Author thanks and an author/copyeditor link

The past week has been lovely for me, with wonderful words from authors whose books I’ve worked on. Michael and Kathleen Gear, whom I’ve copyedited for many years now, told me that I’d done a wonderful job on their latest book and said that they told their editor they “cherish” me as a copyeditor. They’re fantastic people, and I cherish my working relationship with them, too.

Then Jon Sprunk, whose first novel Shadow’s Son is coming out from Pyr in 2010, received his copyedits and wrote me with the following:

Just received the copyedits today. Wow! I mean, Lou was singing your praises, but… wow! You caught things I would have never seen. The book is going to be a great deal better for it. Thank you SO much!

Copyeditors and authors don’t always get the opportunity to work together, so the relationship can sometimes seem antagonistic to new authors. Truthfully, too, not every copyeditor has the ability to work well with authors. When the relationship does work, however, everyone is happier and the book benefits.

If you’d like to see a wonderful recounting of how an author works with his longtime copyeditor, please check out the entries from November 25 and December 2 of 2009 on Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven journal. I’m not Guy’s copyeditor, but I’m not the only good one out there. :-)

First professional short story publication

Hi, all. I am happy to announce today that my first story to a professional market is now in print!

“The Robidermist’s Steed” appears in The Anthology of Dark Wisdom: The Best of Dark Fiction:

“The Robidermist’s Steed” grew out of a challenge to write, of all things, a zombie unicorn story that could sell. I added the extra dimension of SF to mine and was proud to find a market.

It means a lot to me that this is my first short story sale. China Miéville had looked at this story for me some years back and loved it enough that for my 40th birthday, he sent me a crystal goblet he hand-etched with an illustration of the story. He has said that in retrospect he’s embarrassed by the quality of his drawing, but I adore it:

I don’t think many people are lucky enough to have a goblet hand-etched by China Miéville to celebrate their first short story publication with, but I intend to fill mine with champagne and enjoy. :)

A few Florida images

The weather is finally cooling a bit here, and the wildlife around us is beautiful. I took so many pretty pictures while out on my unicycle today that I can’t even count myself as having exercised. :) That said, here are a few images I captured, all within a few minutes of my house. I haven’t done any cropping or photo work, but I hope you enjoy them anyway.

Here’s a wood stork by the side of the road:

(They have ugly heads up close.)

And here’s a gator in the pond near us. (I wasn’t getting any closer.)

Here he is from the side, though:

A beautiful great egret at an even closer pond:

A little blue heron at the same pond earlier in the week:
blue heron

Some ibis:

An egret hunting:
crane hunting

A monarch and a pinecone:

And though it’s not wildlife, here’s Atlantis going up, just a few minutes ago, as seen from my front porch:

Beautiful, isn’t it? You should think of visiting. :)

Anachronisms in Fantasy

World Fantasy was a blast, and my panel went well. In it, we talked a bit about anachronisms in speech and dialogue: How you want to try to avoid terms or slang that hadn’t come into use at the time of your novel as well as words that have a strong association with a culture that your culture wouldn’t have had contact with.

You should all go check out Mary Robinette Kowal’s list of the eight worst anachronisms in fantasy novels, though. She lists some fun doozies.

WFC Panel Input

Hello, all! I’ve been notified by Alan Beatts that I’ll be moderating the World Fantasy Convention panel titled “Coarse Dialog and Graceful Description–The Balancing Act,” Saturday, October 31, at 2:00. The other participants are authors Guy Gavriel Kay, Ellen Kushner, and Patricia McKillip, as well as editor Jim Frenkel. I’m very honored.

WFC describes the panel this way: “How does the writer balance dialog that is matched to their characters with evocative and literary narration? Or should one try to do so at all? Should characters use a modern vocabulary and sentence structure or does this impede the suspension of disbelief and reduce the sense of wonder? Obviously there are no hard and fast ‘correct’ answers but what are some of the factors that an author considers relative to these questions?”

I would love the input of any readers here as to what particular topics they’d like to hear discussed on the panel. Please do leave a comment if you can take the time.

An author post on the copyediting process

I came across a post by author Scott Berkun the other day that contains a lot of useful information about the copyediting process, and I thought readers here would be interested in it. Scott writes nonfiction, but many of the ideas he talks about are relevant to fiction as well. I particularly like the bits below.

And of course writing is more than grammar and tense, it’s also less tangible factors like honesty, relevance, humor and value, which the copyeditor might sense are lacking but can’t fix on their own. That’s the writer’s job. The result is good copyediting leads to good conversations between the copyeditor and writer about what the writer was trying to do and how they can do it better.

Not all houses allow copyeditors and authors to have actual conversations, so queries sometimes have to suffice for this. And although I’ve met authors who are offended by being queried, Scott makes another excellent point later in the post:

A copyeditor and author shouldn’t agree on everything – the process should force the writer to think more clearly and catch bad assumptions they’ve made. I get final say, so what do I have to lose in being questioned? Better now than in book reviews.

The entire post is worth checking out, and it’s always lovely to see an author who appreciates the process.

Conversation with the six-year-old tonight

“Mom, can I do an experiment to turn myself into a monster?”
“For how long?”
“How about two hours?”
“What kind of a monster?”
“A T-Rex!”
“No, you’d eat us!”
“How about a skeleton?”
“A giant foot?”
“Okay. For two hours. But don’t stomp on us!”

One of the fun times to be a mom. :-)

Lunar Landing Anniversary

I spent the fortieth anniversary of the moon landing sleeping underneath a Saturn V rocket at the Kennedy Space Center with my daughter, Blaine, and my friend Lucienne Diver and her family. As the center reenacted the landing for us and described to us how very nearly the astronauts missed it after their onboard computer malfunctioned and their equipment failed to guide them properly (they had to ignore the rocky landing site their computer suggested, fly off on their own, and landed with just 15 seconds of fuel to spare), I couldn’t help but marvel that we managed this feat with the technology of the 1960s. I’m not sure how much computing power those astronauts had available to them for the landing, but I’m willing to bet that I have more in my iPhone.

If you were told today that you could go to the moon but would have to use the same technology those first astronauts did, would you take the offer? I don’t think I would, and it gives me a newfound appreciation for those first adventurers.

Fruit-and-Cream Pops

It’s hot here, and I’m going to make the kids one of my favorite treats. These look really gorgeous for the Fourth, too (you can add some blueberries if you want some blue in there, too) so I thought I’d offer you guys the recipe. They have roughly a kajillion calories, each, but hey, it’s a holiday. Plus, fresh fruit! You need fresh fruit in your daily diet. :-)

Beat together the following:

1/4 cup honey
1 8 oz pkg of softened cream cheese
1 cup cream, whipped (the real stuff is best)
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 c sliced banana
1 c sliced strawberries

If you don’t have any popsicle molds, you can use Dixie cups and popsicle sticks or plastic spoons. Fill each cup, put in a stick, and freeze. Tear off the cup when they’re solid, and you’re in for a really yummy summer treat!Blaine and pop