Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The value of an editor.

I’ve heard horror stories about editors hijacking stories and I’m very happy to say that I've not had to deal with that special flavor of hell. Full Circle has had an awkward life and due to that life, three editors touched it. Full Circle was originally handled by a publisher that closed. 

As frustrating as that experience was, I wouldn't trade it away. I had the pleasure of working with Tami Parrington. She may not appreciate me saying this, but Tami is a great editor for new authors. Her guidance comes with gentleness. She pushed me to flesh out the story that I’d hidden beneath another story. When I submitted Full Circle it was a paltry 8,000 words. With Tami’s help and three months of work, we had a 47,000 word novel and Pebble. My readers love Pebble. “Have him talk to the bird,” she said. I thought she’d gone insane and I thought the idea was even more insane, but I tried it. We could always delete it if it didn’t work, right?  Byron needed something to talk to move the story from his head. I wrote the scenes with Pebble and I had to admit it worked. As the story grew, Pebble became a real and valuable character.

The next editor was K. M. Frontain. We did not get to work together long. Personal reasons that I do not think would be appropriate for me to discuss pulled her away from her editing duties. I harbor a great deal of respect for K. M. Frontain. During the short time we worked together she helped me let go of some crutch words, tighten the POV, and nix some passive voice. These issues still haunt me, but I'm improving. 

The final editor was Marci Baun. In a radio interview I summarized Marci’s style as a “polite bootcamp”. That was an off-the-cuff comment, but I stand by it. She’s sharp, firm, and polite. She didn't let me cut any corners at all. All authors try to cut corners and all editors should stop them. We don’t mean to cheat anyone, but we get lazy like anyone else. She looked behind the scenes and had me breathe a bit more life into the background and the tertiary characters. She helped me flesh out the world.

The story doesn't feel piecemeal. It feels and reads like a single solid story (as it should because that’s what it is). Although these editors have left their mark on the story, there are no shifts in style or voice. My editors let Full Circle be Full Circle. They let the story be mine. I kept the story cohesive.

The first publisher for Full Circle closed and I still have not been paid any royalties. I’ll never see the money. It was a good seller too and I’ll admit that whole experience stings; however, the story is better now than it was before.  

As an author, I hope for three things from an editor. The first is that they help me write the best story I can write. The second is that I learn something from them. My final hope is that they let the story be mine. My editors exceeded my expectations.

If you read Full Circle, I hope you enjoy it. It's available through Freya's Bower, the Kindle store, and for the Nook, and others. It is for mature readers only as it contains sexual content and violent content. 

Full Circle Blurb:

In a war-torn world, a group of vampires struggle to reclaim their past glory. One of their own is missing. Weakened by solitude, the leader of the vampires, Kendrick, must find Byron, his covenant mate, before the pain of isolation kills them both. However, locating Byron is the least of the vampires' problems.

The chaos of the world's death rattle breeds suffering, death, and pestilence as well as a call for vengeance. The opposing sides of good and evil never looked so similar. A war that began with the dawn of time has enjoyed a respite. That respite is ending. Vampiric history, human history, and the lives of two lovers are about to come full circle.

Full Circle Excerpt  (Rating PG):

Naked as the day he was born, Byron climbed over a piece of rubble that was once some kind of building. First, clothes. Second, food. Third, get rid of the heebie-jeebies from the freak. Spotting what looked like it was once a clothing store that hadn't been fully picked clean, Byron made his way through the pitted streets. This was why he liked the remains of tiny towns. Usually the bulk of the people had died off from illness or starvation. Less people meant less competition for whatever remained. Lately, he’d become irritated by other people. He just wanted to be left alone and allowed to make his way in the world.

The drawback to small towns was that large cities, like New York, had used the time since the war to recover and rebuild. Getting a decent meal, a solid roof, and clothing was easier in places that had begun to rebuild. However, scavengers, like Byron, found an upside to being distanced from infantile recovery. The entrepreneurial spirit still lived in large and small towns, and sometimes people would use barely safe buildings to start businesses. When those businesses failed—and they would fail just as surely as the
building would crumble around the store and the supply chain lost viability beyond a few initial shipments—other people could pick over the dregs.

