Writing

Oh the Things You Can Learn

Posted by on Apr 15, 2016 in Weirder than Fiction, Writing | 0 comments

I love what I do. I don’t think I’d keep going if I didn’t, no matter how good the pay was. I have gone from working at one job I hated to taking a 2/3 pay cut and working at a job I loved before…actually, I’ve done that on multiple occasions and have never regretted it. However, I love writing, publishing, and editing, no matter how teeth-grindingly frustrating it can be at times, I still love it. One of the reasons I love editing is the fact that I’m constantly learning new things. There are several types of editors in the world: acquisitions editors, proofreaders, line editors, content editors, copy editors, production editors, etc. The list goes on, but I’m not talking about which editor you should choose, there are several blogs about that. Instead, I’m going to talk about bees. Yes, you read that right, and no, I’m not going to talk about how hard bees work, even though reading about them exhausted me because of all they do. Bees are particularly fascinating creatures. I’ve been fascinated with them since I had to do a report on them in third grade, but being a content editor for a book, I learned so much more about them than I previously knew. As a content editor, I have to verify facts, and I’ve learned some awesome things because of it.  I learned that the colors of the Aurora Borealis are dependent on the gases in the atmosphere, and that there are both northern and southern lights. But, back to bees. I thought I knew a lot about bees. After all, I’ve read a lot about them, but when I read the interview that Stephen Doster did in Georgia Witness with Thomas Dennard, I learned just how much I didn’t know about them. I learned that certain flowers only open for one day, and that bees will fly miles to get nectar. I also learned that bees use their bodies to control the temperature of the hives. I was hooked. How brilliant is that? A hive’s average temperature is 94 degrees and in order to keep it at that temperature, bees will fan their wings in the summertime to cool the hive down, and in the colder months, they will band together and vibrate, creating heat and keeping the hive at around 94 degrees even in cold weather. So, why am I talking about something completely off the topic of writing? What’s the take away from this? Read! It doesn’t’ matter whether the book is fiction or nonfiction. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading romance or horror. There’s something to be learned from every book, even if it’s what not to...

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Book Hangovers

Posted by on Mar 29, 2016 in Writing | 0 comments

Oh, the book hangover, the dreaded day after staying up all night reading a good book until you’re a wreck the next day for work. Most of us have been there, drinking way too much coffee, too early in the morning to get to your day job and try to work while still traumatized by the characters in the book you just finished. And while you finished the book, the book wasn’t finished with you. You still mourn for the characters you loved in the book that may have passed under circumstances you never imagined. Heaven forbid if the bad guy wins or the book ended on a cliffhanger and the next book isn’t out yet. Yes, while the world continues to spin, it seems your private world is ending. As readers, this is what we want. We want characters that affect us, characters we can relate to, that we have an emotional connection to. As writers, we want the same to be said of our books. So, how do we do it? The answer is both simple and amazingly complex, easy and terrifying. We have to put ourselves and our experiences into the stories. As Robert Frost once said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” Simply put, if we don’t put our emotions into the book we are writing, if we don’t feel the words as they are being put on paper, neither will the reader. We can’t tell readers how to feel, they have to feel it in their souls. We have to put the words we’re uncomfortable with on paper. We have to put the action as we see it on paper. As writers, we have to put the hard stuff down. When writers truly write something, they are tearing away a piece of their souls and putting that on paper. That’s the way writers keep readers coming back for more. They give the raw pieces of themselves, their hopes, dreams, and fears away, and pray that it’s enough. Seems tough, doesn’t it? It is. But, the only people who ever said writing was easy were the ones who haven’t tried to...

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Do Your Research

Posted by on Feb 15, 2016 in Writing | 0 comments

I know I seem to have a lot of pet peeves, but ninety-nine percent of them are focused on the one thing I love: the written word. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, I love the written word. I love stories, I love new worlds and histories. I love meeting new characters, fiction or nonfiction. My library just keeps growing, and I hope it never stops. However, I’ve been reading a rash of books lately, well, it’s not just been lately, but I’ve finally gotten fed up with it, that have a copious amount of errors. I understand homophones and words that sound similar, especially in the day and age of dictation software. I sometimes (rarely, but sometimes) chuckle when I see exasperated when a person meant exacerbated, but please, for the love of all that is holy, do your research. If your main character, for example, is based on a true, historical figure, like Genghis Khan, please do not confuse him with someone like Atilla the Hun. I was recently reading a book about Genghis Khan and I had to put it down because the author spelled his name wrong. It seems crazy to do so for a single mistake, and I told myself this very thing, but then it was done over and over. The author either misspelled his name or didn’t capitalize it. The author had other dates and such wrong, so I stopped reading. Sadly, if I had not known the differences between what the author was claiming and what is historically known about him, I might be inclined to believe the author. So why is this relevant, you might ask? What am I trying to say here? Simply this: Make sure you get your facts straight or people will put down your book. If you are doing historical fiction, nonfiction, or fiction set in today’s world, get your facts straight. If you are writing science fiction or fantasy, make sure your world makes sense and don’t just say that magic is the reason for inconsistency or come up with a lame excuse as to why your characters or plot lines aren’t consistent. Getting your characters, plot lines, timelines, historical facts, or whatever else right the first time before it comes to publication will save you a lot of hate and discontent later on down the road, especially when you start getting one star reviews because people love to hate on stuff on the Internet. Do authors and editors make mistakes? Of course. We’re all human, nobody is perfect. However, getting a good editor, looking up facts, and verifying sources will go a long way to making your work enjoyable to others. It may help get you some extra stars on a review...

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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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Challenge

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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