Tuesday, July 26, 2016

WHY Won’t They Publish…?

There are a lot of websites and blogs that offer nice checklists to go through and make certain a manuscript is ready for submission or publication. Just internet-search any variation of this post’s title, and you’ll be amazed. Help is there.

The thing is-- none of these checklists, handy-dandy though they be, really tells you if your offering will get published. You may go through these point by point and remain frustrated.

Here's a typical, and sensible, list to consider:

*Is the story properly classified? Have you submitted to the right publishers/agents? Check/Check

*Have you taken care of typos and other pesky technical things? Check

*Is the premise unique? Check

*Is the premise not so unique that no one knows what to make of it? Check

*Are the stakes high enough? The plot riveting enough? The characters engaging enough? Check/Check/Check

*Have you run it by good readers who would tell you the truth? Check

And so on, and so forth. Now what?

I don’t have the answer. But the single thing I find most helpful, inspiring and encouraging— is go to my local bookstore. (Yup, I’m lucky to still have many nearby.) There, I read recently published books aimed at the same readers I am working for.
© By Karla Gudeon

Inspiring, because the level is generally high and the examples push me to excel. Encouraging, because some of the books are not nearly as good as they could be, and I believe I can do as well or better. Helpful, because the best checklist is to simply read good books that made the bar, and try to understand why.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Pesky Typo…

…and the Homophone that Snuck by L

Despite having been read and re-read by the author (me) too many times to count, and three beta readers, (one of them a retired editor) and three editors at the publishing house, there is a misspelling in one of my published books.  Nope, not telling where or what. But it served to remind me that only G-d is perfect.
I found a list of the most common typos, and you might recognize one or more as your recurrent oopsies. —
My no. #1 is in there. Even if I tried to post anonymously, I’d be recognized by it. For reasons only G-d knows, my “from” always insists on appearing as a “form.” Is this a neurological hick-up? I can’t rightly say. But, fortunately, it’s one I catch in proofreading. Well, most of the time.

The excellent advice to read out loud when proofing does not help with homophones. If anything, it tends to push them deeper into the basket. It sounds all right, and, phew, it must be.
Case in point: I scoured my current WIP. Then it was read by three beta readers, one of them an editor. It was the fourth reader who caught this one: BROACH and BROOCH are not the same thing. The first is a verb and the second, which is the one I intended, is an old-fashioned piece of jewelry often worn on a woman’s lapel.

OUCH. I just got stung by the pin of a brooch.
And I also witnessed, again, the elusiveness of perfection.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


light the corners of my mind…

A  few weeks ago, reunion fever spread amongst my classmates. I’m talking about my high school class, my youth-movement group, and my old scout troop. I don’t recall large get-togethers in previous decades. All at once, there was a “come-now-or-miss-this-once-in-a-lifetime-event” sentiment.

I grew up half a world away, and managing a trip was not to be. But this electronic and global age has a solution for this. Internet video-chat, sharing photos, and instant communication anytime/anywhere, bridge time-zone differences that turn night into day. Unlike me, some made the actual voyage back to Jerusalem, and the parties went on throughout the month of June.

But for all the merriment, there was a troubling aspect: familiar names I couldn’t quite place, and aged-faces that drew a blank. I am certain my name and face was a blank for some.

I started wondering about the corners of my mind.

Then I got a few urgent (if embarrassed) emails from old friends I have kept in touch with. They needed my help to remember others. I actually remembered at least as much as they had, maybe more.  

It wasn’t early dementia setting in, it was the ephemeral aspect of memory, that store-if-you-need-it-for-later, and then lose-it-if-you-didn’t-use-it.

Seeing images of the faces from our youth, all was restored. I just had to join names to the young faces, and then attach them to the faces of today.

This got me thinking about how I write characters and their memories. In fiction, people remember a whole lot. It’s a device necessary to convey back-story or make sense of a plot. But I now see how unrealistic it is.

What I once considered to be fantasy, The Bourne Identity, where a character with a partially-erased and fractured memory is globe-trotting in search of who he is, turns out to be closer to reality than the standard realistic stories I thought I was writing.

Misty water color memories of the way we were
Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind…

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Real Independence

Now that we have just marked our nation’s 240th year of independence, I got to thinking about what it means. Not only the national, but the personal. What does it take to rightfully call oneself independent?
There’s independence of thought. How influenced am I by the current winds?
There’s independence of action. Do I do what others think I should?
There’s independence of the sacred inner-self. Have I sold out?
I’m inclined to see myself as rather dependent on many things. Inter-dependent is probably the way to describe it. True independence requires clear vision and immense courage.
While I am too proud, too stubborn, and too quick to opine, all these negatives are remnants of what streak of independence has not been squashed.
We celebrate “independence,” but do we mean it? Do we really celebrate it?
I’ll think about it not only today, but the next time I witness real courage. This is what flying the flag will mean to me, and this is what the national anthem will stand for; after a long battle, our flag was still there.
May your flag still be there.