Tag Archive: editing


Morning all –

and look what we have here! How will you recover from the excitement of not ONE but TWO new releases in ten days?! So, hopefully you all read Cambria’s story and left a review, right? (She wants to know what you think, you know). Well, just as you’re starting to look around and wonder what literary wonders you should segue onto, here for your delectation is a guest-blog by none other than CS Splitter, author of the Crayder Chronicles.

As regulars will know, Splitter is one of the more fnar-prone members of Creative Reviews and is a contributor to (not to mention the main instigator of) the Christmas Lites Anthology due out next week, so do comment, heckle, or if you feel really inspired, Tweet the link to his new book, out 21st November! I can’t comment just yet as my copy is still on the Kindle which is locked firmly in a drawer till I’ve got ODS2 out for you, but the goss down in Creative Reviews is that the Crayder Chronicles rock…. and that’s just the more critical reviews!

I have been warned by two or three persons of good judgement that Tom Crayder as a character is going to infuriate me until I accidentally end up liking him! So I for one am really looking forward to having a read, and judging by the first chapter which I have seen, you should BY NO MEANS believe Splitter when he says he sucks. Methinks the writer doth protest too much….

So read his blog, admire the covers, Tweet the link and do go check out the samples on Amazon. I mean, you could always throw underwear but there’s a bit of a cross-wind at the moment so it’d probably hit Bill Oddie or someone. Me, I’d go for the Tweet but then perhaps Bill Oddie would appreciate the attention, who knows? I’ll leave it to your good selves….

And so without further ado, let me hand you over to the lovely C.S Splitter!

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splitter crayder chronicles

C S Splitter, author of The Crayder Chronicles

Name: C.S. Splitter

Author of: The Reluctant and The Willing

Genre/s: Action/Adventure, Thriller, Mystery, Humor, Crime

P- or e-book: Both books are available as eBooks right now (The Willing to be released November 21st)  and will be available in print early in 2012.

Available from:

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Reluctant-Crayder-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B004VS751O/

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52864

Journal Stone:  http://journal-store.com/bookstore/the-reluctant/

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/c-s-splitter

ibooks:  http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-reluctant/id449636851?mt=11

and other internet resellers.  Books are also available through other internet retailers and on Amazon’s international sites (UK, Germany, etc..)

One-sentence summary:

The justice system failed but Tom Crayder will not.

One-sentence biog:

C.S. Splitter is a business man, author, and stand-up philosopher living in rural Maryland with his beautiful wife, small dog, and astonishingly large cat.

Your links:

Blog – http://splittersworld.blogspot.com/

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002241805910

Twitter:  @SplitterCS


Book cover Reluctant Crayder Chronicles SplitterCS Splitter Crayder Chronicles 2 The Willing

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Indie Mistakes and Lessons

Since I will never be able to convince you, the reader, that I am an expert in the field of self publishing, let me take the easy route and convince you that I am stupid.  I see that look on your face – you are already believing me.  Good!  Here we go:

One of my earliest memories as a child was sitting on someone’s hip in the kitchen, either my grandmother or my mother (they were both there), and being told not to touch the hot stove.  I do not remember the pain, but I remember the angry red circles on my palm and the commotion that ensued among the adults.  They were right; the stove was hot.

Apparently, I need to figure out things for myself.  I am dense like that and have a whole file full of stories from my life to prove it.  You do not have to be so dense and you will not be if you read on.

In 2010, ideas for a character and then for a story hit me.  Hard.  I had to write it.

That lightning bolt from the heavens came a decade too late.  I had spent more than ten years trying to come up with an idea for a fantasy book, my favorite genre to read.  I would get an idea, begin to outline it or write it, and then realize that it had been done before and probably in a better way than I could ever hope to duplicate.  I gave up writing fiction.

It did not matter that, when I finally got a good and original idea, it was in a totally different genre without swords, or castles, or princesses to rescue.  I had to write it.  It was that powerful.  The will to write fiction was back in a big way.

I began enthusiastically tapping away on my laptop and the first few chapters flew by.  I bogged down in the middle of the book and had to abandon my original outline for an even better idea.  I struggled through that period and, as Paul Harvey would have said, “the rest of the story” just flowed until the end.

I did it!  I wrote a book.  I did a little dance, consumed some alcohol, and dreamt of the fame and fortune that would be coming my way.  I had no idea whether or not the work was any good, but the dreaming was fun.  For a while.

Reality set in when I re-read my book.  The story…well, in all modesty…I think it was good.  The writing seemed fine, too.  After all, I had read hundreds of books in my life and knew how to spell and punctuate and not end a sentence in a preposition.  At least, I thought I did.

I had to make hundreds of corrections on my subsequent readings.  After about six re-reads and self-edits, it was ready to release.  I hated my own book by that point because I could almost recite it verbatim.  People read it and liked it—and sent me emails showing me where mistakes still lurked.  I fixed them and put out ten or more revised versions.  Everything had to be fixed by then, right?  Right?

Not by a long shot.  By the time the book had ten reviews, all four and five stars, there were still problems.  My readers, as thorough as they were, did not catch all of the book’s flaws.  But, the story and the characters were good enough to make them like the book.

By the time I figured this out, I was mostly done with the first draft of the second book in the series (The Crayder Chronicles).  I didn’t need to beg (as much) for alpha and beta readers for the second book because I had the contact information for some readers who liked the first book.  My alpha/beta readers are the BEST!  They tore into the second book and sent me lists of little errors that needed correcting.

Every time I made corrections on the second book, I sent out a revised file to the beta readers.  Right down to the last one, they kept finding little errors.  I was well on my way to having to publish the second book, The Willing, and do many revisions just like I had done with the first book.

Did I really want to repeat those mistakes?  Did I really want early readers getting less than my best effort?  Did I really want to keep finding little typos and having to correct them by updating the files on sites like Amazon and Smashwords?

No, I did not.  I am not really bright, but I do try to learn as I go and, as a side note, I have never laid my hand flat on a red hot stove burner again (at least, not on purpose).  I got an editor, Tricia Kristufek.  I call her the “Comma Queen.”  She started with my second book and worked her way back through the first book.

It was apparent that after all of the “cloud editing” that my alpha and beta readers did for me and even after readers pointed out typos as they praised the characters and story, I still sucked as a writer.

“Sucked” is a harsh word.  I guess I didn’t suck compared to some of the bad indie work I have seen out there, but I wasn’t “clean” either.  I did not want to be one of “those” indie authors who put out junk, so I got an editor.  A real editor who could give the books a little polish.  My editor showed me why “sucked” was really not too strong a term for me.

I say all of that to say this: learn from my mistakes.  That is lesson one.  Do not touch hot stoves and do not needlessly cause yourself heartache and embarrassment.  I have already done that for you!

It is terribly embarrassing, in retrospect, to know that the there were still too many mistakes in the first book, even with the last revision, before I had it edited.  How many potential readers downloaded those first couple chapters and noticed something that turned them off?  How many publishers?

See—I have bad habits as a writer.  I can say that freely because if you are a writer, you probably have some too.  I even see bad habits FREQUENTLY on display from well known authors from Big Six publishing houses.

So here is lesson two: You are making mistakes in your writing that you do not even realize and you need someone looking over your shoulder from a totally new perspective that will point them out to you.  Get an editor.  Somehow, some way, get an editor.  See lesson one for a refresher on “why.”

Because I am doomed to analyze positively everything, I thought back and tried to figure out why I had made the mistake of putting out that first book too quickly and with too many errors.  I thought back to how I felt when I was writing that book and how wonderful it felt when I “finished” it.  That was it!  I rushed the book out to be published because I was excited and because I did not know any better.

Lesson three: There is no hurry.  Wait.  Refine.  Think about it.  Do some research.  If you have read this far, you no longer have an excuse for not knowing better…I took care of that for you by making those mistakes already.  See lesson one!

Am I sorry I made so many mistakes with the first book?  Not really.  It turned out just fine in the end.  The characters and the story were always good, or so I have been told.  The writing was where I was mostly falling short and that was fixable.

Plus, I found some wonderful alpha and beta readers that will, hopefully, be available to me as I put out future books in the series.  I made friends that included other authors and bunches of readers and reviewers.

I have one more lesson for you today, take it for what it is worth: your cover is probably bad and is costing you sales.  Did I mention how bad my original covers probably were?  I say “probably” because, as someone who lacks any hint of artistic ability, I made them.  So, when I decided to finally start marketing the series, I started working with Dafeenah from IndieDesignz.  I basically just said, “Here is what my story is about, here are the themes I want to follow, please make me a good cover.”  She delivered in a HUGE way for the cover of The Reluctant.

Here is where the writer of this article should double back and convince you, once again, that he/she is such an expert that you should be following his/her advice.  I will tell you truthfully; I am no expert.  I am just an indie writer fighting his way through this new aspect of the publishing industry.  All I can really tell you is that I am, or have been, where you are or were.  That’s not far yet, but maybe someday…

Splitter

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So once again, many thanks to Splitter for coming to play today! His new book The Willing is out on 21st, so do check out The Reluctant if you haven’t already looked.

Next week, we have a Q&A with Shane Porteous who will tell us a little about his  new book – one for the werewolf fans among you, he tells me! And further down the line we will have blogs from MTMaguire and Lexi Revellian and if all goes to plan, quite possibly On Dark Shores 2: The Other Nereia though that will be further into December.

So as always, add your comments below and tell us if you’ve already read The Reluctant, what you know of The Willing,and indeed whether your undies hit Bill Oddie after all…

Have a great weekend, peeps!

JAC

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During the course of my edits, I have had to cut various parts of “On Dark Shores”, not because they weren’t good enough to go in, but because they were flashbacks or other backstory. In most cases leaving them in slowed the story down and, as my editors pointed out, the important bits could better be told in a few sentences that kept up the pace. Although I think both editors were right, knowing a bit of the backstory might enrich the novel for you, so rather than throw them away, it occurred to me that I could do a quick edit myself and post them up by way of a taster of the story and an introduction to some of the characters; however, do be aware that  these are the bits that have NOT been curated by editors / proof-readers and beta-readers – just myself!

“On Dark Shores” Sample 2

The following snippet was initially the opening of the whole book;  the first 5 paragraphs in italics (up to the = line) are actually the very first half-page that I wrote, the initial download of that sense of desolation and sadness with which I woke up one day in 2002 after a nameless dream. It’s probably a bit adjective-heavy as in its original incarnation I was intending to make it a poem, but it just wouldn’t play. It knew it wanted to be a story long before I gave up trying different line-breaks!

In the finished version this is all boiled down to about 4 paragraphs and comes a bit further into the text, but for curiosity value I thought you might like to see the initial download and subsequent expansion.  Compare and contrast to the new and improved beginning a couple of posts ago, and see what you think….

JAC

PS (It’s not all this bleak, I promise! …er, don’t think it is, anyway…)

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It was raining hard. The sky was grey, grey, always grey, it seemed to her as she made her way wearily through the muddy alleyways. It had been a long day. For all that Copeland told her, for all that she’d been stealing for him since she was barely grown, she’d been brought up honest and she was quite sure she’d never stop hating it. If it wasn’t that she had to keep Mary and herself somehow she’d run away tomorrow, she told herself; but these days she didn’t even believe that any more. They were stuck, the two of them, and there didn’t seem to be any way out. The weeks and months all blurred into each other  until the only point of reference in the whole year was –

She stopped suddenly. It was today: eleven years ago today it had happened, and she had not been up to the cliff-top yet. How could she have forgotten? She made her way down the spray-slick stairway which led down to the beach.

Mary would have already been there. Her sister never forgot, though she had been too young to remember anything of that terrible day and the bewildering slide from their old life into this desperate, scrambling existence.

She bent to pick up two smoothed stones, each the size of a fist and varnished with water. As she straightened, a memory seized her; of standing here a little while after it happened, bewildered by the speed with which all the mainstays of her life had been swept away. She remembered…

 …Normally this was the height of the kindly summer which warmed these temperate parts; but not this year. This summer had seen one of the most terrible storms in living memory; and then rain, and rain. Only once in a while came a dry day, and those were wind-bitten and desolate as dust and old bones.

The wind mourned along the beach, quiet but chill enough that she shivered under the old woollen shawl she wore. The grey waves spilled over into hissing spray, the pebbles rolling and receding as if they were determined to gnaw away all the land until the world was washed clean of it, and only restless water remained; until all was silent except for the ocean’s ceaseless whispers…

She wondered what it would be like to swim out into the shifting sea, past the harbour walls and the little scatter of rocks out in the bay; to be washed away by the currents until the tall crags behind her sank beneath the horizon, and all her world was wide flat sky, the unknown depths gaping unseen beneath her, and the pale speck of her face, lost and insignificant in the vast bleak endless waters. She shivered at the thought.

They said that drowning was an easy way to go; but it haunted her, the thought of swimming out, far past returning, and then at the very last having doubts and trying to fight hopelessly back to life, against an unforgiving sea.

A shock of cold dragged her back to herself. She found she had moved right to the water’s edge, and as she stood, another wavelet threw chill tendrils around her toes. She jumped back then, shaking her foot as if to rid it of something unclean. There was nothing more to be done here. The water was seeping through the worn sole of her shoe, and she was cold; not just her feet or her hands, but cold through and through, cold and tired and dead and empty.

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All that was left now was to go back; but back to what? A bare house, stripped of furniture and  memories; not even to be theirs any longer if Uncle Copeland had any say in the matter. Which he did. After her parents’ death, Uncle Copeland had arrived to “sort out their business interests” and now he said that they had no money left, though where it had all gone she did not know.

At first he had got rid of the servants and sold off all the horses in the stable, and then odd bits of land they had owned, followed by piece after piece of furniture until the house was empty; and still they seemed to have no money. Now Uncle Copeland said there was no point having a whole house in the best part of town just for two children. And really, he had added, at fifteen she was too old to be considered a child now.

She was not sure what he had meant her to do, but if nothing else there was always Mary, only four years old and unable to understand what had happened., Mary was the one thing that could never be taken from her, she had sworn it by everything she held dear; for now there was no-one to take care of them except Uncle Copeland…

She sighed. That sort of reminiscence did no good; the only difference that eleven years had made was that now even the house had been sold. She was standing in the downpour like a fool. Following in the steps of her past,  she walked wearily back up through the town; but where her memory-self went along the wide gracious street that led to what had been the family townhouse, she turned aside to climb the worn and crumbling path up to the cliff top. There she made her way between the cairns, some old and overgrown, others new and bare, to a place a little apart from the rest. There along the neat line of mounds she came to that familiar one, large enough not for two bodies but for the memories of those two. There were already two pebbles added to the cairn; Mary had not forgotten.

Silently she stacked her own alongside them, and paused a moment; but there was nothing to be said, no memories which had not been leached of colour and joy by the past eleven years, and so with nothing more than a brief nod, she left the cliff top and turned towards home.

Some useful tips / links – and thanks.

Wotcha peeps:

Further to last week’s excerpt, I’d just like to say thank you to everyone who took the time to read it and give feedback, whether here, on the forums or by email; your feedback is much appreciated!

For anyone that is interested in improving their own writing style, here are some of the useful bits of information and style-hints that I’ve collated from all your answers. Hope you find them interesting and / or useful – and if you have any other tips to add, please do – you know where the comment box is.

 1) Take out as many uses of was/had etc as possible. Apparently a typical beginner’s error is to use them too much, ie “was waiting” instead of “waited” or “had eaten” instead of “ate”. Though there are small differences of meaning between the different uses of the verb, the point is that when you use “was waiting” the reader is reading a description of what the character is doing (thus adding a layer of distance between reader and action) whereas when you say “waited” the reader has to imagine the action happening, and because there is no layer of description getting in the way, it makes it all a lot more immediate and gripping.  (Show don’t tell, remember?) Same with other “layers” that aren’t necessary, like “seemed to” “became aware of” etc.

Example: He had waited in the shadows, hiding until he became aware that she was walking round the corner. He had snatched the hat she was wearing and was running away as she yelled “Stop” and lobbed a small donkey at him.

Should be: He waited in the shadows, hiding until she walked round the corner. He snatched the hat she wore and ran away as she yelled [etc]

2) “He said / she remarked / they commented / it mused” etc etc. These are used too often and slow down the text unnecessarily – either transfer what they thought into reported speech or leave out attributions where poss. If you know there are two people having a conversation it is fairly obvious who is speaking once you’re into it.

Example:

“Why did you throw a donkey at me?” he asked.

“Why did you nick my hat?” she countered.

“Because it’s a nice colour and it would suit me” he told her, amazed that she could not see this.

“You’re a nutter!” she muttered, and left, hat in hand.

Should be:

 “Why did you throw a donkey at me?” he asked.

“Why did you nick my hat?”

“Because it’s a nice colour and it would suit me.” Surely this was obvious?

“You’re a nutter!” Hat in hand, she left.

Useful websites:

Ray Rhamey – Flogging the Quill

April L Hamilton – Indie Author

I’m sure there’ll be others so I’ll try to add any more sites to my Links page as I find them.

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As a newbie, it’s been really useful to have my bad habits pointed out, because it’s very difficult to see that sort of thing for yourself (obviously, or you’d have stopped it by now!). Also I’ve been sent in the direction of a variety of websites that have interesting or insightful points on them – always good to have a read and see what tips you can get from writers of really snappy prose.

I’ve been going through my story and have done a quick edit based on the feedback I received. Reading through it afterwards, I think the amount of difference made by a couple of small stylistic tips has been tremendous. I’m about to send it off to my second editor and proof-reader, and he seems to be quite excited at the altered first chapter (though he hasn’t seen the rewritten bits yet) so I figure I can’t have gone far wrong with it so far.

The other thing I wanted to say was that I’ve been really impressed by the constructiveness and the positivity of the comments I’ve had in all three arenas, and from feeling really fed-up and a bit lost in it all, your feedback has completely re-enthused me about my editing. Yes – you read that correctly, folks – I am actually really enjoying the process again! You should all be impressed by the power of your words and positivity, and if – WHEN – “On Dark Shores” finally does hit Kindle, you should all know that each of you has had a hand in getting it there…

My thanks to all!

JAC