Friday, December 30, 2011

concept Editing, What is It?

My new novel, Lockets and Lanterns, is in its final stages of production. One of those processes was concept editing.

What is that? you ask.

In a nutshell, it is looking at your manuscript as a whole.

Is your title inviting? Does it tell the reader what the story is about?

If your story is a romance, you can show that on a cover, but you also need to make sure your cover does not display a mystery or some other genre which is not your target audience. My book, Lockets and Lanterns, tells you this is a historical, and the bride and groom on the cover shows romance.

This is what a concept editor looks at as well as the overall story line. Is there enough conflict to enthrall readers? In my novel, there is a secret the groom keeps from his bride. This hidden promise will have tragic consequences. The story line must keep people interested in finding out the secret and have believable characters in which readers can empathize with during their times of heartaches and joys.

A concept editor also is your deleter-in-chief. You will see paragraphs and what you considered “sharp” dialogue gone. After staring at your work in horror, you realize the concept editor was on the right track. If layers of dialogue or descriptions muddle your story, what good is it? Once you understand that, you look at the strikeouts in new ways. The editor is helping you keep the readers’ interest. How often have you weeded through a story or read it halfway then shoved it to the side because of lack of interest? A lot more than we would like to admit.

Another task of the concept editor is to analyze sentence structures. Is the sentence clear or does it need to be clarified through rewording or using dialogue tags, such as she said, in certain circumstances to determine the speaker? Though, remember to limit tags as much as possible. I often use actions to let the reader know who is talking.

Besides these, this editor will continue to examine for improper word usage like the word, “past.” This is a mistake I see quite often in books. “Past” is for an occurrence which happened in the past. “She thought of her past mistakes and shook her head.” However, “passed” is used when you move around an object or a person/s. “Nora passed her sister before stepping outside.” A concept editor should catch this as well as to look for misspelled words and when certain words, such as Pa, need capitalization or when awhile is one word or two. If it is at the end of a prepositional phrase, the usage is a while. But if you mean it took awhile for him to answer, it is one word.

I found the process unnerving at times, especially when your mistakes stare up at you and whole paragraphs are deleted, but necessary because that person is your gatekeeper in making your story compelling, well written and the best possible. But remember they also are human beings and can miss items which will glare at you later. Have a blessed New Year and watch for the spring release of Lockets and Lanterns.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Copyediting, What is it?

As my new novel approaches release, I went through many stages in preparation. One of those was copyediting.

I was familiar with it since I am a former journalist but were you?

A copyeditor edits copy or your story. This person looks for grammar, spelling and style mistakes. For example in journalism, a copyeditor would assess whether the reporter’s work meets Associate Press stylebook standards as well as each individual paper’s own guidelines.

Some Christian publishers also would ban any inappropriate material, such as cursing, graphic sexual and/or violence references.

Usage is another item a copyeditor would analyze. Did you use the correct heel if talking about a foot and heal when referring to overcoming sickness? Problematic for many is the misuse of lay and lie, advice and advise and affect or effect.

If you cannot determine the difference, use another word like he set the books on the table instead of he laid them down. Separating when to use advice or advise is easier when you know advice is a noun and advise, such as a guidance counsel advises his/her student, is a verb. But if the writer uses the wrong word, this is something a copyeditor should catch.

In addition, awkward sentence structures are corrected, such as dangling modifiers. I am sure you remember your English teacher telling you about those. Here is an example: Carrying a heavy pile of books, her foot caught on the step.

Do you see the problem? Whose foot? The books or the woman’s. To clarify this sentence, change it to: Carrying a heavy pile of books, she caught her foot on the step.

Copyeditors also examine fragment sentences. Last Saturday I saw Gloria. Riding her new bicycle. A copyeditor would reword this. Last Saturday I saw Gloria riding her new bicycle.

However, in fiction writing we can at times break normal grammar rules - fragments are acceptable in certain contexts like dialogue. Characters need to speak as people do, and this means incomplete sentences. In my upcoming romance, Lockets and Lanterns, the groom hides a secret from his bride. An excerpt from this novel illustrates this.

“Riches aren’t everything. You’re a good man.” (the best man said.)

“I could’ve caused her a lot of grief. I-I -” (states the groom)


So what is considered unacceptable in certain genres is acceptable in others. Thus, one size does not fit all.

A copyeditor also will address common problems, such as inappropriate dialogue structure. For instance. “You’ve had lots of time,” her voice weak. Change this to “You’ve had lots of time,” she said in a weak voice.

