Why I’m Glad I’m Not a Kid: Part Two

Both of them have their phones in hand, fingers gyrating madly, half-smiles on their lips. My old fingers aren’t so coordinated, and here lies another reason I’m glad not to be a kid these days.
Technology is great. I love it. Obviously, you’re reading this via the Internet on my website as a blog post.
When I was a kid, none of those things existed. Most of them weren’t even under consideration. Heck, I learned computer programming in Basic as a sophomore in high school. And computers were as big and clunky as a TV (well, the TVs of the 1980s).
But those kids in the opening paragraph? They’re texting each other while seated on opposite ends of the couch.
How do I know this? Because they’re MY kids. I watched them do it, and shook my head thinking:

What has the world come to that we have to send messages to a person five feet away in the same room?

Social Engagement In Person

Although my kids are big with texting and private messaging, they know how to talk to people in person. And I’ve always made them put the phone away during family dinners.
Well, I did when they were kids. They’re still pretty good about respecting this and boy do they give me a hard time if I have MY phone out while we’re at the table.
Usually I’m just checking in on Facebook because…it’s the thing to do. Right?
I’m an introvert, but I can totally engage with people in person and especially in small group settings. A family dinner generally falls into this category.
Many kids don’t know how to make eye contact when they’re talking. They might mumble or fidget. Like the physical connection makes them itch.
Is this what we’re teaching them by letting them only engage via text, chat and messaging?

Social Engagement Via Device

It was funny the first time one of my kids texted me when I was across the room. Ha, ha. *waves*
It’s not funny that so many kids prefer this to face-to-face interactions. How will they learn the rules for good communication if they never engage in it?
Or are we moving to a society where the closest we get to face-to-face is Facetime? That’s a disheartening thought because people need physical connections.
It took me years to get a Facebook account, and I finally did it only to build my author platform. (And I’m not sure how much it’s helped with that as opposed to distracted me from writing books, but that’s another post.) Now, the younger generation has moved on from that.


They’re into SnapChat or Instagram. They want to post pictures more than have a conversation.
It all sounds so superficial to me. Where are they making friends they can talk to about their issues?

Why I Would Hate It This Way

As an introvert, I could hole up in my office all day. If I chatted with some friends via Messenger, that would satisfy my need for conversation.
But I would still be lonely for human interaction.
And the social media brand of communication is pretty me-focused. Look at what I’m wearing. This is where I’m eating lunch. Check out the view from my vacation.
To prove my point about the self-centered bent of engagement on social media, the day I began writing this post was National Selfie Day.
Really? Because that should be a thing?
I’m terrible at taking selfies, and I have no desire to get better. The best photo of me is the one I don’t know you’re taking.
As an author, I live to write. And my words are meant to be read and enjoyed by other people. That means I can’t be self-focused or no one will want to read my stuff.
I avoid the guy (or gal) in the room who’s talking all about their latest and greatest whatever without any thought to care about anyone else’s. Ugh.
It’s not just the thumb action that makes me glad I’m not a kid in this tech-enhanced-communication era. I need human touch and connection, eye-to-eye so I can see that the person cares about me.
Do you think social media is playing havoc without our ability to interact face-to-face?

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7 Must-Ask Questions to Find Your Perfect Book Editor – Part II

 I hope you haven’t been holding your breath for a week waiting for the second part of Kristen’s post on finding the perfect editor for your book. Waiting with bated breath is good. Holding your breath for a week? Not so much.

Now here’s Kristen with the rest of the questions that will help you in your editor search.

Go for it Kristen:

Last week I shared four of seven questions every author must ask to find the perfect editor for your manuscript. The first four questions are easy, focusing on narrowing your search to editors who offer the type of editing you need, who specialize in your genre, who have experience, and who have a portfolio and testimonials for you to look over.

Now, we’re getting into the serious stuff. By the end of this, you’ll have found the editor that’s right for you.

5. What is the editor’s attitude?

Real talk: There are too many editors to settle for one that doesn’t contribute to a healthy author-editor relationship. When you make first contact with an editor, pay attention to how they communicate.

  • Do they have time to talk to you on the phone about your project?
  • Is conversation with them easy, and do you see eye-to-eye with your plans for the book?
  • When you ask about their experience, are they open and communicative?
  • Do they seem excited about your project?

The author-editor relationship is famously collaborative, meaning if you don’t feel your editor is onboard 100%, move on to the next option. Your manuscript is understandably an important project—and usually a major part of your life. It deserves the respect of an engaged, enthusiastic editor.

6. Does the editor offer sample edits?

As you narrow your search for an editor, you may find several editors that may be a good fit for your project. Getting a sample edit is often the only way to know for sure which editor is right for you. Most editors will be happy to do a sample edit of 500-1000 words on your manuscript—just ask! Once you get the sample edit back, ask yourself:

  • Did the editor’s sample edit make a difference in your novel’s excerpt?
  • Do you feel that the edited material reads better than the original?
  • Pay attention to the editor’s stylistic choices, such as using em dashes (—), semicolons (;), and italics. Do you like their style? Do you feel like it’s right for your book?

