Monday, September 23, 2013

The Continuity of Toes

Continuity, in fiction writing, refers to the consistency of all things in the work. Checking continuity is one of the more important jobs of an editor.
Errors still get through, often enough. I remember reading a Ridley Pearson book a few years ago in which a melted piece from a Monopoly game was clue. The little blob of plastic was green, as I remember it, yet it was referred to as a “hotel.” Then, it should have been red, shouldn’t it have? That’s a miniscule example, but one that can jar a reader out of that carefully crafted world of fiction.
In one of my own books the first edition contains an error in a character name. It was Emralla all along, except for on that one page where the character was suddenly named Blizzard. I didn’t catch it, nor did editors. But a couple of readers noticed. I had changed the name at some point, and thought I had done a global replace, but I had somehow missed one.
In the current book I did the same thing. This time, my editor caught two instances (so far) where the change in character name hadn’t yet taken effect. Good for her.
Just now, before I broke away to do this quick blog entry, I caught a place where the number of toes on my anjels’ feet were incorrect. I had gone back and forth between three toes and four. Which is it? Well, you’ll just have to wait for the book to come out before discovering that. With a little luck, it will be the same number of toes every time I count them!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Killing the Darlings

It is difficult to let go of a phrase you love, but your love for it might be the proof that you should. This comes home to me as I review comments from my editor.
As with many great quotes, the attribution for “You must kill your darlings” is in dispute. Faulkner, maybe, or Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch. Regardless, the sentiment is the same when it comes to writing: you must sometimes murder your favorite child.
In his book On Writing, Stephen King says, “kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”    
That’s why a writer is both eager and full of dread when she gets a manuscript back from an editor.
I’m re-reading my latest draft but, for the first time, with notes from my editor. When I spot a comment, all dressed up in a blue box, further down the page, it’s all I can do to keep from scrolling to it. Instead, I carefully read through the lines, accepting or (rarely) rejecting the minor punctuation suggestions she has made, all the time distracted by what might lie in wait.
More often than not, the comment is about a minor change she is suggesting, but occasionally she thinks I should rewrite a sentence or throw away a paragraph all together. The first image that comes to mind when I think of ripping out a paragraph is seeing it there on the floor, connecting tissue and arteries severed, quivering in the throes of death.
But they are only words. I can make more of them. Better, I can say the same thing with fewer words.
So, today (and the next few days) are for darling killing. Your condolences are appreciated.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Brain with a Mind of its Own

My brain won’t leave me alone. In past posts I’ve commented on the power of that magical land between wakefulness and dreams. I travel it a lot and get my best ideas there.
Last night, at something past three, my brain started exploring the landscape there and came back with idea after idea, this time in the arena of art, not writing. Stay tuned for some encaustic mashups that will be brilliant, or something less.
I appreciate these musing moments. I depend on them. But, sleep has its virtues, too. When my brain really gets revved up, it won’t stop. It wants to tackle other problems I didn’t know I had, mostly dealing with shop organization or how to keep the dog from jumping up on strangers. I wrestle it back toward the artistic, hoping that will be more productive, at least, if not sleep-inducing.

And now, it’s fully daylight and I can actually pursue the activities I worked through in my head last night. But I’m too damn sleepy!

Friday, September 20, 2013


...and, we’re live.
If you are reading this on my Tumblr feed, you may have gathered from a scattering of date references in previous posts that this blog was not live. Now it is. My blog appears on Blogspot, Goodreads, Facebook, Amazon and Tumblr. In order to sync all those, I took a few weeks off and replayed the blog from the beginning on Tumblr.
This is a bit like time travel for me, taking a leap forward from the last post. For many of you there won’t be a break in the continuity at all.
So, what has happened in the weeks (or no time at all) since yesterday’s post? For Blood of Anjels, my editor has now finished a couple of reads on the book and has gotten it back to me. I’ll be concentrating on the edits she has suggested and working on continuity issues she found. A second editor has given me some help on the opening sequence of the book. I’ll incorporate some of those suggestions into the final draft, too. Once that’s done, we’ll be nearly ready to publish.
I am looking for an artist to work with, first on the cover of this book and perhaps on the covers of my previous young adult books in the Wizards Trilogy. If I can find the right artist, I may work with them to create graphic novel versions of the trilogy.
Meanwhile, I have a good start on the first draft of The Crappy, Used Diary.
While I was taking a break from blogging, I wrote a short story that I’m pretty happy with and that my wife hates. It’s called Hitch, and its about a pair of best friends who wake up after a night of drinking in Vegas to find that they’re married. Yeah, that seemed like a good idea the night before.