Why Hire a Copy Editor?

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You have an amazing story to tell. Aunt Mary says, “Why don’t you write a book about it, dear?” So you do, and you rush to self-publish your first book just the way thousands of authors are doing these days.

But, wait!

You may feel you’ve just written the next bestselling novel, but the truth is, most first novels are full of errors.

When you rewrite the first draft (and the second and third, and so on) except for small improvements your work will still have weak sections. You can’t fix something if you don’t know what is wrong. At some point you will need outside help. Even experienced authors benefit from an impartial eye, so that help should not come from your loving Aunt Mary. Support, yes, but writing advice, no. Not unless she’s a successful author herself.

Have you taken the time to go to a writing conference or join a writers’ group? If you have ever had your writing analyzed by an expert, you were most likely shocked by their comments. You had no idea there was still so much to learn about writing. Taking a course in creative writing, joining a local writers’ group, going to writing conferences, and reading some of the many books on writing can teach you techniques for making your novel a success. You will pick up writing tips and learn how to structure a novel.

After you’ve rewritten your novel employing all your newfound knowledge, you may think you are ready to publish. Not so. This is the most dangerous stage, where many writers become impatient and “just want to get it published.”

Take a step back. You have a wonderful plot and you’ve told the story in a way that makes the reader want to turn the pages, but you can ruin it all by publishing before it is ready. Some people say poor editing doesn’t make them stop reading. Does that mean they don’t care about the fine craft of writing? If they will read anything, regardless of quality, perhaps they will write without quality too. Not something worthy of much respect.

Imagine you are going to a job interview. Would you present yourself before the interviewer  with your hair scraggly and unwashed, wearing a beautiful brand new outfit and dirty old sneakers? Would you think it doesn’t matter because you know you’re a great person inside?  I can guarantee you won’t make a good impression. The interviewer will have nothing good to say about you. He is judging you by what he sees.

And so it will be with your book. If you want the readers to love it and recommend it to others, don’t publish it if it hasn’t been cleaned up. And I don’t mean a quick read through by Aunt Mary who declared it the best thing she’d ever read. Even that friend with a college degree who pointed out some grammatical things and a spelling mistake is not going to catch everything. Get your book professionally copy-edited and publish quality work confidently.

If you have not worked at shaping your novel with the help of books, courses, critiquing groups, and workshops, you may need a substantive editor for putting the scenes and events in the best order. Chances are that you are past this stage and feel the book is ready. Don’t hire a proofreader. That won’t do you much good unless you only want spelling, punctuation, and typos fixed, but a good copy editor will check all these things. You pay once and get the benefit of having any mistake or problem pointed out to you.

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Here are some of the things a copy editor will draw your attention to.

  • poorly phrased sentences
  • lack of balance in the sentence (perhaps where the verb at the beginning does not match with the clause or phrase you have added onto the main sentence frame)
  • overused words
  • repeated words within two or three sentences
  • incorrect grammar usage
  • incorrect capitalization
  • misuse of possessives and plurals
  • wrong word meaning
  • punctuation mistakes, especially in the use of dialogue
  • typos, missing words, and repeated words (the the)
  • incorrect information (fact checking)
  • consistency throughout the work (does Jane become Jayne later in the work?)
  • misspelled words (breath or breathe, loath or loathe)
  • misuse of homonyms (peek, peak, or pique)
  • incorrect verb tense (lie, lay, laid, lain, etc.)
  • boring repetition of the same sentence pattern
  • incorrect use of pronouns after a preposition (between him and I? or him and me?)
  • use of clichés that are not part of the dialogue

These mistakes and many more will be drawn to your attention. It’s well worth spending the time and money to have the errors corrected. A good copy editor will help make your writing shine.

 

Books Matter

When I was little and we had just come to Canada from Germany, my mother read to me often from “The Golden Book of Fairytales,” one of the important items she packed to bring with us. Books were important to her, and she made sure that her children also learned to appreciate them.

