Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Why Your Young Adult Manuscript Flushes Down the Toilet of Fail: A Rant

Let me explain something about teenagers. They are not cranky and crabby all of the time. They are not self-absorbed and callous. In fact, they have more joy inside than do adults. When their interest is caught, they follow learning with a fierceness and determination that adults no longer have.

I can state these things as fact because I have three teens in the house. (At one time I had five which is certain to have been illegal in several states.) The reason your YA manuscript isn’t going over is because you are writing teens as the enemy.  So let’s lay this out.

Children are short adults with no money.

Teenagers are young adults with more spendable income than their parents.

You’re writing young adults like they are some foreign tribe on a hidden continent. They’re not the Lost Boys in Never land. They don’t dance around the fire shaking spears and planning to stab-dead every adult they see.

Sure there are psycho teens out there killing people and running away and doing drugs—whatever. Those kids would like your dark and angry characters. Pretty much those teens won’t be reading your book, because of them being all busy with their psychotic murders.

I don’t remember when my thinking jumped from child to teen to adult. Mostly, my brain has been the same. My favorite birthday cake is still the same one my mom made when I was six.  I still like a lot of the things that brought me joy when I was little—a fire in the fireplace, a hug, the wonder of the leaves changing in the fall.

The point is that when I was a teen, I had joy. So totally quit writing these teenagers that are like the cranky neighbor who yells for kids to get off his lawn. Teenagers are like you only they don’t pay rent or utility bills. (There see—they automatically have better lives.)

They’re people. You’re people. Same/Same.

If you don't actually like teenagers, you shouldn't write YA.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Yes You Do Need an Editor

When I finally got to the place in my writing where my future agent of awesome had asked for revisions, I was ambushed by fear. My beta group at that time was at the same writing level as I was. None of us had an agent and none of us were published.

So I hired an editor.

She saw all the bits that I thought were good enough but that were still at a lower level of professionalism. She pointed out where she went all WTF IS THIS??!!  A new pair of eyes saw all of the flaws that my crazy writer brain missed. There were a lot—like hundreds or maybe thousands.  I fixed them all well enough to sign with my dream agent.

Guys, there is no way under heaven that you can write your own book, and edit out the flaws without another opinion. (Family doesn’t count. Of course your momma loves your book.) The problem is that we seldom have friends who are at a higher writing level than we are. Published authors tend to hang together. (Mostly because they don’t want to be harassed for an introduction to their agent or editor.)  Uber- ginormous published authors have beta readers that they can trust and they have tons of deadlines so you can’t bother them. Seriously, don’t do it because RUDE.

But what you can do is to either BEG someone better than you to read or, you can hire an editor.

After you have worn out your Beta group, you need a content editor first. A content editor points out the best ways to make your characters shine. They tell you where you’re wandering off into the swamp of the muddy middle. They also tell you where you make their brain go into a seizure trying to figure out WTF is going on. They fall into the plot-holes so your readers don’t.

If you’re serious about writing, hire a content editor. You’ll learn stuff. If you absolutely can’t afford it then find every contest, drawing, and auction you can and get a professional edit.

There are a lot of agented writers who do editing work. I do and you can see all of the prices and things here. http://jrbutcher.blogspot.com/2013/04/i-can-tell-you-why-your-manuscript.html or you can email me at juliebutcheredits@yahoo.com

 The lovely Authoress Anonymous does and you can find her rates here. http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/2007/01/authoress-edits.html  She is awesome and has been my critique partner for a while. You’ll love her.

After you’ve fixed all of the things that your content editor pointed out, you need a line editor.
Don’t argue with me because YES YOU DO. Unless you are a professional editor, you absolutely will not find all of the problems. Even if you are an editor your own brain still sees your story as it wants it to be, not as someone else sees it. Habits sneak up on the best of us, bad habits, evil habits. The comma fairy will come when you are asleep and poop all over your manuscript and you won’t even notice.

I use Richard Shealy  as a line editor and you can find him at http://sffcopyediting.com/index.php/who/  Even if you’re not writing scifi or fantasy, give him an email.

So let’s review the order of how we edit our finished manuscript.
1.       Have a beta group of readers
2.       Hire a content editor
3.       Fix all of the things
4.       Hire a line editor
5.       Submit your work to agents and editors.
6.       Get an agent or a publisher
Start all over again

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Reason I Unfollow You on Social Media

It's not you, it's me.

