Editing help

I got Olivia’s Choice done all on my own. I combed through the book over and over and over again. I did this for an entire year. Until I got to the point that if I saw it one more time, I was going to throw it across the room.

Then I got a review back that commented on the superfluous words in the book. Nuts. I knew almost immediately I couldn’t do it alone. That’s when I heard of D. Emery Bunn.

I’ve said before he’s like a grammar ninja. I’ll add that he has suggestions that strengthen the message and deliver the punchline without taking away the flavour of my writing. I told him I only wanted line edits…and of course he did much more. To say I was impressed vastly underrates my reaction. I was blown away.

I wanted to mention him on my blog because he honestly did such an amazing job. I know my book will be so much better because of him. Not only will it be grammar perfect, it will be tighter and deliver the message with less words. For example, Emery suggested a change in the Glossary at the beginning that compacts it and helps make it easier to read.

If you’re looking for someone to do some editing, I can’t recommend him highly enough. On a personal level, he’s approachable and very reasonable. On a professional one, he did an incredible job and finished early!

Here are his links:



Adding humour–a serious job

I add humour to my novels…but how? Well, I asked myself that question and found out that explaining how or why something is funny is actually really, really hard. I wracked my brain trying to figure out how on this green earth I write humour into my tales and all I came up with was this little example.

It’s something I wrote for Olivia’s Choice:

“She had not gone more than a handful of steps when the wind picked up and the rain started. It seemed Mother Nature had a sense of humour. A macabre one.”

That last part was the funny bit. That last part. The…No? Not even a hint of a smile? Rats.

Time to bring out the professionals.

Annie Binns wrote a great post on the blog Write to Done with great examples and much greater in-depth analysis on how to write something funny. She’s got it down to a science and did a much better job than my teenie-tiny example. Check it out. I was in awe.

Formatting for Smashwords

I was all set to get Olivia’s Choice formatted today. I got the computer out, stretched my fingers and got to work. 8am. Ready. Go.

I followed their Guide and tried to follow it to the letter. Not easy when my version of Word is not theirs but, hey! I formatted and formatted, editing tabs, indents, changing fonts, getting hyperlinks in and bookmarks and creating a lovely Table of Contents. I sent it in and got a message: error formatting paragraph styles.

Back to the drawing board I went. Hours later, I sent it in again. Same message. Back to work. Sent it in. Same message.

By now, I had taken out not only indents but returns, soft and hard, and just about any left or right justification. My book was starting to resemble a soup-like assortment of letters without any sense or rhyme.

Then, reason asserted itself. I read a great post by Gene’O on what to do on hard times, went for a run and meditated.

When I returned I got an email from Smashwords: it basically said the error message I had received was from December 6th and I should wait until a person read my manuscript before making any more changes.

Ah. (insert Spanish swear words here).

I thought I’d post this just in case there are others out there like me, trying to figure out what they’ve done wrong when the truth is there’s a delay in the error messages in Smashwords.

Character names

I make up most of my character names. I write paranormal romance so most of my characters are members of the Forest Races and I need to keep that in mind when I name them. Bob and Jo, just won’t cut it.

At the beginning, I used to just randomly collect letters and hope what I came up with was a name…that didn’t work so well. Turns out words aren’t that easy to make up. Besides, I have a tendency to like some letters more than others. My made up names started to sound alike. A nightmare for the poor reader!

What I finally came up with was a game. I chose a trait that represents the character I’m trying to name and translate that word into another language–usually French or Spanish. Then I change or move one or two letters to fit my needs.

For example, Nior. He’s a norn guard. He’s got a dark side to his personality, so I thought of the word: Noir in French. It means black and I thought it fit him like a glove. I changed the vowels, made sure it ended in an ‘r’ (all norn male names have to end in ‘r’) and voila! I had my name.

I also try to have fun with the names for those characters that are human. I choose some that mean something or are special in some way but I have to be careful not to name them after people I know. I joked with one of my friends that I might name a villain after them and they almost lost their cookies.

Some of my names I love like, Baphrem. I don’t know how I came up with that one but I love it. Others, I like less. The hardest part is figuring out how to pronounce words that don’t actually exist.

How does one say Emmaires properly? Hm…

Another five star review for Olivia’s Choice!

