Notes from the Revision Cave; Updatery

Yesterday had to play Prof, hard. That was the (department) retreat. Today is the (writing) advance. Before we wrote today, I had to catch up hard core at the workplace, and then had to play the allergy game at the doctor. If you’re a Claritin D taker, I’ve joined your ranks. In two weeks I get to play back bingo as I get tested for allergy specifics.

I’ve also learned about the magic of the Neti pot, which you just don’t want to know about. It works, but if you’re curious enough to google it, you deserve the ew!


Let’s get on to the writing!

C.C. Humphrey’s podcast is up at Writers and their Soundtracks.


Hulk Hercules: I revised Leo asking Diana out, and Bianca at the Fall festival. Of course, I cut the following lines out, but I had to share them, because they’re goofy. Bianca’s becoming more go get ’em than this session would belie, but I did want to put in something to mark the lurv, and then change it later.

Bianca wondered why the room always seemed to shift into a soft focus lens when Tim entered the room. She sighed, and felt like a girl in some modern vampire novel falling for the wrong species.


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17 / 40


Substance of Shadows: Revised the first two scenes of chapter 9. The first one required more revision. Milo will be on had in several scenes reflecting right along with Errol, the first of which I’ve written. Milo will also help Errol choose his new anchor. Moira is getting a little more play as well.

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273 / 387


Tomorrow I work half of the day (boo!) and I write throughout the afternoon and evening while Bryon has parent teachers conferences. I hope to get quite a bit done.


Cornstalk Gypies: You Buy Flood Relief?

What can I say about Cornstalk Gypsies?

I can say that it is NOW AVAILABLE at You can also learn more about the anthology at the official website.

Let’s have our editor tell you all about it. Take it away, Jeff!

My personal thanks to authors: Sarah Prineas, Michael Jasper, Carrie Jones, Dr. Catherine Schaff-Stump, Joya Mannan, Ann M. Nguyen, Tyson Chaney and Shalanna Collins for donating a gift of words to allow this anthology to come to fruition.

Cornstalk Gypsies is a 230 page science-fiction/fantasy anthology. It is available through in perfect bound A5 format ($13.00 USD + Shipping) or digital download, .pdf format (4.95 USD).

Science-fiction for a cause.


Meanwhile, I’ve started Lament. Maggie Stiefvater, you’re a lyricist! Like Dylan Thomas! Rock on!

I LOVE lyric books. So not the kind of thing I can write, and wish I could. (Yes, I *do* have other writing virtues. I’m just not a lyricist.) At any rate, people who can play music with words take my breath away. I can only play music with well…music.

*ahem* At any rate, you’d best go out and buy this book. If you want to spend your afternoon looking at the colors shine through paragraphs.

Notes from Another Revision Cave

Like pulling teeth today, we have some new words for Hulk Hercules. I have the foundations for the fall festival scene and Leo asking Diana out. Both are sketchy. More importantly, I have figured out the Dalton/Bianca/Tim plot, and have integrated a couple of place holders to get that into the story. I did some plotting and rearranging. Next session I’ll buff up those two scenes. So the Herc-o-meter hasn’t really budged, but the overall percentage is smaller.

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15 / 41


In Substance, Chapter 8 has been divided and trimmed. I think it’s full of melodrama and transitional events. Next up: Chapter 9, which requires Milo-lization.

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261 / 386


I also updated my time lines and lists. This helps me refresh my brain. 😉

Links and Gems

Since I have a department retreat Monday, I’ve posted the next installment of Blood is Thicker than Water at Las Habladoras today. Get YOUR weekend dosage of Victorian vampirage.


Sonya Sipes sent me an electronic copy of the Faery Taile Project to look over for a little editing. I’ve seen both stories, Lobo’s Tail by Christopher Kastensmidt and Red’s Tale by Jim C. Hines. Such a set of faerie tale torch songs you will never see! Pretty good stuff, guys. It’ll be nice to see it in print.


Yesterday, some amazing writers wrote some fun things.

Check out what Renee Sweet has to say about her secret identity.

Then read what Tiffany Trent says about the privilege of writing.

Both women are very insightful.

