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A Writing & Editing Train Wreck

handwritingI read a few blogs from traditionally published authors who put down self-publishing because it muddies the waters. Anyone can self-publish and it does not matter if they have a good plot, but weak writing skills; a scattered plot, but excellent writing skills; or great characters and really crappy editing. I have kept this in mind for my future endeavors, but I understand the importance of finely crafting my product after the series I recently read on vacation.

I fell in love with the main characters, but the editing was poor. The worst of all the self-published e-books I have come across so far. I decided to read a different book after I was done with the first book. I figured if I still needed to know what happened to the main characters when I was done with the different book, I could purchase the next book in the series.

Guess who the sucker is?

Nine books in all.

The first few were okay despite the editing issues. Then it just turned into a laborious effort. I would have been better served reading a soap opera script for a storyline that had no end and kept begging for resolution. Ideas were brought up then promptly forgotten until twenty chapters later, if at all. There was too much telling with the right amount of showing. The protagonist did not grow until the end of the ninth book. A love square (because a triangle was not enough) held too much tension through the whole series. And the protagonist relied too much on others and outside forces instead of making her own decisions. I felt like the author vomited everything out and did no clean up. At one point I kept thinking to myself, how can I edit this down?

I noticed the last couple of books she had editors. Not very good ones, but at least “could care less” finally became “couldn’t care less.” I am sure they would have fixed the “lama” debacles and the continuity errors if she had employed them sooner.

I am a voracious reader and it is not often I ditch a book in the middle of it or finish it feeling dissatisfied with the writing. I think the author really missed out on something with this series. She had such wonderful characters but weighed them down with too much angst when she could have brightened them with the backstory she barely developed.

The sad part, I remembered in the middle of the eighth book that I was going to read my friend’s books while on vacation.

I am so glad that long before I read this series I decided I would need editors to help me refine my book. This was just a reminder why I need them.

Never underestimate the value of other people reading your work to make it shine for your audience.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Musical Inspiration

MusicI am the type of writer who needs music while writing. It helps elicit moods from me that I want to impart in my writing. It paces my typing (sort of). It drives some of my storylines, especially when I use songs with lyrics that parallel the story. There is never enough music in my day.

I listen to a lot of music. I always have. It vexed my mother to no end when I would refuse to turn off the music while doing my homework. After all, parents were told we were supposed to do homework in a quiet environment. Not me. I needed rhythm. Something to keep my brain from frying while doing geometry proofs or memorizing dates for history.

I love music with a beat that makes me move or propels me forward. I love songwriters who can write in such a way that I react viscerally. I love songs with a meaningful story. I love being transported somewhere else in my head for just a few minutes.

I listened to Goo Goo Dolls’ Dizzy Up The Girl album when I started my book fourteen years ago. I kept it on repeat in the CD player. Once MP3s came out and I got my first iPod, I built a playlist that I have added to through the years. I’ve listened to it so much that I think of those songs as Sara and Jason’s.

I started writing about J.D. and Ari listening to “Why Was It So Easy” by Daryl Hall. When I felt compelled to continue their story, I listened to Depeche Mode’s Violator album. I cannot tell you how many times I listened to it. My playlist grew as the story progressed. The lyrics of the songs used for the titles related to J.D., Ari, or later, Lance’s perspective.

P!nk, Kelly Clarkson, and Avril Lavigne have figured into the background while working on another story. I find their music empowering for females, especially P!nk. It’s not often you find a female artist going back to the theme of loving yourself as you are and your true worth, a message one of my characters needs to discover.

I am still trying to find my musical inspiration for NaNoWriMo. For now, it is Butch Walker.

Butch Walker at A&R Music Bar, 11/3/13

Butch Walker at A&R Music Bar, 11/3/13

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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A Writer Must Write

Hemingway’s typewriter.
Hemingway House, Key West, Florida

There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” ~Ernest Hemingway

There was a time when my dream was to be an Olympic gymnast.  As a young gymnast watching her score a perfect 10 in the Olympics, how could I not?  My teenage/young adult years brought the dream of writing a book on the New York Bestseller list.

I live in my head most of the time.  Imaginary scenes.  Pictures of short actions that lead to a line or two of poetry.  Dialogue between characters.  Writing is how I get it all out to make room for more.  I think all the dialogues I have running through my head helps me write good dialogue.  Okay, I think it’s bloody brilliant, but what I think and what others think are two different things.  At least a creative writing professor I had in college acknowledged that skill of mine.  *patting self on back*

I am burning the midnight oil a lot lately.  I am somehow functioning well on 4 to 6 hours of sleep a night.  Which is not usual for me.  I’m typically a zombie without at least 8 hours.  I keep telling myself I have to stop, but that is when all the words for the images I have in my head start swirling around and I need to get them out before I lose them.  Any writer will tell you that if they don’t get it out and in black in white, they lose it.  It’s true.  I always keep some kind of notebook with me in case a line or two comes to me when I’m away from home and my laptop.

This is how I was in high school, college and post-college.  I would sit for hours in the dark late a night with a notebook or in front of my typewriter or computer.  Sometimes things would come to me fast and free.  Sometimes I’d just stare.

My dormmates my Freshman year of college would tease me.  We often left our doors open so we could drop in on each other.  My desk was right next to the door and if I was in creative mode I would be sitting cross-legged at my desk, Walkman on, and staring at a lit candle I kept on my desk.  It didn’t matter what time of day it was or how hot and humid it was, that candle was lit and I was in a zone.  They called it the Light of Knowledge.

The Light of Knowledge

I no longer feel the need for a lit candle while being creative.  Honestly, I don’t have room for one where I have my laptop set up.  It would be either a candle or a glass of water.  I’ve moved away from always sitting in the dark, as well.  Yesterday I sat here pretty much all day working on my book.  And of course, it came much more easier once Chaz was in bed and the world outside settled down.

There are times I want to venture out into the world with the purpose to draw inspiration from the people around me.  I spent a lot of time at a coffee shop around the corner from us before moving to Cincinnati.  I normally went on my days off and spent a few hours there just writing.  Sometimes reading.  Some early weekend mornings I would steal away there for some time while Chaz was still sleeping.  Some days I would get inspiration at my desk and decide to go there after work for an hour or two.

This spawned a little experiment Silly Sissy and I started. We call it Sketch-2-Sketch.  I write and post a character sketch and Silly Sissy takes it and turns it into a visual sketch.  It was a way for both of us to hone our skills.  We haven’t done it in a while.  Things were crazy after moving to Cincinnati with my job and not having much energy to really observe the way I was before.  I’m bugging her as I type this up.  I’m a multi-tasker like that.

There is one constant to my writing.  I need music.  It compels me forward.  Even if it takes two songs between sentences, the music drives my labor of love, especially now.  I must have listened to the Dizzy Up the Girl CD by Goo Goo Dolls a million times when I first started writing my book over a decade ago.  If I had it on vinyl or cassette tape, it would be dust by now.  And that was before mp3 players.  Now I have a playlist that is about 2 1/2 hours long that stays on repeat.  I add a song here and there.  One that pulls at me and I have to listen to over and over again because of the emotion I’m drawing from it.

I am finding myself drawn to my laptop lately to tap out word after word of this story that has swum around in my head for years.  My body buzzes and I have butterflies in my stomach while sitting here.  It’ll like I’m in love and I came to the realization yesterday that I am right where I need to be.  Every sign in front of me keeps confirming it.  I may never make the New York Bestseller list.  I realize that and I’m okay with it.  The success here is that I finish this book whether it sees the light of day or not.

The writer must write what he has to say, not speak it.” ~Ernest Hemingway

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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