Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Randomness


It’s 11:30 am as I’m beginning to write.  Depending on which reporting station I check, it is either currently 68°, 72°, or 74°.  I installed an electronic radio transmitting weather station in our yard, and that one says it’s 85° (wind chill of 84° - it doesn’t compute heat indices), and humidity is somewhere around 38%, which makes for a very low dew point which, being translated, means delightfully pleasant.  There is a breeze from the northeast at about 5 mupahas, so it really is a beautiful Florida day.  Honestly, in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands, Lansing, MI, or Pittsburgh, PA,  my last three ports of call, 85° would be sweltering.  I must be adjusting to the new climate because in the shade on the front porch swing, this is down-right delicious!  Add in the music of the wind chimes, the barking dogs, the singing birds, and you get the picture.  All this under a perfect canopy of cloudless cobalt blue sky.  If you listen hard enough, I think you might even hear the Gulf of Mexico crashing against pristine beaches about a mile and a half away.  This is autumn in Florida.  No colored leaves or Pumpkin Patches, no frost on the aforementioned pumpkins, but nice none-the-less.
It has been an interesting couple of weeks.
Shingles (not the roofing kind) followed by an allergic reaction to the anti-viral medicine which resulted in my classic Homer Simpson imitation, followed by steroids to stop the swelling.  I think I’m past most of that now.
I’ve read and reviewed several books, most notably a fun Star Trek Convention parody called Night of the Living Trekkies, a gut wrenching story about rape, incest, PTSD, ‘Nam and racial tensions called The Purging of Monica Campbell by local Tampa writer Dorothy Joan Riley and a glimpse into the mind of a serial killer, the Eighth Deadly Sin by John S. Richardson.    I’m currently reading Hanger Flying by Joe D’Amario, another local writer, and have three e-book editions in line behind that for review; Prodigal Planet by Ed Maurer, Deviations by Elissa Malcohn, and Werelove: Dusk Conspiracy, a Y/A novel, all three of these by Tampa writers.  Local, self-published because the ‘big’ houses (Random House, Scholastic, TOR, Berkley, Pocket etc.,) haven’t ‘discovered’ them.
Pardon me a moment while I step up on a soapbox:
I’ve been reading and promoting unknown writers for about four years now.  My first was a New Hampshire author who writes under the pseudonym of Lorrieann Russell.  Her ‘Brother’s Keeper’ trilogy is among the best historical fiction I have ever read.  It ranks up with the Outlander series by Diane Gabaldon and Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth and World Without End.  Equally impressive was horror novelist Jesse Coffey’s story, A Wager of Blood.  There have been many others since those two, and the more I read, the more I am convinced that the best books in the marketplace are not necessarily the ones written by people named King, Patterson, Grisham, Rice, Evanovich Meyers, and Rowling.
OK – down from the soapbox.  Or rather, from one soapbox to another.
On the first soapbox, I delve into the mystery of undiscovered, self published local writers.  You probably have some in your neighborhood as well.  On this soapbox, we talk about one reason why they aren’t getting picked up by the big houses.  Editing.  The single biggest issue I have with writers who self publish is that they tend to also do their own editing.  Oh, I understand – editors – good ones – are costly.  However, when you’re writing a book to sell the book, NOT using a good editor can be even more costly in terms of lost sales.
Here’s what I mean.  We write what we write, the way we write it because we believe it is the correct way to write what we write.  Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammatical errors occur generally because the writer believes that’s how it should be written.  If it is not correct, and by this I mean more than general typos – most of the time we pick them up when we proof our work, we don’t catch it because we thought it was correct when we wrote it.  That belief doesn’t change when we proof read to edit our own work.
Editors generally fall into two groups.  Spelling, punctuation and grammar editors, and story continuity and flow/content editors.  Not using them, or using bad ones can cost you sales.  One of my first reviews was a story written by a seventeen year old Pennsylvania high school senior.  The novel was her senior project.  She conceived a good story, and she did a good job telling it.  Better, in fact, than many established authors I’ve read.  Her problem was not the story, or the telling of the story.  Her problem was editing, and she is not to blame.  She entrusted her editing to her eleventh grade English teacher, who, while she may be an accomplished English teacher, was a lousy editor.  The editing distracted from the book.  The writer has, to my knowledge, neither written nor published anything since.
Hear me, writers.  Good editing is every bit as important as having a good story and telling that story well.
OK.  No more soap.  Not today, anyway.
Had to do perform CPR (Cat Purring Restoration) on Ms. Skittle this morning.  Shortly after she got up and followed me down the hall from the bedroom to the living room, she found a spot in the sunshine in front of the open front door, and flopped over onto her back, paws up.  We call this ‘playing dead cat’.  She revived when I took her brush over and gave her the full restorative treatment.
I had a therapeutic massage yesterday.  At its completion, I was two inches taller, but felt like I had been mugged and left for dead – in a good sort of way.  Feeling much better today!  In fact, feeling good enough to rant a little, as you have already discovered.
Happy Trails.
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