Have You Ever Met a Rock Star?

meeting Julie Christine JohnsonIf you’ve ever met someone you’ve long admired, you have an idea about how thrilled I was last week to meet author Julie Christine Johnson, author of In Another Life.

All week I felt like a teenager anticipating a first date as I waited for Julie’s presentation at Annie Bloom’s Books, an indie bookstore in Portland, Oregon. Although Julie and I met online in April of 2014, and although she had trusted me (a total stranger at the time) with the words of what would become her debut novel, I didn’t know what to expect. Would she be as charming and gracious in person as she is online? Continue reading “Have You Ever Met a Rock Star?”

Writing Through Postpartum Depression: Interview with Shae Mills, Author of Sci-Fi/Romance RIBUS 7

Shae Mills Writing through postpartum depressionIn my last post, I shared my excitement over a sci-fi/romance manuscript I was lucky enough to proofread a few months ago. RIBUS 7 by Shae Mills was a dream project from an editor’s point of view—a compelling story that has been revised and professionally edited, revised again, edited again, and was ready for proofreading before publication.

(Learn more about RIBUS 7 here)

In her first email to me, the author explained that she’d been working on her story for many years. That got me to thinking about everything a writer goes through to turn the spark of an idea into a concept for a book series, which got me to wondering about Shae Mills in particular: where did the idea for RIBUS 7 come from? How did she create the world her characters inhabit? Is her main character, Chelan, autobiographical in any way?

I decided to ask Shae Mills some of those questions; her answers may surprise you.

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Candace: Thank you for agreeing to share some behind-the-scenes info with us, Shae. Where did the idea for this book and the series come from?

Shae: I have no idea to this day. I was an only child raised in remote locations, so I only had myself for company. I therefore developed a fertile imagination from a very young age.

Fast forward to my late twenties when my life was changed drastically by the birth of my first son. At some point as I mentioned above, I was sucked into the depths of crippling postpartum depression, and I had no idea what was happening to me. All I knew was that the world I had built for myself was crumpling around me, and I was powerless. But I told no one of my mental decline. I didn’t want to appear weak. No one had any idea of the distress I was in.

When my days began to revolve around planning a permanent way out, I knew I needed help. I finally confided in a dear friend and university colleague that I was losing it. He shocked me by admitting to also having issues with depression, and he told me that I should try writing. At that suggestion, I laughed for the first time in nearly a year. I had almost failed my first year English course—why would I write? Continue reading “Writing Through Postpartum Depression: Interview with Shae Mills, Author of Sci-Fi/Romance RIBUS 7”

How a Professional Editor Can Help You Get Published: Copyediting

This is the second installment of an occasional series about freelance editing services. I wrote previously about developmental editing; this time I’ll share some thoughts on copyediting (sometimes spelled copy editing), the second of three vital steps in the editing process.

So what is a copyeditor, and why do you need one? An article on About.com puts it succinctly: “Copy editors are the grammatical gatekeepers, so to speak, of the media world. They read over stories—or, as the content is called in industry terms, ‘copy’—and check for everything from typos to errant commas.”

Copyediting is more than just checking to be sure a writer follows grammar rules. The copyeditor’s task is to finesse a writer’s prose so that it observes all the conventions of good writing, and also verifies proper syntax, word choice, spelling, punctuation, adherence to the publisher’s style guide or outside guides such as The Chicago Manual of Style or the Associated Press Stylebook. In addition, the copyeditor checks to be sure the text flows and is accurate and clear, checks basic facts, flags potential legal issues, and as another blogger writes, “copyediting is like pulling out your magnifying glass to look at the small details of the writing. Copyeditors look at each paragraph, each sentence in that paragraph and further still, each word in the sentence.”

(For those of you paying attention, the quote above has an error that should have been caught by the copyeditor—if you see it, please leave the answer in “Comments”—and no peeking at other people’s answers! I’ll post the correct answer in my next blog.)

As the book packaging professionals at The Book Couple (http://www.thebookcouple.com) put it, “A good copyeditor brings a renewed sense of objectivity to the project, which is important for pinpointing any remaining issues that the author and [project] editor are too close to see.” In the first step of the editing process, the developmental editor looked at “big picture” issues, but the copyeditor is more concerned with line-by-line details. Here are a few examples of issues a copyeditor will flag:

“His belligerence would express itself if the child hesitated or resisted in any way.”

(The problem: belligerence doesn’t express itself, belligerence is something that is expressed by someone. This is an example of passive writing, and is a common error a copyeditor will note and correct.)

“I had a lady who was a teacher and she was profoundly ill.”

(First problem: “I had a lady” is nonsensical. This should be rephrased as “I had a female patient.” Second problem: there are two independent clauses in this sentence that should be separated by a comma: “I had a lady who was a teacher” comma “and she was profoundly ill.” Or better yet, “I had a female patient who was profoundly ill,” which is a more sophisticated way of stating these facts and more in line with the overall professional tone of this manuscript.)

Please subscribe to this blog for weekly examples of common errors and how to correct them. You’ll learn a lot, I promise!

There are numerous ways a writer can and should self-edit; when an article, manuscript, or web content is submitted for publication, the writer should always try to have it as free from error as possible. But none of us can be experts are everything, and no matter how well written a manuscript is, it often needs more help than what another writer or a friend can offer. Writers are often amazed at the amount of help a good editor offers; published authors who have already been through the process understand how valuable an editor is to the success of their work.

If you have a great idea but don’t know how to organize it into a book or article, or if you’ve written a draft and want to be sure it is well-ordered and doesn’t drift off somewhere it shouldn’t, or you have a web post due and you’re a little rusty about all those grammar rules, consider hiring a professional freelance editor. A professional editor has an objective viewpoint and will be honest with you about the many ways you can improve your manuscript—yes, even when you think it’s perfect, you’ll be surprised at the things an editor will suggest that never occurred to you.

And the best advice of all: find an editor who will work as your partner to help you say it the way you mean it.

—Candace