Friday, October 19, 2018

Apparently, I'm Alll Kinds of Modern.

Who knew?

This week's topic is whether we type one space or two after sentences. I just checked. I type one.

I know that sounds odd, but it's not something I think about. i just do it. I think always did it and, when I had to, I fixed it on edits.
These days y computer does most of it before me. My manuscript is typed double-spaced. My em-dashes fix themselves automatically. The space at e beginning of a paragraph is trained into the format first thing after I start. Yay, modern technology!

Without modern technology I have absolutely no idea how many spaces I type. I think it's just one. I know that I used to have to consciously think about it, and that nine times out of ten I still got it wrong. So, yay for computer software. I have a powerful suspicion I would still be on my first noel manuscript and fixing typos if not for the advances in technology.

I am the King of Typos. I am a hot, wet mess when it comes to run on sentences and extra apostrophes. My hands do not keep up with my brain. I type very, very fast, which is how I've often managed five to six thousand words a day. And then I clean up the mess, which, even with autocorrect, takes time.

There are no rights or wrongs on this front, not for me. The end result is what matters.

We're closing in fast on Halloween, and so I'll throw a reminder that scary stuff need not be gory by reminding you that Shirley Jackson wrote one of the very finest haunted house stories ever done with remarkably little by way of violence. What you got was atmosphere.

I loved the new adaptation on Netflix. I especially l've that it took several root ideas from the novel and then went in a completely different direction. Previous adaptions have been done and stuck close to the source material. The original version of  THE HAUNTING was, in my opinion, very nearly a perfect movie adaptation. Sometimes moving away from the source is the very best thing you can do.

Just a moment of admiration for a truly phenomenal author.

Have  great week, folks!

James A. Moore.

"No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone." -- Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House




And on another unrelated note: fans of the Griffin and Price books by yours truly and Charles R. Rutledge should know there's a new novella coming out soon. 
Cohesion Press is releasing SNAFU: Resurrection in December You can pre-order it right here. 



Thursday, October 18, 2018

Portrait of the Writer as an Odd Kid

So, let's talk a bit about Marshall Was A Weird Kid. 

(I know, you're probably shocked.)

Now, despite the fact that I spent a good chunk of time watching and rewatching a bunch of bad movies, I did, in fact, have other activities, including going to summer camps.  One of the day camps I went to regularly was structured thusly: it had two-week sessions, in which you would register for a single course, be it theatre or computers or filmmaking or auto mechanics or what have you.  Whatever you signed up for? That was your morning for the two weeks.  The afternoon, though, was a little more loosely structured, in that there were a handful of varied activities, and you chose, daily, which ones you were signing up for.  One of the most popular afternoon ones was the limited-capacity trip to the local state park for swimming, which my sister made a point of signing up for Every. Single. Day.

That?  Was not me.

In fact, my first year there, I was seven, which was itself a bit odd because the camp was for 8-14 year-olds, and I think my mother got an exception made for me because my sister was there as well.  So there I was, the only seven-year-old among older kids, looking at choices for afternoon activities, most of which were outdoorsy and/or athletic, to which I was nope.  But then one caught my eye.

Typing.

Seven-year-old me signed up for a goddamn typing class that was mostly populated by teenagers who were there for summer school (the camp was held on the campus of a private school), and I'm pretty sure I was the only one from the camp who signed up for it.  But I signed up for it EVERY SINGLE DAY of my first session there.

Every day. Typing. At the age of seven.  And this was 1980, so it was on a typewriter.  That's how and when I learned, and obviously it was a valuable skill that stuck with me.

BUT, since that's how and when I learned, you're just going to have to accept that a double-space after a period is simply embedded in my muscle memory.  It's there, and there's no dislodging it.  So there we are.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Manifesto of a former grammarista

Folk who know me best also know I used to be a copy editor at a book publisher. I mean, for like a decade. And then I managed copy editors. And then I wrote style guides. That sort of work history will scar a girl, and even to this day, despite my best efforts at self-improvement, parts of my brain remain a bit proscriptive. If you could make Strunk & White's Elements of Style into a verb, that would be my brain ("Oh, don't mind me, I'm just over here StrunkNWhiting").

So, even though I'd never harp on these abominations to your face (we don't do this! we never do this!), here is what those brain-parts are screaming as I read your manuscript:

1. Dangling or misplaced modifiers help no one, ever. Unfortunately, I see a bunch of these, even in published books. Educate yourself on these things and avoid them. Please, please, please.

