My betas are wading into the mess that is my first draft. They will tackle the first few chapters while I work on the later ones (where all the real problems are).
Please don't pester me about an ETA for completion. It'll be done when it's done. Before the end of the year, I promise. Hopefully a lot sooner than that.
In the meantime, I've already trimmed 2000 words from the first five chapters, and that's just with my own minor line edits before I handed them off to my betas. So that's not too bad. The final draft is still almost certainly going to be the longest AQ book yet, but hopefully not quite the bloated beast it is now.
So for those who have been begging for excerpts, here is one wholesale cut I made from an early chapter. While I thought it was kind of interesting, it really doesn't say anything about Alexandra's world that isn't revealed elsewhere, and it's redundant since she takes the same van (with a different driver) back to the airport. And I had originally stuck this scene in as a "flashback," so it was doubly unnecessary. Hence, it was an easy cut. Nothing really exciting or revealing here, and it's certainly not my best prose (and it's completely unedited - yes, I know some of those verb tenses need to be kicked into submission), but if you're just dying for a little taste of AQATSA, here's a little taste of something the Suck Fairy left in my first draft, which I managed to expurgate.
When Alexandra's flight from Chicago had landed at the Roanoke Regional Airport, she had collected her bag and Charlie from the baggage claim area, then followed the directions provided in a Wartime Alternative Route Plan pamphlet from the Department of Magical Transportation. Picking up one of the airport phones, she ignored the list of rental car services and hotels on the menu above it, and instead pressed '7' seven times.
It had taken a long time before someone answered on the other end: “Enchanted Roanoke Shuttle.”
“I need transportation to New Roanoke,” Alexandra said.
“What do you look like?” asked the voice.
“Umm, I have straight black hair and I'm wearing Muggle clothing. Also, I have a raven with me.”
“A raven?” There was a pause. “Wait outside by the taxi stand. I'll find you.”
Alexandra had waited, while cars drove by, well-dressed executives stepped off the curb into waiting sedans, and the taxi drivers waiting for less well-heeled passengers had stared at the skinny girl carrying a bird in a cage. Eventually a fluorescent green van pulled up at the curb, ignoring the indignant honks and the taxi drivers shouting at him for cutting in line and the signs proclaiming that only licensed taxis could stop there.
The driver was an ugly man with skin hanging around his face in fleshy folds and a long, wart-covered nose. He leaned out the window and squinted at Alexandra. After a moment, he said, “Get in.” The van door opened by itself.
Getting into a dubious-looking van with an even more dubious-looking driver was exactly the sort of thing Alexandra had always been told not to do by her policeman stepfather. She thought about all the times she'd ignored Archie's advice, and then got in.
She had been expecting to find the van was larger on the inside than it was on the outside, like Wizardrail trains and the Charmbridge Academy school bus. But it seemed to be just an ordinary van, increasing Alexandra's unease. The driver leaned around in his seat and squinted at her again. “Show me your wand,” he said.
“My wand?” she asked. “What do you want to see my wand for?”
“So I know you're a witch, and not a Muggle who was put up to this as a joke.”
Alexandra pulled out her wand; her hand had already been in her pocket, holding it. “What would you do if I did turn out to be a Muggle?”
The driver held up his own wand. “I'm a licensed Obliviator.” He grinned. “Two Lions for a trip to New Roanoke. If you've got Muggle money, there's an exchange fee.”
“For a one-way trip? I heard it should be one Lion.” Alexandra showed him her Confederation coins. “You can't rip me off just because I'm a kid.”
“I'll take you for eighteen Eagles. That's a junior fare discount.”
“Twelve Eagles. Seriously, I could almost take a Portkey there for what you're charging.”
“Not even close.” But the driver held out his hand and accepted Alexandra's Lion and two Eagles. Then he had thrown the van into gear, and taken the regular highway all the way to New Roanoke. Alexandra didn't even know if the Automagicka went through this part of Roanoke Territory, but the 'Enchanted Roanoke Shuttle' was just an ordinary van service with a wizard driver, so far as she could tell. Except that somehow, he was able to bring her right into the heart of New Roanoke, and the traffic circle filled with carriages, wizard cars, and Granians, where the Kings had been waiting for her.
Hey, I told you it was cutting-room floor material.
For those few of you who have reason to email me, I have been using Yahoo as my fan fiction email address for years now. However, Yahoo has become too annoying, and I use Google/Gmail for everything else anyway, so I am transferring all fanfiction-related correspondence to Gmail. If you send email to my Yahoo address, it will still be forwarded to me (at least for a while), but those of you who have me in your address book (or want to), my new email address is: inverarity dot author at gmail dot com.
LJ private messages work too, but I prefer email to PMs.
Which brings me to my next item. A handful of you have expressed a desire to meet up in person. Frankly, the idea of a "QuickCon" gathering fills me with queasy introversion. However --
I am planning to attend CapClave in October. If you are/can be in that neck of the woods at that time and would like to meet up, email me. (Please no comments here.)
(Why the faux-secrecy? Mostly because I prefer not to have too much identifying information popping up in Google searches. There's venomous flying monkeys out there, yo.)