Online Editor- is it a waste of time?

And yet another edit!  When will I ever learn?  As a teacher, I always encouraging my students to edit again and “kick it up a notch” using more interesting words in their papers. “Don’t start your sentences with those boring “T” words like There are and The and Then  and That! Leave out useless words like Almost, Actually, Look, Often, and Seems!” I tell them again and again to make each word audition.

This week I was schooled! I learned that it is easier to teach than to do, It seems  my writing suffers from the same lack of excitement that I often find   in my students’ papers..

Playing around with some Online Editing Apps  has opened my eyes to my own issues. I am frugal, so I am only using the free version, but even the free version gives me plenty to work on! Several online editing App adds on Google claim to improve your writing.  Hemingway App was interesting, but didn’t quite attack my personal writing  issues. It suggested using simpler words- and I don’t always want to write simply. I think it would be great for many lawyers or MG writers though!

Next I tried an app which just pointed out common mistakes. Using Prowriting Aid  humbled me! I take small sections at a time, so I am not overwhelmed, and I don’t change everything it points out. Even so, I have been “kicking it up” a lot!  I feel sorry for my beta readers who are slugging their way though my manuscript- pre-Prowriting Aid.  Yesterday I removed 60 instances of the word “actually” and I don’t know how many “would’s”  and “look’s” and “seems.”

I will demonstrate with one short paragraph-  Some problems have already been resolved in yesterday’s edits. 

I froze momentarily, then, slowly swiveling around in my chair I looked for something to grab-anything which would work as a weapon.. The only thing within reach was the mouse on the right side of the keypad, so I held on to that. As I turned, Darth Vader, or whoever was in that black dark amazing costume, reached down and quickly snatched off my earphones, then he grabbed my wrists (making me drop the mouse) and pinned them to the arms of my special editor office chair. I kicked and tried to scream, but he was big, and standing, and obviously wearing boots, boots which absorbed whatever my little kicks were doing. I was sitting, and small and over whelmed with fear, facing the menacing large man covered in black from head to toe.
My average sentence length was 27- about 10 too long.  I still had 5 vague words and 3 overused words two cliches and one grammar error – (the extra period).    So I will put in the improved version below.
As I slowly swiveled my chair, I reached out to grab the only weapon available, a 3 by 6 inch grey plastic mouse. I was ready to attack. Darth Vader or whoever was hiding under that black expensive costume,  stood only inches from my chair. In less than two seconds he pulled my earphones off my head, grabbed my wrists (forcing me to drop my weapon) and pinned me. I screamed, but my voice couldn’t penetrate the classroom walls, let alone be heard over the loud pulsating music echoing through the halls. We both understood that yelling was useless Mr. Bob passed right outside the doorway.
His grip tightened, and my wrists burned under p his gloved hands. I kicked his shins, but the large thick black books absorbed any impact my tennis shoes inflicted. Fear almost paralyzed me, but I forced my eyes up–up from big black belt and breastplate, up to the shoulder pads and voice box, and up to ominous face mask on the monster of my childhood nightmares.
I checked this version of my paragraph, and it received a much higher grade, but not perfect!  My sentences are still too long (21 average), and I guess I had included one British spelling and two American.. I will have to check on that!  Must be “grey”   Easy fix!  
So, Do you think the “edited” version is better?  

Just Did the Crazy Right Thing

Here is a letter letter I sent today as I un-submitted my manuscript.


Submission Team,

Several weeks ago, as an enthusiastic first time “author,” I submitted a manuscript “Corpse in Kitchen 3” to Shadow Mountain publishing. In the last few weeks, I have had several friends read the manuscript, joined ANWA, learned much more about the publishing business, had an editor look at the first few pages, and most importantly tried to read my manuscript aloud on a cross country trip with my new BYU graduate son.

Through all of that I learned one thing: the story is good, but the manuscript is awful. Everyone liked the “story” but even I had a hard time making it though the grammar/point of view/logic/change of tense errors still left in the draft I had mailed.

So what I ask is this: Please take my manuscript out of the pile and put it directly in the “round pile.”

When ever have it polished enough for editor eyes, I will send it off again.

Thank you so much for your consideration,

Diane Jortner,waste-basket----2_21218052
I am not ever resubmitting.  Say hello to the next self-publishing, indie author.  D. Lee Jortner

Author Marsha Ward Interview and Cover Review

Hi, Marsha I am so happy you allowed me to interview you for my A to Z Blog Challenge. I am new to your books, what can you tell me about them?

“Actually, I write novels set in the era of the American Civil War. The first four in the series that I call “The Owen Family Saga” take place after the war, but the story I’m finishing, set during the conflict, also needed to be told. Marsha-Ward_200W

Back in the late 1980s, when I first began to write with a view toward publication, I had the privilege of corresponding with Robert Newton Peck, the author of children’s novels like the “Soup” series, and the famous coming-of-age novel, A Day No Pigs Would Die. Those were the days of physical, written letters, although we did type them by that time.

Rob Peck told me that every author has their “war,” and his was the French and Indian War.  Mine appears to be the American Civil War. It has always drawn my attention. My forebears, being stout Vermonters and Ohioans, probably would have fought on the Union side (having participated in the Revolutionary War), but my direct ancestors had traveled west as Mormon pioneers before the conflict began.

I’m not sure why I was so attuned to the Confederate Cause that I created an entire family of Virginians and a host of neighbors. Perhaps reading the novel Gone With the Wind and seeing the movie during my high school years played a part in that, as I began writing my “Great American Novel,” The Man from Shenandoah, a year after I graduated from high school. It wasn’t published until thirty eight years later, but that’s when I began work on it.

So what can you tell us about your new book?

“The new book is called Gone for a Soldier, and begins at the time Virginia joined the Confederacy. It will be released in late summer. I’m very excited about the coming launch.”

I love the cover.  What can you tell us about the scene it depicts?  GFAS-ecover-225W

“The cover for Gone for a Soldier is what I call an “atmospheric cover,” meaning that it portrays elements contributing to the emotional atmosphere of the work instead of depicting a specific scene. In fact, the only cover of my four preceding novels that shows something from a scene in the book is the one for Spinster’s Folly.

The elements on the cover are a couple about to kiss, accompanied by clouds of smoke and a strategically placed sun splash; and two scenes of men in battle: one shows infantry, the other depicts cavalry. The Confederate battle flag tells the viewer which side they fight for. The whole cover contributes to an epic atmosphere, which I hope will compel readers to launch right into the story.”

Have you already started one more for the series?

“I know what the next novel in The Owen Family Saga series will be. A character woke me up and I’ve written a part of the first scene. When I’ve finished a short story I contracted to write, and polish off and publish Gone for a Soldier, I’ll begin the new story.”

That is very exciting.  I will look forward to it.  In the meantime, how can  we find you and your other books?

“My novels are available in print and electronic books from and, and as ebooks from and iTunes. They are also available as autographed print copies from my publisher, WestWard Books.”

Thanks for sharing  with  us.  Good luck on your launch this summer.

“I appreciate the opportunity to be featured on your blog as part of your A to Z challenge. If readers want to keep up with announcements about my work, I invite them to subscribe to my newsletter. So far, I’ve only sent them out quarterly, so they won’t be a drain on their email inboxes.”

The link for subscribing is here:

I also have a website at and two blogs where I share samples, recount visits from my characters, and do fun things like cover reveals: http://marshaward.blogspot.comand