The Scary Question

As a kid, I didn’t watch horror movies. Not that I didn’t like them: I would have had to ID-100202629watch one to know. I mean, I would do ANYTHING other than watch the Saturday late-night Creature Feature on the old black-and-white many, many years ago. Spend money to see a horror movie at the theater? No way. No Frankenstein, no Werewolf, no Mummy, no “Nighmare on Elm Street,” no “Chuckie,” no “Night of the Living Dead,” no “Exorcist.”

Then I decided avoiding those movies meant not knowing anything about them. So was it fair to decide if I liked them or not? So, to be fair, I watched a few. And I find out that most of them were silly. Not for me at all. But at least I took the time to find out.

What I discovered about myself at an early age was I like knowing about something. It was reassuring. I wasn’t an overly curious kid, nor a great student, but the was a simple joy in knowing something that was satisfying. The best part of a reading a mystery was the ‘finding out’ part.

As I near the launch of my Shig Sato mystery series, I realize this whole enterprise is scary. My journey through the writing life has taken me to an important crossroads. The question that has needed answering is: what will it be? Traditional publishing or Indie? The first is quite simply the way things have been done for centuries. Never mind that the business is going through an upheaval. Going the traditional route is, well, traditional. It’s what most people expect.

But Indie: self-publishing has taken a life of it’s own, and it’s much easier to get a book into print than ever before.

Is that the point, though, getting the book into print? Getting my story out to readers?

I don’t think so. I think the point is assuming this role of writer, of author, with a certain gravitas, a certain responsibility. There’s lots of great information in the digital world about how to become an independent author.  But what does one do with all that information.

Ultimately, a person has to decide to go forward with the project. Put up or shut up. Play or go home. My own list of excuses for not having an e-book version of my first installment in my series has been no time, no money, no knowledge of what to do or how to do it, no cover art, no editing service, no marketing plan ….

Well. As true as all that may have been, it’s not true any more.

Am I ready?

That is the scary question.

The answer is yes.

See you soon.

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Words That Don’t Belong

I am writing a mystery series, and in my quest to find a forgotten fact from the first volume, I used the the word ‘back’ for my search. As I skimmed through the manuscript, ‘back’ occurred far more often than I would have thought, and nearly every one was unnecessary.

What a revelation — and it points to something I know lives in the back of my mind, to come out when I’m editing: omit pet words and phrases unless it is absolutely the best word to use.

For example:

“His worst fears were now fact: facing Miki’s death and owning up to his ties with the Fujimoris overcame Sato as he made his way back to Azabu Station.”

Omit back:

“… he made his way to Azabu Station.”

Or this: “Mrs. Abe went on to report that the delinquent was back, …”

Better: “Mrs. Abe went on to report that the delinquent had returned, …”

Then there is: “Katsuhara knew without asking he was going to take his boss back to the Plum Blossom.”

Better: “Katsuhara knew without asking he was going to take his boss to the Plum Blossom.”

I found this to be true with words like turn, got, replied —  simple words that once the sentence is spoken aloud, sound out of place.

What words do you regularly use and then omit from your manuscript?