Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Desert Inferno and yet another edit

Edit, edit and edit again and even then things get by without being seen. Because I plan to bring Desert Inferno out as the next paperback through CreateSpace, I did edit again after all those other edits.

What's that? How could it be??? I found goofs. I considered giving up writing about the time I came on the fourth inconsistency (more were waiting). My writing does not support professional editors; and if you get someone who is not, they might screw your book up worse than you did because they don't understand where it's going or why the dialogue was as it was. So I do it-- with help from some reading friends. I miss things. They evidently do. Some readers won't.

I chose this book to go next because it's the contemporary story of the ranch that is established in Tucson Moon (book comes out in late November) where the marshal in Arizona Sunset will be the hero.

Desert Inferno carries on the story of the O'Brian family and was actually the first book I put out as an eBook in December 2011. How it still had errors, I do not know :( but it's in shape now. (Incidentally if you bought it earlier or have one of the thousands of free copies floating around, you can go to your Kindle Manager and get the latest edit. The characters didn't change. It was just silly juxtapositions of events mostly). 

Below is it's opening scene. It actually had no errors leaving me to think it'd be an easy edit... Not so much.

future back cover for the paperback

The brush, rich with vermillion oil paint daubed across one edge of the Payne's grey rock. Well that didn’t work. Rachel O’Brian scraped the garish color away. Critically, she stepped back to survey the large canvas propped against the rear of her pick-up truck.  The lower swoop of shadow across the desert with sunlight glittering on the hills projected the feeling she had hoped to convey of depth and distance, but...
Her gaze kept returning to the lower right corner. There was something missing, a quality of deadness that ended the canvas at a bad point, drawing the eye away from the cacti and yucca, her intended center of interest. Was the problem a fatal one or had she lost perspective?
Absentmindedly, she used her wrist to push a long strand of hair behind her ear. She looked from the canvas to the landscape. To her eye, what might have seemed barren to another was lush with yucca, rocks, cactus and mesquite. Across the border into Mexico were the rugged, pale purple, Parajito Mountains muted by dust in the air.
"Shoot," she grumbled, "doesn’t one ever just work out?" Her fingers nearly itched to take hold of the palette knife and peel off layers of paint beginning again from a raw surface. A more perverse satisfaction would come from taking the knife from her belt and ripping the canvas to shreds. Of course, it would do nothing to save the painting.
She reminded herself that sometimes what at first seemed disastrous in a painting had a way of becoming its best point. She wiped her paint smeared fingers with a rag. ‘Give it time. Patience, Rachel. Remember. Patience.’ From the time she'd been small her father vainly attempted to explain how it was better to wait for things, they would be sweeter when they finally arrived. She had never become convinced.
Her paintings all happened in a white, hot heat. She layered on color, shaped the landscape to suit her inner vision-- a feeling she only rarely perfectly captured. If she didn't work quickly, impatiently, the fleeting feeling might be taken away, the impulse of inspiration disappearing in a myriad of details. Through university training, private art lessons, she had learned a degree of patience with her work, learned to temper the heat, to bring the work back to her studio where she would struggle through the composition, and finally put a signature at the bottom--if it was worth signing and showing. They weren't all.
Again she stared into the distance, pivoting a little as she reached into the back of her truck, and brought out a thermos of lemon flavored ice water. Squatting beside the truck in the filtered shade of a mesquite tree, she drank from the thermos, continuing to stare at the landscape before her. In another half hour, she would have to leave as the colors would be washed out by intense sunlight. A faint breeze ruffled the tendrils that had pulled out of her long braid.
"So, Matilda," she asked her four-wheel drive truck, "shall we call it a day?" In the way of good, long-standing friendships, the truck listened, not commenting, recommending, criticizing, nor expressing its preference.
