Redheaded Neanderlady

Redheaded Neanderlady
This is a photoshopped version of something I found in National Geographic about the time I started researching

Friday, October 31, 2008

Some good advice from a writer --- how to submit a manuscript

Here is some more good advice from a published writer. This one is on how to submit a manuscript, and it comes by way of a blog called Cute Writing, which I sometimes use. It's a good blog, and the advice is also good. Any writer who has gotten to the point where they think they can submit a manuscript, should read this.

One should look especially carefully at the parts about going over the manuscript and cutting out awkward phrases wherever possible, etc.,, and to be prepared for lots of rejectons(e.g. develop a real thick skin, something I myself am not very good at)

About the only thing that I would add to this good advice is, the writer who submits a manuscript, should research who is and is not an appropriate agent or publisher to submit it to, well before they send it out! Things can change, and change rapidly.

Now back to writing, and taking my own advice. . . .
Anne G

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I wish I could do this!

One of my local news dailies had a nice article about a local author. His name is Dave Boling, and he's a sportswriter turned novelist. He recently wrote a novel called Guernica. Guernica is in Spain, and was relentlessly bombed by the Nazis during the Spanish Civil War, which was well before my time. This act inspired Pablo Picasso's famous painting of the same name. He "made it", as they say, on the first try. Not only has he "made it", he "made it" internationally! I'm happy he did. I'm happy when any writer makes it like this. And since he got a good advance for this work(few Americans nowadays know anythng about this), I'm even happier for him. Most writers aren't that lucky.

But later on, two other news writers who made the transition to novels, wondered why he "had not gone through the usual training wheels of becoming a fiction writer --- short stories and learning the craft and then getting 70 pages into a novel and losing faith"(Direct quote from the Seattle PI) Which makes me wonder. Is there some equirement that a writer follow these steps? Certainly every writer should "learn the craft". How else can
they write? But writing short stories? While Robert Sawyer seems to think you must write short stories(he called it "paying your dues" in a column I can't seem to find), I wonder. If you're writing literary fiction, probably. And if you can write short stories, it's a good way to establish publication. But not everybody is good at writing succinctly enough for a good short story(I'm not; I write "big"), and I"m not at all sure that there are too many short story outlets for genre fiction. There certainly don't seem to be many for science fiction. So why the claim? I don't know. All I know is, that aside from being happy for Boling's success, I wish I might hiave a shot at similar success for my Great Medieval Science Fiction Masterpiece With Neandertals. But I probably won't, so it's back to writing. . . .
Anne G

Monday, October 20, 2008

Writer's learning curve

I've been reading a variety of interesting stuff lately, of all kinds. And learning from all of it, one way or another. Not all of it is science fiction(in fact, I'm rather picky about the sci-fi I read, so I haven't read much, lately). But I've learned things from all of it.

Currently I'm reading Katherine Neville's The Eight. Or rather, rereading it. I read it almost 20 years ago, commuting to and from work on a long bus ride. It has been reprinted, since Ms. Neville recently wrothat Ie a sequel called The Fire. What is rather strange is, when I started reading it, I couldn't remember that I had. This is not usually the case. I remember picking up some romances I'd read early in my reading/writing career, and finding I'd already read them! This was not the case with The Eight, at least not till I got to a part of this long, complicated, and many-layered tale that involved that famous French Revolutionary and Napoleonic character, Talleyrand. His explanation of how he came to walk with a limp sounded vaguely familiar.

As I am not through rereading this book, I will not comment any further, except that it looks like a fascinating and exotic mixture of elements, and evidentlhy Ms. Neville was very successful in putting them together, since it seems to have been What I I have learned so far is that a lot of changes in "preferrred writing styles" seem to have happened in the last 20 years or so. For one thing, she switches points of view a lot. She doesn't exactly use an "omniscient" point of vies, but she achieves this by switiching scenes and "voices"(the main narrator in modern times tells her tale in first person, but most scenes are in third person, whether in the past or the present). She also uses a rather "formal" way of writing, e.g., consistently using "upon"where most American writers, at least, would probably just use "on". I didn't notice any of this when I first read the book, but since I've started writing my own book(s), I notice these things a lot more. There is nothing really wrong with such usage; it just kind of leaps out at me. I've also noticed she made some rather odd, and in some cases, egregious(to me, at least), mistakes, which, I suppose, is natural for a writer writing a book of such broad scope.

