They’re, Their, There

They're Their There

They’re, their, there!

Here we are for Tutorial Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

They’re Not Letting Me Play with Their Toys Over There!

As you can see I used them all in the sentence above in their proper sense. Let’s take a look at each one, shall we?

 

They’re, their, there quandary!

Let’s take a look at each one, shall we?

They’re

This is a contraction of ‘they are.’ If you think you need to use this in a sentence, you can test it out by replacing it with ‘they are’ to see if it still works.

They’re looking at me.

They are looking at me.

See? You should be able to interchange them easily and the sentence still makes sense.

Their

This is a possessive. The word tells you that whatever you’re talking about belongs to them. Their toys, their car, their vegetables… see?

Their tomatoes were ripe and juicy.

The tomatoes belonged to them, not me. I would certainly buy those tomatoes from them if they are really that good. :)

There

This word is used to describe placement.

They parked the car over there.

It can also be used with variations of the verb ‘to be’.

There are apples all over the ground.

See? It is paired with ‘are,’ which is a conjugation of the verb ‘to be.’

It really is very simple if you take a moment to think about it when you write. In these types of grammatical cases, it is best to rely on your brain than on spell checkers found in many programs. I often get flags on my writing with these three words in MS Word when I am using them correctly. The program wants me to change it to they’re in most cases, which would not be correct for the sentence I wrote. If ever in doubt, just do this quick little test and you’ll know you used the correct one

Just What Do We Do?

If you’re new to the book game, you may be wondering just what in the heck we do. As an author, you know that books just don’t write themselves. You must write, rewrite and perfect your story.

Well, once you’ve got your story as good as you can get it, that’s where we come in. In editing, we read the book to get the overall theme and thrust of the story. Then we can take it chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph, and line by line to really make it shine. Do you use unnecessary words? Like a particular phrase so much that it is overused? Have problems with spelling, colorful metaphors or anything else? We fix it. I’ll send it to you chapter by chapter if you like, and we can discuss any portions you are having issues with or that you disagree with my suggestions. Yes, you can disagree with me. It’s your book. I am merely putting that shine on. Depending on the level of editing you have chosen, this may be just a light spit and polish for grammar, spelling and proper usage, or it could be an indepth substantive edit with reorganization, rewriting, and coaching along the way. Editing can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the amount of work that is needed, what is happening in your life, and the occasional upsets in mine.

For instance, this week, my oldest daughter, our book cover artist, got appendicitis and had to have surgery. While she is recuperating, we won’t be able to do any book covers. Once she feels good enough to sit at her computer again (probably a week or two), she’ll be back to work. She designs covers for both electronic and print books. She can easily put together a nice looking cover from stock photos or with original art. Of course, anything original takes a lot more time than using a photo and manipulating it to fit your book. Plan accordingly if that is what you want for your book. If you are really organized, you can request a book cover while I’m editing, so both phases are being done at the same time. It is imperative for her to have a good understanding of your story and if you have any ideas in mind for the cover.

Formatting. What would a book be without formatting? It would just be a sheaf of pages. We can convert your book for both electronic and print formats. Each version requires its own set up and has its own rules. When we convert a manuscript file to an ebook, for instance, we make a copy of it and then remove all existing formatting. From there, we replace any italics, headings and so forth as necessary, using the guidelines necessary for ereaders to process it. With ebooks, pages are not the same as in print books. Ereaders must be able to reconfigure a “page” according to the standards it is made for. Print conversion from a Word file is done according to the specifications of the size of book you have in mind. All forms of conversion take into account readability, spacing, paragraphs and special text like italics and so on.

Proofreading can be done after the formatting has taken place. We go through your book painstakingly, marking down the errors we may have missed the first time (or second, or third…). No single person is perfect. Luckily, we have several sets of eyes we can put to work for proofing. All errors are corrected before the files are returned to you for publishing or submission.

Of course, we will continue to add services as we improve our tools and skills. We are always learning about better ways to help authors with their books. We do work with several authors at a time, in order to keep our prices low. In this economy, we know many of us are doing the best we can, and here at Unbridled Editor, we want to make it as easy for you as possible to polish and prepare your book.

If you’re still not sure, we are happy to do a sample edit for you. Send us about four or five pages from a section of your book that you feel may still need a little work. We’ll do the sample for you at no cost. It is our goal to be a one stop shop where you can get your book finished off in a professional manner. After all, no matter how good your story is, it still pays to have your book look as good as possible.

Common Errors

Thought I’d post about some of the most common errors I’ve seen while I’ve been editing lately. Keep these in mind when you’re self-editing before you submit your manuscript to an editor, agent or publisher. For those of you who make them, just be aware. I am not making any judgments about these; I just want writers to be aware of them.

Chocked instead of choked
I’ve seen this a lot lately in several different manuscripts by different authors.

