Showing posts with label anthologies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anthologies. Show all posts

02 July 2023

Time Warped: How Not to Write a Historical

No excuses, this comes far too late to be an acceptable movie review, but this article has another purpose— how not to write historicals. Although I wrote this long ago, I pushed it aside as other articles took priority. It dates back to one of John Floyd’s articles, where we found ourselves among the tens of people who kinda, sorta liked the movie, Django Unchained, which I watched with my friend, Sharon. She agreed with the rest of the world that the film was, to put it gently, flawed.

3 Django Unchained cast members

Both Sharon and I were distracted by a staggering number of errors and anachronisms in the movie, especially items from the wrong century. To our disbelief, the DVD came with a Tarantino interview in which he bragged about the historical research. That was, pardon the pun, djarring.

Anachronisms leaped off the screen. They included wrong period clothing, wrong period guns (multiple), wrong period props and accessories, and very wrong period verbal expressions (mother-ƒer? Seriously?). When non-experts notice 20+ errors in a film, that celluloid is in trouble.

Except for two pieces of incidental music, I won’t address the soundtrack beyond saying the modern cuts djangled the nerves. It felt like an amateur YouTube video where contributors slip in unrelated cuts of music and images, without regard to the story. David Frost called out-of-context media the Lord Privy Seal effect.

Likewise, accidental appearances of modern devices aren’t included here. For example, some sharp-eyed viewer noticed a security camera high on the veranda of the antebellum mansion.

Time Warped

  1. The movie contained the famous bust of Nefertiti, incorrectly referred to as Cleopatra. It wasn’t discovered until 1907. (I learned of Nefertiti as a child. My mother gave my father a bust for his birthday. I mean she gave him a statuette.)
  2. Teddy Bears, associated with President Teddy Roosevelt, wouldn't appear until the 1900s.
  3. Thousand-dollar bills weren’t issued until 1861.
  4. The Confederacy had not been formed and the Civil War had not begun, so Confederate uniforms wouldn't have existed in 1858.
  5. Likewise, the Ku Klux Klan didn’t group until the end of the Civil War.
  6. The town of Lubbock didn't exist until 1890, well after the American Civil War.
  7. The word malarkey came out of the 1920-1930s.
  8. Für Elise famously wasn’t discovered until 1867, four decades after Beethoven’s death and nine years after the movie’s period.
  9. The song ‘In the Sweet By and By’ was published in 1868, a decade after the movie.
  10. Flip-top beer bottles may or may not have been a German innovation, but at least in the US, they weren’t patented until 1875.
  11. Beer pumps were first noted in the UK in 1691 and patented a century later in 1785, but this methodology of draught beer only became popular in the mid 1900s.
  12. Drinking straws made of paper were invented in 1888.
  13. While cigarette holders were introduced in the 1700s, they didn’t become popular until the flapper era through the 1970s.
  14. Dynamite was invented by Alfred Nobel in 1864 and patented in 1867.
  15. Hearing aids weren’t invented until the 1900’s and miniature aids didn’t appear until the latter half of the 20th century.
  16. Attendant to the previous, the first primitive plastics weren’t introduced until 1907 and materials suitable for hearing aids and chin straps took another half century to come about.
  17. Even some guns were out of place and time.
    1. The Remington New Model Army revolver, used by Django and Billy Crash, weren’t manufactured until 1860.
    2. The Remington double-barreled Derringer, used by Django and Dr. Shultz, weren’t manufactured until 1866.

    Bonus Points

    Sharon caught most of the following:

  18. Cool looking sunglasses and contacts weren’t available in 1858.
  19. Hats with cord locks and eyelets were a 20th century invention.
  20. Likewise, trousers with belt loops weren’t an 1850s convenience.

I can’t think of another movie that flooded the screen with historical inaccuracies. What about you? Do you have such a film in mind?

13 September 2022

Editing Evolution

My process for editing has changed over the years, and especially more so lately as the number of editing projects has increased. My first editing projects happened back when manuscripts arrived in the day’s mail, and all editing was done on hardcopy. Some of those manuscripts bled red (or blue, or whatever color pen I was using that day) by the time I finished.

At the back: A novella in progress.
The other three piles:
Anthologies in progress.
Email eliminated the need for authors to send hardcopy, but not the way I worked. I printed, read, and edited on paper before entering my edits and comments into the appropriate Word documents. Over time, I realized my process was responsible for the decimation of much of the world’s forests.

My current process, which may evolve yet again in the future:

1. Before I read a submission, I reformat it to double-spaced 12 pt. Times New Roman; flush left, ragged right; .5” paragraph indents, and no odd spacing between paragraphs. Then I do a quick search-and-replace to fix common problems such as improper dashes and improper quotation marks. I do this because I’ve discovered that the visual appearance of a manuscript (font, font size, etc.) impacts my opinion of it. By making every submission look the same before I read, I find it easier to judge the work based solely on the writing.

2. I read the manuscript on my computer, and I have track changes turned on. As I read, I correct obvious errors (their for there, for example), delete extraneous words, and make notes about things that confuse me. If I find myself making multiple corrections and changes, or find myself  inserting multiple notes, I’ll stop reading and reject the submission.

3. Then I run the file through spellcheck, which almost always identifies something of concern. Sometimes spellcheck finds an error I missed and sometimes it identifies non-errors, such as slang words and dropped gs (goin’ for going).

4. At this point, anticipating an acceptance, I print a hard copy and read the story one more time. Occasionally, I find something serious I glossed over when reading on the computer screen, and I reject the story. The likelihood, though, is that if I’ve reached the point of printing a hardcopy, I’m going to accept the story.

