Sometimes, You Need To Recharge

December is for Recharging

Guess How Much Writing I’ve Done Since December 1st?


But you know what I have done?

  • I visited family and baked approximately 50,000,000,000 cookies, with help from a 5 year old. (Plus one batch of fudge).
  • I cleaned my house.
  • I decorated for Christmas/Yule/Solstice.
  • I helped friends with prep for their annual NYE party.
  • I participated in 2 Tweet-Pitchfests — and got 2 likes from agents!
    • I submitted my queries to both of those agents.
  • I went sight-seeing and got in 15,000 steps one day, 20,000 the next – exercise I hadn’t gotten in during November.
  • I helped host a holiday gathering for 20.
  • I read a book (Wool – by Hugh Howey).
  • I beta-read a short story and a 2 chapters for writing friends.
  • I binged and made it into Season 3 of Gilmore Girls.
  • I made over 40 holiday cards.
  • I’ve finished most of my gift shopping.

Be Kind To Yourself

My December is always crazy-busy. I’m being understanding of my life and I’ll be getting back on track — albeit at a more maintainable pace– come January.

Plus, look at that list! At least 2 of those were writing related, and reading helps fuel the creative juices. Besides, I can’t imagine Gilmore Girls binging isn’t going to add clever, quick-witted repartee to my writing. 😉

5 Big Things I’ve Learned About Editing

Once upon a time, back in August of 2014, I’d finished writing my novel. It was done! All I had left was editing and then I could start querying! I started researching the query letter (the Query Shark rocks!) when I was away from my manuscript and couldn’t edit. I figured the hard part was done, all I had left was to polish it up.


Here I am, 2 years later, with 2 revisions and 4 new drafts under my belt. In that time, I’ve learned so much. What I revise now, I never could have done when I started.

My writing?

Well, that’s about the same. Luckily, as writers, we don’t have to stop with the first draft.

5 Big Things I’ve Learned About Editing

The 3 main types of editing:

When you first start to edit your novel, if you’re like me, you’re trying to make it legible and entertaining. Looking for all your typos and bad commas. That’s not a bad place to start, but that’s not all there is to know about editing.

  • Type 1: Developmental editing –

    • Your world and characters need depth. They need to be more than just stereotypes or 2-dimensional characters.
  • Type 2: Structural editing –

    • How do the plot and action flow?
    • If there are chapters where nothing happens, do you need them?
    • Does everything in the story make sense and follow what’s happened before?
    • Are there hints so even the unexpected makes sense–in retrospect?
  • Type 3: Line edits –

    • The editing most people think of.
      • Misspellings, commas, and awkward phrasing.
      • Places where you tell, instead of show.
      • All the little rules you can learn and checklists.

You Can Ignore Edits

Just because you’ve got 1 million comments on your manuscript doesn’t mean you have to make 1 million changes.

  • Reasons I Ignore An Edit:

    1. It’s dialogue and that’s how my character speaks
    2. For stylistic reasons
    3. Because the editor doesn’t know [X], which explains why [Y] needs to be in there
    4. ONE critique partner/beta reader got confused, but everyone else seems to grok* it perfectly fine

Waiting Before You Edit Helps

  • If you’re like me, you:

    • read this advice 100 times
    • wrote your rough draft
    • edited less than 2 weeks after you finished

However, I’m older and wiser than I was when I finished my first shiny ugly draft. Now I know I can indeed edit immediately… line edits. I can make my story clearer and fix all the spelling errors and half the comma errors and get confused on the semi-colon vs em dash errors…

You know what I can’t do? Revise.

It took 4 rounds of edits, in which only 2 actually contained revisions (type 1 and 2 edits), for me to actually get my novel in decent shape. The flow is better, the last couple of chapters had to be rewritten–again.

Editing Techniques to Try

I learned I can do copy edits and flow best on paper. Other edits, I can be at the computer. The hard part? I can’t edit without either my stack of paper or at a computer. I could write on my phone, riding shotgun. I can’t even have music when I’m editing, because I’m too distractable. But everyone is different.

You’re Never Truly Done**

*Grok means to understand on a visceral level. (From Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land)
**You just reach a point where you deem it: Good Enough!

NOTE: You know what’s ironic? When you mis-schedule a draft post for Wednesday instead of Thursday, so your readers see the draft before you’ve finished editing it…while writing a post on editing. Luckily, those of you who saw this early liked it. Hopefully, you’ll like it better in all it’s planned glory!

