Posts Tagged ‘Stonewiser’

Tampa Bay Comic Con 2015

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Hello everyone,

We had such fun last year at Tampa Bay Comic Con that we decided to go back. So yours truly, along with fellow Twilight Times Books authors Scott Eder and Maria DeVivo, will return to the Tampa Convention Center and join in this fun and exuberant celebration of fantasy in all of its forms. Tampa Bay Comic Con 2015 runs all weekend from Friday, July 31, to Sunday, August 2. Join us during our author discussion panels as scheduled below and stop by the Twilight Times Books Booth at Artist Alley E19/E20 and say hi. We’d love to see you there.

D.

Tampa Bay Comic Con – July 31-August 2, 2015

Comic Con 2015

Authors Panel Schedule

Comic Con Schedule

Comic Con Three Authors

For information and tickets click here.

Off to Japan: My Writer’s Packing List

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

By

Dora Machado

Japan Rail Passes

If everything goes as planned, by this time you read this, I’ll be on a plane to Japan. Even though I’ve been to Asia Minor before, this will be my first trip to Asia proper. I’m so excited!

For this trip, I’ve had to make zero planning effort. That’s because I’m teaming up with one of my all-time favorite traveling companions, travel blogger Mariana Marshall of http://marianaonthemove.com/, with whom I walked the last 100 kilometers of the Camino of Santiago de Compostela. She is also my daughter.

The advantages of tagging along with a travel blogger can’t be understated. My traveling companion carefully researched and selected the itinerary and made all of the traveling arrangements, transportation and lodging reservations. I just get to come along for the ride!

We’ll be spending some time in Tokyo and then traveling on to explore Kyoto and its environs. We’ve got a very long list, but I’m looking forward to staying at a traditional Japanese guest house (ryokan), exploring the natural hot springs (onsens), and riding Japan’s fabulous bullet trains.

Packing for Japan in the winter had me asking a lot of questions, but travel bloggers are Girl Scouts at heart, and mine found this awesome packing list from a fellow blogger:  http://herpackinglist.com/2012/12/ultimate-female-packing-list-japan-winter/.

My writer’s packing list must, of course, include my computer, tablet and cell phone. We don’t speak the language, so we’ve uploaded some interesting apps that might help if all else fails. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Technology is a wonderful convenience, but I’ve learned that, when traveling, it isn’t always reliable. So in addition, I’m bringing a good, small, old-fashioned notebook to jot down my thoughts and observations, a few good pens, and my camera, all indispensable tools that will work with or without an Internet connection, and that are suitable to all environments.

But the most important elements for a successful trip are stowed not in my suitcase, but rather in my mind. They include flexibility, openness and imagination. Flexibility is key when traveling, the ability to roll with the punches, accept, adapt and adjust to the changes intrinsic to the traveling experience. From airports to hotels, from technology to people, traveling exposes us to new situations that test our comfort levels and push our boundaries.

An open mind is also vital to the traveling experience. It allows us to see the world for what it is, not for what we think it should be. It also teaches us to value the differences that make each place unique and each culture extraordinary.

And finally, I bring along my number-one writing tool, my imagination, to take in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes that I’ve never experienced before, to relish the emotions of the journey, to collect the odd, the common and the spectacular, to understand and process the experience of being human. For a gal into world building, the traveling experience is a rich trove indeed.

So, wish me luck.

Sayonara, kids!

Japan bound

Colorado Is For Writers

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Hello Everybody,

I just got back from beautiful Colorado. Here’s a post I wrote about my writing experience in the Rocky Mountains.

Enjoy!

D.

Copper Mountain, top of Union Peak, December 26 2013

Colorado has to be one of my favorite places in the world. The views of the Rocky Mountains are breathtaking. The people are friendly, fit and youthful, no matter their age. Nature indulges, facilitating so many of the activities for which the State is known, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, biking, hiking, fly-fishing, rafting and . . .  writing?

Yes, writing.

It’s easy to find inspiration among these mountains. It’s easy to keep the mind focused when surrounded by such stunning vistas. I find myself energized by the folks who tackled the slopes with the same energy and enthusiasm I feel when I tackle a story. It goes against the principles of oxygen deprivation, but I find that the mind flows effortlessly at ten thousand feet, especially after a few hours of skiing or snowshoeing, and a little nap.

Skiing

We’ve had some epic snow dumps so far this year and the snow has been delicious. Those of us who frequent Copper Mountain, Colorado, on a regular basis, couldn’t be happier. I heard a few people complaining about the cold weather this year, but I’m not one of them. When the going gets tough on the mountain, when the wind picks up and you can’t see the chair lift in front of you, I head indoors. The way I see it, it’s time for some serious writing.

