#GraceUnderFire: Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley Meme copyThe commonly publicized stories of famous men and women are generally focused on their great victories and glorious successes, and rarely touch for long on the less-than-glorious moments in their careers.

And, while I am always inspired by great successes, I am far more intrigued by how the heroes and heroines of history handled the most crushing, personal defeats.

One woman I deeply admire as much for the way she handled disgrace and loss as for her literary success, is Mary Shelley.

elopement memeThe year was 1814, and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin was 17–young, even by the standards of the day–when she ran away with a married man. That man was Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was (until he eloped with Mary) a close friend of her father.

Mary was the daughter of the famous political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the pioneering philosopher and feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft.  Her father was the first modern proponent of anarchism, and (until recently) her late mother’s tempestuous history overshadowed her brilliant work as a writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights. Her parents were Free Thinkers, and were notorious in their own rights.

Percy was the eldest legitimate son of Sir Timothy Shelley, 2nd Baronet of Castle Goring. Sir Timothy had himself produced an illegitimate child, which (in Percy’s eyes) made his  pious horror at his son’s transgressions seem rather hypocritical.

William Godwin was frequently in danger of going to debtors’ prison as his businesses regularly failed.  Good friends always rescued him, and long before beginning his relationship with Mary, Percy Shelley had agreed to bail the man he admired out of debt.

After their elopement, the enraged William Godwin refused to see them, but still demanded money to be given to him under another name, to avoid scandal. Their assertions that marriage was a matter of mind and God rather than the law fell on primly deaf ears.

640px-RothwellMaryShelleyMary viewed her father’s reaction to their elopement as both sanctimonious and motivated by greed. It does appear that way, in view of his past and his political views, and also in view of the liberal way in which he had raised her after her mother’s death.

But beyond Sir Timothy Shelley and William Godwin’s hypocrisy, the couple faced intense censure from society at large, and paid a heavy price for the choices they had made.

After the suicide of Percy’s 1st wife, Harriet, and his subsequent marriage to Mary, the Chancery Court ruled Percy Shelley morally unfit to have custody of his children, despite Mary’s desire to raise them. In what was a well-publicized case, Percy’s children were placed with a clergyman’s family.

Mary ShelleyDespite having her personal business widely discussed and being snubbed by people she had believed to be her friends, Mary refused to behave as an outcast, writing and living as normal a life as she was able. Forced to live abroad to escape creditors, Mary and Percy found their exile from England hard to bear, despite their famous (and infamous) circle of friends who were exiled for much the same reasons.

When faced with the suicide of her sister Fanny and the deaths of three of her children, Mary suffered a deep depression. She retreated into her writing, and her husband retreated into confusion. Nevertheless, in public she carried herself with grace and dignity, no matter what was said or implied about her. During that time, Percy wrote:

My dearest Mary, wherefore hast thou gone, And left me in this dreary world alone? Thy form is here indeed—a lovely one—But thou art fled, gone down a dreary road That leads to Sorrow’s most obscure abode. For thine own sake I cannot follow thee. Do thou return for mine.

frankenstein (1)At the age of twenty-two she found herself a widow, and spent the rest of her life raising her only living son, writing, and getting Percy’s works published. Her life with Percy had been a struggle in many ways, far beyond the obvious, but no man ever captivated her more than he had. The wild passion she felt for him was as much spiritual as it was carnal, a true meeting of minds.

They were young, and although he loved her body and soul, he was not entirely faithful to her, and didn’t hide his infidelity from her. They lived beyond their means and were hounded by creditors, which could have meant debtor’s prison. In Mary’s eyes, that lack of security was far more difficult to endure than sly comments about her perceived bad behavior.

Mary Shelley was brave in what she published, and wrote her political thoughts into her novels and essays boldly, despite women having no right to voice their ideas. She believed in the Enlightenment idea that “People can improve society through the responsible exercise of political power,” but she also feared that the reckless exercise of power would lead to chaos, and her works reflect this belief.

the last man, shelleyHer works reveal her as much less optimistic than her radical parents, Godwin and Wollstonecraft. She doubted her father’s theory that humanity could eventually be perfected.

Even her early works are critical of the way in which 18th-century thinkers, such as her parents, believed radical political changes could be brought about. It has been pointed out that the creature in Frankenstein reads books associated with radical ideals, but the education he gains from them is ultimately useless.