Byron couldn't remember a lot of the war that ripped apart the Earth. It was centuries ago, but he must have lived through it. He knew he lived through it because when he
woke up in the Red Cross tent, he was an adult. The medical staff told him that he was a victim of some kind of explosion and had been in a coma for a month. He often wondered: shouldn't he have some kind of scar from the explosion?

A single raven flew overhead.

He dug through the rubble of the store and found an old display of jeans. He gave the denim a solid tug, hoping the fabric was young enough to be viable and not dry rotted. The cloth held strong. This would work. What was that back in the church? “I know what you are.” Isn't that what Kendrick said? “I know how old you are.” Well, that would be freaking nice because Byron didn't know. “Don’t you ever thirst?” Hell yeah, he was thirsty. The whole world was thirsty. Thirsty for water, life, and some form of hope. It had been…damn…how long had it been?

Byron dusted off the pair of jeans. He shook them out and sent a spider flying through the air. It had been around three hundred sixty years since the war, and they were just now getting some semblance of normal weather. The rain stopped burning about seventy-five years ago.

He buttoned the fly on the jeans and hoped this store carried more than just pants. Away from his own kind? What did Kendrick mean by that? What exactly was “his kind?” More people living in the manner of beasts? Byron had enough of that. Everyone was eking out some kind of existence in an artificially revived ancient agricultural society turned on its ear. No, that wasn’t entirely accurate. One terribly fractured society consisting of a mish-mash of nomadic, agrarian, and industrial traits turned on its ear…if it could find its ear.

He found some socks and a pair of hiking boots. This was a damn fine find. He felt a bit like a vulture picking off someone else’s failed attempt at normalcy, but even vultures
had to live, right? There was no telling where the next closest find would be. Most textiles fell to mold, mildew, dry rotting, and various other nasty things. Perhaps he should set up some kind of signal to alert the other vultures of the world? No, that might alert Mister Scary Fangs of his location.

A raven landed on a piece of rusted rebar in front of Byron.

Byron spoke to the bird. “What do you want with me?”

The raven pecked at the rebar.

“I have no food for you.” He didn’t have food for himself, much less for the omnivorous bird. Omnivorous. “And you aren’t eating me.”

The raven tilted its head.

“I’m not dead yet. Peck once at my eyes, and you’ll be my dinner. Got it?” He gripped his forehead. He was talking to a bird. That settled it. He was losing his sanity to solitude.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

How in the fuck does Rep. Broun function?

Quote: "All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it's lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior." 

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, not only is evolution a trick from Satan himself and The Big Bang some kind of evil Jedi mindtrick, but EMBRYOS are also a lie meant to trick you into ripping your soul away from Jesus. Because a powerful demon lord needs to come up with embryos in order to do his bidding. He might be immortal and can break through the fabric of space and time, but he needs some theoretical idea to get your soul. Sure, he could just possess you, but where's the fun in that? Nope, Satan needs people think embryos exist to function. If we'd all stop believing in embryos Satan would be powerless.

I've not quite figured out how knowing about embryos will take you away from Jesus, but I'm sure Rep. Broun will tell us.

Still believe in embryos? Why do you hate America? Why do you let the terrorist win?

What really scares me is not so much that he sits on a science committee because that's downright frightening, but this man is voting on laws dealing with reproductive health. He doesn't believe in embryos, but he's passing or blocking laws that deal with pregnancy. He's voting on agricultural bills and whatnot. The man DOES NOT BELIEVE IN EMBRYOS! How...I just...I can't even... does not compute. Does not compute. Does...not....snzzert.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Thank you, Elisa Rolle (Four out of Five!)

Elisa Rolle is a reviewer and a wonderful woman. She left me a wonderful review on Amazon. (She's wonderful even if she didn't leave me good reviews. Just an all around great lady.)

Four out of Five stars! Wonderful!

From her review, "I.M. Cupnjava is not gentle with her characters, she makes them suffer and deserve every sweet moment."

