she gets back from RWA. She's going to love me, but she knew this was coming. I think it's a good sign that instead of goofing off for the rest of the day, I immediately moved on to the next project. It was something I was working on early last year, until I decided it needed to rest a while because there was something about it that wasn't working and I needed to think more about it. I loaded it onto my phone to re-read that way because it's a bit more like reading a book than reading on the computer is, and I can't make changes or corrections to it, so I get out of editing mode and just read for story.
And I discovered that I really like this book. The parts that will need work are mostly toward the end, but the opening chapters work for me in a big way. The thing that surprised me was that this could possibly work as a romance novel. I recall working very hard to make it not seem too romancey, and I didn't want it to be published as a romance because there was no way for that to happen with the main characters. But as I was reading, I realized there is a kind of subtle romance happening with what I'd thought of as the secondary characters -- and they're the characters we meet first. It wouldn't change my vision of the story for there to be a real romance between these characters, and in fact it would really amp up the emotion, while that would allow the subtle things going on with the other set of characters to remain at a slow simmer, and they could become the main characters in a sequel. I also realized that I seem to be writing a fantasy version of Sense and Sensibility, which I totally didn't plan or do consciously. Not the situation of suddenly being impoverished and having to move away, but the characters have a lot of Elinor and Marianne in them -- the steady, rational older sister who falls in love with the nice guy who's committed to someone else and the impetuous, emotional younger sister who falls in love with the dangerous guy (though here, I seem to have combined Willoughby and Colonel Brandon into one character, so that he grows from being dangerous to being someone she can depend on). I suppose this means I'll have to talk with my agent about positioning and what's going on in the market. Yeah, there's staying true to my vision and all that, but then there's selling a book, and if I can slightly adjust my vision and improve the chances of selling a book, then I can deal with that.
On a tangential note, I've had a question from a reader who's looking for something else like the Enchanted, Inc. series. It's hard for me to answer because I haven't really found anything else that scratches the reading itch that this series does, which was why I had to write it in the first place. I've found that I don't much like a lot of the other things that are compared to my series. There may be similarities in style, tone or subject matter, but they're wrong in the ways that matter to me. Meanwhile, the other things that do kind of fulfill the same needs for me are actually pretty strikingly different. I'm rather surprised by the kinds of things I got sent by publishers to provide endorsement blurbs for. With one, all the sales and marketing materials compared the book to my series -- by name -- and said it would appeal to my readers. And yet, I couldn't get past the third chapter and literally threw the book across the room. Either I'm a terrible judge of what would appeal to my readers or the publisher was horribly wrong. So, I thought I'd throw the question out to my readers: What books, authors or series would you recommend to someone looking for something else like the Enchanted, Inc. series?
And then, finally, because I am actually thinking about this (and was even before the suggestions started coming in), if there were to be a collection of Enchanted, Inc. universe short stories, are there any particular characters or events that you'd like to read about? I already have one written and a couple in the works (it's fun to write noir-style detective stories in Sam's voice). One is a one-off and two are prequels to the first book. But I figured it wouldn't hurt to hear what readers are dying to know, as that might trigger story ideas so I could come up with enough for a collection. I don't really want to get into the realm of the kind of material generally covered in fanfic. The idea would be that this would be something that someone who hadn't read the series at all might be able to get into as an introduction to the series, while it would also enhance the series for existing fans.
And now I must go run errands while resisting the temptation to drop by Home Depot to just look at plumbing supplies. I have twin sinks in the upstairs bathroom that I never use, and maybe I could take one of them apart for practice without creating a crisis that would require an emergency plumber visit on a holiday weekend ...