I’ve produced some of my best writing in Colorado. These mountains have inspired thousands of words out of me. I’m always grateful for the opportunity to come out to Colorado and share in the state of mind that makes it such a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts and, yes, for writers too.

Copper Mountain, Dec 26 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Thanksgiving always makes me feel lucky. Even if I have a tendency to stress over the stuffing, the seating arrangements and the lumps in the gravy, I love this fantastic holiday. It encompasses all of my favorites: family, friends, food and fun.  Every year, before we sit at the table, our family gives thanks for the blessings in our lives. So I thought we should do the same here, from my writer’s point of view.

In the spirit of the holiday and beginning with the obvious, I’m grateful for:

My family and friends, who support me and my writing with love, patience, grace and enthusiasm. Without them, even writing loses its meaning.

The craft of writing–gift, blessing, curse and obsession.  I’m thankful for every word, sentence, paragraph and chapter; for every story, novel and series; for every idea, image and dream; for the pure joy of writing.

My writer friends, whose flames light my way and brighten my nights.

The editors who help me become a better writer and who care enough to point out the obvious as well as the obscure.

The publishers who invest in our work and the talented teams that bring our books to market, including the cover artists, book designers, proof readers, line editors, support staff and everybody who contributes to the creation of something as unique and special as a book. Thank you for being part of our stories.

Those who help us promote our work: agents, public relations specialists and especially all those fantastic bloggers and reviewers who showcase our books.

Finally, I’m especially thankful for my readers, for their encouragement, enthusiasm and praise. They are the reason why authors like me keep writing.

Have a wonderful holiday!

D.

Thanksgiving turkey

The Curse Giver is an Award-Winning Finalist in the 2013 USA Best Book Awards

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

bestbooksfinalistJPEGsmall

Great news!

I am delighted to announce that The Curse Giver is now an award-winning finalist in the fantasy category of the 2013 USA Best Book Awards, sponsored by USA Book News. Now in its 11th year, the USA Best Book Awards is one of the largest mainstream book award competitions in the United States.

I’d like to congratulate all of the winners and finalists of the USA Best Book Awards. I’d also like to thank the judges for their hard work sifting through such a talented field and for awarding this distinction to The Curse Giver.  Huge thanks to all the folks who worked on The Curse Giver and especially to Lida Quillen of Twilight Times Books, for putting together a terrific book.

You all know that writing is an indulgence to me, a selfish, satisfying pursuit. I don’t write to win contests and I’m always amazed when I do, but every once in a while it’s nice to get a pat on the back from folks who know what they’re doing.

D.

USA BOOK NEWS ANNOUNCES
WINNERS AND FINALISTS OF
THE 2013 USA BEST BOOK AWARDS

Mainstream & Independent Titles Score Top Honors

in the 10th Annual USA Best Book Awards

St. Martin’s Press, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, John Wiley & Sons, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hay House, Llewellyn Worldwide, and hundreds of Independent Houses contribute to this year’s Outstanding Competition!

LOS ANGELES – USABookNews.com, the premier online magazine featuring mainstream and independent publishing houses, announced the winners and finalists of THE 2013 USA BEST BOOKS AWARDS on November 14, 2013. Over 400 winners and finalists were announced in over 100 categories. Awards were presented for titles published in 2012 and 2013.

Jeffrey Keen, President and CEO of USA Book News, said this year’s contest yielded over 1500 entries from mainstream and independent publishers, which were then narrowed down to over 400 winners and finalists.

Keen says of the awards, now in their eleventh year, “The 2013 results represent a phenomenal mix of books from a wide array of publishers throughout the United States. With a full publicity and marketing campaign promoting the results of the USA Best Book Awards, this year’s winners and finalists will gain additional media coverage for the upcoming holiday retail season.”

Winners and finalists traversed the publishing landscape: St. Martin’s Press, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, John Wiley & Sons, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hay House, Llewellyn Worldwide, Thomas Dunne Books, Oxford University Press, American Cancer Society and hundreds of independent houses contributed to this year’s outstanding competition.

Keen adds, “Our success begins with the enthusiastic participation of authors and publishers and continues with our distinguished panel of industry judges who bring to the table their extensive editorial, PR, marketing, and design expertise.”

USABookNews.com is an online publication providing coverage for books from mainstream and independent publishers to the world online community.

