I’ve been spending a lot of time the last couple of months promoting my middle grade fantasy novel, DARKBEAST. That promotion has included going into a lot of schools and speaking many classes about books in general, the life of a writer, DARKBEAST in particular, etc. At each appearance, I take several dozen questions from the audience. A handful of questions is unique; however, most are variations on a few themes:
How much money do you make on your books? When are they going to make a movie out of your book? How did you decide what to draw for the cover of your book? Do you know J.K. Rowling/Jeff Kinney/Stephenie Meyer/Other Uber-Popular Author?
I love school visits — mostly because kids have such relaxed filters. They’re willing to say almost anything, without consideration fro propriety, my feelings, etc.
I do try to teach some lessons with my visits. [...]
Continue reading Q and A
Not long ago, a book I’d placed on hold at the library arrived for me. It was a book I’d seen a few weeks earlier, when another patron placed it on hold. At the time, I’d read the book flap and decided I liked the premise, so I was tickled when my turn popped up. As soon as I was done working for the day, I curled up on the couch to enjoy a few pages. Only to discover this:
“You walk into the hallway. The elevator is just closing, but you press the button. The doors open again, and you step into the empty car.”
Yes, the book was written in second person, present tense. I couldn’t get much past the first page. Instead of being able to lose myself in the wonder of the story, I was being ordered around by the author with every sentence. It felt [...]
Continue reading Tenses and Persons
A J Hartley
When Scribe suggested I did a post on sentence fragments, my first thought was that I didn’t have enough to say about the subject. But as many of you have learned to your considerable chagrin, I’m a word guy, and there is no subject on earth on which I won’t wax eloquent if given the right pulpit. So, dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to talk about fragments.
Full disclosure: I am not what my students sometimes refer to as a “grammar Nazi.” Brits in general tend to view grammar as descriptive rather than prescriptive (i.e. we see it as essentially describing common usage, not as legislating what common usage should be). Grammar changes overtime as language evolves and you won’t find me getting hot under the collar over pedantic fights over whether to split infinitives no man has split before. (For the record, that particular complaint is derived [...]
Continue reading Breaking Grammar Rules: Sentence Fragments
Hey guys. Today and tomorrow I’m at the Literary Weekend at the Carolina Renaissance Festival (Misty and several other writers will be there as well, so if you are in the area, please come out and say hello–we’d love to see you!) Anyway, that being the case, I might not be able to check comments until Monday, so don’t think I’m ignoring you. Since I’m on my way out, today I’m posting an article I wrote a while back about gender in writing. I’m very interested in reading your take on the matter.
When it comes to politically correct terms for gender roles, anyone who knows me personally long ago gave me up as a lost cause. I don’t care one bit about the generalized ‘man’ being a collective for both males and/or females such as in words like mankind and chairman. I find the insertion of the word woman [...]
Continue reading Gender and a Sense of Mystery
A student came in yesterday and asked me to take a look at a book he’s writing. Generally speaking, I’ve adopted the very wise policy of many of my fellows, and stopped looking at the work of hopefuls. There are liability problems, not to mention I just don’t have the time to spend fixing someone else’s manuscript when mine isn’t finished. But I felt a certain responsibility toward the student, so I agreed to give it a look.
He’d handwritten six pages in pencil on notebook paper. It was full of telling instead of showing, it was lacking in the kind of detail that might catch a reader’s interest, and he changed verb tenses with every sentence. I could tell that he wanted to make it better, so I carefully, cautiously pointed out ways I thought he could improve his work. He seemed to accept my suggestions, until we reached [...]
Continue reading The editor can fix that…