Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Like a Freakin' Energizer Bunny of Awesome!

Sometimes I get in a zone, and I feel like I can keep going forever.

I'm sure we all do. That wasn't meant as some statement of me having super powers. And if I did have super powers, I want the ability to manipulate time.  Just in case any super-power-granting entities are out there reading my blog and feeling benevolent.

Anyway, back to my zone. I usually get in the zone when running, more specifically running on a treadmill at a relatively light job while listening to my my Running playlist (go figure, right?). I can go for twenty minutes in the blink of an eye and if my Droid wasn't purring out time intervals, I'd run right through the morning and be late for work. It feels great to be that free. My mind is just open and pouring through possibilities and the energizing music rollings right into me, keeps me going.

Of course, that's not the only time I'm in the zone. I've sat down and plowed out ten pages without pause, never aware of how far the story got, how much I got down, only that I had a story to tell and it was growing and breathing and coming to life as fast as I could type it. Faster. There was more I wanted to do, stuff I had missed or skipped or held off on.

Sometimes the story just keeps on going and I'm racing to keep up and get as much of it down as I can before it's lost like Kubla Khan.

And then I have to go back and edit. Sadly, I don't have a zone for editing. I think that takes too much concentration.

made a Samuel Coleridge reference in a blog post. Sweet!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

TV Watching

I don't watch a lot of TV. My wife and I tend to sit and watch it during dinner, which is supposedly bad. If we had kids, we wouldn't do this. And we typically watch the Cooking Channel (usually we are eating during Rachel Ray or Iron Chef), so we aren't so invested in the show that we don't chat. Typically we are trying to get ideas about what to have for our next dinner.

The Cooking Channel is our go-to station. There are a few TV series we DVR, and if we have them available, we catch up on what is saved and I have a TV night. My shows of choices are Castle, Supernatural, No Ordinary Family, and Fringe.

Sure, sometimes we Netflix a TV series (Spartacus) and watch it all in a week. But usually I only spend one night in front of a TV catching up on shows.

What's my point?

Do I need one? I'm just blogging, here.

OK, so I have a little bit of a point: cop and doctor dramas bore the hell out of me and I don't care about "reality" TV because there is very little that is real about it. Celebrities are famous already, and don't need a show about being famous, and people who are famous just for being rich annoy me. Dancing shows are decent, but I'd rather watch partners who are exceptional, like at a show or contest, than people who are merely trying to look good while dancing with someone who is excellent--but at least they are working at something unlike most reality shows. I do have some respect for Dancing With the Stars and the people on Biggest Loser...but I still don't care.

I like funny, I like fun, and I like fantasy. And I like Nathan Fillion.

And I want my own writing to excel at these things.

And yes, that does include Nathan Fillion.

would love to meet that guy and see just how much of his character's personalities are reflections of his own.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Alas, Alak

And the final reject of the first round of queries is in! Checking Google Maps for the closest bridge....

Just kidding!

I expected no less, to be honest. I'm not frail. I don't take this as an insult to my novel writing. In fact, if anything, this is merely an insult to my query writing. And I'm not frail about that, either. There is a delicate balance between too much info and not enough info, between telling about the book and giving enough of a taste of the book.

I don't think I've quite hit the balance yet. I thought I had, but then I read a query review (I'm thinking it was either Query Shark or the BookEnds Wednesday Workshop). Now, I've read and reread the archives on those reviews, and I've learned a lot about queries from those sites. But this more recent review sparked a thought in me. And it was similar to the thought that got me reworking the beginning (and now middle, to adjust).

The thought I had was this: I'm saying my book is action-packed, but I'm not showing that sort of energy in the query.

Of course, I'm now stuck with this thought: How do I pack action and drama and some sultry romance into a short query letter?

Practice. And a ton more rewriting.

has a little more to go before he's ready to rework his query and start the rejection process up again.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why, Yes, I Am in Fact an Editor

I listed Editor in my profession of my profile. I didn't do that to be cute or anything. I realize that we aspiring authors are all, in our way, editors. I've been editing my own work for the last few weeks during this crazy revamp of the beginning. But I didn't put editor down as a my profession because I have been editing nonstop at home.

I am in fact an editor. Yes, you will see spelling and grammar mistakes in my writing, both in this blog and in any samples I provide. I write blog entries, forum posts, and friendly emails without reviewing them much (if at all). I do go back and edit my own work, but sometimes you are seeing draft pieces.

And I am a terrible typist. I typo the hell out of the stuff I do type.

As for where I edit and what I edit as an editor, I am currently the Associate Editor at, which provides free lesson plans and interactives for English teachers (share that with all your teacher friends). ReadWriteThink is part of a joint initiative by the International Reading Association (IRA; and yes, that is me on the homepage pointing at you) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Officially, I am an IRA employee (hence my picture on the homepage, pointing at you). I started at IRA as a Production Editor (PE) for books and journals before moving the ReadWriteThink. Back then, we used to have Developmental Editors (DE) for the books, who worked with authors on the big-picture stuff  like chapter placement, over-all flow, and major formatting. After the DE was done working with the authors, she would hand it over the PE (me, in some cases), and we did the copy-editing, proof-reading, and layout editing.

So yes, I am an editor. Professionally. I don't do as much copy editing any more, but I still get tapped for that kind of thing when needed. I have my name in on the copyright pages of several books (which is neat!).

Now if only I didn't work in academic publishing, I might have some contacts to other publishers that might make it easier to land me an agent or a editor (or at least a manuscript request!).

Why mention all this?

Just in case anyone ever sees comments I make on work they post and wonders "Who does that guy thing he is?" That guy thinks he is an editor, and his business cards agree with him. You might not agree with him, and that's fine: Grammar is subjective sometimes, and voice and tone can change how a sentence is "properly" punctuated.

