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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Showing Versus Telling

My computer time has been curtailed quite a bit lately for various reasons, but I'm doing my best to keep up with all my contact sites.

The other day, I was jotting down a passage for "Seer, Tyro, Fiend," and I had an epiphany of sorts. Everything I have ever read about writing fiction advises "show, don't tell." Okay, sometimes you do have to tell, such as when information must be given but it is not special or critical enough to warrant a lot of elaboration. Sometimes, you just have to say it and move on.

I had often thought that the first person point of view allowed some latitude on this, since the narrative is the character telling his/her story. One literary agent I worked with said it should be like the character telling it to a best friend. But the way one talks to one's best friend is telling, and it can make for very dry reading, not putting the reader in the shoes of the POV. An example:

"I stepped back to get a viewing perspective of the sketch and got a nasty shock."


"When I stepped back to get a viewing perspective of the sketch, I gasped and dropped my pencil."

The difference is obvious. What she did shows her surprise instead of telling she was surprised.

Show versus tell has always seemed a somewhat slippery distinction in my mind, especially in first person, but I think I've stumbled upon a way to overcome. I'll be reviewing the manuscript for "Seer" at some point for just this sort of opportunity to put the reader "in the moment."

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1: "Stranger Faces" in ebook and "Two Faces, Two Faced" in print! 
FUTURE: "The Changeling Kill" and "Dabblers" going to print!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Always Writing

Added about another page to "Seer Tyro Fiend" this morning, and I've done a lot more writing in my head so to speak. Ideas which have developed:

  • Change an early scene between Stefanie and Paul to something more purposeful. (Don't want to go into more detail than that.)
  • Considered the additional character I thought should be added and decided to "roll" him into another character already introduced. (Don't like introducing characters late in the story if I can help it. It doesn't seem quite fair.)
  • Worked out another scene idea in which Stefanie further explores the Ken.
  • Mapped out more involvement for Amy.
  • Worked through the sequence of events for a big turning point scene coming up.
I remember a long time ago, on the old Dick Van Dyke Show, the Rob Petrie character decided to take time off to write a book. He managed to spend his time doing just about everything but write it, although he told his wife, Laura, that a writer is always writing even when doing something else. While the line was for him an excuse, for me at least, it's quite true. I don't need to be sitting in front of the computer or even have pen and paper nearby to be writing, because my mind wanders to my story in idle moments anyway. Driving the car, before falling asleep, taking a shower, washing the dishes. Gotta think about something, right?

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Bit More Progress

Cadged a bit more writing time this evening and pounded out a few lines of "Seer, Tyro, Fiend". I'm coming up on a tricky part, where Stefanie will talk to one of the antagonists and try to elicit information from him without him suspecting she's onto his tricks. It's a turning-point passage and will have a huge impact on the story going forward. While I can always go back and tinker with it after the fact, initially I have to figure out just how much information will be revealed and how it will be revealed.

One week to go until Love Is Murder. Really excited about the opportunity to talk to readers and writers, to be on a discussion panel, to learn more esoteric information from experts about crime and criminals. I've already used some of the bits I gleaned from last year's conference, especially from the retired government agent. In fact, his talk planted the seeds of inspiration for "Stranger Faces."

Eagerly awaiting final copies of "Stranger Faces" so I can update all my websites. Then I'll have to get onto promotion as much as time allows. Ah, to be a full-time writer . . .

Thursday, January 24, 2013

On Progress, Character Creation, and Reviews

Excellent progress made on "Seer, Tyro, Fiend" yesterday, and some this morning, too. The story is really coming together well. A fair amount of the action involves Stefanie's odd and tortured childhood, and I often find myself somewhat depressed after writing any passage in which she recalls significant events. Perhaps that says the emotion really comes through, although Stefanie reacts to them with anger instead of sadness. Her character keeps getting stronger as she works through her feelings while at the same time facing a mystery.

