Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Moon

Have you ever come across someone who did not grasp a concept that you have understood since... as long as you can remember?
Recently, I discovered a friend knew there were phases to the moon, but could not understand that that meant the moon was not always in the sky at night. It’s true. Let me try to draw a picture.

(Okay, that’s what kind of drawing you get when you turn me loose with Microsoft’s ‘Paint’ for half an hour.)
I hope you can recognize the sun, Earth, and then four positions of the moon around the Earth. Each moon position shows what the moon would look like from Earth. So, when the Earth is ‘between’ the sun and the moon, we see a Full Moon; sunlight is reflected from the entire face that we see. When the moon is sitting roughly on the Earth’s orbit, we would see a Half Moon; sunlight is reflected from half the surface that faces Earth. When the moon is ‘between’ the sun and Earth, we see a New Moon; sunlight is reflected from the side we don’t see, and the side facing Earth is dark. We can all agree on that, right?
Now, to me, just looking at this picture makes it obvious that the New Moon is in the sky roughly the same time as the sun. Therefore, the moon is in the sky during the day, not at night.
You’ve seen the moon during the day, haven’t you? I’ve seen it many times.
But if you don’t want to believe me or this picture, here are some rising and setting moon times for Omaha NE I’ve looked up on the internet (Daylight Savings Time):
March 26, 2015      Half Moon, roughly      Rise 10:56 AM (morning)      Set 12:47 AM (after midnight)
April 4, 2015      Full Moon      Rise 7:18 PM      Set 6:08 AM
April 10, 2015      Half Moon, roughly      Rise 12:56 AM (after midnight)      Set 10:09 AM
April 18, 2015      New Moon      Rise 5:42 AM      Set 7:16 PM
Now, on April 18, 2015, in Omaha, the sun will rise at 6:40 AM and set at 8:07 PM, so, yes, the moon will be in the sky at roughly the same time as the sun.
So, if you are reading (or writing) a story, and in a scene set at 1:00 AM, the New Moon is not reflecting enough light to help the hero find his way down the alley... Of course it won’t. Not only is it a New Moon, and not reflecting light at the Earth, it’s not even in the sky at 1 AM! It’s on the opposite side of the world, appearing during daylight.

Any questions?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


There isn't a blog today, not really.

We attended our first convention this past weekend, and I am now dealing with a case of con crud. Who knew that when the doc said, "Rinse your sinuses every day for the rest of your life," he actually meant EVERY day?

Headache, drainage, coughing, sore throat, hoarseness. And that's today. Yesterday was worse, and that's the day I should have written and edited a blog.

I'm going back to bed, and hopefully will be even better tomorrow, when I can start thinking. About next week's blog, among other things.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Strangers vs Relatives

I do free-lance editing, and there are differences between editing the work of a stranger and editing the work of a relative, like a spouse.
Some things stay the same; I am always careful not to make changes just to suit my style. I haven’t written this manuscript; it belongs to somebody else. But I don’t have problems taking out unnecessary commas, or putting one in where it is needed; of keeping verb tense consistent; of changing ‘shuttered’ to ‘shuddered’ when a character is cold - of making sure they really are saying what they intended to say.
When I edit, I try to give some guidelines to help them improve as a writer, so I won’t have to work so hard with their next manuscript. If I want them to change a sentence, paragraph, or scene, I explain why, and give at least one example of how (I think) it could be improved.
Strangers, so far, have been pretty easy to convince. Relatives... not so much.
There have been other challenges when editing for a relative that - so far - have not happened with a stranger. Like the time I was editing a 400+ page manuscript, and asked my relative to clarify/change a paragraph on page 151. He had already changed that paragraph and had apparently given me the wrong version of his manuscript. I had to start over.
Another time, I explained to a relative that when a planet’s moon is in the ‘new’ phase, it is (relatively) between the sun and planet, and so would not be in the sky at 1 AM, the middle of the night. I don’t think he believed me.
The difference might be a matter of perception. To the author who doesn’t know me, I am an editor, one who respects him/her as an author, and they listen and return that respect, especially if they are fairly new. To the relative, I am a sister, cousin, parent, daughter, or even a spouse. Yes, I’m intelligent, but they are, too, and while they love me, they don’t necessarily view me as knowing what I’m talking about.

Despite the challenges of editing the work of either a stranger or a relative, I would rather do that than edit my own work! Because in that case, I turn into an idiotic despot... on both sides.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Help Wanted

Oh, the hassles of being a writer in this day and age! A couple years ago, I faced my growing frustration with submitting my work, only to get a “No, thank you” response. Everybody tells writers not to take it personally, but after a few years, you start wondering what is wrong with your writing. And the truth is, there might not be anything wrong with it, it’s possible you just aren’t hitting that market with that story at the right time.
A lot of authors - even established authors - were going into self-publishing, so... why not? Could it be any worse? A friend said she would help.
But then the novel we were going to start with (Cali) was accepted by a different small press. Great news! But it left us looking for a different novel to publish. I had a couple in the clean-up stage, but most were in the rough draft or 2nd draft stage. So we took on my husband’s sf novel (The Stone Builders) as our first publication. [Side note; since he agreed to this several months ago, he has finished a 2nd novel and started a 3rd. Apparently, he just needed some encouragement.]
I am no longer ‘just’ an author and free-lance editor, I am a publisher. I learned how to prepare manuscripts and format them, and I knew artists to hire for book covers. Editing can be time-consuming, but I was prepared for that. The big problem is the marketing involved!
We were trying to learn marketing even before we made this decision, because most marketing is left to the author anyway. But to be effective, we need to post on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and any other appropriate social media outlets. Unfortunately, trying to do all of this has left me with no time to write, and my friend is more technology-challenged than I am. Plus, it’s driving us crazy, trying to come up things to say and learn how post in various websites. Therefore,
Help Wanted: Social media handler. Someone to help decide what to post, when and where to post it, and do the posting. Knowledge and/or willingness to learn is more important than experience.
Help Wanted: Freelance Editor/proofreader. Knowledge of American English grammar, spelling, vocabulary and punctuation a necessity. I do not want to be the final editor of my own work.
The pay for either position is crummy, since we are just getting started. Both positions are ‘as needed’. If interested in either, contact

I think we’ve tapped the talents of family members as far as we can. If you (or someone you know) wants to break into one of these fields, this just might be the opportunity!