The Message That Made My Day

“You are a definite inspiration and awesome role model.”

I’m in head-down, post-book-launch mode, trying out a few things, trying to figure out which things to do next. So I didn’t expect this kind of message at all.

It made me think, “Wow, I really made a difference to somebody.”

And no lie, it made me feel like this:

cartoons_smiling_flower-0157.jpg

I hope that you, whenever you read this, have a wonderful day.

This Is Why Writers Love Reviews

Why do writers love reviews?

It’s even more personal than wanting to know what our story meant to you. It’s all wrapped in that part of ourselves that got into our story in the first place.

In a convoluted way, this is what we want to know: What did you think of what we gave of ourselves?*

81b59064c452608159acbba4f55b8a2f

A discerning reviewer

We’d keep our writing to ourselves if we didn’t want to know. It would all be in secret diary form, or with instructions to be burned upon death, or written and erased the instant after.

Not that some of our writing isn’t destined for such gloomy fates.

Regardless, I do think that writing happens when we stop talking about writing. All the “I’m going to” and “I need to” are just ways to buy time. Sometimes, even our own creativity frightens us, because it feels that powerful.

Writing happens when we forget about the “I” in the back of our heads and just let it flow. And yet at that moment (however fleeting or endless), we’re never more ourselves.

And that’s what we want to give to you.

I received this review recently. A high school friend had bought both of my children’s books for his daughter.

He posted a picture on Facebook of his daughter looking gleefully happy with my books in her hands, with this caption:

“New favorites. I mentioned that ‘I went to school with the lady that wrote these books,’ and now she insists that I read the ‘About The Author’ pages at the end as well.”

Wow. New favorites.

That’s a secret, hardly-spoken hope right there. And I never would have even guessed at this had he not told me about it.

So if you read something that moved you, and you have a chance to review it, please do! It means more than you may realize.

Since I’m here, and speaking of books… 🙂

What’s at the End of Your Nose? offsets the frequent “I’m bored!” cry with presenting another look at the world around us, discovering adventure and magic right in front of our noses. Starring Sidney Snail, this book also doubles as a coloring book.

Dr. Guinea Pig George really does think he’s a doctor–and it’s a good thing he does, for he follows his own little nose through a perilous adventure! In full color.

thegang

All copyright 2016 Becky Benishek

 

*Disclaimer: I am not, of course, speaking for all writers everywhere. #NotAllWriters

5 1/2 Steps to Finding the Right Editor (For You)

When someone asks, “How do I find an editor?” the real question is this:

How do I find the right editor for ME?

cartoon of the day.jpg

I firmly believe that all writers need editors. If you trust only yourself to do the final editing of your work, then you’re going to miss something, from a comma here to a strangled plot line there.

When you’re putting your work out there in a competitive market, you don’t want to miss anything!

Recently I joined a discussion on Goodreads about finding an editor:

How would I know if the one I’m asking for an offer is decent and good enough? I have looked up some of their previous work, of course, and there are no negative comments about their editing. Should I just trust the reviews and my ‘gut’? Or should I always use an editor that someone I know recommends?

The post ended with asking for recommendations.

I thought, hey! This is a great chance for me to recommend my editor, without whom I would not have been so wildly happy with my books and the response they’ve been getting.

As well, I had done as much due diligence as I could before actually contracting with her, so here I am with the tedious part already done and able to put in a good word. It’s a win-win, right?

I had forgotten one thing: Deciding upon one’s editor is a very subjective process.

So here are my 5 1/2 steps to how you can find the right editor for you (which I will try to keep as objective as possible).

1. Figure out what kind of editing you’re really looking for.

  • Copy editing. That’s spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity, etc.
  • Line editing. That adds in sentence revisions.
  • Substantive editing. That includes the first two, plus deep analysis into both small-and big-picture intent.

My experience: You may start out thinking you just need copy editing, and some editors will only stick to that because that’s what you requested. Other editors may spot something that they just can’t in all conscience keep quiet about, and may ask if you would like to add on their extra services.

I haven’t yet tried any other editing services besides Fiverr, but Fiverr makes it extremely easy to see all these offers laid out in tiered packages.

2. At the same time, keep your price point in mind.

It’s easy to get carried away at both low and high ends of the scale.

For example, on Fiverr, nearly everything really does start out at $5, and goes up in increments of $5 from there. You may think you’re getting away with something, but those $5 eventually add up.

It’s also easy to think that cheap equals low quality. But just as with the more expensive folks, don’t be fooled by the price tag. More $$$ does not automatically equal more prowess.

Additionally, editors that offer full refunds if you’re not satisfied are people you can be more confident about working with.

Plus you have to remember that there will be other costs to incur beyond editing. From the perspective of a self-publisher, the list goes on! Formatting, cover design, marketing, buying your own author copies…

The point is, keep your eyes open and your price point in front of them. Having some flexibility is great if you can afford it, but most of us aren’t flush with disposable funds at this stage.

3. Make sure the editor accepts your genre.

If it isn’t clear what genres, styles, or lengths the editor prefers, ask!

It’s the same with formatting, I’ve found. Children’s books can be awfully wambly, and some people will refuse to work on them at any stage. Others take just about everything.

c06f654e069815842162f88ba640c290

4. Collect a few possible editors and then sit on your decision (if you can).

Entrusting your work to someone else is a big deal. I picked through a fair number of editors before narrowing down my list. I saved my final choices and then walked away from it all for about a day. I returned to scour the reviews and packages offered before making my own final (I hoped) choice.

You may sometimes be in a bigger hurry to get your work polished and done, and that’s fine. Either way, take heed of step 5.

5. Use your head.

In other words, pay attention all through the process.

  • How do they describe their editing services? Any grammar issues in their own summaries should be a red flag.
  • How do they correspond with you? If you feel that something is off at any time, this is not the time to keep the relationship going just to be nice. This is your money and time. Thank them for their time, and say you have decided to go in another direction.
  • Do they deliver on time, or let you know in good time if there’s a conflict? You are contracting for services, after all. This isn’t depending on the good will of a friend, it’s a business transaction.
  • Carefully review the work they did. Remember, you don’t have to agree with everything they say, but you do want to see how they edit. In addition to spelling and grammar, do their changes make sense with your story?

5 1/2. Build a relationship.

This is only half a step because it depends on your comfort level and how you like to engage with folks you may never meet in person.

This is someone you are paying in exchange for services, but you are still both people. Building a rapport can really help you both understand each other and what you each bring to the contract.

For me, I quickly found out that the kind of editor I prefer is one who will really read my story beyond copy editing. If that person gets interested in what they’re reading, this is a lovely bonus—and so is getting to know your editor as a person .

How did you discover your editor?

A new arrangement of “Hallelujah,” by cello

I used to play the cello. I loved it.

Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason has done a rearrangement of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” a song that never fails to make me tear up. I love it.

Excerpt from “Rosemary’s Face,” soon to be published!

“The ICU was quieter than I’d expected.

“A thawing Saturday afternoon shone mutely through the third-floor windows. My husband and I walked slowly down the wide corridors, keeping pace with my mother-in-law’s footsteps that faltered behind her walker. We were on our way to see her younger sister.

Her sister, Rosemary, was born with the Rh (rhesus) hemolytic disease factor in 1934. An Rh factor problem occurs when the mother’s Rh factor is negative and the baby’s is positive, as inherited from the father.

The good news is that an Rh factor problem is preventable and treatable—now. But in the early 1930s, this wasn’t the case.

Rosemary has lived her entire life with the brain of a six-, maybe an eight-month old.

It’s interesting, looking at someone who has grown into old age, but has remained unmarked by the world.

Your hair still turns white, but you have few lines.

Your face appears unscathed by trauma or care.

Even on a breathing tube, you seem docile and comfortable, and passive. I contrasted Rosemary’s tranquil demeanor with the faces of other ICU patients I’d visited who were fighting for their lives.

My mother-in-law’s sister doesn’t know her.”

My story of Rosemary and the Rh factor will be published in the Journal of Crisis Prevention, Crisis Prevention Institute, projected for March 2017.

I’m super happy about this. The visit with Rosemary affected me profoundly; this essay came out of me, spiraled around, and turned itself (and me) inside out a bit. I am grateful to be able to share this in such an esteemed journal as the JCP.

This will be my second article to be published in our journal. It’s no easy feat to be accepted!

My previous one, based off an interview with Emilie O’Connor, a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) coach, is about building positive relationships in a diverse school environment. It is reprinted here. (This journal was previously named the Journal of Safe Management of Disruptive and Assaultive Behavior.)