Thursday, 28 February 2013

Tips, Tricks and Tales: Proofreading (a guest post)

A humorous look at the difficulties when proofreading for a friend

Isn’t it funny how we can sit and write our hearts (and minds!) out, then pour over our own words with great diligence yet miss some basic errors of grammar or spelling? Okay, sure, spell check helps but still, we do miss the odd few (!) and there always seems to be a better way to write it. Then a stranger asks you to proof read their work and every mistake stands forth, lit up in neon lights with arrows flickering. The secret part of us knows we wouldn’t have made that mistake (sure!) so how simple it is to make the mark and suggest a correction.

Okay, so we often miss our own errors yet we pick up those of strangers with seemingly sure simplicity. Great! Until a friend asks to proof read their work of art. “Of course,” I answered. “No problem. Will be great to read your work…Cannot wait…Thanks!” and I truly felt good, almost honoured, that he had entrusted me with what I know has been so difficult for him to get out and down. Writing that has taken hours to think about, craft, and meld into a story, events that have been heartbreakingly difficult to express. What a privilege.

Until the third page!

How could I put so many red marks? Surely, they can’t all be errors? I start proof reading my own proof reading. Yep, it’s simply not the right spelling, not the right grammar. One just can’t put it down like this. And it’s only the third page!

Take a break. Have some coffee. Start again.

By the middle of the book, I’m beginning to realise why it took him so long to write it. Then, after all the red marks (thank goodness it’s digital – can always take them out later I think), I suddenly have an idea. One I’m sure we’ve all had at some stage maybe: where is the line between entertaining the reader and telling the story in the way you want it told and satisfying all the literature and language pundits who will crit the spelling, the grammar and the structure?

Colloquialisms (as in words used informally but not in formal speech or language, or words expressing ideas other than their true meanings), cultural idioms, pronunciations, accents, language localised to specific communities and groups all play a huge role in telling a story and encouraging the reader to identify with certain characters, situations and events (now there’s a sentence in need of proof reading!!). So, how much do we sacrifice for our story and the effect we are looking for and, more importantly maybe when proof reading for a friend rather than a stranger, how much do we ‘correct’ and mark, with friendship in the mix?

I’m off for a break and another coffee!

About Rob: 
Originally trained as a Classical Pianist and in Drama and Theatre Arts in the UK, Rob moved to South Africa and into the medical world. He trained and registered as a Nurse and Midwife and then moved into Sales and Marketing of Medical products. All this time, writing was a passion and words a way of life.
Rob is currently living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a day to day challenge, but continues to write. His latest novel is ‘The MageStaff’, fantasy novel available at and on iTunes, Kindle and Amazon and he has been asked to compile his poetry.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Tips, Tricks and Tales: Proofreading for a Friend (Guest Post)

To proofread or not to proofread...for a friend

Proofreading for a friend…I’ve been on both sides of this particular transaction and it’s schizophrenic all round! 
As the proofreader/editor, you want to be both kind and honest. As the author, you want to receive both kindness and honesty. In both cases, there is the fear that too much of either will damage the friendship.

2011-08-21 20.48.12.jpg
Let’s take a closer look at kindness first. Friends care about each other’s feelings – it is one of the fundamentals of friendship. We don’t like to hurt the other or be hurt by her. As an author, I trust the friend I ask to proofread to care for my manuscript as much as I do. I want her to respect it, not laugh at it and certainly not use my blunders to spice up conversation around her book club dinner table!

As the proofreader, I am keenly aware that the pen in my hand (or the track changes function on my laptop) can be experienced by my friend as a cold blade slicing into her back. Allowing myself to comment as freely as I would on a complete stranger’s work, could be a bridge too far.

But how then does one deal with honesty? Is the answer to sacrifice it on the altar of friendship? I think not. Doing that would be the ultimate act of betrayal. In addition to being kind, friends count on each other to save them from embarrassment. Would you let your friend walk through the mall with a length of loo paper trailing from her skirt? Of course not. Similarly, you can’t call yourself BFF and in the same breath allow her to publish a manuscript rendered see-through by plot holes. As an author, I really count on my friend-readers to save me from myself.

