Category Archives: Pre-release

Marginal utility

I’ve come to the conclusion that doing much more editing has a marginal utility approaching zero, and possibly has negative value to me. Yes, spending more time working with my editor might improve the writing slightly, but I think the ROI in terms of sales or time isn’t acceptable. The writing is good enough for most people, and more dollars spent on it won’t measurably increase sales but will cost cash I don’t have and delay the launch, while more  minutes spent on it will only rise my frustration levels and will decrease time spent writing new stuff. So I’m now working to wrap up the details of formatting, cover art, other art, Amazon stuff, and other details I didn’t even know existed before I started this thing. Target is before the end of the month. Fingers crossed, but it looks like the home stretch is here.

Proofreading progress

Five people asked to be proof-readers, and I sent them the first quarter to read through and comment on. Three have returned it and been sent the second segment. Two have returned the second and been sent the third. One returned the third and been sent the fourth today. Yay! When I get three returns on the fourth segment, or my editor gets back online and sends me something, then I think I’m good to publish. Gad, what a tedious load of work. Paul pointed me to the following Churchill quote: Continue reading Proofreading progress


Looks like I’m close enough to done that I need a couple of proofreaders, ones that will read, notice things wrong, and let me know about them so I can fix them. Not sure how many I’ll need. I can email the story in parts, a proofreader can make comments and highlight stuff using the “review” feature in MS Word, and when I get a commented section back I’ll send out the next hunk. There shouldn’t be a lot of errors, but I’d like the final copy as clean as possible. My editor would be doing it, but she had to go deal with a family situation and will be away for a little while.

Post a reply if you have the time and are interested.


Paul has been modeling Taj for a while. He put together a basic video showing Helton’s first walk-through, playing with some free software in his spare time. Thanks much.


Odd. For some reason when I download it to watch, it shows blank until I hit “replay,” then it plays just fine. Let me know how it works for you.

More Latin

Writing is educational. I keep learning new things. Recently, it’s been Latin. After a few go-rounds for clarification and refinement and correction with Paul and a prof at Seattle U, we have figured out the proper Latin for Tajemnica’s original motto and her new one.

Consero deletum was her commissioning motto, and it means “I close to destroy.” Simple, to the point, up front. Doesn’t leave a lot of room for misunderstanding.

Liberos transfero qui terras liberas faciant is the “new business” motto, meaning “I  carry free people to create free worlds.” Also to the point.

I think of them as two sides of the Armadillo coin. If you want to work with them for freedom, they’d be happy to help you out. Get in the way… and find out up close and personally just what deletum really means.

[Later edit and tangential note: I had contacted several UW Classics grad students with my Latin translation question. I wasn’t just asking them “here translate this for me,” it was “Latin is important, I want to do this properly, did I get it right?” I didn’t get so much as a form-letter email “we don’t do that” in reply from ANY of them. Upon the suggestion of my editor, a SU grad (“A lot of old Jesuits, there”), I picked the first one mentioning “Latin” in his profile and “cold-called,” sending him an email, only to receive a polite and helpful reply within hours. We exchanged a dozen or so emails to get the details ironed out. SU profs rocks! UW Classics grad students? Meh.]

More progress

Wow. I thought the “last pass” would be quick, catch a few things, and I’d hit the big “publish” button in the cloud. Yeah, sure, you betcha.

I’m up to page 131, and I’ve hacked out about 1500 words by tightening up phrasing, cutting redundancy, and making things clearer. I’m finding numerous corrections that need to be made, beyond simple typos obviously introduced during careless editing of larger errors. My writing has improved significantly between the start and the end of the first pass of major editing with a proper editor point out my thousands of mistakes. Much of my writing is clear enough, but not particularly smooth reading. It’s getting MUCH better. [Later edit: Looking at the very familiar corrections I made in the first 130 pages, I think that somehow a batch of early edits got discarded with a “version control” fail. I.e., as my editor and I mail back and forth, each updated version is saved with a new name and new edit start on that. At some point one of us grabbed an older version. I think. At least, that’s what it looks like, or else editing introduces a LOT of errors.]

Also found out the Latin I used, with Paul’s help, isn’t quite correct, either. New version via a prof at Seattle U is “Consero ut deleam” for Taj’s original motto, and “Liberos transfero qui liberas orbis faciant” for her new one. But we are still not 100% certain of that, either, and checking further.

As slow a reader as I am, it’ll not be done tomorrow, but I’m working pretty full time on it. Soon. Long before Healthcare.Gov is fast and secure.

Consero ut deleam

Happy Turkey Day; Progress Report

Kind of late in the day I realize, but Happy Thanksgiving! Please give thanks for all the really important things in your life – family, friends, the freedoms that are all to easy to take for granted. Think how great a life you have when a big event is shopping for luxuries on sale because we have so much necessary stuff already. All but the very poorest Americans (the bottom 0.01%) are well off by world and historical standards, and the opportunities are legion.

As to the story: as painful and frustrating as editing is, I am starting to appreciate how a book can get stuck in editing for years. My writing is improving from the constant critique, review, and refinement. Time gives a distance to provide needed perspective as well. We finally finished the “major editing” pass through the book. That took months. I’m now wading through a “final” pass that is catching far more mistakes than I thought possible (many of them introduced during the major editing), and resulting in many more text changes than I expected. The most interesting thing is that I’m catching a lot of mistakes that I had to have pointed out by my editor all the way through, but even then she didn’t catch them all (or at least was so busy pointing out all the other problems she passed them by). I use “a bit” and “suddenly” and “as if” and “a lot” and italics a lot. Repetition can be a powerful tool, but done on accident it’s a killer for readability.

Cover art is just about done. Minor tweaks, nothing more. Working on a logo that I think people will like for a near-the-end scene, and will become the “calling card” for later stuff if it does well and becomes a series. Logo will be suitable for tee shirts and things. Paul helped with the Latin on it, but a Prof at Seattle U helped get it “more correct.” I think people will like it. Hmmm… Guess that means I need to get set up at Cafe Press some time soon.

So the good news is that I’m a lot closer to being finished, but the bad news is that I’m realizing that trying to put a fixed date on finishing an iterative and constantly improving process isn’t a good idea. Not getting it out in November. Christmas? Hope so. but we’ll see.

Love-Hate relationships

I have a much better understanding of the expression “love-hate relationship” now.

Working with an editor is an incredibly frustrating experience. It’s their job to be critical and brutally honest in their opinions, but I can only hear “wordy, cut out half of it” so many times before I want to scream. Often her specific recommended changes, and the changes they lead lead me to make, really do improve the writing. That means I cannot just get annoyed and dismiss them, I have no choice but to face the criticisms squarely each time, only taking considered action when reworking my writing, item by painfully disputed item. It’s like getting back into the boxing ring again and again with a sadist, knowing that I can’t give up or I lose, I have to just keep getting pounded on, ducking, dodging, and hitting back. I wrote things in for a reason, and hacking out large chunks isn’t happening without a REALLY good counter-reason, but the constant justification, explanation, and second-guessing is draining. Making things more concise is great, but it is harder work in many ways than the original writing. So the writing really is getting better, the process is educational, but it is painfully frustrating and slow.

I strongly recommend that everyone write a novel, and work with an editor to get it properly polished and readable. You’ll enjoy it… when it’s over.   🙂