Thursday, February 22, 2018

"Revision is a Process" by Catherine E. McLean

Revision is a Process:
How to Take the Frustration Out of Self-Editing
by Catherine E. McLean

Revision is a Process: How to Take the Frustration Out of Self-Editing by Catherine E. McLean

Revision is a Process by Catherine E. McLean is currently on tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. The tour stops here today for my review, a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

A first draft holds the possibility of what will be a great story. Revision turns that rough diamond into a spectacular gem worth a reader's money and time.
Writers are individuals but to be a producing writer means creating a system to revise and polish a work so the reader thoroughly enjoys the story. Revision is a Process is a guidebook for writers and authors that shows how a simple 12-step process can be tailored to eliminate the most common and chronic maladies of writing genre fiction. This valuable guidebook contains secrets, tips, practical advice, how-to's, and why-to's for taking the frustration out of self-editing.

From Section 9 - Said is not Dead
One of the most controversial aspects of writing dialogue is the use of said as a speech tag. Some think using said is pedestrian and boring, others pepper every line of dialogue with said for fear the reader won't know who is speaking. The fact is that said is nearly invisible to a reader. However, overuse is a common problem, so delete as many as possible without jeopardizing clarity or use beats. (Revisit the Oubliette example on the previous page. Said was not used. Beats were.)
In your review to minimize using said, watch for LY or ING ending speech tags like: "Drop dead," she said dramatically. That tells (and does so poorly). Instead show with a beat: "Drop dead." The anger in her voice was unmistakable. You should avoid such tags as "Of course," he said knowingly (which has an ING and an LY). You may catch the LY and ING tags in the passivity check, which is discussed in Section 11. However, don't mistake the ING words when they're necessary, such as "Oh, that dialogue speech tag has a participle added to it," Marsha said, squinting at the underlined word on the page.
Yes, that's right, squinting is part of a participle phrase, which can be useful in speech tags.

Praise for the Book
“... this book was so well organized and clearly written that I was motivated to pull out an old abandoned story I had attempted earlier. That story had proved difficult to revise and Ms.McLean's book now provides the guideposts I need to get the revisions completed. I definitely recommend this work to any writer (beginner or experienced) who needs a simple, direct road map to revising their written project.” ~ Willow
“A good book for those who are learning to write. The book is worth reading because it has a few nuggets worth reading for.” ~ ALS
Revision is a Process by Catherine E. McLean is a nicely detailed guideline of the steps that need to be taken to polish a manuscript. […] This is a great reference work and I highly recommend it.” ~ Elf2060
“Her book is not only a convenient source of knowledge, it is also a welcome addition to any writer's library. […] Years of trial and error have produced this excellent work that will save you many hours of editing and frustrations encountered in all revisions.” ~ Cal McFarland
“Excellent book. Catherine explains things clearly and leads you through the editing process with ease. Her book Is very educational and a excellent tool.” ~ Lou Gross

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
In order to enjoy a book, the reader needs to become immersed in the story and not be dragged into reality by glaring errors in logic, punctuation, or grammar. This handy guide points out the most common errors writers make, many of which annoy me as a reader but which I was previously unable to pinpoint. The author breaks down the editing process into manageable pieces, thus making the task less daunting. She also provides concise advice and examples to illustrate the process. There is even a summary and checklist of the twelve steps at the end of the book.
This is an invaluable guide for the self-published author or any author who wants to polish their work before showing it to anyone else. I’m glad the author states that, even after undertaking the self-editing process, you will still need to give your manuscript to “the best fiction editor you can afford.”
I'm disappointed this book is not available in an ebook edition.

Guest Post by the Author
What are the most important elements of good writing?
My three essential elements to good writing are:
1. Clarity trumps all rules.
2. Craft can be learned.
3. Ruthlessly self-edit to generate a worthwhile manuscript.
W. Somerset Maugham said, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” I disagree. I think clarity trumps all rules. After all, if the message isn't clear, who will understand it?
One of my favorite books that drives home clarity is William Zinsser's On Writing Well, in which he advocates for simplicity and says that “Every writer is as obligated as every other writer to make themselves understood.”
If clarity in fiction and storytelling is to be achieved, it begins with sentences that are clear and understandable. Those sentences must naturally sound like words belonging to the story's narrator (through their opinionated view, diction, syntax, and vocabulary).
Two elements make sentences awkward and hard to understand. The first are clauses. Keep this in mind: clauses clog a sentence. Cut as many of them from your sentences as you can without destroying the narrative voice.
The second element of awkward-to-understand sentences is the overuse of prepositions. They often pepper sentences, making them lengthy.
Did you know that the experts consider 20 words to be an average sentence? So, when self-editing, look for long sentences and see if clauses and prepositions are hampering clarity. And do ask: can some of the sentences be broken into two sentences or reworded for clarity?
Now for learning the craft. I often use this analogy about writing - if you wanted to learn to swim, would you jump into the deep end of a pool and expect to swim without any problems? Of course not. Instead, you would go to a recreational center that offered swimming lessons. You would learn the basics, and you would learn how not to drown. If you really liked swimming and were good at it, you would take more lessons and do butterfly strokes and breast strokes, maybe even enter competitions to see how good you were.
It's the same with writing. You have to learn the basics and then test the waters, then learn more and more about storytelling and its techniques and devices which will turn your work into a winner of a marketable story.
Talent will take a writer only so far. It is craft that enhances and liberates talent. Best of all, craft can be learned.
Now let's look at ruthlessly self-editing to generate a worthwhile manuscript. It took a six-month binge of reading only texts about revising fiction to open my eyes and realize that revision should not be the frustration it is. I discovered a writer needed to change their mind-set about how to revise and concluded a writer should consider revision is a process, and treat it as such. Once I gained such insights, I created my Master Revision Cheat Sheets so that my manuscripts are edited in weeks, not months or years. In 2015, I shared my insights in a twelve-part series at my Writers Cheat Sheet blog and at the end of the series promised to put the posts into a guidebook. Revision is a Process: How to Take the Frustration Out of Self-Editing was released in April 2017. This guidebook contains more information and examples than the original posts. Also, at the end of the text is a Master Revision Cheat Sheet check-list.
Does a writer have to go through each of the twelve steps? Of course not. You see, some things a writer knows they did right from the onset and won't have to look for them. However, other things need to be checked so an editor won't waste their valuable time pointing out the same things ad infinitum.
Having a revision process also means a book is less likely to have errors that will turn off readers, editors, and agents. Having a process means a writer doesn't read through a story a million times trying to find and fix things. (Such multi-tasking doesn't work.) However, searching for specifics and fixing them (and only them) before moving on to the next item, does work.
I welcome your comments, thoughts, and insights on clarity, learning craft, and ruthlessly self-editing.

About the Author
Catherine E. McLean
Catherine E. McLean's lighthearted, short stories have appeared in hard cover and online anthologies and magazines. Her books include Jewels of the Sky, Karma & Mayhem, Hearts Akilter, and Adrada to Zool (a short story anthology). She lives on a farm nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains of Western Pennsylvania. In the quiet of the countryside, she writes lighthearted tales of phantasy realms and stardust worlds (fantasy, futuristic, and paranormal) with romance and adventure. She is also a writing instructor and workshop speaker. Her nonfiction book for writers is Revision is a Process: How to Take the Frustration Out of Self-Editing.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon or B&N gift card.


"Against the Magic" by Donna K. Weaver

Against the Magic
(A Twickenham Time Travel Romance)
by Donna K. Weaver

Against the Magic (A Twickenham Time Travel Romance) by Donna K. Weaver

Against the Magic by Donna K. Weaver has just been released.

This book blast and giveaway is brought to you by I Am A Reader as part of the Romance is in the Air promotion.

Reese Hamilton has big plans to help make the world a better place and a new job lined up to help her do it. Before starting work, she heads to England for a Regency immersive experience. She doesn’t expect her best friend to invite her heart-destroying brother to join them. Two years hasn’t been long enough for Reese to forget him. Then fae magic rips them back to 1850. It’s a time when women have few rights. It’s also a time when a determined woman could make a difference, with the right man at her side. Reese finds she will have to choose between two men and two times.
Jem Taylor messed up big when he walked away from Reese to pursue his dream job. He hasn’t been able to forget her and jumps at his sister’s invitation. Suddenly hurtled into Victorian England, he has the chance to woo Reese again. But to do it, he’ll have to fight the magic that brought her to 1850 and an Earl with the means to keep her there.

“And where might you be going, Miss Hamilton?” The Earl surveyed the items stacked behind her.
“To your tenant village, my lord.” When his gaze darted to hers, she arched a brow, daring him to stop her.
“My tenants are none of your business.” His voice had turned hard, unrelenting.
“One visit there showed me they have been none of your business either,” she said sharply before remembering he could stop her efforts right now. “My lord.”
The Earl shot her another of his hard glances. “I shall accompany you then.” He waved to the groom. “In the back.” When the young man had vacated the seat beside her, Gareth took his place. He snapped the whip and the horse surged forward. “I have not visited there in years.”
“That was obvious,” Reese muttered. “Do you have someone handle the management of your estate for you?”
“Yes.” He glanced at her from the corner of his eye. “My man of business.”
“You might want to consider hiring a new one then,” she said, “because I’m underwhelmed.”
“Underwhelmed,” the Earl repeated. “I don’t believe I have heard that word before. Is it something you Americans invented?”
“Yankee ingenuity,” she said.
“Yankee arrogance, I would say.”
“Americans don’t have a monopoly on arrogance.” Reese kept her face forward.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“I don’t usually like time travel novels but the humor, banter and the attraction kept me enthralled. A great love story with a little history lesson, a happy ending and a hook.” ~ K.B.
“A magical read.” ~ Jennifer Soppe
“I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this story but after I got into it, I had to find out what happened. […] I enjoyed this story.” ~ razee
“Beautiful Victorian/contemporary romance! […] Great read, with really nice characters and an interesting plot. I can't wait to read more about these characters!” ~ e.memelink
“What a wonderful surprise in the beginning and at the end. I was enthralled with the characters they just leap from the pages and came to life in my living room. […] Donna Weaver has done one magnificent story on this story. Magic does exist!” ~ Athena Lee Brown

About the Author
Donna K. Weaver
Award-winning author, wife, mother, grandmother, Harry Potter geek, Army veteran, karate black belt, and online gamer girl.

Also by the author:

Enter the blast-wide giveaway for a chance to a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

"The Nightmare Room" by Chris Sorensen

The Nightmare Room
(The Messy Man Series Book 1)
by Chris Sorensen

The Nightmare Room (The Messy Man Series Book 1) by Chris Sorensen

The Nightmare Room by Chris Sorensen is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author and an excerpt. Don’t miss out on downloading your FREE copy to 23 February. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

A boy in a basement, a man in a booth and a darkness that threatens to swallow them both ...
New York audiobook narrator Peter Larson and his wife Hannah head to his hometown of Maple City to help Peter's ailing father and to put a recent tragedy behind them. Though the small, Midwestern town seems the idyllic place to start afresh, Peter and Hannah will soon learn that evil currents flow beneath its surface.
They move into an old farmhouse on the outskirts of town—a house purchased by Peter's father at auction and kept secret until now—and start to settle into their new life.
But as Peter sets up his recording studio in a small basement room, disturbing things begin to occur - mysterious voices haunt audio tracks, malevolent shadows creep about the house. And when an insidious presence emerges from the woodwork, Peter must face old demons in order to save his family and himself.

