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October 2018 Update & Books Read

Dear Readers:

October has settled on our mountains with cool days, colorful leaves, and animals busily preparing for the upcoming winter. My work view distracts, but comforts – except when the wild turkeys wander past and the dogs scramble over me for a better view out the window.

Update on The Lottery

After a week of travel (unlike most people, we don’t take our RV out in the summer, so we are just starting our season with a trip through Tennessee -Chattanooga, Nashville and Bristol), I hit the office on Monday ready to work. My editor completed her analysis of The Lottery and asked some challenging questions – exactly what an editor is supposed to do.

As I explained last month, the first editor performs a Content Edit. She reviews the story, characters, plot and pacing and jots down questions and suggestions. She looks at character motivation (why would Donna react this way to news?), story pitfalls (In Chapter 4 you said X, but now Y is happening in Chapter 25), and pacing (give us more description here or stop it, enough, we understand). She returns the manuscript to me with three primary outputs:

  • A summary document outlining strengths and weaknesses, overarching things to consider, and her overall impression.
  • A chapter by chapter analysis in much the same format.
  • Notes on the manuscript itself of her reactions to particular sentences, words, images, or characters.

Put yourself in my shoes for a moment. To this point, the story is a personal, private part of you. You have slaved for hours – hundreds of hours – getting words down on a page. And, now, you receive a detailed critique of what works and what doesn’t work. Every piece of praise lifts you up, makes you sing, and reaffirms your belief in yourself. And each criticism stabs you, makes you scream, and destroys your ego. Yes, this is the fun part!

The good news (or, at least, the part easier to accept) is she liked the story, characters and imagery. I could go on and on about what she liked, but, then, that part doesn’t make the story better.

The painful part, the agonizing part, is where she pointed out issues that need to be addressed. In particular, one scene in the book – a scene that impacts other scenes – didn’t work for her. She explained what she didn’t like about it and why she thought it could be better.

You know the frustrating part? She’s right. She’s absolutely, 100% right.

I used last week to read through all her notes (yes, while sitting in an RV!) and to think through the questions she asked. Back in my office this week, I outlined the changes I plan to make and am now working through the story re-writing what needs to be done.

So after a week of licking my wounds, I’m in a really good place. I’m excited about the new scene and the changes it creates.

And that, folks, is the value of an editor.

Re-writes will be done this month with a second, briefer content edit on the changes. The book will then move to Line Edit (early December) and, finally, Proofread before being published.

Next month, I will give another update, but will also highlight some of the non-editorial things that have to happen – cover design, marketing blurbs, etc. And, of course, a final decision on the title. We are still batting that around.

Still can’t promise a publication date yet, but will let you know as soon as I know. Look for it shortly after the New Year.

Books Read – September 2018

Seven books read in September, slightly better than August, but bringing my annual total only to 74. With three months remaining in the year, I need to read nine books a month to hit my annual goal of 100. Not sure I will make it this year.

The good news is that all of the reading was pure pleasure, no work related books at all. A very good mix of novels this month and the first one I highly recommend:


Benjamin Alire Sáenz Inexplicable Logic of my LifeBenjamin Alire Sáenz – The Inexplicable Logic of my Life – I’ll admit, it took me a little to get into this book. The sentences were short and clipped. The narrative is driven almost exclusively through conversations: texts with his best friend; chats with his father on the back porch; and the noise in his own brain. The relationship between the protagonist and his friends and family (none of whom are blood relatives) was hard to understand. I couldn’t figure what was the Journey – where was the story going?

But slowly, I became engrossed in the inexplicable logic of Salvador Silva’s life. Even his name is a mystery that unfolds slowly through the story (how does a white boy have a Latino name?). And the more each layer of his life is revealed, the more powerful the story becomes.

And there is a journey. A powerful journey. No detectives chasing bad guys. No alien invasions. The world is not about to end.

Only a seventeen-year-old figuring out life.


William Landay Defending Jacob

William Landay – Defending Jacob – What would you do if your son was accused of a heinous crime? Could you believe any of the evidence against him? Would you defend him at all costs? Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber is working with the police as they investigate the murder of a fourteen-year-old boy in a park. But when the evidence leads to Barber’s own son, he fights to prove his son’s innocence. But is he right? This is a very good book, part mystery and part study of a family imploding under social pressure.



Robert B. Parker School Days
Robert B. Parker – School Days – Technically, this is the 33rd (yes, 33rd) book in the Boston PI Spenser series, but I read it as a stand alone novel. The detective is the cliched wise-cracking stereotype, but the story itself is very good. Along the same vein as Defending Jacob, a boy is accused of a mass-shooting in his high school. His grandmother hires the PI to prove his innocence, despite the overwhelming evidence against him. The PI’s investigation leads to places no one wants to accept.


Alice Sebold Lovely BonesAlice Sebold – Lovely Bones – The narrator, fourteen-year-old murder victim Susie Salmon, watches over her family and friends from purgatory as they deal with the aftermath of her death and the mystery of her disappearance. The mystery is a minor part of the story (the reader knows all along, only the family is in the dark, but the real tale is part coming of age novel, both in watching her friends growing up and in Susie’s own growth as she lets go of her former life on earth, and part family dealing with tragedy.


Joe Hill HornsJoe Hill – Horns – A very unique book and hard to categorize. Part supernatural (the protagonist develops horns that have the power to force people to tell him their deepest, darkest secrets), part story of friendship and love, and part murder mystery. Though based a year after the murder of the protagonist’s girlfriend (a crime he has been accused of), the story is largely told in flashbacks as their romance grew. The story of that budding romance is very well written, enjoyable and sorrowful.


David Baldacci Hell's CornerDavid Baldacci – Hell’s Corner – The fifth book in Baldacci’s Camel Club series open with a bang – literally. An explosion in Lafeyette Park across the street from the White House. Who was the target? Who are the perpetrators? And who is an innocent victim? Good twists and turns, particularly with the mystery of what each person in the park during the explosion was doing.


Lisa Jackson Cold BloodedLisa Jackson – Cold Blooded – A psychic has visions of crimes as they are occurring. The New Orleans detectives are reluctant to use her visions to pursue the serial killer. And the murders are increasingly heinous. This is the second book in the series, but can easily be read as a stand alone novel.  For lovers of this genre, you will enjoy the book. If it’s not your genre, you won’t.


Weather Geek Time

Yes, I am amused that I get questions all of the time about my weather station. To continue the tradition, here are some key points about our September weather according to the weather station at my house.

September Temperatures

2018

2017

2016

High

77.4ºF / 25.2ºC

73.9ºF / 23.3ºC

77.4ºF / 25.2ºC

Low

53.5ºF / 11.9ºC

41.1ºF / 5.1ºC

42.8ºF / 6.0ºC

This September was much warmer than normal, particularly the low temperatures at night. Despite that, we still haven’t crossed the 80.0ºF (26.7ºC) mark since August 26, 2016 when we recorded 80.1ºF (still 26.7ºC).

Rainfall

2018

2017

2016

Sept

4.27 in / 10.85 cm

5.08 in / 12.90 cm

2.31 in / 5.87 cm

YTD

54.19 in / 137.64 cm

47.65 in / 121.03 cm

33.74 in / 85.70

Many of you will remember the devastating fires that ripped through Gatlinburg two years ago. You can see how low rainfall was in 2016 versus the much more normal rainfalls of the last two years. We count our blessings as this is typically fire season for us.

Remember, live weather results are displayed on my About page.

What Are You Reading?

That’s all for this month. Please share with me what you are reading. For the third month in a row, one of the books I read came from a reader suggestion and I love getting ideas of books I should have on my list.

Thank you for hanging out, enjoying my creations, and making this journey fun.

Notes:

The Book covers are all the copyrighted property of the respective authors or their publishers.

Links to products, including the books, are Amazon Affiliate Links. If you make a purchase from those links, I receive a small commission from Amazon though that does not affect your price.

10 thoughts on “October 2018 Update & Books Read”

  1. I love a good mystery and your reading list includes some good suggestions. I’m gearing up for NaNoWriMo..my third attempt…really really hoping that the third time is the charm. So in preparation, I’m reading some Agatha Christie favorites and a newer mystery called, “The Last Suppers” by Diane Mott Davidson. The Christies are more of a study, since I already know whodunit. To me, she is still the master writer of this genre. The newer book is to bring me up to date with how mysteries are written now.
    Good luck with your rewrites and keep us posted! I’ve enjoyed your blogs for four years so I know you’ve got what it takes!

    • Thanks for the kind words and good luck with NaNoWriMo, though I guess it will be NaNoEditMo for me. I’ll have the next content edit back by November 9 and have to turn it back around for line edit by Thanksgiving, so that will be some fast and furious editing. The problem is everything will be done about Christmas time – a lousy time to release a book – so will probably come out in January.

      I look forward to hearing more about your NaNoWriMo mystery. Go for it!

  2. Do you find your writing influenced by your current readings? Can you keep your own “voice” in your novel even though reading different types of books? Or do yourself a more complete writer, writing and reading together?

    • Thanks for the terrific questions.

      First, yes, of course, I think my writing is influenced by what I read. It’s why I think writers have to read – to gain knowledge from others.

      But I don’t think that influence is unique to writers. Painters, sculptures, photographers – all learn from others in their field. But even non-artists do. The best teachers learn from other teachers. Accountants are influenced by other accountants. It’s natural.

      But learning from others isn’t the same thing as copying them, which gets to your voice question. I think voice is a summation of who you are which is a composite of all of your experiences (which includes the books you read). So my voice comes from my parents and siblings, friends, teachers, co-workers, and everyone else. Jobs and experiences influence me as much (if not more) than books. It all comes together to create your voice.

      So that leads to the answer for your last question. Yes, I emphatically believe that a better, more complete writer is someone who reads – a lot.

      • Thank you so much for answering my questions! So nice to talk to another writer.

        I’ve been thinking along the same lines. Writers need to read. I have always wrote and read all my life, but when I got serious about writing, I quit reading. I wanted to make sure I found my own voice, because I never had one. Well now that I’ve accomplished that, I am finding myself with a literary bankruptcy and I can’t write at all. My first thought was to read. Which sounds great, but I find I’m afraid of losing my voice that I’ve worked so hard to attain. So I find myself a bit on the fence and not quite sure which way to fall. At little afraid to take the plunge.

        Thanks so much for helping me answer my own questions.

        Good luck on the edit!

  3. I’ve had two wonderful editors, and one absolutely useless one. 🙂 I am excited about your progress! Who is your publisher? Also – great reading list – I have been curious about this Joe Hill book. Will have to pick it up soonish (I really have no business buying any more books!)

    Current book reads are fantasy author Robin Hobbs’ Liveship Traders trilogy I am finally getting to – her books wring me out emotionally but I finally decided it was time to dive in again.

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