Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Petting and Pampering the Writer

Let me start this by announcing that subscriptions by email are going away sometime in the middle of this summer, so if you subscribe to any of my blogs, you will no longer be getting those cool emails when I post something. I have no idea if it will be replaced by something else - we'll have to see.

Now on to my post

I have a writer friend on FB. A while back, she asked me to edit one of her books. I'm not a professional writer so I don't charge much, so she was probably trying to save a buck or two, but since we'd never worked together before, I offered to do a sample. She sent me her shortest short story. I don't remember how long it was, but it wasn't very long. 

What she gave me was a nice story that ranged somewhere between erotica and romance. What was there was a spotlight on the girl. The hero was little better than a chess piece - maybe a knight - maybe a king - hard to tell - he filled a slot. Everyone else, all the background people that decorated the background were nothing more than that - decorations.


During the edit, I tried add some life to the story. Admiring looks from the peanut gallery, and movement, dialog, and feelings from her knight. I even thought up a background history for the girl - something to explain her thoughts and actions. Something to give her monetary support. Merely a foundation that didn't need to ever be mentioned in the story, but no one walks in a vacuum. 

She accused me of trying to rewrite her story, but it was only examples and suggestions. She was totally free to disregard everything. Like I say on my website, I will give you everything I think of as I read. You will get questions, opinions, and suggestions in reference to the story, and you will get correction in spelling and alternate words if you've picked the wrong one, bringing up the wrong image. I'll also give you better sentence structure if what you have is unclear. I did all that.

She just wanted help with spelling and punctuation. The rest was 'her style'. Her readers loved what she wrote the way she wrote it. Is she a successful writer? I really have no idea. She did not hire me. What I did made too much work for her. She wanted me to fix her mistakes and then she'd probably not look at the story again before publishing.

Needless to say, she did not hire me to edit her work.

Just the other day, she was offering a new work for anyone to read and give her some feedback. I did not take her up on the offer after the last rebuff - why should I?


She messaged me and wanted to send me that document. Well, okay. I'll give it a go, so I did. I have an editing job ongoing at the moment so I wasn't willing to devote much time to it. I read roughly half of it - enough to know that her style hadn't changed much. 

This story was a vampire story, and frankly I liked the idea. It was new and fresh, however her sentences were long and clunky, and sometimes they were incomplete thoughts making it hard to follow. The first handful of pages were filled with false starts to be explained later or in some other book. She included things about Atlantis which were interesting - I think - if I could have understood her concepts. All us writers like to make up histories, and I'm sure Atlantis would make an awesome anchor to do that with, however, I just didn't understand. 

Rather than taking my feedback as a way to know that maybe she hadn't gotten her point across clearly, she got miffed, saying how could I not know anything about Atlantis? I know about as much as anyone about Atlantis; it's a subject I read about every chance I get. I love the articles and videos I find on FB and on Netflix or YouTube. She also made a reference to numerology - that I know nothing about - an indication that maybe she should explain it better. I know I'm not the only one who doesn't understand that. 

As you might guess, I told her all this in her return email, including pointing out a bad typo that she might not catch otherwise; it wasn't miss-spelled, she'd hyphenated it to get past the little red lines. In response, I got a long tirade about how it was a work in progress and it wasn't supposed to be perfect, and on and on. She accused me of being harsh, of being in a box and being inflexible. It all left me confused. I guess I don't understand what kind of feedback she wants. Pretty much all that's left is petting and pampering, and I've never believed in pampering a writer. You take feedback for how it's offered. If your reader didn't understand something, you try to make it clearer. 

Sorry for the rant, but I had to get it off my chest. 

Thanks for listening.


Friday, August 21, 2020

All Caught Up


Here they all are. Way back when I started writing, when my son gave me that very first little laptop computer, back then, I didn't have internet, and I didn't have any new books to read or a way to go get any. I started by writing in a notebook left over from homeschooling the boys, but they were in town now getting their GEDs, drivers' licenses, and training in a trade. On their first visit home, one of them presented me with this little computer. First thing I thought was, what do you do with a computer without internet? Well - it would be fun to see if I remember anything from my high school typing class. 