Raised in this rugged country, Rachel had learned to crawl with the desert as companion, teacher and friend. Her family’s ranch stood in the midst of mountains and desert. Nestling against national forest, the land stretched over rugged hills, grassland, yucca, live oak, and mesquite trees to reach the border. Except for the occasional illegal immigrant group, or less desirably the drug traders, it was free of people, a roadless region seldom seen by outsiders.
With the beauty of the cactus and wildflowers, birds and animals, and the challenge of the rugged mountains, its terrain yielded an endless string of paintings that her collectors were quick to buy.
She knew their secret though, those collectors. They really wanted on their walls the love of the land that she knew each of her paintings attempted to capture, to encapsulate. She sold love, a love of nature.  She herself intensely loved this land, and she was fortunate enough to be able to let it shine through the paint.
Out here, she had learned how suddenly life could end. When her turn came to join her ancestors, she hoped it’d be on this land with her ashes scattered over possibly the same places she painted today.
Some feared her land. She understood that. Some of its denizens were poisonous, some of its people dangerous.  As a small child, her papa had given her practical lessons in desert survival. She knew to avoid most of the hazards and appreciate all of the beauties, to never take anything for granted, knowing full well the lethal promise for the unwary, the potential for an instant of bad judgment to lead to disaster.
At first she thought her eye had been attracted by a jackrabbit or coyote, then realized it wasn't an animal. She squinted but couldn't decide what she saw or perhaps sensed—something out of place. Pulling out a pair of binoculars, she studied the terrain.  ‘A piece of cloth or…’  It was white. Maybe a... She shook her head with uncertainty. Her inner voice told her to look more closely.
She tucked her shirt into belted shorts and reached into the glove compartment to retrieve a small 9mm handgun and holster, threw a canteen over one shoulder, and grabbed a soft brim hat. Her feet were already shod with hiking boots and rolled down socks.
There was a time when she’d never have expected it to be a person. She remembered growing up when the only strangers to this land were lost hikers or those whose four-wheel drive vehicle had failed. She had, however, always understood the dangers and knew through the stories of her family that this land had never been held lightly.
It wasn't easy to line herself across the land, down through arroyos, around cholla cacti. Now and then she glanced back to her truck, but kept it in her mind where she had seen the white. "I've got to be crazy," she muttered as the heat of the sun beat down on her shoulders. "Nobody's out here." But what if there was? Someone in trouble. She must know.
When she again glimpsed the white, she recognized it as a man's shirt, ripped and torn, riffled by the faint breeze.  She hurried. Closer she could see it was a middle-aged man, hair thin on top, lying on his stomach, his form ominously still. 
She knelt at his side. "Are you all right? Como esta usted?" Was he breathing?  Swallowing hard, she touched his neck, attempting to find a barely detectable pulse. His skin was badly burnt and hot.
"Can you hear me?" she asked again. "I have water, but you have to drink."  Carefully, she turned him over, trying to prop up his head with her knee to get him in a position where she could dribble water into his mouth.  "Drink," she commanded.
The man made what appeared to be a gurgling sound, his eyes opened for a moment. She doubted he saw her before he closed them.  She poured a little water into his mouth, hoping he would swallow and not choke.  As best she could tell the water was running right out onto the ground.  She poured water into her hand and stroked it across his face.
"Try to drink. Can you hear me?"  He opened his eyes again, muttered something. She bent closer. "D...uh..." The light in his eyes was gone.  Although Rachel had seen animals take their last breath, she had never been there when a human did. She had now. Before she again felt, she knew the pulse in his neck would be gone.  She laid him down. "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” she whispered as she sketched the sign of the cross over his forehead.
She had to think what to do. She shouldn’t move the body, had to notify someone. She shivered as though a cold wind had blown into her heart.


Mark said...

Self editing is one of the hardest things to do. I read over reports and documents I write at work and don't see the mistakes. I mean I literally don't see them. The same thing happens with my blog posts. Sometimes I read a post after it has appeared and see things I could swear were not there when I finished.

