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Archive for the ‘Writing About Writing’ Category

Okay, it was a tiny sale. To a tiny market. And it’s more of a re-sale, since I sold two stories to this tiny market and they had to go on hiatus before publishing.

But the market is run by a friend of mine, and I want to support her. Plus, I want to see my work in print lots of places, not just in my self-published e-books. Sometime in January, I should be able to publish a link to my stories!

If you might be interested in submitting to a tiny market, it’s The Lorelei Signal and their guidelines are up.

Anyway, I’m calling this a win!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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After you were all so helpful with my question about color schemes for the cover of my next book, now I have a question about the general text format. I was all ready to show you an image with some possibilities. Unfortunately, my computer decided it wasn’t going to turn that into an image. Nope. No way.

So, I’ll just have to ask you. Drop caps — yes or no?

A drop cap, if you don’t know, is when the first letter in the first sentence of a paragraph is very large and prominent. Usually, the drop cap is set into the body of the paragraph, but sometimes it stands above the first line. A drop cap can also be a different font, or it may be enclosed in a box, or followed by bold text… There are lots of style possibilities.

This will be a printed book, and maybe it feels a bit more important than an e-book. I want to get it just right. So, what do you think?

Should I drop the idea of drop caps, or go big with them?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Three possible styles for Minstrels of Skaythe.

Color schemes, that is! As I work on collecting the Minstrels of Skaythe novellas into a trade paperback, I’m pondering some options for the cover. The image here shows three possibilities for the title colors against the background art.

#1 is basically the same metallic-reflection I used on the three e-books. That has the advantage of visual consistency and identifies this as part of the same series.

#2 is a variant color with the same metallic-reflection concept.

#3 is a brighter, solid fill. This isn’t an e-book, after all, and readers looking at it may not be using the title style to identify the series.

I’d love to know what you think of these possibilities! And I know you’re all not shy, so I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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School is back in session online for me, and it’s every bit as weird and stressful as I expected. Some kids don’t show up for online groups. Or they don’t know how to click out of one group and into another. It’s a lot for all of us to learn.

So anyway, you all get another word question. The phrase I’m wondering about now is “wet” your appetite. I had always heard “whet” your appetite. Either way, the phrase indicates piquing someone’s interest or making them eager for whatever the subject of the sentence is.

“Wet” does conjure an image of someone salivating with hunger. That’s not too bad if we’re talking about making someone more hungry. However, it doesn’t seem very connected to generating excitement about something.

On the other hand, “whet” indicates sharpening a tool with a whetstone. If you “whet” someone’s appetite, you are sharpening their hunger.

I think it’s interesting that our “hone in” discussion last time also had to do with sharpening as a metaphor for increased interest. In the past, tools were important and good quality ones were carefully maintained so they would last. These days, if our tools get dull, we just toss them and buy new ones.

Anyway! What do you guys think? Do you prefer to sharpen interest, or make it droll?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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It’s more of a phrase, actually. I hear people talk about “honing in” on something. As in, they’re going to focus intensely on a specific topic or object.

Hone = sharpen. Why would we use sharpness to indicate focus?

I always thought the phrase should be “home in,” as when homing pigeons return to their roost.

What do you guys think? Should we “home in” or “hone in?”


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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What’s Happening. School is back in session, and my extended summer break is over. My schedule has been upended, as happens every year. Currently, our district is learning remotely. We are going through many trainings. Some are related to health and safety, while others involve the technology we’re using for the said remote learning.

Wearing a mask for 7 hours straight is a bit of a pain, but not actually difficult. The one little annoyance is that when I take off the masks at the end of the day, they can cause my earrings to fall out. So far I have lost one earring from two different pairs. Clearly, I need to develop a strategy to prevent this.

What I’m Working On. The second draft of Prisoners of the Wailing Tower is complete and off with some beta readers. I am taking the time to spiff up my promotions for all the current novellas in the Minstrels of Skaythe series, in preparation for Plan B (see below).

What’s Next. Rather than push myself to publish Prisoners before it’s truly ready, I’m falling back on Plan B. That is to collect the first three novellas into a printed book, to be released in mid-November. Since the texts are already complete, it should come together fairly easily. Interior text on printed books is more finicky than e-books, but there’s plenty of time. My current task is to select cover art, make the titles, and begin to lay the cover out.

Fun and Games. Animal Crossing goes on. This is a relaxing game without a fixed end point — perfect for when things get tense. I am also beginning a playthrough of Fallout 4, a post-apocalyptic adventure. My husband and son have both started this game but abandoned it. We’ll see if I can last any longer.

