The Writing Cooperative: A Helpful Website For Writers @WritingCoop

The Writing Cooperative: A Helpful Website For Writers @WritingCoop

How Do You Start Writing? Think Like A Writer! #10minnovelists #setthetimer

How Do You Start Writing? Think Like A Writer! #10minnovelists #setthetimer

how do you start writing

Katharine Grubb of 10 Minute Novelists has a brand new book out and it delves into questions such as how do you start writing, how do you visualize yourself as a writer, and how do you get your writing done. Below, Katharine tells you a little about her book Think Like A Writer In 10 Minutes A Day and shares an excerpt. If you’re a new writer, or if you’re having trouble fitting writing into a busy schedule, then it’s time for you to meet Katharine! 

Are you a writer? Or are you not one? Do you see yourself as a writer? 

Have you fallen in love with the written word? Have you ever savored a story, wondered how words came together, longed to see your name on a cover? 

Have you ever thought you’d like to create something, anything, with words, but you don’t know how? 

The first step? See yourself as one. Then, as you get used to this new “identity”, you can take steps to physically and emotionally set yourself up to be productive. This will mean creating a writing space, organizing your time, seeking inspiration, and writing regularly without fear. 

Katharine grubb

I made this jump from non-writer to writer back in 2006. I had five children, all eight years old and younger, and decided that it was time to restart my lifelong dream to be a writer. Once I saw myself as a writer, grew in organization and discipline, and conquered my fears, I finished projects and published them. Since 2006, I’ve written ten books. 

My newest book Think Like A Writer In 10 Minutes A Day is for the hesitant writer who hasn’t made that jump yet from non-writer to beginner. This book is for that critical first step: to think like one.  

Here is an excerpt of the book’s introduction.

think like a writer

Introduction

Back in the early days of my writing life I was asked one question more than any other: “Are you a pantser or a plotter?”  I don’t remember how I answered because I don’t remember understanding what they were talking about. I found out later, that this ubiquitous, reductionist, and rather uninteresting question was really asking, “How do you think?” 

If I answered, “I’m a plotter,” then it would be assumed that I had studied story structure, logically worked out plot points, and analytically planned my story before I began the drafting process. If I answered, “I’m a ‘pantser’,” then that I would imply that I “wrote by the seat of my pants,” pursuing emotional tangents rather than a strict plan, and preferring creative spontaneity instead of structure. If I did have a preference, and it was the opposite choice of the person who asked the question, then I may have received a condescending rebuttal on why my choice was “incorrect.” Sometimes it might even be implied that once I claimed a “side” I had to be loyal to that “side” for the rest of my career. 

All of that is hogwash. In reality all writers, whether they want to admit it or not, need both approaches in the way that they think not just of their stories, but also of their writing goals. 

What does it mean to think like a writer? There are as many ways to think about and approach writing as there are books on a public library’s shelf. Writers, especially new ones, don’t need a false dichotomy to dictate how they should approach their writing. Both “pantsers” and “plotters” think like writers, and if they are comfortable with their methods, then they are successful at it. How much more interesting it would be if writers were asked instead, “Oh, you’re a writer too? How do you process your ideas?” Or, “What’s going through your mind when you create?”

All successful authors, back in the beginning of their careers, to a mental leap and first saw themselves as writers. They set up their lives, physically and emotionally to achieve their writing goals. They all, for lack of a better term, had a writer mode in their settings, either analytical or emotional (or a combination of both) and tuned into it as they worked on their projects. 

If they were in “writer mode” then they organized at their time and resources in such a way that they were able to get their writing done. In “writer mode” they were conscientious of their environment, looking constantly for inspiration, and came up with ideas from a myriad of places. But also, because “writer mode” is solitary, they may have faced self-doubt and fear, and perhaps slipped into despair. (Sadly, thinking like a writer has a sordid history.) All writers, new and experienced, have to set their minds intentionally, and decisively, on what they want to accomplish or they will never see their dreams come true. 

I had to make that decision too. Back in 2006, I had five small children, all 8 years old and younger, and I thought it was the perfect time to start my writing career. Even though I didn’t know how to begin, I decided to commit at least ten minutes a day to my writing dream. I had to think differently in order to become something different.  I had to change the way that I viewed my time, energy, and environment, to meet this simple goal.  I knew I needed to think like a writer in order to be one. But I didn’t know to do that, so I guessed

I read library books on writing, scoured writing blogs for fresh insight (whose advice was often contradictory), and slapped together my first website.  I “pantsed” well over 200,000 words on my first novel before I formulated some sort of plot. I probably could have saved a lot of time had I a plan of action, or a community, or even another writer to tell me what to do next. I wanted to think and act like a writer, but I had no idea what that was, so I just followed every whim. For better or worse, I “pantsed” my way into thinking like a writer. 

Had I “plotted” my way into thinking like I writer, I might have created a regular writing schedule, and equip myself better in organization and discipline.  I would have educated myself on storytelling basics. I would have read more books that were similar to what I wanted to write. I would have worked more deliberately to expose myself to culture and beauty so I would be inspired. I would have understood that all writers struggle to find their voice and purpose. I would have come to terms with my emotional resistance, who kept telling me “what makes you think you can pull this off?” I probably  could have thought like a writer from the beginning, but I couldn’t get out of my own head to do it. 

What I needed to learn came 10 years after I started: I finally realized that writerly brilliance was not ever easy. 

Seth Godin’s book Linchpin, had the truth I needed. “A brilliant author or businesswoman or senator or software engineer is brilliant only in tiny bursts. The rest of the time, they’re doing work that most any trained person could do. It might take a lot of tinkering or low-level work or domain knowledge for that brilliance to be evoked, but from the outside, it appears that the art is created in the moment, not in tiny increments.” (P. 51.)

I did get the tiny increment part right. It was in 2006, in between childcare, household management, and homeschooling that I began to set my timer for 10 minutes. I put the time in, but how much more efficient that time would have been had I been thinking like a writer in the first place. 

This book is for the new writer who is facing the ocean of possibility as a fiction writer and doesn’t know what to do. This is a hand-holding, coaxing book of instruction to new writers who don’t have the skills or courage to put their toes in the water, much less sail. This book is meant to save the struggle of figuring things out for the first time fiction writer. To change metaphors, my previous book, Write A Novel in Ten Minutes A Day, is the Couch25K for fiction writers, but Think Like A Writer in 10 Minutes A Day, is picking out the first pair of sneakers. After each section, this book provides exercises that can be done in a series of 10 minute increments. They are meant to be personal, journal type responses with no real deadline, and certainly no right answers. To do the exercises, you’ll need a notebook, or a new document on your laptop, or some way to keep everything together. You can do these exercises as you see fit, perhaps one a day. Some can be accomplished in 10 minutes, some will require several 10 minute increments. All are completed when you say they are. 

