Saturday, July 28, 2012

Yes Virgina, You Do Need An Editor, and Maybe a Dozen More!

            It’s ironic that I’ve just mailed my recent manuscript for Light Riders and the Fleur-de-lis Murder to my first line of defense – four quality editors who will scrutinize everything from tone, logistics, movement, and flow, to grammar and punctuation, while I’m in the process myself of editing a novel that was written by another author. Mind you, my novel will be forwarded to two more editors for a second look. Finally, it will be returned to two of the four front line editors for their “eagle eye” perusal before I send it off to formatting. That is, of course, once I’ve dealt with all the revisions and edits.
            So why is it, I can edit someone else’s work with clarity, focus and skill, while I cannot say the same about editing my own writing?  I’ve seen the comments by my editors and I cringe. Absolutely cringe. Homonyms! It’s as if I’ve never heard of them. Chute for shoot? What is going on in my brain? And single word repetitions…the the chair. Really? Not to mention quotation marks. It’s as if there’s no start or finish to the dialogue.
            I can spot improper tenses like an owl going after a field mouse – but only if the mouse is in someone else’s field. Why can’t I see it in my own writing?  Having given this quite a bit of thought, I’ve come to the following conclusion:
            My brain registers what it believes I’ve written, not what appears on paper. So, when I re-read portions of my manuscript, I’m reading them the way in which I intended to write them, not the way in which my fingers actually moved across the keyboard.
            This being the case, I would strongly urge all writers to find exemplary editors. I read somewhere that J.K.Rowling had over 26 editors for her last Harry Potter novel. Not too shabby for someone whose has certainly developed her craft.
            I’ve come to respect the fact that my editorial scrutiny only applies to other people’s work; and I am thankful and grateful to have someone else give my manuscripts the close examination that my eyes simply cannot do!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Wonderful Workshop at White Tanks Library in AZ

Combine the perfect locale with energetic, interested students and you've got it made! Such was the case for my "Creating Believable Characters" program at the White Tanks Library. It never ceases to amaze me how much we learn from our students.

Did you know that they have their own terminology for flat characters? Well, they do and they refer to them as a "Mary Sue or a Gary Stu." And while we explored round and flat characters in literature, we discussed what made certain characters stand out.

Certainly, action, dialogue, interaction, quirks, habits and "backstory" are all vital; but we focused on motivation and rationalization. Motivation, being the thing that drives a person or character to do something, and rationalization, the inner justification for doing it.

If your character cannot justify his/her actions, then it means that he/she needs further development in the story. The students in the workshop were quick to recognize this.

Needless to say, I appreciated the opportunity to work with them and look forward to providing more writing workshops in the future.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Picking Up The Pebbles

As I’m nearing completion of the first draft for my fifth novel, “Light Riders and the Fleur-de-lis Murder,” I’m doing something I like to call “picking up the pebbles.”  I’m sure there’s a more articulate, literary term for this, but the image that springs to my mind for this essential process is a very visual one – someone bending down to pick up the tiny pebbles that they have managed to strew everywhere. And if they don’t pick them up, someone is bound to trip and fall. 

So what is it I’m doing exactly? Well, as I write a mystery-suspense novel, I toss in a number of hints, clues, facts and concealed bits of information as I move along. At the end of the book, these little “pebbles” need to be picked up, i.e. linked to an action, explained, dismissed or further developed. If I neglect to do that, the reader is left hanging. Or worse yet, really annoyed with me!
What I’m doing is not exactly editing, but substantiating. If, for example, I mention a mysterious note written on the back of a matchbook, then I can’t just forget about it. And, if my “pebbles” really aren’t needed, then I have to re-visit and re-write.

I think I’ve managed to scatter an assortment of pebbles so I expect to be lingering with this part of my project for a bit. It’s like detective work, only with my own creation and that’s part of the fun. Can’t wait till you finally get to read the finished product! Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Excepts from my U.K. Blog with Morgen Bailey

Hi! I recently submitted a blog to U.K. Blogger, Morgen Bailey. It most likely will not see the light of day until 2013.  ( She has a full list! ). So...I thought I'd share some of it on my own blog. Enjoy and thanks for taking a look!  Note: Some of the words have been spelled to meet the U.K. standard.

Morgen: Hello. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.

I’m originally from New York State, USA, where I taught for over 14 years before becoming a school principal. I’ve always written reports, evaluations and grants as part of my job, not to mention the numerous letters to parents regarding student grades and behaviour; but writing fiction has been a passion for me. When I retired in 2008 and moved to Arizona, I finally had the time to write my first young adult mystery-suspense novel, The Face Out of Time. And when it won a 2011 award from the Arizona Authors Association, I felt as if I was on my way to fulfilling a lifelong dream.

Morgen: What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?

I write YA mystery-suspense fiction. Having worked in a school setting for most of my life, I’m familiar with that age group and their idiosyncrasies. Regarding other genre, I have written non-fiction for trade magazines, specifically “Teddy Bear” magazines. I just happened to “fall into” that role at the “Teddy Bear Artist Invitational” in New York and enjoyed the opportunity for writing.        

Morgen: What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?

