Tuesday Takeover: Do you need to hire a copy editor? by Vikki Becker

Enchanted - Vikki

Do you need to hire a copy editor?

The short answer to this question is yes. There will be some who will disagree with me. And that’s ok. Everyone has their own views on this subject. Am I biased because I’m a copy editor? Possibly. I really think my opinion comes from being an obsessive lover of books. Words excite me. Improperly used words annoy me. When I begin reading a new book I feel a sense of wonder. It’s like I’m that little kid with her first library card all over again, anticipating the magical worlds about to unfold as I open the first page to a newly discovered book. Every now and then that excitement is quickly diminished by errors, many errors. If there are just a few? That’s fine, we’re all humans who make mistakes. No one is perfect, not even copy editors. *gasp* (There is a strong possibility there are small errors in this article. Because, although I have excellent reviews for my editing, I am a mere woman.)

If I’m seeing errors on nearly every page I’m going to set a book down. I just can’t allow the magic of the story to take hold amidst the chaos of poor editing. My brain should be drifting off into a beautiful, or not so beautiful, new world. Learning, hoping, loving, hating, and fighting with all of the characters. But I can’t focus on the story! There is the inevitable eye roll while I am contemplating sending an anonymous letter to the author, begging them to hire a professional editor. I haven’t actually done this. Just like I don’t “actually” punch people in the face who chew with their mouth open. I do, however, fantasize about both. More frequently than is normal for a sane person.

Editing our own work is difficult at best. Part of that comes from the fact that when we put the story down, it’s as we saw it, dreamed of it. When we go back to read it again, attempting to self-edit, we still see what we had “intended”, not what we actually wrote. Our minds are tricky little boogers. Someone else, however, can step in with fresh eyes, a new perspective, and the skills to polish the manuscript, in a way that the writer, often, cannot. A good editor will make you comfortable with allowing them to work with you on your baby. He/she will also be true to your voice and vision in the work. Yes, an editor makes corrections. But don’t take that to mean that they can completely butcher and reimagine your work, You are the author, it is your story. So make sure you are a part of the process, that you have an open line of communication, feedback, and that you are very clear about what you do and don’t want from the editing job. It won’t be cheap to hire a professional editor. But what quality services are cheap? It’s important to feel confident before you push that publish button on Amazon or elsewhere. You don’t want to look back a year from now, thinking “if only I’d hired an editor, my book would be more polished, more professional”.

I speak from experience. Yes, I’m an editor. However, I was part of a writing project that others had control over. I only submitted a story, that was the end of my involvement. I had assumed proper editing would be done. The publisher didn’t want anyone who was part of the writing to be the one who edited the book. Unfortunately it wasn’t handled well by the editor who was hired. I no longer promote or associate myself with this book, as it’s an embarrassment. It’s a lesson learned, one I won’t soon forget. Having my first published work turn into an embarrassment was quite disheartening. My hope is that those reading this will be able to avoid this mistake. But I won’t give up. I’m pressing on, chasing the dream! And you should too! I’m sure my fellow editors will agree with this last statement. Please, for the love of the written word, stop having your Mom’s best bud’s neighbor edit for you because she got A’s in English. Just stop.



Vikki lives in Northern Alabama with her hunky husband, the youngest of their six children, three dogs, and a cat who thinks she’s a dog. She’s recently started writing again, after setting it aside to raise and homeschool her kids. She’s been editing for several years now, with rave reviews from clients, and is thrilled to be able to work from home at a job that she adores. When not curled up in the recliner with the laptop and her ShihTzu, Rebel, you’ll find her camping in the woods, drifting on the four wheeler, slinging mud.

You can find Vikki here: www.enchantedediting.com ~  vikkibecker@gmail.com ~ www.facebook.com/enchantedediting ~ @EnchantedEdit

Jun 14, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: Do you need to hire a copy editor? by Vikki Becker

Tuesday Takeover: 10 Lessons Writing Zombie Books Taught Me by Kate L. Mary

I’ve written seven zombie books, one book of short stories to go along with it, and a post-apocalyptic book that deals with the aftermath of an alien invasion, and through it all I’ve learned several valuable lessons. Not just about the world we live in, but about myself and people in general. I think, on some small scale, it will actually give me a little bit of an edge when the inevitable zombie apocalypse hits. And since I’m a nice person, I wanted to share those lessons with everyone else.

