Finally Checking In

Okay, here I am. Whew. I did some things though, so be proud.

  1. Blog Again. A post. Yeppers.
  2. Edit my MG Novel. A few changes, but there will be more since I submitted it to my writer’s group.
  3. Enter at least 2 writing contests. No progress here either.
  4. Regularly attend my writer’s group. I almost forgot. We were watching Squid Game when my phone reminded me. Whew!
  5. Bonus Goal: Write the sequel to my MG fantasy during NaNoWriMo. At least it’s still October, right?

An itty bitty baby does keep you busier than you think. Remember in college when you had all the time in the world somehow? I feel like I did. I could play Diablo until the wee hours of the morning and still have enough time to get my homework done. Ah, Diablo. The good old days. Ah, video games. The good old days.

What are you missing about your good old days? Are you hitting your goals? Let me know!

Photo by Lisa on

Dropping Balls

Oh hi there. It’s me.

I missed Sunday’s check in and nearly missed the #midweekupdate. Guys, it’s hard to get back into blogging. Especially with a little dude rolling around.

Another issue is work has been extra busy. I kind of have a last minute boss. It’s just how he rolls. So currently it’s last minute and here we are.

  1. Blog Again. We’ll, at least I’m making progress here.
  2. Edit my MG Novel. No progress.
  3. Enter at least 2 writing contests. No progress here either.
  4. Regularly attend my writer’s group. This one is still in progress. I think we meet next week or so.
  5. Bonus Goal: Write the sequel to my MG fantasy during NaNoWriMo. At least it’s still October, right?

I think I need an animated cat to dance with, because two steps forward, one step… Wait… *googles* Hey, that’s not how the song goes. Well there’s my whole problem! Until next time!

To Attribute or Not to Attribute

I want to share a little secret with you. Along with a healthy obsession with science and the Cosmos, if there’s one thing Carl Sagan was passionate about it was his Baloney Detector kit. But if it was two things, it was beta reading his friend’s manuscripts and discovering they didn’t know what the bleep they were doing when it came to attribution.*

What is attribution? The most common way we see this done in writing is with said. There are other ways to do it: replied, growled, retorted, hollered, yelled, screamed, etc. etc. etc.

And there are plenty of ways not to do it. So for the sake of all the beta readers, editors, agents, peeps out there who want to stab their eyes out rather than read wrong attribution one more time, I present to you.

attribution jae scribbles

I think the best way to do this is using examples. And since Man of Steel is coming out this month, we’ll do it Supes style. Ready, set, up, up and away!


Once upon a time there was a man named Clark Kent, and he had a secret. “I’ve just let my good pal Carl Sagan beta read my manuscript, and boy did he have a lot of feedback”, Clark said.


The correct way to attribute this would be: “…boy did he have a lot of feedback,” Clark said. When putting within quotes a sentence that is followed by attribution that would normally end in a period, replace that period with a comma within the quotes and stick the attribution on the outside of the quotes.

“That is correct,” he said.

“But you haven’t identified who said it,” I added.

“I thought that much was obvious. It’s me Clark,” he continued.

Get the point?

But don’t use a comma if it isn’t attribution following. Like so:

“Know what song I really hate? That Five For Fighting Superman song. It makes me sound like a cry-baby wimp,” Superman crushed the CD. <–more on this below, but use a period in this situation where the comma was.


But what about question marks, exclamation points, ellipses and em dashes? How do we attribute them?

“Good question,” said Clark. “Fooled you! That statement wasn’t actually a question, but sometimes writers accidentally write it with a question mark.”

“Then how do you do it?” I asked.

“Exactly like you just did. Well done!”

Question marks and exclamation marks alike remain inside the quotes, just like a comma would. There’s no need for any of this stuff:

“But what about this?”, he asked, adding another comma for good measure.

“You don’t need a comma after the quotes. It’s wrong!” I cried.


