Throwing Confetti! (AKA – Persona’s Re-Write is done!)

Technically I started this book over a decade ago while working at a Clinic & Hospital. I toted it around in a notebook and copied pages off for my mother since typing on the electric typewriter (shut up, I couldn’t afford a computer back then) took more time than I had.

Yes, she still has those copied pages buried in a closet somewhere and no matter how much I beg her, AJMaguire-PersonaCover-1280hshe refuses to use them for kindling.

Mothers, you know?

Anyway, seven drafts and a decade later I finally, finally have a completed story.

Many will remember that the original re-write was posted online, chapter by chapter, in 2013 but I hired an editor (like you do) and he loathed the ending so much I had to re-think what I was trying to do with this particular story.

After many nights with mint-chocolate-chip ice-cream, pouring over his notes and sketching outlines (there were at least a dozen before I came up with the one I used) and after an agonizingly long rehabilitation process from the avocado incident in 2014 (I know how to properly core an avocado now, so there’s no worry for me stabbing myself again) I have learned a great deal about the writing process through this one book alone.

First, I learned that editors are worth their weight in gold. Yes, they’re expensive, but I don’t regret the money I’ve laid out.

Second, and this is going to sound weird, but I work better with Courier New font during the draft process and then turning it into Times New at the end. It’s just a quirk of mine.

Third, sticking to a single point of view is hard. At least for me it is. But forcing myself to do this brought the character into more detail, forced me to dig deeper and really explore who she was and how she felt about what was happening.

Fourth, I must be careful of what I’m reading while I’m in the drafting process because my personal style begins to mimic the style of what I’m reading.

Fifth, I am a romance author. I may have Fantasy and Science Fiction and, now, Historical Fiction under my name but in the end, I am a romantic and I want to see my characters find someone who will support and build them up as people. The romance may not be the focal point of the story, but it is there and I refuse to be ashamed of that anymore.

Now then, this does not mean I’m going to start writing straight romance novels. I can’t. I tried that once and ended up with Witch-Born.

It just means that I’m not going to shy away from it anymore.

Love is an integral part of human life.

I mean, even Star Wars has romance in it.

I can write things like that. I enjoy writing things like that, so I’m going to.

Steampunk Flavor

So there I was trying to write a straight romance novel for National Novel Writing Month in 2008, bored to tears because … well, I guess I’m just not made to write romance novels … when my friend suggested I make the story “steampunk.”

I had no idea what “steampunk” was at the time, but in the spirit of NaNoWriMo I took up his challenge. The world of Magnellum, where Witch-Born and Dead Magic take place, was given a distinctly “steampunk” flavor in all its trains and dirigibles and telegrams, but it does fall short of being an actual “steampunk.”

Real steampunk would focus more on the steam-powered technology and how it works and how it affects the characters and … you get it. Witch-Born and Dead Magic do not do this. They focus more on the magic in the world, thus detracting from the steam-tech on the page.

That being said,  I enjoyed the flavor. It opened me up to new possibilities within the novels like the dirigible — because who doesn’t love a good dirigible? And it gave me Valeda Quinlan.

Valeda is a newspaper reporter. The distinctly steampunk flavor of the novels sort of threw the concept of a reporter at me. I mean, if they have telegrams then they have newspapers. If they have newspapers then they have reporters.

Yes, Valeda is unabashedly a character trope. She’s as nosy and tenacious as they come. But she gets thrown into a situation where her talents as a reporter can’t help her, which is what makes her so fun. I do love “fish-out-of-water” stories.

Valeda is also more at home with the steam-technology prevalent in her world. Where the Witches of Magnellum tend to avoid mechanical contraptions, Valeda sees nothing wrong with them, so Dead Magic explores these things a trifle more.

The original draft even had a massive clock with all its gears and shifts for me to play with, but in the end that was edited out of the book. It distracted from the main storyline and had no real purpose than to blare “STEAMPUNK FLAVOR” at you.

In fact, there were many such instances like that one where I had to walk the tightrope between too much flavor and not enough. Perhaps one day I will make a revised edition of Dead Magic that puts all of that flavor back in, should Readers desire it and I feel so inclined. For now, however, the work will stand as it is.


Book Review – Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

All right, so I’m a Crusie fan.

Actually, so is my Dad, which I find very funny because I remember when I was a teenager he refused to read fiction and tried to impress upon me the need to only read nonfiction.  (Pffft!  Ha!  Like that worked at all!)

As far as Romance novels go, Crusie is my favorite.  I know Diana Gabaldon is sort of listed in the romance genre, but I really view her works as “historical fiction with time travel” rather than romance.  Just look at the size of one of her books and you’ll understand.  No romance novel was ever that big.

So Jennifer Crusie holds the number 1 position for me in the romance genre.  She’s funny.  She’s realistic.  And she gives me hope since half her characters are almost exactly like me by way of quirks and general off-beat-ness.

Maybe This Time was very enjoyable for me.  I got through it in a day — I always go through her books in a day — and laughed through a lot of it.  Her characters really came alive for me, even the dead ones — you’ll have to read the book to understand — and there were at least three places where I was seriously not sure how the plot was going to end.  As far as stories go, it is the highest pleasure for me to be surprised in the end.

So, if you like romance novels, I highly recommend her books.  Not just this one, but all of them.