A Guest blog from PJ Sharon
Welcome to Mary's Garden Blog. We have PJ Sharon, she will give us our garden tip and chat about her books.
To clean up or leave it wild?
I’m a bit of a neatnik and despite living in the woods, I go to great lengths to clean up the leaves and take care of trimming the hedges and such (although this year, since my husband is retired, he seems happy to take over that duty). But when it comes to my perennial bed, I like to leave it wild. Here’s my rationale.
First, the leaves offer protection to the root systems of plants that aren’t as freeze-tolerant—such as butterfly bushes or peonies—and usually decay enough through the winter to be compostable in the spring. Second, I like to leave the birds and other critters a food source through the long New England winters. Birds, squirrels, mice and chipmunks love the leftover Iris seedpods. And lastly, it helps me identify new growth in the spring. After years of plotting, planning, and planting this lovely garden, I still am taken aback by how difficult it is to tell if something is a flower or a weed until it’s nearly ready to bloom—which can be a real problem when the garden is taken over by rag weed! By leaving old growth in place until my spring clean out, I’m able to see new shoots and not accidentally tear out patches of primrose or flox before they’ve had a chance to bloom. So, I say, keep it wild! What say you?
Do you clean out your beds or leave them until spring?
As mentioned above, I’m a bit of a neatnik and a perfectionist. In writerly terms, that means I’m also a ruthless editor, which makes it difficult to let go of a book when it’s time to hit publish.
As an independently published author of over a dozen books, you’d think I would have a handle on the process of writing, editing, and publishing a book. Yes, the process is similar each time, but as any writer will tell you, each book is its own adventure. As Stephen King points out in his book, ON WRITING, “writing is re-writing”. The editing process is an exercise in vanity in that you don’t want anyone to toss your book across the room because of typos and errors. I don’t know if any of you have noticed how many errors are found in books these days. It drives me crazy as a reader to pick up a bestseller and find typos or glaring mistakes that editors should have picked up. I blame the online editing process and cutbacks at publishing houses for this. If you aren’t doing your final edits on a print version of your manuscript, I guarantee you’ll miss some things.
I go through my manuscripts over and over until I know I’ve done all I can do. Then it goes off to either a content editor or beta readers (lay people who are avid readers who will pick up on glaring errors, plot holes, or character defects that irritate them). If you have an expert in the topic of your book, now is a good time to ask them to read it for you in case you missed an important detail. Since this book takes place in NYC, and specifically Brooklyn, I asked my stepson who lives in Brooklyn to fact check it for me and he found a bunch of issues that needed correcting. I make changes based on this feedback and when I’m satisfied that I’ve done my due diligence, it goes to my editor for three rounds of edits. After that, it’s off to my proofreader, who gets a printed copy. I make more corrections and add my final layers to the story and then I print out a copy for myself and go through it again before sending it to my formatter. Once I get the formatted version, I read through it one more time. I know all of this sounds like overkill, but I swear, I still find things that need fixing even after five sets of eyes have been on it.
That’s where I am at this point with my upcoming release, LIBERTY’S PROMISE. I’ll spend the next few days going through the formatted version before uploading to distributors and ordering my print copies, but it’s always a bit nerve wracking to wonder if it’s as good as it can be. I guess I’ll have to wait for reader reviews to find out!
My garden can stay wild. My books require a ruthless perfectionism. And I’m okay with that.
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Peace and blessings through the holidays,
Thank you for dropping by PJ. Great tip and Liberty's Promise sound awesome!