The winners and finalist of the Fiction/Fantasy category include:

Winner
Collider by Chris Hejmanowski
Fisher Press
978-0-9857180-0-8

Finalist
The Bane of Yoto by Joshua Viola with Nicholas Karpuk
FiXT
978-0985559014

Finalist
The Curse Giver by Dora Machado
Twilight Times Books
978-1-60619-289-4

Finalist

The Silver Sphere by Michael Dadich
Evolved Publishing
978-1622536016

A complete list of the winners and finalists of The 2013 USA Best Book Awards are available online at http://www.USABookNews.com.

CurseGiver_Front Cover Final

http://amzn.to/13oVu2P

Writing for writers

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Hi Folks!


I felt right at home the first time I visited a blog for writers called Murder By Four. It was like, “Honey, I’m home!” An instant sense of connection enveloped me as I read through this wonderful blog. I loved the way in which authors Aaron, Kim, Marta and S.W. approached the writing life—with wisdom, dedication and joy. I relished the discussions, the guest bloggers who found a platform here, and the clever readers’ comments. I was smitten. I had stumbled into a community of open arms willing to embrace my writer self.

http://murderby4.blogspot.com/ is an award-winning blog for writers by writers. It has been selected by Writer’s Digest Magazine as one of the Best Websites for Writers several years in a row. So I was thrilled when my friend and fellow Twilight Times Books author Aaron Lazar asked me if I would join Murder By 4. I love to hang out with my writer friends. We all benefit when we share information, promotion tips, support, thoughts, questions, aspirations and inspiration. Thank you Aaron for inviting me to join MB4!

My goal is to support MB4’s tradition of building community as we learn and grow together. In my posts, I plan to share whatever helpful tidbits I’ve picked up during my writer’s journey. I also plan to ask a lot of questions to other writers, publishers, editors, cover designers, publicists—anyone who works to support writers and promote writing, books and publishing. While I will continue to post all of my author news here, all about my books, reviews, interviews, and upcoming events, I’ll also be on MB4 every Wednesday talking about one of my favorite subjects—writing.

Stop by to check out the wealth of writer wisdom over at MB4, including my Wednesday posts, which today features my interview the irrepressible Barry Eva, the host of the popular radio show A Chat and a Book.

So if you love books and if you love to write, come on over to http://murderby4.blogspot.com/. We’d love to see you there.

D.


Murder by Four

A Review of Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone Audio-Book Edition

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Hello everybody!

I love to listen to a good story. I find it comforting, relaxing and fun to hide in a quiet corner, plug in my headset, and bask in the wonders of a great tale. My love affair with audio-books probably began early on as a child, when my parents shared their love for books by reading aloud to me. I remember thinking that it was such a treat! I then read to my own children and learned to relish not only the great children’s books of a new generation, but especially, our time together. Reading aloud to our children is not just fun; it’s also a loving gift and a lasting legacy. Look at me. I’m still craving the story that the voice tells. Or is it the voice that tells the story?

Audiobookjungle.com is one of only a handful of sites dedicated exclusively to audio-books. As a disclaimer, I will say that I don’t know the principals and only discovered it by accident, when my publicist submitted Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone for review. It is a treasure find, packed with helpful reviews, discussions, articles and tips for audio-book addicts. So if like me, you love to listen to your books as you commute to work, wash the dishes or before you turn in for the night, don’t miss http://audiobookjungle.com.

As luck would have it, audiobookjungle.com did review the first novel of the Stonewiser series and, to my utter delight, found it worthwhile. So here it is, audibookjungle.com’s brand new review of Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone, audio-book edition.

Enjoy!

D.

Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone Audiobook Review by Audiojungle.com

Written by Dora Machado, Narrated by Melissa Reizian Frank

Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone by Dora Machado Audiobook Review

Who is the author

Dora Machado, the author of the Stonewiser trilogy is relatively new to the fantasy scene, at least that’s what I gathered from looking her up online. At the time of posting this review she has written four fantasy novels which seem to be well received from the readers. The first book in the Stonewiser trilogy, Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone is the one I read and I’ll certainly be grabbing the next one as soon as possible. It’s really good. No wonder it won the 2009 Benjamin Franklin award for best debut novel.

What does stonewiser mean
The title sounds a little mysterious because the word stonewiser is fictional and you don’t know what to expect until you start reading. I’m usually the type of person who would do minimal or no research regarding a book I’m about to read, as I don’t want to see any spoilers or get my judgment of it’s quality swayed. The problem is that if you do that with authors new to you it takes awhile to get used to their style and get a feel of what the book is going to be about. Dora Machado throws you straight into the action from the first chapter. You immediately learn that stonewisers are gifted people that can imprint stones with information and read it. You also learn that there are some kinds of stones that are not supposed to be wised because The Guild forbids it. That’s good writing right there – you get the essentials right away but you want to know more, right now! :)

What’s the premise of the story?

