I Can Edit That for You

DSC_0255I’ve been slacking on my writing duties for the last, oh, few months. I still have an almost-finished manuscript that needs a couple more scenes added and a final proofreading pass before I can call it publishable.

What have I been doing in the meantime? Editing. Technical editing has been my career for the past 6 years, and I have loved it. I just can’t stay away, so I decided to try my hand at starting my own editing business.

Now I want to get my hands on your writing.

Check out my Editing Services page for more details.

My Favorite Part of the UW Writers’ Institute

As I mentioned yesterday, I attended UW-Madison’s Annual Writers’ Institute for the second year in a row this weekend. (Here’s what I learned last year.)

My favorite part of this writing conference is, of course, being in a room with so many like-minded people. Aside from that, I’d have to say the most valuable and beneficial part for me was the advanced manuscript critique, where you submit ten pages ahead of time and have them critiqued by an expert. Then, you have a half hour meeting with that person where they give you their feedback, and you can ask questions of them.

Last year, I had my critique with Rebecca Williams Spindler, who I ran into and got to connect with again this year. She’s got a lot of exciting things going on in her career, and I’m excited I may be able to be part of some of them! Rebecca also pointed me in the direction of a successful author she knows who writes rock star books like mine, Angie Stanton. So now of course I want to read ALL her stuff.

This year’s critique was with nonfiction author and educator Julie Tallard Johnson. Since she specializes in nonfiction, I wasn’t sure how the fit would be, but she really understood what I was going for and was excited about it! I gave her the first ten pages of my next project, The Worst Matchmaker in the World.

What I did well:

Your title made me laugh and drew me in. Then you start with the one line “shy girl…” and I am hooked. Your use of dialogue is very good. You have more than a great start and premise. Keep writing.

What I need to work on:

Remember that the reader is new to all this information, story and characters. So include any descriptions or details that will give depth to the scene, the story and the characters. You do hint of disaster with the title but I want more tension to start with.

If you want to read the full ten pages I submitted as a preview to my next series, I’ll be sending that out to my mailing list next week. So sign up! I’ll also share six things I learned at the conference and give you a free copy of my first book, Front Row!

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me – UW Writers’ Institute Keynote

I just finished listening to another great keynote speech at the UW-Madison Writers’ Institute. Dan Blank delivered an insightful and actionable speech via Skype yesterday on how to find an audience; and today, Hank Phillippi Ryan spoke on what she wished people would’ve told her about writing.

Here are my seven takeaways from her engaging and encouraging speech:

  1. You can learn from experience, but it doesn’t have to be your experience.
  2. There is no secret magic way to write a book. (Sorry.)
  3. Learn to love being alone, but also be sure to get out. You write alone, but you are not alone. Watch people, even at the grocery store, and use what you see for good characterization. Go out and meet other writers.
  4. Good editors are trying to make you a better you. (As an editor, I resonated with that one.)
  5. Your subconscious will lead you. Listen to your inner voice. If something feels wrong in your story, change it.
  6. There’s plenty of room for everyone to succeed. Be happy for your fellow writers.
  7. No matter what happens after typing The End, I followed my dream. (I teared up at that one. So, so true.)

And a bonus:

“You will if you want to.”

Stay tuned tomorrow when I’ll share what my favorite part of the conference was!

To read about my experience at the conference and more, you can sign up for my newsletter! I’ll share six things I learned during the panels and give you a free copy of my first book, Front Row!

Lyfers: Chapter Four

My new novel, Lyfers, will be released Tuesday, February 9. Until then, here’s a preview!

Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three

Jade

After the safety demonstration, the crowds dispersed either to their rooms to primp for the show that evening, or to the stage set up near the pool area to claim a spot. Veteran cruisers Jade and Oscar opted to head to the stage. The couple shouted greetings and blew kisses to crew members as they floated through the frenzied crowd as if walking on water. Former model Jade held the brim of her floppy straw hat with her index finger and thumb while her pinky stood at attention. A filmy teal and gray sarong was slung low on her shapely hips, covering the bottom of her black monokini.

“Have a drink ready for me, Julio! My usual!” Oscar called to a bartender behind a tiki-themed bar. His black 4 Lyfe T-shirt with the sleeves shorn off revealed a strip of belly as he lifted his arm up to wave. He tugged it back down with impatience.

“Mango colada. You got it, Mr. Oscar!”

Jade released her hat and held up two fingers. “Make it two, Julio! Make mine zero calories.”

The rush of people had pushed them out of earshot, so Julio responded with a cocked smile and wave.

Jade dug into her giant tote bag and drew out her phone in one swift movement, and her thumb darted across the screen.

“Jade, girl, you’re obsessed.”

“Oh whatever. Take a selfie with me.” As they maneuvered through the crowd, they leaned their heads in together. Jade tipped her chin down, pursed her lips, and held the camera out in front of her. Oscar balanced his salt-and-pepper goateed chin on his extended index finger and thumb to frame the bottom of his face. “Besides, you can’t tell me you’re not gonna check your phone and do work every second of this cruise.”

“I can’t disappoint my clients. Good lawyers never rest.” He mimed flipping his nonexistent long hair over his shoulder. Jade cast her eyes up to the bottom of her hat.

*****

The lido deck teemed with rabid fans. A stage was set up with multiple runways snaking off and ending in platforms. Fans filled the space, surrounding each of the platforms and lining the sides of the runways and the front of the stage. Some teetered near the pool, trying to press up against the people in front of them so that they wouldn’t fall in. Few were in bathing suits
yet. The sun was just beginning to set. By the time the guys went on stage, it would be kissing the horizon.

After they had secured their drinks from bartender Julio, Oscar and Jade laid their towels on the edge of the pool right under one of the platform extensions. They let their feet dangle in
the water while they waited for the craziness to begin and listened to the island music coming from speakers hidden in the straw roof of the tiki bar.

“We should go sit by the bar,” said Jade.

Oscar stirred his blended drink and shook his head. “You won’t be saying that once Markus is shaking his junk in your face. Just keep drinking.”

“That I can do.” She tipped her glass back.

Once the crowd had filled in, Jade pushed through to the bar to get a refill while Oscar held their spots. Had the fans all gotten younger since the last cruise? They all looked fresh out of diapers. She couldn’t have gotten that much older in a year. “Julio, can you believe this mess?” Jade nodded to the throngs of people with their eyes glued on the stage waiting for their idols.

Julio replied in his hint of a Venezuelan accent. “This is the third cruise like this I’ve worked, and it surprises me every time how crazy these girls get.”

Jade leaned her elbows on the bar and surveyed the scene. “Yeah, me too. I think I’m getting too old for this.”

“Old? What are you, 30?”

“Ha!” The comment caught her off guard, and Jade had to wipe some of her beverage before it dribbled down her lips. “You are too much. Would you believe I am 42 years old?”

“I don’t believe that for a second.”

She pointed in his face. “Believe it.”

“How old is Oscar then?”

“Oh, he’s real old.” She flicked her wrist, and her armful of bracelets jangled. “He’s 45.”

Shrieks cut through the middle of their conversation as the stage lights burst on. It wasn’t quite dark yet, but it would be soon. Jade’s heart rate quickened, but she didn’t let the excitement show on her face.

“Aren’t you going to join the crowd?”

Jade took another sip of her mango colada. “Nah. I’m cool here.”

Over the loudspeaker boomed a familiar voice to Jade’s ears. “Do we have any Lyfers in da house?”

Jade squeaked and peeked over her shoulder at Julio to see if he had noticed her outburst. At the sight of Markus on stage, she slunk back into the sea of people.

Julio chuckled as he wiped down the bar area. “Enjoy the show, chica!”