Meet Rustav!

You know what the hardest part of editing is? Letting the manuscript rest. I’ve been editing until my eyes are crossed, and I know I need to leave it alone for a day; but man, it’s hard to take a step back and breathe. Thankfully, I can distract myself with the Meet My Character blog tour! My blogging buddy phantomwriter143 (I don’t actually know your name, sorry! I tried to find it on your blog and failed. Although maybe that’s on purpose.) over at Inkcouragement tagged me in her post. Hop over to her blog to meet Ava Mae Monaghan. She sounds like a super fun character, and I’m excited to buy a book about her one day!

So here are some insights to my character:

1. What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Rustav is entirely fictional.

2. When and where is the story set?

The story is set in the small, fictional country of Courei, a peninsula cut off from the mainland by mountains and a forest that is said to be infested with demons. The time period is medieval.

3. What should we know about him/her?

Ooooh, there’s lots. You’ll have to read the book to find out most of it. I won’t spoil it for you here. But you can know that Rustav has a sort of twisted hero complex. He comes from an abusive past and likes to foul things up for the bullies in his life by getting others out of their grasp. He likes to think that he’s a rogue and a troublemaker, but a lot of people owe him a debt of gratitude for saving them from their tormentors.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

What messes up his life? His abusive uncle, to begin with. A bunch of territorial mythical creatures. An island filled with demon-worshippers. He’s torn between being the worthless no-account he thinks of himself as and being the focal point of a centuries-old conflict that has turned his country from a peaceful buffer zone to a battlefield.

5. What is the personal goal of the character?

All he wants–at least, all he thinks he wants–is to jump ship and get out of Courei before it falls to the demons.

6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The title is Demon’s Heart, and you can read more at my website, ehbates.com, or on various other posts I’ve written here about it.

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

December 9! It’s also available for pre-order at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

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Thanks again for inviting me to join in, my friendly phantomwriter143! I’d love to meet the characters from the heads of Adrienne Quintana and David Ben-Ami. And from anyone else who cares to join in! If you take the plunge and introduce your character to the world, post a link in the comments section. I’d love to hear about them!

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Summer Rain

I was going to blog tonight, but after a day of editing, writing emails, and feeling particularly grumpy about the rain all day long, I don’t have the motivation to do it. I’ll be taking part in the “Meet My Character” blog tour in the very near future, but I just don’t have the brainpower tonight. So instead, I will leave you with a new vocabulary word very pertinent to this Washington rain that’s been pouring down nonstop since before the sun came up:

 

Petrichor:

The pleasant smell that rises with the first rainfall after a long, warm dry spell. Originates in the 1960s, built from petro (relating to rocks) and ichor (the blood of Greek gods).

Also, the name of the perfume that Amy Pond models for.

 

No Gold Coating

Tonight, as I was working away at my edits, it hit me hard:

When my book gets published, it’ll just be my words, naked on the page.

I don’t know what else I expected. I guess I figured that after it went through the publishing process, there would be some sort of magical gold coating on the words to make them shine brighter than normal words. Something that would set them apart from the words I used when it was just a manuscript, instead of a published book.

But there won’t be. It’ll be all the same words. All in plain black ink. Or plain black pixels, depending on your choice of reading medium.

It’s a little bit terrifying. It makes me look at my manuscript differently. It makes me understand why authors are never quite satisfied with their books, even if the rest of the world loves them. It makes me feel like I’m going to expose my guts to mob armed with pitchforks and torches.

All I can hope is that the mob sees a glint of gold hidden away inside all those plain black letters.

The Builder

THE BUILDER
(author unknown)

I saw them tearing a building down
A team of men in my hometown.
With a heave and a ho and a yes yes yell,
they swung a beam and a sidewall fell.

And I said to the foreman, “Are these men skilled?”
“Like the ones you’d use if you had to build?”
And he laughed and said, “Oh no, indeed…
the most common labor is all I need…
for I can destroy in a day or two
what takes a builder ten years to do.”

