Archive for June, 2016

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Editing.

That’s always a fun word. A lot of times, editing is seen as fixing errors. This is true, but that is only one part of editing. It is through proper editing that storytelling should be strengthened.

Too many errors in spelling and grammar and can ruin a story, but they are only one piece of the puzzle. Good editing also focuses on the content of a story. Writing can be perfectly clear of typos and formatting errors, yet still be diminished by poor storytelling. If a story is drowning in contrivances, caricatures, plot holes, repetition, info dumps, clichés, and pacing the story will suffer just as much from problems in these areas than if it were full of mistakes

Understanding that proofreading and content editing are two different things will help you grow as a writer. Both are important and both require practice. I consider myself a good content editor, but I hate proofreading. I miss things. Being good at both content editing and proofreading is a goal.

Proofreading

A lot of times we see people (including myself) say things like “with more editing the errors can be cleaned up.” I think because of this, many people come to believe that editing is proofreading and nothing more. This way of thinking and talking about editing does a disservice to a lot of people who are publishing their books.

Proofreading is a skill. It’s a difficult job to read thousands of words and clean up all of the typos. Similar to math, not everyone is good at proofreading and some people have a natural aptitude. Practice is always key but some people will always be better at finding mistakes.

How do you practice proofreading? Watching what others write for errors is one way. Picking up errors, whether you point them out or not, will help you. Another way to proofread is to change your format. If you always work on the computer, print out a chapter and read it on paper. Change the margins and look at small chunks at a time. It takes time and effort.

Studying language also helps your proofreading. Learning the rules for commas, dialogue, paragraphs, sentences, and other punctuation will strengthen your writing. If you feel shaky in any of these areas there are many resources online to help you.

Content Editing

Editing content is where you look at the story itself and try to make it better. It requires you to look at your work from different angles. One type of content editing is the commonly talked about word count. Using as few words as possible to tell your story helps with the pacing.

Pacing is a key element to storytelling and is what helps your reader follow along with the narrative and stay interested. With the wrong pacing your story moves either too fast or too slow. The reader either feels they are being dragged along without having a chance to catch their breath, or they are drowning in muck as they try to push through to the end.

Cutting is another type of content editing. Content editors are the ones who rip your heart out of your chest with phrases like “this scene needs to be cut” and “this character servers no purpose to the plot.” Cutting also helps with pacing. Bogging your reader down with too much, repetitive, or irrelevant information leaves the reader feeling bored and confused with the direction of a story.

A content editor should also be able to point out a contrivance or a caricature; both of which make stories unbelievable and result in a loss of emotional investment. Stories require emotional investment to be enjoyable. If a reader can’t feel emotionally and intellectually attached to the characters and their situations, they give up and stop reading

Suggesting changes to these types of situations are not meant to be hurtful, but are to help the author create the best story they can.

Hiring an Editor

For financial reasons, I do not hire an editor. This is my choice and, good or bad, I understand the consequences.

If (or when) I ever hire an editor, it will be important to interview editors the same way I would interview a potential employee for a company. Asking what type of editing they offer is key. Will there be content editing or just proofreading? This is important knowledge before giving someone your money.

You may think you’ve hired an excellent editor, but they only proofread. Alternately, your editor may help you with content but (like me) not be the best at proofreading. If they only do one type of editing, it’s good to know that in advance. If you only need one type, this might not be an issue. If you need both, then that might mean more cost to you, and you might want an editor that does both. Finding out if they recommend someone else to do the proofreading or content editing is also important, or you may need to find another editor on your own.

I would also want to see other works by an editor before I hired them. If I pick up a book and read it only to find it’s a mess, that’s a bad sign. If an editor won’t tell you what they’ve worked on, then that’s also a bad sign.

Beta Readers

Beta readers are an excellent tool for helping you gauge where your story is at, but they can also be a pitfall. They are not editors and should not be treated as such. Sometimes a beta reader might offer to proofread. Perhaps they enjoy doing this, but it should never be an expected service.

