Editing your story

Editing your work with editor Jennifer Fisher, speaker at Hudson Library and Historical Society on Sept. 25, 2017.

Self editing your novel – to enhance work, streamline, robust language, create a product to sell

Type of editing

  1. Development (subjective) – what is the big picture, characterization, plot development, and narrative flow
  2. Line editing – focus on prose, word choice, paragraph structure, and sentence flow
  3. Copy editing – check facts, punctuation, and capitalization
  4. Proofreading – eliminate typos

Keep notes on lingering questions or items to check for clarity and accuracy. Review comments from others but stick to your gut instinct. Reread your manuscript.

Narrative voice – Should be unique, consistent, and reader should “hear” the voice.

Setting – When, geography clear, if historical work, introduce to all the customs, mores, and way of life.

Timing – Storyline length, need dates and make clear how much time as passed in the story.

Tense – Most are past tense. All verbs need to be consistent.

Plot – Needs a beginning, middle, and end. Are there too many subplots that distract from the main plot? Can you distill plot to 1-2 sentences? Bring some originality to the story line. Most plots have been written. What makes your story different?

Pacing – Moves along smoothly and evenly. Are the chapters a consistent length? Are there long scenes that take over story line and slow down narrative pace? Does story move along too quickly or confuse reader? The story should slow down at climax.

Characters – How large is the cast? Are all necessary? Are you familiar with the background of each main character? Do you know them? Be aware of names – keep them distinct and not sounding alike.

Point of View – 1st or 3rd person limited. How many characters have POV? Introduce all characters in 1st few chapters and be consistent in how you refer to them. Cycle through POVs regularly. Do not head hop!

Incorporating the unfamiliar – Don’t assume others know what you know. Explain complicated concepts and devices. Example is military terminology, foreign countries, futuristic worlds.

Series or stand alone – If first in a series, drop in element that can be picked up in later books. If stand alone, resolve the plot

The first page – Pulls reader into the story. Make sure the first sentence, first paragraph, first page will entice reader. How many characters are introduced in first page? Sense of setting and mood established.

Give feeling of what to expect in story – Give clear picture of setting, pose questions to create interest. Is the mood scary, suspicious, or upbeat?

The first chapter – Introduce most of the characters, tell the reader what to expect and make them want to read more. A dead body should appear by chapter 3 in a mystery, and a romance should start by page 30.

The ending – Is it satisfying? Is the central plot resolved? Does it wrap everything up?

 

 

 

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Writing a young adult novel

Every writer should attend conferences or classes to improve their craft. I attended the 34th Annual Western Reserve Writer’s Conference Sept. 23 at the South Euclid-Lyndhurst branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library. The event was free and had a variety of workshops and speakers.

What you need to know about the Young Adult market by J T Dutton, assistant professor of English and creative writing at Hiram College and author to two teen novels.

Know the voice of a teen – the want to make their own decisions and stakes are high

  1. Love is first love, crushing love, eternal love
  2. Story about loss – first loss, excruciating loss
  3. Adventure – fate of world hangs in balance

Don’t teach a lesson; celebrate a complex, deeply felt phase of life.

See the world at the teen’s level who has to work out problems herself.

Teens like complicated stories with social problems – characters can be good and bad at the same time.

The protagonist discovers right and wrong for herself.

Use reasoning, humor, and emotion to express teen.

Teens push against the moral code and want to figure right and wrong out for themselves.

They want to take on complex ideas and reason out complex problems.

Maintain playful goofiness of young years mixed with adult philosophy.

The importance of I – The POV should be first person or close third person perspective – the protagoinist speaks to a personal friend or confidant and lays the soul bare.

Create and show inside jokes and language (create slang that only the teens in your story use – don’t copy any real slang because it is outdated quickly.)

When writing as a teen, speak in a distinct language – create private language for them. Language should be consistent and character derived.

Give them a chance to see things differently than the people around them.

Describe an event with teen commentary to show their perspective.

Use present tense or past tense without the long lens of reflection to keep story in now. It should be a recent perspective.

Validate a teen reader’s experience of time and place even when using a historical setting – address present day social concerns or illuminate generational similarities. Ex. “Catcher in the Rye”

Historical novels for young adults – they look at the past in new ways and how to relate to the present. Capture stories not told in history books.

Teens want to see themselves in the book. “Anne Frank” showed her teen experience.

Foreshorten the adult world, minimizing the interference of authority (many protagonist are orphaned in some way) so they are facing problems alone.

Adult character should speak differently from teens. In the televisions show, 90210, the parents were nerds. The kids were cool.

Use verbs that pop – listen to the sounds of language and focus on cadence.

Honor ethnicity and personal origins. Expand ideas about identity using background and roots so that story belongs to everyone.

Use cynicism and snarkiness but understand the ways in which language protects or hides deeper feelings.

Use the honesty of a teen narrator to cut through hypocrisy in their setting, not to diminish or reduce.

The acceptance as closure to a story – narrator understands that life isn’t perfect

The story works through the problem, accepts understanding of self and the world is not perfect.

The view the world as adult in a more complicated way.

 

 

 

Writing a cozy mystery

Every writer should attend conferences or classes to improve their craft. I attended the 34th Annual Western Reserve Writer’s Conference Sept. 23 at the South Euclid-Lyndhurst branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library. The event was free and had a variety of workshops and speakers.

Amanda Flower book2Amanda Flower explained the difference between a Cozy Mystery and regular mystery.

A cozy mystery usually has a funny title. Amanda’s new book is “Assaulted Caramel.”

  1. A cozy is a subgenre of a standard mystery
  2. Death takes place off stage
  3. Minimal to no sex or violence
  4. Few if any curse words. It’s a sweet book but people are killed in it. It’s similar to Agatha Christie but funnier and sweeter.

Hardboiled mysteries are darker, more graphic and more cynical – Patricia Cornwell is an example

Soft boiled mysteries are lighter and more humorous; they focus on puzzle solving

Elements of a Cozy Mystery or topes, standards for a genre, that a reader expects in that genre. You can break or embrace them.

  1. Protagonist

She is an amateur sleuth and her job is NOT in law enforcement (Stephanie Plum is bond enforcer but not very good at her job.)

A shop is often a setting – garden, candy, etc.

The protagonist has a flaw – what is her damage?

She is a good person who wants to do the right thing but gets into trouble and snoops or meddles.

She thinks she can help by using her skills. She gets involved because of a connection to the person killed.

She wants justice served or she is the main suspect or someone she loves is the suspect

MOTIVATION is everything – she has to have a reason for doing the dangerous task of solving the crime.

  1. The cozy voice

Light and funny, humorous. Shows the protagonist has a life outside of the story – relief from tension.

All mysteries have right or wrong, good or bad and in the end justice prevails.

  1. Supporting cast

Small town with quirky people. Everyone helps or hinders the protagonist – the details of the story. Some kind of animal is in story (some talk) and a sidekick most of the time who is quirky and has the good lines.

  1. Love interest

Single woman 9/10 times her boyfriend is in law enforcement. She needs someone to get info from or someone involved in the investigation. Meet cute (watch The Holiday movie) – first meeting or first time reunited after long absence. Love gone wrong or something wrong with the person for getting involved. Has the tone of Janet Evanovich where Stephanie is a disaster waiting to happen but somehow “gets her man.”

  1. Unlikeable victim

9/10 person killed everyone wanted him dead so you have a lot of suspects. 1 real, 3 suspicious ones and 3 throwaways that are cleared quickly. All have great reasons to kill – love or money. An option for the victim is some redeemable trait.

  1. Lots of Suspense

In all mysteries their livelihood is threatened or a sick family member needs money for an operation. Every chapter should end with a hook to make the reader turn the page. James Patterson has short chapters, but reader keeps reading to find out what happens next.

  1. Red herrings and clues

Clues lead to the killer.

Red herrings lead away from the killer, misdirect and confuse the reader but do not irritate. Don’t leave loose ends. Everything is done with intention and logical. The clues tie the story together and makes sense to the reader.

Trick the reader – they think they know who the killer is but in the end someone else but makes sense. Do not have killer to jump out late in the story. He must be introduced early.

  1. The killer can be likeable or hated.

Sympathetic character is upset and makes stupid decisions to murder someone.

Action has MOTIVATION. He doesn’t kill because of psycho behavior. Killer is a normal person that snaps under stress.

Motivation – son dying and needs money to pay bills. An elected official has gambling problem and used public funds. They make a stupid decision concerning love or money and kill someone to hide mistake.

Killer’s rationalization – he had to kill the unlikeable troublemaker.

How to kill: blunt force trauma; stabbing; strangling; poison

9/10 murder crime of passion but in cozy – plan the murder

  1. Protagonist in Peril

Reach the climax and wrap up in four pages. Once the mystery is solved, end the story. The final setting should be familiar to the reader from earlier in the story. The protagonist has put the clues together and figured out who the killer is but he arrives with gun and she has to get herself and others out of trouble. Protagonist saves herself and others NOT cop or someone else. She’s the heroine.

Mystery subgenres: Golden Age; Police Procedure; Forensic; Private Eye; Thriller

First person is more common – reader finds same clues as protagonist.

80,000 words is common length.

 

 

 

How to get published

Every writer should attend conferences or classes to improve their craft. I attended the 34th Annual Western Reserve Writer’s Conference Sept. 23 at the South Euclid-Lyndhurst branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library. The event was free and had a variety of workshops and speakers.IMG_9676

Brian Klems of Writer’s Digest Magazine offered suggestions for getting published:

  1. Write a great story with an exciting incident to send the story into action where life as usual changes. The protagonist has clear goals, and the setting puts reader into the story. Use active voice, active verbs, and good grammar.
  1. Get to know editors and agents before pitching a story and make sure it fits the category they represent.
  2. Follow writing guidelines of editor or agent. Look at website for submission guidelines. Send at least five out at a time from your target list.
  3. Write a killer query letter
    1. Introduction with book, topic, and number of words
    2. Pitch or blurb
    3. Similar books and where it fits in their books (find through research)
    4. Qualifications and platform
  4. Have a platform – visibility and show how people can find you with blog, website, Titter, and Facebook
  5. Be kind, useful, and network. Never bad mouth agents or publishers.
  6. Embrace all feedback and don’t let criticism get to you. Move on.
  7. Be the easiest person in the world to work with.
  8. Have more than one idea; ready for alternatives –what else do you have?
  9. Stay positive – lot of rejections

 

 

 

Review of Impending Love and Capture

IMPENDING LOVE AND CAPTUREImpendingLoveandCapture_w11791_med - Copy

Released Sept. 15, 2017 and available at   http://goo.gl/0fBnFq and @wildrosepress

A review by Dorothy Markulis

History and romance fans will find a great deal to love in author Laura Freeman’s latest book, “Impending love and capture.”

This is Freeman’s fourth book in this series about the Civil War and the Union supporting family, the Beechers of Ohio. Freeman manages to weave historical facts with fictional romance seamlessly, making the reader anxious to discover more and more.

“Impending love and capture” follows beautiful Jessica Beecher, a resourceful 17-year-old, through the horrors of the Civil War. The reader is with the fearless girl as she travels through the devastation caused by the war between the states.

The skillful author’s knowledge of the Civil War is astonishing and her telling of the horrors of war brings the reader right into the thick of the carnage.

The book details the horrific results of Americans fighting Americans.

Jessica, just 17, is plunged into the thick of the aftermath of the fighting, treating injured and maimed soldiers. The author makes the reader take the plunge with Jessica – experiencing the sights, smells and sounds of the war.

Jessica’s life becomes incredibly complicated when she is captured by a Confederate officer. Her hatred of war, and all that it entails, is brought front and center when she finds herself falling in love with her captor.

That love, throws her life into turmoil and threatens her very existence. Her views on life, love and the hateful war are forever changed as she fights to save the man she finds she cannot live without.

 

 

 

Impending Love and Capture excerpt

Her petal-shaped lips were likely coated with poison. He put the gun and knife in his haversack. “Even fully armed, you’re no

ImpendingLoveandCapture_w11791_med - Copy

match against the entire Confederate army, Mrs. Mackinnon.”

Jess looked around at the deserted town of Gettysburg. “Who’s Mackinnon?”

He pointed to his chest. “I’m Major Morgan Mackinnon. Your husband.”

She put her hands on her hips. “I’m not marrying you.”

“It’s in name only.” He didn’t want to calm her fears too much. “Would you prefer I tell everyone you’re a Beecher abolitionist? All the men in camp lost brothers and friends the past three days. They don’t need much of an excuse to take it out on someone. I’d hate for them to use your hide to vent their anger.”

A gasp escaped her trembling lips. His words had frightened her. “I’ll borrow it.”

Morgan swung her onto the wagon seat and joined her. He moved his haversack as far from her reach as possible.

She sat with her back straight, her hands in her lap. “Is Mackinnon Irish?”

Morgan slapped the reins on the back of the black draft horses and imitated his father’s Scottish brogue. “Dornt insult me, lass. Mah faither was a fierce highlander.”

She tilted her head with a teasing smile on her face. “Hah, if you’re a Scotsman, where’s your kilt?”

It’s nae th’ kilt that’s important.” He clucked at the horses and winked in her direction. “It’s what’s underneath.”

She slid to the far edge of the bench seat. “You said this marriage was in name only. No kilt lifting.”

 

Ulysses S. Grant visits Ohio

Ulysses S. Grant visits grave of his grandmother

By LAURA FREEMAN Reporter Published: July 18, 2017 4:00 AM

DEERFIELD — “Heritage is History squared,” according to Ulysses S. Grant’s portrayer.

Dr. E.C. Fields, Jr., played Civil War Commander Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant (and later 18th president of the United States) July 17 at Deerfield Township Cemetery, where Grant’s grandmother, Rachel Kelly Grant, is buried.

Rachel Grant was born in June 1746 and died April 5, 1805. She came to Deerfield in 1804 with her husband, Noah and seven children. Her husband set up a tannery west of Deerfield Circle and lived in a home built by Owen Brown of Hudson.

On the marker, Rachel was “known for her spinning.”

Fields, as Grant, discussed his humble roots.

[“I come from humble stock,” he said. “Rachel was a woman of the Ohio frontier. She worked hard and did her best.”

“Grant” then placed flowers on her grave — and encouraged children not to simply read about history, but to take opportunities to live it.

“Bringing the little ones speaks well of you,” Grant [Fields] said. “For the little ones are the future of our past. Take them everywhere you can where there is history.”

Fields said history is one dimensional on a page.

“Learn it, read it and know it, but heritage is history squared,” Grant [Fields] said. “Heritage is right here where you can come and stand with my grandmother. You can visit the cemetery and honor an ancestor whose blood flows through my veins.”“

Heritage, he added, is visiting Vicksburg, Gettysburg and Shiloh and 10,000 reported battle sites in the 48 months of the Civil War.

“Ohio acquitted itself well during the Civil War,” Grant [Fields] said. “Be proud of the people you came from.”

The event was sponsored by the James A. Garfield Civil War Round Table, which hosted Grant at the Big Red Barn in Valley View for “An Evening with General Grant.”

Sally Sampson, secretary of the Deerfield Township Historical Society, said Commander Benjamin Frayser of the Garfield Civil War Round Table contacted them about the ceremony, and they were happy to make arrangements.

After visiting the cemetery, “Grant” visited the Township Square and the Civil War memorial. He suggested the historical society research the 20 names on the monument and find out more about them, especially the three men with the same last name who died in different battles.

The historical society surprised Grant [Fields] with a visit to a red brick home south of the Township Square where the Grants lived in the building which was reported to have been built by Owen Brown of Hudson. Heather and John Larkin have lived in the home for 19 years and discovered five fireplaces, black walnut floors and a brick walkway beneath the grass.

Fields is a living historian and has appeared as Grant at remembrance ceremonies and reenactments across the country, including the James A Garfield National Historic Site (Mentor, Ohio), Gettysburg, Shiloh, Vicksburg, Appomattox Court House and for the Discovery Channel.

Fields is a member of numerous historical societies and foundations, and contributes to several Civil War publications. His website is GeneralGrantbyHimself.com

The James A Garfield Civil War Round Table was founded in 2015 with a commitment to share and expand members’ passion, knowledge, and understanding of the American Civil War. The Round Table serves communities of Southeastern Cuyahoga County as co-host of the annual Garfield Symposium, with participation in local history fairs, donations of winter-weather protective clothing to local homeless shelters and preparing United States flags for proper retirement.

The round table is named in honor of President James A. Garfield, a native of Cuyahoga County and a Civil War veteran, attaining the rank of major general. Information on the activities or membership participation can be requested fromJamesAGarfieldCWRT@gmail.com

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

This story appeared in the Record Courier July 18, 2017

Author Mary Kubica on writing

My article appeared in the Hudson Hub-Times July 3, 2017

Hudson – A best selling author kept her writing secret from everyone but her husband, who wasn’t allowed to read it until her first book was published.

Author Mary Kubica June 28, shared her writing experience with more than 50 readers of her “chilling psychological thriller” at the Hudson Library and Historical Society.

“Every Last Lie” is a widow’s search for the truth after her husband’s tragic death in a car accident that may not have been accidental.

She writes in first person because “I felt like I was outside with a third person perspective.”

“Every Last Lie” is written from two points of view, Clara and her husband, Nick, before he dies.

Kubica said she writes each point of view separately and then merges them like a deck of cards being shuffled.

A New York Times and USA Today best selling author, Kubica has written “The Good Girl,” Pretty Baby” and “Don’t you Cry.”

“The Good Girl” was an Indie Next, received a Strand Critic Nomination for Best First Novel and was a nominee in the Goodreads Choice Awards in “Debut Goodreads Author” and “Mystery & Thriller.”

Kubica began writing as a young girl and lived vicariously through her characters. She didn’t dream of sharing her stories.

“I was shy about writing and kept it private,” Kubica said. “I was passionate about writing but didn’t want to be an author.”

Instead she became a history teacher, but after the birth of her children, she resumed writing.

“I was quickly consumed by it,” Kubica said. “I felt guilty not doing other things [chores].”

She learned by trial and error and found her voice with mysteries.

It took Kubica five years to write “The Good Girl.” She sent it to nearly 100 agents and was rejected by every one. When the rejections arrived in the mail, she rushed out to retrieve them before her husband saw them.

“It was so demoralizing,” Kubica said.

Two years later, an agent contacted her about the book for publication.

“It was a dream come true,” she said.

She was contracted to write a second book,” Pretty Baby” but her first proposal was rejected.

“I had only one idea,” Kubica said. “I was under deadline and losing time. I needed a new idea.”

She had an image of a teen holding a baby and wrote the first chapter, Kubica said.

“It was not inspiration,” she said. “It was desperation.”

Kubica answered questions from the audience and signed books afterwards, giving fans a chance to meet their favorite author.

Hudson Library and Historical Society offers programs every month on a variety of subjects, including wellness, walking tours, music, book clubs, cooking, genealogy and culture. For more information, visit hudsonlibrary.org

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

Review of Cowboy on the Run

Cowboy on the Run by Devon McKay

The story crackles with sexual tension and memorable imagery from beginning to end as Nate Walker, quick to run from trouble, returns to Jessie Calhoun, the woman he left behind but still loves.cowboyontherun_w7754_300

Their mental and emotional battles take the reader on a roller coaster ride that is intensified by near fatal accidents.  Past problems and new surprises keep the reader turning the page to find out how the fire and ice couple resolve their feuding love life.

Will Jessie forgive Nate and trust him not to leave again or will she accept Alan, the man who doesn’t hide his love but may hide a darker secret?

The characters are interesting and the situation believable. The prose is easy to read and the story moves at a quick pace.  I highly recommend this romance.

 

The value of book clubs to a writer

The column appeared in the Jan. 29, 2017 edition of the Hudson Hub-Times at https://goo.gl/M6TNwz

by Freeman of the Press

A Hudson book club, with a little prodding from Barbara Bos, read my first book, “Impending Love and War” in my Impending Love series.  Barbara is a trustee for Case-Barlow Farm, and we share a love of history and old barns.

Barbara invited me to join a dozen ladies in the club for their meeting in January to discuss my book.

Hudson has several book clubs, but this was my first time talking to one about my book.

I confess, I was excited to talk about my writing. Wouldn’t any writer?ImpendingLoveandWar_w8676_300

I read my book, which I had written in 2014, to refresh my memory and gathered some visuals to share.

We met at the home of one of the members and upon talking to some of the other ladies in the club, I learned Barbara had the reputation for picking books no one liked. Oh no!

For many of the club members, this was their first historical romance novel and were under the misconception it was a bodice ripper, a term used for novels written in the 1970s. Instead of violent confrontations between the hero and heroine, modern romance novels emphasis an equal relationship with a clever first meeting and problems more complex than how to land a husband.

Although the romance genre is identified with a happily ever after ending, women’s literature, doesn’t guarantee romance or a happy ending. I explained that women’s lit emphasizes a woman’s voyage through a trial, disease or life altering even and doesn’t guarantee a happy ending to clarify the difference.

My writing combines romance, history and suspense and many genres are blended in modern books to appeal to a larger audience of readers.

The Hudson residents enjoyed the emphasis on local history. The story takes place in the fictional town of Darrow Falls and one club member guessed Darrowville inspired the name and at least one building in the book.

They asked an assortment of questions, including where I came up with ideas for the book.

As a reporter I covered a story at the library about the Underground Railroad in the local area, which helped to develop the idea for the story about a runaway slave.

They say write what you know. Since my family has lived in the area for more than 150 years, I had plenty of personal history to draw from.

I shared the fact that the homes in the story were based on my grandparent’s house and the Goldsmith House at Hale Farm & Village.

The Beecher name is a family name and my heroine, Cory Beecher, like me, is a distant cousin to Harriet Beecher Stowe.

To create tension, the abolitionist heroine, has two suitors. One is a stranger looking for a runaway slave and the other is an instructor from Western Reserve College, who believes in colonization.

I shared some of my research photos with the favorites being those about the canal in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I love traveling along the towpath and wanted to incorporate it into the story. In addition to sharing history, I try to add humor and hope the reader has fun reading the book.

The six books in the series can be read independently with each one focusing on one of the Beecher sisters from 1860 through 1866. I’m finishing the fourth and will be sending it to my editor soon.

The club members enjoyed a chance to read something lighthearted, and some of the book club members bought the next book in the series, which I greatly appreciate. Fans are built one book at a time, and I hope I gained a few.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP