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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

Before I get carried away with my day and the New Year 2016 sneaks up on me, I thought I'd send out my well wishes. Here's to a happier, healthier and wealthier New Year in 2016 to us all. May God bless everyone.

Denise Barker

WRITING PROMPTS: Two Versions

Here's the first. I opened up my physical dictionary and chose the first word I saw, three times. Here they are in order:

  1. Observation
  2. Water hemlock
  3. Cold wave
What a mix. My CPs and I used to do this writing exercise occasionally when we met in person. We've give ourselves five minutes to write a story using the three words/terms. I was amazed how different each version was. And yet I shouldn't be. Each story was us personified. So, as different as we are individually, our stories are unique too.

Now for the second. I went through my latest Volume Four book of quotations and read along until I found three that resonated with me. It didn't take me long. I stopped on page two of about one hundred, finding these:
  1. The best way out is always through. Robert Frost
  2. What you seek is seeking you. Rumi
  3. "How can we possibly use sex to get what we want? Sex is what we want." Frasier from the TV Series Frasier
To me, this pithy trio represents a story of a man working through his particular problem, which has him down and out right now, but he gets there in the end. And the story needs some humor. Or some romance. Probably both.

I find reading quotations to be like reading Bible verses. One day you get a certain perspective. The next, the inference changes. It's all relative to what we are dealing with in life, right?

Anyway, have fun with these.

Want to check out my collection of about ten thousand quotes in four ebook volumes? See Volumes One through Four of WORDS Rule the World (and my other offerings) here: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_9?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=denise+barker&sprefix=denise+ba%2Caps%2C388.
 

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra


 


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

PLOTTING: Deconstructing One Movie and One Novel to Show the Various Plotlines

This is probably one of the key elements to make your story richer and fuller and more lifelike: having multiple plotlines. Otherwise the tale will feel "thin." And it may very well be. It needs more oomph. So add another thread, another story line.

SPOILER ALERT! Don't read the numbered items below if you haven't yet seen the chosen movie or read the selected book herein and wish to do so without all the surprises being revealed first.

Here are two examples to show you about adding layers of engagement to your own fiction:

To start with, let's look at the film National Treasure with Nicolas Cage, playing the lead character of Benjamin Franklin Gates, working from his innermost conflicts to the outermost.

  1. INTERNAL: His all-consuming desire is to find, to see, to touch the greatest treasure of all, what the Knights Templar and the Freemasons hid from the British for centuries, not to cash in on the billions this represents but to clear his family's name and to fulfill what he believes to be his purpose on earth. He has searched for decades, so his persistence has not waned.
  2. FAMILIAL: His father and he have opposing viewpoints. Whereas Ben continues with this quest, his father gave up years ago and so is disappointed in Ben. Just like Ben's grandfather was disappointed in Ben's father when he gave up on the generations-old search. Ben says at one point in the movie, paraphrased, "Maybe the true Gates family legacy is sons disappointing fathers."
  3. WORKWISE: Financier and crook Ian has tried to kill Ben a couple times, and Ian now knows enough to focus his intent on stealing the Declaration of Independence for his selfish greed only. While Ben's interest in finding the treasure is pure (being a "treasure protector"), Ian's is not, and he could easily destroy this priceless document along the way to finding the riches he lusts for.
  4. SOCIAL/UNIVERSAL: Overriding all the previous plotlines are the ethereal values, including justice, doing the right thing to correct wrongs in this world, saving evidences of our heritage, sharing history with the world. 

For my ebook selection, I've only started reading a cute paranormal romance entitled How (Not) to Kiss a Prince (Cindy Eller series, book number two), by Elizabeth Reeves (my first ever of her novels), but I already see the four main conflicts, and I'm only on page 78 of 294, which is good. You should set up your story early so the reader can get the full import by presenting these four "perils" as soon as possible. Here they are:

  1. INTERNAL: Cindy, our main character, is stressed about her waning magical powers and not knowing who her father was and why no one will tell her anything about him, even when she asks.
  2. FAMILIAL: Cindy meets her betrothed, while with her boyfriend, which is quite the surprise, and then finds out about her mother's bargain made even before Cindy was born.
  3. WORKWISE: Cindy is overworked and understaffed at her bakery. She has her sister's wedding in the next two weeks, and she wants it to be special for her, so additional stressors are here, complete with a deadline.
  4. SOCIAL/UNIVERSAL: Seems Cindy's mother's bargain may have something to do with possibly uniting the fae and magic worlds, maybe even the human one too.

Hope this short post helps you with your own plotting and brainstorming. Also see my newest book, BUILD-A-BOOK Storytelling Checklist: Front-End Planning to Reduce Back-End Rewriting, for more details and tips. Number 9 (of 109 total) deals with the above-mentioned plotlines. Click here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01803G1QA?keywords=denise%20barker&qid=1451396236&ref_=sr_1_2&sr=8-2.





"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra

Friday, December 25, 2015

Blessed Is the Season

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.
Hamilton Wright Mabie, American essayist 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Two Movie Recommendations

Granted these two movies mentioned below are not Christmastime movies per se, but you can schedule them after White Christmas, Scrooge/A Christmas Carol, It's a Wonderful Life, etc. Both are also free to view online at Netflix, if you have that option per your account.

First is the cute romance entitled Leap Year, with Amy Adams and Matthew Goode, two of my fave actors. I'm always up for a love story of the it-could-happen-in-real-life variety. Love can soothe many ills.

Second is The Da Vinci Code. I enjoy movies with conspiracy theories that make you think, along with codes, symbols, fast-moving action, so this one hit the mark. Whether you loved it, hated it, agreed with it, disagreed with it, remember one thing, authors. This story involved sex and religion and politics (the three supposedly taboo subjects we aren't to talk/write about). So, just because it's a "rule," doesn't mean it can't be broken by a skilled author.

Enjoy.

#copyeditor+

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra

Happy Tidings to You!

Wanted to send my Merry Christmas wishes and also a toast to have a happier, healthier, wealthier New Year in 2016.

Best to all!

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Cover Reveal for Upcoming Book on Common Manuscript Errors I See When Copyediting

Look for my next book to be available soon on Amazon, this being my second book on grammar issues to watch for when cleaning up your first, second, third draft. Here's my cover:



This book is a compilation of the same grammar issues I address over and over in 99 percent of the books I copyedit, whether written by a newbie or a seasoned professional, whether a "clean" manuscript (in really good shape from this copy editor's perspective) or where a massive rework is needed.

So these are universal errors.

Coming soon! Really soon ...

#copyeditor+

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

When Calculating Your True Hourly Pay, Include that Commuting Time Too

As a freelancer, sometimes I need a day job (for assorted reasons), just like other people. While I could get better paying jobs in Dallas proper, I've been there, done that. Now I prefer to stick to my neck of the woods on the DFW outskirts. So, while a $20/hour Dallas job does tempt me at times of extreme need, but, with an estimated fifteen-hour weekly commute, that $20/hour for 40 hours ($800/week pretax) becomes $14.55/hour for 55 hours ($800/week pretax) from my viewpoint. Having done the calculation, now I know to seek out that $14.55/hour rate here locally, because it saves me all that time commuting, which I don't get paid for.

Yes, I would need to work 55 hours not 40 hours to make the potential $800/week. And I'm okay with that. I've essentially recouped my transit time and made it hours for which I get paid. In fact I could only work 40 hours at $14.55/hour and could still make $582/week pretax. Which I could make work with my pared-down expenses.

Yes, I could also listen to books on tape to make use of that time other than simply traveling, but my car radio has been on the fritz for years. Actually I think it is more about the speakers blowing out yearly for two years straight, when I stopped replacing them. I've tried listening to my Kindle in the car, but that requires earphones to be able to hear better, and my first attempt wasn't that great. I could try a different set of earbuds perhaps. And I haven't figured out how to work on a copy edit project to earn money while driving my vehicle. Ha! But why bother, when in less than twenty minutes' time, I'll be able to read in the comfort of my own home (or listen to those books on tape or copyedit).

