Three Tips for Avoiding Common Mistakes

Today  my guest is Lourdes Venard. Take it away Lourdes.

profilepicA Facebook posting the other day made me chuckle: “I do my best proofreading right after I hit send.” Funny—and true. How many of us have hit that send button on an email only to realize that we misspelled something, or forgot to send an attachment, or otherwise goofed up?

Now imagine that happening to a book. I had uploaded my book to Amazon, after it was proofread by five people and looked at by dozens of others. I had read it countless times (I’m an editor with 29 years of experience working in newspapers and freelance editing other books). Literally minutes after hitting the button for it to go live, I noticed a major error: the preface had the book’s title wrong! I had changed the title midway through writing my book, but I had never changed it in the preface.

Typos and mistakes are only human. Studies have shown our minds naturally read over missing words in a sentence. And using the wrong word (“too” instead of “to”) can also go unnoticed by the eye. I know because the too/to mistake almost got into my final book.

As an editor, I know there are larger issues, of course: bad grammar, large plot holes, and stiff dialogue. Those big-picture issues are important, but I want to give you three tips for avoiding the smaller errors, which can also be embarrassing.

Here are three ways that professional editors catch errors. You can do the same.

  1. Most editors keep a style sheet with each book they edit. At the minimum, this includes character names and place names, as well as any other words that an author wants spelled a certain way (perhaps the author wants to use “grey” instead of “gray,” for example). You can also make your own list of names, and add these to Word’s spell check dictionary (see instructions at http://office.microsoft.com/en-001/word-help/add-words-to-your-spell-check-dictionary-HA010354289.aspx). This way, when you run spell check, a name that has been misspelled or changed—not an uncommon occurrence—will come up, but not the correct names.
  2. Read your manuscript out loud. Just the act of slowing down and reading word for word will help you catch missing words, repeated words, homophones (to/too/two), and clunky or awkward language. It also helps with dialogue.
  3. Take a look at your dialogue beats. Almost all writers have a phrase they really like to use, and often it is found in dialogue beats. For example, one writer liked to use “He stared at her” or “she stared at him” or some combination of that before or after dialogue. Readers do notice repeated phrases, so go through your manuscript and highlight the repetitions.

The best way to avoid errors, of course, is to have others look at your work. And the more eyes, the better!

BIO: Lourdes Venard is a freelance editor for fiction and nonfiction. Her recently released book, “Publishing for Beginners: What First-Time Authors Need to Know,” is available on Amazon.com. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, and is the editor of the Guppy chapter’s newsletter, First Draft.

 

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You can purchase Lourdes’s book at AMAZON

And find out more about Lourdes’ at her WEBSITE

Adventures in Travel Land

At my day job there are four of us going overseas on holidays in the next couple of months, and at lunch our conversation turned to previous travel adventures. Some people have stories about great trips, fantastic sights, wonderful hotels, beautiful restaurants and things you can only dream of. Me, I have lots of disaster stories.

If anyone on a plane is going to get covered in food it will be me, and I don’t even need turbulence. On a trip from LA to Auckland the passenger behind me stood up and hit the air hostess’ arm as she collected the breakfast dishes and I had baked beans and bacon all down my back. The staff were lovely and cleaned me up as best they could. Their horror was complete when they realised I was in the seat that got the random survey. I have also had a passenger sitting next to me drop a full bottle of beer in my lap and someone else douse me with a cup of water.

I caught a plane that no longer connect and ended up stranded in Auckland airport for eleven hours with two small kids. I could have swum to Sydney in less time. No offence to my Kiwi friends, but their is not a lot to do in Auckland airport. I kept nodding off and my kids would shake me and tell me they would be kidnapped if I slept. Towards the end I was thinking of offering them to the next passing stranger.

No matter how bad my flights have been I never had anything as horrible as what

happened to my husband. I should start by saying when the dude at the airport asks if you packed your own hand luggage or watched the person who did the right answer would be yes.  My husband lets me pack his bags and rarely pays attention. On this occasion he was travelling alone back to Australia from the UK and he was bringing a food processor with him. This was back in the 1990′s when security wasn’t so strict but even back then putting the blades for a food processor in your hand luggage was a bad idea. They screened his bag and asked if he knew what was in there and he said no, and no to ‘did he watch me pack the bag.’