This book is divided in three sections. The first section will address the more analytical, logical parts of writing. In this part, I’ll be leading you through exercises to help you clarify your personal definition of success, challenge you to use your time and space better, and review you on the basic understanding of writing skills. These are important concepts, but they’re not that sexy, so we’re addressing them first to get them out of the way.  If you are really into Seth Godin or Getting Things Done, you’re going to love this part. Each of the exercises, in this, the logistical thinking section, will help you think more objectively about your writing journey. 

Then, the second part will address the more touchy-feely, artsy-fartsy ways in which you can think like a writer. In this section, I will be encouraging you to get in touch with your feelings, identify yourself as a creative person and speak to yourself about your desires to write. Then, we’ll wrap it up on the importance of authenticity in your writing and how to tap into your reality as a creative person. If you are really into Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, or Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, then you are going to love this part of the book. Go ahead, write in the margins. Stain the pages with your tears. That’s what the emotional thinking part of the book is there for.

But there’s a third part too, resistant thinking. This part is arguably the most important, because if you can’t manage it, you certainly can’t succeed in the writing world. Like it or not, there is a part of your brain that is quite happy if you stay on your couch, flip back and forth between Netflix and Hulu, and eat your weight in Hot Pockets. This part of your brain does not want think like a writer. This part of your brain knows that writing is hard, so it will do everything to stop you. It will throw you lies, doubts, fears, and the reminder of what that teacher said to you about that poem you wrote all those years ago. If you have read Austin Kleon, or know what lizard brain means, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. I have a section here to help you combat resistant thinking and hopefully prepare you for the constant battle resistant thinking will fight as long as you decide to pursue this dream. 

Brenda Ueland said this in her book If You Want To Write (p. 4) “Everybody is talented because everybody who is human has something to express.” I believe that because you chose to read this book that you have something to express too. Perhaps like me, you need to get yourself out of your own head, think like a writer is supposed to think, and begin your journey. 

Exercises

1.1 Find a way to journal; either create a new document on your computer, a note on your phone, or pick up a cheap notebook somewhere, set a timer for ten minutes and write the answer to this question: Based on the Brenda Ueland quote you read above, what would you like to express? 

1.2  Would you most likely be a “plotter” or a “pantser”? Why? 

1.3 Which of the ways of thinking: logical, emotional, or resistant, do you think is the easiest to understand and practice? Which do you think will be most challenging to learn about? 

Buy it on Amazon 

More About Katharine

Katharine Grubb is an almost-done-homeschooling mother, poet, hybrid author, camping enthusiast and confident home cook who thinks that she is the funniest person in her family. She is the founder and CEO of 10 Minute Novelists and lives in Central Massachusetts, USA, with her husband and a ever-varying number of her five mostly-grown children. She is the author of Write A Novel In Ten Minutes A Day (Hodder & Stoughton, 2015.) 

Can you relate to any of the above struggles? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

Behind The Rewrite: Solving Boring Sentence Structure With Brenda Whiteside

Behind The Rewrite: Solving Boring Sentence Structure With Brenda Whiteside

In today’s Behind the Rewrite, Brenda Whiteside talks about one of the last—but most important—aspects of the editing process: varying boring sentence structure. She shares a before-and-after excerpt from her novel Southwest of Love and Murder, book two in a five-book series. Read Brenda’s line editing insights below.

When I write a scene, the first concern is to get it out of my head and onto the page. I “see” all of the pieces and parts simultaneously: the setting, action, and dialogue. There will be several passes at the scene in the editing process because although I can clearly see all those pieces and parts, translating to the page takes some prodding.

One of the most common edits I make, and one of the last, is sentence structure. The easiest way to get it written is a flow of character-does-this and then-character-does-that. Stagnant sentence structure can bore a reader even with the best plot line.

Take a look at the paragraph below. Of the fourteen sentences making up the paragraph, I began nine of the sentences with a character pronoun and an action. FYI—there are no names because the POV character is spying and doesn’t know the names. POV character is a not too smart, not too educated villain.

Original Paragraph 

He started his car but turned the engine off when a light came on over the front door as it opened. He scrunched lower, although he didn’t need to. His black car made him part of the dark prairie. Good thing he painted it black. See how things work out? He peeked through the steering wheel. A man and a woman stepped out onto the porch. A tiny, dark haired woman gave the older man a kiss. She descended the steps, and the old guy followed but stopped at the bottom. Looked like she waved him off and continued on to the edge of the front drive, where a horse stood tied to a rail like in a TV western. She swung up onto the horse like damned Calamity Jane. She waved and rode into the night, toward a light. Looked like maybe another house in the distance. The old guy watched until the night ate her up. Interesting.

Rewritten Paragraph

Mixing up the sentence structure by combining sentences and beginning the sentence with the action instead of the subject makes it a much more enjoyable read.

He started his car but turned the engine off when a light came on over the front door as it opened, then scrunched lower although he didn’t need to. His black car made him part of the dark prairie. Good thing he’d painted it black. See how things work out? Peeking through the steering wheel gave him the view of a man and a woman stepping out onto the porch. The tiny, dark haired woman kissed the old man. She descended the steps, and the old guy followed. Her hand went up, stopping him at the bottom, and she continued on to the edge of the front drive where a horse stood tied to a rail like in a TV western. Her leg swung up onto the horse as if she was damned Calamity Jane. With a wave, she rode into the night toward a light. Looked like maybe another house in the distance. The old guy watched until the night ate her up.

Interesting.

varying sentence structure

Want To Read The Rest Of The Book?

Writing murder mysteries is all in a day’s work until an obsessed fan brings Phoebe’s stories to life. Successful mystery writer, Phoebe Anderson, killed her first husband on paper seventeen years earlier. Now, someone has actually done it. Mason Meadowlark is happy with his wild cowboy ways, avoiding love since the death of his baby and his marriage twenty years ago until Phoebe shows up. With an obsessed fan close on her heels, Phoebe is thrown into her own murder mystery…and the next target on his list is Mason.

Buy it on:

Amazon

More About Brenda

Brenda Whiteside is the author of suspenseful, action-adventure romance. Mostly. After living in six states and two countries—so far—she and her husband have decided they are gypsies at heart, splitting their time between Northern Arizona and the RV life. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW is fishing, Brenda writes stories of discovery and love entangled with suspense.

Visit Brenda at:

Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Are you a writer who could use some editing tips? Check out Stacy’s free resources:

Line Editing Made Simple–5 Days to More Polished Pages  – Free e-mail class packed with line editing tips

Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group – Download the guide, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb in Unit 1.

How To Name Your Characters: Tips Every Fiction Writer Should Know – Check out this extensive post on naming your characters, an informative video tour of 7 character-naming sites, and a free PDF guide that summarizes all the information.

Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable – Learn how to streamline the editing process in this affordable, self-paced online course that will empower beginner and intermediate writers to think like an editor so they can save time and money. A steppingstone to hiring an editor.

Interview On It’s A Nerdy Thing #Booktube Channel #booktubers

Interview On It’s A Nerdy Thing #Booktube Channel #booktubers

It's A Nerdy Thing

I had a great time recently speaking with Ayushi Jaiswal, a book reviewer and host of the show It’s A Nerdy Thing. Ayushi calls herself a book nerd and says her goals are to share her bookish experiences and make viewers laugh.