But is that a realistic and, even more importantly, fair expectation?

Having thought about this question for a while, here is my conclusion: it is not fair to throw an unsuspecting friend into the whirlwind of proofreading. It is not fair to make her the custodian of all the emotion that constitutes a manuscript.

So, does that mean you are on your own, relying on the kindness, or indeed the cruelty, of strangers? Again the answer is “no”. The word “unsuspecting” in the statement above is the key to the conundrum.

I truly believe that friends who have experienced and therefore understand the agony and the ecstasy of writing, can be the best people to help exercise your manuscript’s wings before you release it. They know how much of yourself is contained in every word. They know how long and lonely the night before the deadline can be. And because they know, they should (and thankfully often do) find the delicate balance between kindness and honesty.

It is then up to you to find the balance between pain and pleasure when you respond to the edits.

About Charmain Lines:
I have always earned my living with words, first as a corporate communicator in a state-owned enterprise and for the past 7 years as an independent consultant. Increasingly, writing and publication production have become the mainstays of my business. I am fortunate that not a day passes without a story of some description leaving my desk. The jump into fiction writing happened 2 years ago. I am planning to publish my debut novel – a character-driven drama about family relationships – within the next few months.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Interview: Linda Leander author of INZARED - Queen of the Elephant Riders

It is my pleasure to interview my online friend Linda Leander today.

Did you like to read as a child? 
Absolutely! My mother read to me as a baby and said I “read” the book when she pointed to the pictures. I’m sure it was memory, but that instilled a love of reading in me that I carry to this day. I remember running home from school to grab a snack and fling myself on the bed to read whatever book I was into at the time. Mom would call up the stairs for me to come down and set the table – my standard answer was always “I’m almost at the end of the chapter – be right down.” Of course, I probably gobbled up a whole chapter or more but I just couldn’t get enough. At night I snuck a flashlight in bed with me and read under the covers until my mother caught on. I still feel the same way when I’m immersed in a good book. 

As an adult you probably still like to read as most authors do.  Who are your three favourite authors and why do you like their books? 
It’s definitely hard to pick only three and if you had asked my favorite all time authors my answers would be different. I’ve only included current ones and only a few. But if I had to pick them they would be: 
  1. Harlan Coben – to me he’s the master of a great suspense novel and I cannot put his books down. Once I found him I read every single thing he’d written and I’ve now re-read them many times.
  2. Amy Tan – her books of Chinese family culture are not to be missed. I’ve always loved reading about different people and customs and her books are full of them. 
  3. Janet Evanovich and Sophie Kinsela – I like having something that is fresh, easy to read and light. Both of these authors are entertaining and I can carry them with me to the beach or the doctor’s office.
Where do find your inspiration from?
I find my inspiration from life – from the world I live in. I’m fascinated by history and love research. I can be inspired by a couple on a park bench or an old woman walking down a lonely stretch of road. I keep a small notebook handy and as I have ideas I write them down. Sometimes they’re just one line and other times a few lines. I look at signs and billboards, read headlines on the Internet and magazines. Anything can become fodder for a new book, a character or a setting.

How much of yourself do you think become a part of your novels?
Every writer is part of his or her novels. I base some of my character traits on real-life events that have occurred in my own life and things I know how to do. I think as I write the character takes on a different persona, though, and I probably project other traits that might not be as close to my own. We all have a yen to be someone or something else. As a writer I can make it happen!

Will you watch the film if you have read the book? Or vice versa?
I love to read a book and then see the film. Occasionally I’ve seen the film first. I don’t mind doing either. What’s exciting about reading (and writing) is the ability to “see” the characters and settings through the eyes of the writer. It’s all an adventure!

What do you enjoy the least and the most in writing a novel and publishing it?
I most enjoy the writing – that moment when you lose all track of time and the words flow from your fingers faster than you can key them into the computer. I least enjoy the editing, but actually find some of it interesting, especially when I delete characters or delete scenes.

