The deadline approaches. Eeek!

Haven’t blogged in awhile, but then I happened to come across this reference to my blog and now I feel I really should post something since the fabulous Neil Nyren reads my blog!   

The reason I haven’t been blogging much lately is that the calendar is staring me in the face, and I’m getting my annual panic attack about finishing the next book.  I haven’t said much about the book, because talking too much about a new project almost feels like putting a jinx on it.  For the most part, I don’t like to discuss any story-in-progress.  I certainly never show it to anyone.  My struggles over a story are always absolutely private, and no one ever seens the darn thing until I think it’s polished and ready.

I’ve heard of some writers who work with an editor every step of the way, from rough draft till final draft.  I’ve even heard of writers who’ll fax in a chapter at a time, right after they write it.  I’m flabbergasted by that sort of working relationship.  I couldn’t imagine showing anyone my early drafts because they’re so flawed and awful.  I’d be humiliated.  Also, I don’t always know what my story’s about until I actually FINISH the first draft, and maybe the second. 

So right now, no one’s seen this story except me.  And no one will see it until I’m good and ready to send it in.  One of my fears is that I’ll suddenly keel over dead one day, and my husband will gather up the rough stuff I’ve written and send it in.  I’d rather he burn it.


22 replies
  1. VoiceOfNoOne
    VoiceOfNoOne says:

    Hi Tess

    Ooo the suspense is killing me. I just can’t wait for your new book. Good luck with it (unless your a person who thinks saying good luck is bad luck, although your not an actor). Also I read your book is going to be about Mummies and based on your intrest in egyptology, which is also an intrest of mine. ^_^


  2. spyscribbler
    spyscribbler says:

    I am the same way! And even when I do send my writing, wherever that may be, I agonize and agonize, and suddenly I see a million more flaws that I somehow couldn’t see before I sent it off. Why is that?

  3. Kathryn Fox
    Kathryn Fox says:

    Your blog is even appreciated in the southern hemisphere, all the way down to Australia!

    I agree with keeping the plot secret. I think of story development as analogous to the scene in Willie Wonka and the chocolate factory, where a boy is transported into a television. The boy has been broken down into thousands of particles which float above everyone’s heads until they are finally rejoined in perfect order inside the set.

    Minute aspects of the story crystallise and fall into place throughout the writing process, despite outlining the stories in detail.

    Surprisingly, my editors (ones in different countries) like to read the books in one sitting, to be surprised/thrilled, etc, rather than having the suspense ruined by having seen the story in stages. For that reason, some editors don’t want to read synopses, either.

    Occasionally, though, I have to share a plot point with a trusted friend. Another live body does come in handy when choreographing a struggle scene – where a knife, gun ends up, where and how specific wounds occur when two people are in motion. Of course fake, harmless props are used at al times:)

    But, Tess, I’m with you on the secrecy.


  4. wendy roberts
    wendy roberts says:

    The suspense is killing me but I’ve got a perfect place on my shelf already waiting for your next book. 🙂

    I’m with you on keeping the ms under wraps until the big reveal.

  5. Craig
    Craig says:

    I can certainly understand your keeping it under wraps. If you were to give out too much some hack could come along and steal some of your ideas. That being said, do you have a title that you would be willing to share?

  6. joe bernstein
    joe bernstein says:

    tess-it’s just nice to hear from you periodically-you don’t have to spill the beans on your new story-you started something here,you see, so now you’re stuck with us 🙂

  7. drosdelnoch
    drosdelnoch says:

    We know how much getting the new tale out means to you and the fact that youre beavering away to get it done is a sign of a good writer. Blogging is fun but writing is your bread and butter. Theres quite a humerous take on the ol Blog by Robin Hobb on her website which might amuse you.

    Just know that we’re about if needed and have fun with the story.


  8. James Scott Bell
    James Scott Bell says:

    I’m with you, Tess. I don’t want to give the story away a piece at at a time. I want to try to move and surprise the editor, too.

    As to that panic attack feeling, that seems to happen with every book, am I right? Those last few weeks, don’t you find yourself thinking, Why didn’t I have this sense of desperation EARLY?

  9. Anne Germain
    Anne Germain says:

    Well we all have our deadlines… I’m not sure I’d like to be in your shoes right now though (ok maybe just a few minutes to see what it feels like to have your talent!). Knowing that so many people are expecting something from you must put you under so much pressure again and again (I’m not sure that what I’m saying is really comforting, is it?). Well I just wanted to let you know that we are with you. My friends and I here in France are big fans of yours and the fruit of one year of work for you will probably be read in one day by us (a bit like when you spend a whole day in the kitchen and your guests eat in ten minutes), I’m sorry to say so… Your work makes us “forget” OUR deadlines (for instance, a concert in 5 days opposite a whole crowd of people when you are NOT a musician and have to play the guitar), so keep going! Knowing that you’re writing is already great and we’ll be patient… By the way I promise I won’t read any books of yours published after your death!!! Anyway have a great life and thank you for everything.


    PS: Sorry for my English, I’m afraid I can’t write properly, it would probably be easier for me to write in French but I’m not sure it would be easier to understand!

  10. therese
    therese says:

    Hi Tess,
    Your blog is awesome. I’ve been reading many author blogs this past year, to garner the information that’s pertinent to my future, and have yet to come across one that’s as informative and uplifting as this one.

    I am right with you about retaining total control/secrecy about a book-in-process because until the first draft is complete, the beginning may change. I give each draft a week of resting on the shelf between read/revise.

    Usually I’ll review one of the craft books and read a novel I’ve been dying to read, then begin another draft. This process works well for me prior to handing it to my first reader. Then we brainstorm titles and promo blurbs. Another “spit and polish” and it’s editor ready.

    You’ve got your process and it obviously works for you. Everyone is different.

    Between the completion of one project and the beginning of the other, I personally go through all my files and research so I can burn anything I don’t want promoted after my death. It’s very liberating.

    Celebrate spring with a bonfire of old drafts and excess brain clutter.

  11. Allison Brennan
    Allison Brennan says:

    I share nothing until I type THE END. Then it goes to my editor and agent. It’s not perfect, and I know it, but the story is all there and it’s clean. I get feedback, internalize it, then write a completely new final draft. Most of the time at about page 150, I veer off in a completely new direction. My editor never knows what to expect when she gets the revised manuscript.

  12. knaster
    knaster says:

    Hi Tess,

    All good things come to those who wait. So don’t worry about your next book. Anticipation is part of life, and when the wait is over, you know damn well your book sales will soar. Take a deep breath and remember: the faithful shall overcome.
    oh, btw… please don’t talk about keeling over dead one day. That’s one “plot” I refuse to read.

  13. Joe Moore
    Joe Moore says:

    That’s the beauty of having a co-writer (Lynn Sholes). There’s always someone else with an intimate investment in the story. The downside to showing a work-in-progress to others is that they tend to retain the first impression. If the story changes during the re-write process, and it always does, it’s hard to shove them in a direction away from what’s embedded in their memories. “Oh, that’s changed,” is something we have to say quite often to our small group of trusted beta readers. But those guys have definitely saved our asses on a number of occasions, and for that we’re eternally thankfully.

    Best of luck with your next one.

  14. Thierry Snipes
    Thierry Snipes says:


    I just love your blog, for the simple fact that you’re so honest. You aren’t afraid to show your vulnerable and self-conscience experience towards entering your creative alpha state. Yes, you receive a lot of criticism for some of your opinions, but you gain a lot of faithful readers in the process. Why? Because we can relate to you. You’re not a robot, for gripe’s sake.

    Do ya thang, T(erry)ess!

    Until the next post, much love, PEACE, and medicated hair grease,


  15. Thierry Snipes
    Thierry Snipes says:


    By the way, did you know that Terry derives from the Germanic and French origin of the name Thierry, which means: ruler of the people?

    Just figured I’d share that with you, if you didn’t already know.

    Until the next post, much love, PEACE, and medicated hair grease,


  16. joe bernstein
    joe bernstein says:

    Tess-off topic here,but did you see Zimmern’s culinary tour of the Gulf Coast?He had terducken(heart attack on a plate) and THAT was the healthiest dish on the show

  17. Kyle K.
    Kyle K. says:

    Are you sure your only on a book-a-year schedule? It feels like every few months you’re talking about a new book! Haha. Looking forward to it!

  18. Lorra Laven
    Lorra Laven says:

    This is why I read your blog (and your books): despite your success, you have remained so humble, so human. But I think a lot of us share your fear of having unauthorized eyes peeking at an unfinished product. I hate practicing when my husband is home. I’m sure he’s cringing at every mistake. And I would never, ever show an unpolished manuscript to anyone. Never!

    My advice: don’t keel over.

    PS. I’m still hoping to see Bone Garden II, find out what happens to the surviving characters. It saddened me to close the book and say good-bye to them.

  19. mkaydot
    mkaydot says:

    I just finished reading “The Bone Garden”–I was so enthralled with the book that I read it in two days! And I had to go to work and sleep in between! It really touched a nerve in me–maybe because my family came to this country from Ireland around 1850–the treatment of the Irish in Boston at the time period of your book was hard for me to read–I was so cought up in the story of Rose that i actually cried about the fate of Norris and Rose–I am SUCH a Fan!!

  20. Susan Kelley
    Susan Kelley says:

    I feel the same way about telling anyone about a book until it’s done. So often the path I expect a story to take make a sharp turn. Look forward to learning something about the new one soon.

  21. john lovell
    john lovell says:


    Hurry it up, please. The problem is that even when I’m moving my lips, and going to bed real early, I still can’t help reading them faster than you write them. Shake a stick!

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