To name just a few I've spotted so far(but apparently didn't or forgot about when I first read it), she has Russian the Gregorian calendar in the time of Catherine II(better known as Catherine the Great in the West), and the West is on the Julian calendar. The reverse is the case. The Russians continued to use the Julian calendar until 1917, when, in the throes of their revolution, they "upgraded". The West had been using the Gregorian Calendar(two weeks ahead of the Julian by that time), since the 16th century, though the British didn't adopt it till the 18th century, for religious/political reasons.
Then there is the little matter of names. Russian names are often confusing to westerners, but there is no excuse for confusing Alexander with Alexei(Alexis to Westerners), especially when she "umlauts" the name Potemkin(pronounce Potyomkin in Russian).

Still, all this proves is that no writer is perfect, and so far, the book is very entertaining. It has been a "learning curve" for me, because when I first read it, I had no idea that I would ever be writing anything. And now that I am writing something, I am finding the book very entertaining reading, despite its flaws, but I am looking at The Eight in quite a different way than I did before. But then, this is true of all the books I read nowadays.

I will probably review the book later, as well as read, and review its sequel. Stay tuned.
Anne G

Friday, October 3, 2008

Neandercannibals --- not?

Julien Riel-Salvatore has a long post regarding the supposed Neandertal cannibals at Krapina, Croatia It seems that the latest investigations of the numerous bones there, which Gorjanovic-Kramberger studies over 100 years ago, which, being abundant, provide a lot of important information about Neandertals, suggests a lot of these bones may have just been chewed up by scavenging critters --- perhaps after they had been buried. There also may be evidence that ritual burying deflesing was going on. Despite its length, the post is well worth reading. Riel-Salvatore also has a long post regarding the whole question of the significance of Neandertals at Gibraltar dining on seafood, and the question of "behavioral modernity". Whether or not one agrees with Riel-Salvatore's conclusions on this, there is no question --- at least not in my mind --- that Neandertals and "moderns" behaved in very similar ways, at the time they coexisted, and perhaps even before that.
Anne G

Thursday, October 2, 2008

October odds and ends and some good advice from Holly Lisle

As usual, I'm behind. I wanted to write about odds and ends, to begin October. Odds and ends about the writing process, for example. Well, it turns outn I'm not writing the "odds and ends" I thought I was going to be writing about! For one thing, I had an idea, right around the start of October, and now it's October 6, and I can't quite remember what the idea was, that I'd originally planned. That's because I couldn't find the time to write in The Writer's Daily Grind! Lesson one: if you have an idea about something --- for a blog or anything else ---write it down!. That's the only way to remember anything. Especially millions of brain cells later!

Which brings me to lesson two: the more you write, the more you find out about your characters. It's a growth process. Well, I learned something about my "antihero" character a few days back, when I started reading a book that has some of the same characters in it(iincluding the "antihero", who was a real person, but in the otherbook, he's just a stupid, well, idiot). His grandma was a (sort of) witch --- okay, I know what some readers may be thinking --- this is just in time for Halloween! But that wasn't my intention at all. A woman called Melusine is referred to on various occasions, and the legend current in the period my Great Medieval Science Fiction Masgterpiece With Neandertals takes place, she was supposed to be some sort of demonic witch. But the Dauarga(that's what the Neandertals in my story call themselves)know her as Mala, and her story was tragic. Well, by various means , the grandma is descended from Mala/Melusine and, well, by the time the "antihero" is old enough to be really conscious of her, she's thought to be kind of senile, because she tells wild tales. She also has, or had, a reputation as a "cunning woman", which is what they called witches at this time(mostly, these "witches" were left alone, because they knew something about herbs and healing). In any case, it partially explains the name of the character, and partly explains how he happens to be what I call a Conduit --- one who has Dauarga DNA in a certain combination, which is quite rare, and makes people unusually in tune with their surroundings, in a way(for good or evil, so to speak). This will not appear in my "Invaders" trilogy. It will come up in the prequel. For now, it just remains "backstory".

Finally, there is one more "odd or end", and that's the Holly Lisle website. She is a prolific writer who actually makes her living writing and believes in "paying forward" to other writers, published and otherwise. The other odd bit I was trying to find was something she wrote about style, and sticking to it, which I couldn't seem to locate. However, if you click on that website, you'll find a cornucopia of information, all of which is chock-full of really good stuff for any aspiring writer, at any stage of their writing process. And I'm only too happy to pass this information on.
Anne G