Tag Archives: Proofreading

why e-book errors are here to stay

The sentence below is an excerpt from a best selling author’s e-book. I will not, of course, out of respect, list his name. The scene has a woman in a car and a male approaching the car who has exposed himself, thus the term yanking.

“It seemed so absurd that she started to laugh, but she thought better of it as he strode up the door other car and began yanking in her direction.”

An obvious mistake here. Does the author mean the ‘other car door’ or does he mean ‘door of her car.’ It makes a bit more sense that ‘other’ should be ‘of her’ but of course that is my thinking.

I do not know if the author did the formatting, or his agent, or an agent’s assistant, or if it came from the publisher. No matter, because a proofreader missed it, and the author should have proofread. For all I know he may have and missed it. I found another error, but it is not my intent to point out everything I may find, but to indicate that errors are going to be found in e-books. And we must live with them.

Proofreading, especially by the author, is far more time consuming than the actual writing. In my case with my latest novel,  “Silent Murder” which is by no means an exception, I proofread in Word.doc six times, then sent the file to my formatter and once it was converted to Amazon friendly Kindle, I checked through my Kindle app and found more errors; usually a missing period or quotation mark, or ‘ instead of ” and so on. In the Kindle I went through another six readings, finding errors I never saw before. What? Where did this come from? How did I not notice?

It is brutal. There are digital gremlins. I am sure of it.

The point being in one of my reviews of an earlier book the reviewer mentioned a few grammatical errors, but they did not interfere with his or her enjoyment of the story. It still bothers me that the book has a few errors. But the author reaches the point when he/she has gone through the readings so many times, with time off in between to clear your mind, that one must let it go to keep what sanity you have left.

So I apologize to anyone who finds a mistake along the way. I did my best, but we live in a new world of story telling, and if best selling authors can publish e-books with mistakes and grammatical errors, then we must forgive. I wish we could all write perfect books, but readers and proofreaders who read a book before publication, along with the author, and those insidious digital gremlins, will miss something.

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How not to publish an e-book



This is the cover of my recently published e-book. And it was a dicey, maddening run to publish.

Rule one, if you are planning a specific release date, make sure you leave plenty of time for proofreading-of course you know that. But there is something else you need to plan for and that is when things go wrong-everyday.

I wanted to release this book Halloween week for obvious reasons. So I knew how long I had to proofread, have my book formatted to Amazon specs, go through the process on Amazon with categories, keywords, uploading, pricing, and other fun things, then blog and Twitter before Halloween.

But gremlins living inside cyberspace, my computer, and probably under my bed conspired to stop me.

(1) I uploaded my file to the company that formats my books. I then send the mobi file to my Kindle PC for a final proofread, the reason being  is that seeing your book on a Kindle before publishing is great for editing as a lot of things you missed jump out at you. Seeing what needed changing I went to the formatter and the document was not only gone, but the vertical scroll bar was gone-not that it would have helped. So email to support and wait. The next day everything was okay, so I spent two days doing the last fix. I still had time to publish, though it was now Monday of Halloween week.

(2) My mobi file disappeared from my computer, Tuesday I found it in a search.

(3) Still Tuesday I send the mobi file to Amazon and uploaded the book. Yeah! Rule two, do not celebrate early.

(4) Amazon, though I followed-mostly-followed their guidelines on keywords-nonetheless was told they would overwhelm searchers. (Hey, isn’t that what I want). It took three tries before they were satisfied. This is my fourth book, and had no keywords problems before.

(5) So after a long Tuesday I was told the book was under review. Wednesday an email told me the book was live. Yeah! See rule two.

(6) I clicked ‘here’ in my email and indeed the book was on Amazon. Unfortunately it was not on my authors page. After an email to Amazon support, the problem was fixed later in the day.

I was lucky to have the book go live three days before Trick and Treat night.

So now that you know what can go wrong, be advised to plan in advance so that you finish the book and everything is ready a week ahead of time, maybe two weeks. There are cyber gremlins waiting to attach. Now if I can just get the cat off the top of my head.

 Here  is a link to the book that survived the gremlins. There is no guarantee the link will work though.

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Do you loath or do you loathe

A writer wants, no needs, no Must, get the right word for the right meaning. And many words can easily finds their way into a sentence where they do not belong. Loath, for instance, means unwilling or reluctant, as in “I am loath to go to Seattle Seahawk game and watch them self destruct once again in the fourth quarter.” Loathe, on the other hand means to dislike greatly or abhor, as in,  “I loathe to go to a Seattle Seahawk game and watch them self destruct once again in the fourth quarter.” 

As you can see, sometimes different words can  have the same meaning at times. I can loath and loathe at the same time for the same reason.