Find out more at http://audiobookjungle.com/

What I liked

The writing. It’s well crafted, easy to follow and engaging. While the basic skeleton of the story isn’t groundbreaking (a rebellious heroine that kicks ass and changes the world) it has fresh and intriguing bits. I appreciated the occasional dark and gritty scene that surprises you with it’s violence without becoming uncomfortable to read. The characters were vivid and interesting and here’s where the narrator should also get a portion of the credit. Melissa Reizian Frank does an excellent job. I also appreciated that the audiobook didn’t end with a cliffhanger and the ending provided enough closure to even look at The Heart of the Stone as a stand-alone novel. That doesn’t happen a lot these days, especially with fantasy novels.

What I didn’t like
This may seem a little nit-picky but it bothered me noticeably and it’s something I think an editor should have noticed. The use of ‘Meliahs, help/save us’ as an exclamation (Meliahs is the goddess of the sacred stones) was overdone and appeared too often in scenes where the characters were distressed in some way.

Final thoughts
If you’re looking for a fresh and well written fantasy audiobook, Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone is an excellent pick. I hope it gets as much of a following and readers as it deserves.

A Quick Guide to The Stonewiser Series

Get your copy on Audible:

Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone by Dora Machado Audiobook Download

On Amazon:

Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone by Dora Machado Audiobook Review
Written by: Audiobook Jungle
4.95 stars
http://audiobookjungle.com/

My Interview with Karen Swart

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Hi Folks,

Here’s my brand new interview with South African paranormal and urban fantasy author, Karen Swart, where she asked me all kinds of interesting questions, including whether my books had a hidden message. You know what? I had to think about that one.

Enjoy!

D.

****

Hi Dora! Did you always wanted to be a writer?

Hi Karen. Yes! I’ve wanted to be a writers since as far back as I can remember.

When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?

Good question! I think I only began to call myself a writer after my first book, Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone, was published.

How long did it take to get your first book published?

About a year from beginning to end. It felt like a century!

Do you do another job except for writing?

Not anymore! These days I’m lucky enough to write full time and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in fewer than 20 words what would you say?

My latest book is called The Curse Giver. Twenty words, eh? Why, let’s give the old logline a try: An innocent healer condemned to death must ally with the cursed lord pledged to kill her to defeat the curse giver who has already conjured their ends.

Who is your publisher?

I’m a very lucky gal. The Curse Giver was published by Twilight Times Books, an independent publisher based out of Kingsport, Tennessee, that specializes in publishingcritically acclaimed literary, mystery and SF/F books. A dynamic, top-of-the-line, quality-oriented publisher, TTB has more than 140 titles in the 2013 Spring Catalogue and is the home of a talented and friendly bunch of authors who have enriched my publishing experience. Check out TTB at http://twilighttimesbooks.com/

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?

It takes me about four months, give or take a little. Keep in mind that the time invested is not always consecutive when you are working on a novel. Sometimes I’ll advance one project and then shift to another novel, before going back to complete the first one.

What can we expect from you in the future? More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

You can expect more stories from me in the future, more dark fantasy romance, a dark contemporary fantasy with a Latin twist, and more about the world of The Curse Giver in its companion novel, The Soul Chaser.

What genre would you place your books into?

The Curse Giver falls into the fantasy genre and fits well in the subcategories of epic fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy romance and romantic fantasy.

What made you decide to write that genre of book?

I’ve always been intrigued by the fantasy genre. I love the genre’s creative freedom, the opportunity to rethink, redesign and reinterpret the human experience, the creative challenges that that arise from world building, and the mysteries that magic brings to the human equation. I grew up in the Dominican Republic and my life always felt kind of magical in many ways. I’ve always straddled different worlds. Fantasy is a perfect fit for me.

Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?

I do. I think it’s a tossup between the main characters, Bren and Lusielle. I’ve always been a sucker for the underdog, the reluctant hero and the tortured soul. In The Curse Giver, Bren, Lord of Laonia, is all of those. He’s got the makings of a hero, but his circumstances make him an outcast and a villain in his own mind. He is weary, bitter and troubled, but he’s also dutiful and determined, and he will not betray his people. As the story begins, he rescues Lusielle from the pyre, but only because he’s hunting a birthmark she bears. To defeat the curse that has obliterated his family and is killing him, he has to murder the woman who bears the birthmark in the foulest possible way. But as he escapes with his prey in tow, she is not what he expected. He faces yet another dismal choice: Can he murder the only woman capable of healing more than his body, his soul?

