Wednesday, August 31, 2011

You Ever Read Something You Wrote and Go...Hmmm.

Four days his imagination twisted over his own demise, and the badness of it had swelled in his mind. He didn't think he'd ever experienced dread before. Fear, on more occasions than he wished to ponder, especially recently. But dread, though not as sharp, ate away at the stomach, and confidence.

Regards,
Mac
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Editing novel number nineteen!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Getting Closer to Self-E-Publishing


Kind, fellow writers compliment my writing and encourage me to self-publish. I'm getting closer.

One
The advantage of t-publishing first, and following up with e-publishing—you get the credentials, and the advantage of that first publication marketing, to spur on subsequent e-sales—ala JA Konrath.

Two
I also have the impression that agents are less likely to take on a writer if they s-publish, for several reasons. In their shoes, I would want a client reliant on me.

So…I will eventually, if I don’t get an agent.

Three
Personally, I’ve spread myself around in genres learning my craft, getting a feel for what I write best, enjoy writing, and I want a good number of books in a single series that can spur subsequent sales.

Yes, I've completed a lot of manuscripts, but not of a single genre that can necessarily sell the next.

Four
I know how I buy on-line. If an author only has a couple of novels out there s-published, I figure she hasn’t yet learned her craft. Going back and re-reading one of my novels from just a couple of years ago, I can’t believe how far I have progressed in the craft since—nineteen manuscripts in.

I’m getting closer every day. (to e-publish)

Five
I appreciate the compliments, but the reality of e-publishing is very few writers get a return for the cost of their editing and covers.

Six
The advantage of t-publishing first, and following up with e-publishing—you get the credentials, and the advantage of that first publication marketing, to spur on subsequent e-sales—ala JA Konrath.

I also have the thought that agents are less likely to take on a writer if they s-publish, for several reasons.

So…I will eventually, if I don’t get an agent.

Seven
Another thought is I’ve spread myself around in genres learning my craft, getting a feel for what I write best, and I want a good number of books in a single series that can roll into subsequent sales.

Yes, I have a lot of books, but not of a single genre that can sell the next.

Eight
And I know how I buy on-line. If there are only a couple of novels out there s-published, I figure the author hasn’t yet learned their craft. Even going back and re-reading one of my novels from just a couple of years ago, I can’t believe how much I have progressed.

And by the way—I recognize getting an agent, even selling one book, doesn't mean you've made it. It's a tough industry I'm pursuing.

What are your thoughts? Pros to s-publishing? Cons?

Regards,
Mac
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dear Critique Partner


As I type my comments within your effort of love, your manuscript which you have spent many hundreds of hours on, I’m concerned you might conniption over all my red. There is a lot. It doesn't mean I don't like your work. I wouldn't be working with you if I didn't.

First: Off-line feedback is dangerous, because you can't see the smile, the caring individual across the table from you. If there is a misinterpretation, your friend isn't there to immediately ease your mind.

Picture my smile when you have the urge to throw a heavy object.

Second: I’m taking very seriously my role in helping you make your work the best it can be. Thousands will see the result of your efforts. It represents you. It represents the talent that you are. It should be as perfect as it can be. I’m placing myself in the role as your professional editor.

Maybe I shouldn’t, but I am. I butt in a lot in that way.


Third: A lot of the red is me taking time to explain my suggestions, offers, and corrections.

Blink often.

Fourth: I in NO way intend to change your voice. You will never have to defend your decisions. Your manuscript is yours, and no one else's.

So you may stop screaming.

Fifth: A good chunk of my notes are to separate narrative from individual dialog. You have a tendency to step on your dialog unnecessarily with narrative that doesn’t pertain to the speaker. Any time you go from dialog to the narrators voice, that is, your protagonist’s thoughts, even if it’s only a few words (not strictly interpretation/tag), it is best to go to a new paragraph. It helps the dialog stand out. The dialog is the ACTION, which you don’t want to step on.

The exposition is the TELLING which may be critical information, even hilarious, but it is still telling and you want to set it aside from the all-powerful action.

I know you disagree. I am right.


Sixth: A key component of writing well is tight righting. If you can say it in four words rather than five without losing impact, do so. Fewer words are usually more impactful. I think I am skilled at that, and you will find a plethora of strikeouts which reflect my RECOMMENDATIONS AND IDEAS in making your writing more concise.

