Off to go over the copyedit on Mist and Snow. The cover art is spectacular -- I hope to have permission to show it to y'all soon.
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Off to go over the copyedit on Mist and Snow. The cover art is spectacular -- I hope to have permission to show it to y'all soon.
STETOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald
Wow, it sounds like a lot of people are making great progress on their novels here. I haven't been doing much in that respect ... just working on the same chapter for over a week now. My mind keeps veering off course on short story ideas, and I've always been one to oblige my mind. The novel is still moving forward, albeit slowly.
"Seance" - outlining/worldbuilding
Guys, if anyone can find the Google caches for this thread from the last month, please help do so. 24MAY06 - 30JUN06
Original page 210 of this thread:
(Dawno's post comes right after Duncan J Macdonald's post on 5/23, above, so nothing is missing, yet. Also I started doing this before I saw your request, UJ.)
Originally Posted by Dawno, 06-04-2006, 09:17 AMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-04-2006, 11:57 AMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-04-2006, 05:18 PMOriginally Posted by Patricia 06-05-2006, 06:56 AMOriginally Posted by Yeshanu 06-05-2006, 07:46 AMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald 06-05-2006, 08:14 AMOriginally Posted by aruna 06-05-2006, 08:30 AMOriginally Posted by Patricia 06-05-2006, 08:38 AMOriginally Posted by Saritams8 06-05-2006, 08:40 AMOriginally Posted by aertep 06-05-2006, 10:42 AMOriginally Posted by Scribhneoir 06-05-2006, 01:40 PMOriginally Posted by Raiyah, 06-05-2006, 03:13 PMOriginally Posted by Forbidden Snowflake, 06-05-2006, 05:02 PMOriginally Posted by Sharon Mock, 06-05-2006, 05:54 PMOriginally Posted by Ken Schneider, 06-05-2006, 05:54 PMOriginally Posted by mkcbunny, 06-05-2006, 07:17 PMOriginally Posted by jayxwolf, 06-05-2006, 10:04 PMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-07-2006, 09:54 AMOriginally Posted by NicoleJLeBoeuf. 06-07-2006, 10:58 AMOriginally Posted by HConn, 06-07-2006, 11:10 AMOriginally Posted by aertep, 06-07-2006, 11:35 AMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-07-2006, 12:22 PMOriginally Posted by Duncan J Macdonald, 06-07-2006, 09:59 PM
Last edited by Andrew Jameson; 07-04-2006 at 04:49 AM.
Original page 211 of this thread:
Originally Posted by BardSkye, 06-07-2006, 11:42 PMOriginally Posted by HeyBooBoo, 06-08-2006, 12:32 AMOriginally Posted by jules, 06-08-2006, 03:59 AMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-08-2006, 09:03 AMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-08-2006, 10:24 AMOriginally Posted by Nangleator, 06-08-2006, 10:29 AMOriginally Posted by Andrew Jameson, 06-09-2006, 04:39 PMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-09-2006, 08:16 PMOriginally Posted by LloydBrown, 06-09-2006, 08:27 PMOriginally Posted by alaskamatt17, 06-10-2006, 01:06 AMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-10-2006, 09:43 AMOriginally Posted by alaskamatt17, 06-11-2006, 02:50 AMOriginally Posted by gp101, 06-11-2006, 03:17 AMOriginally Posted by Ken Schneider, 06-11-2006, 05:44 AMOriginally Posted by BardSkye, 06-11-2006, 01:35 PMOriginally Posted by HConn, 06-11-2006, 06:49 PMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-11-2006, 09:09 PMOriginally Posted by alaskamatt17, 06-12-2006, 12:04 AMOriginally Posted by HConn, 06-13-2006, 12:11 PMOriginally Posted by Wrinkles, 06-14-2006, 10:42 PMOriginally Posted by Nangleator, 06-15-2006, 08:17 AMOriginally Posted by PeeDee, 6-15-2006, 08:42 AMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-15-2006, 08:06 PMOriginally Posted by janetbellinger, 06-15-2006, 08:28 PMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-15-2006, 08:40 PM
Original page 212 of this thread:
Originally Posted by janetbellinger, 06-15-2006, 08:43 PMOriginally Posted by alaskamatt17 06-15-2006, 09:17 PMOriginally Posted by Nangleator, 06-15-2006, 10:18 PMOriginally Posted by janetbellinger, 06-15-2006, 10:32 PMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-15-2006, 10:42 PMOriginally Posted by SeanDSchaffer, 06-15-2006, 10:59 PMOriginally Posted by PeeDee, 06-15-2006, 11:59 PMOriginally Posted by PeeDee, 06-16-2006, 12:14 AMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-16-2006, 07:20 AMOriginally Posted by SeanDSchaffer, 06-16-2006, 07:25 AMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-16-2006, 07:27 AMOriginally Posted by Berry, 06-16-2006, 03:36 PMOriginally Posted by SeanDSchaffer, 06-16-2006, 06:57 PMOriginally Posted by BardSkye, 06-17-2006, 10:38 PMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-17-2006, 10:58 PMOriginally Posted by BardSkye06-18-2006, 12:01 AMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-18-2006, 07:53 AMOriginally Posted by Ken Schneider, 06-18-2006, 10:14 AMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-18-2006, 10:22 AMOriginally Posted by BardSkye, 06-18-2006, 11:42 AMOriginally Posted by Nangleator, 06-18-2006, 12:22 PMOriginally Posted by Wrinkles, 06-18-2006, 05:58 PMOriginally Posted by paritoshuttam, 06-19-2006, 12:07 AMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-19-2006, 04:41 AMOriginally Posted by Wrinkles, 06-19-2006, 09:03 PM
Last edited by Andrew Jameson; 07-03-2006 at 08:12 PM. Reason: Found MSN cache
Oringinal page 213 of this thread:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-20-2006, 10:53 AMOriginally Posted by HeyBooBoo, 06-20-2006, 12:37 PMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-20-2006, 02:41 PMOriginally Posted by NicoleJLeBoeuf, 06-20-2006, 03:06 PMOriginally Posted by jdparadise, 06-20-2006, 03:10 PMOriginally Posted by HeyBooBoo, 06-20-2006, 09:22 PMOriginally Posted by PeeDee, 06-20-2006, 09:51 PMOriginally Posted by Wrinkles, 06-21-2006, 05:02 PMOriginally Posted by HConn, 06-21-2006, 05:12 PMOriginally Posted by jdparadise, 06-22-2006, 09:42 AMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-26-2006, 07:04 PMOriginally Posted by jdparadise, 06-27-2006, 04:13 PMOriginally Posted by allenparker, 06-27-2006, 04:37 PMOriginally Posted by Nexusman, 06-27-2006, 04:38 PMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-28-2006, 03:38 AMOriginally Posted by Liam Jackson, 06-28-2006, 04:23 AMOriginally Posted by PeeDee, 06-28-2006, 08:02 AMOriginally Posted by JanDarby, 06-28-2006, 09:49 AMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-28-2006, 12:19 PMOriginally Posted by Ken Schneider, 06-28-2006, 07:21 PMOriginally Posted by allenparker, Yesterday, 04:38 PMOriginally Posted by allynnegirl, Today, 08:42 AMOriginally Posted by James D. Macdonald, Today, 12:55 PMOriginally Posted by Scribhneoir, Today, 01:47 PM(MSN's cache, dated June 30, ends here.)Originally Posted by PeeDee, Today, 04:19 PM
Last edited by Andrew Jameson; 07-03-2006 at 08:02 PM. Reason: Found MSN cache
The remaining three days, where I reveal the Next Big Thing, the Secret Handshake, and Five Things Editors Don't Want You To Know, must remain forever shrouded in silence.
Those who read them in time ... see you on the best seller list.
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
I didn't read them in time. I've been away because if I spend too much time here I don't write.
