Book Editing

17 July 2015: A word of advice from Ole’ Jennifer (or how to avoid writer’s block)

Because someone asked for advice on Goodreads, and my offered two cents was appreciated, I thought I’d share the question and my answer with you. It’s from a Goodreads.com author forum.

Here’s the original Post:

Good morning! I am a first time author. I would like to know what did you do to overcome writers block? What type of scenes heightened your imagination? Is there a certain ritual that takes place in order for writing to flow? Does a scent help writing flows? I am very curious about the styles of creative minds. The book I am currently writing is called (Title omitted for author’s privacy).  My mind peels off leaving my head filled with smoke sometimes. I am left with a powerful general idea that I cannot put into sentences. Is there a method used to help you in these types of situations?

Here is my reply:

I’ve written six full length novels and have never had writers block. To start with, I always have a detailed outline of my book when I start. That’s not to say I don’t stray from it when the juices are flowing, but when I get off track, I always have a guide to pull me back to the main story I’m trying to tell. Another thing is, don’t expect your rough draft to be anything other than a starting point. Expect it to be crap, a lump of wood that you will chisel down into your masterpiece. Putting pressure on yourself to write a masterpiece in your first draft will kill you. Just write. I think in one of my books, I was really stuck on what to call a certain character. I think I was almost done writing the first draft and he was still called “Mr. X”. Had I stopped to come up with the perfect name for him, I’d have gotten writer’s block. Just remember, it’s a lot easier to rewrite and edit crap into gold than it is to write gold right out of the gate, especially in your first three or four books.

Here’s the question asker’s reply:

Thank you so much. That was the answer I needed because I was writing as if it had to be perfect. Completely forgetting these are the steps before gold.

Anyway, I thought that was nice and wanted to share.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, Author of The Purity of Blood novels and If Love is a Lie: Finding and Losing Love Online.

15 July 2015: Self Editing … There are no shortcuts

I’m a one woman show.

  • I write it.
  • I edit it.
  • I design it.
  • I publish it.
  • I promote it.

Not that I want to do all this (besides write) but for the time being limited funds find me being the sole employee of Jennifer Geoghan Novels.

So with this in mind, I find myself editing my own books. I’m the first one to tell you that after editing six novels, there are no short cuts if you are going to self-edit, but there are a few tricks of the trade that will help you out.

First I’ll explain my editing process …

After I write my first/rough draft, I print out a copy. Yes, a hard copy. Yes, it’s really long. But for me, I find I edit best on paper than just trying to do it on a computer screen. If I were you, I’d try a chapter or two with paper and pen and see if you find more things to fix. Experiment and see where you think your time is better spent. I’ll go through my book, page by page, handwriting in my changes. At the end of the day, I’ll sit down and enter my changes onto the word document so I start fresh the next morning. I’m finally finished that third run through, I do a spellcheck review in Word to see what shows up.

After I’ve read through my novel at least three times this way … Yes, you heard me, three times. It’s time consuming but this is what I have to do to really self-edit. I now move onto the second phase of my process. This is where I save the word doc of my book as a web page. I then email that webpage document to my kindle. If you didn’t know, every kindle has an email address that you can use to email documents to. In my case, it was the beginning of the email I used for my amazon account, but instead of @ Hotmail.com, my kindle’s email is @kindle.com.

After about 10-15 minutes, you can check your kindle and the document will show up just like a new e-book on your kindle. I then utilize the text to speech function and sit back and listen to my book while I read along. You’d be amazed at how many mistakes you’ll spot when you let the Kindle to the reading for you. It’s the things like you mistyped the word “thought” as “though.” Though is a word and will never show up as a spellcheck mistake. Listening to your book will also be very helpful in the placing of commas and hearing run on sentences.

The human mind has amazing capacity to just skip over missing words. Did you miss the word “an” in the last sentence? I just deleted it out! It should have read “The human mind has an amazing …” When you’ve not only written the book, but just read through it three times, believe me, you probably know parts of it by heart. That’s BAD! That means you’re too familiar with it. The kindle voice can be your unbiased reader.

I will also add that you can just listen to the book, which is good, but I do best when I listen and read along. The kindle will let you highlight words, make notes, bookmark pages. I’ve done this so many times I have my own shorthand. A blue highlight means delete, an orange one means add a comma after this word, a pink one means something’s wonkey here. Could be check spelling or a word repeat. A yellow highlight means there’s a note attached. Since I do a lot of my editing on the treadmill, shortcuts like this come in handy.

Here’s some pictures showing what editing on my Kindle looks like:

editing 1

editing 3editing 4editing 5

I’ll end with the suggestion that if you’re going to give a friend a copy of your manuscript to edit for you, be very clear on what kind of a deadline you’re working on and when you’d like to have it back. In my experience, friends often offer to help you read/edit, but they’re also going to read in a “spare time” time frame which means it could be weeks until you finish. When you’re trying to pump a book out, this can be an issue. I know when my creative juices are flowing and you’re that close to finishing, waiting around and twiddling your thumbs for a week is annoying in the extreme.

-Jennifer

AKA: Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood Novels and If Love is a Lie: Finding and Losing Love Online

14 July 2015: The Virtue of Patience

Because I’ve been giving book one of my series a little extra polish, I’ve had some time to reflect on the virtues of waiting to publish the first book in the series until after you’re written the last book.   To be honest, this would have been a lot harder to do if I’d had in mind to publish them when I first started writing.  But in truth, when I created my series, I had no intention of doing that.  I just started it as a challenge to myself to see if I could actually sit down and write a book.  I was half way through book three when I sat up and said “Hey, these are really good.  I should be publishing these!”

And so an Indie Author was born …

Now onto the virtues of patience.

productmockup

This week while rereading and polishing book one in my series, I came across a little something I added in AFTER I WROTE BOOK FIVE!  Yes, four books later, I went back and inserted this scene into book one as foreshadowing.  I actually wrote all five books, then went back and re-edited them and after I finished the edits published them one at a time.  This requires a lot of patience, but in the long run, it’s totally worth it.   When in book five I finally revealed so much of the mysteries that had persisted throughout the first four books, going back to book one gave me the opportunity to reinvigorate that first book with a few interesting tidbits that a reader wouldn’t really understand the full meaning of until the finished reading five and then went back to reread the series from book one.

In book five, one character describes how in reaction to something the protagonist did in book one, he leaves the house, goes out back and makes a phone call.  It’s a Very Important phone call, game changing really.  My protagonist, Emily, is shocked by this revelation!  Well, when I went back and re-edited book one, I was able to write in how Emily sees him standing outside arguing on the phone but has no idea who he’s talking to or about what.  If only she knew …..  It’s what you’d call a toss away phrase that in and of itself is meaningless in the grand scheme of book one, but I designed the books to be like peeling away the layers of an onion. Once you read book two, you should go back and reread book one because you’ll understand more.  After reading five, you can go back to one and be like …

“No way!  That’s who he was calling?!?!?”

There’s another insertion into book one.  In a lecture Emily is in, her first class at college, her Art History professor shows a few slides of paintings.  The paintings are actually pictures that foreshadow things that happen in book five.  A woman in a champagne colored gown in the woods, a white sailboat with billowing sails on a blue-green sea.  It’s very subtle, but I’m a big fan of subtlety.

Again, most books that are part of a series are written one and published one at a time, but if you really want to have the intricate web of threads weaving them all together like I do, I’m not sure if you can do the one and publish, two and publish way of things.  In the end, I’m thankful I decided to wait and hold off hitting the publish button.  So much of the artistry of my novels would have been lost if I had.

So what do you think? 

Would you be willing to write close to a million words and five novels before you published the first one.  And yes, all five books together are just shy of one million words.

-Jennifer

8 July 2015: Rain has had free Rein long enough!

There are some words I just really dislike.

I mean I love the English language, but sometimes you just have to wonder why some things are the way they are, and why someone in authority of the English language doesn’t do something about them.  Let’s take the word rain for instance.  And when I say rain, I mean how these letters are pronounced, not that actually meaning of the word itself.  The pronunciation of these letters can have several different meanings.

For Example:

Rein: Reins are the straps you use to control a horse.  Rein is also the correct spelling of the troublesome person you need to rein in.  Rein is also the spelling you want in the phrase free rein.  When you trust someone enough to do things on their own.category25Reign: A king reigns over his kingdom. A period of time during which a monarch rules a country is also referred to as his or her reign.  Crown

Rain: Rain falls from the sky.  It also has figurative meanings such as describing things that appear in abundance: It’s raining men! rain-room-at-moma-10I’m just saying … who do I write a letter to to get them all spelled the same way.  Someone need to pull the reins back on the reign of the word rain!   Yes, I’m aware they all evolved from root words with different meanings probably in Latin, but enough is enough!  Rene_Magritte_Raining_Men_by_weuxanurgSorry, I’m ranting.  But as an editor as well as writer, it’s little things like this that get on my nerves the most sometimes.  I mean really, would it kill anyone if we just went with the one way to spell it.  I don’t care which one, you pick!

-Jenniferwriting_quotes_from_writers_write_18-scaled500

28 June 2015: Book Launch Promotion Ideas #3: The Big Countdown!

Continuing my series of book promotion ideas leading up to the launch of my new novel, If Love is a Lie, Finding and Losing Love Online, here’s today’s topic: The Big Countdown.

Sad as it is to admit, my previous books (The five novels in The Purity of Blood series) all launched with a “Hey, here’s my book. Please buy it,” mentality. I’d never really given much thought into the idea of creating excitement around and leading up to the big day where it goes live on Amazon for sale. I mean, in hindsight that makes perfect sense, but back then, I was thinking like a writer, not a promoter.

Yep, these times they are a changin’ ….

And this old girl had better get up and start changing with those times if she wants to quit that place she goes to Monday through Friday for forty hours a week. You know, that forty hours a week she could have spent writing but was forced to go to in order to pay the rent.

So apparently, thinking like a promoter means creating excitement and anticipation about your book. With that in mind, for this book launch I decided to do a seven day countdown on Facebook. Each day I’m posting a countdown Picture (See below) along with a post about the book and what it can do for the reader.

Yep, you heard me … What it can do FOR THE READER.

I’ll be posting more about that tomorrow, but mainly today I’m talking about creating excitement and a buzz. Get the word out on the street that something is coming … something that they should be looking forward to. Post it far and wide, on Facebook, on your blog, tell your friends, tell your enemies (well, don’t tell them, they’re mean).

When I created my countdown images to post, I tried to be creative and scanned my phone to use as the image on each one. Each image has a scan of a text , a real text sent between me and my scam artist, Antonio, about whom my book is written about.

So where else would you go to spread the word that your book is about to come out?  How do you create the excitement to entice folks to want to buy your books?

Let’s hear some good ideas!

-Jennifer

5 Days

20 June 2015: Book Quote Teasers

I’m not sure how many authors do this, but since one of my favorite inde romance novelists does, I got the idea to try it myself.  She makes these little pictures she posts on Facebook with notable quotes from her books.  I liked them and thought I’d try my hand at them as well.  I call them teasers and have made a bunch for next soon to be released novel, If Love is a Lie.

Here’s three of them:

If Love is a Lie, a novel by Jennifer Geoghan

If Love is a Lie, a novel by Jennifer Geoghan

If Love is a Lie, a novel by Jennifer Geoghan

If Love is a Lie, a novel by Jennifer Geoghan

If Love is a Lie, a novel by Jennifer Geoghan

If Love is a Lie, a novel by Jennifer Geoghan

I’ve been using my Teasers on Facebook and Pinterest to help create some excitement for my book launch.  So what do you think?  Does something like this get a reader excited?  Do you do these as well?  Love to get some feedback.

-Jennifer

23 May 2015: Book Blurbs

So I had some time to kill yesterday while I was getting my car fixed.  Six hours sitting with my computer with no wi-fi and nothing to do will really help you get something accomplished.  What came out of my sex hours?  A book blurb.  I’m not sure if that’s the technical term or not, but that’s what I call my paragraph description, the inside flap teaser of what your book contains.   For me this has always been one of the most difficult parts of finishing up my books.

So did I come up with a title in my six hours in purgatory?  Yes … and no.  I narrowed it down to two choices.  They are… If Love is a Lie … or … He Loves Me Not.   Both with the subtitle of Finding and Losing Love Online.

Here’s the blurb.  Maybe you can help me chose a title that goes best.

Love is never as easy to find as we wish it would be. When Emily started her online romance with Antonio, a man who seemed to be the one she’d been waiting for all her life, she had no idea what sinister motives lied behind the photos of Antonio’s amazing brown eyes. Blinded by her own desires for romance and companionship, she embraced the lie and ignored the truth of her persistent suspicions of his motivations. What will she do when she learns her great love is nothing more than a scammer, not after her heart, but her money? With revenge her only motive, she sets out on an adventure to bring her great love down and see him punished for what he’s done to her. But when she’s forced to confront Antonio face to face, will she ultimately find love in his arms, or in Evan’s, the sexy but stoic FBI Agent who enlists her to bring Antonio to justice?

