Guest Chick: Liz Milliron

The Chicks are so happy to welcome back Liz Milliron, author of the Laurel Highlands Mysteries and the Home Front Mysteries!


Editing – It Makes a Difference

Thank you Chicks for having me as a guest. It’s great to be back.

Harm Not the Earth is the fourth in The Laurel Highlands Mysteries series and it’s been the most…interesting to edit. I am anal about determined to send the cleanest manuscript I can to my editor. It goes through quite a bit before that first deadline, so usually I am successful.

This time was a bit different.

The first inconsistency wasn’t terrible. “On page XXX the character is working days, but later it’s nights, then he goes back to days – which is it?”

I addressed that issue (it’s days, if you’re wondering – not a big plot issue, I’d tried to make him work nights but it didn’t fit with the story; obviously I didn’t get all the places cleaned up).

I thought that was it. My line editor sent back her comments. I did my usual computerized read-through before sending it back for the final time.

Now this is important to understand: At this point, the manuscript has been read by:

  • my critique group
  • me
  • my developmental editor
  • my line editor
  • my computer’s text-to-speech program

That’s a lot of reading. Imagine my surprise when my proofreader of all people emailed me saying, “I hate to tell you this, but you’ve got a big problem.”

Say whaaat?

First, someone’s truck switched colors mid-story. Not huge. I’d changed a character’s name and missed a couple of instances (Also not a biggie, but note to self: if you’ve written a note that says, “Change the name” just do it. Don’t tell yourself, “I can’t remember why I said that, it must be okay to ignore that note.”). Then she dropped the bomb.

I bribed a character who was dead.

See the above list? No one caught this. If you’re unfamiliar with the proofreader’s job, finding issues like this is not it. Fortunately, my proofreader is also an old college friend of mine who now works as a professional and she felt honor-bound to inform me of the mistake.

She thought this would require major rewrites. It didn’t. I can’t tell you exactly how I fixed it because, spoilers, but it only required a small adjustment. All issues resolved.

Or so I thought.

Literally hours after I sent the manuscript back, I realized I’d used the wrong name for a character (he’s in Broken Trust, not this book, but I do mention him). I emailed my editor. “Hey, use this PDF, sorry.”

Now things were good, right? Um…

The typesetter came back with a list of questions. Was this right or that? Just what is this character’s name?

ARGH!

It took at least two, and perhaps three, back and forth conversations with the typesetter – and comparing the latest PDF to the original – to address all the mistakes. By this point, I was word-blind, but determined to get…it…right.

The book is done and out in the wild now. I hope with all my heart I fixed all the errors and inconsistencies.

Any that remain? Personally, I think they deserve a medal for persistence and dedication.

Readers, is there something you’ve worked on that you poured heart and soul into…but it didn’t come out just right?


 

Liz Milliron is the author of The Laurel Highlands Mysteries series, set in the scenic Laurel Highlands of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and The Home Front Mysteries, set in Buffalo, NY during the early years of World War II.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Pennwriters, and International Thriller Writers. Now an empty-nester, Liz lives outside Pittsburgh with her husband and a retired-racer greyhound.

For more information, please visit http://lizmilliron.com.

When Southwest Pennsylvania’s summer rains flood the Casselman River, State Police Trooper Jim Duncan finds a John Doe body in what is initially believed to be a tragic accident. But when a second victim, John Doe’s partner in an environmental group at odds with a nearby quarry operation, is rescued, all thoughts of accidental drowning are abandoned. After Jim is invited to join the official investigation, he begins to think a career shift might be in his future.

Meanwhile, Assistant Public Defender Sally Castle is approached by an abused woman who is accused of murdering her abuser. Although the rules prevent Sally from taking the case, she steps outside her office to help the woman and discover the truth.

As their separate cases become intertwined, Jim and Sally struggle to determine if their new paths can be traveled together or if they will divide their newly repaired relationship. And equally important, will they be able to bring a killer to justice before another innocent life is lost?

