Tag Archives: publishing

An editor’s life isn’t all buttercups and adoration

tana jung via photobucketRealization

I realize that some writers dread the edit – I’m the type that looks forward to it! I love it when my editor picks apart my prose, my grammar, my dialog.

I love a good dragon-powered edit from my BFE (best friend/editor), Shawn MacKenzie. See Shawn’s editor-at-large page. If you want her new book (and you should!) click Dragons for Beginners.

Hold your breath and cringe

The writer holds his breath once he sends an MS to his editor.

The writer cringes when she sees “Your MS Critique Letter” in her inbox.

What about us editors?

Yeah, we suffer too.

I have been bitched out, effed up and down, slammed against the internet wall, told, “Never contact me again,” and, “You don’t know what you’re doing because my Aunt ______ loves my book!”

Why do so many writers play the “aunt” card?

Just a few curse words

I had a writer curse me out because I wouldn’t give a carte blanche and a recommendation on her publishing company (I edited her book, but I knew nothing about her publishing company).DSC01608

A nice reply

Friend Denise Hisey (who has an awesome blog, you need to check it out) had some very nice things to say about my recent critique letter to her.

What Denise Hisey said: Criticism can be hard to take. I didn’t feel like you were criticizing though, I felt you were helping. I’ve grown too much in other areas of my life not to grow in this one, too! I may never sell a thing, but I want to improve as a writer just the same.

Ah, Denise. Your email was like a tender spring breeze among the apple blossoms.

Denise also said, about editing and editors: Yes, I imagine it could be nerve wracking on your end, too!

You got that right.

Throwing poo

I don’t just throw editor-flavored poo at you to make you feel bad.

I throw good poo at you – based on what I’ve learned about editing and proofreading, from reading blogs about editing and proofreading, and from reading blogs and industry articles about publishing, books, and writing.

And remember, I read grammar, punctuation, and style manuals for fun.

I hold my breath and cringe too

Every time I send a critique letter or a mass of comments on an MS, I shrink from what might come back from an “offended” writer.

But then I get a great testimonial, like from Elizabeth H. Cottrell. Elizabeth sometimes has me edit her non-fiction articles.

What Elizabeth said: Not only did [Karen] get the work back to me quickly, but the critique she provided was thorough, intelligent, and highly professional. She is very knowledgeable about proper and effective writing in general and blogging in particular, so her suggestions added clarity and energy to my articles. It’s an investment in the honing of my own writing craft.

Elizabeth and I developed a friendship, and we commiserate on many subjects (not just writing related).

So, your editor

How will you respond to your editor the next time?

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Shawn MacKenzie. She’s an editor extraordinaire if ever there was one.  

Shawn MacKENZIEShawn MacKenzie had her first Dragon encounter when she was four years old and happened upon a copy of The Dragon Green by J. Bissell-Thomas. That was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Author of The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2011), and Dragons for Beginners (Llewellyn, 2012), she is an editor and writer of sci-fi/fantasy. Her fiction has been published in Southshire Pepper-Pot, 2010 Skyline Review, and as a winner of the 2010 Shires Press Award for Short Stories. Shawn is an avid student of myth, religion, philosophy, and animals, real and imaginary, great and small. Her ramblings can be found on her blog, MacKenzie’s Dragonsnest and at her web site.

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Denise Hisey. I don’t like to define Denise by “survivor,” because she’s so much more than that.

Denise Hisey 2Denise Hisey is a survivor of chronic, severe childhood abuse. Asking for help didn’t come easy, but she highly recommends it. Her memoir is still stuck in her head, but screams to be set free! She lives in Washington State with her husband and enjoys riding her motorcycle when weather allows. Her growing family is her pride and joy! Find her blogging at Inspired 2 Ignite or reading on Goodreads.

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Elizabeth H. Cottrell. Elizabeth is my most-fave client ever.

Elizabeth CottrellElizabeth H. Cottrell, a.k.a. RiverwoodWriter, is a Connection Curator, collecting and organizing information and resources about the power of connection to present them in ways that provide meaning and value. She is a passionate student of everything related to life’s essential connections: with God, with self, with others, and with nature.

Elizabeth shares her findings, inspiration, and guidance at Heartspoken.com. Elizabeth also teaches small business connection strategies at RiverwoodWriter.com.

Connect with Elizabeth on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

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Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies. – Aristotle

True friends stab you in the front. – Oscar Wilde

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Opening Photo – Tana Jung via Photobucket.com.

Quotes from BrainyQuote.com.

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Filed under Editing & Proofreading

Word Shark Art by Janice Phelps Williams

A special thank you

You may have seen this Word Shark artwork by Janice Phelps Williams on my Facebook page. Isn’t it cool?

About Janice

Janice Phelps Williams has worked in publishing since the early 1990s and has brought over 250 books “to life.” In addition to designing, illustrating, and editing books for others, she is also the author of Open Your Heart with Pets: Mastering Life Through Love of Animals and is working on a middle-grade novel called Finding Pletonia. When not working on books, she likes to create altered books and take photographs.

Janice blogs about creativity at Appalachian Morning.

Find Janice’s book design business here. Book design, blog, editorial services, fine art, illustrations, photographs, and more!

Janice contributed to my Kids’ Week theme week. Her blog article includes a step-by-step list for working with an experienced illustrator. You can see Janice’s Kids’ Week article here.

Janice and her husband, Mark Van Aken Williams (a writer and a poet) live in Northern Michigan.

About Mark

Mark blogs at Shakes, Shivers, and Dithers. Read about his collection of poetry, Book Circus by Moonlight, and his novella, The Prophet of Sorrow, here.

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Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Illustrators & Illustrations, Special Events

Kids’ Week – Writer Allyn Stotz

Article by Allyn Stotz

I am so pleased to be guest blogging today and would like to thank Karen for allowing me to do so. She has asked me to talk a little bit about my road to publication. It’s not a very exciting story, but it’s MY story!

My road to publication began about four years ago; I am now 55 yrs. old. As a child, I enjoyed writing stories, inventing them, and playing them out with my siblings. We were always putting on some type of skit for our parents. They were so patient and tolerant! Until now, my career mostly consisted of administrative jobs and/or working in human resources. On those jobs, I wrote several procedures manuals, created newsletters, and did lots of memo writing. Those were always my favorite parts of the job. My husband’s company has transferred us many times so I’ve lived in several cities in Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi; therefore that led to me having quite a few different jobs along the way.

My family is made up of several journalists. First is my father, who owned and wrote our town newspaper. My mother helped him with that newspaper and wrote a weekly column. One of my sisters majored in journalism and is now a freelance editor and writer. So I believe that writing was always in my blood, it just never screamed out to me in volume.

The Wow Moment. Then one day while reading my brother’s blog, I came across a story he was toying around with. My brother is not a writer per say, but you wouldn’t have known that by reading his descriptions of a computer game he loved playing. After reading his descriptions of that fantasy game world, I had the big “wow” moment go off in my brain. My first thought was, “Wow, he can really write!” Then I thought to myself how fun it would be to write a fantasy story and I decided to investigate it further.

I did a little research about the subject of writing for children and then sat down to begin. The words just began to flow from my fingertips and have not stopped since!

Submissions and Rejections. My road to actual publication took a little over 1 ½ years, which in retrospect, was pretty quick. Some authors have to wait years before they are fortunate enough to become published. I did a good year of research on writing children’s picture books and enrolled in the Institute of Children’s Literature. After doing both of those, I finally became confident enough to send out my first submission. I was one of the lucky ones and had that first submission accepted by an online children’s magazine. From there, I spent the next ten months sending out more manuscripts and receiving many rejections. Then to my surprise, I finally heard back from FutureWord Publishing who wanted to publish my story The Pea in Peanut Butter. Talk about thrilling!

Getting published is not an easy process and most times, not quick but it is a journey that is well worth the time and effort. There is nothing more satisfying to me than hearing that a child or their parent enjoyed the words that I wrote.  But everyone’s journey is different and so is the outcome. If you are one of those people contemplating becoming a children’s writer I would say to you that your first step should be to find your truth. Dig deep into your soul and find the real reason you want to write. Then never forget those reasons, get out that pen and write, write, write! Always remember that you can’t get published if you don’t submit your work. But most importantly, never give up.

And on that note, I’d like to tell you all that after my 83 yr. old mother watched me get published, she decided to work on making her dream of writing a novel come true. She and my editor sister have written a book together and the first of the series will be published soon! So if we can do it, so can you!

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Allyn Stotz

Allyn’s first children’s picture book titled The Pea in Peanut Butter was published by FutureWord Publishing in June 2011. Allyn graduated from the Institute of Children’s Literature and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

The Pea in Peanut Butter is available in paperback, Kindle, and coloring book format on Amazon as well as other online retail stores. It is also available at Cavalier House Books in Denham Springs, LA, Barnes and Noble, Mandeville, LA, Bible and Book Store and Learning Express, both in the Baton Rouge, LA area. Allyn lives in Baton Rouge, LA with her husband, two crazy dogs and one fat cat.

Connect with Allyn on her blog, Twitter, or on Facebook.

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Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Illustrators & Illustrations, Kid Stuff & Children's Books

Kids’ Week – Illustrator, Book Designer, Janice Phelps Williams

Creating a Children’s Book!

Article by Janice Phelps Williams

As a child I spent most of my time taking dance lessons and practicing ballet. I loved Swan Lake and my toe shoes. But when I reached junior high my best friend and dance partner moved away, and I made the choice to discontinue lessons. I started playing guitar instead, and then I discovered drawing and crafts when I was 14 years old. I had to spend a lot of time in bed due to an illness, so I would gather my papers, pencils, sewing basket, small TV, and toy poodle all up on my bed and draw for hours. I was lucky to have a friendly art teacher, Mrs. Lotze, and she shared with me her love of watercolor paints and taught me how to draw.

I also loved to read and when I was healthy again, I went to the library and checked out all kinds of books. This is a love that has continued throughout my life.

When it came time for me to graduate from high school and go to college, the only thing I wanted to study was art. I was always happiest when I was creating something, so I did study art and graduated from Kent State University in Ohio.

As life went on, I found many opportunities to keep drawing and creating things through a variety of media. Sometimes I was paid for my work, at other times I worked just for the joy of creating.

In 1997, I started working as a book designer. In 1999, I started my own company and began designing book covers, designing the pages of books (layout), and editing books. I was also given the opportunity to illustrate books. A few of the books I illustrated were novels for adults: the books in the Will Turner Novels series by British author Chris Davey, for instance (www.turnerlogs.com).

Then, I was given the chance to illustrate a picture book by Kidzpoetz author, Robert W. Kurkela. The book is Still Her Spirit Sings and is about a wonderful real-life dog named Spirit. Here are two illustrations from the book. They were done in Sharpie and Prismacolor permanent markers.

Last year I was very excited to work on creating the illustrations for a book written by David Boyce: Two True Blue Dragons. I presented the author with pencil sketches, then black and white ink drawings for approval. Once those were approved, I colored the drawings in with Prismacolor colored pencils. I loved drawing these friendly dragons!

I have just finished illustrating a fun picture book for kids of all ages. If you check my website in September, you’ll be able to learn more about this surprising book. Below are a few little watercolor “snippets” from the new book.

My work for authors and publishers involves many steps:

1) The author provides me with the electronic file for the text of the book.

2) I then begin thinking about the story, how it will flow on the book’s pages, where the breaks in the text will be and what scenes should be illustrated. At this point I begin making a storyboard, which is a map for how the book’s pages will be laid out.

3) I send the author sketches of the main characters so that he or she can approve the look of these important figures.

4) I then draw two or three illustrations in pencil and send to the author for approval. (All of this is done using email.)

5) When approved, I then complete these two or three illustrations as they will establish the look and style of the book.

6) I refine the storyboard and come up with basic looks and illustrations for each page.

7) I send the pencil drawings for each illustration to the author for approval. If any changes are requested, I make them.

8) Then, I finish each drawing and send to the author for approval. Changes are difficult at this point, but if any are needed, I make them.

9) I then design each book page, importing the author’s story and my illustrations. At this point, it begins to look like a real book! We also work on any editing to the story that might be needed.

10) While all this is going on, I am also creating the book’s cover. Some books are paperback, others are hardcover, others have dust jackets, and others are also in ebook format. Each format has special issues to consider.

11) When everything is approved, I then consider the printer’s requirements and prepare PDF files for the printer, following their guidelines very carefully.

12) The day the books arrive from the printer is a very happy day.

Designing, illustrating, and editing books has been a wonderful way to earn living. I have met so many interesting people through my work and I am happy that I studied art and had the opportunity to work in publishing.

When I am not illustrating books for authors and publishers, or designing book covers, I am at work on personal projects such as a book I am writing called “Finding Pletonia.” It will be for 10-12 year olds and will be illustrated with drawings of all sorts of fantastic imaginary animals. Like this “elusive poplyn!”

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Janice Phelps Williams

Janice Phelps Williams has worked in publishing since the early 1990s and has brought over 250 books “to life.” In addition to designing, illustrating, and editing books for others, she is also the author of Open Your Heart with Pets: Mastering Life through Love of Animals and is working on a middle-grade novel called Finding Pletonia. When not working on books, she likes to create altered books and take photographs.

Janice blogs about creativity at Appalachian Morning.

Find her book design business here.

Janice and her husband, Mark Van Aken Williams (a writer and a poet) live in Northern Michigan.

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Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Illustrators & Illustrations, Kid Stuff & Children's Books