The Importance of Good Editing

I read a book a night or two ago that I think you might have liked.

I’m not going to tell you the name of it, but I will tell you the genre: it was ‘hard’ science fiction.

There was much to like about it! The science behind the book was solid. The story had great twists and turns, great conflict, great heroes, even a terrible villain and a desperate race against time!

What it didn’t have, unfortunately, was good editing!

Oh, such a shame!

I found myself repeatedly jerked out of the story by awkward, scrambled grammar, run-on sentences, mislaid words, and misappropriated spellings: so many technical writing issues, that, if only the author and the publisher had invested in a professional editor, would have been dealt with well before the book was published! There were whole paragraphs and sections I found myself skipping because I couldn’t make any sense of them!

There are books–a very few books, fortunately– (we’ve all heard of them) that are roaring success in spite of, and possibly because of, their horrible writing! This book doesn’t fall into that category. Alas. The kind of terrible writing that might be excusable or even become an asset in, for instance, a certain kind of romance novel, isn’t going to be excused by readers of science fiction, let alone hard sci-fi.

And yet, the story had the makings of a great sci-fi classic.

If it had only been properly edited…

I could almost see it being turned into a movie. Unfortunately, I doubt this story will ever truly receive its due acclaim, unless and until an editor is paid to thoroughly edit it!

While the writing was just about strong enough to carry the story in spite of the technical difficulties, I wondered if most readers would be willing to continue reading past the snarled meanings to reach the triumphant ending?

Science fiction is held to a very high technical standard of writing!

I hope the authors realize their book needs work. I hope the publisher receives enough solid feedback to realize that an investment must be made, and insists on having the book edited properly.

I’m considering ways to get in touch with them, myself. I don’t really want to give the book a bad review that it will never shake, particularly if the publisher can be persuaded to put a little effort into improving it. (which is why I won’t tell you the name of it here)

For my friends who are writers, and for myself, I hope we take this lesson to heart!

There’s no substitute for solid editing! A few mistakes are one thing: no book is ever going to achieve absolute perfection of text! But we need to take care to keep the mistakes to the smallest minimum we can achieve.

To that end, if you’d like my help, feel free to contact me!

I charge a reasonable fee for my editing services, and I’m a fast reader and a thorough editor. Please don’t let your book go before it’s ready like the one I’ve used here as an example!

Talk to me before publishing your book.

Celebrating A New Year As A Healthy and Whole Person

Yesterday was the beginning of a brand new, and hopefully for all of us, bright new year!

I hope you’re feeling hopeful. I hope you’re ready to look forward to and embrace the fresh possibilities God has laid out before you!

I’ve been wandering around (like I usually do at this time of year), muttering to myself: New Years resolutions? Why are they necessary? No one keeps ’em. I can’t really think of any… Do I have to? What am I planning to do with my new year? Oh…dear…

Words from the Lord? A word for the new year? …You have GOT to be kidding! (I don’t have one. I’m not even looking for one).

Oh, and then the big one crept up on me and surprised me on December 31st: what are you doing for New Year’s Eve?

And I realized with surprise that I wasn’t planning to DO anything, and then I realized that this made me surprisingly happy!

I stayed home. It was quiet. I ate supper with Mom and Dad and we watched Wheel of Fortune, and I solved the puzzles quicker than the contestants, which made Mom think I should apply to go on the show!

That was fun to think about, at least for a few moments. To believe that I could go there and do that, and maybe even win, even though I know that I would be so ill from chemical exposure if I tried, long before I reached their studios. And then my brain would be toast, and I would look like an idiot standing there with not a useful thought in my head or correct word coming out of my mouth!

I have no problem laughing at myself under the right comic circumstances, but–I think I would hate looking like that much of an idiot.

What if’s are only fun until they run into hard reality.

I realized today because of something someone on Facebook said (that they meant as a major put-down of Bible believing Christians), that I am a happy, healthy, whole person with an emotionally independent identity. And I am only that way because of Christ working in my life!

AND I realized that this is not just a good thing, but this is a tremendously important, exceedingly awesome and wonderful, AMAZING, even INCREDIBLE thing, and that I ought to share it with someone!

