It's okay of you cannot be productive right now. Just focus on staying healthy and taking mental-health breaks.
Editing, Health, Tips

Being Productive During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In short, it’s tough. Really tough.

Because of my health risks, I’ve been at home for a while now. It’s difficult not to be distracted by articles of people blatantly ignoring the mandates to stay home. Even to this day, some people are just not understanding how important it is to flatten that curve. COVID-19 might not present symptoms right away, so by gathering in groups, people are not only risking their own lives, but others as well. This is the information health experts are telling us. And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau even said today, “Enough is enough. Go home and stay home.”

My husband Bruce and I are both working from home these days. While he’s been extremely productive, my productivity has taken a different route. I started off in 1000% Disability Advocate Mode, imploring people to think especially of seniors and/or immunocompromised people of any age. I even asked some contributing authors of the Spoonie Authors Network to make a video with me, so watchers can see we’re humans, not statistics. I’ve been communicating with other advocates, bouncing ideas off them as to how best to flatten the curve and make wise choices.

This video has closed captioning on YouTube.

I’ve also advised fellow authors not to be hard on themselves if they can’t write at this moment. It’s perfectly acceptable to not be okay right now. It makes sense to have one’s brain occupied by making safe practices a priority.

That being said, I feel it’s also important to give ourselves mental breaks. Some of my friends are sharing their art online, others are performing live readings, others are bingeing their favourite shows or diving into books. I’ve been attempting to draw again, using a tablet this time, to ease my fingers that don’t fing.

Today, after a week’s delay with my client’s approval, I decided it was time to resume my editing work again. I’m glad I did because it’s the second in a cozy mystery series by Laurie Stewart writing as Delilah Knight. The characters are humorous and charming, and the pace of the story is just right. Also, editing takes my brain to a different place. The news can wait for a few hours. I need to do this.

Be gentle on yourselves. While being at home is not new for me, I recognize it’s new for many. There will be adjustments. You’ll do it! And remember that the more we keep on with social distancing, the better chances for our medical staff to remain healthy and be able to treat those who need their care.

I wish you well, folks. Be safe and be wise.

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Stay safe and stay home to protect yourselves and others during the COVID-19 pandemic!

Dynamic Canvas Inc. offers editing and web design services for artists, independent authors, and small businesses. Contact us today!

Part of the book cover design from Michele Sabad's First We Eat, the Wolf Flow Press logo, and the first book cover of Delilah Knight's Miss Vee Series
Editing, Web weaving

Looks like 2020 is off to a flying start!

Wow, it’s only February 5, and this year is already off and running. In January, Cait edited the second book from author Michele Sabad. First We Eat is a charming food-based memoir (but don’t ask for “real” recipes), and it should be available in March 2020. You can follow Michele’s blog for more information. We wish her as much success as with her first memoir, Camp Follower: One Army Brat’s Story.

Author Jamieson Wolf asked us to do a refresh of his indie publisher’s website, Wolf Flow Press. You can find his memoir Little Yellow Magnet and his bestselling poetry collections among the titles!

Book cover: Miss Vee and the Lecherous Lawyer, by Delilah Knight. A woman with grey hair and glasses, wearing a purple and black dress stands in front of a green shed that's beside a russet farm house.

We have a new author client joining our Dynamic Canvas Inc. family! Speculative fiction author Laurie Stewart is writing as Delilah Knight to bring us the Miss Vee cozy mystery series. Cait will edit the first two books in the series in February and March. We hope this is the start of a beautiful business relationship!

Book cover: A brick wall with faded beige, russet, yellow, and aqua paint has Nothing Without Us spray-painted in black.

Cait and co-editor Talia C. Johnson were over the moon to find out the Nothing Without Us anthology would be part of the syllabus of a Canadian disabilities study this winter semester at Trent University. The course is being taught by eight-time Prix Aurora Award winner Derek Newman-Stille. So, that was great news because having this work taught in universities was a much desired goal!

Not a bad beginning! Can’t wait to see what the rest of the year will bring!

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Why be static when you can be dynamic?

Dynamic Canvas Inc. offers editing and web design services for artists, independent authors, and small businesses. Contact us today!

Editing, Recommendations, Writer's cramp

Back from my spring hiatus. Guess what I did?

I received some interesting advice from a professional last year: You’re always working on someone else’s book. What about making time for your own?

Being an author in my own right, I felt that was a fair question. I’d begun a prequel to my first book (Life in the ’Cosm) called The Stealth Lovers, and as this was an origin story about two beloved warriors, Xax and Viv, reader excitement only fuelled my desire to complete the novel. I can thank NaNoWriMo for the push to write about half of the manuscript in November 2017, but I had far to go.

Then my freelance editing job kicked in again in January 2018. I’d completed style edits for A Desert Song (Amy M. Young), Little Yellow Magnet and Life and Lemonade (Jamieson Wolf), and Moonshadow’s Guardian (Dianna Gunn). All great books, but four manuscripts in three months left me a little frayed around the edges. I needed a breather.

So, I consulted with another client who had no problem with rescheduling to June. That left me with April and May for my head-clearing break.

I coined it my writing-cation. I took April to set (and achieve) a goal of 25,000 words to complete The Stealth Lovers‘ ugly first draft. Then I made it prettier in May and sent it off to beta readers. (The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive with much-valued constructive notes.)

When June 1 came around, I felt refreshed! Funny, it might seem odd that I regrouped from words by writing more words, but penning a novel is very different than editing one. My clients expect a certain kind of perfection from my performance. As an author, especially doing Camp NaNoWriMo in April, all I have to do is get the words down. They don’t have to be pristine; they just have to map the story. And yes, even though there was some self-editing in May, it’s still not the same. I made the beta-reader draft as nice as I could for this stage of the game, but I knew more of a fine-tooth-comb editing would happen after I incorporated their feedback. My deadlines with writing are self-imposed, which also takes the pressure off.

So, I’m really excited about having another book in progress. I hope to submit it to Renaissance in the late summer or early fall. If you’re interested about my life as a writer, please visit my author page!

And what am I doing now? I just started editing The Rabbit Paperweight by Robin Elizabeth, who is a most wonderful and compassionate human. Her book has me riveted so far.

All my authors are massively talented. They make my job such a pleasure. I’m glad I work for them, but I’m also glad that I remembered to work for me, too.

Such is the existence of an author and an editor.

Editing, Proofreading, Tips

Seven Tips for Preparing a Happy, Shiny Manuscript

My fellow authors, I love editing your manuscripts. I truly do. I can’t even believe it’s my job! I’d ask someone to pinch me, but I bruise easily.

As much as I enjoy being an editor, what slows down my process is a manuscript that has not been properly prepared as a submittable draft. It’s important to think of me the same way you’d think of a publisher—send me your absolutely best draft ever. Trust me, I’ve been in your shoes. I’m an author, too. Self-editing is hard, I know. But this post includes some things you can do to make your manuscript shine.

Remember! A draft that’s in poor shape could cost you more money, because the editor will most likely have to do several editing passes. If you’re on a tight schedule, this could also result in missed deadlines.

Manuscript health checklist

Here are the tasks I want authors to perform before sending me their work. You can also use these tips if you’re submitting to a publisher.

  1. Format the manuscript with a commonly-used template. I have noticed publishers often prefer the William Shunn style. (You can choose Times Roman 12pt or Courrier 12pt fonts when submitting to me, but please note any publisher’s specific guidelines.)
  2. If you download the Shunn template you should be fine, but if you’re creating a similar template, remember to set your paragraph styles with indents and not tabs. Do not add extra hard returns for paragraph spacing. Use the style formatting options to set the space between paragraphs. Also, set the line spacing to double. Scene changes are marked with a centre-aligned hashtag (#).
  3. Understand how to punctuate dialogue. Here’s a good post about it from The Editor’s Blog.
  4. Read your manuscript out loud, or have it read to you. You would be amazed how clunky dialogue can sound when it’s read aloud. Also, if you use apps that read your manuscript for you, and you visually follow the story while listening to it, you’ll find typos or awkwardly worded sentences that didn’t previously register. I normally convert my manuscripts to epub format and use the Read Aloud feature on Google PlayBooks, but you can also set voice features on Apple.
  5. Have other people review your manuscript. Beta readers are essential. Good ones will tell you what works and what doesn’t.
  6. Be honest with yourself and see if you have a repetitive habit, such as a phrase or sentence structure you write way too often, or what are known as “useless words.” This article from The Writer’s Circle discusses the most commonly overused and unnecessary words. (Confession: My manuscript was filled with “really” and “just.”)
  7. Spell check and grammar check. Seems silly to include these, but they’re a must.

I’m sure I could think of more things, but if these seven items were checked off the list, I’d be a happy editor. A manuscript in good tick helps me concentrate on the flow of the story and pinpoint things that have been missed. No one editor can do a perfect job, but the fewer the mistakes when I receive the manuscript, the better I am at capturing those remaining.

Just another quick note before I go. Don’t think that by doing these things you won’t need an editor. I followed these tips for my book, and the three editors I had with my publisher still spotted stuff that needed correcting. It’s always good to have a fresh and professional set of eyes. We editors want to have your back and we do care that your book turns out well. Your impression as an author reflects on our work, too. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

So, happy self-editing. I look forward to working with you!


(Image: Hand Typing Computer Keyboard Stock Photo)