I've probably mentioned I will be on a panel discussion at Love Is Murder next week, about writing more than one series at a time. Naturally, this has me thinking about writing sequels, as does an email from the panel moderator with some sample questions which might be presented at the session. I suppose that when I begin to develop a character for a novel, I build a past for him or her which forms the basis for the way they think, feel, act, and react. I seem to have a penchant for tortured souls. Jack Watson certainly fits in that category, although Tracy Wiley not as much. A second book in a series allows some exploration of the character's defining past, drawing out the details that would have been too much to include in the introductory book.

I suppose this is where I should state that my own past is no more troubled than anyone else's. There were no major trauma, no huge obstacles to overcome. No drama. Drama is what I try to create for my novels, though. I find it rewarding and stimulating to make up stuff that happened to my character, weaving a past for them that explains who they are at the time of the story. Is the creating of a tortured past an attempt to elicit empathy from the reader? I don't consciously approach it that way. I'm not thinking, "What will make this character interesting?" In Stefanie's case, she has an unusual mix of traits and talents which made her childhood equally unusual, and being different is what she fears. She wants acceptance, to have the kind of life she sees other people having. In "Seer," she feels she has some of that acceptance from her small circle of people, and she is starting to explore her differences in a more positive way, looking to them to make her stronger even if that means being different.

On a side note, yesterday, I did a Google search on my name, which I occasionally do to find mentions of my books, and I came across a review of "The Dreamer Gambit" on a blog page. The reviewer gave it three stars out of five, and commented that one detriment was its length, i.e., whenever it seemed the story should be over, it kept going. I think I see where that opinion could come from, but I believe it is important to tie up all the loose ends at the end of the story. "Dreamer" was a complex puzzle involving lots of people with different motives, and it required a fair amount of wrap-up after the big action moment. I've seen this done by best-selling authors all the time, so after thinking about it more, I decided to take the criticism with a grain of salt. After all, you can't please all the people all the time. At least the rating of three stars was meant to indicate it is worth reading.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Plotting, Plotting

Yesterday, I found myself at work with little to do and no computer to work on "Seer Tyro Fiend." I had gotten kind of stuck at the next scene because it must reveal some clues about what is happening. But before I could decide what those were, I myself had to figure out what is happening. I started jotting notes about the antagonists' back story, what their plot is, etc., and things really started to unfold. I realized I needed another player, and now I have my Fiend from the title. I need to drop some hints about him earlier in the story, however. I don't feel it's fair to the reader to just plop him in at the last minute when it's convenient. I will allude to him in a couple of ways, but not so that Stefanie or Paul will realize he's another player. Since he is the Fiend, he can remain nameless for a bit even as his presence is felt. I also hope to keep the reader guessing for a while, perhaps thinking that the fiend is one of several other characters.

Some other layers of the story developed as well. I decided on a sort of twist with one of the antagonists which will allow me to keep a scene I had written earlier and feared I would have to delete. While that scene did reflect some of Stefanie's feelings about things and included some subtle hints of the plot, it sort of screamed for later cutting. With the additional twist and some change-up in the dialog of the scene, it will now be an important advancement of the story, laying the groundwork for future events.

I have read quite a bit about editing a novel, and I agree that everything in it should move the story forward in some way or at least give the reader information that will be important. Yet imagination likes to create scenes between the characters who have become real people. Real people have conversations about things unrelated to a plot, and sometimes those interactions are interesting, at least to me. But I have read many books, some by best-selling authors, that contain stuff that is entirely unnecessary, and my fingers itched for a pencil to mark it for deletion. In a couple of cases, there were whole passages that seemed to be included only as a showcase for the author's intense research into a location or some bit of history. Inclusion of such things is often necessary, but I'm talking here about cases where it crosses the boundary into Too Much Information. And no, I'm not going to name names. If I find "warts" in other writers' works and point an accusing finger, I open myself to the same treatment. "Do unto others..." so the rule goes. Let the critics be the ones who get nasty about people's writing, for perhaps they do not really understand that writing fiction is an act of creation, and the writer's ego can be a delicate thing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Put It To Bed and Start the Promo Machine

Sent off the corrections for "Stranger Faces" this morning, which stamps a big "DONE" on that project. The story closes with some avenues for future books still open, although I have not given the next one too much thought. (Okay, I've thought about it some.) I like Tracy, and she's easy to write, probably because there is a lot of me in her.

