Diving Deeper Into the Edit

I recently talked about the first editing pass I received on The Repossessed Ghost, and I described the changes as very light. I described it accurately! There were only two comments, and a bunch of in-line edits, which mostly had to do with capitalization and homonyms.

Today, I’m transferring those in-line edits into my Scrivener file, which is forcing me to really examine them. I’m learning that you’re not suppose to capitalize “the” nearly so much. For example, my home houses the Buhls, not “The Buhls.” And it is the Bible, not “The Bible.”

There are several capitalization rules I get wrong all the time, and I’m glad to receive this lesson. It’s one more thing I can look for when doing personal edits in the future.

In addition to those changes, which are easy for me to accept and change, there are a couple that I’ve actually had to stop and think about. For example, is it “archaeology” or “archeology?” I used the latter, but I have an in-line correction to the former. Apparently, this one is a little bit complicated! Using the “ae” is more common across the world, and US legislation and departments use the “ae.” However, in the US, leaving out the “a” is more common, ever since a change in the printing process dropped the “ae” diphthong. I didn’t know any of this when I wrote the story, but now I know.

I’ll go with the editor’s version because I don’t want to be difficult and this particular change doesn’t really alter the voice or content of the story in a significant way. It was a fun learning opportunity, though. Scrivener doesn’t recognize the spelling with the “a” but Scrivener isn’t the boss of me, either.

I have mentioned previously that I struggle with homonyms. I don’t usually have a problem with the common ones. I know my “their,” “there,” and “they’re.” I’m not sure how many people get “taught” and “taut” mixed up, but it’s a mistake I managed to commit a few times. The one that really gets my goat is “dowsing” versus “dousing.” It’s like my brain is searching for new and interesting ways to use wrong words. The nicest thing I can say about my struggle with homonyms is that, though I’m wrong, I’m consistent in my wrongness, making it relatively easy to correct.

What else can I talk about with regards to this edit? During one of the drafts, I went through the entire manuscript, looking for places where I used weak verbs. I wrote the first draft while I still leaned heavily on passive voice, so I had a lot to correct. I mostly tried to eliminate the word “was” when it didn’t make the sentence clumsy. I also tried to delete the word “had” and all of the places where I hid it in a contraction. I clearly cut too deep, as the editor slipped some of these missing contractions and “had” words back into the text.

If I didn’t make it clear before I started talking about this edit: I hold no ill will towards my editor, and in fact, I think they did a fantastic job. I’m not complaining about the changes. I’m marveling at how I got these things wrong in the first place. I love that after all this time sitting on this novel, I can still learn from it and make it better.

One of my tasks with the publisher is to submit another draft. I’m about half way there, I think, and I should be able to complete the task before the end of the weekend.

I’m enjoying this process. I like having an editor, and I love all of these opportunities to learn and get better at the craft of writing. I’ve heard other writers complain, and I know some of them have had bad experiences. I consider myself lucky. This whole experience just makes me that much more excited to work on The Repossessed Ghost and get it in front of people.


Publishing Update: Received the First Edit

Things are moving quickly, now!

I posted this link to Twitter and Facebook, which is Water Dragon Publishing welcoming me and The Repossessed Ghost, releasing this summer. When they found out I was going to Baycon this year, they accelerated the plans for release, which is honestly just amazing.

The faster schedule means that a whole bunch of stuff has to happen quickly. One of those things is working with a professional editor.

I received the Word document with the changes and comments in it earlier today. Honestly, I thought I was going to have to do more work. There were only two comments which were both very easy to address, and some red marks in the text where I made mistakes (constantly and consistently) with capitalization.

There really wasn’t that much to go over. My original submission was probably the 4th draft of the novel. The number of changes we’ve made barely qualify as another draft.

I looked at all the changes, addressed the two comments, and sent it back this afternoon. After hearing other authors talk about going through months of edits and rewrites, I expected to have to do more, especially with my first novel.

Then again, I have had other people look at it over the years, including Jennifer Carson, a professional editor. After meeting with her and going over her critique, I rewrote the ending during to create the third draft. I had two critique groups look at it and provide feedback. One of the authors in one of the critique groups is now a best seller, absolutely crushing it with her recent fantasy series.

