Monday, April 29, 2013

Between the Lines: Cinderella

I've got someone great for you all to meet. She's a real princess, but she's also really down to earth. Yes, that's right, Cinderella is sitting with me here at Deliverers Publishing Headquarters. Let's see what she's got to say.

Greg:  First off, thanks so much for stopping by to talk with us. A princess must lead a pretty busy life.

Cinderella:  Yes it can get quite busy, I must admit. I still try to find some quiet time whenever I can, though. All work and no play makes Cindy a dull princess.

Greg:  Cindy?

Cindy:  Yes, that's what my friends call me. Prunella was the first to call me Cindy. You may call me that if you like.

Greg:  Uh, thanks. Um, Prunella?

Cindy:  Yes, my Fairy Godmother. That's her name. I call her Pruny, but I think I'm the only one who does.

Greg:  I think I can understand why. Your Fairy Godmother...isn't she the one who helped you out of your life of poverty?

Cindy:  She's just one of many people who helped me become what I am today, but she's the one who made the magic happen. When I met her I was not in a very good place. She helped my dreams come true, so to speak.

Greg:  Yes, I know. You were being very poorly treated by your stepmother and your two stepsisters. That must have been awful.

Cindy:  It was no party, that's for sure. After my father died, they took everything for themselves and made me serve them hand and foot. I had nothing but the rags on my back and dreams in my heart. There was nothing dreamlike about my life, though. It was one big nightmare.

My stepsisters treated my horribly and my stepmother was simply wicked. I worked from before dawn to late at night in the house that should rightfully have been mine. Those were hard times, but I still managed to find some happy moments--watching the sun rise as I cleaned out thee stables, the play of light through the windows as I washed them, the song of a bird as I did the laundry.

Greg:  Yes, those must have been lovely moments, but hardly reason for celebration.

Cindy:  Oh, maybe not celebration, but definitely appreciation. Life was hard, but I still had my dreams and the belief that if I kept working one day good things would come my way. I have to admit, though, that I was feeling very downhearted the night of the ball and my dreams seemed very far away indeed.

In fact, I was very nearly in despair, sobbing in the garden. That's when Pruny came. Things got better right away. She whipped up a beautiful gown and transportation and some beautiful glass slippers. Oh it was all so divine, but she told me I had to be back by midnight. That did not give me long, but at least I was able to go to the ball and meet the prince.

Greg:  The prince. Oh yes, I've wondered about that. How exactly did you two meet?

Cindy:  Everyone who attended the ball was presented to the prince. You see, what I didn't know was that the ball had been arranged so that he could find thee woman he was going to marry.

Greg:  Hmmm. It must have been rough for him, all those eligible young ladies falling over themselves to be noticed and perhaps selected to be his princess. I knew princes had it tough, but never imagined anything like that.

Cindy:  Well, you might laugh but it was difficult for him. Imagine, all those women throwing themselves at him. Some were quite attractive, but most just weren't his type. The poor dear was beside himself.

Greg:  But then he met you...

Cindy:  Yes, then he met me and I think we both knew at the same moment. We danced all night. I felt like I was floating on air. All too soon, the clock struck midnight. I was in a panic. I didn't want to leave, but I knew I had to get out of there. There was no time for a graceful exit.

Greg:  You ran.

Cindy: Yes, I ran, but I left a glass slipper behind. That turned out to be amazingly fortunate.

Greg:  Yes it was. But never mind that. I've always been puzzled by one thing. A glass slipper can't be very comfortable. What was it like to wear those things?

Cindy:  Ugh. If I could have asked Pruny to rethink one thing it would have been the glass slippers. Horridly uncomfortable things. I was afraid to take a step for fear they'd break and slice my feet to ribbons. Plus they did not give at all--stiff as a board. It was next to impossible to run in them.

Greg:  But you managed to do what you had to do. So, you made it home. Was anything different?

Cindy  Well, my wonderful gown changed back into rags, so when I returned home, it was like I had never left. I slipped back into my old life, but that night I dreamt of the prince. He was so charming.

The next morning when I awoke it seemed that thee previous night had been only a dream, except for the fact that I still had the one glass slipper. I thought that was all I had until the prince came looking for me. Naturally, my stepsisters tried to convince him that they were his heart's desire, but he would have none of that. He put the glass slipper on my foot and I left my old life behind for a new one of wonder and magic.

