Editorial Edits

So my final round of edits (I think/hope/pray) have been completed. *Does celebration dance/throws confetti/collapses in exhausted heap* Figured I should touch base with everyone to keep you all appraised of the situation. I’ve moved from the super busy, nerve-racking phase, to the phase where I have an abundance of time on my hands that editing and re-editing had previous filled. Logically, I should be working on the next project, but somehow my mental gearshift is stuck in edits, and if I can’t shift to writing soon, I could very well damage my transmission–the mental kind, but I didn’t want to say that twice. SEE! Shift, damn you, shift!

I’m sure it’ll pass in time, and I hope that writing this blog provides me with the bridge I need between following directions and thinking freely. Which is really what the problem is. During editing, there comes a point where you have to shut down the brain–and the ego along with it–and soldier through the process, or you’ll never complete anything. Now that the process is done, I have to rev up all engines and light a fire under my cerebellum to get it going. That’s not to say that editing is a mindless job, quite the opposite, many times it forced me to think of things that I hadn’t thought before in order to explain or justify a character’s seemingly strange behavior. But when you spend 250 pages adding a comma, deleting a comma, adding a description, deleting your overly excessive repetitive redundant and unnecessarily worded descriptions, you go a little numb after a while. And you’re left feeling a bit wrung out.

I don’t know if everyone does this, but it’s hard for me now–post edits–not to look at every sentence I try to write with a super critical  eye. That can be good, but it can also stump the writing process for some–okay, for me. I need to be that wild stallion, rampaging free through the meadow, while I write. All with the understanding, of course, that all of that wildness will have to be broken in later for the benefit of both horse and rider.

So my plan is to take it easy for the holiday and start fresh next week, hitting the old laptop with new brainstorming ideas and hopefully start the New Year ‘write.’

In the meantime, check out this actually, authentic, factual, real life, totally non-fiction, transcription of a conversation between me and my editor. *(transcription may not contain any actual facts and may, in fact, be paraphrased from Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson ‘s climactic scene in A Few Good Men).

Editor: You want edits?

Me: I think I’m entitled!

Editor: You. Want. Edit?

Me: I want the ending the way it was!

Editor: You can’t have it the way it was! Son, you wrote a book that needs editing, and that editing needs to be done by men with objectivity. Whose going to do that, you? Your friends?

I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for your lost metaphors and you curse my suggestions. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That cutting that scene, saves the pacing. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, improves the novel.

You don’t want the ending the way it was because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you WANT me on those track changes. You NEED me on those track changes.

We use words like, ‘reads better with this,’ ‘out of character,’ and ‘over-the-top.’ We use these words as the backbone of the job spent correcting novels. You use them to start drama.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to someone who writes and rewrites under the blanket of the wisdom which I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it.

I would rather you just said thank you and moved along. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a Chicago Manual of Style and edit your own work. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think your ending should be!*

*(No endings were changed in the editing of this novel)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Problem with Sequels

When I started down this road of publishing my first book, I was filled with many emotions and thoughts. Oddly, the one thing I didn’t think about was what I would do next. The answer–when writing a series, of course–is, start writing the sequel. Simple, right? Well, my brain has other ideas. Specifically, it has every other idea on God’s green Earth except writing a sequel–including writing this blog so I can bitch and moan about how I can’t seem to focus on writing a sequel to my first book. The second most frequent distracting thought? I just discovered how to make popcorn at home that tastes just like my favorite movie theater’s popcorn. Mmmm. Seriously, that is some awfully good popcorn.  The secret is–damn it! I’m doing it again.

Strange as it may seem, though I’ve been trying my hand at a writing career for many, many, many, many, MANY, M-A-N-Y, years, I have yet to write a sequel to any of them. This surprise is made more surprising when you take into account that almost every book idea I’ve ever written was meant to be book one of a series. Since none of those ‘Book ones’ was picked up by a publisher, I never ended up wasting my time writing sequels to a book that might not get picked up or was clearly not polished enough to get picked up. It was better to either rewrite the unwanted manuscript or move onto another, starting from scratch.

I have, however, written de facto sequels or what I like to call, ‘grandfathered’ sequels. This may be unique to me, but I have a habit of writing an entire book as backstory for another book. I usually end up liking this ‘backstory’ book even more than the original book, and then end up trying to publish the prequel as the new book one. I’ve done this so often that I have a nine part book series that I’ve written completely in reverse. The downside is, as I go backwards in time, I find more and more things that will need to be changed in the original books. Plus, I keep coming up with more ideas for other prequels.  If this doesn’t stop I’ll end up writing about two little protozoic cells, waving little protozoic wands and casting the first spells against each other in a a bid to gain more protozoic magic. Heeeeey…That’s not bad.

Anyway, all of that changed when Fantasy Works Publishing  came along, with their wild idea for actually publishing one of my stories.  Wouldn’t you know it–now I have to write an actual, bona fide sequel. Who gave them permission to do a whacky thing like that? Oh. Yeah. That’s right. I did. What was I thinking?

So now I’m doing the thing where I have to take a character and a story I love, and extended it another 300 or so pages. Worse yet, I have to remember key details about said character and said story that I would have otherwise never needed to think about again. I have to make sure the character has grown since the last story, but still keep all of their behavior within the personality framework I’d established in the last book. Basically, I have to do everything equally good or better than I had in the last book. I finally understand the filmmakers tendency to screw up their sequels by throwing needless explosions and lazily repeating the plot of the original movie. Making sequels can be difficult and nerve racking. At least for me it is.  I find myself questioning every sentence, wondering if that was how I’d describe something the last time, or if this or that person is in character. Luckily, I have the editors at Fantasy Works Publishing to help me out with that problem.

Seriously, the pressure is enough to make my head pop like a kernel of corn…Hmmm, popcorn. That sounds yummy.

Publishing Update

lastcover1Hello everyone. Exciting news. The final version of my book cover is here. Tiffany Heiser, Fantasy Works Publishing’s newest Graphic Artist, just finished it, and I couldn’t wait to share it. It’s all coming together, and I look forward to the post announcing my book’s official release date.

Please check out Tiffany’s website at: http://tiffanykaesdesigns.weebly.com/

And her facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Tiffany-Kaes-Designs-693853704084908/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel&__mref=message_bubble

For those of you who may have missed it, here’s this manuscript’s blurb:

The devil’s not the only one buying souls; both sides need them  to fight their war, and both have something to offer in return. Nearly anything is possible if you’re the type of soul they’re looking for. Charlotte Furio learns this the hard way, when a spirited and mysterious woman named Trisha follows her home one night and offers her ailing father a simple choice: a healthy body for his immortal soul.

 His decision introduces Charlotte to the world of soul brokering, and Charlotte is not only drawn to it, but finds she has a knack for it. Having lived the last decade of her life with only one purpose—to care for her increasingly disabled father—Charlotte sees this as her chance to give direction and meaning to her own life, and the lives of others. To help them, as she had helped her father.

 Her mission is quickly derailed when Charlotte is framed for the murder of one of the brokers’ leaders. Where she once had only one purpose, now Charlotte has two— get her father’s soul back, and find a way to prove her innocence before it’s too late.

Metaphor Madness

Hello everyone out there! It is I again, here with another self-important post about my least favorite topic–me. So, as some of you may know, I’m in the process of getting my first manuscript published, and I thought I’d share one of the many things I’ve learned from this process. There are many, make no mistake, but one should be enough for now, and it helps to keep this post from turning into a manuscript of its own. What I’ve learned–if the title didn’t tip you off–is that I, as a writer, tend to go crazy with my metaphors. Let me preface this by saying that metaphors, in the right hands, are a wonderful and entertaining tool of a good writer, but in my case, I have a habit of overusing and overdoing them. And when I say I go crazy with them, I mean The Joker mating with Caligula, and maturating their demon offspring in a vat of liquefied Donald Trump, kind of crazy.

Now, I’d like to clarify that for you…but I’m not really sure what I meant, so I’ll just have to leave it up to you to figure out.

That doesn’t mean, however, that all of my metaphors up until this point were bad. Some were, no doubt. Some of my metaphors were–in my opinion–good, but simply misplaced in the narrative.  One example that comes to mind, is the following: “My will was the point of a shiv and it had but one direction to go.” Good, right? Well considering that the character in question was only having a mild disagreement with a friend, the metaphor comes off as overly harsh and…well, murderous. I don’t know about you, but if someone is that willing to win an argument, I’d rather avoid interacting with them altogether.

I’ve always loved metaphors, ever since I was small and would read them in one fantasy novel or another. I was entranced by the idea of saying something by holding it up to something else. The possibilities of it swirled within my young mind like the crushed remains of a galaxy circling the event horizon of a black hole. Granted, that was a simile–metaphor’s 95% genetic clone–and not even a good one, but the principal still holds.

