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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The verdict on Catherine is in . . .

In case you were wondering if I'd fallen off the face of the earth or gone to campaign for Hillary Clinton :), a quick update on recent activities:

I've heard from my editors at Ballantine and while they had lots of praise for my Catherine de Medici novel - tentatively titled THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI - they felt it was too long, and there were too many characters. Both of which are true. It's always a challenge to do justice to a person's life in a novel, particularly a life as tumultous and eventful as Madame Catherine's, and I did my best to be as inclusive as possible. Now, I face the new challenge of condensing my material into a more reader-friendly version, i.e., cut 200 pages from a 595 page manuscript. Not easy, but I've gotten enough guidance and encouragement from my editors and agent to feel I can do it.

I've already dug in, and eliminated 67 pages thus far. Of course, as I snip here, something unravels over there, so I'm having to proceed carefully page by page. I therefore might be a little more absent as I tackle the project, but I have some fun stuff coming up for the blog, including new book reviews, and interviews with Sandra Gulland about her new novel MISTRESS OF THE SUN and Russell Whitfield about his debut GLADIATRIX, both tremendously exciting books I had the good fortune to read recently.

Wish me luck!

15 comments:

justin said...

Eeks! 200 pages, eh? That's almost a book in itself. That'll be a challenging and interesting journey, I'm sure. :-)

Good to hear it's getting lots of praise though. Best of luck with the editing!

Anne Gilbert said...

Hi!

I saw you over in the Historical Novels forum, and I found your comments extremely interesting, so I decided to check out your website and blog. I was very impressed, so I have now decided to link both your blog and your website to my blog. I'm writing a Great Medieval Science Fiction Masterpiece, and part of this blog is about my progress as a writer. Anyway, I like your idea that men can write about strong, interesting women, as well as men. In my experience, this is true, just as women can(and do)write about strong and interesting men. Personally, I try to emphasize the women, but I refuse to leave out the men! That would not be fair!
Anne G

Daphne said...

I can't wait to read it! 200 pages does seem like a lot to have to cut though.

C.W. Gortner said...

Hi Anne, welcome! Good to hear that someone shares my belief that writers can embody any character, providing we do our homework and check our ego at the door :) The great medieval scifi novel sounds very cool. I'll be happy to link with you, too.

C.W. Gortner said...

Hi Justin and Daphne, thanks for your kind wishes! Yep, 200 pages is a lot to cut. I was working on it last night and all of a sudden it hit me: here goes a chunk of the book. But, I'm focusing on it becoming a tighter read, rather than a lengthier one. The trick is to balance the historical account within a finite amount of words. It's hard work, but, hey, it'll serve me in good stead for future projects. That's the thing about revisions and edits: I've found that I always learn something that helps me improve my writing.

justin said...

Most definitely. Each project is a stepping stone for the next. Lessons are learned and you learn more about the craft and yourself as a writer.

I have a similar outlook on writing and try to incorporate what I learned from the last story (either my own epiphanies or advice from others) into the next story.

Always have to learn, grow, and adapt, right?

Keep us posted on how it all goes!

Julianne Douglas said...

CW,

I'm thrilled to learn of your novel about Catherine de Medici. Do you focus on a specific span of her life? She appears in my novel, which takes place in 1551. I can't wait to see how you've characterized her.

The more books about Renaissance France, the better!

Carla said...

A one-third cut must be something of a challenge! Good luck!

C.W. Gortner said...

Your encouragement means a lot to me! Thanks so much. 84 pages gone so far . . .

C.W. Gortner said...

Oh, in answer to Julianne's question: I'm focusing on her entire life (gulp) - which is probably why this cut is proving a challenge. What to keep? What must go? Who to keep? There are so many people in her life . . . But thus far, I must admit, I'm taking a page from Catherine herself, pun intended, and being ruthless when it comes to this edit.

Martha Alderson said...

Hi Christopher,
I received your email about the release of The Last Queen and upcoming book talks. Congratulations!!! You must be so pleased!

I'll definitely try to make the West Portal event. Would love to see you again. I think the last time we saw each other was in SF a few years ago. Yikes!! Where has the time gone?? I guess to our writing lives.......

Congratulations on cutting so much out of your latest project. What a daunting task.

All the best, Christopher.

Fondly,
Martha Alderson
http://plotwhisperer.blogspot.com/

Martha Alderson said...

PS - I've added both your blog and your URL to my blog.
fondly,
martha
http://plotwhisperer.blogspot.com/

Catherine Delors said...

Agree with Anne! My second novel has a male protagonist, and so will the third one. Good luck for the edits. It is tough to cut stuff you love and know is good, but there's no other way. And the fun thing about having a blog is that you can post the deleted scenes once the book is published.

Best of luck!

C.W. Gortner said...

Oh, I hadn't thought about posting the deleted stuff. Thanks, Catherine! Great idea.

And hi to Martha Alderson! It has been years; hope to see you soon. Everyone, Martha offers writers terrific plot and writing technique workshops. Check her out!

Lezlie said...

Good luck! I already have this on my "advance review wishlist". You pick some great people to write about!

Lezlie
Books 'N Border Collies
http://booksnbordercollies.blogspot.com