I agree the words are jewels. Now click Accept.

Okay.

I just wanted to get that off my mind before you see my feedback.

I wouldn’t be working with you if I didn’t love your characters, your story, and more importantly, respect the beauty of your prose.

Heck, go ahead and click Accept All.


Regards,
Mac
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Monday, August 22, 2011

The Written Word and Black and White

The word is mightier than the sword. Do you take this wonderful adage as explicit truth?

Of course not. It implies a richness of unstated meanings.

A razor-sharp blade can take off your head.

A rumor can ruin your life, send you to the gallows.

There are many levels of power in between. A sword can remain in a scabbard in a musky closet until it is nothing but rust, and the word can remain in a closed book for a hundred years never read.

I laughed out loud from an anonymous commenter of a June, 2010 posting of mine. The writer was irritated that I dared say one thing and do another (hmm, another worthwhile adage).

I had shared notes I thought were valuable, outlining the general guidelines for improving dialogue tags. Anonymous criticized that I used adverbs in my tags myself.

The biggest danger behind "the word" is when it is taken as Scripture. Life isn't black and white. We shouldn't get our panties in a wad because we read something that goes against our preconceived notions. We should absorb it, entertain it, allow it to enrich our beliefs, open our minds.

And don't shoot the messenger. (There, I've shared three great adages. I hope you feel enriched.)

Regards,
Mac
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Editing novel number nineteen!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Beta Readers for Warlock Apprentice


I saw Claire Farrell's blog-call for beta readers. What a great idea. I just typed "The End" on Warlock Apprentice, and I'm going to be a copycat.

Anyone who doesn't get enough of me in my blog, and would be willing to beta, let me know.

(As Claire stated, I wouldn't expect you to do anything with my MS you wouldn't want someone doing with yours.)

I'll be working on an overview to post on my homepage in a couple days.

Hope to build some new relationships. And of course, I will tat-for-tat beta. I read 2-3 novels every week.

Regards,
Mac
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Editing novel number nineteen!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Punctuating Tags and Direction



Hope this simplifies the most common errors. A Dozen rules.

Regards,
Mac
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Working on novel number nineteen!

Monday, August 15, 2011

First Lines—Looking Back at My Own

I think too much can be said about first lines, but agree on a few things. It should be relevant to what follows. It shouldn't cheat to excite. It should get the hook in position.

Provoked by a fellow writer's blog about first lines, I compiled a list of the first lines of my various novels—smiled at one; decided at least three were intriguing enough to make most readers keep reading. That left me very disappointed.

What do you think:
Paul slid backward over the outcropping, digging his fingers into the rock for leverage. --Warlock Apprentice

Like everything that pops in my head, I have no idea how I acquired her life story in that instant. --Wheezy-the Medium of Casing, Florida

Margarite peered at the time displaying on her DVR and slugged the mattress. --Cockroach Crusade

Jason's eyes remained on the mountain of human skeletons. --New Order Apocalypse

Visitors with assault rifles were far from rare in my house, especially at midnight. --Revenir Intern

The stabbing pins of the shiver crawled over Jon's shoulders as he pulled into the driveway, like every other visit the past several weeks. --The Seeker

Fire and cinders fell from the thatched ceiling, smoke burned his eyes, seared his throat and made him cough. --Black Lake-Warlock

I needed to start swilling in moderation. --Living In Shadow

Of all Asahel's crimes, what irked Renee most, her peers considered trivial—his kith's flippant use of the repulsive term vampire. --Revenir Renee de Rais

The door to the dining room swung into the kitchen and slammed against the wall with a bang. --Black Lake-The Valley

The night breeze thrust the smoke of the pyre into the ogre's face. --Black Lake-Expiring Covenant

Bea ignored the doorbell, but whoever was outside escalated to a hard knock. --A Daughter's Shadow

Tony ducked and blocked the open-hand slaps. --Two Brothers-Two Shadows

Under the glare of his healers, Justen worked the battle sword, testing his ability to wield it left handed. --Nacelle at War