I’m delighted that my novels have been part of her bookish experiences, and I had such fun sitting down to chat with her. We talked about my Storybook Valley chick lit novel Prancing Around With Sleeping Beauty, my lifelong love of reading, how I got into writing, and my tips for writers.

I hope you enjoy the video. If you love to read, be sure to follow Ayushi on Instagram and YouTube.

Behind The Rewrite With @cathyskendrovich – Power Of The Red Pen

Behind The Rewrite With @cathyskendrovich – Power Of The Red Pen

rewrite

In today’s Behind the Rewrite, romantic suspense author Cathy Skendrovich talks about the power of the red pen—and the delete button. She discusses five changes she made when rewriting her new release Zone of Action.

It doesn’t matter how great you think the book you’re writing is, it’s going to need some editing. When I wrote my first book five years ago, I had no idea what the publishing process entailed. Sure, I figured I’d need to change some words, maybe remove some punctuation. After all, I’m a former English teacher; my book wouldn’t need a lot of editing, right? Wrong! My editor had me slicing and dicing until I felt like a contestant on Iron Chef. Never underestimate the power of a good red pen (or Delete button).

The process hasn’t changed over the years, either. Zone of Action is my fifth book, and it went through three editing passes before my editor approved it. Here are some changes I made that I feel have improved it drastically.

Change #1: What’s In A Name?

When I started writing Zone of Action, I knew I wanted my heroine, a former Army counterterrorism expert, to have left the military and become a florist. I wanted to juxtapose her violent past with the peace and tranquility of flora and fauna. Unfortunately, I also thought it would be fun to name her Daisy Jenkins. Get it? Daisy, florist? Besides Daisy, I chose Joe for my hero, and Frank for my villain. I could picture my characters really clearly with those names.

However, my editor didn’t see them the same way. She asked me how vested I was in those particular names, that they were old-fashioned and in Daisy’s case, a dumb idea. It took the seriousness out of the plot and made it, well, corny. And Joe was not hero-sounding enough. It was too ordinary. And Frank? Way too old for the twenty-first century. I racked my brain, because I was already into the book a few chapters by then and decided my hero could change from Joe to Cameron “Cam” Harris, and my villain went from Frank Gates to Brett Gates.

I immediately saw a different image whenever I wrote Cam (just look at the cover model!), and, though Brett was a harder sell for me, I eventually saw the prudence in changing his name. I now get a very vivid picture of Brett whenever I see his name. As for Daisy? I tossed around a lot of choices, but in the end I chose Audrey, after my older son’s fiancée. It’s still a little old-fashioned, but more up-to-date, and definitely not a poor play on words! A name is everything in a book; choose one that sets forth the right image for your characters. Your readers will thank you for it.

 

Change #2: The Sinister Acronym

My novel is about a terrorist group who wants to take over the U.S. Army. When I first started writing, I decided to have a terror cell working with a larger group, meaning I had two sets of acronyms. I had them straight in my head, so I figured the readers would understand the difference, right? Wrong. On the third edit pass, my editor finally flagged the two entities and said, “Can’t we just have the one terrorist organization? I’m getting confused with all the acronyms.” Since she’s the expert, I went back and pulled out the cell’s acronym, and reworked each section that had it. More work for me, but the finished product reads much better now. Less confusing. By the way, the group is the GUWP. You’ll have to purchase the book to find out what it stands for!

 

Change #3: “Strangers In The Night”

Most of you are probably too young to know the song sung by the venerable Frank Sinatra, but it’s a good title for my next major edit. My novel is a romantic suspense thriller. I had the required romance and (Sh!) sex scenes, but my editor came back very early in the first pass and said, “I don’t see any buildup of attraction, to romance, to sex. They have insta-lust, and then they fall into bed,” or on the floor, in this case. I reread the manuscript (again) and looked for places I could add a stolen glance, a prolonged touch, a flirtatious comment. I added those, and also reworked the actual sex scenes, adding description, using better adjectives, and “showing, not telling,” as our English teachers are always saying. And I have to say, those scenes are really “hot” now. Again, you’ll have to get your own copy to see if you agree.

 

Change #4: Good Guys Don’t Act Bad (ly)

The hero in Zone of Action, Cameron Harris, is a military man. That means he believes in action. He doesn’t want to sit around talking or cajoling suspects into telling their secrets. If there’s a way to physically coerce the unsub, then he’s going to choose that route. For example, Cam catches the eighteen-year-old kid who was hired to break into Audrey’s house. Audrey asks the youth why he did it, and who hired him. The kid replies with a nasty phrase. I wanted Cam to act like a he-man and slam the kid’s head into the car hood. My editor said, “No, no, no! That makes Cam look bad. He isn’t heroic if he’s slamming a kid’s head into something. Rewrite!” I really wanted that scene, but in the end I changed it to him shaking the kid and saying something rude to him. I have to say that I like the change now that I’ve lived with it. Cam doesn’t seem to have a wicked violent nature hidden under the surface now. Most of the time, editors know best.

 

Change #5: The End (Or Is It?)

I love writing the HEA to my books. Sometimes I know the ending before I know the beginning, if that makes any sense. In Zone of Action, I wanted an ending like the old movie, An Officer and a Gentleman, where Richard Gere appears and whisks Debra Winger off her feet. My editor was fine with that, but she encouraged me to delve into Audrey’s thoughts more, show her worrying over never saying I love you to Cam. After working the ending scene over a few times, I’m very proud of it, and can see how the added information builds Audrey’s character more. Readers can relate to her now. Haven’t we all wished we’d said some things to our significant others? Or, perhaps not said certain words? By adding to Audrey’s thoughts, I’ve pulled readers into her dilemma, and they can feel for her more.

 

red pen

Want To Read The Rest Of The Book?

Former terror cell expert Audrey Jenkins has seen enough death and destruction to last a lifetime. When she uncovers her ex, Brett, a higher-ranking officer in her unit, selling military secrets, she turns him in and returns to the simpler life she has embraced since leaving the army.

CID Special Agent Cam Harris is a career military man with a strong sense of duty. When a military prisoner who once saved his life in Afghanistan escapes while in his custody, he requests the assignment to track him down.

Cam’s manhunt leads him to Audrey’s door. His prisoner—her ex—will resurface here, he’s sure of it. The feisty woman wants nothing to do with hunting down her ex, but when a terror cell she’s all-too-familiar with launches a deadly attack on army intelligence soldiers and officers, she knows it’s Brett.

Helping Cam is the right thing to do. But the attraction burning between them may be the mistake that gets her and Cam killed…

Buy it on:

Amazon

Cathy Skendrovich

More About Cathy

Lover of dogs, reading, and the outdoors, Cathy Skendrovich looks for story ideas in everything she does. Recently she moved to Star, Idaho, with her real-life hero, and now they enjoy living overlooking a pond. Her favorite genre to write is romantic suspense, though she’s also dabbled in historical romance. Her fifth book, Zone of Action, blends her love of suspense with the military. Her younger son, who’s currently in the army, has stopped taking her calls because of all the research questions she asks him. Seriously.

