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: How to be uncanny in your writing by John Hancock

Mimics. You know what I mean, those people that can do amazing impersonations. The one I’m most recently impressed by is Ross Marquand, an actor on The Walking Dead. His takes on Kevin Spacey and Michael Caine are uncanny. Uncanny — remember that word. In a discussion with a coworker, I put forth my favorite theory on why some people can be accomplished mimics, and some can’t. Oh, for sure, you grew up knowing that guy who could act like the gym teacher and make everyone laugh. But I’m not really talking about that guy. That guy has a light quiver. His only arrow might be the gym teacher and maybe a really mediocre Christopher Walken.  One that makes you cringe but you go along with it because, well, its bad form to point out someone trying that hard is pathetically failing.

These are the average schmoes, guys and gals like you and me that might have only one impersonation. And none of us are uncanny. There’s that word — uncanny. Ok, so back to my theory, and here it is. Or actually I’m going to creep up on my theory by first making an observation. Have you ever seen yourself filmed or recorded and thought “OMG, is THAT my voice? I don’t sound like that at all!”

But of course, yes you do. Because everyone else in the shot sounds like everyone else sounds. But that means you DO sound that. How far is it off for you? For me, my recorded voice sounds more tinny, more sibilant and less masculine than what I hear in my own ears when I talk. Yes, it’s a bit of a blow to my ego. But we’re not talking about me now, are we?

So my theory: Our voices sound differently to ourselves because it has to travel through a different medium. Other people hear us directly through the air. We hear ourselves through the distracting interference of our bones and flesh as it reaches our inner ear. We can’t hear ourselves correctly. Well, most of us. And that brings us back to mimics.

I believe people that are actually uncanny in their ability to mimic a wide ranges of celebrities can do this because they’ve either learned to ignore the distracting interference of their own skull and work around it, OR their interference simply doesn’t exist. They hear themselves exactly as the rest of us do. Either way, this allows them to actively modulate their voice to become the voice of their target of impersonation. So, what does this have to do writing? You’ve probably figure out I’m an author, I could tell you about myself yadda yadda yadda who cares?  I want to talk about when writing actually works, when it comes together like a perfect storm of fate, coincidence or sheer effort to produce a compelling believable piece of writing. I’m suggesting it best happens when we learn to sabotage the distracting interference of our own lives and begin to actually hear and speak what the characters want to say. We become better mimics of them, we follow their speech patterns, their thoughts, their desires, their goals, everything about them. But if we let our own thoughts, our own distractions, our own goals get in the way, then we become that guy who did the gym teacher’s voice, badly. 

It’s a Zen, thing. I love it when it happens. I can plan and plot and intend almost anything, but as I’m writing, the voice of the character tells me “no, John, I’m not saying that. Why would I say that? Don’t you know this scene scares the crap out of me? Don’t you know this guy reminds me of my father, who beat me? I would never politely tell this guy to shove off, I’d do it with a sledgehammer.” The trick, you see, is to let your characters write the story.  Honestly, they’re better at it. It’s their life story, after all. If you MUST look me up as an author, for some reason, I’ve got a few books out. Science Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Dystopia, short stories. If you’re a fan of Sarah Noffke’s, and you’d be an idiot not to be, the book you’d likely be most interested in would be ROOF.  You can find it or me on Amazon.

Thanks for listening… through the bones in your skull.

John Gregory Hancock


John Hancock

Bio: John Gregory Hancock is a storyteller.

A graphic professional for many years (which is one way to tell a story), his graphic journalism garnered international awards, and was nominated for a Pulitzer. He incorporates his visual sense in his ability to spin compelling yarns.

Currently, he has seven books of his own, and has written for The Future Chronicles anthology series, whose titles have hit the overall Amazon Top 10 Bestsellers list. The Immortality Chronicles – a Top 5 SF Anthology and Hot New Release – featured his story ‘The Antares Cigar Shoppe’, which was also nominated for Best American Science Fiction. The collection won best anthology from Preditors and Editors

His work has appeared in other anthologies, including; Prep For Doom, Bite-Sized Offerings: Tales & Legends of the Zombie Apocalypse, Flying Toasters – The DeadPixel Tales, and Off the Kuf.

Check out John here: http://www.johngregoryhancock.com/

May 10, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: How to be uncanny in your writing by John Hancock

Tuesday Takeover: Inspiration for the Darracia series by Michael Phillip Cash

Cash - Article

Well, the baby’s shoelace is tied in a knot so tight we should just cut it off. Then her endearingly beat up sneakers, (tennis shoes to the rest of the world outside of Long Island) will be all dirty with brand, spanking new white laces. That won’t do. An hour later, Daddy vs. the knot, Daddy wins. She’s crying though, “What….What?  You’re in the laundry? Okay…I’ll give her a bottle.”  Nothing better than Daddy and baby time with a lukewarm bottle, milky bubbles drooling from her pursed lips. I check Amazon, relief that Stillwell is ranked, worried the number is lower than before. I look at the computer, my keyboard stares blankly back at me, but I hear my wife call,”Get Alex off the bus.” “Sure, no problem,” I respond, happy to help. The corner is freezing, my hands numb, my mind blank. The air is sucked from my lungs as if I stepped into a vacuum. Other parents sidle up next to me, as we stand in a circle searching for warmth. We smile at each other, our eyes streaming from the cold. The bus arrives and the kids bounce off, scarves unbound, mittens flopping, so we all take a minute to rebundle our bundles of joy. The walk back to the house is filled with stories about Jaden, Aiden, and Evan. The house smells of sausage and peppers, rice boiling over, and my daughter is screaming with delight that her older brother is home.

“Help with homework?” No problem, a pleasure, let me check Amazon first. Stillwell is up, a higher number, relief expands in my chest.  Listen to my son reading his new book, the words forming first silently as his mouth tries them out. He is triumphant, thrilled with the freedom of being able to read for himself. We proudly reread the book for the entire family.

Dinner is noisy, my daughter loves to squish her food and I can’t take my eyes off the ooze squeezed through her tight fist. It’s delicious, tart and sweet, like my family life. The golden light from our kitchen fixture bathes us in homey warmth. Beds, bath, more books, this time Daddy and Mommy do the reading. Then the sound of the house settling down, heat clanking in the old pipes, hiss of radiators, the kids yawns of satisfaction of a day jammed with activities.

It’s quiet, the computer screen lights the room, a beacon of judgment. It dares me to look up Stillwell one more time, accusing me of procrastination. The house is dark, my mind like a wax tablet waiting for impression. Nothing comes, not even interruptions. Please wake up, I urge my little girl. Call for me so I can walk away again. I can’t end this story, my characters have gone as silent as a tomb and won’t tell me what to do! What was I thinking? A full time writer? Who does that? Should I check Stillwell again? How can I end this book to get on with the next? I am drowning! The water is closing over my head and I can’t breath! Wait…can’t breath? I pause holding my breath. That’s it…I turn to the closing chapter of my next book in the Darracia series. I think I got it.

Michael Phillip Cash is an award-winning screenwriter and novelist. He’s written eleven books including the best-selling Brood X, Stillwell, The Flip, The After House, The Hanging Tree, Witches Protection Program, Pokergeist, Monsterland and Battle for Darracia series. Learn more about Cash here: http://www.michaelphillipcash.com/

Cash photo

Feb 29, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: Inspiration for the Darracia series by Michael Phillip Cash