Writing Wednesday: Tab and Center and DropCap and…

My writing projects lately have me deep in the midst of all three installments of my Guardian of the Opera trilogy.  I’m doing finalish revisions of Book III, I’m reading Book II out loud for absolutely-final revisions, and I’m formatting Book I for publication.

Book I is, of course, the farthest one along.  This is a slightly mixed stage of the process.  On the one hand, it’s exciting to be this close to the final product.  On the other hand, the actual work can be very tedious!  There’s some initial creativity that’s fun in deciding how to lay out the book–where to place the page numbers, how to format the beginning of each chapter.  But there’s also a lot of going through and repeating the same formatting steps again and again!  Mainly it’s the formatting at the beginning of each chapter: adding a section break, formatting the chapter header, putting the space above “Chapter X,” removing the tab in the first paragraph, adding a drop cap…in this case, all those steps, 36 times!

But I do like seeing how it looks.  And I’m very much looking forward to ordering proof copies.  That’s when all of this pays off!

For now, here’s a sneak peek at what that work at the beginning of each chapter ends up looking like…

Spirit Sunday: Good humor and laughter…

Friday Face-Off: Year of the “Rat”

FFO.jpg

It’s time again for the Friday Face-Off meme, created by Books by Proxy, with weekly topics hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog.  The idea is to put up different covers for one book, and select a favorite.

This week’s theme is: Chinese New Year – Year of the Rat

I thought I’d take this broadly/slightly sideways and look at a cover featuring a mouse–who would probably be offended to be called a rat!  I thought of Tucker Mouse, most famously from A Cricket in Times Square, but my favorite of the series is Tucker’s Countryside.  And it seems appropriate to pick the book with his name in the title!

This cover is fun–it’s an action scene and Tucker is front and center.  Though he’s not looking his best.  He may even look a bit rat-like!

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Writing Wednesday: Blog Updates and Book Developments

I said recently that I was eyeing the writing sections of my blog–and sure enough, earlier this week I delved into my “About” sections, especially the section for my books, and made updates.

If you click into “About My Books” (formerly “Novel News”) you’ll see that I’ve added considerable new content.  I finally put up a page for The Servants and the Beast, which released in June, 2019, and for its companion piece, After the Sparkles Settled, released in December, 2019.  I got a little behind on that–but I’m making up for it by putting up pages now for my Guardian of the Opera trilogy.  The first one will be out in June, 2020, but you can visit the page for each book and read the blurbs now.  The books are also up on Goodreads, if you’d like to add them to a “want to read” list.

The crazy thing is, this update more than doubles my list of books I’ve published/plan to publish, from four to nine.  That feels like a rather sudden jump!  But it has been years in the making, so…  It’s funny how it all fell out in timing.

Setting Goodreads and the new pages up occupied a decent portion of my writing focus this past week, though I’m also continuing to revise Guardian III.  Good thing, too, since it’s now a little more official that it’s coming out!

Blog Hop: Reading at Work?

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is:  Do you thing that readers make better employees, as opposed to non-readers? Why or why not?

My first thought on this question was…I don’t really see how the two ideas connect?  Unless you’re working in a job where a knowledge of books is particularly relevant (a school, a library or a bookstore seem like the most obvious examples), I’m not sure there’s any direct connection to whether someone likes to read and whether they’re skilled at their job.

I think reading is one way people can grow, gaining knowledge, new perspectives and greater empathy.  But it’s not the only way.  And I don’t think a love of reading automatically indicates higher intelligence over non-readers–again, there are  other ways smart people may choose to spend their time.

Good reading comprehension skills, the kind that they test on the SAT, are one skill that’s useful for employees, especially in any job with any element of admin.  I work in marketing and I’ve sent a LOT of emails over my career, and the ability to understand an email and to write a clear one back is in fact really helpful.  There probably is a correlation between people with good reading comprehension and people who love to read.  But–it’s just one skill, and it also feels like I’m really parsing this question to get to this point.  Also, many, many other things (work ethic, integrity, knowledge re: their actual job tasks) go into making someone a good employee.

After all that–I will say that I personally like working with readers because it gives me something to talk to them about.  Although when I think about it, my friends tend to be readers.  With the co-workers I’ve been closest too, we’ve usually bonded about something else; mostly the job, or occasionally geek TV shows.

So I guess that all adds up to a “no, not really” for this question!

Writing Wednesday: Revisions, Revisions

Two weeks into 2020, but this is my first writing update of the year!  Be assured, I’ve still been writing away–just blogging more about reading lately.  I’m deep into final (?) revisions for Guardian III, going through beta-reader feedback.  So far it’s mostly been small edits, and no one has spotted a plot hole that derails the entire story–so far, so good!

I’m also working on some of the prep and marketing for Guardian I, which will be out in June.  Expect some revamps to the writing information on my blog, because that’s coming up on my list of to-do’s.

It all goes to show…the work is not anywhere near done when the first draft is finished 🙂  On that note, I also finished up the non-fiction revision tips book I was working on back at the beginning of January…but I expect to go back and revise come February!

For now, here’s a bit from Chapter One of Guardian III which I rather enjoy…

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I used to be in control—not of the world around me, never of that.  But of myself.  Maybe I was only a supporting character, maybe I didn’t get to be the lead of the narrative, of the great events happening at the Opera, but I knew how to live within my role.

A supporting character could be left behind, solitary and disregarded when her obviously more heroine-material best friend eloped in the night.  It had hurt when Christine left with Raoul de Chagny, when she had barely bothered to write me a farewell note, when she hadn’t sent any word in over a year.  But sometimes it felt like only what I should have expected.

And at least supporting characters shouldn’t have their hearts broken, or do anything important enough to cause anyone’s death.

As a supporting character I could become friends with the mysterious man who haunted the Opera, and I should have stopped at that.

I shouldn’t have fallen in love with a man who was clearly a title character if there ever was one.

 

Book Review: The Red Tent

In high school, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant was on a list of optional summer reading–we had to read something from the list but not everything, and I opted to read something else.  I heard good things about the book from friends though, and it’s been floating at the back of my mind as something I ought to read some time ever since.  I’ve been reading through Genesis in the Bible recently and came to the portion about Jacob and his family–and decided it was time to finally get The Red Tent off my mental to-read list.  And after fifteen or so years…I felt mixed about the book!

I love the concept of this book so much that I’m surprised it took me this long to read it.  (Sort of.  More on that later.)  It’s the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and sister to his twelve sons (most famously, Joseph of the many-colored coat).  It retells the Biblical story of this very complicated family from the women’s perspective, focusing on Dinah and the four wives (ish) of Jacob.  Since the Bible tends to be heavily male, I love that concept–and reading through the Genesis account made me want to explore the women’s side.

But then I didn’t really love what was done with it.  The book starts before Dinah’s birth, telling the story of how Jacob met and married Rachel and Leah and (kind of) married their handmaids Bilhah and Zilpah, and how all those brothers came along.  And that sounds complicated and interesting, but somehow the book wound up being very, very focused on sex, childbirth and circumcision.  And I can see how all of those would be important, but it was…very heavily weighted on those three topics.

The story improved for me once Dinah was born and it could focus on her rather than a vague omniscient story of her four mothers.  There was a lot that was interesting about the culture of the time, particularly the women’s culture.  I can’t honestly say how accurate any of it was, but at least as a possible perspective it was engaging.  I liked Dinah’s childhood probably best of any section of the book.

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