Lusielle is also one of my favorite characters in The Curse Giver, but for a totally different reason. When the story begins, she’s been betrayed by her greedy husband and condemned to die for a crime she didn’t commit. After years of abuse and slavery, the false accusations destroy her bleak but orderly world. As she flees with the bitter lord who has rescued her, she finds herself in an impossible situation: If she’s going to survive, she must help the mysterious lord who is determined to kill her to defeat the curse giver who has already conjured their ends. What I like most about Lusielle is that she has to change; she has to muster the courage to free herself from her tragic past and find the strength within to thrive in a world she doesn’t understand.

How long have you been writing? And who or what inspired you to write?

I’ve been writing for publication for about seven years now. I’m inspired to write by many people and many experiences, but ultimately, I write because I can’t stop writing. I swear. I’ve tried. I just can’t. My mind is powered by this story generator that keeps on going and won’t quit.

Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? Do you listen to music, sit in a certain chair…?

I’m one of those people who prefer to write in silence. I guess my mind is way too noisy as it is! I have a writing studio in my home, a cozy little room that opens up to a veranda that overlooks a beautiful, spring-fed river. It’s quiet and peaceful, and it’s my favorite place to write. I like to sit on my favorite chair, a Scandinavian ergonomic design that offers excellent support for the long hours of writing.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book, then choose the title?

I usually discover the title of my novels at the very moment when I write it for the first time into the story. It can happen early on, during the opening paragraph or late in the process. It’s really neat. It’s always a “wow” moment.

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals such as those in Aesop’s Fables: “The moral of this story is..”)

I don’t strive to preach any kind of morality in my stories, but I do write a lot about conflicting situations, injustice, opposing beliefs, and the meaning of concepts such as truth, faith and prejudice. Sometimes, the storyline leaves me and my readers thinking about things. For example, in The Curse Giver we join with the characters as they discover how reason, knowledge and awareness are the main components of our personal sense of strength. We don’t have to be magical to be strong. We just have to believe in ourselves.

Which format of book do you prefer, e-book, hardback, or paperback?

I’m partial to the indestructible, beach-proof, throw-it-in-your-bag, good old-fashioned paperback. I love the feel of a book between my hands. But I will confess—albeit reluctantly—that my latest e-reader has been growing on me. The idea that I can carry ALL of my favorite books around in my purse is irresistible.

Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is your favorite/worst book-to-movie transfer?

I think that books and movies are two different and distinct media. I usually approach them with different expectations. What makes a book great is not the same thing that will work for a movie. The translation is particularly challenging for science fiction and fantasy. There are an awful lot of great SF/F books that have been made into terrible movies. I used to say that I never wanted to see my books made into movies. That is, until I watched George R. Martin’s Game of Thrones on HBO. It might be time to rethink the old prejudices. . . .

Your favorite food is?

Cake. I know. Not a good one. I like carrots too. Does that help?

Your favorite singer/group is?

That would be a long list!

Your favorite color is?

Blue.

Remember to check out today’s spotlight to find out more about Dora and The Curse Giver.

http://authorkarenswart.blogspot.com/

http://authorkarenswart.blogspot.com/2013/10/book-blitz-curse-giver-by-dora-machado.html

Why Texting is a Tool of the Devil and Proofreading Your work Matters . . . A lot!

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Part Two of my Interview with Proofreader Extraordinaire Linda Au

By

Dora Machado

Please allow me to reintroduce my friend and proofreader extraordinaire, Linda Au, who shared her insights with us on my previous blog post, regarding the ins and outs of her profession and why an author wants a little OCD in his or her proofreader. With an incredible eye for detail, a questioning approach and an uncanny ability to find even the most cryptic of errors, Linda is an incredible asset to every project she tackles. I know. I’ve worked with her many times and benefited from her professional OCD, which as we’ve learned, doesn’t always extend to all other parts of her life, like cleaning the house.

In the second part of my interview with Linda, we tackle some of the hottest issues facing authors today. As the writing world changes and publishing gets both simpler and also more complicated, Linda shares her thoughts on what’s the real current state of spelling in the  world and why proofreading matters . . . more than ever!

Enjoy!

D.

Welcome back, Linda. Writers today face so many hurdles and expenses. Why should having a manuscript professionally proofed be a priority?

