FIRST CHAPTER CRITIQUE
Is your protagonist's struggle gripping? Are the stakes clear and compelling? Are your characters three-dimensional? Don't give your reader (or an agent!) a reason to put down your novel.
This is an in-depth of evaluation of the content and structure of your work. Got a mushy middle between that solid opening and ending? Character arcs that fall flat? Here’s the place to start.
True to its name, a line edit is a line-by-line examination of your prose. The purpose of a line edit is to refine your language so that you are communicating well with your reader, while still maintaining your original voice.
This is a line-by-line hunt for technical flaws. If you’re self-publishing, you'll need help that SpellCheck can’t provide. For example, how should time be conveyed in your manuscript? Which is correct: three o’clock, 3:00, 3:00 PM, or 3:00 P.M.? What about references to money? Should you spell out "dollars" or use the dollar sign? These are the types of questions answered in a copy edit.
This is the final step. If you’re self-publishing, this occurs after your manuscript has been converted to a .pdf file for print-on-demand and .epub and .mobi files for ebook publishing.
FIRST CHAPTER CRITIQUE
I’ll read your opening chapter (or up to 5,000 words), and write an editorial letter outlining your book’s strengths and weaknesses. Emphasis will be on character, structure, plot, pacing, and point-of-view.
Time to complete: two weeks from date of signed contract
This level of editing offers an editorial letter as well as margin notes via the Track Changes tool of Microsoft Word, giving you the flexibility to accept or decline my edits. I’ll be focusing on character arcs, plot progression, and "head-hopping," or sudden breaks in point-of-view. The developmental edit often results in revisions for the author, but ultimately, a stronger novel.
Time to complete: four to five weeks from date of signed contract
Using The Track Changes tool in Microsoft Word, I will point out if you are relying on clichés or unimaginative language, overusing the same sentence structure, or selecting weak adjectives or verbs. (For example, I might offer “sweltering” for “hot”—or suggest you select a more vivid synonym.) I may provide words that clarify passages, or cut extraneous words to improve flow and pacing. I’ll assess dialogue for believability, and note point-of-view slips. Glaring typos will be fixed, but if your main concerns are spelling and grammar, consider a copy edit.
Time to complete: five to six weeks from date of signed contract
Now is the time when spelling must be checked and rules of grammar followed. Typos, missing words, repeated words, hyphens, quotation marks, em dashes, italics...all of those details will be corrected. It’s also the copyeditor’s job to notice consistency: if a character is wearing brown shoes in chapter two, they can’t be black in chapter five. If you've read your manuscript more times than you care to count, best to get another pair of eyes on it: you will likely miss errors, as your mind already understands what you are trying to convey. Again, these will be notated for you via the Track Changes tool.
Time to complete: four weeks from date of signed contract
Catch those conversion errors before you upload, self-pubbers! I'll proof your .epub or .mobi to make sure it's error-free for digital publication, or your .pdf for your print-on-demand format. If you've added drop caps, I'll check to see if those pretty letters have created formatting issues. I’ll check the final document for widows and orphans (single lines of text on the top or bottom of a page), missing hyphens, and broken words.
Time to complete: three weeks from date of signed contract
Q: I'd like a quote. What information should I put in the email?
A: First, let me say that I'm excited to learn about your book!
Please include the following information:
A brief plot description
Your publishing goal (traditional/self-publishing/hybrid)
Attach ten pages from the middle of your manuscript. (The middle is considered to be a more representative sample of your writing; the beginning and end tend to get plenty of attention.)
I'll see if I can meet your deadline. If so, I'll tailor a quote for you.
Q: Do you offer free sample edits?
A: If the quote I return to you is within your budget---and you're a line or copy edit client--then I'd be happy to complete a three-page sample edit. Unfortunately, this isn't a service I can provide for developmental edit clients, as I must read the entire novel first. You can then decide whether to move ahead, or not.
Q: Why don't you have flat rates for your services?
A: I have to tailor my quotes, because a novel may be 80,000 words, or 110,000 words. It may be on its second draft, or its fifth. I can tell you that I base my quotes on the word versus the hour, and that my rates are competitive by industry standards, typically ranging between 1.7 and 2.4 cents per word.
Q: I'm choosing between two edits, and I'm not sure which one is right. Should I ask for more than one quote?
A: Just pick one, and let me know in the email which two you are deciding between.
Q: I know I'm going to need more than one of these services. Do you offer discounts?
A: I do! I offer a twenty-five percent discount off the second service.
Q: Is there an order to the editing services?
A: There is, as you see listed. It wouldn't make sense to do a copy edit, for example, before a developmental edit, when there will be shifting of text.
Q: How does payment work?
A: I'll send you a contract via email, which will stipulate the terms of our agreement. I require fifty percent payment to start work. You may pay via PayPal or credit card securely through the invoicing feature of this website. I don't accept personal checks. Once I've completed the work, I'll notify you via email for final payment. When it's received, I'll return the edited manuscript to you. For line and developmental edit clients, I offer a Skype consult after you have reviewed my edits, to discuss any remaining concerns you may have. Proofreading, copywriting, and first chapter critique clients may continue to email with questions until all issues are resolved.
Q: What genres do you accept?
A: I accept any type of adult fiction, but my specialties are literary fiction, upmarket fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction.
Q: I have a question that's not on the FAQ. How do I get in touch?
A: Send me your question now. Looking forward to hearing from you!
