Editor’s Tip: How NOT to Choke Your Own Sentences

Authors make some pretty terrible mistakes over and over again. I would know, I’m an author. But I’m also an editor for a small publishing company. Here’s one common writing mistake that can mean the death of a novel.  

“Let’s jumble this sentence, add as many words, commas, etc, but not in the right places, and make this sentence as long as possible because, well, I don’t really know why, but I forgot I was still on the same sentence.”

Watch your words. A few EXQUISITE words are a whole lot better than a bucketload of kinda-okay words. One of the marks of a good writer is that he/she knows how to use words powerfully enough to use only a few and communicate a LOT. Uncertain and amateur writers get self-conscious about their choices of words, and say basically the same thing more than once.

Examples always help.

“I truly believe and think that there will always be a place and loving arms for AKC registered poodles in any home or residence in the world, because poodles, like many cats or dogs, are cute, adorable, kind, affectionate, and cuddly.”

Here’s how I would edit this sentence:

I truly believe and think that there (You never need to say “I believe/think.” This whole article is what you think. It’s understood)There will always be a place and loving arms for AKC registered (who cares?) poodles in any home or residence (this is basically a repeat, cluttering up the sentence and gunning down it’s power) in the world, because poodles, like many cats or dogs, (yes, it’s true, but everyone knows that, no need to say it) are cute, adorable, kind, affectionate, (watch out for comma-ridden descriptions, they tend to repeat themselves and get boring really fast) and cuddly.”

“There will always be a place for poodles in any home, because poodles are cute and cuddly.”

If you’re yawning at the end of your own sentence, something’s wrong. It’s tough, but if you want to get better, watch your word count and cut, cut, cut, ruthlessly. At the beginning, I was scared of cutting because I wanted to fill a book. But a filled book is worthless if it’s half full of junk words. Short is better than long.

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Feedback for “The Artist”

So one of my old friends recently bought a book (Yaayyyy!!) and emailed me the other day with this:

“We have been really enjoying reading it at bedtime and any other time momma’s hands are dry!  I love the art and the note to your readers at the end especially,  it made us feel like you, as the author, actually cared and you weren’t just some distant random person out to make a buck! God bless you on your adventures.”

Thanks so much, Gwyn!!

Review for “The Artist and the Clay”

This almost made me cry. One of my friends shared “The Artist” with her daycare students, ages 5-9, and asked them what they thought. “Awesomest book ever!” “Total epicness” “She is one of the bestest writers ever!” “I liked her letter to us at the end.” Diana said, “It has already become a favorite for them and we tied it to the scripture too.” -Diana Herzog and the God’s Giants class of All God’s Children Childcare.

This made my day and my night and probably my week, too. 😀 That’s why we do it.

P.S. I got my first book signing!!!! In Nampa, ID, at Pearson’s Twice Sold Tales, on Saturday, Aug 15, from 10am-2pm!!!! 😀

Why I Wrote the Book

Before and during college, I struggled a lot with what I was supposed to do, career-wise. Though prayer and Bible reading, I came to this conclusion: God creates people different from each other, with unique gifts and talents. He did that for a reason, and it’s a good thing. Throughout the Bible, God talks about forming us like a Potter forms clay, and compares us to a body, with different parts with different purposes.

So I thought this idea was worth sharing. But how would I explain this concept to my little niece or nephew? Ergo, the story was born. I was (and still am) exploring my artistic talent, so I started drawing pictures to go with the story, just for the joy of creating beautiful spaces. Matt encouraged me, and I came up with something decent.

I’ve gotten some amazing encouragement from people who read the story, and now the book is printed and available on Amazon.com or from me personally. All proceeds will go towards my next book and a new project called the Genesis! game that my husband and I are working on.

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One of the Best Books on Writing EVER

I don’t get a percentage of this or anything. I just thought of it the other day and thought it worthy of sharing to all the aspiring writers out there.

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Yeah, it’s for news writing, but I picked it up for $1 once when I was, like, 16, and it propelled my writing to entire new heights. 🙂 Good writing is good writing, regardless of if it’s for news or a fiction book. I especially remember their section on descriptions. And, of course, if you want to get your writing start in journalism, this is perfect for you.

Defending Jacob – Book Review

LANDAY_DefendingJacob-FINALWhat happens when someone we know to be innocent is accused of a crime? As the evidence stacks up, we start to doubt ourselves. There is no way… right?

Defending Jacob is an a legal mystery novel. Author William Landay knows how to write. I was pulled along and kept wondering. Then he kind of twists and breaks off at the end… but I would give it away if I told you how it made me feel.

Negative Elements: some use of profanity, a couple of uses of the f-word and others scattered here and there. This goes with the adult nature of descriptions of the awful crime and some talk about some sexual things one of the suspects liked to engage in. Our protagonist also doesn’t have much faith in the justice system in America, which leaves us feeling slightly cynical and wondering if the court system is just a big game run by lawyers and is won by the people who play the best, not the ones who are innocent.

Positive Elements: This book left me thinking about people who were accused of crime. Even if they are let off the hook, we are always left with that doubt. The foundations of our world and our beliefs can be shaken with new information or convincing arguments. This has a lot of implications. The most obvious is that we think of people differently when they are accused of a crime, even if they are later shown to be innocent. The thought of the crime never quite leaves our mind. The second is that faith can be turned to doubt by convincing arguments, and a lot of times we need to look into things ourselves if we want to find the truth.

Bottom line: I would rate this book PG-18, just because of a bit of the language and some of the other elements. Landay is a good storyteller, and I think I was left with all the feelings and thoughts that he intended to leave me with. It took me on all the turns and climaxes a good story does take you on. It wasn’t a classic happy ending. But, in a way, crimes never should, because they don’t end happy. Regardless of how it happened or who they were, someone was still killed. But I don’t regret reading the book. It was well-written.

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