Book Editing

23 Aug 2017: My guilty pleasure …..

It’s a guilty pleasure, one I know is somehow wrong.  I shouldn’t take perverse pleasure is seeing something incorrect, but I do.  Just to know that the big publishing houses are as fallible as I am … well, sometimes it’s what gets me through.

Now mind you, I cut indi authors some slack here. I’m never going to point these kind of errors out in a fellow indi’s book, but Nora Roberts?  Love ya, gal, but with all the professional eyes on your book? Seriously, maybe you should hire me or at least take me on as a beta reader.

Here is my latest discovery.  Two, count em’, two typos in Face the Fire, by Nora Roberts

Chapter 4, page 65

Her rude little gargoyle who stuck his tongue out of a grinning mouth at passerby.

– I’m pretty sure that’s supposed to be passerbys (with an s at the end.)

Chapter 18, Page 313

She studied the dining room, with its flowers and candles already in place. The window were open wide to summer.

– I believe they forgot the s at the end of windows making it plural.  Either that or were should have been a was.

So, what typos have you spotted in novels by big name authors? Let’s keep the dream alive for those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to have an army of editors behind us.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of:

I’d love to hear from you!  Click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind. You have no idea how much you’ll brighten my day by leaving me a comment!

11 July 2017: Ain’t nobody perfect … not even Debbie Macomber

It’s an unfortunate fact of life. No, I’m not talking about the birds or the bees or even Tootie and Natalie. This unfortunate fact of life is that no matter how much your pour your heart and soul into your novel, no matter how many pairs of eyes edit and correct the living daylights out of it, the first comments you will always get about this literary baby you gave birth to will always be about some mistake it contains.

It’s just plain depressing really.

“I loved it!  It’s fabulous!  By the way, did you know there’s a typo on page 195?”

It is true I’m always thankful for those who point things like this out to me.  I immediately fix the offending error and it’s gone for good.  (Unless it’s the word towards …. see my last post.  🙂

Me? I’m what you would call small time.  I’m fortunate enough that I’m a pretty good editor as well as writer and after seven novels know myself well. But I’m still human and make mistakes.  I think that’s why I’m so gleeful when I find mistakes in books put out by big publishing houses.  I know, it’s quite horrid of me to admit this, but there it is. I may be small time, but I’m right up there with the big boys and girls too when it comes to making mistakes.

So it was with a little surprise and a lot of glee that I turned the page and discovered an error in a Debbie Macomber book this week.  The offending novel was Midnight Sons Volume 3.  Here’s the sentence. Can you spot the error?

“The next morning the newlyweds would leave for California to board a ship for a two-week Caribbean cruise.”

Hummm …. do I have you stumped?  This is where my years in the cruise industry come in handy. I double checked to see if anything had changed and it hadn’t.  Still trying to figure it out?  Okay, there are no Caribbean cruises that leave from California.  From California, you go on cruises to Mexico or Hawaii, maybe Costa Rica. From California, it would almost take a week to get to the Caribbean.  You’d have to go through the Panama Canal first! To go on a two-week Caribbean cruise, they should have flown down to Florida, Texas or even Louisiana.

Sorry, Debbie.  This one slipped past you and your editors.

Yes, I have a pretty good eye for details like this.  I spot them in movies all the time.  I think my favorite move faux pas is in Independence Day.  In the beginning of the movie you see the President coming down a hallway in the White House.  The gal is sitting in a chair and the camera has a shot on the back of the USA Today she’s reading as he walks towards her.  Look at the paper and remember it’s supposed to be July.  The USA Today weather map should be all red, orange and yellow because of the summer heat.  Strangely it’s all blue, green and yellow.  They obviously filmed in the winter months and didn’t bother to get a summer USA Today weather map!  Don’t believe me?  Here it is.

Some cold front we’re getting, Mr. President.

