Define "It" to Strengthen Your Writing

Have you ever been engrossed in a great story and suddenly stopped short to ask yourself what the writer is referring to when “it” appears? Here’s an example:

“Sue and Mary found six dresses to try. It fit and was in her price range.”

strengthen-your-writing
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What is “it,” exactly? In the context of the sentence above, “it” is used as a pronoun, and illustrates a common (and avoidable) writer mistake:

Undefined pronouns

A quick grammar review: Pronouns are a useful part of speech that give writers greater flexibility in naming schemes. Instead of using and reusing a noun, the substitution of a pronoun allows for a type of shorthand. For example, instead of writing, “The moment John walk into the store, John realized John had forgotten John’s wallet at home” (pretty clunky, huh?), this sentence becomes, “The moment John walked into the store, he realized he had forgotten his wallet at home.”

Personal pronouns are fairly straightforward. Most of us use I, he, she, they, him, her, them, his, hers, and theirs properly . . . but “it” often present unique problems for writers.

The Problem with “It”

When I edit manuscripts, I usually see two different but related problems with the use of “it”: Continue reading “Define "It" to Strengthen Your Writing”

Don’t Forget About Subsidiary Rights in Your Publishing Contract

subsidiary rights
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As you might know, subsidiary rights (which include merchandising and audio rights) are an important part of a traditional publishing contract. Yet most authors are so focused on the advance and other financial details that they forget about those other rights (audiobooks, foreign sales, merchandise, etc.).

Often, the publisher sells those rights to third parties—or never exercises them at all. Once that contract is signed, the author is at the mercy of whatever the publisher decides to do for any rights he or she did not negotiate to keep. Continue reading “Don’t Forget About Subsidiary Rights in Your Publishing Contract”

Something Good from Something So Heartbreaking

My last blog post, titled Life as We Know It Can Change in an Instant, was written from my heart in response to the death of a beautiful young woman.

I wrote the blog in response to a tragic event; I shared it as an opportunity to appreciate life and to honor the life of a young woman who brought so much joy to the lives of everyone she knew.

Life as We Know It Can Change in an Instant has already been shared more than 8,600 times; I am so honored that my words resonated with so many people. An editor at the Huffington Post saw it and invited me to share it there. Here’s the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/candace-johnson/living-in-the-moment_b_7754246.html

This is a wonderful opportunity for me as a writer, and I’d like to invite you to read and share this article with your own network. And if you’re so inclined, I’d be grateful if you’d become my “fan” on Huffington Post by clicking the link “Become a Fan.” After doing so, you will automatically get an email letting you know when I’ve published something.

Thank you again for your support; I’m grateful.

 

Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here.

Life as We Know It Can Change in an Instant

Last night, as I was happily texting with a good friend, another text came in, this one from my daughter:

MOM

I watched the bouncing bubble that told me my daughter was still typing, and then this:

Britni died

I gasped. I burst into tears. And through my tears, I speed dialed my daughter.

The heartbreak in her voice sent me over the edge. We sobbed together for a long time as we tried to comprehend the reality that this beautiful young woman, her dear friend and personal cheerleader who was only 27, was gone forever.

And now my daughter’s life is changed forever too. Continue reading “Life as We Know It Can Change in an Instant”

Readin' and Writin' and 'rithmetic: Thanks for Setting a Great Example, Dad

John F. Yardas, EdD and Candace (15 months old)
John F. Yardas, EdD, and Candace (15 months old)

 

This Father’s Day is a difficult one for me. My 88-year-old father passed away six weeks ago, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea.

Like all parents do, my dad influenced me in many ways, including some I couldn’t appreciate until later in my life. I wrote this letter to him two years ago (and sent him a printed version); he told me how much he enjoyed reading it.

Although my dad never embraced electronic books (see the end of my letter), he was a voracious reader his entire life and always had a book with him. I’ll always be grateful to my dad for the examples he set. Wherever he is, I hope he’s enjoying a great book.

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Dear Dad,

Because you’re a self-declared technophobe, you won’t read this today, but I’ll send you a printed copy via snail mail. I may be using all my techie toys (laptop, printer, and my WordPress blog) to write this, but the message is very old school: without you, I would never be following my dream today.

You see, I’m finally pursuing a passion I’ve had my whole life. Continue reading “Readin' and Writin' and 'rithmetic: Thanks for Setting a Great Example, Dad”

Laugh Your Way Through Four Seasons with Zelda and Peach!

It’s release day for The Adventures of Zelda: The Four Seasons.Unknown-6

I’ve had the privilege of working with author Kristen Otte on three Zelda books; The Four Seasons is my favorite so far.

Zelda the pug is back for her fourth book of adventures with her Boston terrier sister, Peach. Together, Zelda and Peach face the evil vacuum cleaner. Zelda discovers fireflies, and Peach learns to ice skate. But one question remains. Will Peach finally catch a duck?

If you are a fan of Zelda and Peach, please order or download your copy of the book today. Release week is very important for authors, and early sales and reviews make a huge difference. So if you like the series, use the links below to grab your copy. The ebook version is $2.99, and the paperback is $7.99. You can read the first chapter for free here.

Buy on Amazon KindleApple iBooksNookKobo and Google Play.

Congratulations to Kristen on another fun book that will be a hit with children and adults alike!

Kristen Otte is the author of The Adventures of Zelda series and two novels, The Photograph and The Evolution of Lillie Gable.  She writes books for children, teens, and adults. Her mission is to bring joy and laughter through stories to people young and old. When she isn’t writing or reading, you may find her on the basketball court coaching her high school girls’ team. If she isn’t writing or coaching, she is probably chasing her husband and dogs around the house. Visit her website to learn more about Kristen and her books.

