A Day In The Life Of…Kate Perkins-Armond

On March 31, 2014, I don’t get out of bed until afternoon. Part of this, of course, is that I’m an insomniac who regularly stays up until 4 a.m., but lately it’s been more than that. My glasses are broken. Which means every minute spent out of bed — and not forever walking into things thanks to legal blindness — is spent wearing custom-made contact lenses that are technically very unhealthy to wear beyond 12 hours. And I always go beyond twelve hours.

But I’m trying to be good today, so I lie in bed and try to think about work-related things. Specifically, I try to think about the one project for which I’m currently being paid. The other six writing and editing jobs currently on my freelance plate are all for – or with – my dear friend Jeff. He and I work on a complicated IOU system.

Thing is, the job that’s being paid in a bizarre thing called money comes with it the request to greatly expand the book’s love scenes, and I am far from in a romantic mood. I am frustrated by the job in general; I got through the previous night’s editing work by, on Jeff’s advice, imagining a meteor hitting the city as soon as the story is finished, removing it from my overstressed life. Today, however, I lie in bed and try to think romantic thoughts. Even if some of them are from different stories, old play-test works of mine that I am willing to steal from outright.

I get up and put in my contact lenses. I check the usual news, immediately feel my anxiety starting to flare up, and play a game of 2048 instead (addictive little flash things). Then it’s time to check on various social media things I’m running for Jeff’s Dawn of Steam series. Of the three people involved in this little self-publishing project (there’s another co-contributor, Jeff’s friend Sarah), I am possibly the best at marketing, and I am appalled by that fact. Jeff doesn’t have my anxiety disorder getting in the way, but all the Facebook/tumblr/Twitter stuff is really rough for him. Don’t even talk to him about code for the web site. Well, I can, but he’ll just say mine is wonderful without having the slightest idea what I’m doing.

When that’s done, I get some orange juice, then open the file for the book I’m being paid to proofread and expand. I put in commas and quotation marks, make tenses consistent, and yes, write two love scenes. There’s admittedly a lot of moving around in my chair to try to get the distance just right for my eyes, the strain being a little harder on me lately since I have to keep my contacts in longer.

At some point, my husband and I notice each other to be home and awake, respectively. We’d somehow missed that. I ask if there’s any news on where his work will be taking us next year. There isn’t. I consider muttering something about ‘gypsy academic lifestyle,’ but somewhere in my mind, a half-Roma amateur anthropologist called Julietta Penn rolls her eyes at me. Now that I’m done with the paid work, I’ll be able to get back to reading the third volume of Dawn of Steam, in which she is one of ‘my babies,’ the characters of whom I’m most fond and to whose characterization I pay extra close attention. I’ve written whole pages of Julietta myself, when it was agreed she needed more and the others didn’t have the time.

Eventually, when peanut butter crackers and occasional swigs of orange juice just aren’t enough, I get out the chicken I’ve had soaking in buttermilk in the fridge overnight, season it, flour it, and fry it up for lunch for me and my husband. Drinking it with more orange juice  will help absorb the iron better, so it’s said.

I open up the file for Dawn of Steam: House of the Rising Sun.  Yes, Jeff is a huge fan of the folk-blues song made famous by The Animals. Since the third volume of Dawn of Steam is set part in Japan and part in New Orleans, he apparently couldn’t resist.  Jeff wrote this entire three-volume epistolary Steampunk story in a single month – a November, to be precise. Most National Novel Writing Month writers are happy if they make the official goal of 50,000 words, but he had to write 300,000 in his first NaNoWriMo.  By the time he wrote House of the Rising Sun, he pretty much hadn’t slept in three weeks. In the initial draft, it shows.  It really does show.  That’s part of why it’s taken me so long to get through it. Massive restructuring will be required, moreso than the first two volumes, one of which is published and one of which is in third-draft edits.

As I read, I e-mail myself a running tally of notes to be addressed later when Jeff and I are less stressed.  Since I have been stressed, the notes are a bit snarky in places.  I point out an anachronism with simply a reference to the sentence and an ‘oh, honey, nooo.’ Simultaneously, I am exchanging e-mails with Jeff. A little of it is clarifying questions, but mostly just friend stuff.  Then he e-mails back a question mark.  I realize I sent the ‘oh, honey, nooo’ note to him instead of myself. I apologize and explain the anachronism. It’s no problem in his opinion, but it still annoys me that I was so careless.