2. Yes, character names ending in S are fun (I love me a Rhys, an Alexis, a Lucius, maybe a...Salacious?). However! Be aware that there are two legit ways of making possessives of a singular noun ending in S: one way has you add an apostrophe+S, and with the other you add just the apostrophe. It's important that you know going in that whichever method you choose, half of your readers will be completely and totally convinced you're doing it wrong. So, just stick with boring non-ending-in-S names, yeah? Also, don't harangue people who are choosing the other method. They're okay, too.

3. There can be only one...space after a period. If you are putting two spaces, congratulations for passing typing in high school all those years ago. Also, welcome to variable-width fonts and the twenty-first century. (Aside: This is the topic at SFF Seven this week. We are seriously discussing whether there should be one space or two. I love this blog so much!)

4. I know you really want to use a semicolon, but restrain yourself. Don't do it. Even if you think you know how to use a semicolon, sadly, you're probably doing it wrong.

Oh, now that you've got me rolling, I can think of SO MANY peeves, things that just make me crazy: sentence fragments with no subjects and a whole buncha -ing phrases, homonym misuses, pronouns that refer to the wrong thing or nothing at all, word repeats, run-on sentences... yikes!PANIC!JUDGMENT!

*in through your nose, then out through pursed lips*

You know what, though? Don't mind me and my ridiculous, proscriptive (adj, StrunkNWhiteous?) brain. Tell your story. Tell the hell out of it. If you tell me a good enough story, I won't even pick nits.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Writing in Days of Yore: A Walk Down Memory Lane

Image: Wikipedia
Ah, The Old Rules. The Way Things Must Be Done. The bygone era of two spaces after a period. Of flipping the manual return and that gloriously distinct sound of the carriage sliding left, ready to start a new line. Lo, those were the days of typewriters. Then came the dawning of carbon paper copies; when correction tape gave way to white out, which was eschewed for erasable ink, that was then thrown out for dot-matrix-printed papers.

Get ready to shout GET OFF MY LAWN if these ring a bell:


  • You not only know what "CC" really means, but you've also used carbon paper. 
  • You recall the agonies of retyping an entire document. Back before auto-save, back when one line-edit meant rewriting everything.
  • Picking white-out from under your nails and the dread upon spotting the ink/carbon smeared across the side of your hand is quite familiar.
  • Tearing off the hole-punched paper guides from dot-matrix papers and cursing when the perforations tore before the print job was done.
  • The joy of learning Wordperfect 5.1 for DOS still gives you a warm fuzzy.
  • The days when apps were software and you had to buy them in a box from a brick-and-mortar store, which meant planning a trip to a bookstore or CompUSA. 
  • You can describe cartridges, cassettes, floppies, and 3.1s.
  • The sight of grey text on a blue screen brings back fond memories. Yep, green on black too.
  • Adding sticky notes to your wall of DOS command codes to run programs and locate files (and threatening bodily harm to co-workers if they took one of those notes).
  • The arrival of Windows 3.1 meant you didn't need to remember the DOS codes and was cause to celebrate; probably coincided with the start of your Solitare addiction.
  • You laugh recalling at the first time you used spell check (F2+Ctrl). 


Progress, it's a fabulous thing.




Sunday, October 14, 2018

One Space or Two? That Isn't Even a Question

This has been a busy week for me! Funny how things work that way. Always with the cycles, the waxing and the waning. 

Not only did THE ARROWS OF THE HEART - the next novel in The Uncharted Realms - release on Tuesday, October 9, but we revealed the cover of SEASONS OF SORCERY on Thursday, October 11.  SEASONS OF SORCERY is a fantasy anthology I'm doing with Amanda Bouchet, Grace Draven, and Jennifer Estep. It releases November 13 and you can preorder on some retailers now!
My novella in the collection is THE DRAGONS OF SUMMER and is told from Harlan's point of view, in the aftermath of THE ARROWS OF THE HEART

THE DRAGONS OF SUMMER BY JEFFE KENNEDYAs unofficial consort to the High Queen, former mercenary Harlan Konyngrr faces a challenge worse than looming war and fearsome dragons. His long-held secrets threaten what he loves most—and he must make a choice between vows to two women.
Amazon


As for today's topic? We're asking this week if we type two spaces or one after a period. This is an easy answer for me, because I'm not a freaking dinosaur.

ONE SPACE AFTER A PERIOD, PEOPLE.

Here's the thing: Yes, back in the day, before we had supercomputers on our cell phones, when we typed on typewriters instead of keyboards, then it was correct to type two spaces after a period. I learned it, too, in high school typing class. That's because typewriters created a fixed font page - which means all the letters all took up the same amount of space, regardless of their size. An "i" is skinnier than an "m," but in a fixed font system, they get the same amount of space on the page. Courier font is like this. Because all the letters get the same space, we typed two spaces after a period to make the sentence endings clear.

