Today I finished the first draft of When Prey Hunts, a novel set in the same world as Make Willing the Prey and a number of my short stories. I started conceptualizing it in late August, and began writing in early September. It came in at at 69,438 words, and I am very pleased with how it turned out. I think the ending could use a little work, and lots of spit and polish will be applied to the beginning and middle as well.
My critique group is great. They've already read through Chapter 4, and their comments have been really helpful. Since this is my first attempt at a novel, my biggest concerns have to do with plotting. I had way more characters, and a lot more going on, than any of my short stories, or my NaNoWriMo novel (The Sun Never Rises). And since plotting is way more difficult and time consuming to fix than grammar and prose, I hope I pulled it off.
It also contains a few challenging concepts. Sure, it's an urban fantasy about faeries. Sure, it's a pot boiler. But the protagonists are never clearly in the right, everyone is deeply flawed, there are a few non-traditional relationships, and I included a Christian cult. I hope I was able to handle all of these subjects delicately, yet still be realistic, and most importantly, be true to my characters and my world.
It was really difficult to write a faerie as a main character, to make her both sympathetic and creepy. What a tightrope to walk. My faeries are alien. They are not predictable, yet my readers still needed to understand and believe their actions. Designing a character like Jett was both fun and challenging. I love her to death.
What's next? I've been thinking about editing Make Willing the Prey, just a little bit, to make the beginning more interesting. I've gotten a lot of feedback that it starts a bit slow, and thanks to technology, I can fix that.
Then I go to work on the final draft of When Prey Hunts. I will be held back a bit by the reading pace of my critique group. There are thirteen chapters, I can submit a chapter at a time, every two weeks. So the soonest I will have all the feedback will be in mid-spring. I can do a few things in the meantime. Then the final round of beta readers. Then cover design, layout and formatting, possibly a proofing service, and by summer, it should be published. It seems like such a long time! I will do what I can to speed it up.