Top Tips from 15 Writing Panels

Most of the panels I attended at Balticon were focused on developing myself as a writer. Some of the panels were craft focused, but many were talking about all the things OTHER than writing that writers need to learn. So, here’s my list of the panels on writing as a craft and my favorite quote/tip/message from each. It was hard to pick a favorite, but I did it for you![1]

  1. Flipping the Script: Does Gender Change the Story

    • My gender experience matters more than my actual gender. – K.M. Szpara
  2. Tales From The Slush Pile

    • “Deathbear and the Snuggle of Doom”- a title cringed at by Joshua Bilmes
    • Read and follow the submission guidelines!- everyone
    • Don’t sell on a gimmick, write a good STORY and feel free to add the gimmick.
  3. Buy My S#*%

    • The presenter was unable to make it so we ended up having a group discussion!
  4. The Craft of Writing with Connie Willis [2]

    • Meet expectations, but with a twist: you can do anything as long as you set it up.
    • “I have never read a story without a plot that would not be improved by having one.”
  5. Writers Workshop — And Here’s the Pitch 

    • Include setting, main character(s), and goal. Get in and get out because you’ve got 1 elevator floor to get them to ask for more.
    • P.S. For everyone in this workshop with me, HERE’S the Thin Mint rant.
  6. Writing: It’s My Job AND What I Do For Fun!

    • Most writers know this isn’t competitive and go out of their way to help people. – Jean Marie Ward (everyone else agreed)
    • Learned that Book Doctors will rewrite your book for you, editors suggest fixes. Follow their suggestions in ways that make sense for your story.
  7. Finding a Foot To Stand On (writing believable SF)

    • “Never underestimate the power of gobbledegook.”
    • “I lie a lot.”
    • Heinlein did a ‘how man discovered the effect’ that felt like an explanation, but wasn’t. Clever work around to satisfy the reader!
  8. Vetting the Editors [3]

    • The Cardinal Sin of Editors: Remaking your story how THEY would have written it.
  9. Finding Your Niche

    • 90% of social media is resharing. Create original content and share that.
    • “[Success] depends on how much you’re willing to give up to make it happen.” – Day Al-Mohamed
    • “You want to make people care about your world.” – Ethan Siegel
  10. Finding Balance

    • “I went into marketing because it’s really another type of fiction.” – Gail Martin
  11. The Biggest Mistakes Made by Beginning Writers [4]

    • “Delusions of grandeur.” – Mike McPhail
    • Stupid Author Tricks list by David Wood
      • To sum up: Don’t advertise your work in comment, don’t spam people, and avoid flame wars.
  12. Speak Your Words: Bring Your Written Work To Audible Life

    • Younger is typically higher pitch, older is lower pitch. – Izolda Trakhtenberg
    • Never use a falsetto or mansetto for the opposite gender.
    • Use a different tone for the narrator if they also speak dialog
    • (Plus, she had us make clouds!)
  13. “How Do You Do It?” Creating Around a Day Job [5]

    • If you’re burnt out, read and consume media, you need to feed your creative side.
    • To help change gears, have a different space/machine/music/etc than work.
    • What works for you WILL change, it’s okay to switch it up. Be kind to yourself.
    • You’ve got give something up in order to write. – Mike Luoma
  14. Consequences

  15. How to Give and Get Critiques [4]

    • “Be there to help them write their story, not the story you would have written.” – Scott Edelman
    • One “Zero-sum” person in a writing group can ruin it. – Connie Willis

1- Most of the quotes are paraphrased/hastily scribbled down and may not be exact.
2- 8am Saturday morning and this was still packed–and worth it.
3- Needs another post- They went into PRICES and SPECIFICS!
4- Many useful links that will be shared in a later post.
5- Needs another post- about approaching creatives.


I Have Something You Don’t Have


If you’ve even heard of editing, then you should know what a beta-reader is. They’re the volunteers or people you hire to read over your drafts and give you feedback.  Some people send their writing to friends, some people share in their writing groups, some people hire people. I’ve gotten beta readers through friends and networking–with the hope of getting a wide array of feedback. I couldn’t do this without them!

However, I’ve got something a bit better.

I’ve got a sister.

And not just any sister.

I’ve got a sister whose tastes massively overlap with mine. Since I’m my own audience, getting her to read what I write is as close as possible to me reading it myself, without being the one to have written it. I can throw plot changes and concepts at her, and with a lot less explaining than someone less tied into how my brain works, she can take that idea and run with it.

She’s supportive and has read every draft. She remembers plots and characters and how they fit.

I call her my alpha reader.

Now, let me get back to a massive plot rearrangement and tracking down all the repercussions…