My writing expertise runs the gamut; I've written snappy promotional copy, detailed academic papers and medical reports, as well as morally complex, heartfelt novels. As an undergraduate, I studied creative writing and interned as an editorial assistant at advertising agencies, but my road to becoming a fiction writer has been a winding one.
I chose to earn my B.A. in psychology, and completed my studies at both Brown University and Emory University. I honed my persuasive writing skills at a nonprofit for disadvantaged youth, and finished my education with an M.A. in speech-language pathology from George Washington University. As an SLP, I was required to synthesize my clinical assessments with the raw data from standardized tests prior to writing client reports, which taught me how to integrate information and produce strongly substantiated arguments.
But in a twist of fate, I soon became the frequent recipient of such reports; my son was diagnosed with severe autism. Many years later, I returned to writing as a refuge, invented characters and thrust my pain upon them. Helping them weather their own crises took my mind off of my own. The result was my debut novel, A Mosaic of Grace, which was a bestseller on Amazon in its categories, ranking second in both autism and agnosticism, seventh in medical fiction, and seventeenth in the larger category of American contemporary fiction. Currently, I'm a member of the Women's Fiction Writing Association, and my second novel, Writing a Plum Fortune, is forthcoming.
Pastor Lundstrom has two weeks to decide.
Soon he will preside over his daughter Gracie's wedding--a blessing he has long prayed for--but as the day approaches, he finds himself dreading its arrival.
Tim harbors a shameful secret: he has lost his faith. Revealing himself risks losing Gracie, his adored and only child; his baffling autistic grandson, Luke; his devout and kind-hearted wife; and the community he has nurtured at his small church. But the price of silence is steep. Performing the ceremony as a nonbeliever will taint Gracie's wedding and bind him forever to the secret that isolates him from those he loves.
Also burdened by the truth is Josephine Wallis, an accomplished physician who has yet to reveal her secret to her longtime boyfriend. Compounding her worries is the looming deadline of the wedding--will her intellectually disabled younger sister be able to live on her own when Gracie and Luke move out of the apartment the three now share?
A poignant exploration of the boundaries of trust and the repercussions of secrets, A Mosaic of Grace captivates with its skillful weaving of the lives of the Lundstrom and Wallis families as they wrestle with uncertainty and stumble towards acceptance.
A Mosaic of Grace has a 4.7/5.0 star rating out of 42 reviews on Amazon.
The quoted reviews below can be viewed on my Amazon page.
"A Mosaic of Grace is an intricate novel that explores several compelling themes, including faith, family, and the power of secrets. The author takes the reader into her characters to experience these dimensions as they live their lives, striving for authenticity that is more complex than it appears. We become acquainted with two families whose symbiotic relationship over time includes love, support, anger and secrets that drive several interconnected subplots. The insights that author Nina Navisky gives readers about autism have particularly great impact. She writes from experience, and we are on the roller coaster that Luke’s mother, grandfather, and others experience as his behavior careens from loving affection to violent aggression, from clear signals of what he is thinking and feeling to actions that cannot be interpreted, even by those closest to him. The “Luke” scenes were, for me, powerful, engrossing, and enlightening; and I felt that I was deep into something conveyed so honestly that it took my breath away and gave me a level of understanding that I would have thought impossible…”--Charmian Sperling
“This is such a compelling novel-especially from a first-time author. The powerful first chapter draws the reader in immediately, with its heart- wrenching portrayal of a family facing the challenge of coping day- to-day with very significant disability. From then on the characters continue to compel as they grapple with the complexity of family relationships, the nature of faith, the reality of facing difficult health problems and even the place of work in our lives. It is a tribute to the author’s skill that she has developed these global themes through the absorbing portraits of her characters and their struggles. Pastor Tim, Gracie and Luke are particularly riveting but even more minor characters such as Brett and Wes are well-drawn. The book is rather deceptive in that it is easy to read and yet at the same time, it forces the reader to pause and consider his or her own beliefs about the themes raised. Congratulations to Ms. Navisky on a most promising debut.”--Amazon customer
"New author Nina Navisky sculpts a beautiful, heartwarming story that reflects the deep conflicts all of us face at our moments of greatest crises, our crises of faith in what we hold dearest. Tim’s struggles to love his autistic grandson show him simultaneously at his best and his worst. As readers we are drawn into his struggles as he comes to grips with the hand he and his family have been dealt.”--Susan Hanflik
“A Mosaic of Grace is one of those books you get so lost in the story that you forget they aren’t real. The author does a beautiful job of pulling you in and explaining so gracefully and thoughtfully each character’s thoughts and emotions that you feel what they are feeling. Her descriptions of living with epilepsy, caring for a child with autism and being the sibling of child with developmental delays are especially moving. I am looking forward to the author’s next book!”--REF
“Amazing insight for a new author. Having seen many children with autism professionally, Ms. Navisky gives a compelling very realistic description about what life with an autistic child is like. Her thoughtfulness in developing all her characters brings them alive for the reader. Although this book is a quick read, I intentionally took extra time to mull over the story line and hated to finally put it down. Well done, Ms. Navisky, and I look forward to many more offerings from you in the future."---Ellen Blocker
“Ms. Navisky’s portrayal of Luke’s behavior and grandfather Tim’s response to it was so spot on it gave me goose bumps. My family and I have often been in the same situation, afraid for the child, loving the child, and embarrassed by the behavior….Would like to read more by this author.”--bluegirl
A first book revealing a true talent...A Mosaic of Grace is a realistic story about families living successfully despite struggling against life’s challenges. The book shines because of the writing that makes the dialogue real and the characters come alive. It is the best book that I have ever read in this category." --Joe J.