Sunday, September 28, 2008

Oh No! Could it be...?

The carnies are pulling into the Fairgrounds.

For those of you who may have missed my previous carnie encounters, you might want to check them out. We get great carnies up here. I keep threatening to write the "Great American Carnie Novel," but no one believes me.


Our local fair is the last in the State of Ohio, taking place every first week of October since the first Neanderthal taught the first mammoth to do tricks. For the past few years, I worked at the bar across the street from the Fairgrounds and we were inundated with carnies. As some of you know, I love me some carnies: they're great character studies, they always have good stories, they spend their money as fast as they get it and they tip well. (the last bit was the bartender in me) But this year, I get to look at carnies in a whole different light. I no longer have to deal with them; it's purely voluntary.

So yesterday, I did some snooping around. I was pleased to see that my favorite carnies were back, including the carnie czar and a couple of the middle-aged oddballs that always made me laugh. They recognized me immediately, calling me by the wrong name and asking if I remembered their preferred drink.

"Of course I do! You drink root beer and made me cook chicken wings daily. How could I forget you??? *subtext--butthead!* "

"You're the best bartender I've ever seen."

*note to self--missing another tooth but still wears the same 'cologne.' Wonder if Old Spice will ever go out of date?*

It's nice to be missed.

So, in order to keep you guys up-to-date on carnie activity in southern Ohio, I'm going to continue my carnie blog this year--as a customer of my former bar instead of an overworked and underhumored 'girl.' (I think some of them think that 'girl' really is my name) Maybe I'll get more carnie insight to share with you; perhaps I will start researching that "Great American Carnie Novel;" or, maybe, I'll just get drunk and type incoherently for a while. Either way, you'll be kept in the know about the great carnie tragedies and life events, as usual.

It's almost as fun as killing Elves...

Oh. Speaking of killing Elves, have I mentioned that The Asphodel Cycle 3:Temptation of Asphodel will be released in November? *grin* Not too much longer to wait, and I'll keep you amused with carnies at least for a couple of weeks.

See? That's not so bad, is it?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Writing Versus Editing

I love writing.

I loathe editing.

Let me clarify. I hate editing MY stuff. I write my first drafts very quickly--I can get to 100k in 20 days without a problem if I'm on a roll. When I'm writing my first draft, I don't worry about word choice or bad habits--I just plow on through. For example, I use LOTS of dialogue tags and adverbs--they set the characters' mood throughout a conversation--when I write a first draft. So, the main purpose of the second draft is to write most of them out. I replace them with actions or with internal dialogue. Probably, in the long run, I strike about 90 % of them during the course of the second draft. Then on the third draft, I discover that I cut some needlessly or that I left the wrong ones in.

From that point on, it's a juggling act.

I was editing an manuscript for another writer the past couple of weeks and I found myself commenting, "You need to find some other action for theses characters other than "he looked and smiled." or "she glanced away and sighed" or "he nodded his head and frowned."" Then when I went back to my manuscript every single instance where I had done that glared at me from the page. So I went back through and cut most of those.

Even notice in your writing that you have a pet phrase or word? Mine is 'suddenly.' After a thorough analysis of the 'suddenlys' in my manuscript, I determined that I'd used the word 1800 times in a 120k manuscript and of those 1698 of them were placed where the action wasn't really sudden. Out came the red pen, out went the suddenlys.

No matter what anyone says, editing is the most important part of writing. Sure, the imagination needed to create fiction is vital as are the personalities you give your characters. But in the long run, the editing is what will take your work where it needs to go. Without it, your novel has virtually no chance of success with either agents or publishers. So no matter how much you hate it, you an't avoid it. I sent back a round of first edits to an author a few months ago where the entire right-hand margin of the manuscript were covered top to bottom with little red balloons. Great story; no editing.

So the moral of this story is: you know how all the submission guidelines tell you to make sure that your manuscript is clean? Believe them. Eliminate all those pet phrases and grammatical errors and misspelled words and send them as perfect a product as you can. No one will recognize your genius if you send them sloppy work.

Learn to love the red pen--it is your friend. Trust me.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Politics! and then...

...REAL politics.

I'm excited about politics out there in the world beyond my office. There's a bit of zest these days,with either our first person of color or our first woman breaching the good ol' boy network in the Executive branch of our federal government. This is a great thing--infinitely preferable than the status quo--no matter HOW it shakes out! After all, at last the so-called minorities of the US are going to have a voice in the highest office of the land. We will have an advocate, a representative and all that entails. Just please, puh-LEEZE--

--let's not fuck all that up with trying to see which party is being more racist or more sexist, shall we?

