Last Day To Enter!

So exciting! 😆⭐️✨

Tomorrow, ten lucky winners will take home their very own autographed copy of ‘The Sons Of Mil’! Today’s the last day to enter!

Head to Goodreads before 11:59 today, and YOU may win! Or check out the eBook for just $2.99 on Amazon!

Happy Reading!

#thesonsofmil, #theinnisfailcycle, #dark, #epic, #fantasy, #novel, #book, #adventure, #romance, #celtic, #mythology, #fable, #antihero, #strongheroine, #worldbuilding

‘The Sons Of Mil’ on Sample Chapter Podcast!

‘The Sons Of Mil’ was on Sample Chapter Podcast this past weekend! Had a super fun interview with Jason, talking about inspiration, execution, and upcoming projects. Stick through to the end, where I read Chapter Two aloud!

Follow the link: Sample Chapter Podcast: Episode 50, The Sons Of Mil! Make sure to follow Sample Chapter Podcast on FB and Twitter, for more amazing author interviews!

Also! Don’t forget, TSOM is on sale for only $2.99 (eBook), and $13.99 (trade paperback) at: amazon.com/author/lmriviere

Enter to win a FREE autographed copy of The Sons Of Mil! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/288468-the-sons-of-mil-the-innisfail-cycle-book-one

And if you’ve already read it, I wanna hear from you! Please don’t forget to Rate and Review on Goodreads, and Amazon!

Happy Listening!

L.M. Riviere

A Weekend in the Irish Otherworld

Thanks so much, K.M. West for this incredible review! Follow her blog for more brilliant, intuitive content!

Illegibly K.M. West

Nothing tugs at my heartstrings like mythology, and throughout the process of writing #theCollapse, I’ve discovered a bit of a passion for lesser known pantheons. I’m equally as prone to disappearing into a black hole of Wikipedia pages as I am to vanish into a well-written fantasy or historical fiction set against these beliefs, which is what brought me to the Irish “Otherworld” over the weekend.

Oisínand Niamh approaching a palace in Tír na nÓg, illustration byStephen ReidinT. W. Rolleston‘sThe High Deeds of Finn(1910)

“New ideas wither, where Old Gods reign…”

Due to the kind heart of the author, L.M. Riviere, I was given a sneak peak at the first ten chapters of her upcoming release, ‘The Sons Of Mil’; Book One of ‘The Innisfail Cycle.’ As a foreigner to pre-Christian Irish myth, it took me a minute to acclimate to my…

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True South

MadBch11w

Hello! I know it’s been a while, but a great many things have happened in my personal life in the past few months. I am recently divorced, have sold my house, moved across the country, and am now starting over in a new(ish) city. I have finished The Sons Of Mil and its arduous editing process (thank jeebus), and am now actively seeking representation for it. I’m also working to rebuild my photography business here in my new(ish) state, and shopping around for galleries to feature my work. Needless to say– I’ve been crazy busy! Haha.

Now that things have calmed down a little, (did I mention The Sons Of Mil is totally DONE???) I’ll be getting ready to properly launch the Innisfail Cycle series, and starting the editing process for Book Two: The Children Of Danu. If you’d like regular updates about this process, please follow this website and subscribe to my mailing list. Any and all announcements will be made here first.

Also, if you are interested in following my photography, please go to My Photo Website and subscribe to my newsletter. Additionally, my Landscape Photography is also up for sale! Looking for an original book cover or sleeve for your novel or website? Message me for details. I sell digital prints.

As if I needed more stuff to do (but I AM a total workaholic, so…), I will be launching editing services from this website soon. Developmental and Line Editing services will be announced and advertised within the next few weeks. If you are interested in delving into the structure and pace of your story for thematic flow and clarity, email me here at your convenience or feel free to DM me on My Twitter account. If you are looking for a copyeditor (please refer to my former post, ‘On Editing’ to differentiate between these services), I know several fantastic folks who charge fair prices– and can point you in the right direction.

Anyhoo, all caught up? I hope so;) Don’t forget that I am on Facebook, and Instagram too!

Catch ya later!

— LaNae

 

 

Sunday Writing Motivation

A bout of writer’s block dragging you down? Don’t let it!

Nothing helps me beat the ol’ Block, like photography (except maybe hiking…but that’s for another post!); specifically landscape photography, but every now and again, I like to mix things up!

So, drop and give me 250!

In this image:

Can you smell the rain drying into the pavement? Distant gasoline vapors, tar, wet bricks and asphalt? In this brief flash of setting sun, and swirling clouds– can you feel the humidity on your skin? Taste the dissipating storm, like ether on your tongue? Is there any wind? Is it summer, or spring? Does a light, damp breeze rifle through these empty buildings?

What do you feel?

Is that man on the water-tower, friend, or foe? Does he wave to you, jeer at you, or ignore you altogether? Can you hear the blare of car horns, planes overhead, tires screeching, men and women shouting, dogs barking, trucks honking…or is it quiet? Nothing but crickets chirping, sparrows singing, and people whispering as they pass?

Get to it!

Has this article been helpful? If so, let the author know, in the comments below!

Image Copyright: Dequindre Cut

On Editing (Part Two)

H4

In my last post (On Editing, Part One), I talked about priming your work for editing, and walked through some of the aches and pains associated with this monumental task. Well, are you ready to have some fun?

If you’ve visited my website before, you’ll have noticed a ‘Read’ tab in my header menu, and if you’ve clicked on it, you know it contains an unedited excerpt from my novel, The Sons Of Mil. Why was it unedited? Two reasons, 1. I’d just rewritten this first chapter in the past two weeks, and 2. I thought it would be more fun to show you how I edit, rather than just talk about it in a blog post. Been savin’ this much needed edit, just for you. Two birds, one stone…or something. Everyone makes mistakes, even editors. We have to do this stuff too.