1. Electricity Won’t Last As Long As You Think
Did you know that power plants need constant monitoring? I didn’t. Sure, I knew someone was probably always there to keep an eye on things, just in case, but I didn’t realize how vital it was to have a living, human being there at all times. Which means that when a killer zombie virus sweeps the country and takes out most of the population, it won’t be long before the power will go out. In some cases, it could take as little as 2-4 hours. Yes, there are scenarios where the power won’t shut off quite as fast, but the apocalyptic novels we read that have survivors using electricity for weeks after the human race has disappeared are totally far-fetched. So be prepared and stock up on batteries, flashlights, lanterns, and matches!

2. Fuel Expires
I know what you’re thinking: What?! No!!!!
I mean, it makes total sense now that I think about it, but it wasn’t something I ever really sat down and thought about. Gas isn’t food, so why would it go bad? It does, though. The shelf life depends on how it’s stored and the kind of fuel it is, but it won’t last forever. So when the zombies pop up, be sure to use your gas while it’s still good! Saving it for a rainy day may end up being a waste.

3. People Are Bad
Sounds obvious, and a little cynical, but let me explain what I mean using my kids as an example. When I tell my son he can’t have a cookie, the only thing stopping him from getting one anyway is the threat of getting caught and having to sit in time out. Adults are no different, really. Many people have desires they keep hidden because they know it will get them sent to prison, or ostracized by family and friends, but during the apocalypse there won’t be anyone to slap them on the hand as they reach into the cookie jar. The world will be their cookie jar, which means they’ll do whatever they want.
Of course I’ve always known this about mankind, but until I wrote a book that left men to their own devices, I hadn’t really allowed myself to think about just how dark things could get. Now I have, and I realize that when the end comes, there are very few people you are really going to be able to trust.

4. Cell Phones Won’t Work
That goes for the Internet and email too.
This I also knew, but the affect of it hit hard as I was researching and trying to move my characters into a place where they’d adjusted to a world with no technology. I know that sometimes in zombie novels characters will email or text each other from across the country, but this just isn’t a realistic scenario. With most of the population gone there will be no one left to keep tabs on the cellular stations, and no electricity to keep those stations going on their own. Meaning your phone will be useless.

5. Aerosol Cans And Propane Tanks Can Save Your Life
We all know aerosol cans are pressurized and usually hold flammable liquid, and propane tanks have big warning labels on them telling us the same thing. But it never occurred to me how useful these common, household items might come in handy if you’re in a pinch.
Pretend someone you love is stuck somewhere, surrounded by zombies, and the only way you’ll be able to save them is by drawing the dead away? Well, why not grab a few aerosol cans and a propane tank, and start a fire in a house down the street. When they explode, it could be just enough to draw the zombies away, giving your group a chance to escape.

6. Alcohol Has A Million Uses
When you’re loading up on supplies during the apocalypse, don’t forget to grab plenty of alcohol, 70 proof or higher. Not only can it alleviate boredom—although getting drunk can be risky when you never know what’s lurking in the shadows—it can be used to sterilize, sooth itching from bug bites and poison ivy, start fires, and dozens of more uses.

7. Car Alarms Are Perfect For Distracting Zombies
The best way to distract zombies is to create noise somewhere else, right? How about banging into the sides of a few cars so you can set off an alarm? The annoyingly shrill whine of a car alarm is guaranteed to keep the rotting monsters distracted, giving you the chance to escape.

8. Always Carry A Pack Of Gum And Some Batteries
Did you know you could start a fire with a gum wrapper—the foil kind—and a battery? Look it up on YouTube, because it’s real! Plus that gum will help keep your breath fresh when you’re on the run. Who knows how often you’ll be able to brush and floss during the apocalypse?

