Saturday, December 17, 2011

Interview with Penny Ehrenkranz

Today, my guest is author and editor, Penny Ehrenkranz. Thank you for joining us, Penny.  

1. What qualifies you to be an editor?
My job as an editor is that of line editor.  When I get a manuscript, it has already been seen by a content editor several times.  I look for grammatical errors, punctuation, spelling, and continuity. I am also on the lookout for anything the content editor might have missed.  For example in one manuscript, the author described her character as always wearing a certain color.  Then a few chapters later, she has her don a sweater which is the wrong color.  I pointed it out to her and she changed it.  An editor needs to be able to keep track and notice when something is off.  Another example comes from the book I’m editing now.  The author switched her main character’s name and used the name of a main character from a previous book.

I have a strong background in the English language, with English my main area of study in school.  I spent a number of years as an executive secretary where I needed excellent grammar skills.  I’ve also been a published writer since 1993, so I have a lot of knowledge. 

Before I became an editor for MuseItUp, I took an exam which tested my skills.  I know some people who applied failed the test.  When I got my job at another publishing house as an editor, it came about after I reviewed a book and found a number of errors.  I wrote to the publisher and jokingly told her if she needed an editor to let me know.  I sent her a copy of the book with my highlights, and she quickly responded with a contract.

2. How much input do you have in accepting a story that’s submitted to MuseItUp Publishing?

All of the editors have an opportunity to read submissions.  The manuscripts are loaded onto a forum.  Whoever has time, and all are encouraged, read the submission and comment as to the quality of the writing, including POV shifts, grammar, content, readability, and whether it is a good fit for our house.  The publisher has the final say, but she takes into account all of the input she receives.  If she decides to reject, she sends our comments to the author.

3. Who decides which editor gets which story?

We choose by ourselves. Sometimes it’s based on our own work schedule. Other times, we choose based upon our own interests. For example, I rarely, if ever, choose to work on a book of erotica. It’s not a genre I read, and so I’m not familiar with it.  I don’t feel it’s fair to the author for me to work on something I don’t really understand. 

If an editor begins with an author on a series, we try to keep the editor with the author for the entire length of the series.  Also, if the editor works well with the author, we try to keep them together even when it’s not a series.  Building a good working relationship helps the editor know the author’s voice and style.

4. What do you like best about being an editor?

Being paid to read.  I love reading, and this is a job where I can read all day long, and no one tells me I have other work I have to do.  I’m already doing it.  I also enjoy the interaction with authors from around the world.  Some I feel have become true friends. 

5. How do you handle a situation where you suggest a change and the author refuses?

I think most authors understand why a change needs to be made. When they do refuse, however, my method is to offer a compromise.  For example, I’ll let them ignore a grammar rule in dialog, but they agree to correcting it within a scene.  Since I started doing this a couple of years ago, I’ve only had one or two authors I remember who stuck their heels in the ground and refused to budge.  I think most authors can understand the need for a change if it’s explained properly and not shoved down their throats as a command. I try to be respectful when I make suggestions and listen to the author’s reasons why he or she doesn’t want to make a change.

6. Do you have a particular genre you prefer editing?

I love to work on fantasy and science fiction, since this is what I read for pleasure.  I also enjoy working on sweet romances, middle grade, and young adult.  I’ve found I like cozy mysteries, too. Besides erotica, there’s very little I don’t want to edit.

7. What’s the one thing you wish authors would avoid?

Point of view slips are the most annoying.  They will take me out of the story, and I stop and ask myself: “Who’s story is this?”  “Wait a minute, what happened there?” 

It’s okay to switch point of view chapter to chapter or scene to scene, but it doesn’t work when the author jumps back and forth between two characters within the space of one scene.

8. Do you have a job other than editing? If so, what do you do?

I retired from my day job in 2008.  I was the Office Manager/Chief Legal Secretary for the Columbia County District Attorney.  Now, I can devote myself to writing, blogging, and editing full-time.  Although I have to admit since I’m retired, I also give myself the luxury of spending time with my family, my pets, my garden and my craft projects, like crocheting.

9. What do you like about editing? What don’t you like about editing?

Since it’s difficult to edit my own work, I like being able to find problems and tighten up a manuscript in someone else’s story.  I wish I could do the same as easily with my own!  I also like that I get paid royalties for book sales, but I don’t have to do the marketing. 

I enjoy getting to know the authors.  I often invite them to be guests on my blog, having them answer questions about their work, and learning about their latest releases.

When I worked with my other publisher, I didn’t like that I only had one opportunity to go through a manuscript.  I have a bad habit of getting caught up in the story initially and missing subtle mistakes.  Having the chance to go through it more than once, allows me to find errors I didn’t find the first time. I have since “retired” from that publishing house.

About the only other thing I don’t like is when I get a manuscript later than I should, and I feel rushed with the edits.  I don’t believe this is fair to the author, however, it happens sometimes.  Life gets in the way, and earlier deadlines are missed.  Fortunately, this doesn’t happen often.

