Grace's Mosaic Moments


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Random Thoughts

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IN MEMORIAM

The 14 high school students and 3 teachers 
gunned down in Parkland, Florida.
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 New blurb for Hidden Danger, Hidden Heart:

A threat to an organic foods business brings together two people from diverse backgrounds—one from New England and Palm Beach; the other, a tough second-generation Hispanic entrepreneur. Their fight to save the pure foods they grow and sell is complicated by teenage relatives who are being used by a terrorist for his own ends. And also by a culture clash strong enough to resound over two continents. Even if they win their fight against terrorism and corporate greed, their personal differences may be more difficult to solve.

For a 20% free read on Smashwords,  click here.

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THIS WEEK'S TOPICS
Making Changes to Published Works 
What Grace is Reading
Another Editing Disaster



 Making Changes to Published Works

I frequently find my blog topics in what's going on around me—writing, editing, reading, or current events. This week, my inspiration was the ease with which I changed the blurb for Hidden Danger, Hidden Heart. Doing that with a print book? Forgetaboubtit! Although I can only speak for my experiences with Amazon and Smashwords, I assume other e-vendors are also author-friendly regarding changes. 

For example, when I decided I wanted to revise the blurb for HDHH, it took far more time to write the new blurb, stew over it, print it, study it, revise it, type up the new version, scowl at it again, tweak it, than it did to make the actual change. At Amazon, all you have to do is click on the three dots next to your book on the Dashboard Bookshelf. Smashwords is much the same. Find your book on the Smashwords Dashboard, choose what portion of your book you want to change, and voilĂ , there it is, ready for you to play with. With Smashwords, the change seemed to update immediately. With Amazon, it took about half a day. (Changes can include uploading a new version of your manuscript, a new cover, new blurb, new price . . . whatever.)

Although I have used this convenience only a time or two, I consider it one of the great marvels of DIY books. The sense of control is fantastic

The ability to make changes also gives authors NO EXCUSE for not fixing egregious errors. I'm not talking about the inevitable three or four typos, but about major, in-your-face mistakes or about the sudden lightbulb that bursts on over your head, illuminating something you really, really should have included—or should have deleted.  Don't suffer. Fix it!

~ * ~

 What Grace Has Been Reading

 I've read an odd collection of books over the last few months—some from favorite authors, who, I'm happy to say, remain favorites. Other authors, found through Bookbub, included some very strange books indeed. I also discovered some new authors, mostly through Kindle Unlimited, whom I have been delighted to add to my "favorite" list. (Not all, I have to admit. Some made it to Archives, almost wholly unread.)

Among favorites recently revisited: Catherine Lloyd, C. S. Harris, Janet Evanovich, Ashley Gardner, Joanna Bourne, Linda Castillo, Gail Carriger, Lindsay Buroker, Rhys Bowen, Linnea Sinclair, Jack Higgins, Steven L. Hawk. In particular, Gail Carriger's gay romance, Romancing the Werewolf, stands out as a touching read. The others delivered the adventure, mystery, and/or suspense those authors' past books promised. 

As for "strange," Shogun by James Clavell tops the list. I remember when this book was first published way back when. I did not read it, I did not see the movie. I approached the Bookbub offering in—was it November?—with the curiosity of an avid reader toward a famous book from the past.

I hated it. I hated nearly every word of it. And yet I kept going back, probably just to see how bad it could get. In between Shogun sessions I read a very large number of other books to take the taste out of my mouth. Occasionally, it almost got interesting but never for long. Why was I so offended by a book that is considered a masterpiece? I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure that out. I consider myself a liberal, with very few prejudices. Yet I was offended by several things, particularly #s 1 & 2 below.

1) Clavell's attitude toward women. Here's a dialogue tag: "she added with a woman's sweet viciousness." Yes, the women he writes about are frequently depicted as intelligent and powerful, but figuratively speaking, they are never off their knees.

2) Clavell's attitude toward everything that wasn't Japanese. After the English hero is "conditioned" by his captors, everything European becomes dirty to the point of revolting: men, women, children, government, etc. I would not have minded if Clavell had allowed his hero to enjoy Japanese cleanliness and good manners, but he made it clear both he and his hero had plunged headfirst into Asian culture, to the point of denigrating everything else. While, at the same time, revealing that the men in power in Japan at that time could make Machiavelli's maneuvers look like a straight line.

3) Clavell dwells on graphic torture and on the Japanese solution of suicide for almost any offense. I realize this is something that may appeal more to men than to a female reader like myself. But I found it both gross and inexplicable. Particularly when the hero demonstrates that he has been totally absorbed into the Japanese way of thinking, in spite of one of his crew being boiled in a pot by his Japanese "hosts."

Considering that at the time Clavell wrote Shogun, we weren't that far removed from WWII, I found his total immersion in Japanese culture and his blatant criticism of European culture, just about as offensive as it's possible for a book to be. I will definitely not torture myself with the other books in this series. 

So no, I am not recommending Shogun

Another Bookbub "read": Michael Crichton's The Lost World, Book 2 in the Jurassic Park series. If my memory hasn't failed me, the movie version of this sequel to the blockbuster, Jurassic Park, left a good deal to be desired,. The book, however, is excellent. I strongly recommend it. Crichton writes a remarkable combination of action, science, and human values.

And now the new authors I discovered: Okay, I have to put Michael Wolff at the top of the list. I may not read future books of his, but if they're like Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump Whitehouse, I probably will. Yes, it's non-Fiction, even though some would like you to believe it's fiction. It is also clever and informative, if rushed to press without enough editing. This is a book every U. S. citizen should read. And interested foreigners as well, although it's excruciatingly painful to have outsiders reading about our government's disorganization. 


My other two recent discoveries are Mystery authors, one American, one Brit: Robert B. Parker and Faith Martin. Parker's setting is my favorite city, Boston. And Martin's heroine is  a female detective for the Thames Valley police. She lives on a narrowboat, and since I once spent a week on one, traveling from Newbury to Bath (plus having seen the canal in Oxford while traveling through on a bus tour), this too is a setting that tickles my memory. Both authors write excellent mysteries. Parker's private eye hero is, naturally, more of a tough guy than Martin's law enforecement heroine is allowed to be. It should be noted that Martin's books are set firmly in the middle class, not the "upper crust" settings made famous by British mystery authors of the past. The vocabulary alone is fascinating, using a vernacular most Americans will find as mystifying as the plots.  Both Parker and Martin create intriguing characters and clever plots. Strongly recommended.


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Editing Disaster

I learned something this week about how editing disasters can occur. Sometimes it's not the author's carelessness. Sometimes it's their trust in a new editor. This week, when I found an amazing number of errors in the latest book in a series I had read previously with no problems, I emailed the author, asking, "New proofreader?" And the response was "yes" and that the book had already been revised and a new version uploaded. Which brings me back to where I began—the ease with which you can do something like that with DIY e-books. 

The lesson to be learned: don't trust a new editor. Check your book that one last time before you upload. You don't want readers to think you disrespect them to the point of placing careless copy before them.
~ * ~

For a link to Hidden Danger, Hidden Heart on Amazon, click here.



For a link to Blair Bancroft's web site, click here.


For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here. 



To request a brochure from Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, please use the link to Blair's website above.

 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Notes on Writing Dialogue

Practicing for last August's video
 The Citrus Singers are proud to announce their video parody, "All About That Badge," has been viewed more than 45,000 times, as of this week. If you haven't seen it, or would like to see it again, here's a link:

To view the video the Citrus Singers made last August, click here.


Notes on Writing Dialogue

There are a couple of things that keep cropping up when I'm editing dialogue—sometimes in my own work, sometimes in work by other authors. Problem One is keeping Narration, Action, and Introspection in the same paragraph with the dialogue that's being spoken. Since following the rule about "New Speaker, New Paragraph" is an absolute "must," if you use a separate paragraph for what the speaker is doing or thinking before, during, or after what they're saying, you run the risk of making readers think a new person is involved. Here are some examples:

Excerpts are from Royal Rebellion (on second edit still a long way from final book form): 

# 1:
Incorrect:    A minute later Kelan was back, taking her hand and leading her up the steps. As they settled, side by side, on the flat wooden bench at the back of the g'zebo, Yuliya heaved a heartfelt sigh. 
   "I miss your apartment."
   "Things not going well?"

Question: Who said what to whom?
When I wrote the paragraphs above, I put "I miss your apartment." directly after sigh, keeping it in the same paragraph with the narration. That way there is no doubt that it is Yuliya who said, "I miss your apartment." 

Correct:
A minute later Kelan was back, taking her hand and leading her up the steps. As they settled, side by side, on the flat wooden bench at the back of the g'zebo, Yuliya heaved a heartfelt sigh.  "I miss your apartment."
   "Things not going well?"

Grace note: No "tag" is needed for Kelan's dialogue because only the two of them are present.

# 2:

   Tal grimaced, rubbing his forehead, as thoughts of his yet-to-be born daughter chased through his head. This day would come for him too, and he suspected his primary inclination would be to murder the first bastard who bedded his daughter. "Awkward," he murmured. "For us, at least. I suspect Keland and Yuliya are blithely oblivious to challenging the political disposition of the Empire."
   There's already one alliance between our families," Rand pointed out. "Perhaps a second is not such a bad idea."

Grace note:  If I had paragraphed after "daughter," there would have been confusion over whether Tal or Rand spoke that sentence. Both are leaders and well aware of the truly unusual nature of this particular romance. 
   Yes, there's a "tag" for Rand in the next paragraph, but readers should not have to plow ahead, or go searching back, trying to figure out which person is speaking. Clarity is very important in writing.

#3 - a simple exemption to the rule:

   Looking into Killiri's implacable dark eyes, Rogan believed. He might be unsure about Rand, but there was no doubt about the Psyclid. Here was the enemy.
   "I would like to speak with my son alone."

Grace note:  Rogan is the person speaking. But to emphasize the drama, I wanted the sentence in a separate paragraph. And I could do it because context made it perfectly clear who was speaking. Rogan was the only person who could have said those particular words.


#4:
Below is a more complex example that involves Narration and Introspection in one-on-one dialogue between Kelan and Yuliya.

   Kelan, who was learning to be as astute about the machinations of people in power as his father and older brother, considered the problem of Rogan Kamal. "If what you say is true, then he could be coming to retrieve a stray, a possible traitor. To do what is right for the Empire, and to Hell Nine with the Kamal family."
   "But Erik and I are no longer hostages. He can't force Father to go with him."
   Which was true, and pok! The long-sought moments of privacy in the intimate ambiance of the g'zebo were not going as planned.

Grace note: There is Narration, telling readers something about Kelan; then later, we get Kelan's thoughts: his grumbling because he and Yuliya are involved in a serious discussion when that isn't at all what he had in mind. And again, because only two people are present, it is not necessary to use a tag every time - as long as who is speaking is clear.

#5:
The following is a sample of a scene with more than two speakers. In which case, each one requires a tag. (The scene below also covers a number of exceptions to the general rule: a) a remark left "untagged" but quickly clarified in the next paragraph; b) a place where the Prowler's demand for papers is separated for emphasis; and c) another place where the dialogue settles to one on one, leaving no doubt as to who is speaking.)

Grace note: I was surprised when I analyzed the excerpt below to discover it had so much "meat" - examples of both rules and examples of exceptions. It's worth studying.

