Writing, pet peeves and more

Ah, Monday, how I hate thee. Or, more precisely, I hate the fact I’ve been up for several hours already and would really like to go back to bed. That’s given me some time to leisurely go through my different news feeds, social media (ack) and think about blogging. One item caught my eye, a post by Melodie Campbell, caught my eye. Campbell is a novelist. Her “pet peeves” as a creative writing professor are things every writer should keep in mind. Why? Because they are pet peeves many readers have about books currently available — and not just from indie authors. In fact, I see more of these peeves being exhibited in traditionally published books than in indie books.

I’m not going to discuss all 10 of Campbell’s pet peeves. Instead, I’ll touch on several that are at the top of my list of “how to piss off Amanda quicker than just about anything.”

  1. “I don’t need no stinkin’ genre” 

    Campbell’s peeve is that she has students who refuse to choose a genre. Their work is “special” you see and they don’t believe they should have to classify their work. In fact, they see doing so is to “sell out”. Whether you are trying to publish traditionally or taking the indie route, this is nothing short of foolish. Publishers want to know where your book will fit in their catalog. Readers want to know what sort of book it is. Sales outlets want to know how to classify it so it sells. Get over yourselves and choose a genre. Your bottom line will thank you for it.Of course, this also means you have to know the various genres and sub-genres. To do so, you have to read and you have to do your research. More on this later.

  2. “My editor will fix this”Specifically, “my editor will fix my grammar and punctuation, etc., errors”. While this is true, it is only partially so. If you are going the traditional route, you have to submit as clean a manuscript as possible for consideration. That means you need to do away with spelling errors, comma faults, etc. If you submit sloppy copy, I guarantee it won’t matter how wonderful or how innovative your book is, the editors won’t read it.

    For indies, we certainly an’t rely on this. First, because our critique groups will get tired of reading things we submit where the author hasn’t made at least a passing attempt to clean up the manuscript. Second, we have to rely upon editors we hire, or really good beta readers, for our copy edits and proofreading and there is no guarantee how good they will be. So, to save headaches all around, it is important to learn the rules and apply them as we write.

  3. “Literary Snowflakes: students who ignore publisher guidelines”This one is pretty obvious as well. If submitting to a traditional publisher, you MUST follow the guidelines. That’s especially true in this day and age of digital submissions. If they say 80k-100k words, you don’t submit something that’s 150k words. If they have a preferred manuscript format, you follow it. In other words, you follow the rules. End of story.

    For indies, it’s a bit more complicated because we don’t have “publisher guidelines” re: submissions. Sure, we have to worry about meeting formatting guidelines for whichever outlet we’re using, but that’s different. What we have to be careful of is making sure we give value for the cost of our title. If we’re charging $2.99 or more, our readers expect a full book (unless, of course, we’re a “name”). So, do yourself a favor. Don’t try selling short stories for the price of a novel. Don’t get funny with your formatting and pad your page count by having only a few words or paragraphs per page. Readers will resent it and they will spread the word.

  4. “Students who don’t read”This is my pet peeve. If you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader. If you want to be a genre writer, you need to read what is currently “hot”. You might not like it, but you have to know what the readers are looking for. You read the classics because, like it or not, they are the foundation of the genre. Everything else has been built from them. I want to shake — okay, more than shake — writers who say they don’t read in their own genre because they have a “”unique voice” and don’t want it contaminated by what other writers are doing. How the hell do you know if your voice is unique if you don’t read the freaking genre?

    That said, I don’t tend to read a genre when I’m actively working on a project in that genre. But, once the draft is finished, I go back to reading the genre. It is part of my homework. I have to know what is going on and what other authors are doing.

Check out the rest of Campbell’s post and let me know what you think.

A couple of other things. If you missed it yesterday, I have a post up at Victory Girls. Last week, Nancy Pelosi did her version of a filibuster (8 hours) in an attempt to block the budget in favor of DACA legislation. Pelosi is obviously more worried about Dreamers than she is the rest of the country. After all, if you are willing to derail the national budget — the money needed to run not just the government but government programs so many of her constituents rely upon — in order to push through a single piece of legislation, your priorities are a bit skewed. So guess who crawled out of the shadows to support her? Former state senator Wendy Davis. Davis has been fairly invisible since her loss to Gregg Abbott in 2014. Now, suddenly, she seems to be seeking the limelight again. First, there’s the movie about her starring Sandra Bullock. Then she spoke at the Austin women’s march. Now she’s taking to supporting Pelosi and calling her the “mama bear” of Dreamers. As I state in my VG post, I have to wonder if Davis is truly motivated by her respect for Pelosi and the former Speaker’s stand or if, as I suspect, she saw a chance to grab more of the spotlight? Are we about to see Davis return to the political fray? (For those of you not familiar with Wendy Davis, she’s the former senator who made national news for her filibuster of proposed anti-abortion legislation in Texas back in 2013. Of course, for all the press she received, her red tennis shoes received as much, if not more. She tried to parlay that notoriety into a successful bid for the governor’s mansion and failed.)

Finally, don’t forget that Light Magic is now available for pre-order.

When Meg Sheridan arrived in Mossy Creek, Texas, she had one goal in mind: to fulfill her mother’s dying wish. Now, less than a month after burying her mother, all Meg knows about the town is that it has always been a haven for the Others, even before they made their existence known to the world. As an Other herself, that should reassure Meg. Instead, it raises more questions than it answers. More than that, she has one very large problem. She doesn’t know why her mother wanted her to come to Mossy Creek. Worse, she soon learns not everyone is willing to welcome her with open arms.

Faced with the daunting task of discovering not only why her mother sent her to Mossy Creek but also with uncovering why her mother fled there years before, Meg is determined to find the truth. Along the way, she discovers something else. Even in death, her mother is looking out for her – if Meg will let her.

And if she will accept the friendship and love of those who knew her mother all those years ago.

But danger awaits her as well. Secrets decades old and resentments going back generations seethe just below the surface. Do those secrets have anything to do with why Meg’s mother wanted her to come to town? Will discovering them help her understand why her mother fled Mossy Creek so long ago?

Or will they lead to something much more sinister. . . and deadly?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.