Thursday, May 16, 2019

Dr. Mel's Pet Peeves She Edits From First-time Authors

May 13, 2019

I finally arrived home again after spending another great week at the beach. I was able to get a log accomplished; e.g., sit on the balcony watching the waves and listening to the audible version of my book Never Stop Running narrated by Jessie Drumm. She has done a remarkable job narrating this book and in a month that audible book should be making its debut. I am so excited about that. Be sure to sign up to my blog and stay up tonight on my new releases and many things I have going in my life. Here is an excerpt from Never Stop Running.

Speaking of lives, I came across a book written by Barbara Wayman which gives advice about leading an extraordinary life. Barbara Wayman is passionate about living your best life now. She is an award-winning travel writer and public relations professional whose celebrity interviews and international travel stories have appeared in Home & Away magazine since 2001. She has modeled and acted in dozens of TV commercials and two short films and she recently competed in her debut bikini fitness competition. Barbara holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from The Ohio State University. When she's not lifting weights or devouring books, she is probably planning her next adventure. Meet Barbara and her book. Living An Extraordinary Life.



Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school etc. Let them get to know the personal you.

I was born and grew up in Ohio. I went to The Ohio State University and I’ve always enjoyed living in the Buckeye State. It’s a convenient home base for travel throughout the United States, and I’ve found Midwestern people to be open, helpful and friendly.

What was the very first book you read?

I remember discovering biographies when I was young. I was so fascinated to realize there were books that detailed a person’s whole life. I’ve always been a big fan of biographies and autobiographies because I learn so much from the decisions others make and the lessons they learn.

What inspired you to author this book?

I’ve learned so many helpful tips and techniques over the years and some of them are not widely known. I wanted to share the concepts with others so that they too could benefit from them.

Where did you get the inspiration for your book’s cover?

It is my first book so I worked with a designer on the cover concepts, which was a really enjoyable and interesting process. In the end, the final design captured the positive energy of the book’s contents and has been well-received.


Who has been the biggest influence on you personally and as a writer?

I’ve always been inspired by Helen Gurley Brown as a writer. She was a best-selling author and highly successful magazine publisher. All of her writing had a clear voice and an unabashed point of view. She really expressed herself freely and in her own style, which is something I’ve always appreciated about her.

What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to get this book written?

As with any creative project, you have to overcome your own resistance to doing the work, and just sitting down to do the writing. After that, I had a lot to learn to get it finished and available online for order 24/7. It was a great experience though, and one I can apply to future books.

Tell your readers about your book.

Living An Extraordinary Life is for anyone who wants to streamline their path to success. It describes key concepts and tells stories that show readers how to take positive steps to improve their daily lives.

What do you hope readers will learn from reading your book?

I hope readers will understand how to apply these lessons to their own lives right away, and that they will greatly reduce any sense of struggle or suffering they may be experiencing. I hope they will gain a greater understanding of themselves and others and feel more supported and peaceful in their day-to-day living.

Who is your target audience and why?

While the lessons apply to anyone, a lot of the stories have a more female-focus because I enjoy supporting women and their success.

If you were going to give one reason for anyone looking at your book to read, why should they buy it?

The top reason is that the concepts in this book are not available anywhere else. They’re powerful but not well-known. This is the only place where they’re gathered together and packaged in an easy-to-apply structure.

What do you consider your greatest success in life?

Gosh that’s a big question. I’d have to say it’s that I care about people and I err on the side of kindness. I treat people with empathy and focus on my own goals rather than judging people.

What one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in your genre?

I have a unique writing style and voice, and my manner of presenting information is very straightforward and open. People might not agree with everything I say but they’re not going to be bored.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

I think it’s important to be disciplined and work from a routine schedule. As long as you’re working you can always edit material later on. If you wait for inspiration to strike you might find yourself waiting a long time and never writing anything!

What one piece of advice do you have for new authors.

When it comes to creative projects you’ll find that many people have ideas to share with you. My advice is to be selective about whose ideas you agree to listen to. Sometimes it’s best if you just put your head down and create the work you have in mind, and then get feedback from sources you trust.

Do you have another book planned in the future? If so, tell me about that one too.

Right now I am deciding on a few options for my next book and I look forward to getting underway with the writing phase soon. When it’s finished it will be available on Amazon along with the first one, so everyone will know where to find it.

Tell your readers anything else you want to share.

Thank you for reading my interview, and I hope you enjoy the book! I invite all readers to reach out to me on Twitter at @barbarawayman to speak more or ask further questions.



Most of you know who follow this blog also know that I am not only an author, but I am also one of the senior editors with Absolute Author Publishing House. As a result, I see first-time authors make many of the same mistakes that drive readers and editors crazy. I am going to list a couple of my pet peeves below in the hope when I edit your manuscript, you will have corrected them before you send it to me or any other editor. Subscribe to my blog and keep this post handy because I will be adding to it.

1. Spell and Grammar Check - Sometimes I think because you hired an editor you don't spell check or grammar check your documents before you send it. If you did, there wouldn't be so many that I find. Yes, an editor does check for those things, but so much more. If we have to spend our time getting rid of misspelled words and punctuation that could have been caught by spellcheck or a free program called Grammarly, the time we spend on other items is less. As an author, take pride in what you do and send the best version possible to your editor. Please spell check your document.