All editing posts tend to discuss more than they show, don’t they? Since the whole point is to SHOW, rather than TELL in your own writing– here is my actual process, in all its ugly, red glory. 

My original first chapter was pretty good, all things considered, but it didn’t grab the reader. Too much exposition, not enough action, yada, yada. It needed a rewrite, and once we’re done here…I will probably rewrite it again. The point I’m trying to make here, is no one is above an edit, myself especially. That aside, I happen to learn better in practice rather than theory. I hope this little exercise, can help you with your own project. 

So, you ready to watch me take my licks? Alright, let’s slash this sucker! Huzzah!

*Orignal text in grey

*Edits in red.  I’m not going to bore (pun intended) you with a repeat of things we’ve already discussed in Part One. Instead, let’s dig right in, shall we? ‘Ben was bored’, is a very weak opening line. Why? It’s fairly passive. Recall, the goal is to make the text vibrant, and immediate. Since this paragraph is written in a Third-Person Limited, POV (meaning Ben here, is an ‘observational protagonist’); it’s important to keep the reader engaged with him, while maintaining narrative flow. 

Ben was boredHe despised sitting idle for so long. Nevermind the weather (Leading with the word ‘weather’, not so sharp) climate, which grew increasingly bitter as the sun sank into the west. A dim orange glow lingered over rolling hills; the sole remnant of a bright but brief autumn day. As Twilight crept into the valley, Long long shadows stretched between the trees, like inky fingers reaching out to caress one another. In the east, swift grey clouds raced through an amethyst sky, awash with rivers of brilliant white stars (Bordering on ‘purple writing’, to be fair- but I am not the editor who will tell someone to forgo all prose- more on this later). Beautiful as the scene was, comfortable it was not. Ben shrugged his cloak tight, dismayed by its insufficient weight. Winter was near. He could smell it; taste it on the air. When he arrived at this location hours before, he thought himself overdressed. (Redundant) Now, he He longed for a thicker cowl and an extra pair of gloves, though they would provide little protection from the searching cold. Whilst the sun dove over the far horizon, his mood plunged with it. (Barf) He did not love the cold, nor did he enjoy being obliged to endure enduring it outdoors alone. Well perhaps not entirely alone. Bored as he was, he was far from alone. The evening air forest teemed with the rustlings of nocturnal creatures, digging out of their burrows to hunt and cavort. Owls hooted from their hollows- foxes and voles gave chase in the underbrush. He wished they would all stuff their gobs. It was loud enough already, with his grumbling gut and chattering teeth. (Beware beginning sentences with ‘well’, and ‘it was’) A cacophony of tittering rodents and squawking birds, plucked at his nerves. His growling gut and chattering teeth, contributed all the noise he required. 

Ben would prefer to be watching (Redundant, Passive) watch the seasons change from a nice cozy window, hands wrapped firmly around a piping hot tankard of spiced cider. Spending the night high in a tree, in the middle of a damp forest, was not what he wanted to be doing (Passive) was far less enjoyable. If he were home, he would be well into his third dram, and working his way through a healthy dollop of Colm’s venison stew. He hadn’t expected to be kept waiting, for so many hours, in such dreadful weather. Samn, was the first Dor month of the year; the harbinger of six months of darkness. In Innisfail, the year was divided into two halves; light and dark.(You don’t need to cram all of your exposition/backstory in your beginning chapters. Let the reader glean this information within your narrative) Ben (Established) He missed the Ban months, already. Without the sun to warm the valley, the wind whistling over the Little Boyne, cut deep. Scowling, he blew into his palms. This was absurd. If the temperature dropped much further any lower, he would have to start working on (Passive) nothing would keep him from the flask hidden inside his vest, and that would be a problem. He was meant to guard the Greenmaker’s reentry into Eire (Weak, Redundant) If he got whiffing drunk just to keep warm, what then? Nothing good, he knew for sure. Ben was an accomplished archer, but drink and tedium, made for poor aim. Nevertheless, when his ballocks shrank into his torso if this dragged on much further, he could make no promises. He’d been perched here for nearly six hours already. His arse was fast asleep, and he hadn’t felt his toes for eons. Sobriety and sedation, was a lethal combination. (Redundant Repetition) Perhaps a nip or two, wouldn’t hurt anything? It would take far more than that, to do real damage, wouldn’t it? He took one, then another, and by the fourth or fifth– decided a bad shot was better than none.

They should have been back by now. It was unlike Robin to dally. Ben’s ill-humor alternated between irritation, weariness and increasing concern. Any Greenmaker worth his salt, knew better than to linger over the border. Robin Gramble certainly knew this, as The Quarter’s Headman. Hadn’t he droned on about the importance of haste, just this morning? Indeed, every morning, on every raid they’d ever dared? Well, Ben would be delighted to know what was keeping them. The wilds of Aes Sidhe were not a pleasant place for mortal men to roam- regardless of circumstance. Ben couldn’t recall ever having waited so long for a return before. This delay could only mean something was amiss (Not every word needs to be worth 5 bucks) wrong. Ben pocketed his flask, wiping his eyes with icy fingertips. Scanning the border for the thousandth time, he sighed. A heady, aberrant mist crowded the river on the opposite shore, impervious to any breeze. It was a challenge Ben (Mid Paragraph is fine, but if the POV character hasn’t changed, you don’t need to repeat it constantly) struggled to peer further than past the first line of smoking trees, curling toward the embankment. Ben had He’d been at it all day. His, and his skull throbbed from the effort. The mists of Aes Sidhe, marked the border between the realm of men, and the land of the Immortals Sidhe to the north. Even from his elevated vantage, visibility was next to null. It was meant to be so This was by design, of course. The Sidhe did not invite prying eyes into their domain. Mortals were especially discouraged, for a plethora of reasons; some political, other most preferential. Most Eireans found this exclusion discourteous at best, or downright elitist at worst (Bad Exposition) In truth, the border was veiled to warn mortals of the potential perils lurking within this obfuscating cloud. There was much more waiting on the other side of the river, than riches or game. Dark things. Horrible things. The Greenmakers were likely the single group of men in the whole of Eire, who grasped the significance of that warning to fully grasp the risk. They knew not to linger overlong, in the realm of the Sidhe. Many men who trespassed, never returned.