Burnt opium scorched Angel's sinuses. --Persona Kory Mae-Tail Kicker

Word that frogs returned from extinction, and learned to fly, was more likely to stay secret. --Persona Kory Mae-First Contact

A hoarse cackle of laugher to her right pricked at her attempt to relax. --Persona Kory Mae-L1060 Accord

Toni clicked send, and it was official. --Persona Kory Mae-Commission

Dannael shared her vision with her brother, of the two of them lying in the dry grass bloody, headless. --Lord Regent
Regards,
Mac
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Writer's Life—I Don't Get Out Much

When I say I don't get out much, here's proof. My wife drove my Explorer today and filled it up with gas. Probably the first time in four months. Inside the gas cap, she found a mud dauber's nest.

Sure glad that didn't fall inside the tank.

Regards,
Mac
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Working on novel number nineteen!

C.L. Bevill--Bubba and the 12 Deadly Days of Christmas

This is my seventh Bevill read and I'm in no way growing tired of the writer's imagination and wit. I'm glad there are several more novels to go.

I feel guilty that I'm stingy with the five stars. Fifteen of sixteen reviews on Amazon give Bubba and the 12 Deadly Days of Christmas five stars. I may be incapable of letting that many stars out of my pocket. I doubt I would have given my two favorite novels of all time five stars (Children of Dune, The White Dragon).

So what makes a story great? In Dune it was the setting and aura of magic. In White Dragon for me it was all about the fantasy of living my life with Ruth. I guess if I had to generalize Christmas, it would be Bevill's choice of idiom. I love Bevill in the same way I love Evanovich. The story is always so quixotic it allows me to float with the un-ending flow of humor. And besides, the family baggage is so close to home, it's a release to be able to laugh at someone else's kin.

This was the best edited Bevill novel I've read, the most consistent point of view, and each scene flowed excellently to the next. I'm happy Bevill brought Bubba and Willodean closer, madder than hell how she left us hanging. Arghhh!! Funny she didn't give us another feme fatale for Bubba to goggle at, biding to supplant the lovely, green-eyed Willodean.

Last word—rush out and buy 12 Deadly Days of Christmas.

Regards,
Mac
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Monday, August 8, 2011

Rick Acker—When the Devil Whistles (2010)

As I compose this, I worry the author may sue me for improper use of intellectual property, i.e., the cover of his book over on the right. He is a lawyer, after all. Should I tweak my critique (remember, I don't review) on the positive side to gain his favor?

I decide to go for it. I'm a writer, after all, so of course I'm poor. What would he gain if he sued me? Also, I enjoyed Mr. Acker's book, so though I may creak and groan about this literary element or another, I'll still urge everyone who reads this bloviating to go buy one of his books, even if it isn't When the Devil Whistles.

I loved the protagonist, up to the point she went all wish washy, about two-thirds into the novel. But how can you not love a snowboarding chick with a kitten tattoo? Acker could have instilled a little more sensuality about her, but I'm not a complainer (much). She's got guts to go against powerful corporations, and who doesn't hate the man? Though the family baggage was a tetch overdone for my tastes.

The handsome and rich love interest is okay. A little too cool, and rich, but hey, this is fiction. (Besides, I hate rich suave guys because, well, I'm not.)

The parallel plots, though each excellent in their own rights, distracted me a bit. Perhaps that may be a plus for those with a short attention span (I tease). But to me, splitting the interest seemed to water down each. Plot for me works like point of view. Every time you switch, you allow your reader to float away from what you just spent weeks in front of the computer striving to rivet the reader with.

I ding Devil in the elements of action, setting, conflict and plot for the same reason. The resolution pushed me past my ability to suspend disbelief. It was a little too easy. Yes, it had me rolling my eyes. But the preceding storyline was good enough to keep me from panning the novel. Acker owns a comfortable, flowing writing style. He personified and blended his characters well, into an overall entertaining story.

So that single lapse dropped Devil out of the full, four-star review it otherwise deserves.

I would definitely read another of Acker's books.

Regards,
Mac
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Friday, August 5, 2011

Publisher Believes Self-Publishing is a Bad Business Decision

The industry is in denial. They still think of themselves as king makers. Perhaps touched by the gods to show simple man how they should behave.