That little computer was amazing. I learned more about grammar and spelling from that Word program than I ever picked up in school. Even homeschooling didn't teach me that much, though I learned from that too. It also had an encyclopedia in it, which was awesome. Unfortunately, that encyclopedia is no longer supported, and it's no longer compatible with my computer. Sigh. I do miss it still.

In 2008, we went to Fairbanks to spend our first winter away from home, my goal was to have internet access so I could publish my first book. When we got home, long about that fall sometime, we had a satellite dish installed here, and thus began my greatest distraction from my writing. Between those two points in time, almost all of those books up there were written. I was a writing monster. 

Since then, I've produced four books, two of which are short stories, and started a very long series that I'm still working on. Other than that, I've polished up what I have and learned how to navigate the publishing world. After trying a subsidy publisher (a VERY expensive learning curve) and a small publishing company as well as a mid-range publishing company, I took the plunge and published the rest myself. I even reclaimed those I stuck out there under someone else's apron. I like my books under my name - I also like their new covers. 

So now - finally - all those books I wrote way back when, are published, and in a few months, they will all be over on SmashWords too.

My next dream - a movie deal. What do you think?


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Year before last, a friend gave me these movies, but by season four, too many episodes were missing, so we bought the disks from Amazon - seven seasons. Last winter, we tried watching the last season on Netflix (I think) but many scenes were hard to see. I liked the taste I got though, and I look forward to getting the disks one of these days. I'm not sure if that season was the last of the story though so I decided I'd read the books. A friend game me these books last year and this fall I started reading them. I thought this was all of them. I mean, the movies have been out for a while now and the last book (so far) was published way back in 2011.

Here is a chronicle of George Martin's books. He has sixteen pages of books published. Now a healthy chunk of them are in different languages - kudos to him for being able to do that - but there are also at least a couple other series and maybe some stand-alones. I was just looking for books in this series so I wasn't paying attention to what else there was.

Book one - A Game of Thrones - published on January 1 of 2003
Book two - A Clash of Kings - published on January 1 of 2003
Book three - A Storm of Swords - published on March 4 of 2003
then came four other books
Book four - A Feast for Crows - published on November 8 of 2005
Then came eleven other books
Then came six books in German
Then came four more books
Book five - A Dance with Dragons - published on July 12 of 2011
Then came two more books
Then came two books in German
Then came the game of thrones graphic novel first volume
Then came two more books in German
Then came four books in French (I think)
The box set of the first five books became available on September 10 of 2012
Then came four more book
Then came the game of thrones graphic novel second volume
Then came four more books
Then came a book about Tyrion Lannister. hmmmm
Then came a book called The Hedge Knight set in the same world.
Then comes five other books
Then comes a book called The Sworn Sword set in the same world, but before the series. 
Then came two books in Chinese
Then came the third volume of the graphic novel.
Then came twenty books in various languages
Then came The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones - published on October 28 of 2014
Then came twenty-three books in various languages
Then came the fourth graphic novel
Then came five other books in various languages
Then came A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
Then came seventeen books in various languages
Then came an illustrated edition of book one. 
Then came twenty five books in various languages
Then came the graphic novel called The Mysterious Knight
Then came the comic books #3, #4, #5, #6, and #8
Then came three other books
Then came the fifth graphic novel
Then came sixteen more books in various languages
Then came the sixth graphic novel
Then came a book in German
Then came the illustrated edition of book two
Then came a book in French published only this last November

That brings us up to date. There are still two books planned for this series. 

Now, I can understand the distraction of getting all those books translated into however many different languages, but my OCDness would bug the shit out of me if I let a series hang for over eight years. He published the first three almost all at the same time, meaning they had already been written, he just needed to decide how to divide them and maybe what to name them. It also meant he was totally immersed in the story and it was pounding at him to get out.

