May reflections: On the coronavirus and coping

Back in February, I promised it wouldn’t be quite so long between blog posts. Then, the coronavirus (CoVID-19) happened and everything veered off track. While some people suddenly found they had much more time on their hands, this wasn’t my experience.

The week of 9th March was the week before I was due to travel to the States to visit family…it was also the week CoVID-19 hit Britain (or, to be more accurate, the week that we became aware of how serious the situation had become). I was trying to get started on a new editing project, which I was due to pick up again once I returned from my big trip. But, with everything going on, I could barely concentrate, let alone prepare for either leaving the country or suddenly staying. It was stressful, to say the least.

It soon became clear that I wouldn’t be able to go—the airports I was due to travel to had closed and it was too dangerous to travel anyway. What if I wasn’t able to return to London for many months? Besides the increasingly frightening and surreal situation, there were all the details of my (complicated) trip to suddenly rearrange and no way to figure out how to do this (let alone get through to the airline). Eventually, I managed to rebook my international flights and spoke to everyone I was due to visit to give them the disappointing news. By this point, London and most of the rest of the world had locked down. My partner was working from home, making our cramped front room his office while I opted for a “standing desk” in the kitchen, i.e. the countertop (we live in a small, one-bedroom flat, which also contains lots of books and two large cats). Before we’d locked down, we’d each had a close call with the virus, having come into contact with a suspected or confirmed case. However, we both remained (and continue to remain) well.

In the weeks to come, we struggled to shift to a new working routine, alongside all the fear and concern we had—and continue to have—for friends and family, several of whom are vulnerable. The world seemed to change overnight and to become a vastly different place to the one we knew.

Over time, we’ve managed to adjust to this new reality. As my partner has several video meetings a week and I’ve been trying to continue my martial arts training, it’s been a challenge requiring discipline and a strict schedule at times. We’ve found self-care, patience and kindness to be critical, not to mention chocolate biscuits, when we’re lucky enough to find them :-). Each week the situation becomes a little easier in some ways and a little harder in others.

So, amidst all of this, I let my posts slip. Now that I’m more firmly adjusted and the situation feels a little calmer here in London, I’m hoping to get back on track.

Meanwhile, I hope that you, your families and friends are healthy and safe, and that you haven’t been too adversely affected by this situation.

Until next time, stay safe and stay well.

 

February reflections: On new directions

I’ve had a quiet start to 2020. This isn’t all bad though as it’s given me space to think about new directions.

Reflecting on my editing business, I want to make some changes.

I want to be able to offer indie writers more creative support. This is why I created a few different developmental editing packages for writers working at different levels. For example, while some writers know that they want a full edit with a revision letter, other writers might benefit more from a straight revision letter (a report of the strengths and weaknesses of their manuscript with advice on how they might approach their next draft). Still others might not be ready with a full draft yet but would benefit from some initial feedback on their outline and/or opening chapters. Others might not even be ready for this level of feedback and might simply want help brainstorming and shaping their ideas into the kernel of a story. Whatever type of assistance that’s needed, I want to be able to offer it.

This brings me to my next point. Indie authors don’t just need developmental editors, they also need line editors, copy-editors and proofreaders. While I sometimes already do line editing for tone and voice, I’m not trained in copy-editing or proofreading, so I don’t offer these services. But I would like to be able to offer writers something more.

I’m currently exploring the possibility of doing a proofreading course with the Publishing Training Centre in spring. Should I decide to take the course, I hope to be able to offer a proofreading service in the future. The course takes one year and would equip me with the basic skills needed to begin work as a proofreader. It would also provide me with a widely recognised industry qualification (all courses run by the Publishing Training Centre are assessed by their Publishing Qualifications Board).

So, until next time, watch this space!

Kendra

On Fear

When I started this blog, I intended to post more regularly than I actually have. I would like to say that life got in the way, and that would be true, but I think I also got in my own way. As this blog is part of my editing business, it felt like everything I put on here had to have a very high-minded purpose. Surely, if this is a business, albeit my own business, then my posts needed to be serious? Only professional advice about story structure, writing advice or posts that advertised my services would do. In other words, if the posts didn’t fit some imagined ideal, then I couldn’t write them, let alone put them up. Meanwhile, I (predictably) got caught up in the same bind with my creative writing: the bind of perfectionism.

Mind you, I am well aware that the few posts I have put up are far from perfect, but they seemed to speak to some higher minded ideal when I wrote and posted them (or perhaps more likely, they were written and posted at times when I let my guard down and decided that good trumped ideal). This made me decide they were valid and that, say, a reflection on my editing process was not (though surely that too would have helped me learn more from my experiences, help others and find authors I wanted to work with?).

After a long period of soul searching, I now understand that I fear exposure and that I suffer from imposter syndrome, as a writer, as an editor and maybe just as a person. Surely this isn’t real and one day I’ll be found out and publicly humiliated? (Unfortunately, the way I’ve seen others treated on social media does nothing to dispel these fears.)

I want to talk about this because I think it’s something that affects a lot of people, especially creatives working in the writing and editing community.

I also want to talk about this because it’s something I’ve struggled with for much of my life but have only recently started to do battle with (hence this post). Going up against this fear feels scary, wrong, rebellious. It means exposing myself—over and over again—to the possibility of criticism and judgement by others in order to simply be included in the conversation. But I no longer want my fear to keep me from creating or having a voice, so I’m going to do it anyway. Or try to.

So, from now, I plan to share more, write more, blog more. As I said at the beginning of this post, these may simply be short musings on experiences I’ve had, but this doesn’t make them any less valid. I’ve decided that’s okay. It’s the process of reflecting, writing and creating that’s important, as is the connection that builds with others.  

Thanks for reading!

Until next time (which won’t be such a very long way away),

Kendra

P.S. – Don’t forget to follow me on social media! Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kendra-Olson-Writing-and-Editing-1479392189025196/ Twitter: @KendrarOlson

Happy Halloween!

Image by Pexel at Pixabay.

Have you written a mystery/suspense, dark fantasy or ghost story? If you have and you’re in need of developmental editing, then you could be in luck.

To celebrate Halloween, I’m offering a limited discount on my editing services for writers of mysteries/suspense, dark fantasy and ghost stories, or any story that contains a creepy element to it. The discount is ten percent off the cost of any full developmental edit, critique or outline review (see my Editorial Services page for definitions of these services). The offer is available now and lasts until midnight on November 1st. The discount applies to any edit booked prior to then (even if the editing doesn’t take place until after the offer finishes). If you’re interested in taking advantage of this offer, get in touch with me via email: kendraroseolson@gmail.com with details of your project or visit my Get A Quote page.

I look forward to discovering your stories!

Happy holidays!

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I happened upon this Christmas tree while hiking in a park in Colorado, where I’m visiting family for the holidays.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my followers and to all the wonderful authors I’ve worked with this year. It’s been a pleasure to get to know you and to work with you on developing your stories.  To watch a book, and an author, grow is one of the greatest joys of editing. So, thank you for sharing your imaginative, fun and brave stories with me—I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and have also learned a lot about my own writing process along the way.

I look forward to seeing what new stories are created in 2018. Until then, enjoy the festivities!

Do you need an editor for your book? If so, I have slots available from February onwards. Contact me on: kendraroseolson@gmail.com to discuss your editing requirements.

One author’s experience of choosing a title and cover for their self-published short story collection

Over on my reading and writing blog, I’m featuring a guest post by self-published mystery author Virginia King on how she chose the title and cover for her latest short story collection, Leaving Birds. I found it helpful and interesting to hear about how she approached the process. I hope you do too.

https://kendraolson.wordpress.com/2017/09/22/the-battle-of-the-birds-guest-post-and-cover-reveal-by-virginia-king/

Authors, how do you choose titles for your stories / books? If you’re a self-publishing author, how do you choose your covers? I’d love to hear, so please leave a comment below.

Kendra 

Adventures in Book Mapping, Part 2

As promised all the way back at the start of the summer, I’m finally sharing my free book mapping template with you. As a reminder, a book map is best thought of as an outline which is created after your story has been written—so it’s not what you intend to write but what you have written.  It’s best thought of as an editing tool to help you examine your story prior to redrafting. But you can also use a book map as a plotting tool, to help you examine any weak areas and address them prior to writing. How—and if—you use it all depends on your creative process.

To get your free book map just click on the link below to download it to your computer.

Book Map Template

You’ll see that I’ve created the template in Excel but, as mentioned in my previous post, you can create a book map using any number of different formats. I’ve also created book maps using MS Word and even good old fashioned pen and paper in my notebook. But I find Excel to be the most helpful when creating a more in-depth book map as I can quickly filter information as I see fit. I can also add notes to the different columns to give myself (or the writer) reminders as to what’s most important to take into consideration when analysing the story.

When looking at the template you’ll notice that there are a number of different columns with headings for character development, plot progression and subplot progression as well as a couple of columns focussing on theme. You can alter these to fit your manuscript. So, for example, where Character 1 and Character 2 are listed, enter your characters names instead. Choose the themes you’ll be following in this draft and name them (chances are there are more than two). Alternatively, if you’d like to focus purely on plot progression, then omit the other columns. Next, enter the information which is relevant to this character / plot strand / theme in each column. As you’ll probably have noticed by now, the column on the far left is for the chapter number / title. The information given in this column can be further broken down by scene. As you go through the manuscript, continue adding information to the relevant cells.

Once you’ve finished filling in all of the columns, take a step back. Have you captured all of the information about the main characters, plot strands, etc? If so, take a short break and, when you return, read each column from top to bottom to see how each element is handled throughout the story. Then, read from right to left to see how they connect (or not). At the very end you can create a row ‘tallying up’ these elements.

Some questions to consider when analysing your book map:

Does the protagonist grow and change as a result of his/her experiences?

How about any supporting characters you’ve chosen to map?

If you’ve chosen to map character relationships, then how do these change throughout the story?

Do all the plot threads resolve themselves?

Are the themes consistent throughout? There may not be an entry in every chapter for the theme but it should be represented consistently throughout the story.

Used wisely, this tool should help you look deeper into your story and its various elements.

I hope you enjoy your adventure in book mapping! I’d love to hear how you get on so please do consider sharing how you found the experience by leaving a comment below.

Until next time.

Kendra