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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Book Discussion Begins Tomorrow!

I’m going to start my reread of THE DEED OF PAKSENARRION tomorrow. Book 1 is called Sheepfarmer’s Daughter. There is a Kindle edition for the omnibus of all three books for 8.99, but there is not a Nook edition. The omnibus in print is probably at your bookstore for about 14 dollars. You can also probably find copies at your library.

I’ll take it slow until I figure out what is the best pace for discussions like this. Here’s how I intend to break up the book.

  • Discussion 1 – Pak’s recruitment up to the Company’s arrival in Valdaire
  • Discussion 2 – Pak’s first battles until the recapture of Dwarfwatch.
  • Discussion 3 – After Dwarfwatch until the end of Sheepfarmer’s Daughter

This doesn’t divide the book perfectly in thirds, but it does stop at what I think are major milestones. Since I’m not able to devote a lot of time to reading, I’ll put up these posts when I am getting close to these milestones. I trust few of you will be slower than me!

Some guidelines:

  • If you have not reached the milestone yet, there is no rule that says you cannot discuss what you have read about the book so far.
  • Try to be oblique in order to avoid spoiling the plot for those who have not read it, or who are just reading along.
  • Mark all spoilers with ***BEGIN SPOILER*** before the spoilery text, and ***END SPOILER*** afterward. This will help those who don’t want to be spoiled to avert their eyes.
  • No discussions about events that take place after the discussion milestone, please!

I’ll shoot for Wednesday or Thursday for our first post.

Deed of Paksenarrion Reread?

20130725-211203.jpgI’ve been reading Oath of Fealty by Elizabeth Moon and I started thinking I might reread The Deed of Paksenarrion again. The copy at the left is the third copy I have owned. Yes, I’ve read it that many times. And yes, I’m ready to read it again.

I thought it would be fun to ask you guys if you wanted to join me.

Since I have read the book umpteen times, I could set up milestones for us to stop and discuss. For example, a good first stopping place might be when the Duke’s company first marches south. (If you’ve read the book, you probably know why it is a good place.)

If you’ve never read it, you could discover it while we reread. It is a wonderful series.

(And yes, I intend to review Oath of Fealty.)

Who’s with me?


Afternoon Thunderstorm Weather, and other musings

As I write this, the clouds are gathering for another Florida afternoon thundershower. When I was a girl, this was a common thing and we drove our parents crazy all summer long while the five us us were cooped up in the house. My father called it afternoon thundershower season. Those afternoons would last  f o r e v e r.

For the last few years, we didn’t have thundershowers like this one. But now they are back, and back, and back again.

The benefit is they keep the atmosphere cooler. This summer, we have had very few days above 95 degrees. Or at least it seems that way because by the time the late afternoon comes around, it is 85 degrees and the humidity from the thundershower is blowing away. Our grass is the greenest it has ever been. Our shrubs are perfect.

Inside the house, it is dark, and the fans are blowing. we hear a faint rumble from time to time because the heart of the thunderstorm is rarely overhead.

Now that I have the Jeep, I just want to be outdoors. And the weather refuses to cooperate.


I just finished Brandon Sanderson’s The Alloy of Law. I’ll try to review it next week; this week I’ll be taking a few days off so my mom does not have to be alone while she recovers from hip replacement surgery. Fortunately, there are a lot of us, and most of us are able to pitch in a vacation day or two. My turn is at the end of the week.


Writing update! Kind of.

I am currently in thinking mode about how to best rewrite a scene toward the end of Magic by Starlight. It is one of those scenes that I need to remove and replace, while keeping some critical outcomes. In the meantime, I have some other things I could be working on, including East of Yesterday, an Accidental Enchantments story, a Petroleum Sunset story, or one of my backburnered projects. But I confess, I am not.

Instead, I’ve been playing Skyrim.

Bad writer. Bad!

But Skyrim is so fun! My character is 16th level now, and I am now able to fight a dragon without passing the remote over to my husband. I like the idea of being able to earn Thaneships and having houses in every city. (Of course in Morrowind, I had houses in every city as well, but that was because I took over the houses after killing the evil occupant as part of some quest. They closed that loophole in Skyrim.) I’m not so keen on the idea of taking a side in a civil war that my character has no real stake in. So far, I’ve avoided doing so.

But it’s a dreadful time-suck, and I have tried not to let it take up too much of my time. I have not played it today. (But I did watch my husband play.) As soon as I finish this post, I’ll fire up the manuscript and see if I can get in a few hundred words. I promise.

After all, the weather isn’t much good for anything else today.