Brooding over a the panoply of potential perils, which might have delayed his comrades, he finally caught a smudge of silver and white he caught motion in the distance. Winking in and out of the fading light, a figure dashed alongside the riverbank, holding something gleaming and metallic in his hand. Ben inched forward on his bough, hugging the heavy branch with between his thighs while he unslung his bow. Whoever it may be, he was no Greenmaker. Ben’s crew They did not sport such flashy gear, nor were any of them half so tall. That was a Dannan cuirass. A hunter, from Bri Leith, no doubt. He cursed. Struggling to nock with trembling frozen fingers, he searched for any sign he could glean that his friends were on their way, and in one piece. He saw nothing at first, just save mist, the hint of dark trees, and great pools of swirling gloom. Then, he heard a shout; a scream, and the undeniable ring of steel on steel. Shimmying further out on his limb, Ben spotted several black shapes running through the cumbersome fog– dragging men and dead animals between them. They were pursued. by a handful of large men, in dazzling white armor. Robin’s booming baritone was unmistakable. “Get over, lads! Go, go!”

The Dannans blew their horns. The chase was on. Someone must have done something stupid. That was the only explanation that could (Leading Narrative) Ben couldn’t figure any other explanation, which would warrant such a swift martial response. Robin was always a stalwart professional on a raid. He demanded nothing less than the same, from his men. Whatever had happened, surely it wasn’t his call. (Leading Narrative) Ben snatched a glimpse of his friend He saw Robin emerge from the fog, a hundred or so yards to his left. He ran pretty fast, for a fellow of middling age. Gerrod and Paul, splashed through the mud behind him, hauling a six-point stag with a snow-white pelt over their grubby shoulders. They were covered slathered head to toe in the beast’s blood.

Ah…he thought…sheer madness.

A pervasive calefaction wormed its way up Ben’s neck, at the sight. Sheer madness! What utter idiocy prompted them to take this creature? Sylvan Stags were sacred to the Sidhe– more, they were thought to be vessels of the god Herne, himself. The Sylvan Stag was the sigil of the High King’s own Clan. Those whom chased them, wore that device on each of their breastplates. (Leading Narrative, Exposition) A sylvan stag? No bloody wonder they had a score of Dannan guards chasing them down on their trail. Robin knew better! What possessed him to allow such an obvious, careless mistake on his watch? Growing angrier by the second, Angry now, Ben drew his longbow crosswise. No damned good was going to come of this, he was absolutely certain. Seamus’ vivid red head emerged from the curtain of mist after them; two sable fox tails swinging from his wide belt. In his slip-shod haste, he slipped in the loose detritus littering the forest floor. An ivory-fletched arrow, narrowly missed his ear by a breath. Another zipped past his thigh, and he stumbled again. “For feck’s sake!” He cried. “Robin! Keep goin’! They’re crawlin’ up me arse!”

Seamus scrambled to his knees in the duff. A Dannan hunter leapt from the woods on his right; twin larks poised to slice through his middle. Seamus He raised a hand to ward off the incoming attack, but he needn’t have bothered. The Sidhe scout was thrown backward by from the impact of Ben’s arrow, his scout’s blond head cracking off the cracked into the trunk of a nearby birch. Ben’s plain brown fletching, arrow protruded from a painful but non-fatal area, in the crook of his shoulder. Seamus wasted no time skittering away on all fours. He slid down the embankment on his belly, and into the frigid river like a seal. He was safely halfway across, by the time Robin, Gerrod and Paul, plodded into the current– fifty-yards further west. Ben fumed, watching them drag their heavy prize through the water by its rack. Robin shoved them off, then stood sentry in the shallows; his crossbow poised to defend their position. “Nat! Marty! Get yer arses in gear!”

Another hunter emerged from the canopy on Robin’s right, his larks raised high. Robin sent a quarrel through his gut, dropping him on the spot.; gore trickled out of his lovely white cuirass. Robin reloaded. The next Sidhe attacker came swung in from his left, and Robin he shot through him in him through the throat. Ben heard a distinct click. He Robin (For POV) was out of ammunition. “Ben, Siora damn ye! Tell me yer Ye’d better be out there!”

Ben whistled back, mimicking the marsh swallow he would recognize immediately. He watched Robin draw drew his daggers, “Marty!” Robin he roared, with new urgency as three more Sidhe hunters darted into his line of sight. “Nat! Where are ye?!”

Dropping to a lower limb, Ben nocked and fired, twice more. Two Dannans went down. The first, took an arrow to the thigh; the second though the ribs. Neither shot was fatal. Ben made sure. He would not kill a Dannan warrior, unless he had no choice. A third hunter tore out of the trees, throwing himself at Robin with a snarl. They tumbled into the river with a splash. Ben didn’t have a clear shot. Robin would have to sort himself. Lastly, Ben saw a familiar black head materialized from in the east. It was Marty, dragging Nat’s sagging slim body by the shoulder. Nat had an ivory shaft through the center of his chest Ben was alarmed to note, A thick stream of blood poured down his dirty brown jerkin. “Ben!” Marty squealed, also bleeding from a slash down his calf, “they’re comin’!”

