Wednesday, May 29, 2013


There are several metric crap-tons of editing advice online. I've spent a LOT of time reading it, but every time I make another pass over one of my manuscripts, I seem to forget everything I've ever known about English and the rules of grammar. *please note that this post is strictly about sentence construction and grammar, and not editing for plot or character or voice or anything else* Luckily for me, I usually reach a point (today it happened on page 243) when the lights come back on and I can see all the WTF-ery for what it is. At that moment, I have two choices.

I could always go right back to the beginning with my newly-remembered knowledge and fix all the offending passages, or keep slogging along until I reach the end. I could save the fixes for the next pass. I need to make another pass anyway, even if only to write the synopsis. *that sentence makes perfect sense if you know how I write synopsises. Synopsize? Synoptopodes? Whatever.*

Today I chose to keep going. It's only Editing Round One. I like to look at it as Drafting Round Two. One common bit of drafting advice I've seen is to just keep writing. No matter what problems you think you've run in to, keep churning out words. Everything can be fixed later, as long as all the words are there on paper (or on the computer) to fix.

If I'm in Drafting Round Two, I'm still swinging. I'll keep punching my way to the end, and live to fight again tomorrow.

I'm keeping a list of issues I need to check when I start Round Three. Here's a sampler of problems I need to evaluate. These might have you nodding along, or might inspire pointing and laughing. Everyone has their own writing demons that plague them. These are some of mine. Yours are probably completely different.

Some people are befuddled by commas. Others have a sentence structure they love, and cling to it like little word monkeys. We all have pet words we use over and over again, because we can't help ourselves. This last one is a giant thumbtack in my patootie.

I use some words over and over again, but they're completely unnecessary, and often irritating. Just (200 times in 305 pages). That (already hacked out a few hundred of them). Simply (surprisingly curtailed in this draft at only 30 uses).

I use the "find" feature in Word and search for words I know I use too often. You can even search for word fragments, such as "ing." I nearly fell down dead when I ran that search this morning, before I remembered SOME WORDS HAVE "ING" IN THEM BUT AREN'T BAD VERBS.

Almost every post on general editing warns against using too many -ing verbs. They can turn your writing passive faster than a chipmunk stuffing nuts into its little cheeks. See? Just like that. (there's the evil JUST again, too!). Sometimes, the verb ending in ING is the absolutely correct choice to make. Other times, the "ing" the search tool finds isn't a passive verb at all. Like "morning," "evening," "sing," "sting," "fling," "spring," etc.

When I saw there were nearly 3,000 instances of "ing" in this MS, I wanted to cry. I pride myself on my passive-voice avoidance radar. My CP's know laser beams shoot out of my eyes when I find it. *pew pew pew*

I started subtracting all the *okay* uses of "ing" from the total, and started to feel better immediately. It turns out I used "morning" 22 times. After that, I couldn't stop myself. I do love a good statistic. Without much effort, I found more than 2000 perfectly acceptable uses of "ing." 500 of them were variants of "thing," such as "something," "anything," "nothing," etc. I'm sure there are other words I could deduct from the grand total, but I'd proved my point and picking out the rest of the individual offenders seemed silly.

My morning panic was essentially for naught. It was a good splash of cold water to the face, and I am keeping a closer eye on repeated words now, but I still guarantee my CP's will have their slapping-fish at the ready to hit me in the face with all the WTF-ery I overlooked.

I'll make at least one more pass before I subject anyone else to this story. I know I said this was the first round of edits, but in reality it's probably the third or fourth. Remember that drafting gem from the top of this post? The one that said to JUST KEEP WRITING, don't stop to edit until the draft is done? Yeah. I don't pay much attention to that little rule, either. It's excellent advice, but at the end of the day, nothing I wrote would be sensible or coherent if I didn't go back and reread what I wrote from day to day.

That being said, you probably shouldn't heed any writing advice from me, either. :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


For the last few weeks, I've technically been on self-imposed vacation. I didn't go anywhere, the rest of our lives kept right on going as usual, but I forced myself to stay away from writing and editing. With excellent reason!

Since the beginning of the year, I've essentially written two first drafts, one was originally planned as the third novel in this series, and the second is the NEW first novel. A prequel. This will eventually make that first draft I wrote the new book 6 in the series, whenever I finally get back around to working on it again. Lots of other stuff to do first, including drafting the new books 2 and 3, but at least the general idea is out on paper.

Writing that new prequel really took it out of me in ways I never expected. Since the next draft up in the queue is going to be an even bigger emotional wringer, and the one after that will be a "pit of despair" type affair for my characters, I knew I couldn't edit that first draft until I got myself into the appropriate frame of mind. Hence, the vacation.

What did I do to take my mind of all my own writing? The original goal was to read, read, and read some more. What actually happened? I watched the first five seasons of Supernatural and refinished my deck. The deck refinishing left me with a pinched nerve in my shoulder, which got better after a few days of rest. Watching five seasons of Supernatural in two and a half weeks? That sort of messed with my mind a little bit more.

Really, I love this show. For a lot of reasons. First of all, their depiction of some mythological creatures gave me a little more confidence in the way I warped some mythology for my own writing. It's always good to remember that fantasy is flexible. Like, octopus-level flexible.

Unsurprisingly, cramming more than a hundred episodes of a show has affected me in a few other ways. I present, for your entertainment, the several biggest ways Supernatural has warped my gelatinous thinker. ***If you haven't seen Supernatural, I advise watching it immediately. Some of what's written below might be considered "spoilery." If you don't want to get spoiled for an 8 year old tv show, you might want to skip down below the next gif. You've been warned.***

First of all, the song Carry On My Wayward Son now inspires a feeling of indescribable dread and feels.

The sound of insects buzzing inspires a similar sense of dread. How lucky that I live in a forest. Just going outside is a traumatic experience now.

Other innocuous nighttime noises make me reach for the salt shaker. THE FLOOR CREAKED. QUICK. SALT THE WINDOWSILLS AND GRAB THE IRON FIREPLACE POKER.

My vocabulary has expanded. I now say "bitch" way too often. Also, "assbutt." And "ganked." I will do my best to keep this out of my writing, but it's going to be hard. Revising the entire series will probably result in adding a lot more swearing. Not necessarily a bad thing.

So, that's where my brain is. At the end of Season Five. The Winchesters' world has officially fallen apart.

***end spoilery section***

I am now so far from the mindset I need to edit, I think I just need to cut myself off from the world for a week and do nothing else but edit. I've been sucked into an alternate reality, and need to find my way back to my OWN alternate reality. :)

Now, one of you nice people come over here and close the Netflix window so I don't jump right back into season six. I keep closing it, but it keeps opening back up. I THINK IT'S A GHOST. POSSIBLY A DEMON. *flings holy water at computer* *black smoke issues forth* YES. IT WAS OBVIOUSLY A DEMON.

So there you are. The state of my so-called life.

What I need now is a kick in the pants. I have three more seasons of Supernatural (only two of which are currently on Netflix). I'm holding them in reserve for when I finish this edit. As of this moment, I'm officially off vacation and back to reality. I guess I just needed to get this all out in writing. Now that I have, the desire to write is once again strong.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Update-athon? Up-date-a-thon? Up-data-thon? Whatever. Here's information!

I finished my draft! *pauses to skip like a ninny*

While I'm waiting for the draft to marinate for a few days, I've been catching up on other important things, like sleeping and watching tv. My life, it is a never-ending glamour-fest.

I actually feel guilty that I haven't written a single word, outside of tweets, in THREE WHOLE DAYS. I'm starting to get twitchy, but I can't draft the next idea until I smooth all the bumps out of the last one.

For me, a first edit isn't as bad as it could be. I tend to self-edit quite a bit while drafting. *please feel free to slap my hand here if you are one of the VOMIT OUT THE DRAFT, STOP EDITING NAO types. Yes, yes. I know that's how it works for you, but I can't do that and stay sane. Which brings me around to writing advice.

DISCLAIMER: This part of the post veers into "advice." This advice is not to be taken internally. The "you" addressed in the following paragraphs is actually "me," meaning Mittens. Yes, I'm talking to myself. Shut up. Don't look at me like that. Point is, please don't assume I'm actually talking to YOU, reader person. Unless you agree with me, of course. Then feel free. Thanks.

If I listened to every bit of writing advice as if it were WRITING LAW, I'd have jumped off the roof in hopeless desperation by now. I break so many rules, I'm sure the Writing Police would've arrested me ages ago if they knew my secrets. I'd certainly be up on indecency charges for being a pantser instead of writing a formal outline.

I'm fascinated by the idea of fast drafting, but I know that requires a detailed outline. My brain just doesn't think that way. There is absolutely no reason for me to force it to try. It makes me miserable, and provides less than satisfactory outcomes. It reminds me of the joke about teaching a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. Well, dangit. The last thing I need is an irritated pig. It might make the bacon taste funny.

And you know what? There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Meaning ignoring writing advice, not the bacon thing. There's nothing RIGHT about funny bacon.

The best writing advice is to listen closely to what works for everyone else, and then pick and choose which strategies will work best for you. Then, live by them. Perhaps your Favorite Writer Ever insists that you not touch one word when drafting, just keep going no matter the issues you might run across. Then you read something from another writer you admire the next day that says just the opposite. It doesn't matter if Famous Author Person only writes on odd numbered days, and while wearing a hat made of chicken feathers, if writing on even numbered days while wearing roller skates works for you. See how silly these sorts of things can get?

The only way you'll find your own absolutely unique set of advice that applies directly to you and your writing is to keep trying until you hit your groove. You'll churn out more words, better words, words that make your little heart sing, if you stop trying to live up to every last bit of advice. That's all there is to it.

So now I've justified taking another few days off writing to watch Supernatural, because my brain is enjoying the simple distraction. It's like clearing the cache on the computer. I was so gummed up from drafting that I would never spot the problems when I went back to revise. I needed a brain purge, and Supernatural is proving to be an excellent health tonic. I can't believe I've never watched this before. I understand many of you would like to express dismay at my former Sam and Dean neglect. Feel free to form a line. I'll be over in the other window watching the next episode.

Until next time, sweeties!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Tweetgarble: everything I wanted to tweet today, but couldn't.

It has been a WEIRD day, folks. SO MANY THINGS happened that I wanted to share on twitter, but couldn't because I was stuck in the Hot Corner Grill for the duration of an interminable baseball game. Fifteen innings. We still lost. Ugh.

At any rate, here's the weird summation:

Lulu complained of feeling ill this morning. I had to get to work, and I worried about leaving a sick kid home alone. Helper Monkey was due home by 9, so if she was really sick, she could call and he'd go get her. She was, and he did. I felt like Mother of the Year.

I got to work by 8, and there were some film crews there getting shots of the stadium. I asked what they were filming, and they said they were studying broadcast journalism at Fort Meade (one was Army, the other Air Force), and were making a B roll for a class project about food service. Okey dokey. I wished them luck, and told them if they wanted to watch me count beer cups and french fry boats, they were welcome to observe the seedy underbelly of the food service industry. Heavens to Betsy, but about ten minutes later, there they were.

Before I knew what was happening, I'd been selected as the star of their film, forced to wear a microphone, and had two cameras on me for the first four innings of the game. I hope I didn't do anything inappropriate, since this video will ostensibly be viewed by other members of the U.S. Military. I honestly have no freaking idea what to make of this. It was surreal.
Me, in my classy spillproof work shirt and Mr. Microphone. Dang. I really wish I'd thrown on some lipstick. And what a great shot of my nostrils, too! Ugh.

On top of the game running 15 innings, about 5 hours, it was the last game of the homestand, which meant everything in our stand had to be disassembled, washed, and reassembled. It's...a really big job. Especially for six people. We usually have 14. So. We were there for A WHILE. Talk about dishpan hands.

I thought it would be nice to get something to cheer Lulu up, so I stopped at the grocery store. She loves blue Gatorade, so I got her some. I also got myself some gelato, because damn. My feet hurt. Which, obviously, translates to an extreme need for gelato.

When I finally dragged my carcass home, SURPRISE! Lulu was hanging out in our driveway with half the middle-schoolers in our neighborhood, having a regular little party. So much for being sick. Apparently a six hour nap and a shower is now a cure for illness so awful she had to come home from school early.

Helper Monkey agreed she looked awful this morning, so I can only assume a MIRACULOUS HEALING occurred while I was at work. At least she has some nice friends.

Helper Monkey was helpful today, and had done most of the laundry. He warned me, before I went into the bedroom, that it was awfully sparkly in there, and I thought, "OOH! DID HE CLEAN, TOO?!" Nope. Lulu accidentally knocked a jar of glitter into her laundry hamper, and when Monkey dumped it out to sort, GLITTERPOCALYPSE!

So my bedroom rug looks like a unicorn threw up all over it, but hey. Unicorns are magical.

So that brings us up to this moment. My ears are ringing, I feel dizzy and slightly sick. My feet hurt. My back is sore. I just want to curl up in a little ball and sleep for about 12 hours. I don't know if I can finish this draft tonight. I think I'm going to be kind to myself, and do it tomorrow. I'll have ALL DAY, and it's going to be Friday Write Club! Guaranteed finish tomorrow. Because other things are starting to pile up behind it (like EXCITING CP manuscripts that I can't wait to read!)

So there you go. My weird day.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

EYRE HOUSE Cover Reveal!!! Feast your eyes on THIS!

How fantastic is this?! *hint: really, really fantastic!

What a perfect cover for Cait's gorgeous EYRE HOUSE. Since every description running through my head sounds like a horrible cliche, here's what you need to know, straight from the source!

When eighteen-year-old orphan Evan Richardson signed up to work at Eyre House, on the sleepy tourist getaway of Edisto Island, SC, he never expected to find himself dodging ghosts. But Eyre House seems to have more than its fair share of things that go bump in the night, and most of them seem to surround his employer’s daughter.

Back from her freshman year of college, Ginny Eyre is dangerous from word one. She’s a bad girl with ghosts of her own, and trouble seems to follow her everywhere she goes. But living or dead, trouble isn’t just stalking Ginny. When her ex-boyfriend is found murdered in the pool, Evan knows he’s got two choices – figure out what’s going on, or become the next ghost to haunt Ginny Eyre.

If you enjoy a good Southern Gothic story full of mystery, romance, and treachery, go add it to your Goodreads right now. I'll wait.

Done? Good. Now try to hang on until July. :) In the mean time, follow Cait on Twitter for updates, or check out her blog for more details (and a few teasers).