Monday, March 20, 2017

When is a Book Finished? Inkblots

Four diehard 'Blots tonight, weather abated after blustery morning (no worries about maple tree falling on the Scriptorium, thanks to my eldest son and contacts). It is a delight after a busy day to sit down, breathe and enter the world of writing and literature with fellow 'Blots.

We discussed when to share your manuscript with a potential reader. I advised folks to revise and rewrite until you feel like you have your manuscript where you want it to be, including proof reading. Respect your reader who will spend hours of their time poring over your work. Nothing is more disheartening than to offer a critique only to hear, "Oh, I rewrote that whole section last week. I've made all those changes already." In other words, I can really do this without you, but keep reading anyway.

There are several levels of readers. You need a fast global reader (John Schrupp) who can give you perspective on the whole work, character arc, plot unity, and so forth. Then there is the unique reader who can read globally and for precise proofing details ('Blots Editorial Director Mary Lynn Spear is one of these rare people). There are many good proofreaders and editors out there (I'm glad because I have nothing like enough time to be that for very many others), but whomever you choose, you will need a careful and experienced proofreader and final copy editor. Expect to pay for these reading services. A great deal of time and skill goes into proofing and copy editing a manuscript. Getting grammar and punctuation correct can make or break a book. The chronic problem for indie published books is shoddy copy editing. InkBlots Press must at all cost avoid producing books that have not passed through the critical gateways that make for a first-rate finished book. 

Alisa leads off reading from her forthcoming The Emblem, written before Swiftwater, due to release later this month. Kelly, protagonist, or Jamie? Heather standing on the patio instead. Show us Heather seeming to have something to say to her (to Kelly, right?). What does a person look like when they are about to say something? You don't need uncomfortably from foot to foot because you make it clear that she is uncomfortable. The flats feel like they are going to become something of a symbol, a good idea. Without trying to interfere--I think you showed that, or were about to, rather than telling us that. She could berate herself for never wanting to interfere, get involved in the lives of others, and feeling like she had nothing to offer, someone who just went along with whomever was dominant in the room. Colored woman. We talked about this the other day, the difficulty of being in a historical context and avoiding using our preferred verbiage at the moment. They didn't use African American in the '20s, though they did use the n word, and rightly you did not, in my opinion. Patrick suggested he would like to hear more internal conflict material in italics.

Patrick pointed out how important it is to have a character who may be deeply flawed in certain areas, but they are competent in doing something, plumbing, woodcarving, listening to the woes of others, solving problems; the reader will be drawn to a character who is competent in doing something well.

Patrick reads near the end of his speculative fiction work, a Rahab character, apostate brother comes, shoot out, escape. This is after all that, back window of the truck shot out. Gabe fell asleep. A Sarb attack on a free human colony, hurl the disposables in first. If that doesn't break through the lines, send in the real troops to finish things off. A mass of feral Sarbs. Engine squealed and a zombie let out a visceral scream. Just as you read that I was about to write that I thought you needed to give us more sounds, so take it or leave it. You are sticking well with Gabe's reaction to the chase scene, the truck about to careen out of control. This is vivid, but I do think we need to hear more of the sounds of a truck doing what this truck is doing. What does that sound like? Were there smells? The over heating engine, human sweat super charged with fear? What do Sarbs sound like? Do they have a ferocious battle cry, heavy breathing, laughter, slavering? Do they smell as they get closer? Could you detect them simply by their smell? What does it smell like? When Gabe charges out of the wrecked truck, what is he thinking? Are Sarbs always unarmed? Do we know this already? When the Sarbs stand their ground, what do they look like, sound like? Are they leering, shouting, chanting--growl and hiss, I heard that, but I think the sounds of these creatures would be bone-chilling. The conversation sending the girl Duplicity who is a half Sarb for help. It should feel more frantic, desperate, do-or-die. It seems like this would work better if the girl offered to go for
LUTHER IN LOVE, due any day
help, and Gabe wouldn't hear of it, but she insisted. She may have come to the same conclusion about Sarbs smelling non-Sarbs, and voiced it to Gabe. Switch this around and I think you will have a far more powerful moment. Duplicity does make it through, and Gabe seems to react with more emotion than he showed below.

I read part of my Luther article for Modern Reformation Magazine, deadline looming. Reformation Romance, working title. Luther in Love is finished and in production, hopefully available by next week. I have learned so much writing this book! And I have gained a far greater appreciation for the sometimes-difficult role God calls some couples and families to. Pre-order at

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