Sunday, January 14, 2018

A minor dilemma

One of the online groups I hang out with is doing a group read. I recently downloaded the book they’ve selected and started reading.

I am struggling.

The book is riddled with issues - incorrect grammar and punctuation, inconsistent formatting, and (a more subjective issue) it feels over-wordy, like there’s a lot of fat and fluff that could be trimmed out and tightened up without detracting from the story. I would say this book is a long way from being ready to publish, and I have a feeling the author has never sought genuinely independent critical or editorial feedback.

This all makes it a slog to read as my eye trips up over multiple issues on each page.

However, the issues do seem to be consistent, so I guess the author has been diligent in his own editing. It’s just that he clearly wasn’t diligent enough to actually learn how to (for example) punctuate dialogue correctly.

Yes, I remember having to look up and re-learn a load of long-forgotten rules when I first started writing, but it just seemed a natural thing to want to do in order to express myself clearly.

And, I have to say, I believe there is actually a good story underneath all this distraction.

So, my dilemma is whether or not to say anything to the author.

On one hand, I feel he’s doing himself a disservice. If he were aware, especially of the technical errors, they’d be easy to fix and he’d immediately have a product that didn’t look so obviously amateur. Plus - and this is an entirely selfish reaction - a part of me is angry because this is an example of why self-publishing has such a poor reputation. Every book that gets published with such glaring issues makes it more difficult for all Indies to be taken seriously.

On the other hand, it’s a free country, he’s not breaking any laws, and he may be perfectly happy with his book and how it’s doing out in the marketplace. It’s really not for me to step in with unsought advice.

And then again, I notice these kinds of things because I’ve been so immersed in the writing world that a misplaced period or wrongly capitalized word leaps out and smacks me in the eye. But what about the majority of readers out there? Do they care? Would they even notice? Does it really matter?

So, what would you do?

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Weekend Writing Warriors January 7

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post eight to ten sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/

Continuing a scene from my first book, Ghosts of Innocence.

Shayla has stolen the identity of a newly-appointed senior public servant, and infiltrated the Palace in disguise. She has already fallen foul of her new boss, Mabbwendig ap Terlion, Master of the Emperor’s Domestic Household, but has since kept out of Mabb’s way while she establishes herself in her new position. However, she’s decided to face Mabb on her own turf - in the cavernous staff dining hall.

“Master of Circuses” is the Shayla’s official title in the Palace hierarchy.

=====

The diminutive figure of Mabbwendig ap Terlion, Master of the Emperor's Domestic Household, appeared in a doorway near the far end of the hall. As she took her seat in the center of the top table, one of her Heads of Staff leaned over and whispered in her ear. Eyes turned towards Shayla.

Mabb smiled, slow and predatory. "So, Master of Circuses finally graces us with her presence." Her eyes glittered in the light streaming from windows set high in the wall behind Shayla. "Methought our company too poor for Her Provincial Highness."

Muted laughter swept the room; angry warmth crept up Shayla's cheeks. She remained silent, but half-stood and bobbed her head in Mabb's direction. The minimal show of deference would not be lost on the Palace functionaries.

=====

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Weekend Writing Warriors December 24

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post eight to ten sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/

Continuing a scene from my first book, Ghosts of Innocence.

Shayla has stolen the identity of a newly-appointed senior public servant, and infiltrated the Palace in disguise. She has already fallen foul of her new boss, Mabbwendig ap Terlion, Master of the Emperor’s Domestic Household, but has since kept out of Mabb’s way while she establishes herself in her new position. However, she’s decided to face Mabb on her own turf - in the cavernous staff dining hall.

Brynwyn is Shayla’s stolen identity. Kurt, Jojo and Bo are members of her new staff.

=====

That she had continued to eat in her office these past two days had been a simple matter of practicality. There was too much work to do. To the ever-observant Palace gossip mill, it had appeared an act of defiance, but to persist would soon be seen as an act of fear. That last piece of analysis had come from Kurt. She needed to face Mabb once more on Mabb's own turf.

As she sat next to Jojo, she looked around and caught glimpses of hastily-averted eyes. She also noted that many of her own staff had congregated in this corner, as far from the high table as possible.

Bo Branson sat across from Shayla and Jojo. Kurt Weiler approached from the other side of the room and sat next to Bo.