I worked very hard on this story before I submitted it, and these light edits are the payoff.

Soon, I’ll have cover art. I’ll post that all over the place and retheme this place.

Things are moving! This really is the fulfillment of a dream, and I can’t believe it’s happening.


Professional Social Media

Today, the publishing agreement arrived, and I’m once again bouncing with excitement. It still hasn’t sunk in that I’m going to get to publish The Repossessed Ghost.

There is useful documents in the package from the publisher. In addition to two copies of the publishing agreement, there are two copies of the Social Media agreement, as well as two different welcome letters and a W-9 to fill out. Somehow the tax form makes it more real than it had been before.

The Social Media agreement strongly suggests creating separation between professional and personal social media accounts. It’s well thought out, and I understand what they’re trying to do. If one of their authors starts blasting antisemitic or racist trash, they want to have a document that gives them an easy way out of that relationship. I get it, and I’m on board.

I think a younger version of myself might have furrowed his brow, wondering if he wanted to have any kind of stipulations on what he can or cannot say. Like I said, the agreement is about protecting them. It’s not about controlling their authors’ speech. It’s very reasonable.

The agreement makes me scrutinize my social media accounts. I don’t think anything will change much with this blog. I may change the format, or add some tabs for additional links. The purpose of this blog is for me to talk about my journey as a writer. I can continue using it for that purpose.

I have gone into some political rants when looking at current events in the past. I’ve curtailed those posts already. It won’t hurt anything for me to stop posting those to my main feed. If I reach a point where I feel like I absolutely have to write something that is of a political nature, I might open up a completely different part of the blog which is separate from the main section. It can be purely dedicated to receiving my posts that are purely personal.

I don’t think much will change here, to be honest.

Twitter and Facebook, though. I haven’t deleted my Twitter account, but I’ve stopped using it. I may start using it, but only to engage with other writers and to tweet about writing. Again, that’s not completely different from how I was using it before.

The only things I’ve been posting to Facebook for the last few years have been links to this blog. That won’t change too much, though like with Twitter, I may start posting more things related to promoting my book.

I’m not going to turn my social media accounts into advertising robots. It will still be me managing the accounts, and I’ll still talk with people normally. It’s just that my time on the social media platforms will be slightly more focused and contained. It’s better than what I was going to do, which was delete the accounts altogether.

I’ll probably start posting book covers and thinks to Instagram. I have an account there and follow several people. I’ve never posted anything. When I’ve decided on an author photo and have book cover images, that seems like a great place to post that kind of stuff.

What about TikTok? Other platforms?

I’ve never spent much time on TikTok. Melissa watches it all the time, and I sometimes watch over her shoulder. Sometimes she’ll bring me a video and share it with me. At this point, I don’t have any plans to get on TikTok, but that’s where a lot of other writers are building their platform. If it seems like a natural place for me to post things, I’ll figure it out.

I’ll post more VLOGs to YouTube. That’s all I’ve ever used my YouTube account for already, so no change there.

Finally, and absolutely the least, I have an account on Mastadon, but I don’t spend any time there. Maybe I’ll cross-post from Twitter to there, but it seems really complicated for what it is, and I’m not sure it’s very useful.

With the way I’m using social media these days, I’m not sure I need to create a separate personal and professional accounts. I still think social media is one of the big Internet mistakes. It’s the artificial sweetener of relationships, providing a strange kind of sweetness but with none of the nutritional benefit. And sometimes it causes cancer.

I like writing here, but this doesn’t feel like social media, to me. It’s my open journal, raw and barely edited. There is room for nuance, here.

I’m not going to write here every day (unless it’s October), but I will likely write here more often.


Not a Year in Review, Nor a Resolution

Lots of people take this time to talk about what happened in the previous year, or what their prospects are for the new year. That’s not this. I will not let 2022 haunt me further. Also, 2023 has tons of potential, but I will not weigh it down at the beginning with expectations or false promises.

Last night, Melissa and I went to bed just after midnight, and we struggled to sleep. We have been having a hard time sleeping for a while now, but last night, the neighborhood sounded like a warzone. I think it’s great that people want to celebrate, but I wish we had a choice in it. It was probably fireworks, but it could just as easily have been gunshots. The night thundered with explosions, going on for hours into the brand new year.

I got up later than I wanted. My hope was to maybe get up a little bit early and consider doing some pushups or something. I need to get more physically active this year. I need to get healthy. Sometimes, January 1st, I can take the idea of a new year to start some new activities. That didn’t happen this morning.

Instead, I tried to be kind to myself. I slept in a little bit, and that’s okay. Sleep was hard to attain. Maybe, that’s what I can do with this year: set some goals, but exercise kindness and understanding when those goals aren’t met.

This is the year The Repossessed Ghost comes out. I still haven’t signed the contract, but I’ve seen what the contract will look like, and I’m happy with it. I’m excited for all of the possibilities.

In spite of the good news, I haven’t been in a great place emotionally. I haven’t wanted to do anything or hang out with anyone. I have not been particularly kind to myself. But I want to be. I want to do better in that area this year.

I turn 50 in a couple of months. That doesn’t really have much to do with what I’ve just been talking about, but… it kind of does? After half a century, will I have learned some semblance of balance?

This year, I will make writing a higher priority. For the last couple of months, I’ve slacked off. I’m going to do writing exercises. I have a prompt from my critique group to work on. I won’t work on it right now — this blog post is my exercise today — but it seems like a good thing to work on early tomorrow, on my day off. When I finish it, if I like it, I’ll post it here.

Write more. Eat healthier. Exercise. Be kind to myself.

This isn’t a resolution. It’s just a set of ideas I can measure against. I know I can do three of those four things without too much trouble. I’ll let you figure out which of the four will be my struggle.

Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s make 2023 the best year it can be.


Yet Another Keyboard

I like the idea of writing a blog post every time I finish a keyboard. I’m not sure if that will encourage me to write more blog posts or make more keyboards. Maybe a bit of both?

The reality is that I really don’t need to make any more keyboards. It’s fun hobby, and I derive a lot of satisfaction from making something so immediately useful. I’m a writer and a programmer. Keyboards are my life, and it thrills me to get to use one that I put together.

This keyboard isn’t for me. It’s a Christmas present, and I’m not going to say who it is for. I don’t think they read my blog, but there are a lot of people that know the person receiving this keyboard, and I want to do everything I can to keep this a complete surprise.

This one is far from perfect. My printer has been giving me fits lately, and at least one section of this printer came out slightly warped. It’s not noticeable by anyone but me, really. It makes it so that the switches are much easier to pull out, so if the recipient decides to replace the keycaps, they’ll be in for an unfortunate surprise.

Listening to this as I type, it has a very unique sound. The clicks are slightly higher pitched. It amazes me that I can use the same material, the same design, yet each one of these creations has its own voice. This one is like a hyper puppy, eager to scamper as it clicks. I like it. I hope the recipient likes it, too.

I don’t think I’ll be making any more keyboards in this style. This is the 4th based on the Sick-68 form factor I found on Thingiverse. I still really love the original, though I’m not using it as much now that I have my Ergodox. These are good keyboards, and a good compromise between the 60% and the larger keyboards.

I still want to 3D print things and solder electronics and make things go. When I’m done making keyboards, I might start making RC planes. I’ve been watching videos on them for years, and I think that could be another fun hobby to pick up. In terms of expense, it’s probably on par with what I’ve been spending on keyboards. It might even be a little bit cheaper. Before I jump into that, I’ll probably want to buy a new printer, or upgrade the one that I have.

I think that’s it. No pictures of this keyboard, as that will give away who it is for. It has black keyboards, which is a great contrast to the bright colors of the base.

I’m still over the moon over the news from last night. It still hasn’t sunk in. I can’t wait to see that move forward.


I Opened a Bottle of Scotch

A fancy black box sits in front of me. Glenmorangie Signet, a single malt Scotch Melissa bought for me a few years ago as a Christmas present. It’s one of the most expensive bottles of Scotch I’ve ever had, and it’s been unopened for years. When I received it, I knew I wanted to hold onto it for something special. I said I would not open it until I received some really great news with regards to my writing career.

Last night, I got to open it.

It might be a little bit premature. It’s great news, and I’m euphoric, but it’s not like I actually have a signed contract or a publication date. Just an acceptance letter with a ballpark timeline of late 2023. The novel in question is The Repossessed Ghost, which I’ve talked about on this blog quite a bit. I wrote it about 10 years ago, and I don’t mind waiting most of a year to see it in print. Because it will be in print, and all of the possibilities that follow from that are opening up.

I’m feeling hopeful again. I haven’t felt that for a little while, now.

To be perfectly honest, I gave up. I thought about the submission last week, wondering if I should ping them, since it had been several months. I love The Repossessed Ghost and think it deserves to be in the world, but I was preparing myself emotionally to just let it go.

I don’t have to bury it. I will actually see it in print, and I’m going to be able to give a copy to my mother-in-law. She’s been asking about it, wondering when she’ll get to read it. Now I can tell her: at the end of 2023.

I am not expecting this to become a New York Times bestselling novel. I will not earn enough money on this book to be able to quit my job and change my lifestyle. It’s a fun book that some people will enjoy for a little while. It will be the answer I can give when I tell people I’m a writer, and they ask where they can read my work.

It’s a success. Where I find one success, I’m encouraged to look and find more successes.

When I’m querying my other novels, I’ll be able to mention my short story in an anthology, and my novel with this small, independent publisher.

Another possibility that delights me: if enough people actually enjoy The Repossessed Ghost, I will write another story in that world with those characters. I have a whole series of ideas. I was never going to write anything else in that world until the first book went somewhere.

A lot of us are writers, and we’re all people on this path. Some are further along than others, and the path is different for all of us. This feels like progress. When I’m not writing, feeling too exhausted and hopeless to approach the story, those are the times when I’m lost in the dark. This feels like I’ve found the path again.

I’m going to write more. And it isn’t in vain.

I’m a writer. I’m hopeful.

Time to get back to work.


Mid-November Check-In

I came into this month with all of the best intentions. What I lacked was a solid outline.

It’s okay. I’m not going to complete NaNoWriMo this month, and I’m not that worried about it. I wrote about 5,000 words in the first few days, then realized that if I kept going at that pace, pantsing most of it, I would hit the end of the story at around 40,000 words and not have a real novel.

I’m going to take my time with it. I’ll continue working on it throughout the month, but I don’t care if I hit 50K. It would be much better for me to hit maybe 10K and have a solid outline and a plan than a rushed manuscript that I hate.

What else have I been doing this month?

We’re going to renovate our master bedroom, so we moved the bed into the living room. We haven’t really done much more than that, but it’s a start. Moving the bed into the other room was always going to be the first step in that process, so we took the first step. I think we’ll wind up making actual progress at the beginning of December. We should set a goal to try and finish it before Christmas. Thanksgiving will be awkward enough with half our bedroom so close to the dining room.

Once I decided that I didn’t really want to work on my story that much, I turned my attention to my newest keyboard project. That’s what I’m using to write this post! I finished the keyboard Wednesday evening, and I love it!

The print process gave me fits during this one. It was originally going to be copper and silver, but I think the blue and silver looks great, and I love blue, so this is an even better fit for me. The keycaps and the cables really tie it together. It’s going to take me a while to get fully used to it, but I’m already seeing some improvement since Wednesday evening. I unhooked the Blackwidow I’ve used for the last 9 years. I’m fully committed. This is going to be great.

There are at least 2 more keyboards for me to work on before Christmas. I’ll need to get on that. One of them is like the ones I made before, which is more standard looking. The other one will be like this one I just finished.

What else is going on? Work continues to be extremely busy. It’s better to be busy than bored, but I’m feeling a need to take a break soon. Maybe I’ll take some time around Christmas. I don’t know. I don’t really go anywhere, so I’m not sure what a break would do for me. More time to work on keyboards I don’t need, I suppose?

The last thing to report is I printed 2 copies of Synthetic Dreams. One for Melissa, one for Michael. Melissa has hers. I haven’t had a chance to give the other to Michael yet. It looks nice. It’s a good book. I wish the rest of you could read it.

That’s all for now. I may check in again next week. I have lots to be thankful for.