The true hourly rate may be something for you nonfreelancers to consider too, depending on where your preferences are at this time in your life. If you have no other time commitments or goals than your day-job work, go for it. Travel the fifteen commuting hours weekly to bring home the proposed $800.00.

As for me, I'd much rather be five miles from home and spend that fifteen hours I just saved by avoiding lengthier commutes to instead be at home reading and writing, for my personal pleasure, maybe even learning something to boot. That's where my passion resides.

#copyeditor+

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra

MindMup Continued

I love this free mindmup.com website. Today I printed out my two maps, which MindMup makes into a PDF for me. They are available for twenty-four hours, so print them immediately. I presume I can always go back and reprint same. Even my greatly reduced list of thirty-nine fave movies that I made into a mind map still fit on one page, portrait style. Just great stuff here.

#copyeditor+

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Nine Cs of Effective Writing - POST AMENDED 2016.07.06

I'm a copy editor, which means I'm the spelling and grammar police.

But I am so much more. I've expanded my list of writing criteria to become The Nine Cs of Effective Writing, which are:

  1. Continuity
  2. Clarity
  3. Conciseness
  4. Communication
  5. Consistency
  6. Coherence
  7. Correctness
  8. Chronology
  9. Credibility

I'll address each herein.

First is continuity. It's the same thing in books as it is in TV or movies. If the guy has blue eyes, they should remain blue throughout (barring any disguises or affinity for wearing colored contact lenses). The best way to track this is to keep a book bible (for each book). Have a page for each character, main or minor. List their hair color, eye color, other defining characteristics. Of course a good copy editor will catch these errors too, but, as "they" say, two heads are better than one.

Second is clarity. That means making your sentences easy to read at the first pass by the reader. You never want to confuse your reader, as that pushes the reader out of your "book bubble." You've just disrupted the believability of your story. Not a good thing.

Third is conciseness. This helps to avoid a lot of evil (like manifold adjectives or useless adverbs). For instance, a "car" does not present the right visual image in your reader's mind as compared to your own vision. If you see a red Jaguar, then write "red Jaguar" at its first mention. The mind works in pictures. Using generic terms (man, house, job) doesn't cut it. You're an author. You're creative. Surely you can convey what's in your mind to your reader's mind better than "car" or "man" or "house" or "job." Instead write "red Jaguar," "a sexy movie star look-alike," "a Southern Colonial," "a Fortune 500 CEO."

Fourth is communication. Communication is key. True communication is Rule Number One. No matter how many grammar rules and correctly spelled words you may utilize, if your reader has no idea what you are trying to say, you have failed to communicate. This should be your ultimate goal, even if you have to break a few eggs to make that omelet. This works from the sentence level as well as at a whole-book level. This means, you never want your reader to be confused, having to reread one sentence to understand what you meant.

But you also don't want your reader wondering, after reading your book to the end, what the story was about. Think of each tale you tell as a term paper that is so much more fun to read. You have a point. You need to support that point, even if you have two characters, one acting out what otherwise would be his debate of the pros and the other acting out his debate of the cons. Even if you let the reader decide which is right for himself/herself (say about abortion), the reader at least knows your book was about the pros and cons of abortion. Don't let them be confused at any level, from individual words and sentences to the basic premise of the whole book.

If there is plot/premise confusion by any reader (whether a CP, a beta-reader, or a paying reader), I'd suggest the author go back to review his/her main character arc, the critical plot points, the overarching scene progression. The problem may be at the core of the story, not just how it's presented.

Fifth is consistency. This enlarges on the first element, continuity. This covers characters' names, geographic places, trademarks, etc. If you have a character in your book named Stephen (with a PH not a V), then make sure you haven't reverted to Steven at some point in the book. When I catch these errors, I usually default to the first usage, as I presume that was the author's intent. But, if I do a word search of each spelling and find 197 occurrences of "Stephen" as versus 433 of "Steven," then I'll go with the majority usage and inform the author of this.

