Got two minutes? Then check out this week’s quick tip ~ An edit of a few pages of Royal Secrets
Hello and welcome…I am a freelance editor and an editor for The Wild Rose Press, as well as an author. I often struggle with my own writing, and I have found that sometimes, a little reminder of ways to improve the process can be helpful, so, I like to share these moments of brilliance with others :). But, in this busy world of ours, who has time for pages and pages of writing tips? That’s why I’ve condensed mine down to quick flashes you can read in (approximately) two minutes. Enjoy…
Disclaimer: All of my tips are suggestions, and are only my opinion. And, for the most part, there are exceptions when going against my advice will make your story read better. Take what works, leave the rest.
Today, Linda Nightingale has agreed to expose herself for the benefit of others. 🙂 She volunteered to allow me to edit a portion of her latest Work in Process on my blog. I will have to say, I didn’t find much I felt needed revisions. Linda’s writing is pretty solid. But, I do have a few suggestions she might incorporate.
Find all of Linda’s books on Amazon HERE
Prince Abelard Alexander Leandres swung his beautiful Ingrid into a waltz to the immortal The Blue Danube. Around the opulent ballroom of whites and golds, they spun on the gleaming oak floor. Gazing into each other’s eyes, they smiled as if the world were theirs to command…and it was, to their way of thinking. Newspapers and television across the globe speculated that the pale blonde Scandinavian miss would soon be a princess of Desjardins. Their relationship had long been viral on the social media. [I would do away with this intro. It doesn’t really add anything and it might be better just to dive into his POV]
My dark blue eyes still fixed on
her [Ingrid’s] ice-blue ones, I lost focus for a moment. Something inside me, some restlessness or deeper need, ate at me late at night, and sometimes, like now, in the midst of my duties, reared its anonymous face to torment me. Ingrid’s expensive perfume, the gift I’d bought her in Paris on impulse, seemed to wrap around me and suffocate me. I resisted the urge to gasp for breath.
The golden music from the band in Leandres livery switched to another classic. Ingrid’s hand slid to my elbow, and she offered me a flirty wink as I escorted her from the dance floor. She wasn’t a woman to be ignored. Her beauty alone turned heads, even without the fact that her exquisite countenance was on every tabloid with a prince. [This sentence is maybe a little unclear and slightly awkward. Also, there is a misplaced modifier. ‘With a prince’ modifies tabloid, when it should modify her (or, her countenance). So maybe something like: Her beauty alone would turn heads, even had she not accompanied a prince in all the tabloid articles’ – It’s still not perfect, but it’s a little more accurate, as far as the order of words. :)]
“This is our second anniversary, Zander.” She squeezed my arm. “I bet you’d forgotten.”
I winced, stiffening slightly at the reference. I had forgotten the occasion. It was hard to believe that Ingrid and I had been lovers for two years. The media already had us engaged, but I wasn’t of that inclination yet. She was intelligent, beautiful, and good in bed, but there was just that something missing. Surely, a man my age shouldn’t believe in romance. My father constantly reminded me that at twenty-eight, he’d had a wife and an heir. Me. Therefore, I should have a wife and children by now. He tossed nubile young maidens in my path, but I had Ingrid, and no one else appealed to me the way she did.
At each island of people, we stopped for a brief conversation, constantly moving in the direction of a quiet alcove I’d seen across the room. I was far from reclusive or introverted, but tonight I simply wished I could ditch my duties and seek solitude. I’d much have preferred to be finalizing the American ambassadorship. This evening breathed a premonition down my neck, and a chill slithered over me. In my custom-tailored formalwear, I suffered a shiver that went unnoticed. [He can’t really say that it went unnoticed. He wouldn’t know that for sure]
Ingrid tugged me to a halt. “Are you ill? You’re very quiet.”
I gave her a quick one-armed hug. “Nothing is amiss, dear Ingrid. Perhaps, I’m merely in a pensive mood.”
My elderly but sarcastic aunt lifted her silvery head and beckoned with a slight nod. Inwardly, I flinched. Aunt Heloise had a penchant for asking embarrassing questions and making innuendos about matrimony. Like a good swordsman, I fended the questions, but the hints were encouragement for Ingrid, and, in the midst of a crowded ballroom, I’d realized I wasn’t in love with the blonde beauty who counted on becoming queen.
“Good evening, madam.” Ingrid dropped a little curtsey. “You look lovely this evening. I hope your trip to America went well.”
Aunt Heloise glanced from Ingrid to me with a look of mild surprise—that I hadn’t spoken first as was customary? Annoyed at Ingrid, I offered my kinswoman a brief greeting and a forced smile. I didn’t dislike my aunt, far from it. I merely knew that she’d silently chide me for Ingrid’s impertinence.