In this rapidly evolving publishing world, everyone can call themselves writers by simply typing in a Word document, finishing with “The End,” and uploading it to Kindle Direct Publishing. Bingo! You’re published. Offer your “book” for free and you might even skyrocket to an impressive sales ranking for the day. But you’ll soon realize that even readers who download e-books that didn’t cost them a dime have standards. Their time is worth something. The general reading public is a lot smarter than the general writer-wannabe gives them credit for. They might download your first freebie book, but if it’s riddled with errors, typos, and bad formatting, they won’t care how good the story is (if it’s any good—and you can bet I’m skeptical about that). They won’t bother to download your second one.

The publishing slush pile used to be on the publisher’s desk. Then it moved to the agent’s desk. Now the whole slush pile is right out there for sale on Amazon.com. How can a serious writer stand out with all that competition? I’m convinced that what’s going to separate the men from the boys in the new publishing world is professionalism. Good writing. Good content editing. Good typesetting for print books and formatting for e-books. Good copy editing and proofreading.

By the way, as a side note: I am sometimes vexed that readers expect e-books to all be free or ridiculously cheap. A good, professional book still costs money to produce. The writer, editor, copy editor, publisher, and proofreader all still charge money for their services (and it’s a lot less than you think it is—none of us are retiring to the Caribbean any time soon). The only cost savings with e-books are with actual physical production: printing, binding, distribution. So yes, e-books should be cheaper, but good stories still cost money.

You are a writer too. What kinds of books do you write? Do you proofread your own books?

The two books I have out now are collections of humor essays, written under my maiden name/pen name of Linda M. Au. Although the essays are fun to write, switching gears and being funny in so many different little “stories” can feel burdensome when I’m putting one of the humor books together. I’m collecting ideas and essays for a third book, but I’ve got no personal deadline for it. Next up instead are a few of my NaNoWriMo novels, some of which have won awards (in whole or in part). Fiction is really my first love.

And yes, I do proofread my own books. (I also typeset them.) But I also run them through beta readers when they get close to being finished. That’s as much for content as for spelling and error-checks. Any problem a beta reader can point out helps me be better. I often cringe if it’s a typo or a missing word, of course, since that’s been my bread and butter for decades, but I’m relieved they’ve helped me be as good as I can be when I go to print.

What’s the hardest thing about working with writers?

The extremes in my clientele. It’s tough to have two very different clients at the same time. For instance, one writer might think she’s being helpful by throwing all sorts of formatting into her Word document manuscript, treating it almost like a layout program (which it’s not), or by learning just enough publishing jargon to be dangerous. Manuscript formatting has to be basic, especially if the next step is page layout or e-book formatting, both of which do not play nicely with overly formatted Word documents.

At the other extreme is the writer who still doesn’t seem to care if he or she spells words right or punctuates sentences properly. I’m not talking about a writer who struggles with these issues—I can appreciate the struggle and I really love helping such writers. But I don’t have a lot of tolerance for writers who insist that they are too busy being “creative” to learn the boring, nitpicky details of how to punctuate or spell. To me, that would be like a carpenter saying he’s too busy trying to create a beautiful rocking chair to learn how to use a hammer and saw.

If you’re a writer, words and grammar and punctuation are your tools. You need to learn to use them properly if you want to be taken seriously. And, I guarantee you that, once you learn these things, the creativity will still be there. In fact, it will be freed up and much more accessible to your readers because the mechanics will have become second nature.

In your opinion, what’s the current state of spelling in the world?

I think texting is a tool of the devil.

Seriously, I think that text-messaging has its place but has greatly reduced the regard for spelling conventions. I do writing coach work for eighth graders, and I see a lot of them slipping into text-messaging language in their essays: “ur” or “u” … stuff like that. They don’t even realize they’ve done it until I point it out.

I realize that language is fluid, and it’s a living thing, blah blah blah. But, there’s a big difference between language changing for practical reasons (such as “Google” becoming a verb) and language changing because too many people got lazy and misspelled a word or phrase for so long that the powers that be gave up (such as “alright” instead of “all right” slowly becoming more acceptable, though it’s not actually correct yet). Language changes that come from a lazy, uneducated populace bother me. It’s not quite the downfall of civilization, but I bet every civilization that fell had already started mistaking “its” for “it’s.”

Why will proofreading matter in the future?

As indie publishing/self-publishing becomes the norm (and it’s careening headlong in that direction already), what’s going to set the professionals apart will be their continued attention to detail and their pride in their work. And that has to include the use of the language. Not just pretty words, but properly spelled, properly punctuated pretty words. After all, writers are selling their ideas, expressed through their words. Why wouldn’t they want them to go out into the world as polished as they can be?