So I thought to myself as I went on my way…
Which one of these roles am I willing to play?
Am I one who is tearing down as I carelessly make my way around?
Or am I one who builds with care, in order to make the world a
little better… because I was there?

Here goes nothing

I got my substantive edits today for Demon’s Heart. I had to wince a little, because the first point my fabulous editor raised was an issue I had recognized, but just sort of subconsciously pushed aside. And that, my friends, is why I love editors. They’re there to drag out all the snags and flaws that I, as the author, have pushed under my mental rug.

So I suppose it’s time to dive in. Wish me luck!

Dash Away, Dash Away, Dash Away All!

You know the button on your keyboard with two little lines on it? That is not an all-purpose, use-me-whenever-you-want-a-line-between-words button. If you push it, you get a hyphen (-). If you shift-push it, you get an underscore (_), which I haven’t used since Gmail did away with all those line-filled email addresses everybody used to have, so we can safely ignore that option. (If you have an underscore in your email address, I still love you.)

Hyphens are very useful creatures. They’re great for excessively long modifiers (such as “use-me-whenever-you-want-a-line-between-words button”). They come in handy when you want to hyphenate your name. They’re invaluable for numbers. (In English at least; where you would neatly hyphenate “twenty-three” in English, you just smush together “dreiundzwanzig” in German. This gets really fun when you get to the big numbers, like viertausendsechshundertsiebenundneunzig.)

But one day in high school, I noticed that hyphens sometimes fall short. You know how sometimes you’ll be reading a book—and there it is, a long line that marks a suspenseful pause in the sentence. Or the author inserts some extra information—we like to do that, you know—and sets it off with those mysterious long lines. It wasn’t until college that I finally learned—

IT’S CALLED AN EM DASH!

Why is it called that? Well, the dash part is fairly obvious. It’s a dash. What makes it an em dash is that it is the same width as the letter m . . .


m

. . . as opposed to the en dash, which is the width of the letter n. But we’ll get to one that later.

So how do you make an em dash? Well, on WordPress, you click the Symbols button and search for the longest dash. Haven’t figured out a shortcut for that one yet.

BUT there are TWO easy ways to do it on Microsoft Word.

1) Type two dashes between two words (e.g. like–this). When you hit space after the second word, voila! You have an em dash.

2) Find the other hyphen button on your keyboard, the one that hangs out by the number pad. Press ctrl+alt+num-. (“Num-” stands for the number pad hyphen. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure that out.) There’s your em dash! This method is particularly useful when your characters are having an intense discussion and one of the interrupts the—

Well, you get the picture. If you have a Mac, you’re on your own. I would guess it has something to do with that funky little button where someone took a bite out of an apple.

Now go forth and wow your friends, teachers, and editors with your punctuation prowess!

Although . . . there were the bees disappearing.

“Only mention something if you’re going to bring it up again.”

I can’t tell you how many times my husband has brought this up in our discussions of books, movies, TV shows, anything with a storyline. And you know what? It’s absolutely true.

The best storytellers make every word count. There is no room for extraneous details, because every detail affects the story somehow, no matter how small it may seem at its first appearance.

Prime example: the bees.

Doctor Who, season 4, episode 1. Donna wants to find the Doctor again, but how do you find a man who travels through space and time?

“I just thought, ‘Look for trouble, and then he’ll turn up.’ So I looked everywhere — you name it. UFO sightings, crop circles, sea monsters — I looked, I found them all. Like that stuff about the bees disappearing, I thought, ‘I bet he’s connected.'” (Partners in Crime)

Passing comment, bees stuck in there among crop circles and UFOs. My husband and I talked about it all the way through season 4, though I don’t know that the bees were even mentioned again, maybe once more before the end of the season. But were they important?

Oh, you know. The only way to find Earth in the season finale.

Other examples: Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, inherited in book 1 and vital in book 7. The garlin that Sage rolls across his knuckles in The False Prince. The silver candlesticks that are so dear to the bishop’s heart in Les Miserables.

Those little clues, the details that come back after pages and pages of waiting—those are the things that make a reader squeal and encourage obsessive speculation. Don’t let all that speculation go to waste by leaving loose ends.