Halloween 2022

We did it! We made it all the way through October. Time to do a victory lap and hand out some candy! Maybe even eat a little of it, too.

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride all the way through this month. Work has been crazy. We had an impromptu trip up to Southern Oregon. I entered this month with a goal and a hint of a plan, and yet muddled through, one post at a time.

Thirty-one posts in thirty-one days. Happy Halloween, and goodbye Blogtober.

I’m dressed as a king tonight, with a velvet tunic, brilliant red cape, and a golden crown. We have quite a bounty for the kids. It’s well past dark, and there haven’t been that many. Some, but not as many as last year. Certainly nowhere near as many as we had before Covid.

Full size candy bars plus a soda or a Capri-sun, depending on how old they appear to be. When I drop the loot into their bag, I want to see their arms flex with the weight of it. I want them to remember our house as that mythical house that gives out the good stuff. Some of the kids that have visited tonight do remember us, from previous years. It’s nice.

It’s the end of October. Tomorrow starts National Novel Writing Month. I still don’t feel prepared.

I think it feels this way every time. I go into it with a bit of bluster and hope, but there’s this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I’m not going to make it. I’m going to reach for the words and they won’t be there. I’m not going to really feel like I’m in it to win it until after the first week.

I have a goal, with a hint of a plan. I’ve done this before. Maybe I’ll do it again.

Happy Halloween, everyone. I hope you’ve enjoyed this month. I hope whatever you have planned for the next works out perfectly.

I’ll keep you posted.


Brian’s Predictions for the Future

Though I like to write about ghosts and the supernatural, I’m not a particularly superstitious person. I think there’s more to life than what our various senses are capable of perceiving, and maybe we get an impression of things beyond what we can see, the way eyeless fish might know about light by feeling the difference between shadow and illumination.

I’m trying to say that sometimes, I feel like I have a sense for things to come. It’s like I can feel the winds of change blowing long before there’s any sign. It’s like the emotional weight of certain events press so hard on my life that the effects travel back in time.

That’s all poppycock, I know, but there’s a lot of silly nonsense that I want to believe.

With that in mind, I thought I might try to figuratively put my ear to the ground and sense what’s coming.

Hopefully this won’t be too pessimistic.


We’re not freed of that snake yet. Too many people are still fighting reality. There is too much distrust and division, and we all have to be on the same side to fight this monster. People are tired of wearing masks and social distancing and doing the things that slow the progress of the disease. As millions of people continue to get it and hundreds of people die from it every day, we continue to get interesting mutations.

I’m still feeling the effects of my bout with it. I’m still coughing, and I don’t think I have as much air capacity in my lungs.

By March, we’re going to be at a point where there aren’t enough people vaccinated, because the message is that “the pandemic is over” so people think they don’t need to get vaccinated. But it’s still spreading, and people are too tired of it to remain vigilant. So, we’re going to get back to the point where 2% of the population will die from it, and it will just keep going and going.


War and disease have crippled supply chains. At the same time, corporations see an opportunity to rake in profits. The oil barons have had a banner year this year, and there’s too much political strife for anyone to do anything about it. Again, we’re too divided to look at the actual culprits, the robbers stealing from us at the pump and raising the price of production on everything. Too many people blaming people in power that had nothing to do with the rising prices.

The stresses on this great machine will continue to build up. How long can it hold? People are struggling. There are jobs, but not all of them are that great. A couple of young adults are no longer able to make it on their own. Not on one job, and not with the wages that are available. When the collapse happens, it’ll come from the bottom. It’s not very far away, now.


People are divided, and it’s getting worse. I don’t want to talk too much about politics right now. I don’t like what I see, and no one wants to hear my prediction for the near future.

My Future

I’m going to keep plugging along. I’m not going to slip unscathed past all the things I was just talking about. Covid will visit my house again, probably even worse than last time. Money will get interesting. I’ll continue to get frustrated by what I see on the political stage, where it seems our collective wisdom has run dry.

I’ll keep writing.

There’s a number of things I’m trying to start now, and I’m not sure how much of those attempts will succeed. We’ll finish renovating the bedroom, but I’m not sure I’ll succeed at NaNoWriMo this year. The vision isn’t clear enough. I tried to work on the outline today, but there wasn’t much gas in the tank. I’ll finish the next three keyboards and continue to derive pleasure from making things with my hands.