The next two books, in my opinion, he messed up. He was thinking too much. He decided that one book would take place in Westeros and the other would take place across the sea.  I had no problem hopping back and forth between countries and people as time marched on. I could accept that what happened in one country in chapter 10 happened at the same time as whatever happened in another country in chapter 9. The way it is, when you get to book five, you have to travel back in time in book four and figure out how things fit together. I always felt adrift in time because of that.

I hope he doesn't do that in the next two books. That was so annoying.

Book Six - Winds of Winter is, I hear, mostly finished short of some polishing I'm sure, but the last book - A Dream of Spring - hasn't even been started. The man is seventy-one years old. I would hate to have another author die before finishing his greatest series. There's also some scratch about the last two books not being published until all the movies are out.

Lets move on to publishing. Every author should realize that their greatest sales numbers will be from eBooks and they should give them just as much attention as the paperbacks and the hard covers. I honestly have no idea of the ratio in actual profits, all I know is I sell tons more eBooks than paperbacks. Maybe if my paperbacks were in bookstores the ratio would be closer, but I honestly can't see it being that much closer. Not really. Of course, an author who can afford the translation, can also afford the mega advertising so that would increase the sales of any kind of edition.

But I digress

My point is, as I was reading through these books on my kindle, I was disappointed to find hard copy formatting in the form of line breaks mid-word. These came in form of hyphens in the middle of the word or just spaces; a lot of times they weren't even in the right place. These typos, while the eye can digest them when it's a line break (it's something I never do), happening in the middle of a word in the middle of a line, makes the word nearly illegible, especially when the word is one of the specially made up words like names of people and places, not to mention common everyday words. There were also some other typos, but I can live with those - no one is perfect, not even a professional editor. The line breaks mid-word though, that's just a sign of laziness. Slap the manuscript into eBook form and forget about it. Sigh - people will buy it anyway, but still - have a little pride in your work. 

Rant over

Book five ended somewhere between season six and season seven of the DVDs. Tyrion and Ser Jorah are still with the slavers outside of Mireen and Ser Barriston is hand to the queen having deposed Hizdahr zo Loraq, the local she'd married in the hope of establishing peace within the city. Dynaries has already flown off on her dragon, but mostly to get him out of the arena and stop him from killing everything that was moving. John has just been killed, though not like in the movie. Littlefinger is still pulling strings with Sansa's life; she's playing the part of his bastard daughter, and he is arranging her marriage with a little-known heir of the Vail. Cersei has only just completed her walk of shame, and under the watchful eye of septans, she spends a third of her day with her son, a third of it praying, and a third of it trying to scrub the shame off her skin (like that'll ever happen). While she has been returned to the palace, she is not allowed any say in government affairs nor any of her son's schooling. King Stanis has yet to clash with the bastard of Bolton who has yet to kill his father. Ayia is still in Bravose though she is no longer blind. She is still learning to be No One. As you might have noticed, Bolton Snow did not marry Sansa. He did, however, marry a fake Arya sent by the Lannisters in order to seal their loyalty. The girl was Sansa's best friend, and went to the big city with her. She is of a similar coloring to Arya and it was figured that no one would know the difference. Only Theon noticed the difference; he grew up with them after all. Him getting her away from Bastard Bolton was nothing like in the movies, but he did it, and there that rests. Bastard Bolton sent a raven to John about it, thinking he must have had something to do with it (he did, sorta, but not first hand). Melisandre arranged it all and had Mance Rayder (Yeah, he's not dead, but everyone thought he was until now) go after her. He took six speerwives to help him. Boy, did they create some havoc at Winterfel. Mance and the speerwives were caught but Theon and the fake Arya escaped into the snow.

So two more books and two more seasons on DVD, and the series will be finished. I can't wait. I hate waiting on the next book. Have you seen or read any of it? I think you should.