Forging Freedom: Dimensions – Table of Contents & Contributors Announced!

We’re happy to announce that all the contracts have been signed, and we can announce our table of contents for Forging Freedom: Dimensions, our anthology of freedom-themed speculative fiction.

The anthology is currently in the editing phase, and we expect it to go to print in the last quarter of 2014. The list below appears in no particular order.

Congratulations to all our authors!

“Freedom From Perfection” by Hayden Lawrence

“Bringing Home Major Tom” by Leigh Kimmel

“Inhuman” by AK Lindsay

“Amnesty Intergalactic” by Douglas W. Texter

“A Brief Biography of Baron Otto von Korek” by Donald J. Bingle

“The Circular Nature of Time” by Hollis Whitlock

“The Rainbow Children” by Leo Norman

“The Fourth Poet” by Val Muller

“To Do As You Please” by Paul Cucinotta

“Hope” by Lesley L. Smith

“Ezra’s Prophesy” by Deborah Walker

“The Witch Toaster” by R. David Fulcher

“Why You Can Never Escape with Escape” by AJ Kirby

“Pedestal” by James Hartley

“The Last Dragoon” by Charles Kyffhausen

“The Pathless Skies” by Neil Weston

“Halfer” by Tracy Doering

“Dorn’s Act” by Jason Sergi

dimension-cover-5-sample

Writing Tip: Using “Track Changes”

Using “Track Changes”

Like most publishers, Freedom Forge Press uses the “track changes” feature in Word to communicate edits to authors. If you don’t already know how to use this feature, it’s important that you learn. If you do it right, it makes editing easy. If you do it wrong, it creates more work for both author and publisher.

Tutorials

There are already a number of helpful tutorials about how to use “track changes.” A quick YouTube search brings up lists of videos, many of them focused on one element of the “track changes” feature. Here is a helpful, concise video: http://youtu.be/uANGRpCEucg.

Use the SAME FILE YOU RECEIVE FROM YOUR EDITOR

I can’t stress this enough. I hear about so many authors putting two files side-by-side and trying to replicate the editor’s edits on an old file. This is making a million times more work for yourself, and it will annoy the editor because there will be formatting issues you won’t truly be able to see—issues the editor has corrected that will go uncorrected, making duplicate work for a busy editor. So when you receive the edited file from your editor, save it to your computer (make sure you don’t save it over your original—just in case. I usually call mine “Document_round1.docx” (or round 2, or 5!). Then, open up the file your editor sent you. Work directly on that file. Do not go back to your original file.

The Review Tab

It all starts with the review tab. I’m using Word 2013, but the newer versions all have a similar appearance. When you click on the “review” tab at the top of the page, this is what you will see:

review-tab

If you have an older version of Word, most of the same features will be there, though it may look slightly different cosmetically.

When you receive feedback from the editor, there will be two things you’ll see. One is editing comments, usually in red or blue. The other are comments in the margin. Let’s take a look at a sample manuscript. This is what the author sends in to the editor:

sample1
The editor will typically do two types of edits: formatting and content. First, let’s talk content (because it looks less “scary” in Word). The editor will make suggestions to improve your content. Since it’s still your story, though, most editors want you to be at least aware of what changes they’ve made. Some editors do this as a courtesy. For others, they’re genuinely giving you a choice. To show the changes I’m making as an editor, I would click the “track changes” button under the “review” tab in Word:

track-changes
Here is what changes would look like after a fairly aggressive edit:

sample2

But usually, editors don’t only want to make changes; they want to explain those changes, too. To do this, they will use the “comment” feature under the review tab:

new-comment

The comment will then appear to the right on your screen:

sample3

So far, nothing too scary. We’ll look at how to work with both comments and edits in a moment. First, let’s see what it looks like when your editor changes formatting. In the example below, the editor has decided to use single spacing for the manuscript and change the font. Here is what you will see:

sample4

It looks really scary, but it’s just Word telling you every change that was made. There are ways to make it look less scary, though the more you work with it, the less intimidating it gets. In Word 2013, you can customize what you see. For instance, under the “tracking” menu (a sub-menu of the “review tab”), you can choose “simple markup,” “all markup,” “no markup,” or “original.”

markup-options

When you click the pull-down arrow, the menu will expand to look like this:

markup-options-2

You can play around with which option you prefer, but for authors, it’s usually best to use “all markup” so that you can see exactly what the editor has done. “Simple markup” simplifies the appearance of the manuscript, but it makes it more difficult to see what changes have been made. “Original” flips back to the original version of the manuscript in case you want to see what it looked like in the first place.

