Monday, November 27, 2017

Unnecessary Redundancies

Déjà vu all over again...

I mentioned in my last blog that I had re-released THE TRAZ and FATAL ERROR, the first two novels in my BackTracker crime series. 

In addition to astounding new covers (thanks, Cathy at Avalon Graphics), a fair amount of editing and revisions took these books up a notch.

Thanks to my editor, Elaine Denning, some of those improvements involved 'tightening the writing', which in layman's terms, means getting rid of the unnecessary. Those who produce Readers' Digest Condensed versions are masters at this craft.

Here are my top ten pet redundancies that I often find in my writing as well as in others'. The unnecessaries are highlighted.

10. No Trespassing Without Permission
 9. She sat down in the chair (or laid down on the bed.)
 8. She looked up at the sky 
 7.  "Stop!" he yelled loudly. "Don't you dare!" she warned.
 6. He put the car in reverse and backed up
 5. She closed her eyes and went to sleep.
 4. It reminded her of memories of her childhood.
 3. "We do not feed our cattle steroids or hormones."
 2. I'm Canadian, eh? or I'm Canadian, eh?
 1. They found a dead body behind the school.

Eileen Schuh, Author
Schrödinger's Cat
Web site:

Friday, November 24, 2017

New and Improved!


Back in January, six years after THE TRAZ was released, I deemed it ready for a makeover. This thrilling crime novel was not only the first is my BackTracker series, but my debut novel—the first book of mine ever published.
Ah, the thrill of holding that paperback in my hands, seeing my name on the cover, inhaling the intoxicating smell of its freshly-printed pages. The sound when I riffled the pages.

After publishing THE TRAZ, I went on to publish FATAL ERROR Book 2, FIREWALLS Book 3, and OPERATION MAXTRACKER Book 4 and SHADOW RIDERS, a novel that runs parallel to my series. Also during this time, WolfSinger Publications out of Colorado published my two science fiction novellas, SCHRODINGER’S CAT and DISPASSIONATE LIES.

My experience as a writer expanded and my writing abilities, bloomed. Although never embarrassed by those earlier releases, I had an intense desire to revisit them, improve them, and make my series more cohesive from start to end.

I spent 2017 doing just that and have now completed the exercise. The second editions of both THE TRAZ and FATAL ERROR are now on the market in both ebook and paperback formats. Doing the revisions was a lengthy and difficult, but passionate exercise, topped with the skilled editing help from Elaine Denning and stunning new covers by Cathy over at Avalon Graphics.

Although the first edition of FATAL ERROR is no longer available for purchase, the first edition of THE TRAZ is. I suggest aspiring novelists may want to purchase both books and compare them to see firsthand the difference powerful, skilled, keenly-edited writing can make to a story.

Right off the top (after noticing the new cover), readers will see the difference a powerful opening page makes. CHAPTER I of the second edition of THE TRAZ effectively introduces not only the novel but the series. It creates a glorious sense of suspense that doesn’t ease until the final chapter. It’s full of danger, anticipation, and fear.

This scene came to me in a dream and is what started me writing this series. Every night, it appeared to me, but would never advance. The vision would end before I knew who that young girl on the ridge was, what she was doing, and what danger pulsed through the scene.

Because of the difficulties of starting a series in the middle of a drama, which is where this scene takes place, editorial decisions led to cutting that initial scene. The power it had over me, however, was never forgotten.

By comparing the two editions of THE TRAZ, you can decide for yourself how effective that change to the opening chapter is, as well as examine the effect other revisions have on the novel.

If you have purchased FATAL ERROR in the past, you can get the re-release and compare those two books as well.

If you have any comments or suggestions on the revisions, I’d love to hear from you!
New and Improved has been brought to you by the BackTracker series.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Unbecoming of a leader

For our Governor General Julie Payett to scoff at people who have a different belief system than the one she’s chosen for herself, is decidedly not becoming of a Canadian leader.

When the future of the world could very well depend on all of us promoting understanding, respect and tolerance among people of differing cultures and beliefs, her speech rang crass.

We all choose our beliefs, as she has chosen hers and she has a right to her beliefs and a right to promote those beliefs, as do the rest of us.  But it is not becoming of her or any of us to consider ourselves more intelligent, more worthy, more valuable, wiser than others because of our beliefs.  And when she scoffed at people with different beliefs than hers, she sent the message she feels superior to them.

She was not just scoffing at the beliefs, but the believers which makes it even harder to accept.

That she has chosen science as her religion, makes her no better than anyone who hasn’t. And yes, we do choose our beliefs. Anyone of us could choose be an atheist, a Muslim, a Christian, or a follower of Judaism.

That she says her choice to believe in science makes her better than others, displays a lack of wisdom, a misunderstanding of humanity, an ignorance of the science of the human nature. The fact is, for many people, spirituality is a fundamental need.

Both science and religion have given us blessings as well as curses. Science does not hold a superior moral standing to religion, for after all it is science that gave us nuclear weapons...and greenhouse gases. She would do well to also study the science behind the sugar pill and the mind. The evidence supporting the existence of their power might surprise her.

We need to respect each other and each other’s’ belief systems. Yes, we should all feel free to discuss our beliefs, argue them, explore them, believe them the best—but we have no license to deride people who believe differently than us, or to believe ourselves superior to them.

Your Excellence Madam Payett, science without heart is an empty vessel indeed—perhaps even a dangerous one.
"Unbecoming of a leader" has been brought to you by FATAL ERROR

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Criminal Minds at Work: It's not fair!