Four more Dannan hunters tracked them to the riverbank. Two were mounted on graceful dappled palfreys. Ben was too far away to shoot in rapid succession. They would never get across. “Robin!” He bayed, slinging his bow over his shoulder to descend; giving away his position. An arrow sailed into the trunk where his head had been. He hopped down a half-dozen limbs, before his boots bored into the mud below his oak. “They’re not going to make it!”

Ben dodged a second missile, returning and returned fire. He heard his arrow strike something solid, but was already rolling away from another volley by the time he was ready to fire shoot again. The Sidhe were expert marksmen. The; the finest, period. If he made one wrong move, he would pay for it with his life. Rob left his attacker assailant’s body face-down in the Little Boyne– the Dannan’s long pale hair, churning churned in a swiftly reddening current. Rob clutched at a new wound in his side, only one dagger left, “Where are they?”

An arrow ripped through one of Ben’s sleeves, very near his ribcage. “Damn it! I’m a little busy here! On your right!”

Robin waded downriver toward his two injured men. Marty saw him first, cringing as an arrow opened a gash in his cheek. He careened into the water on his knees, trying to keep Nat’s head out. Robin screamed a warning too late, as a razor-thin lark slammed into his back, shoving bits of his heart through the front of his tunic. The Dannan who wielded the blade, withdrew it again slowly; a wary green eye on Robin. Marty sagged face-first into the river on a gurgle. There was nothing to be done for him now. Nat, on the other hand, drifted just shy of Robin’s reaching fingers. Waist deep now, he snatched at the unconscious man’s cowl, desperate to drag him over. If they could make it across, they might be safe. The Sidhe never crossed into Eire, unless expressly ordered to do so. Besides, they wouldn’t have to if they killed every poacher before they could make it to the far bank.(Leading Narrative) There was a good chance the Sidhe would abandon the chase, if the Greenmakers made it to the far bank. Still, this was a rather large, ‘if’.

“Ben!” Robin cried, wary of the bows being drawn to prevent drawing against his retreat. Ben toed the waterline, careful not to immerse his boots. He dropped to a knee in the damp sand. Gerrod and Paul ambled up the bank beside him, heaving the stag’s carcass out of the water, with no small amount of back-breaking effort. The beast must have weighed at least four-hundred pounds. Robin had hold of Nat’s hair, steadying him while he sidestroked for shore. Ben drew twice, sending yet more Sidhe hunters to the ground. He had a third arrow nocked and waiting for a decent shot, when the Dannan Captain dismounted; his superior ash and yew longbow, trained on Ben. He was a bit taller than the others, and marked out by the six gold chains dangling from his left ear. He wore an immaculate grey cloak, made of soft, waterproof sealskin, trimmed in white ermine. His long pale flaxen hair unbound, save for two small braids at either temple. The leaping sylvan stag on stamped into his radiant white cuirass, was crowned by three shining gold stars.

Ben hesitated, dropping his elbow a fraction.

Fionn?

The Sidhe Captain mirrored Ben’s motion him, his mint-green eyes narrowing in mutual recognition. Ben felt every inch of the disbelieving derision he watched blooming on Fionn’s face; the surprise, the judgment and the silent condemnation. Ben could not look away.

“Ben! What in the hells are ye doin’? Shoot him!” Plead Rob, fighting toward the shallows on the Eirean side of the river. The host of Dannan Sidhe lined the far bank, their numbers replenished, arrows drawn. Ben knew why they didn’t shoot. It was the same reason he could not Ben knew they wouldn’t shoot. Neither could he. Fionn’s handsome upper lip curled back in disgust. Ben swallowed sourly, feeling every ounce of shame that single look conveyed. , and Ben swallowed. He sighed, releasing his bowstring. Ashamed, he released his bowstring altogether. 

“Ben!” Robin was nearly over, Gerrod waded in to help him out. Nat trailed in the river, his skin grey as Fionn’s cloak. Ben was glued to the spot, haunted by the knowledge in on Fionn’s dour face. The ghosts of a former life, tracked clammy fingers up and down Ben’s spine.

Ben! What’re doin’?” Robin followed Ben’s gaze, to the knot of Dannans gathered at the river’s edge. The look between Ben and the Captain, was not lost on him, “damn ye, Maeden! Shoot him!”

Fionn shook himself at the sound of Rob’s voice. Nostrils flaring, he raised his bow. Belatedly, Ben threw out a hand, “No! Don’t!”

A thick ashen shaft hammered dove through Nat’s prone body, straight through the heart. Robin shrieked in fury, but was rendered powerless in impotent fury, as several more launched into the sky. He was obliged to duck underwater to avoid the succeeding volley. By the time he came up for air, Nat was already turning over in the current, a dozen ivory-fletched shafts sprouting from his torso. Robin screamed abuse at the Sidhe, at Ben, at the sky above. Nat washed downstream on his belly, bowed under the weight of so many arrows. Gerrod managed to haul Robin out of the river, despite the older man’s girth, and flailing limbs.

Unperturbed, Fionn leaned against his bow, staring over at Ben with a grim smile. He waved; a flippant mirthless gesture, full of contempt. Wordless as the wind, the Sidhe turned as one– melting melted into the trees mist, heedless of the dead men they left behind. Ben didn’t call out to Fionn. How could he? His hands shook. He slung his bow back over his shoulder and tucked them into his pockets, so where they wouldn’t be seen. Robin’s fist crashed into his left cheekbone. Ben staggered a bit, but he wasn’t done. He threw three more punches, before Bens feet slipped from under him. Paul and Seamus caught at Robin’s his arms, to halt preventing a fourth attack. The veins in his Robin’s scarred forehead bulged. Gerrod tried to help Ben up, but he pushed him away. Robin He spat at Ben, red-faced. “What in the hells do ye think yer doin’, Ben? Why didn’t ye do somethin’? Ye let them make Nat into a bleedin’ pincushion. (Slaps Forehead) He’s dead now, cuz o’ye!” He strained against the arms holding him in place.

