Monday, June 27, 2011

Where Are the Editors?

I recently read a newsletter editorial explaining the differences between being published by ‘the big boys’ and the smaller publishers. I took issue with one statement in that editorial; the statement that big boy publishers run your book past numerous editors on its way from manuscript to printed book. And of course, all those editors have their own title, from acquisitions editor to copy editor, with lots of others in between. I’m finding it hard to believe.

It would be nice if there were that many editorial professionals combing your manuscript for errors. However, in today’s economy, do they still have that many? Everybody else has tightened their belts, why wouldn’t the publishing industry?

But that’s not my only reason for doubting that statement. I’ve read a lot of books. And ever since I’ve been critiquing for others, and re-writing my own, I’ve noticed that books have mistakes. Typos, missing words, misspelled words, ... they are all in there. If a manuscript has these problems when it is submitted, why didn’t all those alleged editors find them? My understanding is that even after the typesetting is done, the author and another proofing editor comb through the proofs looking for that very type of boo-boo. How did so many people miss them?

Authors are supposed to send a manuscript that is as near perfect as they can make it. All those other pairs of eyes roaming through that near-perfect manuscript, and still some leaked through? It’s just difficult for me to get through my mind.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Origins of Atlans

On May 31, 2011, my first Atlan story was made available to the public through The title is “Origins of Atlans”, it can be found at It is a free download, and if you don’t have an e-reader, you can get a copy to read on your computer.

The Atlans are a race of women who have one of three hair colors (black, red, white), one of three eye colors (black, green, blue), one of three birthmarks (sword, heart, crescent moon), and one of 27 different mental powers. Why is everything in groups of three? Because according to their creation myth, their foremothers were the products of three of their gods. Therefore, each Atlan has the hair color, eye color and ‘mark’ of one of those gods. Sometimes all of their telltales were from one particular god, sometimes they were a mixture from all three. Even after the Atlans re-learned genetics, they didn’t try to explain how their foremothers had three parents. Those parents were gods, after all.

In Origins of Atlans, I tell the Atlan creation myth, and then show the factual details that gave rise to that myth. In this case, the legend really does have some kernels of truth hidden inside. But it’s also true that the details of a story eventually change when that story is told over and over again, generation to generation.

I would be tickled pink if you would take a moment to check out my story. It’s only 2,000 words, so it’s a fast read. If you like it, you can post a review on smashwords, tell your friends about it ... and keep your eyes open for more stories about the Atlans. We are working on getting two more ready, even as you read this.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Synopsises. Synopsi?

I understand the reason why agents and editors want to see a synopsis of your manuscript when you send in a query. Seems like even if they ask for the entire manuscript, they still want a synopsis. If they see a glimmer of brilliance in the synopsis, then they'll peek at the manuscript and see if it's written just as well.

I'm not sure that's fair. In my mind, it's kind of like trying to perform an autopsy when all you have in front of you is an ear, a piece of liver and half a bone. (Yes, I've been watching crime shows this afternoon.) I'm not sure even Ducky could pull much information from that.

But here's the thing ... not everybody is comfortable or capable of writing in various lengths. Some people like to write series, some write trilogies, some write single novels, and others are more comfortable with shorts. These days, there are people who seem to specialize in flash, or even nano-shorts.

I tend to write novels. I have written shorts, but they aren't easy for me. I like to insert personal sideplay between characters, misunderstandings that get completely out of hand, complications and side plots. The length of a novel gives me room to do that. With luck, I can get all that done in about 100,000 words.

Then I have to boil all of that down to about 500 words. Yank out all that characterization, complications, side plots and so on. It scrapes my nerves down to the bone. Can I find one word to replace 200 words and still give the same meaning to the scene? Come on, all I need to do is choose my words more carefully, right? Well, no, because I've already been careful in choosing my words, when I did my rewrites; that's how I got a 150,000 word rough draft down to 100,000 words. And if I could find one word to replace 200 words, that says those 200 words weren't very necessary, doesn't it?

So I grind my teeth, chew my nails and pull my hair as I try to craft a synopsis, because I know that no matter how hard I try, it's not going to be as good as the longer version of the story.