Website

Facebook

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Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Are you a writer who could use some editing tips? Check out Stacy’s free resources:

Line Editing Made Simple–5 Days to More Polished Pages  – Free e-mail class packed with line editing tips

Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group – Download the guide, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb in Unit 1.

How To Name Your Characters: Tips Every Fiction Writer Should Know – Check out this extensive post on naming your characters, an informative video tour of 7 character-naming sites, and a free PDF guide that summarizes all the information.

Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable – Learn how to streamline the editing process in this affordable, self-paced online course that will empower beginner and intermediate writers to think like an editor so they can save time and money. A steppingstone to hiring an editor.

Emma Dhesi Helps Beginner Writers Find Time And Confidence @emmadhesi

Emma Dhesi Helps Beginner Writers Find Time And Confidence @emmadhesi

beginner writers

I’m so excited to bring you this interview with an extremely inspiring writer and coach, Emma Dhesi, who helps beginner writers find the time and confidence to write their first novel. I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed for an upcoming episode of Emma’s podcast, Turning Readers Into Writers. She also invited me to talk about self-editing during the 20-day August Accelerator event coming up in her Facebook group. (August 2020)

Emma’s motto for beginner writers is: Get Focused. Get Confident. Get Published. Read the interview below to learn more about Emma and how she is helping beginner writers to approach the monumental task of writing a book.

How did you get interested in helping beginner authors to find the time and confidence to write their books? Do you do coaching?

It took me a long time to finish my first novel, over five years in fact. But when I did, it changed everything for me. I suddenly saw myself in a whole new light and realised that if I just put in the time and regular effort I could finish, not just a first draft, but a published novel.

I was so amazed by new capabilities that I knew I had to help other women achieve this as well. It’s all too easy for women to get caught up in the role of mother or wife or worker, especially those in the second half of life. It’s vital to recognise you still have so much to offer. Writing your novel might not change the world but it will change you. You'll realise you're capable of so much more than you ever dreamed. Click To Tweet Not just in writing, but in other aspects of your life too. If I’d known five years ago that I’d be doing what I do now, I would have thought you were crazy! 

I don’t do one-to-one coaching but do offer group coaching. I strongly believe in having a safe and supportive community and do my best to offer this to all my students. I have an online resource called How To Write Your Novel – A Proven 4 Step Guide For Busy Beginners Who Want To Write Their First Novel. Applications are closed for the moment, but I will be opening it again in the future.

beginner writerTell us about your blog. What are some examples of posts you have published?

My blog is aimed specifically at beginner writers. My audience has told me that they struggle most with finding the time to write and building their confidence. Much of my content helps students find ways to find that time and grow their confidence via shared experiences as well as techniques they can try. For example, I’m a big believer in scheduling your writing time. In my experience, if it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t get done!

In addition, I help with aspects of craft, introduce people to debut authors and share resources that have helped me in my writing journey.

Popular blog posts include Show Don’t Tell, How To Finish Writing Your Novel and How Long Should Your Chapter Be?

Tell us about your free cheat sheet on 30+ ways to find time to write? How can people get it?

Because finding time to write is something a lot of my students struggle with, I have a free guide called 30 Top Tips To Find Time To Write. It’s aimed at busy people who need to fit their writing time in around their existing commitments. It’s not always possible to sit down for a whole hour or two in one sitting. Instead, a lot of us need to fit our writing in when we can.

It was Elizabeth Kostava who inspired me when she said she had to write what she could when she could. This guide is full of practical and simple ways that you can slot writing sessions into your week. You can get a copy of it by going to www.emmadhesi.com/30TopTips.

How long have you been doing the Turning Readers Into Writers Podcast? What is your goal with the podcast? 

I mentioned earlier that writing a novel changed my life in many ways, not least that it made me see I could do much more than I ever thought. Launching a podcast is one of those things. It’s new on the block as my first episode went live in March this year.

It too is aimed at beginner writers. I cover the same topics as I do in my blog but offer it here in audio form so that it can be listened to on the go. Again, I interview debut authors and experts in their field; for example editors and other writing coaches. If you are a debut author, and would like to chat with me about your writing process and how you balance writing and your day to day life, I’d love to hear from you. I think it’s so valuable for new writers to hear how other people work. It opens up new ideas about how a creative life can be incorporated into a professional life.

You also have a Facebook group for beginner writers. What are some of the things that you discuss in the group? 

It’s free to join and we discuss all sorts in there. It’s a safe community for people to ask questions whether that be on mindset or craft. Members gain not only moral support and encouragement but benefit from a weekly Live Q&A session and visiting guest experts. We recently had Marjorie J McDonald come in and talk to us about how to write for children, as well as storytelling expert Blake Morris on how to structure a story.

You have a big event going on in August. What do you have planned? 

August Accelerator is a 20-day event throughout August 2020 during which I have invited a number of experts to come into my Facebook group, Turning Readers Into Writers, to talk all things writing! Not only do I have guests speaking about, amongst other things, How To Write Romance, Non-Fiction and a Series, guests will also be discussing how you can use manifestation or tarot cards in your creative life. And of course we will discuss how you can manage imposter syndrome and procrastination as well as how writing can help maintain balanced mental health.

It’s going to be a wonderful month and I’m really looking forward to hearing what all my experts have to say. If you’d like to come in and listen to any of the talks and conversations, you can do so by going to the Facebook group, Turning Readers Into Writers. The videos will be streamed live and replays will be available for a limited time only.

Is there anything else you wanted to get across?

I cannot emphasise enough how Doable it is to write your first manuscript. With consistency and realistic expectation of what you can achieve in a given time period, there’s no reason you can’t finish your first draft. If it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, I urge you to, at the very least, finish your first draft. Then you will know once and for all whether it’s something that lights your heart or isn’t what you expected.

Novel writing should be challenging but it should also be fun and I also encourage your readers to see writing as an opportunity to be curious about the world. It’s hard to do, I know, but try to enjoy the journey as well as the finished product.

More About Emma Dhesi

Emma Dhesi writes women’s fiction. She began writing seriously while a stay-at-home mum with three pre-school children. By changing her mindset, being consistent and developing confidence, Emma has gone from having a collection of handwritten notes to a fully written, edited and published novel. Having experienced first-hand how writing changes lives, Emma now helps beginner writers find the time and confidence to write their first novel.

Links:

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30 Top Tips to Find Time to Write

Facebook group 

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Emma’s Writing

The Day She Came Home – Nicola left her husband Ross, and son Sam, to begin a new life on a remote Scottish island. She thought she’d left her childhood and her old life behind her, but the desire to reconnect is too strong. She must find a way to get a second chance.

Ross can’t move on with his life until he knows what happened to his wife. When she turns up out of the blue and asks for a second chance, he’s not sure he can forgive her. Stephen and Mary are devastated when their long-lost daughter returns and accuses them of the most horrific crimes. But as Stephen always said, no one would believe her. When family secrets are brought to the surface everyone is forced to face their past. Can they forgive and forget? Would you take her back? The Day She Came Home is the first in a series of contemporary family dramas.

Buy it on Amazon.

Behind The Rewrite: 5 Editing Tips From Author @ReneeWildes

Behind The Rewrite: 5 Editing Tips From Author @ReneeWildes

In today’s Behind The Rewrite, author Renee Wildes discusses having her romantic epic fantasy series picked up by a new publisher. She shares five important editing tips for authors to keep in mind when revising their manuscripts.

1: New Publisher/Title/Editor 

The Guardians of Light series originated with Samhain Publishing and when they went out of business and I got my rights back, I had everything re-edited and Champagne Book Group picked up the series. Each book was again re-edited and renamed, with new covers. This book was originally titled Moonwitched, and was renamed A Guardian Redeemed. We chose a play on the Guardian theme for each book’s new title. Each subsequent book in the series is a spin-off from the earlier ones, featuring familiar characters mixing with new ones. The heroine, Mari, was Finora’s best friend in Book 3, A Guardian Revealed. The hero, Valkyn, was Aryk’s best friend in Book 5, A Guardian’s Destiny. The secondary hero, Matteo, was the villain in Book 3…but this is his redemption story arc.

We had a bit of a rocky road. When Cassie, the publisher of Champagne, decided to retire her editor hat so she could focus on the publishing end of things, I was initially assigned a new editor who turned out to be not a good fit for me. Sometimes, in professional interests, it’s necessary to stand up for yourself and negotiate a new deal. In this case, a new editor. I decided to ask for someone specific, and Cassie was gracious enough to agree. Jenna and I get on great, and it’s nice to have another house and editor who believe in me and my stories. NEVER be afraid to speak up if something feels wrong. It’s YOUR book and YOUR career, so look out for yourself.

Same when it comes to the cover—if it doesn’t look like your story/book, speak up. Not all publishers give the author the power to change something, but it never hurts to try and speak up and be selective with what you want to fight for. The initial cover had a scruffy dark-haired hero and a desert setting like Arizona. It looked like the cover of a Western. So I reminded Cassie that Valkyn was a blond Viking-esque warrior and the book setting was very “Africa.” (My editor Jenna said the setting looked like Mars, and now I can’t get “Cowboys on Mars” out of my head!) And I got a new cover that we all agree looks more like my actual book.

2: Fight Lesson Scene Do-Over

One of my favorite scenes in A Guardian Redeemed is when Valkyn decides to teach Mari how to defend herself. They’re going to war to overthrow an evil warlord and restore a boy-king to the throne. It’s a major turning point for Valkyn because when we first meet him (in A Guardian’s Destiny) he’s adamantly opposed to female warriors. But the thought of Mari dying because she can’t defend herself changes his mind. But she won’t kill, which complicates things. So I wrote this epic mock fight scene, where he teaches her a variety of moves I picked up on the Internet. Then I asked a martial-arts teacher fellow writer to vet it for me.

And what I got back was an epic DVD of her and her son reenacting the fight scene…showing me exactly why what I wrote would not work. But it was done in the best spirit of helpfulness and she gave me a variety of things that would work. Because I’m a visual person, being able to see both versions gave me exactly what I needed to rewrite the scene. And then I had the benefit of a professional editor who helped me trim the scene enough to fit in what was missing—all the romantic chemistry that kept it a romantic scene and not a how-to manual.

So whenever you have any kind of technical research, I highly recommend having an expert “vet” the bits in question, to make sure when you’re adding bits of realism it actually reads “real.”

3: To Tag Or Not To Tag: (Dialogue)

When I was with Samhain I used all kinds of dialogue tags, to get the exact inflection I wanted to color the tone of the dialogue. When I moved to Champagne, one of the first questions Cassie asked me when she was my editor was, “You really don’t like said and asked, do you?” Enter the notion of ‘invisible’ dialogue tagsand changed all statements to ‘said’ and questions to ‘asked.’

When Jenna inherited me, it was another learning curve. Enter the notion of NO dialogue tags/tag with action. Commas changed to periods. (Mentality being “We know it’s a question—see the question mark at the end? So you really don’t need ‘asked, now, do you?) Just so we knew WHO was speaking, it’s good. Plus, scenes stay in motion, focus. Dynamic. Definitely a way to eliminate talking heads and static conversation!

Apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks!

4: How To Keep Track Of The Troops

(Large Casts Of Characters)

I write romantic epic fantasy—a blend of romance (first) and epic high fantasy (second). Otherwise known as romance with a couple of fantasy/action subplots. There’s always a lot going on, a lot of change on both a personal and grand scale, and a big canvas has a lot of people in it. My stories do not take place in a vacuum or on a desert island. Characters have friends and family, enemies, employees and servants, ex-lovers, and all the business owners who keep living realistic. Each of my editors has voiced concerns over whether or not a reader can keep it all straight, and has suggested cutting back the body count.

I have cut minor characters and trimmed scenes to increase the focus on the primary action, and been careful to only name important secondary characters. One trick I try to keep in mind is to not repeat the same beginning letter of names too often. Another is to use my baby name book (divided by nationalities) to pick names from the same culture to use within the same culture, to clue the reader in to a character’s race. Dialogue and terminology also help differentiate a noble from a stableman from a warrior from a bard. It also helps to make sure each person has a specific unique role to play, that only they can do, and give them each a memorable mannerism/voice/appearance/attitude/history that differentiates them from all the rest. And to periodically throw in their title/job with or instead of their name to reinforce the reader’s memory.

5: Heart & Soul (Romance Before Plot)

I told a friend of mine I’m a rabbit-hole kind of girl. Means I’m a chaser and a finisher, in a linear/visual sort of way. I tend to write the plot/action scenes straight through, visual-description heavy, and then have to add in the romance, emotion, and other multi-sensory details after. Missing the trees for the forest—too much big picture, not enough close-ups, as it were.

Even/especially in love scenes, I tend to start with he did this then she did that.’ And I’m guilty of certain overused phrasing I tend to fall back on without realizing I did so. Champagne has a pre-edit checklist for their authors that helps weed out certain common overused/generic/passive words to cut, but I’ve made a list of my own overused reactions. I still have editorial comments in revisions that go, “I know what they’re doing, but how do they feel about it?” (and a specific word count with yellow highlighter telling me exactly how many times someone stares or blinkstold you I’m a visual person, it bleeds out into my characters, tooor ‘groans’ or shivers.’) You’d think my characters were making love in a refrigerator, they shiver so much! LOL (and a thesaurus only gets you so far before it becomes apparent that you’re using said thesaurus in the hunt for alternative word choices!)

editng lessons

Conclusion

Be flexible, not rigid. Embrace change. Be aware of your personal foibles and work on them. A sense of humor about it all helps! Always use another fresh set of eyes to catch what your familiarity misses.