Ben slowly got to his feet, “Whose clever plan was it to shoot the Stag, Robin? Which of you was stupid enough to kill one of the High King’s deer?”

Robin fought so hard to free himself from Paul’s grip, his face purpled. Spittle bubbled over his bleeding chin. “I’ll kill ye, for this. I’ll do it, I swear to Siora. How dare ye attempt to scold anyone, ye fecking bastard. Nat and Marty are dead!”

“Nat was gone long before Marty dragged him into the river.”

“It’s true, boss,” offered Gerron, in Ben’s defense, “I saw him take the wound. One o’them cut him down right in front o’me and Marty. Rest him. It was Marty, shot the stag. I tried to tell him, Ben. I did.”

Paul shrugged. That was his way. Insolent and block-headed. “The hide’s worth at least a thousand fainne. Rack, near five-thousand, I’d say. The fox-hide on Seamus’ belt, maybe two hunnerd’, three? Who cares about a dead deer?”

Ben scowled, (Unnecessary Attribution) “You don’t kill the High King’s deer, you arrogant simpleton. They’re charmed beasts. You’re lucky every Sidhe for twenty miles didn’t answer the call!” Ben growled, shoving him back, hard. He couldn’t help himself. Someone had to answer for this mess. Why shouldn’t it be Paul, who didn’t have the sense the Gods gave a goat?

Paul raised his hands in mock surrender, “Tryin’ to see the good here, Ben. That’s all.”

“The good? Are you mad?” Ben sneered. (Unnecessary Attribution)

“That’s why ye let Nat die?” Seethed Robin, “Ccuz Marty shot a feckin deer? We’re bloody Greenmakers, ain’t we? Feckin’ no account poachers. It’s what we damned well do, isn’t it? Tell me yer not arguin’ for the Sidhe’s side, Ben. Tell me yer ballocks don’t swing that low.”

Ben was livid now, no helping it. He glowered at Robin. “I didn’t let anyone die. Nat’s death is not on my conscious, and you know it as well as I do. Three of you are alive at this very moment, because of me. Maybe if you’d taken the time to teach these children how to behave over that border, both Nat and Marty would be too. If that Dannan Captain wanted to, he would have had the provocation to break treaty and cross. If I killed him, every one of us would be toasting each other in Tech Duinn right now. You’re not angry with me. You’re angry with yourself.”

Robin towed Seamus and Paul at least three feet, in his urgency to get at Ben. Ben dropped his bow and undid his swordbelt, letting them thump into the sand at his feet. “Let him go!” He hissed, raising his fists.

Robin barreled into him with a guttural grunt. He attempted to tackle Ben, but he was twice his size and outweighed him by at least fifty pounds. Ben let him take one or two swipes, before he hooked an arm under Robin’s shoulder joint, spinning him around. It took one blow from Ben’s right hand, for Robin’s arse to slap One blow, and Robin’s arse into hit the ground on with a solid thump. Dazed, Robin gaped at up Ben with unfocused malice. Ben leaned in, ready to strike again if he had to. “You deserved that.”

“Aye,” Robin gasped, spitting spat a mouthful of blood, “we’re done, Ben Maeden. Yer no Greenmaker. Greenmaker’s don’t choose the Sidhe over one o’their own. Don’t think I didn’t see ye.”

“Fine,” Ben snarled, “you’re too old to learn common sense anyway.” He retrieved his Retrieving his weapons, he shoved Paul again for good measure, and spun on his heel. He refused to look at the stag, where it lay broken on the riverbank; its perfect white coat speckled red and black from the wound in its ribs.

Sacrilege of the first order.

He spared Robin a last withering glare. “I quit.”

Gerrod ran jogged to catch up with him. Ben shrugged him off. “Wait, Ben. He don’t mean it! Neither do ye. We’re sorry ‘bout the stag, alright? Marty got desperate. Ye weren’t over there. Ye don’t know what it was like.”

Robin threw out a spiteful laugh, “He ain’t ever over there, is he? Stays on this side o’the river, like a bleedin’ coward, he does. Tell us, ye faerie bastard…how many kills have ye made, to keep our folk fed and clothed, hm? How many times have ye given over the last coins in your precious purse, to help one o’ours? None. That’s how many. Yer a selfish sack of shite, ye are.”

Ben ignored him. It wasn’t easy. Robin Gramble had been his friend for almost fifteen years. He didn’t even turn around to dignify his comment.

Gerrod’s anxious apologetic expression bordered on despair, “We’ll meet up at Barb’s later, yeah? C’mon, Ben. Ye can’t leave it like this. We’ll sort it all out.”

Ben paused, for Gerrod’s sake, if no one else’s. “Later then. To collect what I’m owed, then I’m gone.”

“Ye’ll meet us there? Ye won’t leave until he calms down?”

Ben let out a protracted breath. His oldest friend had gone to stand by the water’s edge, hiding a face full of tears. Nat was his Robin’s kin, his sister’s son. Ben could understand his irrational rage, even if it was unfairly directed. “Yeah, Gerry. I’ll be there. I’ll go and look for the bodies first. They can’t have gone too far. You get this lot back home.”

“Thank ye, Ben.”

Ben faced east. “Don’t thank me. Robin might not be right…but neither is he wrong.” He didn’t give Gerrod a chance to process his statement. Ben pulled his hood low over his eyes. He strolled into the Greensward, fading into the trees like the Sidhe, only minutes before.