The point of the beta reader is to give you a general idea of audience response. If the only person you give your work to is your Aunt Mildred and she loves everything you do, this is not really a beta reader. It can be hard to find people who will read and give you the feedback you need. I have very nice beta readers and they give me good audience style feedback, but ultimately they do not give me in depth feedback that I would get from another writer or editor, even when I ask them direct questions.

This is why you can’t rely on beta readers to know, for a fact, that your story is well edited. The only way is to find readers who are also writers or editors, too, or people who take beta reading seriously rather than just doing it as a favor.

Creative Partner

A creative partner is another writer that reads your work and you read their work. You give each other feedback. Having a solid creative partner is a good way to gauge your writing through constructive criticism, which can include pointing out errors or problems with the content. You still need to be aware that not every writer is good at both. Knowing your creative partner’s strengths and weaknesses is just as important as when you hire an editor.

I didn’t have a creative partner for Darkness Falling, but having a creative partner is something I wouldn’t shy away from. It is important to find the right person or people to ensure collaboration is beneficial for everyone in the group.

You Can Always Fix Things 

One of the bonuses to being self-published is that you can always go back and fix things when you do receive feedback. For example, I’ve received some feedback that Book One has typos and I’m doing another round of proofreading to find them.

Even professionally published works have errors at times, but traditional publishing means rounds of books are printed with errors and they cannot be changed. This is one perk to being self-published over going the more traditional route.

As self-published authors we all need to strive to make our product the best it can be, because we already face stigma. Being aware of your own pitfalls is a good first step to improving your work. With that in mind keep writing, keep practicing, and don’t give up!

Thank you for reading and if you have anything to add please do so in the comments!

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I was tagged to do this sunshine game again. This time by Elle Karma. That means it’s different questions with new answers, so not exactly the same.

The way this game works is you answer eleven questions, nominate eleven people, and ask eleven questions. Okay, well, I’m kind of a hermit and re-nominating the same writers over and over isn’t for me. If you would like to nominate yourself to answer my questions, feel free! Then you can pass it along to others if you choose.

Here are the questions posed by Elle:

How many cups of coffee/tea/adult beverage must you consume to effectively write?

I do not require beverages to write. A cup of coffee or tea is nice to have, but not necessary. I do not drink adult beverages, because I have a very strong sense of taste and the alcohol overpowers me. I drink a lot of water, at least 64 oz a day.

What genre best describes your personality?

As much as i want to say something cool like fantasy, sci-fi, or maybe even mystery….. I’m going to have to go with self-help. I’m really good at being enthusiastic and cheering people on, but if I actually help them in any way isn’t clear.

If you were to get rid of one state in the U.S., what would it be and why?

I feel no ill will to any state in particular. They call remain part of the Union…. for now….

A penguin walks through your door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

The penguin would say, without taking a breath, “What do you mean my doctor wants me to be seen for my diabetes? I know my blood test was really high, (and has been for the last 5 years,) but I wasn’t fasting. I already know everything about diabetes because I took a class in 1982, and I’m sure that absolutely no new research or information could help me. Also my doctor said this was free, but now you’re telling me it’s not free? What? Everything your doctor recommends is automatically free. Isn’t that how healthcare in the USA works? You’re going to tell my doctor I’m not going to schedule? Now, hang on, hang on. I didn’t say I wouldn’t schedule. What do you have available?”

This is my life…..

If Tolkien and Austen were to have a Rap Battle, who would win? Why?

They’re both great, but Tolkien came up with his own language, so I’m going to have to say he would win. (Sorry, Jane!)

What is your honest opinion on garden gnomes?

I love garden gnomes. They are that wonderful combination of creepy and cute all in one little ceramic package. I hope to have my own collection, but currently have none.

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‘You’re not afraid of little old me, are you?”

If you had to create a horocrux, what object would you use and where would you hide it?

