If You’re a Reader, Then You Understand

Found this terrific article on Buzzfeed (such a guilty pleasure) today, and some of you fellow readers may join with me in commiserating on the pains of being interrupted while reading, having someone spoil an ending of a book (or a SERIES, heaven forbid!), and other such tetchy issues.

Currently I’m taking a short break after the completion of my first draft manuscript to catch up on some reading. Gotta keep learning from other authors so when I go back to rewriting, I’ll have some fresh ideas.

I’m happily nearing the end of George R.R. Martin’s fifth book in his Game of Thrones saga, and it’s been a long thousand pages. After that I’ve got a queue: Rama II, the sequel in the Rama series by Arthur C. Clarke, sci-fi guru.  I’m reading Clarke’s book mainly for preparation when I start writing a sci-fi book (*insert geeky squeal of joy here! can’t wait!*).  Second, I’ll be finishing up Dorothea Brande’s “On Becoming a Writer.”  I’ve been teasing this one out, soaking up the nuggets of wisdom rather than gulping it down as I’m wont to do.  A veritable stack of paper and digital books stand waiting to be prioritized after those two: a land more kind than home (Wiley Cash), The Making of a Christian Bestseller (Ann Byle), Word Painting (Rebecca McClanahan), Horn Island Dream (Wes Dannreuther), Dust (Hugh Howey) and Shift (Hugh Howey), The Resolution for Women (Priscilla Shirer), The First Science Fiction Megapack (multiple authors), Red Dawn Rising (Sue Duffy) and The Sound of Red Returning (Sue Duffy).

Not necessarily in that order. But my brother and I are taking a cross-country road trip soon, so I hope to make a large dent in this delicious feast of lit. Will have reviews for you soon!



Questions asked of female authors and scattered thoughts on the “Church Critic” leading lady

If you’re reading an interview, do you ever notice that the questions asked of female authors are markedly different than those asked of male authors? I have seen this in various magazines, and I think it hearkens back to the earliest days of female writers using male-sounding pseudonyms because a female writing was somehow similar to witchcraft. Writers are already a different breed, sharing insights about humanity that seem drawn from an unfairly gained supernatural source of insight. At least, that’s how Dorothea Brande characterizes the fears of non-writers about writers in her book, Becoming a Writer.  But then, on top of being a writer, to be a female? It’s a whole new realm of non-feminine activity – wanting to write and suss out the secrets of the human soul rather than suss out the mysteries of diapers and the kitchen.

To poke fun at these slanted interviews, comedic (and sometimes crass) author Chuck Wendig and his comrade Stephen Blackmoore answer a mock interview filled with these questions targeted at women in a Whack Magazine article. It’s rather hilarious!

Where did this focus on female authorship come from?

Well, last night, in my monthly writers’ group meeting, there were a series of breakthrough ah-ha! moments for me, some more mundane than others:

  • When a sentence ends with an ellipsis (…) you should also add a period.  That’s four dots for you counters out there….
  • For nouns that end in an S, such as “waitress” or “Jesus,” one ought to add only an apostrophe to indicate possession, rather than an apostrophe S.  HOW HAVE I FORGOTTEN THAT?  It’s my aurochs’ brain. (An extinct wild ox, oft-reference in George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones saga I’m enjoying. Also an opportunity to give an example. 🙂 )
  • Using! exclamation! marks! too! often! forces! the! readers! to! feel! your! emotion! Not! recommended! Whew.
  • Indentations before paragraphs aren’t needed for submitting a book to be published as an e-book, but they are needed for traditional print publishers.
  • FINALLY, the relevant point – apparently you can write a character’s insecurities unintentionally. One fellow writer remarked that the character I’d written from the first chapter of “Church Critic” seemed insecure in her marriage and her sense of purpose. I’d wanted the ups-and-downs of their marriage to come through, but I never wanted the main character to seem as if she didn’t want children. It’s just a matter of priority – in my mind, Darleene wants to make something out of herself, then have babies. But somehow, thanks to my fellow writer’s scrutinizing eye, it did seem as if Darleene didn’t want any whippersnappers ever, thank you very much.

One of those moments where you go whoooaaa…maybe I wrote this character intending one thing, but somehow in the process it reached back from its primordial soup of character-building and grabbed parts of me and pulled me in to create a sort of alternate dimension Susie. Or maybe I’m seeing a reflection of myself from what I’m written, psycho-analyzing my life through a character I’ve made up…whoa. That’s too meta.

Anyway – that’s the update!  The “Church Critic” manuscript is done, and we are in editing mode! Thanks to the writers’ group and to three anonymous editors who are plugging through it, plus two more who are looking at the first chapter specifically.

Work in Progress

On my novel-in-progress and this website:

“It behooves every man to remember that the work of the critic, is of altogether secondary importance, and that, in the end, progress is accomplished by the man who does things.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

start of something new

Welcome to the new site, dedicated to starting the conversation with you on what I’m writing and what’s been published so far.  The site is currently under construction, but it’ll be fully up and running soon!