They grabbed his bag and two men walked him off to a security room to question him. After he explained what the blades were for, and why he had them, he was allowed to go through to the plane and fly home with his bags. I got a very irate phone call from a grumpy man when he got home. We look back and laugh now, actually I laughed then. Travel certainly broadens the mind and every disaster gives me great ideas for stories. So do you have any disasters you’d like to see in a book one day?

 

Dear Blog – I’m Sorry I Cheated

Dear Blog

I know you are feeling neglected and disrespected. We started out with such passion and desire and you have never once let me down. Whenever I checked in with you I was never locked out. You didn’t disappear or refuse to let me in. You took me back time after time and trusted me with your deepest darkest secrets and your whole being, but the relationship was failing because I had forgotten the joy and love having you had given me. The hours we spent together as we created a life together choosing wallpapers and colour schemes and setting out our plans to grow old together were forgotten. I could make excuses and say I was too busy at work, but that would be a lie.

I ‘m the one at fault. I never set out to hurt you but my head was turned.  I had a shiny new book to promote and you weren’t very interested. Yes, you managed to encourage a trickle of readers most days, and you even enticed a few great guests who turned the trickle into a deluge, but I was disappointed that you couldn’t encourage click throughs and so I sought a new love.

I threw myself into a new relationship with the next book in the series. This one would be all I wanted it to be and would fulfil my wildest fantasies. My heart raced anew with passion and I woke up anticipating seeing that manuscript again. Fondling the laptop keys, stroking the mouse, and swapping flirty banter with my characters. That was just the start of the spiral that led us to where we are today.

When the manuscript refused to co-operate, and the characters demanded I spend more time plotting, I decided to slow the relationship down. Book one, Lost Cause, still loved me. The characters were cheerful and funny and all they wanted was to be heard. Determined to find the one thing that could give them, and me, what we wanted, I threw myself at Twitter, Facebook, Author Loops, Goodreads and any other passing fancy that caught my eye. I flirted and teased and all but prostituted myself for the sake of rankings. It was never about the money, it was never fame, it was about people reading the book and enjoying it.

Night after night I went out flaunting my wares whilst you stayed home, alone, unloved and uncared for. Updates came and went. Your

comments section became dusty, and spiders and mice made their home in your spam folder, and yet you stoically soldiered on greeting guests from India, Brazil, Russia and other far flung places. You did all you could to entertain them whilst I was out on the raz with my new found marketing toys.

I am sorry. Can you ever forgive me? I could promise never to neglect and take you for granted again but we both know that is not a promise I could actually keep. Something new and shiny will wiz by, or someone will dangle a book under my nose or a new blog promising the secret to being a number one best seller, and I will disappear again. It might not even be a blog or book it could be a new social media site….Oh Ello!

Sorry, what was I saying? Oh yes, please take me back. I can’t promise to be perfect but I can promise to try and update you on a more regular basis. Surely we can rebuild what we once had and move forward together. I await your reply.

Your loving friend.

JL Simpson

Today’s Writers Have it Easy – Marilyn Meredith

Today my guest is the lovely Marilyn Meredith who tells it like it was. Take it away Marilyn!

My first book was published in 1982. I used a manual typewriter (a portable) to write it. In order to have a copy, I used a piece of carbon paper between two sheets of paper. It was important to type carefully in order to not make any mistakes.

When the book was ready, in my estimation, I put all the pages of the manuscript together topped with a letter of explanation about the book and myself, put it in a manuscript box with my name and address on it, plus return postage. Then the box was inserted into a slightly bigger box, sealed and addressed to the first publisher on my list of those who might be interested in this particular novel. (All researched through the big Writer’s Digest Market book.) This package was taken to the post office and sent off.