However, for the past week I lurked and caught up--Andrew, thanks for finding all this stuff. I had read it, but for the last three days I haven't been able to get onto AW or the forums, so I missed out on The Secret Handshake, etc. However, I can add to the missing info: a message came to my inbox from Pee Dee on June 30th. From the context, I'm guessing he was talking about typing first chapters from favorite books:
"Here is the message that has just been posted:
Conversely, it's also really interesting to do it with a really, really bad book. I did it with this really horrible book about the adventures of young authors H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, and their adventures to stop that great beast, Cthulu. Terrible, horrible book.
Typing out the first chapter taught me so much about why we avoid adversbs, bad commas, bad dialogue, and bad dialogue tags..."
(I can attest to the horribleness of the book.)
This came in 7/2 from alaskamatt17:
"Here is the message that has just been posted:
Wow, it sounds like a lot of people are making great progress on their novels here. I haven't been doing much in that respect ... just working on the same chapter for over a week now. My mind keeps veering off course on short story ideas, and I've always been one to oblige my mind. The novel is still moving forward, albeit slowly."
Not exactly a Google cache, but the best I can offer.
I've been trying to get onto the forums ever since PeeDee's message came in. I wanted to tell you that I finished draft 2 of my novel. I'm setting it aside for the summer so it can stew. It's WAY too long, which is fine, because I think I know where to cut. I hope Draft 3 will be the last, but I know better than to predict.
Thank you all. I had to trade my AW forum time for BIC time, but I did check in and read. Maybe I'll get to participate a little more now, at least until it's time to start Draft 3.
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
Andrew, can you find my missing prestige points, too?
There we go. I found an MSN cache that filled in the piece of page 212 that Google was missing, as well as extending p. 213 through June 30th. I pasted the new info in the appropriate places above. Unfortunately, the cache still ends just before UJ reveals the Next Big Thing, the Secret Handshake, and Five Things Editors Don't Want You To Know, but hey, something's better than nothing.
Well, I just now got what I deserved.
After mouthing off as though I actually Knew What I Was Talking About or something on the issue of mixing tenses, I read some peer critiques of a short story of mine and found that I am absolutely not immune from the problem.
The story is in first person present tense. Sort of. Which is to say, it takes the form of a diary. (One critter referred to the main character as a blogger, which made me grin in a befuddled way.) So, it could all be read as one long first person present tense monologue. But of course she chronicles events in the past tense. So you get paragraphs that do this sort of thing:
"So event X was happening, and I was wishing I had object Y with me. I have a whole bunch of 'em--character B makes them for me everytime we meet up, he does L and M and N all the time--and having one of those along would have helped..."
That sort of tense mixing. Past tense anecdote mixed with present tense descriptions of characters and their habitual actions.
I swear I went back to the draft with an open mind about this sort of thing--if more than one critter said it was a problem, I understand it means there really is a problem, although its nature and solution may not be exactly what they say it is (thanks to this thread and Uncle Jim for the maxim "if they tell you how to solve it, they're probably wrong" running around in my head). But every time I reread the paragraph in question, it sounds right to me. It sounds exactly how a person would narrate an event and insert asides about the characters in her diary, or over a beer at the bar to her best friends.
Right now I'm mainly rewriting from the point of view of A) put in things that need to be in the story, and B) clean up clumsy bits of narration (too-long sentences and the like). I'm hoping that having swept those infelicites away will make it easier for the mixed-tense anecdotes to feel as right to a reader as they do to me. Or else the act of cleaning them up will push me into rewriting those bits in a way that work without mixed tenses.
I do share Wrinkle's worry that having a character talk about her best friend in the past tense makes it sound like the character is no longer her best friend, or the best friend no longer matches the description, or that the best friend has in fact shuffled off this mortal coil and is best described in the past tense for that reason.
I'm not so sure, particularly if your multiple critters are all writers and the problem is that you're straying outside of a set of rather narrow rules, which "don't mix tenses" is definitely a part of.if more than one critter said it was a problem, I understand it means there really is a problem, although its nature and solution may not be exactly what they say it is
If writers are telling you that a technique you've used is wrong, but you're not sure you agree with them, ask some non-writing readers as well. If the readers don't spot a problem, then it's probably just writer pickiness.
I'd say I'm with jules on this one-- ultimately it sounds a little like nitpicking, which is pretty common between writers....
the ultimate aim of the writer is clarity of meaning, not how grammatically proper you can be (though it does factor in, as understanding of grammar improves your potential to write clearly, and so on).
I think I'd pass it by a few nonwriters as well and see what they think. ultimately the reading public has to be able to get your drift. Even the editor-- and I'd argue that an editor is a reader first and foremost, after all. ;-)
Well, I feel sort of bad for opening a proverbial can of worms about this tense thing. I do feel better, though, that I am not the only one struggling with it. So, did your Beta readers have a problem with it? I hate to hear that. The passage read just fine to me.
It sounds as if I am writing something similar to what you describe. In my case a novel narrated by a woman (even though I am a man) writing about recent events in her life. To give you an idea of the way it is going, I have posted the first chapter in the Share Your Work section, Literary subgroup. I have called it a Wrinkle in Time so you can find it, but it is not about time travel. The tense changes from present to past and back again and again.
I chose the literary subgroup because I really didn't know where to put it. The novel is not science fiction or fantasy, although it does have elements of the supernatural. Southern Gothic might describe it best.
I asked Uncle Jim earlier if he would talk about literary fiction: just what that term means and maybe give some examples of novels that are both literary and commercial. Would Dune be an example of a novel that is both? I hope he will still do that at some point.
Anyway, please take a look at Chapter 1 if you would. It is short and serves as an introduction to the book. I would especially appreciate it if Uncle Jim could find the time to read it, but I know he is very busy.
Dialog is privileged. That means that you can do anything at all in dialog.
Dune was science fiction. The difference between "literary" and "commercial" is the label that the publisher puts on the spine.
I've gotten burned every time I've commented on works over in Share Your Work, so, alas, I must decline.
Thanks for the vote of confidence on that paraphrase--I'm beginning to think that the actual para that the critters were commenting on was clumsily put together, just on a sentence-structure level, and some of my critters were pinpointing the tense-change as the reason they had trouble reading it (what with "never mix tenses" possibly ingrained in their minds), when the real problem was just really long rambly sentences and parenthetical asides galore (much like this paragraph right here).
I also have to go with Uncle Jim's comment that "dialogue is privileged", and just hope that the way the story is written, it will all be understood as dialogue. Well, monologue. Diary entries.
I've been noticing this sort of thing in both narrative and dialogue in things I've read these past couple days. I sorta speed-burned through Pratchett's Wee Free Men and Hat Full of Sky, and he does present-tense asides all the time in his narration. It reads very cleanly and naturally to me when he does it. Not to compare my story to his novels, of course, but it's always reassuring to see an example of what I'm trying to do in a published and celebrated book.
I'd remembered writing this post -- but couldn't find it. At last, this morning, it turned up on a search for something else. So here, moved from another AW thread, is: Reserve Against Returns!
The question is probably going to come up, so I might as well explain it now.
When a normal publisher publishes a book, and it's offered for sale through bookstores, that book isn't really sold until it goes out the door under a customer's arm. The other books are returned, to make way for still newer releases.
So ... how does the publisher handle paying royalties when the publisher doesn't know how many will come back to the warehouse?
This is handled with a process called "reserve against returns." The reserve is the number that you don't get paid for, just in case they come back.
Publishers don't tell you exactly what their reserves are -- but as it happens I know at least one publisher uses this formula:
The first royalty period after the book is released, the reserve against returns is 100%. Maybe they printed 30,000 copies, and maybe bookstores ordered 20,000 of them -- but they aren't going to cut a check to you for royalties on 20,000 copies. They assume that ever single one of them will be returned.
Let's say that royalty months are April and November (which again is pretty standard). Let's say the book came out in July, that the cover price is $10, and the royalty rate is 10%. And let's say the author gets a $5,000 advance against 10%. (I'm choosing these numbers for ease of math, not because they're necessarily real.)
And let's say that 10,000 copies sold (actually went out the door with customers, 30% sell-through) of the 20,000 that shipped.
Comes November, and those 10,000 copies would be a $5,000 check for Joe Author ($10,000 in royalties minus the $5,000 advance) but he gets a royalty statement showing $0.00 due, because of the reserve against returns.
At this particular publisher the reserve against returns is 100% in the first royalty period, and 75% in the second. And let's say that another 5,000 copies of Joe's book sold in the six months from November through April. So ... Joe would have $15K coming, but .... reserve against returns is 75%, so only $3,750 is credited to him. Subtract that from the advance, and his royalty statement says that he still has $1,250 in unearned advance.
From May through October, books get returned by one bookstore, ordered by another, and an additional 5,000 that have gone out the bookstore door in a shopping bag.
Total actually sold, to date: 20,000 (66% sell-through). This time around the publisher's reserve against returns is 25%. 25% of 20,000 is 5,000 books. So the publisher only reports a total to date of 15,000 sold, for total royalties of $15,000, minus the $3,750 already credited to him, minus the $1,250 in unearned advance, so Joe gets a check for $10,000. Happy day! He's earned out!
Now in the fourth royalty period after the book came out, the reserve against returns is 0%. Books have gone out, been returned, been redistributed, sold, and another 5,000 have been bought and paid for by readers.
So far: 25,000 sold. Royalties due, $25,000. Finally, we've gotten out from under the dead horse. In April two years after his book came out, Joe Author gets paid $25,000 minus the $10,000 he was already paid, for a nice $15,000 royalty check.
After this, the reserve against returns continues at 0% -- if 5,000 books ship during those six months, the publisher pays royalties for 5,000. (And by this point they have a pretty fair idea of how many will sell, because they have a history, and at this point, with 25,000 sold out of an initial press run of 30,000 (83% sell-through) they'll probably have gone back to press. Do you know what a 100% sell-through means? It means the publisher didn't print enough copies.)
So, reserve against returns at this one publisher: 100%, 75%, 25%, 0%. It takes you two solid years to get to the place where you're getting royalties as they happen. Normally, since you got an advance, this isn't that major a problem. You're living off the advance while the reserve against returns is catching up. It protects the publisher, and you do want to protect the publisher: If they stay in business that means they'll buy more of your books.
(Among other unrealistic things in this story: I set the advance low for a book that was going to be printed in those numbers. I wanted to show a book earning out because I'm a sucker for happy endings.)
Thanks, Uncle Jim. You saved me from making an ASSumption.
I'm going to feel real silly sitting on the best seller's list without knowing the Secret Hand Shake.Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
Maybe I can trade Jim the Ancient Chinese Secret for cleaner laundry in exchange for a secret hand shake, although I usually prefer chocolate. The fingernails get caught in my throat.
I remember reading that post, UJ, and I appreciate you finding it again.
I have some questions, though I'm not sure how easy it is to answer them.
What percentage of books earn back their advance?
For an average professional writer (yeah, there probably isn't an average...) what percentage earns out?
Is the first incidence of not earning out the last time the publisher will work with the author?
Do the big names ever have books that don't earn out?
Don't know exactly, but my guess would be around a quarter of them.What percentage of books earn back their advance?
Probabaly about a quarter of them.For an average professional writer (yeah, there probably isn't an average...) what percentage earns out?
Gracious no! Publishers start showing a profit long before earn-out. The usual thing is for the publisher to try to guess how many will sell, and try to set the advance equal to the total expected royalties. That way they don't have to run around cutting checks every six months. The payments to the author are the smallest part of the book's expenses.Is the first incidence of not earning out the last time the publisher will work with the author?
The system is designed so that most books won't earn out. That 25% represents when the publisher guessed wrong.
(And what does not earning out mean to you, as an author? Just that you were paid for your sales at a higher-than-contracted-for royalty rate.)
