Tag Archives: Writing and Editing

Road to Publication #21: Completing your first interview

Okay, to be honest, I am writing this up after completing many interviews.  The questions just keep flooding in.  Such wackiness, I swear!

If you were on a train in Alabama, and the lights went out and the sky turned green, what would you do?

Seriously?  You really want me to answer that question?

Okay, I made that up, but some of the questions are like this.  A lot of the questions are very much the same though, and it’s hard to keep them sounding “Fresh”

While I was filling out a set of questions last night, my son (The Monomanical Middle Grade Reviewer) Leaned over my shoulder and told me I was boring.

I read it over, and decided he was right.  I thought about some of the interviews that I’ve done here, and laughed at myself.  Boring interviews are the reason that the Little Blue Lady from Mars was created… to add a little spice and fun into it.

He pointed out the last question, and told me I didn’t even really answer it.  I looked it over.  Yep, he was right.  I danced around it.

“Okay,” I said.  “I’ll answer it.”

With a big smile on my face, I answered the question… I answered it with him in mind… Using all the magical powers of a science fiction author.

Within a few keystrokes, my son was chuckling.  I was too… and I found that this time, I really DID answer the question.  And it was funny.  More “me”.

“You are just too cool, Mom,” the MMGR said.

You know what?  I AM COOL Dernit!

Why hadn’t I done all of my interviews like that?  It made me want to go back and re-do all of the interviews I’d already done.  Unfortunately, I’d sent them all out already.

Lessons Learned.

For you guys… when you do your interviews, don’t get all “tight” and “boring”.  Remember your “voice”… remember who you are.  You only have about 250-500 words to get someone who has never heard of you to like you.

Use those words wisely.  Have fun and be yourself.

What do you like/hate about guest posts and author interviews?

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Road to Publication #19: Completing the ARCs

Whew!  Anyone want to take a breath with me?  Breathe in, Breathe out.  Breathe in, Breathe out.  Ahhhh feels good, doesn’t it?

So, yes, the arcs are done.  What did I find?

There were a few odd editing errors.  I mean… really odd editing errors.  For instance, a sentence ended a paragraph in the original version.  All of the rest of that paragraph was deleted, but that particular sentence remained, but was added to a different paragraph where it made no sense.  Yeah, weird… I know.

What I also came across were places where a string of speech was removed for one reason or another, leaving what was left behind “hollow”…  meaning someone answered a question that was never asked, or things like that.  Yes, weird again.

I also found a sentence where a word was missing, but it was in the original text.  Isn’t that odd?  I guess I took for granted that the file would be cut and pasted.  Apparently not.

What I marked mostly was something that I DON’T think they will fix, even though I asked for it.  The reason is that I just saw the same thing in a published novel from this publisher.

It’s silly, and very anal I will admit… but on my Kindle, if a sentence falls off with a “…” at the end… if placed correctly, the “…” will be treated as its own word and end up all by itself on a line.  I asked that ending “…” ellipses be attached to the final word in each case where they appear.

Like I said… I can ask, right?  I hope they do it, because I think it will look better.

The hard part of this whole project was transferring all my notes from my Kindle onto an Excel spreadsheet so they could review it in the format that they requested.  I suppose it would have been easier if I edited on my computer in PDF format, then I could have just created the spreadsheet at the same time.

Yes, in retrospect it would have been easier, but if I come across this again, I will probably do it the same way.  The reason is that I enjoyed the experience of reading it on the Kindle, as my readers will see it.  It just looked “different.”

(And it’s cool having the cover with my name on it appearing in my Kindle Carousel 🙂 )

Ah… vanity… definitely my favorite sin.

Oh!  Impromptu movie game!  Anyone know who said that line, and what movie it came from?

Road to Publication #18: Reviewing the ARCs, OH NO!

Holy Crud.  This is not happening.  I just found out why you DON’T want to have two works being published at exactly the same time… and even worse… by two different publishers.

I was stunned this morning when the first round edits for Connect the Dots came through. I thought I would have another week.  I have two weeks to finish the ARC edit (the very last edit) of Last Winter Red AND finish the first round edit for Connect the Dots.

Okay.  Breathe.  It’s all good.  This is a great problem to have.  People are going to spit at you for having this problem.  Take a deep breath.  Chocolate helps.  Good.  Relax.

Okay.  No problem.  I can do this.

So… back to Last Winter Red.  I started reading it on Kindle last night.  I made a lot of highlights on the ARC with the handy Kindle Notes feature.

The reason for some of my notes is because my writing style has changed a lot in the last few months since I worked on Last Winter Red, and things don’t seem right to me anymore.

I did find a missing quotation mark at the end of a sentence.  Easy fix (I hope).

What is odd, is every once in a while I stopped and said “Is that what he said?” or “Did I write that?” or “Wait.  That makes absolutely no sense.”