She returned her attention to Ingrid. “Very well, thank you. In fact, it appears Desjardins will soon acquire an ambassador from the United States. That wasn’t the purpose of my visit, mind you. Negotiations with my brother have been proceeding for some time.”
A wide, enchanting smile lit Ingrid’s face and fired her eyes to a sapphire sparkle. “Why that’s absolutely marvelous.”
“What do you think, Alexander?” My aunt pinned me in her notorious, direct, and demanding gaze, not using my family nickname. “Surely, you have an opinion.”
That accusation took me aback. Blast and damn it, I’d be quite as formal as she. “My father and I have discussed this possibility, my dear Duchess. Point of fact, I worked with him in these negotiations.”
“I thought that might be the case.” Aunt Heloise smiled. “Are you playing tomorrow?”
“Zander has a new polo pony from Argentina to debut.” Ingrid beamed a white-toothed smile. “They’re going to be splendid on the field.”
I wanted to shake her. She acted as if I were a mute, constantly jumping into the conversation on my behalf—without invitation.
Unaware of the tense situation, my father joined the group. “Good evening, Heloise, Ingrid, son. The ball is proceeding nicely. Alexander, we must meet early tomorrow. We have matters to discuss regarding the US ambassador. Your mother is already planning another ball in his honor.”
“Heloise just told us. What an achievement for you, Your Majesty.” Ingrid curtseyed again, but why she insisted on calling my father Your Majesty puzzled and irritated me. The King didn’t hold to protocol when with his family and their friends.
“Can you join me on a conference call early tomorrow morning?” My father clapped me on the shoulder.
“I’m sure Zander was instrumental in charming the Americans,” Ingrid said before I could respond.
My father [For deeper POV, I would just use ‘Father’] whispered a laugh. “Zander is always quite charming as far as the press is concerned.”
Anger twisted my stomach. How dare the woman answer for me—repeatedly! When did she assume the role of spokesman for a royal prince? Warmth colored [I wouldn’t use ‘colored’ since he can’t see his cheeks. He can say how it felt. Warmth suffused my cheeks. And, speaking of cheeks, this doesn’t sound very manly. Since we’re in a man’s POV, I would say ‘face’ but I also wonder if he would use ‘warmth.’ Maybe ‘heat’ sounds a little more manly] my cheeks. Aunt Heloise’s eyes widened.
I forced [obviously just a typo. Missing ‘my’] annoyed gaze away from Ingrid and willed my rigid jaw to relax. “Of course. What time?”
“We’ll be speaking to the new ambassador as well.” Father shot Ingrid a frowning glance.
The King had never liked the pretty blonde and made no secret of it to me. Mischief sparkled in eyes the same deep blue as mine. He looked on the verge of saying something more…something very wicked, but excused himself to greet English aristocracy.
Ingrid turned to follow, but I arrested her by taking her hand. [Since this next sentence is her dialogue following his action, I’d move it down to a new paragraph and perhaps indicate she’s speaking] “I’d like to meet His Lordship.”
“And you shall, but first we must have a word about your sudden urge to speak for me tonight.” I gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “I’m quite capable of conversing without your help, and I must say I was irritated by your behavior.”
A blush crept up her neck and across her ivory face. “Zander, you’ve never chided me before.”
Was the blush embarrassment or anger?
“You’ve never misbehaved so flagrantly.” Once the accusation slipped past my lips, I regretted it…or did I? Tonight, my feelings were ambivalent.
She stiffened, her voice icy. “Misbehaved? Don’t treat me like a child.”
I turned her toward the group around Lord and Lady Malgovern. “Don’t use that tone with me, Ingrid. I’m going to introduce you to the man you’ve been ogling over my shoulder.”
Ingrid stood six feet tall in her bare feet. With her four inch heels, we were eye-to-eye. She laughed. “You’re jealous.”
“Not at all. It was merely an observation.” I dropped her hand. “I’m not the jealous type. Surely, you know that by now.”
“You’re handsome, royalty, and the world’s darling. Why should you be jealous?” She placed her hand at the crook of my elbow. “One day, I might get trampled by a stampede of women. It’s a good thing I’m not insecure.”
, [No comma here. Perhaps after ‘least’ but not here] least you didn’t call me arrogant…as you’ve often done.” I smiled and, with a hand at her waist, guided her along the star-studded path that was my life.