Veronica Scott on her Evil Editor Experience

After posting my review of Veronica Scott’s Wreck of the Nebula Dream, Chicory remembered seeing the query on Evil Editor. Well it turned out that old EE had recently reposted the query as an “Evil Editor Classic”.

I asked Veronica to write a blog post on the experience. Take it away, Veronica!


In 2007 I was an unpublished author trying to learn my craft pretty much in a vacuum. I didn’t know what I didn’t know and so I hadn’t joined any writers’ groups or loops, hadn’t found my own beta readers and critique partners, didn’t know how to look online for the wealth of advice and assistance available. I was committed to improving the stories I was telling, in hopes of someday becoming published. At that point I’d written the first drafts of four science fiction novels and thought maybe I was ready to start querying agents and publishers. Being a total newbie to publishing as it existed six years ago, and realizing feedback was essential, I hit the send button,  emailing a sample query for one of the novels to the Evil Editor blog.

A lot of the feedback I received in return was useful, no one was too snarky, which I appreciated. (Humorous yes, serious suggestions yes, overly snarky, no!) EE and the commenters were probably much kinder than they could have been, given the total newbie things I was doing at that point, including some predictable beginner mistakes…the novel was too long, I was trying to write a synopsis without knowing it, I wanted to send an agent fifty pages of the book….I did revise my draft query a few times in 2007 in response to the comments and suggestions but it was clear to me after the experience that I was in no way ready to submit anything to anybody. What I had was a very early draft of a novel that required a lot more revising and rethinking and I needed to become more knowledgeable about the publishing world. All good, solid realizations!

Wreck of the Nebula DreamI honestly don’t remember all the ins and outs of the EE experience. 2007 was the start of some very turbulent times in my personal life and I basically put the draft novels on the shelf for several years to deal with what Life was tossing at me and my family.

Flash forward to today and I’m happy to say the finished version of what was a raw manuscript in 2007 eventually (after revisions and edits) became my  WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM, which received a 2013 SFR Galaxy Award and was a recent Amazon Best Seller in Science Fiction Adventure.

I didn’t give it much thought in 2007, but now that the finished, polished version of my novel is out there as a published work, I do kind of regret that there’s a titular connection to that six year old, public feedback because the early version had a lot of “growing up to do” as a novel and the finished book is drastically different than the 2007 version.  (Although the fundamental “bones of the plot” endured.)

I don’t regret the path I took, however, because I firmly believe writers need feedback to make the books stronger, whether from Evil Editor, Dear Author’s First Page feature, or your own circle of beta readers and critique partners.

Of course I always reserve the right to listen to the feedback and then make my own decisions LOL!


Learn more about Veronica here.

I hope we didn’t embarrass her too much by dredging up these old memories. If you have any questions about Veronica’s experience, just leave them below; she has promised to come by and take part in the conversation. I’ll start!

Goodbye Pickup, Hello Jeep!

Things have been ratcheting down at work, which was good because events were ratcheting up at home. Among the ups and downs was that I had to face the fact that it was time to get rid of my eighteen year old pickup, Betsy:

95 Nissan King CabShe was a 1995 Nissan King Cab. I was hoping to hold out for twenty years, but the repairs were getting too frequent and expensive. She was a beaut, but inconvenient as a family car because the only seats in the back were jump seats. We only let our girl get in the back in the direst of emergencies.

(Never mind the bent mailbox. It has been creamed several times by ne’er-do-wells on New Year’s Eve, or dump trucks going down the road to a small development that is under construction. So my husband rigged the box some kind of spring so it snaps back in place, and doesn’t worry about how much it leans.)

Back in March, my husband asked me what I thought of the Jeep Libertys. I didn’t hear anything beyond the word, “Jeep”. Little did he know that I had been harboring fond memories of our 77 Blazer, dirt-roading all throughout central Arizona. So I thought, A Jeep! Yeah! That’s what I want!

Afraid of chasing a whim, I sat on the idea for a few months. And I put 800 dollars (at least) into repairs of my truck. On top of the repairs I had already done recently.

So when we had it towed away for repair last week, we decided it would be for the last time.

So here’s my new Jeep Wrangler! Picture taken off-road, of course.

Tia's JeepOne would think that I really, really like the color red. In both cases, it was the best of what was available, not necessarily my first choice. Which would have been neon orange or green. Flame Red works for me.

It is a Sport, which is their basic model, upgraded with automatic transmission (I had standard for 20 years, and was done with it), the connectivity pack, and the tow kit. No power windows. It does come with a theft deterrent system. We’ll be upgrading it with side steps this week.

Here’s one with me in it:

Tia in JeepThe Jeep’s name is Clint. After Clint Eastwood in Kelly’s Heroes. There are a few great Jeep scenes in that movie.