What’s your best proofreading advice for authors everywhere?

If you have to get yourself a grammar textbook or a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, do it. If your first experience with a proofreader turned up ongoing issues and concerns—words you habitually spell incorrectly or grammar or punctuation issues you still don’t get right—then study and learn. It’s difficult to learn creativity or imagination, but it’s relatively easy to learn grammar and punctuation.

But never think that referring to a textbook can replace actual proofreading. Your own eyes are too forgiving of those words you missed or misspelled. Someone else’s objective eyes just may catch them … and you’ll be a better writer for it.

Language is your only tool as a writer. Learn to use it properly, and you can write anything well.

Thank you so much for this interview, Linda. I really appreciate everything that you’ve shared with us. I had a lot of fun talking to you.

***

Linda’s short humor essays have garnered numerous awards. Two books of her humor essays, Head in the Sand…and other unpopular positions and Fork in the Road … and other pointless discussions, are currently available on Amazon.com and BN.com.

Linda has worked behind the scenes in publishing as a proofreader, copy editor, and typesetter since the late 1980s. She has worked with many independent authors, as well as publishers such as Carroll & Graf, Shoemaker & Hoard, Crown & Covenant Publications, Christian Publications (now WingSpread/Zur), Pegasus Books, and F+W Publications.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Linda-M-Au/119278508108217

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindaMAu

Blog/Web site: The Other Side of the Desk

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/austruck/

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Dora Machado is the award winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats.

To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at www.doramachado.com or contact her at Dora@doramachado.com.

Subscribe to her blog at http://www.doramachado.com/blog/ and sign up for her at newsletter at http://doramachado.com/newsletter.php,

Facebook and Twitter.

For a free excerpt of The Curse Giver, visit  http://twilighttimesbooks.com/TheCurseGiver_ch1.html.

The Curse Giver from Amazon

Amazon: : http://amzn.to/13oVu2P

What a Proofreader Can Do for You and Why OCD has a Role in the Profession

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

An Interview with Proofreader Extraordinaire Linda Au

By

Dora Machado

Linda Au has the distinction of being one of the funniest proofreaders in the business. I mean it. She divides her time between her passions, advancing the cause of clean writing and spotless manuscripts while also writing hilarious fiction. Over the years, she and I have worked on many projects together. She has always impressed me with her eye for detail and her uncanny ability to find even the most cryptic of errors, mistakes that often evade authors altogether, despite our  best efforts.

As the writing world changes and publishing gets both simpler and also more complicated, I wanted to get Linda’s take on the impact of her profession. Below is the first part of my two-part interview with Linda, where we talk about what she does and how she does it, the most common mistakes she finds when proofreading manuscripts, and why a touch of OCD might be a very desirable quality in a proofreader.

Enjoy!

D.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your background and how did you get started in the business of proofreading?

Should I mention that I have in my office a spelling trophy I got in fifth grade? That should have been the first tip-off that I was doomed to this life forever.

I realized I was good at proofreading while working as a secretary in a small publishing office in 1987. The editor asked me to look over a printout of that month’s issue to see if I could find any mistakes, and I handed back pages full of red ink. I’m still proofreading that magazine every month, in addition to work I do for various publishers and independent authors. My philosophy, strangely enough, is more like a theology. I rely on the doctrine of Original Sin. That’s how I know I’ll always have work. When I get a manuscript or book layout, I already know there are errors because nobody’s perfect. My job is to find those errors.

A good healthy dose of “Question everything” goes a long way, too.

What exactly do you do when you get a hold of a manuscript?

I grab a hard copy of one of my job sheets (something I created in PageMaker years ago to keep track of my hours, back when everything was hard copy), and I scribble all the details of the job on it: deadlines, special instructions, etc. I also add the project to my gargantuan white board. Then I look it over to make sure I don’t have any questions for the author, such as, “Why won’t this file open?” or “Why did you send me a file set completely in Brush Script?” or “You want this when?”

I keep a style sheet on the back of each job sheet—it’s where I jot down any author preferences I pick up along the way: Are we formatting this as “OK” or “okay”? Does the author prefer “toward” or “towards”? Those are things that don’t have a set grammar or spelling rule. It’s not hard to remember them individually, but once I’m working on multiple projects, it’s essential to keep track of what each author prefers.

