What Every Writer Needs by Loren Rhoads

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I’ve worked on both sides of the editor’s desk, reading nonfiction, short stories, and poetry, as well as submitting both short and book-length projects of my own. I’ve edited for several small presses and for Scribner, for print and for the web. I’ve written for anthologies and magazines, published a novel, two chapbooks, and a collection of essays of my own. The one thing I’ve learned from all of that: every manuscript benefits from editing.

A good editor wants your work to shine. She wants to add polish and clarity. She’ll suggest changes and be able to give you the reasons behind them. She’ll ask you questions to open up the text so you can see for yourself what you’ve left unclear or unfocused.

The bigger publishers offer editing as part of the deal. Some of the small presses have started requiring authors to hire their own editors so that the submitted manuscript is print-ready when it’s accepted. If you self-publish, hiring your own editor is an absolute requirement.

Your writers group can help you hone your story. Your friend the English major can help you buff up your prose. You need a professional, though, to give your manuscript the final gloss, the attention that lifts it from acceptable to professional.

Every editor has pet peeves. Personally, I hate gerund constructions and passive verbs, but I’m fine with conversational writing and starting sentences with but or and. I just worked with an editor who hates dialogue tags. I worked with another who preferred academic writing. It may take a while to find an editor who meshes with your work.

It’s totally worth the search. It’s all too easy to discount a book that’s poorly written or full of typos, even if the subject matter is life-changing. Don’t give readers — or publishers — a reason to reject something you’ve labored over. If you’ve poured your heart into it, give it the best possible start and hire an editor.

Author Loren RhoadsLoren Rhoads served as editor for Bram Stoker Award-nominated Morbid Curiosity magazine as well as the books The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two, Death’s Garden: Relationship with Cemeteries, and Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues: True Tales of the Unsavory, Unwise, Unorthodox, and Unusual.

Her newest book is Tales for the Camp Fire, an anthology of stories written by Northern Californian horror writers, which raises money for survivors of last year’s devastating and deadly wildfire.

Rhoads Camp Fire lo-res

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

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It is links day!  Every Monday, I bring to you my top ten favorite articles about the craft of writing from my own surfing habits.  This week, I found a couple of interesting items about writing memoir in addition to general writing tips.  I enjoy writing the occasional short story memoir, as you can see in my writing credits. I hope these articles will help to inspire you to tell your own stories.  Finally, I wanted to post something about Hugo Award winner Vonda N. McIntyre who passed away recently. I had the pleasure of meeting her at WorldCon a few years ago and found her an inspiring writer and teacher. She will be missed.

What Is the Relationship Between Plot and Theme?

FANTASY WORLDBUILDING, MONEY, MONSTERS, AND FOOD

In Memoriam – Vonda N. McIntyre

The 1973 Hugo Award for Best Editor: Ben Bova

Why Copying Other Successful Authors Won’t Make You Successful

Tips on Writing Believable Conspiracies for Thriller Fiction

Five Activities I Use to Beat Writer’s Block

Plot, Inner Change, Evocative Writing—What Really Rivets Readers?

How To Write A Non-Fiction Book Outline In Two Days

Writing to Heal: The Benefits of a Cathartic Novel

Author Interview: Lisa Hofmann

Author Lisa Hofmann is a planner, and she loves doing on-site research, taking her children to every castle within driving distance to spend hours exploring the grounds, embarrassing their family at any given moment whenever taking a guided tour, because she’s the woman who’s always got just one more question for the guide.  Please give her a warm welcome to No Wasted Ink.

Author Lisa HofmannHi, I’m Lisa Hofmann. I’m 43 years old, married, and a mother of three with a houseful of pets. I was educated in Germany and in Ireland, which has certainly shaped who I am today.

By day, I’m an elementary school teacher who works with migrant children and refugees. At night, I turn into a rabid dark fantasy writer who survives on cappuccino and cheese snacks.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing when I was still in school, but only seriously pursued it much, much later, when I was in my late thirties and discovered that I could actually do this on my own with no need of a publisher. I believe traditional publishing has its merits, but it’s not for someone like me who’s on a tight time-budget. I’m not a full-time writer. I work a lot of extra hours in my daytime job as a teacher, and I have three children who have my full attention. That means, I steal time to write whenever I can. I can’t imagine having meet tight deadlines for my novels or fulfill contracts for possible further books of a series within a certain time frame. I’d constantly feel pressured, and to me, writing is meant to be a pleasurable activity. It’s what I really love doing, and I’m my own boss in that area. I define my own standards, and I want to keep writing the books I myself would like to read, and not have to write to please an editor who’d like to see me change my content to suit someone else’s tastes. That’s why I always shied away from offering my work to traditional publishing houses, and I never looked for an agent. So far, I’m quite enjoying doing this my way, in my own time.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I started aimfully writing my first book, Stealing the Light. I loved the whole process or writing and publishing it. It felt right, and I knew immediately that this was something I was going to be doing for a long time to come.

Could you share a little about your current book with us?

My current work in progress is a third book of a series, titled “Gates of Eventide”. It’s being edited as we speak, and I’m very excited to get it out there. The series is about a community of outlaws with magical abilities who are hiding in plain sight, operating a fair that sells magical items and puts on shows. The Fair’s biggest problem is one of their own, so to speak – a woman with dangerous magical Talents who grew up outside the community, was rejected by it, and has gained a powerful position among the humans who are out to destroy the Unnaturals. I hope to release this third book in late summer, perhaps earlier, depending on how long the process of getting it ready with my editor and cover artist it will take.

The book I’ve most recently released is titled Trading Darkness. This is a stand-alone novel that’s set during the time of the witch trials in the late medieval period near my home town. Some of the events that I described in it are real, and a few of the characters as well. It was a lot of fun to research, and even more so to finally write it, since the initial idea for it was stewing for about twenty years, since my studies of local history.

What inspired you to write this book?

The series was an idea that arose from a piece of music I’d been listening to. I was talking to a friend one Saturday about it, and she encouraged me to pursue the thought. It was more a joke than something serious at the time, since we were playing around with characters from a TV series, discussing how so-and-so would handle a complete disaster like the one I was imagining for the storyline, and what such-and-such a person would do, but then I sat down and started making character charts for original characters and began outlining. The idea kept growing and getting bigger, and I suddenly found myself completely captivated.

The stand-alone novel is a book that I’ve been wanting to write ever since my time at university. I studied women’s history and I visited one of the sites where witches were executed in the course of a class I was taking on the witch trials. Standing on “Gallow’s Hill” sent shivers down my spine, and I remember thinking that life certainly writes the most fascinating stories.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The series title is the title of a piece by Mozart – Dies Irae, The Requiem. The idea of light and darkness was already in the first two book titles, so Gates of Eventide is a variation, basically, that tells the reader that we’re heading toward a place where shadows lie in wait.

Trading Darkness has to do with the bargain one of the main characters makes with the devil. He’s trading one darkness for another, but it’s a deal he’s going to regret for the rest of his life.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I think my style is pretty much my own. I don’t try to imitate other writers, but I do read a lot of good books, so there are always bound to be traces of other author’s styles somewhere in what I’m doing. But I do think my voice is my own.

Is there a message in your novel that you want your readers to grasp?

I think my style is pretty much my own. I don’t try to imitate other writers, but I do read a lot of books by great authors whose work I love and have been reading for decades, so there are always bound to be traces of those authors’ styles somewhere in what I’m doing. But I do think my voice is my own.

I find writing in my particular genre a bit of a challenge since it’s not strictly sword-and-sorcery or epic fantasy, but something that I would consider more “soft fantasy”, for lack of a better term. There is magic, and there are magical creatures, but the story is very much more character-driven than a typical sword-and-sorcery might be. I don’t do formula writing – I don’t write for a market of readers who would expect a storyline to develop a certain way per se. I write for readers who love intense characters and intense story development, rather than expect epic battles with dragon-riders and orcs on every other page of the book. My books have characters who are people of their time in a world parallel to ours, only with the premise that magic is a reality and not a superstition. There are real people’s conflicts in a medieval setting based on that premise, and there’s good and evil and every shade of gray in between.

What other authors have most influenced your life?

This is going to sound funny, but I read a lot of different kinds of things. I could name a lot of authors as having influenced my life and my writing. I think Stephen King would be one of them – but in contrast, I would also say Cornelia Funke. What I admire about King is his drive and how he’s managed to keep producing good books over a period of so many decades now. What I admire about Funke is her determination even in the face of personal tragedies, and her ability to evolve. She made a name for herself as an author of children’s books, but what she really is, is a very gifted fantasy writer for all ages. She’s proven that with her Reckless series.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Giuseppa Lo Coco designed the covers for the Dies Irae Series. She’s very talented, pleasant, and easy to work with, and she came up with the images to the words as if she was seeing what I was. That’s magical!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

In terms of the writing as such: practice your Art and stay humble. Writing is a craft that you need to hone and work hard to move toward as high a level as you can get. Plan what you’re doing, and rewrite and revise as often as necessary. I also believe it’s ever so important to work with professionals. Get in touch with a good editor, even if you’re thinking of having your work agented and publishing traditionally – polish your manuscript and make it the best you can before you put it in front of an agent or your readers.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for enjoying my books. Tell your friends about them and support indie authors by leaving an honest review, if possible. It’s what keeps us going.

Stealing the Light E-Book FINAL VERSIONLisa Hofmann
Siegen, Germany.

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Stealing the Light 

Cover artist: Giusy Lo Coco

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No Wasted Ink Writers Links

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Happy Monday!  It is time for another batch of writers links here on No Wasted Ink. This week I have a great list of general writing tip articles and a few that deal with writing science fiction.  Enjoy!

It’s True. Young Readers Should Not Be Introduced To The Genre With Old SF, But….

The Art of the Playlist

Breaking Down the Battle of Winterfell from a Military Perspective

A Tale of Tropes

THAT IS A WORD THAT CAN BE CUT MOST OF THE TIME THAT YOU USE IT

5 Ways to Use Theme to Create Character Arc (and Vice Versa)

The Write Advice

Resorting to Manual Methods

Six Pros and Cons of the Magic School Genre

Picking the Right Setting Details

Author Interviews * Book Reviews * Essays * Writer's Links * Scifaiku

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