Loosely based on the author’s own unfortunate online romance with a scam artist she mistook for the man of her dreams, the first half of this novel mirrors the author’s own journey to the startling truth of her paramour’s guilt. In life it’s true that we can’t all have happy endings, but though we can’t live them, sometimes we can write them for ourselves.

The real question is … in this case, is truth stranger than fiction?

____

So, given that, which title do you like best??

-Jennifer

17 May 2015: I’m a murderer :-)

It was (probably) William Faulkner that said “In writing, you must kill your darlings.”

Since then it has become an expression meaning not to hold on to things in your writing for sentimental reasons, reasons that have nothing to do with creating the best story you can craft with your words.

This week in my editing process, I got up to what I call the Kill Your Darlings phase.  It’s when I read through and edit my book while taking no prisoners, impartially crossing out with my big red pen all that can be pulled to streamline the story as best I can.  IT’S TOUGH!!!  I’m a killer, a killer of some darling lines and paragraphs that had to go.

So why not just keep them in if they’re so darling?  Because we all like to expound on the things we like best.  But that doesn’t make the best story, as a matter of fact, it can detract from the story you’re trying to tell.  In this book I’m working on, it was pairing down on the multitude of emails and texts that predominate the first half of my book.  It’s just too much to expect a reader to patiently wade through.  I needed to just get down to the basics of the story, just enough to allow the reader to understand how the relationship develops, but not enough to beat a dead horse.

So do you have a point in your writing/editing process where you purposefully seek out that which needs to be killed?

-Jennifer

dilbert

10 May 2015: Money vs. Art

A friend commented Friday about how fast I seem to be plowing through my current book project.  I told her that was probably because this book is just a little over half the length of my past books.   Where as my previous five novels were all part of  series that I wrote mainly for the joy of it (not initially intending to publish) I wasn’t too concerned with the business of writing.

Since I’m now thinking as more of a writer/entrepreneur, I needed to cut down on the length of my writing.  I’ll admit it, I like detailed stories.  Not too much detail that you get lost it, just involved stories that suck you in.  It’s been a challenge to keep my book at its current length of 117,000 words.  All of my other novels were over 200,000 words, but from what I see in the market, shorter books seem to sell and take less time to write.  Still at 117,000, it’s long for a romance type novel, but sorry, it’s the shortest I can do and still produce a decent story worth reading.

I have to be honest and say that part of how I pick a book to buy on my Kindle is based on length.  I mean, I wouldn’t even pay 99 cents for a book that’s only 30 pages long!!  And yes, they’re out there, lots of them.  Sure I could write something like that, but how satisfying is that to a reader?  Not very would be my guess.  I don’t even bother to look at the book blurb if the book is less than 100 pages long in the book description.

So what are your thoughts?  Shorter books/stories to grab the cash, or longer stories that give the writer the chance to write something meaningful?  Is this money vs. art?  And if you want to be a writer for a living, do you have to stoop to the shortest book/story possible to pump out the volume you’d need to make a living?

-Jennifer

3 May 2015: Editing the Uneditable

As I’ve mentioned before, my current writing project is a novel based on my real life internet dating experiences.  I’m working in real emails and texts that I exchanged with the scam artist who romanced me then asked for money.  In the process of crafting those emails and texts into a readable book, I’ve been forced to edit Antonio, my scammer.

The question I’ve been struggling with is exactly how much can I edit before I lose his voice?

Antonio Giovanni, my scammer, said he was born in Italy and living in South Dakota.  I believe this was simply a ruse to cover over his imperfect English.  His grammar and use of the proper tense of verbs, adverbs and adjectives was pretty bad at times.   Problem is, that was part of his cover.  I believe he is really in Malaysia.  So if I edit out all of his writing errors, I lose part of his character in my story, the scammer posing as an Italian immigrant in America.

BUT … who wants to read a novel full of grammatical errors?  Ah, not you see my conundrum.

So, I’ve been doing my best to walk a fine line and edit Antonio’s errors down to a minimum while retaining enough to keep the foreign flavor of his character.  Let me tell you, it’s not easy.  I’m having to have the woman being scammed in the book comment every so often on his errors just so the reader of the novel will remember they are in there intentionally.  That’s another issue.  I don’t want my readers to think I MADE THE MISTAKES Antonio did.

So the question is … how do you take an email and make it sound like it’s a man from Malaysia posing as Italian immigrant living in South Dakota as written by a woman from Long Island who lives in Florida?

Yep.  That’s me, always the difficult one.  🙂

-Jennifer

online-scams-for-dating