Criminal Minds at Work: It's not fair!: Around the age of eight or nine, childhood tantrums give way to plaintive tirades against how unjust life is. "It's not fair!"...

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

One Hundred and Fifty Minutes...

The American Heart Association recommends one hundred and fifty minutes of moderate exercise per week. Whose idea was that?

Seriously. Who the heck knows how long one hundred and fifty minutes is? Is it a lot? A little bit?  It's like someone took the clock and tried to turn it metric. Or do they think one hundred and fifty minutes sounds less than two and half hours (like 99 cents sounds less than $1.00?) so we'll be more likely to buy into it? I don't know.

When I first heard it, I thought it sounded like a lot--a lot of time, a lot of exercising, panting and sweating. But when I converted it to two and half hours over seven days, it sounds like a snap--I mean that's less than half an hour a day.

One hundred and fifty minutes means nothing to most of us. The first thing we all do when we hear it is convert it into hours. We don't think in minutes. After sixty minutes, we think in terms of hours. We don't say and we don't think, ninety minutes--we think one and a half hours. The GPS in my car and Google maps on my computer, all give me travel times in hours and minutes, because that's the way we think.

Soon after our second birthday, we began calculating our age in years (and later on, in decades), not minutes, months or days.We don't think seventy-two inches, we think six feet. We think one meter, not a thousand millimeters. We think nine months of pregnancy, not forty-weeks--well, okay, we think forty weeks if we've been there.

But 150 minutes? Tell me when I ask, whose ideas was it?

One Hundred and Fifty Minutes...has been brought to you by THE TRAZ.

 “A very clever piece of writing...” 

"I did truly enjoy the story it had a lot of twists and turns." 

“Can't wait to read the sequel...” 

"They draw her into the dark world of drugs, murder & lawlessness..." 

“Raw and emotional..."

Someone is keeping dangerous secrets from them both. THE TRAZ

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Criminal Minds at Work: #WantingToMakeADifference

Criminal Minds at Work: #WantingToMakeADifference: "Scandal ripples through entertainment industry and beyond as Harvey Weinstein's accusers grow in number" - CBC news How ...


It’s that dreaded time in an author’s life when a project is nearing completion. Dreaded because one hates to let one’s characters and stories go off on their own into the big, wide, scary universe. And dreaded because it means one must refocus.

With FATAL ERROR the 2nd edition off to the cover designer (Avalon Graphics) and formatter (e B Format) I ponder my future.

I have not been as successful a writer sales-wise as I’d have liked. There have been many rewarding aspects to this career—sales not being one of them.  It costs a lot in time and money to write, publish and promote books and after 8 books, both traditionally- and self-published, financial success has not followed.

It’s not that I’m starving (I have other revenue sources) but the common measurement of success in my part of the world is a monetary one. Not achieving monetary success lends itself to creating a feeling of failure.

Despite that, I am doing what I have to do, compelled to continue. Obsessed. There are many life pursuits that are detached from financial gain, and writing, for me, is one of them. 

Many hobbies score low on the financial value scale—gardening, knitting, cooking. As do other activities such as raising children and doing volunteer work (hours of it for many).

My novels are my spiritual contribution to the world, my commentary on people and their lives, on social values and political influences. My books are my immortality.

So what’s up for me?  There is always the next book in The BackTracker Series, drafted and ready to refine (I have several sequels on my hard drive). There is my NaNoWriMo project. (National Novel Writing Month –which is November and is the month in which one is supposed to complete a novel. Traditionally, for me, it takes 3 years-worth of Novembers to get a novel done!) My current ongoing NaNoWriMo project is a triology of scifi novelettes, written in past years and now ready to refine.
Then there is my nagging desire to write a Literary Novel.

I have heard ‘literary novel’ defined as a novel wherein characters which one cares little about are doing things in which one is not very interested.

It’s not a flattering definition, but one with which I feel a kinship. I’ve never much liked reading literary novels but they are the ones that get all the attention and awards.

Literary works encompass the classics and the Shakespearean and Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid's Tale. 

What sets apart a literary work is the writing. Whereas I have until now done my best to make my writing disappear beneath the story and the characters and the plot and dialogue, in a literary novel the writing itself is an integral part of the book.  Everything from word-choice, to cadence, to sentence structure, to symbolism comes into play. Powerful words are used to create scenes and define characters. The writing almost becomes a character itself, driving the plot, setting the scene, and creating the emotions.

Literary novels are sort of like poetry, but not totally the same. They can be beautiful and can be ugly. They can have abrupt endings, logical endings or no endings. They can be historic or futuristic or every day. But, always, they make a social comment. They change the way their readers think. They wring out readers’ emotions.They can inspire and they can depress. Sometimes they deaden. They are quotable. They strongly affect all who read them.

They change the world—one word at a time.

Literary novels tend not to make the mainstream, tend not to place on best-seller charts. They are reserved for book clubs, schools and universities, and the very best of the New York Times reviewers. They tend to win Giller Prizes and the like.

I want to write a literary novel for perhaps the same reason that comic actresses long for dramatic roles, why Sally Fields went from The Flying Nun to Norma Rae. I want to be taken seriously as an author, I want to grow my writing abilities. I want to do more for the world than merely entertain. 

I want to learn how to make a difference.

Whatsup? Is brought to you by OPERATION MAXTRACKER

Her genius might save the world but who will save her children?