Sale! Kiss Me Twice to Asimov’s plus a word about NaNoWriMo

I’m over the moon about this sale and it also marks a couple of interesting firsts for me that I thought were worth sharing

  1. “Kiss Me Twice” is my first novella sale
  2. It began life as my first NaNoWriMo effort
  3. It’s my first story with a recurring character

Way back in 2004, I was living in Iceland and working on Lazytown.  Rob hadn’t come over to join me yet, so when I got out of filming, there was a lot of free time. I’d had this idea in a short story form but had quickly realized that it wanted to be longer so had held it for NaNo.  When I finished the month, I had a 60,000 word novel which needed 20,000 words added to it to be viable.

I tucked it in a drawer and went on with other things, intending to get some distance from it before returning to tackle rewrites.

The next year, I was back in the US and attended Orson Scott Card’s literary BootCamp.  He announced the IGMS project, which sounded awesome, so I decided to write a story for that.  In the story “Body Language,” I reused Metta, the AI character from the novel.

After Shades of Milk and Honey came out, I realized that I was likely going to focus on fantasy novels for awhile.  But I had 60,000 words of an SF novel sitting on my hard drive. I figured that I could either add 20k to it or subtract 20k to get it down to novella length.

Cutting commenced.  I dropped backstory and subplots, rolled characters together, tossed red herrings and employed many wonderful beta readers.  The resulting novella is 27,600 and, I think, much better than the original.

Let me show you.

Here’s the opening for “Kiss Me Twice,” which will be in the April issue of Asimov’s

A group of trendy-somethings milled outside the police line, clearly torn between curiosity and the need for a caffeine fix at the coffee shop next door. Scott Huang glanced to the corner of his VR glasses where the department AI hovered. “I guess murder trumps coffee, huh?”

Metta, currently wearing the face of Mae West, lowered her voice to the star’s husky range. “I take my coffee black, like my heart.”

“You don’t have a heart.”

“Then I take my coffee black, like my processor.”

And here is the original written for NaNoWriMo first draft.

Scott Huang ran out of the Tube with the rest of the rush hour crowd and sprinted toward the door of the precinct. As he crossed the threshold, Metta’s cameras swept in his direction. By the time he took his second step, she had taken four hundred and fifty images of him.

He was early, but he wanted some time at his desk before his shift started. The officers on the night shift were coming back to the station to log out, but the other members of the homicide department would not turn up for work till eight. Most importantly, Cameron M. Oakes the Fourth had not shown up yet. Huang liked his F&B colleague, but the flesh-and-blood detective was not as much fun as his AI counterpart.

Now, I could go into the technical reasons that the new version is better than the NaNo version but what it really comes down to are two things.

  1. Editing.
  2. I’m a better writer now than I was five years ago.

Finishing NaNoWriMo is an awesome and exciting thing. There’s this novel! That you wrote! But there are good reasons to give yourself time to come down from the high of finishing it and see what it is that you have.

Could I have fleshed this out into a full novel? Yes.  Will I someday?  Maybe. Did I waste any of the words that I cut.  No.

They laid a solid foundation for the novella that I wound up with.  More importantly, those words were good practice at a time when that’s what I needed.

So you see why I’m incredibly pleased by this sale?

I also need to thank the folks who beta-read the rewrite for me: Diana Rowland, Priscilla Spencer, The Puppet Kitchen, Bob Howe, Curtis C. Chen, Charleen Heen, Julia Thorne, Eric James Stone, Beth Wodzinski, and  of course, Sheila Williams, who gave me excellent notes when I submitted the story to her.

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17 Responses

  1. Julia

    *boingboingboingboingboing* You sold it! You sold it! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!

    Every time I see gunpowder tea on a menu, or order it, I think of Kiss Me Twice and you. 🙂

      1. Julia

        I may know exactly what happens here, but I am still loving every second of the unfolding of it. Which means, Mary, that you wrote an *awesome* story.

        1. Julia

          Oh my god, no you DIDN’T.

          As soon as the plot took that twist, my face went into immediate <:DDDDDD mode. This is so much better than it was. SO MUCH BETTER HOLY COW OH MY GOD.

  2. Livia Llewellyn

    Congrats on the sale! Also, congrats on not throwing away anything from the past. I’m a firm believer that anything written can be eventually sold, no matter what form it ends up in.

  3. Kelvin Kao

    Huh? These were the same story? Lots of changes you made!

    The edited version is the kind of writing from you that I am more familiar with. The old version reads… cumbersome.

    Congrats again!