Seriously, I don't consider myself either a liberal or a conservative. I do, however have certain likes and dislikes. I also have a houseful of teenagers to whom I feel a responsibility as role model. These are the major reasons I make social media friends go away.

1.    I’m a mom. I enjoy parenthood and adore my six children. I have no problem with people who have decided that they don’t want children. They’re free to do as they wish.  I do have a problem with people who insult families and belittle what I consider to be my greatest accomplishment. I don’t call people stupid or say that they are trash because of their decision to not have children or traditional families. I absolutely will not have the aggravation of seeing these posts.

You guys have the right to live your lives and speak your beliefs. I have the right to not see them and feel insulted.

2.    Everyone knows that Erotica is popular now. If people want to write it, I hope they do it well and make a gerjillion dollars. Really I do.  Good on them! I especially think it is the awesomesauce that Sylvia Day has gotten so popular because she is a sweetie-pie and she deserves lovely things.

That said, for some odd reason that I do not comprehend, some erotica fans/writers seem to think it is cool to post and tweet extremely graphic scenes and quotes—before I have my morning coffee. I am subjected to naked pictures and descriptive terms that I personally never use. It grosses me out. I mean seriously, EWWWWWWWWWWW! If I wanted naked I would have stayed in the bed. I didn’t get six children by not knowing what a penis is, mkay?

3.    Everyone has a bad day, or week, or sometimes a whole terrible month. Some people have a terrible and angry life. I’m sorry that this is how they see the world. I personally cannot see their negativity day after day and be a positive person. So I choose to surround myself online with people who can see the sunrise. Since many of my real life friends I have met online, I like to keep the optimists close. They and I might hit it off someday.

4.    Profanity is a choice. I cuss as much as the next guy—in real life and when I’m not around children and old people. I choose not to in writing and on the internet where kids might see it. I have children.  I don’t want them to use profanity as the major part of their vocabulary. I don’t want teachers to email me that inappropriate terms are used in papers or at school. I don’t want to teach other people’s children to curse. Of course I expect everyone to slip once in a while. Just not in every freaking post.

5.    When my children were small, whining was a problem. I used to pretend that I was deaf and unable to hear a whining tone of voice. Unfortunately, the internet is an easy place to whine and poor-mouth and it gets on my last nerve. Everyone has a bad day but some people make it a lifestyle and I choose not to attend pity-parties.

6.   I understand that people are proud of what they write. I also understand that you have friends and that you need to support their books. But, if you post nothing but ads and links and even worse, with eighty-eleven hashtags on each post, I’m out of there.

Life is what you make it people and I apologize if my de-friending or un-following hurts your feelings . You have the right to post as you wish and I have the right not to see it.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Back to the Future or Past or Whatever

When I was in first grade, a substitute teacher started reading us Little House in the Big Woods. The next day, our regular teacher was back, and I didn't know what had happened to Ma, and Pa, and Mary and Laura!

I was devastated until my mother ordered the books. That series turned me into a reader.

Today I took the log cabin my dad built for me, and a new copy of Little House, and visited my nieces and nephew. They loved it, and me.

It was awesome!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I Don't Do Copy Edits, But I Know Who Does

Okay guys, you know I do content editing but I don't have the skill to do copy editing. You can find all kinds of people running about on the Internet saying they do have those skills. Anyway, I thought some of you might need those services in the near future. (I've been reading some awesome manuscripts.)

Or, some of you might not want me to do your content editing because I eat a lot of cake or whatever. Also because I might be just a little crazy. (Six children worth of crazy and I earned every zapped-out molecule.)

So without any further fanfare, here are two people I would trust with my money and my manuscripts. They are both brilliant and have worked with a lot of popular published authors. They can copy edit. I can't.

A lot of you know Authoress Anonymous and her awesome website Miss Snark's First Victim. If you're a writer you should go there immediately. She has some of the most awesome agent and editor contests ever! She also works as an independent editor. Her editorial services and prices are listed. She only does partials at the moment and I do believe that there will soon be a way where (for a price and in an emergency) you can jump the queue.

http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/2007/01/authoress-edits.html I personally recommend her. We've been friends and critique partners for years. Your manuscript can only get better in her hands.

The second person I'd like to recommend is Richard Shealy. He specializes in fantasy and science fiction and works professionally for some of the big six publishers. I personally know the big names he beta reads for,(no I won't tell you ) and guarantee that he'll keep all of those pesky ducks (or dragons) marching in a nice row. He is excellent at keeping you voice yours, and he will line edit your work until it shines like gold.

I think the science fiction and fantasy writers know how difficult it is to find someone who understands your world and the rules. He can do it. His website is here. http://sffcopyediting.com/

Of course you can have me wearing my bossy pants for content edits.

Both of the above people are personal friends and I have no doubts guaranteeing their integrity.

Friday, June 28, 2013

SEKRIT Swingers or What I do on the Weekend.

 My youngest is now a teenager and for a while now, our poor old swing set has crouched in the back yard. Its chains were rusty, the slide was on the ground somewhere and it looked quite pitiful. I've tried and tried to get the dear husband to let me sell it or give it away. But, he couldn'l let go.
Then last weekend, he realized that our twin, six-year-old nieces had no swing set.

I called my sister to see if they'd like to have it. She knew it needed paint, and swings, and possibly a walker with tennis balls on the legs, and she still agreed.

This got the husband and I to thinking about when we had three small-ish kids and how hard it was to finish a project. My sister and her family left on vacation that night and we put our plan into action.

Before I was awake, the husband had purchased new swings and chains. Now the only problem was taking it apart and hauling it on a flat-bed trailer the quarter of a mile to my sisters house. Once there, we realized that the spot where the swingset would live was on a very hilly part of the yard.

Out came the shovels and my husband's levels of doom. Twelve hours later, the swing set was moved and tested by the largest people we could find. My husband and two of my sons. We figured that if 450 pounds worth of swinging couldn't tip the set over, three smallish humans couldn't either

The next day we scraped all of the old paint off, hoovered the yard with the shop-vac (I seem to remember small people wanting to eat paint) And put a new face on the old girl.

Luckily the Home Depot people were able to exactly match the paint. My sister and her family were gone and we couldn't call them to see if they had leftover house paint because it was a secret project and supposed to be a surprise! Here is the awesome hubster and two of my daughters, It was a real family project.

After we were finished (12 more hours on Sunday) I sent this picture to my sister and then called her to say surprise!

There was much squealing and screaming of small people.

Like this,

It was worth every minute.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Bacon Poem

Middle son was out of poem ideas so he told a friend, "Quick, give me a subject!" The results are below.

Slipping into dreams I slept,
To wake up in the morn'.
Down the creaky stairs I crept,
Feeling sore and worn.

Much to my surprise I see,
My nose was not mistaken.
Someone went ahead and cooked,
A plate of precious bacon.

My stomach rumbled like a storm,
I went forth with delight.
But then I shed a single tear,
I woke up in the night.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

To all of the RT 2013 Authors

Thank You!

To the Adult Writers

My girls were the ones asking you if they were old enough to read your books. Thank you for taking the time to chat with them. You made them feel important. The swag you gave them is proudly displayed on the bookself in my daughter's room. They remember your names, and your books, better than I do. I know that they aren't your readers yet, but you can bet your buttons that they will be. So, thank you for making them look forward to reading in the future.

To the YA Authors

You were awesome personified. My daughter and her friends came away with bragging rights that will last for years. At the bookstore, the youngest points out the books that are yours and remembers exactly what you told them about the plot. (You're costing me a mint!) She remembers each face, and what you said, and how you really listened to her questions. She tells friends that they MUST READ your book because you are so cool. I have never seen happier eighth grade girls. They felt wanted and needed, and felt like their opinions mattered.

They came away from Teen Day feeling great about themselves and looking forward to a summer with your stories. As a mother I thank you. You made my job easier.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Evil League of Evil Writers: Baby Evil Writers 101: Finding a Reputable Agent #...

Evil League of Evil Writers: Baby Evil Writers 101: Finding a Reputable Agent #...:
Baby Evil Writers 101: Finding a Reputable Agent Step #1

Once you’ve finished a manuscript, it’s easy to jump right into sending hundreds of letters to literary agents. Maybe you get a list from a friend, or sign up for a website that lists agents who represent the genre of book that you write. They’re an agent and so inherently have the evil goodness that you’re searching for, right?

Not so my sweet minions of evil.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I Killed the Crockpot But I Didn't Shoot the Refugee

So today was the big day for my high school kids. The entire school dresses like turn of the century immigrants and they go through the processing at Ellis Island (the school gym) like their ancestors did. We spent yesterday getting costumes together.