And then, I realized, I need to share this revelation with you!

I haven’t always been this way.

…Do you ever really beat up on yourself? I have in the past. I tend to occasionally even now. I’m working on that.

I am not financially independent, and haven’t been since…well, since I was conceived. I had help going through college. I got married before I was done with college. I worked some before my son was born and later when he was a toddler and preschooler, but–I was never, ever, not even once, on my own financially. This has always bugged me some. And it’s been a reason to beat up on myself.

Given what has happened, unless great miracles occur, I may never be financially independent now! But I want to be. I keep trying to work toward that, although most days I feel like I’m spinning my wheels, especially if I’ve gone out of the house and been in public spaces filled with everything that messes me up physically.

This frequent encountering of the things that make me ill leaves me physically dependent on others. And I hate that–and it’s easy to beat up on myself too, for venturing where I can’t really handle the pollutants. Except, I’ve got to live and there are tasks and errands that only I can do. And other things I want desperately enough to do that I am willing to pay the toll.

I have had to accept that there are situations where I’m going to encounter substances in sufficient quantity to make me feel unwell. I have had to accept that sometimes I will be a few days recovering, and not much use to myself or anyone else until I’ve gotten past the worst of it. I have had to learn not to beat myself up over this as doing so won’t make any of it better.

I have had to learn to grant myself grace.

And lately I have been discovering the differences between financial dependence, physical dependence, and emotional dependence.

I have always, for thoroughly human reasons, defined myself in relation to those people I am closest to and depend on the most.

I have clung to those relationships in a way that hasn’t been very healthy, down deep in my psyche where no one else sees. I needed my parents, then I needed my husband (and after I developed my chemical sensitivity issues, boy, how I needed him). And then, I needed my parents again, and–I’ve even at times clung to my kids.

You may not realize that, from hanging out with me. Outwardly, I may appear to be very independent!

But if you’re at all healthy yourself, then you understand why need–even normal, human emotional needs–can be unhealthy and destructive, especially when other factors intrude, like a marriage going hopelessly over the edge, like in a divorce–

Christians aren’t supposed to divorce. We’re supposed to work things out. I needed things to work out. I needed my marriage to be good. If it wasn’t good, if my marriage failed, then…I was not a good wife or a good Christian, Anyway, ‘everyone’ said so, and because I had allowed myself to be defined by these things and they were vital to my identity, I believed that everyone was right who said so.

I most especially needed to be told I was doing the right thing.

The failure of my marriage was therefore inescapably my fault and I owned it. Boy, did I ever–and my faith in God was damaged because I couldn’t keep my marriage together.

I had also, with desperate fervor, fought beyond my ability of endurance to keep my marriage, so I wound up in a state of utter nervous exhaustion and was broken and demoralized–and–by the time I realized I absolutely HAD to walk away and save myself, I was a complete physical wreck!

It has taken me a very long while to realize and accept, not that I didn’t make mistakes, but that there was nothing I could have done that would have been so right and good that it would have fixed my marriage. It was unsalvageable. And–if it had been salvageable, the mistakes I did make wouldn’t have mattered in the least.

Isn’t that wild?

Even if I’d done everything correctly. Even if I’d anticipated every surreal turn and twist of fate–at the end of it, I would have still been divorced.

I needed to be needed, too… and then I found myself in a situation where other people’s needs had emptied me out emotionally and physically, and I was ill and had no more to give. And they were empty and ill, too, and had no more to give either–

And because I was now a “bad” Christian and to all appearances a failure as a wife and maybe even as a mother, the only people who came to my rescue were my immediate family.

And I still had to go on, putting one foot in front of the other. To be brutally honest, for so many years now, all I’ve been doing is marking time until illness or accident finally claims my life and I could with reasonable relief give my last gasp of breath, because then this nightmare of misery and failure would finally have a period put to it. It would at least be over.

I realized today that I’m not really living there any more!

I have reasons–good reasons, too–to hope and to live. And they aren’t bound up in my identity vis-a-vis anyone else.

I don’t need anyone else. Not in that way. Not ever again.

Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE my family and I want to spend time with them! Financially and physically, I really could not do without their help and support.

I miss my kids when I don’t see them. I look for opportunities to hang out with them.

But they do not define who I am. My ex doesn’t define who I am. My divorce also doesn’t define who I am, and I do not have to live in failure as a “bad” Christian because I’m divorced.

I am happy and at home, and at peace in my own skin. I’m good company to myself. And I think it’s sad and hilarious, and totally ridiculous that it has taken me nearly forty-seven years of life to arrive here!

I’ll tell you a little secret: the whole time I felt like everyone else, even sometimes my own family, was beating up on me, there was God, standing by, ready and willing to comfort me.

And never once did He tell me I was a bad Christian, or that I had to fix it all somehow. Not even once.

He just came close and loved me.

I am a happy, healthy, whole person with an emotionally independent identity. And I am only that way because of Christ working in my life!

And I have this to say to you:

Please don’t believe the lie that you have to let your relationships define who you are.

Let God define who you are! 

You’ll be much happier and healthier, because He loves each of us with an everlasting love. And in Christ there is power to overcome sin, there is hope and healing, there is forgiveness, there is grace and mercy, and there is above all else, life.

And that is what I want for myself more than anything else this new year, and what I hope and pray for, for you, too!

 

Don’t Let Your Marriage Be A Flop

My heart goes out to Tarek and Christina El Moussa (of Flip or Flop). It’s bad enough having what you thought was a good working marriage fall apart on you, but to do it in the public spotlight has got to be agonizing beyond belief.

Here is my letter to them:

Dear Tarek and Christina,

I’ve really appreciated and admired your expertise at home remodeling and flipping houses. I’ve enjoyed watching your show! I wish I could do what you do. There’s no possible way I could, but it’s fun to watch you in action and dream!

I appreciate your willingness to share all those hours of your life with us, your loyal audience! All the agonizing decisions, the unexpected curve balls, the joy and excitement of decisions that paid off…

You make a great team!

Before you give up on your marriage, I hope you will sit down with a good marriage counselor. I’d particularly recommend contacting Caring for the Heart Ministries.

If you research them, I think you’ll understand why.

For everyone reading this, before you marry, before you’ve even gotten engaged, before you ever decide to date:

If you want to have successful relationships in life, then I highly recommend that you sit down with someone you can trust and learn to know yourself really well. This person doesn’t have to be a professional, but they do have to be someone you know is capable of giving good, honest advice.

It is never too early or too late to do this!

Discover:

  • what makes YOU you
  • what you need and want in terms of a good relationship (any kind of relationship!)
  • what friends you should work to attract or avoid, and how to do that
  • where your relationship weaknesses and strengths are
  • what you can do to avoid the traps and snares your own personality, areas of blindness, and upbringing will create for you
  • where you need healing and growth, and work to effect that healing and growth

Become the person God intends you to be so that you can be a good friend and team player not just in marriage, but in all of your relationships.

It’s impossible to love someone else well and be a good friend to them if you can’t first love yourself and be your own best friend.

Take the time to develop close friendships where you feel comfortable and safe enough to be honest about your strengths and weaknesses and theirs, where your friends give you honesty and encouragement in return. Where you can sit down with any one of them and they can say, “You’re being a brat and we love you enough to say so.” And you’re willing to hear them out, and to apologize and work to be a better person.

If you’re already dating, if you’re engaged, please don’t get married without first learning who you are (if you haven’t already), and who your intended spouse really is, and creating a game plan to intentionally work together to build a happy, life-long marriage.

You’ve got this amazing potential, this bright future beckoning you on. Take the time to create a solid foundation to build upon!

And hey, if you discover that you’re in the wrong relationship, a broken heart before marriage is so much less traumatic than an ugly awful divorce with kids in the middle! You have no idea–but you will–if you insist on marrying Mr. or Ms. Not-That-Person-God-Intended-For-You!

IF you’re married (I hope Tarek and Christina really do read this):

Stuff happens. You totally lose your temper. One of you treats the other with disrespect, hurt feelings multiply, someone freaks out, the world implodes, and now you’re wondering if it’s ever going to be all right again!

Maybe it’s happened more than once. Maybe this has kept happening.

You know what?

STUFF happens.