I’m trying to exercise more, but it’s hard to say if I’ll have much success there. It’s just really hard to breathe these days.

I’ll keep plugging along.

When Will Things Get Better?

It’s hard to say.

We’re just so fractured. If we can’t hold ourselves together, then there is no unity and support for growing together in wisdom. We have to be able to trust each other in order to communicate and protect each other.

There are still too many people that love money more than they love people. There are still too many people that would rather lie and try to nab an easy dollar than do something hard and help lift someone up. It’s hard to see the good in people when the people refuse to be good.

Money is still a problem. Money motivates the people that are working to keep us apart. Money motivates the monsters and the people I’d rather not talk about. If we were wise and good, we would spend our days seeking knowledge and love, rather than all the different forms money takes.

Can things get better?

Yes, but I think things have to get a lot worse first. I’m not looking forward to that, because it means a lot of people are going to have to hurt before we learn the lesson.

We have to find another way to run things than the way we’ve been doing it.

I guess that’s it. I don’t want it to be pessimistic. I want to be hopeful for the future, but it’s hard to see a way forward that doesn’t involve everything falling apart so that it can be put back together.

All of this is going to go into my next book.


All of the Writing Advice

I have written down a lot of writing advice over the years. Some of what I had to say is really great and helpful. Some may not be very applicable. Tonight, I’m going to link to most of it, putting it all in one place so you don’t have to go searching. This might be really useful.

Since I’m linking to a bunch of advice, let’s start with advice on How to Evaluate Writing Advice.

There are a handful of VLOGs I’ve put together which dispense writing advice. The first one is more of an introduction, but the second one talks about the usefulness of branding for a writer, the third one talks about how to be a positive and support member of the writing community, and the last one is about perseverance as a writer. If nothing else, you get to see some of my facial hair journey.

In terms of basic craft, my Pithy Writing Advice is pretty good. Along the same lines, there is this older one about passive voice and the word “was.

Though this post is titled Literary Theory, it really has nothing to do with literary theory, but it does talk about what makes a story good. While writing your good story, trust the reader as you write it. Part of trusting the reader is not repeating yourself, which I have done many times here when talking about passive voice. As you write, be certain to Write Responsibly.

I wrote several “How Tos.” We started this summary with How to Evaluate Writing Advice. In no particular order, there is How to Discovery Write, How to Outline, How to Write a Fight Scene, How to Write Dialog, How to Write Humor, and How to Revise a Draft. How to Get Rejected can be found here, but it isn’t really one of my posts. It’s notes from a convention I took in 2012. There are tons of similar notes from various conventions I attended.

There’s a series of posts that are “of the Writer” which I’m still happy with. They are Fears of the Writer, Pride of the Writer (which is a guest post on Jennifer Carson’s blog), and I wrote a draft for Lies of the Writer as a VLOG, but never finished it.

Some advice is less about writing and more about what to do as a writer. There is Pitching and Querying. There is The Importance of Continuous Reading as a Writer. You should Maintain Self-Care. You should manager your Online Distractions. If you’re struggling as a writer, just Fake It. I will cheer you on because You Can Do It.

I wrote a few tips that aren’t particularly organized. Try Dressing Up to Write sometime. Write What You Care About instead of writing what you know. But also? Write What You Know (this is one of the funnier posts and it will entertain you). When you write, figure out Where the Writing will Happen. Once your story is in someone else’s hand, learn how to Handle Early Feedback.

Once you’ve finished a draft or a revision, remember that It’s Your Story.

Write Science Fiction. Or Write Fantasy. Whatever you do, Write What Matters. Get into the specifics of Internality and Show Versus Tell. While you’re at it, consider Killing Some Characters.

There’s more. My goodness, there is more.

I’ve been working on my craft for a very long time, and I’ve been trying to share what I’ve learned for a pretty long time, too. My plan is to continue doing both as long as I can.

If you’ve checked out all of this writing advice and you have a favorite, let me know. If you want to discuss any of this, let me know. Let’s talk some time.