Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Heidi Cullinan's Cull List

They don't call her Heidi Cullinan for nothing. This is her cull list for self-editing before she sends it to the editor. Take heed from the Queen of Queer, folks. Her success is not just talent, it's hard work and days and days of Culling!

From her Facebook page 11/22/14:

Every time I say I'm cutting 8k people flip out and think I'm taking away great scenes. The truth is I've cut as much as 20k without taking a single scene out. I'm a horrible overwriter, which means I can excise huge hunks of my work by tak...ing out excessive stage direction, tightening dialog, making soliloquies more concise. I took out 6k today simply by those methods.

Starting tomorrow, though? I got through this list. At the time of this note, Lonely Hearts is 119,735 words long. I'll go through these words to make sure there are as few of them as possible, and after that's done I'll do one more read, sometimes aloud, to make sure I can make it even snappier. I'll report back and let you know how much fat this list results in me trimming.

Tchotchke is a
Damon Suede note. I actually need to add "literally" and "shade" because Elijah overuses them. When I'm done, my editor will come back and tell me even more, because I always have book specific ones that I don't know about until she peers under the hood. Often it's one character abusing something or overusing some construction.

So whenever I say I'm cutting, don't worry, I'm not taking away story. I'm taking away the stuff getting in the way of you enjoying the story more, like polishing the glass and making your cushions fluffier.
I used to do them all at once but I went insane. Now I do the 'per scene' ones a chapter at a time, then read through the chapter then move on. At a book 118k long, this is taking me several days. Then I'll go through and do the global and the specific. There will still be plenty my editor finds, but then she finds the GOOD stuff. Things I can't possibly see.

The thing to remember about these lists is while it's good to start with a generic one or someone else's list, at some point it has to be edited to be YOURS. I've taken words off and put new ones on, and some always crop up as bugaboos for particular manuscripts. I've noticed as I cull one word from abuse a new one takes its place. It's an evolving document.

The point here is not so much the specifics of the list, but the importance of a cull list and really spending time on it. It's the extra effort to reduce fluff and extra words that makes a difference.

Your editor can and should give you a list like this. If not, ask for it. But Heidi Cullinan telling you to pay attention to it is the golden message here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

In Praise of Editors

This was posted by one of my authors as we were working on a book together.

Source: Torquere Press Romance for the Rest of Us Blog http://nblo.gs/11IE0n

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thoughts on editing

Being in the middle of working with my editor on Ghost's Dilemma, I've been thinking...

Editors really are unsung heroes. I read a blog post elsewhere, and the blogger was bemoaning the way books obviously lacking in any editorial attention whatsoever are getting five stars and rave reviews because the authors are joining review-for-fee sites, or having friends review, or even making sock puppet accounts and reviewing themselves. The blogger's issue was that the falsely inflated reviews can lure readers into purchasing terribly written books.

But really, I think the issue is the importance of editing, more than the artificial inflation of reviews. For any of us who've dabbled in fan fiction, as writers or readers, we know how a hard core circle of fans can make even a dreadful mess look wonderful, going by ratings and reviews. But the difference is that no one's paying to read the fan fiction. A book for sale is another thing entirely. I feel I owe it to my readers to turn out the best product I can.

I just printed out a page of words to avoid, one that my editor recommends. I make sure I internalize the things I learn in the editing process, and carry them over into my writing. I read my own manuscript to catch the most egregious errors. I spell check, and run the grammar check even if I know I'll ignore some of its findings. Dialogue is not perfect, and most of us don't speak with flawless grammar.

Even with all of the above, if I were to self publish, I would scrape together the money to hire an editor. The things I miss are legion. Awkward sentences, atrocious word choices, and knowing what I meant as opposed to what I've written - these are all things no amount of self-editing will fix. I need that strong person behind me, reading my mess of a manuscript and pointing out the rough patches. I appreciate guidance or suggestions where offered, but if I need to roll my sleeves up and figure out how to fix things, then I'll do it. It's my name on the cover, but in all honesty, we need a spot for our editors to be recognized, because nothing I write would be anywhere near worth reading without my editors.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Power Words for Fear

Let's face it. We love to be scared. The right word choice goes a long way to conveying and creating the emotion of fear. Check out this handy list of power words.

Source: Boost Blog Traffic http://boostblogtraffic.com/power-words/

Power Words for Fear

Monday, November 10, 2014

35 Synonyms for Look

This is one of my favorite and most-referenced lists. Because when we look, we do much more than see, and one word can convey so many other concepts. Worthy of printing and pinning.

Source: Daily Writing Tips http://www.dailywritingtips.com/35-synonyms-for-look/

35 Synonyms for Look

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Into versus In to

Most of the time, use into.  In to is less common.*

Into represents transition or getting into something.
Into answers the question "where?" and is usually followed by a noun.
Examples are the best way to understand this.

He snuck into her room.
She ran into the mailbox.
Let's check into the facts.
We stayed up late into the night.
The snow lingered into April.
We got into an argument.
They entered into a pact.
He went into the army.
She went into business.
He turned into a frog.
Two into four is two.
I've been getting into baseball.
He's just not that into you.

In to
In to is part of a verb phrase and answers the question "why?", usually followed by a verb.

She ran in to spike the ball. 
She looked in to see what was going on.
He stayed in to avoid the rain.
My boss sat in to audit the meeting.
She came in to collect the papers. (But, she came into the room to collect the papers.)
I went in to buy some milk. (But, I went into the store to buy some milk.)

Sometimes, both into and in to will work. You could argue the entering into the computer.
He logged in to/into his computer.

Turn in
With the verb phrase turn in, the meaning gives away the correct usage. The subject of the sentence did not actually turn into police, or a driveway, or a teacher.

They turned themselves in to the police.
The car turned in to the driveway.
She turned her homework in to the teacher.

Give in
The verb phrase give in is tricky. Into connotes compliance, willingness. In to connotes resistance. I think gave in to is the most common usage because usually it implies resistance, then giving in.
She gave in to temptation.
He shouldn't give in to his desires.
He gave into the pain. (as if masochistic)

*Usually the answer will be into. But if you have turned in or gave in, it's worth looking at it closely just to be sure. 

*Always check the entire document for consistent usage.

This is just a quick summary with examples. See these sources for more details and logic.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Possessives for Proper Nouns Ending in S

The General Rule
"The possessive of singular nouns is formed by the addition of an apostrophe and an s, and the possessive of plural nouns by the addition of an apostrophe only. The general rule for the possessive of nouns covers most proper nouns, including most names ending in sibilants (a definite "es" or "ez" sound):
  • Kansas's
  • Texas's
  • Dickens's novels
  • Ross's land"
Angel Edits ends in s, so technically, if Angel Edits owns something, it would be Angel Edits's.
  • Angel Edits's Blog
  • Angel Edits's Website
  • Angel Edits's Facebook Page
This sounds so clumsy and looks awful. 

Exception Number One
"Another widely used technique is to write the word as we would speak it. For example, since most people saying, "Mr. Hastings' pen" would not pronounce an added s, we would write Mr. Hastings' pen with no added s. But most people would pronounce an added s in "Jones's," so we'd write it as we say it: Mr. Jones's golf clubs. This method explains the punctuation of for goodness' sake."

You wouldn't say Angel Editses. You would just say Angel Edits.

Exception Number Two
"If [a polysyllabic personal name] ends with a z sound, treat it like a plural; if it ends with an s sound, treat it like a singular:
  • Dickens', Hopkins', Williams'
  • Harris's, Thomas's, Callas's"
Edits is polysyllabic and I could push it and call it a personal name:
  • Angel Edits' Blog
  • Angel Edits' Website
  • Angel Edits' Facebook Page
According to this rule, or exception to the general rule, if your character has a name ending in s and makes the s sound, you add the 's:
  • Les's car
  • Travis's bike
But if your character name has more than one syllable and ends in the z sound, you omit the extra s:
  • Mercedes'
While most names ending in s make the s sound and won't qualify for the exception, Angel Edits ends in the z sound, so I'm going with it.

Exception Number Three
"Consistency is the key here: if you choose not to add the -s after a noun that already ends in s, do so consistently throughout your text."

So, as long as I'm consistent, I'm gold. 


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Affect vs. Effect Summary

I found myself searching several websites for the various forms of affect and effect. So, I've collected the information here as a sort of quick reference guide. See the sources for more detail.

Affect vs. Effect
Usually effect is a noun and affect is a verb.

The recall had a negative effect on sales.
The recall will affect sales negatively.

Effect is less commonly used a verb.

The plan will effect a change.

Affect as a noun will generally not occur in fiction writing.

Affected vs. Effected (Affecting vs. Effecting)
Affected means created an effect on.
 Affected has severeal meanings and is worth looking up to confirm appropriate usage.
(Affected can also mean inclined or artificial).
Effected means executed, or brought about something.

The oil spill adversely affected wildlife.
The moon is affecting the tides.
The boy was affected toward her.
His affected accent was annoying. (Insincere).
The government effected a recovery plan.
The campaign is effecting change.

Affective vs. Effective*
Effective is an adjective for having the desired effect and is commonly used.
Affective can be a medical term referring to emotions and is uncommonly used.
An affective person has the ability to influence a person, or a group of people, in the way they think, feel and act. This use is rare.

The drug created affective symptoms.
She is an affective saleswoman.
His mother's words were affective enough to change his mind.
Effective communication is key.
His presentation was effective.
*Affective means to alter (starts with a). Effective means efficient (starts with e).

Affectively vs. Effectively
Affectively means something has been altered.
Effectively means efficiently, or according to the purpose.

He effectively ended the conversation.
He walked affectively because of the pain.

Affectation vs. Affection
An affectation is a pretense. (Behavior that is artificial and designed to impress).
Affection is a feeling of fondness.

Affectation is often used to refer to a physical attribute, even if it's not artificial. While, it's technically not correct, the usage is so common, the meaning of the word is changing over time.

His assumed accent was an affectation.
His beard was an affectation she did not care for.
He showed affection to his daughter.
He was very affectionate.

Efficacy is whether it works or not or whether it has that capacity.
Efficiency is not whether it works, but how well it works.
Efficient means done in a way that is least difficult, complicated, costly. A better way.
Efficacious means having the desired result or effective, does not mean more efficient.

If you see one of these words, it's best to look it up just to ensure you're using it appropriately.

I have an affective disorder. I feel compelled to determine the correct use of affectation. I assure you my interest in grammar is not an affectation. I truly wish to know the answers to such questions. This disorder has effectively halted all forward progress in other areas of my life and the negative effects are numerous. My husband very affectively offered me some affection in an attempt to effect a distraction. His efforts were temporarily efficacious. But in the future, I must find a way to supress my disorder, or my efficiency will be affected. 


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Comma Rebellion

The rules clearly state to use commas to offset and separate certain words, phrases and clauses.

CMOS supports the use of the serial comma.

But when was the last time you saw a serial comma in a fiction novel?

Would you even notice the absence of a comma following a long introductory prepositional phrase?

No one will admit to it, but many authors and editors are not using or requiring commas according to the rules anymore.

Is it a sort of silent rebellion? The writer is assuming the reader is smart enough to figure out the meaning without all those distracting obligatory commas. As much as it pains me, I see the logic. I like to read quickly. Commas don't really make the meaning more clear, most of the time. I rarely slow down just because someone put a comma there and told me I had to pause.

I add very few commas when I proofread. It's painful for me, because it's my job and those are the rules. But who am I to pepper the manuscript with commas that are apparently being considered optional by people much smarter and more experienced than me?

For a content edit, I think it's worthy of a discussion with the author and something that should be worked out in the sample edit.

Many comma rules are already subjective, should more of them be too?
Are the rules just guidelines when it comes to commas?
Do you want your editor to put in commas because it's grammatically correct?
Or do you want your prose to flow without all those restricting pauses, rules be damned?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

My Devices

I confess; I'm a closet techie.

I've always been drawn to hobbies that combine creativity with technology; digital photography, video editing, fiction editing.

So for fun, and for any other closet artists/geeks out there, here are my devices:

  • Dell Inspiron One 23-inch All In One Desktop Computer 
  • Price $820. I got this price at Microcenter.  Check Amazon's price here. This is a desktop PC without the CPU box. It has bluetooth keyboard and mouse. There is literally one power cord in the back. The USB ports and speakers are built in to the screenIt comes with Windows 8.1, which is essentially an Android touchscreen format. I splurged and got the 8GB DDRM-3 i5 versus the older i3 processor. I replaced my seven-year-old PC with the antique box and the spiderweb of cords. The kids use the All In One for web browsing, watching movies and school work. I use it for Angel Edits and for Hi Def video editing. The RAM and storage capacity are twice as powerful as my old computer. So it's not really just 8GB of RAM, it's like 16GB. 
  • My mom asked me to get her a computer from Amazon, but she didn't want a touch screen or Windows 8. So I got her this. It has Windows 7 and 8GB DDRM-3 i5. 
  • Kindle Fire 8.9" HDX Tablet with bluetooth keyboard (Keybook Poetic case) 
    Price: $400 I paid this price at Best Buy. Check Amazon's price here. The word "tablet" implies the HDX is somehow less than a traditonal PC, but the truth is, this tablet can do almost anything a PC can do. I do all my Angel Edits work using Kingsoft Office and save to .doc files compatible with MS Office/Word. The HDX is fully integrated with Amazon/Goodreads, has a Mayday button that gets you a live person within 15 seconds, and a fantastic dictation/voice recognition feature. The limitations are screen size, processor speed, and software compatibility. Some software programs, particularly at a professional level, do not yet support advanced features for Android devices; the software developers aren't there yet. The HDX does not have enough processing power to render multilayer Hi Def video or other memory intensive tasks. It's also Amazon proprietary and you can't use the Google apps store. However, most apps are easily sideloaded directly from the manufacturer website. 

  • Kindle Fire 7" Previous Gen 4 Price I paid: $170. You can get these for $80 now. Check Amazon's price here. This was my first Kindle. It's not HD and has a much smaller screen. It has similar function to the HDX, but lacks the coolness. I'm using this as a second/third screen in my editing process. My other family members are using this now since they are not allowed to touch "Mommy's Kindle." 

  • Samsung Galaxy S Android Phone Price: $400 This was my first Andoid device and perhaps the beginning of my Android obsession. I read ebooks on my phone before I got my first Kindle. I have a ridiculous plan that's only $35 a month for unlimited everything, but the browser is slow. I use it for texting and directions mostly. I have been lusting after the new Galaxy S5 and waiting for someone to make me an offer on an upgrade.
  • Canon T2i DSLR Hi Def Camera Price: $400 The T-series is the highest level of Canon DSLR before going to the professional grade. It takes beautiful Hi Def video with all the benefits of a camera, blurred background and everything. The video files are huge, so I've been recording in Low Def. With the All in One, I can record in Hi Def finally. I make an annual family video; fully edited with music, transitions, effects, and titles (using Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum Pro 13 Home, $80). I also make our family Christmas cards and portraits of the kids, so we don't need to use Shutterfly or the school photographer. The latest version of this camera, the T5i, is on my wish list and has auto-focus in the video feature.
  • Canon MG7120 Pixma Inkjet Printer 
    Price: $125 Check Amazon's price here. This wireless printer is compatible with my Kindle HDX and all my clouds, etc. So nice not to have all those cables behind the desk. Love the brown color and the print quality is great.

Now you know my secret. What are your favorite tech toys?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Top 20 Books that Influenced My Life

My Top 5 rocked my world m/m books;
1. Cut n Run series by Abigail Roux
2. Glitterland by Alexis Hall (impossibly making depression beautiful)
3. Special Forces and Dark Soul by Alexander Voinov
4. Finding Eden by Kele Moon (my first brave foray into m/m/f)
5. Death of a Pirate King Josh Lanyon (my Dad's story)

My Top 5 Non-fiction (really these books are my surrogate parents and are dog-eared and memorized)
1. Your Money or Your Life by J. Dominguez (expense logs and gazingus pins)
2. Feeling Good by Richard Burns (positive self-talk)
3. Setting Limits with the Strong Willed Child by R. MacKenzie and 1,2,3 Magic: Effective Discipline by T. Phelan (children do come with instructions)
4. Finding the Love of Your Life by Neil Clark Warren (about compatibility)
5. Living, Loving, Learning by Leo Buscaglia (defining love)

And my Top 10 M/F are hiding down here. Hopefully only friendly fire ventures this far.
1. Twilight Series by Stephenie Myer (just as famous for it's haters, but it changed my life)
2. Fifty Shades of Gray E.L. James (haters gonna hate but I'm just gonna shake it off. My husband ain't complainin')
3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (I was like 11, way too young to read this, but the spark was ignited.)
4. Law Man by Kristen Ashley (self-image and trailer-trash twins)
5. Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning (my first m/m taste with the Trey/Brian kiss)
6. Danielle Steel can't remember the title, but this book flamed the fire. I was lost to romance.
7. If Tomorrow Comes by Sidney Sheldon (first suspense)
8. Incubus by Ray Russell (again way too young; learned about sex from a demon)
9. The Sensuous Woman by J (girls gotta learn how to give good head)
10. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (California native)

God, this was so emotional. It's like writing the story of my life.