Archive for the 'Editing' Category

Sep 04 2011

Cleaning up around the bloghouse

While this blog does sometimes feel like all cancer, all the time, I do remind myself that one, I get a lot of good feedback on most of the cancer posts, and some of them seem to be actually touching people’s lives in positive ways (and even a couple of times in life-saving ways, a humbling thought indeed).  Two, everything is connected in our lives; you can’t dissect out one thing to talk about and not have it lead to something else similar or related, especially in the case of cancer, which affects everything else in your life and extends out into other lives that touch yours as well, whether you want it to or not.  And three, it’s obvious I’m making effort to not have this space be all about cancer, even though I plan to keep blogging regularly about it, and how it has and does affect me.  I think writing about it matters to me and to others and makes some kind of difference in the world, even if I won’t always see and know what that diffference might be.

Since I’m also a writer and it is a writer’s blog, I’ll be taking the kind suggestions of a few loved ones and cleaning up around the blog a bit, making some organizational changes for better ease of reading and following the various threads.  Those of you here for the Cancer Chronicles might want an easier way to skip the Weekend Links, for example (though most of those are pretty darn cool).  It’s obviously going to be a slow, convalescent work in progress, hampered by a particularly annoying cat, continued exhaustion to the point of sleeping on the computer, and other such things, up to and including attempts to post up some fiction left lying around collecting some dust.  I’ll be deciding what to keep sending out, what to give away for free here, and what to retire as early pre-cancer works made untouchable through time and trauma. Glad to see most of you plan to stick around, but for now I must change dressings and measure fluids and other such exciting post-surgical shenanigans.

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Oct 01 2010

Cancer Chronicles: State of the Writer

Energy and stamina are still coming back online from being almost dead and the subsequent recovery.  For your information, being almost dead is apparently really draining on the body’s resources.  Surgery also.  Combine the two and you’re looking at a minimum of several months of not-optimal functioning — and that’s if you’re healing rapidly!

As you can imagine, any major change in activity or health during this time will slow down recovery even more.  Since surgery, I’ve taken back over house management duties including meal supplying and prep; taken on full-time parenting duties, including two hours a day of chauffeuring; had several weeks of sinus drainage and subsequent nausea; and one or two other things I might discuss elsewhere that are nevertheless similarly physically draining.

Needless to say (but I will), the writing has suffered.  Surprisingly, I was actually managing to sustain regular writing and editing up until this month’s sinus/allergy attack (fuck you, autumn).  The past three weeks I’ve averaged maybe one or two writing sessions a week (mostly blog entries, though the Callie ones definitely count for writing), and tons of reading research (back to the Crime Library and Wikipedia).  This is significantly down from 4-5 sessions a week plus research time, much of that non-blog writing.  Le sigh.

I’m obviously past another level on the path toward pro if I’m whining about ONLY getting 1-2 writing sessions plus research time a week like that’s slacking.  Which, for where my writing is at and needs to be, it IS slacking.  It’s good to remember where I’m at and where I’ve been, how doggedly I kept writing and editing up to a week before surgery, how quickly I was back to it afterward given my health levels (research from the first week out, writing from a month out).  And also remember how much I am daily pushing my body to the limits of what it can do, so that I can extend those limits, and how careful I must be to not over-extend past limits — there’s a very important difference between pushing and pushing over.  And one thing the cancer experience teaches even us incredibly stubborn over-achievers is how to discern the healthy side of that limit line.

I’m mostly past the sinus stuff.  My always awesome and excellent editor Mary Bass (message me if you need contact info for pro editing!) has given me edits for most of the stories I currently have finished (there might be a couple I haven’t dug up to send her yet somewhere).  This weekend I might even get some editing time in on updating a few.  I suspect over the next few months I’ll ramp up and wrap up a few large outstanding projects as well as meet my “stories out circulating” goals.

And then I’ll take a month off to just read.  Read for fun, what a shocking idea!

After that it’ll be time to start the second novel.  Which already has half-a-dozen people eagerly awaiting it.  That’s a nice feeling.

