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February, 2012 | Stephen Ames Berry

Archive for February, 2012

Copyediting: Crape Deim: The Ginch Who Stole Christmass—A Cautionery Tail

One of the few perks of being traditionally published is the copy editor: that overqualified, underpaid schlimazel who wades through your opus and heals its wounded spelling and tortured grammar with arcane runes. To my untutored eye, it always appeared that my lovingly-honed manuscripts had been vandalized into graffitied ruination. Yet lo! from those sullied pages sprang the pristine proof copies presented for my blessing. (“Presented” – UPS dropped a large lump off on my stoop. “Blessing” – I was not to “even think of changing anything—this horse has run.”)

I published Final Assault on Amazon’s Kindle on 12/18. By Christmas the alert had come: copy errors! Horrified, I saw with new eyes: it was true! Seizing the day, I spent the next 18 hours at battle stations, minutely going through it all again. Bowed and bloody-eyed, I at last uploaded the corrected file to Amazon. (Working through the festive day, I was accused of being the Grinch who stole the family Christmas. Humbug! My Whos are the first to complain when royalties to Whoville dip.)

The book had been proofread by other eyes, but upon its return I made a few changes—nothing heavy. Then a few more, which lead to a few more. But of course I proofread all 70k words of an afternoon and then sent it on its way. (In traditional publishing, after suggested changes are made and approved, you must keep your fingers to yourself. This is good.)


I’ve since armed myself with superb, complementary editing software, PerfectIt and Editor, most recently used for The Biofab War. Deployed with MS Word’s spelling checker, they catch most crap, except for missing quotation marks. (My staff are working on that.) Editor is an especially robust application and not for the impatient, but by carefully disarming some of its features, it morphs into your picky high school English teacher—the one who returned those slapdash essays topped with a blazing “See Me!”

It’s only part mechanics: I’m very indebted to my volunteer proofreaders, who must surely have better things to do than wade through my stuff: Dale Bottrell, Tom Stronach and Shelly Kaidan-Berry.

Off to write something new for them and you to read.






The Biofab War: Available as a Kindle eBook

The first in the Biofab series, The Biofab War, is now available as a Kindle book. I updated it to reflect modern-day Earth and some changes I made later in the series, notably in the last book of the spaceship and tunnelquartet, Final Assault. And tightened some of the writing. (I flatter myself that four novels and 30 years later I write better.)

I hadn’t read The Biofab War since Ace Books published it in the 80’s.  Once you’ve finished your first novel, you’ve typically rewritten it four or five times. Published, it sits on your shelf, more trophy than book.

But, yeah, I finally reread it and said, “It’s a fun romp!”

Amazon’s still struggling to display all four of the Biofab Quartet as a series, and numbered sequentially—a few more days on that. The suggested reading order is on each books’ Amazon description page.

Though the Nobel Literature Committee never did call,  The Biofab War is noteworthy as probably the origin of the term “biofab.”  (Biological fabrication: a designed life form.) In 1983, that was science fiction.  Biofab is now in vogue, an evolving branch of the life sciences, with biofab facilities and researchers, who must surely have read science fiction when they were teens. Smile

Except for some housekeeping, The Biofab Quartet is done. I’ll eventually bolt all four books together into an omnibus edition, to be entitled, unsurprisingly, The Biofab Quartet. (My Art Department’s created a stunning cover.)

I’m now writing a piece of short fiction based on my last seven years as a teacher of wayward youth in a dropout prevention program, much of it only believable as fiction.  (The transition from Harvard and Vivaldi to south Florida and Tupac was jarring but fulfilling.) One of my former students, who’s lived with us on and off for years, is serving as technical consultant and sounding board.  We’ll see if anyone reads it. Then I’m writing a sequel to my Philadelphia Experiment-inspired novel, The Eldridge Conspiracy.

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