Category Archives: Blood Lies

Something Fun! “Hemingway” Does Hemingway!

Via Jane Friedman and Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur, I came across this delightful exercise from The New Yorker. Dave had reviewed four top “editing” programs, Grammarly, Ginger, Hemingway, and ProWritingAid. He linked to an article in which writer Ian Crouch takes Hemingway the App on a spin in Hemingway’s actual prose.

Apps for editing writing

Do these apps cut the fog from our writing?

You probably know somebody who claims to write like Hemingway (I do). Or who claims to want to write like Hemingway (I sometimes do). So it’s interesting to see that Ernest’s scores vary from a bad, bad 15 to an excellent 4—which means a fourth-grader could understand it— depending on which text you choose. Crouch’s analysis of a passage from The Sun Also Rises also shows how sometimes it’s the broken rules that make a passage work.

Hemingway the App has a free online editor you can play with. I thought that would be fun as well. In general, I find these editing apps annoying, not least because they miss some really basic stuff. For example, in the first page of my novel Blood Lies, published by Bantam/Doubleday way back when and republished by me online, the sentence that is tagged as VERY HARD TO READ (bad, bad, really bad) is actually two sentences connected with a semicolon. Yes, I know some people think there’s a rule: no semicolons. I’m not there yet.

On the other hand, I do find that much of my line editing involves simplifying those sentences that rolled so sonorously through my head when I wrote them. I find that I’ve become more skilled at hearing the ones that need a weed trimmer taken to them. The trick is to give yourself some distance from your prose and come back to it with a stranger’s ear, as much as possible.

In any case, here’s my annotated page with the Hemingway comments. They gave me a Readability grade of 3, only “good.” Crouch says, “The app suggests that anything under Grade 10 is a sign of ‘bold, clear writing.'” Maybe my writing is too simple! See what you think.

Key:

red—adverbs (I am supposed to cut one);

yellowish—my 4/51 “hard to read” sentences;

green—passive voice (they say I’m okay with only 3, but I take exception to “was scorched’; “scorched” is a predicate adjective in this construction;

purple—my VERY BAD HARD TO READ sentence. But I had only 1.

MY PAGE

Two days and a night. Bitter roadside coffee, the slimy stars of dead moths on the windshield. Poisonous truck fumes on 1-75. An hour’s fitful sleep in the back seat of the Firebird, an hour in which he dreamed that it was Holyhead that had burned.
 
He had never been to the trailer, but he knew exactly where it was. Alejo had said, “You know the big tree in Langston’s south pasture that lightning hit? Just down the hill from that, on the corner.” And Ted had answered, “Oh, yeah.”
 
Alejo spent every spring and fall in the fancy doublewide on the small square of land. “Now I am so rich,” he said, “all America is my home. But Keeneland Racetrack was always good to me. I will always ride there. Even when I am more famous than Willie Shoemaker, I will always go back to Kentucky.”
 
“Yeah,” Ted had answered. “And maybe one day Lexington will elect you mayor.”
 
“A statue in the paddock at the racetrack is all I ask.”
 
Alejandro Asolo had not earned his statue. He had not become more famous than Willie Shoemaker. He had not had time.
 
Ten years ago, Ted’s thirteenth summer, three broodmares had been killed when lightning struck that tree in Langston’s pasture. He found the trailer easily. Very little had changed.
 
The cops had stretched a large sheet of black plastic on the trodden grass. On the plastic they were dumping small, charred piles. Ted could not believe the framed win picture had survived. He reached to pick it up. It was scorched, blistered, but the row of familiar faces grinned bravely through the soot: Alejandro’s, Teresa’s, Sunny’s, his own.
 
One of the policemen turned and saw him. “Hey! Put that down!”
 
He straightened. The cop waved a buddy over and they both advanced, arms held out from their sides.
 
“Something we can do for you?” one of them asked. He had round, soft-looking cheeks, and a plump, pursed mouth, but his hard little eyes glinted under his hat brim.
 
Ted dropped the picture wearily at their feet. “I’m looking for Mrs. Asolo.”
 
“She’s gone. What’s your name?”
 
“I was a friend of Asolo’s. I drove up from Miami when I heard.”
 
“Friends got names,” the cop said.
 
He could smell it. He had told himself the spring wind and the harsh overlay of charred wood, fused metal, and melted plastic would have carried it off, but he had been wrong. He stepped backward, groping behind him. Maybe the fat-cheeked policeman thought he was bolting; he shoved him back against a tree. But the other policeman, a younger, leaner man, said, “Sit down on the ground a minute, kid. Put your head between your knees. You’ll be okay.”
 
The inner walls of the trailer had been reduced to gummy filaments; the cops sorting the rubbish brushed them gingerly aside, shaking their hands afterwards, as if freeing themselves from cobwebs.
SEND ME YOUR SCORE FOR THIS PAGE!

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Filed under Blood Lies, Editing, grammar rules, indie publishing, Learning to write, Myths and Truths, Print on Demand, self editing, Self-publishing, style, V. S. Anderson, Writing

The Story Question is Vital

This article addresses what I find is the most pressing issue in developing a novel. It’s the one I come back to again and again, hoping I’ve made it work and struggling if I think I haven’t.

In some ways, I think this article may distill the question down a bit more than I like; sometimes there’s a story question embedded in another story question, and both have to be answered. In Blood Lies, the obvious story question is whether Ted will find out who murdered Alejo. But the larger question that drives and even overrides this one is whether, in the process, Ted will become the man he needs to be to respect himself. So a corollary question to ask in working on story questions is whether the two (or more) questions serve each other. Does finding his best self help Ted find the murderer? Does finding the murderer help Ted find his best self?

