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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Green Eyes and Freckles

Almost two months ago, my favorite author in all history died of a stroke. And I'd not heard a peep about it until today. What a horrible fan I am! 

"I have green eyes, silver hair and freckles--the rest changes without notice." 

--Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey is, in my mind and heart, the only person who will ever breathe life into Pern. (That could open a long conversation about the fact that Todd took over her writing and that surely more Pern novels will be forthcoming. But my vehement opinion remains the same. Anyone can write about Pern, officially or otherwise. But only one woman made Pern a living, breathing world.) 

With her, I soared with dragons long before Eragon's Paolini was a twinkle in his daddy's eye. I found Dragonsong before I ever read about Moorcock's Dragon Emperor Elric of Melnibone (perhaps, I hazard a guess, the original dragon rider), who predated the Pern series. These authors, these characters, were/are like family to the weird, lonely kid named Tamara. I laughed and cried along with them. And even when those characters moved on, or perished, or changed, they still lived. So this is what they mean by resonance. What an amazing contribution Ms. McCaffrey has made!

(Read her eldest son's touching eulogy here:

My favorite reader will tell you that my stories are "no Dragonriders of Pern." And she's right. I'd never aim for the Throne. I can only strive upward, doing my best with the inspiration of decades of reading from the best. Anne McCaffrey's legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of her loving readers. And I hope it is tribute enough that this scatterbrained reader was creating stories in her own worlds, even as Ms. McCaffrey went ahead to the next. 

I hope Heaven has Story Time, because boy, are they in for a treat!



Sunday, January 22, 2012


Creative things are dragging along. I'm not sleeping enough, or eating right, or working on my book enough. All three may be related, I realized. Trying to fix that this week with a new deadline: By mid-February, I plan on having volume one revised, polished and uploaded to Kindle, at least. Here's my to-do list to make that happen:

1. Revise and Polish manuscript. (15 chapters left!)
2. Finish, refine cover for both eBook and regular book.
3. Format for Kindle and regular book.
4. Order ISBN and UPC codes.
5. Upload, submit and approve final prints!
6. Repeat for every other platform... (after initial deadline!)
7. Dive into next book and short story edit. (after initial deadline!)

It seems like a lot, but once I'm past number one, it should be mostly technical instead of creative-technical. That means, in my mind, it'll be simply time-consuming, not soul-consuming! :D Operation Get-Finished-So-I-Can-Sleep-Again begins tonight!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012


After letting the book rest for a while, I've started the content and line revision. Line by line, chapter by chapter, tedious task by tedious task-- it is exactly like starting all over. Questioning every word and all dialogue is the one thing that makes a book better if the story's already decent. Especially if you can do it without making the sentences stiff. Writing is similar to art in this way. If you paint holding your brush too tightly, the brushstrokes will look stiff and overworked. Keeping a loose grip on the brush (a trained skill) is key to making a dynamic painting. In writing, if you make every sentence technically perfect (holding the brush too tightly), you strangle the life out of the words and end up with immobile, stuffy, uninteresting, overly verbose prose that flaunts skills at the mere level of anal-retentive proofreading and far below dynamic editing. Rant, complete.

And after I've finished the revision, I'll attempt a final polish. If my head hasn't exploded by then. To calm myself, I did a five-minute cover mock-up in MS Paint with the unfinished cover art and a haphazard tagline:

Looks like something out of the seventies! :)

Yep. That makes me feel better. Nothing like the promise of a book cover (a much better one than this!) when I've finished!

I've hired a good line-editor who I promised would not have to do story revision. And because of my previous rant, he knows I just want a basic editing of lines and final proofreading. And the pointing out of any glaring problems he may encounter, if I haven't resolved them by then. (If something annoys him so that he can't edit, he is to report it! :D)

So that's where I am. Wonder if this'll be done by the end of the month? That would be promising!


I don't want to self-publish with glaring spelling errors and confusing sentence structure. Simple is best, right? So I downloaded a few freebies on my shiny new Kindle Touch (I'm behind the times. Back off!) to see what the free market offered. The potential of a decent story was often drowned out by the lack of much common-sense editing... sense. I understand that people who view themselves as visionaries can't be bothered with details, but those same visionaries should hire someone who can be bothered. I know it's not all completely amateur stuff, for crying out loud! Luckily, I don't view myself as a visionary. I didn't, after all, invent the eBook or even the paper book. I'm just a storyteller and artist, a creative person who wants to get her stories out there...

But this is a business, right? I'm doing a job, on which consumers may be willing to spend money. To consume my product, if you will. And consumers want to spend their money on products that deliver. You don't buy a cell phone that doesn't receive calls. So you shouldn't have to buy a book whose line editing or lack thereof detracts from the reading experience. A book, by definition, should be readable. Now I cut the free books some slack. They are not purchased with money. But people spend or waste TIME on them, which is far more precious. So these free books should be handled with the same product-pride that the paid books (should) offer. Now, that said, on to the paid books...

My only consistent gripes with the paid self-pub books is that 1) they all seem to be done in first person POV and my book is not and 2) the writing often has a self-conscious quality, a "See Ma? I can write well!" wordiness that distracts me from the story. As in, the way I wrote that novel back in high school... Also, 3) Barring the presence of the ever-popular "young man in a strange world" theme I've incorporated, I haven't found anything that hits the same nerve I wanna hit. I'll keep researching, though. And stop picking it apart for now!

Like I said, I'm not a visionary. I'm a storyteller and artist. I'll stop worrying about them for now and try to make something I love into something that is better than it is right now.

Love and cuddles,