Archive | July, 2015

Punctuation: friend or foe?

21 Jul

Last time out, I talked about re-reading something I’d written a long time ago, and my astonishment at what I’d written.  Then, I ran into a slight road-block on my way to re-publishing this book by its original title That Room at Ardenwycke rather than the shorter title selected by the publisher that first time around: Ardenwycke Unveiled.  I needed a new cover, and couldn’t think of one. So I went to the second of the two books  – this one being the first book I ever wrote (and completed – important distinction, that) Bertie’s Golden Treasure.  It’s a Regency Romance, and a cover illustration popped into my head almost immediately, so I decided to go with that one first, and then come back to Ardenwycke.

Bertie-cover

A funny thing happened as I re-read Bertie, using the file from which the previous print book was made. I have always been profligate with punctuation, especially commas. To my distress, there were almost no commas in this book! Sentences were either really short, or ran on for seemingly forever before they finally came to a full stop. I put a lot of commas (and some other punctuation, as well) back in there.

It dawns on me that very likely the use of punctuation is an ‘age’ thing. Most older folks learned how to speak in an understandable fashion (not at a rate of 500+ words per minute) and write comprehensibly, because they  also learned the proper use of punctuation. Then the minimalist trend hit. ‘Why is that comma there? It isn’t needed, so get rid of it!’

To me, however, it is needed there. For someone who reads aloud, or is on radio or even TV, punctuation is a necessity! It tells you when to breathe! It’s that simple. No wonder many of us older folks are continually telling all-too-many  younger folks to ‘slow down, please’ or ‘I’m sorry, could you please repeat that?’  (Hopefully, us older folks also know the value of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, when used appropriately.) And yes, I do believe that last comma there is in the right place. Commas do not always go inside quote marks.

(As a for instance here. For fifteen years, I read for the Cleveland Sight Center, which operated a small, closed-circuit Radio Reading Service for the visually-handicapped community. For two hours each Wednesday evening, with a partner, we read from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Shortly after beginning this venture, I also began to record books for the Library of Congress Talking Books Program – and at least one of them is still there!  Through those years, I taped more than 100 books for the Sight Center and Cleveland Public Library. Also for a while, I was the Saturday announcer on our local classical music station. Later, as a writer, I was selected to be one of five or six reviewers chosen to attend classical music performances in the area, and then write a review, which would be taped the next day at the station for broadcast during the coming weekend. It took me little time to learn that – at my reading speed – 475 written words equaled just less than 3 minutes pf spoken words – the max limit. Actually they were to be 2 minutes, 57 seconds worth.  Believe me, the value of punctuation was never more apparent than during this exhilarating adventure!)

If you write mainly for yourself, you may, of course, do whatever you wish, even if you self-publish. If you wish to be published by a commercial publisher, however, that publisher will have already established its own ‘style’ of punctuation and other elements of the written word. This may include font, font size, spacing on the page and whether headers and/or footers are used, etc. In this case, the publisher wins the argument, and a wise author will agree.  It’s really quite simple. If you don’t agree, you may forfeit the right to be published, or possibly, the changes will be made without your knowledge or consent. Not fair, but thems the rules!

Just for fun,  the cover for Bertie, which I hope to have available at Amazon’s Kindle site later this week – or early next is shown at the top of this post. Ardenwycke is still in the proof-reading/create-a-cover process.

As always, questions or quibbles should be sent to me at: bookmechanicATgmail.com     Thank you!

Did I really write this?

8 Jul

Just as parents are supposed to love all their children equally, there are times when it doesn’t happen that way. Authors are thought of in the same way. Not true.  Not all kids are loveable all the time, and it’s when they’re the most unlovable that they need the most love.

Books, however, are a tad bit different. They’re not all created equal, and I suspect it would be a strange author who didn’t have a favorite of their works, even if there were only two of them!

I did love my first book, a Regency titled Bertie’s Golden Treasure. I loved Regency (still do – big time!) and this book came about in such a strange fashion, it was hard not to love it. The next book is definitely not my best, so we’ll just ignore it. Maybe it’s the step-child off in the corner, but I don’t think it’ll ever get to another ball.

The next book was the first of mine to be published. Secret Shores was a joy to write, mainly because of all the research I did for it. I had a list of more than 60 books that I’d consulted by the time I was ready to start writing. And other than a short hiatus while I recuperated from a ruptured gall bladder, the book progressed fairly smoothly, other than a very pushy mother of the hero. I promised her a book of her own if she’d just please retire to the other room and me let get on with it. She did as I asked, and I fully expected the next book from me to be her story. She was Windsong.

A funny thing happened however. The day after I finished Secret Shores was the chapter meeting of our local RWA Chapter. . . .   In case you’re thinking, “gee, this sounds familiar,” you’re right. I wrote about this on March 23, 2011. Four years ago, already. It’s here, in case you missed it the first time around.

https://bookmechanic.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/unveiling-ardenwycke/

Well, last year my most recent publisher Ellora’s Cave decided to phase out their non-erotica lines, and all of my books fell into that gap. So I now have the rights back to all of them, and will definitely be re-issuing at least Ardenwycke Unveiled and Bertie’s Golden Treasure during the next month or so. And therein lies the foundation of this particular post.

Having been going through the manuscript, checking for formatting and other glitches, I’ve been reading it as I go along, and I keep saying, “WHERE on earth did this come from?” Darned if I know. I can’t believe some of what’s in here. It absolutely belongs, and I think it makes the story much stronger, but how did I know some of this stuff? I mean, I’ve led a fairly sheltered life, and to the best of my knowledge have only encountered a ghost two times. And that ghost was nothing like the ghost in Ardenwycke!

Well, to be very honest, I haven’t a clue. But I still really like this book a lot. I think it is my favorite of all my books. At least so far.  It’ll be ready to go sometime in early August I hope. I’ll keep you posted! By the way,  I’m changing the title back to my original one – That Room at Ardenwycke. I think it makes more sense, although it is longer, but that’s okay, too.

Questions or comments? Please write to me at bookmechanicATgmail.com