This one I’ve seen a lot more lately all over the place, and I must protest. Please, please, please don’t do this anymore. You’ll make all your peeps super happy and agents won’t auto-reject you anymore (Note: This only works if this was the only reason they were auto-rejecting you.)

Superman wanted to catch a flick, so he flew over to the theater and hovered just outside of it. Using his x-ray vision and super hearing, he just watched the movie outside. “It’s not like there are any laws against this,” he hovered close to the wall.


See what happened here? Sometimes I think writers are trying to marry action with dialogue that should never be joined together like that in the first place. You can’t hover your speech. And action is NOT attribution, unless it includes something that you can do with the mouth, like gasping, laughing, yelling, etc.

But it can get tricksy. There are things you can do with your mouth that don’t work to attribution either, such as:

“This is a really interesting post,” she smiled. <–Okay, but it’s not really a smile that did the work of the words. Even if you’re saying it while smiling, it’s better to write it in that way. It could be: she said, smiling. Or maybe she was laughing, so you can just go straight to: she laughed. But more often than not, it’s better to leave the attribution simple and save the action for later.


Sometimes we attribute when it’s not even necessary. And sometimes we over-attribute. If it’s perfectly clear who is doing the talking, save yourself the extra words and don’t attribute. What do I mean?

Superman punched Zod in the face. “How do you like them apples now? Huh, Zod?”

No said necessary when it’s coupled together on the same line. Plus you have Supes saying Zod’s name, which makes it even clearer it isn’t Zod speaking. And if it’s just the two of them in this scene, it’s even more obvious.

Let’s say you’ve been doing a back and forth between characters.

“Gee, Mr. Kent, I don’t know how to take photos,” Jimmy said.

Clark clenched his fists. “But you’re the newspaper’s photographer. That is your job isn’t it?”

Jimmy looked down at his shoes, a tear trickling down his cheek. “I just needed a job.”

Sometimes you need attribution, but when you’ve established a pattern, especially coupled with action, you can leave the attribution off. And you should.

But one more thing. Don’t do stuff like this:

“I don’t know, is red and blue too ostentatious?” Superman asked. He looked at Lois. “I mean, Batman does all black and he looks so cool,” he continued. <–You’ve attributed twice in the same sentence. We already know it’s Supes talking. No need to clutter it up with more attribution.

Or this:

“Are you kidding?” Lois stood, knocking her chair over.

“Is it too ostentacious?”

Superman looked out the window. Red and blue were his colors—his own kind of awesome.

Did the ostentatious line belong to Supes or Lois? If it’s Lois’ line, it should be a part of the same paragraph. If it’s Supes’ it should be with his paragraph. Otherwise it’s confusing. While it’s true that with more lines we might be able to infer whose line it was, but why not make it easier on your readers in the first place?


When attribution comes at the end, if it’s a pronoun, it will ALWAYS be lower case. So do this:

“Truth, justice, and the American way,” he said.

Not this:

“I’m thinking of starting a Justice League,” He explained.


Okay, now hopefully we can all go forth and rid our manuscripts of attribution error. That’s one small step in editing, one giant leap toward a publishing contract!

Does wrong attribution bother you? Or are you an attribution culprit? Learn anything new? Anything I forgot that you would like to add?

*Note: Okay, maybe that’s not 100% accurate. Who knows whether or not Carl had time to beta-read. But you can bet if he did, he’d be pissed about bad attribution.

One last note. I didn’t know how I felt about Man of Steel, being highly disappointed by Superman Returns, but after I saw this trailer, my doubts faded. I can’t wait for it to come out. Unfortunately I’ll be out of town on premiere weekend (in San Fran where they charge 3 arms and 7 legs for a movie), so I’ll be a little later getting to watching it. 😦 (This trailer almost made me cry. Almost.) Let’s do ourselves a favor and keep our fingers crossed this is the Superman movie we’ve been waiting for.