These days, “digging right in” means either digital scribbling on a PDF or using Track Changes on a Word document. I leave that choice up to the author. Track Changes can look strange if you’re not used to it, though it saves an author time because there are no individual changes to input. PDF scribbles look a lot like hard copy used to: red arrows everywhere, notes in the margins. I even use rainbow color-coding for ongoing issues.

One helpful tip for those who use white boards: If you’re having trouble erasing a project from your white board—and you definitely used the dry erase markers—that means you’re WAY past your deadline.

What are the most common mistakes you find when proofreading novels?

I’m constantly surprised at how few writers really know the basics of punctuation and formatting. Quotation marks and dialogue seem to be a real sticking point. Also, I still encounter authors who don’t seem to like fact-checking. For instance, one novel had a scene set in the 1970s where the main character played a song on a CD player, long before CD players were in use. I might have expected this from a young writer, but this man was a multi-published author who’d been around for decades.

Beyond that, the big errors are the typical ones: they’re/their/there and to/too/two, loose/lose, your/you’re…. And sadly, those sorts of casual errors are way more common than they used to be.

What do you like the most about your job?

Aside from being an introverted night owl who can set her own hours and doesn’t have to interact with people around a water cooler, I get a strange kick out of getting a manuscript from an author who assures me it’s “really pretty clean already,” and then finding a lot of things wrong. The author’s gratitude (after he or she gets over the shock) is great feedback for someone whose work is essentially solitary and can feel perpetually negative. Don’t get me wrong: A lot of the authors I work with do send me tidy manuscripts, especially if they’ve worked with me before. But no writer should hand anything to a proofreader and mention that there aren’t any mistakes. You’re asking for trouble—and a huge dose of snarkiness if you keep mentioning it.

And, because I find words so powerful, and so essential, I enjoy helping people polish their words so that they communicate as clearly as they can. There’s nothing quite like the frustration of being misunderstood because you haven’t expressed yourself well. I like to think I help people avoid some of that.

What are the most important qualities that a writer should look for in a proofreader?

A writer needs someone who is easy to communicate with, someone who can clearly explain the reasons for any suggested changes, someone who can roll with the punches (and there will be punches). Despite having definite opinions about what’s right and wrong in print, I also know that the author (or publisher/editor if I’m working with a company) has the final say. My corrections are sometimes just suggestions, and I have to let it go if they decide not to incorporate some of my scribbles.

It also helps if a proofreader knows as much as possible about the changing trends in publishing. There’s a big difference between someone who can eagle-eye a manuscript and someone who can also nitpick a complete book layout in final form or who can look for glitches in an e-book format.

Beyond that, a proofreader has to be a stickler about the language but yet flexible enough to change with the times. I’m still learning how to do this. I hate to admit it, but I’m still getting over the fact that “anymore” is now one word. But, at least buying new dictionaries is a tax deduction for me.

Now, tell us the truth: Are all proofreaders OCD?

OCD? Ha ha ha! You should see my house! I think I am word-OCD or print-OCD, but not generally OCD. I like tidying things up in print. I like knowing words are in a better order, are being used properly, or are in a position to make a difference now. I confess that some of this OCD spills over into my daily life. I rearrange the throw pillows on the sofa a lot more often than I used to. But, I still don’t wash the baseboards, so there’s hope for me yet.

Don’t miss part two of my interview with Linda Au right here next Friday, where Linda talks about texting as the work of the devil and why proofreading your work matters now more than ever! D.

***

Linda’s short humor essays have garnered numerous awards. Two books of her humor essays, Head in the Sand…and other unpopular positions and Fork in the Road … and other pointless discussions, are currently available on Amazon.com and BN.com.

Linda has worked behind the scenes in publishing as a proofreader, copy editor, and typesetter since the late 1980s. She has worked with many independent authors, as well as publishers such as Carroll & Graf, Shoemaker & Hoard, Crown & Covenant Publications, Christian Publications (now WingSpread/Zur), Pegasus Books, and F+W Publications.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Linda-M-Au/119278508108217

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindaMAu

Blog/Web site: The Other Side of the Desk

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/austruck/

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***

Dora Machado is the award winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats.

To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at www.doramachado.com or contact her at Dora@doramachado.com.

Subscribe to her blog at http://www.doramachado.com/blog/ and sign up for her at newsletter at http://doramachado.com/newsletter.php,

Facebook and Twitter.

For a free excerpt of The Curse Giver, visit  http://twilighttimesbooks.com/TheCurseGiver_ch1.html.

The Curse Giver from Amazon

Amazon: : http://amzn.to/13oVu2P