One common mistake made by people unfamiliar with the copyediting term is to confuse proofreaders with copyeditors. They do many of the same tasks. However, a proofreader reads proofs. If your book is in paperback, it will have a proof of how the pages and book will look in print. A proofreader reads this for mistakes, such as grammar and spelling. So if you hire a proofreader, remember this person reads proofs. Otherwise, the correct term is copyeditor because that individual will read your copy or manuscript/story.

As with other positions, sometimes an individual assigned with one job can overlap another’s, such as with copyediting and concept editing. A concept editor reviews how the overall story works, but sometimes their duties intertwine. I will talk more about concept editing in a later post. Thanks for listening and have a great day. God bless.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Building a Platform

The professionals tell you to build a platform, such as an online presence which includes a Web site, Facebook and Twitter accounts, etc., to market your books or other wares. But what if this does not match who you are?

For example, if you are a Christian, does your online presence display this? Now, you do not need to be overly religious in your work, especially if you want to appeal to a broader audience than just the faith community, but it should promote your values. These principles are determined by you. However, in no way should they stray so far from your worldview no one who knows you recognizes you.

As in politics or other forms, religious people are held to a higher standard. This does not mean you cannot be human. The worst romance I read was a Christian romance. The characters were not believable. If you see someone for the first time, you notice their hair, their manners, their voice pitch, etc. However, in this novel there was none of that.

What you want to do is to show you are human with emotions and a writer who also can develop real characters with heartaches and joys as those you experience and meet in your daily lives.

Portray who you are but also hold back some of you. For example, sharing all your personal woes will not draw an audience. People have enough of their own troubles to constantly hear yours. What you can do, however, is reveal some of you.

Those who know me or read my book, Seasons of the Soul. Also, know I am the mother of two different autistic sons. Stories about the boys are in my book. This is highlighted on my Web site and occasionally posted on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Brad, my low-functioning, oldest nonverbal son, turns 30 Sept. 7. (For your information, I labored on Labor Day.) I will talk about his birth on my Facebook and Twitter pages next week. Thus I tell you a little bit about my family without exposing everything.

I chose not to state exactly where I live on my Facebook or personal site. For example, my Facebook pages says I live in the Midwest. Why? I want to get to know you, but I also do not want to become so familiar to you that you look me up and come to my house. If you, however, feel comfortable stating your location, then list it. One reason I did not want to do this is because I am easy to find. My town is small. If, though, I lived in Denver, I probably would not had a problem with it.

Whatever you do be authentic. I love literature, symbolism and heartwarming stories. A little of this flavor comes into my award-winning short story, “The Silver Lining.” This is posted on my Web site:, I wanted to showcase this literary story, but then again I did want to display too much of this part of me.

Right now, I am wresting with a series of suggested titles for my soon-to-be released, historical romance. The protagonist, nicknamed Red, keeps a secret from his bride/wife which leads to dire consequences. My concept editor and others suggested these titles: A Hidden Love, Seizing Love, Her Groom’s Secret, The Groom’s Secret, Her Groom’s Secret, His Secret, Always my Love, A Thorn in the Roses and Bittersweet Blessings. What peaks your interest and from what you know about me reflects my values?

To summarize, watch what you portray online and in your work because they need to reflect you. If I had it to do over again, I would have set up two Facebook accounts - one as an author and another as a personal account. This is because at times I would like to separate these two worlds. However, now it would be too difficult to undo what took me a couple of years to establish. Try to think ahead when developing your Web site presence by answering this question: Who am I?

I know who I am. I love my country, my family, my writing, my walks with my dear friend, my high school chums, interacting with people and standing firm for my God who gave His all for me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


With my birthday approaching, I am thinking about change. I will be another year older - a date I do not anticipate. However, as my late mother said, it is better than the alternative.

And, alternates come in many colors, such as the change in book distribution. Borders will close Friday. Here is a link to that story:

The sad thing is I bought books two weeks ago there for my youngest autistic son. Going to Shadow Lake Towne Center in Papillion, Neb., will seem quite empty without the store anchoring the edge of the shopping center. What happened is apparent. They were too late in adapting with the times and the onslaught of e-books.

What about you? A friend of mine found e-books a couple of years ago and is making significant money through this avenue. I still have not purchased an e-reader. It scares me a little. But with my birthday almost here I plan to buy a Nook (especially since my husband is paying for it and since I got familiar with the device the other day), I now feel comfortable with its use.

Take a breath and move on, I say. Change always is difficult. A video showed how many young adults even think e-mail is passe. It is for me somewhat. I seldom forward e-mails as I did even a year ago. Instead, I interact on Facebook, Twitter and recently joined Read the Shorts and several Goodreads online groups. I lag behind. Is it too late for this dinosaur?

I hope not this is why I am writing an e-book to publish before my early-twentieth-century romance, Sustaining Love: A Time Remembered, is out in April of 2012 in all formats. Wish me luck and pray for all Borders employees as they seek new positions in today’s economy.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Networking Scams

Watch out for networking scams! As an author you want to promote your book through a variety of venues, including book signings, personal sales, an online presence or through networking.

These are good pursuits. The more you get yourself out there the better your chances of broadening your exposure. However, you also are subject to scams.

Recently, I received a letter saying, someone nominated me to become a member of a women’s professional networking organization. On the postcard, they listed their Web site for me to visit. I did that. It looked legit.

Since I am a member of the local chamber of commerce and they referred me to a reporter for an interview a month ago, I believed they could have passed on my name on this. I filled out the card, omitting my e-mail address. The card required my address, telephone number and perhaps my Web site but no other personal information. Thus I sent it in without worrying about relaying private information. If it did, I would not have completed it.

A couple of weeks rolled by and I never thought more about it until last week when I received a call from them. They asked me about the other professional organizations I belonged to and more about my business. I gave them the information and my e-mail address since they said the membership was selective on whom they would grant membership. I promoted myself, saying I was a member of such and such and my book, Seasons of the Soul, received Best of Year from and my short story, “The Silver Lining” (which is free to read on Smashwords) came in 10th on the 79th Writer’s Digest Writing Competition in the mainstream/literary short story category.

The caller stated they would love to focus me in their newsletter. I was thrilled at the extra exposure but then the woman hit with their membership dues - a stunning more than $600 for one type or $400 and something for their networking membership. “We need to place this on your credit card,” knowing earlier I selected the networking one.

Stunned, I composed myself. “That’s too much.”

“Well,” she continued, We have a $289 membership which would allow you such and such.

I replied, “I would have to ask my husband and would rather send a check. Could you send me the information?” I knew I would never submit the check.

“No, we need to confirm this through credit card. We have another membership for $189 which ...”

“Again,” I reiterated, “I would have to ask my husband.”

Exasperated, she offered me their free newsletter. “Let me connect you with processing.”

I heard the click and stayed on the line. When after several seconds no one connected with me, I hung up the phone.

What a scam. Thank God I had the good sense to not give them my credit card number but how many others were vulnerable to this technique? I do not want to give the women’s organization’s name but it is located in Garden City, New York. Watch for them or other groups portraying themselves as one thing but really a front to reach into your pocket.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mother's Day Story

The Merry-Go-Round

Four-year-old Ruth grabbed her mother’s hand as she walked through the crowd toward the fair's carnival rides. Ruth leaned against her mother's skirt.

“Come on Ruth,” her mother said. “Don’t be afraid. Remember I have your hand.”

Her mother’s words gave her comfort. It was a beautiful spring day, the sun bright and temperatures in the upper 70’s. The smell of popcorn drifted around them.

May purchased tickets, then led her daughter to the children’s rides. The daughter handed the attendant two tickets. She climbed into a small red boat which sat in a large, circular tank of knee-deep water. The boats circled several times around the tank before the ride stopped, and the children got off.

Ruth followed her mother. Several balloons floated in the air. “May I have a balloon, a beautiful yellow one?”

Her mother nodded and picked out a shiny, yellow one from the balloon man. “I will tie it around your wrist, so you don’t lose it.”

“Oh Mother! Thank you. The balloon is beautiful.”

Soon, they came to a row of food stands. “Let’s get something to eat. It’s past lunch time, and my feet ache,” May said. They sat down at a booth. She bought them hamburgers, sodas and a large order of fries.

Ruth sipped on the soda and pulled the hamburger out of the bun. She bit into it. The juices dripped down her chin. Her mother wiped them with a napkin. They finished, stepped down and headed back toward the fairway.

The little girl gazed at the people playing games at the booths. She smiled as she saw the merry-go-round in front of them. “Oh, Mother! Please may I ride the merry-go-round?”

The mother looked for horses, where the two could ride side by side. She helped Ruth onto a beautiful horse decorated in shades of purple. Its head was etched in gold. The mother grabbed the reins of a red horse. It also etched in gold.

The attendant started the ride and around the horses went as they moved up and down to the music.

Then the ride ended. Ruth, no longer a little girl, climbed down from her horse.

She now was a grown woman. Because, you see, the merry-go-round of life keeps whirling round and round as daughters become mothers over and over again. Remember Mother’s Day is May 8. Tell your mother you love her.

Excerpt from Seasons of the Soul

(with adaptation)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Audio Books

Audio books are they worth it? Here is my perspective.

I entered the audio book fray after my paperback, Seasons of the Soul, was on the market for a couple of months. Thinking, the blind and those traveling would want them I decided to purchase a small quantity to sell at events. What a mistake.
I assumed organizations, such as the blind, would buy them for their clients. However, I found out they want you to donate them. These non-profits are on limited budgets so the ready-market I thought existed was not there.
Second, I thought those traveling would enjoy them as they made their way to their destinations. I was wrong there, also. Not enough people going long places I guess or perhaps they listen to their radios or ipods. Whatever the reasons. I seldom sell audio books at craft or art fairs. The price is higher at $14.99 compared to my paperback $9.95 or my e-book $5.99. This is a hinderance, of course. But I believe it is more than that, people would rather read a book whether it is e-book or paperback versions.
Audio books cost more because there is more involved in the process. You or someone else must read it and a professional needs to synchronize it onto a compact disk and download formats. I did not read mine but each story is well done. When my oldest autistic son hung onto my husband, causing him to almost drown in a hotel swimming pool. The audio storyteller made you relive that harrowing day.
However, even when I pitch this personal account to potential customers they often choose the paperback. Thus, I will not do an audio for my next book, Sustaining Love: A Time Remembered (an early-twentieth-century romance with a release date of Feb. 2012.)
What will I do with the audio books I have on hand? When an event or chamber of commerce activity calls for a raffle, I give a CD.
It is not a total loss because the book reaches an audience, builds name recognition and a platform for my next book. Besides it is better than the CDs collecting dust. Tell me about your experience. Does it differ with mine? Were you contemplating doing an audio book and if you were did my story change your plans?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Personality and Book Selling

“Personality and Book Selling”

It is said personality counts. And it does as well on the book front.

Whether at a bookstore, art or craft fair or promoting your book on Facebook are you not drawing people in with your personality? Without one-to-one contact, would you have made that sale?

I doubt it. Even your family or friends bought your book because they knew you. Keep in mind whether selling your wares online or in more intimate settings. People are interested in you and what you have to offer.

My book, Seasons of the Soul, relates to autistic parents, those struggling with issues or those interested in the topic. With book in hand, I approach customers providing them a short synopsis of my uplifting book. I peak their curiosity with a story in Seasons of the Soul where my youngest autistic son runs out of the plane while we waited for takeoff, causing the flight’s delay. Andrew’s anxiety got the better of him. From there, I tell the potential buyer about my book and how it includes personal accounts about my two different autistic sons as well as faith stories. “If interested, visit my table. I will be here from ...” I conclude.

So what did I do there? Raised their interest yet not pressured them. Again, personality talks and a pressure-cooker salesman dooms a sale.

Second, smile. Yes, it is not easy but think of it this way. A smile may lighten the heavy load you are carrying. A friend of mine works in retail. When customer lines are long or they complain, the clerks are told to smile. That goes even when the associates’ feet hurt from standing. Smile. Remember a smile masks the feet aches and possibly the stinky smell reaching your nostrils.

Third, eye contact. You cannot expect customers to purchase something from you if you are looking at the floor. Self-confidence in your abilities - even when you doubt your talents at times - does wonders.

Did you know people also can pick this up online? “I hope readers will like this,” you post. What this says is you are not confident about yourself. Turn that phrase into: “I know you will love this.” You are not bragging. You are showing c o n f i d e n c e. Underneath you may wonder if you are overestimating your abilities but if you do not believe in yourself, how can you expect others to do the same?

Four, attractiveness. How you portray yourself online to the arrangement of your table to your own appearance makes a distinct impression.

Thumbnail photos make your Facebook or Twitter posts. Some Facebook friends include photos where their hair is in disarray or you have little idea what is pictured. A reader needs to know, otherwise, they see your presence as unprofessional.

If you are selling personally at an art or craft fair, make your table display simple but attractive. Show a book award (but do not exhibit everything you received), cover your table with a bright cloth and use a vertical backdrop behind you if outside winds are not a problem.

Lastly, you are important. Make your appearance professional and clothing appropriate. I wear skirts or dresses often. I want the customer to see me as an author with stature and at some chamber of commerce events I wear my hat. I stand out and when I fail to wear one people ask, “Where’s your hat?” It is my trademark. What’s yours?

I look forward to your comments and may God richly bless you.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011



Crystal-like objects fall from above,
Gracing the earth in splendor,
Elegantly the snowflakes flow like a dove,
Spreading the universe in grandeur.

The whistling wind twirls and whirls the trees' branches,
Alighting the soil with a garment of delight,
It settles over mountains, plains and ranches,
Glistening white,
The snow glows in the night,
Resurrecting our souls to the wonder of YOUR Light!