Mary supported her son with her writing, and a small stipend she managed to squeeze from Sir Timothy, who wrote into his will that she should pay it back when her son inherited the title and estate. She was never accepted or acknowledged by her father-in-law, although her son did live to inherit his title and estate.

How people find the strength to hold their heads up in the face of public humiliation, personal tragedy, and intense social ostracism is, to me, a far more intriguing story than their successes. Anyone can ride the wave of glory–it takes a person of great character to surf the shoals of public disaster with grace and step on shore with confidence and their dignity intact.


Filed under Literature, Uncategorized, writing

#Inspiration: Seeking truth and beauty via Wikimedia Commons



It can be found in nature, and through the eyes of the artist or photographer. Through the miracle of the internet, I can find inspiration any time of the day or night, just by seeing what the picture of the day at Wikimedia Commons is. This was today’s gorgeous, surreal image: Sunset view from the back of the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, photo by Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA 4.0.

Stiftskirche_Herzogenburg_Deckenfresken_01Several days ago, the image of the day was architectural: The ceiling frescos in Herzogenburg Monastery Church (Lower Austria). The church was consecrated on October 2nd, 1785. This image was uploaded by an author who uploaded with the user name Uoaei1, but who has won many awards for his/her images.

Roosa_hommikuudu_Tolkuse_rabasThen there was this gorgeous photograph by Märt KoseMorning in Tolkuse bog, Luitemaa Nature Conservation Area, Pärnu County, Estonia.

Inspiration in breathtaking images, free of cost, available for anyone, rich or poor. Everyday, a new picture is chosen as the image of the day, and if you like the artist, you can check out more of his/her works as, I did Diego Delso:

Iglesia_de_San_Colmano,_Schwangau,_Alemania,_2015-02-15,_DD_15Winter landscape of St Coloman church (de), photographed by Diego Delso, and located in Schwangau, Bavaria, southern Germany. St Coloman church is of baroque style and was constructed, the way it is today, in the 17th century in honor to Saint Coloman, replacing a chapel of the 15th century. The Irish pilgrim is said to have taken a break at this spot in his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1012.

I can visualize the crusaders riding in this winter landscape. I would have stopped there too!

The imagination transforms the beauty around us, and we create “what ifs” via the written word or the canvas and paint. This is why I always find myself looking at paintings too, when I am visiting Wikimedia Commons. I leave you with two images of a palace, seen though the eyes of two different artists:


Panoramic View of the Nymphenburg Palace, Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA 4.0

Nymphenburg, View From the Seaside painting by Joseph Wenglein 1883

Nymphenburg, View From the Seaside painting by Joseph Wenglein 1883 PD|100

The first is a photograph is the Panoramic View of the Nymphenburg Palace as seen through Diego Delso’s camera-eye and posted on Wikimedia Commons using the License CC-BY-SA 4.0. The painting below that is the palace as seen through the artist Joseph Wenglein‘s eye, A Seaside View of Nymphenburg Palace

Both images are the creations of artists using different mediums, both are of the same baroque palace in Munich, Bavaria (southern Germany). The palace is the main summer residence of the former rulers of Bavaria of the House of Wittelsbach. It was designed by Agostino Barelli and constructed by order of Ferdinand Maria and Henriette Adelaide of Savoy in 1664. Famous for its symmetry and extravagant beauty, the palace was expanded and redesigned several times until the last modifications in 1826.

More than 125 years separate their visions, but I am connected with and inspired by both artists because I, a middle-class woman in a rural town, can view and admire their work.

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Yay! Its #friday

The Alehouse Door, by Henry Singleton via Wikimedia Commons

The Alehouse Door, by Henry Singleton via Wikimedia Commons

I wrote a lot of short stories last summer, which is good, because in short stories you have to be sparing with words.

This need for economy has really helped with my personal writing bugaboo, giving too much background info. When you are writing to a specific word limit, you have to choose your words carefully.

This means the only background that can remain in the tale is the minimum background that the reader must know for the tale to make any sense.

Some of what I wrote was a serial, for Edgewise Words Inn, a series of tales set in the village of Bleakbourne, on the Heath river. Bleakbourne is an unusual town, being the crossroads for the fae and mortal worlds. Many strange things happen there, and Leryn is the young bard who records it all.

Ralph_Allens_Castle_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1762356Two installments have been posted, and several more are set to post as autumn progresses.

If you are curious, the link to chapter one is here: Bleakbourne on Heath: Tenneriff’s Curse and the link to chapter two, the Demon Knight is here.