10.          What’s the difference between a content editor and line editor? Which would you rather do?

A content editor has the tough job of finding overused words, making sure the story makes sense, tightening up, and eliminating material which isn’t necessary to the story.  As I mentioned above, the line editor works on the grammar, spelling, and punctuation, as well as checking for anything the content editor might have missed.

I am very happy being a line editor.  I believe this is where my strengths lie.  Since I find it hard to chop and discard my own words, it’s difficult for me to do content edits on other people’s work, too.  I’ve done a few content edits, but I definitely prefer being a line editor.

11.           You're an author too, how difficult is it to edit your own books? Tell us about your book and please add an excerpt.

I’ve talked about this a bit above. I find it difficult to edit my own manuscripts.  As authors, we become “wedded to our words,” and divorcing them is very hard.  I’d much rather work on someone else’s edits than my own.

I have two books which I’ve been promoting recently.  They are romances released by MuseItUp Publishing.  Lady In Waiting came out in November and Mirror, Mirror will be released at the end of December.

TITLE:  Lady-in-Waiting
Tag Line: Through a series of misunderstandings, Mabriona is forced to live a lie, but when the man she loves awakes from his coma, will she confess her deceit?
Blurb: Mabriona is cousin to the beautiful and spoiled Princess Alana.  When Alana is forced to marry a man she despises, Mabriona is torn between her loyalty to her cousin and her attraction to the handsome Prince Blayne.
Tragedy befalls the cousins on the way to Prince Blayne’s castle.  Servants, believing Mabriona to be Alana, refuse to listen when she tries to explain.
While she waits for Blayne to recover, Mabriona meets his equally handsome younger brother, Madoc, a bard.
When Blayne awakes, will Mabriona choose life with a future king, will she be sent home in disgrace because of her inadvertent lies, or will Madoc win her love with his poetry?


“Today’s the day, Mabriona,” Princess Alana said as Mabriona entered the chambers.  She wiped tears from her eyes with an embroidered linen. “Prince Blayne will be here, and soon I’ll be his wife.  I think the worst part of being father’s daughter is marrying someone I’ve never even met.”
“You’ve always known your marriage would be arranged for the benefit of the kingdom, Princess, but I’m sure he’ll be very nice,” Mabriona replied as she opened the heavy drapes covering the windows. She looked at her cousin and sighed.  She wanted to feel sorry for Alana, but they’d had this discussion so many times. Mabriona was tired of it.  Alana had known from the time she was a child that she would not wed for love.  Why can’t Alana just accept her fate? Outside the day was as wet as the one before and the one before that.
“Nice?  Who wants nice?  I want someone handsome and dashing.  A knight in shining armor who will love me forever.  I certainly don’t want someone like my father who will make me do everything I don’t want to do.”

TITLE: Mirror, Mirror
Tag Line: Lindsay Baker’s purchase of an antique mirror sends her back in time to salvage a love torn apart by class restrictions.
Blurb: Lindsay Baker is intrigued by everything about the middle ages, but when she purchases an antique mirror and a costume to attend a Renaissance Faire, she suddenly finds herself transported back in time.  There she finds she’s been called by a witch to right a terrible wrong. 
Graham loves Prudence, but he can’t marry her because he’s landed gentry, and she is only the baker’s daughter.  Before Lindsay can return to her own time, she must convince Graham to marry against his father’s wishes.  Unfortunately, she also finds herself falling for the handsome gentleman.
Can she find her way back to her own time, or will she be stuck in a time when women had no rights?


After Stefany left, Lindsey adjusted the water spigots on her tub.  A few drops of bubble bath went into the water, and the soothing scent of lavender filled the moist, steamy air.  While the tub filled, Lindsey tried on her Renaissance outfit for the upcoming Faire. She couldn’t believe her good luck at finding the perfect pieces.  She tested the bath water to be sure it was the right temperature. Then she picked up her antique mirror to get a better view. Was this a scryer’s mirror at some point in time? It slipped from her wet hands into the bathtub.
“Nuts,” she mumbled as she leaned over the tub.  She pulled one sleeve up on her blouse and fished around in the bubbles for the mirror. When she pulled the mirror from the water, spots appeared in front of her eyes, and she felt faint.  While she watched her reflection in the old mirror, the background changed.  She no longer saw the inside of her bathroom.  She closed her eyes as the room around her went black.


Roseanne Dowell said...

Thanks for joining me today, Penny.

gail roughton branan said...

Great interview, girls! Very informative and interesting. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Joylene said...

What you do is amazing, Penny, and such a gift to the rest of us. Merry Christmas, and thanks for all you do.

Adriana Ryan said...

Penny, as someone who has been lucky enough to be one of your authors, I can say you are extremely gifted at what you do. Thank you for making my novella so much better than it was going into this process. :) Can't wait to read your books!


Charlie said...

Great interview Penny. And I love your tongue in cheek response to what you like best about being an editor...I'd love to get paid to read too. lol! Great job.
C.K. Volnek

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