Monthly Archives: August 2011

Natural Assumptions (Time Traveling Vampires and Comics?)

By J. F. Lewis

In short, don’t forget to make them when you are world building or plotting.

That’s it. You can go home. Lesson learned. No?

Okay. For example: (spoilers for those of you following Flashpoint: Batman). In the DC comics universe, there is an event which is setting up the reboot of the DC continuity. Time has been altered and as a result Thomas Wayne (the father of Bruce Wayne) becomes Batman because it is Bruce who is killed by a mugger in crime alley. This changes things. Thomas Wayne’s Batman kills the bad guys instead of locking them up. It makes sense. He is a surgeon cutting out the cancer of society one “tumor” at a time. Yet, he won’t kill The Joker. Why?

Because Brian Azzarello did him homework. Batman needs a recurring foe. Batman versus the Joker is an iconic battle. Who would the Thomas Wayne refuse to kill and try to help at all costs? His wife. It makes a brilliant, if tragic, kind of sense. And in issue two, when Batman is rushing to confront the Joker, The big reveal is even more gut wrenching when Batman approaches his wife with the shout, “What have you done now, Martha?”

Don’t forget to do this in your own writing.

If one character makes a big decision, really consider what will happen as a result. Let that mental avalanche of consequences roll through your imagination so that you don’t miss a moment of greatness or tragedy or emotional moments. Don’t skip the highs and lows by accidentally glossing over them.

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Paranormally Speaking

By Tina R. McSwain

Every Paranormal Investigator’s Nightmare…

Evidence review.  Our team normally sets at least 10 stationery cameras, along with 2 or 3 roving cameras.  Couple this with audio recorders carried by everyone, you have quite the load of video and audio to go through.

We also take hundreds of digital and full spectrum photographs that must be reviewed for any anomalies.  More often than not, you watch these videos for 4 hours straight and find nothing.  There are times when ou are begging for a bug to fly by just to break up the monotany.  Can you imagine staring at a staircase for hours upon hours, looking for any glimpse of the “lady” that the homeowner says they see? 

Most of the time, you are disappointed.  The ghosties don’t appear on commant.  I wish they did.  It sure would make my life easier

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by Casey Daniels

Writers wear a whole lot of hats, and lately, I’ve been getting a chance to try on every one of them.

Recently, it was the editing hat. I got the copy edits for “Wild, Wild Death,” book #8 in the Pepper Martin mystery series. My editor at Berkley Prime Crime had already been over the manuscript. Once he was done, a copy editor (usually a freelancer) got the manuscript.

Theoretically, a copy editor doesn’t make changes, and luckily, it was true this time. It’s not always so. I’ve run into a whole bunch of copy editors who want to be writers and who take the opportunity of going over my manuscript to make it sound the way they would if it was their manuscript.

But I digress.

Good or bad, thorough or too-thorough, edits are still edits, and for reading the copy edits, a writer needs one special hat. It’s the one that helps us thing logically–and dispassionately. I may love the sound of a sentence or an image I’ve come up with. But if a reader doesn’t understand it, if it’s muddy or unclear or serves as filler rather than moving the plot along, it needs to go. A good copy editor will find those things. A good writer will be willing to argue keeping them in when it’s necessary–and cut them when it’s not.

When I was done with that project, I changed hats and got back to outlining Pepper Martin mystery #9. I’ve got a November deadline for this book, and no time to waste. This is the part of the creative process where my brain can run free. I can explore all options, no matter how outlandish, try different things, create characters and situations and solutions. Oh yeah, it’s all about imagination and for this, I need my thinking cap.

That done, I put on my writing hat and started into the story. By the way, the book needs a title and I’d like to include the word “super” in it if possible. I welcome all your suggestions!

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Copy edits—small changes that make big differences

by Gail Z. Martin

I’ve just turned in copy edits on two books (The Dread and the next book in my social media series), and will do edits on a third book (the new Thrifty Author title) next week.  And while edits are never as fun as doing the actual writing, they are a very important part of making a book successful.

A good editor finds continuity errors (places you’ve accidently changed the facts), corrects punctuation and spelling, and suggests word changes to avoid repetition.  (Edits to plot come before this point.)  The copy editor suggests, and the author gets final say over what changes are made.  Declining a change usually happens because the change would alter the original intent of the passage (amazing how a simple word change can really change things), or create stilted dialog, introduce an anachronism, etc.

I accept probably better than 97% of the suggested changes because they are mechanical issues.  The remaining 3% are declined because they would change the story or affect characterization.  Sometimes, grammar has to bend to allow for how people really talk, or how a sentence “feels” when it’s read mentally or aloud.

I may never meet my copyeditors in person (although I have met several of them and it was quite cordial), but they are definitely part of my team, and I owe them a lot.  They make me look good, cleaning up my disregard for correct comma placement (sprinkle a few here and there), regional variations in spelling (I have a tendency to spell in the British fashion), and acute semi-colon deficiency.

So here’s to the copyeditors of the world, publishing’s unsung heroes!  You’re the people who know the difference between “eats, shoots and leaves” and “eats, shoots, and leaves”.  (Hint:  One has to do with diet and one is homicidal.)  Salute!

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First Time Author Mistakes

by Crymsyn Hart

It’s been over ten years since I’ve first started to seriously look to get involved with the publishing world. I had graduated college with BFA in writing, had a complete novel that had been critiqued by a few of my teachers, and I was looked for an agent. I’d gone to the book store gotten the latest edition of Writer’s Market and started perusing through it. At this point I didn’t know anything about how to go about anything except from what my teachers and other writers at school had told me. And they all recommended Writer’s Market, which is a great book that now has a great website. But I wasn’t very Internet savvy at that point.

So I perused the pages that listed agents, went on line here and got some information on agents. After following the guidelines: sending in a query letter, synopsis of the work, first three chapters, whatever the agent called for, in the mail, I got many rejections. Most were form letters, but there were a couple with small notes saying the book wasn’t for them, but keep trying. Those were always encouraging .I amassed enough rejection notices to wallpaper my bathroom I think. Then I received an acceptance letter.

At this point, I was ecstatic. This guy was going to help me get published. But I had to send him some money first to help him cover the costs of shipping, copying, etc. Sigh… That was where he got me. Well my grandparents were happy to put up the money for me, but still. Words of wisdom, if anyone ever asks you for money up front, it’s too good to be true.

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The Male/Female Author

By J. F. Lewis

Yesterday, I had my first chat with a book club via Chatzy as part of their examination of the differences between male and female authors in urban fantasy. It was a very interesting experience and I hope fun for everyone involved. We discussed female authors who write male first person POV well (Rob Thurman was my pick) and authors who don’t do it well (I won’t name names there). As a guy, I can say that I tend to notice a gender simulation error when men who shouldn’t be all that in touch with their emotions start having thoughts that clearly aren’t “guy” thoughts.

I was told that I write women well (which was very flattering) and answered some questions about the series.

But one of my favorite points of the conversation came with the end when the club shared the differences they saw between male and female urban fantasy authors. They said that in general they thought men tends to move the story along more quickly than women and had more detailed fight scenes, while women seemed to focus more on relationship and give more detailed sex scenes and to examine what is going on more in the plot before moving on.

Given that half of many of my books is dedicated to a female point of view (Tabitha is STAKED and ReVAMPED, Greta, Rahcel, and Tabihta in CROSSED), I’m always intensely interested in the female perspective. One of the hardest things for me to remember when writing a female POV is how busy the inside of many women’s heads often is. Guys tend to be more single-minded and may make wild turns in thought, but general they have one central preoccupation at a time. Women seem to be like airplane controller managing many simultaneous topics, goals, and aims at once.

That, and women don’t tend to wear the same clothes on multiple days. 😉

How about you? What do you see as the major difference between male and female points of view?

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