Category Archives: books

Today, I’m talking about editing…polishing…beta readers

Not really a secret: I’ve been an editor for an electronic press for almost twelve years. I was fortunate to have an excellent trainer and supervising editors who helped along the way, and as I look back, I’m very proud of the books I acquired and published. I’ve worked with a variety of award winning authors who began as newbies to Rita finalists and New York Times best sellers. One thing is always the same…no one can edit their own books. The flaws in our own work seem to blend into the fabric we’ve woven, making it nearly impossible for us to identify until we have been away from the subject for awhile. (Thank goodness for spell check or I couldn’t write a note without typos.)

My editing specialty is actually content editing, or developmental editing, and finding repetitions and holes in the story lines. Once an author has the manuscript written, I’m  the first reader who recommends how to tighten up the Plot, point out where the characters’ personalities and behaviors need more Development and Depth, and check to make certain the Pacing and Hooks keep the reader interested to the very end…and beyond.  I want that book to stay in the reader’s head long after they finish reading it. I want it to be one they’d like to read again and again.

But as an author, I find it hard to duplicate this ability for myself. Why is that? At the time it looks okay when I send it to my beta readers. They pick up on a few things but editors pick up everything! 

Oh, I easily identify what it needs, long after it’s published, but if left to my devices, I’d rewrite my books every two years, just to make sure. Well not totally rewrite, but I’d re-polish them, dust them off, at the very least.  And then, I also believe I should leave them alone. Sometimes that initial wording isn’t the most grammatically correct way of putting it, but it’s the most honest interpretation of what’s going on in the author’s head.  The wording is slightly uncomfortable, but the feeling is accurate. So when editing, it’s important to allow the character’s voice to reveal itself  in dialogue while the author’s voice comes out in narrative as well as in the way the style of the story is put together.

My author voice is more than one style, depending upon what I’m writing. It’s one way in my serious plots, but something entirely different in my romantic humor. One is an example of my dream state writing, and the other is full of my internal thoughts, a process I don’t dare speak.  In any case, they are both different from my style here on my blog, which is my more informative voice. So, it’s important that wording and sentence style belong to the author, as long as the structure is somewhat accurate; no dangling participles or misplaced modifiers, split infinitives and so on…

Everyone worries about the comma, but as long as the pause is in the right place, and the reader can make sense out of the sentence, then all is well. Different grammar  rules allow for some flexibility. Take fiction versus non fiction: fiction has more lenient rules often because like poetry the author controls the meaning of dialogue and narrative using sentence length and rhythm to determine pace. Pace helps drive a story. During action, danger, or suspense scenes the reader is tied to the scene (no breaks) until the conclusion. Sometimes, I find myself holding my breath so I read faster to catch my breath before moving on to the next scene. If the author has been paying attention, he/she will give the reader a change of pace–some down time to recuperate–before going on to another breath holding scene.

You can see why it’s important to have a fresh eye on the manuscript. If you’re the one writing the story, you know what’s coming. You’ve edited this a few times and certainly read it enough that you aren’t holding your breath or sobbing at the scenes this time around. It’s beginning to make it more difficult to be objective…more difficult to see where you need speed or a break…more difficult to identify what could make your book the best it could be. If the editor has been in the trenches with the author helping rewrites maybe they both need an objective eye, a fresh point of view. The answer is an educated beta reader–someone who can answer your list of concerns and point out anything else they might come across.

You can find more on this website by clicking on the Writing Tab.

Maximum Impact the Writers’ Notebook by Editor, Maureen F. Sevilla 

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A Peek: Mayhem, MAGIC, & Mistletoe & Review: Hair of the WERE & Siren’s Tail

Sit down with a glass of wine or a hot cup of cocoa  and enjoy these quick short stories that will take you into the third book coming in time for Christmas: Mayhem, MAGIC, & Mistletoe. One reviewer had this to say after reading Hair of the WERE then hooked into A Siren’s TAIL…
REVIEW:
“I have just had the awesome pleasure of reading “Hair of the Were” and “Siren’s Tale” by a wonderful and gifted author. Eliza March blends in humor, sexual tension, and more in a can’t put it down book that will tantalize paranormal readers. This tale, pardon the pun, has it all. Think creatures of the night, creatures of the sea, Fae and water nymphs, and you would have the beginning of Adelaide’s journey in “As the Chair Turns” series. They all work in a totally cool hair and spa facility that caters to…you got it, paranormal creatures. And it doesn’t stop there, her best girlfriends ever are witches, and her best male friend is an alpha werewolf that would have her in his bed if she’d let him. Now, you would think with all of the above, that would be enough, but Delia as her friends call her has a chance at a rocking singing career. A career that could be forestalled by a sea-creature’s attack. Now if that don’t make you want to give up swimming, I don’t know what to tell you, but once you lay eyes on the Coast Guard hottie who makes Delia sing all the right notes, you might change your mind. The only other thing I can possible say is WHEN IS THE NEXT SAGA OF AS THE CHAIR TURNS COMING OUT?”

Coming before Christmas…Mayhem, MAGIC, & Mistletoe …More of Delia’s adventures.

Welcome to my world where magic and mayhem coexist. This installment of my ongoing series is about the Luna de la Mar Salon and Spa’s annual employee holiday party on the corporate yacht. Murder and mayhem run rampant when there’s an attempted mistletoe poisoning during dinner and a deadly stabbing before desert.

Kris the Christmas tree had reported that Perry the maître de was kissing the cook in the kitchen under the mistletoe when someone dropped the mistletoe berries in Delia’s salad. But the only witness, the Norwegian pine, is height challenged and claimed he couldn’t see anything above the suspect’s knees. And all would have been fine if someone hadn’t turned up dead.

The unidentified body, dressed in Delia’s red dress and shoes, wasn’t on the guest list. Who is she? And was Delia actually the target?

 

A Siren’s Tail excerpt for you…

A Siren's Tail2 smcopy

Hi! Delia here…

UGH! My indestructible fingernails clicked on the makeup counter as I considered a few alternatives. What to do? What to do?

Then voila! Something came to mind. Either go as I was or visit my two best friends and beg for help. Desperate…but these were desperate times. I picked up my smart phone and sent a text to the listing Witch Bitches. (I don’t care what Frankie says. I am witty.)

I thumbed in the message.

ME: Carrie, need a drastic favor.

Have to meet the band later and I look half  D. E. A. D.

Makeup help please?

. . . Have  you ordered your copy of A Siren’s Tail, Volume 2 in the Luna de la Mar Salon and Spa: As the Chair Turns series? After struggling with the formatting process on Amazon (which has never been a problem for me before – usually it’s with Apple) I think I might have all the issues resolved. Unfortunately, I’ve sold quite a few ebooks, already, with odd ball formatting.  Sorry.  I’m working on correcting this problem with a new formatting template I’m making for the future. Now do you want to read a little more?

Read on . . .

The return message tone beeped.

CARRIE: Come over. We’ll work a little magic 4 U

ME: Magic is exactly what I need. B right over

Since I discovered their secret, I affectionately refer to my witch bitches, Carrie and Jen, as the Witches of West Beach – because they live on the intercoastal side of our condominium instead of the ocean view side. Now I know why they usually personally prefer their own pale look against black. Occasionally, they add a little red for color. Jen wears short shorts with thigh highs. And when I say short shorts with thigh-high boots, I mean show-a-little-cheek length shorts, and wicked, studded, pointy-toed boots. Men love her hard-ass-mistress-of-the-night chain and leather look.

Carrie has the whole natural, witchy Stevie Nicks, seventies-hippie-gypsy-flowing-silk, beneath a leather bustier and lacy-thingy going on. She claims she has an aura very similar to Stevie’s. I’ll take her word for it since I don’t see auras. But I have to admit there is something haunting about Carrie. Sometimes I think it’s a glamour, but I’m not ready to mess with powers I know nothing about.

Website http://ElizaMarch.com
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Delia’s Next Adventure is Coming September 14th…

Delia Belaquoit was like any one of us—working hard, living her life, chasing her dreams, and achieving some modicum of success along the way. Great job, wonderful friends, singing in a band. She thought she’d hit the jackpot until everything she once believed in began to unravel…

Delia here… Hi, again! Magic does exist and people in Boca aren’t what they seem. Shh! No one is supposed to know.
When my former well-organized life blew up in my face, I decided I needed answers because the metamorphosis I’m undergoing isn’t following any known pattern. Remember when I used to be a sun worshipper? Now I’m exhibiting symptoms I don’t even want to think about.
Turns out there are certain aspects of my family tree that’re disrupting my humanity. Wait ’til I find my family. Just when I need answers, they disappear. Poof! Vanish. Except Edna, my great aunt. But she’s not talking. Some freakish sea monster stole her voice.
Unbelievable! Right?
They are all so in the doodoo doghouse for keeping everything from me.
Thankfully, my witch friends are charming me through my dilemma and our search for answers. Frankie, our alpha Werewolf boss, is doing his best to keep me safe. The guy is loyal to a fault, even if the wolf in him doesn’t have a faithful bone in his body. So when Aelric, my on-again-off-again-not-really-a-boyfriend, asked him to protect me from sources unknown, Frankie jumped on it. I still think he has ulterior motives.
I’m eventually planning a monogamous relationship, just not yet. Frankie wants to “turn” me, but the monthly waxing effort makes becoming one of his pack out of the question. Aelric, the handsome Coast Guard captain, did make a few serious romantic overtures and almost “sort of” proposed to me, but he hasn’t managed to take me on a first date yet. Nor has he told me exactly what he is. Hope springs eternal. Because he did kiss me senseless, wowed me with an impressive unspeakable power move, then left me again. Now I’m alone with more questions. But I’m determined to get my own answers and find out where the threat to my family is coming from.
Oh there’s more… It just gets better every day. Why don’t you hang with me and see what’s in the cards for this month? The supernatural salon and spa staff, as always, are here to help.”

#humor #fantasy #paranormal #shifter #vampires #faeries #witches #sirens #elves #aqua #sea #werewolves #hairstylists #werecats #sexy

Happy July Saving at SMASHWORDS My FREE and Discounted Books

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Innocence Lost: Across A Crowded…E

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HAIR OF THE WERE is On Sale $0.99 This month only at SMASHWORDS

Magic is real. The fix is in.when Delia lands the hairdressing job of a lifetime. After one taste of faery nectar, the fae knowledge banks open to her. Who knew the town was filled with supernatural beings just fitting in? Frankie, her hot boss, is a Werewolf; the massage therapists are catshifters; her best friends are witches, and Delia likes being human. Her life is about to drastically change.

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Dizzy Writing Day Solutions

pexels-photo-271265.jpegToo much input. My internal computer is slowing down and freezing up. I’m suffering from scattered goals due to wind blown thoughts. I’m feeling like a disorganized airhead.

I can only fly (or write) by the seat of my pants so long  before my projects begin to weigh on me and bring me crashing to earth. The sooner I stop flapping and take control, the less weight I carry before I crash…and I minimize the injuries.

So what is my solution to regrouping? Lists. Calendars. Prioritizing. Organizing.

I pause. Put on some music. (Your choice.) Pick a good spot to sit or stand. Gather my stuff…

I go back to my old lists and gather them all together so I can reset. It’s my version of rebooting. I need a large surface to spread out my lists and various information. I’m definitely not as efficient as my computer. I check my phone notes and computer notes as well as my accumulated little notebooks. I pull out the sticky notes and gather my new blank sticky notes. I organize everything into piles (my filing system) until I can move them into an order of importance and create my new workload (my to do list).

A calendar is absolutely essential. One with room for details helps. If I could paint my walls with remarkable paint, I would create my life in washable markers where I can see it at a glance. Sticky notes, calendars, whiteboards, chalkboards, and daytimers are all electronic, so why am I less organized than ever? Too many apps. Too many options. I need my life in one place or fewer projects.

I attended a workshop last year and I’m thinking maybe I should actually implement the plan I started. I need to add open time I can move around in my calendar for unforseen calamities. I need catch up days for the internet being down, the grandchildren, time to smell the roses when my brain is fried, and a vacation from the plan.

All suggestions are welcome. Please comment with helpful tricks you’ve found effective. and thank you in advance.

 

What’s Your Pleasure?

Books? Paperback? Audio? Ebook? Audio is next…

Trade PAPERBACK available at CreateSpace

Hair of the WERE: Luna de la Mar Salon and Spa

Authored by Eliza March

 
List Price: $7.99
6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm) 
Black & White on White paper
164 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1717395429 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
ISBN-10: 1717395422
BISAC: Fiction / Romance / Romantic Comedy

Magic is real. The fix is in when Delia lands the hairdressing job of a lifetime. After one taste of faery nectar, the fae knowledge banks open to her. Who knew the town was filled with supernatural beings just fitting in? Rescued from a riptide by Aelric, a Coastie who looks like Thor, Delia is also being pursued by Frankie, her hot Italian boss. Unfortunately, he’s a Werewolf with a pack of females to look after. The massage therapists are catshifters, her best friends are witches, and Delia prefers being human, but her life is about to drastically change.

SMASHWORDS – Any of my ebooks, in all formats, are available for download

Dear Diary Post – The Day After

The day after a book release we sit and count the comments and bite our nails hoping this experiment works. It’s not about the money (Though who wouldn’t be excited about that?) It’s about the approval.

Writing is like giving someone a gift. You hope it’s a good choice. That they like it. That they can use it. That it’s exactly what they need at that particular moment.

I read Nora Roberts Whiskey Creek recently and gave out a sigh on the first page remembering why I enjoy reading her writing so much. It felt like coming home.

That’s why I enjoy writing. I want to give someone that experience of melting into my book. Escape from the moment.

I next turned to JR Ward’s The Chosen. Again, different author, different style, different genre…still that wonderful moment of escape. Relaxation. My drug of choice is reading.

This weekend, try something I wrote just for you. You can find something to take you away on my Amazon Author page.

 

Are you enjoying the writing journey?

Have you met your goals? What do you do when you succeed? Or fail? What about when you disappoint yourself? Beat yourself up for not being dependable? I have a confession… rainbow_stage_spotlights_vector_background_529094-copy


 It’s October? OMG – How did I get here and how did I get side-tracked from my writing goals? One thing that interferes with getting my writing done is having more pressing issues that keep popping up, forcing me to re-prioritize.  My family’s needs always take priority over everything else, and my uncle has decided to move into assisted living. With no children of his own, I’m trying to help him find a suitable place near his friends. It’s giving me good practice for finding out what I will want when the time comes for me and my husband. But it’s time consuming and distracting.

“Hair of the Wolf” is late. I’m beating myself up over not meeting the goal for a planned  September release. The first humorous paranormal book in my As the Chair Turns series should have been released by now, but Irma showed up and blew (pun intended) that and several trees in my yard all to hell.

My house is way too large for my husband and I to maintain. We were ready to downsize and reduce the stress in our lives. Half our belongings are in boxes. We installed new flooring, new roof, and updated the kitchen and the bathrooms. There’s still more to do and, now after this hurricane season, there’s more. I also planned to put “said” home on the market last month. Real retirement is beginning to feel like an illusive dream.

Needless to say, my plans have changed. But although we had no firm plans in place for moving on, we did have a few dreams; so now, frustration is setting in.

Since I’m not wealthy enough for my writing income to take precedence over my other sources for paying the mortgage and bills … such as emergency hurricane preparedness and cleanup, I need an alternative vision. I edit part time, mentor/coach part time, work as a hairdresser part time, and then write. So writing comes last, and money that I’d like to spend for promotion and advertising is being gobbled up in daily living expenses.  I am not the only author suffering from this dilemma.

What I’ve decided to do is stop setting “firm” goals for my release dates and avoid the guilt. I have at least eight books in progress at this time, and because I value good story and character development above churning out crap, I am taking a step back.

One of the observations I’d like to make for writers is that you should set your own pace. Yes, the authors who are releasing quickly and often are having success, but don’t sell your work short. Don’t self criticize because you take more time to tell the story the way you want to. Do it your way in your own time.

The self-publishing market makes it difficult to rise above the algorithms, keywords, and massive numbers of releases daily. What I see are opportunists, sharks feeding on minnows, finding a way to make more money for themselves without a care to the quality of what they turn out or how they affect the market in general.

Are we dumbing-down literacy? Yes. And genre fiction. The Chicago Manual of Style reviews editing rules about once a year because colloquial language and needs within the US are changing with the speed of social networking. There are age-gapped and style changes taking place every day. English, in all its forms, has different rules around the world, but in addition to that, I believe, fiction in (American) English is being swamped by books published with little, no, or unprofessional editing.  The results are chilling.

Incorrect uses of tense, words, phrases in books and TV, social media, and radio infiltrates our daily experience. Which came first? Does it matter? The results are the same. Confusion and inconsistencies. Authors who discard the rules and, through advertising and promotion, convince readers it doesn’t matter.

To each her/his own. I can’t live with “incorrect” or inconsistencies in my books. And believe me they have them. But I strive to improve with each book I write, because, as in all art, fiction and novels are a personal matter of taste. Correct language, grammar, and punctuation is not. Dialogue can be true to form, narrative can not.  An author can maintain her or his voice without compromising quality editing.

Be careful when comparing your goals, needs, and successes with other peoples’. Be good to yourself. Enjoy the journey no matter where it takes you.

 

Author Tips for Writing Detail

Detail has a purpose. It should provide something to the story. It should do something to the reader. The picture I used for my page has that romantic couple in a sexy pose. But in describing it, can you as an writer describe the scene accurately to draw a reader response? It makes me think of a sandy beach (yet it’s a wooden floor, reminiscent of Dirty Dancing) perhaps because of the way the light strikes the two characters. I think heat.

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I remember the way the sun feels against my skin as it soaks in, the way it also heats me from the inside without the need for a kiss. Has he just finished kissing her or is he about to kiss her? The sensations before and after are different, and depending on expectation and circumstance, so are the emotions and response.  In describing this moment, an author will know which words to choose to evoke the exact reaction intended from the reader.

Can you imagine the moment leading up to this point? Can you begin to imagine what comes next? Everything depends on story. Characters react to story. Having a plot in mind puts the characters in the story, then knowing your characters well determines how they will react. They have options if they’re three dimensional characters, so they may surprise you, and also the reader, with their reaction. How will he touch her? Where? What does he want? What keeps him from taking what he wants? Maybe he will. maybe he won’t. Details like background noises may define the moment. Maybe an interruption sends them into hiding…everything depends on what’s in the author’s head…and where the story has been as well as where the plot is going.

Think about this when you add detail. What he’s wearing or not wearing can set a scene for what comes next. With both of them scantily clad, sexual tension can elevate quickly, especially if they are forced into close proximity. Does he hear her breathing heavily? Does she notice perspiration form on his forehead? “Showing” these details makes “telling” the reader the obvious unnecessary, but it does put the reader in the scene and  into the story.

Remember the books that frightened you? I had to take breaks while reading The Shining by Stephen King, I could “not” breathe. Normally, writers give the readers time to breathe between scary scenes. Not King.

Remember the books that turned you on? The one that comes to mind for me wasn’t an erotic book; it was a suspense…All the Queen’s Men by Linda Howard. I was on a plane and deep into the dangerous scene of the book, when the sensual tension began to build. OMG danger and suspense and sex! I was seated in an aisle seat in business class surrounded by men. Lost in the story, I must have been holding my breath because when I finally exhaled, the man across the aisle turned around, winked, and asked, “That good huh?” I flushed to the roots of my hair. But “yes” it was that good, and I immediately bought one of those paperback book covers to hide my choice of titles in the future. (Although that cover had had nothing on it but chess pieces, I wasn’t ready to get teased over something like Fabio’s chest. It’s nothing to laugh at!) Getting lost in the details is a reader’s pleasure and the author’s job. Authors must draw the picture, set the scene, create the mood, string the reader out until they want to scream in pleasure or fear, or cry or laugh, or clap and cheer. Emotion is key. If an author can make you feel something…the job is done. Details create sensations that develop the emotions. Make certain the details you choose move the story forward. Set the stage for the scene.

Happy writing makes happy reading!