It’s always good to remember …. Ain’t none of us perfect!  So when someone points out a type to me, I’ll just think of Debbie Macomber and Independence Day and know I’m in good company.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of:

I’d love to hear from you!  Click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind. You have no idea how much you’ll brighten my day by leaving me a comment!

9 July 2017: Struggling between “Linguistical Correctness” and what’s right.

It’s funny how a small comment from a prospective editor set in motion such a large debate for me. When I received  a sample edit of a few pages of a manuscript of mine, there was a notation on my usage of the word “towards.”  Yes, it had never occurred to me to not put an “s” at the end.  Why?  Because I’ve always spoken it aloud ending with an s.

American accepted usage of the word “toward” is toward without an “s” on the end.  It seems “towards” with the “s” is the editorially correct British spelling of the word.

Here in lies my dilemma. I’m American and never in my life have I said the word “toward.” I’m “towards” all the way. I’ve surveyed many people over the last few weeks and most have said they use the offending “s” as well.  So …. what’s up with that?

This wouldn’t be such an issue if it wasn’t for the fact that my novels are all written in first person and are told by women who all grew up in the same small town I did in New York.  If I use the “s,” so should they.

Now that’s all well and good. I mean, I’m a rebel.  I could honestly care less what people think …. except I’m entering literary contests now and I feel using the offending (yet correct) “s” would be a mark against me.

What’s a girl to do?

I decided that in my novel series (The Falling Series) I’m leaving the “s” in and will be adding in a note that it’s a regional “s,” which I believe it is. It’s either regional to the town in NY where I grew up or regional to the town in Rhode Island where my mother grew up.  I inherited quite a few New England speech idioms from her. Since my protagonist in The Falling Series also has a mom from Rhode Island, the “s” stays.

However, going forward I’m caving in to linguistic peer pressure and dropping the “s.”  This bothers me no end, but if I want to win contests sacrifices have to be made.  You win some, you lose some …. battles that is, hopefully not contests!

I’ll end with asking to whom does one write a letter to get this “s” issued updated? Seems an out of date rule that needs a bit more flexibility with the current use  of American English.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of:

I’d love to hear from you!  Click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind. You have no idea how much you’ll brighten my day by leaving me a comment!

19 March 2017: Look Who’s Talking?!?!

Here’s the eighth installment of my series on How to Write a Good Romance (or any story really) based on what not to do:

8: Look who’s talking !?!?!

If you’re writing in first person and have multiple narrators, make this OBVIOUS! I just read a book that had two narrators.  The names of the narrators are the chapter names as well.

Chapter 1 is titled “Grace” which I had no idea was the name of the character. In the 10 pages that make up chapter one, the author never mentions her name, and let’s face it, “Grace” could have meant something was full of grace, which in this case is what I unconsciously assumed. Plus, I never pay too much attention to chapter titles.  Sorry, but I don’t.

Chapter 2 was titled “Sam.”  I’ll be honest; this 4 page chapter confused me.  I wondered why the unnamed narrator was suddenly stalking some unknown person for fun, but hey, the writing was really good and I figured it would go somewhere eventually. From the back of the book I vaguely remembered that the female protagonist was killing a series of men.  I think I was assuming the first fellow to bite it was going to be Sam.

Chapter 3 was titled “Grace” which again, I didn’t really think about.

It’s not till Chapter 4, “Sam,” that I started to realize something was truly amiss, and going back, realized there were two narrators. Talk about a light bulb moment.

The lesson here is to firmly establish your main narrator (by name) before you hand the story off to a second narrator. Remember to make that transition somewhat obvious to even a knucklehead like myself.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of:

I’d love to hear from you!  So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind. You have no idea how much you’ll brighten my day by leaving me a comment!

19 May 2016: Help! I’m drowning in excess exposition and characters!

As a continuation of my last post , here’s the issues I encountered and lessons learned from the other book I started this past weekend. Again, for the sake of the author, I’ll keep the name of the novel to myself.