9. People Under Thirty Are Screwed
It sounds mean, but it’s true. They’re the generation who don’t know how to use an atlas or find a book in the library. Everything they’ve ever needed has fit in the palm of their hands, and any question they ever have is answered with a Google search. For them, the disappearance of technology will be even more devastating than the virus that wiped it all out.

10. The United States Will Cope Better Than The Rest of The World
We love our processed food, don’t we? It’s made us obese, shortened our lifespan, and threatened the lives of our children. But it will save us when the apocalypse hits. When all the fresh food in other countries has gone bad, we will literally have warehouses full of boxed, canned, processed, and dehydrated food to keep us going!

So, what do you think? Am I ready to survive the apocalypse? Are you?


Kate L. Mary is an award-winning author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, ranging from Post-apocalyptic tales of the undead to Speculative Fiction and Contemporary Romance. Her YA book, When We Were Human, was the 2015 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award Silver Medalist for Young Adult Fantasy/Sci-Fi Fiction and her Broken World series has been an Amazon best-seller since the release of book one in 2014.
Mary Kate
May 3, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: 10 Lessons Writing Zombie Books Taught Me by Kate L. Mary

Tuesday Takeover: Why we love Zombies by Lindsey Winsemius

Do you love Zombies? Where do you think your captivation with the undead comes from?

Love them or hate them, we’ve all seen the explosion of Zombie pop culture, from literature, film, and television to university classes and themed events. I’ve talked a little bit previously about why we love dystopian themes [http://www.lindseywinsemius.com/blog/7-reasons-we-love-dystopian-books].

Now let’s explore our fascination with the undead.

The general zombie concept has Haitian origins, the term nzambi, referring to someone’s “soul.” It is believed that people who die unnatural deaths (such as murder) have souls that are vulnerable to being snatched by sorcerers and locked in a bottle, allowing the sorcerer to use their undead body.

Hatians were pre-occupied with this concept because of the prevalence of slavery throughout Africa; having one’s soul enslaved after death was the final horror. Where does our modern interest in Zombies stem from?

Here are several reasons suggested by researchers of the subject.

6 Reasons we love Zombies

According to the experts.

1. Zombies help us understand and deal with current societal issues.

“You can’t shoot the financial meltdown in the head — you can do that with a zombie.” Max Brooks, World War Z Author

Just like I talked about our love of dysptopian stems from the very dystopian world in which we live now, our fascination with Zombies is a way to deal with the societal wrongs of today. We feel helpless in the face of global warming, crazy politicians, and threats of terrorism. But a Zombie apocalypse? Grab your shotgun and some of the free stuff all the other dead people have left behind, and you’re going to change the world one dead un-dead at a time.

2. Zombies will punish the bad guys

The apocalypse is one way to find justice in a world that is sadly lacking. Imagining our enemies being overrun by Zombies can be a safe yet satisfying way to feel like the scales will eventually be balanced. Think of the many times in Zombie lore in which the bad guy (because naturally Zombies are not bad enough) gets his or her comeuppance in a delightfully horrific way. Or consider the guy at work who never really works, and everyone else is carrying the team. He obviously isn’t going to survive in a Zombie apocalypse, and won’t it be satisfying to know his laziness is finally going to bite him in the ass (possibly quite literally)?

Even if it might be a little uncomfortable to think in these terms, subconsciously we all want justice. Imagining a more equal society where people who work hard will survive, and the underserving are turned into the undead that we can then deal with accordingly can be quite satisfying.

3. Zombies give us an outlet for our aggression

Not only does the Zombie apocalypse allow us to imagine a world in which the base of humanity is being punished for its wrongs, it also lets us celebrate the highly militarized media culture in which we live. We don’t have to feel bad about imagining taking a machete to everyone around us, when everyone around us is trying to devour our flesh.

As depicted in the popularity of first-person shooter games like Call of Duty: Black Ops, killing Zombies is a completely acceptable way to play out aggression and embrace the shoot ‘em up nature of our society.

4. Zombies level the playing field.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a blank slate society where anyone can be a hero? Where success is completely dependent on our survival skills?

