Sunday, October 28, 2012

Updating on the Blog World

Apparently it was a false warning or a temporary internet glitch on the part of Wordpress. That is, my newer author blog is up and running:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Talking Cats

At seven this morning, I could swear I woke to the sound of my cat Cheetah saying, in English, “Aren’t you up yet?” I felt a bit indignant. She was right next to me and had apparently said this in my face. After I was a bit more awake, this struck me as odd.

I’ve occasionally written fiction that involves talking cats. Perhaps I was a bit fixated on this as a teenager, because, coming to think of it, the first versions of both the works of fiction I’m thinking of date back to my adolescence. One is now my novella “Witch’s Familiar,” which is available in electric form as part of the Wormhole Electric Anthology on The other was my first novel, My Curious Adventures with a Witch, the original (and drastically different) version of a middle grade series I’ve begun writing, with the working series title “The Rowanwick Witches.” Perhaps it’s inevitable that the cat I live with would also start speaking. Or perhaps I should recall the words of the Cheshire Cat: “I’m mad. You’re mad. We’re all mad here.”

So Much for that Wordpress Blog

Since Wordpress is pretending as if I don't have a blog on its site, it looks like I have to go back to this blog. I had switched because another writer told me that Wordpress is more professional-looking than Blogspot. No matter how professional it may look, a blog doesn't have much point if I can't add new blog posts to it. I was able to access it as though I were someone else:, so I now know the blog still exists. But the site won't let me create new blogs and won't admit that I'm the same person who created that particular blog.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Developmental Editing

A developmental editor as gentle as a kitten

If your developmental editing feedback doesn’t make an author feel eager to get to work revising the manuscript and instead makes your author depressed and reluctant to work on the manuscript, then maybe you’re doing something wrong.

When I’m working on a developmental edit—that is, editorial feedback on major elements such as characters, plot structure, and dialog (rather than grammar and spelling)—I typically mix in a lot of praise with constructive criticism about how the manuscript can be improved. Even as I do this, I sometimes think this praise is useless fluff. Perhaps the praise isn’t as necessary as pointing out how the book or story can be better, but it instills a sensitive author with confidence and encouragement. This is important, believe it or not.

Back in my undergraduate days in the early 1990s, I had a college instructor who was great at giving such feedback. No matter how much the story needed improvement, no matter how rough it was, this instructor got me excited to run to the computer lab or to my dorm room and get back to work revising that story. That’s the best way to do a developmental edit.

That constructive criticism sprinkled with praise is infinitely better than getting developmental feedback that leaves the author feeling battered and believing it’s not such a worthwhile writing project after all. Developmental feedback that’s abrasive, snarky, sarcastic, and/or impatient rubs the author the wrong way. Accusing the author of not writing in a scene or detail that they did write but that you skipped over also rubs the author the wrong way. Doing all that and/or refraining from supplying the author with any praise, not so much as a, “This is a very promising beginning and I’m looking forward to seeing a later draft!” also rubs the author the wrong way.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

First Person v. Third Person

Revision that involves changing first person perspective to third person perspective is a bit on the tedious side, since I'm going through and changing pronouns. A problem I've found with this by getting rid of "I," I end up with an awful lot of "she" and "her," between Violet and Amaryllis interacting together. I just looked over a paragraph before changing it and now suspect that it works better in first person. Of the three editors who gave me feedback on this manuscript, only one of them said I should change it to third person, so maybe I'll just ignore that after all. Or maybe I'll continue changing it later, after I've worked on plot development more. Decisions, decisions.

I'm lucky nobody said I should change it from past tense to present tense.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Completed Draft

I just e-mailed the more or less first draft of my novella The Woodland Castle to Wormhole Electric, which has previously published my novella The Witch's Familiar in serial e-book format ( The Woodland Castle (and that's a working title, by the way, not necessarily a final title) is a fairy tale inspired by the Burning Times and set in an alternate reality based on sixteenth-century Germany. Here's a little description of it:

WOODLAND CASTLE by Susan E. Wigget

Princess Sarabina runs away from home when she discovers that her best friends only like her powerful position and that her father, King Arnulf, has an active role in the witch burnings.
The crown princess, Sarabina, embarks on a journey from the royal castle of Matriolia to the legendary Enchantress’s castle in the eldritch woods. Brought up as a Polytheist by her mother and maidservant, Sarabina is disillusioned with her witch-burning father and with courtiers whom she mistook for friends. At the Enchantress’s castle, she may discover genuine friends… or more foes. But how can she end the witch burnings?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wormholes, Witches, and Castles, oh my

I just found out that Wormhole Electric, the e-book site publishing my novella The Witch's Familiar serially, is getting three to four visits a day. It's only been around for a few months, which is quite different from an old, established business.

Meanwhile, as obsessed as I am with revising my YA fantasy novel into three or so Middle Grade novels, I'd better set that aside for now and get back to work on Woodland Castle, the next manuscript I'm submitting to Wormhole Electric.

Deadlines are good. They cut down the procrastination. Without them, you might never get projects done.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Nightmare...Sort of About Revision

After slightly fewer than three hours sleep, I woke from a dystopic science fiction nightmare involving a dark indoor place with rooms that look like gigantic, vast stadium seating auditoriums with a vast circular stage in the center (something like the courtroom scenes in the Harry Potter movies but about three times as big). I see a lot of black—black walls and floors and such—and people wearing identical dark purple clothes.

Many—probably the majority—of these people are androids, computers in humanoid form, but I didn’t know this at the beginning of the dream. I forget how I find out. I’m an innocent citizen going about my daily life and feeling confused by the behavior of most people (well, that sounds like my everyday life when I lived in the Midwest). One day, some of these computer-androids collectively go insane and want to overthrow the system. As a real human, I’m anxious and panicky as I observe one of the insane (or malfunctioning) androids run into one of these auditorium rooms and flinging herself (or itself, if you prefer) at a bunch of the androids seated in the room.

Large numbers of androids, when the crazy android makes contact with them, shatter like glass into tiny, jagged fractures, flying all over. I’m terrified not only of being hurt by the flying glass but of shattering like glass myself. (Incidentally, the hallway leading to this room feels rather like the hallway in my parents’ house where I grew up, and the doorway feels like my old bedroom doorway.)

This is my interpretation of what that dream was about. Yesterday I read a lot of editorial feedback on a fantasy novel I wrote as a teen, and I discovered that the manuscript is far worse than I imagined. Part of me is antsy to start revising, taking the novel apart and turning it into a series. Another part of me is terrified of “killing my baby” as the writing expression goes—making such drastic changes as taking the characters from Victorian England and sticking them in twenty-first century America. After all, this novel was what I found escapist when I was a teen, and for decades I’ve thought of these characters in that Victorian setting.

In the dream, the hallway led to the doorway of the bedroom in which I hid while writing those stories (that I stuck together and called a novel) as a teen. The big room resembled a courtroom, and reading the developmental edits felt like I was on trial. The androids that shatter like glass represent characters in my novel, characters who will be altered or deleted altogether.

On the bright side, I’ll certainly keep the current draft rather than destroy it like Nathaniel Hawthorne, who tended to burn manuscripts he didn't like. The current manuscript will be a reference… and a sentimental possession. Meanwhile, I’m already getting visions of what to do in order to set this series in modern-day America, and even bits of truly modern dialog are popping into my head.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Feedback on My Curious Adventures with a Witch

I met up with Michelle and collected the student feedback for my Aunt Amaryllis novel. Three student groups (out of six) from her YA Publishing class chose my novel, and they all agree there's too much in the one book. They also all agree in changing the title, which is fine with me since My Curious Adventures with a Witch is the fourth working title. And they all agreed that it's middle grade rather than YA, which I thought might happen, even though the protagonist is seventeen.

I'm thinking I'll make it into a series. I've got other ideas for writing about these characters, so I have thought about a sequel anyway.

Strangely, I'm talking about characters I invented and started writing about back when I was sixteen years old. Originally Aunt Amaryllis was purely escapist, something fun to write about while living as a social outcast in rural Indiana. The novel started out as short stories that I decided to string together and call a novel since I was compelled to keep writing about these particular characters.

Perhaps the main characters you invent when you're young are the ones who stick with you the most. I certainly haven't been as attached with other characters as I have been with Aunt Amaryllis and Violet.

Because of the success of the Harry Potter books and the consequent popularity of YA fantasy, I decided in 2003 to dig out that old manuscript and revise it and expand it. Violet became Aunt Amaryllis's apprentice rather than just a niece who shared her adventures; I also made it more clear that Violet is the protagonist. I filled in chronological gaps between chapters/stories.

I'm doing somewhat last-minute work on a fairy tale novella inspired by the European witchcraze. It has a due date of Feb 10. That said, it's far enough along that I can also get back to work on Aunt Amaryllis. So much to write! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Witch Fiction Trend

It looks like my timing is odd--witch fiction happens to be a trend, and here I am writing it. I've read A Discovery of Witches, which is adult paranormal romance about a witch who's from a long line of witches, and now there's the YA novel Life's a Witch and its eventual series ( I read Beautiful Creatures about a year ago, and that's also a YA witch novel.

Too bad my novel My Curious Adventures with a Witch isn't already published. On the  bright side, my novella Witch's Familiar is available on Wormhole Electric's site. Furthermore, I'm about to get feedback on My Curious Adventures with a Witch, because I handed it over to Michelle, my former YA Publishing instructor, and she's about to give me the developmental edits that students did on the manuscript last term. So I'll soon revise it, probably share the revised version with my writers' critique group, revise some more, and start contacting agents. Then hopefully it'll get published before witch fiction goes out of style. I think many people have seen enough of vampires and are ready for something different, and I suspect witch fiction won't go out of style any time soon.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Awkward Situation

Note to self: stop being nice and polite to bullies. Transcend that childhood conditioning. Next time a creepy guy bullies me into giving him my phone number, even if he claims to be a feminist, refuse and keep refusing.

He left a message on my answering machine a few days after we met (I'm not returning the call!) and knows where I’m a volunteer. I refrained from attending an event there because I had told him about it and he seemed interested. He needs a therapist, and it’s not my job. I have a theory that he may be psychotic, since I’ve noticed insane people giving off creep vibes.

The situation has certainly confirmed that I’m still conditioned to be nice and polite to bullies—probably conditioned by relatives more than anything else, though our patriarchal society generally teaches girls to practice self-negation and be nice and polite in any situation. While a part of me is concerned, I have to protect myself. In my early childhood, relatives conditioned me to have unquestioning loyalty to them and to their side of the family, simultaneously demonizing my dad and his side of the family. But these relatives are also verbally abusive toward me, so I don’t think I’d be exaggerating to say that they conditioned me to be on their side against me. Weird, I know, but it’s probably not unusual. After I went off to college, if someone bullied me in a way similar to that of relatives, I had an unfortunate tendency to be in denial that I had a problem with this bully. Since then I’ve analyzed my relatives and intellectually reject bullies, the emotional conditioning isn’t completely gone. It takes a long time to completely purge crap from your childhood.