Saturday, February 6, 2016

Awash in Talent: Get to Know Emily, Sister of a Telekinetic Healer

Awash in Talent is a YA/NA contemporary paranormal novel in three novellas. You can help it be published by clicking the "Nominate" button at this link. Easy, free, and fun! Learn even more here.

Each novella in Awash in Talent will have its own cover. Hope & Benevolent, the first, foundational novella, called for a cover that reflects the preoccupation of the narrator, Emily, with early hominids, such as Australopithecus ramidus, one of the oldest fossilized primates who is considered to have a relationship to modern humans. It also illustrates Emily's tendency to keep reaching for what she wants, even when it's obvious to everyone else that it isn't going to work out.

I have a real-life friend whose name is Emily, and after she read "Unpredictable Factors in Human Obedience" in Unpredictable Worlds, she asked me, "Do you hate me?"

Simply because the narrator of that story is crazy or evil and has the same name she does? Not a chance.

When it came time to name the crazy and/or nefarious narrator of Hope & Benevolent, I made use of the name Emily again, for reasons lost to time (but probably related to author shorthand in character development!). I named her younger sister Beth, so in the end the sisters are named after the owner of Clifford, the Big Red Dog.

Emily's simple desire to be recognized for her own brilliance over her ridiculously Talented sister sends her across the country to Providence, Rhode Island, where she finds the love of her life. To be with him, and to spare herself a summer at home with her sister, Emily does a field study in Ethiopia. But even that's not far enough away to escape her sister. And that's when things really get complicated. You can read an excerpt that includes the astonishing incident in Ethiopia at the Kindle Scout campaign page.

Emily doesn't have the same limits to her ambition or her behavior we mere mortals do. Although at first she seems sassy and fun, in reality you probably wouldn't want her as your friend. She will obliterate anything that gets in her way, and she's not above committing what others would consider crimes. Imagining what Emily would do next, I thought about her goals and took possible actions far past their logical conclusions.

Emily is great fun to write. Far from hating my friend with the same name, I'm honoring her. Her name is now immortalized in a character who's so delightful to write, I can't imagine she'll be forgotten by readers any time soon.

At least that's my dearest authorial hope.

You'll be able to read Emily's incredible adventures in Hope & Benevolent and the third novella, Friendship Street, if enough readers nominate Awash in Talent for publication. Wish it luck!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Cover Reveal and the Beginnings of My YA Paranormal Adventure Set in Providence

It's the book with telekinesis, pyrokinesis, and psychic powers. Just as importantly, it's the novel with a field study in Ethiopia, a snowy trip to Boston, and the wonders of Waterfire in inimitable Providence, Rhode Island. It's Awash in Talent, and it's nearly ready to knock your literary socks off!

The amazing cover was created by Jasmine Green. It captures the female focus of the book and the way their Talents can make the characters feel, at the same time, invincible and about to drown.

I'm sharing the cover with you on the auspicious occasion of the beginning of Awash in Talent's Kindle Scout campaign. This is your opportunity to select Awash in Talent for publication by Kindle Press!

The link takes you a rather attractive page with the cover, the tag line (So much Talent can kill you.), an excerpt from the beginning through most of Chapter 2, a short bio, and three questions and answers about the book. It also shows a "Nominate" button. If you think Awash in Talent is worthy, all you have to do is click the "Nominate" button before February 29 (Leap Year Day!).

This simple act will get you three major benefits:

1. If Awash in Talent is chosen for publication (because you nominated it!), you will receive an exclusive edition of the novel for free before anyone can buy it! You'll be under no obligation to read it or to leave a review, although that's what Amazon (and I) will be hoping for.

2. You will have helped an author's dreams come true. How great will that feel?

3. You will be the proud owner of my gratitude. I will remember you when my writing career takes off. The value of this benefit is incalculable.

Here's a little more about the novel. At the link, you can also read an excerpt that introduces Emily's world. More beautiful graphics and descriptions are to come in the following weeks.

Emily can’t escape her annoyingly Talented telekinetic healer sister by going to a university 3000 miles away, in Providence, or even by doing a field study in Ethiopia. Why don’t people give credit where credit is due?

Kelly is forced to attend a pyrokinesis school/lockdown facility, but she must escape and bring Emily’s healer sister to Boston—her mother’s life depends on it.

Appointments with Emily might drive psychic therapist Patricia insane. Meanwhile, Patricia falls ever deeper into her husband’s selfish, cruel trap. In Providence, Friendship is a one-way street.