The kids asked me to make Russian Piroshki, which are fried meat pies. So after working my patotie off on costumes, I stayed up until midnight prepping the meat, eggs, onions, etc so the actual cooking of the pies would be easy for this morning.

My youngest son, Gabe.

This is my middle daughter Ellie----->

 This morning I was up at dark o'clock to make the piroshki. I rolled dough and filled pies and fried them up. There was plenty of time, we even had five minutes to sit before we had to load up the crock pot and drive to school.

We didn't make it out the door. (insert scene of wild panic). Glass was everywhere, the floor, the counters and most of all it was fallen into the peroshki.

The phone rang and my youngest had forgotten her lunch. The dogs were in the glass trying to get the meat.

Well, by then we were running late. The kids piled into the car, I grabbed the dogs, one on a leash and one without, threw a lunch together for youngest daughter, and made it to the car.

Since bringing food is a part of the grade for Ellis Island, the high school kids were freaked.

I dropped the immigrants at their school and sped over to the grade school to drop off lunch. Then The dogs and I went to the grocery, picked up more ingredients, and sped home. But when I got here, the Lowe's truck was unloading my new washing machine. So I parked across the street. One dog was on the leash, one was under my arm like a purse and my other arm had the groceries.

The dog's hind leg got stuck in the waistband of my sweat pants and I pretty much mooned the delivery guys on my way in the door. Seriously, I did. They may never marry having had a preview of the coming attractions of middle age.

So then I had to roll out and make another four dozen Piroshki. Of course, since the crock pot was smashed and gone to Jesus, there was the ginormous hunt for the missing electric pancake griddle. (It was the only thing big enough to heat a turkey-roaster pan full of meat pies-- because cold fried pie is nasty.)

Finally, I actually managed to deliver the Piroshki to school. Now the immigrants won't starve and I may be a hero.

Noon: This just in. Middle daughter tweeted me that the piroshki was the first food to be eaten gone! We win at lunch.

3PM: The pancake griddle evidently caught a chair on fire. 0-O

Monday, March 4, 2013

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Head-banger Writing

Sometimes I think it would be easier to stand and bang your head against a brick wall that it is to be a writer. I mean, think about it. Head-banging only requires a head, a wall, and the courage to get ‘er done.  There could only be three outcomes. Your head would break, the wall would crumble, or you’d pass out stone cold.
Some days I’d rather bash my noggin than try to pull words out of the knot inside.

I may seriously need chocolate.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Now You Can BUY EVIL!

The Evil League of Evil Writers are auctioning off goods and services to help Crestline Elementary School which burned to the ground.

You can find everything from signed books to the awesome writer mentorship. If you've ever wanted the opinion and help of professional writers, now is your chance to bid on a 3 month mentorship, critiques, and help on your query letters. Go from good to EVIL and AWESOME.
The auction is at http://evilauction.blogspot.com

About Crestline

Crestline Elementary was a fabulous school. How do we know this? Ask Lilith Saintcrow.

In her words:

This is the school where the office staff knows every student’s name and the teachers pour their souls–and most of their paychecks–into every kid in every class, not just their own. This is the school where any adult that’s not known on sight AND carrying a red volunteer badge or sticker is clustered by very polite but inflexible staff and volunteers, to be escorted to the office to sign in. It’s the school a ten-year-old boy loves so much he’s excited on Sunday night because Monday means he can go back. The place was held together by the steady commitment of teachers and office staff, who made it work with spit and baling wire some days, and volunteers who pitched in where they could even after their kids went on to other schools. 
This is the school where nobody goes home until all the kids are accounted for at the end of the day.
An extraordinary school indeed.

On Sunday, February 3, Crestline Elementary burned to the ground.

Literally. Nothing's left of the building itself.

The classrooms. The library. Where these kids played and learned, where staff taught and worked.

Everything gone.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

Crazy Winter Blues Busters

It’s that time of year again. The lovely sugar rush from the holidays is gone, replaced with the slow agony of dropping those cheesecake-filled pounds. Read the rest at Buzzy Mag.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Joy of Quiet Things and Puppies

I double-dog dare you not to find Buffy the Vampire-Slayer Von Doom adorable sleeping with her unicorn.

It's the little things.