The best editor will be able to match your writing style, so all editing changes will be seamless to your original writing. The final result will be a beautifully polished book, highlighting your skills as an author. 

7. What about contracts and pricing?

Before making the final decision, pay attention to two more important elements: if the editor offers a contract or written agreement, and if the price is reasonable.

As a book editor, I require a contract with every project, which provides the details of any editing project in writing, including the payments, editing services provided, and a confidentiality agreement. At the very least, protect yourself and ask the editor to provide a written agreement prior to you submitting payment or your manuscript.

Finally, the old adage “you get what you pay for” is true when it comes to selecting a book editor. The Editorial Freelancer’s Association’s Editorial Rates Chart is the gold standard for how much editing should cost, so make sure your editor falls in the ballpark. Generally, more experienced editors will charge more, while less experienced editors will charge less. You get what you pay for.

BONUS: Editing company or freelance editor?

Your search may turn up freelance editors, or editing companies—big difference between the two. Editing companies can have five or more editors on staff, several of whom will be working on your manuscript. Although multiple eyes on a document can be a good thing, conflicting editing styles and an inability to communicate freely with your editor may turn some authors off.

Generally, freelance editors own their own companies, take on fewer projects, and are the sole editor of your manuscript, meaning you’ll be working with one person (the editor) throughout the entire process. You’ll get to speak directly with the editor you’re working with and form a personal connection with her. That personal connection I make with the author is why I will always be a freelancer. Maybe I’m just biased. 😉

When you hire an editor, you’re paying them thousands of dollars and giving them the power to improve or destroy your work. Choose wisely!

Book manuscript editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of Kristen Corrects, Inc. , which provides manuscript editing services. Working independently allows Kristen the opportunity to interact with clients and provide them personalized service. There is nothing better than communication and friendliness in a business world that is slowly becoming less focused on people. 

Kristen is included in the 2014 Guide to Self-Publishing and the 2015 Guide to Self-Publishing, both published by the prestigious Writer’s Digest. She is also part of the credible Writer’s Market, Publishers Marketplace, and Editorial Freelancers Association and plays a pivotal role as senior editor at Modern Gladiator magazine.

Reading is Kristen’s passion, so when the workday is over, she can usually be found curled up with a good book (alongside her three cats, Sophie, Charlie, and Jack). She loves pizza, cat videos, watching The Bachelor, and traveling, and is likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, Idaho.

What are your personal experiences in working with editors? What advice can you offer readers?

Share the Love: Avoid the Haters

The purpose of this blog is to connect with future readers of the young adult fantasy series I’m writing. In reading my words here, you get to know me as “the person behind” the stories. If you like what you get here, you won’t mind parting with hard-earned cash to read a book I’ve written.

So goes the theory. Successful entrepreneurial authors tell me this, so I believe them.

In order to keep from offending my fan base, I’m supposed to avoid the following topics: religion and politics.

Not a problem. Neither of these subjects has much to do with what I’m writing (although there are both politics and religion in my fantasy universe). Who wants to start an argument anyway?

Apparently, quite a few people.

In checking out blogs with large followings, I’m realizing that most of them have 500 comments when they ask a question about a “hot button” topic or rant about religion or politics. Or, more specifically, how religion is misrepresented by the media and politicians.

I am eager for my readers to leave comments. Ask me to clarify something or share a similar experience.  Even a simple, “thanks” would probably get me dancing in my seat.

Do I want hundreds of comments? Duh!

What I don’t want is a bevy of haters to show up at my blog and tell me how wrong, stupid or hateful I am if I happen to disagree with their philosophy. This, I have noticed, makes up a bulk of the conversation on these controversial blog posts that go viral and get hundreds of comments.

I admire the people who disagree with the author of these rants with finesse and sound arguments. If a person can’t present their views in this way, I wish they wouldn’t comment.

Of course, I don’t know these bloggers personally. Maybe having an argument in their comments is the goal of their controversial posts.

If a person disagrees with me, I don’t jump down their throat in real life, so why would I do it in cyberspace? In fact, I know only a handful of people who react vociferously when you disagree with them. I’ve learned to keep my dissention to myself when speaking with these folks.

I love turquoise, aquamarine and teal. “I hate those colors,” you say. I shrug. After all, you’re entitled to your own opinions.

I despise tofu. Every time I’ve eaten it, it’s like choking down a piece of rubber. “I love tofu” you exclaim. I’m happy to let you have it. I’m not going to call you crazy because your palate is different than mine.

Yet, for some reason, when people come to deeper beliefs (those involved in politics and religion), this “agree to disagree” mentality flies out the window.  If I’m right about religion and you disagree, then you’re wrong. Only one of us can be right.

Maybe. Maybe not. I’m certain that if I approach our conversation with this “I’m right and you’re wrong” attitude, things will get ugly rather quickly. There’s no chance I’ll convert you to my side of things.

So, is the point just to argue – be the loudest voice – when religion and politics enter the conversation? No one really expects to change the views of the person they’re demeaning, do they?