I’m so excited! Olivia’s Choice just got another five star review! I’m so giddy I’m shaking right now. Here’s the link: http://readwithdiane.blogspot.ca. Wow. I just can’t believe it.

I’m shaking. Literally. I might have to skip the coffee this morning.

Another five star review!

Olivia’s Choice got another 5 star review in Goodreads! I’m just floating right now. Just floating! Here’s the link: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/828395247?book_show_action=true


Five star review for Olivia’s Choice

Olivia’s Choice just got a wonderful, five star review on Amazon! I’m awed and humbled that someone would like my book so much they would give it a five star review. And they asked if I was writing any sequels! I’m just over the moon. (By the way, I am writing the sequel…Amy’s Courage. It’s almost done–except for editing).

Check it out here:  http://www.amazon.com/Olivias-Choice-Forest-Races-ebook/dp/B00DUHI8OU/

Formatting ups and downs.

I’m deep inside the world of formatting. The idea is to somehow meet the rules of the Smashwords Premium Catalogue and hopefully get the book on other publishers free. Excellent theory…the application is somewhat more turbulent.

I should explain that I’m not a computer genius. I would describe myself as mildly competent. For example, I don’t try to fix a type-o on my computer with white out, but I don’t know how to fix any real issues on my computer. And that includes formatting issues on my documents.

The Guide that Smashwords has for formatting is actually really helpful, friendly even. But trying this out by myself is pretty daunting. There are times when I stare at the screen and wonder what on earth they mean and the only one at my side is my faithful akita. She’s good in the snow but not so great with computers.

Simple things become monumental tasks in Formatting World. For example, you can’t change something as easy as the font by clicking on the font button. In fact, according to the Guide, this is a mistake you should never, ever do (never is in capital letters, then bolded and then repeated just in case you missed it the first few times). Basically, if you use the button provided by Word for that exact purpose, your manuscript will warp itself into something illegible for ebooks, it’ll never be admitted into the Premium Catalogue (the reason for this entire Formatting Nightmare) and all your worse fears will materialize.

Now that wouldn’t be an issue, if the Guide told me how to change the font properly. But there’s no second choice. Just a warning in dire letters of horrid consequences if you should risk touching the clearly labelled font button.

In spite of all this moaning on my part, I think I’m making some sort of progress. I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m certainly not close enough to even start making a table of contents, but I think I might have an idea on how to create a ‘style’. No, in our fun, Formatting World, style doesn’t mean clothing style or hip-style, it means writing style as in indents and bullets and so on. Don’t laugh but I had to figure that out too.

It’s a steep learning curve but, I figure, in a week or so, either I’ll have a perfectly formatted document so clean it’ll shine brighter than the Empire State Building or I’ll be talking to Ocean in doggie language.

Oh and I will definitely pass on anything worthwhile that I learn along the way…like how on earth to change that dratted font.



Olivia’s Choice is free…on Smashwords

I’m still in depths of formatting…well, let’s call it Formatting Inferno. It honestly seems to be one step forward and three back. I won’t mention the issue with the font right now because it’s just going to set me off and I’ll be rambling about it for hours. Let’s just say that whenever someone who’s techy calls a process ‘easy’ and that their guide is ‘step by step’, they mean if you have a PhD in the subject.

Still, there’s a point to this post and I’m getting to it. Olivia’s Choice is free on Smashwords. Here’s the link:


It has all sorts of available downloads, from epub to mobi to doc to anything in between. There’s also a nifty interview by yours truly (me). I’ve also added the link to the page on this blog for easy access.

I’m still formatting because my goal is to get Olivia’s Choice free on Amazon and the formatting Inferno I’m in is one step towards that goal. Let’s hope the formatting gods are kinder today than they were yesterday. Wish me luck.


So I’m trying to get Olivia’s Choice (my book) to be free because I love free stuff. But I have a choice to make. Right now, my book is in Amazon for $2.99. It’s the lowest price in KDP and I had to enrol in it to self-publish.

So, I checked with Amazon and they would allow my book to be free (for only 4 days!) but I would have to keep it in KDP for 90 days. That means I can’t publish it anywhere else for free or lower that $2.99 price.

On the other hand, I could publish it on Smashwords, make it free there and ask Amazon to price match. They may or may not do that and they would take months to consider the idea. Meanwhile, it would be free on Smashwords but not on Amazon.

I need input. What do you think is the best idea? Any thoughts?