There you have it! Not so terrible, now was it? Cutting a few lines, and rearranging weak sentences, can make all the difference in the world. The text is more immediate, less confusing, and flows much more smoothly. I happen to be a serial offender, when it comes to Unnecessary Attribution, Excessive Exposition, and Unclear POV. It’s a simple fix! No need to stress. Once you develop a working habit, editing can be a snap…even when you have 38 chapters to wrestle (internal screaming). In the next post, in my ‘On Editing’ series (Part Three), we’ll talk about grammatical flow, and Copyediting. Remember, don’t be discouraged. You ARE a good writer, and you can be an equally good editor. It just takes practice. Believe in yourself.

Do you have a foolproof editing process? Take umbrage with my work here today? Have questions about the choices I’ve made, or need advice? Feel free to message me anytime! I’d love to hear from you.

 

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Image Copyright: Winter Boughs

 

 

On Editing (Part One)

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First, it’s important to note that everyone is different. Your writing style, your reading habits, your opinions, and your technique- are all a part of what makes you, YOU. Editing is no different. Everyone either has a system they are comfortable with, or seeks one that offers them the least amount of anxiety. I am not here to tell you there is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to approach your editing process. I am merely here to share what works for me, and hope it may be helpful to someone else.

Having said that, keep in mind, there are as many ‘types’ of editors, as there are writers. Some work line by line, some focus on grammar, others cut and slash piecemeal. I am a structural editor; that is to say, I edit for content and flow. As a writer, I am neither infallible, nor impervious to critique myself. I am not here to judge you, indeed, I sympathize. WE ALL MISS SOMETHING. No one is perfect, and we ALL need a little help sometimes. That sentiment does not exclude the most successful writers.

 Now that you know I’m not going to judge you, let’s get to it, shall we?

 

If you’re like me, you dread editing your own work. It’s frustrating, complicated, nerve-wracking, and time-consuming. You’ve already busted your hump writing an incredible story. You’ve spent months, years, decades even- crafting this world; its complex characters, snappy dialogue and pace. You’re already exhausted. You’ve put your heart and soul into this work. You feel like you have nothing left…then, you let someone else read it. They tell you it isn’t finished. They don’t understand your plot, your characters, or your timeline. They say your syntax and POV are confusing. They think you use too much exposition- or not enough. They tell you your dialogue is excessive, and you reuse words and phrases too often. They ask you to defend your overuse of ‘y’ ending adverbs. They want to know why every paragraph features a half-dozen unnecessary adjectives. They spit things at you, like ‘verb-agreement’, ‘tense’, ‘scene’, ‘purple’, and ‘redundant’.

Your heart breaks. Someone has just told you, your baby is ugly. You get angry, defensive. You deny these claims. Assure yourself that you know what you’re doing, and don’t need their nasty opinion anyway. You make a few light adjustments, and give your work to another reader. The process begins anew.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. We ALL must suffer these slings and arrows (shameless Shakespeare plug), my friend. I am not exempt. I’ve been through this countless times myself- and I AM AN EDITOR. For me, it is very easy to root out problems in another writer’s MS (manuscript). It’s another story entirely, when the work is mine. In fact, I’ve yet to meet any editor/writer who doesn’t feel the same way. Why? It’s simple. As a writer, you know the intent behind every word, every scene, every line of dialogue. You are operating from a front-row seat; where everything makes sense, is visual, vibrant, and immediate. Trouble is, no one else has that front row seat…you have to provide one for them. When the text is confusing, the reader is pulled away from your intent. They don’t know what you know. They can’t see what’s in your head, what you meant. You have to show them, and you need to make your intent clear, from the very first line.

Let me put it this way, when you write a screenplay, you can only write what the camera sees. In a book, you have a bit more room to elaborate on every scene, but the sentiment remains imperative. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I’m going to repeat it now: SHOW, MORE THAN YOU TELL. From a reader’s perspective, we want to experience your story with your characters. We want to smell what they smell, see what they see, hear…you get the idea. You might have some gorgeous prose (I’m the guiltiest purple writer that ever purpled, btw) to add, but RESTRAIN yourself. It’s distracting for the reader, when overdone. Think sprinkle, rather than shower. Keeping this in mind, let’s move on.

Today, let’s focus on priming for editing. We’ll get into the meaty stuff; structure, POV, and exposition, in Part 2. For now, we’re going to talk about getting ready. 

 

1. Prepare

 

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The first step in preparing to edit, is to accept that you need to edit. YOU NEED TO EDIT. I’m sorry to break it to you, but none of us, no matter how brilliant we think our story is, or how good a writer we know we are; none of us are immune. If you’re a writer, you need to be an editor. Yes, yes…let the hate flow through you…

Personally, I think I’m a pretty dandy writer. Been at it for years. I know my craft; I can hold my own in any cafe reading, can write complex plots without much effort, my dialogue is pretty crisp, my characters are interesting, and did I mention my prose? My adjectives, slay. Know what else? MY FIRST THREE DRAFTS, ALWAYS SUCK! Did I say suck? I’m sorry, what I meant to say was, they are abysmal, abominable, atrocious, and arrogant. That crisp dialogue? A hot mess. My complex plot? Like reading stereo instructions. My prose? Let me put it this way, there are only so many times any writer should dare to place ‘glimmering’ in a paragraph. Paint me purple, ye mighty editing gods…

My point is, I need to edit, you need to edit, and everyone writing anything longer than a tweet (even then), needs to edit. I am not perfect, and neither are you. You know what? THAT’S TOTALLY OKAY. Stop telling yourself you’re a bad writer because you didn’t nail it in your first draft. I know some pretty famous authors, and I promise you, they feel the same way you do, most of the time. That’s what editing is FOR. It’s polish, plain and simple. You wouldn’t try to sell someone a half-darned sweater, would you?

