Mistakes Were Made: On editing, proofing, and why errors get through

GREETINGS, fellow travelers.

I was talking with my colleague, fellow writer/editor/publisher R.G. Emanuelle this morning (and if you have not read her work, her latest is an awesome F/F gothic thriller/mystery).

R.G. and I are co-founders and co-owners of publishing venture Dirt Road Books. We and 4 other authors got together and launched it in 2017. R.G. and I come from traditional publishing back in the day; collectively, we have over 40 years of experience in publishing (omg dinosaurs roaming the earth).

Both of us worked with publishing houses before ebooks, way before the availability of platforms as we know them now, so we’ve been editing and proofing manuscripts in various formats for a while.

Today we were talking about typos and errors that sneak into the final product, and I thought I would offer some thoughts about how and why that happens, and I’ll do a comparison of old-school vs. new-school processes in publishing a manuscript.

Also, it might be valuable for readers who don’t have a background in publishing or editing to understand the amount of work that goes into a manuscript, whether its format is print or ebook, so you understand why books are priced the way they are. Sure, you can say that “ebooks should be priced even lower than they currently are because they’re just electronic files,” but the fact is, the manuscript behind that ebook went through an ass-load of work before it got ebooked. You wouldn’t do a ton of work on contract for a pittance, would you? Or for free? Well, there you go. Just something else to ponder.

Anyway, let’s break this down. Continue reading

So you’re writing a novel. 5 things to think about.

Hi, friends!

I tend to think a lot about process and the little things that go into working on a project and yeah, the overarching philosophy behind the act of writing.

I mean, obviously, if you’re writing a novel, you probably have the ultimate goal of being published. Let’s assume that’s the goal, anyway and let’s focus here on writing novels/fiction.

BUT.

Writers don’t write just to get published. If that’s the only reason you’re doing it, re-assess. Write because you love it, because you can’t NOT write, because if you didn’t your soul would wither into a desiccated carcass, left to bake on the salt flats of your future.

So with that in mind, I’m here to disavow you of some notions because writing a draft of a novel isn’t just hammering something out and then you’re ready to go get it published (and then make ass-loads of money).
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I still swear and sometimes I’m an asshole but for generally good reasons

Greetings, all!

So yesterday on social media I brought up an issue that I think garners discussion and I’m pleased to say that overall, the discussion was pretty much respectful (and delightfully irreverent in some cases), with the exception of a few pissy comments. Which is fine. That’s how this stuff goes.

Anyway, the subject was swearing. As in cursing.

I’ve blogged about this before, because I am of the lady variety who swears. Not only in real life, but in my writing. Some of my characters also swear. Swearage is part of my existence. I have many friends who swear. And others who don’t swear as much. And still others don’t swear at all.

I tailor my swearage to my contexts. In some places, I don’t swear. Like, say, job interviews. Or around children.

I call this self-policing. It’s basic manners, and it’s a conscious, individual choice I make.

But then there’s this other kind of policing and that’s what I want to talk about now.

Yesterday I posted the description of a panel that is being presented at an upcoming lesfic conference. The description made me uneasy. Here it is:

Profanity, Vulgarities and Obscenities, Oh My!
A discussion of the growing and often unnecessary use of profanity in lesbian fiction. Do readers deserve a more intelligent vocabulary? How can non-objectionable words and phrases work to an author’s advantage? How much is too much? Is the shock value muted when swearing is over used? When is a carefully placed obscenity absolutely necessary?

NOTE: This description is being re-written and I want to thank the person who wrote the original and then came to my social media post and acknowledged that it was problematic and that the description was being re-written. When I have the new description, I’ll update here. I made sure to update the original post on social media with this information.

AND a conference official did reach out to me, and I greatly appreciate that. So thank you, for being willing to engage and for addressing the issue quickly.

That said, I will own that yeah, maybe it was asshole-ish of me to post the panel description and say that it felt like speech-policing without going to the organization first. But I wanted to see what others in my lesfic reading/writing community felt about this and about the description because I’ve been speech-policed over the years by ciswomen in this community who expressed displeasure about my use of profanity in my books. And I know fellow authors who have been speech-policed for profanity in their books to the extent that these authors even got bad reviews as a result.

So the issue is actually bigger than this panel — though the person who proposed it and wrote the description didn’t intend at all for the sense that speech-policing was involved.

Though it wasn’t the intent, it came across that way, and I want to now raise why I think this issue is much bigger than this panel, because it’s something I and other authors have dealt with in the lesfic reading and writing community.

And as I said in my previous blog about this (see link above), policing swearing is something that women go through way more often than men. If I were a male author, I don’t think the swearing I incorporate in some of my work would even be blinked at.

There are several layers to this. Lesfic is a marginalized community in many ways, and to be speech-policed by fellow travelers in that community is a particularly bitter pill. And I say that as a white ciswoman.