And lastly - if you had to pick only one pair of shoes - which pair would you take and where would you like to go?
They’d be my cross-trainers. I’ve worn out several pair but they take me on my quests for adventure. They’re always comfortable and I’ve walked many miles in them and traveled to many places. As long as I’ve got those and a little black dress I’m all set!
More about Linda:
L.Leander is an author, freelancer and award-winning songwriter. Her first novel, Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders was published in June of 2012. The second book in the series, Inzared, The Fortune Teller is slated for publication in early 2013. The author has also published a short non-fiction series titled 13 Extreme Tips for Writers, targeted to the beginning writer.

Ms. Leander manages a blog titled L.Leander’s Reviews and Interviews that offers book promotion to Indie Authors. The author currently resides between Wisconsin and Mexico.

Find Linda's books and follow her at:
INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders by L.Leander
Video Trailer for INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders:

L.Leander’s Website:
L.Leander’s Reviews and Interviews:

Twitter:    @lleander11

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Launch Party: Mayhem Erotica Publishing

Mayhem Erotica Publishing would like you to join us in celebrating our official company launch. Readers are invited to participate in an ME Author Q&A, Self-Publishing Discussion, Pimp Your Porn Hour, Exclusive Teasers, and a Giveaway of over $1,000.00 in prizes!  

 Video on Youtube:

Our goal at Mayhem Erotica is to provide readers with the best in sensual storytelling by merging dynamic and well-developed characters. With intriguing plots and tantalizing love scenes, our writers will deliver readers to new depths of debauchery by arousing and stimulating the senses.

What better way to kick off the Mayhem Erotica Launch than with a FREE read?

Tasting the Forbidden is a Mayhem Erotica Anthology with 6 steamy stories of Forbidden Desire that will have you squirming in your seat!  
It will be available FREE on February 23rd in all eReader formats. 

The blogs playing together today:

1.Coffee, Books & Lipgloss Reviews2.Romance in the Air
3.Pure Textuality4.NA Books vs Boys
5.Reading Renee6.My Book Muse
7.Book Addicts Not So Anonymous8.K is for Kechell
9.The Broke Book Bank10.The Little Black Book Blog
11.Nette's Bookshelf Reviews12.Wicked Wolves & Dreaming Dragons
13.Books Books and More Books14.Fandom Fanatic
15.Candy Coated Book Blog16.Romance Addict Book Blog
17.Butterfly on a Broomstick18.Tiffany Talks Books
19.Italian Brat's Obsessions20.The Autumn Review
21.Proserpine Craving Books22.The Book Town

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Cover Reveal: Vacant by Evelyn R Baldwin

• This book is set to release Feb 23rd via Mayhem Erotica.
• Goodreads Link:
• Genre: Adult Romance / Erotica
• Cover Design:
Mayhem Cover Creations
Mayhem Cover Creations


Ethan Parker gets up every day, surviving the only way he knows how—alone.
Orphaned as a child and forced into the child welfare system, he knows better than to depend on anyone but himself. He’s learned trust is a word used all too often, but rarely earned.
Ethan believes that his best chance for maintaining a simple and solitary existence is to live by a simple mantra: Don’t get involved. Keep things simple.
Take care of yourself!
When a young woman moves in next door, Ethan is forced to reevaluate his beliefs. He tries to keep his distance, but his new neighbor’s infectious smile and outlook on life leave him struggling with the decision of living the life he knows, or taking a chance on the unexpected.

As Ethan develops a relationship with his new neighbor, Emily, he realizes nothing is simple and learns that life is about more than just surviving… it’s about living. 

Evelyn R Baldwin
Evelyn R. Baldwin was born in the Midwest and spent her childhood on a horse ranch. As an only child, Evelyn was often forced to entertain herself with the family’s horses as companions, and her imagination the only limitation. After moving to St. Louis to attend college, she earned a degree in Education. During her Master’s program, Evelyn discovered her fascination with behavior and psychology. Her first professional job experience was as a juvenile counselor, which led her to venture into other human sciences, eventually making a career with Behavior Analysis. While writing is a hobby for Evelyn, she often uses her experiences with human behavior to guide her characters. She’s written short stories since childhood but only recently began exercising her real writing muscles. While she does not consider herself a professional writer in any sense of the word, she continues to polish her craft and hopes for success in her writing ventures, even if they are just as a hobby.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Tips, Tricks and Tales - Lesson 5

Editing your Story: Using the Stylesheet for Copyediting tricks

As mentioned in Lesson 3 Copyediting is more than just using the right tenses and pronouns. In a fantasy world, your reader has no idea what the place looks like so it is entirely up to you to describe it.
In my fantasy series the first two stories take place mainly on a planet that I called Xa’an. To me as the author it is a living, breathing place full of people, magicians, dragons, rain forests, cities and a desert. But since my readers can’t ‘see’ that, I have to make sure that not only do I describe it to them, it has to be a consistent image to them in scenes where my characters walk through the village of Akan, or the streets of Ikea.
While the copyeditor is as much reliant on my words as my readers are, I can draw a map of both these places on paper or screen for me to keep track of what those places would look like. These maps can then be part of my style sheet.
Copyeditors check facts and truths as part of their service to the author, but in a fictional world these facts and truths are purely figments of the author’s imagination.
However, if I have defined my fictional universe to have two suns, and space travel and shape shifting dragons, which it does, some truths will still apply. The laws of physics do still apply, and the accepted truth that an evil being in one form is not going to turn our to be the saviour of humankind in another.
Of course, you can make your universe and characters any way you want, but there are some things that cannot be made believable just by wishing it to be so. Pushing the boundaries is what science-fiction (and sometimes fantasy) is all about, but being consistent in the presentation of the facts and truths as you define it is essential.
In my fictional universe some of my characters have unusual abilities, but they are still people with flaws and limitations. A good character definition helps make a character come to life in my mind while I am writing, but the Style Sheet can have a short list of the major traits of the main character. For example: T’ara in Géra’s Gift is constrained by her gift when using magic, while Elizabeth in Keeper of the Dragon Sword, has the same gift is constrained by having no magic at all, and yet had to learn to fight people who did.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Tips, Tricks and Tales: A Guest Post on Proofreading

I am fortunate that my writers group have some amazing people that volunteered to proofread my manuscripts. This post is the first from the group members on proofreading- her details are at the bottom - Linzé

Proofreading, a necessary evil? 

A flutter of white, printed pages or the digital letters birthed with blood, sweat and tears which reside in the memory banks of your computer means that you have finished your prized possession. For any writer this is where his heart lies and where his very soul is poured out. The next obvious step in this process is to place your jewel encrusted manuscript in the hands of proofreaders. This act is analogous to giving your newborn baby away and expecting others to care for it as you have. It is an excruciating, nerve wracking process and as a proofreader and writer myself, my sympathies lie with the writer.

Imagine the shock of getting your “perfect” manuscript back, filled with the red squiggly lines, words and sentences of Microsoft Word’s editing option, not to mention the paragraphs inserted by the proofreader to question the meaning of a particular section or requesting the enhancement of a character. Worse yet are the question marks which signify the prooreader’s inability to plumb the depths of the writer’s thoughts or (dare I say it) logic. I am reminded by the epic words of Forrest Gump: “Run, Forrest, run!” of what this feels like. However, running away won’t fix it. The writer now has to work through the proofreader’s changes, decide what to accept as gospel and what to dump in the trash can. How objective can a writer be when so much of his soul has gone into the creation of the manuscript? Not very, I can tell you from experience. It remains a very personal thing.

This inevitably leads me to the next questions: Is proofreading in any way, shape or form meant as a personal attack on the author? How sensitive should a proofreader be to a writer’s emotions which are indelibly linked to his work? Does this sensitivity change when you proofread for a friend as opposed to a stranger? Is it really necessary to change the voice and style of the author if it doesn’t suit your predilection?

