Black Point: Re-editing a Much Loved Book

By A.J. Llewellyn

When D.J. Manly and I had our first collaboration successfully published five years ago, we were thrilled with the way readers responded to Black Point and our characters, Thomas and Matt.

As the series progressed, our readers told us – thankfully – that each successive book got better and better and that the stories were richly detailed and layered.

I was also shocked to discover when the rights to these books lapsed and we took them to the amazing and wonderful Mojocastle Press, that they were riddled with typos!


I was astounded that though professionally edited, things had slipped through the cracks. It’s also interesting to note how much things have changed grammatically since we wrote this book in 2008. What, for example is with this mania for hyphenating everything now? Most of it is arbitrary and senseless. Some of it is a matter of style and many publishers I’m pleased to see, balk at hyphenating things for-no-apparent-reason.

Recently, I discovered which helps writers improve their work before the editor even sees it. I’ll admit, I write very fast and sometimes my brain moves more quickly than my fingers. I read back over stuff I’ve written and think, “Whaaaaat?”

When I first heard about Grammarly I was a little suspicious because I thought it might be yet another online tool designed to take money out of the hands of struggling authors – except, doggone it, this thing works!

I admit I gnashed my teeth when I ran sample paragraphs of a WIP through Grammarly. I got a 76% rating.


“It’s a WIP!” I screamed at my laptop. “A goddamned work in progress!”

Then I examined the stats to the left and began correcting my spoken words. Is it goddamned? Or goddamn? Does it know what a WIP is? Can anyone see me screaming at an inanimate object here?

I suppose 76% isn’t bad, grumble, grumble, particularly since, with a paid subscription I was able to actually improve the paragraphs I ran through the system. I was ecstatic to find that Grammarly doesn’t have a mad love affair going on with hyphenated words and it actually seems to get my warped sense of humor.

But I digress.

Well, no, I don’t. The system picked up slang words and suggested more formal words. Good to know if you’re applying for a job say, like the President of the USA. Or you’re firing off a profanity-laced Dear John letter.

I am well aware of my penchant for overusing phrases and repeating words. I could put penchant in a sentence five times and quite like it. But my editors will yellow highlight penchant and infer by unspoken word that I need to pick just one penchant.

How unfair!

Reading over Black Point as DJ and I and our gorgeous editor and publisher, Stephanie Seckellick Kelsey finalized the galley, was bittersweet. I am glad these stories are available again both for our cherished and adored readers, and hopefully new ones, too. I am reminded of how DJ lives in Canada and spells things differently. Except for the word penchant. We spell that word exactly the same.

I can remember where I was in my life at the time we wrote this, both personally and professionally. I was trying to break myself out of the habit of overusing ellipses. But alas, I am far from perfect. I still have a penchant for those adorable little dots!

Whatever it is that YOU use to correct your grammar, I’m curious to know, what works for you? Have you tried any of the onine systems? What did Grammarly tell you if you tried the free test? DJ and I really want to know!

What things do you overdo in your work? Please comment to qualify to win a $30 Amazon gift card!



4 Responses to “Black Point: Re-editing a Much Loved Book”

  1. Well, I’m mildly dyslexic so I get a lot of things wrong on first pass. Words like gone and done are interchangeable (unless I’m really paying attention, and even then mistakes can creep in). Heterographs (homophones like there/their/they’re) are hellish — I know the difference between there and their, I just can’t always keep my fingers from typing the wrong one. (I also spell copyright as copywrite 9 times out of 10, but I’ve learned to live with the absurd.)

    I also drop words, particularly when my level of flow is high — if I’m writing well, and words are coming quickly and freely, they don’t all make onto the page. This is mostly fixable on re-read, but there comes a point when I’ve read something so many times that my eyes see what my brain thinks is there.

    I tossed Grammerly a couple of paragraphs from my current WIP and Grammerly gave it a 70%. I have to admit I’m dubious; I have no doubt it’s right about some of it’s criticisms/suggestions, however, some of what it’s marking on is purely stylistic — claiming to be able to give a specific grade on that seems arrogant to me.

    As for things I overdo, I have been told that I use too many semicolons; however I think this ridiculous, and that the semicolon does not get nearly enough love. So there.

  2. Hi Molly, I agree that semocolons need more love! ; I have also done the same thing with copyright/copywrite! Thanks for responding and congrats on 70%!!


  3. I swear, AJ, there were more carriage returns in the original. I don’t know where they went once posted. Sorry!

  4. Darling I have heard writers get upset for even worse scorers.. Considering how many books you have out 78% isnt all bad… There isnt enough space for me to list all my issues when I write.. honestly I have forgotten about Grammarly (its bookmarked now) Its an art that is always perfecting itself sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse… I love all the new Covers and Cant wait to recollect these books by 2 of my Favorite writers



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