I've been gone. I'm sorry. I've literally been spending every waking hour (and a couple that weren't so waking) in my kitchen chair working on the revision for the-book-that-was-called-Destined. I'm about to turn in this revision so that my editor can have another crack at it and send it back to me one more time in a few weeks.
When I'm writing, I can't read fiction. I don't know if it has to do with lack of confidence or what, but reading good books brings me down, so I tend to read writing books - usually Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott or On Writing by Stephen King. This time around, my buddies Robin and Eve recommended Save the Cat and Save the Cat Strikes Back by Blake Snyder.
So far, I've read both of them cover to cover twice in the hopes that all of his great advice will be implanted in my brain by osmosis. The books are about screenwriting, but there is so much good stuff in there for fiction writers, I can't recommend them highly enough.
By using some of Blake's techniques, I've turned this:
Because I can never use something right out of the box, I adapted his methods a little bit to suit how I do things but it is really helpful to see everything right out in front of me. I can swap scenes around and find something in seconds without having to rifle through all 300+ pages trying to remember where I had a particular character say a particular thing.
Better pacing? Check. Better character motivation? Check. New title? Um.....