Blathering: Edits

Draft #2 is off to the editor for the last check-up before I start on the query letters. This is someone who’s never read anything by me before, so it should be illuminating to get her take on the book.


Getting started on Book 2 in November for NaNoWriMo. The working title is Devon Day and the Sweetwater Kid: The Hawaiian Affair. That’ll change as soon as I think of something better — it’s too much like a Sherlock Holmes title (or something from Man From U.N.C.L.E.). The lads will be involved in treaties between the U.S. and the Republic of Hawai’i … not gonna give you any more hints!

I’m spending the next 10 days doing research, then it’s 1667 words a day for the entire month. By Christmas, I’ll have half the book finished!

Blathering: Final Edits

I’m doing the last read-through of the novel before I send it off to the editor.


This is a little nerve-wracking. I’m at the stage where I’ve read it so many times it’s starting to sound like crap. I’m forcing myself to keep going and look for the continuity errors I’m supposed to be checking for, but it’s hard to keep from trying to rewrite – or even to start the whole damn thing over again!

How do you keep from tossing the manuscript into the trash when you get to this point?

Tips and Tricks: Getting a Start

NaNoWriMo approaches, so here are some quick tips to get you started on those 50,000 words.


  • Stretch your writing muscles: if you’re short of ideas, find one of those writing prompt websites (or my Twitter account) and start with some short bursts and flash fiction
  • Write down your observations: carry a notebook with you everywhere, and write down everything you observe. You’ll soon find an idea!
  • Find a time: figure out when you’re most creative, and try to write during that time.
  • Write every day: that works out to 1,667 words per day. Not even a short story. You can do it!
  • Don’t agonize over “getting it right”: just get the words down. Edit later.
  • Remember that writing is fun: just play around with words, without worrying so much about writing the “Great American Novel.”

How many of you are going to participate this year?

Blathering: Rejections

Just learned that the (small) publishing house I’ve had the anthology with is not picking up the rights for another year, due to poor sales.



That smarts, I’ll admit. Even though I was secretly looking forward to the day I could cancel our contract and regain the rights to sell the book, I was thinking I’d be the one doing the canceling. This feels more like rejection.

On the plus side, this publisher is quite small, so they don’t have a good publicity budget (read: none!) and didn’t push the book like a bigger company was. Now, I can try to shop the thing around along with my novel, as in “If you like this, I’ve got an anthology with the same characters that I can regain the rights to….”

So … overall, probably a good thing, even though it’s going to mean the book won’t be in print after April, 2015 unless I can find a new publisher.

Any of you experience anything similar to this? How’d you handle it?




Finding Your Voice

Voice has been defined as a collection of devices used consistently to create the illusioin of a person speaking through the text. But how do you find your unique writer’s voice?


Here are some of those devices you can utilize:

  • Level of diction – probably the first thing a reader notices. This is basically the educational level of the piece. You can write in high, medium, or low diction. Medium is normal speech, conversational language. Diction level helps the reader figure out if they’re going to understand the piece or not.
  • Formality of grammar and word usage – more formal can give you a sense of sophistication, but also of distance, which might not be what you’re after.
  • Sentence clarity and length - varying the length of your sentences can create spaces in the text. Readers are generally intimidated by a page full of long, complicated sentences. Clarity is also key, as your writing should be simple to understand (unless you’re going for that academic abstract or literary piece).
  • Verb usage – active verbs are graphic and specific, while passive verbs can dilute your voice. One oddity in American conversational speech, however, is that we use a lot of linking verbs (“to be”), which normally weaken the voice, but can create a conversational feel.
  • Repitition of words, phrases, or images - this can create meaning by tying things together for the reader, making them stick out in their memory. Don’t use repetition too much, however, or it becomes obvious.
  • Rhythm and flow – this is the beat of your language, how the words lead from one to another. Smooth rhythms create a sense of order and unity, while jerky rhythms make you sound disorganized and a little out of control.
  • References and imagery – referencing things outside of your story can create a sense of depth. You can also use certain groupings of images to create a “signature” in your voice.
  • Slang, dialect, and archaic language – slang can make your piece sound conversational, but jargon can create distance between you and your reader. Dialect can also distance you, as it is sometimes seen as a sign that you can’t speak the language properly.
  • Wit, humor, and enthusiasm - the sophistication of your humor can elevate or deflate your writing, but don’t make humor part of your voice unless it’s natural . Enthusiasm for your subject engages your readers.