some updates and a beta read offer

How are you today, fellow netizens? I am quite fine and dandy. I’ve scheduled myself a mini writing retreat during the last week of March. The kids are leaving on vacation without me (sigh), so the house will be quiet. I thought it would be a good time to get the next book going. I’m taking a four-day weekend.

Now, if I can just keep myself from getting distracted by video games and keep my husband from devouring my time like it’s some gourmet dish, I think all will go swimmingly.

I sometimes have this grand notion that I could barricade myself in a hotel room with no distractions and get a lot done that way, but honestly, I’d probably just drink a bunch of wine and sleep for like 15 hours. So yes, home is probably better for productivity. Plus I have my kitchen with my food in it and Maxwell (cat) is there. I am quite fond of his presence.

The project this weekend is the cover art for Pestilence Rising. I have a good idea of what I want, font and such. I’m quite confident it’s going to be my best cover yet. And it won’t be black! Crazy, right? I’ll give y’all a look when it’s finished.

That reminds me, I would like to find one or two beta readers for the final version. The book has been edited and beta-read, but I’m still paranoid about typos and such. I have trouble leaving things alone and am worried I’ve screwed part of it up somewhere along the line.

If anyone is interested in beta reading for me, shoot me an email at lea-ryan at hotmail dot com and let me know if you would like a doc or pdf or an epub file and I’ll send it. I would be happy to thank you by name in the acknowledgements.

Here’s the book description as it stands now.

“When Hunter’s emotions break free of his control, any person unfortunate enough to be standing nearby is stricken with a wasting sickness. His affliction has alienated him from his family and prevented him from making any real friends. His life is one of isolation imposed by both himself and his domineering employer, but all that is about to change.

The Center for the Preservation of Natural Order classifies his kind as “ravagers”, just another anomaly from which they must protect the rest of society. The Center allows Hunter to remain free on the condition that he work for them, identifying other people like him for capture. The arrangement works for all parties involved until a girl claiming to be an angel appears in his living room.

Celeste brings word that a cult has kidnapped his estranged brother, and Hunter is the only person who can save him. The two of them plunge into the rainy night with Center agents hot on their tail.

As if their journey weren’t perilous enough, they have to deal with rising floodwaters consuming the countryside and bizarre interference brought by a beautiful, tattooed woman appearing to Hunter as a reflection in glass and water. She seeks to lure him away from Celeste, toward a place in which he no longer has to fear what he is. He will be forced to decide where his loyalties lie.”

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Editing: Method and Resources

I submitted an entry to the Amazon Breakthrough novel contest this year. I was delighted to find that I can edit my entry up until 1/27, which means, yes, I get a little more time to hunt for typos. Woo!

I thought I would write something about my editing process, just because that’s what I’m doing. I’ve written about it before in the past, but methods change.
This is not to say that my stuff is 100 percent error-free. Please trust me when I say, I’m perfectly aware that I screw up sometimes. I would like to think I get things right more often than I get them wrong.

That being said, this is what the most recent work has gone through and continues to go through at this moment. I hope someone might get some ideas for their own edits, so that I may feel like a superhero word nerd.

Step One of the edit. Distance is extremely helpful. I used to wait between the rough draft and the first rewrite, however, I have changed my mind. When I reach the end of the rough draft, the story is still fresh in my mind. I go back to the beginning and see if everything vibes. I burn the book to the ground if I need to rebuild. This is primarily a story edit, but I fix any grammar issues I find as well, mostly because I can’t help myself, plus, what if I don’t catch them on the next read-thru?

Next, I walk away from it. I work on something else while my manuscript cools off in the virtual drawer. This is usually when I crank out another rough draft.
I return, eventually. This is an evaluation. What parts of the book did I skip over because I was in a hurry? Does this make sense? That’s a big one. Sometimes, I’ll read a sentence or a paragraph and wonder what the hell I meant. Did Brain go on autopilot again?

This is the read-thru that requires significant patience. I need to look at the work as objectively as possible in order to determine where the weak points lie. I look for repetitive words and phrases, also a biggie. In this most recent book, I discovered that while writing the rough draft, I developed an obsession with the word ‘few’. Why? I have no idea. Perhaps I was lacking something. I deleted a bunch of ‘fews’.

Oh no, now the word sounds weird. Few few few. Almost like the laser sound effect pew pew pew. Ack.

After another, probably, 2 read-thrus, the manuscript travels to the editor. She reads it, giving me distance once again while it’s gone. During this time, I probably edit the other story I wrote.

I get it back from the editor and make the needed changes. Then I read it again, this time for minor phrasing issues and typos. I catch problems I probably should have caught before it went to the editor.

A couple more read-thrus and typo checks ensue. I try to keep myself from tumbling into obsession.

The last read-thru is a hands-off edit, which means I try to fix typos, only. I find other minor issues, too, but ideally, it’s supposed to be a typo search. That’s what I’m doing right now.

I’ve also been using some online resources pretty heavily, just to double-check various items.

Oxford dictionary and sometimes Merriam Webster

Wikipedia if I need a visual and/or the word is out of the ordinary

White smoke online grammar check for the occasional, questionable sentence. I don’t know how accurate it is, but it makes me feel better.

And Google for questions like – can I start a sentence with (insert word type here)?

I’ve also run the Microsoft Word spelling and grammar checker multiple times. It catches some mistakes, but it isn’t as good as one might expect it to be for what their software costs.

And then, I reach the time to let the book go. Born freeeeee! Free as the wind blows. As free as the grass grows.

I’m getting there soon. Very soon. It’s a weird feeling after working on the book for so long.

Few.

a quick update and a cat picture

Hey there! I’m taking care of some last-minute edits on the current work in progress, so that I can submit it to a contest on Monday. The task is requiring the majority of the mental energy I have at my disposal, so blogging isn’t too high on the priority list this week.

The edit is going pretty well. I haven’t found many mistakes. I’ve fixed some style issues, redundancies and the like. If I had my way, I’d keep it for a few more weeks, but I don’t have more weeks, and hence, I move forward with what I have.

I’ll probably be around more next week. Until then, please enjoy this picture of Max in which his feet look tiny. He is a very serious man. The picture is a little dark because I have to photograph him without the flash or he closes his eyes.

Moo baby