Link of the Week – Reedsy & ME!

February 12, 2019

Many of you know that I am a freelance editor. I’ve been at it for 6+ years. I have worked with authors at every stage of their careers, including USA Today and NY Times best sellers. I specialize in line and developmental editing. Romance is my passion, especially the subgenres paranormal, urban fantasy, historical, erotic, and suspense. I have been known to work with mystery and sci-fi authors, as well.

Today’s link of the week is my profile with Reedsy. Reedsy is a place which “connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers to create high-quality books”. Boom!

Link Of The Week- Excellent Writing Teacher

July 26, 2016




I’ve had the chance to take a few of her classes, an all day workshop, read through two of her online lecture packets, and taken a VERY intensive Immersion class that lasted 4-5 days… I’m going back for more. Yes. She’s that good.

Margie teaches writers how to use her psychologically-based editing systems and deep editing techniques to create page turners. She has presented over ninety full day master classes for writers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and on cruises in the Caribbean.

Writers credit her innovative deep editing approaches for their writing success: publication, awards, and bestseller lists.

Link of the Week – Freelance Editor

July 6, 2014

20140707_115906This week’s link is a Public Service Announcement.

So you think you’re ready for a freelance editor. I just so happen to know someone, someone with competitive pricing,  who tends to be a grammar fanatic, and who pays attention to important details. You know, those pesky plots points, GMC, POV slips, character arcs, dialogue, inconsistencies, story development, genre details, and the like. She’s also a kind cool, witty chick.  ME!

Check me out!

Jennifer Bray-Weber’s Editing and Critiquing

Link of the Week – Grammarly

May 20, 2014

A pencil being sharpened in a pencil sharpenerEveryone, even the editor pros, need hep form time to time with grammar. Grammarly is an automated proofreader that, like your 5th grade English teacher, will check for grammatical mistakes. (But without the red pencil marking up your paper and the embarrassing grade.) The site will not only check for over 250 types of grammatical errors, it will also offer suggestions, enhance writing, and check against plagiarism.  You can try it for free and see if it fits your needs. Pretty darn cool.

The Drill Sergeants Of Prose!

May 31, 2012

The difference between the right word and the nearly right word is the same as the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. ~ Mark Twain


You’ve sat at your computer for several months, even years, and you finally have a product you think is ready to publish. You’ve even had friends and family read your manuscript and they say it’s good to go. Some of you have also taken the extra step of working with critique partners to revise and polish your pages. Good for you! Unfortunately, that’s where the majority of writers stop before they press the publish button or send it off to agents and editors. No matter the road you’ve chosen to publication, there’s another step you should consider.

While your friends and critique partners can provide valuable insight and catch many mistakes, they are not the same as using a professional copy editor. These folks can do amazing things to your manuscript to bring it to the level it should be before a story is published. Wikipedia states, “The ‘five Cs” summarize the copy editor’s job: Make the copy clear, correct, concise, complete, and consistent. Copy editors should make it say what it means, and mean what it says.” Isn’t this what we all want?

A good copy editor will look for grammar, spelling, punctuation and sentence structure mistakes. This is the key to not letting your reader get distracted by basic errors. They will also check for consistent verb usage and for the consistency of tone and mood. If something doesn’t make sense or they think your accuracy might be in question, they will point that out as well. A good copy editor will get rid of extraneous or over used words, sharpen your paragraphs to a point and will even delete sections if they don’t make sense or add value to the story. In short, they are the drill sergeants of prose!

There are several things to check before you enter into an agreement with a person to do this job for you. They should have an excellent command of language and be able to spot factual errors. (This means that if they are not familiar with your subject, they will take the time to look something up if they don’t feel it’s accurate.) They should also have good critical thinking skills so they can spot inconsistencies in your manuscript and have good interpersonal skills to communicate their thoughts with you. They should be able to do all of this and still not change your voice and the heart of your book. That’s a tall order.

Check their web site for an editing philosophy, client list, resume, and affiliations with professional groups. If this type of information isn’t on their site, contact them and ask about their work process, rates, time frames and if they have different levels of editing based on what you need there and then. This may sound like a lot of work on your part, but why would you trust your blood, sweat, and tears to a person you didn’t take the time to vet?

A good copy editor should offer to take a few pages as a trial run to see if you are compatible with each other. This protects both sides of the coin. They don’t want to get stuck with a writer who has serious issues and the writer doesn’t want to get stuck with someone who tries to change too much or can’t pick a misspelled word out of a sentence. This trial run should also be done for free or for a small amount of money. The sample should be around five pages so it shouldn’t run into any substantial kind of money. Do not hire someone if they want to change things to the point where your unique voice is unrecognizable. Do not hire the person if you question some of the changes and their response is defensive or cold. Run away as fast as you can. This is a partnership which should be collaborative and supportive. However, by the same token, don’t hire the editor who strokes your ego and only tells you how fantastic you are. They should be honest and willing to offer their authentic insight on how to make your book better

I might want to stroke this writer’s ego!

Once you’ve found the right person, you can expect a written description of the steps involved in the project. This, my friends, is called a contract. Make sure you have one. This way there is no mistaking the expectations on both sides.

MuseTracks Link of the Week – Editing

April 24, 2012

Here’s a cool link. Pro Writing Aid is a great companion to any writer’s toolkit. This handy-dandy site is software that edits writing. It gives reports on overused word, sentence variation, cliches, redundancies, repeated words and phrases, alliterations, pacing, and much more. Just paste in your text and Wha-lah! You’ll see the areas needing improvements.

Free editing software

Check it out and see if it works for you.

Edits, Drama, and the Murder of an Epilogue

November 9, 2011

Song of the Day: Rolling in the Deep by Adele

Edits. Love ‘em or hate ‘em?

I think most of us have heard of revision hell. Conversely, we all know that someone who so rock, their editors have nothing to refine. So when my time came to be professionally edited, I had no idea what to expect.

The past few weeks I’ve been working on rounds of edits with my editor (I never get tired of saying that – my editor). Denise is fan – flipping – tabulous. And thus far, I’ve enjoyed the editing experience.

I look pretty good as a brunette.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not strolling through a field of poppies, barefoot and fancy free. I’m not one of those authors who so rock. No, I completely short circuit over doing revisions on a deadline and I’m convinced that Murphy’s Law requires that life heads into upheaval at the same time. Let’s face it, 14 days or less for revisions translates to 14 hours or less for this mom of a rambunctious toddler and ever-dramatic preteen.

I'm not being overly dramatic, am I?

Add in the momentary lapse of sanity with shameless sobbing, fist-pumping, and foot-stomping when I had to delete my entire epilogue. My epilogue that ties everything in a neat, pretty bow. My epilogue that hints to what’s to come in the next book. My epilogue that so rocked! Noooooooooo…

Other than that, I’ve been lucky, or maybe I just fake it well. My edits overall have been rather painless.

Action, adventure, romance. Check

Good grammar. Check.

No plot holes. Check.

Flowing sentence structure and pleasing cadence. Check.

Clear logistics. Check.

Drool-worthy libertine pirate with insatiable appetite. Check.

Tee Hee

My editor (giggle, snort, giggle) encouraged me to dive deeper into character motivation and helped pull the ropes tighter in my writing. Together, we spit-shined my novel squeaky clean. God love her, she found my amorous scenes hot and well written, and even asked that I add another. Gladly. Can’t have too much lovin’ to make your toes curl.

That woman’s got an eagle eye, too, picking out repetitive verbiage and phrases. Apparently, I have an affinity for certain words. They magically appear over and over in my book, this despite that I am usually very cautious about repetition. Still a few slipped past. Damn you CPs! *shakes fists*

Listen up, authors. She says she literally sees the following phrase, or variations

Even the dog is narrowing his eyes.

of, in every single manuscript that crosses her desk. She narrowed her eyes. Confession. I did this five times in the novel. Five! Everyone was narrowing their eyes. Ugh.

I’m not unique. Every author does this. We’re so wrapped up in conveying thoughts, emotions, and actions just right, we simply do not notice we’ve been repetitive. In an 80-100K book, it’s easy to overlook the same phrase or word.

Just when I thought we were finished, the copy editor sends it back. Writing historical fiction has its own challenge by way of proper words usage, terminology, and dialect. I have done extensive, exhaustive research on words, trying my best to avoid anachronistic terms. Imagine my surprise when the CE sent my novel back full of flagged words. *sigh* It’s times like these I wonder how I made it this far.

So how do we avoid these pitfalls? Get a good editor. Employ awesome critique partners. Besides that? Well, reading aloud works. Doing a ‘Find’ in Microsoft Word for any word you favor or think you’ve used more than once will help, as well. Do your research. And just be vigilant. No one is perfect. That’s why we have a team of peeps saving our asses.

Dear epilogue, you will be missed.

Now, please. A moment of silence for my dearly departed epilogue.

How about you? Do you have any favorite words that sneak into your manuscripts time and again? How about editing? How has the editing process worked for you? I’d love to hear from you.

