Category Archives: humor

MCC and the Goldeneye


So the other day, I was watching The Princess Bridea fantastic movie, btw–and thinking about a friend of mine. This is a friend I’ve mentioned before: Red. She’s since passed on, and you’d think that watching a movie that we watched together (more than once) would make me maudlin, but it didn’t.

Instead, it got me thinking of the last movie we saw together in the theater: Goldeneye (I just totally dated myself).

In any case, we were in college, and I was enrolled in a course called “Environmental Literature: The Importance of Place” or something uppity like that. I was an English Lit major (eventually, I took enough Linguistics courses to major in that, too), so of course I took classes that sounded pretentious. Thing was, I loved this class (I loved skipping it, too, but that’s a story for another day). I still enjoy reading Rick Bass, Terry Tempest Williams, and others. The landscapes they portray are quite lovely, and I’m a girl who likes setting, so when I see that Rick Bass has written an article for one magazine or another, I’ll always buy it.

And then we got to the section of the course where we talked about “erotic landscapes.” I remember reading our text and going, “Oh, my.” If you’re feeling “fingered by the desert,” or some nonsense like that,  then, uh, great? I didn’t know dirt and sagebrush could do that. I’ve lived in the desert for most of my life, and I can tell you one thing: the desert doesn’t do jack for me, but if it did, I wouldn’t stick around to enjoy it. I’m pretty certain it’s the sign of the zombiepocalypse.

I digress.

So, anyway, I wasn’t entirely mature enough to take “erotic landscapes” seriously (Truth be told, I’m still not, because I still laugh until my sides ache at some of that imagery), but I was mature enough to apply it everywhere I went. Including at the movie theater.

Imagine, if you will, this scenario: an inappropriate female, whose mind is somewhat dirty, who is currently studying “erotic landscapes,” and who goes to see, of all things, a Bond movie.

Freud had nothing on me that day.

Everything had sexual connotations. Even the popcorn had some sexual connotation. And there I am, with my very proper friend (she couldn’t have been that proper, because she liked hanging out with me, but that’s beside the point), and during the movie, I’m howling.

I thought that movie was the funniest thing I’d ever seen in my life. But I didn’t keep it to myself and giggle quietly. Nope. In my obnoxiousness, I had to share it with her.

The beaches: “Oh, look at his waves, lapping her silken shores.”

The guns: “Look at him stroking his big gun. She wants to stroke his gun until it fires.”

Airplanes: “I bet he wants to put his plane inside her hangar. Over and over and over.”

And when the missile silo opened up, and the missile rose up out of the water, I was laughing so hard I could barely choke out something vaguely coherent. Something about her “hot, wet chalice” and his “rising missile.”

Luckily, the theater was relatively empty, so I don’t think I disturbed too many people. Mostly just my friend, I suppose.

It’s so terribly immature, and yet, to this day, I can’t watch Goldeneye and not laugh, even though, once, I managed to keep my comments to myself (I was with my grandmother. Even I have a line I won’t cross. Doesn’t mean I didn’t giggle during the movie.). I get that the movie isn’t supposed to be as funny as I think it is, but still. It’s Hi-larious.

Maybe it’s held on to its “funny factor” because of who I was with that day. We never saw another movie in the theaters together–I went to Europe and she went to school out-of-state, and once she came back, she was too tired to go out to see a movie with me–and so this movie has a special place in my heart. Of all the people in the world, Red was the one who most appreciated my sense of humor (besides Hubs. That man gets me). Oh, she tried to downplay it, and sometimes she would act like she disapproved (while she was laughing, of course, which just made me try harder to be worse), but once she got sick, whenever I would go over there, she seemed to make sure that whatever movie we watched would allow my inappropriate flag to fly. (That was a horrible sentence. My apologies. And yet, I think I’ll leave it. The benefits of having a blog–there’s no editor to tell you no!) But I can tell you all this: we watched movies where I could make her laugh by saying something outrageous and suggestive. I’m pretty sure we watched Goldeneye more than once.

I can guarantee you, we weren’t watching Beaches or Old Yeller.

Here’s my list of special movies:

1. Goldeneye

2. The Princess Bride

3. Two Days in the Valley (first movie I saw with Hubs. Lots of violence–Hubs’ version of a romance. That and Terminator.)

4. The Incredibles (when I first saw this movie, and Jack-Jack turned into a flaming demon, I thought, “Whoever wrote this had a kid with colic,” because Lord, that reminds me of Monk when she had it. Every time we watch that scene, Hubs and I will exchange The Look and start to laugh).

5. And, go ahead and judge: Zorro the Gay Blade. It’s what Red and I watched when we weren’t watching Goldeneye. Also, I have a thing for George Hamilton’s tan. Not George Hamilton. His tan.