   Twenty minutes later, they were wiping their fingers and their mouths and congratulating B’aela on her inadvertent choice of a culturally themed restaurant. “Too bad we can’t ask the cook for recipes,” Kelan said. “Sure beats Astarte’s kitchen.”
   “Fyddit!” Kelan and B’aela stared. No way was Josh’s expletive a comment on the food. “Don’t look! Reg Prowler headed this way.”
   “Pok!” Kelan muttered. “Are you sure he’s not a local?”
   “You think I don’t know a Reg when I see one?” Josh shot back. “A sergeant in full uniform?”
   “Sorry. Wishful thinking.” Kelan shrank into his seat, at least as much as a broad shouldered man nearly two meters tall could manage.
   “Smile!” B’aela hissed.
   The Reg sergeant paused beside their table. A Prowler’s sole job was to walk the streets of cities and towns occupied by the Regulon Empire and inspect the papers of anyone who roused the slightest suspicion. Or even those who did not. Unremitting intimidation, the eternal threat of arrest was a key element of every Reg Occupation.
   “Papers!” the Prowler snapped.
   Dutifully, the three visitors to Deimos held out their carefully crafted forgeries. Neither Kelan nor Josh liked the sergeant’s look—openly speculative, and all too appreciative as he reached for B’aela’s papers. Neither did she, but from long experience manipulating Regs, she offered a pleasant, “As you can see, I am the ship’s inventory specialist and purser. Unlike many females,” she added with a touch of wry superiority, “I am remarkably skilled at money matters.” As intended, B’aela’s remarks quenched the lascivious look in the Prowler’s eyes. Evidently, women who boasted of their skill in math held little appeal.
   The Reg turned to Kelan who, he decided on a second inspection, looked all too much like his superior officers. Regulon upper crust to the core.  He came close to snapping “Sir,” as he held out his hand for the papers of the perfect Reg specimen—tall, well-built, blond, blue-eyed; this one, handsomely aristocratic.
   “You are a passenger?” the Prowler questioned, his suddenly raised voice carrying across a restaurant gone silent—some openly watching, some with eyes down but ears on the prick.
   “Just along for the ride,” Kelan agreed with a grin. “My father is head of a consortium that invests in merchant fleets. Every once in a while he sends me out to make certain his ships are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. The man with me”—he nodded to Josh Quint—is, as his papers will tell you, my bodyguard.” Kelan assumed the look of aristocratic superiority he had frequently found useful over the years. Worked every time.
   Not this time. If the Prowler had been a private, or even a corporal . . . perhaps he wouldn’t have noticed, wouldn’t have zeroed in on this table. But this was the sergeant’s third Occupation assignment, and this group was just too smooth, too something—maybe too upper class, too intelligent. Better to play it safe—let his commanding officer figure it out.
   “I need you to come with me—”
   “That won’t be necessary, Sergeant, I know these people.”
   The sergeant snapped to attention. “Colonel, sir!”
   “Thank you, Sergeant. That will be all. I will handle the situation from here.”
   Astonished, Kelan stared as the sergeant snapped off a salute and made a swift exit.        Conversations in the restaurant resumed, masking the Reg colonel’s words as he asked, “May I join you?” Without waiting for a response, he slipped into the empty fourth chair at the table.
   “There is a quote from Old Earth,” B’aela said. “From a twentieth century film, I believe. Something about ‘Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world . . .’”

   “Believe it or not,” said Colonel Alric Strang, “they still drink gin here. Seems someone brought juniper berries with them when they colonized this place.”

Grace note:  On the next edit, purely to add more drama, I may separate the paragraph beginning "Fyddit" into three paragraphs. Allowable, if not exactly "by the book."

~ * ~
 And please don't forget to take a look at Blair's Suspense tale, HIDDEN DANGER, HIDDEN HEART, which features action from Greenwich, CT and Florida to Spain and Portugal. Terrorism, Immigration issues, and a Romance that suffers from severe cultural shock. 



 
For a link to Amazon, click here.

For a link to Smashwords (with 20% free read), click here.

~ * ~

For a link to Blair Bancroft's web site, click here.
 


For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here. 



To request a brochure from Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, please use the link to Blair's website above.
 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace



 


Saturday, February 3, 2018

Updated Index to Grace's Writing & Editing Posts

Susie made it to Hollywood this week, doing the tourist thing while her husband had business appointments. Great time, except no shells on Venice Beach (unlike our own Venice, Florida, beach). She visited the famous Walk of Stars and was in the perfect spot for a photo of this week's "Super Blue Blood" moon, which was only partially visible here on the East Coast.

Susie makes it to Hollywood

Susie's Blood Moon total eclipse photo, taken from her hotel roof in CA at 5:45 a.m.!


UPDATED INDEX TO GRACE'S WRITING & EDITING BLOGS
January 2011 - January 2018 


Note: Topics with more than one post in the series are in Bold type.

WRITING

Formatting a Manuscript - 5/9/11
Nuts & Bolts, Part 1 (grammar, punctuation) - 5/16/11
Nuts & Bolts, Part 2 (punctuation, helpful books) - 6/16/11
Back to Basics - Punctuating Dialogue - 10/7/17 & 10/14/17
Tab conversion (from manual to auto) - 8/5/11
Using Italics - 2/15 & 2/22, 2014
Using Capitals - 4/12 & 4/19, 2014
Manuscript Format for the 21st Century - 5/6/12
Writing No-No’s - 5/28/12
Point of View - 6/18/12
Dictionary for Writers (5 parts) - 2/4 - 4/7, 2013
Layering - 6/30/13
Layering, a Writing Technique - 7/16/16
Dangling Participles - 7/7/13
Show vs. Tell - 7/21 & 7/28, 2013
Treacherous Words - 8/11/13
The Difference a Word Makes - 9/1/13
“Modern” Punctuation - 9/15/13
Questions to Ask Yourself - 10/13/13
Third Person vs. First (2 parts) - 5/31 & 6/8/14
Rule-Breaking (3 parts) - 6/21 - 7/5/14
Don’t Be a “Rule” Slave (adverbs) - 5/6/17
To Be or Not to Be (was & were) - 5/27/17
Attitudes Toward Point of View - 2/20/16
Point of View - 12/9/17
Playing with Tags - 3/19/16
Mystery vs. Gothic - 10/22/16
Telltale Signs of Amateur Writing - 10/1/16
How to Write a Bad Book - 3/12/17
What is Women’s Fiction? - 6/25/17 & 7/1/17
More on Women’s Fiction - 11/4/17

HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR CHARACTERS series:
What you need to discover about your characters - 10/15/2012
More questions about your characters - 10/29/12
The Rest of the Story - 11/5/12

Also:
Character Development (3 parts) - 11/7 & 12/5, 2015 & 2/6/16
Character Development - the Unexpected (2 parts) - 8/20 & 8/27, 2016
What’s in a Name? - 3/18/17
The Nitty Gritty of Names - 4/30/17


WRITING WORKSHOP (9 parts) - 12/6/14 - 6/28/15
[Ideas, Fresh Twists, Research, Title, Names, Opening & Hooks, Plot, Goals, Motivation, Conflict, Setting, Characters, Narration, Dialogue, Pacing, Point of View, Transitions, Mechanics, Self-editing, & Questions to ask yourself before declaring your work “finished.”]

WORLD-BUILDING series (4 parts) - 12/28/13 - 2/1/14
   [a look at the problem of creating a whole new world]

WRITING A SERIES (5 parts) - 1/21/17 - 2/18/17. Why Write a Series? “Single Title,” “Cliff-Hangers,” “Mixed Approach” & Summary +
Update on Series - 12/30/17


EDITING

I Ran Spell Check, I’m Done, Right? (self-editing) - 7/2/11
The Final Steps (self-editing) - 7/14/11
A Tale of Three Books - 9/24/16
The Difference a Word Makes - 10/15/16
More Thoughts on Final Edits - 11/5/16
Editing & Holiday Musing - 12/ 30/16
Editing Scold - 12/4/13
Misused Words (2 parts) - 10/4 & 10/25, 2014
More on Editing - 5/3/14
Editing Examples (4 parts) - 8/8, 8/23, 8/30 & 9/13, 2015
Editing Examples 2018 - 1/27/17
Copyediting Challenges (7 parts) - 8/29/15 - 10/31/15 + 4/3/16


EDIT THE BLASTED BOOK series:
Intro to Self-editing - 4/1/12
Should You Hire Help? - 4/28/12
Anatomy of an Edit - 8/5 & 8/19, 2012


SPECIAL TOPICS

**The Varied Faces of Indie Pub - 1/14/17

Reminiscences of Controversies (3 parts) - 5/13 - 5/26, 2013
     [a look at writing controversies over the past 2 decades]
Guideposts for Critiquing - 1/28/11
Writing Mistakes, Near Misses & Just Plain Strange - 3/4/11
Shortcuts for Writers (ASCII codes) - 3/18/11
Rules for Romance - 9/18/11 & 10/16, 2011
How Not to Write a Book - 12/20/12
How Not to Write a Book - 4/4/15
Branding - Bah, humbug [writing multi-genre] - 1/21/13
How Does Your Novel Grow? - 4/ 28/13
Word Perfect to Indie Pub - 11/27/13
Questions Fiction Writers Should Ask Themselves - 10/13/13
On Being a Writer - 8/22/015
The Tricks to Track Changes - 1/16/16
Running Off at the Keyboard (rant) - 2/13/16
Why I Love E-books (2 parts) - 5/21 & 5/29, 2016
Organizing the Out-of-the-Mist Author - 7/9/16
Out-of-the-Mist Oops - 8/9/17
The Sound of Silence - 7/30/16
Transforming Truth Into Fiction - 9/4/16
What’s the Fascination with Fairy Tales? - 4/1/17
Cultural Confusion - 6/10/17
Twisted Times (the influence of today’s news) - 7/16/17  

**the post with links to indie-publishing information

~ * ~

And don't forget . . .


Grace, as Blair Bancroft, writes more than Regencies. Check out her Mystery and Suspense books at Amazon, Smashwords, or on her website (link below). 

~ * ~

For a link to Blair Bancroft's web site, click here.
 


For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page (updated this week), click here. 



 
To request a brochure from Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, please use the link to Blair's website above.
 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace