About Hazard Editing Services

Hazard Editing is reopening for one to two projects a month. We now charge $4 per 1k words for editing and $3 per 1k words for proofreading. Feel free to contact Lisa Hazard at lisacathazard (at) yahoo (dot) com. We offer a free five-page sample edit so you can try us out.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

... and em-dashes

When using ellipses and em-dashes, here are a few tips:

Ellipses run into the next word, whether they are in the same sentence or not, unless you're using dialog.

For example:

The cat was sneaky...and persistent when it came to getting the people's dinner.

The cat ate everything he could...He even devoured salad.

The cat talked in a mumble... "Rawl, raaawl..."

Em-dashes are made by typing a letter, then adding two dashes. - and -

Then you simply add another letter.

Something I see a lot with em-dashes is a backward quote. You can fix this by typing the em-dash, then a letter, then the end quote and deleting the letter.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Choosing the Right Editor

This post is for writers trying to figure out how to know if they've found the right editor, and also for me to tell you more about what I do as an editor.

If you're looking for the right fit for your book's editing, here are some things to think about.

1. Do you want mainstream editing or indie editing?

Mainstream editing is more what you'd find in big publishing and bestsellers. The fat is heavily trimmed, adverbs are axed, passive writing is rewritten, and the content of the book is more streamlined into traditional stories. The good side of this kind of editing is that the majority of readers will find your book easy to read and will feel satisfied at the end that everything in the book was as it should be, or wrapped up. The bad side is you might lose your unique voice and some readers might find the book to be an average read.

Indie editing is more voice-centered. An editor who says they edit to the writer's voice will leave adverbs that fit, allow some passive writing if the sentences are effective, and will encourage unusual stories' plots to unwind in a non-traditional manner. The downside to indie editing is many people may not want to read something experimental and could find the language of the book too out of the box for them.

2. How do you know if you can trust the editor you hired?

Ask other writers who they used, what their experiences were and read other books the editor has worked on. See if you like the editor's style. If the editor has a Web site, look over it carefully for mistakes. If you see a lot of errors, the editor might not be the best choice. Also, read forums and message boards on editing subjects. You'll find lots of advice and testimonials from other writers. Make sure your editor knows your genre or area of non-fiction. Don't be afraid to write the editor with questions. Get to know her personality. You're trusting her with your baby, so you should feel like you can without stress.

3. How much can you spend and how much do editors usually cost?

Most editors will cost from $300-$600 for a 75k word book. Watch out for editors who ask for large amounts of money; they are often scammers. As of now, some of the more sought-after and experienced editors may ask for more than the standard going rate, and if you have that kind of money and know the editor is gold, it's probably worth it. If you have a tight budget, look for new editors, ask for a sample edit, which is usually a free 5-page edit, and show it to other people who know editing to see if this newbie is getting her feet wet and trying to get new clients with low prices and is really good, or doesn't know what she's doing.

4. Learn from your editor.

When you get back your first edit, look for common mistakes you make that she corrected. This will make your next book so much better than the last. I suggest you even ask her what she thinks your strengths and weaknesses are. Take what she says with a grain of salt, though. Consider carefully the advice you get and see if you can apply it or if you agree with it. If she says you use too many adverbs, ask her when you think you can use them. I have a post about when to use adverbs, but that's only my opinion. Every editor has a different opinion on this, and on many other areas of style.

5. Don't be scared of your editor, but don't be rude, either.

Editors are often writers. We're all in a creative field. Editing a novel is an extremely creative project. If you have even the smallest question, don't hesitate to ask your editor. If you disagree with her on a certain point, discuss it with her, tell her what you think, and reflect on the conversation.

About my editing style.

I am more of an indie editor than a mainstream editor. I love unique voices in fiction. My opinion is that's the heart of any written tale. I do what I can to keep the voice strong, encourage it in rewrites I suggest, and point out to each writer what part of their voice makes their book unique.

I go for consistency.
I look for things plot-wise that should be there. For example, if a little girl's cat attacks the stranger who breaks into the house, somewhere earlier in the book, it must be shown the cat is either oddly attached to the girl, has an irritable personality, or already is known to attack people he isn't familiar with.

I also make the writing consistent. Usually in the editing stage, I leave some things as they are to see how each writer does these things throughout the book. For example, if a writer uses 's instead of "s in places, or does both, in proofreading I'll pick which one I think works best and change it all to be the same. By this, as an example, I mean those phrases where the character is thinking a word.

I didn't like her eyes. They screamed, 'I hate cats.'

Or it would be:

I didn't like her eyes. They screamed, "I hate cats."

I make some style decisions when editing.
I take out "that" whenever possible. For example, "He didn't think that the cat would eat the whole chicken."

I like, "He didn't think the cat would eat the whole chicken."

If I see the same word or words used too much, I'll usually take one of them out and replace it with another word like it. I tell my writers I do this and advise them to change any word choices I make to one they like better if they don't like the ones I throw out there.

I love to read.
I've enjoyed every book I've worked on, gotten into the plots, the styles, the voices, the characters.

My greatest weakness as an editor is that I'm not always on time, sometimes as much as a few weeks behind. Because I feel editing is a creative job, and I'm working on another person's artistic heart and soul, I only edit when I know I can do my best work. We all have moods and life problems. When I have crazy things going on in my life that keep me from focusing and doing my best work, I will not edit or proofread. I do this because my clients are paying me a lot of money, putting a lot of trust in me, and I want their books to shine, I really do. Money is tough everywhere right now, and I know how hard it is for an author to shell out $500 for editing for a book they don't even know whether or not it will sell. My job is to strengthen your faith in your book, make your story glow in all its uniqueness and have as few distracting errors as possible.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hazard Editing is not Taking Clients at this Time

Due to a recent death of a friend and traveling for the holidays, I'm not taking clients on at this time. I will work with past clients on books, but request additional time to complete projects. I'm sorry for any inconvenience.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

More on buts and commas

As I went over in an earlier post, if you have a sentence with but, and then an action or feeling or some kind of response or insight, always put a but, comma.

Times you should not do this are in these examples:

It was but noon when the people gave the heard of cats treats.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Colons should not be used as a semicolon or a comma. Most frequently, they are used in listing things. For example:

The cat had four different colored kittens: gray, black, orange and tabby.


The kittens were cute: I loved them.

This should be:

The kittens were cute; I loved them.

Colons can also be used as above where I wrote, "This should be:" If not using a comma and quotes, you can put colons in place so that the text reads more easily.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We're Bringing Back Proofreading Services

After talking with Cassie Robertson, we decided to bring back proofreading services for authors who feel that's exactly what they need. Take a look at our Pricing Page on the right for more details.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Really, Very and Just

The cat was frisky.

The cat was really frisky.

The cat was very frisky.

The cat was just frisky.

What do you write? These words are usually used in speaking, really, very and just. If you're writing first person, these words can be gold. However, if you use them too much, they clutter a reading experience.

Also, these words are free-to-use in dialog, especially because they are spoken word comments. If you use them right, they can add character in dialog.

Sometimes, you really want to say really. It adds something. My advice is to use these words sparingly and with intent.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

We Have Something for Our Repeat Clients, Too

If you've worked with us before and we know your books, we are open to negotiating prices for services you need.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Changes Have Been Implemented - and We Have a Promotional Opportunity for New Clients!

Please see the Pricing Page and Contract Page for what we've decided to do. In a nutshell, we're not offering proofreading services anymore. We have a $6 per 1k word editing, critiquing, proofreading package now.

The promotion we're running until August 31st is for new clients. For you, we'll do $4 per 1k words on the Standard Editing Package.

We decided to keep our critique service. We just love to read!

I'd like to hear your thoughts on the changes. Our desire is to make better books.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Soon-to-Be Changes in Pricing and Services

I talked to Lynn O'Dell of Red Adept last week and running some new ideas for pricing and services by my editors. All projects we've already contracted will be the same, but new ones will be different. We will continue to offer a critique service, but most likely no proofreading service. It will be included in our editing package and you will probably get a different proofreader than editor for your projects.

More to come as decisions are made.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Changes in Contract

Cassie brought to my attention that we need something in the contract saying our editors will not share authors' work. Great idea.

I added this:

Editor agrees not to share the author’s work or distribute work.

It's right at the end. I posted it on the contract page, too.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Beginning of a Book

There is a lot of advice about how to start a book. Action, no dreams, someone's on fire, conflict from the first pages, a mystery in the first few sentences.

I like conflict in the first pages. And mystery. But a big bonus is creating a character who is unusual enough to make me want to know more about her.

Characters make books, and plots keep readers reading, but only if they care about the characters or are so intrigued by how unusual they are, they just have to keep reading.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Editing Vs. Proofreading

I did a post on this a while back. Sometimes I go through samples and can tell if a manuscript is at the editing stage or at the proofreading stage. And sometimes the author is asking for the wrong service. And then sometimes I have to write and tell them their book needs to be edited rather than proofread. That's tough to do because the price is twice as much.

Indie writers take a risk paying money to get their books in great shape. Without a publisher to do their editing and covers, they have to fork the money out of their own pockets not knowing whether or not the book will pay out the money put into it and eventually make a profit.

I know one thing. A book that doesn't have good editing may be loved by readers, but they will complain about editing. The reviews will reflect that and book browsers will be turned off by that.

So what makes an editor good? All four of us have experience editing novels, and I also have experience editing educational texts and some nonfiction. Editors love to edit. I chose this job because I love to read and I love to fix, polish and make a good story shine. Since I started this company, I've been able to cut back on content writing and spend my days immersed in awesome indie books. I haven't had one I didn't get into and fall in love with.

As I said in the post I linked to, if you don't know which service you need, editing or proofreading, feel free to send a sample and I'll give you my honest opinion. You'll be able to tell from my sample that I'm being straight with you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Then and And Then

Another stylistic post.

Some writers write things like, "The cat licked her shoulder, then looked unconcerned."

The proper way to do it is: "The cat licked her shoulder, and then looked unconcerned."

I don't change "then" to "and then" if the writer has written it that way. My preference is just "then," even if it isn't in the style books. I like to trim out words that don't have to be there. It makes for a smoother read.

I look for what the author uses and make it consistent throughout the manuscript.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

And the Cat Was Happy...

Sometimes writers like to start sentences with "and" or "but." I covered "but" in another post, and much of the same applies to starting a sentence with "and."

The mama cat licked her kittens. And they were dirty.

The mama cat licked her kittens and they were dirty.

There's a difference. The first implies they were really dirty, in a way. The second combines the two sentences for one complete sentence.

Starting a sentence with "and" is stylistic. I advise writers not to do it too much or it doesn't have the same impact as it would if it were used occasionally.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


...s are done like this:

The kitten sniffed the other kitten's ear...something wasn't right in there.

No spaces.

Same with beginning a new sentence:

The tom cat paused...There was the scent of another male in the air.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Opinion of one editor: Adverbs can be okay

Most writers hear we should never use adverbs. The cat loudly meowed. The kitten crept slowly along the carpet.

Most editors will take these out. The cat meowed. The kitten crept along the carpet.

When should you use adverbs? Too many adverbs, in my opinion, clutter a reading experience. But look at the above sentences. In the first example, saying it was a loud meow makes a difference. In the second example, the word "crept" indicated that it was slow movement. Don't need the adverb.

My advice is to not depend on adverbs to emphasize actions. Your verb should do that job. Sometimes, you want a little emphasis, and when you use an adverb to do that, think it over and choose just the right one.

I would change the first example to a stronger verb. The cat howled. I would take "slowly" out of the second example.

A fine place to use an adverb is in action sequences. If your verb doesn't do the action justice, carefully pick an adverb.

The litter screamed while mama cat settled in gently to feed her babes.

The litter screamed while mama cat settled in to feed her babes.

Adding "gently" says something about how mama cat feels about her kittens.

Use adverbs sparingly and with some good thought.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Commas and Buts

Usually a "but" should be preceded by a comma:

Spooky had her kittens, but she wasn't finished her hunting career just yet.

Some people like to put a comma after "but" when "but" starts a sentence.

But, the kittens were lonely while she hunted.

I hear that's the correct way to do it.

However, not having a comma after "but" can make a sentence punchier.

But Spooky prowled the night anyway.

When I'm editing and a "but" begins a sentence, I let the author do it however they see fit. My job is to make it consistent throughout the text.

Some editing rules can be bent for stylistic purposes. If it works, it works.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


We made it through the storms and had no power for what felt like forever. Back to work now. I'm backed up until mid-June, and my co-editors can take on a couple projects a month as they work as freelancers and can work as their schedules allow.

I'm backed up from the power being out, so the projects I have contracted will take a little longer. Many thanks to the authors who have all been understanding and helpful.