Isn’t it cool? Do I make you want one?

Veronica Scott This Week!

Hi, everyone. Just a quick post.

The last two weeks included some crazy highs and lows, and there is at least one more surgery upcoming for a close family member. So I’ll continue to post when I can, hopefully at least once a week. Because I do like it, even though it may not seem that way.

Veronica Scott is coming this week! I told her that you guys were interested in her recent posts at Evil Editor, and I asked her if she would post about it sometime. She got such a kick out of the idea that she sent me a post the next day. So expect her in the next few days.

I’ll also post some true glamor shots of me … with my new Jeep! Yes, I said highs and lows, and one low–saying goodbye to my eighteen year old truck Betsy–was followed by a high of saying hello to my brand new Jeep, Clint. Yes, I name my vehicles. My hubby christened my Jeep Clint Jeepwood. I kinda like it.

So I’ll post some pics of both Betsy and Clint by Wednesday … I think.

Fill-in-the-Blank Plotting

For many years now, I have used Word’s Navigation Pane, once known as the Document Map, as a plotting tool. You can use it to create an outline of your story’s structure, like this:

1NavPaneEach box is clickable, and each of those tiny triangles will collapse or expand each group.

Once you have all your scenes set up this way, then writing the book is just like filling in the blanks! Well…it is almost that easy.

What is the Navigation Pane? It is a map of your document. You can bring up the Navigation Pane up by clicking the View ribbon across the top of the Word window, and in the second group from the left (called “Show”), click Navigation Pane.

I previously wrote about this subject in a post on my old writing blog called The Magical Document Map. If you still use Word 2003, follow those instructions instead.

To set this up, you first have to get to know Word Styles. And to do so, you need to check out the Styles section of the Home ribbon. This is the way it looks by default.

2RibbonBeforeBelow, is how it looks within my special Manuscript template, in which I am writing Magic by Starlight:

3RibbonAfterThe best way to begin is to start with the default styles, which appear in the first image above, and change them to look (and act) the way you want.

Therefore, right-click “Heading 1”.

4SelectModifyStyleClick Modify.

5ModifyStyleForm1For the top half of this box, use the settings above. You are actually changing a lot here, so here is everything you need to change:

  • Name: Chapter (or whatever you want for your top-level style)
  • Style based on: Normal
  • Style for following paragraph: Normal
  • Font: Times New Roman
  • Size: 12
  • Unclick bold

If you want your chapter headings centered, be sure to select that option as well.

The bottom half is a bit more involved.

6ModifyStyleForm2Make sure the Quick Style list option is selected and click Format, then Paragraph.

7ParagraphFormFor standard manuscript format, select all the options above. The only thing I had to change was Spacing Before to 0 and Line Spacing to Double. I still find it easier to read double-spaced manuscripts, but change to Single if preferred.

Take note of the Outline Level. You’ll be changing these for your other styles below.

Click OK and that’s it. You’ve done the hard part. The other styles are just variations on this one. Here they are:

Scene – each chapter is made of one or more scenes, so this should be your next level. It is very helpful to name your scenes even if you don’t keep them in your final copy. I almost never do. Sometimes, I keep chapter names, as I did for The Sevenfold Spell. In that case, the chapter name was at the second level.

  • Style Based On: Heading 1
  • Paragraph Style | Outline Level: 2

POV – If your book has multiple points-of-view, this is most useful under Scene. This is because POV breaks are more likely to occur within scenes.

  • Style Based On: Heading 2
  • Paragraph Style | Outline Level: 3

ToDo – these can be anywhere, so I have them at the lowest outline level. It is perfectly OK if it appears directly under a chapter, or any other heading.

  • Style Based On: Heading 2
  • Font Style: Italics (or whatever you want to make them stand out)
  • Paragraph Style | Outline Level: 3

I also find it helpful to set up a style for Centered text, and a First Line style for the first line after a chapter break. To create one of these, create a style, click the Paragraph button on the dropdown at the bottom of the Style form, and in the Paragraph form, look for Indentation.

And that’s it. I then get rid of all the other styles by right-clicking them, and then clicking “Remove from Quick Style gallery.” When I’m done, only my special styles appear in the Styles box on the ribbon. Very convenient.

What books have I written this way? Well, almost all of them. I’ve been using some variation of this technique for over ten years, now. Only my very first novel, the trunk novel that pre-dated the existence of the Document Map in Word, was written without it. Back then, going back through the manuscript to look for a scene that needed to change was unbelievably laborious and time-consuming. Using Word styles in this way has been tremendously helpful.

What do you think? Want to give it a try? If you have any questions, just leave them in the comments, or email me at tia (at) tianevitt (dot) com.