Frankly, My Dear, I Don’t Give A Damn (…I Lie)

August 11, 2011

By: Stacey Purcell

“You’re beginning does not have a strong hook and I’m afraid you won’t draw your readers in as it stands.” Ouch.

Writers are gluttons for punishment. We pour our hearts upon the page, open our souls for all to see and then serve it up on a platter for human consumption. This is the wondrous glory and the bane of our existence. We cannot escape the inevitability of being critiqued. It is a part of the creative life. Unless we’re determined to never let our work see the light of day, then someone, somewhere will offer their opinion on what we’ve done.

Before we put our stuff up for sale or send it off to an agent, we need to have impartial eyes read over our pages. Critique partners are a writer’s secret weapon. When done correctly, they can help us avoid the type of comments at the top of this post. They can find holes in your plot, compliment your choice of words, and keep you from head hopping. The trick is to find just the right kind of help you need and to recognize you won’t need the same type of help at every stage.

I attended a workshop recently taught by my friend, Lorin Oberweger. She’s a professional free lance editor( ) who I think is rather brilliant. The workshop was titled Working Smarter: Understanding What Kind of Feedback You Need and When You Need It She suggests that we break the process up into 3 phases.

Phase 1 is when you’re writing an early draft. Construct it more like a dialogue rather than a list of improvements. Ask questions like: What’s happening?- literally unfolding in the scene. What emotions are conjured for you? What is your impression of the protagonist? What is the viewpoint character trying to accomplish in the scene?

Phase 2 should be done during the middle drafts. Your partners should dig deeper into your characters and story. Ask questions like: Does the opposition seem clear and significant enough to pose a compelling obstacle in this scene? How am I handling the pacing of this scene? Do I understand what motivates the protagonist/ antagonist/viewpoint character in this scene?

Phase 3 is for the last drafts of your story. It’s almost ready to send out into the world. This is when giving concrete suggestions are the most valuable. Is the scene successful? What elements are eluding me? Is there a lack of credibility? Problems with grammar, formatting, flow? Are there issues of language/ voice?

This is a wonderful structure for helping a writer along without breaking their heart. Too much constructive criticism at the beginning may seem like an insurmountable blockade. Even though it is well meaning, it can be overwhelming. Start with the general and steadily move to the specific. Makes sense.

Of course, like most things in life, critiquing is not a one size fits all thing. While Lorin outlined this method, we also discussed that not every approach is necessarily for you. For instance, I’ve found that, for my personality, I need a combo of all three phases to help me feel like I’m truly moving forward. On our first pass, we focus more in on Phase 1 and 2 and only touch on 3. (Some things, you just can’t ignore!) After I’ve wrestled with it for awhile, we make another pass and that’s a combo 2 with a heavy dose of 3.

After you decide how and what you need from your critique partners, you may decide that you need help from a professional. There are many wonderful free lance editors and many awful money suckers. Be careful. Do your research. Get references. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Lorin Oberweger and I think she’s amazing. She’s supportive and very insightful. That being said, after she suggested I cut two chapters even though they were “extremely well written”, I sent her an email back that looked something like this:

YOU SUCK!!! (Of course, she was 100% correct.)

She just smiles and tells me, “I suck so you don’t have to.”

Do you have critique partners? How do you structure your time with them? What have you found that really works? What doesn’t? Have you worked with a free lance editor before? Were you happy? Chime in and let us know!

Even Grandma’s perfect sauce needs to simmer!

April 11, 2010


You have the recipe.

You have all the ingredients.

You have the skills to put together a brilliant, palatable concoction that is sure to delight the masses.

You blend, sift, stir, and shape until each ingredient mixes together perfectly and your senses are alive with what you’ve created.

Surely it can’t get any better…


Ever watched your Grandmother work over a stew or spaghetti sauce ALL DAY LONG. Jeez, it’d be sooooo much easier just to pop open a jar of Ragu. Instant dinner!

But compare the two.

Grandma’s sauce melts your taste buds. The perfect balance of tang and spice. The perfect consistency, with just enough texture to make it fulfilling. There’s a mixture of herbs and that delight and tease the senses both in aroma and the beautiful contrast of the sauce over noodles.


Ragu looks thin, limp, and bland over the noodles and the taste, well, let’s just say in a pinch it’ll do, but nothing we’d choose at a restaurant were we laying out our hard-earned cash for a promise of delight.

*Guess what?*

We could all learn a lesson from Grandma’s sauce, or rather from Grandma’s knowledge, that a masterpiece does not happen by recipe alone.

