Sunday, March 04, 2018

Guest Post: An Editing Process of My Own

I'm very fortunate today to share this guest post by long time friend, critique-partner and editor, Suzi Wieland. I met Suzi through blogging about nine years ago and was lucky enough that she's stuck around to help, encourage and inspire me. She does fabulous line and copy edits and has a great sense of humor that comes out in her editing comments. It's always fun to see what she has to say when I get edits back from her. Without further ado, here is Suzi!

Trying to Figure Out How to Edit

I started writing in 2010. It seems so long ago, and I’ve learned a lot, but I still feel like I’m learning. A while back I realized that not only do I love writing, but I love editing. Except not editing my own work. I like editing other peoples’ stories, and a couple years ago I started working with some great women at CookieLynn Publishing, where I do line and copy editing.

Beta reading and freelance editing has helped my own writing so much, but it still feels overwhelming at times. But now, eight long years into this writing thing, I’m finally starting to feel like I’m figuring out my own editing process.

I can write fast and I don’t edit as I go, but that means my editing takes longer. In the past I’ve spent so much time editing, with no rhyme or reason. I read through it and revised. Read through again and revised. Repeat, repeat, repeat... with no order or nothing specific I’m editing for. I just do everything at every step. I don’t want to spend that much time editing anymore, and I want to streamline things and be more efficient. Everybody needs to figure out what works for them, but this is how I’ve been doing it lately.

After finishing writing, I’ll probably hand it off to a beta reader, and I won’t look at it again until the reader gives it back. I think it’s important to put a bit of space between you and your manuscript before diving into editing again, give it some fresh eyes.

So once the beta reader returns the story, I’ll do my first revision, including adding things like more description and emotion, which I sometimes lack. I’ll make sure all my plot issues are worked out and add more if my characters aren’t fleshed out enough. I’ll hit those big story things.

Then I’ll print the manuscript out and edit it on paper, including looking for redundancies, where I need to show instead of tell, and where I need to further develop (or cut) scenes. After I’ve made those changes, I’ll do a big search and destroy of all those unnecessary words (like JUST and REALLY and THAT and so many more) and I’ll find those filter words (like KNEW and FELT and others). I have a big list of things I need to look at, so this is where I’ll check those things off my list.

The next step is to read it on an e-reader, which I do out loud. Reading the story aloud really helps me catch stupid typos and those things that just don’t flow right. So this revision step is about how it sounds out loud but also the grammar and punctuation.

If it’s a story I’m self-publishing, my next step is to do my paperback on CreateSpace and get a proof copy, which I’ll read through again. From that I’ll format my ebook for publication, which would be my final read-through.

It seems like a lot of steps, but at least I have an order to doing things and I feel more confident about the process. This strategy is still new to me, so I will probably be adjusting as I go, but having a plan is much more efficient way to edit.

Do you have a certain editing process that you follow? Or is it an endless stream of revisions with no point, like I used to do? Also, do you like to edit your own work or is it a necessary step to publication that you hate?

Suzi has been writing since 2010 and just recently published a horror novella called Shallow Depths. She is currently working on adult thriller and horror projects, but has many contemporary young adult stories she might publish someday too. In her non-writing time, she works as an editor for CookieLynn Publishing and mostly chases after her kids and dog.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Be Excellent to Each Other

Has someone ever said something about you that changed the way you think about yourself? I actually saw this as a prompt for a thirty-day writing challenge, and thought it was an intriguing question.

All my life I've had most people I meet comment on my eyes. If they were adults, they'd talk about how big and pretty they are. However, I think they are a little unsettling for children. On more than one occasion, when I worked at the elementary school, the youngest children would ask me what was wrong with me, why my eyes were so large. Even my own children at one point commented about how large my eyes can get when I'm surprised.


In any case, my eyes have been a defining feature for me, and for the longest time I defined myself by my physical appearance in general. I wasn't terribly nice to myself about my physical features, either. It didn't matter how others might see me, I wasn't ever "good enough." It wasn't due to my family. I have the best family, but school was never a supportive place for me. I always felt different and/or ignored and then after four years of bullying in high-school, I didn't have a very good self-esteem.

When I was in my twenties, I stayed with my paternal grandmother for a bit. I don't remember exactly why I was there by myself with her and my great aunt, but I think I was there to help care for them both while my Grandma was sick.  With parents who had immigrated from Italy, my grandmother and great aunt were one hundred percent Italian--small women with sharp noses and white cotton-ball hair they shaped into waves with pin-curls on special occasions. My grandmother always saw the best in everyone and always had a hint of  mischievousness in her eyes.

I was cleaning in what my grandmother called the front room (but which is the living room to any one else.) This particular day Grandma was resting in a chair in the front room and I was finishing up whatever it was I was cleaning. All of a sudden she began talking about her sister, Mary. Mary had died before I'd been born. She was one of the oldest siblings of the large Catholic family, and my grandmother was the youngest. Mary was one of my grandmother's favorite sisters because she always was laughing. Not in a bad way, but apparently Mary just had a light heart and found humor in life. And she was a hard worker.

And that's when my grandma said "You remind me of Mary. You always laugh, too. And you work hard."

And I was like:


In just a few words my grandmother helped me to understand who I am. Internally I thought, "I do?" and then I thought, "I do!" I'd never really thought about it, but I love to laugh. I love to make people laugh. I love not taking myself too seriously. I love laughing with other people and sharing those moments of lightheartedness. And I liked being similar to Great-Aunt Mary. I was unique, but in a familiar way, family way.

And I was proud of this comparison. It didn't matter what I looked like. I was good enough! In fact, I was like someone's favorite sister. I was a hard worker. I was likable. It's like that line in The Help where Abileen says "You is kind. You is smart. You is important." I guess it's hard for me to explain, but the comparison enabled me to start moving away from having my identity rooted in what I looked like and move into who I am inside.

It's thinking about moments like this that always reinforce to me how important just one person and their words can be. What we say to each other truly can save or destroy people. Every single person is important and we all have the power to change our own worlds and the worlds of the people around us. I wish more people understood at this time in history how important what they say truly is.


So, that's my story, but I want to know what your story is. Have you ever had something someone say to you change how you view yourself?

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, January 07, 2018

That Which Makes You Happy

Would you say you're generally happy?


Or do you feel that you have to wait for something to happen before you can be really happy. Some people do feel that way, right? They may be happy, but they won't be really happy until such and such happens.


I remember being in high school and thinking I wouldn't be really happy until I met my soul mate. Very typical romanticism for the age, I suppose. I didn't meet the man who eventually became my husband until I was twenty-six, and even then we didn't get married until I was thirty-one. Between the years of sixteen and thirty-one, several circumstances clued me in to the fact I could be content with my life as it was. I didn't need to wait for something or someone to make me happy.

Reading the Sacrament of the Present Moment by Jean Pierre de Caussade helped me understand I have the power to be happy myself. While I can't honestly say I remember any specifics, I do remember being impressed overall about not wishing for the future, but rather appreciating the present. It probably was the beginning of my journey in regards to mindfulness.

Also, my sister died when I was twenty-nine (a year or so before I was married.) Although she was sick with Multiple Sclerosis, it was a huge shock when she died. It probably sounds trite, but her death at thirty-two made me realize my mortality. I still am very aware that no one of us is guaranteed another year, another day or even another breath. If we don't enjoy each moment we have, then we are potentially missing out on having the best last day of our lives.

When thinking about what makes me happy, I could just list "family" or "children" and that would be true. But there's so much more in each moment, so many specific things that make me happy, that I would remiss to make such a sloppy list of generalities. So, forgive me if the list is a little weird...

My non-exhaustive list of things that make me happy (in no particular order):

Warm, squishy hugs
Listening to Boy 2 laugh with delight
Being around trees
The way my hand fits inside my husband's
Holding my husband's hand when we go on trips
Boy 1's smile
Being outside in general
When nature looks like a Bob Ross painting
When I'm writing and am hit with inspiration
Listening to beautiful music (Right now I love David Nevue)
Listening to my children play music on the piano and cello
Listening to Tom Hiddleston read poetry (haven't done that in a while, but it does make me happy.)
Being helpful
Watching Troll Hunters, Doctor Who, Murdoch Mysteries, Murder She Wrote, Monk with my family
Going for walks with my family
Playing Tennis and riding my bicycle
The feel of the breeze on my face and pushing back my hair
When my dogs grunt with happiness when I rub their ears and/or tails
Picking out books from the library

I could go on, but I really need to go to bed. I kind of forgot I was blogging again until 8:30 on Sunday night, and so am writing this rather quickly!

What specifically makes you happy?


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