That tale was inspired by a photo of a Castle Folly I saw on Pinterest. I love Pinterest, but I get most of my inspiration and ideas from Wikimedia Commons, just randomly searching the classical art there.

Socks and Sandals MemeI also find that lots and lots of time just sort of dissolves as I am doing that–perusing  the great art of the masters is as much of a time-eater as Facebook, but without the memes.

However, the temptation to turn them into memes is sometimes overwhelming. I look at them, and wonder what was going through their minds at the time the painter caught them. Probably it was “Please make him paint faster,” but you know I can just leave it at that.

Sometimes it’s hard to contain myself when these wonderful images give me so much food for thought.

If you happen to be at out and about Saturday the  10th of October, in the Renton area south of Seattle, stop in at the AFK E&E, and visit my friends who will be signing books and having a great time in general. They will be Reading in the Dark, and the event will run from 2:00pm to 9:00pm in the back left of the restaurant.

  • AFK Elixers & Eatery
  • 3750 E Valley Rd.
  • Renton, WA 98057

You will find these great authors: A.J. Downey, Jeffrey Cook, Lee French, Sechin Tower, Tina Shelton, and Shannon L. Reagan and several more. I can’t wait to see what they are offering us!

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#amwriting fantasy: creating the landscape

Map of Mal Evol, color full size, no roadsWhen I am reading a fantasy, I can get completely immersed, if the author has been kind enough to use a mix of familiar earthly landscapes to create his world.  Readers do need to have a small bit of “the known” to hang their imaginations on.

In my book, Tower of Bones, I write about a landscape that has been devastated, first by war, and secondly by the slow, deliberate poisoning of the environment.  The God Tauron seeks to change Neveyah into a copy of his own desert world of Serende.  At the time of our story, the immense crater Valley of Mal Evol is a wasteland of thorn-bushes and scorpions.  Few people live there, and those who do are slaves to the Legions of D’Mal, the minotaur soldiers of the Bull God.

The World of Neveyah is actually the state of Washington, in all its bipolar glory, but “on steroids.”

The God Tauron carved the Valley of Mal Evol out of the mountains when he imprisoned his brother. That created the landscape that was not unlike that of Eastern Washington, some of which was carved by a disaster. Before the disaster, this land was likely similar to the area around Spokane and toward Colville, prairies with large forests of lodgepole pines.

Drumheller Channels, Washington State

Channeled Scablands, Washington State

The Channeled Scablands are a relatively barren and soil-free landscape on the eastern side of the  state of Washington near Grand Coulee Dam, and Dry Falls. It’s an area that was scoured by floods unleashed when a large glacial lake drained at the end of the last ice age. I took this landscape and magnified it, making it the place where two vastly different worlds touch.

I live 60 miles due north of Mt. St. Helens, an active stratovolcano that has erupted several times in my lifetime. As a teenager in the fall of 1970, 10 years before the eruption, my earth-science class visited the lava-tubes that were popular tourist destinations in those days.  The volcano was considered to be of no threat to anyone, practically dead, really.

Mt. St. Helens from Spirit Lake prior to 1980

Mt. St. Helens from Spirit Lake prior to 1980 via ABC news

As this photo shows, it had a beautiful shape to it, like Mt. Fuji, and was featured on calendars and postcards for its beauty and majesty.  The verdant forests were tall and thick, mostly Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar.  Spirit Lake, at its base, was a playground for summer vacationers.  My family spent many summer holidays at the campgrounds and the lodge there.

PD United States Geological Survey, via Wikipedia

PD United States Geological Survey, via Wikipedia

All that changed overnight on May 18th, 1980, when the mountain erupted.  We could see the ash column quite clearly from the lake in the Bald Hills of Thurston County, where we were fishing that morning, and we knew something really bad had happened at the mountain. Entire forests were blown down and buried under volcanic ash. Spirit Lake was both destroyed and reborn in a different form.

The destruction of the ecology is one of the underlying themes of the World of Neveyah series.

But the miraculous way the land around Mt. St. Helens has rebounded in the last 35 years is also working its way into my World of Neveyah–Tauron’s spell is broken, and the land will recover.  The devastation of Mal Evol looks permanent, and is terrible to those who know what it once was like, but they have hope that it will recover.