Once God came down from heaven and handed Moses a word-processing program, we were able to use proportional fonts. That means the letters take up only the space they need, in proportion to their size. Almost all fonts are proportional.

This is a fixed font.  Two spaces works to set the period apart.

This is a proportional font. You don't need two spaces to make it look right.  In fact, two spaces looks like a mistake.

One space after a period has been industry standard since I was an academic editor in the early 90s. For those not great at math, that's over 25 years now. A QUARTER OF A CENTURY.

And don't tell me it's a habit and you can't retrain yourself. You've learned how to work your desktop supercomputer, haven't you?

Hopefully you don't still have your hairstyle from back then either...

~peers through webcam~

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Debut Year? I Only Remember the Sparkles

DepositPhoto

“If I could go back to my debut year…”  Um, why on Earth would I want to do that LOL?

My debut year was fun and sparkles and I DID get The Call, the actual CALL, from Angela James at Carina Press, to say they wanted to acquire Priestess of the Nile, which I had sent in response to a note on their website about wanting Ancient World romances. I was basically incoherent on the phone with Angela that day because I was so excited and thrilled.

That first year was so much fun because I had no expectations, knew  nothing really about the publishing industry or the ebook industry – Priestess came out as an ebook and an audiobook in 2012 but I did understand that status from the getgo (i.e. there’d be no print version) – and it was all fun and exciting. I think my view of the publishing world was still somewhere between Jo of Little Women up in her attic writing for a penny a word and Joan Wilder in “Romancing the Stone”, you know? I didn’t belong to RWA, I wasn’t in any author groups online, I only knew one other published author at the time.

I had a fulltime career at the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the business side of the house and this, having Priestess published, was a lifelong dream for me. In 2012 I also self-published Wreck of the Nebula Dream (“Titanic in space…”), so there I was with not one but two books out there and more to come in due time, I was sure. I had READERS. I had REVIEWS, even one from RT magazine. Oh my gosh.

In that debut year I learned about blogging, the ins and outs of social media, fell in love with twitter,  worked with a fabulous editor (Allison Dasho), I joined RWA, I went to the national conference and met PEOPLE, I had a Carina Press balloon on my signing table, the Harlequin people came and talked to me, I was actually in the same room as Nalini Singh, signing books (the conference was in Anaheim so there were local people I l knew who came, who kindly had me sign for them). I was too shy to actually approach Nalini, which is amusing to me now and she is the sweetest person, easy to talk with. Her table was actually EMPTY of fans for a few minutes while she sat there and I was still too shy to walk up to talk to her! But then I was just in awe of breathing the same actual air as my favorite author.

I met JEFFE! And she was such a mentor to me, helping me figure out various things…she was very patient with all my questions.

So that debut year was all kinds of fun for me, in part because I didn’t have expectations about anything. I didn’t want an agent. I wasn’t angling for a contract with a traditional publisher. I had no thought of being able to quit the challenging and enjoyable day job. I was simply basking in the state of actually being a published author.

Now, if it was all so much fun, then you may ask why I don’t want to go back to 2012?

Well, I only got the two books out that year. I wrote another one for Carina, got a Revise & Resubmit letter, which was something of a surprise to me (welcome to the world of publishing LOL), and even after they did acquire it, the process to get it published was wayyyy longer than ever-impatient I expected…I decided self-publishing was my thing and scifi romance was my primary genre…I got bitten by the bug to hey, maybe work up to being a full time author (which took me three more years to accomplish)….

So the debut year was a very special time in my life and my memory, and I cherish all the experiences but I have no desire to relive it again. I like new adventures. I’m happy with having more detailed and concrete goals as an author, I like being deep in the scifi romance author community, I love self-publishing…lots more stories to tell and I’m always moving forward.

But thanks again to Carina Press for my start, and for the memories!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Dear Author, Please Stop

Dear Author,

You wrote the thing! Good for you! Now, you're going to fling that thing into the bright sky and see if it will fly.

I want you to stop.

No, no. By all means, hit publish or accept that contract - whatever is going to get your book out into the world, do it. What I want to do is tell you what I wish someone had told me.

Stop being a people pleaser if you are one.

Remember why you started writing in the first place. Whether it was to entertain yourself, or keep yourself company, or to right a wrong done in another story - no matter the reason, at some point, writing became your own little act of rebellion. Maybe sedition. It's a portion of yourself that refuses to bend to the dictates of your society and your culture. It's the part of you that you reserve for you. Keep that firmly in mind and in your heart.

