I haven’t posted a Q&A in a while, but I will compensate through introducing you to today’s guest, author, blogger and freelance editor, Alicia Dean. Alicia likes spinning spine-chilling stories, but she’s successfully delved into romance and paranormal as well. Scarred is her latest release, a Gothic short that appears in the Mysteries of the Macabre, a Halloween anthology, available just in time for the creepy holiday everybody loves.
Apart from her author’s work, we’ll talk about PoVs and newbie writer errors, so come join us!
Alicia, thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP process and your editing services, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself?
In addition to writing and editing, I work as a legal assistant for a family law firm. I am a huge Elvis fan. I love MLB and NFL. And, I love watching tv. You would think that takes away from my editing/writing time, but I get a lot of work done in front of the television…promise! J I have three grown kids who come over and hang out with me on a fairly regular basis, which I love. So far, none of them are married or have children, so I still get some of their time.
You’re an author and a professional editor. What came first?
Being an author. I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember. Although, now that I think about it, I was officially an editor for The Wild Rose Press before my first book was published. So…
Exercise in lean writing: give us a synopsis of your current WIP in under 200 words.
As a teen, High School teacher Sabrina Spencer survived a serial killer attack at Christmas that took her entire family. Ten years later, a few weeks before Christmas, bizarre gifts begin arriving with a threat linked to the Twelve Days of Christmas. At the cabin she rents each year to escape the holidays, she meets Josh, a sexy handyman and a playboy who is the opposite of the kind of man she needs. The threats escalate and her students could be in danger as the Twelfth Day approaches. Sabrina must determine if she can trust Josh or if he is the one sending the twisted gifts.
Ha, just over 100!
Well done, and an enticing story you’ve got there! When you set word count goals, do you usually follow through? Do you have an effective writing method or time saving tips that you would like to share?
Honestly, I am usually behind on my goals, mainly because I have so many other projects that need my attention. The only time saving method I have is to use the speech to text function in Word. I am still trying to get used to it, but if I close my eyes and visualize the scene and just ‘speak’ it, I seem to write more quickly.
I’ve read that although this seems like a strange process, it gradually grows on you and you can indeed add words to your WIP. You run a very interesting blog. My favorite column is your Tuesday Two-Minute Writing Tip where you post excellent editing tips and sample edits of authors’ WIPs. You go for “deep PoV” edits”. Could you define “deep point of view writing”?
Thank you! I enjoy blogging and I enjoy sharing tips with others. Deep POV writing is when readers are brought closer to the experiences of the characters, rather than being distanced. It’s closely related to ‘showing’ vs ‘telling.’ Using filter words that distance the reader (such as ‘saw’ ‘heard’ ‘felt’ ‘wondered’ ‘thought’ etc) are signs that you might not be in deep POV. Also, using phrases that a character wouldn’t think about themselves, for example: (Let’s pretend we’re in my heroine, Sabrina’s, POV)
Sabrina wondered if Josh was the one sending the gifts. Surely not. If so, she was in more danger than she realized. The teacher’s blue-gray eyes filled with tears. She jumped in fear when she heard the phone ring. (or, another common way sentences like the first one are stated: Josh could be sending the gifts, she thought).
There is no need to tell us she wondered or thought. And, believe it or not, some writers DO say things like ‘the teacher or detective did this or the woman did that’ when they are in a character’s POV because they don’t want to keep using the names or pronouns, but that distances the reader, as do words like ‘heard’ and that last sentence is “telling” and distant POV. Also, a character won’t think of the color of their own eyes, or any of their physical qualities unless they are looking at them or it has something to do with their thoughts, such as: “She hated the way the humidity made her hair frizz.”
This is better:
Was Josh the one sending the gifts? Surely not. If so, she was in more danger than she realized. Please, don’t let him be the one… Tears rose, and she wiped her eyes. The shrill ring of the phone made her jump. Her heart thumped loudly in her ears. (This could all be worded better, but my aim was just to make it deeper POV, less telling. No need to tell us she was ‘in fear’ and using ‘when the’ gives readers a head’s up and puts it in past tense, more or less)
Going deep in writing seems to be the name of the game. I attended a relevant course, and the teacher said that a writer stands no chance being picked up by an agent if she doesn’t go deep. Is that so? And does that apply to all genres?
I can’t speak for all agents, but I would say that it would be difficult to pick up an agent or get published without going deep. They may reject you without telling you that you didn’t use deep POV, but oftentimes if you hear phrases like ‘I wasn’t engaged in the story’ or ‘I couldn’t connect with the characters,’ it’s probably because of distant writing.
Can you give us the most common writing mistakes in a new writer’s manuscript? The ones you’ve come to expect to correct?
Some of the most common are telling vs showing, filter words (both of these related to deep POV, or lack thereof), and backstory dumps.
For more info on Alicia Dean’s freelance editorial services, click here. http://aliciadean.com/editing-services/
Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?
Actually, I don’t have a very inspiring workspace, it is a corner of my bedroom with no outside view. But, I do hang things above my computer that inspire me.
Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?
My best marketing tip is to choose a few social media platforms and be consistent on those, rather than trying to be on them all. Find a few that you enjoy. Facebook and Twitter are my main focus. As for a promotional site, I run an Authors Helping Authors loop where we promote for one another so we aren’t always ‘tooting our own horn’ and I have met a fabulous group of supportive authors. This is the link if anyone would like to check it out:
Your site is http://aliciadean.com. Where else can we connect with you?
Alicia, thank you for the awesome interview. Best of luck with your future projects.
Thank you for having me! I enjoyed visiting with you.