Where are all the ordinary women in dystopian fiction?

I wrote The After Days because I was tired (oh so tired) of reading dystopian tales where the protagonist was a teenager or a male with superhuman powers. Where were all the ordinary suburbanites, doing their best in impossible situations? I wanted more books like The Handmaids Tale, Red Clocks, Vox, and Station 11.

In The After Days, middle-aged suburbanites Rachel Caplan and Zach Wu, as well as their friends Julie and Christopher Davis, battle not only the predators and scavengers but also despair, empty pantries, and sometimes each other as they struggle to survive an increasingly treacherous world without electricity.

The friends have post-graduate degrees and talents that bring success in normal Montgomery County, a suburb of Washington DC, but little knowledge that’s helpful in a dark Montgomery County quickly crashing into chaos.

The After Days explores the ethical quandaries and logistical issues of ordinary people striving to survive extraordinary circumstances. Turning to each other … and sometimes turning on each other … how far are they willing to go to survive?

I gave birth to a 78,000 word manuscript

Today I finished a week of giving my manuscript for The After Days a final edit before sending it to my editor for a final proofread. It feels like I’ve given birth to a beautiful baby manuscript, and now Mary Poppins will step in to lovingly care for my baby over the next few weeks.

There have been times when entire chapters flowed from my fingertips with ease and times when crafting one three-word sentence took a week. Now I’m eager to read my editor’s comments and changes so that The After Days can be the best I can make it. I’m a little surprised I miss the act of editing and polishing which has sucked up much of time over the past week, but it’s time to move forward.

How hard will it be to patiently wait the three weeks to receive the suggested edits? Harder than dieting during the season of holiday parties, harder than learning calculus, and harder than saying no to my charming 2 1/2 year old granddaughter.

It’s not the writing, it’s the editing

I’m now polishing version 8 of The After Days. Over the past three years, I’ve added and deleted characters. I’ve changed their names and altered their personalities. Feeling like a god, I’ve decided who will live and who will die, then after a few days, killed the living and resurrected the dead.

Sometimes the most inconsequential thoughts as I daydream in a dull meeting leads to major changes in the plot. Sometimes I endlessly debate about whether to use the word ‘leather’ or ‘calfskin’ in a description of a character’s boots. (I chose calfskin.)

I’ve had to confirm goosebumps is one word and re-remember the difference between lie and lay. I’ve purged hundreds of adverbs and inserted dozens of commas.

Editing, I’ve come to realize, is how you take 78,000 perfectly serviceable words and turn them into a compelling novel. It’s not the writing, it’s the editing that makes characters and setting feel real. Editing is what makes a reader stay up past her bedtime to finish a chapter. Like a freshly-mined gem becomes a beautiful diamond, editing creates a beautiful book.

Welcome to Amy Ginsburg’s author site

Three years ago, as the idea to write The After Days percolated in my brain, it never would have occured to me that I would be creating my own author website. Heck, three years ago, I wasn’t even sure I’d get past chapter one.

But get past it I did. Very far past it. I’m now polishing my final version (version eight, for those keeping track) and am looking forward to sharing it with the world.

Join me on this journey into the world of self-publishing. I’ll blog about the writing and publishing process, topics that interest me and I hope interest you, and of course, The After Days.

Amy