Once you hit publish, your story may grow wings. Or it may crash and burn. Or it may flounder in obscurity. You have no control over how your thing is received. But if you're a people pleaser, you'll spend too much time and energy obsessing over why someone liked it/didn't like it/failed to notice it. And that will warp your relationship with your stories. Eventually, it will warp your relationship with yourself.

So stop being a people pleaser. Only one person needs to love your stories. You. If you do, then and only then is it possible for anyone else to love them, too. It isn't a guarantee that everything you produce will meet with unconditional love. It likely won't. What is guaranteed is that if you allow people pleasing to drive your writing, no one will be happy. Least of all you.

Love,
Me

PS. Debut year? WTH? Every single book you release is a debut. It's all new. It's all fun. It's all scary and overwhelming and guaranteed something will go sideways because of all the moving parts. But if you keep writing, you have infinite chances to roll out the perfect debut. Even if it's of your 67th book.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

New Release EMBRACE THE ROMANCE: PETS IN SPACE 3


This is an exciting week for me because we’ve released our third annual Pets In Space anthology! My 41K word novel in the collection is a new Sectors scifi romance entitled Star Cruise: Mystery Dancer and I’ve taken a futuristic look at the ‘Anastasia’ urban legend. Is my princess the only survivor of a terrible massacre? Or is she an imposter? I also created a three eyed alien genie ‘cat’ as my scifi pet this year.

Anthology Blurb:
Pets in Space™ is back! Join us as we unveil eleven original, never-before-published action-filled romances that will heat your blood and warm your heart! New York Times, USA Today and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Ruby Lionsdrake, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Carol Van Natta, Tiffany Roberts, Alexis Glynn Latner, E D Walker, JC Hay, and Kyndra Hatch combine their love for Science Fiction Romance and pets to bring readers sexy, action-packed romances while helping our favorite charity. Proud supporters of Hero-Dogs.org, Pets in Space™ authors have donated over $4,400 in the past two years to help place specially trained dogs with veterans. Open your hearts and grab your limited release copy of Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space™ 3 today!

STAR CRUISE: MYSTERY DANCER blurb:  Tassia Megg is a woman on the run after the death of her elderly guardian. Her search to get off the planet in a hurry comes when chance directs her to an open dance audition for the luxury cruise liner Nebula Zephyr’s resident troupe. If there is one thing Tassia can do, it is dance!
Security Officer Liam Austin is suspicious of the newest performer to join the Comettes. She shows all the signs of being a woman on the run and seems to fit the Sectors-wide broadcast description of a missing thief, accused of stealing priceless artifacts. As he gets to know Tassia during the cruise, he starts to wonder if she’s something more – a long vanished princess in hiding from deadly political enemies of her family perhaps? And what’s the story with the three-eyed feline companion other crew members swear Tassia brought aboard the ship? Does the animal even exist?
As the ship approaches its next port of call, all the issues come to a boil and Liam must decide if he’ll step in to help Tassia or betray her. Life is about to get very interesting aboard the Nebula Zephyr as Liam tries to uncover the truth. Could F’rrh, the peculiar alien cat he has been hearing about, be the key to the mystery and Tassia’s fate?

The excerpt – Tassia explains part of her story for the first time:
Remembering his previous intuition that she was on the run and hiding secrets, he held her tight. “I need to know the whole story now, sweetheart, so I can protect you. Help you. Before we have to explain anything to Captain Fleming.”
Tassia took a deep breath, set the mug on the table with a thump, and sat straight. “I’ll have to tell the captain so I might as well start by telling you.” She gazed deep into his eyes. “I trust you.”

“Tell me what?” Nothing she could say was going to change his feelings for her but he sensed major trouble might lie ahead. No matter what challenges Tassia had, he’d stand with her and do his best to defend and protect her.
Raising her head as if she wore a crown, she said, “I’m the Imperial Princess Alynnskaya Tassiamilla Oleavna, sole survivor of the mass assassination that sparked the Ruatsar Rebellion.”

He stared at her, not sure he’d heard correctly, waiting for her to clarify the oddly timed joke, and then he realized she was deadly serious. She was the embodiment of the persistent urban legend, whispering through the stars, telling of the mysterious survival of one member of the doomed family.

“It’s a long story, but the RNR forces have been hunting for me almost my entire life.” Her voice was weary and her hands shook. “They’ve also been trying to regain the crown jewels, which the enemy believes I possess, but whatever bits of jewelry I had were sold long ago for food, a roof over our heads, or passage to the next solar system by the woman who was my rescuer and guardian angel.” She watched him. “I’m trying to reach asylum at the court of my great aunt, but it’s been a long and difficult journey through many Sectors.”

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Pets in Space™ Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PetsInSpace/