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Archive for July, 2011

Phew! I did it. I sent the corrected MS back to the editor for the second look through. She said she’d have it back to me in two weeks and then I’ll make the changes and ship it off to a second copy editor to make sure we caught everything.

But I didn’t change everything the editor suggested. Most of the time, I immediately saw that her suggestions improved my novel and implemented them, but there were some instances where I realized the change wasn’t right for what I wanted to convey to the reader.

Here are some examples of what I didn’t change:

1) I kept some ‘says’ and ‘continues’ in where I felt needed it, but I did try to take out as many as I could.

2) Some historic things she didn’t find in her research but I found support in more detailed non-fiction books.

3) She wanted to take out unneeded words and I thought it changed the flow or impact of the sentence so I kept them.

4) She made a suggestion to completely remove something that didn’t seem to have much relevance to this novel but it is something that will be mentioned throughout the next few books and explained in the last book.

5) Her suggestions sometimes showed me that she didn’t understand what I was trying to say and told me I needed to clarify the sentence better.

6) Also some of the suggestions she made went completely against some beta readers’ favorite parts. If you hear the same suggestions being made it tells you to change it, but if some of your readers love something I say you should keep it.

All in all, 95% of the time I made the changes. The last 5% I thought over and over about before I decided to keep my words in. But if I send it to the copy editor and she picks up on the same things I didn’t change, well then, I’ll probably make the changes since it’s obviously standing out in the wrong way.

Well, off to enjoy a little summer đŸ™‚

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Ugh! I see why it takes a year to print an accepted novel to be traditionally published. I’m still working on this MS and I’ve been working on it every moment I can get! I can’t believe what a tedious process this is. I sympathize with editors since it must feel just as long to go through a novel, looking for every blessed error, and trying to give suggestions to correct them. It must feel twice as torturous to them because it’s not even their story!

So last night I finished all of the easy corrections (wahoo!) but I highlighted any areas the editor flagged for larger changes that I have to still work on đŸ˜¦

Historical Inaccuracies– My editor was outstanding in that she even looked up all of my historical phrases, places, and objects (there are many!)  and double-checked to be sure I got them right. Some of these suggestions I have to go back into my research and be positive I have support to back me up, but I love the extra confidence that my historic details are strong.

Scene Building Although I thought I worked out all my scene building gaps from suggestions from workshops and beta readers, my editor found a few more areas where she felt a scene or a character needed more description. It’s easy to miss these sparse areas while writing since I have this whole world in my head so clearly that I can’t see where I forgot to guide the reader through. So I have to go back and try to describe what’s already there for me and try to do so in a descriptive and intriguing way.

Plot Holes- *Dum-da-dum-dum!* There are a few instances where my editor pointed out areas where illogical events, unlikely actions of characters, and statements that contradict earlier events in the storyline cropped up. These make my head spin! They are hard to accept because to me it all makes perfect sense, so the trick is that I have to figure out a way to convince the reader that it all makes sense. This means I might have to go back earlier in the story and put in more information to make a development seem more logical. Or I might have to put in some historic information to explain why I have my character act in a normal way for their time but not as likely for our time. Or I have to remove a contradiction or explain why my character is contradicting themselves. And if I can’t do any of these things, then I have to take it out entirely (ouch!) since it will pull the reader out of the book.

I really, really hate this part.

I’m desperately trying to finish all these improvements by tonight so that I can send my editor the MS back before I go away again. This will be my last vacation before the baby comes and it will be nice to get it off for my fabulous editor to complete the last look through. I’m not sure how long that will take but it feels so great putting my novel in her hands. And even though I doubt that she’s overlooked anything, I will still send the returned MS out to another copyeditor to be doubly sure that my book is in the best shape possible.

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First off–A DISCLAIMER–I’m not an editor nor do I have any editing background. Upon correcting my MS, I see these mistakes highlighted repeatedly by my editor and would like to pass it on to anyone else with grammatical disability*.

(I’m probably making grammatical mistakes even just explaining this to you.)

Like I’ve said before, I have tried…tried to learn how to revise every common mistake new writers make. I’ve read all the blogs on revising advice and I’m still so shocked that there were so many corrections! Well, maybe you can learn from me…hopefully I’m learning something through this all so that I won’t make these same mistakes with my next novel.

 

TOP MISTAKES I’VE MADE:

TOWARDS- I always spoke with a plural on the end of this one…note to self: it is toward.

COMMA BEFORE BUT- I thought it was a general rule that whenever you used but in a sentence, you needed a comma before it but not always so. Only if the group of words following the but is independent the comma is used. (Notice I didn’t use a comma above–there may be hope yet!)

DON’T OVERUSE EXCLAMATIONS! – Whenever my characters were upset, I used exclamations for the whole tangent when I’ve been told it is overkill. Use them sparingly and let your dialogue convey the anger instead.

CUT GARBAGE TAGS- These tags should be used sparingly: says, continues, and finishes.

CUT REDUNDANT ACTION- With actions such as ‘nods his head’ you should always cut out the obvious ‘his head’ since nods is self-explanatory. (I already knew this one but you’d be surprised how they disappear into the text)

NO SPACE AFTER ELLIPSIS- When using an ellipsis in a sentence there is no space between the end of the ellipsis and the next word.

POSSESSIVES- When you put a possessive at the end of a name that ends in an ‘s’ that doesn’t have the hard ‘z’ sound you must add an apostrophe ‘s’ to the ending. Example: Sokarisis’s dream chamber.

OVERUSING ‘THEN’ IN ACTION- My editor pointed out the abundance of ‘then’ in my action sequences and pointed out that it’s better to just allow the action to flow without it.

I HEAR, I FEEL, I SEE- It is extremely hard to resist using these when writing first person present, but as my editor pointed out using these makes someone feel like ‘they’re trapped in a long car ride with someone who is only talking about themselves.” Allow the reader to experience the action outside of the first person’s head as much as possible.

SLIPPING TENSES- I originally wrote my novel in first person past tense, but after a workshop everyone agreed it would feel much more immediate if it was in present tense. I seem to naturally write in past tense so I find whenever I rewrite I slip into past tense again. Thankfully, my amazing editor always found the slip-ups.

SEMI-COLONS AND COLONS- Still haven’t seemed to fully understand when they should be used. I get corrected 50% of the time…will have to study these more.

 

Oh well, that’s about all the grammatical talk I can tolerate. I still can’t fathom how people like my editor can just spot these things so perfectly. I have a feeling my disability has to do with my ADD, since I seem to get so hyper-focused into the story that I can over-look most errors. However, lucky for me, I have a superhero editor who will make it possible for me to self-publish in spite of my grammatical kryptonite.

*Don’t know if grammar disabilities do exist but I’m sure if there was a test, I just might qualify for it.

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Searching through various blog achieves I found a great post that hit home with me.

Write the story you want to read.

I didn’t write my series because I had a deep love for historical fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, Jules Watson, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Susana Kearsley wrote some of my favorite books, but I also love suspense, historical fiction, paranormal, thriller, horror…and the list goes on. I fall in love with a story, not a style or a genre.

Instead of a rebellious streak (although I’m sure my parents would say I’ve always been rebellious) or an experimenting phase in my teenage years, I went through a new age/occult stage. I read books on palm reading, astrology, witchcraft, ghost hunting, pendulum swinging, gem stones, Ouija boards, dream interpretation, and many other interesting topics. I sought out new age speakers like Sylvia Browne and searched for authentic psychics, past life regressionists, and palm readers.

One of the things that excited me most was reincarnation. The idea that we’ve lived before along with others we care about in this life. That we continuously work through issues with the help of others. We might start out selfish and extremely flawed and improve with adversity. That we’ve traveled throughout time and brought our love of eras along with us. How our attachments and hatreds stem from a history of loyalties or let downs.

After reading many past life books discussing others remembered experiences and hearing about my own possible experiences during hypnosis, I still felt like I wanted to try to feel what this really would be like. I remember sitting in the movie theatre, a trailer came on, and for a few instants it sounded like the movie of my dreams was about to be released; finally the past life epic saga that I yearned for! But after more explanations I realized that it was another story. I’d pick up a book with a past life theme but would be let down upon reading the blurb that it only went back one life and the major focus was a romantic soul mate relationship. Just one person that was important to the main character, not a whole group of important people? They weren’t realistic, if a soul returned in many lives there would be more than one person that traveled with them. Furthermore,  the focus of each life would not be only a romantic one, life is much more complicated than that.

Where was the book/movie that took the viewer from the very beginning of the first life and showed their detailed development throughout time evolving along with their closest companions and enemies?

What did I decide do?

Write the books.

I wrote the story I wanted to read. I culminated all I’ve read, experienced, and fantasized about. I chose the time periods I loved or have been told I’d been a part of. I created characters I would have wanted on my journey; loyal and exciting characters as well as captivating, flawed characters that you love to hate. Even characters that may surprise you, those who begin much differently than they end up.

Oh well, I won’t give anymore away but this is why I’m pushing so hard to get this series out. I’ve heard before that this is an ambitious project, that the nature of the series is extremely complicated, and takes a lot of effort to keep track of each character’s progression through the novels, but this is what I wanted to read. This is what I was looking for!

If I was craving to see this story come to life than others must want to see this portrayed as well. I just have to find them đŸ™‚

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Well I’m back home from the beach today and so anxious to really dig in and start correcting the suggestions from my editor. Every night I’ve tried to keep my beach-tired eyes open to read some more of her comments. I can’t help but be both super impressed with everything she’s pointed out and also overwhelmed with how much I overlooked after all the revisions I’ve done. I wonder if traditionally published authors have so many things flagged or do I have a punctuation impairment?

I try to assuage my interior editor by remembering that this will improve my finished copy greatly and if I pay special attention to the correction hopefully I’ll learn all that I’m doing wrong for my next book.

My plan is to print out the editor’s copy so that I can check off each correction as I make changes to the only copy I’m working on now (you don’t want to know how many copies I’ve saved so far!). There are some corrections that will take longer such as places where she’s pointed out areas that require more explanation or scene setting as well as asking questions about possible historical inaccuracies that I’ll have to research.

