Want to finish that book? Need some experienced help?

Broken Pencil“Scott was a gift I gave my book. He led me on a wild and wonderful expedition, where I was expected to do all the work. By the end of journey, I had discovered that I was no longer satisfied with just scratching the surface. I trusted my guide as he pointed out danger zones and to places he thought I needed to explore further. I dug, and I dug and I dug…and lo and behold, there was my treasure. Right where I’d buried it. Hire this man, your book, will thank you for it.” -Terri Lee, terrileeauthor.com

One of the things I love to do from time to time is work as a freelance editor with authors. For me, editing is not just about finding those little mistakes (that is the easy bit), it is about finding the better book.

If you are a new writer and want an experienced eye to review your book, sadly you won’t get that through most editing services. They will focus mainly on grammar and then point you to their publishing services and charges.  My goal is the same as yours, to make the best book possible. The kind of book that sweeps a reader off their feet and takes them someplace they were not expecting.

I contract my editing services through Rebecca T. Dickson (editor and founder of Write Raw and author of the book The Definitive Guide to Writing on Your Terms), you can find her and her writing services at her website here.  If you would like to learn more about hiring my services or availability, you can reach her directly at beckster7219 (at) gmail (dot) com. And you can learn more about my editing, my writing and editing philosophy, and my experiences on my page for editing here.

I hope to work with you soon!

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My Greatest Hits! Editing, Literary Agents, and New Writers

JukeboxAs part of my introduction on Rebecca T. Dickson’s website for editing/writing services, some of my older writing posts are appearing up there weekly. These are my greatest hits, people!

Currently, three can be found on her site, with more to come…

  • The Necessary Humbling of Editing. You can learn a lot about my editing philosophy in this post, as well as my experience working with editors. Oh, and there is a writing horror story as well in it.
  • What I learned from having a literary agent. This still is one of the most popular writing posts I have ever written. It’s good to know that my bad experience has helped so many…. Okay, I jest. There are some good lessons in it, and yes, I would still work with an agent again. To be honest, I hope to find one for my new book.
  • Welcome to the World of Writing: My Advice for New Writers. What would I have liked to have heard when I started down this thorny path of authoring? This is that post.

If you would like to learn more about hiring me as an editor, you can do so via this page. Or you can contact Rebecca T. Dickson and ask for more information via her site, which you can visit by clicking the image below.

Rebecca T. Dickson, Editor

Happiness Forever in Waiting: A Writing Update

GrumpyI expect never to be happy in my writing.

Never happy with a final draft of a book, never happy about the success (or non-success) of any work, and all together grumpy, grumpy, grumpy. Yup, that’s my dwarf… at least as a writer. Usually, I would consider myself somewhere between Dopey and Doc as an actual person. Of course, Doc can play the organ. I can’t, even though my grandparents had one while I was growing up. It didn’t have birds and all that wooden trickery, but it did have great buttons with options for fun noises…. Okay, I lost my train of thought.

Happiness! Lack of it in writing!

This is all not a bad thing really in my opinion (I have even wrote about this before on this site as a writing lesson here). I’ve trained my brain to always consider the next step, to accept when something is done and immediately begin to think what needs to happen next. Happiness would probably just delay everything else. It is frankly too distracting. Continue reading

The Importance of Delusions: The Four That All Writers Need

Imaginary FriendsWhen I was a child, I never had one imaginary friend.  I could never limit myself to one. And when I did seek them out, I would steal them left and right from books, having in the end something more akin to a kingdom in my head.

The funny thing is this kingdom is still around. No, I don’t need any help, but they are there, transformed now from warriors and wizards into readers, editors, agents, interviewers and publishers.

And if I am walking my dog on a late evening, there is a chance I might be working out a pretend interview in my head or I might be thinking of a meeting with a producer interested in one of my books, figuring out how I would pitch the material. Typically, I don’t talk out loud (even my dog would question my sanity then), but those conversations are there as I am always planning, considering my options and thinking of the next steps I might need to take in my career.

Yes, the imaginary friends or the capability for internal debate like this is still around and it is now a tool I use. And using my imagination like this has grown, assisting and encouraging… and not always truthfully. Spawning dreams and delusions that I use as tools as well.

All artists have delusions, some are big and some are small. They empower our debates, drive our inspiration forward, and give us hope even in the bleakest of hours. There are, in my humble opinion, four universal delusions that all writers share.  Continue reading

Hey writers! Do you need an editor?

RockyYou ever see the movie Rocky?

Of course, we all have!

And one of the things that make the movie so personal for so many people is that Rocky Balboa is the everyman making good, chasing his dreams. And while the other movies later on turn him into something akin to a Captain America taking on all of Russia and Mr. T, in this first movie he was like us… except with a lot more muscle.

So why am I bringing this up? Do you remember his coach Mickey? He was played by the tough Burgess Meredith, and the character was honest, always pushing him forward. He in many ways symbolizes the kind of coach we wish we all had in our corner. Yeah, he could be gruff but he believed in Rocky and supported his dream. Rocky would never have gotten as far as he did if it wasn’t for Mickey.

Okay, this may sound like I am rambling… but there is a point.

Writers and my fellow daydreamers of future New York Times Bestseller Lists, I can now be your Mickey! Continue reading

Free on Kindle- Editor Rebecca Dickson’s New Book on Writing!

Rebecca DicksonI had the pleasure of having Rebecca Tsaros Dickson edit my new novel Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare. It was a great experience and I am very happy with the result of that work. It is a crazy book and we both had a lot of fun.

Becky has a new writing manual out entitled The Definitive Guide to Writing on Your Terms, Using Your Own, Honest-to-God, Gut-Wrenching Voice and for a limited time it is a free eBook on Kindle! You can check it out here.

My Adventure in Self-Publishing: Wrestling the Proof Copy into Submission

Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, CoverA proof copy of your novel is a beautifully constructed illusion.

Oh, it feels like your book, it could even be argued that it smells like your book, but when you open it up… Wait! I forgot that comma! What happened to that word in that sentence? I know I didn’t mean that!

The illusion is shattered like a mirror and by the time you have gone through the entire book your hands are riddled with little scratches and nicks, and the mirror is nothing like it used to look like. It’s all funky now and so is the reflection staring back at you.

Okay… okay… I know that is dramatic, but that is how I felt going through the proof copy of my new novel MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH AND THE CASE OF THE DANGEROUS DARE.

One of the wonderful little surprises I had with deciding to work with CreateSpace is this option for a proof copy. Yes, they give you the option to look at the proof online for free, but I wanted to hold it.

See, I’ve never gotten into the whole Kindle thing. I just can’t get lost in a story via a screen like I do with paper. Maybe that makes me old fashioned (and, wow, I feel too young to have that feeling about anything), but it just feels more real. On paper is how I discovered all of my favorite books! We share a history, paper and me; and I want my new book to be part of that as well. Continue reading

My Adventure in Self-Publishing: Curse All These Fonts!

fontI am haunted by fonts.  While the characters in MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH AND THE CASE OF THE DANGEROUS DARE are haunted by ghosts and other demonic surprises, I am haunted by the way an “a” can curve, and what each letter may or may not say about my story.

Yes, I have lost days, weeks, debating with myself the right kind of font to use for the book I am self-publishing. It has gotten so bad that some of the fonts are starting to take on personalities for me. For example:

  • Times New Roman is the preppy know-it-all in school. The one you would swear at under your breath when they get a better grade than you.
  • Verdana thinks it is mysterious (it is not).
  • Palatino would dot its i’s with hearts if it could. It is that overly cute.
  • Calibri… well… it is just dumb.
  • Arial is a pampering old grandmother with stale hard candy in a dusty bowl.  Yes, the best intentions are there, but you don’t want to eat them. Ew.

I’ve changed my manuscript again and again trying to find the one that best captures my book. Now the book is a Victorian period mystery (of course, that is not without including the experimental twists in it), so a font that feels a little dated would be nice. Yet, I don’t want to go too much in that regards. I don’t want to drive readers away as if they can feel the dust on the font and story. Continue reading

My Adventure in Self-Publishing: Back Covers, Conversions and Timeframe

The final cover by Brina Williamson, http://brinawilliamson.com/

The final cover by Brina Williamson, http://brinawilliamson.com/

An author is always more than an author.

An author creates worlds, gives birth, administers death; in some works many, many times over. They are the judge, the jury, and the attorneys arguing both sides in a case. They are the royalty deciding mercy and the peasants pleading for it. They can be everything for their characters (making all their dreams come true), or more harshly nothing at all. They are the beginning and the end.

But beyond these awesome “god-like” powers, for me, I am also an actor.

An actor?

Well, no not really. I can’t really act at all, but whenever I am in the wonderful position of “locking down” a novel I read the entire work out loud. It’s my secret “hat” I like to wear. Scott the one-man show, and in the performance I “ feel” each character, each line, and each description. For if the voice is right throughout, I know it will feel that way for the reader as well. It is a practice I highly recommend to all writers.

That is where I am right now with the book I am self-publishing, Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare.

Watch out Sir Laurence Olivier! Continue reading

My Adventure in Self-Publishing: Next Steps and a Vision

Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, coverA good cover artist can give an author an amazing gift.

This is not about sales, audience, branding, or marketing (I’ve talked about that already in previous posts and that’s all good); this is much, much more personal.

This gift can be sharp like a knife, and it can cut right into you, your brain and your heart, in a way you would never expect nor be prepared for. That happened for me and my cover artist.

See, what my marvelous cover artist did for me was she introduced me to my characters visually for the first time. For the very first time I could see them.

There they are, right there. They could almost wave at me…

Like I said, it is an amazing gift, and I will always be so very thankful of my cover artist for it. Her name is Brina Williamson and I am in awe. (Do yourself a favor and check out her website here now to see more examples of her work and what she could do for your own books.)

For the first time, one of my creations stepped out of the home of my imagination, becoming more than a description on a piece of paper. And, to be honest, I’m one of those writers that lean towards less is more in character descriptions, hoping that my reader will fill in the gaps, making the story more personal for them (an old writing trick, take note); but Brina asked for notes from me on the characters… and… well… there they are.

I’ve seen my stories performed at readings (many times in classroom settings with fellow writers), I’ve heard my characters recreated in audiobooks and in full cast radio dramatizations (you can hear The Dante Experience here), and that was all fun… but visual is new for me. And I have such a hard time looking away from it, it’s addicting.

I’m going to say it for a third time; that image is an amazing gift and when I saw it I am not ashamed to admit I had to wipe away tears. Continue reading