My wife often says that some of my metaphors are the kind that sound pretty but don’t actually mean anything, and it’s those type of metaphors that I try the hardest to identify and weed out. One of our favorites was the time I compared someone’s inhalation of shock to the sound of a vacuum–not a vacuum cleaner mind you, because that would be either disturbingly nightmarish, or gut-bustingly comical–but the vacuum of space. I don’t remember the actual words, but it looked good on paper, until my wife stopped and asked,  “What would that actually sound like?” I had no answer, and quickly realized there was a good reason for that. It was the blind, radioactively-mutated, and blunt-force traumatized lemming of metaphors. it did nothing, and served no purpose other than to run itself off a cliff and die a pointlessly stupid death.

So, the lesson to be learned here–by me, of course–is that if I wish to make my own life as a writer and the life of my editor, easier, I need to trim the fat on my metaphors. It just makes good sense, and it’s the polite thing to do. But more importantly, coming up with  unique and interesting metaphors is skinning a rhino with an emery board. Oh…damn it, that was bad too. Oh, I give up. It’s difficult, all right? Just plain difficult. Good night!

Aspiring Writers Vs. Established Writers

Today, I wish to talk about a double standard of life in the writing world, of which I have only recently and minimally, become a part.  In the story, Writing and Publication, by Life Isn’t Fair, Fair takes yet another undeserved vacation, and leaves his diehard fans with a sour taste in our mouths.

You see, over the years of reading and writing, and my very short tenure in college, I’ve both been told and have discovered for myself that established writers can get away with just about anything, relying on their names to sustain them rather than on talent.  That’s not to say they don’t have talent—far from it—it just means that as their popularity builds and builds, rules are chucked out the window, and replaced with more daring plotlines and prose.  Some of these ventures are quite ingenious and come across well, but others are just plain ludicrous, and are hell for the reader.

Aspiring authors who go through the ritualistic and tedious process of querying agents and publishers, submitting manuscripts, waiting months for a response, and ultimately, repeating the process with either the same manuscript or another one, have to subject their work to strict scrutiny.  This is a process I know of all too well, as have spent years in this cycle. I was told once by a publisher that my prose from a submitted manuscript was ‘too flowery’ and that I should ‘approach the character with more action and less introspection.’  Fine, point taken; in fact, I agreed.  However, when I read books like Anne Rice’s Vampire Series—while I love all of them up to Memnoch The Devil—it leaves me slightly bitter.  Anne Rice’s books are brilliant, in my opinion, however if ever there was a prose that was too flowery, it was hers.  In one book, she spent nearly three paragraphs describing the origins and style of a table that had no significance in the book whatsoever.  And while I was amazed by the depths of research she must have gone through to learn that, I still found it pointless.

Stephen King is another one who often breaks the rules of writing without care or regard for the literary corpses he leaves in his wake.  I’d like to note here that I am not a big Stephen King fan, but I absolutely love the Dark Tower series, despite its flaws.  One of those flaws is his penchant for breaking narrative by telling the reader things that will take place years later, or things that none of the characters had any knowledge of.  If the story was told in the form of a character reciting something that happened to them in the past, then maybe some of that would make sense–the character telling the reader something that he had not known at the time–but since it was written in thrid person, it just disrupted the narrative for me. It also took away from the suspense when some of his comments clearly told me that a character would die before the end of the story.

As an aspiring writer, you’re told from every direction not to do things like that or many of the other things that established writers do.  Hell, I was told once by my writing professor, not to jump between one character and another—a technique which has practically become a staple in most established writers’ arsenal.  I was also told that all stories had to be written, not in the past tense as most stories that I’ve read are, but in present tense.

I’ve read books where authors wrote themselves into the story, made connections between unrelated events and never connect them, drawled on for pages upon pages of exposition and needless back story at the reader, and sometimes even changed tenses in the middle of the prose.

But if I tried that…

Granted, I may not be as talented as some of them are, but when ground rules are established, they should be followed by all or discarded altogether.  They should level the playing field one way or the other.  Writing today has been infected with the same disease that has been plaguing professional wrestling since the fall of ECW.  The up and comers have to constantly change their wrestling style, be exciting and daring, and hone their microphone skills, while the established wrestlers degrade into gorillas in the ring—content to throw punch after punch, without a hold or maneuver in sight.  But people love them because they’ve grown to love them, so the wrestlers don’t have to work quite so hard on their style of fighting anymore.