I'll be focused more on getting some publicity done for "Stranger Faces" as well as "Two Faces, Two Faced" which is coming out in paperback. There are websites to be updated, advertising campaigns to update, etc., Love Is Murder is also on the horizon, where I'll be on a panel discussion about writing more than one series at a time.

Back to work on "Seer Tyro Fiend" which is turning out to be more fantastical than "Dabblers" was. Stefanie is trying to explore her psychic ability in more depth, to learn to control it, but there are no guide books for doing so. She must feel her way carefully, torn between the euphoric sense of gaining control and the fear of where it will lead. Sort of like the first time you drive a car at high speed.

One "Seer" is done, it will probably be time for a third Jack Watson book, although I continue to wrestle with the new character I want to introduce as his partner and new POV character. I think the real question I have to answer is one of the first two in the plotting recipe I've referred to: "What does this person want?" I have a fair idea who she is, but what does she want? What motivates her in the decisions she makes? I can answer in terms of the plot I have in mind, but I need the overall, her worldview.

Even if I'm only writing one book at a time, I guess I'm always working on more than one at a time.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Home Stretch

I managed to get my laser printer working (98.8% anyway) and printed the galley for "Stranger Faces" for one more read. I've already found a couple of things to fix, so I guess it was worth it. The cover is ready, everything else is ready. Once I finish this final pass on the ms., it'll be time to prepare all the web materials for this site, Google, Authorsden, Goodreads, Facebook . . . whew!

More updating needed on promotional materials to take to Love Is Murder, too. I have brochures--black and white, but with a blurb on each book, all 6 of them. I have the business cards. I'm also considering redoing the fact sheets I made up for the Joliet Library Author Fest last fall. This format is 2 pages with color thumbnails of the book covers. I thought this would be something good to hand out at the panel discussion I'll be on at the Con. I really intend to pull out all the stops on this one.

Laying in bed last night, I did some imagining for "Seer Tyro Fiend" which created a great scene, a dream sequence. I've also added some more to the manuscript, although not a lot, but enough to give me a sense that it is moving forward. I think I've identified the first casualty in the story, too.

Circumstances at my day job may get in the way in weeks to come and prevent me from blogging as much as I would like. I'll do my best to keep providing content whenever I can.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Well, I have one more week before corrections on "Stranger Faces" are due. I've read the galley straight through twice, gone back and covered segments of it, and my list of corrections is about a page and a half. I'm not sure if I should be proud or wary. Should I look for more? Should I try to fix the problem on my laser printer and get a hard copy to review? Or is that just killing trees?

I'm also in the midst of preparing for Love Is Murder which is the week after that. I made up some new book brochures and printed some more of my homemade business cards.

I think they look pretty good. Used Print Shop Deluxe to create them and special card stock to print them on. Not too shabby for someone who didn't know squat about computer graphics programs not so long ago!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Coming Events, Etc.

Yesterday, I learned that I will be on a panel discussion at the Love Is Murder Conference in February. The topic? DOUBLE INDEMNITY: THE TRIALS, TRIBULATIONS, AND JOYS OF WRITING MORE THAN ONE SERIES AT A TIME. This is a very exciting opportunity because I'll be talking about my books and perhaps inspiring a few people to buy them.

I've started making some strides in creating promotional stuff to take to the conference as well, since they generally have a table or so for authors to do just that. Got an idea for making bookmarks and already have a few updated brochures printed. For the copies of "The Dreamer Gambit" to be sold in the bookstore, I'm considering inserting a sticky note in each one telling the buyer to find me at the conference (they usually have a book signing event, too) and I'll give them a chapbook for the sequel, "The Changeling Kill."

