From the Archives: A Journal of Two Writers – Thoughts from the Other Side of Edits

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Rachel and I published our popular series The Persis Chronicles with Torquere Press, which, sadly, is now defunct.  I realized at one point that all the posts I’d written for their LiveJournal and blog would disappear into the ether, so I’m going to republish them here for your enjoyment.

This first one was the first LiveJournal post I did for them, back in May of 2012:

As Rachel and I wrapped up the editing of Emerald Fire, our new release from Torquere Press this week, we found ourselves reflecting on how to make the process more streamlined so we can speed it up – and make it less painful.  Since folks sometimes ask us what it’s like to write with a collaborator, we thought we’d share some thoughts on what it’s like to edit stuff we’ve written together, since that’s the most visibly collaborative part of our process.

Once we’ve finished a manuscript, we each go through it and make minor changes and continuity checks.  That’s where a partnership is good and bad – because we have two pairs of eyes looking at it, but we cannot work on it simultaneously because of varying work schedules and time zone differences.  In addition, we both edit very differently:  Rachel is a hawk for continuity problems and timeline issues, whereas I am the grammarian and look for “POV” (point of view) problems.

Our first step is to sit down together and go through the manuscript chapter by chapter.  We break our sessions into 30 minute chunks, so that we have a way of judging our progress, since we might not get all the way through a specific list of chapters in one sitting.  We also learned the hard way not to do too many at one time because it fries our brains.  Usually we don’t do more than three or four chapters in one sitting since, from experience, doing five or more leads to exhaustion which can make us sloppy.  Editing is a left-brain sequential process, with established rules, and because of that, the approach is much more logical and methodical.

After we finish our first edit, we then go through what might be called “line edits,” except that we’re looking for specific words or problems.  For example, Rachel looks for excessive use of names in dialog (since people in conversation don’t usually repeat each other’s names over and over), as well as punctuation and overuse of things like exclamation points.  I look for POV problem works (like “felt” or “thought”) and rework the sentences in which I find them.  For this part of the process, we tend to work separately; however, this means that only one of us can be working in the main manuscript at a time since we’re using the “find” command to look for problem words and are jumping around non-sequentially.

Finally, we print out a copy of the manuscript and read it from front to back as though we were one of our readers.  It’s best to do this process a couple days after completing the other sections; this isn’t always a possibility if, for example, we’re under deadline; however, if it’s for stuff that isn’t on deadline then it’s good to let a week or two go by so the manuscript is “cold.”  Once we have our printed copy read and marked up, we meet again and go through our changes to make sure we both agree on them.

One thing we both have noticed is that it’s more fun to go through the editing process with a collaborator, whether or not that person is a “CP” (critique partner) or one’s coauthor.  Having that second pair of eyes and another person to bounce ideas with can mean the difference between dreading edits and looking forward to them as the final stage of completing a manuscript.

 

Originally published on the Torquere Press LiveJournal, 05/30/2012

 

S Is For… Sapphire Dream!

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I adore gems.  Did you ever see the animated movie, The Secret of NIMH?  There’s a character of a magpie who likes, as he calls them, “Sparklies.”  Yup.  Me, to a “T”.  When we started writing the Persis Chronicles, we decided to name the different Keeps, which are essentially universities, after gems and precious stones.  As time went on, there’s even a difference between the Gem Keeps and the Stone Keeps, with the Gem Keeps perceived to be higher class or more desirable.

The next book in the Persis Chronicles is Sapphire Dream, and Rachel and I are working on final edits now so we can submit it for consideration (so please, keep your fingers crossed).  The story is about a young man named Cheula, whose first Contract didn’t go as planned.  The man with whom he Contracted was abusive and, while Cheula wanted the time to be a success, it didn’t work out and Cheula had to call the Seekers, equivalent to the police.

The most interesting part, for me, about writing this one is that there’s several elements that are directly out of real life – domestic abuse, independence, being willing and able to ask for help, and how to manage home relationships and sexuality.  Weaving those kinds of real-world things into a story is fun and rewarding because it makes it more real to me.  The characters become real people in the process.

What about you, Dear Reader?
How much “real” do you like in your fiction?

K Is For… Kashaynu!

2015-04-13 KKa-what? Kashaynu. Yes, I know, what a name. He’s a Seeker in our Persis Chronicles series and I adore names, especially ones that sound good rolling off the tongue but that aren’t familiar. Kashaynu, Zeteya, Bakraynu… Rachel jokes that you can always tell the characters she named, because they have names like Brock, or Jon.  I do rush to point out that I named Teeka and Quill, and those are very simple names, but I don’t think I’ve won the argument.  Not with Kashaynu kicking up his heels in the corners.

He does have a nickname: Kasha, which is Russian for buckwheat and is a type of breakfast cereal or side dish (i.e. grains, like we have in the book).  Only problem is, only his brother and mother call him Kasha, so we’re back to where we started with a long name.  I just like them.  The fun thing about Kashaynu is he’s a Seeker, which is like a cross between an F.B.I. Agent and a street judge.  He’s authorized to carry lethal force in the form of a sword and other weaponry and he investigates serious crime.  His brother is the very fastidious and flowery Zeteya, the Contract Keeper for Emerald Keep.  Their mother is Healer Meeryn, a lovely lady who works with the Keep as well as the workers down on the strand below the Keep.

What about you, Dear Reader?
What kinds of names do you like in your characters?

E Is For… Emerald Keep!

 

emeraldkeep

I am very excited.  This Wednesday, our book Emerald Keep is out into the world.  In celebration of its release, I figured I’d take today and share a little bit with you.  If you are a long-time reader of ours, then you may already be aware of the book’s release; if this is your first visit, then hello, and welcome.

The most exciting part, to me, about writing a science fantasy novel is that I get to create a world.  My coauthor, Rachel Wilder, and I worked hard to build a place that is both foreign and familiar.  We asked ourselves, what would it be like to live somewhere, 400 years or so after humanity colonized the place?  What would the culture have evolved to be like?  That required us to know something about the culture of the original settlers.  That’s a good question.  What kind of a person travels for long, long distances, probably years, and lands on a hostile planet with few easily-accessible resources other than breathable air?  The surface of the planet is blisteringly hot all year round, and completely uninhabitable one month out of every year.

Which begs another question:  how long is the year?  A year on Earth is twelve months.  A year on Mars?  687 days.  Jupiter?  Twelve years.  (Well, okay, twelve Earth years.)  So we had to know how long the Persis year is – which we decided, incidentally, is fourteen months.  It’s punctuated by Daymonth and Nightmonth.  Those of you living near the poles will be familiar with a month of sun, and a month of moon; because of the planet’s tilt, that happens up there (you’ve heard of the Russian White Nights, yes?).  Daymonth, like it sounds, is a month of days: and because the surface is so hot, the residents have to live underground, much like they do on Earth at Coober Pedy, a town in South Australia and the hottest one, by all accounts, on our planet.  The homes there are built underground.

Not so alien after all, then, this Persis of ours.  When one looks at a problem objectively, as a logic problem, one is able to world-build more easily.  Ask yourself, if I had to go somewhere to settle, somewhere completely new, like the wagon trains did when settling the American West, what would I bring?

Well, Dear Reader?  What would you put in your imaginary colonizing go-bag?

And, especially for you, I also want to remind you that the Rafflecopter is open until April 8th; please feel welcome to join in even if you are here for the A-Z Challenge and not for the book tour.  Whatever your reason for visiting, we’re glad you’re here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

The Emerald Keep Book Tour Continues!

2015-03 Tour with Blurb

The tour has been truckin’ along.  I checked today and we’re up to 229 entries for the Rafflecopter!  Holy moly, Dear Reader, how awesome that is.  Thank you so much for your support!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Writer Wednesday with Noon and Wilder

Yes, dear, I know you don’t like your picture taken.
©2015 A. Catherine Noon

Why do you want me to smi-
©2015 Rachel Wilder

2015 is shaping up to be a busy year.  We’ve sent off Sealed by Magic for consideration; finished first and second rounds of edits on Emerald Keep; made a deal for Book 3 of the Chicagoland Shifters, called Cat’s Cradle, and it’ll be out in the summer of 2015; and we’ve worked out the order of the Persis Chronicles series for the next four years.  Rock on.

I’m not sure I have two brain cells to rub together at the moment, though.  ~grin~

We are redesigning our websites this year, and my website will be up shortly.  We’ll launch the new Noon and Wilder site in the next month or so, before April’s A-Z Blog Challenge.  And yes, I’ll be doing the Challenge – with more than one blog, too, thereby proving the theory that I am, in fact, mad.

In Noon & Wilder news, I’m excited to say that we’ll be holding the 2015 Keepsake Tour right here on the blog for 31 days starting March 8th.  It will celebrate the release of Emerald Keep, the long-awaited sequel to our popular book Emerald Fire.  The Keepsake Tour will be a little different than blog tours I’ve done in the past – for this one, Rachel and I are literally making keepsakes for you, Dear Reader, to collect.  Rachel is crocheting a scarf, I’m making a lace scarf, we’ll have hand-made bookmarks and other bits and bobs.  I can’t wait.  I’m booking the stops on the tour now, but you can always check in here during the tour because I’ll leave little breadcrumbs for you to follow.

For now, it’s time to put my nose back on that grindstone.  We’re almost finished with Sapphire Dream, book 3 in the Persis Chronicles, and know what comes after it – which is sometimes half the battle.  We hope to be done with Sapphire within the next month or two so that we can send it off for consideration – so keep your fingers crossed!

Happy Wednesday, Dear Reader!

Tuesday with the Tauruses

Rachel and I are hard at work on the edits for EMERALD KEEP, which is coming soon from Torquere Press – release date is April 8th.  So exciting.

Edits, though, means our brains dribble out the bottom of our heads.  We’re also finishing up the submission packet for SEALED BY MAGIC and will send that off on the weekend.  And I’m planning the blog book tour for EK.

It’s a full week.

And it showed today.

But I walked to work.

And that, Dear Reader, is what a writer’s brain on edits looks like.  o.O….

Happy August!

Happy August!  It’s hard to believe the months of June AND July are over, isn’t it?

We have some exciting news, though!  EMERALD KEEP is now under contract with Torquere Press and will be out soon.  Yay!  And, just in time for Lughnasad, they’re having a site-wide sale for both Torquere Press and their Young Adult imprint, Prizm Books.  You can check them out and pick up some great summer reads.  Enter coupon code hapaug2014 at checkout and receive a 20% discount!

A to Z Challenge, Day 26: Z Is For Zen Garden Collective

Woot!  We have made it through the challenge.  This picture is actually two summers ago, but the sentiment still stands.  Hammock, knitting, a relaxing cup of tea – YOU’VE EARNED IT!

But before you go, here’s a parting thought:  Rachel and I have been hard at work, behind the scenes, with several of our cohort at the Writer Zen Garden.  We’ll be launching the non-profit Zen Garden Collective later this year, a place for people to collaborate, create, and grow.

In the meantime, we hope you’ve enjoyed this ride on the interwebs with me, A. Catherine Noon, and my partner in crime, Rachel Wilder.  You can follow us by clicking the “follow” link on the left panel, visit our other blogs, and even join Writer Zen Garden.  The Meetup group is free, and so is the online forum; if you’d like to join the forum, please email me at a.catherine.noon AT gmail – we manually approve new members to cut down on spam accounts.  (We had a rash of Viagra ads one day and just decided, “Enough is enough!”  🙂

The Writer Zen Garden: The Writers Retreat Blog | Forum | Facebook | Twitter | Meetup
And finally, keep your eyes peeled for our forthcoming release from LooseId LLC and the paperback release of TIGER TIGER from Samhain Publishing.  We have more books planned (EMERALD KEEP and Mitch’s book are coming together nicely) and will announce those when they’re done.  Thank you to each and every one of our readers who have made our blogs a pleasure to write and who buy our books:  we love you all!
Thank you for visiting, and happy blogging!

A to Z Challenge, Day 25: Y Is For Yes

Yes is a lovely word, especially when it’s from a publisher with whom you want to work.  Rachel and I have been fortunate enough to work with three awesome houses so far in our career and we’re tickled pink, purple and blue to be among their authors.

What affiliations in your life make you grateful?