Blog Archive

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Words on Wednesday

Hello all,

I've been trying to get into a habit of posting more consistently here at Little Fiddly Bits, whether I'm posting as an editor or just in general. In my head I've been calling it "Words on Wednesday", which is admittedly a little cheesy, but then I try to convince myself to clean the house with "Mundane Monday", so, there ya go.

Not much on the editing front today, except that the world seems out to get me with the constant misuse of the words "rein" and "reign". The second one means rule of a kingdom. Think "regnum" which is Latin for kingdom. The first one is what you use to steer a horse. You do not give someone "free reign". You do not "reign someone in" when they get too crazy. You do, however, "reign supreme." Can we all please just embrace this and stop putting all over everything I read? I'd be really grateful.

I have two henna gigs this weekend, which is unprecedented given that it's only he beginning of March. Henna doesn't usually start up for me until May at the earliest. So. Yay! Now I just need to mix up a fresh batch of paste, rather than using last year's. There is generally nothing wrong with using last year's henna, but this time around my final batch didn't turn out right and didn't do much for clients anywhere other than their hands. Which was disappointing, given that I'd mixed it up for a cancer patient to do on her scalp, and we ended up with hardly any color. So I'm going to give that stuff away for free to people who are curious about trying henna, warn them that it's not very dark, and let them have fun.

I freaked my daughter out yesterday, accidentally. She'd been cheerfully humming "The Hall of the Mountain King" while she puttered, just quietly going "bum-bum-bum-bum Bum bum Bum, Bum bum Bum, Bum bum Bum" and I recognized it and brought it up on Youtube for her to listen to... yeah. She didn't know that it turned into the orchestral equivalent of a heavy-metal mosh pit halfway in, and she gets emotionally affected by music the same way I do, so it was like forcing her to watch a horror movie. I felt terrible.

Then I told her the story of a friend of mine who, back in high school, was in the marching band , at a football game, and his team wasn't doing well, and he was bored, so he fired up the tuba and just quietly started going "bum-bum-bum-bum Bum bum Bum" etc... See, "Hall of the Mountain King" sounds amazing on tuba. And the rest of the marching band was also bored. And they got into it. And they got louder. And their football team heard them and also got into it, and started hitting harder. And the game kinda turned around from that point. Once my daughter was laughing, we turned the music back on again and she listened to it a second time and decided that it was pretty awesome, as long as she could pretend to be a dwarf with a hammer and chisel and go pound things. Which, let's face it, is pretty much what that piece of music is for.

That's pretty much it for my words on Wednesday. Got a deadline to meet for someone presenting a PhD thesis, first time working on one of those. Novel length, only nonfiction and with bigger words. And I'm writing fanfic again, I've got a chapter I need to clean up and post. If you're curious, I'll only tell you that I like Loki far too much to be healthy.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How to make your own chai

Okay, I admit it, this has nothing to do with editing. But if you're like me, drinking something tasty and caffeinated could have quite a lot to do with your creative process.

So. I got this chai recipe from a friend of a friend via Facebook. Unfortunately, I have gone hunting for the original post (it was a comment in someone else's thread), and for the life of me I cannot find it to give proper credit where it is do.

But anyway. Chai.

I wrote the recipe down originally, but am too lazy to get off my butt and go look for it, so this is from memory - but it's pretty easy.
  • Three cups water (or 750 mL)
  • Three black teabags (you can use loose tea, but you'll have to strain the chai after it's done, before serving)
  • A pinch each (HA! I used more like 1/4 tsp at least and then added some more to garnish) of cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cardamom (or I think it was three or four whole pods if that's your thing), ground cloves, and black pepper. Don't forget the black pepper.
  • Two cups milk (or 500 mL) (preferably whole)
  • 4 tsp sugar (or 50 mL), prepare to add more to taste. I started with sugar, but when it came time for the "to taste" part I added honey.
Put the water, tea, and spices into a medium saucepan and bring to boil over HIGH heat. I personally had to watch out for foaming from the tea, although that may have been the teabags. And by foaming, I mean the pot was less than half full of water and threatened to boil over.

Anyway, once it's boiling, reduce heat to LOW, cover, and simmer for ten minutes. You're gonna end up with some seriously strong tea, here.