Virginia Claire McDonald dropped her phone on an inlaid desk and stared at the Atlantic from the window of her friend’s home—mansion—on the Battery. She didn’t actually see the beauty of the waves lapping the Seawall. The window was open, and the sound of their soft conversation drifted to her deaf ears. [This is a little confusing. Whose conversation? And, if it drifted to her ‘deaf’ ears, then she can’t really speak of it, because she didn’t hear it] Stunned [Why is she stunned?] , she stood motionless, images from magazines, newspapers, and on-line articles flashing before her eyes. Her friend’s father had actually been appointed to an ambassadorship in Desjardins, a small, elegant principality blessed with mountains and white seashores. Of course, Chrissy would spend the summer with her parents in the country that was Prince Charming’s home.
Ginny was twenty-five years old and chided herself every time she indulged in hero worship. She shouldn’t believe in romance…but she did…as dreamers do.
“Dear God,” she breathed. “You might actually get to see Prince Alexander.”
“See who, Ginny?” Chrissy flopped onto the bed and said in her deep-South accent, “You’re all flushed. What’s wrong?” She laughed. “Will you miss me that much this summer?”
In travels with her parents, Chrissy had lost most of her Southern accent, but once she [ missing ‘was’] back in Charleston, it didn’t take long for it to resurface.
“Nothing’s wrong.” She turned to her friend with a shaky smile. “Your dad’s been appointed to Desjardins. Can you believe it? You might actually see our hero. I wish I were you.”
“Don’t get excited.” Chrissy studied her red nails. “It’s not like I’m going to get a date with the world’s favorite prince. He’s been squiring that Scandinavian blonde for a couple of years. I’m a nobody from South Carolina, and I doubt he even knows where that is.”
“Yeah right, a nobody who lives in one of the most historic and expensive houses in Charleston, Chrissy. Your daddy is the United States Ambassador to Desjardins. I’m the peasant.”
Her friend shrugged. “I don’t think Dad’s Audi will catch Alexander’s Ferrari.” Chrissy gestured as if she were driving a car. “They say he drives like a bat out of hell.”
Ginny chuckled. “Toss that long blonde hair—he likes blondes—bat those big brown eyes, and shake your pretty booty. I bet the prince will notice you. You do get to go the parties and big to-dos. He’ll see you.”
“Rags to riches.” Chrissy threw a pillow at Ginny. “I know this will come as a shock, but I’ve never really believed in fairytales. I know you do…”
Ginny fended the down pillow weapon to the floor. “It’s time to start. You have tons of beautiful dresses.” She pointed at the antique chifferobe containing Chrissy’s formal wardrobe. “You’re going to stand out at the ball. Cinderella, don’t forget to lose your glass slipper. If he doesn’t pick it up, throw it at his handsome head. I’m so excited I could celebrate with some pecan pie and ice cream.”
“You’re on for the pie and ice cream.” Chrissy leapt to her feet.
“You can return with your parents immediately after graduation. I’m thrilled for you.” Ginny hugged her
friend. [‘her friend’ is probably used a little too frequently] “If you marry Alexander, you won’t have to go to medical school and cut up corpses.”
“I never intended to. You’re the one who wanted a career in the medical field.”
Ginny frowned. “Dumb butt, it doesn’t hurt to dream. Princess Christabel sounds good, don’t you think? I’d be envious, of course.”
Chrissy flung an arm around Ginny’s neck. “You are a dreamer. A dreamer in the first degree.”
“Guess who wants to be a lawyer.” She tweaked her friend’s cheek.
The week before graduation passed in a fog of hurry and dreams that Ginny spoon-fed to Chrissy every day. Both sets of parents arrived for their big event—graduation from the College of Charleston—but the ambassador had to return to Desjardins the day after in order to settle in before Chrissy joined them for the summer. Together, she and Chrissy moved out of the furnished apartment they’d shared near campus. Ginny’s parents and brother didn’t stay the next day either. They had places to go and people to see, she supposed. Bert was always their favorite, and nothing she could do quite measured up. It was all very well and good, and soon over.
In her 2009 Honda Civic, Ginny drove her friend to the airport. “Have a great summer.”
“Maybe you can come visit.” Chrissy hugged her as they unloaded multi-striped hardside luggage, a majority of her things having been shipped. “I have lots of dresses that will fit you. We always did trade clothing. I loved that amber dress of yours. I know you’d snag your prince charming’s eye. As you said to me, toss your long red hair, bat your green eyes, and shake your booty. Right?”
A sinking feeling gave Ginny pause. She wanted to say, I don’t have the money, but she tried to sound optimistic. “I plan to get a summer job. I’ll save my money, then watch out Prince Alexander.”
Ginny caught a glimpse of herself in a cab’s window. Faded blue jeans and a university sweatshirt. Yep, definitely royalty material. At eighteen, she’d married her high school sweetheart straight out of high school. That heartache still haunted her with or without his pleading calls. Mike was a wonderful guy except that he preferred drinking with his buddies to being home with his wife. The divorce was final, but during that long, lonely year, Ginny had held onto her dreams like a lifeline. Prince Alexander of Desjardins had been her solace.