This is Labor Day weekend, so I wish you all a relaxing holiday.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Last time, I mentioned how the comics in my local shop were pushed back from their original publication dates, and that issues meant to arrive in spring are just now coming out. There have been a lot of titles cancelled, too. It’s unfortunate, but predictable. Casual reading can’t be the first priority when people are under a lot of financial stress.

Something else struck me in reading the actual issues. So many of these tales have become very dark, almost nihilistic. For instance, after decades of fighting injustice, the X-men have given up on peace and become tyrants themselves. At the end of the latest Thor, it was revealed that the upcoming villains will be Marvel Zombies, one of the most grisly and horrific creations in comicdom.

My point isn’t that the writers and illustrators “owe” me a certain kind of story. It’s that the world has changed so much. We have a deadly pandemic, protests and rioting across the country, the approach of an incredibly tense election. Plus, massive fires and hurricanes! In this setting, the thought of Marvel Zombies is unbearable to me. I can’t read that stuff right now.

Could the comics writers have known, when they planned those titles, that all this hell would break loose? Maybe they might have realized the election was likely to set people on edge. That fires and hurricanes come every summer. But for the protests and the pandemic, these publishers, editors, writers and artists are caught in the tides of history just as much as the rest of us. Nihilistic storytelling isn’t going to work in this setting. They are going to have to find a new tale to tell, and fast.

Again, this isn’t to chastise a particular company and its creative staff. For all of us who are writing in the midst of this, we do really need to plan ahead, extrapolate, and make sensitive choices.

What world will our stories be born into? And how will our work help readers get through it all?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Every tale springs from its time. The underpinnings reflect many social, emotional and personal things that are happening in the author’s life, and in the world around them. I’ve been thinking about this after a trip to my local comic shop.

Like a lot of things in our pandemic era, what’s on the shelves has been significantly delayed. These titles were meant to come out in April and May, and they were intended to kick off a summer-long multi-title crossover event. Seeing them “start” in August carries a funny kind of discontinuity. You just have to smile at the ads that say the next issue will appear in June.

But, there’s a whole planning process that stretches back months before a particular issue arrives on the shelf. Editorial meetings for these issues probably took place in the fall of 2019. Then there was the process of assigning writers, scripts being written, editors approving them, followed by artists being assigned, their work approved, followed by inking, coloring, and the actual process of printing the magazines.

Being a writer in whatever genre or format requires you to be a little bit psychic. The comics staff were looking ahead, from fall 2019, to predict what readers in spring 2020 would want to read. (They missed the mark, but that’s a subject for another blog.) We prose writers do a similar thing. The stories we work on now, in fall 2020, also face a time lag. If you self-publish, your story might come out this winter. But if you work with traditional publishing, your book might not appear until 2022 or later.

It kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it? The world may change wildly before your story even comes out.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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First, I appreciate all of you who responded to my question about what makes a good ending. Blogging can be a bit like talking to oneself, so thanks!

I am still, in fact, working on the ending for Prisoners of the Wailing Tower. Not the “grand finale” with its running battles, but the aftermath. Those last reflections that show how the characters have changed during the course of the story. To me, these quieter moments of thought are almost as important as the outcome of the plot. And, since this is fourth in a series, there’s also a bit of looking ahead to the trials that remain.

It isn’t perfect yet. However, it is good enough to print out and give to my first readers. We writers get scolded a lot that we mustn’t let anyone see our work until it’s ginger-peachy-perfect. I think that’s a mistake. Writers can’t guard our stories like they’re the Hope Diamond. We have to let them out into the world. Anyway, I can continue tweaking those last five pages without affecting the first readers.

So — Yahoo, the second draft is finished!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Working on the end for Prisoners of the Wailing Tower has made me think about endings in general.

Every story has to have an ending. Happy endings. Sad endings. Obscure endings. Endings with a twist. Villains-die-at-the-endings. They might give the reader a sense of contentment, or conversely make them question what they thought they knew. This story is complete. Now the reader can embark on another.

Different genres have different expectations. So for instance, a confused outcome might work for a science fiction novel with an abstract premise. A horror novel could well end with many characters dying. However, these endings would never be accepted in a general Romance novel.

Even more, for a series, the finale of the final volume answers all the questions throughout the saga, and ties everything up neatly. (Or maybe not so neatly.) If the author has any underlying themes, now is the time to bring them home.

Since I know that many of you are writers, I’m curious to hear what you think is most important in order to achieve a successful ending. Even if you’re in the middle of your first book and haven’t finished it yet, that’s okay. Let me know what you think!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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