More to come later…


Corn Stalk Gypsies

The necessary evil of a day job means that sometimes you do have to cancel your art days to do your job. It’s midterms here in Iowa, and I have a department retreat to prepare for on Monday. That’s a lot to do, considering we’re off to Minneapolis, Aric and Kim, at the end of the day.

And for new words, I got nothing. The arm crapped out in the most mighty of ways last night after I balanced our budgets and paid our debts. We’re talking serious ouch. But there are a few things.

1. Here’s my depression era hair, for the impending stock market crash.

2. And here’s a new debate inspired Obama button sent by my super liberal pal in Kansas City. Feel free to wear and print.

3. The biggest news. Cornstalk Gypsies, the Iowa Flood support anthology will soon be realized as a book you can purchase. Opening scenes from Gossamer and Veridian that focus on the trolls are my contribution. Other Iowa authors you might know in the anthology are Sarah Prineas, Micheal Jasper, and Carrie Jones. Please consider buying this anthology. The need in Iowa for weather related relief isn’t going to go away any time soon.

This page goes active sometime this weekend, and will give you all the details. Please share all the details on websites near you.

Cornstalk Gypsies

Okay, I need to roll up my sleeves. If I get through the teacher stuff, I can write. That will make me happy.

ETA:: I did get through all the teacher stuff, and it DID make me happy! All I have to do on the road this weekend is write the equivalent of 3 sessions, dig? Dig.


Notes from the Revision Cave; Reflections on My Writing

Hulk Hercules: Revised and whacked the Golden Hind scene. It’s much sharper now. Many parts of it were introduced earlier in the first draft. Next session: Leo asks Diana out–all new material, and the Fall Festival at school–all new material. I need a good subplot for Bianca to surface in here, and I’m considering several possibilities for her friend Dalton and her crush Tim. Not sure which way I’ll go yet.

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15 / 39


Substance: Like every writer, I believe we have doubts about the quality of our work from time to time. I’ve been the full gauntlet about my novel, especially since it’s been rejected several times. Others judgments are not how I measure my work, but that does have some effect whether we want to or not. Given this opportunity to revise, I am trying to give the prospective agent what he wants, but part of me is insecure. What if he has something else in mind? I’ve done a really good job on the first 75 pages, as he’s provided me extensive notes and edits, but he’s only seen the first 75 pages. What if the remaining 300-and-some-odd pages go in a totally different direction? What if I can’t execute the changes as he’d like? What if? What if?

A moment of clarity suggests that it doesn’t matter. The only thing I can do is revise, based on what I think is good and what I think he’s suggested. The world is not going to end if another agent says no. All I can do is what I’ve always been doing–write the best book I can and hope someone bites. Stay true to myself as a writer, and enjoy what I do. Keep sending things out.

I wish that we writers didn’t play such mind games with ourselves! At least we can get out of it if we work on it!


So, then, I revised chapter 7. Chapter 7 has been written a lot, and I’m not convinced there’s a lot of surplus in it, although I cut a little empty dialogue. Milo, Errol, and Stephanas shine here, as do almost all of the supporting characters. I’ll be interested if the agent will be more interested in what happens with Michael and Shari in the wings, but I don’t know if that will detract from the main thrust of Esme’s trial.

That’s the first two thirds of the book revised. The next major section is Errol’s Trial, and jumps forward in time. It really does need some firming up. I doubt I’ll get through it so fast.

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223 / 387

Time to take the night off to rest that arm.


Working on HH:PW Research Trip

At the end of the day, I received the first of 3 pivotal calls for my research trip to Chicago. The Chicago Zoological Society wants me to send off my vitae, Endowed Chair Information, and book synopses so they can make an informed decision about letting me see life behind the scenes of a keeper at Brookfield. Cool. I’ll shoot that material off to them upon my return to the office on Thursday.


Other than that, the night was spent at a church meeting. Bryon and I are Outreach coheads, and our mission this year is to invite congregations displaced by the flood to our harvest and holiday events, helping them miss their own less. I have to write a speech to go speedily deliver around town in two Sundays, as well as come up with a really zany travel schedule that Sunday. It’s actually a very friendly, welcoming thing to do, as well as a good way to raise money for flood relief in the community (most of the dinners and bazaars have a fiscal component), so I’m down with it.


And, have the Halloween costumes mostly in line. As of now, I have two Man from U.N.C.L.E. female agent outfits almost ready to go, both kinds from all 4 seasons. But that’ll get some attention over in the awelkin universe.


Not sleeping. Love steroids. Love ’em.


Notes from the Revision Cave

Hulk Hercules: Watch Bianca and Tony learn about that most amazing of robots, the Hephaubot. Come on, Henson! Make this film! You want lots of interesting Greek doodads built by Hephaustus.

Scene Count:

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14 / 37


Substance of Shadows: One of my favorite chapters, The Four Corners. I’ve divided the Witness and the Four Corners into two chapters. Milo comes off very well in this chapter. I intend to make him shine more in the prep and buff up what he does in the trial.

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190 / 387


Monster Blood Tattoo

And now, in my ongoing pursuit to spam you today, here’s my third post this morning.

I finished the second book in the series of Monster Blood Tattoo books last night: this one Lamplighter. One the most promising areas of fantastic writing currently seems to be the blending of historical literature with fantastic elements, and Lamplighter does this with the precision of a planned military campaign. Apparently writer D.M. Cornish spent the last fifteen years creating the universe these books take place in. The books are rich in detail as well as characterization.

Of course, a book is only as good as its main characters. The protagonist of the books, a young foundling named Rossamund Bookchild is set into the world with Dickensian like prologue. Rosamund enters the service of the lamplighters, but on his way to his apprenticeship has several wayward adventures he survives through courage, luck, and ability. The world around him is populated by colorful and classical characters, echoing the societies of Austen’s world, or Forester’s Hornblower. There are rules, roles, and classes.

There are also monsters. Rossamund finds himself questioning the blanket morality that all monsters are bad and deserve killing. These complicated moral issues interweave the action, adventure, and backdrop.

I can’t recommend the book highly enough. Books like this are a fresh breath of air in the YA and MG market, where we tend to clone what’s selling as an industry. It treats all its readers to morally complex issues, yet maintains a simplicity toward what is heroic and what is not. I hope you will all scurry out and and buy Foundling. Foundling is a fine book, but remember–you need to get to Lamplighter, where both Rossamund and the world come into their own.


The Cogs of the Book Machine

Disclaimer: This entry is not anti-small press. I will soon be published by two small presses. I’ve been finding lackluster editing in small press books as of late, but I am also sure that it can occur in medium and larger houses as well. I’m also not sure how much control you have over getting an editor. However, it does seem a cause for concern.

Last night, I looked at yet another small press book that I was disappointed in. All I could think of was that the editor had let the author down. There was nothing in this book to make it particularly shiny or original, and the editing allowed the book to be lackluster in its execution, sloppy and wordy.


I get it. I know I’m a snob when it comes to reading. It might have something to do with having too many English degrees and some love of literature. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like artifice for its own sake. That too can be an incredible turn off. An editor can’t save a book of the same old either. That said, an editor and an agent OWE a writer once they’ve decided they’re in on the project. If you pick up a writer, or a book, you need to (and I paraphrase from many letters) “love the project enough” to give it the effort it deserves.

The writer WRITES the book. You then give the writer the benefit of your experience. It’s a gift! You sharpen. You push. You don’t let the author put something out there lesser than your standards. It’s what my major professors did for me in graduate school, and it’s what you should do for your writers.

Writers, you DO NOT want an editor who is going to let you get away with sloppy execution. You just don’t. Publishing is not enough. And you DO NOT want an agent who doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Because YOUR name goes on this stuff. Readers like me will look at it. We know the difference between a book well rendered and edited that isn’t our thing versus a sloppy first draft like book. The former was aided by an editor. I can put it down and respect it. The latter makes me think of you as a bad writer, and it might not solely be your fault.

I’ve seen several books lately that are not the product of team effort, and I am sad. As a writer, do I want someone to help me change my book to make it better, more readable, sharper, and accessible? Yes, yes I do. As a writer, I may well be my own worst enemy. I’m so steeped in my work, I can no longer step back and tell you what’s good or not. I may need an editor or an agent to do that.

Look hard at your agents and editors. Don’t settle if you can help it. They are VERY important to your career. Publishing really isn’t enough if it means you compromise the quality of your work.