2. The use of the word "OWN." As good as the word "Own" has become for Oprah, nine times out of ten that word is misused in a novel manuscript. Here are a couple of examples.

Example 1: I went to my own bedroom to get my purse.

The use of the word own is not necessary. The identifier before it, "My" takes care of that situation for you. The sentence is more clear without the word "Own" in it.

I went to my bedroom to get my purse. Now that sentence is clear.

Example 2: I have to make up my own mind as to whether I want to go on a date with him.

Again, it is your mind that you are making up and the word my in from of own is all you need.

 I have to make up my mind as to whether I want to go on a date with him.

3. My next pet peeve really drives me crazy - bolding everything to make a point, then using an exclamation point. Whew! This one is bad because when you write, your words should stand on their merit. Please notice I did not write, "Stand on their own merit!" Wow, that last sentence has three of my pet peeves in it. First, I didn't need to write own, I didn't need to bold the word merit, and I didn't have to use an exclamation point. It is badly written in all kinds of ways.  I forgot who said it, but there is a famous author who wrote that if you use three exclamation marks in your novel, that is three too many.  Personally, I think if you use two throughout an entire novel, that is a lot, but I can take that. The reason is that your writing style and dialogue between your characters carry the momentum of the sentence, not the bold words and exclamation points. If you feel you need them, rewrite your sentence until it is clear and bold without it. Look at this sentence below.

"George really made me mad; I was foaming like a rabid dog!!"

Wow, the above sentence is written so poorly I am embarrassed to have written it. Thank goodness it was for an example. First, I don't need to bold really and I don't need to end the sentence with two exclamation points. However, I read this structuring all the time from authors who are trying to make the point that a character was extremely angry. Then, why not write what you mean with clarity? Take a look at this one below for the clarity.

"When George said I resembled a fat pig, I felt my face turn red, clenched my jaw and felt as if I was about to foam from the mouth like a rabid dog. He's lucky I didn't pour hot fondue over his face."

By the way I reconstructed the sentence, I accomplished several things. First, it is much stronger as it now shows and not tell s that George mad me mad. Without using the word mad, I let my reader know that I was because my face turned red, I clenched my jaw and felt as if I was about to foam from the mouth like a rabid dog. As a reader, they can tell that character is mad. I didn't have bold a thing and I surely didn't need to end my statement with an exclamation point.

4. This pet peeve might be an oversight of not understanding the rules when writing novels, but do not italicize words to make a point. When you italicize words there are rules for that. If you wrote a character's inner thought, that gets italicized and please do not put quotation marks around those. I see this mistake hundreds of times. Learn the rules of when to italicize a word, for instance, a foreign word like, vamos.

Writer's also will italicize or bold words, again to make a point, but that method backfires as it confuses the readers.

My challenge to you is for you to search your document for the word "Own" and remove it and see how your sentence reads. Then do a find for every exclamation mark you used and get rid of them. If you really are trying to make a hard point, if the sentence doesn't read that way, rewrite the sentence until it is strong. Lastly, look up the rules for italicization in novel writing and learn them.

5. When authors misuse words or don't hyphenate words correctly, it drives me insane. I have expanded on my top three below.

Cover up versus Cover-up

Cover up versus Cover-up - I can't begin to tell you how many authors make this mistake. The two words are not the same at all. One is a verb and the other is a noun. Read these sentences.

The government cover-up conspiracy on aliens is absurd. We all know they exist. (This is the noun form sentence.)

When I cover up my dog in his blanket, he pokes his nose deep beneath it. (This is the verb form sentence.)

Notice how I use the word 'cover up' as a verb and cover-up as a noun. 

Stainless Steel vs. Stainless-steel

Here we go again. To correctly use either stainless steel or stainless-steel is how the word is being used in a sentence.  When a name for a material such as "stainless steel" is used with a word for a thing made of that material, a hyphen is used, as in "stainless-steel knife." Read these sentences.

Michael chopped onions with a stainless-steel knife. (Describes a thing.)

Stainless steel is a material that most kitchen utensils are made. (Describes the material the thing is made from.)

Toward vs. Towards

I can't even tell you that one of the first things I do when I edit is to find and replace the word towards or toward. Depending on the country of the author, I have to be careful with this one because both words are spelled correctly, I have to have them match. Authors often use both no matter the country they live and as a result, the manuscript is full of inconsistencies. You must stick with one rule and not intermix. According to the Chicago Manual of Style, the preferred form in American English is toward without the -s, while the preferred British English form is towards with the -s. This general rule works with other directional words, including forward, backward, upward, and downward, along with afterward. Look at these examples.

I strode toward the archway headed for her door to wake her up. (USA Version)

I strode towards the hallway to knock her up. (United Kingdom version)

Challenge: Do a search and replace in your document for the word 'toward.' When you do, it will also find the word 'towards.' Make sure that you are consistent throughout your manuscript and perform the same action for other directionals words of forward, backward, upward, downward, and afterward.

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