“What are you laughing at?” Chrissy tapped her shoulder.
“Myself. I’m good amusement material.” Ginny swung her friend’s carry-on to the ground. “Sometimes, when I’m on Facebook, I just laugh at my own foibles.”
Chrissy’s smile faded. “Stop it. It wasn’t your fault that your a-hole husband made you miserable.”
“I know.” You’re going to get to live my dreams, all those dreams I clung to at night. I’m not envious of my best friend. Yes, I am, damn it, I am.
“I’m going to do a little work for Dad.” Tears glittered on Chrissy’s mascaraed lashes. “I’ll help you get the money to visit me.”
“I’ll find a way.” Ginny patted the other girl’s [Sounds a little distant. I know it’s not great to overuse character names, but I think I’d use Chrissy here] cheek.
“We will.” Chrissy tapped her a High Five.
“You’d better check in.” A lump of unshed sadness choked her.
Chrissy tapped her finger to the end of Ginny’s nose. “See you soon.”
Ginny nodded. Short of a miracle, she’d never see Desjardins.
Looking like a blonde version of an actress from Pretty Woman, Ingrid sat on the sidelines in her brown-and-white polka dot dress. The skirt flared beneath a white patent leather belt hugging her slender waist. I noticed all this while I paused to tap my whip to my helmet, saluting her as the polo match began. Damn, she was a pretty woman—to equal any movie star. So, why was my heart beating a retreat?
Wearing the number four, I was always referred to as the Back. [I don’t understand this but it could be because I know nothing about polo] We charged into the match, my new pony quickly showing his mettle and speed as a player on the opposite team attempted to ride me off in a bump to spoil my shot and remove me from the play. A good bump
can [‘could’ – tense was switched here] shake discs and rattle teeth. He was within the 45 degree limit, but we held our own, and I completed my shot. The first of six chukkas sped by in fierce competition.
I loved polo. The excitement and speed of the sport
definitely got the [I think a more active phrase and not using a qualifier like ‘definitely’ might make it more active and impactful. Something like ‘The excitement and speed of the sport spiked my adrenaline’ or something like that :)] adrenaline pumping. The preciseness appealed to my inner perfectionist, but if I had to choose, fast cars on tight turns was [were] a greater thrill. Nothing felt better than the quick handling of a finely tuned and engineered machine. A great day was coming. I was entered in the Grand Prix, fully aware that I’d be up against the best drivers in the world.
Since I was the sole heir, Abelard Pierre Leandres, King of Desjardins, was against the idea, but Father denied me nothing. I was one lucky, arrogant bastard with a perfect lineage tracing back centuries. Fate waits for no man.
See, not much to offer. I really enjoyed the chapter. Linda did an excellent job with description, sensory detail, and set up. We all know a certain redhead is about to shake up the prince’s world. 🙂 Thank you, Linda, for sharing your work with us. If any of you would like to volunteer your work for my blog, please see below for information on how to do that.
Until next time…happy writing!
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*** If you would like to send me a few sample pages (around 7500 words or so, even though I will not edit that many on the blog. It just gives me more to choose from) for me to edit and share on an upcoming blog post, please do so in the body of an email to AliciaMDean@aol.com. Please use the subject line: “Blog Submission” This is for published or unpublished authors. In the email, please include whether you would like me to use your name or keep it anonymous, and whether or not you would like me to include any contact info or buy info for your books. Also, you can let me know if you would like for me to run my edits by you before posting on the blog. Please keep in mind, this is for samples to use for blog posts. I will not edit or use samples from all the submissions I receive, but I will use as many as possible.
*** Find the Magic and the book I use for examples in FTM, Without Mercy, are both on sale for 99 cents each. Click HERE for Find the Magic and HERE for Without Mercy ***
How to write a novel? That is the question. There are probably as many answers to that question as there are people who ask it.
Wanting to write and actually doing it are two very different things. I am well acquainted with the sometimes grueling process of churning out a story. Over the years, I have tried many methods for creating and completing manuscripts, and have tweaked and honed it down to a workable (for me) process.
Using specific examples from one of my own novels, Without Mercy, I share my method in this mini how to book. The first eight steps actually deal with plotting while the last two are designed to help expand your outline into a well-developed draft. There is no one, perfect way to create a story, but there will be a method, or methods that work for you. I’m not sure if this is the one, but it works for me. Only you can decide if it also works for you. Fingers crossed that it does!
*** Warning – Please do not purchase without reading a sample. (This is solid advice for any book, fiction or non. If you are not intrigued in the sample, you will likely not enjoy the book)
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