Sunday, June 26, 2016

Good News, Bad News

So the good news: I have finally completed the facelift to my website (www.theatwatergroup.com).  The bad news: It took so long, I need to update it already!

But seriously, you guys have been sending me such great manuscripts that I've been keeping very busy with you know, actual work instead of spending time on the website.  (Which I am totally okay with, by the way.)  I have been keeping up with updating my Facebook page with those new releases - keep them coming!

More good news (for me, at least): I managed to take a real vacation!  Yup, the hubby and I went to Denver to see our son, my mother-in-law, and my sisters-in-law.  We spent the first few days by ourselves, though, at the Springs Resort in Pagosa.  It was so wonderful.  I'd never been to a hot springs before, and it was a great experience.  We picked "the Romance Package," which included a couples' massage.  The resort has about 25 different pools, each at different temperatures so there is a variety to choose from - including an over 18 section to cut down on kids running around.


Then, it was back to Denver to visit with family.  We had a great time with my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law, but it was especially wonderful to spend time with our son and meet his girlfriend.  We got to see his office (okay, it's a room in a building downtown) and see some of the volunteer work he does.  He took us on a walk downtown through Poets' Row, a group of apartments named (surprise!) after poets and writers:









But now we are back home, getting into the swing of things.  It was nice to get away (and to take a real break from working) but I am happy to be going through those wonderful manuscripts you send my way.

And maybe I'll try to update that website in my spare time!



Thursday, June 23, 2016

What to Leave In, What to Leave Out

I've always been fascinated with obituaries. Even as a young girl, I'd read the obits in the paper.  Sometimes it seemed so sad when I read about someone who died young - you know, age 40 (yikes!).  It was amazing to me that some people could live to 80 or 90!

It was kind of cool to read about their families, who was left behind, and the things they did during their lifetime. A bit of inspiration, I guess, that families matter, the little things we do add up to big things, and what kind of an impact a person could make on the small circle of family and friends, and maybe even the larger circle of the community.

But I was always puzzled why they never really said how they died.  (Hey - I was young and wanted answers to all my questions - which, I suppose, hasn't changed much!) It was "suddenly passed away" or "passed away unexpectedly" or "at the end of a long illness."  At least with that last one, you could get some sense of what happened.

I thought that for history's sake, an honest obituary would be a historian or anthropologist's dream.  How many people died in the 1860s from war-related issues vs. farming accidents, for example? Or how many people died from suicides in the 1920s? 

But lately, there's been more of a trend to include the story behind the death, notably with drug overdoses.  Those rare pieces give the reader a peek into the life of someone caught up in a situation they couldn't overcome, to act (sometimes) as a warning to some or as a balm to others that they are not alone in their struggle to deal with a loved one's unsuccessful fight with their demons.  See the articles on Addiction, Suicide and Obituaries and Huff Post, for example. 

This rarity, unfortunately, does not seem to include celebrities: anytime someone halfway famous dies, you can bet you'll hear the truth behind it: Robin Williams: first we hear it was depression, but then his widow tells us he suffered from Lewy body dementia. Joan Rivers: complications from surgery.  Jim Henson: pneumonia.

Now it seems there's a new idea in town: the mean obituary.  I was reading this piece on CNN (When vengeful obits go viral, who's to blame? ) and read some of the words written about 94-year-old Wilma Black, who died December 22 in North Carolina.It was a paid death notice, written and placed by a family member in the Raleigh News & Observer's advertising section. Wow. 

But I think the most compelling reason I like to read the obits is to hear about people: people like me, people not like me; people who made a wide impact on the community, people who lead a quiet life.  I want to hear about their stories.

And story is what draws me into a book: a way to exist in these characters' world, whether it's a sci-fi/fantasy location or a person struggling with life and love. So, authors, pay attention to your characters and make your readers care about them too!



Saturday, March 26, 2016

Taking A Stand...Against Standing

Now, I don't want to come across as militant, but I am ready to take a stand...against standing. Standing in doorways, in hallways, in rooms, and in front of me - I can't take all this standing.


Let's look at an example:

I turned around and saw him standing in the doorway.

Well, unless he is in a wheelchair, or for some reason he wouldn't be standing (maybe he's been hobbled like Paul Sheldon in Misery and he can only drag himself from place to place), why does a reader need to know he's standing? It'd be a miracle if he was wheelchair-bound and suddenly he stood in a doorway.  That's important information in that instance.  But just a guy in a doorway? What else would he be doing besides standing?

Okay, maybe he's leaning against the doorframe.  Maybe with a smile on his face I can't resist.  Or maybe he's crouched slightly, gun in hand and ready to shoot me (or maybe the guy who's holding me hostage - yeah, that's better).

I turned around. He leaned against the doorframe, a smile on his face.  Not just a smile, but that smile.  The one that got me every time.

or

I turned around. I barely had enough time to register the crouched form of a man before I saw the gun come up and heard the kidnapper fall to the ground.

See? No standing needed. 




Give me some action!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Exciting Changes

So, I've been putzing around with my website...you know, just something fun to do in the evenings.  With the new year, it's always been a time to look at things and re-evaluate. One of the things I examined was my webpage and logo.

And it was time to freshen them up. 

The last few weeks I've been playing around with new software (cool effects! new gizmos!) and contacted a company to work on my logo.  I'm still working on the website - and frankly, it'll definitely be a month or more before it's ready for prime time - but I'm pretty happy with the logo.

As part of the logo process, the company (The Logo Company) sent me several images based on my answers to their questionnaire. I spent a few days looking at a few of them and testing them out on my webpage design software. I culled down the contenders to two and consulted my in-house go-to guy.  He gave me reasons he liked one and what he didn't like about the other.

But there was a third one in contention.  I decided to ask for that one to use as graphic icon and picked out my new logo.

So, I'm happy to give you a sneak peek at the new graphic:





And soon, when the website is closer to being ready, you'll be able to check out the new logo!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Editors - the Writer's Natural Enemy

I want to make this clear: I didn't come up with the title of this post.

I was searching online (for what, specifically, doesn't really matter) and ran across this post on George R. Martin's website:

Editors: The Writer’s Natural Enemy

The author (maybe you've heard of him, or his Game of Throne saga?) gave a speech in 1979 where he talked about the importance of editors.  Now, his definition of editor may or may not still work here in 2016 (especially considering the rise of indie and hybrid authors and the general state of traditional publishing) but I found some of it highly amusing:

Left to their own devices, writers talk about only three things; the three most important things in the world.
They talk about money, they talk about sex, and they talk about editors.
Money and sex are things that most writers want and never get enough of. Editors are things that most writers don’t want and get all too much of. I’ve often heard writers ask other writers why there have to be editors in the world.
 
But later on, he has this to say: 

Yes, there are a lot of ways for editors to go wrong.
Fortunately, a surprising number of them go right. It never ceases to amaze me. What is a good editor like? A good editor offers you decent advances, and goes to bat with his publisher to make sure your book gets promoted, and returns your phone calls, and answers your letters. A good editor does work with his writers on their books. But only if the books need work. A good editor tries to figure out what the writer was trying to do, and helps him or her do it better, rather than trying to change the book into something else entirely. A good editor doesn’t insist, or make changes without permission. Ultimately a writer lives or dies by his words, and he must always have the last word if his work is to retain its integrity.


I hope that I am in that category of editor (copy editor and proofreader, really) for my authors. I'm not looking to be the enemy of the author - I want to be the champion, the cheerleader, the advocate, the supporter ("If you can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter!" - bonus points if you know where that quote is from).  

So, I am looking forward to a grand 2016, supporting and cheering on all my authors as they continue their careers and fulfill their writing goals and dreams.


 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Can You Teach Someone to Write?

Early in the week, I was sick.  And the hubby was on a trip, so I had to suck it up and take care of myself.  But all I planned to do was sit on the couch and take medicine, so it wasn't that difficult.  I couldn't focus on a computer screen, so I watched the big screen instead.  I got caught up on my General Hospitals (oh the intrigue! oh the double-crosses! oh the passion!).  But then I pulled out the big guns: Hugh Grant.

I was cruising through the On-Demand section from our cable provider and saw Music and Lyrics listed.  I almost picked that one, but then remembered another movie of his I hadn't seen yet, so I kept going.  And once I found The Rewrite, I clicked Watch and spent the next few hours with Hugh and Marisa Tomei in Birmingham NY.  It features some of my other favorite actors - Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons.

Hugh's character is a screen writer in Hollywood, years after his success, trying to get any job he can.  And right now, the only job he can get is as a screenwriting professor at this college. He plans to go there, do as little as possible and spend time on his own project.  But as you can imagine, it doesn't go that way.  Especially with his attitude that you can't teach writing. 



So I got thinking: can you teach writing? Some must think so, based on all the classes, workshops, books, forums, conferences, and blogs out there.  Maybe teach is the wrong word.  Or maybe the way we think about teaching, like it's only rote memorization, might give one pause about whether writing is teachable.

On the other side of the coin, is writing learnable? Maybe some people can't grasp the concepts of plotting or resolution or risk/reward and therefore can't learn to write. 

I've recently talked to someone who is interested in writing a novel.  They've never written before, but they have this story inside them they want to tell.  And it's a pretty intriguing concept.  So I gave her the basic advice: Write. Read about writing. Join a writer's group. Find a critique group.  Use your library resources - whether that's for research, other writers, writing resources, or books in the same genre to see what works (and what doesn't) in other stories. 

Today's Tweet (hey, are you following me on Twitter?  Why not?  Find me @FaithProofing) gives a resource that's been out of print for years, but the blog author has found invaluable for playwriting.  The author of the book (The Human Nature of Play Writing) wrote a thing or two: the play The Jazz Singer (the basis of the first movie with sound and music) and some scripts for  Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion and Ernst Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner(one of my favorites...in all its incarnations).  So if you are in the market for another book on writing, check it out and let me know what you think. 

Vox Article:

For the first time in decades, the best book ever written about writing is back in print




Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hello. old friends

Ouch.  I just looked at the date of the last blog post: August 23. 

Where have I been since the end of the summer, you may ask?  Well, I've been in big cities, the wide-open ranches of Texas, the South right at the end of the Civil War, Las Vegas, Boston, the Canadian mountains, prison in California, planets out of our solar system, San Fransisco, small towns,  a world of zombie and alien invasions at once. I've been hanging out with lovers and fighters, losers and winners, people struggling to find themselves or find each other, people with a mission, and people searching for meaning.

In other words, I've been in books.  But I've also had some real-life stuff going on.  My son graduated from college, moved to DC for a few months, came home, moved to Denver. I worked on my annual Basket Bonanza fundraiser (thanks to everyone who donated!), as well as some other church projects. I've had some great fun with the hubby at a water park.  I've had some great results with a new workout/food program (lost almost 20 pounds!).  And I've started taking swimming lessons (no, I never learned to swim when I was kid.)




But I haven't blogged.  Why? Well, yes, all that other stuff kept me busy. But I've felt like I didn't have much to say, for some reason.  Not much motivation to write (thank goodness writing's not my job!). But I do hope that changes.  I like to write, when I have something to say.

So for now I'll say Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays...or maybe a simple hello and I'm thinking of you!