Category Archives: editing

The Smell of Cordite Hung in the Air

Woman with Smoking Gun by Clarence F. UnderwoodSo I’m reading away on the first in series of a new-to-me thriller author, enjoying the story line and the protagonist (tortured male assassin–one of my favorite kind of characters. Cliché, I know, but I still love ’em) and I come to the line “The smell of cordite hung heavy in the air” (or something like that).  As I’m sure you can tell by the title of this post, there just might be something wrong with that.

Well, yeah.

Back when I was a newbie to the crime genre, I read as many crime novels as I could find, and it didn’t matter what year they were published. Often, I’d come across the cordite reference and I wondered, “what the heck is cordite?” So I looked it up. Turns out, cordite was a propellant much like gunpowder, used mainly in the UK.

Notice the past tense.

That’s because cordite is no longer around and it hasn’t been used since WWII. Now, I’m not trying to be all snarky about accuracy in books, since I’ve made mistakes in my own fiction (like using the word clip for magazine. Got called on that one a couple of times.) But the author claims to have several experts read their work for accuracy and it makes me wonder how “expert” those folks really are. This author is independently published, but I’ve read a few books by traditionally published, well-known thriller authors who used the same reference in fairly recent books. Aren’t they supposed to have fact-checkers? Or at least a good editor?

Oh, well.

I’ve also read books where the character flipped the safety off on a Glock. A Glock doesn’t have an external safety . After reading the most recent book with that reference I gave the author the benefit of the doubt since guns weren’t their forte, and because it didn’t throw me too far out of the story. I do that with most of the books I read. Being an author myself, I realize how hard it is to make sure unfamiliar subjects are accurate, and the best you can do is research and try very hard to get it right. If the rest of the book is compelling, then a mistake here and there isn’t a deal breaker, at least for me.

The one thing that does make me throw the book across the room, though, and I’ve touched on this before, is when a male writer tries to write a female and either makes her a one-dimensional, convenient character, or puts lipstick on a dude and calls it good.

Ugh.

But, then again, being female is one subject where I have plenty of experience  🙂

How about you? Do you give authors the benefit of the doubt when you notice a mistake, or do you throw the book across the room? Better yet, do you tell them?


Top 10 Signs You’re Near the End of Your Novel

Editions of FrankensteinAs some of you may know, I’ve been finishing up the latest Leine Basso Thriller. Well, I have great news–THE BODY MARKET, Leine Basso Thriller #3 is fini ! Once it’s in my editor’s capable hands, I’ll be gearing up for the launch–right now it’s looking like a January 1st release. The book will be available for pre-order, so check back here or, hey! Why not join my mailing list for updates, sneak peeks, and other free stuff 🙂 ?

As I was nearing The End, normal activity just kind of fell by the wayside…you know, like showering, cleaning, cooking, answering the phone, emails…all that frivolous stuff…and I realized it happened at the end of each book with alarming regularity. I asked some author friends if they experienced anything similar and every one of them concurred. So, to prepare for the next inevitable episode of reckless disregard for personal care and housekeeping that ensues every time you’re close to finishing a book, here are the

Top 10 Signs You’re Near the End of Your Novel…

  1. You go into cardiac arrest and frantically hit ‘save’ every time your laptop screen blips
  2. The cat won’t even bother to come into the office because of the stench
  3. There aren’t any dishes in the kitchen—they’re embedded in your desk and the floor in your office and have dried, crusty green things growing on them that you consider having for lunch because you don’t want to take the time to cook
  4. You realize you no longer have a cat because you forgot to feed him and he’s decided to live at the neighbors
  5. You wonder when your spouse/roommate grew a beard and realize your protagonist has to have one because it’s a metaphor and will make the story so much richer whereupon you comb through your manuscript searching for places to insert the new description which changes the story so much you have to re-read the damned thing again and you’re sick sick sick to death of it and then decide to scrap the idea half way through
  6. You’ve forgotten your sister’s name and call her Max
  7. Your spouse/roommate opens the door and peeks  their head in and asks  an innocent question, like where’s the kitty litter, and you jump down their throat because you were in the zone in the middle of a scene and they freaking have no idea how hard it is to get there and now you’ll never ever find that flow again and don’t they know they just ruined the whole entire book because of that one stupid question and then they storm out of the house and don’t come back for a week and you can’t remember why they left because you’re back in the zone and writing again
  8. On Friday afternoon you think you’ve written THE Great American Novel, and PBS, Netflix, HBO, and Amazon will be falling over themselves to secure the rights to make it into a movie/series/extravaganza/orgy-of-fantasticness
  9. On Saturday, after a good night’s sleep, you know it’s the worst dross that has ever been devised by anyone, living or dead, and doesn’t deserve to breathe the same air as an ISIL terrorist and seriously, you call yourself a writer? You’re sure your career is over and your readers will think you’ve gone off the deep end and will tell you to just quit, quit now while you still have your dignity—and you consider it.
  10. You’ve been writing in someone else’s point of view for so long you’re surprised to see yourself in the mirror
  11. You go to the bathroom and devise a brilliant way to get your protagonist out of the corner you’ve written them into and try to take notes on toilet paper with a half-empty tube of toothpaste because there’s nothing to write with and you’re sure you’ll forget. Then, when you get back to your desk, you realize the idea won’t work and throw the painstakingly written notes in the trash and realize now there is no more toothpaste but that it doesn’t really matter because you haven’t brushed your teeth in weeks
  12. You can no longer find the living room because of the dust cloud
  13. You can’t remember where the ‘on’ button is for the vacuum, and wonder where the USB port is
  14. You think Personal Hygiene is a suburb of Cincinnati
  15. You get to the end of your Top Ten list and realize you’ve forgotten how to count

Editing Your Manuscript

CreativeHere’s a dandy post on Anne R. Allen’s blog by Ruth Harris explaining types of editors and why you need one.


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