I like to think that's true. I am rather brutal with my characters. If they want the HEA, they must earn it.

Thank you for reading Full Circle and posting your review, Elisa Role.

The artist Mark Cline

A couple weekends back, I took a trip to Natural Bridge, VA. You can read my review of the Wax Museum here.

This post isn’t about the oh-so-wonderful Wax Museum. It’s about the artist Mark Cline. Mr. Cline seems to be on a life-long quest to add a bit of whimsy and beauty to our world of asphalt, metal cars, and plastic electronics.

He creates installation pieces. He puts a King Kong crushing a plane in front of a diner, a big apple in front a small convenience store, a dinosaur on the side of the road and a rhino in a parking lot.

Some of his work is paid, some isn't, and all of it is from his heart. He hopes that his art will generate some tourist attention and that will translate to some small towns getting a bit of an economic boost. He hopes that his work makes people smile and creates some jobs. He wants to spread color, beauty, and whimsy. Even if you don’t like dinosaurs, you have to love that.


One of his pieces of work is “Foamhenge”. It’s a replica of Stonehenge made of foam and paint. He didn’t cut corners on this piece either. Each “stone” is carved individually and as accurately as humanly possible. He consulted an expert and made sure Foamhenge was properly aligned to the stars and other astrological bodies for the latitude and longitude of VA. So being able to see it at sunrise on the equinox was a real treat.

You can find more information about Foamhenge online. What I’m going to share with you isn’t as available.

My traveling companion and I stopped by Mr. Cline’s workshop to thank him for his work. We didn’t know that he’d had installations set on fire because he was “doing the Devil’s work”. We didn’t know that someone had set a stage on fire and that stage had been so close to his house that the fire jumped and he lost his house. The man has a wife and children. I can’t believe that someone would be so upset about foam and fiberglass dinosaurs, animals, mummies, Frankenchicken, and Foamhenge to risk killing people in a fire. No matter how offensive you find a piece of art, it’s not worth taking a life.
You thought I was joking about Frankenchicken, didn't you? 
His assistant came out to meet us.

I said, “Hi. Are you Mr. Cline?”

“Nope, I’m his assistant.”

“Is Mr. Cline available? If he’s busy, that’s OK. We don’t want to intrude.”

“What for?”

“We’d like to thank him.”

“For what?” The man seemed thoroughly and completely confused.

“His work. His art. What he does. Just…just to say thank you.”

The guarded body language and suspicious eyes of his assistant faded. “He’s right inside. I’ll go get him.” The assistant smiled and walked into the workshop.

Mr. Cline came out and greeted us with a smile. He seemed to appreciate the thanks, but also seemed to be a bit shy and “aw…shucks” about it.

As we chatted, he told us about the arson. No one had been hurt and he has a good attitude about it. He said that whenever an artist creates something there will be loss. He feels that he’s gained more and given more than he’s lost and the destruction gives rise to more creation.

I can’t remember his exact words, but I remember being moved and inspired by his perseverance. I’d like to go on record as saying Mark Cline is one heck of a really nice guy. We met his wife and she seems like one heck of a nice lady.

We didn’t want to interrupt his day and we were content with just saying thank you and leaving. He invited us to wander around the inside and outside of his workshop while he handled some work. He wanted us to let him know before we left for a proper goodbye and pictures.

We wandered. We wandered around projects in progress, forgotten, and being repaired. We wandered around overgrown grass and rusting art. We wandered among cracked fiberglass and fading paint. We wandered through his creation birthed from destruction.

I’m going to share some pictures that you probably won’t be able to find anywhere else. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Fair warning, I’m not much of a photographer. If you decide you’d like to meet Mr. Cline please be mindful of his time and be polite. The man has given so much of his creativity to Virginia it seems impolite to ask for anything more. Please don’t impose upon him or be rude. I suspect that we were very lucky to happen upon him on a day where we could look around without intruding.

Dino's gotta do what a dino does. 

Norman Bates's mother? 

Mr. Slime clearly doing "the Devil's work". 

Love the faces! 

Need your oil checked? 

This cow is designed to be milked.