In the World of Neveyah series, I created the Mountains of the Moon, out of which the valley of Mal Evol was torn. I understood how mountains can rise high into the sky, blocking the rising or setting sun. Also, I used the climate of the Scablands here in Washington–the climate is typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with excruciatingly hot  summers and severely cold winters, and that is how I made Mal Evol. Remember, dealing with weather offers great opportunity for mayhem in the narrative.

I live on the heavily forested western side of the state, 50 miles west of 14,411 ft tall  Mount Rainier, beneath the Nisqually Glacier. That sight dominates my front-yard skyline on a clear day. The valley I live in was carved by glaciers and eruptions from this amazing pile of rock, ice, and fire. I took this idea, but I made my mountains taller and badder than the Himalayas on a bad Mt. Everest day.

Mount Rainier, Nisqually Glacier, ©2010 Walter Siegmund Via Wikipedia

Mount Rainier, Nisqually Glacier, © 2010 Walter Siegmund Via Wikipedia

We here in our bipolar State of Washington are able to see how the landscape can radically change if you just drive west east (thank you Scott Driscoll!) on I-90 for four hours.

Because  of my good fortune of living in the shadow of two large volcanoes, and between two high mountain ranges, the Olympic Mountains and the Cascade Range,  I have the opportunity to experience a wide diversity of ecologies in one day, going from saltwater to mountain range, to desert.

You may find your inspiration elsewhere. It could be in anything from architecture to ornamental gardens, to cornfields or sage brush.

Never_Cry_Wolf_PosterWhile the window of our own experience is an amazing place to find our inspiration for our fantasy environments, the internet is a valuable tool. Google Earth is a wonderful resource for viewing a real-time image of an area you need to see to understand.

Google Earth is as much of a squirrel as Facebook is, in that I got very little done when researching with it–I’m sure it was all research. Really.

Consider going to the movies–it’s amazing what great scenery you will find in an old movie. One thing I don’t have access to experience in person is wild caribou–for that reason much of my mental imagery for how wild herd animals of North America behave and the environment in which they live comes from a great movie, called Never Cry Wolf. The cinematography and the actual scenery is incredible, and the mood of the land is captured in one of the better films of the twentieth century.

The root ideas are what you hang the fabrication on, just a frame for the canvas you will paint with your words. It’s your world, but if it is to feel solid to the reader, there must be some small familiarity for them to have that  “Oh, I know this place” moment.


Filed under Fantasy, History, Mt St Helens, Self Publishing, writing

#amwriting: keeping the Goliardic spark alive

The Battle of Carnival and Lent, Pieter Bruegel the Elder

The Battle of Carnival and Lent, Pieter Bruegel the Elder

I love ribald, rebellious humor in the works I read, and will go out of my way to read anything written by Sir Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, or Jasper Fforde. I admire their wit and ability to cause us to laugh at our own outrageousness.

Crazy humor at the expense of the establishment is nothing new. It’s part of the Human Condition. And to that end, I love goliardic poetry.

Carl Orff and his amazing cantata, Carmina Burana, catapulted me into the poetry of the Goliards. But who and what were the goliards?

During what we call the Middle Ages, noble and wealthy middle-class families had a tradition that the eldest son inherited everything, the second son went into the church, and the younger sons went to the crusades.

The old-fashioned practice of “primogeniture” or bestowing the rights of inheritance upon the eldest son, often leaving younger sons penniless, is responsible for some of the most ribald and hilarious poetry of the middle ages. This was because the church had far too many clergy who weren’t all that enthusiastic about having been forced into taking the ecclesiastical path, and who became, for lack a better definition, medieval frat-boys.

There was such an abundance of well-educated clergy that most were unable to gain a decent appointment within the church, despite good family connections.

Having been educated at the finest universities of France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and England these men weren’t content to spend their lives hidden away in a rural monastery painstakingly copying the great books written by others when they could be writing their own.

Going indie (or rogue) is nothing new.

The Peasant Dance, Pieter Bruegel

The Peasant Dance, Pieter Bruegel

They took their show on the road, going from town to town, protesting the growing contradictions within the church through song, poetry and performance.

The disillusionment and disappointment they experienced in regard to the hypocritical, abusive, greedy state of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church of that time, was fertile soil for medieval mockery on a grand scale. 

Not unlike the current political climate here in the US.

Most goliardic poetry is written in Latin, as Latin was the language of commerce, and every educated person understood and read it. Remember, if someone could read, they were well off, and if they could read, they read Latin. Those were the people the indie was writing books for in the early Middle Ages.

