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Time to Edit Your First Draft

Get Ready to Edit the First Draft

Every year in November, along with millions of others, I write the first draft of a novel during NaNoWriMo. For nearly a decade, I have not failed to write at least the first 50 thousand words of a new novel in my Locket Saga series. I currently have four unfinished novels sitting in computer folders waiting for editing and proofing. I have three or four books that I would like to write into this series before I will consider this fiction project complete, but I did decide to put The Locket Saga aside to work on another more contemporary novel (I’ll discuss more about this novel throughout this blogging series.)

In addition to writing my novels, I also have several nonfiction books that I have written and are in various stages of writing. During this next year, one of my major goals is to write and edit the final drafts of these books and send them to my editor.

Since finishing my most recent first draft at the end of November, I spent December focusing on other things like the holidays and what I am going to do during this next year in various aspects of my publishing business. Now that the new year is here, I am ready to focus on editing.

If you have written your first novel in NaNoWriMo, before you even start editing, congratulate yourself. You finished the first leg of the journey from book idea to finished manuscript. You’ve developed the world where your story takes place. You’ve figured out what story you wanted to tell, and you have gotten to know your characters. Pat yourself on the back. You’ve done a lot of work in a short period of time.

Now that you’ve patted yourself on the back, it’s time to get back to work.

The Editing Process

Editing a book that is fit for publication is probably more important than writing a first draft.

You can edit a book yourself or you could get others to help you edit it for you.

The editing process essentially occurs in three steps. One—Content editing Two—Line Editing Three—proofreading.

A writer could spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars getting someone else to content edit, line edit or even ghostwrite their books for them. It doesn’t have to be that way. Authors can and should learn to edit their own work to the best of their ability before sending the book off to have someone else edit their work for them.

Beginning today, I am writing a year-long blog series about how to edit a book from first draft to finished manuscript. For the next twelve months, I will be sharing my knowledge about how to edit your fiction book manuscript to perfection. Even if you are a complete novice, by the end of this year, you will have a novel that is ready to send to a professional editor or agent or publisher without spending thousands of dollars letting someone else do the work (and perhaps not even as well).

The Basic Stages of Editing

Basically, three stages exist in book editing. Those are content editing, line editing, and proofreading.

Content editing includes aspects of novel writing in which you work on developing the story line, the characters, both internal and external dialogue, maintaining point of view, developing the scenes, and tighten up the action. It also includes developing pace.

Line editing includes aspects of novel writing in which you work on paragraph and sentence flow and do final fact checking.

Proofreading should be done last. It doesn’t hurt to do regular spell/grammar checking using a built-in computer program after each editing session, but it’s not wise to spend more than a couple minutes every day at the end of each session over what you edited that day.

It’s important to start editing in the proper order. It would be foolish to proofread at the beginning of the editing process because more than likely you’ll be wasting your time. Imagine proofreading huge passages and deciding later that you want to get rid of that entire section of text. By proofreading too early in the process, you will have potentially wasted hours of valuable time that you could have spent working on improving the rest of the book.

Now that you know editing order, let’s get started.

The First Step in the Editing Process

The first step in the content editing process is to read through your manuscript. However, if you wrote your manuscript on paper rather than on a computer, your manuscript should first be typed out on a computer document before continuing the editing process.

You may want to print out your first draft onto paper, so you can read it more easily as you highlight. I never do this. Instead, I change fonts and font size to give me a different perspective. I like to use “Arial” because it is more like a handwritten manuscript, and it is easier to read.

Just read through the first time, making notes of obvious errors that you see as you’re reading so that you can fix them later.

After you have read through the manuscript this first time, look for the main story line and highlight it in yellow.

Read it again and do the same with other secondary story lines and highlight those as well, but in different colors. Note what story line goes with what color and write a brief description on this chart about each story line. You may need to read through the manuscript several more times before you find all your story lines.

This step is important because in the upcoming weeks, we will be revisiting each of these story lines to evaluate the storyline to determine its value to the overall story, its ARC, character ARCs and scene ARCs. Next week we will be discussing story ARCs and how important they are toward constructing a cohesive novel with no major story content errors. If you locate all the story lines that you have created within your novel this week, you’ll have a good start to your editing process and will be ready to quickly develop your story’s ARCs next week.