Awash in Talent is a novel in three interrelated novellas, all set in Providence, Rhode Island, where telekinetics, firestarters, and psychics attempt to function in a largely un-Talented society unappreciative of what they have to offer. Love/hate between sisters, mother and daughter, scared teenagers, a mismatched married couple, adult female friends, and an obsessive and the object of her affection are all put to the test.

The Kindle Scout campaign runs from now until midnight EST February 29. It's easy—just one click brings so much joy! Thank you so much for your consideration.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Obscurest Scandals of a CMoS Independent Contractor

Here I am with a manuscript I don't have to edit. 
I first got into editing via fiction. I worked with authors on content—characterization, plot, and other lofty ideals—and then did another pass for usage and punctuation. As the years have gone by, I've gained a lot of acuity on the proofreading side. I now catch not only obvious typos, but also transgressions no one else would ever think about in daily life.

When you're a copyeditor, you have to make the text conform not to what you personally think is correct and would say in any circumstance, but to rules laid out by the smarties who wrote or added to the official style guides.

For example, when I started out—and long after—I had no idea when I was supposed to use "which" or "that." We didn't distinguish between them at all in the dialect of English I learned growing up. Reading the rule, it seems intolerably nit-picky. Once I realized I was having so much trouble because I spent twelve months in England trying to write in a manner as British as possible, and I do read some books printed in Great Britain, and it turns out that they don't have the same "which" versus "that" rule as we Americans do, it started to make sense. Now I see that the writing is better when the roles of those two words are clearly defined.

Another norm I had considerable issue with was comparatives and superlatives. I became aware of this rule when in "The Residents of the Inn," I used the phrase "more lush." The editor claimed the construction was wrong and could not stand: it must be "lusher." Well, "lusher" happens to rub me the wrong way. Like, the "Omigod, I would never use that word" wrong way. I checked the rule in the Chicago Manual of Style and was disappointed to find it to be true. Because I couldn't tolerate the correct comparative of "lush," I chose a different word. I also adapted my editing and writing from then on. To this day, when my husband reads over my cover letters (always have someone read your cover letters!), he asks, "Shouldn't it be 'most obscure'?" And I have to reply, "No. Unfortunately, 'obscurest' is the form I'm obliged to use as a faithful Chicago-style copyeditor."

The rule I still cannot believe is a rule is probably one everybody but me has mastered without even thinking about it. "Awhile" is a real word with an appropriate time and place to be used. This blows my mind. Why should "awhile" be allowed when "alot" is not? Should we also write, "Jonny stayed at Pat's house anhour"? Would a southerner ask me to "sit aspell"? Is there any other example of this kind of "a" being an acceptable prefix? This is incredible to me, and astounding in its smallness. I get an unreasonable pleasure when someone writes, "for awhile," because then I get to jam the cursor between the "a" and "w" and insert the space I feel should always be there.

My lucrative life is now based on these tiny rules almost exclusively, although I never asked or expected to learn them.

I imagine this post is full of errors in rules I'm still not familiar with. Perfection is impossible, but we must strive for it.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Writer's Space

This is the view from my new study window. I love it because I can see a healthy green tree, stucco, and Spanish roof tiles against a bright blue sky, so it's as if I'm both in Andalusia and in the limitless wonder of the natural world. I look at the blue sky and hope my creativity responds expansively.

The first piece of furniture we got in the new place was this desk, which we scoured the antique stores to find. We had money set aside from selling some furniture in Massachusetts, and as soon as we arrived, two urges—to wait for the best possible desk and to get a stinkin' desk right now!—battled it out. I fell in passionate love with some pieces, antique and new, that were just too big to get into the apartment. I considered for a few days getting one of those inexpensive desks you have to assemble yourself. It was quite the emotional journey. Then my husband and I were walking around a... fragrant... antique mall I had little hope for, going in circles, it seemed. I was busy dismissing another trumped-up table as a possibility when my husband said, "Here's a desk."

It's in better condition than the one I sold in Massachusetts to my unexpectedly sore regret. It has all the storage I was looking for and plenty of space without being so large we couldn't expect the delivery men to bring it up the stairs. It's eclectic. I think it's unique. I've never seen another desk with world maps and steamer trunk stamps on the drawer faces! There are also inspiring words on the top left and right drawers. A Francophile must have designed it, with the Eiffel Towers and the fleurs-de-lis, but I can forgive that, as an enlightened Hispanophile. I walked away from that antique mall with a deep knowing that I'd (my husband had) found what I was looking for.

When I shared the photo of the desk on Facebook, the responses confirmed that it will be impossible to do poor work at this desk.