Rain Trueax said...

It helps if it's been a long while between reads which is why I never write something and put it out right away. I wrote more about this in my writing blog-- Pitfalls of editing with a link to a book that hit on some of those. The author said what I believe-- a cheap editor can ruin your book. To get a good one is going to cost over a thousand dollars. Yes, some get lucky and have a friend who really can do it, but that's rare. Beta readers probably do better with friends who can see where a plot element doesn't make sense but to do a full edit takes a pro and they are not cheap (unless they are friends). I just hope I caught all those glitches this go round on the book. But then I thought I had fifteen other times ;) One advantage is it had been quite awhile since I'd read it and in some ways it was new to me. The mistakes this time were things involving often timing. I can always though improve anything I write if it's been six months as when you do it all the time, you get better. I didn't mind that so much as having it be coffee in one sentence and tea in the next. The irony of that is a friend had told me about it and I thought I had corrected it-- but clearly I hadn't...

Rain Trueax said...

the funny part is even looking at the potential back cover here has led me to see where I should improve the words to make it better reflect the story. Sometimes I think for me writing is such an organic thing that it can never be pinned down. Always there is something more even when I think I have everything exactly as I want it to be. I see it with the blog also where constant change, new ideas, new ways pop up. There has to come a time we say fini with a painting but I know I look at my fired clay sculptures and often think-- if I did it today, I'd make that arm shorter/longer/something... With fired clay though there is no going back but only redoing it.

Tara Crowley said...

If ever I were to publish, I am blessed to have a friend who is a crack-shot editor for a major publishing house. We went to college together, and her review of my writing was more instructive than the teachers. Having written reports for work most of my adult life, I know that another set of eyes, or two, is essential. We stop 'seeing' after so many read-throughs. I catch errors all the time in books and wonder how the heck that got past the editors.

Love your excerpt here. A good read.

Rain Trueax said...

Thank you, Tara and you are lucky to have such a friend. Farm Boss catches stuff for me as well as Diane as she reads everything I do and she calls it as she sees it without sugar coating. We do that for each other. The thing that got me this go round was the inconsistencies not the essence. But that can sure bug a reader. The funny part is this back cover which fortunately isn't up yet but seeing it here made me see it anew and fix what I would have regretted later :)

Rain Trueax said...

Weirdly my original banner for Thoughts disappeared with a supposed unworking URL. Since I couldn't find it, I went for a new one.

Is it mercury retrograde yet???

Hattie said...

You have such an eye for detail and at the same time keep the action coming.
I would not presume to critique, because I think you yourself are the best judge of your work.
I do want to read the book and write some things about it, but I am not an editor and anything I say would be reader response.

Hattie said...

More: I downloaded Desert Inferno a while ago but did not read it. I will now do so.

Rain Trueax said...

reader responsive is what we all are, Hattie. I bet you'd be an excellent beta reader-- one who reads for the logic and characters, etc. I have appreciated your support.

Rain Trueax said...

be sure you download the improved version before you read it. It's free fortunately-- one of Amazon's best features. :)

Hattie said...

I don't know if I can do that, Rain. It tells me I've already bought the book.

Rain Trueax said...

Go to manage your kindle. At the top is something called automatic updates. You can turn that on or off. If you have a problem though, I can work it out with you privately as nobody should have to buy a book twice. Sometimes I get an email notification when a book has been improved but I notice I don't always; so not sure what that's about.

Rain Trueax said...

A better option if you don't want to risk having them re download something you like as you have it would be delete it from your Kindle; then go back to Manage your Kindle and under actions request it being downloaded. I've done that one before

Rain Trueax said...

Don't delete it from your Amazon list or then it's gone. Just for your own Kindle

Kay Dennison said...

I hate self-editng, too!!!! And lately, I've been worse than usual -- quitting smoking has me tap-dancing on the edge. I thought that by know, I'd have a semblance of sanity back!!!!