Interview with Barbara Warren, My Wonderful Editor

Barbara Warren, author and owner of Blue Mountain Editorial Service, lives on a farm in the beautiful Ozarks in Missouri with her husband Charles, a herd of cattle and an office cat named Rosicat, who was abandoned at their church when she was just a kitten. Rosicat manages the office. Charles and Barbara do the work. She is a writer, editor, and Sunday school teacher. Her hobbies are reading and raising flowers. Barbara was my editor on both of my novels, Cowgirl Dreams and Follow the Dream, published by Treble Heart Books.

Can you expand on your editing background–how did you get into it? Did you take classes?

No, I didn’t take classes. I belonged to a writer’s group and we critiqued each other’s work. People kept urging me to become an editor, and after a while I took them seriously. I do read a lot of books on writing and have an extensive library of books about writing and editing. I keep studying, wanting to grow so I can do a better job for the writers whose books I edit.

How long have you been editing?

I’ve been editing for twenty years. It’s a job I love and I hope I can keep doing it for many more years.

Do you do most of your work for Treble Heart Books or do you also do freelance editing?

I have my own business, Blue Mountain Editorial Service and am listed on several on-line sites. My clients are both published and non-published, and many of them come through word of mouth. I also get clients from Treble Heart and Lee Emory is great to work with. I’ve met many very good writers through her.

What is your advice for a writer who would like to become an editor?

Study books on writing and editing. Gain experience by editing for fellow writers. Study what is selling, and read books in all genres, not just what you like. When you think you are ready, make sure you have a website. Post your company online in places like Preditors and Editors. List it in books like Sally Stuart’s Christian Market Guide (both are free). Have brochures printed and ask writer friends to give you an endorsement. Hand out brochures and cards every chance you get. Attend writers’ conferences and ask permission to display your brochure. Establish business ethics and live by them. Always do more than you are expected to do. Help your clients any way you can, and always be honest. Don’t tell a client how good he or she is, point out what is good, but also point out the faults and tell the writer how to make the book better.

What are the major mistakes you look for when editing a manuscript?

One big mistake is to tell the story instead of showing it through dialogue and action. It’s the difference between someone telling you what happened yesterday and you being present when it actually happened.

Choose one viewpoint character per scene and show what happens in that scene in that character’s point of view. Let the reader see what that character sees, hears what he hears. Instead of saying Sally was scared. Show Sally frozen in place, every nerve tuned, listening for a footfall.  See the difference?

Let your characters talk natural, the way you and the people you know talk. Don’t have a ‘good old boy’ talk like a college professor. Keep it casual, avoid formal language.

Know your characters. Know how each one would act in a stressful situation. Some people panic. Others withdraw. What will the character you have invented do?

What would you say are the “good” qualities of an acceptable manuscript?

Characters who seem real with believable problems. People read stories to learn about people. Think of your favorite books. Do you remember the plots? I’m betting you remember the characters.

Active writing as opposed to passive. Don’t write “tables were being set up.” Show who is setting up the tables. And avoid writing about ‘the man.’ Name him. If you read in the paper that a man jumped off the bridge you might be interested. If you read that John Walker jumped off the First Street Bridge, you’re more interested. And if you read that John Walker, owner of the local Sonic and the father of four children jumped off the First Street Bridge, then your emotions are engaged.

Always remember your reader. Will the reader understand what you are saying? Will the reader be offended? Are you preaching to the reader or trying to convert him to your point of view? Treat your readers with respect.

At what point should a writer seek an editor?

When you have written, rewritten, and feel you can’t do any more to the manuscript, then you are ready to have someone else look at it. But first do all you can to make it a good manuscript. No point in paying someone else to do what you can do yourself.

What can an independent editor do for an author in preparing her manuscript for submission to a publisher?

A good editor can point out flaws in the story, check for flow, awkward sentences, make sure there are no loose ends, and that it engages the emotions of the reader. An editor can also show proper formatting, help with a synopsis and query letter, and work with the writer to make the manuscript and proposal the best the two of them can make it. A good editor is not in it just for the money. He or she will do everything possible to help the writer polish that manuscript until it shines.

Barbara is also an author. The Gathering Storm, a mystery and her first novel, was released by Jireh Publishers and is available at Amazon and on her web site http://www.barbarawarrenbluemountainedit.com Her agent is Terry Burns with Hartline Literary Agency.

Gwyn Ramsey Interview Continues

The last couple of days, I’ve been talking with Gwyn Ramsey, author of the novels Journey to Tracer’s Point and Winds of Change.Winds ChangeFront cover copy

Tell us about the sequel, Winds of Change. Does this continue the story of Caroline and John as they seek a new life in the California gold fields? Winds of Change is the second book in the series which brings part of the Anderson family full circle, including John Anderson. This historical family saga is a continuation like Little House on the Prairie and Lonesome Dove. The book brings to life the story about Sarah Anderson, who, after being kidnapped by Indians, becomes the wife of Running Swift, an Arapaho Indian and a mother to his son, Little Feather. Sarah faces the challenges of Indian life, until disaster again changes her world.

What is your next project? My next project is the third book in the series titled Bound for Texas.  It is a life story of another person in the Anderson family and their survival after the trip west, their personal quest to find the Anderson family, and their destiny.

Do you have a favorite author or someone you’ve modeled your writing after? I read many different genres and enjoy them all. If I had to pick two I would say Elmer Kelton and Tony Hillerman. Also I love reading John Jakes and Dana Ross Fuller. But then again I read Karen Rose, Cheryl L. Wilson, Virginia Henley, Jane Kirkpatrick, Ann Parker, Dorothy Solomon, Cindy Sandell, Fern Hill, and of course Heidi Thomas, just to name a few. I could go on and on with names of writers who I have enjoyed reading their works.

What inspires you to write? My characters inspire me daily, nightly, no matter what time of day or what I am doing.  They bother me until I put the words to paper.  Once I begin to write and research for the one small particular piece of information, I can’t quit until my head begins to nod.  Usually that is around 1 or 2 in the morning.  What I truly hate is when I’m swimming laps, scenes and words spill forth. I’m extremely wet with no paper or pen. It’s exasperating.  Of course by the time I’m out and dried, I can’t remember a thing. Ahhhh!

Do you have a schedule you stick to? My writing schedule is pretty sporadic.  I do have to say that I prefer writing at night from 9 to 1 or 2 in the morning. No phone, no visitors and my husband asleep in bed. That time is mine, peace and quiet.  I spread out my books and papers and dig in.

Gwyn Ramsey 2What advice would you give to beginning writers? Writing is not a hobby, it is a business. Of course when you begin, you will treat it as a hobby. The best advice I can give is to love what you do, never give up, and keep your derriere in the chair. The story can’t get out until you decide you will write it. As Cheryl Ann Porter used to tell us at TARA, you can’t fix a blank page. So write, write, write and then worry about editing.

Tell us about the business of writing. There are three phases of writing.  The first will seem the hardest and that is getting your story written and printed out. Once you write “The End,” most new writers feel they are done.  Not by a long shot.

The second phase is submitting to agents and publishers. This takes courage and developing tough skin, for you will receive many rejections. Hey, you won’t be alone. Steven King first two novels were turned down a multiple of times. It wasn’t until his third book, Carrie, that he was published. I personally have three thick folders of rejections on Journey to Tracer’s Point and I’m very proud of every one of them.

The third phase of writing is promoting and marketing. This is a whole different avenue of business. I do believe this part of writing that scares many authors but it shouldn’t. If you’ve made it this far, you are doing fantastic. Marketing is why you decided to write.  You want people to read your story, to love your characters, to stand waiting for your next book.  One thing though…you must keep writing after phase one. If you don’t, you will never have another phase two or three.  So the key word to everyone is to write, write, write.

To be honest I never thought I would be a writer. It was the farthest occupation from my mind. Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve enjoyed every nail-biting word.

Great advice, Gwyn. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. I wish you the best in your future writing and marketing endeavors!

Thank you, Heidi, for having me on your blog.  It’s been a wonderful experience and a pleasure I will always remember.

Journey to Tracer’s Point and Winds of Change are both available from Treble Heart Books.

Author Interview: Gwyn Ramsey

Gwyn Ramsey 2My guest today is Gwyn Ramsey, author of the novels Journey to Tracer’s Point and Winds of Change. Gwyn is a member of Women Writing the West, Western Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Tampa Area Romance Writers (TARA), Peace Rivers Writers, and EPIC.

Welcome, Gwyn. You have two novels out in your series. Was Tracer’s Point your first novel? Yes, this was my first novel, a story of my heart.  I have several others written, but Tracer’s Point is one I’ve loved from the very beginning and what a challenge.

Tell us what inspired you to write it.  I’ve been asked this plenty of times and to be honest, I never gave it much thought until the question was posed. I would say that after 45 years of genealogy, the idea of writing a historical was born. The thought of going west in a covered wagon always piqued my interest.

Have you always wanted to write or did you come to it later in life? Actually, my writing didn’t develop until 2000.  I’m a late bloomer and have more stories waiting on the sideline than time will allow me to finish.

Did these books require a lot of research? Yes, lots. Research is a skill that all writers develop whether in small amounts or on a larger scale. Journey to Tracer’s point took three Journey coveryears of research and writing. Together, the book took on a life . . . one of love.

What did you do to find the information you needed? I began with interlibrary loans, the Internet and then progressed to the Library of Congress as a researcher.  Also I traveled to many of the areas mentioned in my book. I called people to interview them regarding their pioneering skills and developed my own personal home library. It was an on-going process even after the book was published.

What kind of preparations did the characters have to do before they left? The process of trip preparations was huge. Material had to be woven and two changes of clothes had to be sewn for each person on the trip. Candles had to be made as well as soap for once at their destination many people lived in their prairie schooner for months until a cabin could be built. Food was gathered from the cold cellar or bought, cooked, and packed. The medicine bag had to be put together and herbs collected. Land had to be sold as well as the entire homestead, stock, etc. Personal possessions had to be sold or given away for only the necessary items were required for the trip. During 1849 in the back country of the Virginia mountains people didn’t own a lot, and what they have they was handed down from generation to generation. So selling or giving away personal items had to be a heart-breaking experience.

What a difficult journey this must have been, from Virginia to California by wagon train, especially for the women and children. What kinds of things did they have to endure on this trip? Planning the trip, gathering the necessary provisions, building a wagon and then heading west on trails without a GPS or Atlas to show them the way was just the beginning. But the real difficulty didn’t arrive until the pioneers left from the jumping off place at Independence, Missouri to reach either destination, Oregon or California. There were turbulent rivers to cross and high river banks to climb, prairie fires from lightning challenged them as well as tornadoes, cholera was ever present and claimed many lives, a shortage of money was always a problem, long walking hours in all kinds of weather wore the people down, not to mention wagon crashes or the loss of their animals. These people were hardy pioneers and constantly pushed themselves to reach their destination, their dream. They walked 3,500 miles through some of the nastiest terrain.

Wow, Gwyn, they were indeed brave and hardy souls.

Join us on Monday for the second half of the interview, in which Gwyn talks about her sequel, Winds of Change. Both novels are available from Treble Heart Books.

Treble Heart Books Interview

trebleheart-logo1Fellow Women Writing the  West author, Gwyn Ramsey, has posted an interview with our publisher, Lee Emory of Treble Heart Books. I am proud to refer you to this article (click on Gwyn above) and to recomment THB as an excellent, professional company to work with. I’m very happy to have had Cowgirl Dreams published there.

Published in: on February 2, 2009 at 7:28 am  Comments (1)  
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