Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thoughts about Revising Fiction

I was in my twenties, working on a team that was preparing a report for top management of an organization, when the team leader said, "Every final becomes a new iteration."  

I did not know the definition of iteration, though the dictionary said it essentially meant  a new draft. Today's Oxford American College Dictionary gives one meaning as "a new version of a piece of computer hardware or software." When I first encountered the term iteration I did not yet own a computer and doubt the dictionary writers did either. Times change.

Hearing this phrase taught me two things. First, never use a three-dollar word when a one-dollar word will do. Second, don't have such pride in your work that you consider an early draft to be the one for public consumption.

As a technical writer for many years, I revised constantly.  I revise my fiction, too, but generally only before publication. In 2006, Author House issued my book Searching for Secrets.  It is a short mystery that puts almost as much emphasis on a potential romance between the two main characters, a teacher and police officer in Iowa City.

After a lot of thought, I issued a new version of the book as an e-pub. Why? I didn't like the earlier version. 
The romantic elements seemed forced and took away from the story. I liked the story itself, so I reworked parts of the book. The book is much the same, but with less focus on the characters' thoughts about one another. It flows better. 

Is this sacrilege? Maybe. Am I happy with the new version?  Definitely.  A friend's note confirmed that the revision was a good decision.  He had just finished reading Appraisal for Murder and said, "It is a good read; much better than your first effort Searching for Secrets."  Only a good friend will tell you something like that.

This will be the only time I publish a revised piece of fiction. My skills are at a level I'm happier with -- doesn't mean everyone will like my writing, but I will. And I may let some of it sit longer in a drawer before putting it out there. 
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Words to Write By" gets more interest

After editing nonfiction for a number of years I saw similar themes among a number of clients.  They knew their subject matter but either believed they "could not write" or were frustrated with not doing it as well as they wanted to.  I wrote Words to Write By: Getting Your Thoughts on Paper, with them in mind.  It is now on Kindle, but since portions are intended to be a workbook I want to reissue it as a paperback.  Years ago I did a spiral-bound version, but as I've refined segments I did not reprint.

If you go to the link on my web site (click here) you can see a more full description and then click a link to read the table of contents.  As I consider revisions for a new edition, I would appreciate it if you would take a look and offer comments.  If you can't wait a couple months for a paperback the Kindle edition is available.  Words to Write By: Getting Your Thoughts on Paper

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Updated my web site

I spent a fair bit of time working to create a sleeker look at  While you can still tell the site was designed by a novice, I like the look.  I had not been able to update the site because Yahoo (my host) stopped accepting updates from the Front Page software.  I can say that Yahoo's own Sitebuilder is simple to learn (which a couple others I tried were not) and there are people you can call any time -- and not one of them says, "You mean you can't figure that out for yourself?"

My e-book giveaway on Amazon is "Secrets of the Gap" and it has topped 9,000 downloads.  It has led to an uptick in sales of other books.  Cool.

Now, back to writing...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Learning to Blog for Book Publicity

That business of writing being easy ("you just open a vein...") does not hold a candle to blogging effectively.  Between trying to overcome the "who wants to hear from me every day?" handicap and learning the technical aspects of creating the posts, I'm considering a hut in the Andes.  Or maybe the Alps, I love the Alps. Now that I've learned the difference between posts and pages I better understand why some writers have abandoned web pages in favor of blogs.  This really is (sort of, kind of) easier. Today I created a page on the Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series and am about to do one on my recent family history book, Orr Campbell, Mitchell, and Shirley Families in Ireland and America.  I thought about whether the fiction and family history blogs should be separate.  For now, both are here -- both kinds of writing inform the other.  And, this is me.