Proof Positive

My proofreading editor sent back FOR BETTER OR FOR WOLF to me today with the final proof edits. And as I go through them I think about all the steps that got me to this (somewhat) last edit.

Brainstorming that started back in the prior book of the series so I could set up the heroine for book four (I’m tricky like that), followed by writing and writing and did I mention writing?

Then it went to content edits, then regular edits, then final line edits before I sent it to proof. And in between all of these steps, I read and reread the book some more. Soon I will be sending it for formatting as well so that it can be sold as an ebook and a print book. (But not before another read through).

It’s a journey for sure, but it’s always amazing to me when I get to this point as I read through the book, that I created this world, this story, and these characters. It’s a part of me and I love to share it with my readers.

So as I finish my edits, I thought I would share the joy with you ūüôā

Redline IS My Friend

You might think that my blog title this week is a bit strange, but let me explain. While some people see corrections as a bad thing, I put my writer’s hat on and say, “no way!”

Edits are actually a very GOOD thing. My editor sent back edits on the first book in my demon trilogy and while those red-line edits and comments might seemingly glare at you, they serve a purpose.

Besides the obvious purpose of catching typos and grammatical errors, edits can catch issues with flow, logic, plot holes, character issues, etc. You name it, a good editor can find it.

What I learned early on in this writing business was that I wanted to give the best possible story to my readers. To do that, I had to put away my ego and accept that having someone else help me just makes sense.

In this instance two heads are better than one. So when Misha’s story is finally released, it’s truly what everyone has been waiting for…

Time to Fall Out of Love

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As you know, I have been diligently working on the next book in my paranormal wedding planner series, FROM THIS FAE FORWARD. My editor read the manuscript and has sent back content edits. Content edits are the big, overarching changes that deal with the story and characters.

Sometimes content edits can be hard to swallow, because authors are in that honeymoon stage with their book at this phase of the process. But here’s the thing. You can’t be so in love with the story that you refuse to make changes to it. So now is the time when you have to fall out of love with it, even if just¬†for a¬†little bit. You need perspective. Because in all honesty, there is something that you can do to make it that much better if you keep an open mind.

Once you’ve accepted that, you can start the edits. Okay…accepted.

So now I am diving into the editing pool and making changes to the story. And even though editing is NOT my favorite part of the process, there is something exciting about looking at the story and saying, ‘what if…’

  • What if I made the heroine’s motivation and back story different to explain why she reacts the way she does?
  • What if I change the antagonist’s reason for evil? (pretty cool when you get to decide someone’s reason for being evil, right?)
  • What if I make the hero have more angst in his background? (we love those angsty heroes)
  • What if the climax scene gets thrown out the window for a new one now that I have made the earlier changes?

And the what ifs can go on and on if I let them…

But at some point, I will have to reign in the what ifs and let the story stand on its own. Then the story will head to a beta reader and then on to detail edits. And once I am done with all of the edits?

I can fall in love with it all over again.

 

 

 

 

Celebration: Author Style

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You all have been traveling the paranormal wedding planner path this past month with the release of IN SICKNESS AND IN ELF, the first book in my new series. And it has been a heck of a celebration so far. Thanks for joining in on the fun!

Well, I have a new cause for celebration tonight. I finished the first draft of my next novel in the series, FROM THIS FAE FORWARD. Yay! Yahoo! Yes!

And there you go –¬†my rather muted celebration, author style. Why so subdued you might ask? Cause now comes the hard part. Yep, you heard it correctly. Writing the book is not the hard part. Editing is the hard part, at least for me. I had someone ask me about my writing process recently and I thought I would share some of that with you. Here goes…

  1. Write the daggone book (me)
  2. Complete read-through and edit (me)
  3. Send to editor for content read
  4. Edit (me)
  5. Send to editor for detail edits
  6. Edit (me)
  7. Send to editor for final edits
  8. Edit (me)
  9. Send for proof read
  10. Edit (me)
  11. Send to formatter
  12. Review files (me)
  13. Release Book (me)

Basically, I am just finishing up step 2, which leaves 11 more steps to go! A lot of work, I know, but it will be worth it in the end. That’s when I get to wear my author tiara and really celebrate. In the meantime, I’ll let you know how things go.