Some of the goliards’ more popular church services when they would arrive in a new town included celebrating the annual Feast of Fools, a brief social revolution, where roles were reversed, and power, dignity and impunity was briefly conferred on the lowest of the social order. Thus, the town drunk, or the local fool would be made mayor for a day, feted and given the status of a lord for a day.

As you might imagine, the nobility was unimpressed with that particular “holy” festival, and rarely participated

Even less popular with those in power was the Feast of the Ass. From Wikipedia, the holy fount of all knowledge: A girl and a child on a donkey would be led through town to the church, where the donkey would stand beside the altar during the sermon, and the congregation would “hee-haw” their responses to the priest.

So, I guess you could say the goliards were a traveling Monty Python type of show, painfully hilarious and sometimes too good at what they did for the censor’s comfort.

Their point was that too much emphasis was placed on the pageantry and trappings of faith in Medieval Europe.

But they couldn’t run forever. Their satires were almost always directed against the church, attacking even the pope, and the church didn’t take that well. Heresy, during the Middle Ages, was not something you wanted to be accused of, as the famous heretic and collector of goliardic poetry, Peter Abelard would tell you. Yet, though he was harshly punished, he remains one of the most respected philosophers and free-thinkers of the Middle Ages.

By the 14th century, the word goliard had become synonymous with minstrel, no longer referring to this group of rebellious clergymen. However, a century after the overabundance of bored poor-little-rich-boy clergymen that spawned the goliards had been squashed by the church, that tradition of irreverence was carried on by Geoffrey Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales.

carmina burana album coverFor me, Orff’s cantata was a ‘gateway drug.’ From first becoming intrigued by the libretto to  Carmina Burana, I moved on to “the hard stuff,” studying modern translations of the works of an author who was highly influenced by goliardic poetry, Geoffrey Chaucer.

Of course, eventually that meant I had to go to the source, learning a great deal about the roots of our modern English language at the same time.

Chaucer was unique, in that he wrote in Middle English, the vernacular of his time, rather than in Latin. Because of this, and the enduring hilarity of his works, Chaucer is considered the Father of English Literature.

The goliardic works that survive to this day still surprise us with how relevant the concepts put forth in those poems and tales are to contemporary society.

It is through the surviving literature and song that the truth of a past culture is discovered. The true nature of the common medieval man and woman survives in the rebellious, ribald literary tradition of the naughty clergy, the goliards.

We may be separated in time by centuries, but we are not too different from those ancestors of ours who survived the Dark and early Middle Ages by getting drunk and singing bawdy songs, and poking fun at the establishment.

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#amwriting: working in the blender

caloricclassic red blenderOnce you have a book published, the hardest, most difficult part is trying to fit writing the next book into all the other demands on your time. I have an editing job that I work at from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. daily, I write five blog posts a week for various blogs (3 for this blog) I have several novels in the works, and I am my own publicist.

That last part is not going so well, just so you know.

For one of my writing gigs, I am a member of the staff for Edgewise Words Inn, which had been quite fun as I get to explore the creative writing side of my life. I just began a serial there, a medieval fantasy, called Bleakbourne on Heath. The first installment posted September 11th,  and the next will post  on Tuesday the 29th of September. This has been quite fun, as it is a series of short-stories (Less than 2000 words each) chronicled by Leryn, a bard. He is the observer, but is sometime drawn into the action against his better judgement. The first two episodes are a little dark, but episodes 3 & 4 have been far-fetched and quite fun to write.

I have also signed on to edit an anthology for my publishing group, Myrddin Publishing. That has been an absolute joy–the stories that are being included in this anthology are extremely high quality. And the good part of that is, I have wonderful people working with me on the production of that book, Alison DeLuca and Lee French.

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbNaNoWriMo is approaching–and I am planning to spend the month of November writing a series of short stories, some set in Bleakbourne on Heath, and several random shorts.

But, like every other working person, I also have a home to keep in some sort of order, minimal though that effort is, laundry to do, cooking (yes, even vegans cook) and I try to maintain some sort of communication with our kids and grand-kids–even if it is just stalking them on Facebook.

And lets talk about Facebook, that soul-sucking time-waster from the Netherworld. Many of the events I do are organized though Facebook, and that means I get a lot of email to sift through, while I am trying to accomplish something productive for my clients.

