Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Editor for a Day with Guest Blogger: Heather Kuehl

The Book Boost welcomes author Heather Kuehl to discuss all things editworthy!

Stay tuned to read all about her book
Promises to Keep!

Here's what she had to say...

There is nothing I hate more than editing. Out of everything a writer does, editing is by far the most time consuming pain I’ve had to deal with. Now, I’m not saying that my first draft is perfect. It’s not. My first drafts are usually littered with misspellings and minor plot holes that need to be filled. However when I’m finished writing that first draft, I feel like I’m finished. The journey is over, the bad guy is dead, and every one is living happily ever after. My brain wants to move on to the next project, not tweak the current one.

After whining and complaining for years about this, I discovered a way to get around my almost-violent hatred for editing. I move on to my next project and let the manuscript sit for a month or so. When I’m either finished the new project, or have a case of writer’s block, I will take out that sitting manuscript and edit it. By then the characters and plot are not so fresh in my mind and my brain doesn’t yell at me that we’ve already killed the bad guy, why must we do this again! It’s still hard to sit down and do, but it helps.

My editing process consists of three steps:

1) The first step is doing a quick read through. Catch those spelling errors and plot holes, but use sticky notes to make a quick note about the hole so I can come back to it later. Then I get onto the computer (I always edit a hard copy) and make the changes. When I come to the plot hole I see what my note said. Does this hole affect the rest of the story, and fixing it will mean fixing the entire document to match?

2) Enter step two. Again, I print up a hard copy of the story so my eyes don’t melt out of my skull from staring at the computer screen, and I start making notes about what to change where. Sometimes I use different colors of ink if there are multiple plot problems, but usually I just stick with red. It’s easier to find and see when you get back on the computer later to fix the document.

3) Finally, the final read through. Catch those problems you missed earlier. But in most cases, even with the three steps you haven’t caught everything. I know that by the third step I just about have the entire manuscript memorized and can easily miss even the most obvious thing. Get a friend or a family member to read over your manuscript. I get my mom to read over mine and she always catches things that I have missed.

It’s still a pain to edit, but I don’t hate it as much as I used to. Letting the manuscript sit and then doing my three-step-editing works really well for me. What works well for you?

A Note from the Book Boost: Oooh, I have this problem when it gets down to your chance for the final read through before going to print. I just know I'm going to miss something that I'll regret or obsess about later BUT I find it so hard to read the darned thing AGAIN! I can relate. Thanks for joining us. Won't you please share more about you and your book?

Heather Kuehl was born near the Great Lakes, but made her way to South Carolina where she lives to this day. While working at her local library, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree and worked on her writing. She is the author of Promises to Keep and Fade to Black (#1 Bestseller in fantasy eBooks on as well as numerous short stories and poems.


Starlette is on a mission, and nothing will get in her way. Starlette DeFore knows that her father is alive, even though her family buried him ten years ago. When a faerie confirms this she travels to Charleston, South Carolina to hunt down Sivad Night, the only person to have ever escaped from the hands of a powerful sorceress, the Dark Lady Dreashae. With help from a witch, Starlette travels into Verella, a fantasy realm filled with centaurs, dragons and magic. She is very close to finding her father, but first must defeat Dreashae. Will Starlette, a mere mortal, have the strength needed to finish her quest and save her father?


I looked up to the sky, at the rainbow-colored dragons trying to kill one another.

“Wow, talk about your bad divorce,” I said to no one in particular.

“This isn’t funny, Star.”

“I don’t think it is.” A green dragon was scorched, wings ruined. It fell down, spiraling until it hit the ground with a sickening crunch. “We have to do something.” I said my thoughts aloud. I knew the dragons were not our friends. They wouldn’t help us in our time of need. But there was no reason we couldn’t help them.

“Sivad, get on Zarzia. We have to get to the highest point on this island.”

“Starlette, that would be suicide!”

“I don’t care. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if they died and I didn’t try to help.”

Sivad looked up once again, his jaw clenching when another dragon fell from the sky. His eyes met mine as he nodded curtly. We mounted Zarzia, her wings lifting us up into the air. It was no surprise to me that the highest point was the top of Lady Cleoante’s throne room. I reached into my bag of hairpins and pulled them out. A large red dragon flew past us, whipping my hair about my face.

“Which one is Kalin?” I shouted above the din of the battle. Sivad pointed at the large red dragon that had just flown over us.

So that was Kalin. He spiraled around and flew toward us again. As he passed, I threw one of the hairpins. I hadn’t had much practice with throwing a knife. My hit rate was only one out of ten. It never hurt to try, though. The hairpin flew up with deadly accuracy, finding its home in the red dragon’s eye. He screamed, flapping around and pin-wheeling through the sky. I knew it wasn’t a mortal wound as the dragon regained his balance, turned around and headed straight toward us. Zarzia landed and I ran to the gap that led into Lady Cleoante’s throne room. I was just praying that the drop wasn’t too far. I jumped, my heart going up in my throat as I fell through the hole and onto the large stone slab that was Lady Cleoante’s throne. My legs went numb and I collapsed, gasping for breath. I needed to move. I heard a dragon scream, a sound that would forever haunt me in my nightmares.

I rolled off the slab onto the stone floor. My legs still didn’t want to cooperate and I had to force myself to crawl toward the exit. I needed to get out of here before Kalin came after me. The earth started to tremble again and I wondered if the island would survive this battle. I heard the echoing of footsteps walking toward me.

“Sivad!” I cried out. I wondered how he had gotten down here so quickly.

A man with thick black hair stood in front of me. He would have had iridescent red and brown eyes, except one of them was nothing but a bloody mass. I tried to stand to run, but nothing happened. I must have jarred my legs pretty good. Kalin didn’t miss a step as he walked over and kicked me, sending me flying into the wall behind Lady Cleoante’s throne. My head hit the wall, causing spots to burst across my vision. I lay on the floor, trying to reorient myself, but Kalin grabbed a handful of my hair and dragged me to my feet. His face was only inches from mine. I shifted around and found my feet were now agreeing to work. I lashed out, kicking him in the knee as hard as I could. He fell to the ground, releasing my hair as he went. I turned and ran, trying to get some distance between the angry dragon-man and me. I reached in my bag, pulling out another hairpin but cried out in pain as I was once again grabbed by the hair and forced back.

Kalin, with his hands on my shoulders, roughly turned me around to face him. Without thinking, I struck, imbedding the hairpin in his chest. It went in all the way to the decorative jewel. Kalin howled in pain, shoving me back so he could rip out the hairpin. His hand swung out, backhanding me across the face and causing me to land in a heap on the floor, once again seeing stars. I reached out, trying to crawl away. Kalin shimmered and transformed back into his red dragon form. I screamed as he opened his fang-filled jaws with a roar and struck out at me.

Want More Heather?

Visit Heather's website here:
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Pick up your copy of Promises to Keep here.


Heather Kuehl said...

Thank you again for having me on The Book Boost today. I agree, those final read throughs are killer.

Margaret West said...

Oh my goodness, I am so with you heather. I HATE editing. I get so bored with reading my books for the third, fourth time, my eyes close by themselves in dispair!!!

Editing, it should be banned!!!!

Lorrie said...

Hi Heather, nice post on the editing that can really be a pain in the butt at times.
Question. For short stories, to work on hard copies is fine. But, what about novels? That's a lot of paper, especially if after editing once, you print again to edit the third time.
How do authors handle the expense of all the ink and paper? Just curious since I do almost all on my computer. I may learn something here. lol.

Kelly A. Harmon said...

Great post, Heather.

I work very similarly to you, but I take the extra step of reading aloud while I edit. I catch a lot of the over looked mistakes by doing so.

Also: it helps with flow and word choice (especially dialogue) when I read it out loud. I sometimes make significant changes.

Lorrie: To save paper, I'll sometimes print on the back side of an older hard copy. I print in "draft mode" to save on the ink. HTH.

hollie said...

ok so maybe i'm weird but i love editing, not that i have much experience and i'm not an author so all i do is bits for friends but it is my ambition to become an editor at a publisher. not sure i'm that good yet though.

good luck with your editing


C.J.Gabriel said...

Nice blog entry, Heather! I'm right there with you on the editing...I even saw a mistake (or two) in the final printed edition of my novel! I think that as long as the story is good, and holds a reader's attention from start to finish, a small error might not deterr them from enjoying the novel...However I'm such a perfectionist, it just bugs the crap outta me when I miss something!

hugs to you, girl!


Janine said...

I use the AutoCrit Editing Wizard to make the editing process more bearable. It really helps me find those things that my eyes just skip over.

Heather Kuehl said...

Hey everyone! Thanks for stopping by.

Lorrie - I often print on the backside of old hard copies. As for the cost of paper, I buy the cheaper "Copy" paper from Walmart. It's about $3 for a pack of 500 sheets, and it's always going on sale. The thing that kills me is the cost of ink to print everything.

Kelly - I read aloud when reading through the final draft before it goes to print. I occasionally find an error, but I've found that my mind has it memorized from the other million times I read it. It does help though.

CJ - I used to be a perfectionist, but that was before I started getting my work published. I wanted it perfect before I sent it out, but that lead to me never submitting anything. Not good. So now I just try my best and hope it all turns out for the best. And it has. :o)

Cate Masters said...

Great post Heather. I'm with you on editing too, but it does help to set it aside. Revisions are tedious, but it's where your story will really shine through.
I've given up editing hard copies. Ink's too expensive. :)
Great excerpt!

Heather Kuehl said...

Cate - I HAVE to edit hard copies. By the end of the day my eyes are burning from looking at the computer screen. It's a relief to read my story in printed form that I can take anywhere.

marymccall said...

Great editing process from a creativity perspective, Heather. So many writers forget our internal editor is part of the creative process. Glad to hear you've found the best way to tap into yours.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Heather,

I think your strategy of putting the MS aside for awhile is essential. When you are too close to your book, you tend to miss the continuity and consistency errors especially.

I don't really hate editing that much--I try to see it as an opportunity to turn a good book into a great one. Seriously, I think that a deliberate change of attitude helps--for me, at least.


Heather Kuehl said...

Hey Mary and Lisabet; thanks for stopping by!

Lisabet - I try to keep a positive attitude, but it's just so hard! lol For me, I had to find a way to make editing bearable. For the longest time my dislike for it kept me from getting my work published. I mean, Promises to Keep was finished in 2006. It wasn't until 2009 that I forced myself to sit down and polish it up for submission. Fade to Black has a similar story. But do you know what has helped the most? Getting published. Once Eternal Press accepted Fade to Black I was more driven than ever to get my books out there. That drive will trump my dislike for editing any day. :o)