You read it correctly! I finished the rough draft for Kricket's Song on 12-11-11. Final word count was 97,767. This was quite a bit over the original 90K word count I'd planned for, but not quite as high as I was afraid it might go. According to my research, somewhere between 80 and 90K is what agents are looking for from new writers, but 97K isn't so far out of the ballpark as to not be feasible. The word count will, of course, change before I submit it to agents.
So what's next for Kricket's Song? Well, I've got a list of about 23 edits that need to take place before I have the basic story the way I want it. Some of these were things that changed as I wrote the manuscript, some were ideas that I got after I'd already written those parts, and some where things that I just plain forgot to write in. I'm currently about 30% done with those edits, and I hope to have them done within the next few days, before I get started on my Christmas break.
After the initial edits, I'm going to let the manuscript sit for awhile. If I do any writing at all, it'll be on something completely unrelated to Kricket's Song. If I go back and read through it looking for errors right now, I'll only see what I want to see, instead of what's actually there. So I'll give my brain a break and look at it with fresh eyes a couple weeks later.
After I read through it and polish it up as best as I can, it'll then go to beta readers, who will give me yet another perspective. While the beta readers have it, I'll be researching agents, drafting a query letter, and all the other little things that need to happen for a manuscript to be ready for submission. And after that...well, I guess we'll see!
I already have a LOT of ideas for the sequel to Kricket's Song (although Kricket's Song is designed to be a standalone plot), but I don't have a definite plot laid out for it yet. Right now, that's slated to be my next major project, but we'll see how things go before I officially put it on my active projects list.
As always, I'll try to keep this site updated with my progress. I know it's been awhile since I last posted. My excuse is, I've been busy at work, and all my spare creative energy has gone into the push to get this rough draft done. But let's be honest: blogging is boring when I've got nothing to blog about. I'm not one of those guys that talks about something just to be talking. So, when I have something talk about, I'll post again!