This is politics, people, not a tea party. Neither party is discriminatory. Get over it.

So why not enjoy the run? Chuck the hysterical vitriol to the wayside and let BOTH voices be heard. What the hell? It could be fun in the long run.

Which brings me to REAL politics.

Real politics happen every day--interpersonally, if you will. We are, all of us, doing political work for ourselves every single day of our lives. Ever suck up to a boss? Politics. Ever finagle your way into a position that you weren't quite ready for? Politics.


Now then, I've let it be known fairly regularly that I am not a political person. (Main reason why that Pol Sci knowledge sits on the shelf a lot of the time too.) I'm too outspoken; I call things as I see them. Unfortunately, nine times out of ten, that doesn't go over too well. It's much better for me to sit at my desk in my home day after day than to venture out to inflict my ideology upon others.

Occasionally, my online rambles interfere with that most noble intention. As a matter of fact, I realized today that I have never...not once...discussed politics on this blog. And, save for the plea above I never will. But I will discuss interpersonal politics for a moment if I may and then we can move on to something more important in the next blog post.

Interpersonal relationships are difficult to build on the web. As many cruisers have discovered to their chagrin, it's only too easy to 'fall in love' with someone's words online only to find that other person has the most heinous halitosis or the most hideous body odor they've ever encountered. The same goes for message boards or public forums. You may think that you're completely free to exress your opinion and find you're not, or vice versa for that matter. You can couch your words in such a way that people see right past your message, or they can just choose to overlook it. And in either case, it's hard to call--because you DON'T know why someone would be offended or because you went out of your way to avoid being offensive or whatever justifications you make to yourself.

But here's the ultimate test: go back the day after and read what YOU wrote. Ignore the vitrolic responses of other people--don't even read them. Just read YOUR words. Then ask yourself if they say precisely what you mean for them to say.

If, at the end of the day, you can stand behind your words then you expressed exactly what you meant to. If you find that your words, thoughts, sentiments, or feelings were not adequately conveyed you might owe some other folks out there in cyberland a few apologies. Now, I've been know to eat humble pie with salt and apologize for my words many times in the past. For one thing, as a writer I consider it my responsibility to take charge of my words and own the consequences that arise from them. *shrug* Only fair--my bad, right? So if I go out on a tangent and hurt people's feelings, I will always apologize if I am in the wrong--and even, sometimes when I wasn't the original cause but was partially responsible for a conflagration.

But I'm not always wrong. If I'm concerned enough to stick up for something, I'll damn well stick up for it. One thing I will NOT do is back down on it. I may give up the dissenters as a lost cause and move on, but I will not back down from my original conviction.

So, no. I won't back down this time either. I may consider the situation there a lost cause. But, sorry--not backing down. Nice try though.

The last time I checked, everyone's opinion counted for something--whether it's the hotbed of partisan politics in the States or how, on a non-partisan forum people should have equal and fair treatment regardless of what their voice is. But then again, I could be wrong. I've been known to be wrong before.

Stubborn, too.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Back to Blogging Again

So I have been chastised into blogging again.

It's not that I don't like blogging--I do. It's just that in my seven day array of 18 hour days, I have to give up something to ease my schedule. I like thinking about my blog entries before I write them and...well...unfortunately, I haven't been able to think as of late. I've been doing a lot of editing, and my head is full of other people's characters WHILE finishing the final draft of Asphodel 3.

Oh. Haven't I told you? The Asphodel Cycle 3: Temptation of Asphodel will be released THIS FALL. This October 27th, to be precise. *grin*


Should be fun, I'm thinking.

The great thing about editing is how much my writing has improved. I'm a lot harder on my manuscripts that I was before, which means that I'm eliminationg all of my bad writer habits --like adverbs and commas--that I used to death before. This is a good thing. Hopefully, this will make MY edits a lot easier. I hope so. I even know how to format the darn thing correctly now. My editor should love it.

*I did it ALL for you Sandy!*

Here's another thought--have you ever noticed when a series gets more exciting as you go through it? Isn't it maddening when you get to the end of a book and you just want MORE. That's the way lots of fantasy series were for me--David Eddings' Belgariad, Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern, Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart, JK Rowling's Harry Potter--all of them page turners to the very end that left you wanting...


That is my new goal. Hopefully I'll figure out how to do this before that final rejection makes me jump off the cliff across the street. We are starting to run short of agents.

But one day, I will find one. I promise.