I’m wondering if I even wrote some of these things, or if they were edited to the point of losing “something”.  I want to go through the whole thing, make notes, and then go back to my original copy and see if I need to smack myself upside the head for past mistakes.

Maybe I do.  At this point, I’m not sure what happened.

Either way, I think some more changes are in order.

What makes me cringe over this is that I could have made these changes months ago.  I am tucking this away as a “lesson’s learned” though.

I did have a bad feeling about not reviewing the full version before it went to copy editing.  You know that deep clawing pit-in-your-stomach feeling when you think you lost control of something?

To make sure this doesn’t happen again, I MADE SURE before I signed the contract with Still Moments Publishing for “Connect the Dots” that I WOULD have a chance to review a final before it went to final editing.  Not only that, I will get to see a FULL VERSION as it stands through each round of the editing process.

For a control freak like me, this is a huge relief… because I know I will not be down to the wire and fixing errors I would have seen earlier.

This is not J.Taylor Publishing’s fault either.  It is the way they work.  All publishers are different, and as an author, I need to be ready for this.

What I need to do now is finish reading and marking.  Then I want to go back again reading carefully for spelling/punctuation errors, and then I need to document and changes necessary on  a spreadsheet.

I need to do this within one week, so I can devote the next week to Connect the Dots.

Once again, sleep may become optional.

The Big Announcement! Writing to a Deadline AGAIN #4 The Big Announcement!

I am so excited to announce that I’ve just signed a contract with Still Moments Publishing to have my story Connect the Dots included in their 2012 Christmas Anthology.

This is totally unbelievable.  In January, I posted a big boisterous banner proclaiming that I WOULD BE PUBLISHED by the end of 2012.  It was quite a lofty goal for me, and now I will have two stories coming out this year.

I’m giddy with glee.

Hey, Canada.  Look South.  See that big bright light down in the USA?  That’s me smiling!

Oh, guys.  This is just so dern cool.  You have no idea.

Click here to see my query blurb and promo page for Connect the Dots.  Yeah, No explosions.  I was a good girl for Christmas.

Six Sentence Sunday – A blast from the past. This is funny.

It’s Six Sentence Sunday again.  Today’s is gonna give you a giggle. I’m going to allow you to wallow in my ineptness.

If you haven’t heard, Six Sentence Sunday is a group of people who mostly post their own work, but I just shoot out six sentences of whatever takes my fancy.  Sometimes what I’m writing, or sometimes what I’m reading.  If you want to find out more, click here.  Visit Six Sentence Sunday Site.

I’m still reading Oracle by JC Martin.  I didn’t want to post another 6 sentences from the same work, so I was sitting here at my desk, and I saw a printed copy of my early novel HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT hanging out, feeling abandoned.

I thought it would be fun to open it up to a random page, and just pick six sentences.

Now… I wrote this well over a year ago, maybe even two years, as last year at this time I was editing it.  I laughed when I read this passage.  I am going to curtail my inner-editor and post it exactly as it is printed.  Mistakes and all.

Yes, thank goodness, I have come incredibly far in a little over a year.

At his feet, an arbor bug struggled to scale a small mound of dirt.

Harris sighed as he watched it.  Why doesn’t it just walk around it?  After it fell back for the third time, Harris flattened the mound with his foot, and the small creature continued on its way.  He closed his eyes and smiled, actually finding gratification in helping something so small.  Would Daniel Hyelven have done that?

OMIGOSH!  Can you stand how much tell is in those six sentences?

Did I really use the word “it” four times in the same line?

This is really embarrassing.   I just couldn’t believe it, but I thought it would be worth a laugh.

I just love this story, and someday I will go back and fix it.  After looking at this paragraph, I know it will be a huge undertaking. 🙂

Hope you got a good giggle!

Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #4: The End is Just the Beginning

Boy, did he nail this one the head for me.  I spend 80% more time editing my work than actually writing it.  In my last novel, HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT, it was my own fault for pantsing it, and then having to go back and make major edits.

However, even with LAST WINTER RED, which I outlined, I spent several weeks of intense-high pressure edits after writing the bulk of it over a weekend writer’s retreat.  And for all that work, I didn’t really change much.  I added three small scenes (by small I mean 100 words or so) but the rest of it was fixing grammar, spelling, flow, etc.

Jon’s suggestion is to get your story down first, and do the editing when you are done (Yay, I did it right!)  If you edit constantly, while you are writing, you will probably go back and make changes before you are even done.

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com

Road to Publication #10: Publisher responds to my second round of “Re-edits”

Yay!  My second round or re-edits were accepted.  Next stop?  Copy editing.

I admit, I am a little nervous that cutting and pasting were done and I didn’t see the final product before it went to copy-editing.  I’m worried about formatting, punctuation, etc. before it gets there.

What I need to do is stop worrying and let this process just HAPPEN.  I will get another look at it before it’s printed.  It’s just nerve-wracking.