Greg:  That's really fantastic. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It was most fascinating.

Cindy:  It was my pleasure. Now if you'll excuse me, I really have to get back to the Magic Kingdom. I've got a hair appointment. Pruny says I'm starting to get a little mousy looking. Sometimes I just think she's plain goofy!

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Writer's Week #68: Writing Break

 I have to admit, that this was not a very exciting week writing-wise. In fact, I almost hesitated to write about it at all. I have been at work on an exciting publicity opportunity this week. Unfortunately, the answer that I had expected to receive today has been delayed until early next week, so I'll have to wait until then to see if I have anything worth announcing.

One thing that I know I'll be able to share with you next week will be my first school visit of the year. Daniel Vogel, the illustrator for the Deliverers series, will be accompanying me on the visit. It will be the first time he's done that, and I'm really excited about it. I'll have a full report, and some pictures, after the visit.

On the writing front, I decided to take a bit of a break. Last weekend I returned the fully edited manuscript of book 2, Order of the Crystal Lion back to Ana Vogel and she's in the process of laying it out again. Daniel has just about completed the map and the illustrations, so it should not be too long before the book is ready to go to press.

Still, I'm just about halfway through book 3 and it's been going pretty quickly. That's great, but at this rate I'd have to start Daniel working on preliminary sketches very soon. He's got enough going on as it is. So, I decided to take a writing vacation for a couple of weeks until the second book is all set. I'll keep you updated on everything as it unfolds!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Favorite Books: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

When I was between eight and ten, I was really into a number of authors. I read lots of E.B. White, A.A. Milne, Beverly Cleary and Roald Dahl. One of my favorite books from that period of time was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 

Cover from the version I had as a kid
I believe that I read the book before I saw the film starring Gene Wilder. The movie version came out when I was seven, but I did not see it until it was on TV a few years later. I remember that I was a little outraged that they had titled the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but the film was brilliant. Still, I liked the book more.

I think I liked seeing what happened to the children best. There was a little feeling of righteousness as each child got what they deserved (although I did become a little nervous as I read about Mike Teavee) while the deserving Charlie Bucket got the big prize. Oh yeah, and the glass elevator at the end was cool, too.

Charlie was a perfect hero--someone who was good but had nothing and wound up getting everything his heart desired. Imagine my horror when in the film, Charlie and his Grandpa Joe broke the rules! I don't know why they decided to do that, because Charlie would never break the rules. Hollywood can warp everyone, I suppose. Anyway, this is a fantastic book, and I also enjoyed the sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. If you haven't read them, you should definitely check them out.

Have you read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or any other books by Roald Dahl?

Here's a bit of the film version. This was cool when I was a kid, before computer generated scenes. All that candy! I've read that the first time the actors saw the chocolate waterfall room was when this scene was filmed.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Between the Lines: The Gingerbread Man

Hello there everybody. Today I'm bringing back an old favorite with a new look. If you've been following this blog for a while, you may remember the Monday Interview Series where I would interview characters from classic children's literature and fairy tales. I've been missing those interviews lately, so I decided to bring them back, but I wanted a snappy new title for the series--hence then new title, Between the Lines.

This week, I'm extremely pleased to say that I've managed to flag down an extremely rambunctious
little guy by the name of the Gingerbread Man. Let's see what he has to say.

Greg:  Hi, thanks for stopping by, Mr. Gingerbread Man. What have you been up to?

Gingerbread Man:  Here, here, why so formal? Call me Ginger, all me friends do.

Greg:  Oh, thank you very much indeed, I will. So, Ginger, what have you been up to?

Ginger:  Well, you see that's difficult to say. I'm not quite sure what I've been up to, but I can say that I've been havin' a right hot time, I can tell you.

Greg:  Um, hot time? 

Ginger:  Yeah, that's right things has been hot. Like for instance, I just came out of the oven a few minutes ago.

Greg:  Oh my, I guess that qualifies as hot.

Ginger:  I should say so, but that ain't all. No sooner am I pulled out of the oven than this old lady starts dressin' me up with a whole lotta frostin' an' all. Now I ain't usually one to cause a stir an' all, but that frostin' nozzle tickled. Well, it go so I couldn't take it no more. So, what do you think I did, eh?

Greg:  Er, I really have no idea.

Ginger:  I'll tell you what I did. I jumped up off the counter and lit out of there as quick as I could. The old lady was so surprised, she didn't know what to do. I started runnin' all over the house, lookin' for a way out, like.

Greg:  What happened? Did you find a way out?

Ginger:  I did not, leastways not straightaway. That old lady come at me with a broom, callin' at the top of her lungs for her old man. I swear, I thought I was done for right then and there. Luckily, he weren't in the house, but out in the barn. When he heard his old lady shriekin' and carryin' on, he come into the house.

That saved me bacon. As soon as that door came open, I was out of that house so fast, you ain't seen nothin' like it in your life. I felt so good about bein' outta the house and in the open air that I just had to sing a little song.

Greg:  A little song? Do you mean that gingerbread men sing?

Ginger:  Oh aye. Let me see, how did it go? Oh yeah. Run, run as fast as you can, you can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!

Greg:  That's it, is it? That's the rhyme?

Ginger:  Well now, what did you expect, Cole Porter? I'd only been out of the oven for a few minutes at that point. Anyway, I was happy to be out in the sn. Soon I'd left the old couple huffin' and pufffin' and wheezin' behind me. Ah, the open road. This was the place for me. No restrictions, nothin' to hold me back! That was livin'. But my happiness was short-lived. I was chased by some farm workers and then some wild creatures.

Greg:  Oh boy. Did you manage to escape from them?

Ginger:  Well, that's what I'm tryin' to do right now, which is why I'm kinda in a hurry.

Greg:  Then I won't keep you. I'll let you run. Once again, thank  you for stopping by and spending some time with us.

Ginger:  Don't mention it. But don't worry about me, I've got it all figured out. I'm gonna lose these yahoos at the river. I met a very nice fox who said he'll give me a lift across.

Greg:  A fox you say? Do you think that's wise?

Ginger:  Oh aye. He's a champion bloke. He ain't gonna charge me or nothin'. All he asked in return was a quick bite. I'll bring him round the pub a soon as we get across and we'll be square. Ta, ta!  

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Writer's Week #67: Nitty Gritty Time

Another busy week has come and gone. I'm so excited because there is so much going on! First of all, my friends Jess & Stephanie over at Fairday's Blog contacted me to ask if Eric and Stig would like to join the Character Book Club. I asked them and they were thrilled. The Character Book Club is this cool club where fantastic characters from great middle grade novels hang out. Needless to say, Eric was extremely excited. Stig took it all with his usual calm reserve, but I could tell he was pleased. I'm very flattered that they were asked. I mean, who doesn't like being part of a cool club?

This month, Millie from Millicent Marie is Not My Name by Karen Pokras Toz interviewed the DMS (Detective Mystery Squad) from The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow. Next month, May 17th to be exact, Eric and Stig from the Deliverers will be interviewing Millie right here. Stay tuned, it's going to be a lot of fun!

Then on Monday, my friend Ana Vogel sent me the preliminary layout for book 2 in the Deliverers series, Order of the Crystal Lion. That was really exciting, because it means I'm getting closer to releasing the new book.

It also meant that I had do a little bit more editing. Several of the chapters did not cooperate and were one or two lines too long. The result was a mostly blank last page for those chapters, which would not only be kind of funky looking but also a waste of paper.

As a result I spent a good deal of time finding ways to shorten things up. I wound up cutting a line of dialogue here or combining two short paragraphs there. While I was doing that, I couldn't help but notice several typos. Okay, no problem. I took care of those. Then, I noticed some missing words. Geez, I had edited this thing a few times. Others had, too. How could I have missed this stuff the first half dozen times? There was nothing for it. I grudgingly came to the realization that I was going to have to give the whole book another reading.

What I had expected to take an evening or so wound up taking the rest of the week. I only have about 45 pages left to review, then I can send the manuscript back to Ana for her to reflow. Arrgh! Oh well, it's going to be much cleaner now, but I'll bet you anything I still missed some typos. After you read the book you can let me know if you spotted any!