5. If I have identified any additional corrections or have any additional questions, I input them into the Word document.

6. I then send the edited Word document, which might be clean as a whistle (I love those writers!) or may look like the electronic version of a paper manuscript bleeding editorial red ink, to the writer.

7. Upon receiving the edited manuscript, the writer curses me, my ancestors, and my progeny (I may be projecting because that’s what I do when I get an edited manuscript back from an editor).

8. At some point, the manuscript returns. Sometimes writers accept every correction and change, sometimes we arm wrestle over something, and sometimes—if my corrections, changes, and notes are extensive—there may be another back-and-forth exchange with the writer.

9. Once I have all the edited manuscripts in hand, I collect author bios, write an editorial or an introduction, and then organize everything, determining in which order stories will appear in the anthology or magazine issue.

10. Then I spellcheck the completed manuscript and print a hardcopy, which I read cover-to-cover.

11. If there are any additional corrections necessary at this point, I input them into the final manuscript, and then send it to the publisher.

I have had the opportunity to work with three co-editors—Trey R. Barker with Guns + Tacos, Gary Phillips with Jukes & Tonks, and Barb Goffman with A Project to be Named Later—and each brought a different skillset to the party. Even so, the process remained much the same, with each co-editor having a pass at each manuscript and adding their corrections, changes, and notes.

The ultimate goal, regardless of my process and regardless of whether I’m working alone or with a co-editor, is to ensure that each published story is the best it can be and that the final product is worthy of a reader’s time.

Though this is published post-Bouchercon, it was written pre-Bouchercon. I hope I had the opportunity to meet some of you there!

24 May 2022

What Fired Me Up to Write a Fireworks Story

Shortly before July 4th last year, I posted this on my Facebook page:

One day I am going to write a story in which someone who sets off fireworks in a suburban neighborhood, not giving a crap about the animals he's scaring, gets what's coming. And I won't feel bad at all. 
The mom of a freaked-out dog
Boy, did the responses pour in. I got 145 likes, 29 loves, 47 hugs, and a smattering of other emojis. The comments were just as enthusiastic. Here's just a handful:
  • PLEASE please write that story!
  • Also endorsed by moms of small children, fire marshals, ER staff, those with PTSD. Please do something to those who sell the fireworks also . . . 
  • I'm happy to consult on this one! People here are also very concerned about their horses being frightened by them. Apparently several were injured last year
  • And I would read that book and recommend it to everyone I know. My poor boy Paddy has not left my side for hours now. 
  • You’d get lots of support from those of us in California who are sniffing for wild-fire smoke after every very illegal bang.
  • This has always been my least favorite holiday simply because of the loud noise and the fear and confusion it causes to animals, pets and wildlife both. Then there are the accidents to humans and fire potential.
Buoyed by the 100+ comments, I decided to write a story addressing the impact of fireworks. Then I saw a call for stories for an upcoming anthology to be titled Low Down Dirty Vote Volume 3: The Color of My Vote. Authors were asked to submit stories involving voting and color. We were giving wide latitude in how we interpreted the theme. As you may imagine, I thought of fireworks. They come in all kinds of colors. People who shoot them off frequently say they're being patriotic (red, white, and blue). People who don't like their impact see red. People who sell them want green. There were many more color associations I could make. Yes, I thought, a story involving fireworks could be a good fit.
Then I had to work in a voting aspect. Maybe, I thought, a city council could be about to vote on a proposal to bar residents from shooting off fireworks. I created a main character, a teenage girl, who is desperate for the ban to pass because of how fireworks set off in her neighborhood scare her dog, Bailey. The vote is expected to be close, and she has a friend whose neighbor is on the city council, so they decide to try to push him to vote their way ... with an unconventional approach.
Now it's almost a year later, and Memorial Dayanother holiday associated with fireworksis right around the corner. It's the perfect time for Low Down Dirty Vote Volume 3 to have been published. And I'm delighted the book includes my story "For Bailey." It's not the straight-on revenge story some people were hoping for, but it does address the effects fireworks can have on veterans with PTSD, firefighters, the environment, wildlife, and, especially, pets. I should add that I do not endorse any real-life crimes against people who set off fireworks or sell them. But I do like using fiction to try to open some eyes to the impact fireworks can have while offering an entertaining tale at the same time.
The anthology is out in trade paperback and ebook. It includes 22 stories of crime and suspense, ranging from comic to tragic and from cozy to noir. You'll also find a few stories involving science fiction, horror, and fantasy. The publisher is donating all the proceeds to Democracy Docket, an organization fighting voter suppression in the United States.

Here are the authors with stories in the book, in order of story appearance:

David Corbett, Faye Snowden, Eric Beetner, Sarah M. Chen, Gabriel Valjan, Jackie Ross Flaum, David Hagerty, Thomas Pluck, Katharina Gerlach, Stephen Buehler, Ember Randall, Camille Minichino, Patricia (Pat) E. Canterbury, James McCrone, Ann Parker, Miguel Alfonso Ramos, Misty Sol, DJ Tyrer, Anshritha, Bev Vincent, Barb Goffman, and Travis Richardson

You can order a paper copy of the book through many indie bookstores. Click here to find some near you. If you prefer Amazon (paper or ebook), click here. Paper copies are also available through Barnes and Noble. Click here for them.

The anthology supports a worthy cause, so I hope you'll consider picking up a copy. I also hope you enjoy my story and you and your loved ones (human and furry) don't suffer too much from the effects of fireworks this summer.