Copy editing should be done by early September.  Until then, I need to work on that marketing plan, and sit back and relax…

Yeah, right.  Don’t know how to do that.  I’m knee deep into my next project.  No rest for the weary writer!

Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #2: It Ain’t Easy, Baby

You will not get published by accident.  You need to go to workshops, and send your stuff out.  No one will accidentally read your manuscript.

Now, I need to admit that I have a friend who posted an excerpt from her novel on her blog, and a publisher happened upon it.  He asked her to send him a full, and he eventually published her.

It does happen, but the chances are so slim I can’t think of a number that small.

There are people out there who walk around carrying “Writer’s Market” hoping someone will see them and say “are you a writer?”  Seriously… it’s not going to happen.

You need to submit.  Press that little submit button.  I know it’s hard, I’ve been there, but it can be done.

Go ahead, stick those pages in that envelope.  Send your baby on its way.  It won’t get anywhere if you don’t let it leave home.

You need to decide if you are a recreational writer, or a professional writer.  Either one is fine, but professional writing is work.  You need to apply for jobs… no different here.

(Unless you go for self-publishing, but that’s another story completely)

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com

Road to Publication #7: Dealing with the Dreaded Line Edits.

I’m glad I slept on it before working on the line edits.  You definitely need time to separate yourself from your initial emotional response before you deal with something like this.  Your initial desire is to roll up your sleeves and fight for everything.

But I know that wouldn’t have been right.  In truth, 85% of the edits they made were spot on.  I wouldn’t have seen that in “angry author mode.”  I definitely needed to calm my little creative butt down.

What I did was this:  The day after looking at the marked-up copy that made me want to rant and rave and throw things… I sat down, and calmly opened the “clean” copy.

The clean copy is the version of what my MS would look like if I accepted all of the publisher’s suggestions.  It made it easier to read, without seeing my own words slashed out in red.  It made the process much less “emotional”.

I read along, and saw their changes.  Most were fine.  Move this sentence there, transpose that sentence.  Delete this word… no biggie.  Like I said… 85% of the changes were fine.

I remember another author telling me once, “Choose your battles while in the editing process.”  So, I sat back, and decided which were really so terrible that I could not live with them… that equated to about 15% of the changes.

There were a few things here and there that really bothered me.  They were silly editing mistakes, like changing a word to something else, but that word is already in the following sentence making it repetitive.  In cases like this, I changed it back, and wrote a note as to why.

Now here was the biggest problem.  At one point, it is important that a character rips her dress.  One page at the end of the scene shows how she rips her dress.  The editor didn’t like the scene, so they cut it.  However, they realized that it was important, so they added the line:  “Her dress was soiled and ripped after…”

I cringed.  The editor removed the “show” and replaced it with “tell”.  Nope… sorry.   Not in my story.

I didn’t change it back word for word, but I did re-write the scene to make it shorter, and flow better.  I did agree that it didn’t fit too well at first.  Now, however, it seems to flow better, and it is a quarter of its original length.

There were a few more sections where they cut out parts of conversations, leaving the end-product… umm, let’s just say that I had to re-write.

Before I submitted, I made sure to explain why I made all the changes.  I didn’t want to seem abrasive, but everything I “Fixed” I felt strongly about.  I would have been embarrassed if it was published the way it had been edited.

Now?  Well, I do think it is tighter after this editing.  It wasn’t all bad.

At the moment, I am just waiting on their reaction to my comments and re-edits.

Biggest Mistakes New Writers Make #3: Nope, you can’t explain yourself. Sorry, not allowed!

At a recent Author’s panel discussion, Jonathan Maberry, Mike McPhail, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jon Gibbs, Jennifer R. Hubbard, and Kristin Battestella discussed the biggest mistakes they believe writers make.

Mike McPhail commented that you CANNOT explain your novel to people.

Think about that. 

What Mike said is that you are not going to be there to explain anything about your novel.  It needs to stand on its own with no questions.  If it can’t stand on its own, you are not going to find a publisher (and remember, he’s a publisher as well as a writer)

I recently read a review from a “self-published” author that said:  “Just get through the first few chapters… you’ll be glad you did.”

I can’t help but wonder if they asked a friend to say that… This is probably why they self-published.  Why would you start your novel out weak?  Personally, if I’m not engaged in the first few pages, the book goes back on the shelf.

I wonder if this person ever had beta readers.

Note:  I would never let a beta-read pass with a bad first page, let alone a bad first few chapters.  That’s like literary suicide in my book.

Make sure your novel can stand on its own, and for goodness sake, if you feel like you have to apologize for your first few chapters CHANGE THEM!

Jonathan Maberry:  www.Jonathanmaberry.com

Mike McPhail:  www.mcp-concepts.com

Danielle Ackley-McPhail:  www.sidhenadaire.com

Jon Gibbs:  www.acatofninetales.com

Jennifer R. Hubbard:  www.jenniferhubbard.com

Kristin Battestella:  www.jsnouff.com/kristin