After simmering, add the milk and sugar, bring heat up to MEDIUM, and bring it all back up to a simmer. Remove from heat. If you used loose tea, strain before serving. So that's most of what was in the recipe, with a little of my commentary added because I get verbose about things I like.

This next part was not in the recipe I was given: Once it's in your mug, you can add honey instead of sugar to bring it up to your preferred sweetness level. You can also garnish with another little sprinkle of your favorite of the powdered spices you used (I go for ginger).

They also don't tell you that this recipe makes at least three or four mugs' worth, so unless you have friends or are a chai junkie, you'll have to let the extra cool to room temp, put it in a sports bottle, and store it in the fridge. Now, I only made this for the very first time yesterday. However, speaking from experience this morning, you can just shake up the cold chai to stir up the spices that have settled out, then pour into a mug and microwave for about 1:20 to 1:30, and it will be just as flavorful and possibly even a little spicier than it was yesterday. And yes, if you want, you can totally drink it cold too.

Warning - black tea has caffeine in it. This is not at all a caffeine-free beverage. If you're looking for a caffeine-free alternative to coffee, this ain't it. You will be stimulated. You may possibly be wired. Just... keep that in mind. But it is really, really good. It takes like the tea I got at an Indian restaurant once, as opposed to the mixes you get made from powder at your local coffee shop or the grocery store.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

My biggest editing peeve: me

So, I'm a freelance editor. Yay! People send me their novels and ask me to clean them up and get them ready to publish. Yay!

Their manuscripts aren't actually ready for that stage of the editing process. Boo. 

Okay, before we go any further, this is not going to be me yelling at the authors. Relax. I almost made it a "dear authors, please don't do this" post, but then as I was writing I realized that it's a matter of adjusting my own approach. So, really, relax.

See, it turns out that there are several different levels of editing that a manuscript needs - genuinely needs, I'm not just fishing for money here - and if you don't manage them more-or-less sequentially, you end up asking your editor to do a whole heck of a lot of extra work that you probably aren't paying them to do.

Marcy Kennedy has a terrific post that neatly explains the different stages of editing out there. When my prospective clients and I are first getting to know one another, I send them to that page just to make sure we're all using the same vocabulary to describe the same types of work.

For a perfect example, here's a snippet from that post:
Developmental Edit
You might have also heard this called a comprehensive critique, a substantive edit, or a macro edit. (No wonder everyone is confused, right?)
This doesn’t involve correcting your punctuation and grammar or smoothing out awkward sentences. It’s about big picture issues—for example, characterization, setting, plot, too much/not enough backstory, showing vs. telling, dialogue, POV problems, and making sure each scene has a clear goal and enough tension.
Do you see that part about POV errors? Do you? DO YOU? Good, because the title of this post is "My biggest editing peeve", and here it is.
Line Edit
A line edit will cover things like word choice, paragraph flow, smoothing out awkward or wordy sentences, eliminating repetition, catching clich├ęs, and other style issues. During a line edit, your editor will also point out areas where you need to clarify what you’ve written and suggest spots where your transitions are weak.
Many editors will flag POV errors or small scale showing vs. telling during a line edit, but they will not do it to the degree that a developmental edit does
In other words, line editing isn't the same as developmental editing. Correcting the errors in a scene's point of view isn't supposed to be part of line editing.

I'm lucky. I generally am able to offer my authors "The Full Monty" and charge accordingly. I go through, usually at least twice, and look at every single thing I can find in the manuscript. I end up doing developmental stuff if it's there, and line edits, and then I finish up with a copy edit/proofread.

But I've been approaching it like a line edit. I've been thinking of it as a line edit, and then getting all cranky and bent out of shape when I find POV errors that mean everything I've just gone through with a fine-toothed comb is going to need to be rewritten anyway, and all the time I put in on the punctuation or whatever has been wasted.

It's a peeve. Strangely, though, it's not actually a problem. No, really. It's not a problem that authors are asking me to do a line edit when they need developmental one first. See, the real problem is that I keep trying to perform a line edit rather than taking a moment to go, "You know what, screw the grammar for now, let's just look at characterization and POV first."

