September 2018 Monthly Update

September 2018 Update & Books Read

Dear Readers:

As I write this update, I am keeping a watchful eye to the east as Hurricane Florence roars toward the coast. My best thoughts and hopes are for all of my friends who live in the path of this monstrous storm.

Fortunately, we should see only minimal impact here in Maggie Valley, NC, depending, of course, on its final path. Helpfully, we are seeing rainfall predictions as low as an inch to as high as 10 inches of rain.

Several things to cover in this month’s update:

  • Update on my manuscript submission for The Lottery and a look at the editing process
  • Plotter versus Pantser – Which am I?
  • Books read last month on my trek to reading 100 books this year
  • Some geeky weather data
  • Some past hurricane related stories

The Lottery (and the editing process)

Pardon the celebration, but the manuscript was submitted to my editor. And it was on-time!

You probably noticed that I mentioned a title for the very first time. The design work on the cover begins soon, so it should be finalized in the next few weeks.

Many of you have expressed some curiosity about the editing process, so I thought I would provide a quick highlight. The book will go through three levels of editing (with three different editors):

  • Content Edit – The story itself is reviewed with special attention on character development, storyline, plot, and pacing. The editor reviews character motivations and challenges areas with too little or too much detail. She takes about three weeks to provide her notes and my response time is dependent on the issues she raises. Once we get through this part, we can hone in on a publication date.
  • Line Edit – The editor, a different person than the content edit, will review the changes I make to identify any character or plot problems remaining. In addition, she will review sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
  • Proofread – The last pass is looking to identify any needed changes that have been missed thus far with a focus on the technical – grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

After those steps, the manuscript heads to the typesetter who will format the book for printing and e-books.

So when will The Lottery be published? Stay tuned because I am not going to jinx it with a prediction now.

Plotter or Pantser

What am I doing while The Lottery is going through the Content Edit? Outlining Lost and Found.

Writers approach books in two different ways – plotter or pantser. A plotter maps out the story scene by scene before writing the first word. A pantser just sits down and writes, following the story wherever it takes them (so named because they write by the seat of their pants). Most writers, of course, fall somewhere between the two.

To be blunt, I had never produced an 80,000 +/- word story before, at least not for publication. With a romantic notion that the characters would tell me the story, I just sat down and wrote The Lottery. And rewrote it. And rewrote it.

I thought the story bouncing around in my head would flow onto the sheet of paper, making detail discoveries along the way. The problem was every time I “discovered” something in Chapter 20, I had to re-write of Chapter 3. And I spent time and effort writing lots of words that end up getting cut before the book even went to my editor.

So, for Lost and Found, I am taking a different tack and attempting to outline all of the major plot points before writing the first word. Will it work? Ask me in six months.

Books Read – August 2018

With my focus on finishing The Lottery, I failed not only to publish any new content here on the website but also to keep up my reading pace. I read only six book in the month, the lowest monthly total yet this year, to bring my annual total to 67. I will need to read over eight a month from here on out to hit my target of 100.

Only two of the books are fictional fun reading:

Harlan Coben Six YearsHarlan Coben – Six Years – A broken hearted man watches the woman he loves marry another man. At her insistence, he agrees to never contact her again, a promise he kept until, six years later, he sees the obituary for the man who married her. He goes to the funeral only to discover that the man has a different wife and children. But what happened to the woman he loved? The deeper he digs, the more he questions his own memories.

I read this book based on a reader suggestion (thank you!) and thoroughly enjoyed it. A great mystery that makes you really question the sanity of the protagonist at times.

Joe Hill Strange Weather

Joe Hill – Strange Weather – For those who miss the connection, Joe Hill is Stephen King’s middle child who chose to use a pen name (his middle name is Hillstrom). Strange Weather is a collection of four novellas which is a great introduction to his writing style. My favorite of the stories is “Snapshot,” a very King-esque tale of a magical camera that captures pieces of a person’s memories. While you can certainly feel the influence of his famous father in all of the stories, the stories are all unique enough to demonstrate Joe’s own writing strength.