I also have four new kittens to attend to, born on my birthday when the power was out. Spooky is a great mother cat.

I think I contacted everyone I'm working with, but if I missed someone, feel free to write and ask the status of your book.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Power Out

This is Lisa's brother posting for the Hazards. The storms in Alabama have knocked out power in the Hazards' hometown, and they expect to be without power for 5-7 days. Unfortunately, they won't be able to contact anyone or do any work until their power is back.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hazard Editing Welcomes Cherie Reich as an Editor

Cherie will be able to start taking projects May 10th. Read more about her here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Editing for Indies

I want to write about this because I think it's important for my writers and possible potential writers to know.

As I state on the main heading of my site, indie writing offers an alternative to major publishing. It's not just in the subject matters or genre-bending, but in the editing.

What I do as an editor or proofreader is keep your voice intact. There are some things that can be clipped, comma-ed (I just made up a word), taken out, put in, reworded, but mostly I make a readable text that will not distract the reader with typos or grammatical errors and will enhance what the author is saying.

I feel like I can understand a vibe of a book. If your characters say certain things a certain way, I get it. That's what you're doing. My job is to make it look pretty and to take out overused words.

The beauty of the literature landscape with indie writers getting their books out in e-format is that it's not all the same. There's something for everyone. There's magic in every book I have worked on so far. I love reading and writing and I will not make your book cookie-cutter. Neither will my freelancers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Patricia La Barbera Has Joined Hazard Editing

Please welcome Ms. La Barbera to Hazard Editing. You can read about her here. She has gobs of experience and an eye for editing.

I will be giving some of my projects to Patricia so that authors will not have to wait as long for their edits, critiques and proofreading. If you have a preference for either of us, please say so when you write for services. She understands keeping each author's voice unique through the editing process. She is also experienced in mainstream editing, so keep that in mind if you want those services.

Ms. La Barbera is a Hazard Cat contributor and mentioned she is also a freelance editor. I gave her several editing tests, and she is friendly, receptive and open-minded.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More on Commas

Commas are the biggest problem I find in editing. Here are a few more tips to learn how to use them properly.

"Meow," said the cat purring.

Should be:

"Meow," said the cat, purring.

If you have an action separate from the statement, then there should be a comma.

Another example:


"I hate dogs!" screamed the cat jumping on the table to escape the pup.


"I hate dogs!" screamed the cat, jumping on the table to escape the pup.

Sometimes you don't need a comma.


"I want to eat a bird," said the cat, as he licked his chops.


"I want to eat a bird," said the cat as he licked his chops.

Here his action smoothly moves along without the comma.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Changes in Pricing for Proofreading Services

I have found that proofreading takes more time than I thought it would, so I have changed from $1 per 1000 words to $2 per 1000 words. If I have already contracted you at the old rates, they still stand. Please see the Pricing Page for more details.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

More on Dashes

Well-built, not well built. If an adjective describes something with an adjective, there is often a dash.

Topaz-eyed cat.

Two-tailed cat.

Clean-haired cat.

Well-built Osho-cat (Osho is the name of the cat, the dash is for cuteness. Can be or not be used).

Heavy-bellied cat was pregnant.

Bullied cat. No dash.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dashes Between Words

This is a tough one to cover. I think it takes a lot of reading to get used to when to use them. For example, the cat doesn't have blue green eyes, she has blue-green eyes.

There are literally gobs of times when you should use a dash between words. Some phrases are built-in (like built-in!) for dashes, such as thirty-five. All numbers in the 20s, 30s, 40s, etc. have a dash. Forty-four. Seventy-seven. When you add hundreds or thousands, you do not use dashes except for the smaller numbers. For example, one hundred thirty-five cats are too many to have in an apartment. Two thousand ninety-six cats will breed and make eight thousand fifty-six cats.

The best way to learn how to use dashes between words is to read and pay attention to when you see them. Your brain will absorb the examples and your writing dashes between words will improve.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Comma, but...

Whenever you have a "but" in a sentence, you should precede it with a comma.


The cat jumped but didn't make the top of the bookcase.


The cat jumped, but didn't make the top of the bookcase.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How Do You Know if You Need Proofreading or Editing?

Usually, proofreading comes after editing. If you feel confident in your editing skills, grammar and punctuation, then you probably just need proofreading. If you've already had your book edited, then you need proofreading.

