Meet the writing team!
 
All the stories that are posted under my name are very much a team effort. This

page is dedicated to the wonderful people who make these stories possible. In the world of writing, the author usually gets all the rewards and the rest of the team remains unsung. The author gets the acclaim, for work that is not just their own. This page is my admittedly inadequate attempt to remedy that situation, at least to a small degree, for my own team. 


 

The stories you see on my site go through a long and complicated process before they are posted. As an example, I'll explain what happens to a typical chapter. First, I write it, and then I go back and rework parts, polishing wording, trimming extraneous text, and verifying details. During this process, I keep an eye out for typos, grammatical errors, etc.

Once I'm satisfied, I then run Word's spelling and grammar checker. I'd never trust its recommendations absolutely, but it routinely catches three or four things I've missed in a chapter. One thing it does not catch is look-alike words. I'm dyslexic, so I have a great deal of trouble spotting word substitutions such as typing "out" when I mean "our". I also have trouble proofreading my own work; I see what I think I meant, not what is there.

So, once the final spelling and grammar check is complete, I give the chapter a final once-over. It is not done, far from it. It is, at this point, just a draft. I then take a deep breath, cross my fingers, and send it off for beta reading to Graeme and Talonrider. During beta reading, the beta reader will, using Word's edit mode (or similar, depending on their software), make comments on whatever they feel. This is often a comment that a character is acting out of character, or pointing out a possible plot flaw, or tweaking the wording, or correcting a typo. Once I have the chapter back, I then do a merge of the two copies, and at that point send it off to Captain Rick.

Once I get the chapter back from beta, I go through each and every comment and edit. In many cases, my reaction to the comment goes far beyond the comment itself. As an example, in one case Graeme highlighted where I'd used the same word twice in a paragraph (word repetition is a pet hate of both Graeme and myself). While fixing my wording, it got me to thinking about the scene, and I ended up adding a few paragraphs which, in my opinion, improved it. In other words, beta readers help in two very big ways; what they do, and also by causing me to have a second think-through of the chapter or scene. Once every edit and comment has been dealt with, and I've given the chapter another run-through with Word's spelling and grammar checker, I then send it off to EMoe for editing.

Editing is different from beta reading in many ways. It is far more detailed and thorough regarding grammar and spelling, but it also focuses on flow and stylistic aspects. For example, EMoe often smoothes out an awkward sentence or paragraph, and keeps an eye out for everything from plot consistency to, well, everything.

When I get the edited chapter back from EMoe, I go through each and every edit. Sometimes, as in beta, I make changes far beyond what Emoe has done, because seeing the edit can give me ideas. 

Finally, the chapter is ready to send to zeta-reading. That's Bondwriter's department. He checks for anything, such as remaining typos, misspellings, and punctuation errors.

That's just a general overview of the differences between beta readers, editors, and zeta readers. However, that's just an approximation of their most usual actions. There are always exceptions, because each and every member of the team can weigh in on any aspect they feel like. Sometimes the sequence changes, due to me being late (an all too common occurrence.) Also, not every member of the team weighs in on every chapter, it varies, but the end result is always the same: what gets posted is very much the result of a team effort.     

Once the chapter is back from zeta-reading, I give it one more read, then it's time to format it into an HTML page for posting. Once itís posted, that's still not the end. Every once in a while, a mistake slips through, and a reader will point it out (receiving my profound thanks for doing so) and the typo will be corrected, even long after posting.

I try to learn from my team. Each and every one of them has taught me a great deal, often in different areas. As an illustration of this, let me mention my filing system. On my hard drive, each story has its own directory, with the story name as the directory name. I use the main directory to write my drafts as well as store the outline, character sheets, technical references, etc. There are subdirectories, one named for each member of the team. Each of those directories has a single subdirectory called "Processed". When I receive a chapter from a team member, what they send goes into the directory with their name on it. Before I make any changes, I copy it into "processed" and that's where I work on their edits and comments. In this way, I keep a copy of what they send. I often look back on these old chapter comments and edits when I am unsure of something (for example, an editing or character issue).

Do I make a big deal about my team? You're darn right I do. Let's face it; online stories generate fanmail, forum comments, and acclaim. Now, who do you suppose gets said fanmail, etc? It's not the editor, betas, or zetas. It's the author. None of us are getting paid for this, but the author gets the lion's share of the credit and fanmail; the fun. Personally, I consider that unfair in the extreme, because writing is a team effort, and therefore the team should share in the "proceeds".       

At the bottom of each and every chapter, there is a block of text that means a lot to me; the chapter credits. On my site, each of these is its own individual block of text, not a PHP include or boilerplate. I did this intentionally when I designed the site; it allows me to change the credits of each chapter. In this way, I can thank a person for a chapter or two for advice, or for pointing out a typo.

There is one line in the chapter credits, however, that never changes. "Any remaining errors are mine alone." Although the writing is very much a team effort, as the author I'm in effect the manager of the team. I'm the one who decides if something is in or out, and I decide when a chapter is ready to post. Therefore, as Harry Truman's famous desk sign says, "The buck stops here." While I freely accept any and all criticism (I try to learn from it), the one thing upon which I will not compromise is that line in the credits:  "Any remaining errors are mine alone." That's non-negotiable, because it happens to be true.

(Sincere thanks to MikeL for fixing my typos!)


The Team!
Their pictures link to their G.A. PM boxes.

Emoe (EMoe57) Editor Extraordinaire, who also talked me through my first tentative attempts at writing.

Graeme. Beta reader and mentor, who can see what I cannot, and has taught me so much.

Bondwriter. He amazes me. English is not his first language, yet his command of the convoluted rules of English grammar are phenomenal. He has the keenest eye for catching the most subtle of errors, with a skill that would be considered amazing if English was his first language. Yet, it is not (French is his mother tongue, and one of several languages that he speaks). 

TalonRider. Jan is an editor, but honored and surprised me by signing on as a beta reader. He's great fun to work with, and a true pro.

MikeL.   Mike is our first amphibian! He's a beta reader, and has great insights and comments, helping me make sure the reader sees what I want them to see. He also makes sure that there are no cliffhangers in the chapters. Therefore, if you think you see a cliffhanger, we can all blame Mike for it! ;-) Welcome aboard, Your Amphibiousness!
RedA.  Red a self-described aging part time yachtsman who has joined us as a beta reader. His advice and insights have proven invaluable. Welcome aboard, Red!
CJ. Me. The guy who flails away aimlessly on a keyboard, giving the guys above so much work to do. 


 

Awards the stories have received
While these awards might have my name on them, they were given for the results of a team effort, and therefore they were accepted by me on behalf of the team.  Therefore, I decided to place them here, where they belong, on the Team page.