Of course, I am now thinking about what sort of questions the moderator of the panel will ask. Fact is, I never started any book with the intention of making it into a series. Once upon a time, I thought it would be terribly dull to be stuck with the same character from book to book. But once "The Dreamer Gambit" was done, I found myself still interested in Jack Watson, who oddly enough started out as a very minor character. I gave him a tortured past, and a sequel allowed me to explore that more. "The Changeling Kill" thus became volume 2 of the series.

When I wrote "Two Faces, Two Faced," I figured it too was a one-shot deal. Then I was talking to someone from work at a social function, telling her about the book, and she bought and read it. She was very enthusiastic. One day, she asked me what was next for Tracy, and I told her honestly I didn't have a clue and had not given it any thought. As I walked away, covering about twenty feet or so from her desk to the ladies room, I suddenly saw a new adventure for Tracy which incorporated a plot idea from another book I once considered writing. Then I was off to the races. Even "Dabblers" came from a one-book notion, but here I am now, writing a sequel.

So when it comes to the panel discussion, I won't have much to say on trials and tribulations, but plenty about the joys. The only tribulation I usually face is which one to take up next.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Taking a break from proofreading "Stranger Faces," lest I get too close to it to see mistakes, which happens far more often than I'd like to think.

Spent some time today going over "Seer Tyro Fiend" to sort of get reacquainted. After several days away from a project, I often find it a little harder to get back into the feeling of it again, and rereading what I've written thus far helps to build up the story in my mind. Of course, I've been thinking about where the story is headed and had some good ideas for upcoming scenes.

My main concern after today's reading exercise is that the puzzle is going to be too easy to figure out. Does it only seem so to me because I already know who the bad guy(s) is/are? This novel is not a typical whodunit since there is no murder to contend with (yet). Stefanie is going through some changes here. In "Dabblers," she reached a new level of acceptance of her psychic gift, and in "Seer" she'll go to the next level since she has a better support system in place, i.e., people who know about the Ken and do not look at her differently for it.

Not so long ago, I read an article on another author's blog about the problems with writing in the first person, as I have in the Faces series as well as this one. He said that first person is not a natural way to tell a story because that POV character could not possibly remember all the details that must be included. I kind of smirked when I read that. Stefanie has an eidetic memory and remembers everything in detail! Ha! When I reinvented the character a few months ago when reworking "Dabblers," I had not been concerned about this memory issue when telling a story in first person. It makes me rather proud of the traits I assigned to Stefanie: her memory, the Ken, being a prodigious savant. They all fit together.

I still think people accept reading first person and don't think it strange. I've never had a problem with it when it's done right. Some of my favorite mystery authors write in first person: Kathy Reichs, Sarah Paretsky. Two other favorites--Michael Creighton and Dean Koontz--jump back and forth between first person and third person. In the Jack Watson series, I wrote in third person for several different POV characters, mainly to get the story into the hands of the character best situated to convey that part. I even took a crack at writing first person POV for a male character in one of my short stories, "Mr. Fixit." In most cases, however, what POV to choose is not a subject of intense contemplation for me. I wind up using whatever feels most natural at the time.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jumping the Gun

My severe winter cold kept me from doing much of anything yesterday, and anything that keeps me from writing is really severe. So far today, I have done some more proofing of "Stranger Faces" and found some more corrections. Not sure if I'll be able to do a reading from a printed galley since I haven't yet tried to figure out what's wrong with my printer and why the pages keep jamming.

Although "Stranger Faces" won't make its official debut for another couple of weeks, I'm going to do one of my standard new-book posts on it now, i.e., the music that inspired me and could possibly be included in a soundtrack.

Twilight Zone - Golden Earring  There is a scene that finds Tracy in a lonely hotel room where a man has just been shot. The lyrics of this song inspired the scene. "It's two a.m. . . ."

Booty Swing - Parov Stelar  Some time back, the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas ran a TV commercial with various odd-ball people in an elevator and this song playing over it. It inspired the scenes at the fictional Chimera Club in the book.

