Tuesday, March 26, 2013

When Renovations Stage II are the Story


When renovations are the story, I am Admin. I do the maths, the banking and the diary. RH is Project Manager, builder, carpenter and ditch-digger. I have the last word on spending. 

The new-bathroom-job began with RH ripping old lining, floor and ceiling from the veranda storeroom. Re-engineering the support structure. The house is nearly a century old and was built of local timbers. Not all of them have stood the test of time.

When all was revealed, AB, plumber, came in for the underfloor work. He was at first taken aback by the standing water under the house at ground level – it was the month of big rain – but was soon dressed for the operation. He installed a couple of temporarily lidded entry points for sewage and some taped-up outlets for water. He and Admin discussed mixers versus ordinary hot-and-cold taps and the quality of various makes of toilet pedestals.
Afterwards, Admin hared off to the local second-hand building supplies. She inspected various models of vanity basins, ordered one to be sourced with a mixer-sized outlet and put a deposit on a pair of French doors for Stage III.

MM, electrician, came in for the wiring. He left bundles of wire-ends, some of them ‘live’ and attenuated with dire warnings about touching – hanging at exit points where he later will install switches, power points and light fittings.

In between Admin made six trips down the highway to the tile shop at Byron Bay, to choose tiles. The samples she brought back were vetted by who-ever until the day she ordered her choices and organised for them to be delivered.

Admin fields phone calls from trades people and suppliers. The former are slotted into the diary for their site-visits, when they come to look the job over and offer their quotes. RH and Admin discuss the various pros and cons of quotes for the job versus hourly rates.

DM and D arrive one morning at 6.45 AM to repaint the brick garage wall adjacent to the commercial establishment next door, that early to not interfere with staff car parking. The painting is done by 8.45 AM, and in the afternoon, RH and C put in a drainage pipe and stand the fence back up. DM and Admin discuss the paint-job in the bathroom.

Windows have been sourced, quotes compared and they have been ordered. Admin liaises with her opposite at the factory and transfers a deposit. The three-to-four week waiting period flies by. The windows arrive and are installed by RH and his offsider, C. Admin is very excited to get new old-style louvre windows. The brushed aluminium frames match the existing new-style (IE non louvre) windows perfectly.

The tiler, K comes for his site visit, and again the following day to install the first layer of the impermeable membrane. Admin’s cat, Maggie, tests it before it is completely dry and has to be rescued – she leaves three trademark paw-prints on the pristine cream-coloured surface. They’re painted over two days later with the second coat.

The plasterers arrive for their site visit. They’ll return the day before Easter, when the mud is dry enough to stand on.

B, building consultant, comes to inspect the structural integrity of the garage (Stage I of the build). He marks the work in the bathroom as excellent – a feather in RH’s cap – and agrees to invoice Stage II and III together to save Admin the extra costs.

Tiler and mud-man K’s arrival is marked by a bucket being filled at the front yard tap by water rushing into the bucket. Admin will greet.

Admin has been unable to keep up her normal writing schedule. She uses her gappy time to catch up on blogs, such as this one, researching and writing an Expression of Interest for a Landcare funding application and writing critiques for the Online Writers Workshop.

She thinks about the critiques she received for chapters 1-3 of Monster-Moored, how she’ll need to change the W-I-P if she wants to take advantage of the ideas generated. How to rewrite. How to …
Maybe she’ll have time to do something about them over Easter. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Editing, Once Again


There always comes a point in rewriting when I think I’ve achieved the elusive quality of good readability, when there is nothing left in the work-in-progress to remind a reader that that is what they’re doing … reading. That’s when I head-up a draft with the fatal words, ‘Final Edit’.

And that’s also the point when a good critique will inevitably throw my plans into disarray. I’ve rewritten Monster Moored more than a few times now, attending to structure, story flow, characterization, sentence sequencing and a host of other detail, and was in the middle of what I thought would be that final rewrite.

Then I was tempted by the possibility of a critique or two after I rejoined the Online Writers Workshop (OWW) and discovered I still had some points in my quiver. I submitted Chapters 1, 2 and 3.

The excellent critique of them stopped me in my tracks. I’ve done no further rewriting. Not of Chapter 21: Tardi at the Depot, where he faces his father, nor of Chapters 1, 2 and 3 because I needed to think think think through the points raised in the review.  

Part of Page 1, Monster Moored, after editing
Stilted writing flow’ and ‘choppy sentences’ resonated in me like a fire alarm bell. I’ve fought both these tendencies for many years. Sentences of varying length and fewer passive verbs are suggested as the cure. Testing Page One of Chapter One (500 words) on active versus passive verbs, I counted 33 active verbs, 14 passive verbs and was able to change 4 more passives to actives. On the above sample, purple ticks and minuses mark passive and active verbs. The purple notes mark the changes to be made. 

One quarter passive verbs doesn’t seem like too many. There are things that can’t be said without them. Or at least, that I don’t know how to say in this story without them. The ‘choppy sentences’ problem led me, as a knee-jerk reaction, to count words-per-sentence. The results in pink, running alongside the paragraphs. 

I decided that those statistics are important if readability is compromised. I think now this choppiness could be caused by too many phrases and clauses beset by commas – in long sentences – where I tried to pile on descriptions. It's another thing to watch out for.

Sensory detail is yet another aspect I thought I had already addressed. Maybe in my more recent projects? I shook my head in disbelief as I checked and scored exactly one instance of sensory detail on Page One. I have to believe that because I began writing Monster Moored years ago, it missed out somehow on my more recent learnings. Yes, I do certainly need to add in more sensory detail.

And then there’s the logic problem. An event that doesn’t follow from the events so far described. I obviously need to introduce the prevailing concept (in the culture of the time in the story) of 'Ripple Time' now rather than further down the timeline. 

That's editing. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Free Read, Science Fantasy

The excitement over at Smashwords continues. The same week that I published, they had their Free E-reading week, with however many authors (self included) signed up to allow their work to be read for free.

This worked very well for me, since I hadn't grasped the coupon system yet. That first week I had three books 'sold', and the samples downloaded twice.

This may not sound a lot, but to me it's pretty exciting. At an e-publishing course I did a while ago, the presenter said frequently that it takes a slow start to gain momentum. We shall see.


Part of the book cover for The Harrowing
by Rita de Heer
Now I have the coupon ... KQ48G ... with which you will be able to get The Harrowing for free until the 30th of April. Just clicking on this, The Harrowing will get you there. 


Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Harrowing, ePublished -- Hooray!




This is it, epublished. 



Available in a variety of formats as seen below: 

FormatFull Book
Online Reading (HTML, good for sampling in web browser)View
Kindle (.mobi for Kindle devices and Kindle apps)Download
Epub (Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, others)Download
PDF (good for reading on PC, or for home printing)Download
RTF (readable on most word processors)Download
LRF (Use only for older model Sony Readers that don't support .epub)Download
Palm Doc (PDB) (for Palm reading devices)Download
Plain Text (download) (flexible, but lacks much formatting)Download
Plain Text (view) (viewable as web page)View

-- A long gestation it will seem for those that have been following the story of this event. As it has been a long drawn out affair for me, and the PayPal account still is wonky. 

Next, I'll learn more about Smashwords' voucher system. I may not have used the right term there but it is late.