Writers learn as they go. The more you read, the more you write, the more you begin to understand about the craft of writing.

Editors? Well, this editor anyway, is also learning as she goes. I refine my approach a little bit with every manuscript, and I get rid of the habits I have that make me enjoy the work less, while trying new ideas that make me enjoy the work more.

Figuring this thing out, about how I've been approaching the manuscripts, has been wonderful. I am so much less frustrated now! And it should have been obvious that I was taking the wrong approach, but since I'm being paid for an "everything" edit, I was trying to do everything at once and couldn't figure out why I was getting more and more unhappy with the work.

So. Send me a sample! I'll look it over, tell you what I think it needs, and we'll go from there.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Editing news

Huh. Well. I'm not saying I'm psychic, but the coincidences lately have been kinda fun. You know how sometimes you're thinking about a song you haven't heard in a while, and then right as you're thinking about it, it comes on the radio? Yeah. Fun coincidences like that.

TH most recent one: I was thinking about the little publisher out in Arizona that sometimes refers authors to me when their manuscripts aren't quite ready for publication. I was just pondering how they haven't sent me any work in a while, and I got a phone call from my contact out there. It seems he's left that publisher and is starting up his own company, and specifically wanted me to come along and be an editor for him. He says the work will be slow for a bit, but that's fine, it fits in with my freelance schedule.

So. There we are. Keep an eye open for Penmore Press, website coming soon. (As of this posting the page is still blank, but give them time, they haven't even officially opened their doors yet.

Friday, January 30, 2015

A bit about the editing

Hello all,

I just had it pointed out to me, by a friend, in a friendly way, that announcing I'm a freelance editor and then saying nothing about my process or rates was a bit of a tease. Sorry about that; we have established that I suck at marketing, and I didn't want to write what amounted to a commercial, so, yeah.

There are several different types of edit that a manuscript might need, but due to my temperament I have a tendency to end up doing all of them at once on a manuscript. There are also a lot of different names for he different types of edit, so for definitions of terms, I generally send people to Marcy Kennedy's excellent blog post on the subject.

Now, to rates. Editors can charge by the hour or by the word (saying it's by the page is the same thing), and since I work from home and have a kid, it's impossible for me to figure out an hourly rate for anything. Most of my editing ends up falling under the definition of "line edit", which in freelance world generally ranges anywhere from two to six cents per word, based on what little research I've been able to do. That fee depends on how much work the manuscript needs, and the work, as I said above, generally includes copy edit and proofreading stuff as well as a little bit of developmental editing (working out point-of-view usually falls under a developmental edit, but I can't ignore POV errors. I Just Can't).

If you're interested in seeing if you and I are a good fit together, you can always email me a sample of your work. Ten pages, double spaced, 12pt Times New Roman. I will look that over for no charge and give you my impressions, corrections, and commentary, and you can compare my editing style to any other editors you might also be considering. The address is heather dot bungardjanney at gmail dot com. In my response I will also include a quote of what I think I would prefer to charge, with the understanding that haggling is a time-honored art form and you may want to make a counteroffer.

One caveat, which may make us incompatible on this project (although I'd hope you would consider me for other projects in future): Please don't ask me about deadlines. They are my nemesis and I'm still, after two years as an editor, still figuring out the pacing of my work so that I can come up with realistic estimates of how long a manuscript will take to complete. If you're setting your novel in ancient Rome and I'm having to look up historical details and correct all your Latin, the book will take longer. It just will. If my kid is home sick from school, the book will take longer. There are ways you can I can work together to speed the process along, in which case the deadline may end up being dependent on you and not me. If I have three clients all asking for my attention simultaneously, the book will take longer. You get the idea. So yeah... please don't ask me about deadlines.

Tech stuff: I don't own a Mac, so your document needs to be in Microsoft Word format. If we end up working together, I'll ask you to install and use Dropbox (it's free, relax) so that we can share and make changes to the same manuscript. I'll also ask if you're interested in using Google Hangouts for the occasional live chat so that we can each ask the other questions for clarification. Finally, I accept payment via PayPal.

Hmm, and here I've been avoiding putting together a blog post about these details. Thanks to those of you who asked me the question, I've finally gotten off my butt and answered it!