As you can see in the second photo, I've got the magic desk right at the magic window, so they combine into a creative vortex I hope will also be useful for my editorial work (which is less about creativity than about rules, let's face it).

I've never had such a nice place to work. I've had larger and smaller, intimidating and nonexistent. I wrote the first chapters of Seven Noble Knights on a laptop that teetered atop a borrowed piece of furniture in a room intended for television-viewing. The last chapters were written in an enormous bedroom on a card table. For unknown reasons, in this space and at this time, I'm being honored with a place to work that I could never have dreamed would be so wonderful. I feel immense gratitude.

I've currently got editorial deadlines and need to finish revising Seven Noble Knights as well as strategize its launch, which includes making a real website. For all this, I may need more hours in a day, but at least I don't have excuses about where I'll be doing all this.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Grand Finale to the Rhino Audio Series

The grand finale of the rhino audio series, a reading of my Five Species Forever flash fiction series, is about the least "grand" rhino species: the smaller Sumatran. The Sumatran is the only hairy rhino, having descended directly from the now extinct wooly rhinoceros of millennia past. Now that Harapan has left the Cincinnati Zoo, all Sumatran rhinos live in their homeland.

This story is called "Old Paintings." A whole world of fascination in less than five minutes!

Thanks for listening! I hope you enjoyed this series, which is close to my heart. More amazing 2016 news next week!

"Old Paintings" is available, with other great stories, a few with more rhinos, in the "delightfully off the beaten track" Unpredictable Worlds: StoriesKindle • iBooks • Nook • Kobo • Smashwords• Inktera • Blio • Softcover • Softcover Indiebound • Softcover Amazon • Softcover Barnes and Noble  • Request it your local library or book store!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Javan Rhinos for the New Year

Welcome to the fourth story in the Five Species Forever series, about the Javan rhino. Have a listen. It's a fictional world of wonder in just over three minutes. You gotta love flash fiction.

In the nonfiction world, there are no Javan rhinos in captivity and no breeding programs underway. There are only about 40 Javan rhinos on the planet, all living on the volcano- and palm-oil-threatened Ujung Kulon Peninsula. They are rarely sighted, but photos show them to be the smaller, even more adorable cousins of the Indian rhino. They're the best rhino swimmers and spend a lot of time sloshing around in the jungle waters.

"The Last Ultrasound" was first published in Linguistic Erosion in 2014.

It's available, with other stories, a few with more rhinos, in the "delightfully off the beaten track" Unpredictable Worlds: StoriesKindle • iBooks • Nook • Kobo • Smashwords• Inktera • Blio • Softcover • Softcover Indiebound • Softcover Amazon • Softcover Barnes and Noble  • Request it your local library or book store!

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Best Books of the Year and What's to Come in 2016

It's been a great year. I won a prize for flash fiction, got seriously started on my editing business, released Unpredictable Worlds and received some recognition for it, released Tree/House in audiobook, spent ten gorgeous and hard-earned days in Spain, took part in Launch Lab, made it safely to my new home, and had Seven Noble Knights accepted for publication, to name just a few of the best events.

I also read quite a few good books. Which were the best?

That's really not a fair question in the year when the grand finale of a trilogy I have passionately, unreasonably adored came out.

The Map of Chaos by Félix J. Palma

Which book is best is hardly fair in light of another fact: this one is the manifestation of a historical novel I hoped would materialize some day to dramatize the life of Queen Emma for this Anglo-Saxon enthusiast.

The Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell

So there you have it, the best novels (in my humble opinion) of 2015. The best nonfiction book was undoubtedly La nación inventada by Arsenio and Ignacio Escolar. I enjoyed this book more than I expected to (which is saying a lot) and will probably tell you more about it in future posts.

The year 2016 will see the debut of my darling Seven Noble Knights, so many of my resolutions have something to do with getting it into the limelight as much as possible. I also plan to draft the sequel this year. You didn't know Seven Noble Knights was going to have a sequel? It's a pleasant surprise for all of us! For those of you waiting patiently for more of my unusual contemporary work, I've resolved to get Awash in Talent published this year. More on that soon, for sure. In my personal life and "day job," I've got a lot to do to make this latest move make sense. In the meantime, if you need an editor for your awesome novel, call on me.

Vague as they seem, these are my professional resolutions, leaving room for the surprises that always seem to crop up.

What are your plans for 2016? Happy new year!

A selection of some of the other best books of 2015:

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Along the Far Shores by Kristin Gleeson

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Mermaids in Paradise  by Lydia Millet

Raven Brought the Light by Kristin Gleeson

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

Love in Infant Monkeys by Lydia Millet