Chasing Our Imperfections

When you are proofing, eventually it reaches a point where you are fiddling with a sentence, a word, even a few letters. You are now zeroing in on minutiae. That is one of the toughest places to be in writing: you are essentially finished, but you keep finding “bits” that you tweak and alter.

Tweaking like that, though, sometimes reveals what you’ve missed, too. And among 100,000 words, you WILL miss things.

For instance, yesterday I found an egregious spelling mistake – that had been repeated half a dozen times throughout the text because I must’ve done it the once and “autocorrected” it again and again. (Ever feel like an idiot?) I also found somehow I’d gotten an entire paragraph into the wrong chapter – it must have been a cut and paste edit that somehow got dropped in again where it wasn’t meant to be at all. I could have bashed my head into the wall when I saw both of those beauts.

Free Stock Photo: Close-up of an enter button.
Free Stock Photo: Close-up of an enter button.

Also, as I re-read one chapter yesterday I came upon one scene I’ve never much liked. And if you don’t like it, why should anyone else? So I did a short revision, and I think it’s an improvement. I went for understatement, which is – for me, anyway – usually a far better approach.

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Ebooks As Increasing Tax Target

Interesting email I received yesterday from Kindle:

Screen capture of email.
Screen capture of email.

Here in the UK print books are generally sold untaxed, while ebook sales are taxed. Similar tax distinctions occur elsewhere in the European Union. The EU itself has recently labeled ebooks an “electronic service.

Many US states tax ebooks too. I haven’t checked New York lately, but there’s almost nothing, for instance, New York State won’t tax to the hilt if it can figure out a way to do so. And Albany can usually figure one out.

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An Adventure, Or Two, Or Three….

I wasn’t going to tell you this. In the end I figured, well, why not? We’re friends here. :-)

I’m fast approaching a milestone birthday that ends in a “zero.”

Free Stock Photo: Cupcakes with birthday candles.
Free Stock Photo: Cupcakes with birthday candles.

You may know that “James,” one of my main characters, is 29 years of age in 1994:

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Hatreds On The Pages

Do you write “angry?” I try not to. However, I will admit there are times when I let loose.

I have all too often sat in front of my PC or Microsoft Surface, found myself feeling infuriated, and slammed keys and took it out on the pages. Briefly, I’d feel better, yes. But after I went back and reread my “tantrum,” I usually toned it down considerably.

For eventually I remember what I’ve also written about here recently. Be careful: your words are forever.

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My Phone Buzzed….

….and, from far away Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.A., messages from my uncle started appearing out of the blue yesterday afternoon. He does that. Unexpectedly, thoughts and advice disjointedly come flying my way.

I usually try to jump to and – if possible – answer him immediately. You may know he’s a HarperCollins published crime novelist. (His first book appeared in the early 1980s. And he, urr, also sorta resembles one of my characters.) We got involved in a back and forth about reading and my writing.

This starts the revealing bit: it opens with the end of my response to a reading suggestion he’d made:

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Underground Photography

Thanks for your understanding yesterday. I wasn’t going to post today, but as yesterday went on I felt progressively better. Today, I feel almost fine.

Pain makes everything else feel worse in life, doesn’t it? It “depresses” you. But when the pain lifts, you get necessary perspective back.

So back to “normal.” Or what passes for normal with me. ;-)

Moving right along, I don’t think these are potential future cover photos:

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Life: The Most Difficult Exam

A thought for a Monday:

image

It may be extra-useful to remember that if you are, as I am, battling a sense of gloom about life.

We all feel down and out of sorts occasionally for a multitude of personal reasons. We must fight through. But it’s not always easy, of course.

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Friday Smiles

Proofing Distances, I’ve also been referring at times naturally to the first two volumes: Passports and Frontiers. When you write a series, continuity issues become huge. After all, as an author you don’t want to make even one silly mistake.

Because, of all that you write, you KNOW someone will pick up on any error. ;-) By now, there are A LOT of characters – parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, college chums, girlfriends, boyfriends…. and they are all distinct people. And there are varied settings, happenings and other background that must not be “misremembered” either.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a yellow smiley face.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a yellow smiley face.

Amidst all of it, there are lighthearted moments. Life isn’t always “heavy.” I thought I’d pull some excerpts from Passports and Frontiers and (in no particular order) “rapid fire” share them here. Something a bit different. I hope you enjoy them!:

Excerpt from
Excerpt from “Passports,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

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What Would Abraham Lincoln Say?

The U.S and Canada are said to be the only two major developed countries to grant automatic citizenship to the offspring of foreign nationals whose parents are in the countries without legal authorization. Regarding the U.S., Rasmussen polling noted on August 19:

Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters disagree with the current federal policy that says a child born to an illegal immigrant here is automatically a U.S. citizen….

It is not just “federal policy.” It is a right that stems from nearly 120 years of legal practice based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment. That amendment was ratified in the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865).

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a globe.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a globe.

The Washington Post tells us as well:

Donald Trump’s call for doing away with birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants has once again focused media attention on the idea and led some of his GOP rivals to signal openness to it….

The pressures of an ongoing, mass immigration, particularly from Mexico and Central America – and especially foreign nationals entering and staying without official permission and having U.S. citizen children – has become a contentious issue among many Americans. It is certainly driving this new debate on birthright citizenship.

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Flesch-Kincaid “Ease” Of Reading

Yesterday, I was on about the cover art. Of course, the tale between the covers is far more important. After all, you can change a cover even after publication, whereas the book itself is “forever.”

Planned
Planned “Distances” cover.

I’m still working through the final proofing of Distances. As I am, it’s not only about keeping an eye out for errors and typos; it’s also about its language – carefully reviewing the text in detail to try to make sure it conveys the story in the style I want. I suppose it’s not unlike an artist’s having a last look at the painting and applying the final brush strokes.

Readability,
Readability, “Distances” chapters 125-133

While writing the books, occasionally I run parts of the text through the Flesch-Kincaid readability check. That above is how chapters 125-133 in Distances “rate” overall in reading terms according to that test. Flesch-Kincaid has become so commonplace that it’s now even available in Microsoft Word when you do a combined spelling and grammar check.

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