This first book was sent off to nearly thirty publishers before it was accepted. Each time it came back to me, I carefully read the rejection letter in case there might be a tip on how to make the book better. It was imperative that I go through the pages of the manuscript to make sure it was all there and that it was presentable enough to send off again. Sometimes I had to retype some pages. Often I found coffee or wine stains. Sometimes the manuscript smelled so much of cigarette smoke it had to be retyped.

When I retyped the manuscript, I often made changes—so of course I used the carbon paper again so I’d have a new copy.

Just think of the cost of paper, carbon paper, the manuscript boxes which seldom could be reused, and the postage. And what about the time taken to retype the manuscript?

No one was more excited than I was when the computer was invented. I began on a Kaypro with two floppy discs, one to write the manuscript and the other for the program used to write it. The first one was called Word Star. Along with many new computers, I advanced to Word Perfect which I loved, and now Word since that’s what my publishers use.

Murder in the Worst Degree

Murder in the Worst Degree
by F.M. Meredith

Dark Oak Mysteries
Order from Amazon

The body that washes up on the beach leads Detectives Milligan and Zachary on a murder investigation that includes the victim’s family members, his housekeeper, three long-time friends, and a mystery woman.

 

River Spirits

 

COMING SOON

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Marilyn Meredith is an award winning author of mysteries, psychological and Christian horror. She is a popular speaker and instructor for writing conferences, mystery conventions and festivals, book fairs, and other similar venues, including the Maui Writers Retreat. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Public Safety Writers Association, California Writers Club and Mystery Writers of America.

You can find out more about Meredith at here website Fiction For You

and at her blog Marilyn’s Musings

I Killed A Tick on a Plane

My guest today is Bill Hopkins and he’s talking about a beastie that makes my skin crawl. Take it away Bill!

 

I killed a tick on the plane because I’m a writer.

After I killed the tick, I realized that I’d devised one method for blasting apart a writer’s block.

But first the grisly part.

I recently flew on a commercial flight to New Orleans. After takeoff, with the seat belt sign still lit, I felt a tick crawling on my neck. I grabbed the critter between a thumb and forefinger to prevent its escape. I had no way to kill the brute.

Ticks are arachnids, meaning they’re spiders. Who bite humans. And suck our blood. And transmit diseases. Ticks serve no useful purpose on earth. I am proud of my loathing for these disgusting tiny monsters.

But how could I kill it? I could’ve mashed against the tray table in the upright position. What if I slipped and dropped the tick? It might crawl on me again and wind up in a place that I couldn’t reach while strapped in. Even if I successfully mashed the thing on the table, my seat mate may not have appreciated the nasty thing decorating our space.

The TSA goons won’t allow nail clippers or pocket knives on planes. I’d left my miniature yet deadly Swiss Army knife at home. Lighters may not be verboten but you can’t use on inside the cabin of a plane. My fellow passengers would’ve probably thrown a blanket over me and sat on me until the plane landed if I’d flicked my Bic to singe the tick.

A Bic? A thought formed.

After thinking about my dilemma for a few minutes, I realized the answer was in my pocket. I’m a writer. I carry a notebook and pen (blue ink, of course). That provided me with a perfect weapon. The tick expired at the point of a ballpoint pen. I have the bloody corpse in my notebook to prove it.

If you are stuck anywhere in your work in progress, stop and look around. What tools do you have right in front of you? Are you defining your problem by the tools you have? That’s not good.

Abraham Kaplan, in The Conduct of Inquiry: Methodology for Behavioral Science, said, “I call it the law of the instrument, and it may be formulated as follows: Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding.”

The end of a ballpoint pen makes a great device not only for writing but also for killing ticks. What are you overlooking in the world you’ve created? What items in your work can be used for something they weren’t created for?

I call it the law of the flip-flop, and it may be formulated as follows: Give a writer a tool for creation and the writer will find destructive uses for it.

Go forth and wreak some havoc.

 

Bill Hopkins

COURTING MURDER

RIVER MOURN

BLOODY EARTH

The Judge Rosswell Carew Mystery series

www.judgebillhopkins.com

 

compressed for website Photo of Bill HopkinsBio:
After two decades on the bench, Bill Hopkins captures readers with his Judge Rosswell Carew murder mysteries. How does a judge manage to wrangle his way into investigating so many crimes? And can he do it without crossing into the dark side himself? Find out by reading the first book in the series, Courting Murder, now only 99 cents on Kindle. You’ll be hooked.

http://tinyurl.com/Bill-Hopkins-Courting-Murder

Say what?

