Exterminating Breeding Typos – Guest Post – Randy L. Scott

Randy L. Scott

Randy Scott is an independent author I’ve enjoyed visiting with at both Sierra Writers meetings and at the 2019 Sierra Writers Conference.

Randy’s guest post shares his editing process, tools, techniques, and tenacity. Randy has written and independently published three contemporary action adventure novels.

Knowing that Indies have a reputation for producing typo-riddled work, Randy’s aim is to raise reader expectations.

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I’ve read the blog posts, listened to the podcasts and watched YouTube about the business of writing and publishing.

One of the consistent complaints readers have about many self-published books is the editing – or lack of.

My day job is in a hospital, in a department where many ‘out-patients’ are seen. There is a waiting room where, you guessed it – they wait. Whenever possible, I engage with these folks about their reading material choices. When I ask if they read self-published or independent authors, the overwhelming response is they avoid them. “After the fifth or sixth typo, I put the book down and don’t go back,” is a common reply.

Tracking Down Typos

I consider myself a typical consumer of books; well-read across genres. Nearly every traditionally published novel I’ve read over the past dozen years, even from famous authors, has a few mistakes.

My typo standard; a few is okay, a dozen is sloppy.

When I embarked on my self-publishing journey, I knew that we are blind to our own mistakes and professional editing is mandatory for a professional result.

I ran the manuscripts through ProWriting Aid, the grammar checker on steroids. After line-correcting the manuscripts, I sent them to a professional proofreader for final nit-picking. I felt confident that the proofreader would have an easy job.

In my disillusionment, I thought I would be paying a lot of money to root out the few typos that escaped the eyes of my line editor.

Turns out the proofreaders earned their pay – and then some. They returned my manuscript with shit-tons of red flags. Well… okay… I drop my head, swallow my pride and get back to work making those corrections. Finally, it’s completely cleaned up and I make the ebook available for free to my friends and followers on Facebook.

Here’s what happened; the feedback is good. I’m a happy camper. I submit the manuscript to Amazon for both Kindle and paperback versions. I also submitted it to Draft2Digital, who will distribute to the other ebook stores like Apple Books, Nook, Kobo, Scribd and more. Yippie, it’s out there in the world and I’m a published author! Life is good my friends.

Then the comments rolled in from those who received the paperback copy; ‘I found a few typos and transposed words. Do you want me to pass them on to you?’

‘Yes, please!’ I reply to all. I also asked those friends who had the paperback to ‘mark up the book, dog-ear the pages where the typos are, pass it back and I’ll give you a new, clean version when I’ve made the corrections.’

Holy Cripes! I’m shocked. Shocked, I say, when I see all the dog-eared pages. I was hoping and praying they are mistaken or merely quibbling over style and word choices.

It’s a sad day when I see they are right and I’ve still got a couple dozen errors in my one-hundred thousand word manuscript.

Little ones, mind you, but mistakes nonetheless.

Amazon Book Proofs for Proofreading

Amazon offers ‘Author’s Proof’ copies. I give those ‘cheap’ copies to my second volunteer team. Within a week, they are ready to return them – all dog-eared and marked up. I’m happy to buy them lunch, or a bottle of wine to thank them for their ‘volunteer’ help.

It’s a chore to find a good team of professional editors – that you can afford. It’s a chore to find qualified friends or acquaintances who will take that last step for quality, to read your work and mark it up – after you’ve already paid the pros. For me, it’s worth it. I put a lot of thought and time into my stories.

I don’t want to be an author who has reviews noting how poor editing was distracting to the story.

Jumping the Gun, Impatience has a Price

Now I can hear you saying; “But you paid a ‘professional’ proofreader. Shouldn’t they have found all those mistakes?”

Yes. I agree. I wish they would have.

I discovered that one of the drawbacks of self-publishing; not having a large team of seasoned editors.

It’s up to all of us who are self-publishing, to go the extra steps and pay the extra dollars to get the job done right.

I paid for all the stages of editing, but I was in too much of a hurry on those first two books. I’m fortunate to have local friends good at finding typos, and an aunt who tackles proofreading like a rat terrier on a mission from God.

Post-Publication Changes

Thank God for print-on-demand, I don’t have a basement full of my poorly edited novels, and thank God only a few people have bought the books at this point.

My saving grace— it is easy to make changes today – even after publication.

I did a ‘soft’ launch, choosing to wait until I have the whole series complete and out the door before investing advertising. In retrospect, that was a wise move.

I zip through the dog-eared pages to find the circles and arrows pointing to the misspellings or transposed words while I am scrolling through the manuscript on my computer. I make all the corrections within half an hour and reload the manuscript into my formatting program, Vellum. New files are spit out for the paperback, and the ebook versions for Kindle, iBooks, Nook, etc.

It takes only a moment to log into Draft2Digtial. I delete the old version, no questions asked, and the next person who orders my ebook, gets the new, cleaned-up version. Easy peasy.

The only delay is with Amazon. They have to review the new manuscript first. The Kindle version is typically replaced the same day. The paperback, print-on-demand copy can take up to seventy-two hours to be replaced.

Taking Extra Steps to do the Job Right

As I write this article, two of my three novels are finally, completely finished and published. I learned that I put them on the market one step too soon.

I needed another proofreading team after I paid the professionals, to give the books a final good scrubbing.

On this last book, my final volunteers discovered typos that got past the pro! Here’s my estimate of what they found;

  • 1st guy found about 30
  • 2nd person found about 20, 10-15 unique ones the first guy didn’t find
  • 3rd person found about 10, 5 unique ones the other two didn’t find

And I found a few more while I was putting in their corrections! It’s like the little bastards breed as soon as you close a file!

My diligence is paying off.

Finally, on the third book I’m getting it right.

At the time of article publication, all three Dream Messiah books will be available for purchase on Amazon

Summary of Randy’s Editing Process

  • Developmental Editor (paid)
  • Volunteer Beta readers
  • Line Editor (paid)
  • Proofreader (paid)
  • Volunteer proofreaders
The Superstition Mountains, Arizona Photo Credit: Scott Taylor

Check out Randy’s Dream Messiah Series

The genesis for the Dream Messiah saga came while Randy hiked across Arizona’s Superstition Mountains.  In his head, he saw the story of a young Alaskan man being taken into the Dreamtime of another culture and finding his home.

Freedom, Randy Scott

FREEDOM: Jake Barnes is worried about his ‘crazy seeds,’ mental afflictions and psychotic episodes that run in his family. After burning bridges and making enemies, he hitchhikes to Alaska to build his dream–a cabin in the wilderness where his biggest fear is the grizzly bear stalking him.

Jake…..turned mountain man falls for Kat, a strong-willed woman who is going to be the mother of his child. Jake soon learns that escape from the difficulties he ran from is impossible.

After their child is born, Kat has her own agenda.

Jake falls into doubt and self-pity while sensing that his life and grasp of reality are spinning out of control.

His sourdough, survivalist neighbor tells Jake of a primitive, nomadic tribe, the Punan Dyaks, on the island of Borneo, with a Dreamtime messiah prophecy. He also advises Jake to take a path of ruthless action.

While more than one person wants Jake Barnes to burn in hell, another hand is guiding him into baptism by fire.

 

Into the Fire, Randy Scott

INTO THE FIRE: Jake made more than a few mistakes while trying to raise his infant son. The last incident earned him a seat in the back of a state trooper’s car. Jake’s prayers for a normal life are crushed as his incarceration turns from bad to worse. A crime boss’s story of torture and disfigurement cements Jake’s path of survival by the rules of ruthlessness.

Jakes crazy seeds are sprouting thick as mushrooms on a cow pie. Death follows him like dark cyclone clouds of a voodoo curse.

The woman Jake falls for may be his undoing.

At the crossroads, Jake must decide if he can commit an act utterly heinous and abhorrent–if it will buy his freedom, or is freedom just another word–for nothing left…

AWAKENING: Jake Barnes wasn’t sure if he was bargaining with an angel or the devil when he struck a deal with the powerful Mr. Stevenson. Nine people are now dead in the wake of Jake’s actions.

Awakening, Randy Scott

Jake has completed his part of the bargain as Mr. Stevenson’s Hammer of God: as the old Jake Barnes dies and he takes on a new identity as Gabriel G. He’s learned the hard lessons, and the rewards of ruthlessness.

Still not sure if he’s psychotic or being guided by mysterious forces, Gabe escapes to Bali for a meet-up with another character from his past. Together they trek the uncharted territory of Borneo in search of the Punan Dyaks and the truth behind the Dream Messiah. Who will be their savior? How many more will die in this quest? Will the circle be…

Randy L. Scott lives and works in Nevada City, CA.

Resources:

Randy’s Website

Randy’s Amazon Author Page

Independent Author – More manuscript editing articles

Little Mountain Publishing – Helpful tools & resources for every stage of writing, editing, and publishing

Pinterest – Editing Tools board

Sierra Writers Conference 2019 & Critique Group Guidelines

What Critique Groups do for Your Writing Life
by Ingrid Keriotis

If we wish to have a creative component in our lives, we should be willing to put our work out there once in a while, for good or bad, and say “Here it is.”

read more

Sierra Writers Guidelines for Starting a Critique Group

  • Decide what you want. What kind of writing do you do regularly? Do you write blog posts, correspondence, grant proposals, or social media narratives? What are your writing goals?
  • Look for interested people. Network at a Sierra Writers Conference, ask at the Madelyn Helling Library, and study group guidelines on  SierraWriters.org.
  • Talk to other writers who attend a critique group. Better yet, attend an existing group to get a sense of how it is structured.
  • Start small. Establish ground rules before inviting new members.

click here for 17 more tips!

 

Seedling Cultivation during 2018 Open Studios Tour – Nevada County Language Arts

 

Nevada County student writers shine in the Seedlings chapbook. Seedlings is a Sierra Writers publication featuring winning entries from the 2018 Young Writers Competition (YWC).

On the first weekend of the Fall Colors Open Studios Tour, studio #30 (off Newtown & Discovery Roads) will feature the chapbook. “Seedlings will help area teachers prepare students for the 2019 competition and give tour attendees a chance to appreciate the young literary talent growing in the community,” says Lisa Redfern.

Redfern is a Deer Creek artist and member of Sierra Writers. In addition to showcasing YWC student writing, she will be displaying her own literary art (personal monsters) as well as her Life on the Creek series.

Lisa Redfern will be displaying personal monsters art and promoting YWC 2019 on October 13-14, the first weekend of Open Studios Tour.

Students have five months to compose and polish prose for a chance to win cash awards and publication in the 2019 Seedlings chapbook. Prizes range from $100 to $25 depending on the grade of the entrant.

YA author Km Culbertson presiding over 2018 May reading and award event at the Open Book

Support for the YWC is generated through Sierra Writers membership dues, donations collected at monthly meetings, book exchange and literary events. Chapbook printing and production is funded through program sponsorships.

Nevada County middle and high school Language Arts teachers are encouraged to attend the tour to pick up competition guidelines and winning entry samples.

From 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on both days, Lisa will be available to share information and answer questions about the Young Writers Competition and sponsorship opportunities.

Websites

SierraWriters.org – 2019 Young Writers Competition (YWC)
FollowingDeerCreek.com – a story-based study of the Deer Creek Watershed
LittleMountainPublishing.biz – Redfern’s books & short stories

Custom made to order prints & houseware items.

 

Committing to the Craft – Conferences, Connections & Contests

One thing that writers love is their cave. It is warm, cozy, and quiet. Coffee, tea, or other favorite libations are always at hand while the mind agitates.

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A single reader can elevate an author into the stratosphere with a kind comment or an Amazon Review. Out of that deep grotto, a connection is made.

Once the first flush of achievement fades, the next questions that authors must ask is how to get more readers and how to improve writing skills?

This January, I attended the second annual Sierra Writer’s Conference. Organized by Sierra Writers and Sierra College, it is a friendly, intimate venue filled with opportunities.

“If you want to be serious about writing, treat it like a business,” says Jordan Fisher Smith, a conference keynote speaker.

Joyce Wycoff, a event board member, says that when a writer attends a conference, “You are showing up for your writing.”

A writing conference is a place to;

  • hone your craft
  • make connections, and
  • establish an action list 

“Agents and publishers often say that writers’ who attend conferences are more serious about their craft and are more likely to succeed,” Wycoff comments.

This year’s conference was on the same day as the Women’s March.

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Women’s March

Politics was not discussed, but keynote speakers recognized the passion that the marchers expressed.

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Molly Fisk, author of Blow-Drying a Chicken

“A writer is not outside of what is going on,” said Molly Fisk. “People recognize themselves in our writing.”

“Being a writer opens a door,” she continues. “It is permission to think.”

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“Art happens when people get together to share their struggles,” Jordan Fisher Smith, commented. “You write because you are called to it.”

 

Following my current interests, I attended Marketing and Publishing and Guided Critique break-out sessions.

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Catharine Bramkamp, author of Future Gold

Catharine Bramkamp, a writing coach and social media expert discussed a variety of platforms, member demographics, and analytics. “Know where to spend your time on social media. Be aware of the results that you want to achieve. Keep yourself from getting sucked in, but do enough to have a presence online.”

 

 

 

Bob Jenkins, is a professional storyteller with a PhD in criticism. “Criticism is the20170121_202153analysis of art; what works and why it works, as well as what doesn’t work and how to fix it,” he explains.

Jenkins delighted his listeners, and the brave souls who pre-submitted writing samples, with dramatic readings of their work. His suggested improvements were striking and gratefully received.