But there are more problem words. Let’s try again. Illegible and unreadable are not the same thing. Illegible means the document can not be read because the handwriting is so poor it is undecipherable. Unreadable can’t be read because what was written is not interesting, or incomprehensible, that it makes no sense, even though you can read the words.

The other day I was bugged with the ‘which word is it’ problem when I wanted to write the word that means the origin of words. But I typed ‘entomology’ and that is the study of insects. It drove me buggy because I could not think of the correct word-it is etymology. You can see how easy it is to confuse those two words. Those words are troublesome, but not as bad as capitol or capital.

But words do not have to sound similar, as illegible and unreadable indicate. If you think humorous and comical mean the same, sorry, they have different meanings. I will let you research those words and I will quiz you later.

I bring all this up as another example of proofreading problems. It is more than spelling, more than grammar, more than punctuation. It is also, and arguably more important, to get the right word with the right meaning in the right sentence. You might be legible in your writing, but if you confuse the reader too much you become unreadable. I hope this blog is not confusing you.

I will leave with the problem of ‘is and are.’ Is means singular as in he is, she is, or it is. Are is plural as in ‘we are’. However, when the subject is elusive, it is the authors discretion to use either word. In other words, two times three IS six and two times three ARE six are both correct.

I don’t know how I can learn a foreign language when I am still trying to figure out English.

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My hopefully readable e-books at Amazon



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A peek into a writer’s madness

You have no doubt read, or heard, of actors who get so involved with a character they play that they take the character home with them, in fact becoming to a real extent, the character, and in the process losing something of themselves until the project is over, then moving on to have another character inhabit their being; particularly troublesome if the character they are playing is a dark, sinister, creepy character.

Writers experience this too, after all if a writer’s characters are to be real, the writer goes through what they go through, at least in his mind. He, like the actor, is inhabited by the thoughts, feelings, and actions of his characters.

I experienced this in a short story I recently finished called “The Unstained Couch.” It is a horror story, one in which I blended two separate story ideas I had. Because of the darkness of the tale that concerns a man who wakes up, finds a dead woman in his bed whom he does not know and goes into the kitchen to make tea, then later finds the woman is not in his bed, but gone, then reappears on the kitchen floor, and because the couch keeps moving every time he enters the living room, and because the couch, once a cherished piece of memory, now a hideously ugly reminder of the past, my mind went into dark corners, corners that were not pleasant. While the creative part of my brain was happily active in creating this weird dark tale, my emotions were not; they were conflicted, violent, murderous. I was acutely aware of both the creative aspect and the emotional aspect working side by side.

Now I understand how writers can go mad, now I understood what Thomas Mann meant when writing of the writer looking into the abyss.

I have yet to go back to the story and proofread and edit the story. It is difficult to return to a house that is haunted that you escaped from, so I must wait until I am ready. Madness lives on those pages, in those words, but I will embrace the madness once the residue clears from the present.

My sane website

Some other dark tales I wrote.

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Dispatch from the proofreading war zone; casualties reported


The reason I look like our friend to the left is because I emphasize with him after 1, 269 run-throughs of proofreading my new e-novel “Silent Murder.” I have the book in the formatter and am finding missing periods. Were they not there previously? Have they left of their own accord? Are they holding out for some reason? Have I mistreated them somehow?

Then there are quotation marks. Some are indented the wrong way; some, of course, are missing, having no doubt run off with a  few periods. They do hang out together from time to time. I am in the sixth chapter of proofreading and so far these are the two main attacks on my story.

Yes I said attacks.

You see I am suspicious of the formatter. I try to edit and change the punctuation, but every time my finger hits a keystroke nothing shows up for about 30 seconds. I receive a message that it is slow to respond. Thank you for the update. Otherwise, how would I have known.

It would appear the formatter is aiding and abetting the escape of periods and quotation marks; not only that, it will not correct the quotation marks that are there, but need to be moved one space. It would not surprise me in the least if the formatter is behind the plot, but more investigation is needed.

The thing is you see, I had done proofreading prior to uploading to the formatter and though after innumerable run throughs where everything looked on the up and up, I expected a few aberrations, but really, what I have found leads me to suspect sabotage. It is as if punctuation either does not like the formatter, have been killed in the transfer, or do not wish to live outside word.doc. Perhaps they are afraid of getting lost in the Amazon jungle of a million e-books.

At any rate. This is where I am. Resting on a branch, exhausted from chasing down escaped punctuation.

The war will continue despite the brief respite. It is far from over. Like Douglas MacArthur I shall return, and in the end I shall be victorious. Until some reader points out an error in my book. War is Hell.

My website is here-unless it too has disappeared.

My previous books with included punctuation are here.


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The biggest mistake fiction writers can make

See if you can find the mistake in the following paragraph:

A tall man walked out of his hotel and into a bar across the street. He was stopping in Tulsa overnight to get some rest on his long journey to Alabama to see his dying sister. He sat at the bar’s counter and ordered a gin and tonic. The World Series between the Braves and the Yankees was playing on the radio. It was October of 1957 and once again the Yankees were playing for the title. The tall man hoped the Braves from Milwaukee, a blue collar middle American town, would thump those damn Yankees.

The mistake, assuming there is only one, is in the bar. The man could not have ordered a gin and tonic in Tulsa, or anywhere in Oklahoma, for they never ratified the 21st amendment to the Constitution ending prohibition in 1933. In fact, prohibition was in their state Constituent prior to the 18th amendment that banned alcohol sales and consumption (as the country winked). Oklahoma was a dry state until 1959. As the great humorist Will Rogers said, Oklahomans “would vote dry as long as they could stagger to the polls.”

This is important to fiction writers because you can never, ever, not once, assume. When you do research every tiny detail is huge. Readers in Oklahoma who know their history will call you out.

In my e-novel “Loonies in Hollywood” I have my two main characters in a car tailing another car that previously was tailing them. I did not look at just any map, I looked at a 1922 map of Los Angeles and Hollywood. I did not want to make the mistake of naming a street that in 1922 may have had another name in 2013. Street names get changed from time to time. Did I go overboard? Probably, but I want realism in place and setting. If the characters go into a restaurant or nightclub, I want to know who owned it, what went on there, who were the customers. It has to with the ambience of the scene. If you want the past to come alive, you must dig into the past and find out what is there and how to present it best for your story.

I read in another blog that a writer had made the mistake of saying a revolver had a safety, and the blogger said that revolvers don’t have safeties. Did I take her word for it? No, I try not to take everyone’s word for anything. I do my own research and a I found that it is rare, and if there is a safety on a revolver, it is a grip safety. Do I take his word for it? No I keep researching, getting as many views as possible. 

I have probably made some errors in my two, soon to be three, historic e-novels, but I did the best I could. And I love the research. It is amazing what nuggets you can find.

And if you think I made up the Oklahoma story about remaining dry until 1959. Here is a link. Always check what someone says. Did I mention that?

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My website is here.

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Captain Midnight article gets sabotaged by Batman’s nemesis

captain midnightI was rummaging through some files-no, not computer files for you youngsters out there- but old fashioned files, ones you find in folders-no, not computer folders-but folders containing files in boxes, when I came across a magazine, the name of which will not be mentioned, and it brought back an angry memory.

I contributed an article to this magazine nearly a decade ago and it still infuriates me when I think about what happened. If you are a writer, or an artist, you will understand.

The article was about “Captain Midnight,” a 1950’s television show, one beloved by boys across America. I actually cried and cried when we went on vacation on a Saturday before the airing of the latest episode. How could we leave before the show aired? How can a father be so mean and ruthless? Why wasn’t mom on my side? How can I cry for over two hours on the drive that sent my father into . . . well never mind.

The point is that the article was a nostalgic view of the old show, it’s origin and history, with a lot of background information that was well researched. I submitted my article with the word count guidelines and waited for the issue. I had written one or two articles for them before and had not encountered any problems. But boy did I encounter one with “Captain Midnight.”

The first four paragraphs were fine, no problem. But with the exception of one sentence at the end of paragraph five, the rest of the article was not there. Gone, gone, gone. Any writer can understand my mouth-dropping, eye-popping, flip-flopping stomach; shock changing to disillusionment evolving to anger. Captain Midnight had been sabotaged. What evil enemy of the good captain could have done this?

And here is the kicker. And the reason I never wrote for this magazine again. The editor told me in an email  that he printed what he received from me in the emailed article I sent. But that could not be. In case you did not catch what I said earlier, I repeat, “with the exception of one sentence at the end of paragraph five, the rest of the article was not there.” That means somehow the first part of paragraph five was not there, but the closing sentence was intact. That does not happen, can not happen. Sorry Mr. Editor, but I am not that dumb, close I grant you, but even I don’t believe that reasoning.

I always print copies of my articles to see what the editor may have changed, make note of it, and see if that can improve my writing. I know that email can be troublesome at times, but what you send is what will be received and a paragraph does not disappear leaving one sentence intact.

As an adult I did not cry when “Captain Midnight” was sabotaged by a less than honorable editor. But I did tell Batman the Joker was alive and running a magazine and after giving Batman the location and address . . . well it is good to have Batman as a friend. RIP former editor.

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