10 Editor Nightmares

I feel like an expert on some of these!  The truth is, every writer has stumbling blocks that require hours of editing and practice to get past.  I’ve listened to editors and publishers complain about many of these and here is a … Continue reading

FAN-TASTIC! Fan Interview with Kristina Haecker

I kind of snagged this idea from Kay Springsteen blog.  She is doing a Reader’s Corner weekly and I thought it was a brilliant idea to highlight some of the fans who are so supportive and give them a moment in the spotlight to let you know what they do!

I chose Kristina first, because she is a reviewer and one of the administrators at All Things Books on Facebook.  She is just a genuine southern belle who has done so much for me as far as sharing my links, passing the word on about “The Keepers”, and you can find the review she did on all the major websites.  Enjoy getting to know her and make sure you add her to your Facebook as she will be an up and coming author someday soon!

First tell us a little about yourself: I am a 20 year old full time college student that works at a Catholic school and lives in Texas with her parents and younger brother. I am a huge Green Day and Lord of the Rings fan! I collect bookmarks and other cool swag from my favorite authors. Basically, I’m a nerd. 🙂 My favorite color is blue and I drive the cutest little blue BMW. I have the two best friends in the world. I have even been labeled “The Optimist Queen” and “too nice for my own good”.

I love music too and Green Day Rocks! When did you first develop your passion for reading? I’ve been reading, well…since I could read. When I was little, my mom would read to me. Both of my parents liked to read in their spare time. It was kind of like a double whammy. Both of them liked to read… So, I LOVED to read.
Reading has always been my escape. When I got home from school or work, I would feel better knowing that I could pick up a book and slide into someone else’s world and forget everything for a bit. I got teased in school for carrying a book around with me, but I was never ashamed of that. Now I have a Nook that I take everywhere. I’d rather stay curled up in my bed with a book or my Nook (hehe, I love how that rhymes!) rather than go out on a Friday night.
  I know you like to design shirts (wink) and read, but what are your other hobbies?
I love to dance. I was on the dance team in high school and have taken some classes in college. Music is a big part of my life. It is my other escape. I put my headphones on and  hear nothing other than the music I choose. I enjoy going to concerts. (I’ve seen Green Day twice!) I like photography. And of course, all of the other things women my age like to do: shopping, hanging out with friends, texting, and facebooking. Traveling, too. Two summers ago I visited England, Whales, and Ireland and after that, I want to see more of the world. I recently just started to review books, and I love it!
I’m so jealous that you went to Ireland!!  Who is on your list of favorite authors? I have a lot, so bear with me. Richelle Mead, Rachel Caine, Colleen Houck, Meg Cabot, Suzanne Collins, Ednah Walters, Deena Remiel, Gracen Miller, Maggie Stiefvater, Ellen Hopkins, Jennifer Laurens, J.R.R Tolken, Shakespear, Becca Fitzpatrick, Karen Kincy and, of course, you! 🙂 There are many others, but those are the ones I can list off the top of my head. 🙂
What genres do you like best? Paranormal romance or just straight up romance. I used to read some mystery too, but I’m a hardcore romantic. 😉
Do you find yourself getting emotionally attached to characters if a book is well written?  Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost my best friend when I finish reading a book….do you do that? If a book is well written, yes! Especially with your book The Keepers. I bawled through the last half of it! Only the best of books can grab a person like that. I was also really attached to the characters in the Tiger’s Curse series by Colleen Houck. (Two more great books I’ve read recently!)
Out of all the books you’ve read if you could have dinner with a character who would it be and why?
That’s a tough one. I think I would say Rose Hathaway from the Vampire Academy books. She’s so fierce and funny. Maybe she could show me a few self-defense moves.
What are you currently reading? I just finished your fabulous book, The Keepers, and now I have no idea what I’ll start. I have so many books on my TBR pile. I guess I should finish Water for Elephants since I am halfway finished. I put it aside to read Trinity by Deena Remiel and never went back to it. If not that, then Slow Burn by Ednah Walters.
Any strange habits while reading? I have to have complete silence to read. I have no idea why, but I just can’t focus with so much going on around me. It’s incredibly hard to read in my house because my family is so loud. That’s why I stay up reading long after they fall asleep, or before they get up. I don’t really like to read outside either, for the same reason.
How much description do you like in a book? I like a good amount. But I don’t want the book I’m reading to be just description. I few weeks ago I read a book that had all the description based on a couple kissing. It made the rest of the book quite boring and I struggled to finish it. I guess you have to have the right amount of description versus everything else.
Anything else you’d like to share with us? I am currently working on a book of my own about a badass female assassin that has to protect a young and handsome weapons dealer on their journey to a secret location. I hope to finish the book and publish it in the next few years!
I am an admin on the Facebook page All Things Books. I also am on the review team of an upcoming author.
Everyone Add Kristina she’s really a great person to know!  Thanks Kristina for taking the time to answer my questions!!! 
Check out my other blog posts as there are two contests going on right now.  One for The Keepers and one for Mulligan Man!!!
Monique O’Connor James
Author of:  “The Keepers”
Twitter:               mjames13
WordPress:         www.moniquejames.wordpress.com
Website:             www.moniqueoconnorjames.com

Mulligan Man Release Game and Contest! 6/26/11-7/11/11

To Celebrate the Release of The Mulligan Man Novella and The Success of The Keepers Novel, I’m having a contest with TWO WINNERS!  One winner will get a copy of The Keepers PDF and the other will get a copy of … Continue reading

Novel Release Party 6/7/11 – “The Keepers”

You are invited to a Novel Release Party!!! For “The Keepers” by Monique O’Connor James Where:  Online When:  Tuesday, June 7, 2011 http://www.astraeapress.com http://www.moniqueoconnorjames.com “The Keepers” is finally making its debut on Tuesdays, June 7, 2011! The Ebook Edition will … Continue reading

Why NOLA? The Setting Quandary!

From the beginning, there was no question “The Keepers”, would be set in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the French Quarter.  A friend asked me why I’d chosen NOLA, in lieu of Baton Rouge.  (My next novel is set in Baton Rouge, no worries.).  My answer, at the time, was, “Are you kidding me?”

The fact is, I’m in love with my home state. I think most people like where they live, but I flaunt my love of Louisiana, the same way I tout my love of America.  The place I call home is steeped in heritage, culture, art, music, good food, good people, and stereotypes which make us laugh. God chiseled a boot at the bottom of the American pie; a land to love for those who would, and a place to mock for those who wouldn’t.

A dart thrown at a map of our decadent home would, no doubt, land on a magical place.  So, why New Orleans?

The story, like the French Quarter, centers around St. Louis Cathedral.  I challenge you to find a church as beautiful.

The church is infused history, but beyond that, when one enters you know you’re in a holy place.  Perhaps, being raised Catholic has skewed my opinion, but the spirit is alive and well, under the extensive artwork and intricate architecture of the Basilica. 

During a pivotal scene Jess and Justin are sitting, by the Riverwalk Fountain.  I could think of no better place to find out your boyfriend, is in fact, an angel.


The murals painted on the back of the benches depict the crest of each Spanish province. A few steps away you can feel the breeze blowing off the mighty Mississippi and watch riverboats and tugboats navigate the powerful current.

Jess wanders down Royal Street to pass time and later, Dawson’s apartment is described, as one of the many beautiful buildings with wrought-iron balconies where ferns hang under ceiling fans, all year.

Maybe, that’s Clyde’s brother, he looks a bit young to be the old mule, besides Asher isn’t about.

I could upload pictures for the rest of the afternoon, but the question will come back to why I chose the French Quarter, still.  For the price of gas, I can get in my car and drive an hour and twenty minutes, park in a crowded parking lot, and hop the street car or make the trek on foot, and be transported to another world, where all that matters is forgetting who you are, and remembering how to have fun.

Jess and Justin didn’t need to forget who they were, but, perhaps, discover themselves.  The answers they found were so magical, not another place on the planet, would do.  And so, to New Orleans, I tip my hat. 