As a proofreader, writers should always bear in mind that I do this for the love of the written word. Sure, there is remuneration involved, but it is and always will be a huge honour to be entrusted with such a fragile thing as a finished manuscript. I tend to handle it with the greatest of care, respect and sensitivity. To write is not an easy thing; it is the bearing of your naked soul, the dissection of who you are and what you believe. It allows others to criticise your very being. It may sound cliché but before I sit down to proofread, I remind myself of these very facts. Tread carefully, this is holy ground.

Never in my life have I seen proofreading as a form of torture or character assassination. Proofreading exists solely as a method of sculpting or moulding a work on its way to perfection. It is therefore to be seen as a resource that is complimentary in nature to the writer’s work. Proofreaders fix the syntax, spelling, and tense mistakes. We look at the continuity from one chapter to the next with regard to where the characters are physically and emotionally, the progression of the story line, intrigue or suspense. We make sure that the writer’s characters exhibit growth as well as behaviour and mannerisms synonymous with those the writer has laid down in the beginning of the novel. If the character was seen in the possession of a gun in the previous chapter, for example, that gun should not re-appear as a candlestick, wrench or rope (my thanks to the game Cluedo) in the following one. We make sure that inconsistencies are ironed out.

A good proofreader is a sensitive creature, mindful of the writer’s emotions and investment into the manuscript. For me at least one of the most important, unbreakable rules is to be kind. There is such a thing as negative criticism. Try in all your dealings with the writer to remain positive and uplifting. By all means write a paragraph or sentence if a portion of the manuscript struck you as sheer beauty, prosaic elegance or literary abandon. Fix mistakes quietly, even if that mistake is repeated ad infinitum. Be ever mindful that there is a human being behind the written word. By this I do not mean that you should pussy-foot, for then you are not doing yourself or the writer any favours at all. The manuscript needs to be ready to leap into the arms of the publishing houses and this is part of the work of a good proofreader; the responsibility is immense.

I would like to say that I am able to remain objective at all times, regardless of whether the manuscript belongs to a friend or a stranger. In most respects I do, but remember that we are human too and at times we do tend to tread lighter; it is in the nature of Homo sapiens to treat those belonging to his or her own group with more empathy and compassion, or am I grasping at straws? This slightly more sensitive approach to friends does not lie in the correcting of obvious mistakes but rather in our synopsis of the novel we supply at the very end of our task. Here the personal feelings of the proofreader towards the novel may be mentioned as well as the smoothness or lack thereof of the reading experience. In spite of these all too human drawbacks, we do try to be objective throughout. It bears mentioning that we too are susceptible to the odd mistake or oversight, again I blame my DNA.

DO NOT (EVER) CHANGE THE VOICE OR STYLE OF THE WRITER. This is a cardinal rule. Respect the fact that the writer has written the manuscript to convey certain feelings, emotions, milieus and sociological backgrounds. Far be it from any proofreader to change the style or specific voice from minimalistic to prosaic, from blunt to expansive or from aggressive and violent to passive and peaceful. It is simply not your right even if the style or genre is not to your taste. Face it if this is your job, how many of the manuscripts you proofread are going to fall within those preconceived parameters anyway?

In conclusion and on a personal note proofreading is a necessary evil; we need more perfectly nurtured manuscripts out there. As an avid reader I have seen too many mistakes slip past proofreaders, editors and publishers not to take this seriously. The writer’s work and the future of the manuscript depend largely upon the look and feel of it when it eventually ends up in the hands of literary agents, editors and publishing houses. If it is a cared for and well presented manuscript the success rate soars exponentially.

In the end proofreading is an adventure; a veritable treasure hunt I will never tire of nor pass up if I have any choice in the matter. In truth you would have to pry manuscripts out of my dying, bony hands to get me to stop. I simply love it!!

Bio: Vanessa von Mollendorf

I am primarily a visual artist with two exhibitions behind me. I work in oils, acrylics, pen and pencil. An avid reader and proofreader. At the moment, I am trying to finish my first crime novel. My short story compilation is currently being viewed by an e-book publisher- keep your toes crossed. Amongst all these things I am also a pug breeder and mother of two sons.

Follow Vanessa's blog at