My hororcrux would probably be a garden gnome dressed as a clown and hidden in a den of immortal spiders. That way it would be far too terrifying for anyone to try and get it.

What footwear do you typically wear while writing?

I usually wear shoes. If not shoes, then slippers or socks. Regardless, however; I always am wearing skin.

Do you shower before you start your day or shower before bed?

Yes.

If you could be any kind of sandwich, what would you be?

Because of that very strong sense of taste, I don’t like mixing too many foods together. Sandwiches are mostly the enemy. I do like peanut butter and jelly, though. Or maybe grilled cheese. I would be one of those, probably, but…. being a sandwich seems somewhat terrifying.

If you’re the kind of person who actually responds to challenges when tagged on Twitter, why do you feel compelled to respond?

I am compelled to respond because it helps build community, even though I’m a hermit. This goes back to that whole self-help book thing.

Questions for Those Who Want Them
  1. If you’re a writer, what is your main character’s favorite color? If not, what is your favorite fictional character.s favorite color? (Make a guess anyway.)
  2. What animal do you prefer to see as a fictional character?
  3. Based on personality, if you were one of these fictional characters, which would you be: Elf / Dwarf / Hobbit / Goblin / Orc?
  4. If you could wear outfits from any time period, (even to work or school!) which would you choose?
  5. Cosplay – for or against?
  6. What is your favorite midnight snack?
  7. If you ever became an eccentric (or are one currently) what would be your best quirk?
  8. If you don’t know the words to a song do you improvise? If so, what is a funny one you can share?
  9. Where would you go in a time machine? Would you stay?
  10. With a scary movie do you prefer monsters or real life suspense and why?
  11. Zombies, vampires, werewolves, or other?

Okay, that’s all of my questions. Have fun if you decide to answer them! You can either tag me on Twitter @RRWillica to let me know you answered, or you can link back to this post. If you choose not to do either, I’ll never know.

Good morning! Today is the big day! Book Two of the Darkness Falling Trilogy has arrived.

Darkness Falling: Shadow of the Seeker is now available on Amazon for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited!

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Here are the links:

US

CA

UK

AU

If you were hoping for a paperback version, I had some issues with CreateSpace. The paperback should be available shortly; within the next week. I’ll post another blog announcement once it happens.

I would like to thank everyone who has followed along with my blog to this point in my publishing journey. Also, a big thank you to everyone who has purchased or picked up Soldiers and Slaves for free. If you do read the book, please remember to review (even if you hate it!) because feedback will help me improve and/or know what I’m doing right.

I am now hard at work at the third and final installment – Darkness Falling: Secrets of Syerset. I hope to have it done by early 2017! I’m also doing another edit of Soldiers and Slaves due to feedback on typos. It just takes some time to get done. After that, I have many other stories to tell and intend to keep writing and publishing.

Thank you again and have a fantastic weekend! *

Today in celebration of Darkness Falling: Shadow of the Seeker, book one of the series Soldiers and Slaves is Free today for Kindle!

Here are the links to different Amazons so that you can pick up a copy if you haven’t already.

United States

Canada

UK

Australia

Thank you for reading!

Darkness Falling: Soldiers and Slaves

Free Today Only!

Two weeks ago I posted the Super Silly Editing Challenge. The story was written using only random sentence generators, and the point was to find sense in nonsense. Sadly, there were no participants to showcase this week. I still would like to see what other people come up with, and if anyone ever does, let me know!

And now the results of Sense in Nonsense.

The chill night air is oily from the afternoon street fair. A fire eater is seen bathing in the fountain. John runs by, clucking his tongue at such an unsanitary sight. The glamorous effect of the performer is broken by his disregard of the law.

“The police will arrest him for such a display,” the lovely secretary says.

Passion or serendipity has presented itself.

John is discouraged by the lawlessness and says, “Three times last week I saw a suspicious worm shake hands with an unsavory character.”

“You must be joking!” The lovely secretary is drawn into conversation.

“Let me sit by you and we can talk. I prefer it to sitting over here.”

“What is wrong with that seat?” the lovely secretary asks, looking at the seat curiously.

Taking advantage of her distraction, he sits beside her. The lovely secretary is surprised but doesn’t challenge him.

John makes and attempt at small-talk. “I would like very much to see pictures of you.”

The lovely secretary dodges the request with a smile. “You have very large nostrils for such a small gentleman.”

Her observations makes John feel like a fool. “How could I garner your attraction?”

“I am rather discriminating when it comes to love.”

John feels regret having asked, but has another trick up his sleeve. He can sense there is still a chance to win her favor!

“I have a large septic boil on my back.”

The lovely secretary fidgets at the revelation.

“Would you burst it for me please?” A wide smile stretches John’s face.

The disgusting request is granted. The lovely secretary squeeze’s John’s boil with unexpected strength. She strains against the abscess. A wash of  liquid begins to leak through. John’s boil explodes with a puss the color of custard and leaks down his back in a wide stream.

She recoils in horror. Even compliments cannot change what she has witnessed, and any attraction she felt evaporates.

John pulls away from the lovely secretary and regains his focus. “I needed your help this tonight.”

“Any cheerful memories we may have shared have been spoiled,” she confesses.

“Then I do not see why I should thank you for your help.”

“How do you think that makes me feel? Your confusing behavior is not enough to form an attraction!” the lovely secretary says, but knows he will not understand.

“Your unhappiness confuses me. Why can’t you at least pretend you love me?”

“I do not reciprocate your feelings, and any chance of doing so is fast evaporating,” the lovely secretary sighs.

John’s anger thunders through his mind. “I was an idiot to talk with you.”

“I was equally stupid to help you.”

The truth deflates John’s ego. “All of my hope is gone.”

“If you don’t want to lose an opportunity, John, then be grateful when people help you.”

-FIN-

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Is it the best story ever? No! But it was fun to challenge myself this way. Perhaps I will hold another Super Silly Editing Challenge in the future.

In other news, we are only one week away from launch day of Darkness Falling: Shadow of the Seeker! I will not be posting a character analysis this week due to having a lot to do before the 18th. I am working on a couple at the moment, however; and hope to be posting them on a regular basis soon!

Thank you for reading and feel free to leave a comment or critique. See you next week!

S. Hunter-Nisbet tagged me for this game so I will be answering her questions, as that is how this game is played. After I will tag some other people with my own questions.

And now for the lightning round… or… sunshine round….

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Dost thou speaketh any other languages? If so, what is thine go-to phrase when people say “Ooh, say something in that language!”

I used to take French in high school. Do I speak French? No, not really. Can I understand French? If spoken very slowly, then yes. I can also read it a little bit with some effort.

My go to phrase is “le chien gonfle” which pretty much means “the dog inflated.” (It’s a long story….)

Hast thine car ever run out of gas? What did you do?

Yes, I did run out of gas once. I was living in Phoenix at the time and pregnant. I had picked up my brother-in-law from work and due to terrible traffic we ran out of gas on the very crowded highway. It was terrible. Luckily a truck that helps stranded motorists discovered us and gave us enough gas to get to the nearest station.

Didst thou go to university, and what was thy major or focus?

I did not go to university but I attended two years of community college and focused on psychology, art, and theater. Many years later I attended vocational school to be a medical administrative assistant.

You may wonder why I didn’t focus on English. I’ll just say I was very arrogant and after scoring the highest possible scores on the entrance exams at the college for English, I figured I knew what I needed to know.

What is thine starter Pokemon?

This is a tough question because I never played Pokemon but my kids do, and a lot of the little creatures are really cool. I guess I would choose a fire Pokemon like Fennekin or Tepig. Or maybe an Eevee because they evolve into so many different types.

Black thumb, or digit of greenest emerald?

Black thumb. Plants do not scream or cry if they need something, and so they die.

