Posts by webmasterDHP

Tales of the Weird

Posted by on Jan 12, 2016 in Tales of the Weird | 0 comments

Some days, I feel as though I’m reiterating what I’ve already written when I write about writing (say that ten times fast), so I’m going in a new direction. Recently, I’ve been looking at the books that have been published by Deer Hawk, and have realized just how much I’ve learned because of them. For instance, before Petweenus was published (and long before that program on Discovery America), I didn’t know that moonshiners still existed or that the government still prosecuted people who make moonshine. I didn’t know that there are theories about Central American indigenous tribes, fleeing persecution and death, possibly came north and integrated themselves into some of the Native American tribes around here, specifically the Alabamos Indians. Heck, I didn’t know about the Alabamos Indians. All this and more came from one book. We’ve got dozens. So, I’m now going to add a page to my blog dedicated to all the weird and sometimes wonderful things I’ve learned while editing books. To start, we’re going to talk about cannibalism. Cannibalism is defined as the “nonconsensual consumption of another human’s body matter.” (Cornell University) Interestingly enough, it isn’t illegal to consume the human body in the United States, but there are some legal issues with desecrating a corpse, or basically how one would procure human meat (also known as long pig or hairless goat), as killing someone is definitely illegal. Reports of cannibalism exist even today. Anybody can go online and look that up. Heck, there are even websites that have information on how to butcher a human for the most use of the meat. Somewhat more disturbing is the fact that some people will willingly give themselves up as sacrifices for other people’s curiosity, as was the case of Bernd Brandes, who answered an online solicitation from German self-proclaimed cannibal Armin Miewes. Reportedly, they had sex, then Miewes castrated Brandes, and they both ate his penis. Afterward, Miewes killed Brandes and, before he was arrested, ate about fifty pounds of him. Reportedly, he tasted like pork. So, are we actually the other white meat? I’m not sure I want to know. However, I definitely learned more than I wanted to when I started researching the facts in the book. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve learned from a...

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Five Reasons to Use a Human Editor

Posted by on Jan 6, 2016 in Writing | 0 comments

Recently, there have been a lot of computerized editing programs cropping up, which is all well and good, but they can’t replace human editors. I read…a lot…and lately, I’ve found a lot of errors that could have been prevented by a human pair of eyes looking at it. I’ve been reading books that are rife with errors lately, and while that alone doesn’t prevent me from reading or continuing with them, it does make me think twice about picking up another one. The errors made, though, aren’t  errors in spelling, so they have been run through a spell checker, but they are errors nonetheless. Below are five reasons a human editor is better than a computerized editor: They know the difference between accept and except. Homophones are usually not caught by the computer because they are spelled correctly, but most will be caught by a human editor. Human editors know when you misspell something on purpose or spell things phonetically on purpose. A computer doesn’t. Human editors understand logical construction and consistency. I just saw a person’s last name spelled three different ways in a book. While a computer would let that slide, most editors would catch that. A human editor would catch if someone had a normal gesture and then used a radically different gesture for the same emotion another time. Human editors can ask clarifying questions and make the author think. If there is something an editor doesn’t understand or it isn’t clear to them, it’s almost certain readers would have the same issues. Those issues can be caught by an editor before it ever goes to print. Human editors can explain what they mean when they have editing remarks. Sometimes, an edit from a computer will say passive, but that doesn’t explain what passive is. Computers don’t know what “show, don’t tell” means, and they can’t tell you if there is a lack of clarity in the story, but a human editor can, and they can also explain how to fix them. While this isn’t a comprehensive list of what editors can do, it is a good summation. Please, also remember that human editors are, well, human. While they do help to catch things that were missed, help to clarify your story, help to make it more professional, etc., they will miss things. Each editor is different as well, so one pet peeve from an editor doesn’t necessarily translate to what another editor dislikes, so be patient, find an editor that has the same goals you have in mind, and try to enjoy the...

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Reasonable Suspension of Disbelief

Posted by on Nov 25, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

I know I’ve touched on this subject before, however, I feel I must revisit it. I was half-listening to two different movies “based on a true story”. The first was so ridiculous I had to turn it off. There was absolutely no way it could have been based on a true story. Real people don’t act like, don’t dress like, don’t talk like any of the actors in that movie (and no, I’m not naming the movie). If there was something that was true in the movie, it wasn’t readily apparent, and the ridiculousness of it had me rolling my eyes. I couldn’t even find it really funny. The second movie was put together better. They interviewed real people, not necessarily credible people, but eye-witnesses at least. They included footage of the events, voice recordings, etc. I had to laugh through part of it because the people being interviewed were over-the-top, and weren’t using safety precautions when on site at some old, run down places that could have had anything from lead to asbestos to mold. Here’s the thing: Even though both movies were over-the-top, the second one made me want to look up the facts about the case they were talking about. It made me curious as to the real story behind the “based on a true story”. The first movie? Not so much. Once again, this calls reasonable suspension of disbelief into play. The first movie seemed to be some college kid’s puerile fantasies of what he thought college women do when there are a bunch of them together without more responsible adults around. The acting was amateur at best, and I could see nothing in the movie that would have been based in fact. It didn’t take long, in fact, for me to turn it off. Reasonable suspension of disbelief will either have a reader putting your book down or continuing to read. Readers are smart. They understand the physical world, they enjoy something that challenges them, makes them think outside the box. However, there is a fine line between out of the box and unbelievable, and if you as the writer, cross it, your readers will stop reading. You’ve lost them. What does this mean to a writer? This means that if you are writing a story on Earth, whether past, present, or future, the physics of this world don’t change. We have gravity, solids, liquids, gasses, etc. If the main character is moving through any of these at super speed, we need to know why, sometimes even how. If you are writing about another planet, the physics of that world have to be set at the beginning and cannot be changed unless there is a good explanation…and it needs to be a reasonable explanation if it changes as well. Basically, once you have your world plotted out, stick to the physics of that world and don’t change it unless it is a pivotal plot point and you already have the how and the why plotted out too. One last thing about basing a book on Earth: please, please, look up the area, the history, and any facts pertaining to the setting of the book. Nothing will turn an avid reader off more than incorrect information in the story that is presented as fact, especially when the book is based on Earth’s history, facts, and locations. Characters are the other component we need to talk about when going over reasonable suspension of disbelief. If your characters aren’t real, your readers won’t read them. Comics are great for showing character development. Most of it is dialogue and action,...