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 Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here.

And then this happened

Last year, I began working with author Julie Christine Johnson on her debut novel. I can’t begin to describe how wowed I was by this story, by her lyrical writing, by the fact that I literally dreamed about these characters. Read on to learn more about Julie’s journey to publication:

And then this happened

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Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here.

 

Lessons Learned from Writing the Second Novel: Guest Post by Kristen Otte

One of my favorite perks of working as a freelance editor is developing a relationship with an author. I recently had the good fortune of working with author Kristen Otte on her just-published second YA novel, The Evolution of Lillie Gable, the second in her contemporary young adult Eastbrook series. Each novel in the Eastbrook series stars a different main character, but secondary characters carry over in each story.

I asked Kristen to share some of her insights about writing a second novel, and she graciously agreed to share her thoughts about the challenges and lessons she learned. Take it away, Kristen!

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ForKristen Otte writing the second novel most of us, writing the first novel is an adventure. The process is long and arduous with moments of excitement, terror, and anxiety. But once the novel is out in the world, it’s time to start on the next project.

Writing my second novel was a much different experience. The process was fun, pleasant, and fast because I learned a few tricks from the first go-around. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you tackle your second novel.

  1. Outline. I didn’t outline my first novel, so writing the first draft was difficult. I often sat down to write without knowing the next plot point in the story. For book two, I planned the character arcs and created a chapter-by-chapter outline before I started writing. Did I veer from this outline? Absolutely. However, having the general framework plotted allowed me to write faster and better.
  2. Create a Distraction-Free Writing Environment. We all write better when we remove the distractions during our writing and revising time. I turn off the Wi-Fi and flip my phone over so I don’t see any notifications. Some days are easier than others to get the words down, but removing distractions goes a long way to being a consistent writer.
  3. Trust Your Beta Readers. With my first novel, I was terrified to let other people read it in the early stages. The second time around, I was happy to send a draft of my novel to my beta readers. They sent fabulous, honest feedback, and I didn’t hesitate to make changes to my story structure, even if it wasn’t what I originally had in mind. Did I make every change they suggested? No, but when a few readers mentioned similar issues, I knew they were right. Trust your beta readers. They make your work better.
  4. Pay Attention to Your Critics. Some authors don’t bother reading reviews. I am not one of those authors. Maybe some day down the road when I sell millions of books, I will ignore reviews. But for now, I read every single one. Even if a review stings, I can learn from a critical review. For example, many reviews of my first novel, The Photograph, commented that they loved the story but didn’t enjoy the amount of basketball play-by-play scenes in the novel. I kept that criticism in mind as I wrote The Evolution of Lillie Gable. Like The Photograph, the main character is a basketball player. The basketball aspect plays into the plot, but I cut back on the detailed basketball scenes to appeal to a broader audience. Listen to your readers and reviewers for any patterns that can help you write an even better book the second time around.
  5. Learn from Your Editor. I mentioned this tip before, but I think it’s worth saying again. Your editor is your creative partner, and he or she can help you become a better writer. When I began the revision process for my second novel, I pulled out the style sheet from my previous novel’s edit. I used the notes, comments, and feedback from my fabulous editor to aid my revision effort the second time around to create a better novel before my editor laid eyes on it. [ED note: Kristen’s a great student! If she continues at this rate, I’ll soon be out of a job!]
Your editor is your creative partner... #amediting #editingtip #writetip Click To Tweet

Writing my second novel was fun. I loved the process and the final product of The Evolution of Lillie Gable. But now, it’s on to the next project!

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The Evolution of Lillie Gable by Kristen OtteEvolution of Lillie Gable

Meet Lillie Gable—high school sophomore, outgoing, beautiful, athletic, and funny . . . She is the life of any party. Her boyfriend, Jake, is a smoking hot senior, and Lillie is on track to be a starter on the varsity girls’ basketball team this year.

But trouble looms behind the façade. Lillie’s home life is a wreck. Her father is hiding a secret, and Lillie is determined to find the truth, even if it tears apart her family.

While she searches for the truth about her father, the last thing Lillie needs is a feud with Angela Barrett, the brass, bleached blonde senior who is the queen of the rumor mill. Angela is determined to ruin Lillie’s reputation because she has set her sights on Lillie’s boyfriend, Jake.

Heartbroken and humiliated, Lillie can’t return to the life she once knew. Does she have the strength and resolve to forge a new path now that everything is changing?

*****

Kristen Otte is the author of The Adventures of Zelda series and two novels, The Photograph and The Evolution of Lillie Gable.  Visit her website to learn more about Kristen and her books.

 *****

 Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here.

Writing as Therapy: Sci-Fi Romance TICEES (Book 2 of RIBUS 7) Now Available

Ribus Shae MillsI shared my excitement last fall over a sci-fi/romance manuscript I was lucky enough to proofread. RIBUS 7 by Shae Mills was a dream project from an editor’s point of view—a compelling story that had been revised and professionally edited, revised again, edited again, and was ready for proofreading before publication.

You can imagine my excitement when Shae wrote to tell me Book 2, TICEES, would soon be ready for proofreading. Like the rest of Shae’s fans, I was dying to know what happened next to Chelan and her alien men!

RIBUS 7 and TICEES were originally one huge manuscript (written to stave off postpartum depression; more on that below), so TICEES picks up right where RIBUS 7 left off. It continues with Chelan pitted against the Iceanean culture—her values and desires versus theirs. Where RIBUS 7 explored Chelan’s internal struggles and touched subtly on such topics as abuse, PTSD, and Stockholm syndrome,  Continue reading “Writing as Therapy: Sci-Fi Romance TICEES (Book 2 of RIBUS 7) Now Available”