Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ten Things You Should Know About Editors

I'm an editor first and a writer second. Having spent the better part of three years editing manuscripts has made me a better writer for my genre. Not because I'm smarter or better prepared word for word, but because I understand the role of the person on the other end of my manuscript. I know, without a doubt, that what I thought I wrote is probably not what I actually wrote. Therefore, if I'm going to argue with my editor, I'm going to be damn sure I'm right.

I thought authors and writers might benefit from knowing a bit about the red pen on the other end of the internet.

Ten Things You Should Know About Editors:

10) They get paid nothing. Seriously. A full-time editor for a smallish shop couldn't afford a Starbucks habit with what she makes per manuscript. They don't do this for the money. They do it for you. You're the one getting paid for your good work. They're trying to make you more money while getting very little themselves.

9) They read manuscripts as a reader. So when they ask a question, they're not asking for notation clarification for them because they're dumb. They want you to clarify your words within the manuscript.

8) CAPITAL LETTERS DO NOT INTIMIDATE THEM INTO SEEING THE GENIUS OF YOUR FIRST TURN OF PHRASE. Copy editors can read in both upper and lower case, and the words mean the same.

7) They appreciate a learning author. There is nothing more disheartening than turning one hundred thens into thans, and then having to go through the new changes, and fix all the new thens into thans. Or whatever your grammar malfuction may be.

6) They appreciate a read-through before you hand in your script. Authors who are used to being accepted into houses tend to give the yellow-lined draft of their book. That's fine, but editors network, just like writers do. When you're ready to expand, you want to be known as the author who turns in pretty clean copy. Not the author with the crappy attitude and second-grade level spelling.

5) Most editors are also writers / authors. They do know what it's like to be you.

4) The longer they take with a manuscript, the better a job they are doing for you. Hounding them every two hours for your work back might get it back more quickly. But it won't be read as well. And your work could possibly suffer because of it.

3) They don't care. If you seriously insist on making that mistake in continuity in the backstory because the editor is simply not seeing your genius, go for it. It's not their book.

2) They hate most of the rules as much as you do. If you have a problem with the house guidelines, you'll have to look further up the chain.

1) They are making suggestions. They are not ripping into your character. They don't hate you. They don't get off on making you work harder. They are on your side. Better books get made when both parties realize that.

Good luck, and remember, try to cut your editor a break. They're working really hard mostly for the love of the business.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Daring Greatly, Brene Brown - Book Review

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and LeadDaring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Daring Greatly. Do you dare greatly? Do you dare at all? This book by Brene Brown encourages us to take action in our own lives by first understanding ourselves and our motivations. It's a look inward to affect outward action, and it's important work.

This book came at a great time for me. Brene is a shame and vulnerability researcher. Scary business. Something I'd like nothing better than to scoff at.

But I can't.

Because she makes sense. And I like her. I'm not going to blather on about her book. I'm going to let her speak for herself. If any of this strikes a cord, I suggest grabbing her book. It's really been a great read for me.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly..." --Teddy Roosevelt

"When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary."

"We're afraid that our truth isn't enough--that what we have to offer isn't enough without the bells and whistles, without editing, and impressing."

"Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them."

"You know that you are far more than a painting, an innovative idea, an effective pitch, a good sermon, or a high ranking. Yes, it will be disappointing and difficult if your friends or colleagues don't share your enthusiasm, or if things don't go well, but this effort is about what you do, not who you are."

"We are hard on others because we are hard on ourselves."

"We are a culture of people who have bought into the idea that if we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives will not catch up with us."

"Much of the beauty of light owes its existence to the dark."

"Using vulnerability is not the same as being vulnerable. It is the opposite."

"Cruelty is cheap, easy, and chickenshit."

"Don't try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer."

"Fitting in is one of the greatest barriers to belonging."

"Hope is a combination of setting goals, having the tenacity and perseverance to pursue them, and believing in our own abilities. Hope is plan B."

"Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up."

"Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. It's about courage."

Reading this book really helped me put a lot of my own life into perspective, and not just my present and future in terms of parenting, but also my past in terms of who I am as a person and why I've gone the path I've chosen. I wholly recommend it.

This review is paid for by BlogHer, but it is my own opinion expressed, good or bad.

View all my reviews

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Painted Veil, by Somerset Maugham

The Painted VeilThe Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the best book I've read in a while. The story is a heartening tale of growth and perseverance, and the author makes no exception for the human condition along the way. The stark realism not only of the descriptions of the time, settings and characters, but also of the reactions those character would have to each other can be startling at times, and is always refreshing.

Maugham has a brilliance with words and ideas, and I was heartened that even when he seemed to lose his way 3/4 through the book, he found it again with adept precision. Read Maugham. Read the Painted Veil.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Body Combat RELEASED!

My second romance is available now for purchase through Resplendence Publishing!

It's about a down-on-his-luck architect, Charles, who falls for his gym instructor while he's supposed to be refocusing himself. The instructor, Sammy, is going through immense family turmoil and doesn't want to let anyone, let alone a handsome romantic interest, in.

Well, here's the blurb--that's better.

"Charles Whitaker is taking his fall from grace hard. Once the top architect in San Diego, his business
partner stole his clients and ran off with all his earnings. When the money left, so did his wife. To help
Charles' re-focus his energy on the future, he's taken a Body Combat course. Only he can't focus on
anything but the beautiful instructor, Sammy Logan.

Sammy doesn't date clients. Even if she did, she's sure they'd run in the opposite direction as soon as
they found out that she spends all her time protecting her mother from her drunken father. Still, the
well-built man in the third row catches her eye and won't let her go without a fight. When her father
crashes his car, Sammy has nowhere to turn and runs smack dab into Charles Whitaker.

Together they try to mend a 25-year family rift, caused by greed and stubbornness, by proving that love
is more powerful than money.

But is it?"

Interested? Here's the first section of the first chapter:

Pretty little thing.

The unwanted thought surprised Charles Whitaker as he stood at the back of the crowded gym room, going through sequences of punches and kicks to high-intensity music. Choreographed fighting. His therapist had said it would be perfect for him. It combined his love of grace and beauty with the primitive urges of humanity. It would allow him to move beyond himself by tiring his mind and feeding the survival instinct—one he’d had all but lost after his wife had left him last year.

Charles slanted a wry smile at his reflection in the mirrored walls of the facility. He was fairly certain his therapist hadn’t intended him to focus only the next cute face that came his way. He was supposed to be working on himself, preparing himself for the future, saving his job and his life from his newly onset depression.

Still, what was the harm in appreciating the female form? The harder he tried to push Body Combat instructor, Sammy Logan, from his mind, the more she popped up. As stubborn in his fantasies as she must be in real life. He grunted as he tore his gaze from the lithe little ninja-lookalike up on the stage and swung into a roundhouse kick. He checked the clock. Twenty-two minutes to go.

When he’d first agreed to the class, the fighting had strained his entire body, elevating his heart rate to uncomfortable levels. Having been married for eight years, he’d let himself go. Now, three months after joining, he was losing the slight paunch that had taken up residency in his belly, his muscles remembering what they were for.

The mirrors helped. Looking at himself, he saw the sheen of sweat over his skin, highlighting the new contours of his body. Pride surged in him. Maybe he could do this after all. He owed it all to Sammy, though she’d never know. Her perky existence compelled him to continue the class, though at first he’d been dead set against it. He didn’t have time to exercise. He needed to focus all of his energy on rebuilding his once-successful business after his partner left him high and dry, taking many of his clients with him. He had to make back the money somehow. His partner, Marcus, was offering jobs at half Charles’ going rate, but Charles knew the man’s work was shoddy. If he could just wait out his old partner, Charles was sure the bulk of his clients would return to him. He just needed enough to stay afloat until then. He also had to find a place to call home that wasn’t a downtown hotel.

“I think you’ll find those goals easier to attain if you begin to believe in yourself again,” his therapist had said with a smile. He hated to admit she’d been right.

Lost in his thoughts, he almost side-kicked the woman to his right. He teetered on one leg before righting himself and shot a nervous glance at the stage. Sammy had seen it. She always did. She flashed him a brilliant smile before addressing the class as a whole.

“Yes or no? Answer yes!”

A chorus of yeses rang through the room, echoing in the whirring of the fans. Charles never answered her. She tilted her head and stared at him as if trying to ask him something, but reading people had never been his best point. He shrugged and looked down at his ratty sneakers. Time for an upgrade, he decided. Maybe she’d notice him if he didn’t come to class looking like a rumpled hobo. It was worth a shot.

He spent the rest of the class staring at her. It was easy to do since he stood in the back, and everyone stared at the instructor, didn’t they? She stood at just about five foot four, with startling black curls that she wore back in pigtails for the class. Her workout attire consisted of tight gym pants or leggings and a tank top that clung to her perky breasts. Her buttocks were rounded and strong, her shoulders creased and rippled with small muscles when she strained them. She couldn’t be older than twenty-two or twenty-three. He felt his neck flush at the observation. At thirty-five, that definitely made him the dirty old man. His self-deprecation stopped short when he noticed the bruises on her calf. Were those fingerprints?

Charles shook his head to clear it as the class went into their last routine. The marks were probably innocent, some weird shadows or his mind playing tricks on him. She seemed far too upbeat to be hiding anything. And strong. He’d heard that last year, she’d suffered a rattlesnake bite and had been back at class as soon as the hospital had given her permission. Whatever she was, Sammy Logan was certainly dedicated to this little gym.

His eyes glazed over, and he counted down his jabs and crosses to fight his fatigue when his favorite part of the last number came on. Sammy always sang this part. He looked up at her, wanting to see her full, rosy lips move in time to the music. He wasn’t disappointed.

“I’ll be anything you want me to be!”

Was she looking at him? All the blood he had in reserve swamped his groin, and Charles stifled a groan and quickly averted his eyes to the windows on his left. His gym shorts wouldn’t adequately cover this.
Stop, he willed himself, though the image of her heart-shaped face and widow’s peak taunted him even as he stared at the palm trees outside. Stop. Stop. In his mind, her deep-blue eyes twinkled, staring up at him, daring him to take her.

The music ended and a slow tune started for the stretch. Charles turned and bolted from the room, his sneakers squeaking across the floor. He needed a cool down that didn’t involve staring at the poised and posed Sammy Logan.

So, if you're looking for a new romance book to try...go ahead and check out Body Combat. I'm pretty proud of it.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Feature Follow Friday (8)

It's Feature Friday again!

This week, the question is simple: What book are you reading right now and how do you like it?

I'm reading a bunch of books!

1) Daring Greatly - This would maybe fall into self-help. I'm reading it for a review program I'm in, and, honestly, I love it. It's scientific research into shame and vulnerability and how to accept and rise above it.  I'd never have read it by myself. I'm glad I signed up for it!

2) 1, 2, 3 Magic! - I like this book, too. I'm not able to use it as effectively as I would like, but we're getting there.

3) Love and Summer - This is a slow-moving, time period book, but I do enjoy the imagery and the way the author subtly weaves the different storylines together, creating an undercurrent out of the things the reader would feel is the most important.

4) The Portrait of a Lady - I'm really enjoying this book. James' language is thick, obviously, but once you get into it, the characterizations is phenomenal, as is the commentary on the period.

If you'd like to sign up, do it!