Jun 04

The Final Week

Posted: under Craft, the writing life.
 June 4th, 2013

One advantage the writer has–if she gets her copy ahead of time enough–is that she can see and weep over the remaining errors before being clobbered with them by a reader.     Because a writer reading her own work when it’s hot off the press reads like a nitpicker, not an enthusiast.    Little prayers puff out of her brain: “Oh, please don’t let anyone tell me about this the first week–or tell anyone else, either.”   And, if she’s lucky, there are moments of “Yes…that worked…good…uh-huh…and that…yeah, this whole chapter’s fine.”  Read the rest of this entry »

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May 24


Posted: under Crown of Renewal, Revisions, the writing life.
Tags: ,  May 24th, 2013

So today, the nitpicking round it is ongoing, and it’s…always interesting.   Nitpicking has various uses.  One of them can be shortening a book that’s too long (too long defined by publishing economics.)   I think I’ve posted before about some of the shortening strategies.   But this book isn’t too long, so nitpicking is aimed at other goals.   Tyops of course, like that one right there.   Not just letter reversals and misspelled words, but words mistakenly typed in place of others.  “Heard” for “herd.”    “Policed” for “pleased.”  (Don’t ask how I did that one…I don’t know.   Brain burp.  It wasn’t in this book.)   Anything that sticks out as awkward, bothersome, annoying, confusing.   For instance:

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May 23

At the Finish

Posted: under Crown of Renewal, Good News, the writing life.
Tags: ,  May 23rd, 2013

Crown of Renewal, by a nose, despite all the obstacles in its path as reported in breathless gasps by Crown’s disheveled jockey: Read the rest of this entry »

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May 19

Turning Into the Home Stretch

Posted: under Crown of Renewal, the writing life.
Tags: ,  May 19th, 2013

It’s been a very trying race for Crown of Renewal‘s jockey, as we were blocked,  forced back, had mud kicked onto us, tried to find holes…had those holes abruptly filled by another horse’s big broad butt,   were bumped hard, found other holes, some of which led nowhere at all except to more bumping and fending off other jockeys’ whips.    In fact, all the other horses in the race were trouble:  Fickle Fate,  Interruption,  New Assignment,  HellVirus,  Bad Timing,  Pain in the Neck,  Complication, Accident, Family Crisis.  All ridden by jockeys with the intent of ruining Crown‘s race.  Read the rest of this entry »

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May 02

Who What Where When Why (etc)

Posted: under Craft, the writing life.
Tags: ,  May 2nd, 2013

Anyone who’s taken a journalism class, or written for a newspaper, is familiar with the “Five Ws” which–canonically–are supposed to be at the head of the story.   Also with “inverted triangle” structure.    Most of the time, novel structure is not the same, but keeping readers oriented to person, place, and time is–for most, not all–important.   Even more important–though hidden from readers–is keeping the writer oriented to the Five Ws (and more.)

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Apr 18

Asking the Right Person

Posted: under Contents, Craft, the writing life.
Tags: ,  April 18th, 2013

I’d been struggling with a chapter–and specifically the first scene in that chapter–for weeks, off and on, in and around others.    It’s pivotal to a very important plotline and also to the chronological tangle previously  mentioned.   I’ve rewritten it.  I’ve written completely new versions, not looking at the old one.  I’ve cut and pasted…cut and not pasted…moved things, ripped things out, added stuff…and nothing was quite right.  Today it began to make more sense (well, I understand what it has to do better, maybe) but something was still missing.  Finally, the missing detail was outlined for me  (X needs to have found/be holding Y), but what the heck was Y?

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Apr 11

Headdesk Moments

Posted: under Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  April 11th, 2013

A:  When you get another email offering you a fantastic idea for a novel because the idea person admits to not being able to/wanting to/having time to write it, but is sure you could do it and then the two of you could split the no-doubt-substantial money.

It doesn’t work that way.   But some people still think it does…or could.  And there’s no polite way to explain (I’ve tried, with those who’ve caught me in person.)

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Apr 02

A Brief News Item

Posted: under the writing life.
Tags: ,  April 2nd, 2013

As some of you with an interest in publishing news already have heard,  NightShade Books is in the process of a potential acquisition.   NightShade published my short fiction collection Moon Flights.   The acquisition hangs on the percentage of Night Shade authors who agree to substantial contractual changes in existing contracts;  the terms are beneficial to writers only in that they may prevent works being dragged into the endless whirlpool of NightShade’s predicted declaration of bankruptcy.

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Apr 01

Moral Complexity v. Moral Ambiguity

Posted: under Craft, Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: ,  April 1st, 2013

A listserv I’m on mentioned that a member had published a review of Game of Thrones in a major market,  so I wandered over to look.    Here’s the link: http://lareviewofbooks.org/article.php?type=&id=1543&fulltext=1&media=#article-text-cutpoint

I was impressed with the review on several counts, but the one I want to bring up here is the way other reviewers, critics, and readers talk about characterization, especially in the area of morality/ethics and spirituality.  This isn’t about GRRM’s books, per se, but about a way of looking at all books, and considering how a writer’s view of reality affects how that writer constructs characters.   Right now–in the review cited and in other writing about Game of Thrones–Martin epitomizes one particular view of reality, history, and human nature.    Tolkein is often cited as his opposite. Thus it’s important to use language appropriate to those fundamental views–which Teitelbaum does in her review,  and many others do not.

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Mar 23

Nose to the Grindstone

Posted: under Reader Help, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  March 23rd, 2013

Right now, I’m pouring words into the files for Book V, so I’m not keeping up with everything the Punctuation Working Group is doing….trying to check comments and email a few times a day, but not really able to concentrate on anything but stuff I can’t tell you yet.   (I should have been listening to different music…finally thought mixing Smetana’s Bartered Bride first act with Saint-Saens’ symphonies, not Beethoven.  And…it’s galloping.)   I’d forgotten the particular combination of suspense, darkness, and explosive brilliance, in that one in particular…goosebumps.  Lots and lots of goosebumps.   Just what I needed.)

Anyway, my brain’s not in pronunciation right now.   It’s in getting Book V done to “send to editor standard”.

Forgive the inattention after handing over that job, please.

Also–remember that my webmistress wants the output as a .doc, .rtf, or .txt file.  She has her own tricks for making it pretty on the website and says those are an easier starting point than others.   (Also, I can’t read docx or xcl files on my machine, so I can’t look files over before sending them on to her.)

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