This is just a quick post to point out the new link on the right side of this blog (the colors aren't working right now but trust me, a link is there!). Mark is someone I met on the Kindleboards a few years back. He was one of the first people outside my circle of readers who offered critical constructive feedback and editorial advice. Back then, Mark didn't charge for his services, but I quickly learned he had something of value to offer. Since then, Mark's been so busy editing manuscripts that he's had to make a business of it. I can fully endorse Mark as a fantastic line editor, but he does more than that. He can tell if your pacing is off, if your story arc needs work, and a dozen other things that you may not have noticed in the rush to hammer out your final draft.
Here's the thing about writing: Everybody thinks they can.
We've all read a book and thought to ourselves, "Hey I can do this." Or we wrote a two-page essay in middle-school that met a glowing review from Mrs. Soandso, and we thought: Yeah, I truly am gifted!
We're all naive at first. Then we learn how hard it is to finish a draft, how difficult it is to follow the various character arcs through the acts of the story, and how challenging it is to refine all of those scenes. We know we must have tension on every page. We must have dialogue that's believable and characters that have depth and emotion. And darn it, all of those rules on grammar that we learned back in elementary school don't even apply to half the stuff we write. What the heck?
Writing gets confusing. It might be trouble with usage and grammar, it might be that forgotten character we had such big plans for in Chapter 3, but who disappeared somewhere in the next 100,000 words. It might also be that we're just tired. We crank out these books as fast as we can type. We edit and revise and then move on hoping that we can come back with a fresh perspective, but that doesn't always work. And the built-in dictionary doesn't always catch our mistakes... okay, it rarely catches our mistakes. That's why we have beta readers. And that's also why, sometimes, we fork out some cash to a pro. Because in doing so, he can help us look like professionals, too.