38 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Liz Milliron

      1. If I would have had to go over the damn thing one more time, I would have had to hurt someone. Or at least break a board or something.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. I can definitely relate to using the wrong character names. In my last book, I had a recurring character’s name wrong all the way up until almost the final draft. Thank goodness I don’t trust my memory and double-checked. Here’s hoping you caught all the inconsistencies and congrats on the latest book!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Just when you think you’ve finally finished the thing, you discover the holes. A writer’s nightmare! I feel your pain, Liz. Somewhere back in memory, I read that each editing read-through only catches, at best, 95% of errors. So if readthrough #1 catches 95 and you fix them, the next reader catches 95% of the remaining goofs. You fix them, but the next read-though catches only 95% of the errors still remaining. And so on. Argh!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. My favorite story in this vein comes from my work as a tech writer. I was working for totally anal administrator who nit-picked even the slightest flaw in a document. We circulated some meeting minutes through nine (yes, you read that right!) reviewers, and when they were sent to the boss, he still found typos. The best part is that, after we were all reamed out as unprofessional dolts, said minutes were filed in an e-folder never to see the light of day again. But we could all be serene in the knowledge that they were finally perfect.
    I’d also like to mention that I’ve found typos, plot holes and factual errors in books by NYT best-selling authors who shall remain nameless.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I think these are the reasons some people keep a “series bible,” but I’ve never gotten it together to make one. And now, after four books, am I going to go back and compile all the info? I think not. So I depend on my own memory and numerous read-throughs of the m.s., my beta readers, and my editors. And yes, I do occasionally discover typos after the book’s printed. Sigh…

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Well, as I am an editor as well as a writer, I am in complete agreement with Liz re: the importance of editing, lol. (Note that editors need editors as well–maybe even more so.) But I can give y’all a little trick I learned in my first job–take a read of your ms. BACKWARD. As in, word by word. Not kidding. Those mistakes and wrong character names will jump right out at you, and often bigger mistakes as well. That’s because your brain “skips” over the words/names you’ve seen a lot of, or what might ordinarily seem like less important ones (the, that, as). Oh, and as you’re going backward, use the eraser end of a pencil or stylus thingie and tap it on every word. That helps keep your focus so you don’t cheat. Have fun, everybody!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Liz, I’m so impressed by your diligence. Some dumb mistakes have slipped through the cracks on my books. In one Cajun Country Mystery, due to revisions, Maggie was shopping for triplets before she found out her cousin was having them. But the worst was on page one of my first Catering Hall Mystery. For some unknown reason, I keep naming my protagonists names that start with M. And… you guessed it – on page one of Here Comes the Body, MAGGIE, not MIA, rolls out of bed.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Kudos to you, Liz, for your persistence and dedication! Making a book (mostly) error-free is such a team effort. Huge thanks to editors, critique groups, and others. I’m also very grateful to readers who are forgiving.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I have to admit, I laughed at bribing a dead character. I doubt that went very well.

    I do understand all the work that goes into trying to find and squash all these bugs – all the layers a book goes through. And I appreciate the work. Because there is nothing more frustrating than finding an error like that when I am reading. It throws me right out of the story.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Oh, Liz, you are not alone. Last time, my brilliant copy editor found a timeline issue that happened after I had blithely inserted a chapter near the end of the writing process with people saying things like “see you tomorrow” when the big event in question was a week later. Thank goodness for her eagle eyes!

    Thanks so much for visiting us today. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Liz, that gives me sweaty palms! I do love it when people find continuity problems … pre-production, that is! I’d like to think readers and reviewers are generous when they find mistakes, knowing how many eyeballs have seen the manuscript. But I feel like I want to root for the tenacity of those mistakes, dodging here and there behind paragraphs and chapters, keeping out of sight for so long!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Like Mark I giggled at bribing a dead guy. What did you bribe him with? Lol! I’m laughing with you, Liz, not at you. I referred to one character as a retired general and later described him as a retired admiral! He cheers for both sides at the Army-Navy game.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Liz, please forgive the late weigh-in!

    Oh GOODNESS, can I relate! I also had a character whose car changed colors and who worked at different companies that sounded nearly identical. (OOF) And I know I’ve regaled anyone who will listen about the time I changed a character from Don to Dan without selecting “whole words only” and got a manuscript full of dan’ts and the occasional Ding Dang.

    It’s amazing how resilient these mistakes are. I like to think the ones that survive multiple proof-reads are Easter eggs for eagle-eyed readers. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.

    I love this series and am looking forward to the latest!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kathy! I’m thinking of starting a page on my website called “You got me” for people who report errors. I can’t claim credit for the idea – there’s another writer (Chuck Wendig?) who does the same thing.

      Liked by 1 person

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