Don’t be hasty to throw away what began as a good relationship! Find a way to work together. Find a way to forgive. Find a way to safely express your feelings of frustration and misery, and work to relieve them without destroying your marriage.

Remember what’s most important.

If you’ve got kids, their best safety, stability, and happiness resides with both of you working together, loving each other, loving and sheltering them together. Your marriage is vital to you, but for them, it’s their whole world! Being a good parent means taking that seriously.

Making money is good in its place, but putting each other first is what keeps a marriage healthy and strong.

EVERY MARRIAGE needs work. Every marriage.

Every couple has their moments of marital disaster and most couples, like you, are going to sometimes have total meltdowns!

Here’s the secret to a happy marriage: you don’t have to live there.

  • You can forgive each other
  • you can ask God to forgive you and give you the strength and wisdom to avoid another meltdown
  • you can sit down and sort out the reason for the meltdown
  • you can make plans to avoid another like it in the future
  • You may not entirely succeed the first or second, or even the fifteenth time around, but it’s only by working together that you’ll truly be a real team

It’s easy to be a team player when everything’s going your way, when there’s unanimity and harmony, but this is a fallen, broken world, and we are, all of us, broken hurting people needing forgiveness and healing.

Our efforts at team building will never measure up completely. Sometimes, we’re going to get it really wrong! Being a success as a couple means that you’ve got each others’ backs even when you’re in utter and complete disagreement, and fuming and totally fed up!

When that happens, don’t give up and go date other people. Sit down with a counselor, talk through the issues, but (this is key)–don’t dwell on the negative stuff.

First, find a way to eliminate some of the outside stresses on your relationship. If your job is getting in the way, find a way to disconnect from it for a while. Take your spouse and head for somewhere you can be alone together. Leave your kids with the grandparents or someone else you trust.

Take along your scrapbooks, take along your family albums, look at all your photos! Bring your love letters or retrieve all those emails or texts, or whatever you did to draw closer to each other to begin with.

Remember TOGETHER why you fell in love. Remember why you decided to get married. Remember why you’ve been working together, and above all, remember that your kids deserve a stable loving home.

Look each other in the eye, hold hands, sit close. Recover the romance. Resolve to stick it out. Resolve to give your marriage two hundred percent!

FIGHT for what you’ve built, for that dream you wanted to have together!

There may be situations where, it doesn’t matter what you do, your world is going to fall apart. I’ve lived that. I know the pain and despair of that.

Sometimes there aren’t happy endings.

Sometimes one of you is willing to work to make the marriage a success, but the other person isn’t or isn’t able.

Sometimes they’re too damaged emotionally or trust has been irrevocably broken.

If you’re there, if that’s the truth hiding behind your public split, then I feel your pain.

But I urge you, again, not to jump from one relationship into another. You need to sort out your own heart first, and heal and grow before entering another relationship. Please do that not just for you, but for your kids, who are depending on you for emotional support, love, stability, security; all those benefits they were receiving from your marriage and now aren’t.

You owe it to them and you owe it to yourself to discover what you contributed to the failure of your marriage and how to avoid going there again, to be the kind of person it is safe for someone else to draw close to. You owe it to your children as well as yourself to pursue healing and growth, to model being a healthy, responsible adult and parent.

I’m praying for you. I’m praying that God heals your hearts and mends your marriage, and steps into the gap where your brokenness, your pain and failure are eating away at your souls, and pulls you together again.

I’m praying for your kids’ protection in the middle all of this.

Whether or not you continue to have a television show is not important, but YOU matter!

You will always matter, not because you’re famous or good at flipping houses, but because God created you and loves you with an everlasting love.

This is true for everyone. I pray that His love embraces you and makes you whole again,

Krystine

Does Harry Potter Romanticize Boarding School?

airport

Instead of taking a bus, I flew on Cessnas and jets to get to school.

I feel that it’s only reasonable to write a response to Tilda Swinton’s assertions that ‘Harry Potter romanticizes boarding school and this is damaging to children.’

In an earlier life, I read the entire Harry Potter series and watched at least three of the movies (I preferred the books). I’m not going to endorse Harry Potter or critique the series here, but I do have an acquaintance with the contents of the stories.