Staying alive is definitely worth the journey, but only if you fill your life with as much love and creativity as you can fit in.

3 responses so far

Jun 13 2010

Writing lesson for the day

Your writing lesson for the day:  Always google the editor(s) of any market to which you’re submitting.

I just received a personalized rejection note where the personal message seemed to be about a quite different story than I sent in.  This possibly makes more sense when you realize that in my haste to get the story off before deadline, I did NOT look up the editor as I almost always do, and thereby made one of the most elementary mistakes in the book: an incorrect gender honorific.

Not a good idea to offend an editor when trying to convince them your story’s worth buying.  Now to be fair, since I was busting butt post-cancer to catch up on my overdue (self-imposed) deadlines, the draft I sent this editor was not my cleanest draft ever, and I won’t be making that mistake again either.  (This time around, it was mostly a psychological victory to send it in — not to mention the anthology theme is quite along similar lines to my current novel-in-progress so it would have been cool to get a short story from the novel’s world into the anthology.)

No worries, it’s a solid story despite one editor’s opinion and I’ll clean up the draft and send it out again elsewhere, heck, sell several short stories from that world even!  And then sell the novel, which will get more attention for any anthologies I’ve sold Immortality House short stories to at that point, as well as help get attention for the novel.  That’s the plan, anyway, we’ll see how well it works.

3 responses so far

Jun 09 2010

back online!

Published by under Editing,health,nathan

We had a couple of unexpected outage days due to a blip in the server migration, that has been fixed by my Fabulous Husband.  (for those not on Facebook, Fabulous Husband has also shown his awesomeness once again by buying me for my birthday tickets to a Lady GaGa show in July; he’s also excited about attending with me, even better!)

Everything should be back up and functional on the blog and website, leave a comment if you notice any weirdness that looks like it shouldn’t be there!  Actual blog content returning soon, I finally hit my “crash day” so today has been full of nap, therapy appointment, and more nap.  I’m looking forward to sleeping soon to recover from all the napping, hehe.

Slowly creeping upward again in number of stories out circulating, woohoo!  I’m awaiting edits in the mail on one of the new ones before I send it out and about, and just got back edits on an oldie but goodie that has needed fixing for a while, so looking forward to that.  Other than a couple of other smaller projects, it’s all about more work on the novel in the next few weeks.

2 responses so far

May 05 2010

Beta reader request (short story)

Published by under beta readers rock,Editing

OK, I’m looking for someone(s) willing to give feedback on a short story, details following:

I need a fresh set of eyes or two, so it needs to preferably be someone who hasn’t read this particular short story from me before.  (The story in question is “Flowers In the Desert”, for anyone wondering if they qualify.)

The story has been significantly edited and is a fairly clean draft, and I’ve received several positive comments from editors in rejection letters, hehe.  The main critique remaining on it is that it is not a sufficiently stand-alone piece.  (It’s set in the same world as the novel-in-progress.)  I’d provisionally agree with this critique, but I’ve gone over the thing so many times that I’m too close to see where the fixes lie at this point. So I’d prefer someone who thinks they’d be good at reading it over and pointing out where more backstory/exposition/necessary detail for understanding can be included without damaging the overall fabric of the story (among any other feedback you wish to share, of course).

At least one market I’m interested in submitting to closes at the end of this month, so preferrably I need a reader/critiquer who has the time to both read and give feedback before that deadline (and back to me in enough time I can make said edits and submit by deadline).

If you think the story isn’t easily fixable on the stand-alone issue, that’s relevant feedback as well, no worries!  I have plans and uses for the story even if I can’t make money off it commercially (seems like it would be a good promotional piece when I start marketing the novel, for one), but I want it to be the best story it can be regardless of pro marketability. (And ideally, it gets published and gets attention for the novel on its own!)

Comment here or contact me privately if you are interested. I might get enough volunteers on this that I can’t use all the help offered, but if so I will keep you in mind for future situations of this type, I have a couple other trunked stories that could be cleaned up!

