Monday, August 29, 2011

The thing about editing...

I know, I know-- I talk about editing a lot. Could be because I'm an editor, could be because it's so important. I fully acknowledge that I'm OCD about it. I cannot turn off the inner editor and too many times that ruins what might be a perfectly fine story for me. Little things like a miss-used word, too many adverbs or a lack of "flow" send me into howls of despair. And more often than not, result in me not finishing the story or book or novella. I just can't do it. I like to think I'm not the only one who has this problem. It might be genetic because my sister and my kids pick up on it too.

But I'm fully ready to admit that I do not know everything. (Well, no one KNOWS everything, even those who like to think they do.) And I too, can benefit from editing. I know this. My critique partner points it out. And if I hadn't already know it, it was recently proven to me. A facebook friend took my Friday flash, "A Whore Named Josie" and edited it for me. He managed to cut out those 150 words that I thought were absolutely essential. Did I agree with all of it? No, of course not. But I did agree with most of it and even learned a thing or three. He did what good editors do-- he took my story and made it shine. I liked it so much that I sent him another story of mine to edit and he sent me one of his. (Because the writing world should totally operate on a bartering for services basis, if you ask me.) This time? I liked most of it, rewrote the story and we were both happy with the outcome.

That's how your relationship with a good editor should work. They aren't out to rewrite your story themselves (hell, I do NOT have time for that!), they want to make suggestions and help you rewrite your story into one you are both proud to have worked on. They will find your diamond in the rough and help you polish it. Please remember this when hiring or dealing with an editor.

Sure I know that's money you could spend on other things. But working with an editor before you publish should not be optional. I just told you that even editors (who are trained to catch mistakes, plot holes and sloppy writing) need editors. No one can catch all of their own mistakes. And beta readers are great, but they are not a substitute for an editor. I'm always amazed at the things that beta readers did not catch. Publishing your book with a clean, mistake free, polished manuscript will gain you respect from your readers and other writers. Hurriedly putting something out just because you can too often results in your book not being all that it can be. You will lose readers and respect. No one wants that. And no one wants that for you.

So barter the services, spend the money or beg-- but get that book, story, novella-- edited. Because you're worth it. And so is your manuscript.


PS- if an editor sends you a request for a rewrite on a submission or suggested editorial changes, try to realize that we are doing our job, not judging your work or being mean or insulting you. We want the same thing you do-- for your work to shine.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Meet Sam Williams

I met Sam Williams through email. I edited his new short story collection, Tales from The Swollen Corpse. It was a great experience. Sam was easy to work with and he's very talented. You can read my review of his book over at See Spot Read. For those of you who enjoy short story collections I highly recommend this one. And it's currently priced at 99 cents. So worth it!

Now, about Sam~

1.)    How long have you been writing?
A long time but only the last two years seriously with the desire to put it out there for everyone to see.

2.)    Do you write full time or do you have another job? If so, what is it?
I wish. During my 9 to5 I work in customer service/sales for a major prosthetic manufacturer, specializing in lower limb prosthesis. Also my wife and I are the proud parents of a rambunctious three year old, which is a full time job in itself.

3.)    Is this your first published collection?
Yes and hopefully not the last.

4.)    What made you decide to go the Indie route?
A few things: Short stories have the limited market of genre mags and anthologies with multiple authors. I have had some luck getting into both but wanted my own collection and to be a no name and have a collection you pretty much need to go indy. Also I am big fan of the indy movement. The abundance of new fresh voices was what converted me from the closed minded (if it’s not paper it’s not a book) person I used to be. Now I understand (and preach) eBooks are an addition to your reading diet and any good diet should have variety. And like the indy music stores I spent so much time in in my youth, if your are up for the task of digging you’re bound to find something that blows your mind.

5.)     What is it you like about writing short stories? What would you say the challenges with this form are?
I like the freedom, the freedom to be more abstract and leave a little more to the imagination, which is very important to horror. The challenges like conveying a lot with little, is part of the fun for me.

6.)    What scares you personally? Do you have any silly phobias?
Anything that would jeopardize the health or safety of my son. I think becoming a parent puts priorities and fears in a broader selfless prospective.

7.)    What is your writing routine?
Late at night in front of my old desk top, door closed, kid in bed and headphones on listening to two songs (always the same two) on repeat.