Strangers in the Night - Frank Sinatra  One of the tunes played at the Chimera club where Tracy sees lots of characters that fit the title.

Destination Unknown - Top Gun Soundtrack  This one characterizes Tracy's road trip with Fox since she has no idea what he's up to or what her role will be. "Top Gun" has one of the best soundtrack collections EVER!

Strange Days - The Doors  This one's a perfect choice as Tracy experiences some strange days of her own. It has that eerie and somewhat desperate mood to it.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Winter . . . Booo!

Been nursing a cold the last couple of days, but progress has been made on a couple of fronts.

First pass of proofing "Stranger Faces" is done, and only 14 items to be changed. Must be some kind of new record. I wanted to print the galley and then read from paper, but my old laser printer decided to be uppity today and paper jam before page 1 even completed. I'll try again when I don't have to wipe my nose or sneeze or cough every 15 seconds as well.

With Love Is Murder 2013 on the horizon, I started putting together some publicity stuff to take along. I have chapbooks for "The Changeling Kill," although I don't know if I will just set them out for the taking or reserve them for people who buy "The Dreamer Gambit." I set up chapbook documents for "Dabblers," but the printing and assembling are more than my patience can handle just yet. I've considered making some bookmarks, as well as adding the two most recent books to a trifold brochure I made last fall.

I did add a few lines to "Seer Tyro Fiend" over the last couple of days, but no big surge of productivity there. Tomorrow is another day.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Proofing, Etc.

Been off the grid for a couple of days dealing with family issues that pretty much curtailed any real writing work. Things are returning to normal, though, and I'm back to proofreading galley for "Stranger Faces." With almost one full reading complete, I've found only a half-dozen or so corrections, which is really quite good. Back when I worked on "The Dreamer Gambit" galley, I think I might have gone up to five pages worth of corrections.

One of the sticky things about proofing the galley is that I find things I would like to change, but unless it's something truly necessary, I can't. Missing words, wrong words, typos, formatting--those things are the expected changes. Add a sentence or change something for purely creative reasons? Those are no-nos. And then there are the gray areas. For example, here is how a particular passage appears in the galley:

I heard a sound, all too familiar: a silencer-equipped gun firing. My body went rigid, and I swore I felt the hair on the back of my head move with it.

As I read through this, I realized the last word, "it," is unclear in its reference. Someone fired a gun, but what Tracy feels is the bullet moving the air right above her head. I believe a minor change here makes things clearer, adhering to the rule supplied by Write Words to neither confuse the reader nor make unnecessary work for the editor.

I heard a sound, all too familiar: a silencer-equipped gun firing. My body went rigid, and I swore I felt the hair on the back of my head move as a bullet whizzed by.

It really becomes a judgment call over what constitutes and out-and-out error, an artistic change, or a matter of clarity as above. Of course, I try to take all this into account in proofing before I send the manuscript off, but, heck, sometimes stuff gets by. I think I've alluded to this in earlier posts, i.e., I get excited while reading action sequences, forget about proofing, and overlook errors. Some of them I just have to grit my teeth and let slide, wishing I could have done it better but having to accept responsibility for not doing so at the right time. Ah, well, I'm sure plenty of authors have published works out there with things that make them cringe.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Picked up the galley for "Stranger Faces" yesterday and started the proofreading process. My first pass will be reading the PDF file on the computer, although I will also do a pass reading from a printed copy. I usually find more errors in print than I do on the screen. I look for formatting problems--missing italics, incorrect paragraph breaks--as well as the typical grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. I found a few already. For example, the text reads I thought I should feel complemented. The last word should be complimented.  In another spot, the text reads took my bags to a rest room to change. But restroom is just one word. Finding this stuff can be difficult because I also get wrapped up in the flow of the story and the dialog.

I  may find things I would have written differently or something I would have added, but it's too late for that at this point. The only "creative" changes I might make would be to avoid repetition. On one page, I found I had used the dialog tag "snapped" within a few lines. I changed one to "muttered."

My personal debate over the cover art seems to have been resolved as the galley has the second cover design I created. I really do think it is the right choice, both from a continuity with the other covers aspect as well as how it presents in both full size (5.5 x 8.5 inches) and smaller images which are what the reading public will see first.

Work on "Seer Tyro Fiend" stalls temporarily while I complete "Stranger Faces," but I will be thinking about Stefanie's newest adventure in between and hopefully creating new scenes to include.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Going Astray

Having made progress on "Seer Tyro Fiend" after my stuck period, I find my attention starting to stray a bit. Some ideas about the other book I had started working on have intruded and tease me with inspiration. I'm starting to get a better vision of it now, maybe moving it into the not-too-distant future which would be an extrapolation from our society today and projecting it into the future. Whew! Sounds grandiose. And complicated. It will take more time to fully envision this, so I guess I'm not really ready to jump back into writing that one yet.

Back to "Seer," however. The next step is to work out the sequence of events. As I consider the things that have to happen, it seems I can't settle on the order for them. (Ha! says the Voice of Organization. Should have made an outline!) A minor character is the first link in a chain and a confrontation is required, but if it occurs too early, I have to assume that person will take steps to minimize damage and protect the rest of the mystery. I may have to revert to a method of mine which is as close as I ever get to writing an outline. I start summarizing events and scenes, not unlike writing a synopsis, as a list. It helps to organize the ideas and then look at the total picture more clearly. This sort of summarizing has helped in the past and sometimes resulted in more restructuring as I come up with ways to improve upon what I've already written.

On a side note, it's really difficult to talk about the writing process without introducing spoilers of the novel I'm working on. While a more precise definition of the issue at had would come from clearly stating what I'm wrestling with, I don't want to give away the plot or the major scenes ahead of time. I think this springs from a fear of potential readers being turned off or thinking that once they know what's in the book, there's no reason to read it. And I sure don't want to lose potential readers before the book even gets published!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Banging It Out

LOTS of progress on "Seer Tyro Fiend" yesterday. Got through that big scene I mentioned, with Stefanie trying to take control of her psychic talent. I foresee another area of conflict in the making. Now things are really coming together too, with a vision of how the rest of the story plays out. Still some details to work out, as I have laid ground for some events, products of Stefanie's visions, which I'm not sure how they factor into things just yet. I might end up modifying them or editing them out completely. It's all part of the creative process.

There will be intrusions in the weeks ahead, other than my day job. I'm waiting for galleys to proof for "Stranger Faces," scheduled for release February 1. Print edition of "Two Faces Two Faced" is scheduled for that day too. And Feb. 1 - 3 will find me at Love Is Murder. Prior to that, I need to update my promotional materials and maybe run up some chapbooks to put out at the conference. I still have copies of "The Dreamer Gambit" which I'm thinking to sell on consignment there, if I haven't missed the boat by not taking action on it yet.

I would really like to increase my public appearances in 2013, but since I'm still working, I have to choose venues close to home. I didn't do too badly in 2012 with the Glen Ellyn and Joliet book fairs, but I'm thinking about contacting some local libraries to see if they would be interested in setting up anything. Public speaking isn't one of my most favorite things (I basically suck in front of a large crowd), but I don't mind talking with a small group of people and it might help me work up to larger groups. I'm also trying to do more reading of other authors' works and providing reviews in hopes of reciprocity.Little by little, I try to get the word out about my books.

Friday, January 4, 2013

On Research

I became very excited to write the next big scene in "Seer Tyro Fiend" this morning, but when I did, boom, I had to stop and do some research. In this scene, Stefanie asks her friend, Amy, to help her explore her psychic talent. As a self-proclaimed witch, Amy knows all about such things. As part of their preparations, Amy explains aspects of Stefanie's astrological background, and that was where the research came in. First, I needed to find an "air" sign, of which there are only two -- Libra and Gemini. One website I found had considerable information on it, including the influences of adjacent signs for those born on a cusp. I finally decided that Stefanie is a Gemini born on the cusp of Cancer.