In a world where thy eyebrows were, in fact, long enough to reach the brim of thine hat, dost thou trim them or let them be ala Gandalf?

This all depends on the current fashion. Although I usually do not fit in with current fashion when it comes to my appearance. My conclusion would be I would be opposite of whatever people find stylish at the time.

What was the first chapter book thou ever read, and why?

I have no idea. I have read so many books and the very first is long ago and far away. I can say that the first “grown up” book I read was The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King.

How many poems can thou recite at will?

Only one and only one stanza.

I
When in good humor,
Give grass its green
Blazon sky blue, and endow the sun
With gold;
Yet, in my wintriest moods, I hold
Absolute power
To boycott any color and forbid any flower
To be.

Soliloquy Of The Solipsist

Sylvia Plath

If I say we must do something for the good of the many, not the few, thy answer will be:

Probably. This is a dystopia, isn’t it?

What is knee high by the fourth of July?

The corn, I believe….

Okay, so that ends the questions. Now for the tagging part…. (I am not good at this part.) 

The (un)lucky persons will be: D. M. Newlun and… Bridget who tagged me before for a similar game.

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“Answer me these questions three…. err… ten…”

  1. What is your all time favorite book?
  2. What is your favorite genre to read/write?
  3. If you could be any type of mythical creature, what would you be?
  4. Do you play video games and if so what type?
  5. Have you ever visited another country?
  6. Do you have any pets?
  7. Do you enjoy cooking? What is the best dish you can make?
  8. Where would you go on a dream vacation?
  9. How many books are on  your bookshelf (or reading device)?
  10. Chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry?

Thus ends the Sunshine Game. And now for the valuable prizes. (Actual prizes are imaginary. Imaginary prizes are not valid in all locations. If you cannot think of an imaginary prize, that is very unfortunate.)

With the launch of Book Two of the Darkness Falling Trilogy only two weeks away, today I’m posting an excerpt! Please enjoy and if you haven’t read book one, it’s only .99 cents on Amazon. (Shameless Plugging) 

Be aware, this could be a spoiler for Book One!

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After a moment of silence, Brosen nodded. “The sword. You said that the old man made it. What do you mean?”

“I don’t know the details, but he uses energy. He used to be Ka Elta’s advisor, but Ka Harn banished him thinking he was involved in his father’s death. After that he went to Gillinera and made his own army of Enforcer types.”

“Did he take Enforcers with him?” Brosen asked.

“I don’t know. All I know is that those Mutilators are like us but different.”

“That woman. She’s powerful.”

“Yeah, and not friendly. Her name is Lethel Jilorn.” The mere mention of her caused Treve’s muscles to tense.

Brosen was quiet again, eyes distant. “I’ve been thinking about my fight with her, but now I have more questions. If they’re like us and they have power like that, then shouldn’t we have power, too?”

It wasn’t something Treve had considered. “What do you mean?”

Brosen ran his hand through his hair, and in that moment he was his normal self. “I mean; we’re not just soldiers. In training, we’re told we have heightened abilities over regular people. We can run faster, jump higher, see better in the dark, and are stronger than people without Enforcer blood. But we’re never given any training in those skills beyond what is necessary to police the population. After fighting that woman and traveling with Impyra, I think we all have a lot of untapped potential.”

Treve felt uneasy at the idea. “We’re not like the Mutilators. We are, but we’re not.”

“You said Garinsith trained an army of them, right?”

Treve nodded slowly.

“That means there are more than three soldiers. Why does he need an army?”

It was a question Treve never asked himself.

“A better question is; why does he need an army that far better understands their abilities than the Enforcers?”

“And he calls them Mutilators.”

“Doesn’t sound like a friendly name to me.”

“I wonder if Ka Harn has thought about that,” Treve mused.

“Maybe, but my confidence in our Emperor’s ability to reason things through isn’t that high.”

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That’s all for today! Next week I’ll be posting my edit for the Silly Editing Challenge.

Darkness Falling: Shadow of the Seeker will be available June 18.