Monthly Archives: July 2016

Reading, Writing, Lack Of Editing

Amazon Prime Day. Wow. Great way to separate me from my money guys, thanks. I think. Among the things I purchased that I didn’t need was something that I probably should have done a long time ago: Kindle Unlimited.

Yeah. Let me tell you how it’s gone so far. On Saturday, I read four books. I didn’t do anything else, and my family didn’t seem to miss me. That should be a concern, but hey, the kids are teenagers and live in their own worlds and Hubby knows I check out from time to time and allows it to a certain extent.

On Sunday, I read two books, felt guilty for ignoring my family, and Netflixed an entire season of The Last Kingdom with The Girl as penance. That was not exactly quality time, but I listened to her chatter, responded when appropriate, and didn’t pull my hair out. I also felt jittery, like I’d had too much coffee. In retrospect, it might have been the Swedish Fish & Monster Java combo I used to get me through the last couple of episodes.

Somewhere around 2 am, while watching Richard Hammond’s Crash Course on Amazon Prime Video with Hubby (my long-time insomniac), I realized why I was bothered by reading so many books lately.

First, I’ve always said writer’s block isn’t a problem for me, and that’s true. If I sit down to write, I can. Not always on what I want to write, what I might need to make progress on or finish, but I can write something. It’s why I frequently have multiple works in progress at a time, and why any given book is almost always written out of order. In other words, I don’t write chapter 1,2,3,4, etc. It goes more along the lines of chapter 12,1,4,6,9,3,2, etc. I think I sat down and wrote two books beginning to end in order. Neither are published yet. (A’gust and it’s sequel if you’re wondering. Both are sequels, more or less, to Chrysanthemum.)

Anyway, while writer’s block may not be a problem, progress is. And I wanted to have Desperate Wishes finished and published by now. I should have. At the rate I usually write and where I was in the manuscript, there wasn’t any reason for that not to have happened. I forgot to factor in teenagers, and then the lasting impact of dealing with them. Or the spectacular crash of my computer and loss of quite a bit of material on two of three projects – didn’t count on that either. So taking time out to read, or work on the two other projects on my desktop, makes me feel a little guilty. Guilt isn’t exactly productive.

The other thing about reading those book was that, while the authors wrote good stories, one of them clearly didn’t hire a good editor. Another didn’t hire an editor at all and I suspect didn’t do well in high school English. I will give her the benefit of the doubt that she graduated, but my good will only goes that far.

Nimoy was snuggled up with me all day on Saturday and she noticed my displeasure at the editing dramas unfolding before me in digital black and white (stretch, yawn, baleful glare, shift away so her back was to me, then fall back asleep in clear disdain). See? Failing to have even a half-decent editor glance at your book affects a lot of people and felines. It’s hellish.

Second, while I appreciated the good books I came across, I’m going to ignore them. Sorry, they’re just not important for rant purposes, although I will review all of the books on Amazon and maybe Goodreads later. (I don’t use my name, you don’t get to see the trash I read.)

Where was I? Oh, the good story but bad writing – sigh. It wasn’t even bad writing. I’ll let style issues go nine times out of ten because style is a matter of personal preference and I realize – as an adult and a writer – that people prefer certain things. I can’t read Charlaine Harris’ books. I loved the True Blood series on HBO and people kept telling me to read the books, but I can’t. Her style makes me want to slit my wrists. Obviously she’s a successful writer and her style appeals to, or at least doesn’t bother, most people. My problem is just that – my problem.

If it’s not a matter of style, but poor grammar, editing, writing, and execution, where does that leave me? Leaving a bad review. Or a mediocre one, the story underneath was good.

Again with something that is clearly my problem, I don’t like leaving bad reviews on good stories. Particularly when the review ends up being actually more of a critique. The author can read the review, fix it, upload a new version of the book, and eventually my review will be buried and fall off per Amazon’s new policies. Assuming the author is willing to do that, and take my advice in the future.

It does remind me of where I came from, however, and that is Book Country. Once upon a time, a literary agent named Collen Lindsay went to work for Penguin (Random House) Books, and they launched an online service for potential authors. Writers could upload their manuscripts for other writers to read and critique, allowing them to improve and get useful feedback about plot, structure, grammar, style, voice, etc before submitting it to a literary agent or publishing it themselves. This isn’t a new idea, and it wasn’t new then either. There were, and are, several sites like this out there. I happened to be part of this one since the beta stage, along with a few other people who have also since published.

For me, it came to a point where I wasn’t getting anything new and useful in feedback. Also, I was stuck in a series where if you hadn’t read the previous books, the character development was missing. So I stopped posting, but I still continued to go back and critique, and I followed the discussion boards, and then…I faded away and got lost in my own things.

Apparently my account is still active. Hmm. So I’m thinking, there are authors out there publishing without editing and they need to be slapped. Amazon reviews will do that to a point, Goodreads too. But I can at least drop in on bookcountry.com and maybe give a nudge to the writers who are just starting out.

Apparently Nimoy approves, she just bit me softly then started purring.

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