I also attended boarding school from 2nd grade through 12th, with a few breaks in between.

There were aspects I hated about boarding school (mostly missing my parents and preferring to be at home), but there were aspects I really appreciated about boarding school too.

I mostly liked and appreciated my dorm parents. I had some good roommates, I had more than one best friend, I had other good friends, and even had a boyfriend for a short while.

I rarely felt isolated or stressed to the point that I would call my experiences there “hell,” although sometimes I really did feel stressed as well as challenged, and I didn’t always enjoy the experience.

The reasons for that were several: no one was nice to everyone else all the time (not even me!); teen girls can behave like vicious piranhas under certain unfortunate circumstances, but this is true in public and private schools that don’t take boarders too, and not at all unique; and even dorm parents and teachers aren’t immune to having a bad day or totally losing their patience at times.

I can understand why Tilda Swinton might not have enjoyed her boarding school experience, especially if she attended one only in her teens–which seems to be the British model, but I found there were definite advantages to being at boarding school instead of at home.

Outrigger Canoe Beaching Sandstone CoasterIn elementary school, at boarding school I could go swimming with my friends at the school swimming pool after three just about every afternoon, except when the pool was under repair. There were trips to the nearest big city to go shopping, trips to the beach, trips up the mountain to the falls, and trips to the nearest “swimming hole”.

I loved to swim and hike, I was an indifferent shopper, but I loved eating local foods. I loved roller skating and a game we called “Hunter,” dodge ball, floor hockey, playing in the band, and anytime I got to do anything creative. I especially loved it when my parents came to visit and we did these activities together. I also earned fairly decent grades after I decided to take studying more seriously.

I enjoyed the church services every Sunday that were all in English, unlike church services at home which were mostly in Indonesian and Citak (pronounced CHEE tuk). I learned a lot in our Bible Study groups, and particularly enjoyed it when our group met at the home of a teacher who brewed his own root beer! I also enjoyed evening devotions and singing hymns and choruses with the other kids in the dorm.

In high school, there were more shopping trips and adventures on our own without the dorm parents, and sadly, not much swimming. I couldn’t go home as much, and my parents only came twice, but there were also visits to friends’ homes on vacations, and more activities at the school and opportunities to participate in and contribute to the spiritual life of the community, as well as a missions trip to an orphanage.

I didn’t love everything I was asked to do at boarding school. I particularly disliked softball and soccer, and just about anything else athletic that wasn’t roller skating, swimming, floor hockey or hiking. I thought for the longest time that life would have been perfect if only they’d lived near where I was attending school.

Why was I sent to boarding school?

Parents make use of boarding schools for practical reasons that have far more to do with wanting their kids to receive a quality education than with any idea of their kids being unloved, unwanted, or inconvenient.

Wanting your kids to receive a quality education that teaches them how to be a success at life is a very loving desire.

At the time when I attended boarding school, homeschooling was in its infancy and wasn’t a particularly practical choice where we were, because everything had to be done by us–no convenient shortcuts (like dishwashers, automatic clothes washers and dryers, microwaves, supermarkets–all the conveniences of civilization that we have here in the U.S.

When you’re spending extra time butchering and processing your own meat, dealing with dirty laundry 3 times a week (because otherwise it would rot), washing mountains of dishes by hand with water heated by you…even with hired help to do some of the cooking and cleaning, time to do school is in short supply unless your child is actively engaged with the material and willing to study on their own.

I couldn’t attend the local school taught in Indonesian because I wasn’t Indonesian, and even if I could have, rote memorization of their curriculum (their preferred method of teaching) would not have prepared me for college once I returned to the U.S. Then there was the language barrier.

I was never in any doubt that my parents loved me very much or that Mom struggled particularly with having to let us go so far away to school.

I always thought that I would prefer to be taught at home…at least until I “got” to stay home for five or six weeks because we were all under medical quarantine.

I absolutely hated it!

I turned out to be a terrible home school student: I missed my classmates, I missed my roommates, I missed my friends. I hated sitting in a room at a desk all by myself to do my schoolwork! I resented my parents’ insistence that I had to do my studies anyway, there were tears, sorrow, gnashing of teeth, and generally I was a very miserable wretch who drove everyone around me to utter distraction!

My brother was under quarantine too, but we weren’t allowed to study together because we pestered each other until Mom couldn’t take it.

My parents resorted to bribery: in exchange for catching up with my studies, they sent me off with a wonderful nurse who lived near us to visit another station for a couple of weeks.

When we returned, my family flew to a station in the mountains where my feet were cold all night and the mice ran relay races, and thumped and bumped, and shrieked shrilly in the walls all night long, and we all got terrible colds, and had lots of adventures, but my parents couldn’t do any of their work, so we were “on vacation.”

And finally everyone decided that the quarantine wasn’t necessary and I was permitted to return to boarding school, and life returned to the normal I was used to. Hallelujah…

Do I recommend sending your kids to boarding school? Not unless that’s what you need to do for their best good.

Do I think it’s damaging to children that Harry Potter got sent to a boarding school (or any of his friends did)? No.

That’s the beauty of fiction: you can appreciate someone else finding themselves in odd or unusual circumstances without having to experience those same circumstances for yourself!

And I do not agree that the Harry Potter books romanticized boarding school. I only need to mention one name: Dolores Umbridge, and you’ll probably know why!

Even if boarding school isn’t the romantic ideal in education, it can be a perfectly normal and reasonable experience for kids who need a quality education and can’t get it in another way.

That doesn’t mean your kids will want to go there or that you should send them to one just because they read about kids attending a boarding school in a work of fiction.

But neither are they going to be traumatized or damaged somehow by reading stories that have boarding schools in them either.


In my books, no one attends boarding school (at least so far), but my characters do have lots of fun going on adventures. Check them out!

Book covers 3D

Of Cats and Sewing

black and white cats in a basket

When I get out the camera, the sillies ham it up!

Cats and sewing don’t mix very well, but I’ve learned so much through trying to persevere in finishing this project I’m working on (a gingerbread costume) while trying to distract Lil’ Stinker (the white kitten in the photo) from wreaking havoc!

Over the course of this project, he’s spilled ALL my pins (but only once!). He’s attacked and chomped holes in my crackly paper patterns, which were fortunately designed by me out of butcher paper and not that flimsy shreddable stuff store-bought patterns are made of, so a few teeth and claw marks didn’t really matter.

He let me know that he very much likes the color red. He thought he also liked pins because they’re shiny, but he tried to grab one out of the cloth this evening and discovered they’re also sharp and pointy. (Ouch!) He didn’t much like that!

He also likes spools of thread because they’re round and have colorful thread on them, and he HATES the noise the sewing machine makes!

He also made me laugh when he kept trying to “hide” beside the sewing machine because it’s white and he’s white. He was trying to hide because he knows he isn’t allowed on the table!

I think we can safely say he isn’t color-blind and that he recognizes and differentiates colors!

Shelah (my tuxedo kitty) also informed me that she loves the color red, and was totally disgusted when I took the red fabric she appropriated away from her.

You may wonder along with my family why I didn’t just shut the kitten in another room to keep him out of the sewing. It’s a good question, but it’s got a fairly simple answer: this project isn’t a big one, and I’ll be done with it soon. If I upset either of my cats over it, then I get to spend weeks trying to calm them both down. Meanwhile, I won’t be able to get anything else much done!

It’s easier on all of us if the kitten learns to respect the house rules and discovers that there are things he’s allowed and encouraged to do to entertain himself during the hours I have to focus on other things.

I’ve found various ways to keep the cats out of the sewing: opening a window works for a while. So does wearing them out by playing with their favorite toys (I’m not ignoring them quite all the time). Lil’ Stinker’s favorite toy of the moment is this soft squishy red ball with iridescent ‘fur’ sticking out of it. He’s got a yellow one just like it, but will he play with the yellow one? Hah– But he’ll play with the red ball on his own for hours!

I’ve gotten the costume almost done. Tomorrow it needs another fitting, then I can finish off the neckline and add some peppermint felt ‘buttons.’ Then it’s back to the computer and writing to see if I can catch up my word count for NaNoWriMo, even though the month’s already half over.