Ways to Show Your Editor You Appreciate Them

A relationship between an author and editor is complex, especially when you’ve been working together for a while. It’s very intimate, and as with any close relationship, it can be a lot of fun and very rewarding, and it can also be contentious at times.14590258_10209445044575501_4640772660951395327_n

Authors trust us with something very precious to them, a piece of their creative soul, and a good editor works diligently to respect that trust and do an author’s work justice. Obviously, part of the reward for a job well done is the payment we receive, but sometimes a little something extra is appreciated.

Showing your editor how much their efforts mean to you, whether it’s a prompt, thorough edit, adjusting their schedule for you when you’re ill, helping you brainstorm titles, polishing and proofing your blurb, staying up late messaging with you when you’re having a creative meltdown, or sharing your release day links, a small gesture makes them smile and feel good about the job they’re doing.

Here are some easy ways to show your appreciation to your favorite editor:

  • Send them a testimonial for their website, just a few sentences saying why you enjoy working with them, and why other authors should consider hiring them.
  • Mention them in the acknowledgments of your new book. We like to hear that our work matters and makes a difference in your writing life, and other authors might see our name associated with your well-edited book and look us up.
  • Send us a copy of your book! After the many hours we spend focused on your manuscript, we feel invested in it, and having that signed copy on our desk definitely makes us smile. This isn’t always possible, though, since most authors have to pay for copies, even at a discounted rate, and overseas shipping is ridiculous if you’re in the UK and your editor is in the United States, but if you can spare a copy, we’ll treasure it.
  • Send a small gift that made you think of them. For example, one of my authors sent me a pretty notebook and pen, which I keep on the table where I work for jotting down those strange ideas that always seem to pop up. Another author sent me some dog toys when I got a new puppy, and some ketchup flavored Lays potato chips when she went to Canada, which is the only place these tasty treats are sold. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or special, just some small token that shows you’re thinking of them.
  • Share their information on social media, and pass their details on to fellow authors who are looking for an editor.
  • Stay in touch! Just because your edit is over and your book has been released, we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well while working on your project. I probably want to know if your puppy got over her upset tummy, if your husband figured out what was wrong with the dishwasher, and if your daughter liked the painting you gave her for her graduation. Sure, I want to know how you’re doing on your next book so we can start planning an editing schedule, but how was your trip to Aruba?

We tip our restaurant servers, Uber drivers, the guy who parks our car, and the lady who does our nails…why should an editor be any different? It doesn’t have to be a gift or a monetary gratuity. Just saying “thank you for helping me make my story shine” and recommending our services to other authors is priceless!

Knotted Open Work Baby Blanket

I was looking for something for a baby blanket, and came across the knotted open work stitch, and thought it would pair nicely with the yarn I had, which is Hayfield Baby Blossom DK in “baby bouquet.”

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This is a 70/30 acrylic/nylon yarn, which I normally wouldn’t buy since I started knitting more than crocheting and became sort of a yarn snob, not using anything that isn’t some combination of wool, silk, or cashmere. I adore hand-dyed yarn by some of my favorite artisans! But for a baby, I wanted something that could be washed and not be ruined in the first round of baby-barf.

This yarn produces a gorgeous faux-fair isle look, with gradients of pink leading into sections of white dappled with green and dark pink, mimicking little blossoms. The knotted open work creates a beautiful, delicate lattice-like fabric, and the knotted clusters work wonderfully with the blossoms created by the yarn.

I absolutely love how this is coming out, and wanted to share it with you. I’m still somewhat new to knitting, and this is only my third blanket, the previous work having been scarves and shawls. The last blanket I did started with four rows of garter stitch, and it’s curling and will need to be “killed,” so I did something different with this one, using seed stitch for the borders instead.

This is what I did…

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Lori’s Knotted Open Work Baby Blanket

I used the Hayfield Baby Blossom DK yarn, and size 7 ChiaGoo circular needles. I don’t know how much yarn it will take yet. I bought 4 balls. When I get to the last one, if I want the blanket to be bigger, I’ll order more. 🙂

Cast on a multiple of 3, plus 8. I did either 125 or 131 (117+8 or 123+8), I forget now and am too lazy to count. (I wanted an ODD number, so did not use, for example 120+8=128 stitches) because I wanted the beginning seed stitch rows to start and end on a knit. The initial slip is done purl-wise, but I’m not sure that matters. Use whatever method you prefer to maintain a nice edge.

Seed stitch 5 rows. (I did slip, P, K, P, K, P, etc. across, which results in ending stitch being K.)

I wanted a four-stitch seed stitch edge, so the first and last 4 stitches of each row are the border.

Row 1: Slip, P, K, P (border) then purl all across to last 4 stitches, then P, K, P, K

Row 2: Slip, P, K, P (border) then K2, *YO, K3, slip the first of the 3 K stitches back over the other 2* Repeat between * to last 5 stitches, then K, P, K, P, K

Row 3: Slip, P, K, P (border) then purl all across to last 4 stitches, then P, K, P, K

Row 4: Slip, P, K, P (border) then K1, *K3, slip the first of the 3 K stitches back over the other 2, YO* Repeat between * to last 6 stitches, then K2, P, K, P, K

Repeat rows 1-4 until you’ve reached the desired length, then do 5 rows of seed stitch then cast off.

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I love this kind of yarn so much, despite it being synthetic, and they do a chunky style also. Knitting is so slow and doing a full-size throw or afghan would take forever in DK, so I might get the blue colorway in chunky and make something for myself!

Note I have not yet completed this! It’s a WIP, but it’s so pretty and is making me so happy, I couldn’t wait to share. 🙂

Editing Isn’t All About the Red Pen

Anyone who has ever been edited has had that moment of panic when they see the corrections their editor has made. Sometimes the many, many corrections. It can be daunting, but even a simple thing like an author not having a good grasp of comma usage or how to capitalize and punctuate in and around dialogue can make a manuscript look like a literary bloodbath.

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But there is much more to a good edit than wielding the metaphorical Red Pen of Shame. If you’ve ever raised a puppy or a child or taught a class, you understand if all you ever do is correct or punish when someone does something wrong, you don’t have a very good outcome, and they never truly learn. They will absolutely never be confident or reach their full potential.

As an editor, besides making corrections and explaining to an author what they’re doing wrong so they might improve in their next manuscript, I also like to tell them what they’re doing right.

Margin comments are great for communicating things you want an author to focus on, but they can also be fun. In a current edit, my author wrote “Branches reach out to me, their fingers nipping at my skin the way the chill in the air nips at my hope of spring.” I loved the way that line felt, so I left a margin comment to tell her so.

What does the author do well? Where do they excel? One of my authors writes the best dialogue I’ve ever edited…and I make sure she knows it. I even had her help me with writing up some tips to share with other authors.

Another author writes emotional angst and conflict exceptionally well. She doesn’t resort to cliches, and conveys the battle going on inside a character’s head in a way the reader can relate to so completely that they truly understand how that character feels. I make sure the author knows when I feel this way.

I have worked with one author who writes a lot of science fiction and dystopian books, and he can take complex scientific and technological concepts and explain them so even a non-tech reader can understand them, but you never feel he’s dumbing down his narrative or “writing down” to you as a reader.

The current edit I mentioned earlier, the one with the line I particularly liked, is also an incredible world-builder. I was a fan of her work for several years before I became her editor. I edited a dystopian series for her earlier this year, and I thought it was one of the best post-apocalyptic world scenarios I’d ever read, and I told her so. In the current edit, though, she’s done what I didn’t expect…and built an even more complex, vibrant, plausible, compelling world. When I return this edit, she’ll see my note congratulating her on this accomplishment.

How does your editor make you feel as an author? Nobody likes to have their mistakes pointed out, of course, but overall, does your editor make you feel like you’re learning something new? Do they point out your strengths and not only your shortcomings? Do you ever smile or even laugh out loud at their comments?

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I left this cartoon by The Oatmeal as a comment when an author wrote “sneak peak” instead of “sneak peek.” 

It’s like with anything else. If you go to a class or a meeting or a religious service, you should leave feeling more positive, hopeful for the future, and ready to go out there and become even better. If you leave (or finish an edit) feeling defeated, overwhelmed, and less hopeful, something is wrong. You need a new teacher, boss, minister…or editor.

(For more information about my professional editing services, please click HERE, and let’s discuss your next project!)

Who Needs an Editor? Everybody!

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Editing has always been my perfect job, and I’ve been fortunate enough to do it professionally for over a decade. I keep my calendar full, but lately it’s been feeling a little…stale. It shouldn’t! I love my authors, both those with Limitless and my indies, but I realized I hadn’t added many new clients to my roster in a long time, afraid of overextending myself. Maybe I was being a bit lazy.

Now I’m rededicating myself to editing more books for more wonderful authors, and I’ve put up a page here to provide all the details.

While I can edit any fiction genre and have handled every romance sub-genre you can imagine, I’d also like to expand my editing to include more of what I actually read in my own spare time. I love anything supernatural, paranormal, dystopian, urban fantasy, traditional fantasy, sci-fi, or thriller, though I’m more than happy to welcome romance clients too.

If you’re an author or know an author seeking an editor, please check out my Professional Editing page and get in touch!

I’m Cute, But Please Back Off

The chihuahua invasion of Saturday got me thinking, and then yesterday I took these two photos of Mozzie.

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They were taken about twenty seconds apart. He was snuggling happily with me on the couch, then there was a very, very loud boom of thunder.

Mozzie isn’t usually afraid of storms, which is good because he’s afraid of so many other things. I can control when I open the freezer or take out a plastic bag, but my superpowers do not yet extend to controlling the weather. This thunderclap, though, was incredibly loud, close, and seemed to go on forever. Even made me jump, and I love storms.

So, why am I showing a photo of my scaredy-pup? Because a lot of people look at the picture and think how cute it is, sweet, look at the adorable, meek golden-boy. And, yeah, he’s cute.

This photo is a very good illustration of a dog who is freaked-the-f**k-out. He’s panicking inside, almost paralyzed with anxiety over things he doesn’t understand and can’t control.

But I realized a lot of people don’t understand dog body language. If you or your child were out at a park, and you saw an adorable golden retriever who looked like Mozzie, I bet you’d like to pet it. I would too, because golden retriever, but I would know to absolutely not pet this dog.

He’s not growling, snarling, barking, showing his teeth. He’s not crouched defensively with his hackles up. He couldn’t be dangerous, right?

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Wrong. Look closely. His ears are back and down tight against his head. He has “whale eyes,” that wide, unfocused expression saying “get me out of here.” If you saw him in person, you’d see his shoulders are hunched, his tail is tight against his body, and his body and legs are trembling.

Yes, I wanted to cuddle and hug and snuggle his scared little face, but that would only reinforce to him that there’d been something to be frightened of. I forced myself to stay calm, speak to him normally, touch and react to him normally, until he was more relaxed.

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Your instinct might be to approach a dog who looks like this, to comfort or reassure him as I wanted to do, but that’s how you get bitten in the face. Do not ever, ever do this. Not in the park, not with your aunt’s dog, not with any dog who is not your own…and not even then if you’re not 100% certain how he’ll react. I know Mozzie wouldn’t have bitten me, but I didn’t want to reinforce his fear response. I don’t, however, know for sure how he’d react if a stranger tried to grab or snuggle him when he’s that close to the edge.

When you’re panicked, you react out of character. Even I, if you cornered me and freaked me out and got too close, would bite you. Though, to be fair, I’m a known fear biter. Point is, even the sweetest, meekest dog can lash out if it is approached mid-freakout.

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Every time I see this picture, my blood pressure almost makes my head explode. This dog is doing everything it can to “tell” the kid (and the parents, who sure as hell better be nearby) that it is not enjoying this interaction. But people say “awwwww, how cute,” and the next thing you know, the kid is missing a chunk of her adorable little button nose, the dog is wondering why everyone is screaming and trying to hit him…yeah, nothing good is going to happen.

If you want to learn more, I highly recommend Canine Body Language: A Photographic QPlfDwAAQBAJGuide Interpreting the Native Language of the Domestic Dog by Brenda Aloff. I’ve had it for years, and it’s the best all-in-one guide I’ve seen. We used it often in our veterinary practice, and most rescue groups use it as well.

Dogs aren’t toys. They’re sentient creatures with feelings, and those feelings matter. You expect your dog to have good manners, right? Well, you’d damned sure better have them too. Failing to understand and respect their language and pushing them beyond their endurance will not end well. You’ll end up with a traumatized, injured person, and likely a quarantined and ultimately euthanized dog.

People who love dogs but forget their language isn’t as straightforward as ours when it comes to saying “back off” are all too often loving their dogs…to death.

Intruder Alert

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The very first thing we did when we bought this house 4 1/2 years ago was install a fence to keep our dogs secure and safe. The two gates have a small gap under them, but we had Darwin (85 pounds of golden) and Brody (105 pounds of Pyr) at the time, so that wasn’t really a problem.

When they were gone and we got Mozzie and Oliver, we put boards and logs and such at the gaps to keep their little puppy-butts in the yard. The front and right side are six-foot white privacy fence, and the left and back, which border the woods, are four-foot chain link. I’m sure Oliver could clear the fence in one leap if he wanted, though he’d probably immediately impact a tree, but so far he hasn’t tried it. They’re both almost two years old now, 65 pounds each, so policing the gate-gap hasn’t been an issue.

Until yesterday.

I was sitting in my “office,” AKA my spot on the couch, from which I command my World Headquarters and Petting Zoo, at about ten a.m., when I saw an animal on the deck, right up against the sliding doors. Something small and tan. Maybe bigger than a squirrel, but not by much. Possibly a small cat, because there are a lot of free-range cats in the area and they sometimes (foolishly) come in the yard. Could also be a good-sized guinea pig, but I found that unlikely. I couldn’t get a good look, because the Direwolves rushed to the door and were blocking my view, so I got up to investigate.

Uh-oh. It was the little chihuahua I frequently see at the rental house across the street. Not good.

I opened the door a crack, squeezing myself out while shoving the very excited Direwolves back. The little dog scooted to the steps, but once I was outside and the door securely closed, she wiggled over to me, and I picked her up. Yes, I checked; she’s definitely a girl. Perhaps four very solid pounds. Four wiggling, squirming, vibrating, very-much-needs-a-nail-trim pounds. The ten or twelve long red claw marks down the middle of my chest can testify to that last part.

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She looks kind of like this. But wigglier. So…much…wigglier

What to do? Mozzie and Oliver were quivering with anticipation of my returning to the house with what they believed was their new chew toy. I didn’t even dare go inside to find the key for the gate so I could go out front, where I was sure the neighbors must be looking for the little intruder.

I decided to go to the gate and peek through to see if they were out there. Two kids, a boy and a girl of maybe ten or so, were visible, so I yelled, “Are you missing a puppy?” The little girl confirmed they were. I told them I’d have to hand her to them over the fence, as I didn’t have a gate key handy. The pup-nugget, who it turns out is named Zoey, was delivered safely to the girl, and I advised them to watch her, because I didn’t know what would happen if she got in while my guys were outside. If it had been back in the Darwin days, I know exactly what would have happened, and it would have ended with a “burp.”

Okay, mission accomplished, excitement over for the day. I came in, calmed the ‘Wolves, and went to wash the chihuahua smell off me and change clothes, because she might have peed on me a little.

I went back to work. At a little after three p.m., Oliver and Mozzie were having raw bones, Oliver in his crate and Mozzie on the rug by the couch. And then…there she was again. Apparently, I am Zoey’s new BFF.

Since Oliver is the one who can jump higher than my head (He’s a standard poodle) and he was in his crate, I decided to risk bringing her through the house to the front door, which I did, Mozzie hot on our heels. I returned her to the little girl again, and asked if she’d seen how she got in the yard. The gate on the right. Yep, pretty big gap there. I reminded her I have two large boy-dogs, and even if they thought they were playing, they could easily hurt such a tiny dog. I was thanked profusely, and came back inside and through to the back yard to find some stuff to stick under the fence.

I honestly don’t know what would happen if Zoey came to visit while the boys were outside. They can run about 86,000 miles per hour in pursuit of squirrels. Luckily, squirrels can run 86,001 miles per hour, and they have yet to catch one. They have, however, caught and killed bunnies and mice and voles, and once scared a possum into playing dead, after which I picked it up with the pooper-scooper and deposited it outside the fence. Mozzie, especially, despite being an overall timid golden, has a high prey drive, and I don’t know how he’d react to seeing a small, furry critter in his yard, even if it is (technically) a dog.

Tom declines to get involved, saying he’s tired of being responsible for other people’s problems, despite my pointing out that if she got in the yard and they killed her (on purpose or accidentally) it would most definitely be our problem, if not from a “neighbors are hysterical and furious because we killed their dog even though she was trespassing” standpoint, at least from an “I am horribly, permanently scarred because I saw my dogs tear apart another dog” one.

Actually, this is par for the course in terms of my neighbor interactions. I still don’t know the names of anyone who lives there, or even who really does live there since people are coming and going all the time. But I know the name of the dog, and she has been in my house.

If Tom brings some landscape blocks from the shed, I’ll put those by the gate instead of the flimsy board-and-log barricade I put there yesterday. In the meantime, I hope they manage to keep Zoey at home. But there are always small kids there, going in and out, and it’s inevitable she’ll get out at some point.

Just hope my puppy-predators are in the house at the time.

New Book Page

Managing various online identities can be confusing and time-consuming. I had my previous blog, Fermented Fur, an author page, personal and author pages on Facebook, and a page for my editing services. I eventually discontinued my editing services page, because my work for Limitless Publishing takes most of my time, and I have plenty of long-time indie authors to keep me busy.

My author page has been sitting around not doing much of anything for a long time. While I love writing and care deeply about my books, it’s never been my top priority, and I don’t have anything new in the works.

My author website at loriwhitwam.com was hosted on a friend’s server. He never charged me for it, and helped me set everything up, because he had a lot of accounts on there that more than paid the operating expenses. But as he’s gotten out of the business, I was soon the only one left, so I needed to find a new home for my domain.

I’m not a skilled tech person. So I decided the best thing to do was to redirect my domain to point at a page here on WordPress, so now everything is in one place. Amazingly, I didn’t screw it up too badly.

So, now you can see all the information on my books, including links to them on Amazon, right HERE on Lori’s Books on this blog. Please stop by, take a look, and let me know what you think. Ellen and Quinn and Ty and Seth and Abby would love to meet you.