It has to simmer.

In the writing world, where we’re constantly driving one another to meet goals, write everyday, try new genres, try prompts, and workshops and critique groups… well, you get the point. In that world of write, write, write, edit, edit, edit, there’s a place to take a break as well.


As soon as you thump out THE END. Okay, so that might not be the exact time. But you’ll know it. Usually around the end of the first edit, as much as you love your baby, you need to take a break from it. You’ve written it, edited (in your own formula) and now it’s time to set it aside.

Don’t stop writing, certainly not. But set THAT manuscript aside and get back to writing. Time to do one of the numerous things we as writers do to keep the pen/keys moving.

While you play with new ideas, and go to conferences and meetings, while you crit someones work, or start a new WIP, whatever it is you find to fill the empty time, leave that manuscript alone. Two weeks – great. Three weeks – even better. Don’t let it simmer until it burns, just long enough to take a taste and see what spice needs to be added.

You’ll be amazed at what you created when you go back to it. Probably as much forehead slapping moments as sighs of satisfaction, but that’s the idea. Ever let a book sit in a folder/box for three months? It catches your eye, and you can’t resist taking a peek. You open it and start to read. Five, ten, thirty pages in, you’re either saying “wow, I forgot this was so good”, or “goodness what was I thinking”.

Same thing will apply to that manuscript you set aside. When you go back, you’ll be able to see it and all its issues/miracles with new eyes. Of course, you should leave the miracles you penned and clean up the stuff you knew better than to write in the first place.

Like Grandma’s sauce, your senses are on overload from the creation of the sauce.

Once it simmers, you can easily see what’s missing.

Okay, now I’m hungry!

Do you let your work simmer between edits?

Who dares to enter my sanctuary and disturb my flow?

April 1, 2010

*Insert deep growl*


Oh, cute little mini-me’s, with Oreo cookie crumbs crusted on their lips, and sweet smiles as they ask if I would pretty-please with sugar and gumdrops on top, play a game of Candyland or Yahtzee with them! Or how about the dear hubby/hubby’ette, with an all-consuming, world shattering crisis, like the mystery of the missing remote or slippers.




an Oreo  moment!

I confess to sometimes having to shut off mom, wife, scout leader, Animal control officer, teacher, daughter, friend… MODES and decide that regardless of what else is going on, that I need to write. It’s a need that has to be met!

For me!

Guilt plays a huge factor in getting IT done.

Guilt, guilt, guilt!

Walked through your home lately and noticed the quickly growing pile of laundry?

How ’bout the fish tank that now resembles a science experiment gone horribly wrong?

Or the crushing blow – nearly empty cupboards with kiddos in need of sustenance? (Fear not. You can always make a meal by utilizing every bottom of the jar recipe Rachael Ray has created!)

Yep. Been there, done that.

But I confess to something else as well.

Shutting out the world, even for short periods of time, to write.


So here’s my down and dirty, can’t believe I done I did it and probably WILL do it again list of things I’ve done so I could write. In order from so-so on the bad scale to my numero uno naughty-naughty.

#5 – I skipped my Uncle’s 50th birthday party and made my hubby take the kids. (Actually kinda coerced him to do so by telling him how much the kids loved their uncle and what a fun time it would be. Ugh. I made up for that one later.)

#4 – Cancelled a Scout committee meeting. (Yeah, I still cringe at this one. Scouts, Candi, it was Scouts!)

#3 – Made my own mother reschedule our shopping date. (Thankfully, I didn’t have to lie. She supports my writing more than anyone in my life. But it was kinda bad of me since we were shopping for babyshower gifts for my cousin’s wife.)

#2 – Blew off a training session for work. (Just didn’t show. Hubby could have killed me since it was overtime pay.)

and with the drumroll comes my number one…

#1 – I cried off sick from an outing with the entire family, rented my kids the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, blanketed the windows and offered popcorn and soda in return for utter silence. (Thankfully they enjoyed this, but the outing we missed was the first family reunion in eight years with family coming in from everywhere. I did feel bad, but since I’m not close to my extended family and I wrote close to three thousand words that day, I could live with it!)

So now you know. Hope you don’t think too badly of me. If you do so be it. I tend to think there are others out there like me however, who balance everything else, play super parent, get the job done as needed, but sometimes just need that break and a room filled with nothing but the scratch of a pen or the light tap of fingers on the keyboard.

I fessed up.

I am ashamed. *Kinda*

How ’bout yourself.

Any dark and dirty secrets you’d like to share?