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Grammar Goggles


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Dates: 2/1 thru 3/31/2013
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Whether just starting out or an experienced author, looking to break into a new market or planning to self-publish, Grammar Goggles can help you polish your manuscript and take it to the next level.


My main focus is on grammar and line editing but my rates also include low-level content editing, where I make note of any questions regarding continuity, pacing and story line. These services are built into the charge since I know, from experience, I can’t see problems in those areas without making mention of them.

Are You The One?

So, you’re eager to get your book out into the world and figure it’s time to stop futzing with the manuscript and get an editor to give it that important coat of polish.


Before you start emailing your contacts and sending your manuscript hither and yon, you need to make some decisions.

First, is your book really ready to be edited? For many authors, this isn’t a consideration. They’ve written books before and know when the manuscript is ready for the next stage. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. I’ve come across manuscripts that actually are first drafts, not completed books. Frankly, it’s a waste of money to have an editor edit your first draft, except in very specific circumstances. A first draft, unless you self-edit like a Boss as you go, is too raw for in-depth editing. After all the changes and corrections the editor may suggest, what you’re most likely left with is the manuscript you should have sent out for editing. Make the mistake of publishing that and the readers howl, and not with pleasure.

I’m going to assume you’re more experienced. You’ve harassed your critique partners into reading it, maybe even twice over. Your Beta readers have had a go too, and declared it as fine a piece of writing as you’ve ever done. If you’re a lone-wolf author, disinterested or perhaps downright put off by the thought of involving anyone else, you’ve probably gone over the book as many times as you can stand to. So, bottom line, it’s ready. Time to call in the polishing crew.

But which kind?

Not all editors do the same job, although there’s a fair amount of overlap, and some do it all. There are content editors, line editors, fact-checkers and proofreaders, all of whom can be of value, depending on your needs. Are you branching out into a new genre and worry you may not have covered the subject in a believable manner? Then you need a content editor, and one with more than a passing knowledge of the genre you’re writing in. They’ll look at your manuscript and let you know whether you’ve got it right or not, if there are holes you need to plug or if your story has gone off the rails in places. Content editors will be looking for plot, pacing and any other factors that pull the reader out of the story, rather than sucking them in.

On the other hand, if you’re very happy with the story as it stands and confident it doesn’t need that kind of input, you probably want a line editor. We’re the geeks who love language so much we’ve taken the time to commit to memory a lot of the grammatical rules most people forget as soon as the English teacher’s mouth closes. Weird crap about syntax and sentence construction, like whether onomatopoeia is always italicized or if moving an adverb from one place to another will actually make a difference. Not just academic knowledge either, but knowledge of how to apply those rules to fiction, or when not to.

There are some authors so confident of their abilities in the areas of grammar and syntax all they want is someone to check for spelling errors, and they’ll hire a proof-reader for that purpose. Others, especially when writing in genres such as historical fiction, military and police procedurals, etc. may hire a fact-checker to ensure they haven’t put something into the story that doesn’t belong.

Most authors are looking for a little of everything, and it’s not an unreasonable request. Just be sure the editor you hire offers all the services you require and always remember it’s a professional association. Don’t be afraid to check an editor out, ask questions, request they edit a small sample from your manuscript to see how they work, if it will help. It’s your book. You have to be comfortable and know, in the end, it is the best it possibly can be.

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The Big Picture

Before I put words on paper, I was narrow-minded as a writer. I just wanted to write and I had a vague idea that it would be cool to be published. But I didn’t really think it through, you know?

When I began writing, my only thought was, “I need to get these characters out of my head and on paper before they really drive me crazy.” Once the writing process was underway though, my thoughts change. I wondered if anyone would like what I’m writing. I wanted to know if an agent or editor would take a chance on it. The small window I looked through when I started writing expanded and expanded until I could finally see the whole picture.

In the beginning, I was shy about my writing. I didn’t want anyone to read it, which is just silly because what’s the point of writing a book if you don’t share it? It was like pulling teeth for me to send it to critique loops. My only problem with critique loops though is that you can’t please everyone on it. You may get two critiques, or twenty and trying to keep up with everyone’s preferences is nearly impossible. Narrowing that field to a select few helped relieve my stress and I could finally concentrate on cleaning the manuscripts.

Then…you send them out into the wild with a wish and a prayer. “Go, be free! Be published!”, you cry to your manuscript as it goes winging to an agent or editor’s inbox. But then, if you’re me, you start thinking…”Holy hell, what was I thinking?!”

I’ll even admit that even now, especially now, I’m nervous about people reading my work. It’s a bit late for that though, isn’t it? Book 1 of my Veil series comes out in March. Part of me is excited, while the other part is hiding under the covers on my bed. Why? Because it’s…well, it’s an extension of me. I want it to do well. I want it to please, if not everyone, then some people.

We write and write our little hearts out, pouring our time and blood into our manuscripts, but in the end…we’re sending it out for slaughter. I wonder if it would be easier not to name our manuscripts? Kind of like you don’t name a cow you’re going to butcher kind of thing. Would it? We’re writing for readers and we want them to be happy with what we put into words. We want them to want more and more, we want them to demand more books, and possibly join our not-quite-formed cults.

I’m kidding about the cult. Not really. Okay, I am, seriously. What would they be called anyway? Danicanites? Avetnites? Danicaicians? Meh.

I suppose the point of this post is, in 2010, I wasn’t thinking about that big picture. It slowly expanded, but I was still thinking in terms of “I want to be a writer! Whee! This is fun!”. It’s still fun, but looking ahead to 2011, I have to think about the business end of things. Will my stuff be marketable? Will it fit with the publishing trends? Will my sister-in-law’s mother (who has vowed to read my books) have a heart attack at the love scenes (and am I held liable for that)? Will my house get egged by angry readers who hate that Book 1 has a farting Bulldog? These are things I think about now.

But I can’t let it stop me. Writing has become my therapy. I can pour all of my darker thoughts into a book right along side my goofy, sometimes coarse humor. It’s the place where I can make anything happen because my imagination has the power and I love it.

There was a point to this post, I’m almost positive of it, but I seem to have lost track of it. Hm, right. It looks as though I’m saying, enjoy your writing, enjoy being creative, but also remember writing is a business, as I’m about to find out in the next few weeks, once the book is written, the real work starts. But what a crazy, addictive job!


Filed under Writing

Writing is Like the NFL

Brace yourselves, this is a long one, but I think you’ll enjoy it 🙂

It should be no surprise by now that I’m a major NFL fan. I wait for football season like some kids wait for Christmas. To be more precise, I wait for the Saints to play.

I’ve been a Saints fan since I was a child. I grew up with this team and while I spent most of my youth with no idea what the team colors were, or what our emblem looked like (you have to realize, our games were ALWAYS blacked out), I knew that this was my team. Bobby Hebert, the Cajun Cannon. Pat Swilling, Dalton Hilliard, Reggie Jackson, Sam Mills. These were names bandied about through my developing years.

So, you’re probably asking yourself ‘Is she ever going to get to the point of this post she tricked me into reading?’. Why, yes. I am 🙂

After all of these years as a football fan, I’m now writing and suffering through all the ups and downs writers go through. There’s the normal hair-pulling-my-characters-are-driving-me-crazy-and-I-can’t-sleep phase of writing the manuscript. This is what I would compare to training camp. This is when all of your players show up and start doing their thing, building a strong team for the upcoming season.

Then there’s the oh-my-God-I-finished-I-finished!-what-do-you-mean-I-have-to-edit-it? phase when the manuscript is complete. This is comparable to preseason. You’re putting your players out there for the world to see and critiquing them on their performance. If they suck, you cut them. The same with editing/critiquing your manuscript. You’re weeding out what doesn’t work and finding replacements for what does.

Followed by the what-the-blue-blazes-do-you-mean-I-have-to-send-it-to-someone? phase which is when your manuscript is ready for submission to an agent/editor. This, of course, is after the I-have-an-agent-pitch-and-I-think-I’m-going-to-puke stage, but that passes relatively quick since most pitches are no more than 15 minutes. To me, these two stages are the regular ups and downs of the NFL season. Your team is out there, they’re doing their best to win and they suffer through growing pains. They’re losing one week, winning the next. Just like the pitches you’re tossing out to the editors and agents you meet with. Then comes the win! Someone wants to read a partial or a full of your manuscript. It’s scary, it’s exhilarating.

After all of these stages of writing, editing, editing some more, pitching, and submitting, then it’s time for the waiting phase. You wait and pray. Wait and pray that those agents or editors will like what you’ve read. Finally, this is followed by one of two outcomes: you get either the we’re-sorry-but-this-doesn’t-fit-our-needs rejection, or you get the holy-hell-you’re-so-getting-published acceptance. I personally haven’t reached the second stage yet, but that’s okay. It’s a process. So this final phase I’m going to compare to the Superbowl. *cracks her knuckles*

On one hand you’ve got your manuscript. On the other, you’ve got your agent/editor. These are the opposing teams. Your manuscript has battled its way through rejection after rejection. It’s bloody from all the editing you’ve done. It’s bruised around the edges from scenes that have been tweaked so many times it really should be on injured reserve. The day is here. The editor/agent is looking over your work. The outcome has you sick with nerves, edgy with anticipation. You want it so badly you can almost taste it. And then-

Well, I don’t know what happens in your own Superbowl. I just know that whatever the outcome, you’ll either feel depressed or jubilant. The point is, the teams who go to the Superbowl play the next season. They can’t give up and neither can you. Writing is a sport. It’s a sport with one person against many and only through diligence, training, and lots of bruises can you get to the top.

So, did I totally lose you, or did the analogy work? I loved it myself, but then I’m sometimes called strange.

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Filed under Football, Inspiration, publishing, rejection, Writing