Friday, September 28, 2018

Writing: Editing Our Work

I'm waiting to get the final edits back for my novella, Emergency Case, so editing is on my mind right now. And I thought it might be a good idea to once more go through the types of editing--at least, this is the way I do it. (There are other classifications and names for the edits, but the end result is the same).

First comes the MACRO EDIT. What I'm looking for here is how the story arc flows, whether there are glaring holes that need to be filled or characters whose actions or personalities should be changed. This is an important step, and the results have made me--on more than one occasion--go back and change things in the book. Sometimes this has happened after I've written ten thousand words or more, and at least once it has meant rewriting parts of the whole book. One of the things I recommend is not falling in love with your own words, because you may have to delete them later.

After that comes the LINE EDIT. This isn't what it might sound like. The purpose of a line edit is to evaluate (and correct) the way the author has used words to communicate ideas. It often involves rewriting a section for accuracy or clarity. But it's not (or at least, usually isn't) a situation looking for errors in spelling, punctuation, or word usage. That comes next.

The final step is the COPY EDIT. That changes numerals written in number form to those spelled out (I never can keep the rules straight). It puts in or removes commas, changes ellipses to dashes and vice-versa, and makes sure that if a name is Holiday in the first of the book it doesn't appear as Hathaway toward the end. (The last one has always been my downfall).

I said final step, but there's actually one more--the PROOFREADING. This is done just before printing, and is for picking up errors missed previously. And, despite all efforts, there is probably something that has been overlooked. It happens everywhere. I was just reading the work of an excellent author, a novel published by a well-respected publisher, and found the same word misspelled twice on the same page.

Ah, writing. How wonderful to put one's words out there for the world to see and criticize. That's why an author shouldn't do all this on his/her own.

What do you think? Is all the editing necessary? Should an indie-published author pay someone to edit (I do) or do it themselves? Let me know.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018


Every once in a while, I hark back to the columns of the late Blackie Sherrod, probably one of the best sports writers in this area. He did one periodically with the lead line of "Scattershooting while wondering what ever happened to..." (He'd fill in the blanks depending on his recollections and whatever was on his mind.)

My thoughts today are scattered, and I really don't feel like gathering them into coherent paragraphs. I've just gone through the process of changing our TV/Internet/Phone carrier after tiring of the constant service interruptions by bad weather, inferior equipment (often poorly installed), and other factors. I've watched my local pro football team play an absolutely abysmal game. The season is finally (mercifully) ending for the local pro baseball team. I'm concerned by the current political climate in our nation. And this morning I emptied the rain gauge again. making a total of over six inches in the past several days. (But fortunately we've been spared the flooding that the news has showed us from other parts of the country). And, of course, I continue--despite being "retired"--to work on the products of my second career, writing.

So, that's where I stand. Ever have a time when you were supposed to do something and your thoughts were scattered? If so, you have my sympathy.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Writing: Busy, Busy, Busy

I'll confess--I've been enjoying not having a deadline to meet. As an "independent" author, I've been free to relax a bit. After all, there's no editor or marketing manager or someone else from a publishing house to tell me that a manuscript is due on such-and-such a date, that I need to get edits returned by a specific time, that I should cooperate in marketing because my book will be published an a certain other words, there's a real temptation to enjoy this relative freedom. But at some point, authors unassociated with a publisher have to wake up to the fact that it's all up to them to set up a schedule and meet some of those deadlines--even if they're self-imposed.

My book, Guarded Prognosis, has been doing well, and I thank each of you who has read it (or any of the other dozen novels and four novellas I've written). I'm now in the midst of arranging for that novel to be available in audio format (which means I have to listen to the entire novel myself, correcting any errors the narrator makes). And in a moment of weakness, I said there'd be a novella published late this fall, which means I'm back at work putting the finishing touches on Emergency Case. So, despite the temptation to kick back, I'm back at work...writing, editing, creating, selling, even a little bit of teaching. Ah, the writing life.

Which brings me to a question for you. What do you think the ideal interval between release of novels would be? One per year? One per six months? Does your answer reflect your status as a writer, a reader, or both? Let me hear.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Lessons From A Bumper Sticker

It's been a nightmare around here, folks. I was just thinking about how calm my wife and I have been as we wrestled with the vagaries of the "new and improved" type of technology that brings television images into our homes. The Internet is working fine. The landline (yes, we still have one of those) is available for incoming and outgoing calls. But the TV set keeps giving us the message that there's no wireless connection between the wonderful box that gets signals and our set.

Fortunately, the repairman (yes, he's been out here once already) gave us his phone number, and promises to come out today. But just as I was settling down, I read James Scott Bell's post about his own experiences on the freeways of LA. He kept his cool, although I get the impression it wasn't easy. His suggestion is that authors come up with a bumper sticker to be applied by their protagonist. Why don't we think of one for ourselves? Mine might be "Count to Ten." There was a time when I would explode at the drop of a hat, and supply the hat. But I'm better than that now. Or, at least, I try to be.