Want To Read The Rest Of The Book?

A Guardian Redeemed by Renee Wildes – He was bred for war. Her magic is only for peace. Together they must fight for love. Weapons stolen, comrades dead, ship burned and sunk, Valkyn is rotting in Lord Zurvan’s grim dungeon, wondering if he will ever again see his sons. Rescue comes from an unexpected source—the human witch Zurvan sent to patch him up between beatings. Mari can’t bring herself to let Valkyn die, never mind that the fearsome northern riever is the scourge of her homeland. Yet in him she finds an ally who could help restore the rightful boy king to the throne. And a man who reminds her body there’s life after widowhood.  Their first kiss unleashes pent-up passion she thought was long buried, clouding all the reasons they shouldn’t get involved. But the blood on Valkyn’s hands is anathema to Mari’s magic. If she dares open herself to him fully, he could destroy her. Valkyn knows his heart has already surrendered to hers. When this quest is over, the real quest will be convincing her that polar opposites not only attract, they belong together— forever.

More About Renee

Renee Wildes grew up reading fantasy authors Terry Brooks and Mercedes Lackey and is a huge Joseph Campbell fan, so the minute she discovered romance novels it became inevitable that she would combine it all and write fantasy romance. Renee is a history buff and research junkie, from ancient to medieval times, esp. the Dark Ages. As a Navy brat and a cop’s kid, she gravitated to protector/guardian heroes and heroines. She’s had horses her whole life, so became the only vet tech in a family of nurses. It all comes together in her Guardians of Light series – fantasy, action, romance, heroics, and lots of critters!

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Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Are you a writer who could use some editing tips? Check out Stacy’s free resources:

Line Editing Made Simple–5 Days to More Polished Pages  – Free e-mail class packed with line editing tips

Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group – Download the guide, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb in Unit 1.

How To Name Your Characters: Tips Every Fiction Writer Should Know – Check out this extensive post on naming your characters, an informative video tour of 7 character-naming sites, and a free PDF guide that summarizes all the information.

Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable – Learn how to streamline the editing process in this affordable, self-paced online course that will empower beginner and intermediate writers to think like an editor so they can save time and money. A steppingstone to hiring an editor.

When Writing Gets Derailed: Having A  Child With Type 1 Diabetes

When Writing Gets Derailed: Having A Child With Type 1 Diabetes

child with Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes is challenging, frustrating, and life-changing. Each Tuesday, Colleen Mitchell and Jessie Tuggey, life-long diabetics, talk about real life with Type 1 on the This is Type 1 Podcast, discussing the impact it makes on their lives without defining them.

I had the opportunity to be interviewed on this fantastic podcast, speaking as a mom of a child with Type 1 Diabetes. My daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in kindergarten, on Dec. 27, 2013, and it turned our lives upside down. I’m sharing this on the Shortcuts for Writers blog as this event derailed my writing career for awhile and I lost my desire to write and advance my career.

I know many authors in the Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group have shared situations where life took a distressing turn and they had to put writing on the backburner. Unfortunately, sometimes that happens. It is important to do what’s necessary to cope during difficult times and remember that when things settle down, you can ease back into your writing routine.

During the interview with Colleen and Jessie, we discussed how my family got through the anger and sadness, and navigated this scary new world of needles, finger pricks, insulin pumps, technology not then approved for kids, carb counting, and unsympathetic endocrinology nurses.

We talked about the worst parts and best parts of diabetes (yes, there have been some silver linings!), technology advances, diabetes symptoms and what to do if doctors brush off the early warning signs (which happened with us.)

We also discussed  how this diagnosis halted my writing career until the publication of a lighthearted Cinderella story that symbolized an acceptance of our new normal. Once I had a handle on diabetes, I was able to stop obsessing over it and focus on things like creating my online course for writers, Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan To Making Your Novels Publishable.

You can listen to the episode about having a child with Type 1 Diabetes at this link, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.

If you have Type 1, know someone with Type 1, or just want to learn more about this incurable condition, the This is Type 1 Podcast is for you.

 

Podcast Interview About Being A Mother And A Writer @LaWannMoses

Podcast Interview About Being A Mother And A Writer @LaWannMoses

being a mother and a writer

I love talking about two of my most important roles: being a mother and a writer. Thanks to business and life success strategist LaWann Moses, I recently had the chance to discuss both of those roles.

I was interviewed on LaWann’s podcast More Than A Mother, talking about writing, publishing, and balancing a career with motherhood. I shared about how I almost quit writing because of how my hopes kept crashing down, how I found the will to keep going, and how I learned to become a stronger writer.

We also discussed tips for breaking into freelance writing, branching out into offering an author service, the pros and cons of traditional vs indie publishing, and why my self-paced online course Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan To Making Your Novels Publishable is a steppingstone to hiring an editor.

LaWann’s show reminds moms they can follow their dreams and be a great mother at the same time. I love that philosophy! She provides tips, tools, and strategies to help manage it all. You can listen to our interview here or also find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and more.

You can learn more about LaWann at:

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Come Write With Friends In the Anam Cara Writing Community

Come Write With Friends In the Anam Cara Writing Community

online writing community

 

Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Are you the type of writer that feels motivated by participating in writing communities? Do you find it helpful to set goals alongside other authors who are on the same journey as you are? Some members might focus on a different genre or be at a different skill level, but they all share a passion for creativity and a love of the written word and they all want one another to succeed.

If this sounds like the type of experience you might be interested in, then I’d like to introduce you to Payam Salehi, the founder of Anam Cara, a vibrant writing community for those who believe writing can be far more joyful and productive when surrounded by community.

Anam Cara offers thoughtfully designed 5-Week Online Writing Quests, which include award-winning authors as guides, accountability buddies, weekly writing lessons, secret rewards, and more. As the founder of Shortcuts for Writers, I’m always on the lookout for opportunities that my Book Editing Blueprint students, editing clients, and Facebook group followers might be interested in.

When I heard about Anam Cara, I thought it sounded really interesting, so I hopped on a Zoom call with Payam, and I later spoke with a member of a previous 5-Week Online Writing Quest to get a better understanding of how it all worked. After learning more about the program, I felt like it was well worth relaying to my followers.

So, first, I want to tell you about the next Writing Quest and offer you a coupon code. Second, you can read my in-depth interview with Payam below, and I’ll share how you can contact him directly if you have further questions.

Check Out The Next 5-Week Online Writing Quest.

July 14-August 18, 2020

Use code “shortcut” for a $20 discount

Our friends at Anam Cara want to welcome you with open arms into their vibrant writing community for their next 5-week Online Writing QuestYou’ll set your own writing goal, be matched with an accountability buddy, unlock secret rewards, learn from an award-winning author and guest speakers, and most importantly, meet others who believe writing can be far more joyful and productive when surrounded by soul friends. Guest speakers include New York Times bestselling author Alka Joshi, author of The Henna Artist, and Irving Ruan, a writer at The New Yorker.