What about you? What movies are special to you, and why?

Leave a comment, and, uh, I’ll wish a pony upon you. That would work, right?

–MCC

Booty-licious: A Pirate’s Ransom


 

Good morning, peeps! (It’s always a good morning if it’s Monday and you don’t have to go to work, right?

Help me welcome Gerri Brousseau, author of A Pirate’s Ransom.

Gerri: Thank you, Meggan, for hosting me here today. I thought for a little bit of fun today, I would invite Captain Drake to help me answer these questions. So … he and I shall be taking a stab at them.

He’s not going to stab me while taking a stab at my questions, is he? After all, he’s a pirate. (Gerri shakes her head; Captain Drake grins. I decide to plow on ahead anyway)

So, uh, Captain Drake, Gerri, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Captain Drake: I’m a pirate. What more is there to say?

Gerri: Really, Captain … sometimes, you can be so crass. I shall answer this question.

Captain Drake: My deepest apologies, Lady Gerri. By all means, please do continue.

Gerri: I live in CT with my two pugs … they are such good company and have great personalities. Besides writing, my other passion is cooking. I guess I just love to create things, no matter if they are on paper, or a plate.

Do you have a day job?

Captain Drake: I sail the seven seas looking for the prize I seek.

Gerri: Unfortunately, no. I got laid off with the downturn of the economy.  I am looking though.

Of course you do, Captain. I would expect nothing less. So tell me, Gerri, how do you balance writing with all of your other obligations? (I ask, because I have yet to find it!)

Gerri: I don’t. I give myself permission to be temporarily out of balance. I learned a long time ago that dust keeps. No one else will do the dishes or vacuum so when I have a moment, I do. If I were working, I would have to deal with it. I find that women are good at juggling.

That’s a perfect response, mostly because I haven’t vacuumed in the last few days, and I only dusted because, well, I have a hole in my bathroom floor from a dreaded toilet leak. That floor would be clean if it existed, right?

Just because I’m curious: What’s your favorite book of all time, and why? (Because I’m a lit geek, I’ll let you get away with listing more than one)

Captain Drake: I find I’m quite fond of the tales of Odysseus.

Gerri:  I really can’t answer this. I have many that I have read more than once, so I would be hard pressed to pick, but I do have to say I love Mister Darcy.

Oo, oo, I love Mister Darcy, too. Especially as played by Colin Firth. I think I was seven or eight when that version came out, but lawd, I love it! Speaking of actors, who is your favorite movie/TV character and why?

Captain Drake: What is TV?

Gerri: Captain, I will handle this one as well. I have many favorite movies. Let’s see … I adore Harry Potter because those books/movies inspire me. No matter how many times I have seen them, whenever they are on I MUST watch them. I love Pirates of the Caribbean, of course. I have seen Gone With the Wind many times, as well as The Sound of Music. I love The Wizard of Oz and Top Gun too. Favorite TV character is Damon Salvatore, played by the devilishly handsome, very hot and sexy Ian Somerhalder. Man, if I were just 20 years younger.

 I  to agree with you on that front: Ian Somerhalder is very nice to look at. 🙂 

What are your interests outside of writing?

Gerri: I have a new granddaughter and I love spending time with her. As I mentioned above, I love to cook and create new recipes. I enjoy going to the movies, trying a new restaurant, I like to sketch and paint, I enjoy walking with friends or with the pugs. I like to go to the beach, although I hate sand … weird huh? I love to dance.

Congrats on the new grandbaby! That’s so exciting. 

Let’s talk a little about your writing. Answer as many or as few as you want…

Is there a particular author who may have influenced you?

Gerri: Yes there are two actually, Stephanie Meyer and J.K. Rowling. Let me tell you a little bit about how I started writing. Way back in 2007 I took a job that required me to travel 4 hours per day on a train. I know, crazy, but desperate times … anyway … during those hours I started to read – A LOT. Well, one fine day I picked up a little book entitled, “Twilight” and couldn’t put it down. In a matter of one week, I had breezed through all four of them. Then I read an interview with the author who said she dreamed Twilight. I thought … if I only could have a dream, maybe I could write a book. Well, I pushed that notion aside and went on with my life. Then one weekend it just so happened that Harry Potter was on. The particular movie was the Goblet of Fire. In this movie, Harry has to battle a dragon. The old professor looks at Harry and says, “What are your strengths? What are you good at?” And at that moment, it seemed as if the old professor was asking me. Harry answers, “Well, I’m a pretty fair flyer.” and I answer “I’m pretty fair writer” and the old professor answers, “Better than fair, the way I heard it.”  And it was at that moment that I decided to seriously become an author.  It is my fondest wish to one day meet J.K. Rowling.

That’s a great story! Tell us a little bit about what inspired this book.

Gerri: I always had dreamed about being swept away by a handsome pirate, but my pirate had to be so much more. He wasn’t rough and mean. He was a gentleman. The more I thought about him, the more he manifested himself in my mind. Of course, I couldn’t picture him alone, so I imagined what his lady would look like. Pretty soon, Captain Drake and Lady Catherine were screaming at me to tell their story … I tried my hand at writing a pirate tale and I hope your readers love it as much as I loved writing it.

I’m sure they will!

What is your favorite sentence or quote in your new release?

Gerri: My favorite is spoken by Captain Drake to Lady Catherine: “Every Lady needs a scoundrel in her life.”

Captain Drake: I said that and I do believe that to be true. I confess, I strive daily to see that I fulfill this need.

I confess, I’m pretty enamored with the scoundrel(s) in my life.

So, Gerri, In their hearts of hearts, what would your characters say about themselves?

Captain Drake: I am a gentleman. Although I am known to be a pirate, I am honest and strive to do the right thing. I see myself as being loyal and protective.

Gerri: Lady Catherine is a well-mannered lady. She would never dream of bringing dishonor to her father. She is innocent, but a quick study (blush). She is strong-willed and can be feisty.

Miss Mary Chadwick – Lady Catherine’s maid has been with Catherine since her birth. She is loyal and protective.

Tobias Smith – Captain Drake’s Quartermaster – he’s a little rough around the edges, but he is fiercely loyal and level-headed. 

Sounds like a good crew, and every pirate captain needs one of those! Tell me, Gerri–or perhaps you could answer, Captain Drake, who would play the lead characters in your story?

Gerri: Since Hollywood wouldn’t give the author the chance to cast her characters, I really haven’t given it too much thought. Captain Drake is devilishly handsome. Dark hair, green eyes … hmmm have to give that some thought. Lady Catherine has dark hair and crystal blue eyes … I guess I will challenge the readers to make some suggestions. I have had one already for Mary Chadwick. Let’s see what the readers say in their comments.

Do you have any advice for an aspiring writer?

Gerri: Yes. Believe in yourself and your story and NEVER give up.  Don’t listen to the nay sayers. Keep writing. There will be no’s … there will be rejections, but do not give up.

Where can your readers stalk you?

Gerri:  My website at www.gerribrousseau.com where I urge them to enter my Claim the Ransom contest for their chance to sail away with the treasure.

I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/#!/gerri.brousseau.5 and I also have a Fan page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/edit/?id=265905043526325&sk=permissions&success=1#!/gerribrousseaubooks  I invite them to stop by “Like” my page, say Hi or ask a question.  I also have a page at Soul Mate Publishing authors http://smpauthors.wordpress.com/

Tell us about your new release:

Gerri:  I would be happy to. Here is a little blurb about the book:

Despair filled Lady Catherine as she boarded the ship for England, and toward marriage to man she’s never met—the Duke of Devonshire.  But the sea is no place for a lady.  She’s captured by the Pirate Captain, Edmund Drake and held for ransom; a ransom that has nothing to do with coin.  But when she’s stolen from him, he realizes she has captured his heart. She becomes the pawn in a dangerous rivalry between two pirates—the handsome pirate Captain Edmund Drake and his notorious and fearsome opponent, Blackbeard.  How far will Captain Drake go to reclaim his prize?  Which pirate will decide her fate?  And who will pay … A Pirate’s Ransom?

But … there is so much more to the story. What about the Duke? How and when does he fit into this story and who the heck is The Contessa Theodora de Lorenzo? Hmm, guess you’ll just have to read the book to find out.

Do you have an excerpt?

Gerri: Yes, I sure do.

Well then, without further ado, A Pirate’s Ransom!

My hand rested on the smooth wood of the rail while I watched the moonlight dance upon the waves, the sound of the wind in the sails was almost liberating. I don’t know how long he stood behind me in silence but when I sensed his presence, my backbone stiffened. What was it about this man that riled me so?

He took a few steps closer. “Catherine,” he said in a voice just above a whisper. The deepness of his murmur caused my mind to wander. Why was I picturing him using this tone with a lover? My back stiffened further and I chided myself for allowing my thoughts to wander in that direction. Refusing to face him, I kept my gaze upon the water.

“It would give me great pleasure if you would do me the honor of dining with me this evening.” He seemed to purr.

He inched closer and the heat of his body radiated into my rigid back. Placing one hand upon my shoulder and his lips close to my ear he whispered, “Please.”

The heat of his whisper caressed my ear and the tension seemed to melt away from me. I closed my eyes and tried to swallow the lump in my throat.

“You look truly beautiful this evening, Milady.” His hoarse whisper scorched my neck and goose bumps ran up my arms. He stood so close that when I relaxed, my back nestled against his chest. His body was hard and warm and the intoxicating smell of him made me dizzy. Heat spread through me in a sensation I had never experienced before as his soft lips gently brushed my neck, but my heart nearly stopped when he whispered, “but not nearly as lovely as you looked this afternoon in the mirror.

Gerri: Oh, by the way … if your readers are interested in purchasing the book, here are my links:

Available at: http://www.soulmatepublishing.com

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/kindle/dp/B0091PRUTO/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_eos_detail

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-pirtes-ransom-gerri-brousseau/1112651492?ean=2940015206692

Thanks so much for hosting me. 

You are very welcome! Thanks for stopping by to chat!

 

Writing Wednesday: Ask An Editor!


MCC: Hi, I’d like to welcome Philippa Francis, editor extraordinaire, to my little haven. She’s got some tips for us—and some stories to tell—about her adventures in the editing world. Just so you know, she’s using a pseudonym to protect the guilty. So if your editor happens to be named Philippa, I’m sure she is perfectly lovely. However, it’s not this Philippa, and you’re not the author in question. That being said, for the love of all you consider holy, don’t do some of the things mentioned here!

First things first, Philippa, do you plan on eating my firstborn? I’ve heard editors are all soulless, dream-crushing spawns of Satan.

PF: No, I get most of my protein from tofu and raw fish. Unless your first-born is a salmon or a soybean, she’s safe.

MCC: I totally believe you, though the firstborn did once claim that she wanted to be a part-time mermaid, part-time polar bear, so, uh, I’m just going to send her… over there. Before we dig into the editing business, let’s talk about you. What’s your favorite work of fiction, and why?

PF: I never know how to answer this question. I just went to Goodreads to figure out which novels I rated the highest.

Some novels I love because of the genius of setting or the conceit of the narrative style, like Iain Pears’s Stone’s Fall or An Instance of the Fingerpost. Some I love for voice and pace, like Nero Wolfe stories. Some novels are so easy to slip into that it’s almost as if you’re wearing your favorite cashmere sweater, like Teresa Edgerton’s The Green Lion Trilogy or A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer (my comfort reading).

A novel that continues to blow me away is Lolita. It has an unreliable narrator, amazing voice, incredible style, and staying power. That it was Nabokov’s first book written in English just makes it all the more impressive. Ordinarily I am annoyed when I notice the beauty of an author’s writing, but added to the gestalt of Lolita, it works.

But overall, I’m very picky about fiction. Most of my reading time goes to non-fiction, and most of that to history. If I start reading a novel, it’s because I’m very interested in it and I’ve read good reviews from sources I trust. If I hate it, I won’t finish it. I will put it down and write a negative review on Goodreads or Amazon. The older I get, the more precious my time gets.

MCC: Speaking of reviews, what do you think about authors feeling obligated to give other authors glowing reviews?

PF: It’s disingenuous and a huge disservice to readers. If that’s not clear enough? I absolutely hate it.

I understand you want to support your friends and fellow authors. Great. Go around and click “like” on your friends’ or critique partners’ Amazon pages. Tag the books on Amazon. If you really, really like the book? Fine. Give it a good review.

But when I see an author giving a mediocre book five stars and gushing about it, I lose respect for both and…I probably won’t buy either author’s books from that point forward.

Do I sound like a bitch? Sorry. I have limited free time. When you fake a good review for a badly written book, it tells me you don’t care enough about my time to give me an honest opinion. That means I don’t care enough about you to give you my money.

And if you’re an author who gets less than a five star review, get the hell over it. If there’s merit to the criticism, fix the flaws in your next book. If there isn’t, who cares? Move on.

Whatever you do, don’t assemble all your friends and sister writers and pressure them into writing gushing reviews of the book. If you put your friends in that position, you may find yourself with fewer friends.

And never, ever respond to a critical review online. Ever. (But if you’re reviewed in the London Review of Books, please do feel free to write in to the editor with complaints about your review. It never ends well for the author, but I live for reading that page.)

MCC: I’ll admit, I’ve felt the pressure, which is why I stopped doing reviews on my site. I have issues with guilt, thought I have great capacity for snark.  I’ve been trying to keep my snark in check. One day, it will spring from my head fully grown, like Athena, fully clothed in armor and ready to rumble (or the Queen from Alien. Either way, duck for cover when it finally happens. It won’t be pretty).

But I digress.

What’s your favorite genre to edit?

PF: Anything historical. Mostly because I love history, but I also love finding anachronisms in books. I am the reader who will be scathing in a review if I find an error. When I save my authors from that, I feel like some sort of OCD history superhero.

MCC: Well, now that that’s out of the way, and we like to talk about things that bug us around here, what is the biggest pet peeve you have when editing a manuscript?

PF: I have three. I type these comments more than anything else: “POV.” “Filtering. Cut.” “Tortured dialogue tag.”

Point of view errors. I’ve tried to explain them a hundred different ways, and some authors get it and some don’t. At worst, you’ll jerk your reader out of the story. At best, it’s lazy writing.

Filtering. Don’t write “Jasmine saw Aladdin fall from the sky” when Jasmine is the exclusive POV. Of course Jasmine saw it. No one else could. Just write “Aladdin fell from the sky.”

Tortured dialogue tags. Don’t do this: “’No,’ Jasmine said, running forward as Aladdin fell from the sky.”  Instead, it’s: “’No.’ Jasmine ran forward as Aladdin fell from the sky. (Although in a perfect world, you’d have the falling preceding the running. But you get the idea.)

MCC: Interesting. I’ll make a note of that. Now, I’ve mentioned some things I’ve heard of authors doing to editors and agents when they’ve been rejected—things authors have admitted to! But even after they’ve been accepted, they still have loads of work to do, right?

PF: I think this is the hardest part for new authors to understand. The manuscript that you submitted and was accepted…it’s not perfect. It seemed like it, sure. But when editorial staff read it, they haven’t been with you and your little darlings all along. They see that you’re relying too heavily on adverbs, that you didn’t resolve a subplot adequately, that you’ve got two characters who could (and should) be merged or three scenes that are duplicative.

MCC: What are some suggestions you have for authors after they’ve received their contracts but before they’ve made it to first round edits? Any advice?

PF: Keep writing. Move onto the next project. Not only is this going to help your career to have another book ready to go while you’re editing this one, but it will also give you more distance when you get your first edits back.

MCC: What are some suggestions you have for authors as they receive their first round of edits?

PF: Oh, lord, where to start?

First, expect to see a lot of red. It will be there. You’re not the outlier. You didn’t turn in an instant masterpiece. Your perfect book isn’t perfect. I’m sorry. Even if your army of critique partners said it was…it’s not.

Second, I wish all authors knew that editors want the book to succeed just as much as they do. I’ll go so far as to say the editor’s interest in the book is purer than the author’s. Editors are interested in working with you to make a book that will sell a lot of copies.  Editors don’t care that you based the hero on your beloved great-uncle Maynard or that the lovely prose on page 59 is a description of your childhood house. If the hero is unlikeable and the overwritten prose bogs the scene down, your editor will tell you to fix it.

If you’re unwilling to see those are honest, objective critiques, you’re going to have a rotten time of it as a writer. Pick a more ego-fulfilling career.

MCC: What do you do if an author doesn’t agree with edits you’ve suggested? What’s negotiable and what’s not, when it comes down to edits?

PF: I’ve only had one author throw a complete tantrum and refuse to change anything substantial. It didn’t work out well for her.

My job is to point out the problems in such a way that the author gets it. I can’t rewrite for the author. The authors who have published the worst books are the authors who have blown off my recommendations. When it comes down to it, if they want to publish crap, I’m very sorry, but there’s only so much I can do.

Grammar and style-guide issues are non-negotiable. It continues to amaze me how many authors don’t look at the publisher’s style guide and then argue with me about things like semicolons or one space after a period.

MCC: Because I find other people’s bad behavior vastly entertaining, what’s the worst thing an author has ever said to you, and how did you respond?

PF: Authors usually say the worst things right after they’ve gotten first edits back. In every email accompanying a set of first edits now, I tell them to not bother writing me until two days have passed.

I send a long email with first edits. I tell them what I like and why. Then I explain where they will find the red in the MS and why. I point out the broad plot problems, where things go off the rails, some suggestions about how they might fix it, and I usually point out the words or phrases that they overuse.

I’m very direct. I don’t think it serves anyone well if an editor beats around the bush. If there’s a big enough problem, I’ll say, “And this is where I would put the book down and write a scathing review.”

What kills me is when authors immediately write back (email makes it so easy) and then try to refute my points bullet point by bullet point. I ignore those messages, mainly because two days later I’ll get a follow-up that says, “I’ve thought about it and you’re right. I’m working on the edits now.”

But for the love of all that’s holy, don’t tell me that your critique partners loved it and thought it would be tragic if you made my suggested changes. (Not making this one up.) I don’t care what your critique partners think. If you’re clueless enough to 1) ignore my 2-day waiting period and 2) refute me line by line, your critique partners probably can’t get you to act sensibly, either. They’ll agree with you just to shut you up. I don’t have that luxury.

Recently I read something for an acquaintance who put me on the spot (my usual response to this is “no” – I don’t like looking at anyone’s first drafts). Per the request, I edited the way I would my own authors. The acquaintance turned around and told me how I was wrong about 1) head hopping, 2) POV errors, 3) use of any verb but “said” or “asked” as a dialogue tag, and 4) a bunch of other things I’ve forgotten.

Remember, I was asked to read this as an editor! I was just glad it wasn’t one of my authors. If my acquaintance wants to take that thing into the marketplace and try to sell it as-is, well, that’s not my problem.

MCC: See people, I’m not making this stuff up. People really do take criticism badly. They didn’t grow up in a household where taking criticism well is a skill necessary for survival.

PF: Right. What prepared me for editing was being raised in a family where mispronouncing or misusing a word meant endless supper table humiliation.

I’m not exaggerating.

Then, when I was 10, my father handed me something he’d written. By this point, he had three graduate degrees and had published books and many scholarly articles. About an hour later I returned it – corrected.

You reap what you sow.

I’d like to continue this as an “Ask the Editor” segment. So if you have any questions, post them in the comments, and maybe Philippa will return for another round? What do you say, Philippa?

Sure!

Writing Wednesday: How to Work WITH Your Editor


So, you got a contract for your manuscript. Now what?

Well, first you wait. And wait. You will probably get an email early on, telling you who your editor is. They may tell you to look for certain words in your manuscript, or to do another run through before first edits come around, or they may simply introduce themselves. And then, you wait.

Now, my advice to working with an editor isn’t so different from my advice on contests and rejections. There is a good way to do things, and a bad way.

See, the first thing you need to know is that the person who acquired your manuscript is, more than likely, not the person who will edit it. This may be a good thing. It may be a bad thing. For instance, the person who edits your manuscript may actually detest your work.

This will be bad for your ego. It may not be bad for your manuscript.

When you first open that manuscript, your heart will sink. There will be so much red that you will wonder if you’re looking at your manuscript or if you’re actually looking at a snapshot of the Battle of Gettysburg. My first piece of advice: Close the email.

Also, as an aside, I changed the color the comments come up in. I find blue to be much more soothing.

Yes, closing the email is my first piece of advice just about every time. But I think you should take in the fact that someone didn’t think your baby is perfect. Before you read all of your editor’s comments, write your editor a very polite email, thanking him for all of his hard work. You don’t want to do it after you’ve read his comments, because your first instinct will be to get upset. And no matter how polite you think your email is, if you’re doing it right after you’ve read those comments and tried to absorb all that red, your email will be snotty.

And you don’t want to go there.

Close that email, and write a polite thank you to your editor.

The next day, open that email and read the comments. As many of them as you can. I go through the whole document, and look for those errors or comments that keep coming up. That way, I know what my editor thinks I need to fix throughout the document before I even get started. Yes, this will take a day or two or several, depending in the length of the manuscript.

When I’m ready to begin the editing process, I then go to Accept All in Word, and accept all changes. If I’ve followed the Chicago Manual of Style and my publisher’s guidelines, and I know whether they use the Oxford comma or not, there won’t be too many grammatical mistakes that aren’t typos on my part. Many houses will send you their guidelines or post them on the web. My first bit of advice: follow them. Your life will be easier.

Because I have read the guidelines and done my darndest to adhere to them, I can usually accept all changes and not feel bad about it. Because I’ve read the entire document–complete with comments–all the way through, I already know which changes I don’t agree with, and have already commented on and rejected those.

The next thing is the hard part. Going through all the comments.

See, editors are not like critique partners. They won’t offer “Hey, I really like this line” in the comments. The comments will feel so… so negative.

This is a good thing, trust me.

You want your editor to point out your flaws, plot holes, over used words or literary devices. You want him to point out areas where it feels like you’ve used deus ex machina again. You want him to point out that what you’ve done with this character has made her intensely unlikeable. Because if you don’t change those things, you will lose your readers. Better that your editor hates your document than your reviewer, right?

I won’t lie: it will hurt.

“But I love this!” you will whine. “This is the heart of my story! And you’re killing it!”

No, my friend, he is not.

Your editor is rescuing the heart of your story from the cesspool of mediocrity. Your editor is not your friend, nor your critique partner. Your editor is there to edit.

The story is yours, of course. You don’t have to make suggested changes, but you will have to communicate that with your editor. Expect whatever your say to go up the food chain to the line editor. Expect to get some resistance from your editor, too. And if you’re snotty with your editor when you tell him why you’re not making those changes, that will also go up to the heads of the house. If you go for the melodrama, and tell your editor that you hope a flaming ball of shit falls from the sky and destroys his house, I’m sorry, but you’re probably not making any friends.

And if you think, “Oh, people don’t really do that,” just trust me on this one: they do. Keep the flaming ball of shit in your head, and leave it there. Use it in a short story maybe. Base your next villain on your editor. Do whatever you need to do, just don’t say it to your editor.

Communication is your friend, it really is. But keep it professional. Do not send an email while you are angry. Like with any important document (including, hopefully, this manuscript you’ve submitted), write at least two or three drafts, outlining why you would prefer to not make the suggested changes, and asking your editor for her opinion. No, seriously. Ask. Don’t make demands on your editor. They’re busy people, too.

After you’ve gone through your manuscript, and made all the changes you are planning on making (this can take a few days or several weeks, depending on the number and intensity of the necessary changes), read your document one more time before sending it on. Make sure you’ve stepped away from it for a few days, if you have the time, so that you will be more able to see any new errors you may have made. We all have our crutches. For me, it’s the em dash. If I’ve had to rewrite a scene, trust me, I’ve used too many em dashes in that first round. I always need to go back and take them out. You’ll have something else you’ll do.

Your ego has no place in the editing. In this business, we have to have thick skins. Once that manuscript is off to the editor, try not to think of it as yours. It’s not your heart, it’s not your soul. You would continue to exist even if your masterpiece never saw the light of day, if it burned into ash, if a dinosaur ate it and crapped it back out. So, when you see all that red, and think of all the changes you need to make, think of it as improving someone else’s work. Kind of like the screenwriter who has to take someone else’s screenplay and punch it up.

If you can think of it as not yours, maybe you’ll see some merit in what your editor has to say. Maybe you’ll see things you need to change, scenes you need to cut, characters who need to go, or be merged with other characters.

Listen to your editor, even if you think he’s a jerk. He’s not here to be your friend. He’s here to make a buck off of what you wrote.

And he just might, if you let him.

–M

Happy Fourth!


So, I’m listening to angry German music from many moons ago–yes, yes, on the Fourth of July–and thinking of what was, perhaps, the oddest Fourth of July celebration of my life. (Being honest, I’m surprised I remembered all the words to the song…It’s been a long time. Hence the reason I found German romance authors on Twitter and follow them… To see if I can still make out what they’re tweeting!)

In any case, it was the Fourth of July…a long time ago. I was 21. I was dating a British guy at the time, Dave. I didn’t have a car, so I asked him to go buy me some sparklers. I don’t know where he got them from, and to this day, I question their legality, but whatever. He had a friend come to our makeshift celebration. Jan, I think his name was. Anyway, so there I am with a German guy, the British boyfriend, and I’m carrying an American flag. I’m sure we made quite the trio.

Anyway, as night started to fall, Jan took out his zippo lighter and lit the sparklers. And holy shizzle, Batman, I am either the biggest bee-yatch on Earth, or my powers of persuasion are amazing. (It’s probably the former)

Because I handed the boys the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner and made them sing it with me. (Well, begged, cajoled, and flirted until they agreed. I think I even agreed to sing the German national anthem and God Save the Queen if they sang it with me. After my illustrious performance with The Star Spangled Banner, I was…ahem…not required to sing anything else.)

So there we are:  the German, the Brit and the American, singing The Star Spangled Banner as the sun set over Germany. Well, they sang when they weren’t mumbling something that sounded suspiciously like watermelon, watermelon under their breaths. It’s okay. I sang loud enough for all of us.

Then I broke out some Dutch beer, and we toasted “The Yanks,” and we broke out the bratwurst and ate. It was great. Weird, but great.

I Feel Pretty


The lovely and talented Casey Wyatt has nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger Award! If you don’t know her, you really should check out her book, Mystic Ink!

Rule #1 – I must share 7 things. Today, I’m going to be different and share fun facts about Edinor. Let’s face it, you all must be sick of hearing about me!

Rule #2 – Pass this award to 7 bloggers. More on that later.

As Casey’s suggestion, I’ve decided to do 7 things about Edinor:

1. Edinor is a stuffed tyrannosaur that I have stolen from my daughter (only occasionally) and anthropomorphized. It’s great. Here she is in all her glory:

2. Edinor likes dresses, but she’s not into the bling. Both Husband and Monk have steadfastly agreed that THERE IS TO BE NO BLING ON THIS ONE! (It’s all very Gandalf on LOTR, shouted from the mountaintop with staff in hand, long flowing hair billowing in the breeze. But wait, you ask, isn’t Husband a cop, and don’t they have regulations on hair length and shouting weird things from mountaintops? Well, yes. I never said the long, flowing hair belonged to him. **Waves at Husband stand in **).
3. Cowboys will not hold a stuffed tyrannosaur and allow their pictures to be taken. Something about being “ridiculous.” Humph. I bet riding bulls isn’t the only thing you can do for less than 8 seconds. Oh, snap! (No, seriously, I know it’s ridiculous. That’s the fun of it, right?)
4. Queens of the Renaissance Faire, however, have no problem with it. And bless them for it.
No, I don’t have any shame. Why?
5. Edinor has decided to go it naked. Apparently, the children aren’t the only nudists in the house (I think I’ve broken Monk of the habit of just randomly dropping trou when she comes home, but boy child….Nearly every day, he strips down to nothing but his underpants. I don’t get it, but I have a friend whose son is 14, and he apparently still does it.) So, the dress has been ditched. I’m actually a little sad. But, apparently, we didn’t want to get the dress dirty for the gun range, because…
6. Edinor likes gun.
7. And trains (Oh, just wait, pics are coming). So, apparently, Edinor was destined to be a Highwayman or something. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Tyrannosaur, robbing trains and stealing hearts along the way. And until I can convince a train conductor to hold Edinor (I’ve tried once, but he was busy, so no snarky comments about how long it takes him to get his train into the station… Oh, wait…), I will leave you with this image
My nominees are:
1. RJ Gordon of Gemini Witching
2. Janna Shay
3. Callie Hutton
4. Ann Monclair
5. Brooke Moss
6. BJ Scott
7. Raven Ray

Little Tiny Arms… Great Big Guns


So, I talked Hubs into taking Edinor with him out to the gun range the last time he had training.

I was supposed to go, too, but alas, I had the children that day, so it was a no-go. Darn. Husband keeps thinking if I spend more time out there, I won’t flinch like a giant baby when I look at his duty weapon. Ha! Little does he know, the pansy is fierce in this one. (Actually, we’ve been together for sixteen years in a month or so, so I think he’s seen the light. He is the mighty protector. I, uh, am not.)

In any case, I find it amusing that Husband has no qualms about taking a stuffed Tyrannosaur out to the gun range and snapping pictures, but he refused to have her wear bling. Tiny daughter and Husband are ganging up on me, I think. What’s with this lack of bling? And why shouldn’t a stuffed Tyrannosaur be bedecked in jewels? I’d want to be fully blinged if I were a stuffed Tyrannosaur that paraded around in a dress. After all, they have big heads and small arms. They have to compensate for that somehow, right?

Um, yeah.I don’t know where that came from, either.

So, without further ado, a series of pictures I’ll call: Little arms. Big Guns.

ImageImageImageIt

It’s almost as if she’s saying, “Nuuuh, nuuuh. Darn it, I can’t reach!”

(And no, Hubs is not as shameless as I am. I would’ve asked the boys to pose with the dinosaur.)

The Continuing Adventures of Tyrannosaurus Edinor


It’s true. I have no shame.

A couple of weeks ago, Husband and I took the kids to a Renaissance Faire. Now, I love these things, even if half the women are, shall we say, lacking both adequate clothing and adequate sunscreen. Still, it’s a hoot. (Incidentally, I got myself a really cool, steampunky watch–it’s a necklace encased in clear acrylic, and you can see the gears on the back. Fully awesome. Daughter got herself a compass–again, very steampunk. All I can say is… she is mine. Boy child got another wooden sword. I was pushing for the trebuchet, but what can I say? He says he wants to be a prospector/Viking/king when he grows up. I suppose the sword is a requirement).

In any case, Monk dressed up as a Viking (or, rather, in a peasant outfit and her brother’s Viking helmet) and took her stuffed tyrannosaur. We put Edinor in a dress. I wanted her to wear a necklace, but Monk put her foot down. Apparently, a tyrannosaur wearing a dress and bling is not period appropriate. Whatever, kid.

So, without further ado, the continuing adventures of my daughter’s Tyrannosaur in a dress. Oh, and a few of the kids, for good measure.

The Viking, Edinor, and the Boy talk to the Queen

No, I don’t have any shame. Why?

WTH?


So, today I was in the land of rampant consumerism, and I came across this item. (Okay, yeah, sometimes I try to avoid large chain stores, but honestly, if you’re going to buy cheap kid crap, it should be… well, cheap)

WHAT THE HELL? EDWARD AS A BARBIE DOLL???????????????

Henceforth, I dub you Edward Candyass, and may the GI Joes right next to you make fun of you for eternity.

Now, if they  made an Eric Barbie doll (life size, please), I might be first in line to make that purchase. Um, yeah, it’s my rampant consumerism mixed with giddy fangirl-dom. Blame the media (everyone else does).