The Writing Game

I’ve been working steadily on polishing my WIP Shade for probably two years now, with breaks in between for other projects. First it was having a friend who edits professionally go through it with me and changing it as I learned. Then it was doing a major rewrite after a conference. And then again with Pitch Wars.

I got to the point where I felt pretty confident about editing—as far as process goes. But that’s when I started to notice a shift in writing. When it came to starting brand new—and I’m talking a project you’re not sprucing up, I mean 100% scratch—it was hard to switch over from editing mode. Part of me felt like I had to edit as I went along. And I’m not discounting that, but I do think it can hinder creativity.


If you’ve been in this game long enough, you’ve been through different writing phases. For me I see these stages as plotting, creating, and editing. There are complexities within those stages, but I think it’s sufficient enough to cover the areas of writing with these phases. You can be in all three at one time, but my philosophy is you’ll likely be in one of them more than another at different times while you create story.

And these stages don’t necessarily occur in that order. You might be creating, then decide it’s time for some plotting, and then go on to editing. There’s no wrong or right way when it comes to process, except to say do it right for you.


This is the stage where ideas are knocking down your door. Maybe you can’t even sleep at night because ideas are bothering you so much. Scenes are vivid in your mind. You might take to outlining, if you’re a plotter like me. You may also do some research to help the plotting along in your mind. Perhaps you gather photographs or other things that remind you of the story bouncing around in your head.

Often I have to outline just so I can get some peace. It seems like during this stage it’s hard to stay focused on conversations. Sometimes books, too, are difficult to read because the ideas are flowing.

The upside is you’re on top of the world. You can’t stop creating and you hope you can somehow capture all of that wondrous creativity before you. For me, it’s like that scene in Tangled where they’re surrounded by sky lanterns. How can you possible focus on anything else when you’re surrounded by all of that?

tangled sky lanternsLife is good and you’ve got creativity flowing.

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Win the War? Wait, There’s More!


So let’s look over everything we’ve accomplished in the series so far:

  • Proper manuscript formatting is important.
  • Let your manuscript get cold before diving into major editing.
  • Read aloud to edit, read backward, switch fonts—change it up so you can see the errors.
  • Word economize!
  • Let other people read it. Friends, family, beta readers, writers groups, conferences. Get as much feedback as you can.
  • Get thick skin. Respond with dignity and grace to feedback.
  • You’ll probably have to rewrite. Accept that as part of the process.
  • Get some cred by entering contests. Also get some professional feedback this way.
  • When it’s time, consider working with an editor—especially if you’re self-publishing.

It always kills me when published authors say, “Hey, I get paid to make stuff up.” As though that’s all that goes into it. I guess they’re smiling at what they get to do for a living. But make no mistake, as I’m certain those of you who’ve been through this process already, writing is hard work. It’s some of the hardest work you can do. It’s an emotional rollercoaster ride of chaos. It’s probably like giving birth and then raising the kid to maturity. There will be moments of joy and moments of pure hell. But in the end, it’s worth it.


Suppose you’ve done all this and then some. Now what? Well, if you’ve really been through tons of drafts and had multiple people look at it, it’s time to get this thing published.

Self-pub. If you’re self-publishing, it’s time to study other self-published authors and see how they became successful. It’s also time to learn all you can about marketing your book to bring it the most success possible. It’s going to take a ton of work, so please don’t think uploading a novel to Amazon will score you instant success. You’ll have to get the word out. But plenty have done it and been successful, so learn from them.

Traditional. For those sticking to the traditional route. Now comes the fun bit we call querying.

Oh, Luke! How’d you get in here?

Anyway, if you thought all this stuff was hard, wait until you get into querying. It’s not unlike novel editing, only more intense because you have to be clever on one page instead of several.

But there are places that can help you out. Visit Janet Reid’s Query Shark blog to see the good, the bad, and the ugly—often the ugly. Learn what not to do so you do it right in your own.

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