Growing up, I could be found outside with my dad watching the weather—especially in the summer when thunderstorms would form. When I then discovered the movie Twister in my early teens, I was hooked on storm chasing and tornadoes. A few years later, I found out you could actually go storm chasing as a tourist, and my decision was made: one day, I would.
In 2015 I did exactly that, and I’d been thinking about writing a book set around storm chasing for years. I can’t even remember how long. All I knew was that I first wanted to go storm chasing in the USA myself, to get that experience, and go from there. This March, I finally came up with the right story I wanted to tell, and started writing in April.
Under The Dark Clouds was much ‘cleaner’ to write than Starstruck, my first book—although it felt like it was a much bigger struggle. The first draft took me four months, but I would literally bounce back and forth between wanting to rip it apart and absolutely loving it. It was a tough one to write despite the fact that I wrote it relatively fast. After all, Starstruck took eight years from the initial idea to finishing that first draft, so four/five months for UTDC is very quick, despite the love/hate relationship!
I finished a first draft on my birthday this year, 24th July—just in time before my trip to London to attend YALC. I gave myself a two-week break before I sat down and read through the whole thing in one go, and Kim, my critique partner/first reader/best friend ever did the same. I combined what we found, and tackled the book with a first round of edits, then send it back to Kim and to another critique partner. They both loved it, but I had this nagging feeling that I was missing something.
Not knowing how to make it any better, I asked if anyone in my writing group had time to read and give me feedback. Several people stepped forward, and they were all awesome. This really helped me define what I needed to do, and so I did. I revised it again, and send it off to beta readers. They only had very small comments for me, and my confidence grew. Kaitlyn helped me with line edits… and then it was ready to go out into the world. Just in time for #DVpit.
Some numbers on revisions:
Words cut: 2K
Words added: 2K
Words cut during line edits: almost 1K
After some debating, I decided to participate in #DVpit. I was over the moon to get requests from agents (some with standard submission guidelines, others with partials and even fulls) and I sent those out last week. So for the moment, I sit back, read, binge-watch TV series, and plot my new book series, nervously crossing my fingers for positive results. Either way, it was a great experience, and we’ll see what happens.
Idea: March 2016
Started writing: April 2016
Finished first draft: 24th July 2016
Initial word count: 67,5K
Started revising: August 2016
Final word count: 66,7K
First query: #DVpit, 5 October 2016