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Friday, June 11, 2021

I've been interviewed by Nosh with Chef Julie

Hey, I got interviewed! By Nosh with Chef Julie ("Author interviews, Book Promotions, Recipes, and more!")

Read it HERE.

Author Spotlight- Interview with Jason A. Kilgore and his new sci-fi novel book- The First Nova I See Tonight


What advice do you have for new writers just starting out?

First, learn the craft of writing. Give yourself a good foundation and take a creative writing course at your local community college. Trust me on this. I tried to write a book before doing this, and considered myself well-versed in writing fundamentals, but later discovered how much I had yet to learn. The second thing is that you should join a writer’s group that’s accepting new writers. And if there isn’t one around, find some authors and start your own (you can do so virtually via Zoom and email, by the way, if not meeting in person). Getting neutral critiques is critical to writing quality work. I’ve been with a writer’s group since 1999 (The Village Peeps) and they find things to improve every single time I have them read a piece. If you want to read more on my group and how it operates, and maybe use the “rules” we follow for your own group, you can do so HERE.

You can read other interviews of me HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Cheers and happy reading!

Friday, January 1, 2021

A Writer's New Year's Resolution for 2021

Happy New Year's, folks. Now that it is the first day of 2021, I can truly say that hindsight is 2020. And as one of my friends said, "I'm all about giving 2020 a sight of my hind." It's been a helluva year. But despite the pandemic and any personal turmoil in my life, I can say with a smile that I wrote another book and it's almost ready for publication. Yay! 

And I'm a forward-thinker, always looking to a brighter horizon, anyhow. My writing resolutions for 2021 include publishing that book on Amazon (it's a space opera), writing another (I may pursue another horror book this year, or perhaps finish my half-finished fantasy sequel, or both!), and finding an agent so I can publish my fantasy series in a traditional publishing market. I also need to read more fiction. That's a lot to resolve!

For all you other writers out there: What are YOUR writing goals?

I ran a poll on Twitter, listing four possible resolutions. 

Unsurprisingly, over half of you wanted to finish your work in process (WIP).

Getting an agent was higher than I thought it would be, at 22%, followed by publishing your work (17%) and, lastly, figuring out marketing (for all of you who have already published, or gearing up for it), at 8%.

Whatever your goals are, I wish you all the best in reaching them. With the vaccines rolling out, I think a lot of us are looking forward to opening up again, and not just with regard to going out in public, but emotionally as well. It's been a hard year. Time to be prosperous again!

Cheers and happy reading!

Saturday, December 26, 2020

My Editing Process

My latest work, a space opera scifi entitled "The First Nova I See Tonight," had gone through my editing process to the point that I've handed it off to my editor, Donovan Reves at Bloomsday Editing and Proofreading. About 77K words worth of space pirates, cyborgs, and alien lovers! But even after he's done, there's more to do until publishing.

So what is that editing process? Let me tell you....

Some editing notes from my latest scifi novel

First, a caveat: every writer has their own process that they follow. Mine is very thorough and works for me, but if you are a writer and want your own method, shop around a bit and see what works for you. 

1) Editing as I go: Some writers out there espouse the idea that you should just write straight through without any editing until you reach the end. Don't judge your work. Let it flow. In fact, some writers and writing instructors insist this is the best way to write. Great idea for some, but disastrous for me. If I do that, I wind up with massive developmental issues. I also find that the process of editing so many typos, sentence structure, and plot holes for the entire length becomes overwhelming and demoralizing. It's better for me to edit as I go, at the chapter level. It stretches out the period of time it takes to do the writing, but it's so worth it to me to wind up with a finished draft that is easier to edit.

2) Chapter edits: After I write each chapter, I read back through the digital copy to find errors. I then print it out and do it again. This is an important point: I've found that editing on the computer uses some different part of my brain than editing on paper; I always find new issues I'd missed.

3) Writing group critiques: Once I get a significant way through the book, I have an excellent writers group, The Village Peeps of Corvallis, who then critiques the book, one or two chapters at a time. They always find changes I need to make, including simple things or typos that I should have caught, or more important developmental or character issues. I read through those comments, and will implement some of the changes, but for the most part I set the critiques aside until I've finished the full novel. (To learn more about writing groups, I have a PRIOR POST on the value of a writer's group and the rules we follow). 

4) First Revision: Once I finished the first draft (and celebrated with some treat for myself. Yay!), I then take all those writing group critiques and go through, chapter by chapter, deciding what needs changed based on them. Most of these are "surface changes" such as typos, sentence structure, repeated phrases, etc. But if they or I find plot holes or sections that need re-written, I hold off. The finished version is what I call the "first revision."

5) Second Revision: Next, I go back through the digital document again and look at developmental editing. This time I focus on the larger issues: plot holes, sections that need re-written, character development. Whole chapters might be re-ordered or re-written in this revision. Paragraphs changed. Additional details added. In extreme cases, I have even changed a sub-plot or changed a paragraph to be from the point of view of a different character. Then, again, I print it out and go over it in pen. The resulting edited version is what I call the "second revision."

6) Off to the editor and beta readers: This is where I am with my latest scifi novel. I send the second revision to my freelance editor, who will use his own style of editing to find changes that need made. I also send it off to beta readers (who read it like a purchaser would but only are expected to give general critiques of chapters and the book as a whole. They are unpaid, but the book should be fairly polished by this point). 

5) Final version? Once I get the critiques back from the editor and beta readers, then I go into what should hopefully be the final round of editing. Provided they don't find any giant issues (like entire plot points that aren't working for them), then I once again go through and implement changes in the digital format. Since most of the line editing and proofreading has been taken care of before the second revision was done, most of the critiques are larger developmental issues. So I might have to go in and re-examine these and maybe do a bit of re-writing. I then go through it again by, yes, printing it out and having a physical copy to edit. I might need to have another round with my editor if large changes were made. Barring any glaring issues, I should, at this point, have a final version ready for ARC readers and publication (if I'm self-publishing) or submission to agents and publishers (for the traditional publishing route). Yay! Time to celebrate again!

Some final thoughts:

  • As my writing mentor, the late Anne Warren Smith, once taught me: "Don't fall in love with your words." Or, as others have put it, "Don't be afraid to kill your darlings." Have a critical eye and cut ruthlessly if needed. (For instance, you have a beautiful description of the sunset and your character's thoughts, with a way of writing it that would surely win awards, but if it breaks up the action too much, maybe this isn't the best place in the book for that. Cut it or move it.)
  • Whatever your editing style is, it has to fit YOU, the writer. Lots of experienced readers and writers will dole out advice, but always remember: your book is yours, not theirs. Only you know what you want to express and how to express it for the audience that you want to read it. That means you can feel free to ignore any and all advice. But a professional will, at least, seriously consider any critique that comes their way and be thankful for it. 
  • Be humble. Even though I just told you it is your work and your voice, you can't know it all. Accept criticisms with an open mind. Even if you disagree with what is said, say "thank you" and don't argue. Give it some time to sink in before you discard or accept the advice. 
  • Save all versions, both digitally and printed (and back up your files!). You never know when some earlier thought might have actually been the best choice. Or maybe that section you cut out could be used in another work or sequel.

Some additional resources:

Cheers and happy reading (and editing)! 

Friday, October 23, 2020

My Review of "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill HouseThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

People raved about this book, and as a horror reader and writer, I was embarrassed I hadn't read it. So I finally listened to it on audible as I drove cross-country.

Jackson's writing style if vivid and her craft is excellent. Her characters were well-fleshed, and she could evoke a gothic atmosphere, something I craved. But....

The main point-of-view character, Eleanor (or "Nell") is purposely fragile and naïve, having lived in a very controlling household with no real life of her own until she escaped to the Hill House project. But her frequent "episodes" of daydreaming and her overwhelming second-guessing of herself became very, very tedious. The other characters, though, didn't bother me. In fact, I found Dr. Montague very compelling and is wife, who shows up to act as a self-appointed medium, hilarious. The house caretaker, Mrs. Dudley, was stern to the point of being a caricature of herself.

More troublesome than Nell's character, though, was the fact that certain plot points never really seemed to come full circle. I won't give away anything, but I found the motivations of the spirits in the house and their activities and manifestations to be almost random. Clearly they focus on "fragile Nell", but by the end of the book I was scratching my head to figure out what much of it had to do with anything, and it all took a back seat to Eleanor's self-doubting. When the end of the book came, I was frankly happy when fate met her. 

Cheers and happy reading!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Review of The Disappearance by Lisa Hodorovych


The DisappearanceThe Disappearance by Lisa Hodorovych
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ashlynn goes on a yearly retreat to a reclusive cabin in the woods of the Northwest with her brother, Glen, and two best friends, Roman and Kaden. But then they act odd and disappear without explanation, leaving her alone. Horrifying beasts stalk the woods around the cabin, but she can't just leave her loved ones behind. The help of an old friend, Jack, who happens to be a paranormal investigator, sheds light on the nature of these beasts and sparks more than a paranormal investigation...

The Disappearance is a quick read and a short novel, barely longer than novella length. It's a "gentle" paranormal story, something all too rare, in that it isn't focused on gore or gothic descriptions. Hodorovych leaves you feeling fulfilled with a sense of relationship, as the story is centered around the female protagonist and her devotion to the characters around her.

My main critiques are that I would have liked more scenic descriptions in the book (for instance, it takes place in the woods of the Northwest, but there's nary a description of ferns or fir trees), and I saw the plot twist coming long before the protagonist did. But Hodorovych demonstrates a mastery of writing craft and you feel the genuine emotions of the character as she navigates the challenges and searches for her missing loved ones against the threat of these cryptid creatures.

Cheers and happy reading!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sometimes life gets in the way of writing. It's okay.

One of the "rules" of writing you hear over and over is that you have to write every day. I'm here to tell you that it isn't always a possibility. And that's okay.

Any writer who feels bold enough to pronounce "rules" of any type is, I think, a bit full of shit. Some of the greatest writers in history made their mark precisely by breaking the rules. But the "rule" of writing every day is one that is repeated all the way from bestselling authors to unpublished writers aspiring to be like those gurus.

Stephen King, for instance, in his much-lauded book, On Writing, prescribes that you write at least 1000 words a day at least six days a week. Well good for him, but remember that he is a full-time author who makes buckets of money at it. I’ve found that a lot of writers who hand out this advice, particularly if they declare you should write X thousand words/day or some number of hours every day, are actually full time writers.

Yes, if you are committed to writing as a career or are serious about putting words on paper and getting it into the hands of readers, then you should write as regularly as possible and as much as your muse can manage. But let's get real, okay? We're human and most of us who write are not full-time writers. We have messy lives. We have kids to raise. We have dayjobs (sometimes more than one) demanding our full attention. We have groceries to shop for, lawns to mow, friends and family to nurture. And gods forbid we actually want a little "me" time just to entertain ourselves with a movie or a good book. After all, you HAVE to be in touch with your life and your culture or your own writing will seem less “real.”

Lives are messy. I'm no exception. After I finished my second novel, I actually stopped writing fiction for over eight years as I raised two special needs babies and worked a career. I found other outlets (blogging and job-related writing), but trying to write quality fiction while exhausted, in maybe 15-minute increments, was simply not do-able. Eventually my kids became a bit more self-sufficient and my dayjob calmed down, and I found myself with enough time and energy to get back to my fiction. It was such a relief to finally exercise that part of my identity! That was several years ago. Happily, I'm back at it.

These days, I'm hitting it harder, with lots of projects coming together in rewarding ways. I find much more time now for writing, editing, and marketing my books. But LIFE is still messy. I'm just coming out of a divorce. I'm buying a house. I'm having kid issues. I'm preparing for a move. And, let's not forget, we're all in the middle of a worldwide pandemic while socially isolating and, at least in my case, working from home for the dayjob. Throw in there a surprise (!) root canal the other day, too. Whew! That's a hell of a lot to deal with!

Many of you reading this may have similar craziness in your lives. It's okay. Really. It's okay.

And if you feel you need permission to attend to life and write later, here it is: You have permission to write when you can, whenever or for however long that may be. We'll wait. It'll be brilliant, because you'll be able to focus better knowing that your life's basic needs are also being met.

And the silver lining? All those crazy things in our lives will color our writing, too. Life experience is the number one best thing to bring your writing to life. It pops up in unexpected ways, breathing essence into your characters and the way they deal with their own lives. And because our readers are human and have crazy lives, too, they can relate better to your writing as a result.

I know your keyboard is calling to you. But go ahead and deal with your car appointment or child's recital or your work report, or whatever. The words will come when you get that chance. Your mind will be clearer. And we'll eagerly await to read what comes out of it!

Cheers and happy writing!

Monday, June 15, 2020

Review of Edge of the Breach by Halo Scot

Edge of the Breach (Rift Cycle, #1)Edge of the Breach by Halo Scot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Edge of the Breach is a deep and fascinating delve into darkness. Behold the birth of monsters and the redemption of the unredeemable.

Set far into the future in a cross-genre sci-fi/fantasy, after civilization has fallen and humanity has fled to the now-hot Antarctica, people struggle to keep society together by utilizing a brutal underbelly. At some point in the past, an interdimensional breach appeared in the heavens, introducing new gods and granting people magical powers based on the season.

The story is told from the point of view of a boy, Kyder, and a girl, Rune, who each fight their own demons and manage to survive at their wits end, both powerful in their respective magic, and both growing to adulthood and surviving on the streets to command their own groups. This is no story for the fainthearted! It is a "grimdark" story, and Halo Scot doesn't flinch from showing us the details of torture, pain, S&M, and forbidden sex. The gritty details lend a dark and realistic bent until, drawn along the current, you are pulled through the rapids of the streams of their lives until, at last, they join into a raging river.

The story is the beginning of a series that revolves around an interdimensional war. But that war only really comes into play at the end of this volume. That didn't matter to me. I was enthralled with story of the two characters and how the darkness and violence of their lives shaped them into terrifying yet relatable people just trying to climb to the top of the dogpile. Highly recommended.

Cheers and happy reading!

View all my reviews

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