6 responses so far

Mar 13 2010

Editing accountability

Published by under Editing,Writing

I’m working on creating a better balance of energy spent on writing and editing. I’m doing well with more regular writing even while sick (finally! after weeks of persistent practice), but since I also want to be an editor I want to practice that regularly as well. Unfortunately I’ve been piling up a bit of a backlog of things to edit while I’ve been ill, and since I’ll be sick a while longer I might as well start adjusting to that energy level and figure out how to do more with what I have now (if possible).

The DreamCafé guys will hopefully help me today with outlining a game plan for the writing end of things. On the editing end, I’ve come up with the following ordered list to get caught up on my current obligations. If I agreed to edit something of yours and you’re NOT on this list, please contact me as it’s likely slipped my to-do list in an infected mental haze, and I’m not deliberately slighting you.

1. Derek’s short story (first because one shouldn’t have to wait long on one’s first short story critiques) Done 3/16 early morning; meeting with D on Wed. 3/17 to discuss critique
2. Eric’s poems (due before we get together and visit on Thursday) enough edits to discuss semi-coherently, anyway, done 3/16
3. Steve’s short story (submissions open mid-April, need time for edits)two editing passes, ready to discuss, done 3/16
4. Chelsea’s first chapter (so she can see how Real Editing is done and maybe boot the book doc)
5. Steve’s Tiassa intro (he’s ok with this being moved down the list even though it was one of the first I received, since he won’t need this one as quickly as the other)
6. Kendra’s short stories (check email)

Again, if you aren’t on this list and should be, tell me so I can fix it! And if you have editing work you want done, assuming I learn to balance my editing time better, let me know. I’ll keep needing the practice until I get good enough to start doing it for money! Also, Derek, will be calling you today about workshopping the story in person.

I hope I can figure out a good balance here quickly, I enjoy the editing work in part because it’s a different way to interface with words than writing and revising is. My brain likes to stretch!

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Mar 04 2010

More weekend reading

I may be out of town, but I’m getting better at regular blogging! The secret this time was planning (and writing) ahead. Unfortunately, I had to switch the line-up order. Normally this is when the next Callie post would go up. However, this week’s episode needs a little more editing before it’s ready, so you get your weekend reading a bit early instead. This week, your link collection is:

TV Tropes — you likely have already lost plenty of time to this one, but if you haven’t, join in the memetic fun! I think they stretch things a bit thin at times, but it’s full of useful and semi-useful information, and the nested links will suck you in just as well as Wikipedia does.

If you wanted to know a bit more about the editing end of things, here’s a very nice essay on why the editor gets the award for a compiled anthology : Chris Conlon on editing

And if you’re a writer moving toward (or already in) the stage where you want to start sending your work out for rejection (and eventual publication, hopefully), one of the best sites for finding fiction and poetry markets as well as tracking deadlines and what you’ve sent out to where, visit Duotrope. It is free to sign up for an account, they fund themselves entirely on donations and give monthly reports on their income.

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Jul 08 2009

Learning experience (or, revising really is fun!)

Back and recovering from the trip like a tired, aching thing. Still much work to be done, just doing what parts I can do while sitting around and resting for today. Now on to the interesting stuff…

I’m entering in the last round of edits for “…Elmer the Cat” today in preparation for sending it off. This has been a profound learning experience from start to finish. In the first draft, I had the voice of the narrator so clearly in my head that writing the story was quick and much more linear than many of my stories. It’s been through 6 readers and several revision rounds, including an awesome workshopping that I think I already mentioned, with Steve and Nathan (and Kendra sitting in) up at 4th Street. Had another deep session with Nathan on the plane back, and I think one of the biggest signs that I had to be done with working on it for now was that in some of my own editing suggestions, I’d moved far enough away from it that I was starting to lose the voice that had come through so clearly in draft 1. Happily, Nathan caught most of those and I do think the result is a tighter story. I certainly hope I can get this one published, and already have three or four places lined up to send it to, so we’ll see how it goes.

While I’m trying to remember to take the time to appreciate my accomplishments, there’s more writing to be done! Already a full to-do list today, with catching up on emails to be written at the top of the list. (Also, trolling the trunk for salvageable stories, and jumping the next hurdle of brainstorming so that I can move on with the novel work. And updating the to-do list, hehe.)