Okay, that's not a lot of research, but I wasn't looking to become an astrology expert. While I find the subject fascinating, I don't really want to take the time to dig in with any depth, but I want the details I use to agreed with established and accepted knowledge. The key thing to remember about including details from research is that the extent of their use should be in proportion to their place in the story. This is only one passage, and I only need to include enough detail to make Amy sound like she knows something. Should someone read and wish to learn more about astrology, at least what I include will mesh with simple research. I might stretch things a bit, but as I heard an author say in a panel discussion on writing, "If someone tells me I got it all wrong, I tell them, 'that's why they call it fiction.'"

Now that I have the details I need, I can get back to the fun of creating my new scene.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Back On Track

The adjustments that needed to be made to "Seer Tyro Fiend" are done, and I'm back to creating new text in the manuscript. The exercise has proved fruitful in generating the invention of some new scenes. Where I was stuck before, I suddenly see the way to go now. Magic . . .

Unfortunately, I started imagining some of those new scenes too late in the evening, and thinking about them held sleep at bay until the wee hours of the morning. I'm sure some other authors would have gotten up and started writing those scenes in the middle of the night, but mine were not that well developed yet. Until I can play out the scene in my head, almost like a watching a movie, I can't really put it into words. Sometimes I make notes, and I've thought on occasion to keep a notepad in my nightstand, but the idea of turning on a light and writing stuff down always seems like it would be too disruptive in the middle of the night. That leads to going over and over the ideas in my head to make sure I don't forget, which is disruptive in itself. Perhaps it's the lesser of evils since I would berate myself severely if I did forget an idea and could not recapture it. (It's happened before.)

On another note, Love Is Murder is less than a month away, making February 1, its first day, quite a big day indeed. That is also the date when "Stranger Faces" is released as an ebook and "Two Faces, Two Faced" goes to print. The happy coincidence suggests some promotional ideas, which reminds me that I need to get all my fliers and brochures ready to go. The chapbooks I did last year for "Two Faces, Two Faced" virtually disappeared at Love Is Murder, so perhaps some of the same for "Stranger Faces" would be a good idea. At the same time, I've been trying to generate more interest in "Dabblers" since it is on the ballot for the Lovey Awards. Another set of chapbooks? Hmm. The old printer is going to be glowing red hot in the next month.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Once again, I'm going through "Seer Tyro Fiend" to make the adjustments previously noted. I realized if I shifted a significant event from a Friday night to a Saturday night, the timing works out better. This change, though, impacts a lot of different passages, with the need to invent something to fill the gap for Friday night.

I find myself thinking back to the book I read so long ago about writing fiction, the one that provided the recipe for plotting I've mentioned recently. I tried searching for it to learn the author, but apparently, a great deal has been written on the subject in recent years, and the book I'm thinking about is very old.

Anyway, there was a chapter that discussed the subject of what to put in and what to leave out. The author talked about approaching the task of cleaning out the refrigerator with her daughter. (I think they were going to defrost it, too, which says even more about the book's age.) Her daughter said, "I wish this was a book because then we could just say, 'they cleaned the refrigerator' and it would be done." This bit has stuck with me over the years. Anything that goes into a manuscript must have some reason to be there. A scene might be included to provide a small bit of information or a major plot development. It may give insight into a character's motivations or personality or it might add to one of the conflict layers. But if it doesn't do anything, does not move the story along in some fashion, it doesn't belong. No reader expects to plow through a minute-by-minute recounting of a period of time from the start of the story's conflict to its resolution. No read would put up with it either.

But the inclusion of seemingly inconsequential snippets of conversation or minor events can also be used to give clues in a subtle way. I like to play fair by giving a reader some chance to figure things out, but I still want that slap-to-the-forehead-I-should-have-seen-that-coming effect. It can be tricky, but that's half the fun.