My August Reads

Here it is nearly the end of August; September is right around the corner. Soon school will be back in session, routines will be more in force and I’ll be back to blogging every week. For now, we’re still settling into our new home and getting used to the house and the neighborhood. As well as welcoming rabbits, squirrels, dear and raccoon to our yard, we have a family of quail that stops by fairly often. Mom (or maybe Dad) stands guard on a fence post while the rest of the family scurries along the ground. Fortunately, Team Sheltie has yet to see the quail parade. We might build a quail house next year. It’s on the list. Right now though, I’m busy revising No Right Thing, doing some freelance editing jobs and organizing my office. Oh, and finding a few minutes here and there to read. Here’s what I’m reading this month:

On the patio: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Before bed: Ageless Soul by Thomas Moore

In the kitchen:   We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time by Jose Andres and Richard Wolffe

Books read to date in 2019: 37

It May be Summer But . . .

. . . there’s still a lot of work going on behind the scenes. It may not feel that way when I walk down to the beach and view the crowds relaxing on the sand, but things are happening, albeit maybe not as quickly or as often as they usually do.

Take this blog, for instance. I’m only popping up here every few weeks these days, but I’m quietly working away on a number of fronts. And I’m not alone.

A case in point: my fall editing spots are starting to fill up. Authors nearing the final stages of their manuscripts are booking an edit before submitting to their publisher or getting ready to publish themselves. If you’re looking for some editorial input, I still have a few spots open in October. For details of my services, click back to my website for the editing link.

Speaking of editing, I’m jumping into a revision of One Good Deed, based on a request from an editor. I can’t say anything more at the moment but hopefully I’ll be able to provide more details soon.

Revamp, Revise, Redo

If you follow astrology (and I don’t mean the daily horoscope stuff), you’ll know that there are six – count ‘em six – planets retrograde in the heavens right now. It may or may not be affecting you but it’s forcing some unexpected revamping, revising and redoing around here.

Last week, during a home inspection, we discovered a whole lot of galvanized pipe running from the street into our house. We thought we had copper . . . we mostly do have copper . . . but there was a long length of galvanized piping and it had to come out. The good news is one of the companies that came to give us an estimate had a cancellation; they could do the work Friday morning, providing we dug up and moved the plants.

So Thursday afternoon, rather than writing, I was digging out perennials and moving them into the shade. At the same time, Mr. Petrol Head was hauling wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of landscape pebbles out of the way. Friday morning, the guys showed up just after 7:30. By 1 pm, they’d dug down 24 inches, replaced the galvanized pipe in the ground, drilled through our foundation to replace the length in the house, and put the soil back in place.

It was our turn to replace the pebbles and the plants, basically to turn that scorched earth back into something pretty. For one, the plants we’d dug up wouldn’t tolerate sitting in their temporary homes, even if they were shady, for long. And for another, we pitied the poor neighbors having to look at the disaster that was our front yard. So this weekend we dug and placed and planted and watered. It was hot, tiring work but in the end we have a much tidier rockery and entrance to the house.

I had planned to revamp the area this summer. The rockery was overplanted and without a sense of cohesiveness. In fact, the rockery redo was quickly reaching the top of my ‘to do’ list; good thing I hadn’t gotten to it yet.

Ironically, and as is often the case, my garden project mimicked what is currently happening in my writing life. My current WIP is overwritten, meandering and without a sense of cohesiveness. I need a better handle on the through line. As I ripped out plant after plant, it occurred to me that sometimes manuscripts need a little tough love too. This one does; it needs some ruthless gutting and reshaping. Gutting and reshaping, like digging and replanting, is hard, hard work. But it’s often the only way to end up with a book – or a garden bed – you’re satisfied with.

Stories, Stories, Everywhere Stories

Along with working on my own books, I also hire myself out as a freelance editor. Switching gears allows me to step back from my own stories but still do the work of a writer, only to the benefit of someone else. Last week I was immersed in a contemporary love story featuring the mythical (or not!) sea creature Cadborosaurus. Caddy, as he’s sometimes called, was spotted years ago in the waters of the Pacific Northwest close to my home. It was a lot of fun to witness the developing relationship between a skeptical reporter out to find Caddy and the protective photographer who wants to make sure Caddy stays hidden from the prying eyes of the public.

Later this week I’ll be head down and editing an historical cozy mystery. In June, I’ll be switching gears yet again and editing the third book in a dystopian YA series that I quite enjoy! And of course my own books will be getting their fair share of my attention over the next few weeks too.

If you’re looking for help with your manuscript, check out my editing services here:


Originality is . . .

editing . . . simply a pair of fresh eyes. So said American writer Thomas Higginson. I’m not sure I’d go that far but I do think a pair of fresh eyes is essential when it comes to refining a manuscript.

As a professional writer, I rely on editors at various times in the publishing journey. If I’m working with a traditional publisher, developmental editors are the first to see my work. They provide feedback on my story and characters, the pacing and the structure. Copy editors check my continuity, my logic and occasionally comment on my sentence structure or grammar. Proofreaders catch any last minute mistakes. In the traditional publishing world, the publisher hires the editors to take care of those things. All I have to do (after writing the book!) is get my work to that editor on time and address any issues based on the feedback I receive. It’s pretty straightforward.

When it comes to self-publishing my books, I decide whether or not to hire an independent editor to help me polish my novels. And it’s an easy decision: I always do. I’m a good editor, and I probably could do it myself, but it’s not easy to edit your own work. In fact, it’s damned hard. There’ve been times when I’ve traded editing favors with other writers (and that works well) but it’s not always possible to find another writer willing and able to do the trade when you need it to happen. So paying for a professional editor is an expense I’m happy to incur.

Editing is fun. In a lot of ways it’s my favorite part of writing. It’s gratifying to take a novel that’s almost there and polish the rough edges, transforming it into an attention-grabbing, unputdownable read. Given my thrill with that whole tweaking process, a few months ago I began doing some freelance editing for other writers. So as well as creating my own fictional worlds, I’m spending a little time immersing myself in fictional worlds created by others. And I’m thoroughly enjoying it. You can find out more about my editing services by clicking here: