Today we’re honored to have the fabulous Lyrical Press editor, Penny Barber as our Honorary Chick. Penny is a more than just an editor. She’s an educator. She doesn’t just run through your work and tell you what needs fixing, she tells you why and what the benefits are. I admit to being half in love with her, oh, okay, all the way. Having had several other editors in my career, I can tell you finding one who really cares about your book and making you a better writer is rare and precious. For these reason, we crown Penny Barber an Honorary Chick. Penny, tell us a little about yourself. This question always stumps me. Too many options. “I’m a little bit of everything all rolled into one…” What Meredith Brooks sings, plus Editor and Granny. It’s stuck in my head now, thank you very much. Now it’s stuck in all our heads! 🙂 What are the top three mistakes authors make in writing and submitting their work? That needs two answers. Common craft weakness cited in our acquisition discussions:
- Lack of clarity, voice, and concision from weak verbs and too many modifiers. Verbs power stories, so choose active, vivid, easily imaginable actions for the people on your pages.
- Bloated, cliché, or meandering beginnings. When you meet a new person, you don’t get a rundown of their history right off the bat. If a stranger introduces themselves at a party and precedes dumping all his skeletons at your feet, you want to run. When readers begin a book, the character is a stranger.
With the possible exception of insurance adjusters and burglars, nobody walks into a room and stops to inventory it. Keep the setting active and people vivid by continually showing snippets as they move through the scene. Dumping details all at once gets them skimmed or forgotten.
- Poorly executed POV is the most tedious, time consuming, difficult craft element for editors and authors to address. It weaves through the sights, sounds, attitudes, goals, and conflicts of your story and affects every element. Especially in 1st person or deep 3rd person, writers need to avoid filtering and stay in character.
Common submission errors:
- Queries with nothing about the book on submission, commonly info about self or other books. You want editors to read the book you’re submitting. Tell them about the book. Genre, word count, characters, world, time, story problem.
- Missing synopsis. Even if the company doesn’t require one with submissions or list in the guidelines, many editors won’t read if it’s missing. Acquisition editors need plot info first. If plot isn’t there, the cleanest, voiciest, craftiest prose won’t save it. If plot is there, an editor might be willing to help you with craft issues.
– (cringes) I’m sure I am guilty of all of these at one time or another. – Now for some fun! Rapid Fire Questions: – Favorite Things: volleyball, swimming, yarn, books, family, butter brickle ice cream Pet Peeves: melodrama Addictions: techy gadgets, kitchen gizmos, horsepower, books, yarn Kick Ass Superpower: online shopping – Your best book boyfriend:
- For the night: Mikael Blomkvist—Millennium Series
- For a dirty weekend: George Dumas (Bruiser)—Skinwalker Series
- To have and to hold: Commit to one? You jest.