Then I have to get up, walk around the apartment to expend nervous energy, and check the mail. The newsletter for my church has arrived. There it is on page 6, “Book Reading, April 22.” There are already little fliers on the church bulletin board saying “My Book Is Out (the primary authors helped)!” I still haven’t decided for certain which passage to read. The beginning is unfortunately the slowest part, but everything else has spoilers. Additionally, I get anxious about reading certain passages to a roomful of progressive-minded Unitarian Universalists without making it seem like the 1815 characters’ patriarchal nonsense is being validated. The irony is that also I worry if certain of my Catholic relatives back home will read far enough and carefully enough into the series to notice the biracial lesbians. My inner pedant immediately corrects me.  One of them is not a lesbian; she’s bisexual.

I return to the third volume. Eventually, I finish it.  Even though the ending needs some restructuring, it makes me cry. For once, it’s not tears of editing frustration – because I get those too – just normal sentimental tear-jerking on my part.

I fry up some more chicken for a late supper, because there was more chicken left, and not much else. After supper, I sit down and talk to Jeff online about the book. He’s sorry/not sorry about making me cry. We discuss various improvements and additions. As I look at the clock, I start to get anxious.  It’s almost midnight in my time zone, almost April, and I let the boy talk me into Camp NaNoWriMo. We have multiple novels, in the series and otherwise, to market or edit, and several short stories in progress for anthologies, and I haven’t done my taxes, but he talked me into doing a special mini-National-Novel-Writing-Month to focus on my own work. I’ve tried NaNoWriMo three times, and never gotten above 2,000 words. I freeze up on non-collaborative projects. Somehow, though, he talked me into it.  When midnight hits, I start to type in a new file and have to steel myself against going back and re-editing every sentence eight times.  I hit my goal of 333 words for the first night in 45 minutes and surprise myself. I’ll edit it all later.

Soon, it’s approaching midnight in Jeff’s time zone. He’s going to be working on Dawn of Steam 4. Never mind that I’d carefully registered all sorts of things for ‘the Dawn of Steam trilogy,’ the boy had to start us on a Book 4. Sure, sure, it’ll be the beginning of a new trilogy, set a few years later. Still, he doesn’t seem to get it when I therefore call it Breakfast-Time of Steam 1.

We’re getting into the time of night where Jeff normally gives me some stress-and-anxiety-managing tips for the night and the coming day, before I get ready for bed. However, he’s gone into Prolific Writer Mode, and while he’ll stop if I ask, I don’t want to interrupt. Instead, I start searching for indie publishing resources again. I run across an idea that would, in fact, involve writing over 1,000 words all by myself. It’ll be nonfiction, though, so I take a breath and give it a try. I even make myself keep the editing minimal before I send it off, take out my contact lenses, and go to bed.

 

Copyright © Dawn of Steam Trilogy 2014

Copyright © Dawn of Steam Trilogy 2014

 

Another fascinating day in the life of a creative! To find out more about Kate Perkins-Armond and her projects, click below to be taken to the good stuff! 😉

Website: www.dawnofsteam.net

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IOC6HNU

Facebook: www.facebook.com/dawnofsteamtrilogy

Tumblr: dawnofsteam.tumblr.com

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Blog Spring Cleaning Is Done!

That’s right! You may have noticed there has been a total redesign of the blog, along with lots of new features added, and the ‘books’ section updated. There might be a few more changes coming, but it’s pretty much as it will be. I’ve enjoyed the old design, but it was up for a whole year, and it needed a breath of fresh air for 2013.

I have, sadly, removed the review/interview guidelines. I loved doing them, but due to a recent health scare, I will be taking on less of a workload. So I may still do reviews or interviews from time to time, but these will be from books I own and want to post a review for. Same goes for interviews, for any authors I may know personally.

But…I will be adding lots more sections to do with writing! I’ll be posting up bits on editing, writing, cover design, trailer design, and much more. A lot of these tips may turn up in a book at some point, as I am planning to write one a some point; a kind of ‘how-to’ book from penning the first page to making sales.

On a slight tangent, I’m also happy I have the chance to change the blog a little. This time last year, I was hoping for maybe 100 subscribers to my blog–I never expected to have over 8000! So thank you to each and every person who follows my scanty ravings on writing, and here’s to another wonderful and fun year! 🙂

Do I Need An Editor?

