Hi, Mary! *waves* Thanks for sharing your experience! Every author and writer wants to know the tricks and secrets that will help make their stories that much better. So…tell me a little about yourself.
Mary: Thank you so much for having me here today. I’m really thrilled to be here. Let’s see, a little bit about myself. I’m a hockey mom, wife, and full-time employee, and I balance my writing life with my family-not always well 🙂 I have three books out in the Princess of Valendria series: QUEST OF THE HART, CHARMED MEMORIES, and DIFFERENT KIND OF KNIGHT. While they are stand alone stories, each following a different princess and/or prince, there are some spoilers if you read them out of order. You can find them at MuseItUp Publishing, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, and other major retailers. Currently they are only available as e-books.
(There’s more information about Mary’s books and a giveaway below!)
With more than one book out, you’ve been around the block with editors! Let’s talk a little bit about the editorial process once you know your manuscript is going to be picked up. What happens next?
Mary: After my manuscripts were accepted, I began the editing stage. First, my content editor would send an editorial letter as well as more specific comments within my manuscript, focusing on the storyline, keeping things accurate (spellings, time frames, etc.) and the overall big picture items. We exchanged back and forth about 3 times, and then it would go to line edits. Here the focus was on grammar, word usage, punctuation (I love me a comma!) and sentence structure-the nuts and bolts, so to speak. And finally, is the galley stage. This is the last chance to look through and catch any typos or formatting errors still lurking in the story.
Are you/have you ever been scared by what your editor asked you to do? How do you address those fears and meet their demands?
Mary: I have been fortunate to work with some really great editors who get the story I’m trying to tell and can show me where I need to improve what I’m saying without changing the story. With QUEST OF THE HART, I was really nervous waiting for my first round of edits, as I’d never done this before. When they came, I was excited and still nervous, as I had 3 weeks to turn them around, and would be away on a family vacation at DisneyWorld for the first of those weeks. It all worked out. I read the comments before we left and let my mind stew on them as we took the train down. Then, and the return train ride home, I got to work and actually re-wrote the entire first chapter of the story.
An author’s work is never done, even on vacation! Which is both awesome and sort of a bummer. 😉
What has the editorial process taught you about your writing? Are there mistakes you used to make that you know now to avoid?
Mary: I’ve learned several things. You can’t fix it until you’ve written it. No matter how much you like a sentence, paragraph, chapter, if it doesn’t move the story along, you don’t need it. Once a grammar/writing mistake is pointed out to me and I weed it out, a new one crops up in its place. For example, I used to use the word ‘that’ a lot. Then I moved to ‘and’. I’m not sure what my new favorite is yet 🙂 It was pointed out that I write a lot in passive voice. And this has been the hardest for me to work with- finding ways to make my sentences more active. I’m getting better with it, but it still sneaks up on me from time to time!
Do you write your stories differently now (plot ahead, character quizzes, scene outlines) than you did before you had an editor?
Mary: I’m trying to work from a loose plot outline with some new works, but for the most part, I’m still a pantster. I know the beginning and the end, and the middle gets made up as I think my way through the story. I do a lot of thinking about the story before I ever sit down and type words to the screen. I’d say the biggest change I’ve made is in trying to write a cleaner first draft. Rather than just get the story down and go back and edit it all later (like in NaNo), I’m trying to be more careful in my word choices and sentence structure the first time around. For example, I have a thing about sentences and paragraphs near each other starting with the same word. Before I’d just write it and fix it later. Now, I’m trying to get it “right” the first time.
What do you do if you disagree with your editor on some point?
Mary: I have an open line of communication with all my editors. We use track changes (to show the suggested correction) as well as the notes feature. If I don’t agree, or am not sure I was on the right track, I leave a comment as to why and they answer back to me in the next send. In the end, the final decision to make changes lies with me, but, I know that my editors only want the best for my work and usually make the suggested change. Sometimes it’s a grammar rule I don’t know (or one I think I do know!) and I’ll say, ‘I thought the rule was XYZ, and that’s why I did this, but if it isn’t then I do want to change it, as I want it correct.’
I remember the first time I saw track changes. I was like, “What is that? Where’s my story? How do I fix this mess?” It’s great what a little experience (and a few embarrassing emails) can do for you.
And speaking of experience, I’m so grateful you were willing to share yours! Thank you!
Now, onto the giveaway!