Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Reader Interview: Proofreader Donna Courtois

Reader Profiles is where I'll speak to people about their reading habits. Face it, most authors seem only interested in speaking about writing. That's leaving out a huge portion of the publishing industry...

Donna Courtois is a long-time fan of The Destroyer series by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir. In 2006, she had a story based in the series' universe published in a fan anthology entitled "New Blood". Donna went on to co-author a Destroyer adventure, Number Two,  and today helps proofread works by authors.

When did you start proofreading? Why?
Formally? Not counting finding typos in published books? Gerald Welch had written what would become the first book in his Last Witness series and sent it off to Warren Murphy for a critique. Warren gave his honest opinion (it sucks). But Jerry took Warren's further advice that amateurs quit, but writers keep writing until they improve enough to be worthy of the title. We had been in touch through Destroyerclub, a website Jerry had started back about twelve years ago. He asked if I'd like to read it and tell him what I thought. I asked if he wanted me to proof and edit and Jerry said he'd appreciate anything I wanted to do.

So that's how we got started. I have edited/proofed the first four Last Witness books, plus the prelude.

Then Jim Mullaney decided to take advantage of Amazon's author program to start self publishing his own two series: Crag Banyon Mysteries and The Red Menace. He knew me from Destroyerclub, and I had been taking care of his author site and forum as well. He knew I liked proofreading, so he asked if I would look over his books before they went out. So far I've proofed six Banyons and five Red Menaces. Jim is currently writing his seventh Banyon, Shoot the Moon. I'm looking forward to reading it. That's one of the perks, early access to a good book.

What is proofreading?

Proofreading is checking through a manuscript for typos, misspelled words, missing or extra words, duplicate words/sentences. Also grammar and punctuation mistakes.

It differs from editing, which incorporates some proofing, but focuses on larger issues such as the structure and clarity of the work within each paragraph and also overall. And style issues, such as how it flows. Checking for redundant or unnecessary words; also synonyms that don't quite convey what the writer means.

While I consider what I do proofreading, some editing bleeds over into the job, depending on the writer. Jim Mullaney doesn't need editing, though he wants me to mention if anything isn't clear

What are your qualifications or training for proofreading?

Mostly self taught. I was an English major in college, which trained me to analyze works for depth, clarity and meaning.

What are your preferred genres to read for fun? What genres will you NOT read, or dislike reading?

I prefer mysteries, historical or humorous are favorites. Jim's Crag Banyon, Lindsay Davis' mysteries set in first century Rome. The Destroyer of course. I like to reread those. Non fiction -- history and biography mainly.  Urban fantasy -- Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. Donald Westlake's Dortmunder books; P.G. Wodehouse; Sherlock Holmes; Preston & Child's Pendergast books; Odd Thomas.

There isn't any genre I won't at least try.

What influences your choice of book to read for fun?

If it intrigues or interests me when I read the back cover and first few pages (in bookstores) or use the "look inside the book" feature on Amazon. I know what I like and can sense a new friend very quickly and I'm seldom wrong.

How fast do you read? How fast do you proofread?

I read at just the right speed, which is slower than I could read if I had to rush. I believe in savoring a book, for words and story. Sometimes I stop to read passages out loud so I can enjoy the feel of the words in my mouth, the sounds of them in my ear. Even if the story is exciting, I'd rather draw out the suspense than rush it.

I try to proofread everything at least twice, preferably three times. The first time I read for fun, for enjoyment, though I also catch some typos, missed words, etc. Then I go back for a second, more intense and slower read. I try to focus on one sentence at a time so I don't start to get lost in the story. And I catch further problems. If there was something confusing me, I can tell if it was something I missed or if there is a piece of info that the author didn't include. Then a third read through, even though by then it's usually only one or two issues.

What's the best book you've ever read?

I couldn't choose amongst my favorites. My first favorite book was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.

What's the worst book you've ever read?

I can tell pretty quickly if I'm hooked. Any book I continue past the first chapter isn't going to be something I dislike or is boring.

What elements make a good story?

Interesting characters who step out of the page and take on a life of their own. Good plots that make me want to continue reading.

What makes you roll your eyes or groan in a story?

The opposite: flat characters, plots that go nowhere. Mystery stories where  the whodunnit and the why dunnit is obvious fairly early.

If you'd like to share your reading preferences, email Troglodad AT Gmail DOT COM for a set of questions or make your based on what you see above.

Come back soon for an interview with Book Blogger/Reviewer Lanie of

No comments: