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! Genres, Series Writing, and Finding Writing Sucess

JukeboxTo introduce my new editing services for authors via Rebecca T. Dickson’s site (here), we are sharing some of my most popular writing articles. The Greatest Hits collection continues!

Three weeks ago, I linked to the previous three entries (here), these are the most recent articles to be shared. Two of them were pretty controversial on my site. Enjoy!

  • Our Dangerous Fixation With Genres. The world of writing is so “properly” organized, from bookstores to libraries, that I worry about what this may be doing to creativity and the future of our artform. (Oh, and there is a fun bit where I describe the armies for each of the genres. Trust me.)
  • Redefining Writing Success: Learning to Fly in Today’s Congested Writing World. Maybe it is the growth of self-publishing or the fact people are reading less than they did before, whatever the case we need to change how to we look at success as an author… and it doesn’t always point to the wallet.
  • Writers, why does everything need to be a series? Is it because of TV? Comic books? Whatever the case, the idea of writing a series is now very prevalent. It has not always been this way, and I worry about how this is shaping our literary landscape.

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

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

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.

The Necessary Humbling of Editing

Dunce CapA lot of fantasies, daydreams, and rainbows cloud the world of writing. It’s not surprising; actually completely natural since we spend so much of our time making up stories as writers, why wouldn’t we have stories about the stories?

Have you ever seen that scene in a TV show or movie in which a writer finishes a book or script? The writer may raise his hands in triumph over an old typewriter or do a little dance; then we as viewers are then jumped forward in time to their inevitable success.

We don’t see the struggle over getting the book out, finding an audience, working with an agent or publisher or, more importantly, editing. And, let’s be honest, editing is not as exciting as the victory dance of a finished book or the sparks of coming up with ideas around a first draft.

Like I said, it’s a fantasy, people. I have even been known to say to writers that much of the art around true writing happens in the editing. It is there a work is “finetuned,” perfected into a final piece. This year, I worked with a series of different editors. First for, my novel A Jane Austen Daydream (which was published by Madison Street Publishing) and then for my novel  Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare.

So why do I love editing so much? Well, because I learned about its importance the hard way. Yes, I have an editing and writing horror story, and I am about to share it. Be prepared, this is about to haunt you like a poltergeist… a writing poltergeist. Continue reading

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