You can also customize the view by clicking the pull-down arrow that says “show markup.” This lets you customize what types of edits you see:

show-markup

When I’m working with a piece from the editor, I like to look at all types of edits made, but some authors find formatting edits distracting. Here’s what the edited manuscript would look like if we unchecked “formatting” above:

sample3

The formatting has still been changed, but it’s hidden from the author.

Now let’s look at how you can work with these changes once you receive them from your editor. First of all, if you really trust your editor, you can simply go to the accept button…

accept

And from the pull-down menu, select, “accept all changes.”

accept-all

Doing this creates a clean, edited manuscript with only the comments still showing. Most authors, however, want to see and approve every change made. If you simply click the “accept” button, it will accept the change and move on to the next one. This way, the author can see each change. If there is a change you don’t like, you can use the “reject” button to reject that particular change. If you want to explain to your editor why you want to reject a change, place your cursor at the change, and click “new comment.”

new-comment

This will allow you to explain why you want to reject the change.

Speaking of comments, even once you’ve gone through all the changes and accepted/rejected them, you’ll still see the comments. To delete a comment, right-click on that comment and select “delete,” or use the “delete” button under the “comments” sub-menu. The pull-down menu allows you to delete a particular comment, or all comments. To expedite my editing, I usually delete all the comments at once, after I’ve gone through each and every edit.

The more you play with “track changes,” the more you will understand it and see how useful it is. Don’t be afraid of it, and don’t be afraid to search for tutorials on the features you want to understand more completely.

We Have a Winner–Cover Chosen!

We started with five draft covers, and if we learned anything from the age-old struggle between Connor MacLeod and The Kurgan, we know that “there can be only one.”

And so there is! Despite a field of 5 candidates, the cover you chose secured nearly 60% of votes cast.

We would like to thank everyone who participated by voting and sharing the event with friends. We would especially like to thank those who took a few moments to offer some individual comments.

We’ll take the below draft cover, make a few changes based on the feedback we received, and use the resulting final cover for the book release.

A release date will be announced soon, so be sure to follow our blog or social media sites for upcoming news.

Thank you for participating!

dimension-cover-5-sample

Writing Tip: Controlling the Camera

Power of WordsI like the word “experience” rather than “show” or “tell” because when it comes down to it, writing is more of an art than a science. Sure, there are tools to learn (POV, description, pacing, etc.), but when it comes down to it, an engaging author will learn to use the right tools at the right time to create an engaging narrative. The bottom line is: you want to help your reader experience your story. This is why movies are so much more tempting to the general population than books—movies are immediate, and they allow us to experience the world through a viewpoint carefully chosen by the filmmaker.

As an editor, I have rejected works for various reasons. Some works go into way too much detail. It’s as if the author was told by an English teacher (and I worry—because I do teach English!) to be descriptive, and the author has tried to pack as much description as possible into the scene. While an interesting metaphor or two is nice, there has to be a purpose for such description. Readers have so much to do other than reading that they want to feel their time is being respected. Everything included in a novel or a story should have a purpose.

Too much description for description’s sake can sometimes feel like a waste of time to a reader. On the other hand, I have rejected works that don’t get me close enough to the character. Some works merely summarize what’s happening in an almost clinical manner. They do too much “telling” instead of “showing.” While writing is, to some extent, subjective, good writing is good writing. An engaging story will hook most readers. Engaging writing is the key to hooking editors and agents. I’ve read and loved stories in genres I thought I hated all because of how well they were written. I’ve started, hated, and abandoned stories written in genres I love because the stories didn’t hook me—I felt like the author wasn’t respecting my time, didn’t have control of the narrative, and wasn’t trying to help me experience the story.

When you write, think of yourself as a movie director. You control the camera. Where do you want to force your readers to look? If you make readers look at too much all at once, the story becomes confusing and un-engaging. If a director simply placed a camera far enough away so that we could see all the characters at once, we wouldn’t know what to look at. We’d squint at the screen for a bit, trying to make out all the little dots running around, and then we’d probably shrug and walk out of the theater, demanding a refund.

On the other hand, if you force the reader to look at too much detail, the story also becomes un-engaging. How many times have you skipped ahead when you saw that a story contained too many paragraphs of description? When a filmmaker zooms in on something, like a close-up of a character’s lips as they are talking, it’s interesting for a few seconds, but if the camera stays zoomed in for much longer, it becomes uncomfortable—then boring. There is no “rule” for how much detail to include in a story. In general, the more detail you include, the slower the pace. You’ve got to find the right balance to best communicate the purpose of each scene. Choose your camera angle, and decide how long to focus on each element. Now apply that to your writing. The page is blank. It’s up to you.