Rosemary Jones has written two novels, several short stories, and an e-book serial adventure for Wizard of the Coast’s Forgotten Realms series. In addition, she’s contributed to numerous short story anthologies and has written several nonfiction books. You can find more about her current projects and a series of articles about writing in shared worlds at rosemaryjones.com.
You are the author of two novels, an e-book serial adventure, a superhero novella, and several short stories. Tell us about books in the works.
Rosemary: Right now I’m working on a new piece for a shared world project that started out as a short story and is growing into novella length rapidly. Because I work full time and also write two online columns about the arts in Seattle, I’ve steered away from full-length book projects recently. But that doesn’t mean I’ll never write another novel! If the right idea or invitation comes along, I’ll be pounding away at the keyboard.
Have you self-published any of your books?
Rosemary: I published a couple of short non-fiction e-books that were based on a longer series that I wrote back in the 1990s and early 2000s. The print series, a guide to collecting children’s books, went for four oversized trade paperbacks and one very large and very heavy hardcover edition. All of five books were published by Collector Books of Paducah, Kentucky. However, like many medium-sized niche publishers, they were hit hard by the recession and returned the rights. So I put together one e-book on collecting the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and another on the works of L. Frank Baum. Both of those pieces were actually based on a sixth book that was never completed for the original publisher. There’s a great deal of freedom if you publish yourself, but it can be difficult too. It’s tough to critique and edit your own work without any outside help.
A writer pays good money to hire a professional editor. Do you have suggestions for getting the most out of the writer-editor relationship?
Rosemary: Pay attention. Which works whether you’re paying the editor or the editor is paying you. Also, if we’re talking strictly about line editing, you should learn the basic rules of the Chicago Manual of Style or the AP Style Guide. Many of my paid writing jobs came about because I know both and can deliver copy conforming to those style guides. Which makes the editor’s job easier too.
Time to bust a myth or two about a writer’s work life. Do any come to mind?
Rosemary: “Somebody else will clean up my manuscript.” I can’t tell you the number of times that people have told me that a software program or a hired editor will correct any mistakes that they make. I proof everything several times before it goes to the editor. Then the editor catches what I missed. Then I proof again and catch what the editor missed. It’s not just about getting the first draft done.
How important are your character’s names to you in your books?
Rosemary: My characters tend to be defined by their names, which often have double or even triple meanings for me. In Crypt of the Moaning Diamond, my heroine was named Ivy. In my notes, I wrote her father was a forest-loving Druid and her mother named her for a plant that strangles trees. Which, to me, indicated that her parents’ relationship was bit strained. None of that ever was spelled out in the book, but it informed how that character developed for me.
Do you have any resources you recommend for choosing character names?
Rosemary: The Oxford English Dictionary? Seriously, I’m fascinated by the meanings behind words. If I start down that rabbit hole, I end up in all sorts of odd and inspiring places. At the same time, I’m often told that I give simplest names to characters running around in high fantasy settings or deep outer space. But look to the classics. You don’t need a complicated name to create a memorable character. Sam is my favorite hobbit and the very simplicity of his name says a great deal about his character.
How does Writer.ly figure in your writing work?
Rosemary: I’ve enjoyed many of the articles that you’ve published. There’s always something new happening in publishing these days. Also, I love how you make it so simple to find resources like an editor. I send a lot of people to your site.