Sixth is coherence. This relates to overall communication, item four above, but more as to the interaction of all levels of the story. It's about linking. If you write, "His eyes were blue. That made him a murderer in my estimation," then you better explain how you got from Point A (blue eyes) to Point B (he's a murderer). There must be a causal link within your books (usually presented beforehand). Even if this particular viewpoint is not shared by the readers, you at least must make it plausible. Remember my debate team remark from earlier in this post. Say you have one person who had a very unhappy childhood, who might spurn all familial relationships or even romantic ones, whereas someone else with an equally bad childhood might run to replace it with a good family relationship of his/her own making. Each reaction could easily come from the same bad event and yet both be totally believable, even while being polar opposites. So don't forget cause and effect. It's integral to effective storytelling.

Seventh is correctness. That's when you know whether to use there, their or they're. Or a host of other homonyms (too, to, two, for instance). But it's also knowing the innate difference between being electrocuted and being shocked. In the first event, you die. In the second, you live to tell the tale.

Eighth is chronology. Granted, the "Out of Gas" episode of Joss Whedon's superlative Firefly series is out of linear chronology, but he handles this well, so that the viewer is not confused or lost in the process. Most authors can't accomplish this to the level that Joss does. But that's a plot presentation example. I'm speaking more about chronology within one sentence. Like, don't put "after" clauses at the end of your sentences. Incorrect Example: I left, after we ate. It's jarring to the reader, because it is out of order and makes them reread the line a second time to get the true gist of things. The reader should only be reading each line once. So put the events in their proper order. Corrected Example: After we ate, I left.

Another type of mishmash I read is where three events are out of order, whether as one sentence or as three separate sentences. Incorrect Example: He hit my right cheek, after swinging hard, once he entered my apartment. What? Here's the corrected example: Once he entered my apartment, he swung hard and hit my right cheek. See the difference? This is the only way this could have happened within the laws of physics.

The last is credibility. If you have an unreliable narrator, your reader will not believe your story. An unbelievable tale is a recipe for disaster, with the reader stopping abruptly. While your story may call for a melodramatic character or two, do NOT make your whole story melodramatic. Avoid this at all costs.

And, for God's sake, spell-check your document before you hand it off to anyone.  This includes your CPs, your beta-readers, and especially anybody you pay to help make your work even better. You are in the big leagues now, a professional. Act like it! You are no longer an amateur, a greenhorn hobbyist, who only plays baseball at the company's annual picnic.

Yes, I can tell if you spell-checked your doc or not. Even though Microsoft Word does not always follow the preferred spellings of Web11, spell-checking will reduce the overall misspellings. So if spell-check takes more than two minutes, I will know you haven't spell-checked it yourself.

If you can accomplish all this, you are one extraordinary author, and I would love to work with you. You are the dream author us copy editors lust for, getting not only a first glimpse of truly awesome writing and great storytelling but also making our job truly enjoyable on all levels.

Best wishes to all on your writing endeavors. And, if we don't communicate again before the holidays, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

#copyeditor+

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)



What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra

Denise Barker, Freelance Copy Editor, Calling All Self-Published Indie Authors

I'm a copy editor, which means I'm the spelling and grammar police, using Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition (Web11) and The Chicago Manual of Style, Sixteenth Edition (16CMS) as my guidelines for US publications for fiction and nonfiction.

But I am so much more. I've expanded my list of writing criteria to become the Nine Cs of Effective Writing, which are:

  1. Continuity
  2. Clarity
  3. Conciseness
  4. Communication
  5. Consistency
  6. Coherence
  7. Correctness
  8. Chronology
  9. Credibility

I'll address each in my next post, as I'm looking at those eight elements in every manuscript I copyedit. But here, let me get into the details of why I am so good at what I do.

First, I am an Indie author too, so I know this biz basically from soups to nuts.

Second, I worked for patent and trademark attorneys in my first career, which knowledge is as helpful here in my second career as are my skills.

Third, I believe in teaching authors to become better authors. So my work serves as my platform to educate, to share. This makes for a more professional presentation of each book, even at the copy edit level and most assuredly after I've worked my magic and the book becomes ready to upload.

Remember, in the trad-pub world, submissions are returned in the blink of an eye based on any one of these snafus: poor knowledge of punctuation and grammar, messy presentation, incoherent writing, etc. Don't think that Indie authors aren't held to the same high writing standards that trad-pubbed authors are. It follows that a pristine draft with a coherent communication style was most likely done by an articulate author. Make sure you are making the proper presentation to represent you too.