I would also like to say, Always thank your editor. You may not agree with or even like the changes they recommend, but realize all editors are doing their best to help improve your work. And if you don't think their is room for are probably wrong.

Anyway, that is my rant-as-editor. If you want to, you can see me in "action," though in all honesty, you are probably seeing more of me in more action that you would expect/want. Though, at the very least, it is pretty darn funny!

enjoys his day job. He just wished it helped him with his "night job" more!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


It amazes me how far reaching some changes can be. This whole change-the-beginning experience has to say the least.

A conversation no longer had in Chapter 1 now needs to happen in Chapter 2, but as a result of the changes in the conversation, something else is said or thought or noticed and now that isn't needed in Chapter 3. Oh, and since it happened that way, now, and this character isn't really needed, and that's a shame, but he can show up in the sequel.

Jeez! I had known changing the beginning would have a ripple affect. The crux vibrations is that I ended up de-cluttering and uncomplicating things a bit. All for the better, of course, but it has far reaching consequences.

I saw a friend this weekend, one of my original readers (we're friends from high school, and she was reading the stuff I was working on way back then). She's read parts of this current book, and always asks how it is going. I told her about the few changes I made to the beginning and then added, "So yeah, changing that is causing me to have to rewrite everything."

An exaggeration and she knew it, but the truth is, I am going back through every chapter and seeing exactly what is being altered by the changes. It's like a weird alternate universe of my original story, a "What If...?" plot line coming to fruition:

What if I had been a better writer the first time around?

Ok, not quite, but yeah, I do think I'm a better writer now than I was when I started this novel. It's only reasonable I would be able to see things differently and improve upon what I had previously done. But then again, editing needs to stop at some point.  I'm thinking (hoping) May.

And now, because I have been talking about the new beginning for so long, here is what my original post for the 312-word beginning contest would look like now. Except that this is closer to 350, but whatever.

The gentle shake was unexpected and unwelcome. Shae was cozy napping on the couch, and she was having such a vivid dream. She had no desire to wake up now, but when she tried to explain this to whomever was prodding her, all that came out was a groan.
“Shae, you have to get up. Come on!” The voice was urgent, and the shaking was getting worse, but she ignored it and embraced the heaviness of sleep.
It had been such a strange dream, tantalizing and yet a little disturbing. She had seen Michael having sex with a beautiful blonde woman except that Michael didn’t really look like Michael. In her dream, he had been so much larger and stronger. And he had tattoos, which was odd to see; there were a few down his arms, but the one that had caught her eyes was the elaborate phoenix spanning his shoulder blade. The blonde was no one Shae recognized, but she had been gorgeous: timeless and curvy and just so perfect.
The hand shook her again, harder this time. “Shae, we really need to go. Now! There, well, zombies....”
Shae had never had a sex dream about Michael before. She dreamt about him often, but usually she dreamed of two of them doing things together, like talking in a coffee shop or walking down the street. Sometimes they saw movies together or even went out on a romantic date. Never sex.
“Shae, please wake up!” The hand shook her harder, and she lazily slapped it away. She wanted so desperately to slip back into her dream. Someone had been talking to her at the end; it had been important too. Alas, it was gone now, and she slowly opened her eyes, hating the brightness that blinded her.
Where was she, anyway?  And who was trying to wake her? She didn’t recognize the voice, which was decidedly masculine.
When that thought sunk in, she came to with a start, adrenaline pumping. She didn’t know where she was and a strange man was waking her up and he was talking about...did he say zombies?

Quite a bit different. Quite.

Yes, it is fantasy, and no it is not a zombie book. The zombies are dealt with easily, and that is actually the entire point to them being there, but that doesn't really come up until Chapter 2.

is plowing through. He's nearly halfway through the book, and the further he gets, the less changes are required. Except to the next chapter he has to do...that one got hit pretty hard by these changes.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Blogfests I'm Not Entering

I've been seeing this A-Z April Writing fest mentioned on various blogs. I will not be participating. I don't yet have the blogging endurance for such a challenge.
The pitch challenge is pretty good: write a pitch sentence Twitter style. 140 characters. I'm not signing up for it because of the editing I'm doing; I no longer considering my manuscript complete (woe that I sent out queries earlier this month saying otherwise). But it is always a good exercise. I'll post that next time when I've prepared for it a bit.

Instead, I shall post a small snippet of my manuscript-back-in-progress. I actually had a reversal on one of my previous "sacred cows", the book never being from Lorian's point of view. I decided there could be one exception, the Prologue. My strategy for tackling the new beginning of the book was to start at the exact life-altering moment for both of the main characters, Lorian and Shae.

Lorian's Big Bad Defining Moment, the thing that plunges him into the story, is very different and happens much earlier then Shae's. (And his moment leads to her moment, but that isn't revealed until the end, so shhhhh!). I made that the Prologue. Shae is still the main voice of the book; her Big Bad Defining Moment is the moment in which Lorian first enters her life...sort of (as in, this is only sort of the first time he has entered her life, not it is sort of her Big Bad Defining Moment--jeez, I should have called it something else, that is getting to be a lot to type!--cause it definitely is the Big Bad Defining Moment).

So here it is, paragraph 1 of the Prologue (still in progress):

Lorian knew for a fact his father was dead: He was holding his father's soul in his hands. It happened just like his father said it would, the energy swelling around him--the feeling as though his father was holding him one last time, comforting him, saying goodbye--before it coalesced in into a glowing ball. This was his father’s last gift to him--his inheritance. All Lorian had to do was accept it, and he would become the next Djinn.

And there we have it. That is Lorian's moment: his father died. That moment sets the action for Lorian. That drives him, and everything he does through in the book comes about because of this death.

is still editing this, of course, but that's where he is now.