Tag Archives: writing

Practical Editing….



When you are done, you’re done, right?  When I post something on my blog, once I click publish, it is a done deal.  If I go back and find 10,000 typos?  Oh well, too bad.  OK, I do sometimes go back and correct things, but usually not after the first day or two.

I spent a good chunk of time the last few weeks before I published The Fireborn reading over it to catch errors and typos.  I also had two people go over it for me.  Between the two of them, they caught a dozen or so things that I had missed and had a handful of subjective ideas.  So when I clicked Publish, it was a done deal.  I had done my work.

A couple of months later I heard some complaints that there were a lot of typos.  I knew I would have to go back and fix them, but I didn’t want to.  When you are done, you’re done!  Last week I finally broke down and faced the inevitable.  I had to fix it. Continue reading


Random Thoughts on Blog-Stories

Recently someone told me that her uncle really liked The Monsters’ House, which is the first story in my short story collection, Seasons of Imagination.  I told her that I wasn’t too surprised, given how much symbolism there is in the story.  I then said that I really don’t use a lot of symbolism in my short stories.

“Why not?” she asked.

She had me there: why not?  I think it is because I typically write “flash fiction” instead of “short stories”.  My typical story is made for my blog.  It is usually very short.  Not including the 100-word Friday Fictioneers, my typical story runs about 1,000 words.  They tell a simple story.  The Monsters’ House is closer to 8,000, maybe 9,000 words.  It is complex.  The characters have time to breath and grow.  There is room for little motives and symbolism.

Still, why not?  Why don’t I use more symbolism?  I know it does creep into my stories, sometimes intentionally, usually not, i.e., subconsciously.  But I rarely sit down and think it through. Continue reading

The Itch

I walked around the house humming.  It wasn’t a song known to anyone, just something I was  improvising without thinking.  I turned to the dog.

“Are you ready to go out, is that why you do shout?  With gnarly little woof, you need to get out, from under the roof?”  I sang this improvised ditty and the dog got excited.  It knew “Out” and that’s all he cared about.  It didn’t matter how awful the words or melody or voice were, there was a walk to be had.

I had been humming and singing for days.  At work I had to force myself to talk to coworkers instead of sing. My tendency when I opened my mouth was to sing, so I was very careful.  I mean, even if it wasn’t weird, I realize I don’t have the greatest singing voice around.

At last, Friday came.  I sat down and started playing the piano as soon as I could.  Later, I turned on my electronics and music computer.  All of those improvised songs were gone, but it didn’t matter.  A new one soon came up.  I worked the entire weekend on it and had a finished recording on Sunday evening.

Back at work on Monday, I didn’t even have to think about talking.  Singing an answer would have felt so wrong.  Right? Continue reading

This or That? Blurbs


During my short break from editing The Halley Branch I have been throwing around blurbs and right now am stuck.  Yes, I can be a bit indecisive at times.  Don’t worry, I will eventually decided between the different variations I’ve come up with, but I wanted to ask your opinion.

I have one, with some slight variations, that uses a “tag line”.  That’s a little line at the beginning of the blurb that sums it up.  For instance, all of my posts on The Fireborn start with “In the shadowy area where myth and history collide“.  It is on the back cover as part of the blurb using a different color font.

I am going to put up the original version of the blurb with the tag line, since this is as far from the other I will post as possible (I have some inbetweenies…) Continue reading

The Telling of Backstory?

I recently completed my second draft of The Halley Branch.  Before I even think about doing a third draft, I need to solve an issue.  Maybe…

I have a bad habit in  my books to have a huge amount of history and backstory to fill out.  Sometimes backstory doesn’t need to be told, just implied, but in these stories, you have to know it to understand the present story.  I also include a lot of philosophy, which often is 100% needed to understand the story.  OK, so how do I get it out there?

In The Halley Branch I have four chapters that are dream like sequences where the main character has a dream or vision that tells him about the past (only one chapter is a dream).  I think this works well, but it only covers a couple of percent of backstory and philosophy.

So what did I do?  I have another four chapters of the main character talking to other people who tell him the history.  It all makes sense in the story and gives us pictures of the characters as much as it gives history and philosophy.  In other words, through the characters’ dialog I am telling you backstory, but I am also showing you vital information about the characters by their action, interaction, the words they chose, and how they chose to use them.

There are two problems, or two sides of one.  A lot of people would call this information dumping, which is really frowned upon today.  And people would say that it is “telling”, not “showing”, which is true.  However, I do have those other 30 chapters of showing, so do these four chapters ruin it? Continue reading

How Do You Draft?


About two weeks ago I started a second draft of The Halley Branch, a novel I wrote for the blog in real time in 2015 (I wrote and posted a new chapter every day).  Last night I was talking to someone about drafting, and we were thinking slightly different things.  I am a little curious on people’s opinions about how to draft.  I know, each person does things their own way, like the old arguments about being a Planner or Pantser when writing the first draft, but I am still curious.

I see two major styles of drafting, Old School and Edited Draft.  OK, I made up that last one because I didn’t want to call it “The Lazy Way”, particularly since that is my current technique.  I’ll give you a definition as to how I see these methods. Continue reading

If We Were Having Coffee on the 24th of June

Hello and Welcome!  Come on in and I’ll get you a nice large mug of very strong French Roast, a cuppa tea or other beverage.  It’s a little odd out right now.  It is warmish and windy.  It is also cloudy and humid.  It looks like rain, but I’m not sure if it will hit us.  And where are we?  Some of you may recognize the photo at the top as coming from my cottage on Cape Cod.

Last week was very busy, but, again, I don’t have a lot to show for it.  One big thing, I am on vacation this coming week, so I spent a lot of time preparing.  There are also projects at work and other such things.

I also did quite a bit of writing.  I had sent my manuscript of The Fireborn to two people to edit.  One found a lot of typos and that type of thing, while the other pointed out more stylist things.  I’ve been going through their notes and am making corrections where needed.  I don’t always agree, but it is helping.  Actually, there isn’t as many problems as I expected.  On the other hand, I’ve done six drafts and over a dozen read throughs/revisions.  I’ve corrected a huge amount of mistakes in that time!  When I’m done with this, I’ll do one more quick read through to catch any other typos/misspellings/misused words/etc.  I started earlier this week and I’m a little over three quarters of the way done.  One long session or two shorter ones and I’ll be done (except the final read through).

Of course, after that part is done, the hard work has to happen.  In some ways this will be harder to format that Seasons of Imagination.  On the other hand, I don’t have to worry about a table of contents, which turned out to be a major pain. Continue reading

Doing Some Reading, I Mean Editing


I have recently been attempting to edit my book, The Fireborn.  Notice I say “attempting to edit”, not just plain, “editing”.

When I edit, I find myself in one of three modes:

  1. Real editing!  I look at every word with a discerning eye.  I make changes.  I delete things. I add things.  I correct things.  I am editing!
  2. Proof reading.  I read through and pick up some of the more obvious errors and correct them.
  3. Reading.  I read.  I enjoy.  I continue to read.

I sit down for an editing session.  After two hours I’ve discovered that I spent 5 minutes on “Real editing!”, 25 minutes on “Proof reading”, and about an hour and a half just sitting back, reading and enjoying myself.

Hmmm, what’s wrong with this picture?   Continue reading

Poetry and Prose – A Divergence?

Mt. Lafayette

Mt. Lafayette after starting down the ridge

Two paths either diverge or collide, I haven’t decided which…

Early in the history in my blog I decided to post a poem every Tuesday.  This was my first regular feature and the only one that has lasted.  In the past several weeks I’ve occasionally gone back and read a poem or two or five.  I am not a great poet, but I do enjoy many of them.

People who have been reading my blog recently might know that I am in the middle of a writing streak.  I’ve been posting quite a few stories, have been posting a serialized novel and have been editing two other books off line. My prose writing is full-steam ahead.

OK, here is where it all goes wrong. Continue reading

First Chapter of The Fireborn


Yesterday I had a post about first chapters.  At the end I said I would put up the first chapter of the first book I wrote, The Fireborn.  Read it and let me know if you didn’t like/wouldn’t read the book even at gunpoint/think it’s terrible, or, hopefully, that you liked it and want more!  Warning – this is very long.  Remember, it’s the first chapter of a book, not a short story (Oh, and I left in the section header):

Part I

Then the Irish kindled a fire under the cauldron of renovation, and they cast the dead bodies into the cauldron until it was full, and the next day they came forth fighting-men as good as before, except that they were not able to speak. –  Anonymous Medieval Welsh, Branwen the daughter of Llyr, Second of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi (The Mabinogion)


Elliot Everett-Jones stepped out of his ancient Jaguar and headed towards the cluster of tents across the makeshift car park.  He was thinking that they were more temporary structures than tents per se, when the door of the largest one opened and a man walked out.  Elliot stopped in his tracks and let out an involuntary little gasp.  For half of a second he almost believed his father had come back to life, but then recognized his brother, William.  It surprised Elliot that he had never noticed how much William had become the spitting image of the late Dr. Everett-Jones, though he had to admit that William had changed in the year since he had last seen him.  Elliot waited, letting his brother come to him.  As he watched, Elliot realized that William had also inherited their father’s mannerisms and walked with the same steady stride.

William gave a short “Hullo” as he reached his younger brother.  Taking Elliot’s outstretched hand and slapping his shoulder, William smiled broadly and said, “Great to see you, Elliot!  Glad you can still drive on the proper side of the road after all of those years in America.  You made good time.  Did your rusty old Jag even touch the ground?  Everything coming towards you have a bit of a blue tint and everything behind shifted to the red, huh?”

Elliot returned his brother’s large grin and held his hand in both of his own.  “If I’d known what a nasty, barren plain you were dragging me to, I wouldn’t have hurried.  What a desolate hole you have here!” Continue reading