Revisions are a necessary part of the process. The faster you accept your fate, the easier it’ll be to finish.

The second step in preparing to edit, is to get organized. Gather all your notes, your outline (refer to my previous post- Outlining, A How-To), your chapter logs, supplementary materials, and your ugly, infuriating draft. Read through them once or twice, to make sure you’re on track. Then read through them all again. Take more notes. Then read them one more time- ALOUD.

The fastest way to root out fixable issues in your text, is to hear them aloud. This is how your reader is going to experience your work, as if it’s being spoken to them. Remember that, and take notes when you find something distracting. Done? Okay. Let’s move on.

 

2. Compare

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Now that you’ve read through your draft a few times, and have taken notes, it’s time to compare them. What worked? What didn’t work? When you read that first chapter aloud, what made you stutter or stumble? Did you have to read a phrase more than once? This is all pertinent information, you are going to need. If YOU have a hard time reading your story out loud, your reader is going to have a hard time making it through your text.

Notes at hand, write a list:

  1. Is this scene clear? (Setting, Timeline, Exposition)
  2. Who is talking? (POV, Characterization, Dialogue)
  3. What’s happening? (Action, Pace, Event)
  4. Does it flow naturally? (Tense, Structure, Syntax)
  5. Immediate or redundant? (Repetition, Alliteration, Attribution)

 

Every scene you write, needs to be experienced, not read. Avoid unnecessary explanations, clogging backstory, plodding dialogue, and repetitive words and phrases. Remember to keep your tense tight (who is narrating this thing, and how much they should reveal to the reader. Unless specified in your story as an ability- your characters CAN’T READ EACH OTHERS MINDS, nor should your narrator, if they are observing the scene from ‘above’). Prose is important for style to a point, but never forget that every ‘telling’ scene (setting- the where, what, and who), gives the reader pause.

 

3. Start Fresh

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Now, everyone has their own approach to a second-draft. I’m not going to tell you how to rewrite your book, but I am going to tell you what I hope you already know; take it from the top. Never edit from the end, or the middle. Your reader isn’t starting in the middle, are they? No. They start from the beginning, and that’s where you should start your rewrite.

You have your notes. You’ve identified problems in your text. Now, do something about it.

Personally, once I have my BME (Beginning, Middle, and End) completely nailed down; that is, I know where I’m going, every character is accounted for, their backstories and motivations are all hammered out, and the structure of each chapter is relatively solid. Now, I edit, line by line. Starting with the first paragraph, I read every word aloud for the twentieth time, and make changes that read as naturally as possible.

This is not a speedy process, but it works. Every. Single. Time.

That horrid jumble of nonsense I thought was so brilliant in my first draft; actually reads like fiction. By the time I make it to the end, it’s starting to look like a real book! Hell, someone is going to LOVE this! It’s a fun read! I did it! I really did it!

Then, in pure masochistic fashion…I take it from the top, all over again.

 

Editing, like writing, takes practice. Don’t let it discourage you. Let it help you become the writer you want to be.

 

4. Done? Nope.

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You’ve revised, and revised, until your eyes feel like they might spill out of your nose. You’ve done all you can do. Your MS reads more clearly, more concisely, and more naturally than your draft, by a thousand watts. That’s great. Congratulations.

Are you done now?

Hahahahaha. No.

There is a such thing as ‘over-editing’, right? Right?

You’re cute.

This is the part of the editing process, where really, really good writers tend to get stuck. Why? Remember when I said no one is perfect? You’re going to miss things. We all do. You’re tired of reading. You’re bored of hitting the back-spacer. I get it. It’s hard work. Now, here’s where a developmental edit comes in (not the copy-edit, we’ll get to that VERY LAST step, in a final post on this topic).

You do have some options, but you’re not going to love them all.

  1. Hire A Developmental Editor. 

This is not a ‘cheap’, easy fix, mind you. Most developmental editors will run you up to 3k, for a MS running over 75k words. For those of us who aren’t rolling in piles of cash every night that figure stings. The good news is, it’s almost always money well-spent. A good structural editor will quickly and succinctly, identify and remedy problems in your text, any agent or publisher is sure to notice. The bad news? It’s expensive, and if you’re a first-time author, likely you can’t afford one. That’s okay. The best option, isn’t the ONLY option you have.

2.  Find Beta Readers. 

This isn’t easy either. You don’t want to trust your hard work, and original ideas to just any shmoe online, do you? You need someone who will read your work, and give you polite, helpful feedback. The best betas, will even help you edit a bit, for free, so long as you’re willing to return the favor.

Most betas, are authors themselves. Expect to barter. If you don’t have time to read and critique someone else’s work, make sure you let them know in advance. I wouldn’t expect a plethora of return emails when you do, but be fair. Betas are wonderful help in the developmental stage, but don’t abuse them. Remember, nothing is truly ‘free’, and these nice folks are doing you a favor. Also consider, they are your first readers, and likely, your first fans.

3.  Join A Community

The internet is filled with writer’s groups, pages, clubs, and communities. You don’t even need to leave your house anymore, if you don’t want to. These communities can be a SERIOUS boon, at the developmental stage. The feedback is largely constructive, well-intentioned, and you can reach a lot of readers and fellow writers.

There are some drawbacks, however. A word of caution, though most writing communities are very strict about plagiarism, it can still happen from time to time. Be aware when you post something, there are tons of people there eager to help…and there are tons of people there struggling with their own work. This is the exception, of course, but be on your guard, nonetheless.