Faith Adiele

                     Faith Adiele

Your guide on this journey will be Faith Adiele, an award-winning author, professor, and speaker. She has been featured in The Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire Magazine’s 5 Women to Learn From, on NPR, and has written/starred in a documentary on PBS. Educated at Harvard, the Iowa Writers Workshop in Fiction, and the Nonfiction Writing Program at Iowa, Faith Adiele has lived, taught, and presented around the globe. Her memoir about becoming the first black Buddhist nun of Thailand, Meeting Faith (W.W. Norton), received numerous accolades including a PEN Open Book Award for Best Memoir and 16 artists’ residencies. She has also previously founded the nation’s first workshop for travel writers of color through VONA/Voices and wrote/starred in a documentary that’s been featured on PBS titled, “My Journey Home.”

 Reserve your spot and use code “shortcut” for a $20 discount. The last Quest sold out, so sign up soon! Sign up here.

Interview With Founder Payam Salehi

Payam SalehiWriting a book is solitary work. How can doing a Writing Quest help? 

While writing a book—or essays, blog posts, poetry, whatever it may be—is inherently an internal process, we’ve found through doing these Quests that the biggest boost of productivity and fun comes from finding others in the same boat as you. Having a support system can make all the difference in turning writing from a hair-pulling experience into a source of joy. 

In this Quest, you choose your own 5-week writing goal, and we’ll surround you with an expert instructor and an incredibly supportive community to provide you with the motivation and tools to help you hit your goal.

For example, we match everyone with an accountability buddy based on their writing level, genre, and personality fit and place people into teams. In these teams, they give each other constant feedback and help one another reach their goals and unlock secret rewards, which range from silly encouragement videos to private, 30-minute calls with professional editors and authors.

We celebrated so many amazing achievements in the last quest—one person wrote 20,000 words, another launched a new blog—which we think is a testament to how much everyone supported each other in both doing their work and having fun.

Some writers might not have considered seeking accountability partners and other writers to share their work with. Why do you think it’s beneficial to make these connections? 

There’s something really powerful about helping someone else reach their goals and feel proud of their accomplishments. It provides a sense of fulfillment and connection that you might not find as easily in other aspects of life. 

We actually heard from one of the participants in the last Quest that she was initially skeptical about the accountability buddy process, but after it ended, she was a “convert.” She told us that she learned how to ask for feedback, how to be more open, and how to see potential in herself that she hadn’t previously felt. Another has said that she was able to improve her non-fiction writing by being matched with an accountability buddy who was working on short stories, which gave her a fresh perspective she wouldn’t have otherwise.

A number of folks have messaged us in the weeks since the last Quest saying they are still meeting with their buddies weekly—that’s exactly the kind of relationship we’re trying to cultivate!

What does a Writing Quest offer that might be hard to find in a free community? What do you think the role is of a free community vs. a paid one? 

There are definitely great aspects of being part of a free online writing group, but generally, its biggest benefit is also its biggest drawback: flexibility. When something is free, it’s easier to bail or not make it a priority. 

We attract a committed group of people who show up to make progress on their writing goals and to be there for another person—an excellent complement to belonging to free groups. We find that having a financial and time commitment creates skin in the game and keeps the momentum going. And each quest is 5 weeks—long enough to make some significant progress, but not so long that it feels like an overwhelming commitment.

Each week during your Quest, I noticed your instructor provides weekly writing lessons. Can you elaborate on what is covered?

First of all, you’re going to be in good hands — our Instructor or what we like to call “Quest Guide,” Faith Adiele, is an award-winning author, writing professor, and speaker, and she has been featured in The Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire Magazine’s 5 Women to Learn From, on NPR, and has written and starred in a documentary on PBS. 

And because of her range of experiences, she’s able to speak on many different aspects of the writing process—there’s something in there for everyone. Participants have mentioned how much they learned about new areas to explore more.

Faith creates short, practical writing lessons that folks can immediately integrate into their work, ranging from craft lessons, like how to use our 11 senses to improve your writing, to strategy lessons, like how to develop strong writing habits and actionable steps to take to get your work published. She often has folks bring their writing to our sessions so they can immediately apply the lessons to their work.

And on top of all she brings to the table, we also feature exciting guest speakers. In the past we brought in Vanessa Hua from the SF Chronicle, and we have even more up our sleeves for the next Quest.

What do you think makes your Writing Quests unique?

There are so many great resources out there, whether you’re watching videos about writing or getting inspired by other writers. But this is a place where you come to write, to show up for yourself and for others. 

There are three key elements to our Writing Quests that make up the support system we’re building: An award-winning author provides weekly lessons to help you fine-tune your craft, accountability buddies encourage you and give you feedback, and weekly secret rewards keep you motivated and add in a dose of joy.

We know that writing is hard work, but you don’t have to do it alone. There’s a community being built for you, a space where people will be every day, writing, sharing, and encouraging. And when you do that with others over and over, you’ll be amazed at how quickly it can send you straight through to a published piece (or whatever your goal may be).

writing communityJoin the next Writing Quest July 14-August 18 

Remember to use the code “shortcut” for a $20 discount. The last Quest sold out, so sign up soon!

Sign up here. Contact Payam if you have any questions: Payam@JoinAnamCara.com.

FREEBIE: Also be sure to check out Anam Cara’s free round-up of 15 Must-Have Writing Resources!

It’s All Greek To Me: Why Authors Need Cultural Consultants

It’s All Greek To Me: Why Authors Need Cultural Consultants

cultural consultants

Are you writing a book set in another country and that uses words in that language? How about cultural elements? Then my guest today, Maria A. Karamitsos, is going to explain why you need a Cultural Consultant! I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading Maria’s informative post full of tips on how to write about other cultures.

It’s All Greek To Me

It’s all Greek to me. I’m Greek. I hear this phrase often with Greek language and things to do with Greece. This Shakespearian idiom means people don’t understand something and often concerning a foreign language. What does this mean for a writer? Well, if you’re writing a book set in another country and use foreign words and include cultural elements, to avoid errors, you need help from someone who speaks that language and knows the culture.

As a Greek speaker, an avid reader, a book reviewer, and a writer and editor, I’ve seen many books and articles written about Greece, set in Greece, or with Greek subject matter that fall short in this area. But you’re thinking, “A big house published that book,” or “I spent a lot of money on professional editing. What do you mean there are errors?” The truth is, even the best professional editors can miss these issues because they don’t have experience with the language and culture. I see this happening often in terms of Greece, so I’m sure it does with other languages and cultures.

Why Is This Important?

You’ve researched thoroughly. And what did you add to your characters and story to make them believable, to bring them to life? Details. It’s those finer details that lend authenticity. Getting them right elevates your story from good to outstanding.

Who is your target reader? If you’re penning a book set in another country, with characters from another country and/or culture, a good portion of your target market are people from that country/culture. You don’t want to hurt the sales of the book–and future works.

Cultural consultant for authors

We never want to undermine our precious work, the work we’ve toiled and researched countless hours. That’s what these errors do.

How Does This Happen?

Let’s examine some ways.

  • The editor isn’t familiar with the language, country, and/or culture.

You’re thinking, “A competent, professional editor, someone recommended, would catch it!” Not necessarily. Many times, editors without experience with a language and culture, rely on the author’s research and knowledge that these things are correct.

 

  • Foreign languages are complex. You can’t translate literally.

Languages are nuanced, and sometimes poetic. With Greek, there are on average eight distinct ways to say something. Word usage depends on context. Some will check programs like Google Translate, but the results can be disastrous. While they’re good for a general idea about something (say an article or a post on social media), please do not use these translations in your work.

I’ve worked in Greek-American media for 18 years, and for four, I published a digital magazine. Once, a writer sent me an article for publication. A non-Greek, but a lover of Greece, she sprinkled in Greek words. I flagged multiple instances of incorrect usage. She argued that she looked them up and verified them. For example, she used the Greek verb for charm. She wrote “mayévo,” which can have a negative inference. It was also incorrect in context. The word she wanted is, “ghoitévo.

Perhaps you asked someone who speaks that language how to say something. While this is a step in the right direction, I’ve seen writers get tripped up here because they didn’t provide context.  

  • The author spent time in that country and listened to people speak.

With a language as complex as Greek with words with difficult pronunciations and sounds, it’s possible to mishear. So when someone said the name for a Cretan spirit is Tsikoudiá and you heard and repeated, ‘tsoukouda’, which stuck in your mind and you used it, you’ve made a mistake. I’ve even observed Diaspora Greeks who don’t speak the language hear a word like koumbaRo, which is a man who has a relationship with you because of a religious sacrament (i.e. wedding sponsor or godparent), and say it and write it as koumbaDo. That’s what their ear hears. There’s no D in there—the Greek character is ρ which makes the R sound. That word with the “D” doesn’t exist.

Years ago, an author friend emailed me while penning a novel set in Greece. She asked, “How do you say, ‘Congratulations’ in Greek?” I asked for context. “A wedding,” she explained. In Greece someone said synchartia to me when I got a book contract.”

Well, my friend not only got the word wrong (syllables missing) but she also selected the wrong word. Although syncharitiria means congratulations, a Greek would never say that at your wedding.

  • The choice of character names led to questioned authenticity.

Editors won’t question character names since authors have specific reasons for selecting them. But did you know that the name could trip up a reader? And not just in the “I knew a nasty person with that name” kind of way. A name flub, messes with the authenticity of the character, leading the reader to doubt other elements.

Here’s an example. I read a book with scenes set in Asia Minor in the early 1900s. The protagonist’s last name originated from Cyprus instead of Asia Minor. This distracted me; then I started questioning other things. It’s a fascinating story, the historical elements on point. But every time I read the last name (and it came up often) it took me out of the story. NOTE: Naming your character with a name from another region changes your story. 

 

  • Selected word(s) makes sentence(s) impossible.

Last month, I read an amazing historical novel set in Greece. The author wrote, “… and the yiayias were nursing the babies.” Greek speaking readers–or anyone with Greek friends–would get stuck on the impossibility. Yiayia is the Greek word for grandmother. So, unless these were young grandmothers who’d just given birth, I’m not sure how this would happen. The book was published by major house and no doubt edited by a professional, but the errors got through because people weren’t familiar with the language.

  • Cultural misuse.

Another author penned a manuscript for a novel set in Thessaloniki, the protagonist born and raised in that city. She described a character, “…wearing a Sariki, a traditional adornment worn by men in Thessaloniki.” She sent it to me, as a beta reader. I questioned the use of sariki. She said she saw a picture of a Greek man wearing one and it was “intriguing.” Oops. Sariki is a netted scarf worn by men on the island of Crete. Crete is the southernmost Greek island, and Thessaloniki is a city in northern Greece–each with very distinct culture. It may sound minor, but it’s a tremendous mistake. Chances are you won’t see a man from Thessaloniki wearing a sariki–well, unless he’s from Crete or bought one there as a souvenir. But again, that changes your character and story.

  • A misspelling or misplaced accent mark changed the meaning.

In Greek, you can move the accent mark or even change one letter and it alters the entire meaning. For example, take the Greek wordfilo. Accent placement can alter the meaning: FEE-lo (fílo) means a male friend, but could also be the flaky pastry sheets used in many Greek dishes (in Greek characters they have different spellings); and fee-LO (filó), means I kiss you. Big difference, right?

What Do I Do?

You’ve put your heart and soul into your work, labored innumerable hours. Then you (or your publisher) hired a professional editor–but these errors slipped. Or if you’re writing or editing, you’ll want to avoid these mess-ups. They aren’t minor.

So what do you do?

Hire a Cultural Consultant. I know. You’re thinking you already spent–or will spend–a ton on different phases of editing, and now I’m telling you to spend more money on a consultant? Yes. Because you want your story to be the best it can be.

Likely part of your target market are readers from that culture, and you don’t want to turn them off. You may be viewed as a cultural ambassador, and you don’t want to provide inaccurate info! You publish a book to make money. And you want to grow your audience and publish more books. You don’t want to give anyone a reason to stop reading or to discount your otherwise amazing work.

What Do I Look For?

  • Hire a person who speaks the language, knows the culture, and the country.

Choose someone of that culture. Someone who has lived in that country for many years can also be helpful. Language and culture are multifaceted.

  • Check their qualifications.

Have they done this work before? Discuss past projects and their experience with said language, country, and culture.

  • Send the entire manuscript.

Discuss the story with the consultant. He or she needs to know the story, the setting, the character dynamics, your goals, the context, etc.

This service shouldn’t break the bank either. Consider it cultural proofreading.

While this may seem nitpicky or you believe that readers won’t pick up on the errors, you don’t want to be the author that writes, “I’ll have some krazi” instead of “I want some krasí. Krasí is the Greek word for wine. Unless you want some “crazy.” But that’s a whole other story.

If it’s all Greek to you, work with a Cultural Consultant. And oh yes, don’t skip the editing.

Questions? Send me an email at hello@mariakaramitsos.com

More About Maria

Maria A. Karamitsos has been a positive voice in Greek media since 2002. She was the founder, publisher, and editor of WindyCity Greek magazine. For 10 years, she served as the associate editor and senior writer for The Greek Star newspaper. Her work has been published in GreekCircle magazine, The National Herald, GreekReporter, Harlots Sauce Radio, Women.Who.Write, Neo magazine, KPHTH magazine, XPAT ATHENS, and more. Maria has contributed to three books: Greektown Chicago: Its History, Its Recipes; The Chicago Area Ethnic Handbook; and the inaugural Voices of Hellenism Literary Journal. She’s a sought-after book reviewer and enthusiastically promotes books set in Greece, those with Greek subjects, and books by Greek authors. As a Greek Cultural Consultant, Maria helps authors with Greek references in their work. She’s currently editing her first novel. Learn more at mariakaramitsos.com

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