Yesterday in my post I mentioned that I used to work as an editor/proof-reader a few years ago, (and I still do, as freelance) and weirdly it also came up in a conversation with a good friend yesterday over emails. She’s asked me to have a glance over an excerpt she’s written, and I can’t wait to, it looks really cool.

But it got me wondering about editing and the indie community of authors. There are some authors who happily pay a hundred or more for editing, and are very happy with it. There are others who pay the same amount and they have books full of mistakes. And there those who do it themselves, or don’t bother at all.

Now, I do my own manuscripts, but that’s because I’ve done it for an awful lot of people. If you’ve never done professional editing before, I can’t see it turning out well for you. Let me explain; I don’t mean it to sound as stuck up as it does, I really don’t. I just mean that it’s so incredibly difficult; I’m impressed if you decide to do it yourself without knowing what you’re doing.

And I’m saying this from experience. When I had finished writing Conner, for the first time several years ago, it was full of mistakes, and I hadn’t yet started working as a proof-reader, never mind as an editor! (Which came later.) It was truly atrocious, you couldn’t go for a few pages without going, “Oh, there’s another one!”

But when I got training for editing, and I really started to pay attention, I realised how little I knew.

So, if you do decide to have a go yourself, I’ve listed a few little tips to use when editing your own manuscript.

1. Always check for spelling errors. No, REALLY check for them.

It’s amazing how many people say to me, “But I did check for spelling errors. I used Spellcheck.” Let me tell you something people, Spellcheck is not-let me repeat that, not-a 100% check on your errors. Sure, it will pick up on simple errors such as a word with missing or extra letters; ‘trieeed’ instead of ‘tried’, for example, but let me give you one it won’t pick up on. If you write ‘form’ where you meant to write ‘from’, 9 times out of 10, it won’t even pick it up. If you can’t be bothered to re-read your own manuscript at least three times for spelling errors alone, pay someone. 🙂

2. Check for grammar.

This is an easy one. Check for the grammar! And as above for Spellcheck…. Try reading your manuscript out loud, rather than in your head, even if you’re just murmuring to yourself. This way, if something doesn’t sound right, you will hear it, and pick up on it as you do so. Trust me, saying something out loud will pick up on things that skimming with your eyes won’t.

3. Does it make sense?

Sometimes when we’re writing, it’s easy to get bogged down with something else; the kids, housework, the garden, that annoying sales call. So we stop writing for a while, and when we come back, we can’t remember exactly what we were going to write. So….we put down the rough idea of what we were going to write, and carry on. And there is nothing wrong with this. But you must check for continuity. If character A got shouted at by character B, in the next chapter they can’t straight away be laughing and joking with each other. It’s annoying, and it disrupts the flow of a story. So always read through to make sure your story links together.

4. Have you got your facts straight?

Sometimes you might be reading a book, and you’ll scan the line you just read again. “I’m sure that’s not true.” you think to yourself. This is when authors don’t do their research. I once edited a book where the author was writing a romantic story about a couple who sail to the New World just after Christopher Columbus had a good look around. She set it three years after he had been. But the story was set in 1645. Quite impressive seeing as Columbus died in 1506 and arrived in the Americas around 1492. So the author hadn’t done their research. You must check for simple facts in your story as well. If you mention a historical person or event, are the dates right? If you’re setting it in another country, do you know the geography of it well? If you want to mention a subject such as science or psychology, do you understand it? There really isn’t any excuse nowadays, with the internet there to do research on if nothing else.

5. Rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite again!

If you have followed all of the above advice, and have moved onto your cover, STOP! No, you’re not done yet! With all of the errors you’ve corrected, and the facts you’ve changed, and the parts you’ve linked together, some of the sentences may need smoothing out. You may have just thought of the perfect part to put in that would fit where it wouldn’t before. Maybe you just want to be sure? So rewrite. If you’re a good writer, chances are you are a good reader. And you know what parts might be too lengthy, or not lengthy enough. A simple fight scene can be made boring with no tension. Concentrate on details; this helps you to slow the pace down, without losing the tension. Rather; it creates the tension!

So I hope some of these tips will help you if you do decide to edit it yourself. And if you decide you would still like someone else to do it for you, you can always consider me! 🙂 Just email me at mirandastork@gmail.com, and see if I can help you.