Fourth, as authors, we all have our blind spots. When I copyedit a manuscript, most authors are surprised to find that their 50K WC baby needed 5K edits. And that's in what I consider a "clean" and well-written document. My authors tell me that they didn't know they were even doing "that" in their writing.

Fifth, I'm like the cleanup batter on a baseball diamond. I catch the errors (including plot holes) missed earlier, by the author himself/herself, by the beta readers, by the developmental editor.

Sixth, I look at every jot and tittle that makes up your MS (that means, all spaces, periods or semicolons or colons or commas or other punctuation marks), as well as watching on the individual word level, and graduating up to full sentences, paragraphs, scenes, chapters, and the overall book itself. It's daunting. I'm not daydreaming while I do this. I don't have any background noise to disrupt me from my process, not even music playing.

Seventh, I have a real heart to make each Indie-pubbed book the best it can be. After all, each of you Indie authors represents me on my Indie trek as well.

Eighth, I have worked in both traditional publishing and Indie publishing, freelancing 5.5 years for Harlequin and the last 2.5 years for an Indie-author clearinghouse. I've seen the inside of both arenas. And the same thing rings true in both worlds: be a great writer to become a great author and write from your heart.

But remember to have fun while you are doing that too.

So, if you are interested in considering me as your copy editor, let's talk further via email to LivingTheDreamPublishing@gmail.com. I'll need a five-page excerpt of the story you need copyedited, showing some dialogue (as this can be the place where people do murderous things to dialogue punctuation) or of the nonfiction/white paper document you wish to have copyedited. This five-page preview is only for my benefit (not a sample copy edit), to assess the writing (newbie, intermediate, pro), before I settle on a fee. See my previous dialogue post here: http://livingthedreampublishing.blogspot.com/2015/12/dialogue-punctuation-examples.html.

I will consider doing a sample copy edit of one double-spaced page of 250 WC per Microsoft Word for authors who I have not worked for before. However, said samples are only done after all my paid jobs are completed first. And, with the fluid nature of my work, I cannot give a deadline for any such samples.

Two important things to share here: (1) I do two complete read-throughs for each manuscript to catch as many errors as humanly possible. (2) I reserve the right to refuse any project (and will return any money prepaid) if the dialogue punctuation is so massively wrong that it would entail a third read-through by me to fix it. I've done this once, and just to fix the mangled dialogue punctuation alone took fifteen hours. I'm not doing that again. Not even if paid $1 million. Whether in cash or gold or bearer bonds. Ha!

And, for God's sake, spell-check your document before you hand it off to anyone.  This includes your CPs, your beta-readers, and especially anybody you pay to help make your work even better. You are in the big leagues now, a professional. Act like it! You are no longer an amateur, a greenhorn hobbyist, like someone who writes only for your own enjoyment, maybe slipping a children's story or two into the kiddies' stockings at Christmastime.

Yes, I can tell if you spell-checked your doc or not. Even though Microsoft Word does not always follow the preferred spellings of Web11, spell-checking will reduce the overall misspellings. So if spell-check takes more than two minutes, I know you haven't spell-checked it yourself.

My new, improved 2016 rate is $0.011/word, but I'll consider counteroffers too. So a 50K WC manuscript (MS) would run $550, prepaid via PayPal before any work commences on my part. I work within Microsoft Word, using Track Changes. I'm not able to work on Mac docs. I'll share my special business PayPal address once we agree upon terms and your project is accepted.

At that time I can give you my estimated deadline for the return of my Track Changes document. I build in a day or two leeway for unexpected interruptions (like the Internet being out, getting sick, etc.). But I always prefer to turn in my work early, with only about four documents in the last eight years being turned in on the actual due date. And I do two complete read-throughs. That's just how I roll.

Also, if you wish for me to work on one book from an already on-going series (where I did not work on all previous books published in said series), please provide me with a bible for same.