Though, I must admit, I can’t wait for the time when—god willing—I too can be free of the rules of writing and be allowed to do whatever I want in my stories.  If that ever happens, I might, just to see how much they’d let me get away with, pepper my novels with sudden, unrelated, words, breaking the pace of the prose and truly confusing the reader.  I’ll say it’s art, and they’ll have to leave it in because I’ll be famous by then.

To wrap up this review, of Writing and Publication, by Life Isn’t Fair, I’ll say this:  It’s an interesting read, well worth the aggravation if that’s what you truly want to do, but don’t expect to make it by doing what the big boys do.  You’ll have to find your own way of—penguin!—doing things and work—shalom!—hard at everything you do, in the hope of one day—jello!—counting yourself among the established, untouchable—yoda!—writers.

Is this art yet?

#Pit2Pub

The Intro: Who has fun spending hours creating that perfect 140-character pitch? Then bouncing that sentence or two off others to see if it’s fantastic? And finally having to create a couple more so you’re not posting the same one every few hours?

The Why: Kristin and Ann know what you’re going through. In fact, they both did quite a few Twitter Pitch Parties so they know your pain. Kristin remembers what it was like to see that little colored star and then checking and re-checking email to confirm that someone did in fact click on the pitch and favorite it. And Ann’s recalls her heart pounding and her palms sweaty, all the while hoping and praying that it wasn’t made by accident from a friend or some complete stranger who marked it and not re-tweeted it by mistake. They both trolled the feed all day long and didn’t work their day jobs (well, mostly this was Kristin).
So it’s because of those reasons Ann M. Noser and Kristin D. Van Risseghem wanted to help other authors. So why not pay it forward? They are fortunate enough to have a published book, and working on their second. But let’s face it, the best reason for them doing this? IT’S FUN! So let’s all have a blast, help each other out, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll find that perfect relationship between author and publisher.

The When: Here’s the date for #Pit2PubJuly 15, 2015 starts at 8AM and ends at 8PM (CST or CDT, which is Chicago time).

The What: What is #Pit2Pub? A Twitter Pitch Party for writers to tweet a 140-character pitch for their completed manuscripts. Have several variations of your Twitter pitch available. The pitch must include the hashtag #Pit2Pub, the Age Group, and the Genre (#YA, #MG, #A, etc. see chart below) in the tweet. It’s important to include the hashtag(s).

Age Groups:
#PB = Picture Book
#C = Children’s
#MG = Middle Grade
#YA = Young Adult
#NA = New Adult
#A = Adult
#WF = Woman’s Fiction
Genres:
#NF = Non-fiction
#SFF = SciFi & Fantasy
#LF = Literary Fiction
#M = Mystery
#T = Thriller
#CL = Children’s Lit
#CB = Chapter Book
#R = Romance
#Mem = Memoir
#S = Suspense
#RS = Romantic Suspense
#W = Westerns
#E = Erotica
RULES:
Authors of all genres are welcome to pitch their completed and polished manuscripts. You can pitch more than one manuscript. Tweet your pitch throughout the day, but no more than twice per hour per manuscript. When you see an industry professional on the feed, tweet it once. Remember to include the hashtag #Pit2Pub and genre.
The publishers will tweet their submission preferences and favorite your tweet if they wish to see more. If you get a favorite from an agent or publisher, follow their submission directions on their website or look for them on this blog. Then send them their request as soon as you can. They may have tweeted what they want you to send, so check their twitter feed for that information.

Make sure to put “Pit2Pub Request: TITLE” in the subject line of your email when sending your request.

Don’t tweet agents and publishers directly unless they tweet you first.

Don’t favorite friends’ tweets. You can RT your friends to show your support. Save favoriting for publisher requests to avoid confusion.

Be sure you research each requesting publisher. Don’t submit if you don’t want to work with them.

Be nice and courteous to each other and to the industry professionals. If you do see abuse, please report it to Twitter or notify Ann or Kristin right away.

Check back on their blogs (http://www.kristinvanrisseghem.com/blog) or Ann’s Blog (http://annmnoser.com) as we post the list of comfirmed publishers who have signed up to monitor the feed on July 15, 2015!

Thank you! And let the fun begin!!!

My Toolbox is Empty

Hello everyone. Welcome back. I’d like to start off by saying that despite this blog’s title, it is not some woe-is-me lament about my life, but an example to others that sometimes life will throw some curve balls your way, and you will inevitable have to overcome them if you want to progress in your life. I’ve been lucky to only have had some minor obstructions in my life, and hope that, if I’ve done anything with them, it’s learn from them. After all, all good things in life worth having are worth fighting for.

Well, with that said, let’s get to it.

Way back when I was a young child and I decided, quite against my will and at the prompting of a grand celestial muse, that I wanted to be a writer, I did so fully confident that I had everything it took to succeed. In my adolescent mind, I was a star on the rise, I had the tools, the ideas, and the drive to conquer my chosen profession. It didn’t hurt that not a single person I knew at the time showed much interest in reading, let alone writing. It was a foregone conclusion that whatever I showed my friends, would be seen as ‘amazing,’ more because they were surprised I’d actually manage to crank out a two-hundred page novel, than because of anything of merit in said novel.

It took me nearly two decades to realize, to my chagrin, that my literary toolbox was filled with silly putty. Think I’m being too harsh on myself? Too easy? Well, either way, I shall endeavor to explain. First off, the very fact that I had no writing peers during those early years ensured that all of my prose was bright, shiny, and completely nonfunctional—like an outfit in a fashion show. Sure it looked interesting, but would you really want to walk outside wearing a big copper coil as a skirt? My early writing was plagued with purple prose from here to eternity, and I had no clue. It took me finding other writers whose work I respected before I finally listened to criticism about my style. And by then, it was so hard to put down my flashy, electric hammer in lieu of a more practical, standard one.

But literary idiosyncrasy aren’t my only problems. I’m also blessed with a couple of fun medical problems that make writing—and reading—more difficult for me than for other people. For one, I have a horrible memory. Like, horrendously bad. Like if my life depended on recalling five words in specific order…

Another problem I have is a very short attention span, which prompts me to shift trains of thoughts midway through. I don’t know if I have ADD or I’m just easily distracted by sparkly things, but more often than not, I have trouble staying focused on one thing for more than a few minutes at a time without some serious effort.

These are really minor issues that I’m sure all people have to some degree or another; a more serious problem that has developed over the years involves my vision. When I was about sixteen, I lost some vision in my right eye. The loss literally hit overnight. One day all was well, the next, I couldn’t see someone’s nose if I covered my good eye. The doctors saw nothing to explain it, and just told me it would get better in time. It never did. Almost fifteen years later, I woke up with more blurs over my other eye. These came and went, and I was able to go to the doctor in time for them to find out that I had a blockage one of the veins behind my eye. They cleared it up, before I lost too much of my vision, and they finally discovered the cause of my problem. Which is to say, they can keep the damage from spreading, but not reverse it.

Hip-hip-hooray, that’s something, but there’s a downside to that as well. The medicine I have to take to keep me from losing more of my vision causes me to get extremely tired. And since I did manage to lose some vision in my left eye as well, I now have blurs that I have to read around, which means I have a hell of a time, getting through a novel without nodding off, or misreading every other word. Recreational reading has become anything but recreational, as it can be frustrating, tedious and annoying long to get through a full-length novel.  Needless to say, spell checking my own work is quite troublesome and sometimes hilarious, because I’ll often not see smaller words that fall into my blind spots, so I’ll have a lot of ‘ofs’ and ‘its,’ that I should have erased all over my manuscript–apologies to my editor for all the extra work this gives them.

But don’t feel too bad for me. I’m getting by, and still writing away, albeit, at a much slower pace than I used to be capable of. Plus, falling asleep has never been easier. My wife isn’t too thrilled about me always nodding off in the middle of a conversation—even if I’m the one talking—but hey, it makes for some funny stories to tell our friends.

Like with all things in life, you have to adjust. So I got a text reader to read back my story to me so I can have a better chance of catching my mistakes. So I learn to read standing up or while doing some other activity, to make sleeping less likely. So I learn to accept that no matter how many times I reread something, I’m going tod leb typoos in them. And in the end, I find it more ironic that all of these little annoyances are made more annoying only because I decided to be a writer. If I’d chosen to be a male stripper, none of these issues would have factored into the success of my career.
But as it stands—and until I can completely P90X—I’m stuck in my career and will not be able to transition into another field just yet. Which is fine with me, because I like writing far more than I like dancing anyway.