In any case, in many unpublished novels I read, it’s the story question that’s missing–or just isn’t compelling. So this article is an excellent primer on this central issue in fiction.

Both the story question and the story problem are vital for crafting cohesive stories and strong fiction. A discussion of the story question in fiction.

Source: The Story Question is Vital

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My Inerview is up at Don Massenzio’s site. Go admire my sweet Paddy!

Paddy, my horse.Check out my writer’s interview, now available at Don Massenzio’s site! This was a lot of fun to write.

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Filed under blogging, Blood Lies, ebooks, indie publishing, Interviews, King of the Roses, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, Self-publishing, style, V. S. Anderson, Virginia S. Anderson, Writing

Horse nut/Professor/Writer

My bio on Chuck Suddeth’s site! He’s posting info on sponsors and judges for the Green River Writers 2016 contest, now open. Check out the guidelines! And thanks, Chuck, for sharing!

C. T. Suddeth

V. S. Anderson always been a horse nut, and as a young person, was a rabid horse-racing fan. So it’s no surprise that her first novels were about horses: the Kentucky Derby and the glamour of a Thoroughbred breeding farm—but with a little mystery and mayhem thrown in! For King of the Roses and Blood Lies, she drew on her years of working in the horse world, teaching riding, showing hunters, moonlighting on the racetrack, and for a while, owning and galloping her own racehorse.

Since then she has used her doctorate in English to teach writing at a regional campus of a Midwestern university—right across the river from Louisville and the Derby, in fact! She lives in New Salisbury, Indiana, where she gardens, watches birds, writes mystery/suspense (three novels in progress!), and rides Paddy, her sweet, sweet horse.

Visit her at

www.virginiasanderson.com

www.justcanthelpwriting.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/virginiasanderson.writer

www.amazon.com/author/virginiasanderson

or follow her…

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Filed under Blood Lies, Contests, ebooks, Green River Writers, indie publishing, King of the Roses, novels, Self-publishing, V. S. Anderson, Writers' groups, Writing

Why you need both CreateSpace and IngramSpark…

Here’s a post on POD printing options from Build Book Buzz featured on The Story Reading Ape. This post provides reasons why my decision to go with Ingram first rather than CreateSpace in publishing a print version of King of the Roses (and eventually Blood Lies) was a sound one. Follow my series on my “Crazy Journey” through the Ingram process: it doesn’t look all that crazy when seen through the eyes of book-marketing expert Amy Collins!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Extract of an article by Author Amy Collins in Build Book Buzz:

I have been asked one question more than any other: “Do I need IngramSpark if I have CreateSpace?”

I know it’s tempting to avoid the extra expense and hassle of taking on a second print on demand (POD) provider, but I want to take a moment and share some of the experiences we’ve had at New Shelves Books with our POD work. I hope these statements help you determine if you need one or both.

So . . . do you need both?

See the full article (and read the comments already there) by clicking the link, or Amy’s photo below:

Why you need both CreateSpace and IngramSpark

Amy-Collins-Photo-240x300

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Filed under Blood Lies, business of writing, indie publishing, King of the Roses, Marketing books, Money!, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, Self-publishing, Writing

Great Post from Writers in the Storm: 7 Mistakes on the Way to a Publishing Contract

Couldn’t reblog this from Colleen M. Story on Writers in the Storm (no button), but I wish I could. It’s a great post that really resonated with me and might with you.

(Can anybody tell me why some WordPress sites have reblog buttons and others don’t? Is thiis a choice the blogger makes? I HATE seeing good posts I can’t share in their entirety.)

In any case, this could so be me! I’m just now trying to decide whether to self-publish my way-outside-the-conventional-genres novel or to go on submitting to agents. I haven’t gone the small press route because I found myself thinking that if I have to do all the marketing, why share the net? But this post makes me realize that I’m probably thinking too short-term. Having a new novel picked up by a press (I published five with big presses before going back to school) would letter scatter novelbe a gateway to new contacts and new opportunities.

Story’s thoughts on feedback also resonated. Having gone the beta-reader route as well as working with my writing group, I’ve decided not to tear up my work unless it’s for someone who has made a commitment to the book, for the very reasons Story states: six reviews, six different ideas as to what just has to be done. In my excellent writing group, I listen for consensus and a good argument that the advice is well-grounded. I often receive the kind of feedback Story praises, the kind that strikes me instinctively as valuable, sometimes pinpointing a problem I knew at heart needed attention but which I hadn’t quite identified.

Check out the post for her seven inspirational messages. They were a call to action for me, and might be for you.

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Filed under Blood Lies, business of writing, Editing, Finding agents, Publishing, Self-publishing, Writers' groups, Writing

Off to Upload to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

SELF-PUBLISHED BOOK LAUNCH DAY at Smashwords! And the day I bite the bullet and upload to Amazon! So far it looks a lot more complex than uploading to Smashwords. If any of you have been through this process and have any advice for me, please let me hear from you! In the next day or two, I’ll report back on my own experiences. King of the Roses coverIn the meantime, you can now order the books at Smashwords.com in addition to ordering them through any of your favorite ebook retailers, including Barnes and Noble and iBooks. Blood Lies coverLet me know if you run into problems. I may not be able to help, but I will try! Also later today I will post some direct links on my web site, www.virginiasanderson.com.

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Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Blood Lies, ebooks, King of the Roses, novels, Self-publishing, Smashwords, V. S. Anderson, Virginia S. Anderson