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novel writing, Reading, Writing, writing a book, Writing, Content Writing, Proofreading, Editing

The Great Debate: Do Typos Stop You From Continuing to Read a Novel?

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Over the weekend, I ran a poll on Twitter. In it I asked folks in the Twitterverse whether seeing a typo near the beginning of a novel makes them stop reading it. Within a 24-hour period, 30 people participated in my poll. Out of that number, 80% said it wouldn’t bother them while the remaining minority said they can’t stand typos and would abandon the book.

What surprised me was the debate that accompanied the poll. Several people chimed in to express their feelings about the issue. They even broke it down into great detail. Some folks explained that even an editor can’t catch every mistake. Others said their expectations depended on the type of book they read.

Those expectations were high if a novel was put out by a reputable publishing firm because the vetting processes are usually meticulous, especially with hardback or paperback releases. Meanwhile, they noticed that independently released e-books don’t have such stringent procedures, and sometimes don’t have a second set of eyes on the manuscript before releasing it out into the world. So they just weren’t surprised when they saw typos in them and tried to continue reading.

The best part for me was that this was a friendly discussion, with no name calling or expletives exchanged. That, alone, made me so happy because we all know how these things can get out of hand on social media. There’s an adage that says who you hang out with is a reflection on you. And as far as my social media connections go, I definitely liked what I saw in this mirror.

Getting back to the issue of being bugged by typos in novels, I have to say I’m not all that forgiving. This is kind of hypocritical because I’m the one who gets all thumbs with my smartphone, often leaving my social media comments nonsensical or illegible (cough). But I guess my stance on the issue goes back to my journalism background. It was always drilled into my head that the credibility of our work hinged on whether we got grammar or spelling correct. “If you can’t get grammar and spelling right, why should readers believe anything you say?” one editor often said.

I still believe this is true. After all, standards are there for a reason. Taking steps to catch errors smooths out the reader’s path so they can enjoy a novel, without getting tripped up by mistakes.

As I work on my own novel, I plan to keep this in mind by getting at least one qualified extra set of eyes on my work. After all, doing everything I can to produce a piece that’s error-free is simply not up for debate.

Book Review, Library, Reading, YA Novel, Young Adult Novel

“In Between” by Jenny B. Jones Gives Me All the Good Feels

For me, there’s nothing better than a good book. I love getting lost in a world created by an author’s imagination and going on an adventure within the span of a few hundred pages. It gives me the warm fuzzies.In Between

The latest book to give me all the good feels is “In Between” by Jenny B. Jones. It’s been out for a while, but I’ve just discovered this gem. It’s a young adult novel that follows the journey of 16-year-old Katie Parker as she steps into the unknown. The thing is, Katie’s unknown is the next chapter of navigating her life in the foster care system after her unfit mother is sent to prison for drugs.

One of my favorite things about this novel is that it stays away from clichés. I’ve noticed that a lot of novels these days, whether YA, NA, or other genres, tend to pigeonhole characters into stereotypes. The only reason I can think this happens is that authors of said stereotypes believe this is what’s current and fresh. To me, it ain’t.

That’s why I find “In Between” so refreshing. In this novel, Jones successfully depicts the characteristics, outlook, and challenges of a teen without going off the deep end. Katie is a strong, likeable character who’s been put in situations that are beyond her control. Throughout the course of the novel, we ride along as she adjusts to her new foster family and new home, and being the new kid in school.

Another reason I love “In Between” is that it has both heart and humor. To me, this has always been the best combination. After all, my favorite sitcoms address unpleasant or awkward situations with a chuckle. So it stands to reason that should be true for novels, too. It certainly is in this one because I found myself laughing out loud more than once at the situations poor Katie found herself in.

Finally, I loved the underlying message of hope “In Between” provides. I won’t elaborate, for fear of a spoiler. But with all that’s going on in the world today, it was nice to read a book that conveyed this message with expert subtlety.

I highly recommend “In Between” by Jenny B. Jones for anyone who loves a fun YA. I’m also glad that it’s just the first in the four-book series, “A Katie Parker Production.” In fact, I’m already deep into the second installment, “On the Loose.”

 

What book have you recently read that gave you all the good feels?

 

Content Writing, Motivation, Writing, Content Writing, Novel Writing, Work From Home

I Appreciate the Power of Persistence

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Persistence.

Quite a lot goes into that one word. The idea of sticking to it and refusing to give up. It takes confidence, dedication, and determination to be persistent. It’s also something that’s help me grow in my writing journey.

I first got a taste of persistence as a child, when my dad saw my horrible handwriting and made me do something about it. Ever the teacher, his solution was to make me write a poem a day. By practicing again and again, I would hopefully get better. That turned out to be true. By being consistent, intentional, and persistent, I learned to put words together in a legible way.

Little did I know that series of exercises gave me more than the gift of better handwriting. It also sparked my love of writing – the act of using words to create something out of nothing. I was hooked.

That early life lesson also taught me that persistence yields results. It’s a lesson was especially useful when I worked in journalism. After all, to make headway with quite a number of my stories, I had to be persistent. Getting in touch with people to flesh out articles wasn’t always easy, for one reason or another. But sticking with it always enabled me to get the job done.

The same is true for my aim to always continue growing as a writer. In my professional capacity, growth is key to staying viable. I’m fortunate enough to find resources that enable me to continue honing my craft. And I work with intention and persistence to do just that every day.

Of course, I’ve mentioned before that my foray into novel writing is a new venture. I started out with a completely blank slate, as far as knowledge about the concept goes. And it’s a journey I’ve stumbled and tumbled through. But by refusing to give up, I’ve found myself crafting a story that’s more than halfway finished. How did that happen?

Who knew that persistence could be so powerful?

Leadership, Mentorship, Uncategorized, Work From Home, Content Writing, Organization

Mentoring is a Valuable Commodity

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A few days ago, a college student reached out to me on social media. This person wanted to get my spin on freelance writing, as he was considering his hand at it for extra money while in school. I was happy to share my thoughts and the benefits of my experience with him. And I hope I was at least a little helpful.

A big reason I welcomed this opportunity was because it gave me the chance to, in some small way, pay it forward. I know how valuable the guidance I’ve received from those more experienced than myself has been.

My first mentor was Jerry Chandler, my college journalism professor. When I was in school, he was tough on me, which made me a better writer. But even years after I turned the tassel with my degree in hand, Jerry was a great sounding board. He also gave me great advice, based on his own experiences in writing and working in various avenues of media.

At my first newspaper job, I had the fortune to work under Scott Stewart. He helped me grow as a writer, supported my efforts, and encouraged my growth. It’s his mentorship that gave me the foundation I needed.

That same job gave me the added bonus of another mentor: Claudia Johnson. She was a seasoned reporter who recognized the importance of encouragement and guidance. Through her mentoring, I learned how to hone my craft.

These people were so generous with their time and wisdom. And for that, I will always be grateful. So much so, that it has prompted me to share the benefits of my own experiences when I can.

I’ve been fortunate enough to help burgeoning writers at the elementary and high school levels, as well as college interns. Man, it’s exciting to see students grow in their skills right before my eyes. I consider it an honor to be both on the receiving and giving end of mentoring. It’s an investment that reaps immeasurable rewards.

novel writing, Writing, writing a book, YA Novel, Young Adult Novel

The Water May Be Rough, But I’m Glad I Took the Plunge

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It’s been about a year since I took my dive into the deep end of novel writing. Since then, it’s been a journey filled with rough water. But still, I’m undeterred.

This journey definitely has its ups and downs. Although I write professionally in other avenues, this is a completely different experience for me. I’m learning as I go.

Sometimes it feels like I’m trying to walk to the kitchen in the middle of the night in bare feet. It’s pitch dark, and I keep bumping into furniture or stepping on cat toys every step of the way. Ouch!

That’s been especially true lately because, quite frankly, I’ve had writer’s block. I’m about 65% through the first draft of my YA mystery and am having trouble with a piece or two of the puzzle. I know all the platitudes say to power through it and keep writing. But this ain’t an easy thing to do with this type of work. Not for me, anyway. So I’ve been struggling for the last month or so, just trying to stay afloat.

Then, while on my evening walk earlier this week, I had an idea to improve the story. I know I looked funny when I stopped mid-stride right there on the sidewalk. I actually did the whole resting-the-chin-on-the-fist thing.

The only thing is, that bright idea significantly changes a dynamic of the story. That presents quite a situation, since I’m more than halfway through the first draft. But I do think it will really improve the story. So I’ll adapt as best I can through the rest of the draft. Then in the revision, I’ll perform some major surgery.

This endeavor isn’t an easy one at all. But I know it will be worth it. And although my arms may flail and I may spit water every now and then while making my way through the process, I’m glad to still be swimming.

Content Marketing, Content Writing, Writing, Content Writing, Novel Writing, Work From Home

I Accept the Challenge

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Thomas Paine said, “The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.”

This is a quote that really resonates with me. Even in the midst of challenges, I’ve always tried to stay positive and see the opportunities for growth. And of course, there’s the fodder for my writing (ahem).

All joking aside, of course I don’t enjoy challenges when I’m in the thick of them. But it’s those challenges that have fueled my writing journey.

That’s especially true in the professional leg of that journey. I’ve always found the idea of freelancing to be appealing. I even gave it a try or two over the years. But it wasn’t until, after working for several years in the newspaper industry, I felt a significant change in that industry and the challenges it presented.  Those challenges propelled me to jump into freelance writing full-time with both feet. I’m not sure whether I would have done so without those challenges.

Then that leap introduced me to even more challenges. For the past year, I’ve been building a business that’s all my own and on my terms. That’s great, right? But with that, I’ve had to completely change my writing perspective from that of a journalist to that of a content marketer, not to mention develop a system that enables me to be productive and marketable. No matter how challenging this has been, it’s allowed me to be my own boss and a more well rounded writer.

That same life change also gave me the courage to move forward with my novel writing. It’s been good release as I’ve adjusted to my new normal. Plus, it’s helped me to further refine my organization skills and sense of discipline.

Like everybody else, I don’t exactly relish life’s challenges. But knowing that I can come out the other side a better writer and stronger person, I simply say, I accept the challenge.

 

Library, Reading, summer reading, Uncategorized, Writing

I Love Reaping the Rewards of Reading

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In a recent conversation with an acquaintance, I started talking about a book I was reading. The person I was speaking to abruptly said they don’t like to read. As an avid reader, this was confounding to me.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time this has happened. Several times in my life, I’ve encountered people who said the same thing. The one that was most uncomfortable happened back in my journalism days. I was interviewing someone pretty notable and had gotten down to the fun questions for a quick little box info box. You know, like: favorite ice cream, cell phone ring, favorite food, and so on. When I asked what the last book they read was, they responded, “I don’t read.”

Awkward.

It saddens me when people say they don’t enjoy reading. They miss out on the chance to take a page-turning adventure or find that one book that resonates with them forever. But that’s not the only thing they’re missing out on. They’re wasting the chance to reap the multiple benefits that reading provides.

 

Better Sleep

Research shows that reading a few minutes before bedtime helps you sleep better. It’s quiet and relaxing and let’s the body know it’s time to relax and get some shut eye. The only problem for me is when a book gets to the pivotal points and I just can’t put it down. But that’s okay.

 

Less Stress

Since reading helps you power down for sleep, it’s only natural that it’s a good stress reliever. It certainly works for me. Delving into a good book has always helped me take my mind off my worries and decompress.

 

A Sharp Mind

Research shows that reading stimulates your mental faculties and even staves off mental decline in later years. That makes sense to me. My brain needs exercise, just like the rest of my body. Getting a regular workout keeps it healthy.

 

Improved Communications Skills

Of course, as a writer I know that reading improves my craft. But beyond that, it improves communications skills across the board, regardless of profession. A well read person is more articulate in presenting their thoughts, whether they’re written or spoken.

 

Reading is something I’ve always loved. It’s nice to know it’s so beneficial, too. I just wish more people took the opportunity to delve into a good book and read what they’ve been missing.