Saturday, March 23, 2019

Self-Editing: a hard slog through spelling, punctuation, word choice, and aggravation.

So your novel is completed?  You've read through it  until you can't stand the sight of it.  But there's always a niggling doubt. One more pass-through?  Give to a friend? Hire an editor? 
How do you self-edit your novel?  


I cheat.  Belonging to a writer's group is great.  Six sets of eyes are better than one, and they find the bulk of my errors.  There is a gentleman who is a grammar ace.  He finds every misspelling, every word that should/should not be hyphenated, should be two words, or italicized.  I also give it to my friend who is an accomplished proof reader. We read each other's work. 
Of course, there is always spell check, but it doesn't find everything.  Believe me, it doesn't, and it isn't always up on the latest information. 
Here are a few tricks.  After you've read your masterpiece on your computer, print the WHOLE BLOODY THING out (we recyle all paper, so I don't feel that guilty) and read it on the written page.  Move it to your Kindle or electronic reading device.  Somehow, a new device makes the errors pop out.  Maybe a couple of friends with sharp eyes can be arm-twisted into reading the finished (well, almost) work. Give them pat on the back in the credits and a free copy. 
By now, you should have a clean manuscript. If your publisher doesn't offer editing (most do) or if you're self-publishing, you can hire a line (not a developmental) editor for the final pass. This can cost a lot. 
I believe submitting to KDP also involves a spell and formatting check. If you self-publish, there is usually a mechanism for making corrections down the line. With a steely determination to find every typo, you should not have to do this very often.  And remember, even the New York Times makes an occasional typo.  If your readers point it out, fix if you can, otherwise, well, it happens. 
I found six or seven typos going through the above words a third time.  No doubt you can find some more. 

Here are some accomplished writers with good advice.  

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Cuban Black Bean Soup

I had the first page of this recipe in my clipped recipes, but not the subsequent page.  Wasn't sure how to proceed until I looked at some other recipes and finally got it all together.  Soup is excellent. 

Ingredients for six servings: Cuban Black Bean Soup

1 pound dried black beans
1/2 pound fresh chorizo sausage (casings removed if in links)
1/2 pound sliced bacon, sliced crosswise (I used about 1/ 4 pound)
1 med onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. dried oregano (I use Mexican)
1 t. chili powder. (I use ancho)
1/2 t. ground cumin
4 cups or more low-salt chicken broth
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice

2 T. cream Sherry (optional)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

For garnish:
Fresh tomato salsa (I used mild)
sour cream
guacamole or avocado
chili powder (optional)

Process: 
Placce beans in heavy large pot.  Add cold water to cover beans by 2 or more inches.  Soak beans over-night.  Drain beans.
Return beans to pot  and add 8 cups of water.  Bring to boil and reduce heat. Cook until beans become just a little tender, maybe two hours.  You don't want them completely cooked.  Drain and rinse. If you like, you can hold them overnight.
In a clean Dutch oven, fry chorizo.  Add bacon and cook until bacon is almost done.  Add onion and saute or five minutes.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Add herbs and stir.  Add 8 cups low-salt chicken broth, tomatoes in juice and beans.  Bring to a strong simmer, reduce heat and cook until the beans are done but not falling apart.  1-2 hours.  Taste for salt. Can be held overnight at this point.
When you want to serve them, bring to boil again.  Add chopped cilantro and sherry, if desired. 

 Serve with salsa, extra cilanto, and sour cream.  We felt the soup was just spicy enough wihout additional chili poweder.  I use ancho chili powder which is excellent.
We ate this soup over the course of several days and it was always delicious. Add more broth as needed.
The ingredients are from a recipes in Bon Appetit.  I used several other recipes to figure out how best to cook the beans.  We really liked this and would make it again. 

I buy my spices mail order from Penzeys.com. Penzey's Spices