Yep. The self-published author will be lost in a sea of manuscripts. Hmm. The industry prints sixty-thousand books a year now, right?

I doubt it will get any worse. I think it just cuts a middle-man out of the picture.

Not to imply I wouldn't love to get picked up by a traditional publisher.

That is in fact what I'm working toward. But "management" always thinks they are holier than thou. I'm from IT. Management didn't mind pink slipping peons. 1992 came around and now we are in a triple dip, and directors and vice presidents have also been shown the front door.

I know, I digress.

But just as the frenzy of capital projects died in my previous industry, the publishing industry is at its own precipice. And they don't seem to get it.


Regards,
Mac
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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

CMOS Rule 6.39—One more, sheer cliff

Chicago Manual of Style under 6.39 indicates you separate sequential adjectives before a direct object, i.e.,  ADJ, ADJ DO

Caveat one: Separate with commas if you can replace the comma with and without changing the meaning.

. . . example in CMOS: She proved a faithful and sincere friend.

Caveat two: unless the adjective immediately preceding the direct object are "conceived as a unit."

. . . example in CMOS: She has many young friends.

So here is my clause: He had one more sheer cliff. . .

Is "sheer cliff" conceived as a unit?

I don't think so. Sheer simply describes what kind of cliff. And "more" is an additional modifier of cliff.

My argument: My sentence without the comma indicates it's more sheer, as in sheerer.

However: I couldn't write: He had one more and sheer cliff.

So I'm at a loss.

No opinions please, but if you know for a fact if the comma is/isn't necessary, could you comment?  Thanks
Regards,
Mac
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Working on novel number nineteen!

Approach Self-Pub'ed Work With Reasonable Expectations

A fellow writer recently ripped self-published writers in her blog. Months ago I felt as she did.

In the last six months I've read maybe fifty novels, about half self-published, half traditionally published.

I think I've closed the same number unfinished. I've groaned over heavy tags and ridiculous plots equally. Yes, self-pub'd authors lack the support trad-pub'd authors do, legitimately don't spend the money for copy editing as we would like. Good editors are expensive. But to be fair, they don't put their work out there to make money—if they earned minimum wage at Micky D's for the time they spent writing and editing their novel they would be way ahead.

If you read a self-published author with unreasonable expectations, you will be disappointed.

But I have found no dross out there. Pay attention to the story, and the characters, listen to the author's voice, overlook the blemishes, and you will enjoy yourself.

When editors give away their services, then writers trying to build a following will have polished work.

Regards,
Mac
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Working on novel number nineteen!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Falling Skies--If You're Living Under a Rock...

...season one of the best Sci Fi ever produced for television (maybe even the big screen) is concluding this Sunday. If you are not on board, WHY AREN'T YOU?

The entire season is showing this Sunday, followed by the two hour fanale.

Don't miss it!!
Regards,
Mac
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Working on novel number nineteen!

Monday, August 1, 2011

C.L. Bevill—Veiled Eyes


[I tag my blogs as "reviews" but they aren't. They are critiques. I confess…I mean, admit to my false advertising. Thus as a writer, I point out elements that wouldn't even bother a casual reader.]

The biggest complaint I have with Veiled Eyes is the cover Bevill chose. Way too subtle for me, to being outright meaningless. It did not provoke me to read this novel, and that would have been a loss on my part. This was good reading.

As with all of Bevill's protagonists, Anna is a unique, richly hued character who is easy to empathize with, one I wish to follow to the end. I enjoyed living in her head.

Bevill writes from multiple points of view, and while that doesn't bother many readers, it irks this writer. I feel it divides my attention, pulls me away from the character. I find it cheating, in a way too. [I espouse my personal prejudice here.] It takes much more effort to get a story painted from a single point of view, but when it is done that way, the reader remains more focused, "into" the protagonist. And in the case of Veiled, we must experience the same action over-and-over again, from the other characters' point of view. In my opinion, that wastes my time. I already lived it once. I don't need it again.

All of the characters of Veiled are unique. The action takes quirky turns. The plot, rich with imagination, intrigued to keep me reading, even though this writer would have loved to have beta'd the novel, and screamed, "No! Don't resolve the mine predicament like that."

Download Veiled Eyes and enjoy!

Regards,
Mac
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