It’s a not terribly long romance novel. Problem is, I’m over 50% of the way through the book and I feel like the entire first half of the book could have and should have been condensed into the first 10% of the book. The pacing is so slow it’s driving me crazy. The only reason I’m still reading it is because I’m curious to see if the author crams the plot  resolution into the last paragraph. At this rate I have no idea how she’s going to manage to get any story line into the book. So far all she’s done is introduce 16+ characters and have the heroine say she’s a school teacher who because all her friends are now married and having babies, wants to have a baby on her own without waiting for a husband to come along. There, I said it one sentence, the author took half a book to say that. Oh, and the heroine is organizing a charity event where they will auction off some bachelors. It took up to 49% of the way through the book for the couple to kiss and that was after they’d had their first real conversation. I gather that this is not the first book in the series, but one of my issues with it is that there are WAY TOO MANY characters. Even if it’s a series where all the books take place in the same town, it doesn’t mean you should include all the previous characters in every book. The main focus should be the couple that book is centered on and a few supporting cast. This book has thrown over 16+ characters at me so far and I’m only half way through!

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When writing my current novel, I’ve been very mindful of the pacing in the first chapter. By the end of chapter one I’ve introduced the main characters and placed them in the middle of the action. I’ve given the first chapter to a few people to read to get their opinion about the pacing, hoping I wasn’t dragging it out a bit. Sometimes it’s hard to take a step back and recognize the pacing of your own book.

With this novel, I think the author got lost in her love for her characters (all 16+ of them) and forgot that she needed to move the plot along quickly enough to keep the reader engaged. Novels shouldn’t be an author’s love story with a character they created, and in this case I think it is. In my opinion, the entire book would pace so much better if the author ditched a lot of narrative that takes place during conversations between two characters. This isn’t from the book, but will give you the idea of what I’m talking about.

“Let’s go to the beach today,” Mary suggested. Really she didn’t want to go to the beach but needed to get out of the house and any destination was better than cleaning the garage. It was Friday and that garage wasn’t going to clean itself. Looking out the window she wondered if it would rain, which only reminded her that she needed to wash her car. Her car … her father had given her that car for a graduation present. She missed her father so much it hurt sometimes. The day he’d been run over by the train on his way home from the apothecary had been the worst day of her life. Well, the worst until Justin walked into town. Justin was no good and never would be. Maybe he’d look better if his hair wasn’t purple. Mary loved purple, in fact it was her favorite color, but dying her hair purple was where she drew the line.

“Sure the beach sounds like a good idea,” Diane replied as she handed Mary a cup of coffee.

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In my little example above you can see how annoying it is that there is so much exposition between the lines of dialog that quite frankly has nothing to do with the conversation itself. The author of this book has the terrible habit of making a simple conversation go on for pages and pages and pages. Honestly, I started skipping over a lot of this filler to get to the rest of the dialog in the conversation. With so much exposition I was getting lost as to who spoke last so when someone eventually spoke, I had no idea who it was.

Lessons Learned:

Too many chefs crowd up a kitchen just like too many characters confuse your readers. Keep to a small core set of characters, especially in a shorter length novel and develop your main characters before adding more character into the mix. If you think you may have too many characters, see if there is a way to combine two into one.

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Pacing is paramount. By the end of the first chapter you should already have established who your main characters are, set up the situation they find themselves in and why the reader should want to continue reading. This is super important if you’re going to be submitting your book to a publisher or an agent. If they only want to see the first chapter, it had better be a good one.

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Don’t drown your dialog. Your reader wants to feel as if they’re eaves dropping on your character’s conversation. Too much exposition in between actual dialog dilutes the conversation they are having and disengages your readers.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.

17 May 2016: Learning good lessons from bad books

I shouldn’t really say they’re bad books, but the two books I read this past week definitely had some issues.

The first book I read (which shall remain nameless) had a heroine who was supposed to have been born and raised in/around New York City. Yet for some unknown reason she kept using words that only people in the UK would use. Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:

  • It had a granite countertop, fitted dishwasher, ceramic hob, refrigerator … (A hob is a stove top burner)
  • Tucking into my lunch … (Tucking = eating)
  • Although we didn’t find a torch … (A Torch is a flashlight)
  • Pushing all the banknotes into his hand …(Banknotes = dollar bills)

Clearly, the author of this book needed to have a professional editor or an honest friend tell them to reword these sentences. Honestly, this is why all my heroines are from my home town of Wading River, New York. I know how my people talk and phrase things. In other words, I write what I know.

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Lesson learned:

Be mindful of the local lingo. Just because you shine a torch on the hob while in search of your missing banknotes doesn’t mean they do that in New York too.

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Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.

19 March 2016: Table of Nonsense

When I first started publishing my e-books, I was new to the wonderful world of e-books my brand spanking new Kindle was about to open up to me.  Three years later, having read countless e-books, I’m now a seasoned e-book reader. With this in mind, I was thinking back to when I was first going through KDP’s (Kindle Direct Publishing) instructions on how to properly format and construct an e-book for publication.  They were very insistent that my novel have a table of contents with imbedded links to each chapter head.

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Three years later I can tell you this table of contents is completely unnecessary. I have never used a table of contents in any fiction e-book.  No, not even once.  When I think about all the trouble I went through setting my first one up, I could scream!

Why do they insist on them?

I have no idea. Maybe to keep an e-book looking as close to a paper novel as possible. If that’s the case, they need to wake up and smell the coffee.  A paper book is not an e-book.

I see other authors putting Table of Contents in their books as well.  As a writer who knows what it takes to pull a professional looking e-book together, whenever I open a new book, I back scroll from page one – chapter one, to the front cover. If you read on a Kindle as well, you know when you open a book for the first time, it skips the sacred Table of Contents and places you on page one.  Being as I like the experience, I like to start from the front cover and work my way to page one, so I see all those useless TOC (okay, I’m abbreviating it now)

So I ask … if the TOC is so sacred, why does my Kindle not open a book on it instead of page one?

I’ve come to the conclusion that going forward I’m no longer going to include a TOC in my e-book editions.  What’s the point?

So, I’m curious … does anyone else have an opinion on the inclusion of a TOC in a fiction e-book?

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.

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25 Dec 2015: … End of Year Status Report

I started this blog to keep folks up to date on what’s happening with Jennifer Geoghan Novels and to share what I’m learning on my long and winding path to the Nobel Prize for Literature. So with that in mind, today I thought I’d give a status report on where things stand today.

After self publishing six ebooks, I’m finally venturing into the world of paperbacks.  It was an arduous task to format my book from ebook format to an acceptable print format, but it’s finally done! The things I learned doing that gargantuan task better serve me well in life! Adapting the cover gave me a few headaches, mostly because CreateSpace, who I’m doing the paper version with, had a hard time with the concept of a letter being cut off in the title of the book.  Here’s what I mean:

The Purity of BloodThe end of the “d” in blood is off frame.  Duh .. It’s called artistic, it’s supposed to be.  I finally got them to approve the cover and received the hard copy proof in the mail yesterday. It looked pretty good but I found two things I wanted to adjust.  I’ve now re-uploaded and am waiting for CreateSpace to approve.  So with any luck, I’ll have the paperback out for sale in a few days.

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Lesson Learned: My book is too long to be of any good for sale as a paperback 😦

At 454 pages, a 5.5 by 8.5 page size and charging what I consider the max I can logically charge of $12.99 a copy, my royalties will be only $1.50 a book.  Not only that, if I were to jump onto CreateSpace’s expanded distribution (where it becomes available to retailers) my royalties would be that I owe CreateSpace $1.10 per book.  Yeah, you read that right, I OWE THEM MONEY!?!?! To not owe them money, I’d have to charge $15.75 a copy which let’s face it, what retailer would pay that much for a book?  In the end although Expanded Distribution sounds good … it didn’t make any sense for this book.

On the flip side … at $12.99 a book, if my book was only 360 pages (not 454) I could do the expanded distribution and get a profit of 2 cents a book.  Again … what’s the point if I’m only making 2 cents? Andy again, who’d pay $12.99 for a book that was only 360 pages?

Anyway … My goal was to have it out in paperback before the end of the year so it looks like I’ll be meeting that goal. I’ve also started formatting If Love is a Lie so that I can get that one out as well.  I don’t expect to sell a whole bunch of books in paperback, but want to be able to have them to sell myself at book fairs this spring.

Along with that, I’m also in the market for a printer to print up promotional bookmarks to have as giveaways at my table at book fairs and also some sort of a banner or sign for my table. Still working on that one.

While doing all of the above, I’ve still been writing my next novel too! No rest for the weary here.  I’m about 60-70% of the way done on it.  I’m heading up to St. Augustine this Saturday to do some location scouting.  I’m thinking of having the big ending there.  We’ll see what I find location wise, if anything strikes me enough to write it in the book.

This book I’m working on now I’m not planning on publishing right away.  I’m going to use it as my book to send out to agents to see if I can snag me an agent with it.  I’ll give it six months. If I haven’t had any interest in that time period, I’ll go ahead and self pub it and move on.

I’ve also written a short story I’d like to submit to literary magazines and contests.  I just need to polish it up a little.

So all in all 2015 was a good year.  Despite some hardships, I’ve prevailed and am still working on furthering my career in proactive and purposeful ways.

Goals

What’s next for 2016? I’d like to get all my books formatted for paperback.  I’d like to have signed with a literary agent and be on the way to traditionally publishing my current novel project. I’d like to have been published in a Lit Magazine and have another book self published in my already published series.  Will all this happen? Here’s hoping so!

So how was your 2105?  Did you accomplish all you set out to?

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.

14 Nov 2015: More things I’ve probably done wrong. Have you?

No one is perfect.

At one point or another we’ve all made mistakes.  Below are a few things I’ve probably spelled wrong or misused in my haste to extricate my novels from my head.

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I’ve messed this first one up a few times. Stupid spell check won’t catch it. Had to wait until my kindle read it back to me to hear the error of my ways.

  • Vicious: She’s spreading vicious lies about you.
  • Viscous: Viscous oil doesn’t drain well from my car.
  • Underway: This is a nautical term for a ship that is not tethered to anything.
  • Under way: meaning in motion. The project, which had been underway for a few months, was anticipated to end soon.
  • Waive: Like an idiot, he waived his right to a jury trial.
  • Wave: She waved her hand good-bye.

waive wave

  • Troop: A group of people, animals or things. A troop of girls scouts hounded me for hours to buy their cookies.
  • Troupe: This is a cast of touring performers. The dance troupe was horrible and I was amazed anyone came to see them.
  • Throes: They were lost in the throes of passion.
  • Throws: Donald throws the ball at Goofy with malice.
  • There’re!  Ok, when I saw this, maybe my education was REALLY bad, but I don’t think I’ve ever used this variation of there. But apparently you can contract here are. There’re two reasons why I should kill you right now.
  • Tact: It’s a sensitivity to what is appropriate when dealing with others. She fired him with tact.
  • Tack: Another nautical term meaning a course. The best tact was to wait until sundown to kill him. It’s also like a thumb tack.
  • T-Shirt: Seems you’re always supposed to spell it out this way “T-Shirt” with a capital T because when lain flat it looks like a capital T.
  • Stationary: When she broke his heart, he stood stationary.
  • Stationery: Staple sells stationery for writing letters to your mother.

Have any of these ever messed you up?

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.

The Blood that Binds Cover Art 7-30-2015

16 August 2015: Learning From Other Authors Mistakes

I’d considered doing some book reviews on this blog, but dismissed the idea.  Reviews in a traditional sense aren’t in keeping with the spirit of this blog.   But …. instead I thought I’d talk about some of the books I read and use them as examples of how I’ve learned some good lessons by what other author’s do wrong or right.

This week I was a good girl and crossed two books of my reading list.

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#1: You Are Always On My Mind, by Sable Hunter.   First I’ll start by saying I love Sable’s books.  This was like the thousandth book in this series so you know I’m into it cause I’m still reading them.  But … As much as I enjoyed this book, for the first time since I’ve been reading the series, I found myself skipping over pages and pages of text.  It wasn’t that the story was bad or the characters weren’t engaging, it was the pages upon pages of the racy stuff.  I mean I love a good steamy love scene as much as the next person, but in this book there was just too much of it.  I was like, Alright already, let’s get out of the bedroom and back to the plot.

Lesson Learned: You have to be mindful that every scene pushes the story forward.  Yes, steamy love scenes can push the story forward, deepening the relationship between two character’s, but in this book it felt like steam for steam’s sake, hence my impatience and skipping of pages.   Yet with all this, I’m still hyped for the next book in the series.  Sable is a great story-teller, she just got a little off track with this book.  She also did a really good job in editing this book.  I usually find about a dozen typos and formatting errors, only found one in this book!

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#2: Second Chance Cowboy, by Rhonda Lee Carver.  I’d never read any of Miss Carver’s books before, and sadly based on this one, I won’t be reading any others.  Lesson learned here was don’t make the plot so predictable and make your characters more likeable.

Basically this book is about a woman who falls down the stairs and gets amnesia, forgetting the last four years of her life.  In these missing four years, she and her husband had a baby that died 8 months later.  In the aftermath of the death of their son, she falls into depression causing the couple to drift apart and divorce, but of course they both still love each other.  So after she wakes up and has no memory, her father decides that the stress of getting her memories back all at once would be too much and brings in her ex-husband to pretend that only a few months have passed and not four years.  Yes, she thinks they’re still married and has no memory of the son that died.  Do I need to tell you the rest of the book?  It’s a romance book, of course they end up back together.  Duh… Why bother to read the rest.  I say why bother because frankly I didn’t find much about either of them to really like.  Yes, he’s hot, but he’s also kind of a jerk.  Yes, she’s hot, but she’s also kind dumb.  Thankfully, the book was super short so I didn’t have to suffer long.

Lesson learned:  Plot twists are important, super important in romance novels which have a tendency to be predictable because they all have happy endings.  This is one reason I like to have love triangles.  You always know she’ll end up with someone … question is, which one?  Also, if you’re going to toss in plot twists, make sure in the end they a good resolution.  Case in point, in this book there was a plot twist about a ranch hand getting fired.  He comes back and tries to tell the girl they had an affair, an affair she can’t remember because of her amnesia.  I’d tell you what happened after that, but the author never tied up that loose end.

Lesson Learned: Make at least some of your characters likeable.  This book would have been easier to read it I’d liked the characters more.  I think my favorite character was Chance’s (yes the leading man’s name was Chance) friend Duke.  He had more depth as a character than Chance did.   There was a little mystery to him, an internal struggle.  Chance… not so much.  He’s Mr. Perfect … except for how it’s alluded to (but never really spelled out) how after his son died, he went out every night and got drunk leaving his grieving wife at home alone.  I’m sorry, I’m supposed to like him?  Hot or not, he sounds like a bit of an a$%hole to me.  The lesson here is, it never hurts for your readers to like or identify with your characters, it will help carry you through lulls in the plot.

Hope I don’t sound too negative, I don’t mean to.  I learned some good lessons this week and enjoyed Sable’s book very much.  No author is perfect, especially not me.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood Novel Series and If Love Is a Lie: Finding and Losing Love Online.