Monthly Archives: January 2011

You mean I get paid?

I finished the magazine edits on Thursday. At the end, only one article needed more help than I could give it. In fact if I were the editor of a paying magazine I would have sent back a rejection. The rest were fun reads overall, and I learned quite a bit from each one. I was pleased most of the articles needed little editing by way of the technical side, and one didn’t need a single edit, grammatical or otherwise. That was refreshing.

After I completed the edits and moved them to the proper online folder, I sent an email to the Editor in Chief to let him know I finished.

He emailed me back thanking me and asked me to send him an invoice for $250. My response was, “You mean I get paid?” Considering the magazine is free to subscribers and the writers don’t get paid for their submissions, I assumed the editing was also volunteer.

The editor did add I could contribute my services for free if I wanted, because it would affect my year-end taxes.

You may be surprised that I did think about it. Part of it was due to, what if they no longer want me to continue the technical edits because I want to be paid for it?

On the other hand, if my services are worth anything — that I did them well — then they won’t mind paying me.

So were my edits worth the $250? In the end, yes. And since they offered, I doubt they’s begrudge me for taking the money. In fact, I found my name and email on the home page of the AUGIWorld website, so they definitely appreciate my efforts and expect me to continue.

Plus it’s one more thing to add to my writing resume.

The timing could not be more perfect. We’re trying to spend as much time as possible with my dad, and adding in the traveling, gas and motels, the costs are getting up there. The $250 will go a long way in alleviating some of the monetary burden.

Thank you, God.

Because I can’t help myself!

I recently offered my services as Technical Editor for the CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) magazine entitled AUGIWorld (AUGI stands for Autodesk User Group International). I’ve written two articles for them so far. With no article ideas when the Editor In Chief asked for them as of late, I jumped at the opportunity when he asked for help with technical editing.

Basically my job is to go through the articles and make sure they make sense from a technical standpoint such as software command structure.

Grammar and such I don’t need to worry about, because that’s another person’s job. But I can’t help myself! Of the three I looked at so far, I found minimal grammatical errors on the first two (I still corrected them). The third article tended to not only be wordy, but extremely long sentences. And I thought I wrote long sentences. Oy.

To not tighten up the entire article is like asking me to ignore a chocolate cake sitting in front of me. Again: Oy.

I managed to restrain myself except for the more glaring errors such as using the incorrect word.

Some words of advice:

  1. Do not depend on your software’s spell check. It will not find words used incorrectly such as to, two and too.
  2. Read your work out loud. Some people balk at this, but if you tend toward long sentences this is important. As you read, you will naturally take a breath at the appropriate spot. If there isn’t a period there, add one.
  3. Read a hard copy. A lot of times what is missed on the screen will be found on paper. Don’t ask me why that is. It just is.

Since most of you write, those tidbits are more “Well, duh!” than anything else. Nevertheless, I needed to vent.

Let’s hope the other five articles don’t tempt the Grammar Nazi in me as much.

Making the Words Disappear

The hardest part about writing isn’t coming up with a good story. It’s not even the sitting down to write it or editing later.

It’s making the words disappear. How can we when we’re concentrating so hard on structure, grammar, proper wordage, etc? As writers we’re supposed to see every word on that page, whereas as readers, we’re supposed to ignore them.

Which is why experienced writers say, “If you can easily point out a favorite paragraph or phrase in your story, it likely shouldn’t be there.” When something jars the reader away from the story, such as a florid statement (unless it’s said by a character — and the statement is within character), it might take a while for the reader to get back into the story. Or worse, the reader will set the book down.

So on the one hand, we need to be aware of every word on the page, yet at the same time make them disappear.

Here’s where a good story comes into play. If it’s intriguing, the characters likable and sympathetic, and not too much backstory/narrative to drag it down, then the reader won’t care about the grammar, sentence structure, et al.

Do I have any sage advice to make that happen? Not really, except write from the heart as well from the head. Don’t try to copy another writer’s voice, and don’t try to follow writing rules to the letter. Study proper grammar, etc., but also don’t be afraid to break those rules. If we follow them too stringently, our writing will appear stilted and dry.

I actually miss the days when I started writing and didn’t know a thing about it. Writing then was like finger painting to a child. It’s messy, there are no rules, and I could let my imagination run wild.

Now I’m overly concerned about whether or not my story is intriguing, my writing is above average, and the plot (and subplots) are strong enough to grab hold of a reader’s attention from the first page through to the last.

Ah, to be a kid again.

Then again, knowing that, perhaps I could convince myself that I’m writing for the mere fun of it, and not necessarily for public dissemination. Let my imagination go nuts in a sandbox of words.

Besides, the best part about writing is that it can always be fixed later.

Another thing that scares me . . .

And makes me sometimes question the push towards publication.

Book signings!

They terrify me. I envision sitting at a table where I’m forced to smile, act perky (something I’m not around strangers), and try to sell. A salesman (woman) I am not!

This was further brought home with a recent blog entry by Literary Agent Steve Laube about the importance of listening to your publisher about when and when not to schedule a book signing.

He added a Youtube video that I had to link here as well.

Loraine, I thought of you!

What’s My Purpose?

Is writing — or more accurately — seeking publication my true dream and passion?

I question that because I keep putting off writing and editing. I instead content myself with reading and watching television (admittedly more of the latter).

To help motivate myself, I picked up James Scott Bell’s “Plot & Structure.” He recommends all writers should write a statement of purpose to get motivated to write and improve their craft.

His statement was worded thusly: “Today I resolve to take writing seriously, to keep going and never stop, to learn everything I can and make it as a writer.”

I could easily copy that as my own, because at this moment I don’t take my writing seriously.

I’m procrastinating my time away, and if I don’t change my habits soon I will find there is no more time left to waste, or to write let alone get my stories published.

Another consideration is my goal to the reader. What do I want to say? Do I merely want to entertain or convey a message?

As a Christian I could easily say I want to either bring others to Christ or draw them nearer. A worthy goal, I suppose, but it seems to broad and even trite.

Jesus told stories to make a point, each one geared to a specific audience with a specific need.

I need to also to determine my audience and with God’s help determine and satisfy their needs. I can then wrap my story around it. I believe I succeeded with my novella “A Reason to Hope.”

My audience is the Christian who condemns the homosexual. My message was not to judge. We are all sinners and whatever the specific sin is each one of us commits is largely irrelevant. Our job is to show Christ’s love and sacrifice that we may be deemed righteous in God’s eyes no matter what we’ve done.

Did I succeed? I know of one person for certain it touched in a positive way. As for others, I don’t know, and that, too, is largely irrelevant. I wrote the story and sent it out for others to read. How it touches them is in God’s hands.

If I no longer write, edit, and send out my novels for others to read, then how can I convey the message or messages that ache to be heard?

I’ve said it countless times — it’s easy to dream, not so easy to make it come true.

I admit I’m terrified to make my dream of publication true. With a successful publication of my book comes the expectation of more, and better, novels. On a deadline no less. I don’t have enough confidence in my abilities to meet those expectations.

It’s one of those things I need to give to God and ask for help.

And have faith that he’ll deliver.

I must continue to remember:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

(2 Timothy 1:7)