What happened to copy edits?

There was a time when I used to read books and never notice a mistake.  Now, that could have been because I didn’t notice them like I do now.  The longer I write, the more mistakes glare at me in anything I’m reading.  But it feels as if books are rushed more these days, and more mistakes sneak through.

It’s easy to miss small mistakes.  We read over them.  Our head fills in what should be there, or we’ve rewritten a scene so many times, we can’t tell if it’s good or not.  Hopefully, our beta readers catch them.  Or our editor.  Or copy editor.  But not always.

I notice small mistakes in books I read, but it’s the bigger ones that make me wonder.  Where was the editor?

I recently read a book that was written in third person, but every once in a while, for no reason, the story switched to first person.  Not internal dialogue.  That, I like it.  Just the wrong POV.  It was annoying.  I’m assuming the author wrote the book in first person, and then decided to make it third person, but she didn’t catch everything.  Neither did her copy editor.  Not sure why.  It seemed pretty obvious to me.

I’ve gotten used to a typo here, a missing word there.  But the wrong verb tense?  A name that switches halfway through the story?  A subplot that just disappears, never to return?  It’s easy to do all of those things as a writer.   You realize you have three characters’ names that start with J and decide to change two of them to something else, but you miss a few of them, and the old name still drifts through the story.  An easy mistake to make.  That’s when you rely on your copy editor.  Or, I read a mystery/romance where the ghost of a Roman centurion gave mysterious clues to the protagonist, and if she helped him find where the bodies of his fellow soldiers were buried in England, he could find peace…but he never got it, because the author forgot the entire subplot when she got hot and bothered with the story’s romance.  An editor could have fixed that.

I think today, poor editors are so pressured, they don’t have the time to spend on projects that they once did.  That’s why writers have to find really good critique partners.  We should make our stories as perfect as we can BEFORE we send them off into the cold, cruel word.  I have topnotch partners.  I hope you do, too.

And now, on a completely different, more frivolous note, since I’m talking about our actual writing and how it’s edited, I’m curious what you think about using contractions in your stories.  I love them.  I think they make a story feel more real, more like what people would really say.    I even think they make narration or exposition flow better.  I’ve read writers (including one of my favorites) who never use contractions.  They always use “she would” instead of “she’d”.  And I can skim over that most of the time, but then it catches up with me and stops me cold.  It sounds too formal.  It slows me down until I force my brain to squash the words into contractions.  And then I do better.

What do you think?  Contractions or not?

Also, (and this is the time for a shameless plug), my 6th and last Mill Pond romance is now availabe for free on NetGalley for reviewers and bloggers.  If you’re interested, just hit this button.  Special Delivery widget


The Fall Solstice has come and gone.  Hope you have a wonderful Fall, and happy writing!  Also, if anyone has any questions they’d like me to answer, (if I can), let me know!


My webpage:  (I started a new, free story.  A new chapter will go up each week):  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

My Author Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Twitter:  @judypost

Also, if you’re interested, Marcella Burdette sent me a site with lots of links for writers: http://www.supersummary.com/fiction-writing-guide/





Proofs & Pseudonyms

I’ve never worked with a book publisher before.  It’s a new experience for me.  My agent read and commented on my urban fantasy novels and usually asked for rewrites, but most of them only involved a few scenes. . .except for Fallen Angels.  And that was my fault.  I decided to make it multiple POV instead of single, and when I asked her about it, she said Go For It.  Lauren’s wonderful that way.

I got lucky when Kensington took my romance novels.  My editor, John Scognamiglio–who’s wonderful to work with, too–only asked me to change a few words in both manuscripts I submitted.  I did a happy dance. Even the copy edits were pretty easy.  Odd, isn’t it?  After I went over that manuscript so many times, and my critique partners looked at every word choice and comma, it still had mistakes.  But not lots of them.

The real wake-up call for me was when I got my page proofs, which I just finished and returned.  I’ve never worked with a book publisher before, so I’ve never experienced proofs until now.  It had an odd effect on me.  I read the pages, looking for errors, and the words didn’t feel like my own.  I couldn’t fiddle with sentences or structures any more.  I couldn’t change anything except a mistake.  I’d read a paragraph and just KNOW I could write better if I tried again.  I even looked up a scene in my original manuscript because I just KNEW I wouldn’t use the word “specified” for that sentence.  And guess what?  I did.

I’ve always had a problem with my writing once it’s published.  When I sold stories to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine or anthologies, I couldn’t look at them when I got my copies.  I saw every flaw I didn’t catch or every description I could have done better.  I didn’t like them at all, couldn’t see what I’d done RIGHT.  I had the same problem with the proofs.  Finally, I had to turn off my writer brain and read the pages as a copy editor.  Only then did the words flow smoothly.  Only then did I appreciate the story.  I’m sure that says something about my personality, but I don’t want to think about it too much:)

The other thing that keeps throwing me is my pseudonym.  When I look at the cover, COOKING UP TROUBLE, by Judi Lynn, I forget that’s me.  I understand the reason behind the pseudonym.  There probably won’t be a cross-over between readers who’ll like my romances and readers who like urban fantasy.  The pseudonym makes a clear distinction between Happy Ever After and battles and bloodshed.  But it’s going to take me a while to think of myself as Judi Lynn.

All in all, having a publisher has been a wonderful learning experience for me.  My writing has progressed step by step, from short stories in magazines and anthologies, to finding Lauren as an agent and working with Sharon Pelletier to put my novels and bundles online, to selling romances at Kensington.  It’s been a long journey. I’m no overnight success, and that’s all right.  Because it’s been a fulfilling one.


BTW, my novella bundle–The Babet & Prosper Collection II–will be free Monday to Friday, Dec. 7-11 if you’ve missed River City and its witches and shifters.

My webpage:  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JudithPostsurbanfantasy/

On twitter:  @judypost