So-and-so, the organizer, encourages everyone involved in the ordeal to post something in a thread:

  • But if you do, you will get 200 emails from that thread alone.
  • But if you don’t, you will miss some critical piece of information.
  • But if you do, you will get 200 emails from that thread alone.

If you are careful when you select which event to get involved with in the first place, these events can raise the indie author’s visibility, and indeed, any author’s visibility. I have done many that were not good experiences, and many that helped sell books.

To that end, I, along with many of the authors I know and a lot whom I’ve never met (over 200) will be participating in the first annual Virtual Fantasy Con in November, the 1st through the 8th.

virtual fantasy con 2015

So far, at least on the participant’s end, it is being set up like a really well-run convention, so it will be interesting to see how smoothly this goes, and how much visibility we will actually gain from this. We participating authors will have the opportunity to take part in many publicity events prior to the actual convention.

The only thing I worry about is how confusing keeping up with all the email and information is. I am afraid I will accidentally not do some critical thing–which is why I am the world’s worst personal assistant for myself.

But it’s a lot of work keeping everything organized. My ‘personal assistant’ is not as good at her job as I wish she was.



Filed under Humor, Publishing, Uncategorized, writer, writing

#amwriting: the external eye

EDWAERT_COLLIER_VANITAS_STILL_LIFEMore people than ever are writing books. In today’s marketplace, every author must find ways to get his/her manuscript in as perfect shape as they can before they begin shopping for agents and publishers.  At every seminar I attend this one fact is stressed most firmly.

What this tells me is that agents and editors at the large publishing houses see so many submissions on a daily basis that they don’t have time to do more than look at the first page or two before deciding to look further. If it is not formatted to industry standard, or if it is a rough draft, it goes into the trash, based on that quick glance. (See my post, How to Format Your Manuscript for Submission.)

Therefore, we make our manuscript as good as we can before we send it off to an agent or a large publishing house, or take the plunge and self publish. To this end, during the second or third draft we may consult what has become known as the beta-reader, volunteers who read our work, knowing it is in its infancy.

You can find many good freelance editors who offer this service, but I do recommend you ask them what it involves and what kind of report you will get back before you commit your funds to it. I can also recommend Critters Writers Workshop, a free author-driven service. Or you may have a spouse or good friends who will help you with this.

A word to the wise: Editors and other authors make terrible beta readers, because it is their nature to dismantle the manuscript and tell you how to fix it.

But what if you don’t have the luxury of a reader who both likes the kind of work you write and who also is willing to spend the time reading your work?  Consider asking them to read a selected chapter, instead of asking them to read the whole thing.

I suggest this, because reading the rough-draft of an entire novel is a huge commitment to ask of someone. It is not reading for pleasure, although we hope they enjoy it.

Give your reader this list of questions, and ask him/her to please answer them, explaining that you can’t continue until you hear back from them:

  1. Were the characters likable?
  2. Where did the plot bog down and get boring?
  3. Were there any places that were confusing?
  4. What did the reader like? What did they dislike?
  5. What do they think will happen next?

You need a reader who reads your genre, reads fairly quickly, and won’t devolve into an editor.  Questions two and three are the most important: Where is it boring, and where is it confusing? Having it read in small chunks will give you a good idea of what you need to do with the ms as a whole.

I usually send my  manuscripts  in short pieces to my trusted crew when I need to know if I am on the right track. But the final ms in the Tower of Bones series is different. I hope to have it ready for publication by spring, so I have taken the plunge and sent Valley of Sorrows to David Cantrell for a structural edit. Dave and I have worked together on many projects.

Structural editing is digging deep. This is a tricky novel, because it tells two separate but entwined story-lines, Edwin’s and Lourdan’s, so I need an interested, but surgical, eye on it before I begin the final revisions. Dave has read Tower of Bones, and knows the world, the magic system, and the characters.

I hear you asking, what if he asks me to cut something I think is an integral part of the piece? I will have to decide what to do after I:

  • Re-read the section in question: Is it garbled? Was my intention not clear when I wrote it?
  • Look at the section in the context of the entire manuscript: Will losing this section change the story in a way that I don’t want? Or will cutting that section allow a more important point to shine?
  • Decide how married I am to that plot point. Sometimes divorce is the only answer.

In my own work I have discovered that if a passage seems flawed, but I can’t identify what is wrong with it, my eye wants to skip it.

But another person will see the flaw, and they will show me what is wrong there. That is why I rely on the external eye, and work with a structural editor.


Filed under Literature, Publishing, Uncategorized, writer, writing