Tag Archives: studio dongo

Newly published: Shadows, by Terry Schott–and a free offer

This contemporary SF e-book has been published. I was copy editor.

Shawn Inmon, for whom I’ve done steady work over the past couple of years, was kind enough to refer Terry to me. Most of the referrals I receive involve unpublished authors, which was not Terry’s case. His current (and the subject) project was kicking off a new series, having concluded another after something like seven books.

When the author is previously published, that must inform editorial decisionmaking. Terry made clear that his previous editing experiences hadn’t been what he’d hoped for. It seemed illogical to propose to duplicate their undesired efforts. What I did was look up Terry’s body of work and find out what readers liked and didn’t like about it.

Most of his reviews were favorable. Those that were critical mostly blamed the ‘editing.’ When I read that, my ‘you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about’ hackles usually go up. There is no way to know if the editing is at fault, for close on a dozen reasons, and the comment in a review shows ignorance of the process. At the same time, take it however I might wish, I had to absorb the feedback in terms of its true meaning. ‘It needs an editor’ is reviewer-blurt for ‘I found errors and they shouldn’t be in a finished book.’

Damn right they shouldn’t. No argument. However, most people liked the books, which meant that Terry had something to lose. What if I talked him into making some significant changes to his approach, and the reviews came back tepid? Picture it: “I used to like these stories, but now, not so much. The writing has improved in terms of less errors, but the story isn’t as good, and that was what I cared about.” That, dear reader, is what goes under the hammer every time an established author engages a new literary witch doctor. It would be one thing if previous books had been met with a wave of launched javelins. These had not. I might be entirely capable of talking Terry out of pleasing his audience.

In my world, that is the rough equivalent of an arsonist firefighter.

No one hires me hoping to alienate his or her reader base.

So I proposed to Terry: how about I limit this to copy editing, so that we address the unhappy minority’s biggest complaint, without depriving your happy majority of what it loves? He liked the idea, and I got to work. The story is set in Ontario, although the Canadianness isn’t really emphasized. This was an orthography factor for my work, because Canadian English has subtle differences from US English. I am not sure Terry anticipated that I would know that, but after brief conference, we agreed to conform the ms to Canadian orthography.

The result is a modern game-related SF/thriller that comes into clarity much as does an image when one increases the resolution. At, say, 80 x 50, one would see a lot of squares. Bump it to 160 x 100, more detail; 320 x 200, still more, and so on until the plot and backdrop come into full focus. If that is your genre, you may very much enjoy the milieu Terry has created.

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There’s more than one new project out there in the genre. I’ve known Mike Lee Davis, aka Studio Dongo, since he was Sloucho back at Epinions. A good guy who was one of the best writers at the site, he’s also writing contemporary/conspiracy SF these days. He is currently promoting Vanishing in a Puff of Logic, a gaming story, whose Amazon blurb reads:

Vanishing in a Puff of Logic is the story of one neurotic gamer’s attempt to win at Nethack while tripping on shrooms.

On a slightly deeper level, the story is about that same gamer’s desire to triumph as a female elven wizard who is, literally, naked.

And on an even deeper level . . .

Let’s face it. There is no even deeper level.

If you get the impression that Mike’s pretty down-to-earth, capable of surprises, and has a sense of humor about his work and himself, you’re correct. His book is free today and tomorrow, August 11 and August 12, and if you check him out, I think you’ll like what you see.

Current read: _The Kugler Dynasty_ by Studio Dongo

This is the intro to a science fiction series about life afloat in pyramidal, functionally unsinkable cities. I liked it better than I’d imagined I might.

The author, whose real name is rather more conventional than ‘Studio Dongo,’ is known for a dry and slightly serrated sense of humor. Thus, I spent a lot of the story in one of those moments: “Okay, I think there is some deliberate gonzo comedy sprinkled here, but I’m hesitant to come out and call it that, because it might just be something else that I’m not a clever enough reader to pick up, so I’d better not pop off.” The diverse subplots dovetail well, and in a far less formulaic way than your typically predictable Dean Koontz endcap thriller (that you’d swear was outlined like a basketball tournament bracket).

About halfway through, the tale started to pick up for me. By three-quarters, I was excited to see where it would go. Other than the expected dovetailing (without which we’d be opening a can of ‘huh?’), I was left in enough doubt of what-happens-next to hold my interest. I like it a lot when books do that, and it’s not as common as one might wish. By the end, I was considering ordering the next book just because such good groundwork (open sea?) was laid for a lot of potentially interesting and exciting story possibilities.

I’d call it a four-star book that would rate a fifth star except for some portions with too much tell rather than show. That’s my own personal bugaboo: the first time I see “She felt…”, I’m now hyper-alert for such things for the duration of the read. It says a lot for the story that I liked it well overall, in spite of this aspect pushing one of my buttons.

Available in hardcopy at the link at top, or in e-version.