If you find a great writer’s niche (I like Goodreads, and many of Twitter’s writing tags), be courteous, be kind…well, you know. Be nice! Say hello. Post snippets of your work, and thank people when they comment. You might be surprised how quickly you find folks to bond with. Make some friends, and build a solid foundation for your work.

Not everyone is going to be on your level in these groups. Some will be baby writers, learning their craft, and others may be professional authors. The point is, what do you have to lose? Helpful critique is never a bad thing, and it’s important to get the hang of it early on. A community of peers, can certainly help you get there.

4.  Revise, Revise, Revise

I bet you thought I was kidding about this, didn’t you. Nope.

The best thing you can do for your work, short of hiring a professional, or finding the perfect saintly beta– is READ AND REWRITE your MS, constantly. In my next post, I’m going to help you get through this time-chewing process the best I can, but for now…get reading. Read your work until you’ve memorized nearly every line.

Know how many times I’ve read The Sons Of Mil? Dozens. Scores. Hundreds…and the damn thing STILL needs work. How do I know? Because I catch something each time I reread it. Until I catch nothing, it’s not ready. That’s all there is to it.

Don’t let it get you down. You can’t, if you’re going to make it in this business. What you miss, a publisher won’t. This doesn’t make you a bad writer. I can’t stress this enough. It just makes you a BETTER writer. It makes you a STRONGER writer, and it gives you an EDGE over the thousands of writers out there, who don’t take the time, and pay for it later.

Don’t give up! Your work is fantastic, and like any baby, needs pampering.

 

For more in-depth editing tips, stay tuned for Part Two in this series; On Editing- coming soon!

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Image copyright: Under The Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Writing Motivation…

Don’t let that cursor beat you! I find nothing helps to defeat the evil ole writer’sblock quite like nature. Get outdoors; take a walk, strap on all of your snow-gear and go sledding, drive out of town and watch the sun set somewhere beautiful. Unwinding in the great outdoors is my go-to motivation.

So, in this image…is it warm or cold, wet or dry, what does the air taste like, can you feel the wind on your face or at your back, do the waves sluice gently over pebbles, or rock lightly against the girder? Can you smell the ice, or the sun baking into the sand? How would you describe this blue?- turquoise or cerulean? Teal, or aquamarine? Is it brilliant and multifaceted like a gem, or polished like stone? Can you hear gulls calling, or just the crush of your boots in the sand?

Now go! Write what you feel!

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Image copyright: Turquoise2017

Sunday Writing Motivation…

Drop, and give me 200…

If you’re like me, you suffer from frequent bouts of the dreaded Writer’s Block. If I can get in two full flowing days of writing each week, I’m crushing it! Most days, I stare at the cursor blinking on my screen, wishing there was a magic potion that could unlock all of the words stuffed inside my noggin (whiskey and wine doesn’t count).

Alas, there is no such elixir. Writer’s Block, like all other annoying impediments to creativity, can’t be willed away. It takes its own time. Sometimes you’re simply distracted. Sometimes you’re anxious about a deadline, or you have non-related work piling up on your counter. Whatever the case may be, in my experience, a change of scenery is the only thing that helps me slay the fearsome Block.

When I can’t escape to the outdoors to press the reset button, I read, I walk…I lurk Landscape Photography communities for that flash of inspiration. I know, I know…I cheat a bit here, because I am a landscape photographer and am naturally predisposed to find inspiration in nature, BUT I contend that it can work for you too, if you let it.

Start with this photograph. Is the sun bright or occluded? Does the air smell of pine, salt, autumn leaves, wet mossy stone, or wild grass? Is it warm or cold? Do you hear birds or insects chirping in the distance, or does the roar of rushing water drown everything else out?

Write it down.

Feel better yet?

Google, 500px, Facebook, Twitter and of course Instagram all have vibrant landscape photography communities. They are my oasis, in times of need. Find an image that moves something inside of you, and write what you feel! Hope this helps!

Have your own foolproof cure for the Loathsome Block? Tell me about it!

Image copyright: Laughing Whitefish Falls

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Sunday Inspiration (Writing Prompt)

 

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Nothing inspires me quite like a vivid landscape. It’s definitely the reason I was drawn to photography in the first place. Every scene I shoot, has a story. The smell of the wind, the shadows reaching between the trees, the slap of a wave against a sandy shore, or the swirl of colors in sunset. There are emotions in those images. Thoughts, and impressions. Nothing helps cure a bout of writer’s block better, for me, than immersing myself in a vibrant landscape.

If you’re stuck on a scene, a chapter, or perhaps even your first paragraph…put it down, stand up, and walk outside. Is it winter, or summer? Is the sun shining? If it is, how warm is it? Do clouds race overhead, or do they hang fat and idle in a blue sky? What does the grass smell like? Is it damp or dry? Do your toes squish in mud, or scrape against hard-packed earth?

Sometimes all it takes to unblock oneself, is to move. Whether it be with your physical body, or in your mind. Struggling with your setting? In my opinion, photography is a fantastic writing aid. There are literally thousands of gifted landscape photographers online, sharing gorgeous landscapes from all over the world. If you are unable to travel to your locations, that doesn’t mean you can’t experience them. I consider writer’s block a clog in the proverbial creative drain. Sometimes all it takes to dislodge it, is a shift in perspective.

Give it a try! Pinterest, Google, Instagram and 500PX are all great places to search for landscape photography. Here in my blog, I will share one of my own landscapes with you every Sunday. Use it as a tool! What quality is the light; dense or bright? Can you feel motion in the scene? Are there sounds? Scents? What do you feel?

Write any impressions you have down! Then in your own manuscript, apply the same logic. Where are your characters now? Describe their environment, as you would explain how you would feel in that scene. Relax, and have fun!

Hope this helps! Happy Writing, fellow Writers!

Image copyright: Yellow Dog Falls

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