Research, as I have mentioned in a previous blog, is a very important part of writing.
“A man will turn over half a library to make one book.” – Samuel Johnson
Credibility, authenticity, realism, only to name a few, is the reason that we do so much research for our books.
I am always striving for accurate facts from live sources as opposed to relying solely on books or the internet. Records, manuals, and how-to books are supportive, but they rarely show the whole picture. What I need is the entirety of a topic. Talking to people who are knowledgeable in that area not only substanciates what I’ve already learned but also gives details, including all the emotions and difficulties relating to the field.
This blog is not about research, it is about the people that I interview to get my information.
It always amazes me how eagerly people are willing to share their knowledge and experiences. When I approach someone to get information from him or her, other than accommodating their busy schedule, they are more than willing to meet and share with me their extensive knowledge over a cup of coffee. Within that time, not only do I receive a wealth of information from a professional, but also their practical and personal experiences, having ‘been there and done it.’ These people are the real deal.
Meeting with so many people of different professions, makes this one of my favorite facets of researching. I have sat down with a cave dweller, seaman, psychologist, police sergeant, lawyer, healer, doctor, politician, petrologist (someone who studies rocks), and the list goes on. These professionals take pride in what they do and they do their jobs well. The zealousness in which they talk about their profession or hobby is contagious. I always find myself totally immersed in their conversations and absorbing their enthusiasm.
I remember my meeting with a seaman who told me about his triumphs and ordeals aboard a ship. Although I am not a water person and have no desire to travel the seas, I found myself utterly captivated by his stories.
It is wonderful to see others who are so passionate about what they do. I believe passion is what makes them so devoted and proficient at their job.
I dedicate this blog to them, for giving me their valuable time and sharing what is a big part of their life with me. My stories are richer because of their help, and I have become a better person, by them touching my life.
Book cover art is as much a part of a book as is the story written within; after all, how many of us buy our books because the cover demands our attention.
This blog is dedicated to two great cover artists known for their science fiction/fantasy art and who have sadly passed away – Keith Parkinson (1958- 2005) and just recently, Darrell K. Sweet (1934 – 2011).
Both these men lived their lives as true artists, creating over the years fantastic cover art. Darrell was renowned for his art in the Robert Jordan epic fantasy series “The Wheel of Time” along with “Runelords” series by David Farland and many other books. Keith Parkinson also created for authors like C.J. Cherryh, Kenneth C. Flint, Terry Goodkind, Piers Anthony, Orson Scott Card, and dozens more.
These men had rich lives with their many artistic projects that were appreciated and loved by many.
I know I enjoyed and valued their incredible cover art each time I bought a fantasy book.
These two exceptional artists have certainly left their artistic mark in this world and will be greatly missed.
Visit these official websites for their complete history:
When I first began to write, I made many mistakes, and I will undoubtedly continue to make more mistakes; so, I gather knowledge and teach myself, to try to prevent those mistakes. There are, however, times when along that sometimes-daunting path of writing that I need help. Friends and family, although well intentioned, are subjective with my writing; therefore, I need the help of an editor.
One of the mistakes I made when I wrote my first story was not seeking out the right editor.
I have comprised a list of what I consider to be a right editor.
An editor that is like-minded
Editors differ and so do their tastes. I had one editor who had a very different idea of the direction of my book. That is not to say, the idea was bad, but it did not match mine. Of course, there are always going to be areas where I don’t agree with my editor but there must be a general agreement on the vision of the book.
A reliable editor
I can have the most skilled and educated editor, but if he/she is unreliable, that will halt my headway and results. Even a contract, if not adhered to, is useless. An editor must be reliable. However, having said that, I also have an obligation as a writer to be reliable, by keeping to my scheduled appointments, deadlines, and payments.
An editor with excellent credentials
An editor needs to be a master in his field. I wanted an editor that knows far more than I do, one that can help improve not just my novel but make me a better writer.
“The best teacher is the one who suggests rather than dogmatizes, and inspires his listener with the wish to teach himself.” – Edward Bulwer-Lytton
A well established editor
An editor needs to be well established and have worked in the industry many years, one who knows the ins and outs and has ties that I, as a writer, may not have. I have learned that connections are essential to success.
Knowing what I wanted in an editor, how did I go about finding the right one?
Referrals are the best way to go to get a competent editor. Unfortunately, I had no one close to give me a referral nor did I personally know any editors, so I went to the best to find the best. I took books that I had enjoyed reading and looked to see who edited them. From that list, I picked out one and contacted him.
His employment with a publishing house was a conflict of interest in taking on freelance work, but he was kind enough to give me a referral.
Luck is always an essential ingredient in success
I was fortunate to find a great editor, but I also know that luck was involved. I contacted the referral and luckily, we connected well and he had an opening available. Being in the right place at the right time determines success.
Remember, you get what you pay for
I know that for outstanding service, you need to pay well. In life, you usually get what you pay for, and it is the same with a good editor. If you desire the best then be prepared to pay for it. I discovered a good editor is worth every penny.
I was fortunate to find a good editor for my novel. He has not only helped me to improve my book and my writing but has become my mentor. Thank you, Pat Lobrutto!
Pat is an editorial consultant that has been editing for over 30 years, and in my opinion is one of the best. – www.lobrutto.com
I often get the question, “Are your characters based on real people?”
My answer is yes and no.
To answer the question properly, I need to tell you how I develop my characters.
When I see a person who does something, or says something that grabs my attention in a big way, I begin to make him/her into a story character. Of course, when I’m finished with my story character, he/she is no longer remotely close to the person who caught my attention in the first place. However, the substance of that person was the first building blocks for creating my story character, so I like to think that a part of my story character is real.
An alternative book cover for The Alkahest
Not all my story characters are created this way. Some are a conglomeration of traits gathered from many personality types to produce the right story character for the role.
I would never use a real person in my stories because real people are boring in fiction. Story characters must be many times exaggerated and then some. They must be grander than life. Having said that, story characters are more reasonable in what they say or do. They have to be for the reader to understand them. In real life, people do irrational things, and we don’t understand why. In fiction, the reader understands why story characters do the things they do. They need to for the story to make sense to them.
“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” – Tom Clancy
That is the great thing about fiction and one of the main reasons that I love to write fiction – it’s different than life, more exaggerated than life is and far more versatile. My characters can do so much more, be so much more, and change so much faster than in real life.
I read and write fiction to escape everyday life. Real life people have their moments, but in fiction, the story characters, by far, outshine reality in a grandiose way.