A bell chimed, and a hush descended on the gathering.


=====

Friday, December 15, 2017

Cover progress

Following my last post on the Ashes cover art, a few people commented on the white space in the middle. Since that post, that part of the picture has been taking shape. Hopefully things are becoming clearer ...

It’s hard to believe it’s little over a week to Christmas. We put up decorations last weekend and finally mailed off cards and newsletters to friends and family overseas. No matter how early we get started on the newsletter, it always seems to end up a last minute rush.

Hope you are all looking forward to a safe and warm holiday in good company.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Weekend Writing Warriors December 10

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post eight to ten sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/

Continuing a scene from my first book, Ghosts of Innocence.

Shayla has stolen the identity of a newly-appointed senior public servant, and infiltrated the Palace in disguise. She has already fallen foul of her new boss, Mabbwendig ap Terlion, Master of the Emperor’s Domestic Household, but has since kept out of Mabb’s way while she establishes herself in her new position. However, she’s decided to face Mabb on her own turf - in the cavernous staff dining hall.

Brynwyn is Shayla’s stolen identity. Colin and Jojo are members of her new staff.

=====

Colin Bandolini had explained why Shayla's request to have food brought to the office on that first evening had been met with surprise. Although there was officially nothing against it, she had breached another unwritten rule of Mad Mabb's regime. There appeared to be no order to the seating in the thronged dining hall. Robes and uniforms showed a mixture of ranks and professions. But each place setting on the top table was labeled with a faded card. Shayla knew there would be one that read 'Master of Circuses'. Brynwyn bin Covin was expected to be there.

Shayla spotted the rotund figure of Jojo bin Duvin on the far side of the room. She turned her back on the high table and walked over to him. As she crossed the open space in the center of the room, the hairs on her neck prickled; a lull in conversation seemed to follow her.


=====

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Cover qualms

I still have a long way to go on the editing for The Ashes of Home, but having completed some major scene additions last month I’m taking a breather from the words to focus back on the cover art.

I haven’t touched the artwork since I last posted about it in June. The main reasons were (a) summer, and (b) all my spare time was going into critiquing and editing.

But there was a third, unspoken reason lurking in the background that kept me from my brushes.

I had misgivings about how the artwork was turning out.

Worse still, I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what was worrying me, or what to do about it.

The initial draft has a spaceship being destroyed by a beam of energy. In expanding it to full size I didn’t like the acres of plain black in the background. Instead I had visions inspired by spectacular Hubble images of glowing nebulae cut through by billowing dust clouds. BTW - I regularly visit the NASA website for their Astronomy Picture of the Day.

This was where I got to before sensing things were slightly off track.


There’s nothing wrong with any specific part the painting itself, in isolation. I especially liked the stark contrasts in the lower section. But the upper and lower portions just didn’t belong together, and neither was quite right for the book cover I had in mind.

So this week I bit the bullet and got back to work.


Still some tweaking to do, but I think I’m getting back on track.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Weekend Writing Warriors November 26

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post eight to ten sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/

I’m back with the start of a scene from my first book, Ghosts of Innocence.

Shayla has stolen the identity of a newly-appointed senior public servant, and infiltrated the Palace in disguise. She has already fallen foul of her new boss, Mabbwendig ap Terlion, Master of the Emperor’s Domestic Household, but has since kept out of Mabb’s way while she establishes herself in her new position.

=====

Shayla joined a flood of people streaming into the cavernous staff dining room. A wall of sound, the voices of hundreds of people, seemed to squeeze her chest. The air was heavy with the remnants of the day's heat and the scent of cooked meats steeped in pungent sauces. The senses combined to form a suffocating blanket around Shayla's head.

Am I doing the right thing? Her eyes burned from fatigue, but there was no turning back. After Shayla's brush with Mabbwendig yesterday, she knew she could no longer put off this moment.

Three rows of long tables stretched away left and right, broken by an aisle ahead of her which led to the center of the room. Three more rows of tables filled the far side. To her right, a more lavishly appointed table sat apart, under the frowning portrait of Emperor Julian Skamensis.

=====

Note - both Ghosts of Innocence and Tiamat’s Nest ebooks are still on sale at $0.99 for a few more days.

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