Periods before dialogue attributions
Lots of this in many different manuscripts. When you place an attribution, end the dialogue with a comma, a question mark or an exclamation mark, as appropriate.

Hyphens instead of dashes
When you want to use a dash, use one. Don’t substitute a hyphen instead. They are not the same thing. You can make an en dash by pushing the Ctrl button and the minus button at the same time. You can make an em dash by pushing the Ctrl button, the Alt button and the minus button at the same time.

Ellipses only have three dots
Ellipses have three dots, not four, and not a long string of dots. To make an ellipse in Word that acts as a single character so it won’t get split from one line to the next, hold down the Alt button while you put in the numbers 0133.

Ending punctuation
If you’re in the USA, place your periods and commas inside the quotation marks. Don’t leave them dangling.

Shuttered instead of shuddered
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this over the past few months. If your character is creeped out and shuddering, say so. If your character’s house is shuttered up to protect the windows, so be it.

Breath and breathe
Boy, do these two get mixed up a lot! If your character needs to breathe, add the e. If they are taking a breath, leave it off.

Could of, Should of, Would of
Don’t do this. It is could have, should have and would have. If you want the words to sound like of, use could’ve, should’ve or would’ve.

Bear and Bare
Yes, they sound alike, but they are two different things! Bear is either a large, wild animal or your character is having to carry a heavy burden. Bare is, well, you know, without clothing. Even worse is a local exercise place that uses bare in their name and a teddy bear in their logo. 😛

Boarder and Border

A border is a line, an edge or barrier. The yard had a border of marigolds. The excited couple gazed over the border into Mexico. A boarder is someone renting a room.

Well, that’s about it for now. I’m sure I’ll have more to add in another post on another day.

Editing for Publication – Guest Post

Today we are lucky to be hosting a guest post by author Liz Borino. (Loud applause.) She has two books published now. She also edits and does publicity for other authors. See the links at the bottom of this post to get your hands on her books.

Thank you for having me here today, Toni. I’m a two time author published by Lazy Day, a digital first publishing company. I’m here to impart a little secret on you: the writing life doesn’t get (much) easier once you have that publishing contact. Yes, there’s no more stress about querying. I have to ask, does anyone enjoy doing that, if so, please tell me in the comments. Even without that stress, there’s something you might not have thought of: editing. Now, I expect one of two reactions: a.) “But I’ve already edited! It’s perfect!” or b.) “Isn’t that what editors are for?”

To the former group, your baby isn’t perfect, I’m sorry to tell you. It’s good, it may even be great, but it’s not perfect. You know what’s funny about that? It won’t be perfect even when it’s published. Ask Toni, she’s going over my first book, Expectations, six months after publication. Before it even gets to publication, though, there will be at least two editing stages. Once the publisher acquires your manuscript their editors do ‘revision suggestions.’ These are the ‘big’ things which need to be corrected: character inconsistencies, plot holes, and scenes which can be deleted, to name a few.

Here’s one more, the one I struggled with, point of view. See, Expectations and What Money Can’t Buy are both told in third person omniscient POV. For non-writers, if they’d even be reading this, that means you’re in every character’s head constantly. Lazy Day said it was hard to follow in What Money Can’t Buy. They wanted me to only be in one character’s head in each scene. I’m going to be honest with you, that was hard for me to take. I learned a lot from writing and editing Expectations and I believed, even in my first draft, What Money Can’t Buy showed that. Lazy Day and I ended up coming to a compromise with the POV issue because I couldn’t limit to one character per scene. It just wouldn’t work with the book. A good publisher will listen to you and respect your opinion, if you feel strongly enough. And Lazy Day is great about that. However, it’s just as important for you, the author, to get off the ‘my story is perfect’ stick.

And to the group who chose option b? No. I’d say more, but as an editor, the thought of that group makes me want to reach through the computer let loose with a curling iron.

Expectations Amazon: http://amzn.to/fxC2Tf
B&N: http://bit.ly/e7mwDj
Fan page: http://on.fb.me/cw3IqE

Going Mad?

You have toiled over your manuscript for weeks, months, maybe even years. You’ve written and rewritten more times than you can count. You’ve removed scenes and sentences you’ve loved in the effort to make your book ready to publish. Finally, you’ve sent it off to an editor for polishing. It is rather like sending your baby off to preschool… you stand tearfully at the curb as your child is taken away on the school bus. Away from you. Out of your hands.

Then the editor reads it and sends you suggestions for changes. Again you painstakingly go through your manuscript sentence by sentence, word by word. Is that comma really justified? Should I combine those two sentences to make it flow better?

Finally, you think everything is done. It is formatted for an ebook or print. You see the latest version. Is that a typo?? How did we miss that? How many times have you and your editor read through this labor of love and yet you are still seeing errors?

Are you starting to feel like you want to bang your head against the wall because it would feel better than going through your manuscript yet again? You’re not alone.

Any author who cares about the quality of the book they publish goes through this. Yes, it is maddening. Yes, it makes you want to tear it all up into little bits and flush it down the toilet before you jump off the nearest cliff. Yes, you may reconsider your life’s work and decide it would be better to devote your life to swallowing all the alcohol your system can stand. Could this be why Hemingway killed himself?

Take a deep breath. It may seem endless. It may seem like no matter what you do, you can’t find every single typo or error that managed to creep into the manuscript while everyone was sleeping. This is where it pays to have a good editor, or publisher or agent there to hold your hand, wipe your literary brow and tell you it will be okay. Sometimes I find myself like the birth doula I used to be, except I’m reassuring my authors over email or the phone that it will all be okay. If I could, I’d give them a real hug when they are feeling like it will never end.

Before you decide to commit yourself into the nearest mental health facility and give up writing forever, take a look at that dreaded bit of writing again. You may be tired and weary, but the end is in sight. If you are so sick of the sight of your work that you don’t ever want to see it again, chances are you are so close to your goal that you can’t see the forest for the trees. (Yes, I know that is trite and overused, but it seemed appropriate here.) Deep breath. Cup of tea (or other favorite beverage). It is worth that last close look.

Forgive my pregnancy analogy here, but I used to be very deeply involved in the childbirth field. Mothers go through pregnancy, getting bigger and clumsier. I know. I’ve been there many times. By the end of pregnancy, all you care about is getting that baby out of your belly and into your arms. It hurts. You feel awkward. Your ankles have disappeared. All of these inconvenient details help a mother prepare her mind for labor and that first initial separation with her baby when he or she leaves her body and becomes a separate person.

Likewise, all this detail-oriented editing and proofing over and over prepares you as the author to let your book go out to the public. Writing a book has often been compared to giving birth, but the analogy holds true. By the time you’ve vetted it so much, you’re ready to hurl the damn thing out the window and let it fall where it may. Having a trusted editor, agent or publisher can help ease this transition for you and make you feel better about the process. You don’t have to go through it alone.

Once your book makes its debut, it will be the better for all of this hard work. It will be crisp, well-written, and as error-free as you can make it. You can feel good that your book, even if you self-publish, is as high quality as it can be.

So, when you feel you are truly losing it and that you’ll be physically sick if you have to look at even one more page of your manuscript again, keep that big picture in mind. As a birth doula, sometimes I had to remind mothers of their goal at the end; that all this pain was going to result in a sweet little baby in their arms. The pain sometimes made them forget. As an editor, I sometimes have to remind my authors that at the end of all this pain, they will get a wonderful book that they will be proud to see on the shelves.

That end result is worth it.

What Do You Need?

I was thinking about how to meet the needs of our clients today, and it occurred to me, I should ask writers what they are looking for in an editing service! So, this is your chance: tell me what you want in an editor. We will try to incorporate as many of your suggestions into our service as is feasible. Please be realistic in your requests… don’t tell me you want free advanced editing for everyone, for example. As much as I would love to do that, I also have a family that really likes having shelter from the weather and food to eat. However, there must be many ways we can meet your needs. I am not averse to offering specials, as you know, and I am open to trying many things. So… what do you need? What do you want? I would like to tailor our services to the needs of writers as much as possible.

Oh, maybe I should offer a prize to the best suggestion! How about a free line edit for the best suggestion? Please leave your suggestions here in the comments. I will announce the winner of the free line edit on March 31.

So, get out there and share this. Tell your writing friends. This is the chance to help create the editorial service of your dreams… and you could win a free edit. :)

WINNER: The winner of our free line edit is Suzie Ivy! :) Congratulations, Suzie! :)

What Editing Does For the Writer

.What Editing Does For the Writer

What Editing Does For the Writer… So, you’re a writer. You slave over your masterpiece. It is a part of you. It is part of your heart and soul. Why would you want to hand it over to some editor to cut to ribbons?

I don’t want to cut your masterpiece to ribbons. I want to hone it to a fine polish to make you look the very best you can look. Think of it as taking you out of your ragged blue jeans with the paint splotches on them and the torn tshirt and putting you into a nice outfit that shows off all of your best attributes. When we’re finished, your hair is done perfectly and you feel like a million bucks. You’re ready to take on the world. That is what I try to do to your manuscript.

I fix all the spelling errors (even spellcheck doesn’t get them all!). I fix the grammar and punctuation (except where it needs to remain awkward to make a point). I suggest ways to make the writing tighter and smoother. As the author, you always retain the right to dismiss any of my suggestions, but I hope you’ll be open enough to consider them.

I’m not a drill sergeant, living for the moment when I can scream orders at you. I have a gentle voice. One filled with nurturing suggestions. First, I read through your manuscript so I get the whole picture from beginning to end. Then, I slowly and carefully begin my work. I don’t want to supplant your voice with my own. I am happy to remain in the background. I may make suggestions on phrasing or different words you could try, but the ultimate rewriting should come from you. The manuscript is your baby, after all.

We can work together to make your book the best it can be. Doesn’t it bug you when you buy a book and it is full of sloppy errors? I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read that would have made a much better impression if they had been edited before they were published. No matter how good the story is, it is hard to get past those errors. I want your book to be as perfect as possible, so you don’t have to have readers write to you and point out simple errors. And they will. It is worth the extra effort to fact check anything technical. For example, I recently read a passage about a woman having an amniocentesis and finding out the sex of the baby. Unfortunately, in the book, they scheduled it at 13 weeks gestation, when in reality, amnios are only done between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. How would it have changed the story to move it ahead two weeks so it was accurate? Try as I might, I had a very hard time getting past this wrong timing. Now, perhaps only a few readers would be bothered by that, but I’ve spent years studying childbirth, so it really bothered me. Too bad, too… the story was good and well written.

If it isn’t childbirth, it will be something else. Maybe what kind of flowers bloom in June in Massachusetts, or perhaps when the storms hit on the Firth of Forth. Somewhere, someone will notice your inaccuracy. As an editor, it is my job to help you make your book so good that there are no errors for people to pick up. You want your readers to be so engrossed in your story that they can’t put it down; finding errors will wake them out of their thrall with your book. It can ruin the experience for them. Take the time and work with an editor. It is worth the effort and the cost

Is Alright All Right?

This one is a personal pet peeve of mine. I see people use alright all the time. Technically, it is not a word. It is a misspelling of all right. Every time I see it I want to scratch it out and write it correctly.

For language geeks like me, it is with great trepidation that I learned that alright is mildly acceptable in British English along the fringes. Eeek. Thank you to Grammar Girl for enlightening me on this one. According to her site, the American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style says it is unacceptable in one place, yet in another states that it means satisfactory. Huh? Looks like we’re in for a gradual change here in America, too… though I don’t have to like it.

Why Copy Edit?

Copy editing will improve any manuscript. It improves the writing, it improves the writer’s own understanding of the structure of their book, and it makes it easier to publish the book. I know it is difficult to hand your masterpiece off to someone else and let them have their way with it. Before you go into a panic attack, there are a few things to point out.

A good editor will never just slash at your manuscript willy nilly. Certain changes for grammar, style and spelling may be automatic, but anything structural will be suggested first. Perhaps the editor will query you on a potential change or ask why you set it up in the order that it is in. These suggestions can not only tighten your writing, but improve the entire structure of your story.

What was that about making your story easier to publish? Well, like everyone else in this economy, publishers are being hit hard. They understand the reasoning for a high quality edit of every manuscript they set in print. But with costs being what they are, they may be more inclined to print a manuscript that has already had a lot of the editing done before they get it than one they need to spend a lot of time and money on to get it ready. In fact, many agents won’t even consider a book these days unless it is already polished and ready to go.

Yes, it’s true that writers can do editing themselves… to a point. You can go through it with a fine tooth comb and correct your spelling errors. However, and this is true of all writers, myself included, that after awhile, you just don’t see the errors. This is actually good if you’re a writer. You need to be so involved in your work that it becomes a part of you. But this is also why you need a fresh pair of eyes that are not attached to the material to really do a good edit for you.

So, you’ve decided to hand your manuscript off to Aunt Marge. She was a school librarian… she should be able to edit your book, right? Well, she may catch a few things, but professional editors are skilled in evaluating every sentence; every word. They know how to pay attention to detail as well as understand the structure of a book. They also understand how the publishing world works and how to help your book become more marketable. And finally, the best thing you get from a good editor is someone who can teach you. They won’t lecture you about how this, that and the other thing is all wrong; they will guide you and suggest how you can best improve your book.

Just remember that it is a collaboration. The editor is there to make you the best you can be; you will benefit as much as your book.

Why Do I Edit?

I have been asked why I wanted to be an editor occasionally over the years. The truth is… I can’t help it. I unconsciously edit everything I read. My family will tell you my outrage when I find an error in a book we’ve purchased. I point out errors in signs, handouts and menus. I can’t help it. I’ve always been this way.

I’m nice enough not to point out these errors to the parties involved, but it irks me to no end. When I was in high school, I used to correct the handouts I got from my creative writing teacher and hand them back to him. When I graduated, I gave him a special gift: his own personal spelling dictionary. LOL

So, how could I be anything else than an editor? Yes, I write. Yes, I draw and paint. But deepest down, in my heart of hearts, I am an editor.

So, take the opportunity to have me in your corner. I am happy to work on your manuscripts and get them ship shape.