Sure. All the time. Unless the advance is negotiated low (usually for tax purposes, to spread the income out into multiple years).Do the big names ever have books that don't earn out?
Thanks for the reply.
I was under the impression that only a small fraction of books showed a profit for the publisher. It's encouraging to hear it might be that percentage or higher.Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
I posted my greetings before the board went down, so hello again. I am still only at Page 132 out of 180.
Thanks to Uncle Jim and the other writers for their wonderful insight.
I would like to post my assignments as they are completed, if no one has an objection. Let me know and I will edit them out.
This is the first.
Bake a lime pie.
What are the definitions of:
“A soft peak”
“Lemon-colored” – my yolks were orange, never got to what I think of “lemon” yellow
It turned out okay – edible, but too sweet for me, too limey for husband.
Inspired, I have written a short, short story (approx. 680 words), dark humor. What do you think?
Here I am. Not so unattractive a guy as to have to keep a girl like her by my side. She is beautiful, but needful and subservient. She is an unintelligent bore and so clingy. She will suffocate me to death, of that I am sure. Breaking our relationship is out of the question, though I have tried to imply it was time to move on. Her brothers’ body language conveys that it would be bad for my health to continue in that vain. Which would be worse though? Which condition would be less painful– to be stifled and suffocated or to be broken and bleeding? I have to think of a way out without incurring either.
As I move through my days, I ponder the question. Could I run away? No, my career is a good one. It pays the bills and allows me to play. Unfortunately, because of her brothers’ watchful eyes, I can only play with her. Most people couldn’t understand; they only look on the outside – at her beauty. Inside, she is a murderer waiting to happen. She kills the life inside me. I must be free before my spirit is quashed. What is it that I must do? I must get away. I must stay alive. I must avoid detection by the brothers. My head hurts with trying to figure it out.
After weeks of telling her the things she wants to hear, of taking boring walks along the train tracks, of listening to her talk about our future, of pretending our relationship works for me, the fog cleared and this image took its place – a headstone with her name on it. My chest tightened in fear, but also excitement. How could this be accomplished?
It’s not as if I wasn’t provided with an arsenal of ideas. All that needs to be done is to turn on the television and pick a scenario. The problem was the brothers. Murders must have no witnesses, no evidence, and no motive to truly be gotten away with. I didn’t want to be the prime suspect and go through a trial. No, that wouldn’t work in this small, one bus-stop town. It would get me fired, drag my name through the mud and make any future prospects wary.
After multitudes of weapons and various uses of said items have been thought of and rejected, I have come to the conclusion it would be better to make it look like an accident. Drowning? I daydream: row out into a mist enshrouded lake, sing to her, overturn the boat, she drowns. Unfortunately, no mist enshrouded lakes are around; I can’t sing; why would the boat overturn; also, she is good swimmer. I would probably drown instead. I shake my head dismissing the idea and go back to the drawing board hampered by my limited creativity.
A week later with many ideas thought of and rejected, I have an epiphany. A fall would be the best way; oh yes, it would. Opportunities abound around this town. She is into outdoor sports, but not I. I fear the heights, though to be free of her I will conquer this phobia. Should I express an interest in rock climbing? I shudder at the thought. The train trestles above the gorge could be what I need. She loves a walk along the tracks. Add to that the thrill of possible danger, my suggestion would surprise her and keep her innocent of my intentions.
After running the scenario through my head numerous times, I realized it was time. The plan was set. Perfect, it was. All I need now was to find her. Three o’clock, time for her mid-day coffee. No sooner did I see the cafe then she appeared exiting the door. What luck, the brothers are absent! I whistled to her from the opposite curb. She smiled at me and waved with excitement, then hurried into the street. My freedom would soon be a reality.
She didn’t see the bus that ran her over. At first, I looked upon the scene in dismay, then with a smile and the thought: Yeah, that works.
I have figured out Uncle Jim is right. The story wrote itself. To add anything to it would be to change the story itself. It is what it is. Did it turn out good? Bad? Edible?
Thank goodness, it is okay to write crap.
What was it I was writing about?
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.