Raquel Byrnes

~Edge of Your Seat Stories~

Guess NaNo's Theme...

This morning I woke up to a guessing game. What is NaNoWriMo's theme this year?  From the looks of it...some sort of fairy tale or perhaps, as one commenter put forth, grandmothers and their wallpaper?  What about you?

Are you participating this year in the challenge?

NaNoWriMo Theme


9 Rules For Slashing Your Baby


This week I begin the second round edits of my steampunk WIP, The Tremblers. Everytime I go to take a knife to my just finished masterpiece I try to do it with some definite structure in mind. I'll share with you my rules for self editing your manuscript.

Rule #1 in editing anything is to take a break.  Two weeks or more. Work on something else and let it percolate. You'd be surprised how things float up from the subconscious if you just give yourself some breathing room.

Rule #2 is to scrutinize your verbs. Are they active or passive? Did you say she "began to shout" or she "bellowed"?

Rule #3 is to track the sun. If your character goes into a building at noon you better make sure they don't exit the building in the dark unless they've actually spent that much time in there.

Rule #4 is to keep your head straight. In other words KEEP YOUR POINT OF VIEW consistent. And make sure you do not HEAD HOP mid scene or chapter.  This kind of mistake is jarring for the reader. You should be consistent throughout.

Rule #5 is to read your manuscript, particularly your dialogue, out loud. I can't tell you how many mistakes I've found by ear that I missed by reading. You may feel silly, but do it. It works.

Rule #6 is to double check punctuation. Pay close attention to your quotation marks in dialogue. Make sure your periods, commas, and other marks are present and needed.

Rule #7 is to show not tell. Can you replace stated emotion with action that conveys that emotion. She was angry about writing the letter...or...She scraped her pen across the paper with staccato strokes, muttering through pursed lips.

Rule #8 is to slash that back story. Pepper the exposition throughout the chapters via dialogue or other narrative. If you have huge block of back story explanation then you started your story in the wrong place.

Which leads me to Rule #9.  Make sure you start your story in the middle of the action. Just as the character's life is about to change. Most writers end up hacking away at the first or even the second chapter during edits.

The key is to "Save It As" your second draft so if you hate what you've done, you can put it back.  Then just dive right in there and start slashing.

Any editing tricks you find work well for you?  I'd love to hear about them.  Until next time...Go Write!


Civil War Stealth Weapons!


So I've been neck-deep in my Steampunk novel for the past several months. Finally finished it and sent it off...which is great because I get to start blocking out Book Two in the series!  Yay!  I love...LOVE to do research. Its one aspect of my job that I feel keeps me from being a recluse.

Currently I'm exploring stealth weapons of the civil war. I know, right?  They had submarines!  Okay, they had one, the H.L. Hunley, and it boasted technology that was otherworldly for that era.

It was the first underwater craft to sink an enemy ship. But the real draw about this fascinating tale is that the submarine and its crew disappeared for almost 100 years!

Despite drownings during earlier runs, the Hunley made history when it launched despite the danger in 1864 as the south's last hope. It was later discovered in 2000 and the undisturbed time capsule yielded incredible results.

Not only was there a plethora of forensic evidence that gave way to detailed models and presentations, the university informed reenactments that led to more discoveries. Who were these intrepid soldiers? What led them to such a dangerous mission? And what was their fate that dark night in the water?

This historic mystery predates my book's timeline by twenty years and allows me to extrapolate along the lines of existing technology to take my story to a whole other level.

This got me wondering about fantasy writers and high science fiction. What do you base your world on? Is there an underpinning of truth or do you paint with a purely creative brush?

I'd love to know!