Etc.

In the January 18, 2016 issue of The New Yorker there's a profile of the actor Damian Lewis (Homeland, Wolf Hall) that includes some useful advice for writers interested in creating great villains: Lewis sees himself as a champion for his characters, be they rapacious monarchs or domestic terrorists or capitalist pigs. Acting, for him, is analogous to mounting a case. “If you pick up an eighteenth-century play, at the top it says ‘The Argument,’ and then you have a list of characters, and then you have the play,” he said. “I was just always struck by that—that, of course, good drama is about conflict. And if there’s conflict there’s an argument, and there’s two sides of the argument, and, therefore, one must advocate for one side of the argument, just as much as a lawyer does in court.” The sense that a performance is a contest, a debate that can be won, appeals to...

Thanks to Cindy Bouchard of Flip Flop Freelance for her stellar work taking my static, stiff old semi-site and turning it into something resembling an actual modern website. See how cagily I'm sidestepping the whole "blog" thing here? Just "Etc." again, and this time, not even any dates to point to how stale I've allowed my posts to get. I've failed too many times to keep a blog fresh, and frankly, I suck at non-fiction. I'd like to think I'll still drop the occasional item in here (like looking forward to, experiencing, and then maybe making sense of this September's Bouchercon in New Orleans), but . . . no promises....

I’m regularly asked for advice about how to break into developmental editing. My own example isn’t exactly helpful: I fell into it in 2010 because I knew someone who gave me the chance to do it, and then I did what I could not to screw up the opportunity. One job led to the next until I’d built a track record and authors began asking for me the next time around. While it’s true that the stars aligned for me—my benefactor was in a pinch (all of the dev editors he worked with were busy at the time) and, I think, he pitied me (I’d just been laid off)—I did have some qualifications: I have an MFA in creative writing from the University of Washington, taught fiction writing at UW Extension for 10+ years, and have been banging my head against the fiction-writing rock for 40 years. Still, I wouldn’t have...