Authorguy's Blog

Helping hands

Posted on: August 20, 2010


No author’s product gets produced alone.  The input of the publisher is well-known and justly celebrated, or decried – editorial services, cover design, formatting, all the good stuff that I never thought about until I foolishly considered self-publishing my own work.  Not that self-publishing is foolish, of course, but I have no desire to go through all that trouble myself.  I would like to be able to add a publicist to this list, but I don’t have one, and I am forced to try to convince you to get my books and read them and love them all by my lonesome.   Which is very hard to do for someone like me.  Go.  Buy my books.  Read them.  Love them. The links are right over there.   That’s about as subtle as I get.  Remind me to do another post to tell all of the myriad reasons why you should, there are dozens hundreds.

My purpose here is to celebrate a contribution that all too often goes unnoticed, except for those who love to read the acknowledgements pages.  There are families who are deprived of an author’s life and presence while they are busily researching and writing, who refrain from watching TV while Daddy’s busy typing and speak in hushed tones.  There are friends who allow pages to be stuck into their hands, who will reread the same pages for the milltonth time and give an opinion whether it’s better than 999,999th time. 

In particular (be honest, you knew this was coming), I want to celebrate the contributions of two of my own family members, made during the writing of two of my stories.  St. Martin’s Moon is my current novel in process, currently being edited and prepared for your greedy hands next year.   This book took me many years to write and more to get produced, and likely would not have been completed at all without a signal contribution made by my daughter Julia.  At one point I had reached the end of my plotted material, and needed something to go forward with, but nothing was coming to my mind.  At that time I was mostly aimed at a SF/paranormal type of story, with an emphasis on the SF, even though I had no real plot or theme to go on.  I had originally thought of the story as a mystery/horror, only to discover that I had no real talent for either.  So there I am, stuck in limbo, when I asked my daughter what she thought I should do now.  She says, “Throw in the ghost”, or words to that effect.  I had a ghost, of course, but it wasn’t intended to be there for any reason except to bother the Hero.  At the time the thing was pretty damn incoherent, just like the story.    I went back and immediately had Marquand turn around, irrationally convinced he was being watched.  This led to lots of other things, including one of my favorite lines, which I quoted in a recent interview I like it so much.

Marquand indulged himself in beholding her, every brain cell in his head fogging its glasses simultaneously.

It also led me to think about the ghost in a much more active light, not always a good thing, since I had several other players in motion and didn’t need another.  But the ghost had few wants, as ghosts do, so it didn’t make too many demands on my poor plot.  I ultimately ‘finished’ St. Martin’s Moon in the most ridiculous fashion possible.  I was starting another semester at school, knew that the work would interfere with my writing, and pushed through to finish it before I got bogged down for yet another few months.  Once I had ‘The End’ written, I put it away, and stopped thinking about it so much.  Of course, that was when I had my big ‘Ohhhh, that’s what it’s all about’ moment, realized that I’d had the whole ending wrong, and had to revise the finale extensively.  The ghosts had taken over my ending and I hadn’t realized it.   And might never have done so if my daughter hadn’t said the right thing at the right time.

That was years ago.  Just last week, I was taking a walk with my son James (not like I have any other sons), and we talked about my current WIP, a short SF story I’m working on for a contest.  James has been a writer since first grade (he grew up watching me write Unbinding the Stone), and an ardent player of SF video games and reader of space opera fanfics.  So naturally he had some clear ideas on how a guy traipsing about an alien planet ought to be set up, and of course I hadn’t done any of that.  So after a few reflexive ‘No, no, no’, I considered the idea and realized that, egad, he was absolutely right!  Of course my hero would have this and that on his person, I just had to figure out how to use it effectively in a 3500 word short.  In addition, since he’s also an editor, he had a number of valuable contributions to make regarding the structure of my story, as well as its content.

These are the sorts of things that usually don’t make it to the acknowledgements page, but they should be acknowledged somewhere.

Oh yeah.  <mystical gestures>Buy my books, buy them all now.</mystical gestures>

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1 Response to "Helping hands"

I come from a family of non-readers (non-readers of fiction, at any rate), but I’m blessed that, almost without exception, they’ve always been willing to support me and crazy author dreams 100%. Couldn’t do it without them!

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