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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Community Affairs by Michele Lyn Seigfried--Guest Post

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Cummunity Affairs
Community Affairs
(Jersey Shore Mystery Series Book 3)

File Size: 2293 KB
Print Length: 217 pages

A tale of kidnapping, murder, and neighbors you’d like to kidnap and murder…
 Bonnie Fattori is a sexy, sassy, Italian Princess living in New Jersey. She’s loving life with a rich husband, beachfront living, and a promotion at work—until a new neighbor, Lyla Spratt, is determined to destroy her happiness.
 After several run-ins with the unstable woman next door, Bonnie starts to suspect a connection between her new neighbor and the untimely death of a local resident, Polly Pitcher. She recruits her good friend Chelsey to help figure out if her suspicions are correct.
As the neighbors go head-to-head in a hilarious battle, Lyla is pushed to the brink of insanity. The more unhinged Lyla becomes, the more Bonnie’s life and the safety of her family are at risk. Can Bonnie find out what really happened to Polly Pitcher before it’s too late? A perfect read for those who like laugh-out-loud humor in their mysteries!
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About This Author
 Michele Lynn Seigfried is an award-winning novelist, children’s book author/illustrator and public speaker who was born and raised in New Jersey. In her mystery novels, she draws from her personal expertise in the area of municipal government, in which she has served for over 16 years in two different municipalities. She holds a B.A. in communication from the College of New Jersey with a minor in art. She obtained the Master Municipal Clerk certification from the International Institute of Municipal Clerks in 2010. She also holds the Registered Municipal Clerk certification and Certified Municipal Registrar Certifications from the State of New Jersey.  In combining her love of writing with art, Michele began writing and illustrating children’s picture books in 2013.
Michele is a member of Sisters in Crime, Sisters in Crime – Central Jersey, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, New Jersey Author’s Network, International Institute of Municipal Clerks, Central Jersey Registrar’s Association, Municipal Clerk’s Association of New Jersey, and the Municipal Clerk’s Association of Mercer County, where she is currently President. She also serves on the New Jersey League of Municipalities’ Legislative Committee.
Michele is available for public speaking engagements such as book talks, seminars, readings, panel discussions, and other author events. Contact her for more information.
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Guest Post:

20 Tips to Edit a Novel

By Michele Lynn Seigfried


Writing is hard. Editing is even harder. The brain has a funny way of working. When you read what you’ve written yourself, your brain seems to fill in details, correct spellings and punctuation, and add words which aren’t actually there. It’s difficult to proof your own work. But editing goes beyond proofreading. So how can you fix your work to be the best it can be? Here are a few tips!


1.      Run spell check/grammar check. Sounds simple enough, but many people forget to take this first step. While not foolproof, having a computer check your work is a start, and you may find simple typos that need correcting this way.

2.      Read your book out loud. You may feel silly doing this, but reading your work out loud to yourself can help you find misspellings!

3.      Read from the end to the beginning. This is difficult and tedious, but, when you read from end to beginning, you interrupt the flow, and your brain is much less likely to fill in words that aren’t there, or that are misspelled.

4.      Have friends of yours read it. As I mentioned, it is difficult to proof your own work. Having an extra set of eyes or two will result in finding all those pesky errors! You can give them credit in your novel for helping and friends usually don’t ask for payment!

5.      Search for words you’ve used too much. All of us have words we use frequently. Sometimes that is okay in dialog, to give the character a trademark and make them memorable—think “Yo, Adrian.” But repeating words in the narrative may be annoying to the reader. I once read a book where everyone “shook their head.” They never said, “No.” They never said, “Never.” He shook his head. She shook her head. I was shaking my head in annoyance. Do a computer search for words you find yourself using frequently, like “also” or “but”.

6.      Watch out for he said, she said. I mean that literally. Do you write “he said” to indicate who is talking after each person who speaks? Sometimes it is not necessary. Especially when two people are having a conversation. When it is necessary, consider using different verb. Shouted, screamed, whispered, mumbled, yelled, barked, or roared. Also consider changing your sentences. Instead of “I need my coffee, now,” Michele said, you could write Michele grabbed her mug. “I need my coffee now.” Readers would still know Michele was talking.

7.      Leave time to let your work rest. If you can put it aside for a month or so, you will forget some of what you’ve written and you will be looking at it with fresh eyes. It is easier to fine tune your work with fresh eyes.

8.      Double check character dialogue. Would the old, rich lady speak the same way as the stubborn teenager? How would an angry character speak? How would the Harvard graduate speak vs. the high school dropout? Make sure your dialogue is true to your character.

9.      Review your entire manuscript only paying attention to punctuation. I often type faster than my mind is thinking. I can’t tell you how many end quotes I’ve left off of sentences! Search for periods, commas, and apostrophes. Are there question marks at the end of a question?

10.  Replace adverbs with strong verbs. She crept down the hall instead of She walked softly down the hall. The dog bounded into the kitchen instead of The dog moved swiftly into the kitchen. The light blazed in the distance instead of The light was brightly shining in the distance.

11.  Look for redundancies. Did you explain twice or three times that the character lives in a three-story apartment building? It’s okay to remind readers about details they may have forgotten, but try to avoid saying the same exact thing over and over. Writing, Mario lives in a three-story apartment building, in one sentence is fine. Perhaps another sentence in a later chapter could be, The door to Mario’s apartment wouldn’t open. And yet another chapter could reveal, Mario didn’t realize that his apartment lease was about to expire. All three sentences remind the reader of Mario’s living situation, but none of the sentences sound alike.

12.  Scan your book for unnecessary words. It was square in shape. Obviously, square is a shape. Why not just say it was square? Its appearance was shiny. The word appearance is unnecessary. It was yellow in color. You don’t want to make your readers feel like you are talking down to them—they know yellow is a color!

13.  Remove obvious statements. The sun was shining. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Do you need both of these sentences in the same paragraph? I had a migraine. It was the worst type of headache. Readers may think you being condescending with such an obvious explanation.

14.  Check your facts. Do the ages fit correctly into the story? I once made a character’s mother 96 years old. My editor pointed out that if the character was 30-something, then a 96-year-old mother would have been past her prime for having children, and would make her unrealistic. Mental head slap. How about the facts about the location of the plot? I recently read a book that talked about the pelicans in New Jersey. I’ve lived in Jersey for nearly 44 years, and have yet to see a pelican this far north of Florida! I also read a book that mentioned how the IRS was going after the homeowners for property taxes. Most people are aware that the IRS doesn’t assess property taxes and that the local Tax Assessor doesn’t work for the IRS.

15.  Pay attention to your time lines. It’s easy to forget what day of the week and what month you’re writing about. Take a blank calendar and fill in a timeline of what’s happening. It’s easier to keep track that way and to correct any inconsistencies prior to publication.

16.  Are your characters consistent? Keep character sheets for each of your characters and double check their behavior, dialogue and appearance when you are finished writing your manuscript. Did the character start with blonde hair and end up a brunette by accident? Did they have blue eyes at the beginning of the book and green at the end? Did they start out rich and end up poor without reason? Does your main character talk like your sidekick? Checking these items that can easily be forgotten will make your characters and your writing more realistic.

17.  Watch your formatting. Do a find a replace for two spaces, and change those to one space. I realize that those of us who grew up pre-computers were always taught, “Two spaces after every sentence!” But as technology evolved, the correct way to format a novel is one space after sentences. Look for mistakes like having two tabs where one should be. Make sure your font and size is all the same.

18.  Check your grammar. The internet is a good resource for finding a correct definition or spelling. Alright or all right? Regardless or irregardless? I.e. or e.g.? Lay down or lie down? Affect or effect? Underway or under way? Handy work or handiwork? Your or you’re? Altogether or all together? Council or counsel? You get the idea!

19.  Still feel like you need help? Hire a professional editor. One that comes with good references. It’s expensive, but it’s well worth it to find those errors you wouldn’t necessarily find yourself.

20.  Check and recheck. Don’t think just because you checked it once, that your manuscript is perfect. Don’t assume that because you had a professional look it over that there won’t be errors remaining. Read your book as many times as you can stand. Before the editor, after the editor, after your friends read it. Even the best books out there have multiple versions, due to the authors needing to correct issues.