Since I got sidetracked with my unexpected editing task, I did not make any progress on The Golden Dragon of Ang. That's okay. This is the first week since I began the project where I did not get at least 1,400 words written. Still, right now my highest priority has to be getting The Deliverers 2 ready for publication.

I received a report from illustrator Daniel Vogel that the illustration of the crystal lion that will be the heading for the chapters is just about done and that the map is coming along nicely. Once the artwork is complete, I'll be able to upload everything to CreateSpace and order a few proofs to review. Will that be next week? I'll fill you in next Friday!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What's Christian Reading? The Candy Shop War

It's been a while since I've posted anything from the Reading Crew. Frankly, it's been tough sitting any of them down long enough to give me an update about what they've been reading. Christian received a new Kindle this Christmas as a combined birthday/Christmas present and he's been using gift cards to buy a lot of apps and books.

This week, I finally flagged him down and asked him about some of the books he's been reading. When I asked him if there were any that he really enjoyed, he raved about The Candy Shop War, by Brandon Mull. Christian had really enjoyed Mull's Fablehaven series, and that was what had prompted him to give Candy Shop a try. Let's see what he had to say about it.

Here's what Christian says the book is about.

It's about four kids--Nate, Trevor, Summer and Pigeon. They meet this weird woman named Mrs. White who runs a candy shop. They find out that she makes magical candies, including Moon Rocks and Shock Bits. Moon Rocks allow you to jump extra high and float into the air. If you eat a mouthful of Shock Bits, you can give people an electrical shock.

The four kids have to go on special missions for Mrs. White in order to earn more candy. Their first mission is to break into a museum and steal two artifacts that Mrs. White claims belonged to her ancestors. This leads to a series of creepy and shady events.

I won't tell you how that turned out, but you'll find out what's really going on when you read this amazing book by Brandon Mull, author of the Fablehaven series.

Here's what Christian liked best about the book.

I liked the first time they ate the Moon Rocks, because they seemed surprised. Nate tried to take a step and ended up drifting off into the air.

Was there anything that Christian did not like about the book?

Nothing. I liked it all. It was perfect, absolutely perfect!

So, how did Christian rate The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull?

Christian gives it five out of five flaming monkey heads.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Writer's Week #66: All Quiet on the Western Front

Contrary to what the title of this post may suggest, I am not reviewing the classic WWI novel. I just thought it would be a good way to sum up my writing week. Last week was pretty cool with some great attention being paid to the audio version of Sharky and the Jewel. My good friends over at Fairday's Blog featured audio all week, which included a nice review of the audio book and an interview with narrator Jimm Singer.

Scene from The Golden Dragon of Ang:
Audience Hall of the Dragon's Mouth
Hmmm, what? What do you mean I told you all about that last week? Oh, sorry, I guess I did. I was kind of hoping you wouldn't notice. See, as exciting as last week was, this week was really low key by comparison.

I'm really in a holding pattern right now. School visits will not start until May (May 1st to be exact), and Order of the Crystal Lion--book 2 in The Deliverers Series--will be released around that time, too. Once the book is out I'll be making the rounds of book and craft shows which will be fun. Once all that starts to happen, things will get busy in a hurry.

One of the living sparkling stone warriors that Eric & Co.
encounter in Golden Dragon of Ang

Even though things are slow on the marketing and publishing front right now, that does not mean I've been idle. It just means that I've been able to use my precious spare time to do what I like best--write! This week has been very productive in that regard.

I was able to write 2,400 words this week, more than I've been able to in any of the last nine weeks. My total now stands at 36,100 words over 157 and 35 chapters. The Golden Dragon of Ang is coming along very nicely. If I keep writing at this rate, I'll be almost finished with The Deliverers 3 before The Deliverers 2 is released. Oh well, I've got some good ideas for The Deliverers 4, so that's fine.

That's really all I've got this week, but you never know what's going to happen from week to week. Anything is possible! Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Inklings: Dialogue, Bringing Characters to Life

Things were a little busy earlier in the week, so I decided to postpone my Inklings post to today. Thanks for being understanding! In an earlier Inklings post, I talked about characters and where they come from. Once you've identified your characters and what makes them tick, you need to be able to get that across to your reader.

