The zany adventures of a Great Dane/Bloodhound mix in Ohio takes on a life of its own when he digs up a zombie in the woods. Meathead is a typical dog, loyal, friendly, innocently mischievous, and his owner, 40-something Einstein Angleton (still living with his mother), knows this well. The novel is uniquely narrated in Meathead’s voice as he chats with other woodland creatures and struggles to be a good dog to his human, a race he holds little respect for. The plot kicks in when Angleton finds a camera during a recent walk through the forest with Meathead, who digs at a smelly patch of dirt that has a hand coming out of it. Once developed, the camera’s pictures reveal the misshapen face of a man -- a recently-turned zombie named Hubert Pines who winds up on Meathead’s porch looking for sympathetic conversation and ends up befriending the pooch. Before long, things get crazy as Meathead outwits the local trainer (a.k.a. “Dog Nazi”) to help Hubert stay hidden and find him a stash of Zoloft while vying for the love of Anita, a female zombie bent on biting Einstein, all before his body falls apart completely. The author supplies a plethora of goofily-named characters, fart jokes, and footnotes that steadily become more distracting than cutely informative once Meathead’s voice becomes firmly established. Yet it’s the perspective of this plucky pet that contributes most to the novel’s allure, charm, and G-rated entertainment potential. A spirited, refreshing addition to the recent influx of zombie stories.
Anybody who knows my writing, knows proofreading is my weakest skill. I get better at it all the time, but as compared to other writing skills, I'm still riding this short bus. So, I've been looking for to hire an editor to proofread before I release my short story collection.
I tried EFA and quickly became overwhelmed. EFA doesn't defined memberships by experience: pro, semi-pro and entry level. In contrast, to have a pro membership with SFWA you have to meet certain sales criteria. I started sifting through the profiles, looking for a bargain, probably a semi pro with good rates. What I found were a lot of entry level editors at pro rates. I suddenly realized it was going to take a while of going through profiles and interviewing potential editors. I'm fairly confident in the quality of the stories I'm releasing, so the one thing I know I don't want is a paid critique partner.
After searching on EFA for several days, I did a google search on how to find an editor. This led me to a thread on Absolute Write. The writer suggests I try Elance. Hat held in hand, I posted a job saying this is what I can afford to pay. Within minutes the bids started rolling in. At first I was delighted. Then, overwhelmed. Then suspicious.
I discovered many of the offers were like those Sale signs in the windows of electronic stores here in Korea. There's never a sale. Many had bid low, but actually quoted pro rates, or bid low and asked me to describe the project only to give me a different quote. About 70% of the freelancers wanted more than pro rates. Most of these acted like they were doing me a favor for discounting it so much. (On a side not, it's never good to go into a business deal where the person you're paying, thinks they're doing you a favor.) Even so, I found a couple who looked like a good match, one was highly rated. And I sent them a sample page of a published story with some intentional typos. They dug into it like a critique partner. One missed the typos and the other added enough commas to make my eyes bleed. A third, rewrote the page.
A quick Google search for Elance scam (which I should have done before signing up!), turned up a plethora of complaints. I want to state that Elance isn't a scam in and of itself. However, the biggest complaint against Elance is the lack of skilled workers. The second is the number of loopholes freelancers have to work the rating system. I decided to close the job.
Because I hadn't found an editor and I really want to get Midday out, I asked if anyone in my critique group would swap. Ambrose said he'd just do it. What I got back was a meticulously proofread manuscript, with a handful of suggestions that were stylistic, but in a way that was true to my voice. So in the end, I found what I was looking for. I offered him a job as I have a few other projects. We're working out how to manage our friendship and business relationship.
I don't want to come off as a writer who is resistant to changes. But there are a couple of editing dos and don'ts. A do is where the editor sees a better way to say something while staying true to the author's voice. A don't might be, the editor injecting their voice into the story while writing out the author.
I had this happen to the extreme last year with 'They're All Called Bob.' A magazine accepted with a few "minor" changes which turned out to be significant rewrites. I felt like I had been replaced! I questioned a lot of these changes when I should have declined publication. I didn't quite have to guts to just walk away from an acceptance. Newbie mistake! The editor replied with a strongly worded letter, telling me what my characters were thinking and doing. I realized he had changed so much of the story, that he saw the characters as his. I learned a lot about myself as an author through this experience.
When writers start out, it's hard to tell the difference between help and being replaced. Partly, because new writers don't have a voice yet. We start out emulating others. Hiring an editor isn't just about words. It's about making something great while preserving one's individuality. I think back to two years ago, imagine myself trying to find an editor. The truth is I probably would have paid too much, gotten a poorly edited story, and thanked the editor for it.
Do you know the difference between an editor and a critique partner? If not you might pay for a Ferrari and end up with a Renault.
I'm not an idiot-- Okay. So that's not entirely true. But on most occasions I can be counted on to know the date and time of a specific event. I got a notice this morning-- if you don't live in Korea, you probably got it yesterday afternoon-- the second round winners for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest were posted. This was a surprise to me because I had thought the news wouldn't come until the 28th. I set my own contest dates for the 29th, a day after the second round results from Amazon's contest would be announced. I even checked the dates before I posted. What probably happened is a little thing called biased. I don't know whether I saw it was the 23rd and forgot, or simply saw what I had expected to see. The brain is funny that way. Any author who has tried to edit their own manuscript can attest to how easy to miss errors because you see what you think you wrote, not efewth.
This got me to think about biases. I've always be intrigued bias. You cannot have an intelligent discussion with a truly biased individual.
Bias plays a huge role in a reader's relationship with writers. Previously, I wrote that I trusted readers to know what they want. Hence, I'm putting out both a horror and literary collection side by side.
But this bias thing got me to thinking. How often have I picked up a book because I know an author rights the kind of story I'm in the mood for?
If I go any deeper, this post is going to be really long so I'll just end it here by saying that I think it's much easier for a writer to define themselves as x, y, and z, than redefine themselves after years of being only z.
Here's a wiki link to a long list of biases in case your board and don't forget that thanks to my on biases the Write While You Wait Contest runs until the 29th of February.
Stage 1: My Writing is a Gift to You!
This a time when a write believes that all that they write is good, no great, a master piece. Which is very important since, fledgling writer's spend twice as much time day dreaming about making the big time as they do putting pen to paper. Writers at this stage are simultaneous unaware of rules and entirely confident that such things would only be a hindrance to the creative process.
Stage 2: Rules Rule and Humble Pie is Served!
At some point every writer must extract their head from their ass and get down to the business of writing. While eating his or her fair share of humble pie, the writer will become an expert on the rules. He or she will set forth to deliver the message of the rules to all parties, willing and unwilling. The rules are as fine a feathered friend as God himself. While simultaneously handing critique partners their hat for not obeying the rules, writers at this state will bemoan the very rules they worship.
State 3: Thou Shal Break the Rules Because Thou can
At some point writers begin to reach the level of competency. They not only know the rules but have learned to use them to varying degrees of effect. They have eaten a lot of humble pie and served large slices to other writers while smiling kindly; humble pie is best served with a smile. But the pride in the rules has passed. They are no longer a thing to worship but an object of intrigue. Writer's at this stage are like children with a knew toy. They bend twist and sometimes obliterate the rules and despite total anarchy, people respond favorably. Yes, there are those still thumping the Rule Bible (this is not a real thing) but they are free to do what they want and confident because they know exactly what they are doing when they do it. This is a time of experiment and discovery.
The three stages of a writer's career really aren't stages at all. They are a continuum, often overlapping and sometimes experienced simultaneously. Nobody can gain equal mastery over every skill at the same time. And sometimes we will forget something we know while learning something we didn't.
Anyway, this is what I was thinking today and so I wrote it down.
Mariel R. is an ESL teacher, horse trainer, writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. She lives in South Korea with two house cats, three horses, a German Shepherd and three barn cats .
Bear (Gom in Korean) )
Geumbi (Goldy in English) R.I.P February, 23, 2018