Get Your Copy of The Comprehensive Novel Editing Checklist

This is the first post in a series of blog posts about how to edit your novel. If you have a first draft that you would love to publish this year, be sure to pick up a copy of my novel editing checklist and if you haven’t already, sign up to make sure that you never miss a post of this editing series.

FREE COMPREHENSIVE NOVEL EDITING CHECKLIST WITH SUBSCRIPTION TO THIS BLOG


fireworks“Be the Change you want to see.” Gandhi.

If you want to make some major changes this year, the most important thing to realize is that you can’t do it all at once. However, just because this is true, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make amazing and valuable changes this year.

I have made several permanent changes that I wanted to make in my life. I wanted to quit smoking. I did. I wanted to live a healthier lifestyle. I am living one. I wanted to have a cleaner house. My house looks pretty good. I wanted to get my bachelor’s degree. I have it. I wanted to finally write the book that had been in my head since I was in the seventh grade. I have written eleven and have several more in the works. I have done all these things all because I learned the power of the habit. Currently my goal is to start a publishing business. That is currently in the works.

Here are a few things that I learned about the process:

1. Don’t try to change everything all at once. I learned that I couldn’t make all the changes all at once. Yes, I had numerous things that I wanted to do in my life, but I couldn’t do it all at once. I had to choose which one to start first. I chose to work on cleaning and organizing my house.

2. How do you eat an elephant? Take your one change and make it bite size. I have learned that I cannot do everything at once, no matter how hard I try. I had tried to do it numerous times with the same negative results. I had decided that I wanted to keep my house on a higher level of clean so I would clean the entire house all at once only to be too tired to keep up the maintenance.

What worked better was that instead of doing it all at once, I decided to focus on what was most important and do that first. I decided that the best place to start was in cleaning my house. I chose picking up around the house (one room at a time), doing laundry (one step at a time which only took five minutes or less) and doing dishes (right after the meal).

3. Take the same bite size every day. I keep the dishes, laundry and picking up done every day. There isn’t much to do because I do it every day.

4. After a month, build up on that one bite. Once I had control of the laundry, dishes and picking up, I moved on from there. I threw out stuff. I organized stuff. I did deep cleaning. A few minutes every day.

5. Determine to get up the eighth time- Never make the excuse to stop trying. Did I always keep it all up? Of course not. I had bad days, but as Edison said, “It doesn’t matter if you fall down seven times as long as you get up the eighth time.”

6. I am going to over deliver here by giving you a sixth resolution that will help you never fail at another resolution! Resolve to pick up and read my book and learn about the one habit that will help you create all your other habits and reach all your goals. Get The Ultimate Keystone Habit by following this link to reserve your copy now.

What’s Coming Next Week?

One of my own resolutions this next year is to build the editing aspect of my business and help other authors improve the editing process of their books. Each week I will go step by step through the editing process. My goal is to teach anyone, including novices, how to navigate the editing process like a pro.


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2017 was a good year for me. What it good for you?

At the beginning of the year, most of us recognize that the beginning of a new year represents a clean slate of possibilities.

  • Gyms fill up with hopefuls looking to, finally, this year get in shape.
  • Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem have an uptick in their clientele at the beginning of the year.
  • The sales of nicotine gum and nicotine patches go up.
  • We find content galore online and off telling us how to get better organized and how to better manage our time.

When the Hype Subsides

By the first of February, almost as soon as the hype subsides, so does the enthusiasm and participation. Gyms are vacated. Weight Watcher members don’t show up for meetings. The sale of cigarettes goes back up and we must search the archives to find the articles that were so abundant in January. All that organizing we wanted to get done goes unfinished.

I was no exception. I remember back when I used to make New Year’s resolutions. I would make a laundry list of things that I wanted to change like lose thirty pounds, get fit, get organized and write that first book. The first couple of weeks I would do okay, but then something would happen, and I would skip a day and then another until finally I wasn’t doing anything that I resolved to do at the beginning of the year. Every year I would do the same and I would have the same zero results.

So, why does this happen? One of the reasons that this happens comes from the idea that we tend to overestimate what we can do in a day. Another reason is that when we are going over the idea of making changes and realize how wonderful that it would be, but as we go along we realize that we don’t have the will power that it takes to maintain all of these different changes all at the same time.

Don’t Make Resolutions, Establish Habits

So, what is a person to do? How do we actually change? We take baby steps. We can make small changes a little at a time and get used to the small change that we made before moving onto a new change. If we were to take every month and make one small change every month that took only 5 minutes to do, we would improve our lives a full hour during that year.

Where to Start?

Start by reading a book and learn how to establish the most important habit you could develop.

I know there are so many things that all of us don’t like about ourselves, however, did you know that there is one thing that you should start with that would set the stage so that you could make all of life’s improvements that you would ever want to make.

I have written about it in my book: The Keystone Habit. This book will tell you about the one habit that if you do it, it can be the catalyst that can change your entire situation. Click here to get this free book to discover exactly how you can start today doing the one change that could change your life forever.

This book is not just something that works in theory. It works because it works for real people like you and me. I’ve used the information that I am sharing successfully and I am sure you can too.


Week before last, we talked about Santa Claus. (Here’s the Link to this post). Last week I showcased candy canes. Here’s a link to that post (put in link to this post). Because this is Christmas Eve, I am finishing this short series by sharing some more Christmas traditions.

December 25th for Jesus Birthday

Dixie-Stampede-Nativity

The idea that the choice of December 25 for Christ’s date of birth does not come from Pagan holiday traditions as many people believe. A major pagan holiday was celebrated around the winter solstice called Saturnalia. However, Saturnalia wasn’t on December 25th. It ran from December 17-23. Another festival happened on New Year’s Day which started back in 153 B.C.

Celebrating Christ’s birth on December 25th started in A.D. 204 with the writings of Hippolytus of Rome. He figured the date by guessing that Jesus death March 25th which had been the accepted date of Jesus’ death since 200 A.D. In addition, according to Jewish Talmudic tradition, all righteous men died on the same day they were conceived, and Jesus’ conception must have occurred around March 25th. Based on this assumption, by counting the days, nine months after conception would be December 25.

The Three Wisemen Visiting the Stable

The wisemen were mystical priests and astrologists. These men saw something in the starts that they needed to check out. It is highly unlikely that these men arrived at the manger, but rather they came some time later. Based on the Biblical accounts, these men came to the ‘house where the child was.” This could have happened any time after Jesus was born. Herod asked the men when they saw the star in the sky and then asked them to show him where the child was so that he too could worship the child. When the wisemen didn’t return to Herod, Herod sent men to kill every boy child in Bethlehem under the age of two.

In addition, it was unlikely only three of these men showed up. They likely came by caravan. The reason we say three wisemen is because of the three gifts that were given—gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Shepherds and Angels

According to the Bible, angels told shepherds in the field that the Messiah had been born.

Holly

Legend says that one of the earliest connections of Holly with Christmas occurred back when early Roman Christians adopted holly as a sacred plant. They believed that the wood for the cross was made of holly wood and the crown of thorns was holly leaves with white berries stained red by Christ’s blood.

The Christmas Tree

Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.

Christmas Tree Lights

The tradition of lighting the darkness goes back to the Yule, a midwinter festival celebrated by Norsemen. The festival boasted nights of feasting, drinking Yule, the Norse god Odin’s sacrificial beer and watching the fire leap around the Yule log burning in the home hearth.

The lighting of the Yule log spread throughout Europe. Many believed the log’s flame summoned the sun’s return and drove away evil spirits. Over time Christianity adopted this tradition and the light from the Yule log came to represent Jesus as Light in the darkness.

Santa Claus

Santa Claus is based on St. Nicholas, born around 280 AD in what is now Turkey. Nicholas was known for helping the poor. By 1600, he was a popular saint, especially in Holland, where he was known as Sinter Klaas. By 1800, Dutch emigrants had introduced him to the United States, later helped by the writer Washington Irving passing on their stories about him, and by Clement Clarke Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”.

Reindeer

Reindeer are deer species found in the Arctic regions and are well-adapted to living in cold and under rugged conditions, thus a perfect animal symbol to use during the winter season — the season most associated with Christmas. But other than that, reindeer came to be popular in contemporary Christmas lore because of the poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” which was written by Clement Moore, and the song “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Moore’s poem, also known as “The Night Before Christmas,” talks of Santa Claus and his little sleigh, driven by eight flying reindeer. Moore’s poem was published annually during the Christmas season.

Mistletoe

The tradition of hanging it in the house goes back to the times of the ancient Druids. It is supposed to possess mystical powers which bring good luck to the household and wards off evil spirits. It was also used as a sign of love and friendship in Norse mythology and that’s where the custom of kissing under mistletoe originated.

The name mistletoe comes from two Anglo Saxon words ‘Mistel’ (which means dung) and ‘tan’ (which means) twig or stick! So you could translate Mistletoe as ‘bird dung on a stick’! This name came from the fact that mistletoe spread on trees from bird feces to bird feces.

During medieval times, people believed that mistletoe had magical powers. This plant could ward off evil spirits and the devil. It was used in ceremonies and burnt once Christmas was over.

When the first Christians came to Western Europe, some tried to ban mistletoe as a decoration in churches. York Minster Church in the UK used to hold a special Mistletoe Service in the winter, where wrong doers in the city of York could be pardoned.

Mistletoe was also hung on the old English decoration the Kissing Bough.

The custom of kissing under Mistletoe comes from England. The original custom was that a berry was picked from the sprig of Mistletoe before the person could be kissed and when all the berries had gone, there could be no more kissing!

Gifts for Christmas

One of the main reasons we have the custom of giving and receiving presents at Christmas, is to remind us of the presents given to Jesus by the Wise Men: Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh.

Frankincense was a perfume used in Jewish worship and, as a gift, it showed that people would worship Jesus.

Gold was associated with Kings and Christians believe that Jesus is the King of Kings.

Myrrh was a perfume that was put on dead bodies to make them smell nice and, as a gift, it showed that Jesus would suffer and die.

Christmas itself is really about a big present that God gave the world about 2000 years ago -Our Lord Jesus!

Merry Christmas!


Did you know that the candy cane has had a long history?

candy canesThe classic peppermint flavor of the candy cane has been around for 600 years, but the original candy canes didn’t have the now iconic hook but were just straight sticks. In 1640, a German choirmaster decided to change things up by curving the shape to look more like a shepherd’s staff, resulting in the candy cane shape we all know and love today.
About this same time, Christmas trees became popular Christmas decorations and candy canes were part of those decorations. If your family is like my family, there’s a good chance that you have candy canes on your own tree today. (We put up our tree on Thanksgiving weekend.) That hook in the candy cane makes it easy to hang those candy canes on the tree.

The candy cane was first introduced to America in 1847 by a German-Swedish immigrant named August Imgard.

One legend suggests that an Indiana-based candy-maker shaped the peppermint stick into a “J” shape to represent Jesus, with the white stripe symbolizing the purity of his birth and the red stripe later added to acknowledge the blood he shed on the cross. This origin claim has been debunked, because white candy and peppermint sticks existed in Germany since the 1600s. It may be possible though that this Indiana-based candy-maker attached this symbols to the candy cane to make a deeper connection with the holiday season.

Since candy canes were originally made by hand, they were sold out of local candy shops. It wasn’t until the 1950s a Catholic priest named Gregory Keller invented a machine that could make candy canes that curve automatically. Once automated, candy canes became a popular Christmas confection. Every year, 1.76 billion candy canes are sold and ninety percent of them are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In 2012, Geneva pastry chef Alain Roby broke his third Guinness World Record by creating the world’s longest candy cane. This candy cane was 51 feet long. The previous record had been 38 feet.

Though other flavors do exist, the most popular flavor is remains peppermint flavored ones with red stripes on white.

Do you have candy canes around your house this holiday season?


 

Santa_Claus_face

When I was little, I was told that there was a Santa Claus. However, I figured out very quickly (at about 3 years old) that Old Saint Nicholas was a myth. I remember telling my friends at school that there wasn’t a Santa Claus and they treated me as though I were a villain! I vowed then and there that I wasn’t going to perpetuate the lie with my own children. However, as the years went by, I have since relaxed my views.

When my Eldest Son was Little

When my eldest son was little, we had gifts, but the gifts came from family members, not the mythical character. We didn’t have a Christmas tree or any of the other trappings that go with Christmas. We just shared gifts and the Christmas story.

A few years later, after my second son was born, I lightened up on some of the other holiday traditions. We had Christmas decorations and a tree. However, we still didn’t have Santa Claus as part of our celebration. I wasn’t letting a mythical character share the limelight in the celebrations surrounding the second most holy day in Christendom.

