Wednesday, April 9, 2014

An Editor Speaks! Meet Laura Garland

Editors---we all need them. We want to please them, but sometimes, we butt heads.

To help sort out this relationship, I've invited Laura Garland, who suffered through several rounds of editing Becoming Lady Amherst, to answer a few questions.

Celeste Jones: Laura, please tell us a bit about yourself.

Laura Garland: I’m a mom of three rambunctious boys who keep me on my toes 24/7/365. LOL I met my husband in college. Turns out he was the love of my life, so I pulled out all the stops to snag him. Ah, success! I taught middle school, high school, and college math. (Yeah, don’t think I didn’t hear those groans out there, people! Believe it or not, I hated math until college—when I finally got a teacher who said, “Let me show you how easy it is.” Then everything changed for me, and I found myself in front of classrooms saying the exact same words.) I have a ton of hobbies from stained glass to cross stitching to flying helicopters and shooting bows and assault rifles. Setting off fireworks is a fav – pretty explosions. What’s not to like?

Celeste Jones: Can you tell us what an editor does and what it's reasonable to expect an editor to do? Are there different types of editors?

Laura Garland: There are different type editors and they can vary from house to house. Most publishing houses have a Content Editor (CE) who works on the content of your story. Does it make sense, does it flow, are the characters consistent, does it have a good opening hook, help with sentence variation (so the cadence of the author’s words don’t get repetitive), etc.? A lot of CEs have also been line editors, so some will also do punctuation, fix typos, etc. But not all CEs do that. After the CE is finished, the story usually goes to a Line Editor (LE). That’s the person who combs through the story and finds all the technical issues, like punctuation and typos. Word usage (your and you’re, to and too, compliment and complement, etc.) and repeated words or high usage of a character’s name. As a second set of eyes on a story, some LEs mark other things as well, like a change in eye/hair color or other things that pop up and are out of place. Some houses have a Senior Editor (SE) who reads through the story from start to finish and makes sure nothing has been missed.
Overall, working with a epub house or using an editing service is good because you’ll have more people looking at your story, which means more issues will be found and corrected. Whatever you write, you owe it to your readers to always strive to make it the cleanest story possible. My motto? More eyes on tales means better sales! <wg>

Celeste Jones:  Has editing ruined reading for you? Are you able to read without wanting to make corrections?

Laura Garland: LOL Uhh…yes and no. If I come across glaring issues, then yes, it throws me out of the story. But on the other hand, when I read something that is wonderful, I appreciate all the work that went into it.

Celeste Jones: What are some of your pet peeves as an editor?

Laura Garland: Nit pick stuff would be like action tags used as dialogue tags. Lack of sentence variation. Overuse of ‘said’ or ‘asked’. Boring/irrelevant dialogue. Bigger stuff would be two-dimensional characters. Lack of setting. Authors who are tied to their words and won’t make any changes -- makes the editor’s job harder. Or opposite to that are authors who aren’t tied to their words but don’t want to do the work.

Celeste Jones: Please share your thoughts as an editor on the use of the following:

Exclamation marks: Only when it’s needed. Sparingly. Otherwise, it loses its impact.
Was: Used properly, I don’t have a problem with it. Used passively (was + -ing verb) uhhh no.
-ing words: Authors key on –ing words. Really, if they are used properly, they are fine.
Dialogue tags: Often confused with action tags. Seems the industry is moving more toward action tags.

Celeste Jones: How has your work as an editor improved your writing?

Laura Garland: If anything, it’s pointed out that I can never stop studying the craft.

Celeste Jones: How do you tell someone their story stinks without stepping on their toes?

Laura Garland: Honestly, sometimes it’s hard to tell if the story is the author’s first or fortieth. Everyone is different and at different levels of the craft. I try to put myself in their shoes and offer suggestions with the understanding that they are exactly that – suggestions. I also ask questions with the idea that maybe the author’s point for a particular scene or theme of a story is there but just not brought out strongly enough.

Celeste Jones: If you could only give one or two pieces of advice to writers, what would it be?

Laura Garland: Never stop studying the craft. Writing is a two-part process – creative and technical. One is very different from the other. Use both to the fullest. Of course, then there’s promo, but that’s a whole other animal. LOL

The second piece of advice is Be Professional. At the editing stage, don’t take every mark personally. However, you do need to consider each one. Do the work. And last, get the manuscript back in a timely manner. (Notice how earlier it was “story” and now it’s “manuscript”? J )

Celeste Jones: Anything else you'd like to share?

Laura Garland: I’ve been on both sides – editor and author. If your story comes back marked up, that doesn’t mean s/he didn’t like it. Far from it. If you have questions, ask. If you don’t agree with something, leave a comment. Editors are people, too, with emotions, families, and lives. And if you divided out the amount they are paid by the hours spent on your story, the wage is very, very low. So, why do they do it if there’s no hope of retiring on a beach somewhere? The reasons vary. Love of the job, the desire to give back, wanting to help budding authors, etc. But overall, one thing is true: Editors are there to help make your story the very best it can be – Clean, Clear, Consistent.

Laura Garland writes as L.J. Garland and can be found here:

Garland & Gould Blog
Amazon Author Page
Follow me on Twitter: LJ_Garland1

Dead or Alive
A 1Night Stand Story

Rhykar Evierse has been on the Most Wanted list for years. His attempts to expose the evil deeds of Vast Innovations’ founder, Mertan Graiton, has landed him on the wrong end of the law—and on the wrong end of a sexy bounty hunter’s pistol. Now, Rhykar’s wanted for a murder he didn’t commit. Desperate to clear his name, he contacts the one woman who can save him. He hopes she’ll give him one night to prove himself.

When Selea Val’keer receives Rhykar’s call for help, anger and lust rip through her. How can she be attracted to a criminal? Unable to resist, she accepts his invitation to meet through Madame Evangeline’s 1Night Stand service. But what will she do when she sees him again—kiss him or shoot him?

Genre: Sci-fi romance, adventure, suspense/thriller
Heat level: 3
Word count – 15k
Cover art by LFD Designs


“So, what’s the plan here, Rhykar?” She glanced from the huge window to the door and back to him. “No way out.”
“I came to you for help.” He allowed his gaze to wander over her, taking in her rumpled clothing, disheveled hair. The package was more alluring than the daydreams of their first kiss. Gods, he’d hoped for more than this. “I go out there, I’m dead. I stay here, you’ll have to shoot me cause I’m not going in willfully. Seems either way I’m finished.”
“So, what then?”
His attention landed on her swollen, wet lips and his body answered for him. “Strip.”
Her eyes widened, astonishment surfacing her face. “What?”
He brandished the pistol. “Strip.”
She frowned, but with a slight shrug, her long coat slipped from her shoulders and crumpled to the floor. Beneath, dark pants hugged her hips and a tight, green shirt accentuated delicious dips and curves. Rhykar stared. Gods, she was really going to do it.
Stepping toward him, she gave him a sexy smile that sent his heart pounding and his body pulsing. He could forgive that she wanted to take him in, that she’d bit him. At this moment, he could forgive her anything.
Pivoting, she bent her knees in an evocative pose. He watched, mesmerized as she licked her lips and then slapped her hand against her rounded bottom. She smirked, and with a quick twist, she spun around, her foot connecting with his wrist, sending the pistol flying. Before he could react, she snagged the weapon midair and pointed it at him, a cool smile on her mouth.
He tilted his head and grimaced. “Now what, Selea?”
She arched a brow. “Strip.”

Love & Curses
Cursed Ink Book 1

Calista Page always gives her heart to the wrong guy. The latest one gives her a tattoo before she dumps him. As she falls apart from yet another failed relationship, her sexy, steadfast neighbor holds her. Why can’t she find a guy like him?
Successful restaurant owner, Andy Mitchell pines for the girl next door. Tired of being her go-to guy, he decides to tell her how he feels. But fresh off her latest rejection, he wonders if he can convince her this time love will last.
“Death is after you,” Calista’s crazy aunt warns. Gypsy mumbo-jumbo or not, Andy’s instincts kick in. But with Death determined to take Calista’s life at every turn, can he unravel the secret of Love and Curses before it’s too late?

Genre: Paranormal romance, suspense/thriller, erotic romance
Heat level: 3
Word count: 18k
Cover art: TygraPro Designs


Unable to stop himself, he reached over and brushed aside an ebony lock, tucking it behind her ear. He skimmed his knuckles along her jaw line, and she turned toward him. Leaning forward, he slipped his fingers beneath her chin, tilting her head up, and pressed his mouth to hers.
Oh yes, at last he’d kissed her—and she hadn’t pulled away. Emboldened by her response, he drew the tip of his tongue along the seam of her lips. She opened to him, and he took her mouth, darting his tongue against hers and drinking in the sweetness that was Calista. Heaven on Earth.
His body pulsed with fire, need and longing finally met. He pulled her closer, wound his arm around her waist. She was soft and pliant, and her heart pounded so hard he felt it against his chest.
Andy broke the kiss. Easing back, he stared down at her wet, swollen lips and wide eyes. Oh, shit.
“Calista, I’m…I don’t know why I—”
She slammed her mouth to his, threading her hand through his hair. She stroked his tongue with hers, the erotic motions sending lust to careen along every nerve. Lacing his arm beneath her knees, he scooped her onto his lap. As they dueled for dominance, a breeze washed over them, the smell of lavender tickling his nose—not her normal scent, but pleasant all the same. Leaving her lips, he trailed kisses along her jaw to her neck.
“Oh,” she said on a breathy moan. “Wait.”
“Calista,” he murmured against the supple flesh of her throat. He slid one hand to cup her breast taunting him from beneath her tight T-shirt. Grazing a thumb over the tip, he found her nipple peaked, and groaned. She was so hot and delicious.
Lightning flashed over the lake, and thunder rumbled the air.


  1. Great overview on what editing does for a manuscript. A good editor makes an author look great and the author gets all the glory. It's a wonderful system. LOL. I've found that writing and editing are different mental processes, two sides of a coin. I cannot imagine putting a book out there without professional editing, yet some authors (and some ebook publishers) do. Love the concept of Dead or Alive. That Madame Evangeline transcends space and time!

    1. Thanks, Cara. Yes, I love writing 1Night Stand stories. They're lots of fun! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the editing process. It's good to know that when your MS is all marked up it doesn't necessarily mean the editor doesn't like the story. Lol. I think most authors have been there and thought, "Ugh, she/he hates it!" And I agree we have to keep learning the craft. There's always room for improvement. :)

    1. Hey Normandie-
      Yes, I've been there, too. And it's so hard not to take it personally. Usually? I have to put my edits aside for a few hours. LOL But then when I go back in and take a look, I see the edits for what they are -- improvements. Of course, then I look at it and think, "How did I miss that?" And that's exactly why we need another set of eyes on our work.
      Thanks for stopping by, Normandie!


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