Tag Archive | editors

Stephania Hits the Presses

Stephania Comes to America0001Yesterday I signed off on the final manuscript of  my most recent novel — “Stephania Comes to America.” When I do my final review, I pray I’ve caught all of the typos and missing words that my brain didn’t catch the first time around. Much to my chagrin, after the book is finally in my hands, I haven’t caught all of the mistakes. It’s my most frustrating part of my writing.

It turns out I’m fighting my common brain. Yeah. That’s right. My brain fills in the missing words, and it doesn’t allow my eyeballs to see all the typos. I understand this because of a  program on the Science Channel called, “My Bleeped Up Brain,” This program demonstrated why this happens. It seems our brains can’t process EVERYTHING it takes in, it edits for us. In the case of editing, our brains automatically fills in words where they haven’t been written. How do we fight that?

I thought the answer was to have my eagle-eye buddy Linda proofread the manuscript after my editor had passed her critical eye over the book. I’ve had many people tell me that they have enjoyed my stories, but the missed typos have driven them nuts. I assure you, my friends, this frustrates me as much as it does others.  When I see mistakes in a piece of writing, I also think the author must either be careless or hurried. Now I understand it’s neither. It’s humanity frailty.

So from on, I am more tolerant of other’s typos (and my own, too). Perhaps someday, I’ll have an omniscient editor who has better eye balls than I do.

Writing, Writing and Rewriting

frustrated writerPresently, I’m working on four very different novels and a couple of short stories. Two novels are part of  my “Apple Pie and Strudel Girls” Series, and the other two are new endeavors called “true fiction.” All of projects require different levels of research, and I’m finding that the true fiction is very difficult to write. You’d think it would be just the other way around, wouldn’t you?

Well, today, my editor friend, Heidi, finally read “Finding Gessler,” (one of the fiction novels) and gave me a good critique of what she had read over a plate of eggs and cinnamon roll french toast. She raised so many good questions, I have to go back into research mode and plan a big rewrite for the first third of the book.

As painful as this seems, I’m grateful for the feedback. Once I get into a story, sometimes I get confused about what I’ve included or excluded in the details. I get so anxious to get the thing written, off my desk and onto a new project, sometimes I forget important details. Anybody out there have the same problem?

Consider this. Heidi said, “Barb, you never described the physical appearance of the main character.” Really? How in the world could I have forgotten that? I guess I must have just figured the picture of the guy was in  my head, so why would the reader need to know that. Yeah. Right. Admit the error and carry on, Barb.

The moral to this story is to put someone you trust into your writing life. It’s the only way an author can obtain CONSTRUCTIVE criticism for your work. Even if you think your project is “done”, LISTEN to what this vital person has to say. Believe me, it’s a lot easier to take the remarks at this stage than it is when a professional review hits the Internet or a newspaper.

So, for the next several days, I’ll be polishing up my manuscript before it’s proofreading begins. I only wish my writing students could see me in this “process.” Maybe then they’d believe me that writing something once is never enough.

The Pain of Creating a Beautiful “Child”

This morning I  signed the contract to publish “The Love Immigrants,” which is the fourth book in the Apple Pie and Strudel Girls series of novels about young women during World War II. It feels so good to know that another one of my works is making it to the book store stages. Furthermore, I’m really excited about this particular book getting published because it is one of my favorites–not to say that I didn’t like the others–but you know, there’s always one child who clicks with its mother more than the other children.

I use this mother/child analogy because we as writers,  give birth to our works. That’s why when others criticize what we’ve written, it’s so hard to take. It’s like someone saying, “Your kid is ugly!”  This is the one element that makes writing such a hard task. Not all readers like all things. And, let’s face it, no matter how famous or prolific you might be, it takes a while to be able to take constructive criticism. Serious writers have worked for YEARS to develop a skin thick enough to hear that their creation needs a “nose job.”

But really, nowadays most plastic surgery comes out Okay. But the success of the surgery has to do with the doctor’s skill and credentials. I’ll tell you one thing, if a  doctor is going to take a knife to my face, he’d better be the best in the business!  It’s the same with writing. Be sure whoever is criticizing your work is qualified to do so. You are in control. You have the power to accept or reject the comments. Be smart. Trust the person you have chosen to be your “doctor.” And finally, if you know your “written child” needs that “nose job” lop it off, make the corrections, heal from the experience, and face the world with a better looking baby.You”ll be glad you did.

Editing and Brain Tricks

This week I “finished” my fifth novel in the “Apple Pie and Strudel Girls” series. I put finished in quote marks because now it’s up to my editor, Heidi to take a whack at it. She always sees things that I don’t. As careful as I try to be, I miss things–like little words I left out, dangling modifiers, comma mishaps, and a host of other things. I’ve learned to just blame it on my brilliant brain which has a tendency to fill in the words that aren’t there. I remember when I was six and learning to read, my mother would always yell at me:  “Barbara Jean, read what’s on the page!” I guess I’ve never learned to do that.

Because my brain makes up for my mistakes in my mind, I’ve learned I need other people to read my work and give feedback, so I can revise. I’ve always known that to be true, but having to admit I still require help at this stage of the game is a little humbling.

The bottom line is this: It’s good for all serious writers and students to find a writing buddy–a person you can trust who will give you honest feedback. Even though writing is a solitary activity, we need each other to make our work the best it can be at that time in space. If you want to publish what you write, get an editor. They will see what your brain doesn’t.

Thank you, Heidi.