As an author I am quite fond of words, and I know lots and lots of them. I even know some foreign ones  but some times I wonder if I am missing something. When I was growing up I loved to annoy my mother by saying yeah instead of yes. She would add the S for me on occasions but I kept saying it. Every generation has it’s slang. Groovy, hip, cool, fully sick and on it goes. New words are created to accommodate new things.

Language is never static. Words come and go along with expressions. When I met my husband he was in the army and I was introduced to a whole slew of new things. Why say a whole statement when you can just reduce it to an acronym? CO, OC, AWOL. Things weren’t thrown away they were binned.

Every industry and every profession has its own favourite expressions. Accountants are overly fond of ‘moving forward’ and ‘synergies’ and ‘talking to things’ instead of talking about them.

So what is my complaint today? Words are words. Yes we use acronyms. Yes we create new words and LOL etc have now become a whole new language of text speak but does text speak need to move into everyday speech?  Are we creating a way of spelling that will make no sense to anyone that learnt English back before text messages existed? It freaks me out when my husband uses text speak because he is such a precise individual and it doesn’t fit with my vision of him.  But none of that bothers me as much as the radio. Surely the newsreader should speak properly so why the hell does she insist on telling me what the top temp is today, and since when did the Entertainment Centre become the Ent Cent? Will I need to add a new language to my translator on my phone just to know what the hell anyone under thirty is saying?

Guest blogger – Sofia Grey

Lila’s Wolf blog tour

 

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The one with the giant library and the dodgy Utopia

In my new time travel series, the future I describe – five hundred years from now – is very different. It’s structured, ordered and civilised. Technologically advanced, as you might expect, with low crime levels. People are fed and healthy. It’s Utopia, right?

Everything comes at a price, and the cost of such a perfect society is that people have trained themselves to rise above their emotions. It’s true, there’s no anger or jealousy. But there’s also no love.

 

future techIt’s a society that has a thirst for knowledge, to see and experience days gone by, and that’s what they use the time-jumping technology for. Historians explore the past, and collect information for the Archive, a giant library. Side note: remember the Doctor Who episode with a library the size of a planet? Yep. Like that.

 

Even with all that, I’d find it hard to exist in a society that didn’t let me love, and some of my characters struggle with it too.

 

So here’s my question: if you could make one change now, so it doesn’t happen in a future society, what would it be? Tell me in the comments, and you’ll go into the draw for the blog tour giveaway.

Excerpt

In his society, couples were usually only paired up after an application had been accepted to raise a family group. An appropriate partner would be selected by the Council, and the two parties involved would undertake a formal commitment to each other for the duration of the child-raising period. Intimacy was unheard of, and sexual relationships were rare. Most couples managed conception through far more reliable insemination processes with children’s attributes selected by the council. Jared had heard tales of the deviants living in the remote colonies, and how they formed relationships in the old fashioned way. The way they did it in this age. He’d been tempted.

What he felt for Lila could not be defined and constrained by the life he was expected to live. True, the rules were starting to relax a fraction and some ranks were allowed to propose their own choice of partner, still to be approved by the Council, of course. But even if he found some way to propose for Lila, he would never be selected as her partner. His odd-colored eyes made him poor genetic material. His only chance for any kind of life with her would be if they left society for a colony. Or if they ran away to another time.

Lila’s Wolf (Out of Time #1) is available 4 September 2014, from Hartwood Publishing

Genre: Dark time-travel romantic suspense

 Tagline

The only way to save him, might be to leave him behind

 

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Blurb

When Lila Cammell is abandoned by her time-jump partner, leaving her alone in Britain in the Dark Ages, revenge is the only thing on her mind. She’d trusted Jared Grohl with her life and her heart, and bringing him to justice will be sweet.

Finding him captured and enslaved by the Saxons changes all her assumptions. Now it’s a fight for survival, but the only way to save him, might be to leave him behind.

 

Video trailer

http://youtu.be/mUkzETR_T7E

 

Giveaway

 I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift card and a swag bundle to one lucky commenter. Just leave a comment at whichever site you visit, and you’ll go into the draw. The more sites you visit, the more chances you get to win J

 

Links

Amazon | AllRomance | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Hartwood Publishing

 

www.SofiaGrey.com

 

Catch me blogging with Allyson Lindt at www.GeminiGirls.com

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Sofia.Grey.Romance.Author

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sofiagrey1/

Twitter: @SofiaGreyAuthor

 

Blog Tour – find me here:

 

Date Host Blog post
8-Sept http://tirlastalk.blogspot.ca/

 

Google & conspiracy theories
9-Sept Tara Quan Vampire bonding & eye colours

 

10-Sept Parker Kincade

 

Picture books & virtual streets
11-Sept Pippa Jay

 

TARDIS & the grassy knoll
11-Sept Book Boyfriend Junkies Solar powered fridges & the right dress

 

12-Sept Rosanna Leo

 

Battlefield & giant library
12-Sept Diane Saxon Richard Hammond & exotic food

 

13-Sept Cover Reveals

 

14-Sept Bookly Booknatics

 

Ghardians & timelines
14-Sept Love, Lust & Laptops Fluffy plans & dark ideas

 

15-Sept A Coffee Addict’s Book Reviews
16-Sept Barb Taub – Writing & Coffee

 

Paradox & runaways
17-Sept Epic Narrative Book Reviews Beautiful society & Ghardians

 

17-Sept Those Crazy Book Chicks Loophole & ideas file

 

18-Sept Barbara Elsborg Rosemary Sutcliff & history classes

 

19-Sept Loralie Hall

  • Tetris & good bathrooms
    20-Sept JL Simpson

     

    Giant library & dodgy Utopia

     

    ~

     

     

    Sofia Grey

     About Author

    Romance author Sofia Grey spends her days managing projects in the corporate world and her nights hanging out with wolf shifters and alpha males. She devours pretty much anything in the fiction line, but she prefers her romances to be hot, and her heroes to have hidden depths. When writing, she enjoys peeling back the layers to expose her characters’ flaws and always makes them work hard for their happy endings.

    Music is interwoven so tightly into my writing that I can’t untangle the two. Either I’m listening to a playlist on my iPod, have music seeping from my laptop speakers, or there’s a song playing in my head – sometimes on auto-repeat.

     

    Check out my playlists on Pinterest

     

    ~

     

    I’ve decided to go naked!

    Some days it does seem as if the universe is out to get you.  Am I the only one who feels this way? The rights to Lost Cause reverted to me over the weekend and I was all set for a week of organizing marketing.  I wanted to get the word out on the internet and reintroduce Daisy to the world with a bang rather than a whimper…but it all went horribly horribly wrong. The internet and all its friends decided to hate me.

    My home internet connection started playing up last week. The weather was a bit stormy and so I figured it would sort itself out. It didn’t. My youngest son called on the home phone, yes we still have a landline, and all became clear. Once again we were being shafted by our phone provider. We could barely hear our kid’s plea for a monetary injection into his empty bank account over the static on the line. Static on the line kills our internet connection. Our telephone company assured us the problem was fixed the last time it happened. Hubby called Telstra and they told us there is nothing wrong with the line it must be our phone. We unplugged the phone. The internet still drops out but not as often. Hubby calls again and they tell us to keep a diary of when we get the static. At this point I begin to wonder why we have a phone at all. The only calls we get are from people trying to sell us stuff we don’t want and charities begging for funds, the youngest son fits into the second category. So I did some research and discover we can get naked internet. No phone line. No phone bill and no bloody static.

    So, the internet will be fixed. Life goes on, or does it? Remember Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP? My lovely netbook runs on XP. or

    should that be, did run on XP because it’s running on nothing now!  Ever since they stopped the support my netbook has been getting more errors, glitches, funny fits, blue screens of death, stupid pop up messages from Microsoft than any sane person can deal with. Enough was enough so I set off and bought a shiny new HP netbook with Windows 8…which I don’t hate…yet.  All is well with the world. Back to plan A and marketing my book.