KD Williamson, one of my fellow authors in this community and who has indulged me with many conversations over the past year, is also speech-policed for profanity in her work, but that policing gets tied up with something else. In one instance, she was speech-policed with regard to profanity in her work but with the added comment about how the reader knew she was black because of “all the curse words” in the book.

Would that reader have made the comment that she knew the author was white because of all the swearing? Or perhaps because of the lack of swearing?

That’s a hella big load of baggage in a statement like that. Speech-policing becomes a statement about someone’s race, which also laps at the boundaries of behavior-policing. It’s not much of a leap from “you can’t say that” to “you can’t do that” and within that are historical tropes about the “kinds” of people who “are allowed” to do and say certain things.

KD blogged about this whole dust-up, too. Reviews of her work often include references to her use of profanity. I’ve been approached in person and I think there are reviews floating around out there that reference my use of it, and generally, someone’s issues with profanity may bring them to write a bad review, even if the book is structurally sound and tells a good story.

So that’s why speech-policing makes me knee-jerk. I’ve been subjected to it, and my colleagues have been subjected to it, some with added implications about race and class.

Speech-policing can have a chilling effect on writers, especially when people do it in reviews and on conference panels — again, I understand the intent was not to do that in this panel, but reading the original description demonstrates why many of us reacted the way we did. But the question remains, why are we policing each other in a community that now, more than ever, needs to stick together and support the stories we’re telling?

And that’s why I brought it up yesterday. I have no issue with discussing effective use of language — whatever its type — in writing. And hell, in speaking. And certainly, some people want to learn how to wield profanity better in their work. Sure. Have a panel about that. But I also think it’s important to think about perceptions about swearing and the historical and cultural baggage that comes with it and with judgments about it. Because it’s one thing to say: “learn how to swear effectively in your writing” and quite another to say “discussing the growing and often unnecessary use of profanity in lesbian fiction. Do readers deserve a more intelligent vocabulary?”

One statement is a how-to. The other is a judgment.

And I worry that a panel like this, no matter the intent behind it, may end up being the latter.

Hence my knee-jerk, and the reason I brought it up, because as KD says in her blog on this topic, “sanitized lesbian romance and lesbian fiction is okay. Guess what? So is everything else.”

Indeed. Your cup of tea may not be to someone else’s taste. That doesn’t make it “bad” or “unnecessary.” There’s plenty of room for all kinds of stories. Let’s make sure they get told, and let’s keep talking.

Bring out your dead: on killing characters and historical tropes

Hi, peeps! (see what I did there, given the holiday? Heh.)

I hope this weekend treats you well and that everything is fab with you and yours.

This, my friends, IS A MAJOR LONG-ASS POST. But one in which I need to unpack a few things with regard to certain tropes.

I’ve been thinking about the characters I write, and the characters I’ve grown attached to through other people’s writing, and how it affects people when a writer decides to kill a character.

Writers make decisions all the time on which characters live or die, and that depends on a variety of factors, including the genre, narrative arc, and the personal arcs of the characters themselves. It also depends on where the story may be headed, especially if it’s a series, and how that character is going to fit into a larger picture down the line, if at all.

So there are any number of factors involved in a decision to remove a character either from the printed page or a TV show or movie. And there are any number of things that can happen, both inside the story and outside once the character’s death occurs.

There are also much larger currents at play, and those, too, have a role in reactions. Especially outside the story, among those who are following it.

Specifically, I’m thinking here of a couple of series on TV that I follow. Those are The CW’s The 100 and AMC’s The Walking Dead.

And here’s where I put the SPOILER ALERT. If you follow both these series and you have not seen the most recent episodes, DO NOT READ ANY FARTHER. STOP NOW.

I MEAN IT. SPOILERS.

NOT KIDDING.

Okay, fine. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Let’s proceed.

And because this is a looooong piece, with lots of rumination, grab your fave delicious beverage and snacks before reading on. I’ll wait.

dum dee dum. la la la. ::checks the Twitterz:: ::plays around on Facebook::

Okay, ready? Let’s go.

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How not to be a jerk when you promote

Hi, peeps!

Happy Friday n’ all a’ that. Oh, and don’t forget to turn your clocks forward this weekend, if you’re in a place that does that whole Daylight Savings Time thing. If you’re not, well, stay asleep.

ANYWAY. Let us discuss some promotional tips. Please start with this blog by fab spec fic author Delilah Dawson titled “Please shut up: Why self-promotion as an author doesn’t work.”

And then, after you get pissed at her, read the follow-up, “Wait, Keep Talking: Author Self-Promotion that Actually Works.”

Okay. The point of Dawson’s first post was to get you thinking about how you go about promoting your work. Everybody knows you have to do some kind of promotion. But there are good ways to do it and not-so-good ways. Dawson lays out the not-so-good ways in the first post. And then she lays out the better ways in the second.

I like to think of self-promotion as “not being a jerk” and I already subscribed to Dawson’s approach before I actually read her blogs. So here’s a list of 10 things I recommend, culled from my own experience and Dawson’s advice, with regard to self-promotion as an author.