The other four are all technical writing books that probably will not have an appeal to most of you, but I list them as part of my project to hold myself publicly accountable for my reading list:

Angela Ackerman Emotion Amplifiers

Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi – Emotion Amplifiers – This is a follow up book to one I mentioned last month, The Emotion Thesaurus, and is written more as a reference book than a light read. This helpful book takes common emotions and provides a number of helpful hints to how a person feels such an emotion and how it manifests itself in physical traits. Storytelling 101 is show, don’t tell. That is, don’t tell a reader a character is angry, show the manifestation of that anger.

S.A. Soule – The Writer’s Guide to Character Emotion – Same concept as the book above with a focus on deep point-of-view. The author demonstrates various emotions by starting with the classic tell and then rewrites it with a shallow POV. She then critiques the shallow POV and rewrites a second time with a deep POV. The exercise of repeating that approach over and over is very helpful in highlighting how deep you need to go at times.

Renni Browne and Dave King – Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, How to Edit Yourself Into Print – Authors have an obligation to their editors to do as much editing as possible before passing a manuscript. This book provides a series of questions to ask yourself as you are preparing a manuscript for submission. This isn’t a total academic exercise because they provide real excerpts from novels to demonstrate how experienced authors solved issues.

Lynn McNamee – Just to Be Clear: Writing What You Mean – Don’t you love it when an author’s book title exactly describes the book in a clear, concise way? Especially when the whole point of the book is how to describe things in a clear, concise way? That tells you that Lynn, the owner of a publishing company and an editing company, has laser focused this book. This is one of a series of short manuals that help writers tighten their story-telling.

Weather Geek Time

It makes this geek happy that so many people responded to my sharing of weather stats last month. So, to continue that tradition, here are some key points about our August weather according to the weather station at my house.

  • The mean temperature (64.3ºF/17.9ºC) and mean high temperature (71.4ºF/21.9ºC) for August was lower than either June or July.
  • Our hottest temperature (78.8ºF/26.0ºC) tied the highest temperature of both June and July. The lowest high temperature (63.1ºF/17.3ºC) had me wearing a sweatshirt around the house, not that I expect a lot of sympathy from everyone else sweating through summer.
  • We haven’t crossed the 80.0ºF (26.7ºC) mark since August 26, 2016 when we recorded 80.1ºF (still 26.7ºC).
  • Measurable rain fell 20 of the 31 days of August for a total of 7.14 inches (18.14 cm).
  • Our year to date rainfall almost hit 50 inches with 49.92 inches (126.80 cm)

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

Hurricane Stories

With Hurricane Florence attacking the coast to our east and expected to bring us some wind and rain this weekend here in the mountains, I thought I would share two old short stories about hurricanes. Hope you enjoy them:

Puerto Rico and Hurricane Maria

Watching Hurricane Maria make landfall on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico brought back memories of all of the sights and people.

Hurricane Hugo Dawn - Courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce

The morning of September 22, 1989, will forever be remembered by many as Hurricane Hugo Dawn

What Are You Reading?

That’s all for this month. Please share with me what you are reading. For the second 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.


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  1. Dawn Kline on September 14, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    So glad to hear about the book! Yay you! I enjoy your blogs so much that I’m looking forward to reading your fiction….although with the Thundering Herd, truth is often stranger than fiction lol.

    For the past three years I’ve had a mystery novel rattling around in my brain. I’ve tried to do NaNoWriMo two years in a row but have been unsuccessful so far. I’m also a plotter and I appreciate the book reviews you included on here. I will definitely check those books out; they look like they are really helpful.

  2. Don Davis on September 17, 2018 at 5:26 am

    “God Save Texas” by Lawrence Wright and “Flash, The Making of WeeGee the Famous” by Chris Bonanos

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