It reminds me of the incident where a car was pulled over by a patrolman. The driver, all injured innocence, asked why he was stopped. He was told that, despite the fish emblem on the back of the car and the bumper sticker saying they were members of a well-known church in the area, the officer took note of  the way the car was being driven, and assumed that it was stolen.

Think about it. And act accordingly.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Writing: Changes In Publishing

There's a wonderful recurring segment from the movie, Airplane, where Lloyd Bridges, as a harried flight controller, repeatedly says he "picked the wrong week to quit..." You fill in the blanks. Here's the YouTube video of those segments.

I thought of this when I began to consider the changes in publishing that have taken place in the decade or more since I got into this activity. At that time, perhaps due to my inexperience and lack of familiarity, the roles in publishing seemed clear-cut to me. But that has changed.  I see writers speaking, agents becoming teachers, authors becoming editors, and in general everyone playing "fruit-basket-turnover" as people scramble to be compensated for their efforts. I'm retired, but it's nice to be paid for my writing efforts, and I think others who work in the publishing industry deserve this financial recognition as well. But it seems that idea is becoming passe.

It's probably an instance of "the good old days" not being really as good as we remember them, but what ever happened to the times we've heard about-- times when a writer could devote his/her time to writing the best book possible? Now, writers spend at least half their time (or part of their income, if they hire someone to do it for them) in marketing books. And it seems that unless you attach a bargain price to your work product,  people aren't interested.

I don't know what the answer is, but there are days when I find myself thinking, "I picked the wrong time to get into the publishing industry." What do you think?

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018


There was a time, mainly when I was practicing medicine, that I felt the need to always be available. Honestly, I sometimes resented it, but it went with the profession. Now that I'm retired, things are different. I carry a cell phone when I go out, mainly to make outgoing calls. Because we also have a landline at our house, we're pretty available almost all of the time.

Over the past several months I've noticed a definite increase in calls--both on our landline and our cells--that aren't from people to whom we'd like to talk. Rather, they want to sell us something, get us to vote a certain way, or otherwise manipulate us. In other words, they're "spam" calls.

I've tried the various apps to block these calls, and they work some of the time, but the spammers are always coming up with new ways to get around these. For instance, they "spoof" calls, so that if your Caller ID shows The White House, don't get excited--it's not the President calling. It's someone who wants to sell you insurance, and they could be calling from across the country or anywhere in the world.

Recently, I've noticed a number of calls that have the same area code and prefix as a recognizable cell. Apparently, these callers think I'll see the number, ignore the ID, and answer. I  also keep getting frequent calls from unfamiliar numbers in different area codes--I suppose there are enough folks who answer to make it worth their while to keep calling.

Anyway, it's nice to be available when friends, relatives, and expected callers want to reach us. But I'm getting tired of others who try to sneak in. What do you think? Is our "new" availability worth the invasion of our privacy it makes us vulnerable to? I'd like to hear.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Writing: "The Road Not Taken"

I've seen a couple of posts recently about what a writer does when their contract comes to an end. Matter of fact, I've written about it myself, talking about the times I've been "between engagements." I've been fortunate enough to have ten of my twelve novels released by a "traditional" publisher. My four (soon to be five) novellas and two latest novels are independently-published. At least for the foreseeable future, I'll probably remain a "hybrid" writer (i.e., published both by traditional and indie means). I've made my choice, but it wasn't easy.

The dichotomy brings to mind Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken." The as-yet-unpublished writer, like the protagonist in this poem, has two choices--to seek publication from a conventional publishing house or go it on their own as an "indie." Each has good and bad points. These have been set out elsewhere, and I won't belabor the material by repeating it. Let me simply say that, whichever road the writer chooses, there will be both regret and joy. I've considered a number of factors in making my choice. And, with the fluid situation in publishing, these are subject to change.

When I've asked before, virtually none of my respondents have paid much attention to the publishing house who name is one a book. The author (and his/her reputation, if they've had work published before that) seems to be the determining factor. Do you agree? Let me know.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2018


I bought a new tee shirt the other day, and wore it this past weekend. I proudly stand behind the slogans shown on the shirt, and am not ashamed to say that I served in the US Military. But that's not the only service we should think about. Let me hasten to say that this past holiday, Labor Day, was about the service rendered by many others.

I thought about those who were working while others of us were taking a long holiday. I considered the personnel who made possible our shopping for groceries, clothing, hardware, and so many other items. I thought about the medical personnel who were working during this holiday time. The more I thought about it, the longer my list became. Unfortunately, we've come to take this service for granted--even on Labor Day.

So, if you enjoyed some time off this past holiday weekend, please join me in saying "Thank you" to everyone who was working during our "time off." We appreciate your service.