If that’s the case, there’s no point in having the conversation. I have entered such arguments in times past about abortion, drinking alcohol, premarital sex and even homosexuality. I’m done with such topics if it isn’t going to be a two-way street of sharing ideas. Communication involves speaking and listening.

communication.quoteListening doesn’t happen when the person who isn’t talking is just formulating their next rebuttal. The process will break down completely when the name calling starts.

Furthermore, if my answer to your stand on an issue is “well, that’s just stupid,” I’ve proven to you that your argument is sound and I have no rebuttal. Seriously.

If you present me with proof that chocolate will kill me, I’ll scream “say it ain’t so.”  I might even give up eating chocolate (or just comfort myself with more of the stuff accepting that everyone dies and I don’t mind dying with dark chocolate melting on my tongue). However, if you snatch the chocolate covered almond out of my hand as I’m getting ready to pop it in my mouth, I’m going to be ticked. The conversation isn’t going to go very well because it started out on a negative note.

I think the real reason I’ll avoid blogging about controversial topics in this space is because I want to start a conversation. I don’t want to fill my comments with name-calling and hateful rhetoric.

It makes me sad. I feel strongly about many things. I won’t write about most of them on this blog. My readers won’t really get know me in a deeper way. Some people might even call me
unprincipled, spineless or wishy-washy.

It’s a no-win situation. Name-calling tends to be the only route some people know when expressing their opinion.

Being Right Means being Able to apologize

Yeah, I’ve had this same conversation

A few weeks ago, I posted about maintaining family traditions around the holidays. I didn’t say there was no room for change, but I did mention conversations held with my son.

He responded to the post (which you can read here) by saying he felt he had been misrepresented. I made him look bad.

My niece, who had been privy to one such conversation about traditions, said I reported things as they actually happened. If he felt the truth made him look bad, then my son should consider that a mirror and change accordingly.

Realize these are my summations and interpretations of the postings. They can be seen on Facebook, if you want to read them in black and white.

I want to apologize for any misrepresentation of my son. He is a great, opinionated man with strong convictions. I don’t want him to change. I admire the man he has become.

However, as a man, he does seem to possess the flaw that many of the male persuasion fall prey to: the inability to admit it when they’re wrong.

I’m not saying women don’t fall into this trap. Some do. Not me. I’m so excited when I’m right that it paints a smile on my face for the entire day. I capitulate when I’m wrong (at least I vocally admit my error).

After all, arguing rarely changes anything. It makes people mad and causes tension. I’ll pass, thank you very much.

I didn’t mean to make my son look bad, so for that I apologize. The fact that he commented on the post at all means he understands the truth of the matter. I’ll accept that as his “I was wrong” admission.

We have to take these small victories where we find them.

Have you ever apologized when you were in the right? I’d love to commiserate with you about this seeming contradiction in the realm of truth and justice.

 

Stir the Pot to Gain Comments

I confess that I follow at least two blogs that are known to tackle controversial topics on a regular basis. I enjoy listening to those writers build their case and I’m intrigued by some of the intelligent responses they garner.

I don’t share these posts. Most of the time, I don’t even press the “Like” button. Even if I like them.

According to social media Jedi Master Kristen Lamb, tackling controversy is a sure way to ruin your platform.  Unless you write controversial non-fiction. When you’re trying to convince mothers everywhere that they should buy your young adult fantasy book for their teenagers and their nieces and nephews? Best to avoid the debatable topics.

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to bring people to my blog. If they visit, they rarely comment. How can I increase participation without resorting to the platform-destroying tactic of blogging about hot news items and inciting an argument?

I’ve done my best to avoid filling this blog with samples of my fiction writing. I try to honestly share things – from my family, my insights and my heart – with my readers.

Sometimes, I can even pull off humor. Mostly, it’s just sarcasm, but people who know me well say most of my posts sound like me. My authentic voice is coming through. Shouldn’t that draw people in?

This is the part where I open it up to those of you who took the time to visit my blog. Please help me out. I sincerely desire your input to make my blog more entertaining and interactive. Choose one or more of these questions to respond to in the comments section:

How can I increase participation on my blog?
Does my voice seem authentic to you?
What sort of topics would you be interested in reading about here?

Is a Power Point without a Presenter Worthwhile?

Isn't this a beautiful slide?
Isn’t this a beautiful slide?

Once again, one of my online professors has assigned a Power Point project. While I have no problems researching and designing these presentations, I wonder at their effectiveness.

What is the point of a presentation? It should display facts and media that informs or persuades an audience.

Can a slide show do that without a human presenter? I’ve seen musical displays that evoke deep emotions. Recently, the teacher I work with showed one about the 9/11 terrorist attacks in our reading class. I was choked up and teary-eyed. The music helped the pictures evoke an emotional response.

This would hardly be the point of my presentation about the major themes in A Visit from the Goon Squad. In fact, it has no sound bites whatsoever. Although it contains sound information in an appealing format, it seems dull and lifeless to me.

Even with my voice file giving the presentation, the Power Point I designed to “sell my skills” for a class last term seemed to fall flat. To me, these slides are a visual enhancement, but as the speaker, I’m the main attraction.

Am I looking at this all wrong? I would love to hear what my readers think about a Power Point presentation standing alone.