“People are still afraid of dying, getting sick, of social infrastructures falling apart. The collective nightmare. And it poses the question of, ‘What would you do? Would you survive?’ It plays out this great survival narrative.” Professor Kyle Bishop

Many professors feel that the idea of the Zombie apocalypse is so appealing because it levels the playing field for many of us. Presidents and the poverty-stricken can become equals in this scenario, allowing anyone with some concept of self-preservation, and perhaps a firearm, to survive and flourish.

5. Zombies give us a way to handle our fears.

“The West African version of the zombie didn’t eat brains — they weren’t scary in the same way our zombies are scary. They were a symbol for fear of enslavement under French colonial rule. People weren’t afraid of them, but of becoming a zombie and losing control. So the original zombie reflects the fears of the society in which it was created. The zombie becomes a window into ourselves.” Professor Kelly Murphy

What Murphy says is most interesting is how the zombie apocalypse shows that people shouldn’t necessarily be afraid of the zombies they are running from, but of other humans. Zombies become the background material. The real question — and this is something that has become prevalent in many zombie television shows and flicks — is, “Can you trust the other people that you meet along the way while trying to survive?”; and if you can’t, then what does that say about humanity? “Even if we haven’t turned into the monster, the zombie is a reflection of how we ourselves become the monster.”

Humanity is full of monsters hidden beneath a veneer of civility. Wouldn’t it be wonderful is every jerk out there who wouldn’t hesitate to back stab you looked like a half dead corpse, instead of your next door neighbor? Not only would they be much easier to recognize the evil in the world around us, we could actually do something about it. Like shoot them in their undead brain. This gives us a much more satisfying way to deal with the real monsters around us, and feel as if we could possibly have some control over them.

Consider the popular game and movie series Resident Evil. The real evil in the movie is not the army of reanimated dead taking over the world, but the Umbrella Corporation whose greed has resulted in the apocalypse. If that isn’t a metaphor for the direction of our current societal issues, I don’t know what is.

6. Zombie vs other apocalypse: More control of survival.

Zombies give us something to fight. You can’t fight a deadly virus, a natural disaster, or even a nuclear fallout. But you can fight Zombies. The Zombie apocalypse is one we are more likely to survive if we use our wits, band together, and find an abandoned prison full of old rations and ammo.

That is the appeal of the Zombie apocalypse scenario over other suggest end-of-the-world scenes. We all feel as if we’d be the few who would survive (except me, I’m absolutely certain I’d be turned into a moaning undead within the first five minutes) and be able to use our blank slate society to start fresh. We’d live in the World War Z world, after the war had ended (I’m talking about the novel, not the movie). The world being rebuilt by the strong, by the brave, by the survivors.

Do you love Zombies? What do you think is most fascinating about the idea of a Zombie apocalypse?



About Lindsey Winsemius

Lindsey is an author and marketer living in Grand Haven, Michigan with her husband and two young children. When she’s not imagining different apocalyptic scenarios, she writes romantic suspense and dystopian novels. You can connect with her on Amazon, Facebook, or her website.


Sources: http://mashable.com/2015/03/12/zombie-obsession/#.FsvOJ4wpkq5




Mar 29, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: Why we love Zombies by Lindsey Winsemius

Tuesday Takeover: Play for the Win by EE Isherwood

When I first considered penning a book I was in my mid-40’s, had a full-time job, and supported a young family. In 2014 my grandmother passed away. For some reason, that event inspired me to write a short story set in a zombie universe. The little old woman in my story had to survive an encounter with her live-in nurse—who had become infected with the zombie virus. When I finished the 6000-word story, I loved it so much I wanted to keep going. I wrote a book about what she did next. Then I wrote two more books, with at least one more in the works.

Over the next year I lost my job and had months of free time to work on my writing. It slowly dawned on me they formed a coherent story that maybe…just maybe…someone would want to read. So I got to the hard work of editing, designing covers, and formatting for Kindle. I also spent a lot of my days doing research into self publishing. I wanted to do it all myself the first time, just so I could learn what goes into it.

The number one lesson I took away from all my research up until that point was to always respect your readers. Anyone who takes a chance on your book is going to spend several hours inside your world. Is it ready for them? Did you invest in a professional editor? If not, why? Does your cover look like it belongs on a shelf in Barnes and Noble? If not, why?

When I hit publish in December of 2015, I truly believed I was publishing for a few friends and my mom. I thought I was doing right by them. I edited the book myself several times. I put probably a month of man hours into editing those 90,000 words. I released with a simplified cover I felt was competent, though I had no illusions it was top notch. Being unemployed, it didn’t make any sense to invest money into something I had no idea was going to make a nickel for me in the short term.

In short, I wasn’t playing to win.

When you publish your book, think about why you are doing it. Is it to make money? Is it to wow readers? Is it to prove to your naysayers that you can publish it? Is it because you want to share something brilliant with the world? Is it because you think you are super awesome? Maybe you just want to prove to yourself you can do it.

If any of those are true, and you release without professional editing or a professional cover, you aren’t playing for the win. Think about any grand opening you’ve ever attended. If the business had dirt and debris on their parking lot, broken shelves and misplaced product on the inside, and clogged toilets, what are your chances of ever going back—even if whatever they were selling was brilliant?

Being an author is a strange place for an introvert such as myself. It simultaneously begs for humility and braggadocio. But promoting something that isn’t an absolute best effort is a formula for failure. So how do you stay grounded while playing for the win? Easy. Eliminate points of failure.

  • Book cover. If your cover doesn’t belong on a shelf at Barnes and Noble, are you sure you want to tell a reader it’s still good enough for their shelf? I thought my original cover was respectable, but my new professional cover makes my original look juvenile. Cost to cross this problem off your list: less than $150.
  • Editing. I rate myself as a decent writer and a decent editor. Not great, but decent. I read my manuscript end-to-end four times on printed paper before release. I had my wife read it. A trusted friend read it. Then I paid a professional editor to read it. She found an extra word in a sentence on page 3! If I had sent that book out for review, imagine my chances of getting favorables. Cost to cross this problem off your list: $200 at a minimum for basic proofreading services. Double that (or more) if there are deeper problems.
  • Story. OK, here’s where the rubber meets the road. People love your cover. They read the sample and find the editing is good. Now, is your story something people actually want to read? No, your Mom doesn’t count. No one you know personally can answer this question for you. Find a community of readers in your genre. Ask for beta readers. Listen to them. We all want to believe we are special snowflakes. Here’s the big secret: we aren’t. You are going into a marketplace that gets 6000 books a day—your competition! And that’s just Amazon. If your story doesn’t impress non-partial beta readers, you can’t possibly hope to get lots of glowing reviews, which are your book’s lifeblood out there. Cost: nothing.

Here’s the good news. Playing to win is actually not that expensive. If you’re writing for anyone besides yourself, you can’t go wrong paying the $500 to edit and sheath your book. Sure, that may be a lot of money for a roll of the dice, but your book is your intellectual property that can sit in a variety of electronic bookstores FOREVER. You’ve created something that will generate revenue for you until the day you die, plus 70 years. Think about that, then adjust your math.When you hit publish you are either dumping a second-rate product into a bottomless pit with 6000 other books, or you’ve invested in yourself and your property to ensure you have the best chance of recouping your investment rather quickly. In my case, it took about 20 days with revenue from KDP Select, and I’m a nobody.Play for the win, believe and invest in your product, and give yourself a chance to succeed. Your readers will love you for it.



EE Isherwood is a lifelong reader of post-apocalyptic fiction. In 2015, life gave him the opportunity to try his hand at writing and he began with a short story about a 104-year-old great-grandmother. Then he tossed her into the zombie apocalypse in his debut novel Since the Sirens. He wrote two more books about her as part of the Sirens of the Zombie Apocalypse series. A fourth volume is coming. Every day he goes to bed amazed he’s kept her alive for one more day.



Mar 15, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: Play for the Win by EE Isherwood