    Friday morning I arrived at work. The sun was shining the birds were singing and my nose was running like a tap. By lunchtime I could barely

    speak for sneezing and I was sent home in disgrace before I infested the whole office. The cold hubby had been harboring all week had found a new host. My plans to get out and get busy marketing on Saturday disappeared under a mountain of tissues, a gallon of soothing drinks and enough medication to keep the local pharmacist living the life of luxury for a few more weeks at least. Sunday I did rally enough to log onto Amazon and hit the big shiny PUBLISH button that now sees Lost Cause back up for sale. Daisy limped back into the market place and skulks somewhere near the bottom of the list. Things can only get better!

    Does a Mystery Require a Murder

    My guest today is Karen McCullough and she is asking the question Does a Mystery Require a Murder?

    Take it away, Karen!

     

    It seems everyone assumes that a mystery novel plot always centers around a murder (or more than one). I understand why. Murder is the ultimate crime, the worst crime a human being can commit, depriving another person of their life. It’s as close to a black and white issue as human interactions come. Pretty much everyone agrees it’s a heinous action, no matter how nasty or despicable the victim was, no matter how much, as they say in some parts of this country, he needed killin’. It creates the very highest stakes for both the murderer and the detective.

    But does a mystery have to involve murder? There are plenty of other awful crimes – kidnapping, blackmail, extortion, fraud, etc. – to create intriguing storylines.  I’ve read some books that used those, but surprisingly few and usually they’re later entries in a series. It seems it’s become an accepted and expected part of the mystery novel, particularly for cozies, that there has to be a body.

    I decry the trend. First because it’s just too limiting. Who said every mystery has to have a body, and why can’t you build a great mystery around a juicy case of industrial espionage or a particularly creative burglary? Those might not have the huge visceral impact of a murder, but they can still generate high stakes for the participants.

    The need for a murder creates some real problems for the author of series mysteries with amateur detectives. How do you maintain some degree of credibility when your shop owner or museum curator keeps tripping over dead bodies every few weeks or months? We all know that if anyone in real life kept finding murder victims, the police would start taking a really close look at them.

    I’ve been asking myself that question often, since over the last year, I’ve re-released in ebook form two of my early romantic mystery novels originally published by Avalon. A third will be coming later this year. All three are genuine mystery novels, but there isn’t a dead body anywhere in any of them. The Night Prowlers features threats and an assault. Programmed for Danger centers around threats to a corporate computer system. In my forthcoming Christmas novel, larceny is the order of the day.

    Each of them has a central mystery confounding my protagonists, situations that threaten the livelihoods and quality of life of my heroes, if not their very lives. Each book builds suspense as danger mounts, each has resolutions that reveal the guilty party behind the crimes. I like to think they’re all intriguing mysteries, without resorting to murder.

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    Programmed for Danger blurb:

    Computer programming isn’t usually a dangerous occupation, but Andrea Kingston finds herself fighting for both her love and her life when she’s hired to solve Ferverill-West Company’s computer problems.

    Karen McCullough’s wide-ranging imagination makes her incapable of sticking to one genre for her storytelling. As a result, she’s the author of more than a dozen published novels and novellas, which span the mystery, fantasy, paranormal, and romantic suspense genres. A former computer programmer who made a career change into being an editor with an international trade publishing company for many years, she now runs her own web design business to support her writing habit. Awards she’s won include an Eppie Award for fantasy; three other Eppie finals; Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards, and an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future contest. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.

     

    Website: http://www.kmccullough.com

    Blog: http://www.kmccullough/kblog

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarenMcCulloughAuthor

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/kgmccullough

     

    Cover Reveal – Lost & Found

    I have been having all sorts of horrible internet issues, hence my tardy blogging, but it seems to be all fixed now…fingers crossed.

    Now I can finally reveal the cover for Book 2 in the Daisy Dunlop Mystery series. Lost & Found.

    Lost&Found_02

    Another brilliant job by the lovely Sotia Lazu!