Bob’s writing improvement recommendations; ProWritingAid, Ginger Grammar Checker, and Building Great Sentences.

 

The last workshop that I attended was with Mark Weideranders. He is a is a historical fiction author. Several of my next writing projects fall into this category.

20170121_195645robert_louis_stevenson_at_26“History did not record what was going through the mind of Fanny Osbourne, an American art student, when she drew this affectionate sketch of young Robert Louis Stevenson,” began Weideranders.

When writing historical fiction, it is important to let people know what is fact and what is fiction,” says Weideranders.

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Q & A Panel – Mark Weideranders, Mary Volmer, Jordan Fisher Smith and Kim Culbertson

Connections happen with shared experiences;

  • standing in line to get coffee
  • looking through books on display
  • the person you sit next to during lunch break
Poets Quartet performance
Poets Quartet performance

First Sentence Contest

A confidence booster was winning the First Sentence Contest. Below is my entry along with the artwork (on my cell phone) that inspired the words.

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Lucia Stewart Artwork

 

For an introverted author, making oneself mingle goes outside the bounds of the comfort zone. Realizing that many authors share the same feelings makes it easier.

My ‘meeting people strategy’ is simple; smile, make eye contact, and have a genuine interest in the person I want to talk to.

The next time I step outside of my cave, it will be with increased confidence, improved skills, and more people I know in my writing community.

 

 

Additional Resources

Conference books, authors, and writing improvement tools

Download a FREE Conference Journal to discover your conference-attending personality

Additional Writers’ Conferences – Poets & Writers

Literary grants & funding

Writing Contests and Competitions –

Writer’s Digest

The Writer Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Positive Gifts from the County Go Beyond Doctors and Medicine

It can start as a cry at a higher than normal pitch, a raging fever that won’t come down, bruises that appear for no reason. A parent, consumed with worry seeks out help. The Pediatrician makes a preliminary evaluation and orders more tests.

Then the moment arrives…words, delivered with professionalism and care from the doctor;  everything has changed for the family and the child with the difficult diagnosis.

For nearly 300 families in Nevada County (California), these experiences are part of their story. But that’s only the beginning. A new reality sets in—one that involves long drives to special care units at UC Davis, San Francisco or Stanford and physician specialists, dieticians, nutritionists, social workers and rounds of medication.IMG_1555-web

Maryellen Beauchamp has a special connection with these families. She is Nevada County’s Public Health Nurse Case Manager for California Children’s Services. 53 webCalifornia Children’s Services is operated by the State of California. Over 80 years old, it has an office in every county. Maryellen acts as the conductor in an orchestra that encompasses multi-faceted medical assistance for children with severe health issues. These issues can range from growth plate or skull fractures, endocrine, neurological, orthopedic, and metabolic disorders to Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy and premature infants.

This type of work comes with a heavy weight and knowledge that is often difficult to leave behind at the end of the day.  On her desk, Maryellen keeps several inspirational quotes that remind her to remain grounded. One of them reads; Today, I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive; I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. –H.H. the XIVth Dalai Lama

Maryellen recently had the opportunity to incorporate something important into her program—a sense of positive empowerment for her young clients. It came in the form of a beautifully illustrated book, Toby Bear and the Healing Light.  It is the story of a stuffed bear who teaches a sick child the power of affirmations, meditation and visualizations in the healing process.

Toby Bear and the Healing Light was created by author, Lisa Boulton while undergoing cancer treatments, as a gentle way to help children going through difficult illness. Boulton enlisted photographer and artist Lisa Redfern to create the photo-illustrations. “I wanted the story to feature local people, places and businesses as a way to express my love for our community and for the outpouring of support and caring that I received when I was sick,” says Boulton.SNMH Approved 12-14-12

Maryellen says, “I like that the story features Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital—the place where the journey with California Children’s Services begins for many of our families. It is also a plus that the Nevada  County Public Health Department could partner with the local women who created the book.”

As Maryellen puts it, “You can’t get well with doctors and medicines alone…it takes the right attitude to make it all work.”  She’s excited about the books because she plans to give them as gifts to the age appropriate children in her program. “It is a positive message and gift from Nevada County Public Health Department to the children (and their families) who need it most.”

Read more about this topic at The Union.com.

Toby Bear and the Healing Light

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Little Flower – A Home with a Heart and a Resource for Parents

According to the Nevada County Economic Resource Council, “Nevada County boasts the greatest number of charter schools per capita in California.” http://ncerc.org/nevada-county-education/

Choices are a good thing…but too many are overwhelming, especially for first-time parents trying to decide where to send their children to school. Preschool is often the place where parents sort that out.

I first met Jessica Geoffroy-Druding in 2005 when our oldest sons were in strollers.  Even then,  she and her husband Pat were in the habit of strengthening community ties by inviting interesting mixes of people to gatherings at their home.Druding Family 2007 WEB

Jessica and I would often discuss the topic of school choices at length as I had many questions. Jessica, on the other hand, was already sure that Yuba River Charter School was where her children would go because she had been educated in the Waldorf system herself. Jessica’s mother, Carolyn Geoffroy, was a Waldorf Early Childhood Educator for 30 + years.

When her second child arrived and the economy put her husband’s job into a tenuous situation, the smart and spunky mother took matters into her own hands by creating a career path out of her loving home environment – Little Flower Preschool. It didn’t  take long for word-of-mouth to spread about the sweet preschool for young children.  In it’s third year of operation, Little Flower is at full enrollment with a healthy sized waiting list.

IMG_3449web“ I finally understood why my mother did what she did,” says Jessica. “Holding a wholesome beginning for the early years is so important. “ At her Waldorf  inspired preschool they don’t rush into academics. “We focus on rhythms and routines,” Jessica comments. She also works to create opportunities for families to connect by organizing parent social evenings and bringing in community child care professionals to provide education on topics such as sleep and health.

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“Just because Little Flower follows much of the Waldorf style, I don’t automatically assume that Yuba River Charter School is the right choice for all of my families. Based on their personalities, I can usually point them to the school that would be a good fit for them,” says Druding.IMG_3445web

Knowing that your child is in a safe, loving environment  while you work makes for a more mentally focused day. But also having a trusted expert that you can talk to about child rearing issues is an invaluable resource for the entire family.

Contact Information:

LF Logo black text on white web size

Jessica Geoffroy-Druding
littleflowergv@gmail.com
(530) 272-2952, Grass Valley, CA
www.littleflowerpreschool.com

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Sweet Failures on a Jaggedy Uphill Climb

“The learning curve,”  after thinking about this analogy for a while, I realized that learning is not a curve. A curve implies a smooth slope that glides along without impediments. Learning is a jaggedy painful climb up to a plateau where you get to rest for a few minutes…before you have to start heading up the next one.

I think the masses of Apple people who are in the midst of figuring out how to navigate around their devices (with the new mobile iOS 7) would agree. I am a PC user but I hear their collective groan of pain and empathize with them all the same.

A friend of my son’s (in second) said that he wished that there was no such thing a school; he wished that we could put on ‘smart helmets’ to get things done.  If only…

As I stretch to meet a self imposed goal; to have six small bees wax art pieces that I like well enough to show ready for the upcoming Open Studios Tour next weekend, I have been climbing my own painful learning path of late.

The smell of hot wax fills the air as I heat up the latest piece. I am working to generate a globby, gray mass of drippings destined for oblivion. It’s hard to keep the knot in my gut from tightening up as I calculate….this tube of paint cost $20 and that stick of wax cost $15

I try to make the most of the process as I show my eight year old son each of my failures while pointing out that, unlike his current belief, one cannot become an instant expert at any new task.

Hearing my wishes to discover new ways to add depth and texture to my TransMedia Art Terry Juhl  Artistpieces, fellow artist and 2013 Open Studio Tour companion, Terry Juhl, is responsible for nudging me down the ancient path of wax painting.

Terry won Best of Category Oil for the piece to the right in the PlacerArts 30th Jubilee Open Juried Show in May of this year. Open_Juried_Show_Rustic_Wonder_Terry_Juhl_Best_of_Category_Oilhttp://www.theunion.com/news/localnews/6426932-113/artist-category-auburn-won

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She invited me into her studio workspace to play one day. From that point on, we have been periodically making time in our busy schedules to collaborate on learning to understand the personality of the substance in order to manifest our own individual artistic visions.

In order to reach my goal, I abandoned the ‘media blending idea ’ for now, in order to focus on wax the itself; how it moves, adding lines, color, textural and dimensional elements. 

Blooming Threads encaustic by Lisa Redfern webThe results are, “Sweet Little Things”  –  a set of 3”x 6” metal art pieces with twine hangers that I like well enough to let people see (and touch!).

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fall lines

Knowing the reverent, almost evangelical attitude of Apple devotees, once they get through their arduous climb, they will inevitably exclaim how great their new operating system is and wonder how they ever survived without it.

My own excitement for working with a new medium will certainly follow the same course. Frustrations simmering upon the liquid surface….while I work and wait for those ’ah ha!’ moments.