Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Review time!

This morning my editor sent along my Publishers Weekly review for Song of Scarabaeus - that's the one Amazon uses in its product descriptions, so naturally I hoped for a good one.

Well, to my great surprise I not only got a good review, but a starred review! Here are the first and last sentences (the middle being the plot summary):

"This brilliantly conceived debut heralds a significant new talent... Creasy's convincing scientific speculation, appealing characterizations, and eerie alien landscapes make this science fiction romance deeply satisfying."

The entire review is here (near the bottom of the page): Publishers Weekly review

The second good thing to happen this morning was that the hummingbird feeder I set out yesterday, right outside my office window, attracted its first tiny visitor! I bought the feeder for $4.99 from PetSmart because I'd seen a hummingbird hovering around our flowers. I expected it would take longer for the birds to find it, but they're smarter - or hungrier - than I thought.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Get out and about in Tucson

I visited the Tucson Festival of Books this morning, hubby and dog in tow. Half an hour after it opened, throngs were already buzzing around the 200 exhibitor booths. The Saguaro Romance Writers booth #116, on University Blvd near the Student Union, is manned (womaned) by different members every hour so if you drop by you'll get to meet a bunch of us.

On Sunday, three published authors from the chapter, including yours truly, will make appearances at various times with free books and stuff:

  • Judy Duarte - 10 to 12 (Silhouette author of contemporary romance)
  • Sherrill Quinn - 12 to 2 (Kensington author of spicy paranormal romance)
  • Sara Creasy - 2 to 4 (Eos author of science fiction/romance)

    Like today, the weather will be gorgeous for an outside event - high 60s and sunny. What else would you expect from Tucson? Well, I didn't expect a free McDonald's mini frappe with caramel drizzle. It was pretty good.

    There are also indoor panels and workshops to attend (450 presenters and authors!), including a fellow client of Kristin Nelson and author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Jamie Ford. He's on a Sunday panel called "Bending the Truth: Using Real Events in Fictional Stories" at 2pm.

    Visit the Tucson Festival of Books website for more info. Admission and parking are free.
  • Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Editing - the final checks

    Every writer has quirks, and some quirks - such as overusing a word or using a repetitive sentence structure - aren't good. You can creatively use Word's search tool to pick up certain quirks that may otherwise distract a reader. A few tips:

    1. Uncommon words: Is there a particular unusual word that you worry about overusing? Count how many times it appears by going to Find and Replace - type the word in both boxes and hit Replace All. This gives you a count for that word. (Here's an example from MCP: don't use cornucopia twice in the same novel unless you're talking about a cone stuffed with food.)

    2. Common words: Do you overuse common words like actually, really, quite, very? I have a problem with just. This word doesn't harm an individual sentence, but use it too often and it starts to stand out. During my final edit, I search for every occurrence and fix as many as I can. In the case of just, this usually means (just) deleting it from the sentence.

    3. Sentence structure: Another quirk of mine is the "comma but" sentence structure. There's nothing wrong with it, but I tend to overuse it. Count the occurrences as above (find and replace
    ", but") and if you use more than one per two pages, fix as many as you can to add variation. For example: While there's nothing wrong with it, I tend to overuse it.

    In many cases, the best solution is to split the sentence into two. I think this results in stronger writing. The "but" preempts your second point. Without it, the second sentence comes as a surprise.

    Her eyes shone when she mentioned the children, but it didn't fool him.
    Her eyes shone when she mentioned the children. It didn't fool him.

    4. -ing verbs: The -ing form of a verb, combined with was or were, forms the past progressive tense: He was singing. This structure can make your action drag and feel less immediate. Use the simple past tense instead:

    The rain was drumming on the roof. She was feeling cooped-up and restless.
    The rain drummed on the roof. She felt cooped-up and restless.

    Searching for -ing verbs and fixing where you can may take several hours for a full-length manuscript. ( , but) I think it's worth the effort.

    Friday, March 5, 2010

    Tucson Festival of Books

    Last year the inaugural Tucson Festival of Books had almost 50,000 attendees. This annual event showcases local authors, libraries, bookstores and other literary-related organizations, and benefits local community literacy providers. In addition to almost 200 exhibitors, this event is also a huge writers' convention with lots of talks, panels and workshops from national authors etc.

    And it's free!! It's on next weekend, March 13-14th, at the University of Arizona between 9.30 and 5.30 both days.

    I'll be manning the Tucson Romance Writers of America booth (#116 along University Blvd, subject to change) on Sunday 2-4 pm and giving away ARCs (uncorrected bound galleys with full color cover - almost the real thing!) of Song of Scarabaeus to interested readers.