Another Ten Years Went By

When my sons were younger, I always told them not to share the fact that Santa was not real with their friends. I even told them the story of what I had to face when I told my friends that there was no Santa Claus.

As I got older, however, I began to see the lack of fun and imagination that comes with “not believing in Santa Claus”. I personally loved watching the Santa Clause with my boys. It was fun to pretend that Santa was real.

My second son was ten when my daughter was born. By the time she was born, Santa Claus was back into our Christmas traditions. The difference we made, however, was that everyone knew that Santa was pretend. My youngest was told from day one that Santa was not real, but we were going to pretend that he was real. We would talk about Santa like he was a real person, but if my daughter was confused about whether he was real or not, I would tell her that he was pretend.

The idea came from something that happened when my eldest was about six years old. I was out blackberry picking while he was talking ninety miles per minute at me. He was telling me a story that I knew was not true and I called him on it. He told me, “It’s just a story, Mom. It’s just a story!”

It’s just a Story

Personally, I have nothing against pretending with our children, especially about someone as benevolent as Santa Claus. Like other forms of fiction, we can use the Santa Claus myth to teach our children about giving to others. The Santa story is also a story that boosts the imagination and by pretending the Santa character with our children, we can build our relationship with them. It is important for everyone to know the truth about the Santa character. Understanding the difference between fact and fiction is a concept that children can be introduced to early and Santa is a reasonable way to introduce this concept to our children.

But was Santa Claus just a fictional character? No, he wasn’t.

Based on a Real Person

Santa Claus was not just a story, however, and it is important for children to understand the history behind the story. Santa is based on St. Nicholas, born around 280 AD in what is now Turkey. Nicholas was known for helping the poor. By 1600, he was a popular saint, especially in Holland, where he was known as Sinter Klaas. By 1800, Dutch emigrants had introduced him to the United States, later helped by the writer Washington Irving passing on their stories about him, and by Clement Clarke Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”.

What Do You Think?

What do you think about the Santa Claus Myth? Do you promote it with your children? Do you ignore it all together, or do you, like me, use Santa Claus to teach your children (or grandchildren) about life?


main streetI cringe every time I hear someone say that some way of thinking is “common sense”. One reason is that I feel that common sense comes from a limited way of thinking. Common sense usually is regarded when one person who has been in a specific group of people that has a limited mindset. These people are exclusive unto themselves. Who wants to be common?

As I see it, the idea of common sense is rather bigoted. When a person says that something is “common sense, it means that because you don’t believe like we believe, you’re less than average. You’re not even good enough to be common when you don’t believe what is common to society. Common sense is “in-the-box-thinking.”

Developing Un-Common Sense

I prefer un-common sense or out of the box thinking. Out of the box thinking is creative thinking. I think that I have been a creative thinker all my life and I think that stems from having less than most children when I was growing up.

I Had Creative Parents

It also stems from having parents who grew up during the depression, who also had to be creative. When my mother was little, her playhouse was the shade of an apple tree. She played with her dolls under that tree. My Dad used to tell us stories about things that his brothers and sisters used to do. I remember he said that during the winter, he made barrel stave skis that he used every winter.

Though we never seemed to have enough money everything we wanted, we never had our utilities shut off or were ever without food. My parents always found creative ways to make ends meet. When I was growing up, my mother did a lot of gardening, canning, and freezing produce. I learned self-sufficiency from her.

We didn’t always have money to have birthday parties, but that didn’t stop us from creating them anyway. We would make decorations from construction paper that we recycled at the end of the previous school year. We baked a made from scratch birthday cake from baking supplies that my mother always had on hand. Often, we didn’t have powdered sugar, but my mother was always able to make frosting using egg whites (we often had our own chickens) and white sugar. Sometimes we drank Kool-Aid and other times us kids would pool our cash together and buy dime sodas (we called it “pop”). We would make our birthday gifts.

Books to Encourage Curiosity

We had access to books and my parents encouraged us to read. One of the things that they did spend money on when I was a child was a set of World Book Encyclopedias and a set of Child Craft Books. They used to help us look up things in those books. I loved learning and still do thanks to the uncommon sense that both of my parents had in raising their children.

How about you? What makes you uncommon?

 

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