Another experience in learning my writing attitudes and routines recently has been quite nifty. I stopped working on the novel for a bit to focus on “…Elmer the Cat”, and thought (rather casually) that I was having a slack-off moment on the novel, being a lazier writer than I really want to be. However, since I’ve been working on letting my head move more at the pace it wants to go, I didn’t struggle too much to self-castigate and just enjoyed the short story work — and my, did I enjoy it! Even as much as it pushed my limits I loved every bit of this latest short story, from brainstorming to drafting to final-for-now revision. (Though I agree with my stepmom Mary, that there’s no such thing as a final draft, you can always go back and revise or rework a piece whenever you feel it needs it.)

And in the process, figured out that the reason I was hesitating on the novel work wasn’t slacking off at all, but a wall needing smashed in regards to a (very good) editing suggestion I received from the marvelous Ella, that I needed more definition of time/space/place. And I agreed with her thought, and realized that not having some of that defined was part of what was slowing me down in this second draft — and that the faster I got to codifying that, the less of this draft I’d have to go back and re-write from the ground up later. Saving future me work is definitely a goal of mine, so my other learning experience this week was a more subtle layer of trusting my writing process/hindbrain, that even apparent laziness might actually be a useful break to regroup and rethink. Also, knowing which hurdle it is that I’m jumping this time is invigorating to the desire to dive back into the work.

For anyone reading who wants to join in, feel free to comment on any of the above or jump into this discussion: What sort of experience have you had with your work or craft recently where your own process surprised you by working outside of your expectations?

2 responses so far

Jun 24 2009

busy writing (and traveling) bee

Published by under conventions,Editing,steve,Writing

Whew. Back from 4th Street, which was great, of course. I think I talked with others about writing for about 12 hours on Sunday alone, not to mention all the other wonderful conversations with amazing people that happened throughout the con. I didn’t get to attend as many of the panels as I wanted to (in part due to arriving later than planned on Friday night), but I do have some good notes that I hope to share on the panels I did attend.

I got to meet an old friend of Steve’s at lunch after the con on Monday that involved me missing the post-con Fish outing. I really enjoyed seeing Neil and Steve interact with each other; I understand much better now why Steve refers to him as his “evil twin”. The lunch was delicious, the conversation and stories delightful, and Steve got more exercise wandering around the grounds looking at cool plants and animals than he has in a year! We should definitely go on more walks together, that was fun.

Even though I’ve traveled from California to Texas to Minnesota back to Texas all in the past two weeks, I’ve *still* managed to get two short stories viciously dissected and put back together into (hopefully) better stories during that time. The revisions on the latest one were an especially fun editing mini-workshop with Steve and Nathan on Sunday night when we all probably should have been in bed hours earlier. It was intense but really enjoyable and there was only one part that none of us could agree on or easily fix when it was all through. (Nathan, by the way, shows some early signs of developing into an awesome editor.)

And speaking of editors, one of my few epiphanies of the past weekend is that I don’t tend to categorize writers, even those with some measure of public fame, as larger-than-life in my head…but put me around brilliant editors like Teresa and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Beth Meacham, Debbie Notkin, Sharyn November (and others I met but didn’t get time to talk with), and internally I turn into a fascinated wide-eyed fan-girl. Hopefully it’s not TOO obvious on the outside…

Okay, back to sending off one of these stories, finishing inputting the edits on the other one before sending it off, and then maybe I can get back to such cat-waxing activities as typing up my 4th street notes. And my main character in the next novel I shall be writing can QUIT hijacking the mental processes already because I won’t write her story until this novel is finished. Back in your box!

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Jan 23 2009

writing thought

Published by under Editing,Writing

A writing maxim I just discovered, editing a piece this evening:

If a word, phrase, or sentence is giving you trouble and you can’t figure out how to fix it no matter how many times you look at the blasted thing…


Now, I’ll figure out how to condense it down into something more pithy-sounding.

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