How do you do this? Well, you could just tell them, like this:

Butch was a bully. He and his gang loved to take little kids' lunch money.

That's okay. It does the job, but isn't very entertaining or interesting. Now, let's take that same situation and try some dialogue instead of description:

"Hey shrimp," Butch bellowed at the small boy quaking before him, "Me and the boys here are kinda hungry, but we ain't got no money. I was thinkin' maybe we could make a trade."

"Uh, what kind of a trade?" the trembling boy asked.

"Give me your money and we'll let ya keep your teeth," Butch replied, grabbing the front of the boy's shirt with both hands and lifting him off his feet.

You've got a more vivid picture of Butch now. He's mean, tough, strong and maybe not overly bright. What he says, how he says it, the actions that accompany his words, and how the other boy reacts to what he says make Butch really come alive for the reader.

Another great thing about dialogue is that it can really move your story forward. When I'm writing a
What are these people saying?
great  bit of dialogue between two or more characters, it can seem like I'm listening to their conversation happening right in front of me and I'm like a court recorder, taking it all down. This is where those magical moments sometimes occur where the characters take on a mind of their own, saying and doing things that I hadn't anticipated.

That can be a really great thing. But be careful. if things start moving too quickly your story can get off track. You still need to be in control, guiding your characters. Still, dialogue can open new possibilities that you had not imagined.

Dialogue has to be realistic. During your day, pay attention to what people are saying and how they're saying it. Write down bits and pieces of dialogue that strike you throughout the day in your journal. Soon you'll have some good dialogue to use to spark something a character might say. Good luck!

What are some of your favorite characters? How do the things they say make them unique?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Favorite Books: The Phantom Tollbooth

This week's book is another one that wound up surprising me when I was young. I don't remember exactly how I was introduced to The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, just that I was home from school sick when I first read it. My mom probably got it from the library to keep me from watching TV. You see, when I was a kid, if anyone was home sick, my mom would put the portable black and white TV with the rabbit ears in their room so they could watch TV in bed (if you're wondering what rabbit ears are, forget about it--you wouldn't believe it if I told you, and yes until I was about 15 all the TV's--both of them--in our house were black and white).

Anyway, perhaps one of my sisters was sick that day, too and they had the TV, but I started reading the book not really knowing what it was about. It started with a bored boy named Milo who receives a tollbooth. It comes with instructions. Milo having nothing better to do follows the instructions kind of halfheartedly, not really expecting anything.

He pedals his toy car to the tollbooth, pays the toll and pedals on through. When he does, he's
transported to another world. Hey, cool! Like Milo, I was suddenly intrigued. As you may know there's nothing I love more than a story about someone who is transported to a new world. From there, Milo is caught up in a quest to rescue the princesses Rhyme and Reason who were taken from the kingdom of Wisdom.

It was a great story, but the first time I read it I got only a fraction of the puns of the names and places in the book. As I got older, each time I read the book I recognized more and more. There was always something new to discover. That is truly the mark of a great book and the reason it's one of my favorites!

Here's a clip from Chuck Jones' movie version of The Phantom Tollbooth. Jones is best known for his Warner Brothers cartoons ad his version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. In this bit, Milo loses his way in the Doldrums, which happens to all of us from time to time:

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Writer's Week #65: Fun Week

I can't tell you what a fun week it's been for me! It all started on Monday when Jess and Stephanie at The Secret DMS of Fairday Morrow's blog reviewed the audio book version of Sharky and the Jewel.  Thank you so much for your kind words, Jessica and Stephanie! You're right, Jimm Singer did a fantastic job on the audio book and I'm glad you agree. Here's a sample:

In the middle part of the week, I came up with a fantastic idea for Eric and the rest of the Deliverers to get from one island to another. In the third book in the series, The Golden Dragon of Ang, they have to visit each of the five Dragon Islands and return to the first within two weeks. Their first trip by ship took about 3 days. I knew that sailing from island to island was not going to  get them back home on time. So I had to figure out a  different way to get them from place to place. This week, I figured it out, and it ties in with a huge plot element, so I was very pleased.

Today, Fairday's blog came through again with a brilliant interview with narrator Jimm Singer. I am so pleased that everyone is enjoying the audio book. Audiofile Magazine has put the audio version in its "review queue" which means that in the next couple of months they will be reviewing it online. I'll let you know when it appears. In the interview Jimm confirms that he will be narrating the audio book version of Order of the Crystal Lion, the second book in the Deliverers Series. I'm really looking forward to working with him again.

You may be wondering when you'll see the paperback and the e-book versions of book 2. Well, it looks now like it will be in early May. There has been so much going on that I've had to push the release date back. Don't worry, I can assure you that it will be worth the wait. I'm really excited for it to come out. As soon as I know more, I'll pass it on to you.

Meanwhile, I've been working away on book 3. The Golden Dragon of Ang is progressing well. With everything going on this week, I was only able to write about 1,400 words, but I'm 33,700 words into the story. That's 31 chapters and 146 pages. This book is growing fast! I'm hoping that there will be less of a gap between the release of books 2 and 3 than there has been between books 1 and 2. But come what may, I can guarantee that there will be more to come from Eric & Co. before all is said and done. I'll be back with another update next week!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My Favorite Books: A Bear Called Paddington

Back when I was a wee lad of about 10 or 11 (okay, you might find it hard to believe, but I was once a wee lad) I remember looking for a new book series to read. My sister, who was about nine at the time, had a bunch of books in her room. Being desperate, I wandered in and started looking through them. My expectations were low because, well, she was a girl and I knew that girls never had anything interesting to read (don't say it, I've learned otherwise since). But like I said, I was desperate.

One set of books did look kind of interesting. The back cover said it was about a bear from Darkest Peru who was found by a London family on the platform of Paddington Station. Okay, not bad, it was English. That alone was worth a closer look. I took it into my room, began reading, and was instantly hooked. The book was A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond.

Paddington & Mr. Gruber enjoying elevenses
I really did fall in love with the series right away. Paddington was always getting into ridiculous situations either with his adopted family the Browns, or their crusty neighbor Mr. Curry. Then he'd go tell his friend the antique dealer, Mr. Gruber as they sat down to "elevenses".

I loved these books because they sparked my imagination. It felt like I was getting a dose of English life spiced up with the antics of a mischievous Peruvian bear. The illustrations were fun, too.

Now, my eight year old daughter is starting to read them. My wife reads one chapter and Abby reads the next. She loves to read with her mom. My eleven year old son has even been seen nonchalantly hanging around with an ear cocked, listening as they read. He won't admit it, but I know. He really enjoys Paddington's adventures, just like me.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Inklings: Rewriting and Editing

Once you've finished your story and your hero has prevailed, sit back for a minute and congratulate yourself. You've accomplished something great--getting a complete story down on paper from start to finish. Now the  work starts!

A wise author once said 90% of writing is rewriting. They were right. Now that you've got a story written, you need to go back and take another look at it. You don't want to do that right away. Take a week or two and forget all about it. That way when you pick it up again you'll be able to look at it with some perspective. It will be fresh.

It's funny, but when I go back to read something I've written after letting it sit for a while, I'll catch myself saying "Wow, did I write that? It's good," in some places, and "Ugh, how could I write that?" in other places.  That happens all the time and it will happen to you. As you reread, take notes by either writing in the margin of your manuscript or adding them on your computer. You may find that a certain scene does not work, or a subplot might be a little dodgy. Be on the lookout for plot elements that aren't wrapped up or characters that drop out of sight without explanation. Once you've identified these things, go back and fix them or get rid of them if they don't move your story forward to its conclusion.

After you've done that, read it through again to see if there's anything else that needs fixing or clarifying and rewrite it. Then, keep an eye out for any typos or misspelling or punctuation errors.  You can edit this as you reread the first time, but I find that when I do that I am not paying enough attention to the plot points. If your prefer, you can proofread for spelling and punctuation before you reread and rewrite.

Finally, once you've got it as polished as you think it can be, find someone whose opinion you really trust and ask them to read it. Ask them to tell you what they think. Did everything make sense? Was the pacing good? Were all the loose ends tied up?

In many cases, it's not unusual for thee rewriting and editing to take longer than it actually took to write the first draft. But that's good, because once you've taken your story through the entire rewriting and editing process, you can be sure your story is as good as it can be.