It may take longer than I originally planned but I feel so secure knowing that this editor has done everything she’s promised to further my first novel. If this book had gone out to print after beta reads and only my revisions it would have been a catastrophe. This step is critical for self-publishers to produce quality material and to be taken seriously in the marketplace. It’s just wonderful to know that such thorough freelance editors are out there to help us get there.

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Blogging from the Jersey Shore today and so far I’ve never seen the beach this crowded in my life. Nothing makes me realize that I can’t stand most of human kind like a crowded beach. I read about a study with mice where scientists just kept overcrowding them to see what would happen and they all attacked each other. Well, that’s pretty much what started happening when you pile in way too many people on lava-hot sand, blanket to blanket.I’m hoping today will be much more enjoyable with all the weekenders gone.

Anyway, I was so excited when my editor returned my MS yesterday! She was a few days early and I was biting my nails wondering what kind of an editor she was going to be. My biggest fear was that my MS would come back with a few commas misplaced here and there. I’ve heard that one of the reasons why Amanda Hocking decided to take a publishing deal was to get traditional publishing editors due to her past unsatisfactory freelance editors. She mentioned that even after a couple of good editors looking over her books, readers were still finding errors.

I found this editor through a great recommendation from a member on the Absolute Write Forum and I liked that this editor actually worked for an e-publishing company presently. That made me feel like she’s obviously qualified to edit professional-grade books out on the market so she would be able to get mine to those standards as well.

But, I still worried that maybe somehow this person might not put as much time into freelance work or take it as seriously. Especially since this editor has extremely reasonable rates and promised to not only get it back to me within a month but will do a second once over after I make the corrections.

Well, she was wonderful! She sent me an email explaining some of the big things she felt needed to be changed and explained that she had a style sheet attached to help me understand all of her corrections in the margins. I’ve only glanced over the first few pages and the pages are filled with comments and corrections! Most of them are punctuation misuse, suggestions for tightening, and word repetition. She’s even tried to look up some of the historical facts to be sure I’m 100% authentic to the time periods.

Wow…seriously wow. If you are in need of a wonderful, professional, and reasonable editor I think I’ve found one! (And I will slip you her name for a small fee)

Just kidding, I will pass this good find forward. I can’t WAIT to get home and really start cracking away at it!

PS- I wish I could pay someone to edit my blog đŸ™‚ My grammar and punctuation misuse must burn some reader’s eyes!

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My head is still spinning!

I had no idea so much thought and effort would go into obtaining book reviews. Yesterday I decided to wade into the murky book review waters. Seeing my editor updated that my MS is due back at the beginning of next week, I’m starting to think it might be a good idea to get a couple of pre-published book reviews to include on the back of my book cover and on various websites.

The good news is there are tons of helpful sites directing writers to self-publishing friendly reviewers. I thought that was going to be the hard part. Here’s a link to the most helpful article which not only explains the in’s and out’s of book reviews it provides a long list of book reviewers.

Now the bad news, I was surprised about the media kit that is needed to appear professional. I felt the familiar panic of the querying process all over again. Each site had its own submission guidelines, each one warned that you might not get reviewed due to the influx of submissions, and you might go to all this trouble and get a scathing public review. Deep breaths…deep breaths….

Additionally, many of the sites offered expedited reviews or guarantees for a review if you paid different amounts. I never factored in this expense so this sent my head spinning. I know that a good review or a great blurb could do wonders for my series but at what price? One that was especially high was the Kirkus Review but it looked like a fantastic site and I liked the idea that you had the option of not publishing a negative review. It still doesn’t promise a good review so it is a bit of a gamble to put down that kind of money for something you might never make public. Also, the idea of expediting is very attractive since I have set a publishing deadline and if I would want these before or on launch date I just might need to pay for it. Some sites say it might be months before a review appears, if ever.

Another factor I’ve learned is that most sites clarify they want the book published so they can provide all the links for their readers to purchase. I’ve only seen the pre-published ms option in a couple of payment cases. It might be awhile before I have the book formatted and in ebook reading capacity, so I’m worrying about being able to get a review before print date. I’ve found that most request print copies even if you also have it in ebook format. This will step up the costs even more with printing and shipping, nevermind the time delays in waiting until it’s been published.

Some sites clarify that they require the current years publication date and that’s making me second guess my November launch date. If I have a 2011 date will that mean I can only apply for reviews within that last month? Is this a good reason to launch in January?

Well, I hadn’t planned for this in my budget. I expected to be able to send out pre-published e-copies with a simple cover letter to various free reviewers who would select your book within a few months. Just getting this media package will take me some time, and the press release seems even harder than the query letter.

These are the things I have to sit down and consider carefully:

1) How early do I need a few reviews?

2) How much am I willing to pay for them?

3) Will I even have time to do all of this as I’m scrambling to publish?

4) Do I want to take the gamble of paying for reviews I might never use instead of just waiting for free ones?

5) How many reviews do I want to pay for in the hopes that one of two will come back positive?

6) How much do I hate the idea of assembling this media package!

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