Sunday, November 27, 2011

Editing And Proofing

           Thanksgiving was quiet this year, actually a very good thing. The long awaited galley proofs of my novel Elysian Dreams were delivered on Wednesday. Here it is Sunday night and I am finally done with my part. It’s mind boggling the long and detailed process a manuscript will travel before it is ready for print. The version I received had already gone through sixteen different edit and proofing procedures. To the untrained or casual eye, nothing had really been changed. But, as they say, it’s all in the details.
            Spelling aside, it takes several pairs of trained eyes to catch every little grammar and punctuation nuance. A swapped synonym or relocated comma can completely change the meaning and strength of a sentence. And of course, the final say as to what is being said lies with the author. The gang at Brighton Publishing did a great job with the lay out, editing and proofing of Elysian Dreams. And yet, by the time the polished manuscript reached my hands there were still a few errors that had slipped through. Hopefully, by now we have caught them all.
            When I was teaching creative writing I gave my students some well worn and proven tricks to make the inherently formidable job of writing a bit easier. When it comes to revisions, I urge future novelists to read their copy out loud. Reading silently, the mind automatically scans and skips, filling in obvious words and phrases. Reading aloud forces pronunciation of every word, every pause, every breath, and every inflection. Spelling, usage and other errors literally jump off the page. And a well checked manuscript can benefit the author in several ways. The easier it is for an agent or publisher to read your copy, the more likely he or she will be to actually read it through. And, once you have sold your manuscript, the easier the editor’s job, the quicker your treasure will make it to print.
            Even in this day and age of spelling and grammar checkers and typing ahead and auto replacement and auto thesaurus, mistakes do happen. In the end, it is up to the author to see to it his or her words are exactly as they intended.
            Look for Elysian Dreams on the shelves of your local book store in about a week to ten days. If you don’t see it, ask for it by name. Thanks.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Elysian Dreams Follow Up

     In response to several inquires: Glad you enjoyed Elysian Dreams. Yes, there is a follow up on the way. Right now we are concentrating on getting Elysian Dreams out in print format. Seems there was some sort of delay at the publisher. Right now it looks like Elysian Dreams should hit the book shelves by Thanksgiving. And remember, if you don't see it, please ask for it...that will help in getting the retailers to stock it. Again, no date on a follow up right now but yes, Angela, Marsha, Collin and the rest will return!
PS Of course Elysian Dreams is still available in E book form from Amazon, Barns and Noble and other E book retailers.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Keeping The Flow

            Oops!  Last time I mentioned Antonio Manuel as one of my favorite authors. Seems I did Senor Manuel an injustice, as he is responsible for the term Fantastic Literature, not Incredible Literature as I noted. Just another example of the necessity for a good editor.
            In fact, I left that last sentence stand to make a point. It’s grammatically incorrect. Did you catch it?
            We as writers are responsible for the content of the story, not the mechanics. And that is how it should be. While we need to present our work in a logical, clear and understandable form, we need not get bogged down with spelling, usage and the like. That is the editor’s job. It is too easy, while writing the next great American novel, to get tangled up in the proper placement of a comma. Many novice writers make the mistake of trying to get it right and perfect the first time. That’s why we do rewrites. While there are no clear defined rules for writing, I have found a few simple tricks to keep the juices, and the words flowing.
            Writing for me is almost a stream of consciousness process. An idea will come to me; kick around in my mind for whatever length of time necessary, and then, like a woman suffering through her ninth month, it will have to come out. And for me, when it’s time, it’s time. I can’t stop to worry about spelling, usage or much of anything else. Even seemingly simple details like names and eye color can cause me to lose forever what might have been an important key element of the story. So what to do?
            As I write (and much of my process is writing, actual pen and paper writing) the thoughts and words and situations come amazingly fast. I often feel that I am not actually writing so much as transcribing what I am hearing in my mind. When it comes to details, if they are not forthcoming I leave a simple note and a blank line, and move on. It looks something like this: (eye color here). It is much simpler to go back and decide on the perfect element at a later time, than to risk interrupting the all important flow.
            Of course many writers opt to sketch or outline their work first, some even storyboarding first and/or preparing full bios for their characters. But then again, that’s the great thing about writing: there is no right or wrong way! Just write! And leave the editors to do their job.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Incredible Literature

            Often, when asked about my writing, the question comes up about genre. This is a tough question for me and becomes a real nuisance when it comes to publishers. Book editors like things handed to them in nice neat little packages: What’s your style; What’s your category; What’s your book about? Simple enough questions that editors like answered in one or two simple sentences. When you have spent three years of your life laboring over a manuscript, nothing comes in simple, neat little one or two line packages.
            Elysian Dreams is a work of fiction. But is it romantic fiction? Is it historical fiction? Does the element of time travel make it science fiction? Is it fantasy? The answer to all of these questions is no… and maybe.
            Pigeon holing anything into a specific category or genre or type limits your target audience, regardless of the media. How often do you head straight for a particular section in your favorite book or music store, completely ignoring the latest new releases or recommended lists? To place Elysian Dreams (or most any book for that matter) into a structured, formatted category would be a great disservice, both to author and reader alike. But…
            This being the real world, and editors being who they are, and the public being the public, we are stuck with the neat little categories we have boxed ourselves into. Thank havens for those who color outside the lines.
            Antonio Manuel is one of my favorite authors… and someone who never learned to color inside the lines. Refusing to be categorized, itemized, serialized or otherwise packaged, Manuel coined the term Incredible Literature to describe his writing style. What, you have never heard of Incredible Literature? Maybe not, but I know you have experienced the genre. Ever read HP Lovecraft? How about Rod Serling aka the Twilight Zone? Even O Henry and some Steven King fall into this most unusual format.
            To best describe Antonio Manuel’s Incredible Literature we need only to skip back to the 1980’s and a popular comedian whos routines make you go hum…  Not quite fantasy, not quite science fiction, not quite mystery, Manuel’s stories dance with the possible, flirt with the extraordinary and make the incredible seem downright likely. In other words, an Antonio Manuel story makes you think: can that happen? could that have happened? sure, why not? That’s Incredible Literature!
            I love writing short stories and have two compilations in the works for release in the near future. Most all are Incredible Literature. And, if pressed on the issue, I will place Elysian Dreams into this incredible genre. I’m still not a big fan of categorizing, but with Incredible Literature as least I’m in good company.