Tag Archives: why you should hire me

Says the Editor: A Sea in Your Belly

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It was a hot and heavy sex scene, right in the opening of the book. And it was a good one, too, written with sensitivity and in a way that made us care about these characters even though it was, in their minds, nothing more than a meaningless hookup — although the reader knew it would be the start of something bigger.

And then the hero kissed his way down her body and stopped at her naval and…

WAIT.

WHAT?

I’m sorry, but WHAT THE FUCK?

From Webster’s:

Definition of naval
1 obsolete : of or relating to ships or shipping
2 a : of or relating to a navy
b : consisting of or involving warships

THIS IS A SEX SCENE, PEOPLE, NOT WAR ON THE HIGH OCEAN.

(And while war on the high ocean could be a metaphor for sex, in this case, it certainly was NOT. No warfare happening here. Just a lot of mutual lust.)

Believe it or not, I finished the book. It was a good book (although it should have had a much better editor because yes, that was only the beginning of the issues), hard to put down even though I did more wincing than any reader should ever have to.

But I’d have liked it more, I’d be telling people to go pick it up and read it, if the team behind it had been more careful.

Just in case you’re confused — because it does happen, and I’ll forgive you for an honest mistake (because you’re not an editor being paid to know the difference. I hope.) — they should have used NAVEL.

Again, from Webster’s:

Definition of navel
1 : a depression in the middle of the abdomen that marks the point of former attachment of the umbilical cord or yolk stalk
2 : the central point : middle

In Delphi’s golden age, when the ancients held it to be the navel of the world —Henry Kamm

Sigh.

It’s on you to put out the best book possible. And while the best editors are human, even humans make mistakes. Remember that no editor is 100% perfect and that Microsoft Word loves to insert typos just to fuck with the heads of conscientious authors everywhere.

Make sure the editor you’re hiring really IS the best you can hire. I’m always open to new clients, and if my rates are too high for you — I do have a mortgage to pay — let’s talk. It’s about making the best book possible, right?

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#SaystheEditor How’s Your Beard?

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I was sitting at the field with a book the other day. Not an unusual thing for me, even as autumn chills creep into the West of Mars landscape. The players add a layer. I either retreat to my car during practice or add a layer and a blanket.

But what I encountered in the book wasn’t so easy to deal with.

It’s a contemporary sports romance (and I’m looking for more recommendations, if you’ve got any) and it was credited to a big-name editor at a big-name publisher.

And I can’t say it’s badly written. But it’s not well-written.

(Shades of grey… you guys know I’m all about ’em.)

So what’s the difference between not badly written and not well-written?

Well, shades of grey, of course. I just said that. In this case, as the author’s describing the hero, in one paragraph he has stubble. It’s sexy stubble, of course, but it’s stubble.

In the very next paragraph, or maybe it’s two paragraphs later, he’s got the beginnings of a beard.

Hello? Which is it? Stubble, or the beginnings of a beard? They are different. Very different. Stubble is short. It’s a couple hours or maybe a day after shaving. It’s brush burn on tender skin. You can’t even feel past it to caress the skin underneath. It’s sandpaper.

But the beginnings of a beard… it’s when the hair is longer. Softer. When you can put your hand on your man’s face and feel the contours of his jawline again. Sometimes, it tickles.

Makes sense to me… but am I the only one who sees this difference?

So I put the question to my panel of experts, otherwise known as teenagers, over a meal of Korean barbecue. Because what else does a family discuss over a meal of Korean barbecue?

And they agreed. Stubble is stubble. The beginnings of a beard… well, my oldest said, it’s more than stubble. Longer. It’s what his coach is currently sporting (and I maintain it’s a good look on him, too).

An example! Good child. I have trained you well.

And then, of course, the conversation spiraled. If the character goes from stubble to the beginning of a beard within two paragraphs, what does he look like at the end of the day? Dredlocked beard? Dumbledore? How often does the guy have to shave? Does he walk around with an electric razor and where other characters rub their faces contemplatively, does he flip on the razor and rub it over his cheeks and throat?

I have a creative family, even though we didn’t discuss how the differences between stubble and the beginnings of a beard affect the mental picture a reader draws.

But the point, of course, is that instead of focusing on the storyline (which is rather cliched, to be honest, and one we see all the time in Rock Fiction), we’re making fun of this book because of imprecise language. And the kids, of course, know that if this manuscript had crossed my desk, I’d have said exactly this to the author. Stubble is stubble and the beginnings of a beard are the beginnings of a beard, and they paint very different pictures in a reader’s mind. Pick one, I would say to Steve or Stevie. But only one, at least right here.

Stubble is stubble. The beginnings of a beard are the beginnings of a beard.

Know the difference, all you Steves and Stevies. Know the difference.

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