Yay! Yahoo! Yes! Okay, now I’m just getting carried away…

The Two Most Glorious Words

For a writer all words are glorious, but when we pair the words ‘THE’ and ‘END’ together, a definite celebration is in order. There is something exhilarating about finishing the first draft of a book. Especially if it’s the first book you have ever written. There is such a sense of accomplishment to that event and there should be. So many people want to write a book, but only a small percentage actually do.

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And I can tell you that as more manuscripts are completed, that feeling of ‘way to go’ hits you every single time. I wrote THE END this weekend on book five of my Mind Sweeper series. And I was so, so, happy. A literal weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

But the journey for this book is far from over. Now I shift into ‘edit mode’. Does the book flow well? What loose ends did I miss? What scenes work and what scenes don’t?

It’s all good though, or it will be once I have edited and my beta readers have read it, and my editor has edited it and my proofreader has edited…

Well, you get the idea.

My First Book Club Experience

Yes, yes, yes, before you scold me… I know that this blog is a day late. But yesterday, I wanted to share the cover reveal for Amy’s Patrick’s upcoming book HIDDEN DEEP, which was a lot of fun. So here is my blog, one teensy day late.

Last week I attended my first book club meeting where MIND SWEEPER was the topic! Hee, hee. I was uber-excited about the idea of hearing a group talk about the first book in my series. So I decided as a thank you that I wanted to take something with me to the meeting. If you have been following me for awhile, you know that I am a bit twisted (that’s a lead-in to my explanation). I made cupcakes. But not your ordinary cupcakes cause what would be the fun in that? Instead, I made vampire cupcakes. Let me tell you it’s not easy finding plastic fangs in January! So fangs were used as was red frosting for blood. 20150205_082055-2

Now on to the meeting. Half of the group showed up which I thought was amazing because (and I haven’t mentioned this yet) we were having a HUGE snowstorm that night – as in, you weren’t supposed to be on the road unless absolutely necessary, snowstorm. Yet these ladies pulled on their parkas, cleaned off their cars, and came to the library to talk to me about my book. How awesome is that??

And I was all prepared. Fangy cupcakes in hand and psyched to answer questions about my book. But I was a bit surprised (in a good way) at the questions they asked. Instead of talking about the book, they jumped into questions about being an author.

Had I always known I wanted to write? Why did I write about Cleveland? Why did I write paranormal? Were any of my characters fashioned after people? What was my writing process? How did I find my editor? Why did I decide to write a series? Why do I write novels and novellas?

And the q’s went on. And it was a heck of a lot of fun. We did eventually talk some about the book itself. And they explained to me that each month when they got together they talked about the books. This time they got to understand how the book came to be and that was fun for them.

The evening was a great success and I can’t thank each of them enough for inviting me to their meeting. As a gift, they gave me a thank you card and flowers. I hugged the roses to me after the meeting as I headed out into the snowstorm grinning from ear to ear.

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I Got my Edits Back…And my Manuscript Wasn’t all That Bloody

You heard it right, my followers, I got my edits back on my Mind Sweeper manuscript. And I will admit that my heart started jumping just a little bit before I opened the file. What would I find there? Could I handle it?

The answer? I found quite a few redline edits (hence the bloody reference) and yes, I could handle it. Remember my new mantra is BE FEARLESS and that is what I intend to do this year. Luckily Ms Editor (aka ME) did not find any major content errors. So she moved on to two types of edits.

The first type of edit is¬†what I call the ‘nitty-gritty’. ME went through each sentence with an eye for detail, helping with word choice, awkward phrasing, and general massaging of my sentences so that they flowed better. Apparently there are a couple of words that I like to use A LOT and she helped get rid¬†of those. It was exciting to see how these changes could polish my story.

