Monday, July 30, 2012

The Write Editing Aleviates Mistakes


‘I do not believe there is any truth to the rumor that top authors are edited less closely than newer ones.  While David's novels are read by a number of individuals during the extensive editing, copyediting and proofreading process, errors are sometimes missed.’ 

Kristen M. White
Executive Director
Columbus Rose, Ltd.
David Baldacci Enterprises

Two years ago today, I met a most amazing woman−honoured historian and author, Jean Elford.  On learning that I was one of the newer members of WIT –a writing group of which she was a founding member almost fifty years before− she asked about my work. 
She seemed most interested in my novel and congratulated me on my accomplishment.  Never mind that it wasn’t published.  She seemed to think it was quite a feat to actually finish a novel.  Perhaps −much like her friend, Peggy Fletcher− the kind words were meant to encourage a new writer.  Jean passed away this year at the age of 100.  (Actually, life-long friends Peggy Fletcher and Jean Elford, died within five days of each other.) 
This week’s blog is not about Jean Elford; though she would make a fascinating subject.  This week’s blog is about mistakes. 
During our first visit, Jean emphatically stated that there are never any mistakes in a manuscript until it’s published.  She seemed quite certain.
I always cringe when spotting an error in a book.  It is very distracting.  In the last several years, I have noticed many.
How could that be?  They’re so simple to catch.  A missing word here, a typo there.  Correct them!
When I read a ‘self-published’ book and see a mistake, I feel the angst of the writer.  How Maddening!  How Frustrating!
When I read an error in a bestseller, I shake my head in disbelief.  This is not acceptable.  Where are the proofreaders and editors?  The manuscript is read a zillion times before it’s printed.  How on earth do mistakes get through?
Or is it because the publishing companies have cut back on proofreaders?  Are new publications not closely scrutinized?
I had heard that it is the most famous of authors that have the most mistakes in their books.  Why?  Because they don’t make mistakes.  They do not need close editing.  Or so the theory goes.
I once read the ending of a book that had the main character taking a long holiday with his children.  Throughout the entire book, he did not have children.  I know how that happened.  This got cut...That got cut....But the other was forgotten.  They edited out the part about his family but did not catch that one BIGGIE reference in the last chapter. 
But this shouldn’t happen with big time authors and big time publishers.  Should it?
I’m a fan of David Baldacci.  I just finished reading his latest release, The Innocent.  There were several mistakes in this book.  Words missing in a sentence.  Typos, etc.  oops! 
At the end of the book, David Baldacci invites his readers to contact him.  I couldn’t help myself.  I just had to ask.  I received a prompt reply; an excerpt of which I share at the beginning of this blog post.
Have you noticed a larger number of mistakes in recent publications?  Do you find it as offputting as I do, or am I a nitpicker?  I look forward to your response.


Monday, July 23, 2012

A Write Royal Affair


You want me to what?  Her request took me by surprise.  It’ll be fun, she insisted.  The more animated she became; the more I accepted the idea.  Yes, I suppose it could be fun. 

Later, while relating the matter to an amused friend, I pondered my impulsiveness.  Did I really want to do this?  What if no other adult in attendance followed the owner’s suggestion?  What if I was the only one? 

The owner of the Tearoom recommended I leave the tickets with her until the day of the party.  Was that to prevent me from giving the tickets to a grandmother who would not cringe at going out in public dressed as a glittery princess? 

The glitterier the better, she cooed.  My look must have betrayed my doubts because she gushed over all the things I could wear.  Look for an old bridesmaid dress.  Does your wedding dress still fit, she asked, her eyebrows raised in hopeful expectation?  My eyebrows rose also−one at a time.

I expected that Sophie would dress for the occasion.  Her princess dress is in the guest room. There’s something about the sight of it hanging in an otherwise empty closet that makes me want to grab my camera and capture the image.  One satiny gown awaiting a princess.   A story in the making...

Each time Sophie visits, she vanishes to the bedroom closing the door behind her.  I imagine her gently tugging the dress down off the hanger.  Opening the dresser, she finds her tiara and wand.  Her plastic maribou trimmed shoes.  Bracelets and sparkling necklace.  When the door opens, a princess emerges. 

Little girls always love playing dress up.  In my day, I had only to raid my mother’s trunk of old clothes.  I remember the clomping sound of my high heels along the sidewalk as I wheeled my doll buggy up the street.  My vision obscured by the brim of my hat.  The fur collar sliding off my shoulders.  

You can understand why I jumped at the chance to take my granddaughter to a real Princess Tea Party!  But who would have imagined that the adults would also need to dress the part? 

Make sure she has toonies and loonies she said.  There will be booths she can visit to buy things.  Huh?  We’ll play princess games – that should be interesting.  Then we will enter the Tearoom.  Her eyes sparkled when she spoke of the royal decorations.  We will have a decadent chocolate dessert and a cold drink.  Then everyone will leave, she said.

Hmmm...Sophie doesn’t like chocolate very much.  Her favourite snack is cucumbers.  She loves fruit – but not chocolate dessert.  What happened to little finger sandwiches?  Something dainty for a princess.   I’m sure the organizers know better than I do what little princesses like to eat.

An actress from the theatre group will be appearing as a princess.  Bring your camera, she reminded me.  Sophie will be enchanted. 

The owner of the Tearoom could not be faulted for lack of enthusiasm.  She was very much looking forward to her first ever of three sold out Princess Tea Parties.  You will be getting dressed up with your granddaughter, she crooned.  Your Sophie will be so excited. 

Would I have been excited if my grandmother had dressed in a plastic tiara and maribou slippers to take me to a tea party?  I don’t know. 

 
The thought of a wide-brimmed hat and a fur collar or stole does bring a wistful smile to my face.  Perhaps the appeal of playing dress up doesn't diminish with age. 

What do you think?  Should I don glittery jewellery and a bargain store prom dress? 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Gratification Write Now


He marveled at her composure as she reached for another cigarette.  Sliding the lighter from his pocket, he flicked it on.  Her manacles rattled against the table’s surface as she raised both her hands to steady his.  The guard took a step forward. 

The close vigilance of the authorities did not ease his uncharacteristic nervousness.  His shallow breaths increased.  He opened his mouth wider and drew in the stale air.  A suffocating mixture of body odour, cigarette butts, and cynicism.  


Opening paragraphs of another short story.  Another submission. 

Although currently working on a novel, I took time out to flesh out a short, short story that I had written some time ago.  It is what I would consider a psychological suspense; the same genre as the book I’m writing. 

The story fit a call for submission (or so I imagined) from a literary journal in the States except for one thing−they didn’t want a short, short story.  I added another couple thousand words.  I believe it works.  Time will tell.

Short stories are a great exercise.  It’s an opportunity to experiment with different genres.  I am all over the place with humour, suspense, paranormal, mystery...  Having a story published now and then keeps a writer’s spirits up while dodging rejections for collections and novels.

Stephen King said, “A short story is a different thing all together - a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger.”

When I first began writing, I was a novelist all the way.  Every story was detailed to the nth degree.  There were characters and backgrounds and situations and scenery and conflicts and...and...and...

Peggy Fletcher told me to write short stories.  If I ever hoped to get a novel published, I had to have some short stories to pave the way.  I relented.  Now I enjoy writing them.  They’re habit forming.  They are complete snippets.  A glance.  A glimpse.  An intimate look inside someone’s existence.  I like writing about people and emotions.  Compared to novels, short stories are instant gratification. 

It was my good fortune that two of my friends from my writing group offered to have a look at my latest story.  Perhaps they were intrigued by the subject matter.  I appreciate their interest and expertise.  It is a valuable learning experience to do a line by line edit with accomplished writers. 

Sometimes when it comes to our own stories, we can’t see the forest for the trees.  By the time we have written, re-written, and edited, we are no longer an objective reader.  There were a couple of aha moments as we went through the story.  Comments and helpful tidbits will be tucked away and applied to all future works. 

Alliances formed in writers groups are invaluable.  Every writer needs a support group.  If you are serious about your writing– join a writers group.  If you’re a closet writer, it’s time to come out.  If you have a question, please comment or email.

So, now tell me.  I am curious.  Do you read short stories?  If you do, what type of stories do you enjoy? 



Monday, July 09, 2012

It's Your Write to Express an Opinion


Listen up.  It’s Sunday night and I am trying to think of an entertaining, enlightening, inspirational, and mind-blowing blog post.

Two cups of coffee and a dish of ice cream later and I’m no wiser.  Although the hazelnut cream coffee and heavenly hash ice cream were delish, they offered me no insight.

Out of curiosity, I googled the most popular topics for blogs.  Are they serious?  Finance, technology, and I’ve forgotten the other two subjects.  Boor-ring!

They also suggested that successful blogs are two-way conversations.  Hmmm....two-way conversations.  Yeah, I’ve never been good with those.

I came upon something else that hit a nerve.  Comments!  Or lack of them.  But...but... I sputter, I do get emails and comments on my facebook accounts.  People say the loveliest things, I murmur.

However, I don’t get many comments on my blog site.  People have asked, did you see it?   No, I say.   I left one, they insist.  It’s frustrating. 

Then it happened to me.  I read someone’s blog post and loved it.  I typed my comment, clicked on preview, and then publish.  The comment disappeared.  I tried again.  I tried again.  I tried again.  Nuts to that, I said. 

So now I understand.  You tried to comment on my blog post.  It didn’t work.  I could possibly have hundreds of comments, if the comment gadget worked.  Okay, not hundreds.

I edited all my blogger comment settings hoping to fix the glitch.  I’m not really sure it was a glitch, or if what I did actually fixed anything.  That’s what I’m hoping to find out this week.  If you are still unsuccessful, let me know by email or on facebook.

Some readers claim that a google account is required to leave a comment.  Try this; check off the anonymous option.  Absolutely everyone can leave a comment with that option.  Although, if you don’t sign your name I may die of curiosity.

Things are looking up though.  Last week I had SIX emotion checks.  You know what emotion checks are.  Right below the blog post it says Emotion:  followed by check boxes.  Anyway, six people indicated their reaction to my post.  Two said it was thought provoking, three said interesting, and one person found it entertaining.  I can change those emotion descriptions to whatever.  If something else would better suit your reactions to my blog, let me know.

Research also indicated that to get more comments, You must be controversial.  Say something outrageous that they must debate.  Something they can’t let you get away with.  Me? Say something outrageous?  I’d have to work on that.

The expert went on to say that some people are not comfortable leaving comments unless they have subscribed to the site.  Well, be my guest. Click on Follow This Blog on the Networkd Blogs gadget on the right sidebar of my page.  I do have subscribers on the left sidebar under Join This Site but you can do both.  I don’t think it is necessary to have a google account to support me on Networkd Blogs.  Try it!

I’ve also learned that I must leave the reader with a question to encourage a comment.  Something controversial.  Hmmm... 

Okay, I’ve got it!  Something close to our hearts.  Wine.....do you prefer screw caps, plastic, or cork?????? 

Ready?

  1. Click on the appropriate emotion block. 
  2. Leave your comment on this most controversial subject and/or anything else you wish to say.
  3. Show your support by ‘following me’ (no, you won’t receive emails of my blog or anything else for that matter.) 

I’m so excited.  I can hardly wait.  Maybe I’ll have a glass of wine.  Oh darn, where’s that corkscrew?

Monday, July 02, 2012

Happy to Write


“Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
Stephen King, On Writing

Every writer occasionally gets frustrated enough to throw in the towel, power off the computer, toss down the pencil...well, you get the idea.

This week I received a response from a publisher that I had queried more than a year ago.  They started off by profusely apologizing for the delay in answering.  A glitch derailed my electronic submission and they just now read my email and accompanying sample chapters. 

They went on to praise my strong writing and compelling submission.  It all sounded great until I got to the part that said my novel was not what they were currently...yada, yada, yada.  They continued to stroke me by adding they wouldn’t be surprised if another publisher had already signed me. 

Even though it was another rejection, it was among the best.  (I’ve had some really great rejections.)  Most rejections do not include stroking.  But even a rejection is better than no reply at all.

Do I sound a little down?  No, not at all.  I’m happy.   Really.  Okay, I often feel guilty about the exorbitant amount of time I spend composing words, filling pages, making up characters, and creating situations.  I think that I might be...you know...frittering my life away. 

Time is precious and I worry that it might be better spent doing something else.  I once mentioned to my daughter-in-law that maybe I should give up writing and just focus on being a housewife and grandmother.  She gave me stern look and said ‘you’d go crazy’.  She’s right.  I do need this creative outlet.

Whenever I need a little boost, I leaf through my favourite book.  A couple of years ago, a friend gifted me with Stephen King’s book, On Writing.  It is a must for every writer.  I find it extremely informative and inspirational.  I am not a fan of Stephen King’s novels but I am a huge fan of Stephen King. 

The first part of his book is an autobiography, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading and the last part is, well...it’s like there are just the two of us in a room and he’s giving me the lowdown on the business of writing.  Straight up and straight out.  As he says in the Foreward, no bullshit.  King published, On Writing, over ten years ago.  Excellent book – and not just for aspiring writers. 

Where am I going with this?  Oh, yes.  Simply put, he inspires me to continue writing even when I wonder if it’s all a waste of time.  Reading his book validates my dedication. 

Stephen King says in part that writing is about enriching our life.  If our work is published and enriches the lives of others, then all the better.  He's right; I'm delighted when readers mention a short story that put a smile on their face, or debate one I’ve written that provoked thought. 

Stephen King says writing is about getting happy. 

Alrightalready, I’m happy!