8.)    Have you always been a fan of horror?
Oh yeah and that’s where the love for it comes from, it’s a form of nostalgia. Horror at its core is about fear. As an adult you know real fears and they are not entertainment. But in a scary story you are trying to recapture those feelings you got watching the midnight movie as a kid, that weird mix of excitement and mystery. 

9.)    What other authors inspire you?
The guys that everyone mentions (and deserve it so): King, Barker, Lovecraft. I also love and read a lot of horror comics from writers like Steve Niles. And I love cult classic lit like Hunter Thompson and Jack Kerouac.  A huge inspiration from childhood are the stories and are in the three original “Scary stories to tell in the dark” by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell.

10.) What advice would you give to newbie writers out there?
Always appreciate criticism it’s invaluable. But be aware of where it comes from. It should be a tool for improvement but criticism that’s negative for the sake of being negative as well as overly positive is useless.
Oh and get a good editor.


A little back-story on me and TSC
I grew up reading and watching the creature feature. I loved reading things like Scary stories to tell after dark, the old EC/creepy comics, and magazines like Monsters Attack. Of course my tastes grew as I did but I never lost love for these types of stories.
In October 2010 after having a hard time (outside of comics) finding the pulp horror stories I craved, I started writing my own. I created a blog called
 The stories found in it are for grownups and range from lighthearted to very dark. 
Tales from the swollen corpse can be found at:



And on iTunes.



Hope you enjoyed meeting Sam as much as I have.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Meet S. Alini

I met author S. Alini through email. And I decided to review his Young Adult fiction book, The Strange Journal of the Boy Henry. You can read my review over at See Spot Read. Please do. I can wait...

Back? Awesome. You totally want to read it now, don't you? You should. You'll enjoy it! Okay, on with the questions because enquiring minds want to know, right?

1)How long have you been writing novels?

Hard to say because I’ve also done cartoons and screenplays over the past seventeen years.But I think I’ve written children’s books for eight years now.

2.)   Do you write full time or do you have a day job?

I trade stocks when I’m sufficiently foolish and gullible.

3.)   Is this your first published novel?

No,I’ve published four others:

Aaaack the Duck
Tired of mistreatment by humans, a feisty little duckling named Aaaack decides he’s going to become a Lawyer so he can set things right.

Aaaack in School: Book2
In this, the second in the series, Aaaack makes his way to school to fulfill his dream.

Effie the Magician
Seven year old Effie just can’t keep from getting into trouble. When she finds herGrandmother’s Secret Book of Magic and a Wand, things really get nutty.

Eight year old Isaac saves up and buys a SuperBurger. Then goes to incredible lengths to hide it so he doesn’t have to share with his family.

4.)   What made you decide to go the Indie route?

I realized, early on, that I was too good for the big traditional publishers. I kid. No, they decided they were too good for me. Actually I came real close twice. Editors at Random and Harper got excited about two different books. Then each found reason to decline. But I’m glad now, because I get a bigger percentage of sales and I own all rights.

5.)   What made you decide to write middle grade novels?

I’m passionate about kids reading, and felt it was important to write stories that amuse and entertain them.

6.)   What scares you personally? Do you have any silly phobias?

Snakes. Sshhhhhh… they might be listening.

7.)   What is your writing routine?

I have no routine. I write when I feel passionate about a particular story or situation. I don’t force it because I don’t like the result when it’s forced.

8.)   What genre would you classify your writing?

Not sure. My writing is generally humorous. Even in The Strange Journal of The Boy Henry, which is a suspenseful, scary kind of story, I have funny characters.

9.)   What other authors inspire you?

JudyBlume, Louis Sachar, Mark Twain, Akhil Sharma, Irvine Welsh.

10.)What advice would you give to newbie writers out there?

You’re never gonna make it so just quit. I don’t need the competition. No, I’d say keep at it. Electronic publishing has opened up the world for writers. We can reach readers another timezone away. The possibilities are endless. So keep reading and keep writing.


I live in Atlanta, Ga. I like it because it’s the greenest (as in trees and grass) city I’ve ever been in. Also it seems to have cultural activities every weekend. I’ve written various things for many years. Started off with short stories, moved to cartoons, then screenplays (which got me an agent), then eventually children’s books. I spend my time swimming, playing soccer or watching independent films.

Twitter: @SanAlini
Facebook: San Alini

The Strange Journal of the Boy Henry can be purchased on the Amazon Kindle:

Hope you enjoyed meeting San Alini. I did. And look forward to more books in the future!