Thank goodness for spell check… and editors.

You would think, that as a writer, I would have an extensive vocabulary. Thankfully, I do because I’m constantly reading.  However it doesn’t mean that the words are spelled correctly. What did we do before spell check?

I remember in Mrs. Thompson’s third grade class, she told me that I need to look in the dictionary if I couldn’t figure out the spelling to a word. Really? If I didn’t know how to spell it before, why would a dictionary help???   But I eventually figured out the spelling, thanks to my BFF at the time. (Thanks Jenny!)

My friends are flabbergasted at my horrible spelling. You’re a writer, they say. How do you keep misspelling the simplest words? Because my friends, I’m normally not paying attention and I have really chubby fingers. And I am totally reliant on  a nifty thing called spell check that I use on a regular basis. And I stupidly believe that everything has spellcheck (Alas, they do not) or I’m typing too fast without paying attention.  My grammar sucks too, if you can’t tell. I use Word exclusively so I’m always relying on the little squiggly underlines to tell me when I screw up.

When my children asks how to spell a word for their book reports, I have to write it down to make  sure it looks right. Then sound it out and have them sound it out as well. Phonetically is the best way people learn how to read and spell, I tell them. And then pray that I spelled it right. Ever since the invention of texting, misspelled words are even more prevelant than they were before, and even more acceptable. That’s when I’m happy to use the autocorrect feature. It makes me feel and look smarter to my friends.

However, I hate misspellings in books. If you go to the trouble of writing a great story, also go through the trouble of properly editing it. That is when you wonder if the author was just excited to get it out there for the world to see (I was so guilty of this) or if they just didn’t have spell check… or a dictionary. That’s also why having an editor is such a great investment. You can look at a word a million times and have it still be wrong. The editor will come behind you and gently admonish you while fixing your mess. Such a great thing.  After a dozen or so rewrites, I had overlooked the simplest of errors. *facepalm*   So now  I really make sure that I use the trusty spellcheck.. and when I have one handy, a dictionary. (Thank you Mrs. Thompson!)

Eating humble pie… and learning from my mistakes.

I finished the manuscript for  “The Broken Road” on June 24, 2011. I was so freaking proud of myself. I had four great friends gush over it. So – I wanted to publish it. I first sent it to a online version of a famous romance publishing house – with no response. Well, seeing as how only 2% of unsolicited manuscripts get published,  I figured mine was in the slush pile.  I also realized, through a couple other authors, that self-publishing is a great way to have control of your own product, to get your voice heard in a sea of millions and to get more royalties. I needed to go about this on my own. I figured that since I’m a working mom of 3, what’s one more thing on my plate? I can kick ass doing this  too.

So I started editing, then quickly realized I am NOT an English major. I enlisted the gracious and wonderful support of a very dear relative who took the manuscript and edited it for me. However, my fabulous and loving relative was not a line or a copy editor, and I naively thought that a technical editor would be the same thing.  When she was finished, I thought I was the biggest thing to books since J.K. Rowling. I thought I was going to be rolling in the compliments, that everyone was going to love it.

I first published “The Broken Road” on July 25, 2011. Immediately, a very close friend that has been my sounding board for the last three years, called me and said,  “Dude – your manuscript is full of errors.”   AAAAAAAAAH! First attempt at success and already failing in the first 2 minutes. WTF.   My editor did a fine job with all the grammar and sentence structure – however, I failed to implement half of her suggestions (You know when you read something a million times, it glazes over). I f’d up.  I quickly changed it – and resent it out. I pimped that book out all over Facebook. And I have such amazing friends. Within two months, I had twenty people buy it. They all said that it was great.

So…thinking I am on my way to super stardom, I moseyed my way onto a writing forum, where the majority opinion of self-publishers were that the books were crap. One particular comment was that the writer failed at the traditional way of getting it published, so the manuscript must be riddled with errors or just plain sucks. That got my biscuits burning, so I argued back. I finally said, Here! Read mine.  That my friends, was my very first taste of humble pie.

I.got. RIPPED.  One comment was that I was priced too high for a new book, my character was whiny, the sentence structure was horrible, I was too descriptive and basically that the manuscript should have NEVER been originally published in the first place. They told me to take it down and get a real editor to look at it.

My heart broke and to be honest – I felt so. freaking. stupid.  No matter how much your friends like you – or love you – they will never be as impartial as the rest of the world. I felt like a failure. And to be honest – I almost gave up.  Two days later, thanks to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), I get an email about the Self Publishing Expo to be held in October, in NYC. At first – I was hesitant. I was worried if it was worth it, if I could afford it, etc.  I need to make the decision about this. Do I want to do this for a living? Yes, this has been my dream since I was little. Then I need to make the investment in my future. Because if I don’t, then I’m wasting my time.

Thanks to the support of my amazing and fabulous husband; along with some hotel points that I found (4 star hotel for $25!! OH YEAH!),  I made my trek to NYC by train. I had a great night with my girlfriend and her husband from the area. I had a great night sleep. I was pumped and ready to go the next morning for the Expo.

The Self Publishing Expo was SO. FREAKING. WORTH IT.  It was so informative. I met so many contacts and gained such a new perspective. I learned so much. As part of my fee, I got to meet with a literary agent, who thought my story would make a great Lifetime movie. She really enjoyed my synopsis.  I then met with an editor who was extremely excited for my story and would have loved to work with me.  And by happenstance, I met my now mentor and editor, Jessica on an elevator. The knowledge that I received and the contacts I made would have NEVER happened had I not gotten my head out of my behind and started investing in my product… and in myself as an author.

Why did I tell you this?? Because, my friends, I want you to get your big boy/girl undies on and kick some butt with some awesome manuscripts. If this is what you want to do.. then you need to invest in yourself. Don’t have $$ for an editor? Find a writing group. Freelance editors are less expensive then the vanity presses. There a million options out there.. just do the research. And don’t forget that behind every good writer – there is a great support system. Don’t give up. =)

OMG! You’re writing a book!

That’s what the reaction I get when I tell people I’m writing. Not in a Um.. you? Writing a book? HA!  way. More like “Wow, I can’t believe it! That’s great!”  Then they ask what the book is about – and that’s where I’m stumped. I mean, I know what my book is about. I thought of the idea, the characters, the sequence of events. But I’m always momentarily stumped and then hem and haw over my 3 minute elevator pitch.  I eventually describe the book – but it’s not concise, not clear, and I’m clearly stumbling over my words. My worst weakness is trying to describe something out loud that makes total sense in my head.  So when you’re writing.. make sure you have your elevator pitch polished. Make sure it sounds natural, like you’re explaining how to brush your teeth. BTW – Be prepared – you never know who you’ll meet in an elevator. =)

(But.. in case you’re wondering… My novel is titled “The Broken Road”, a women’s fiction novel with romance and suspense, with elements of crime, drama, and sarcastic humor. It tells the story of a twenty-six year old woman named Megan, who just broke up with her fiancée Tommy and is still in love with her first boyfriend Shane. Shane has no idea of Megan’s feelings towards him. When a situation occurs, Shane asks to stay at Megan’s house, under purely platonic pretenses.  Against her better judgment, Megan allows Shane into her home, and eventually back into her heart. But Shane isn’t the same guy fell in love with all those years ago. Shane has a past; a past that he’s making amends for and at the same time, putting Megan at risk. Secrets lead to tragedy and deceit, and Shane makes a choice that could change both of their lives forever. At the end, Megan will need to follow her broken road, and to the person whom it leads to.  You know I had to throw that in there! )