I have published the following novels:

The Face Out of Time

Ripple Rider: An Anguillan Adventure in Time

The Last Tag

Light Riders and the Morenci Mine Murder

I write under my own name, Ann I. Goldfarb.  Books can be found with or without my middle initial.

Morgen: If you’re self-published, what lead to you going your own way?

The traditional publishing process became so cumbersome and unwieldy that self-publishing seemed to be a viable option. Of course it meant finding my own editors and formatter as well as establishing a marketing plan.

Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?

All of my books are available on Amazon Kindle as well as paperback. I, personally, prefer paper. I like to turn back pages, see how far along I’ve gone, and roll a paperback book in my hand. If I own the book, I like to make reference notes from time to time. Can’t do that with ebooks. However, my ebook sales are going better than my paperback. The 99 cent cost for my last two novels helps.

Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?

Oh my gosh, yes. I absolutely fell in love with EB Lyner from The Last Tag. He’s the quintessential disgruntled teen who takes his anger out by scrawling graffiti tags on utility boxes and walls, not to mention the occasional breaking and entering into foreclosed houses in the Phoenix area. But EB’s essentially a good kid. And when he discovers the remnants of a murder in one of those houses and hears a voice asking him to “find her killer,” he takes all sorts of risks to do just that. Deep down, his values are decent.

Morgen: Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?

I designed my first two covers, and then had someone design the other two. I think covers are extremely important as they attract interest from the start and help to generate an audience.

Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?

I’m working on the second novel in my “Light Rider” series. My protagonists, Ryn and Aeden, were 13 and 12 respectively when they were thrown back in time and had to solve the Morenci Mine murder in 1930 Arizona. Now they are 14 and 15 and must solve the “Fleur-de-lis Murder” in 18th century Paris.

Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?

I try my best to write every day and if I don’t get the chance, I feel simply “out of sorts.”  As far as writer’s block is concerned, I have too many ideas and dialogues bouncing around in my brain. I sometimes suffer from “writer’s ability to organize!”

Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?

I’m definitely a “pantser,” that is to say, I write from the seat of my pants. I’ll plot the basic idea but then adapt as I go. And, as my characters develop, things change.

Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?

My characters are all composites of the students I’ve taught and my ten nieces and nephews.

Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?

I edit and edit and still miss things!  I also have a professional editor in New York, and editors in Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona, not to mention a wonderful editor in Brisbane, Australia. I could not manage without them.

Morgen: Do you have to do much research?

Yes! Tons of research. Since my novels are time travel mysteries, they are essentially historical fiction with a twist. But, the history has to be correct.

Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?

I write primarily in first person and alter the point of view so my novels are told through different characters. I do use third person from time to time for background and “side story.”   Unless I was writing a cook book ( and I can barely find my way around the kitchen ) I wouldn’t use second person.

Morgen: Do you write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?

As mentioned prior, I have written non-fiction for trade magazines.

Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?

Yes, I’ve written a musical without the music and a fictional adolescent diary.

Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?

I’ve had rejections when trying to find an agent. I deal with it by taking control and publishing my own novels.

Morgen: Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend?

Yes. I entered the Arizona Authors Association writing competition in 2011 and won an award. I’ve entered it again for 2012 as well as the Southwest Writers Competition.

Morgen: Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?

Only in my dreams!

Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?

I’ve got to do a tremendous amount of marketing. It’s my least favourite part of the process. I’d rather be writing. I work with a web designer and my website, is now something that I am really proud of! In addition, I am “Timetravelgal” on Twitter and “Time Travel Mysteries” is on Facebook and would appreciate a “LIKE.” I’m on “LinkedIn” as well as “Your Book Launch,” “Good Reads,” and “ManicReader.”

I post a blog on my website at least once a week and conduct writing workshops at schools, libraries and any venue that will welcome me.

I give my business cards to everyone and anyone!

Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?

My  favourite aspect of writing is developing my characters and then listening to them speak in my head. My least favourite is marketing.

Morgen: What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Don’t get discouraged. Keep writing. Accept helpful criticism from other writers. Join a writers group! Help others!

Morgen: If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Alfred Hitchcock – Would love to speak with him about the elements of suspense. I wouldn’t serve anything that required ketchup since I read it was the only thing that scared him.

Physicist Brian Greene – Would want to discuss all aspects of time travel. I imagine he eats most anything so takeaway would be fine.

Mildred Benson, the original ghost-writer for the Nancy Drew mysteries. How did she ever develop those plots?  - Would serve salad.

Morgen: Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?

My characters have some specific phrases they use, but I try to keep it clean.

Morgen: Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?

Yes, I teach writing classes in Sun City West, Arizona.

Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)

I try to keep cool. It gets to be 113 degrees here in the summer so swimming is a must. In winter when it’s 60 – 70 degrees, I like to hike on the White Tank Mountains and frequent the neat coffee shops in this area.

Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful? (please include links where you can)

Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?

I network with Facebook and LinkedIn.  Great outreach!

Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?

I think the future will be ebooks and publish on demand. The whole industry is changing.

Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?

Time Travel Mysteries on Facebook

Ann I. Goldfarb at Amazon  ( look for my books ) and Barnes & Noble

“Gifts to Go” in Surprise, AZ