Book Video

The man threw open the basement door. A rush of mildewed air rose up from the darkness, like the hideous breath of some subterranean thing. He flicked on the light, and the cascade of descending stairs came into view. Among their number was the treacherous one midway down, the one that bent like a bow at the slightest weight.
“Are you going down on your own or do I have to make you?”
The boy looked up at his father. The anger that had fueled him thus far was fading, seemingly sapped by the trip from the boy’s bedroom. Instead, his father looked pained. If he didn’t know better, he might think the Old Man was about to cry. But his father had said he was tired. Dead tired. And perhaps it was as simple as that.
"I'll go," the boy whispered, and he took the first tentative step down.
The change in temperature was immediate; it was like diving into a cold pool. He took another step down, and another.
He paused on the third step and looked back at his father. The bare bulb above paled the man’s countenance. The grey circles under his eyes made him look like he’d been bludgeoned.
“Git!” the Old Man snarled. The boy went. When he reached the sagging step, he stopped, took a breath and leaped over it. His heel hit the lip of the next step, but the wood was damp, and the boy came down hard on his butt.
“Get some sleep. And no more dreams.”
As if he could help it.
His father closed the door, and the lock clicked. It would not open again until morning.
The boy descended the final few stairs and stepped onto the floor. Ice-cold cement sucked heat from his soles. He squinted, trying to adjust to the dark.
The usefulness of the light bulb ended a few feet into the basement. And there was no more source of light until he reached the…
The gears in his head ground to a halt, stopping short of allowing the dreaded name to be uttered.
He started picking out objects around him. The solemn metal face of the furnace, a stack of water softener salt bags, the frame of an old bicycle.
Straight ahead lay a distance of twenty or so feet before he'd come to a door. Three-quarters of that stretch was in pitch black. To get to the door, to get to the room, he had to dash through the darkness until his hand found the doorknob. Then, he would throw the door open, reach to his right, flip the wall switch and presto. An island of light in an ocean of black.
He girded himself for the sprint.
He hesitated…but why? He’d already made this run two times this week. Both Monday and Thursday, he’d awakened screaming, bringing down the Old Man’s wrath, and sending him here. To the penalty box. To time out. To the Night—
The boy startled at the sound of his own voice, and he lurched into motion. He hurtled into the darkness, his feet slapping the floor, echoing off the walls in hollow applause.
He bumped into something and spun, temporarily throwing himself and his inner compass off balance. He skidded across the floor and came to a stop.
Heart pounding in his chest, he quickly located the lit stairs off to his left. He made a rapid calculation and turned to face the invisible pathway to the room. He bolted, coming to a halt only when he slammed head-on into the door.
His hand floundered before finding the knob. He launched into his practiced routine. Open door, flip switch, step inside.
In seconds, the boy slipped into the room and slammed the door shut. A pink light overhead bathed him in imaginary warmth—he had made it.
He stepped back and sank into the waiting beanbag chair, facing the door. The small room with its mint green walls and rollaway bed felt almost welcoming, an odd feeling for a place that was meant as a punishment.
The boy pulled a quilt from the bed and wrapped it around him tight. For the first time in his life, he felt safe here in this room—in the Nightmare Room.
Because he hadn’t bumped into something out there in the dark. He had bumped into someone.
He was almost certain of it.
He kept one eye on the door as the minutes hummed past on the illuminated clock on the nightstand. He busied himself with crayon and paper, doodling to keep his mind quiet. Soon, his vision began to flutter; the room began to strobe. And, in the space between two breaths, the boy sank into his beanbag chair and fell into a fitful sleep.
The doorknob twitched.
The boy bolted upright. He pressed back into the chair. His whole body started shivering, and he feared he would wet himself for the second time that night.
A thought…no, a voice crept into his head.
Coming in.
The door quivered as if someone was leaning against it, trying to stifle a laugh. Nails scratched against the wood.
“Dad?” the boy whispered.
The door shuddered.
“Is that you?” Knowing it was not.
“Please don’t.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"The Nightmare Room is one creepy little gem! I highly recommend this fantastic 5 star read!" ~ Horror Maiden's Book Reviews
"This is one haunted house that had me running for the door! Blood frozen. Spine chilled. A must read." ~ Hunter Shea, author of We Are Always Watching and The Jersey Devil
"Chilling one moment, terrifying the next, The Nightmare Room will have you shopping for a nightlight." ~ Nick Sullivan, author of Zombie Bigfoot
"The Nightmare Room pulled me in right from the start with believable characters and a central mystery that forced me to keep reading to learn more. Prepare for all night reading once it enters its second act and then prepare to stay up all night hearing the sounds in your own house! A real delight for horror fans!" ~ Kendal Sinn, screenwriter of Nailbiter, Shadow Falls Memorial
"The Nightmare Room pulled me in right from the start with believable characters and a central mystery that forced me to keep reading to learn more...A real delight for horror fans!" ~ Kendal Sinn, screenwriter of Nailbiter, Shadow Falls Memorial

Guest Post by the Author
My Inspiration for Writing this Book
The Nightmare Room was born out of loss. My wife and I were the caretakers of her elderly aunt for a number of years. We divided our time between NYC and the NJ lake house where I now sit. During this same period, my father was undergoing cancer treatment in Colorado, so I was also traveling back and forth to Fort Collins.
When they passed, I became a haunted man.
I’d never experienced death in such a personal way. I’d never seen a person’s final breath. You think you’re ready for such things, but you’re not. You assume that your head and heart know how to process death, but they don’t - not really. Your insides are tipped upside-down, and as you struggle to right things again, the ghosts slip in.
That was the moment that The Nightmare Room was born.
The story has taken a number of different roads as I working to pin it down. Was it about the cold spot in the hallway where I always want to break into a dash? Was it about the voice I heard coming through the headphones as I narrated a book in the basement? Yes … and no.
I finally lit upon the answer to many of my questions when I realized that the story was not about fear but about love.
Love makes us vulnerable - to pain, to sorrow, to loss. But it also makes us strong. When my father was ill, a doctor told us that the pain we feel is equal to the love we give. I had been concentrating on the pain in my story; I’d forgotten about the love.
Maybe I was just ready to finally tell this story. Who am I kidding? I know that’s the case.
The Nightmare Room is about the lengths to which we will go to protect the ones we love. And if that means stepping into the darkness, so be it.

About the Author
Chris Sorensen
Chris Sorensen spends many days and nights locked away inside his own nightmare room. He is the narrator of over 200 audiobooks (including the award-winning The Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix) and the recipient of three AudioFile Earphone Awards. Over the past fifteen years, the Butte Theater and Thin Air Theatre Company in Cripple Creek, Colorado have produced dozens of his plays including Dr. Jekyll’s Medicine Show, Werewolves of Poverty Gulch, and The Vampire of Cripple Creek. He is the author of the middle grade book The Mad Scientists of New Jersey and has written numerous screenplay including Suckerville, Bee Tornado, and The Roswell Project.