Shall we?

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Crisis of Faith (in writing)

Greetings, peeperas y peeperos!

I hope this past weekend was awesome for you.

Me, I’ve been having deep thoughts all over the place, like these over at Women and Words.

And the ones I’ll be revealing here. Don’t freak out when you start reading. Read the whole thing. There’s an HEA.

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Gay Romance Northwest Meet-up: a lesfic panel

HEY, peeps!

Whew. Just finished up the all-day soiree that is the Gay Romance Northwest Meet-up, which happened in Seattle (LUV ME SOME SEATTLE) this past weekend at the amazing Seattle Public Library downtown. Wow. What a facility.

Seattle Public Library, downtown branch (from Wikipedia)

See all about the GRNM at THIS LINK.

I moderated a panel dealing with the future of lesbian romance in terms of subject matter, publishing, and promotion. Panelists included fellow authors Jove Belle, Jill Malone, R.G. Emanuelle, and Kate McLachlan.

One of the things that came out (see what I did there?) in the panel was that there appears to be “parallel universes” of LGBTQ fiction. That is, M/M appears to have the most established infrastructure in terms of things like networks and professional review sites as well as a greater presence at conferences and book events followed, distantly, by F/F and then trans and queer.

So let’s chat more about this, yeah?

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Andi’s 10 reasons you should totally go to writing conferences

Hi, all!

Holy outta control calendars, Batman! It’s been a crazy two weeks but here I am with some MOAR TIPS!

As some of you know, I attended the Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS) conference in New Orleans toward the end of July. I try to go every year (though I have missed a couple since I started publishing) because literary/writing conferences provide invaluable opportunities for both writers and readers.

For those of you who are writers just starting out, make the time and save the money to attend at least one conference a year. Gatherings like that are invaluable aspects of your writing career. For those of you who have been at this a while, you might already know that you need to attend writing conferences. If you didn’t know that, well, here’s why:

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Identity, politic

Hi, all!

Geez, WTF, Andi? It’s been, like, forever and a day and all kinds of THE THINGS happened and where the hell were you and just what are you doing?

I know. Straight up, I’ve been FB’ing incessantly about the Women’s World Cup (OMG YAY TEAM USA) and writing for deadlines and then there was the amazing historical BOOM when marriage equality was ruled the law of this great land and then there was a horrific tragedy and then all kinds of crazy over certain flags. I decided much wiser heads than I can address those two latter issues, and I still haven’t quite been able to wrap my head around the whole marriage equality thing.

At some point, I will blog that, because I’m coming from a perspective of believing that I probably wouldn’t see it in my lifetime or if I did, I’d be in my 60s or 70s. This perspective, I think, causes a fatalistic outlook on relationships. Marriage was something I thought I could never have, so I never planned for it. I educated myself about the issues, worked to advance them as I could, but I never thought it would be something that I myself could enjoy.

And that leaves its own kinds of scars. Which I will discuss later, as I ponder more.

In the meantime, I wanted to discuss something else. Specifically, what repercussions marriage equality may have on genre fiction.

I wonder this because yesterday at Women and Words, we posted a blog by New York Times bestselling romance author Melissa Foster, who just released a new book in her Harborside Nights series that features a lesbian main character and this character’s love for another woman.

Foster predominantly writes heterosexual romance, and this is her first F/F. As she notes in the blog she did at WaW, she got a little bit of blowback from her writer colleagues.

Why?

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On writing (or not) religion

Hi, peeps!

I heard that George Michael song the other day during a throwback radio show. You know the one. “Faith.”

And I got to thinking about that. There are many kinds of “faith.” Faith in yourself. Faith in your friends. Faith in your family. Faith that you’ll get that big promotion. Faith that things will work out. And, of course, the kind of faith that too often gets grafted onto religion.

I say this because a few days back, someone asked me if I go to church. I immediately froze, because I’m not comfortable with questions like that. The person proceeded to tell me that I’d probably feel better if I prayed. Which only made me even more uncomfortable.

Why? Because it’s presumptuous to think that everybody thinks like you do. And it’s presumptuous to think that your way of coping with something (i.e. religion) is for everybody. I try to be mellow about statements like this, because I’m sure the statements come from good intent. But nonetheless, it comes off as patronizing and, honestly, proselytizing. And yes, I have an uneasy relationship with organized religion, given my current go ’round on this planet as a woman and as someone who identifies as not straight.

And before you ask, I’m one of THOSE people who tends not to discuss religion publicly. I will occasionally discuss politics, but when it comes to religion, I just don’t go there. Why? Well, because I consider religious and spiritual beliefs to be a personal matter, so I don’t ever ask people what theirs are nor do I offer anything about mine. If someone asks, we can discuss it privately. Otherwise, it’s not something I address and it’s never something I ask people.

Why am I thinking about this?

Go see!

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