If you are a new writer and don't feel confident in your book's overall grammar, then you need editing. If you are an experienced writer and have heard people tell you to get your book edited, then you probably need editing.

If you use my free five page edit, I'll tell you honestly which I think you need. I can usually tell from five pages. Don't be shy if you're not sure - drop an email.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dialog Tags and Punctuation

Here are a few things to take note of when writing dialog tags.


"That dog better stay out of our yard." Said the cat.


"That dog better stay out of our yard," said the cat.

Sentences in dialog where you have the character's dialog tag should end in a comma, question mark, or exclamation point. Then the quotes. Then starting in lower-case, finish the thought.


"He's a wimp. I can puff my tail and he'll whimper back to his mommy," said the other cat licking his shoulder.


"He's a wimp. I can puff my tail and he'll whimper back to his mommy," said the other cat, licking his shoulder.

Put a comma after the tag if the character does something.


"I'm scared of that dog," the third cat said, as she put her ears back.


"I'm scared of that dog," the third cat said as she put her ears back.

If the action after the tag continues the character's thought with words like "as" or "and," there is no comma.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Commas, commas, commas. Sometimes ya gotta take them out.

Commas seem to be where writers get the most confused. Often writers use them as though they are a breath in a spoken sentence. Knowing when to take a comma out can make a sentence punchier and keep the flow of the scene tighter.

For example:

The cat ran outside, and into the shed, to escape the dog, who badly wanted to eat him.

Lots of commas. Try this:

The cat ran outside and into the shed to escape the dog, who badly wanted to eat him.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

When to Break Up a Paragraph

So you have a big block of text and it all goes together in the place in the story.

Readers have a hard time with big blocks of text. It's exhausting to look ahead and see you have to conquer that paragraph.

Where do you break it up?

My advice is to lead into a new thought at the end of a paragraph and use a punchy sentence that explains further for the beginning of your next paragraph. Read your big blocks and look for a good place. Paragraph pacing and spacing can make an impact on a sentence that could get lost in large amounts of text in a paragraph.

Monday, February 14, 2011

; ;

No, they aren't tears, although on the Interwebs you may see people cry with semicolons. How to use these? Well, semicolons separate two complete sentences, usually that have to do with the same thing.

The cat was white; not even a speck of gray or black on the critter.

That's the right way to do it.

Using a semicolon as a comma is common, but not correct usage. For example:

The can was white; gray and black, with a long tail.

That is not the way to use a semicolon.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Long, Skinny Necks.

I have been very happy with the work I have received. Reading every day, all day is a dream come true. I would like to offer editing and proofreading advice as part of this blog.

Today, commas in descriptions. He might have quite a neck on him, but is it a long skinny neck, or a long, skinny neck? The second is the right one, grammatically.

But what about times when you don't have a comma in descriptions? An example of this is, "Ratty blond hair." A comma is okay, but you can get away without it if it pleases you.

The man had a long, skinny neck and ratty blond hair. Long and skinny both describe the neck, but ratty can describe the color or the hair.

Monday, January 24, 2011

About Hazard Editing Services

Hello and welcome to Hazard Editing. I work as a freelance editor and writer and I want to read your book. I am also a novelist, so my specialty is editing fiction. I run Hazard Cat, a Web zine dedicated to cat fiction, cat poetry and cat art.

I have read many indie books on Kindle and love how the publishing landscape is changing. What I see is this: big publishing is being tempered by underground literature. The Kindle gives authors freedom to publish their books for free in ebook format the way they intended the book to be read. Kindle is selling so much because it’s simply fun to read on. For me, there is nothing better than being able to have a book in about a minute while sitting on my couch drinking tea. And indie authors are bringing me some of the best books I’ve read in a while. Very different from the mainstream, which I like.

I’ve noticed many indie Kindle authors publishing their books for between $0.99 and $2.99. It’s enticing to get a book so cheap. Many of these writers are prolific and actually make decent money doing it.

I want to offer you my services because I love to read. I’ve been editing both educational texts and fiction since 2006. I want to edit indie novels because I believe in what indies are doing and I simply love editing. It is a passion for me. If you would like to try out my editing services, please feel free to contact me at hazardediting (at) yahoo.com.

I will edit your first five pages, double-spaced, free of charge so you can see if you like my style. I offer many different editing services that are listed on my Pricing Page.