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Posted by on Nov 6, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

NaNoWriMo is upon us once again, and I encourage everyone who wants to write a book or has written a book to try it. The concept is crazy: write 50,000 words in thirty days or less, which averages out to almost 2,000 words per day. Crazy, right? There are plenty of excuses not to: no time, no energy, writer’s block, it’s just plain crazy. Here’s the thing: those excuses will always be there. There will always be something you deem more important, more necessary, less crazy, etc., if you let it. Your writing will never be a priority until you make it so. The concept of NaNoWriMo is exactly what comes from all the doubt, misgivings, and other priorities. Someone started the idea that a person could write a book length novel in a month if they just sat down to do it…and that person was right! Thousands of people, possibly more, each year participate and find out that you can, indeed, write 50,000 words in a month if you make it a priority. The first year I heard about it, it was almost the middle of the month. Could I still do it? It would be seventeen days of pure torture if I tried it. I was going to college and working full time. When would I ever have the time to do it? It was the middle of the month. How could someone possibly do 50,000 words in 17 days? What the heck would I say? For some stupid reason, I was determined to do it anyway. And I did. I started on the 13th of November, and every night after I got home from college, I would sit down in front of a blank page. It was teeth-grindingly frustrating at times. I think I pulled my hair out and had to make sure that I wore a ponytail for a few weeks, but in 15 days, on the 28th of November, I turned in 50,000 words and ended up with some really crazy stuff to use in my next novel. There is no monetary prize for winning, no reward other than a sticker saying you did it. You could certainly cheat if you wanted to, it’s based on the honor system, but that’s not the point of the exercise. It proved to me that I could do it if I put my mind to it. It increased my confidence that if I stuck to it, I could get it done, and if I could do that, I could do anything. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and do...

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Don’t Use a Big Word…

Posted by on Aug 31, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

There’s a saying, “Don’t use a big word where a diminutive one will suffice.” It’s totally tongue in cheek, but it’s very true. Lately, I’ve been noticing people trying too hard to use large words, and it shows. I was reading a nonfiction book about marketing or some such, because I like learning new ways of doing things, and came across the word exasperate. Now, it’s one of my favorite words. I actually use it in sentences, usually to describe my husband. However, it wasn’t the word the author meant: the author was shooting for the word exacerbate. Now, there are several reasons this could have gotten put in incorrectly: maybe the author was using dictation software, or meant to type exacerbate and spelled it wrong so the word processing software corrected it, or maybe the author actually thought he or she was using the correct word. At any rate, I put the book down. I know, it sounds rather shallow to put a book down because of one mistake, and most of the time, it takes much more than one word to make me do that. This time, however, for whatever reason (I was in a bad mood, the editor in me was being a brat, I wasn’t that interested in what the author was trying to tell me in the first place), I put it down and couldn’t force myself to pick it back up. I read another book where someone was sweating so much her clothes were sticking to her body (as many characters in many stories tend to do) but instead of pulling her clothes away from her body, she pulled her clothes away from her bodice. Again, whether the author meant bodice, was just trying too hard, or whatever, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I’m still considering whether I’m going to finish that book. I kept reading, and found other errors of a similar nature in that particular book, where the word was spelled correctly, but it wasn’t the right word. Basically, the author was trying too hard to sound sophisticated and missed the mark. There are several books I’ve put down because of mistakes that I just couldn’t get past. In both examples, the author was trying to get something across to the readers, but wasn’t able to because they were choosing the wrong words. In both cases, smaller words or different words needed to be used. The lesson here? Use the right words. If there is a word that you’re not familiar with the definition, or you have a large word that you want to use it, but it doesn’t quite fit, get rid of it. Be merciless when it comes to your words. Read them aloud. See how they sound. Make sure they fit. There are very few things in a book more jarring than reading a word that doesn’t fit or isn’t the correct word. Does this mean all our mistakes will be caught? No. There is a human behind every publishing company, editing software, editor, and author. There are times that the word will be missed, or a phrase will be off. It happens, it’s life; but please, dear authors,...

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