She was knocked down, but a day in the Quarter and you will see, she has risen again.

Monique O’Connor James

Author of “The Keepers” coming in June from www.astraeapress.com.


The “E” Word

I once had a fantasy about spending hours of bliss pecking at my keyboard. It ended with a faultless manuscript and huge smile.  After writing my first novel, (soon to be published and no, I’m not above a shameless plug!), the dream was shattered by the reality of the “E” word.

If you’ve never written a paper for school, article, book report, novel, or thesis, I’m assuming you’re four and perhaps, this blog isn’t for you.  All writing has to be put through the editing paces to varying degrees.  Because a novel is, in general, lengthy and requires fifty thousand words or more, the task seems more daunting.  

In the beginning, I assumed running the Microsoft Word spelling/grammar check would suffice.  I curse the program now and use it to catch blatant spelling mishaps, and little else. Unfortunately, I’m yet to find a computer which can go through each line of a manuscript and consider the words with any emotion.  I’m sure the day will come, but until then I’ve developed my own editing checklist. 

The list, without a doubt, will overwhelm anyone who has just written their first masterpiece.  However, the important thing is to take one thing at a time, and move through the editing process, with all the patience you can muster.

So, for all the literary geniuses out there, here it is.  

1)   Are the main characters clearly defined?  – By the time you start editing you may have read your work several times, and you may be able to answer this question without too much grief.

2)   Does the MC(s) learn a lesson?  Show spiritual or emotional growth?

3)   Can your MC(s) solve problems, which arise in the plot?

4)   Does the plot stay on course?

5)   Is their action in the first scene to which draws in the reader?

6)   Are the subplots tied into the main plot?

7)      Is there a twist at the end?

 Now for the specifics:

8)   Head hopping – I didn’t know what the term meant, until I reread my NANOWRIMO novel and realized how many times I’d changed “heads” in one scene. Save changes in POV for scene, or chapter changes.

9)  Repetitious words – The bane of all editors – here’s the short list: that, really, very, nearly, almost, then, and then, about, like, just, actually – there are many more and every publisher/editor will have a few which cause them to scream in agony.  You can’t delete them all, but most times, you can make the sentence stronger by giving them the axe.

10)  Passive voice – Change passive to active whenever possible. i.e.: The dishes were washed by John – No – John washed the dishes. – Better.

11)   Remove autonomous body parts – who knew eyes, could roll across the floor?  Where was she when her hand swept the counter?

12)   A critique partner (I use the term partner loosely. She critiqued. I cried.) pointed out that sentences which begin with the word “When” are telling.  If you use this word, get the red pen out, and revise.

13)  Effect before cause – i.e.:  A shiver ran up her spine when he entered the room – no – He entered the room, and she shivered.  – Better.

14)  Names w/in dialogue – How many times do you really call “Joe”, “Joe” in one conversation? Reading dialogue aloud helps.

15)  Too many ellipses – personally, I like them.  I spend a lot of time deciding which ones need to go.

16)  Talking heads – no scene setting, or description just a couple of characters causing the reader to lose track of who said what.

17)  Dialogue tags with characters that only make faces.  Are they doing anything besides smiling, grimacing and frowning? 

18)  Editors hate when you use animal noises to describe voices.  i.e.: he hissed, growled or roared. 

19)  Spell out numbers, time, chapter headings, etc.

20)  Remove adverbs.  All the “LY” words should go.  They say remove most of them, but they mean all…so here are mine lovely, probably, sweetly and cruelly.  (I feel better, don’t you?)

21)  Make sure each sentence in a paragraph starts with a different word. 

22)    When all else fails, enlist a fresh pair of eyes. Maybe, if you buy them food, or drink, your friends will volunteer 🙂

Finally, I wanted to share the highlight method for those who print out their manuscript.  It works!

Pink – action

Blue – dialogue

Yellow – thoughts and feelings

Green – narration

Too much green?  Revise, revise, revise!

Monique O’Connor James

Author of “The Keepers” coming soon from Astraea Press