Last week I started my big edit of Death by Cliché 4: A New Trope, prior to turning it in to the publisher. The timing came about because of two specific details. One, Comic Con was over, and I learned at FanX that if I draft a book during a Con I will wreck my health, and two, I needed a very specific expert critique for DbC 4 and I wanted an unbiased read on it, so I couldn’t tell the people in question why I needed their critique. This meant none of them were especially motivated to finish. Critiquers are fickle. It’s not at all unusual for me to have three or four (or even nine or ten) people not turn in a critique for every one who does, and since I didn’t want to tell the people why I needed their feedback, this was no exception. It was Tuesday night last week before someone came through and I finally received the feedback I needed. The feedback was a green light to go forward. The reader in question had a couple good notes unrelated to the question I asked, but important to her perspective, and I was happy to receive them, but I totally didn’t screw up where I was terrified I’d screwed up. So that was good.

Now: I’m done being all vague.

As of this writing (Sunday night), I’m almost halfway through the draft by word count. I am SO happy with how the book has shaped up. The book is my tribute to my great love, Star Wars, but to keep it from being too derivative I took it back to the original source, not watching A New Hope again, but instead watching Lucas’s inspiration for the film, The Hidden Fortress, (and also Kagemusha, because I wanted to ruminate a little more on the plight of a double in Asian society). I’m really happy with the book at the moment. I feel like it’s dancing in and out of the script of A New Hope in strange and interesting ways. At least one of my readers thinks so. We’ll see if others do as well. It might be my best book.

I mean, until we get to five, of course. And then maybe six. We’ll see. You hope you just get better at this as you go.

But let’s get real. Even the Michael Jordan threw a brick once in a while (Not that I’m comparing myself to Michael Jordan, although I might write better than him, I haven’t checked). Part of me is cringing and waiting for that moment of failure. It’s easy to think that your career will be a steady hill to climb. It’s harder to think of it as peaks and valleys and that your second book might be less successful than your first, or that your fifth might bomb, or that you might have to burn your first pen name at some point and start over, as some authors do. But these things happen. Of course my second book isn’t out yet. I’m just discussing theoreticals. My second book is far superior than the first. Not that the first is bad, but there’s ten years of experience between the two.

So I’m borrowing trouble.

I think I did this right before DbC released too.