The second type of edits¬†were¬†done in comment bubbles and they made me THINK (no you can’t avoid thinking by hiring an editor, I’m afraid). ME asked questions on the story or confirmed what I wrote is really what I wanted to say. It was also where she suggested changes for me to consider.

first-aid-kitSo I spent the last week cleaning up my bloody manuscript and accepting most (but not all) of the changes. My editor does a great job of making me sound even better (which is exactly what you need in an editor). But I also have to be careful to remember that this book is mine. Not every suggestion has to be taken. And that is where the real decision-making comes into play. It would be really easy for me to simply accept all changes in the document. Would have taken five minutes versus the week I spent reviewing it.

But the story is ultimately my baby and I am very happy about the direction has taken. I just need to remember to stock up on bandaids and ointment for the future!

Do I Want the Editor Behind Door Number One?

And let me tell you, this is NOT an easy decision to make! I got my sample edits back2014-03-09 22.06.19 from the five editors for review. Each email I received was like a new gift waiting to be unwrapped. You may think that this is a bit masochistic of me, since editors tell you what does not ‘work’ in your manuscript, however I am taking a different view of things this year.

So what did I find in these sample pages?

Well, first of all let me tell you that each editor provided me with DIFFERENT insights, which was very enlightening. Yes, there were some repeats on grammar and punctuation suggestions, but otherwise, each editor had a unique take on suggestions.

What else did I find? Redline changes and comment bubbles peppered my pages. Some of the suggestions were quite EXTENSIVE. (ughhhh) Now, before you wonder if I curled up in the fetal position and started mumbling to myself, the answer is no. (Okay, maybe a little hyperventilating took place, but there was no mumbling, honest).

It may be time again to remind my followers and those of you who have just joined this merry-go-round (and myself) that I have a new mantra this year. BE FEARLESS

So I won’t¬†get discouraged at the suggestions, rather I look at it as opportunity for improvement. Ultimately I want my manuscript to be better. If not, then I shouldn’t waste the time or money it takes to find an editor in the first place!

So how in the world did I make my decision? Cause that’s what you’re waiting to hear, right?

I read the sample edits once. Then I read them a few days later so that emotion was taken out of the equation. During this time, one of the editors informed me that her calendar had filled up and she would not be able to work with me until the fall, so the pool was reduced to four.

Then I had a published author friend review the edits as well. I wanted someone who has been through the editing process before take a look at the samples. Why wouldn’t I leverage someone who has knowledge that I lack? Ultimately the decision was mine to make, but it was nice to hear her take on the comments.

So I narrowed the four down to two. The interesting thing about the two I chose as ‘finalists’ was that their edits were much more extensive than the other editors. AND their suggestions made me think AND made me improve my pages.

Then I read the two again and decided to go with Door #2. Henceforth, I will call her Miss Editor or M.E. for short.  What were the make it or break it things for me?

M.E. got my humor. I write funny and if that had been lacking there would have been no further discussions needed.

M.E.’s suggestions were good and numerous (and did I say good?). She was great at ‘little things’ like word suggestions, but she was also great at big-picture thinks and questioning things that didn’t make sense.

M.E. will read my story more than once. She will actually provide edits for me and then I am going to re-work the pages and she will then provide another edit! I found this a huge positive since I am new to this process.

M.E. answered my EXHAUSTIVE list of questions with patience and professionalism. Remember last week, I mentioned that this is a professional relationship. One of the last questions I asked M.E. before offering her the job, was if she would be okay when I didn’t agree with her suggestions. Afterall, the book is mine and so there will be times when I will not use all of her changes or comments. She was okay with that. She is a writer too, so I think that helps that she sees both perspectives as well.

And I think the important takeaway in this process is that an editor that is GREAT for me, might now be great for you. It comes down to your gut sometimes. Don’t ignore your gut, it is right most of the time.

So now, my baby is in the hands of my editor. And the anticipation is building. Who would have thought this self-pub journey would be so emotionally demanding?

BE FEARLESS! BE PATIENT! LISTEN TO YOUR GUT! (I’m building up quite a list, aren’t I?)

Proof is in the Pudding (or the sample edits)

It is time to put my editor research and preparation into practice! The most important part of this stage in the process is connecting with the list of editors that you want to potentially work with. Helpful hint: Don’t just send an inquiry to one editor.¬†That does not allow you room for comparison which is important (editors are different and you want to be able to compare). For me, the number was five (which may have been a little overzealous of me, but this is all new to me). Three is a pretty reasonable number to work with.