I am efficient and reliable. I've never missed a MS deadline in the eight years I've been a copy editor. Whether you use me or another copy editor, I wish you all the best.

NOTE: I reserve the right to charge more (yes, more than $0.011/word) for a particular project that is in dire need of a developmental editor, a copy editor, and implementation of basic writing rules, so I'd be wearing three hats to work that document. That may sound harsh, but wouldn't you rather that we (just you and me), in private, catch these "newbie author" errors than for a world of Amazon reviewers to denigrate you in public? On the Internet, where everything lives forever?

I also reserve the right to reject any submission, due to the nature of the topic being written about, my work schedule, etc.

#copyeditor+

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra

MindMup: Free Online Brainstorming/Mind-Mapping Software

Love this software. Check out MindMup.com. Even for free, it stores your mind maps up to six months in the cloud (from what I understand by a quick glimpse at the site before I started my maps). Read the website for more details.

Since my CPs aren't available much during these months with all the holidays, and since I've got a short window of downtime, this works great for me. I have barely a glimmer of an idea (not even a full-fledged one) that I'm trying to work into the perfect series for me. So my first map (as yet unfinished) is to see what viable "something" I can morph out of the nothing I currently have.

As my second mind map, I'm focusing on my all-time favorite movies. Maybe if I dissect each into the parts I really like, then I should be able to use a compilation of those integral parameters in my own book creations, right? For instance I enjoy some humor in my reading material. And of course romance, whether the primary story line or as a subplot. Plus hard-boiled forties-style detective stories, cozy mysteries and not-so-cozy ones, police procedurals, action/adventure. And that's just for the genres. Then we get into specifics, like I enjoy animals, archaeology, architecture, astronomy. And that's a partial list of some of my beloved subjects from the As.

So I see myself getting lost in MindMup for days, like I tend to do with Yummly (recipes) and Pinterest. [I'm not affiliated with any sites and receive no money for mentioning these three herein. I just find them all wonderful.]

I would think this would be a boon to all us creative types. So, if you give it a try, let me know what you think. Or, if you found one you like better, give me a shout-out.

Enjoy your playtime ...

#copyeditor+

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra

Monday, December 14, 2015

"Magic" Skillet-Barbecued Chicken

I discovered, if you cook chicken tenders in about sixteen ounces of vinaigrette at a slow enough rate, it turns into a rich barbecue sauce, right on top of your stove. This chicken is tasty too, even it you decide to eat it before it makes the thick redwood-colored sauce.

NOTE: There won't be much sauce, just enough to flavor and give some color to the chicken. Remember, the internal temperature of chicken should reach at least 165 degrees F to be deemed fully cooked.

Enjoy!

#copyeditor+

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra

Friday, December 11, 2015

For Want of a Nail ...

I've been dealing with an issue for two weeks now (to resolve an ongoing problem over the last year or two), and this quotation springs to mind often during this final resolution. Since this proverb is just so apt, I have to share it with y'all. You will probably recognize it. Regardless here it is:
For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.
―Benjamin Franklin
So all of us could benefit from this. The next time you catch yourself saying, "I don't have time," or "I'm busy," stop and think about it. Do you really not have time to handle this one issue? Imagine what you may have to deal with if you don't do this thing now. Do you really not have time today for the fifteen-minute-or-less task that may save you from fifteen or more disruptive days of chaos afterward? All just to fix that previous failure to address something (if it can even be repaired now) or to be forced to totally regroup in another direction later?

#copyeditor+
"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dialogue Punctuation Examples

It boggles my mind the way I see dialogue punctuated in some of my copy editing projects. Since I've never seen dialogue "done wrong" in any of the thousands of published books (trad or Indie) I've ever read (not that I've read every book in existence), still any novel within your home library would be a good place for a confused author to check. Note that this is not about US versus UK punctuation rules (where I understand that UK dialogue has the period outside the single-quote mark as versus our US version has the period within the double-quote mark).

No, I'm talking about where every line of dialogue has more than one thing wrong with it. Like spaces after the opening quote mark and/or before the ending quote mark. Like the tag at the end of the dialogue being an initial capped pronoun: "He said." Other weird stuff, like not ending a sentence with a period or not starting a sentence with an initial-capped word, plus all the incorrect variations on how to handle the dialogue tag when placed in front of the line of dialogue or after or in the middle.

