Thursday, February 27, 2014

Coffee Chat 8.1 with S.K. Anthony: The Kidnapping of Janie Junebug, Part Two

For those of you who missed last week's excitement, you can find it HERE. Janie Junebug came to my house for a . . . visit, shall we say. Yes. A visit. I'm sure she would have come on her own, had she known how much fun it is to be at my house.

As it stands, she's been enjoying herself so much that she's reached out to hundreds of friends to tell them all about it! Well, actually, she's been asking for coats, hats, mittens and blankets, and my house is now filled with donations, but I'll take it. When she returns to Florida, everything will go to the city mission.

Ahh, so where were we? We were just getting ready to discuss how every writer has trouble areas, and S.K. had just given me permission to share hers.

[Fade to scene in my kitchen . . .]

ER: I will admit, S.K. has some trouble areas, but they have nothing to do with her writing. The woman is a coffee fiend . . . although I can't say that upsets me. And I can't work unless her twins are napping. Hmm . . . that seems to be my trouble area. Let's see what I can come up with . . .

Well, she does like commas. But her comma use is not as bad as she makes it out to be. Really, S.K. is the type of writer I really like. And S.K., I'm not just saying this because you're here and I want you to pour me another cuppa. You rewrite and rewrite until you're satisfied, looking at the manuscript for something different each time you go through it. I like that kind of thoroughness, because it makes my job a lot easier.

I think my own pet peeves stem from those writers who either don't take the time to revise, or who won't listen to good advice when it's given. I have no stake in whether you sell one book or five thousand books. I will get paid for my edits. So why would you think I'd waste my time suggesting something that wouldn't improve a book? (Not you, S.K.—you always listen to me.)

Janie, have you ever had someone reject perfectly sound editing you've done? I don't mean when an author wants to keep his/her "voice." I mean, if someone says, "I don't think I need to capitalize anyone's names. I don't care what The Chicago Manual of Style says. I'm not doing it." Would you have your name omitted in the book's editing credits?

JJ: S.K., you had me at "affect" and "effect." Lynda, my efforts have been rejected or ignored a couple of times. I think it happens to all of us. One writer had a terrible title for a book. I came up with a new title, but the writer had to "improve" on it and insisted that the book not be published without the desired title. A reviewer said that the only thing wrong with the book was the title, and, specifically, the author's change. The author then asked the publisher if it was too late to change the title. Yes, it was.

ER: I would be torn between feeling bad and wanting to say, “I told you so.” It’s the twelve year old in me, I know.

JJ: Some authors have to be the know-it-all. One author attacked me, verbally (we never met in person—thank you, God), and accused me of ruining the book because, supposedly, I had inserted a misspelled word. I never knew what the word was, but I pointed out that I had corrected numerous mistakes, that the author had the opportunity to make changes, and the book would be edited again. When it was published, I planned to present it on my blog and did a brief interview with the writer. The person attacked me again while answering the questions. Needless to say, I've had nothing more to do with that book, but I still love it and think it's one of the best books I've edited.

I have never been in a position to remove my name from a book. I don't know if I would. It would have to be a truly horrific situation for me to say, "I don't want to be associated with this book." Most of the authors with whom I work are very nice people who are eager to take advantage of my help. Sometimes I have to be tough with an author and say, "Look, this is the way it's done. Do you want it right or wrong?" But that doesn't happen a lot. I have very friendly relationships with a number of authors who have sent me gifts, or paid me more than I requested.

Lynda, don't you ever ring for the servants? I still want my frozen mocha peppermint coffee.

While I wait, I'd like to know if you've ever had your name removed from a book, Lynda?

ER: Um, yes. I'll ring for those servants again. [Runs out of the room, hisses to one of the kids that he needs to throw a few scoops of snow into the coffee and bring it to Janie while wearing a butler's outfit.]

I enjoy the authors I'm working with and have a great time when we chat, keeping in touch with them in between jobs. I feel we have a good relationship, and honesty is a big part of it, which makes the trust level pretty high on both sides. I've never had my name removed from a book, although Stephen Fender played a trick on me with his most recent book and purposely misspelled my name, nice and big, in the editing credits on the title page—for only my hardcover. He knew it would make me laugh, and now I have a collector’s edition.

On a serious note, however, I did free evals for someone who didn't want me to change things I knew were wrong. I eventually said no to the job, because I didn't want someone to judge my editing abilities on what that book would end up looking like. I've also wondered, because I mainly do copy/line edits, if someone will "blame the editor" for bad writing even if the technicalities of spelling and punctuation are done correctly.

S.K., what do you think about the advice you've been given? Is it easy to sift the good from the bad?

SKA: Of course it’s easy. If I agree with you, then you’re giving me good advice. Obviously. 

Seriously, though, it depends on what it is. If it has to do with storyline, I have to think it through before making a decision. If I want to keep things as they are, then I have to clear some things up. To my way of thinking, when something is questioned, something must be off somewhere. If it’s grammar, punctuation, or sentence structure I will most likely just agree. I’m working with a professional I trust. Otherwise, why bother working with this person? At the same time, I have to be able to feel comfortable enough to ask questions if I don’t understand the changes. 

Besides, nothing stops an author from doing her own research, right? The Internet is there. Merriam-Webster's dictionary is available online. Heck, I own my own Chicago Manual of Style. Answers are always close by, if we want to look hard enough. So advice is always welcomed. 

If you ladies could give one advice to your writers, what would it be? To help make your job easier, I mean.

ER: Ooh, I'm going to let Janie take this one first. And then I can say she stole all my good answers.

JJ: Work with me, not against me. I'm not your opponent. Feel free to ask me questions. Suggesting a change doesn't mean I hate your writing. It means that your writing can be better. I'll do great work for you if you are open to another point of view, and I will encourage the hell out of you. I'm on your side.

ER: Oh my goodness. You really did steal everything I would have said.

SKA: Janie . . . I think she’s serious. How could you come into her home and steal her words? Err . . . ignore the fact that you were kidnapped. That’s neither here nor there.

I do like that advice, though. I think both the author and editor owe each other the courtesy of making sure the other one shines in the best light possible. It's a team effort, no ifs or buts about it. We support each other and we must work together. So kudos, Janie . . . and Lynda for the wise words.

JJ: Good! This has been more fun than I thought it would be, but I would like to return to the land of fresh-squeezed orange juice and people who wear winter coats when it gets down to 60 degrees. I love the coffee. Please ask the butler what he added to give it such a special flavor. What gives it the yellowish tinge?

S.K., if you ever want me to visit again, then please ask me first. It doesn't seem very smart to wear Lilly Pulitzer shorts and a tank top when it's snowing, and The Queen of Grammar does not like to look stupid.

But thanks for the kidnapping and conversation! It's been real.

SKA: Well . . . I, hmm . . . I just thought you could use an adventure, that's all. Please tell your therapist I said, "You're welcome." But I will call and place an order ahead of time for our next dose of The Queen of Grammar. I promise.

Thank you, Janie, for being a great victim!

Now that I'm done with this kidnapping, I have to figure out my next mischievous move. While I do that, Lynda and I are opening up the stand to YOU, our readers. 

We thought it might be fun (to us, anyway) to allow you to ask us any burning questions you might have. Want to know who taught Lynda everything she knows? Probably me.

ER: It's true.

SKA: Want to know why I ramble so much? Because I can.

ER: Also true. I have no way of stopping her.

SKA: Any other questions, please ask in the comment section here or email us at Lynda's address ( and tune in next Thursday for answers.

Janie can be found at where she has the loveliest blog, and on Twitter @JanieJunebug. 

As always:

You can find S.K. Anthony in a number of places. She's on Twitter @SKathAnthony, her website is, her Facebook page is S Katherine Anthony, and on occasional occasions, she'll be right here with me, drinking coffee and laughing it up over our latest plans and schemes. And possibly even talking about books and writing. 

You can find me here. I'm always here.


  1. Nice to see you guys taking care of The Queen. I would talk about food, but since I am on a liquid diet at the moment that would be a cruelty to myself. I love the advice here though.

    1. This is where coffee would come in handy for you, the Queen of Grammar could have shared a yellow tinged cup with you lol
      And, no questions for next week? It doesn't have to be food related you know :P

    2. Brandon, a liquid diet only helps for a day or so, and then the hangover kicks in.

      Milkshakes are liquid! mmmmmm, milkshakes...

    3. Sorry. hmm, questions. What is your favorite type of books to edit? And for SK, if you had to write a book with a social message included, what would the message be? Also, Lynda, I did have a milkshake it was awesome.

  2. Thank you very much for allowing me to "visit". I am back in my Florida bungalow, but it is chilly and dreary. That darn polar vortex affects us, but only in small ways. I'll put away my Lilly Pulitzer for a while and thank the good Lord I didn't sell my sweaters on ebay.


    1. You got out while the gettin' was good. Right now I'm looking at 7 degrees with a "real feel" of -8. I should have hitched a ride when you ran out the door and hopped into that airport taxi.

    2. So...some would say I kidnapped you and took you back at the perfect time. Just saying, Janie. Just saying.

  3. I'm so happy to hear that Janie has concerned friends who sent piles of coats to keep her warm! I would've been very upset to hear that she had turned into a grammar icicle!

    I am certain that Janie is a wonderful editor. I plan to use her considerable talents when I'm ready to have my work edited.

    1. I'd look over my manuscript carefully if I were you...Janie REALLY likes using text-speak when she's editing. You may find your characters saying things like, "Wat u doin 2nite?"

      Seriously, I would read anything she'd edit. She's finally stopped typing "brrr brrr brrr brrr" over and over again, so you're safe to use her.

    2. How awesome for you, Sherry! You're in great hands. Like Lynda said, she's done with the trembling so it will ALL be okay lol

    3. Lynda, you deserve to have your butt kicked for saying I use text-speak. I don't use text-speak even when I text! Don't allow that strange woman to frighten you, Sherry. Listen to Katherine. You are safe with me.


    4. HA! I'll admit it: I can't use text-speak, either. Full words and punctuation have to be done, even in a text.

      Sherry's lucky. She gets an editor who keeps an egg in her bra for good luck. Not every editor will go that extra mile.

  4. Egg? Nevermind, Lynda loved this week's chat. As for a question, hmmmmm, what about a riddle instead? Your in a room, all the windows face south. What color is the Bear outside?

    1. You'll have to go to Janie's blog to find out how she ended up with the egg. She's a good one for taking things in stride.

      Oooooh, I will ponder upon that riddle during my morning coffee tomorrow. Are my windows clean or dirty? That could change my response.

    2. Oh, this one's going to be tough. I can feel it.


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