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My two younger sisters were already Canadianized by the time they were old enough to be told fairytales, so maybe they didn’t have quite the same attachment as I did to this particular book. One day when they felt creative and there was no other paper handy, they drew their pictures in the fairytale book.

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I remember being upset about it and judging by her reaction, so was my mother (although I’m sure now that she was putting on the horrified face mostly to show my sisters that defacing books was a No-no). My sisters might have been somewhere between three and five years old.

After that, when my mother read us stories from the big book, she sometimes clucked at the scribblings and shook her head, and I’m sure my sisters felt guilty while I put on my most self-righteous “older sister” look.

One day at storytime, when my sisters were about eight or nine and they commented on the scribbling in the book, my mother decided that it might be a good time to talk about how important it was to take care of your books. My sisters were genuinely sorry and to make it better, my mother suggested that they write an apology in the book.

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Now, 51 years later, we chuckle about it. The book is one of my special treasures, but more special is the memory of my mother’s reverence for books and how she taught it to her children. I will always love her for that.

Three Things – “Grace”

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Pen Name- Grace~ Elizabeth GL McGarva

I’m pleased to host “Grace” (her pen name), a writer  whose words tell of her insight and sensitivity. I’ll let her tell you about herself.

 

Who Am I~

~ Retired public school teacher, early learning planner, volunteer, mother, blogger @ the wordpress site, aliceandmolly.com, and fledgling writer.

 

Blissful Moments~

Dark coffee, family, friends, music and books.

Beautiful Words~

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” 

–          Soren Kierkegaard

This wise quote sums up my writing pitch.  I mine back through life experiences to discover the truths of a family~ enduring love, loss, betrayals, the necessary compassion and ultimately, forgiveness – the living forward part.

 Three Things I Don’t Write~

 • As Anneli before, I don’t write of vampires although I once was hooked on a popular blood lust series.  Supernatural powers frighten me; pointy teeth are distracting and coffins are disconcerting.  I have enough anxieties without adding vampires to the list of fears.

Sci-fi~ I realize that science fiction is popular, entertaining, at times political; I just don’t “get” over-sized creatures like Godzilla so best I stay away from that genre!

Romance~ I believe in “happily ever after,” yet couldn’t write that genre in a convincing style!

Three Things I Do Write*~

 * Confession~ I am a fledgling writer, studying, and networking with other bloggers and writers, honing my words.  I have submitted three short stories, two stories to magazines (one rejected) and one, published on writersite.org (Thank you, Luanne!)  I am Freshly Pressed on wordpress.com (Thank you, wordpress!).

 Short Stories~ Several of these difficult to write shorts are the story seeds for the novel I am presently attempting to write.

Beautiful words~ I am captured by a poignant mix of lyrical phrase and I attempt to write short stories with a heartfelt and compassionate voice, to show my flawed characters as human, to share their beautiful and messy truths with the reader.

•  Children’s Stories~ I have read hundreds of children’s stories to hundreds of children! I am listening to my mother’s words, “Write about a Manx. Can’t you write about cats, Grace?” she says. I agree, Mom. Cats are a popular choice of character for younger readers; I’d prefer to write of sprites and hummingbirds!  I’m playing with a few ideas for a convincing plot, conflict, and characters that would appeal to the Junior Reader!

     Thank you, Anneli for allowing me to guest post on your blog and for your kind support and encouragement.  That’s the finest part of the writing journey that I am on – the paths that lead me to authors and writers willing to inspire and mentor another.

Children’s Adventure in Mauritius

I’d like to sit on this beach with my writing pad and jot down notes for my new novel. My guest, Pooben Narayanen, is lucky enough to do this if he wants to, as he lives in this paradise that is Mauritius.???????????????????????????????

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Here is Pooben to answer some interview questions I asked him.

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1. How do you feel about being a writer? 

I enjoy it, but it is tough. You have ideas in your head and then you have to motivate yourself to put them down on paper or type them up on your computer. That is the toughest part.

2. What kinds of things do you like to write about?

Oh wow! There are several things, but here are my favorites starting with fiction: writing for children, also horror or the paranormal, and everyday life. Non-fiction: if I could I’d write about people. All kinds of people, real people. I’d write about what it is they do, what their life is like and what their thoughts are. I mean regular everyday people – no superstars – just people. The goal, I think, is to prove that the social construct – that is race, ethnicity, and all those other divisive elements – are irrelevant. To prove we are all the same.

 3. What is the title of your book?

The Mount Hope Explorers Club and the Great White.

4. Can you tell us in 25 words or less what it’s about?

Three ten-year-olds living in Mauritius meet a great white shark, and they have to save it!

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5. There is a lot of swimming and snorkeling in your book. Did you grow up loving the water? Tell us about it.

 I was taught how to swim in the ocean at a very young age, but we moved a lot, so I didn’t get to follow through in the younger years. When we lived in Mauritius, going to the beach was a big deal. My parents were busy with work and in Mauritius, people frown upon activities such as snorkeling. When you are in school you should be studying. So for a long time snorkeling was not an option. I started getting into it when I got older.

6. Did you have a group that you hung out with when you were about ten years old?

I wish I could say yes but there wasn’t much of a group. I hung out with some of the kids where I lived.

7. What kind of mischief did you and your friends get into?

One thing I remember is playing army in my grandmother’s vegetable patch. It was awesome because part of the garden was like a jungle. We would spend hours playing there. My grandma would get mad because we’d run through the good vegetable patch!

8. What is the motto of your characters in the Explorer’s Club? What is their goal, their aim, as they pursue their adventures?

The motto is “Never be bored.” Their goal is simply to keep busy and keep things interesting. They know, thanks to Dr. Gail, their mentor and curator at the Mount Hope Museum, that the world is full of interesting things – starting with Mount Hope village.

9. Do your characters end up having learned something in the story that has improved them in some way? What values have they learned that will aid in their growth towards adulthood?

My hope is that the characters grow to become citizens of the world. They are open-minded and pragmatic. The main values they are learning are fairness, acceptance, and empathy.

10. What are your favourite hobbies?

If I had the time it would be hiking and snorkeling. One or the other would make me happy!

11. What is your favourite way to spend time with your children?

Right now it usually involves running around according to their schedule. You go through a range of emotions in those moments.

12. Would you like it if your children did the activities that your characters do in your book, if they were the age of your characters? Why or why not?

I think I’d love that. To have that kind of freedom would be amazing but reality is different, right?

13. Do you have another book planned? Without giving away the plot, can you tell us what type of book it will be?

I have started working on the second book. The Mount Hope Explorers Club go to the Red Island: Madagascar. They find themselves involved in a possible coup, international intrigue, and dodgy people.

14. Where can people buy your book?

My book is available on Kindle (click here).  You can also find Mount Hope stories on my blog: www.mounthopeexplorersclub.com

***

Thanks for your visit, Pooben. I’ve read The Mount Hope Explorers and the Great White, and I think anyone with children would enjoy reading this to them or having them read it for themselves. Lots of good adventures with page-turner quality. Best of luck with your books.

Love at the Ends of the Earth

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I asked author Pooben Narayanen to add his thoughts to our Valentine’s Day countdown with a Valentine’s-Day-related story. Here is what he came up with.

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Valentine’s Day related story, eh? Well, I have to admit that my partner and I aren’t into Valentine’s Day. We see it as being a bit too commercial. Over here it’s a big deal. I’m pretty sure that restaurants are booked and cards are flying off shelves, and although Mauritius grows roses, I wouldn’t be surprised if some aren’t being imported from Kenya or Holland.

However, I do have a Valentine story. It goes back to my secondary school days during my O level year (Mauritius follows the British system). It so happened that I was a bit of a whiz when it came to English literature. How did I know this? A few days before Valentine’s Day I noticed one of my classmates writing a letter to the love of his life. I couldn’t help myself and decided to give him a hand. Before I knew it I was helping guys from other classes. I ended up using quotes from Shakespeare. Their girlfriends loved it! Naturally nobody admitted that I was the one who wrote it. Ah, teenage love, eh?

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As for me my Valentine’s will be spent with my wife and two boys. I am an author who is trying to make a go of things. I am based in Mauritius, which for those who don’t know, is located all the way in the southern part of the Indian Ocean. You can find my first book “The Mount Hope Explorers Club & the Great White” on Kindle. I also have a website with short stories: www.mounthopeexplorersclub.com.

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Venison Vindoo – Mauritian Style

Can you imagine a wedding in a place as lovely as this?

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I’ve asked my friend, writer Pooben Narayanen, to tell us how the locals do it.

Venison Vindoo, Mauritian Style

No matter how small or how big, weddings require a lot of work. In Mauritius you almost need to recruit an army of people to help out. When my cousin got married in 2001, wow! Did we have our hands full.

My family in Mauritius is of Tamil ancestry. We tried to keep some of the old country culture, particularly for weddings, although I am told that things are done differently back there.

Aside from the wedding itself there are two important functions: the wedding eve dinner and the vindoo lunch, a post-wedding reception. The vindoo lunch is hosted by each wedding side separately. It is considered bad luck to do it together.

In the days before the wedding, no alcohol or meat is to be served. After the wedding at the vindoo it’s no holds barred and the majority of Tamil-Mauritian families will butcher a goat. They make the most delicious curries you can think of.

Our curries are not as peppery as you would find in South India. We place emphasis on the blending of spices and tenderness of the meat. Chilli hot is not our style. Besides chilli hot does not help in 30+ degrees, when you’re wearing your best sari, dress or suit, and also enjoying a cocktail or whiskey.

On my mom’s side we don’t do goat for the vindoo; we do deer. My granddad was a game warden and supposedly one of the best shots of his time. So my mom and her family all grew up on venison. And when they got married somebody would just go out and bag a deer. So that’s what was on the menu.

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The in-laws' side of the family pay the bride to eat.  Same on the other side of the family where they pay the groom to eat. (Like wedding presents)

The in-laws’ side of the family pay the bride to eat. Same on the other side of the family where they pay the groom to eat. (Like wedding presents)

My uncles got a good deal from one of the game reserves, and the bride’s side wanted to serve deer for their vindoo, too. We were told that they would be bringing in two freshly killed deer on the eve of the wedding. We had been busy preparing the house and marquis for the wedding eve dinner and now we also had to  cut and quarter two deer. One of my uncles managed to get his hands on a huge fridge to store the carcasses. The butchering was to take place after dinner.

As we were setting up decorations that afternoon, when I heard a car horn. Someone yelled that the deer had arrived. One of my eldest cousins sat grinning behind the wheel of a really old rented car. “Where’s the truck with the deer?” I asked.

He just smiled. “We managed to fit both carcasses in the boot of the car.” He popped open the trunk. “Two does, freshly killed this morning.”

They had been gutted, but not skinned. He had placed banana leaves underneath and on top to keep them clean. Whose job was it to carry them to the fridge? That was mine, my brother’s and two other cousins’. The cousin who had brought the deer wasn’t getting his hands dirty!

Now the front of the house was covered by a huge marquis with the tables and decorations set up. My aunt was not going to allow us to bring the carcasses through the front door. This meant going through the neighbour’s yard and carrying them over a wall.

My brother and one cousin and I got the carcasses out of the trunk and over the wall. The other cousin had disappeared. Thankfully we were able to hold onto the deer by the legs. Mind you, it was not that easy to keep them clean. Everyone gave us instructions, but nobody wanted to help!

As we placed the deer in the fridge my brother noticed powder burns from a gunshot on one of the deer’s hind quarters. We spread a rumour that when my cousin had to pick up the deer, they had shot the first one and he was given the honour of shooting the second one which was tied up. He was such a lousy shot that he hit it in the ass!

Our worries were not over yet. These deer had to be quartered and butchered. After the wedding eve dinner, after the dancing, when everyone had bedded down or gone home, it was time to get to work. The garage became a temporary butcher shop. It was one a.m. by then, but it had to be done as we were having our vindoo right after the wedding the next day.

One of my uncles had set up a hook and hoisted one carcass. He had been out hunting a few times so he knew what to do. We first had to skin the deer. I was okay with cutting the meat but I left the skinning part to my uncle, the outdoorsman. My cousin decided that if his dad could do it so could he, and the older guys decided to give him a go. He was pretty good, but then he got too cocky. They kept telling him to slow down, but he wasn’t listening. He kept going on and on that he was going to get it done in no time. Then the knife slipped. Oh man! He had sliced his finger pretty bad. Thankfully, it didn’t require stitches.

“We’d better find that part of the finger,” my uncle said, “or someone might end up eating it.”

When my cousin slipped away, we were all complaining that he had bailed. But nope, he come back with a pan, oil, onions, pepper, salt, small green chillies, some cola and a bottle of rum. He found two big bricks and some wood and got a fire going. He set the pan on the fire. While it warmed up he made each of us a rum and coke.

He chose a piece of filet and chopped it into small pieces, spicing it with salt and pepper. Once the pan was hot he added the oil and fried the onions and chillies before adding the meat. Man! It was perfect.

It had started drizzling and the temperature had dropped so the venison snack was just what the doctor ordered. My cousin and I wanted more. We even went to scrounge some bread, but my uncle was having none of it, reminding us that it was for the guests. It was an excellent night and we finished at around 4 a.m. We had to be up by 6:30 that morning for the wedding.

For the vindoo, everyone complimented us for our cutting and butchering skills, although my aunt, who was in charge of the cooking, complained that a filet was missing. My uncle told her that it was a skinny deer, but she didn’t buy it.

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I’d say Pooben and his family did well to tear themselves away from the beach to do all that work for the wedding. Just look at what he was missing!

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About Pooben Narayanen

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Pooben Narayanen grew up in Mauritius, the United Kingdom, and Canada. He holds two bachelor degrees from McMaster University, Canada and a Master’s degree from Sydney University, Australia.

He lives in Mauritius with his wife and two children. The Mount Hope Explorers Club and the Great White is his first book.

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You can find “The Mount Hope Explorers Club and the Great White” on amazon.com

Christmas Interview – Pooben Narayanen

Today, my guest is Pooben Narayanen. He has some very exciting news. His first book is published on amazon outlets. Since Pooben lives on Mauritius, he knows a lot about the island and has been able to use this exotic place for the setting of his book. You’ll soon be hearing more about Pooben and his first published book. 

Welcome, Pooben.

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Christmas Interview

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

We celebrate the festive side of Christmas, especially for the kids, with the Christmas tree, Santa Claus and gifts.

 2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

I spent Christmas Eve alone once. It wasn’t so bad. I was in bed early because I had to work the next day. After work I got to hang out with my friends which was nice.

 3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

I suppose it depends on where I am. In Mauritius, we might have a BBQ. Lamb, shrimp, chicken and fish, with salad and baguettes. Back in Canada it would be a roast.

 4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I think it’s okay for children. But for adults? The whole thing has become so commercial now that it feels as if it’s only about money. 

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

Going to the beach. 

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

No. 

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

I would have to say my first bicycle! 

8. What is a gift you’d rather not receive? 

Ties.

9. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

Never received one. 

10. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

No. 

11. What would you change about Christmas?

Maybe make it less commercial. Is that even possible? 

12. What would you keep the same if you could?

If I could enjoy it like when I was a kid, I wouldn’t change a thing.

13. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

The Nutcracker.

14. What do you like best about Christmas?

It’s another excuse to eat! 

15. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

Merry Christmas to all!

 

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