So how exactly did this inquiry phase work? I sent an email to the five editors. What did it include?

  1. A quick introduction of myself and my decision to self publish
  2. An introduction of my work and that it is a series. I felt this was important because I wanted the editor to know up front that I was looking for a long-term relationship. This wasn’t going to be a one-time event.
  3. An explanation of what I was looking for in an editor
  4. Inquiry on WHEN the editor could begin editing my work
  5. Request for a sample to be completed (remember, I made sure in my research phase that any editors I chose were willing to complete FREE sample edits for me.
  6. Finally, I let the editor know WHY I had chosen to query them. Was it the author testimonials on their site? Was it the explanation of how they would edit? Was it their willingness to read the book more than once? Whatever the reason was that attracted me to that editor, I let them know.

Why did I feel that all of this was necessary? (I am glad you asked, my followers.) Drumroll, please….Because this process is all about establishing a BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP with someone. Yes, writing is about creativity and diving into an imaginary world where you are in control of your character’s destinies, and I want to share my stories with the world. But I also want to make money doing it.¬†For right now, I have taken off my creative hat and put on my business cap.

puddingSo, I sent out my five inquiries and in very short order received emails back from ALL the editors stating that they would like to receive sample pages in order to complete an edit. I giddily prepared the pages (each editor asked for different amounts of pages, etc) and sent them out to them. Proof is in the pudding after all (someone famous said that at some time when pudding apparently was very popular).

Another VERY HELPFUL Hint: the sample is one of the most important parts of this entire process. An editor can look really good on paper, come with rave reviews and edit top-notch authors, but you still need to see what they will do with YOUR pages. Do not skip this step. It will save you heartburn later on.

Now I’m waiting for my sample edits. The next stage is deciding on who to work with. Yipes!

The Great Editor Search Begins!

So it’s time to talk about editors and how the ‘H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks’ I am going to find a good one. Last week I decided what types of edits I need. This is important because when you start your research on editors you will find out rather quickly what they do and do not edit.

I’ve gathered a list of names from various boards, loops, recommendations etc. And it is a rather large one.¬†So it’s time to jump¬†in and skinny down the list right? Hold on a minute, my followers.¬†¬†First you need to establish a set of¬†criteria. How can you skinny down a list if you have no idea what you are looking for in the first place? (rhetorical question alert)

listsThe first criteria¬†is that the editor has to have a website.¬†For me (and you might think differently), this is a make it or break it item on my checklist. Here is the reason why…I want to be able to learn the basics about the editor from their site and not have to email someone numerous times to discover in the end that we cannot work together.

What did I want to see on their website?

  • Do they have a description of the¬†types of edits they do?
  • Do they have a price listing (or at least a range of pricing)?
  • Do they have a listing of clients they have worked with?
  • Do they have testimonials from those clients?
  • How do they edit – use of track changes for example?
  • How long does an average edit take?
  • Does the editor read and/or edit your work more than once?
  • And do they offer a FREE sample edit of¬†your work?

The research can now begin! And even though the list is large, many of the editors fell out of the running rather quickly. The first group to go were those that didn’t have a website. The next to go were the ones that did not offer content and copy-edits. Then there were those editors who had no client lists or testimonials on their sites. They were crossed off as well.

The list is becoming much more manageable. And I can dig in more deeply into this smaller set of names.

Now here’s where my OCD kicked in. For those of you who have been following me for a while, you know that I can be a bit obsessive in my day-to-day life. Sometimes this pays off. I created a spreadsheet (cause there was no way I was going to keep all of these things straight). In the left hand column, I listed the questions and then¬†across the top of the spreadsheet I placed the names of the editors in their own columns.

And while on each website, I would jot notes down in my spreadsheet. And more editors came off the list. Until I was left with 5 potential editors that I wanted to talk to a bit more. NOW I can start having email conversations. Instead of emailing hundreds of editors (because who has time for that), I am working with a controlled, reasonable number.

Next week, we’ll talk about what I call the Inquiry Stage of the process. In the meantime, keep busy, I know that I am!