So this post is to set the record straight on how to use a dialogue tag, and then next I'll show how to handle an action tag.

First, let's define those two terms. "Dialogue tag" is "he said," "she said," "he asked," "she asked." You really shouldn't be using anything else (the "he replied" or the "she gushed" usages, especially the "she gushed excitedly" types, are marks of a newbie author. You want to avoid giving that impression). Dialogue tags usually involve commas, as they are part of the same sentence, just sharing that sentence with words in quote marks.

Second, an "action tag" is a stand-alone sentence (meaning, it ends in a period usually) that, like dialogue tags, can come before a line of dialogue or after it or in the middle. As the name explains, you have a character doing something: standing, sneezing, tapping his fingers on the table, throwing the lamp into the wall, etc.

So here goes with the generic examples, all per 16CMS rules:

DIALOGUE TAG FIRST (before the spoken words in quotes):

1. Dan said, "I'm hungry. Let's get Mexican."
2. He said, "I'm hungry. Let's get Mexican."

DIALOGUE TAG LAST (after the spoken words in quotes):

3. "I'm hungry. Let's get Mexican," Dan said.
4. "I'm hungry. Let's get Mexican," he said.

DIALOGUE TAG IN THE MIDDLE OF TWO COMPLETE SENTENCES OF DIALOGUE:

5. "I'm hungry," Dan said. "Let's get Mexican."
6. "I'm hungry," he said. "Let's get Mexican."

DIALOGUE TAG BREAKING UP ONE COMPLETE SENTENCE OF DIALOGUE:

7. "I'm hungry," Dan said, "but my car's in the shop. Can we take yours?"
8. "I'm hungry," he said, "but my car's in the shop. Can we take yours?"

ACTION TAG FIRST:

9. Dan stood up. "I'm hungry. Let's get Mexican."
10. He stood up. "I'm hungry. Let's get Mexican."

ACTION TAG LAST:

11. "I'm hungry. Let's get Mexican." Dan stood up and pulled his keys from his pocket.
12. "I'm hungry. Let's get Mexican." He stood up and pulled his keys from his pocket.

ACTION TAG IN THE MIDDLE OF TWO DIALOGUE SENTENCES:

13. "I'm hungry." Dan stood up. "Let's get Mexican."
14. "I'm hungry." He stood up. "Let's get Mexican."

ACTION TAG BREAKING UP ONE COMPLETE SENTENCE (this one is the odd duck of the bunch; NOTE: there are no spaces around the M-dashes used here; NOTE ALSO that the usual punctuation within the first closing quote mark is omitted):

15. "I'm hungry"Dan stood up"but my car's in the shop. Can we take yours?"
16. "I'm hungry"he stood up"but my car's in the shop. Can we take yours?"

WHEN USING A QUESTION MARK:

DIALOGUE TAG FIRST (before the spoken words in quotes):

17. Dan asked, "Want to get some Mexican food?"
18. He asked, "Want to get some Mexican food?"

DIALOGUE TAG LAST (after the spoken words in quotes):

19. "Want to get some Mexican food?" Dan asked.
20. "Want to get some Mexican food?" he asked.

DIALOGUE TAG IN THE MIDDLE OF TWO COMPLETE SENTENCES OF DIALOGUE:

21. "Are you hungry?" Dan asked. "Let's get Mexican."
22. "Are you hungry?" he asked. "Let's get Mexican."

DIALOGUE TAG BREAKING UP ONE COMPLETE SENTENCE OF DIALOGUE:

23. "I'm hungry," Dan said, "but my car's in the shop. Can we take yours?"
24. "I'm hungry," he said, "but my car's in the shop. Can we take yours?"
25. "But," Dan said, "what about the house?"
26. "But," he said, "what about the house?"

I'm on a mission to stop this recent wave of butchering dialogue presentations. If you have a sentence that doesn't fall in one of the categories above, please submit it. I'll add it to our examples here. Many thanks!

#copyeditor+

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra