End of the Month Editor–Kim Cannon

Top Six Tips to Make Your Manuscript Shine
By Kimberly Cannon, freelance copy editor

Wait! Stop! Don’t hit the send button yet.

So, you’ve finished your manuscript. You’ve had a friend, or your entire critique group, do a beta read. Heck, even your hypercritical siblings say it’s brilliant. But there’s still something you need to do before you send your baby off to be poked, prodded and considered over a publisher’s editorial meeting:

Edit, edit and edit some more.

Whether looking for a contract with a publishing house or self-publishing, your book needs to be polished like your grandmother’s silver tea service before it makes its way to an editor’s desk. There’s nothing an overworked editor hates more than opening a file for an interesting submission only to find it riddled with typos and grammatical errors. Some might even be tempted to hit the delete button just because they feel the writer must not be serious if he or she hasn’t bothered to re-read and edit their own work. And if you’re self-publishing and paying a developmental editor to work with you on your precious baby before you submit it, you really don’t want to give them all that money to fix issues that you can do yourself—you want them to spend all their time making your story shine.
There are a lot of things you can look for to help you along your path to becoming the next J.K. Rowling. I’ve narrowed it down to my personal top six.

1. Typos — Do NOT rely on spellcheck or grammar check. They are not foolproof. In fact, they both make a lot of mistakes. Double check the word you really want is too and not two or to. And don’t get me started on that darned Word thesaurus. I often find an author has used a word that, to paraphrase Inigo Montoya, does not mean what they think it means. If you are unsure about a particular word or phrase, look it up in Webster’s. Don’t rely on Word’s internal thesaurus. And speaking of that little gem, when you change a word you think you’ve used too often—feel, for instance—make sure the word you’re replacing it with really has your intended meaning. If Luke wants to feel Laura’s silky skin against his cheek, don’t have him finger it.

2. Commas and exclamation points — If you put, a comma, every time, you stop, to think, you create a sentence, that makes the reader, extremely, tired. Don’t do that. Only add commas if they create clarity for a sentence or phrase. The serial comma? You know, the one that comes after a list of things: puppies, kittens, and goldfish. That one is up to you. Some houses use them, some don’t. They hire copy editors, like me, to take care of those details (did I mention I love my job?). If you find yourself hesitating because you aren’t sure which version your chosen publisher uses, and it’s disrupting your flow to go back and figure it out, don’t worry about it. Yes, I said don’t worry about it. It’ll be taken care of according to the house style of your publisher once your manuscript goes to the copyediting phase.

And exclamation points… What can I say except, only use them when you really, really need them. If your dialogue tag is “David shouted,” you don’t need an exclamation point. General rule of thumb is no more than 3 times in the entire manuscript. Most of the time they just aren’t needed and indicate immature writing.

3. Apostrophes — Apostrophes are not, and I repeat once more, NOT used for pluralization. Never, ever, ever, ever. Well, when I say never… If you’re saying your child received straight A’s on her report card, I’ll let you have a pass. But apostrophes are for the most part only used to show possession. Jimmy’s baseball hat, Suzi’s doll. NEVER use it for pluralization. It is NOT Larry loves layer cake’s, or Mamie hated Cherry’s Jubilee. If you are showing possession for a plural, it is the Smiths’ house, or the Joneses’ minivan. If you aren’t sure how to pluralize something, look it up. There are so many online resources nowadays for clarifying and preventing errors like these. By all means, use them liberally.

4. Consistency and timeline — If Julie wears a dress on p. 24, and two pages later in the same scene she’s wearing jeans, that’s an oops you need to catch before you seal your short story in an envelope for Woman’s World or attach your manuscript to an email for Carina. Also, double check and calculate dates, days, hours, times, months, etc. to ensure you don’t have errors in timing. If your storyline should take 4 months, make sure you’re allowing for all 4 months by using date stamps where appropriate so the reader can keep up with passage of time. I suggest using a timeline in your outline or your book bible in order to double check that timing is correct.

5. Misused Words — Laid/lay, there/their/they’re, advise/advice, effect/affect, etc. As I noted earlier, there are many online resources to prevent using the wrong word. If you aren’t sure whether he lay down in the grass or laid down in the grass, look it up (it’s lay, by the way. Lay is what you do with your body, laid is what you do with an object).

6. Formatting — Lastly, please, for all that’s holy, check your margins and font before you submit. Make sure you’re following the guidelines of the publisher you’re submitting to. Sure, if your story is the next Harry Potter, and they love it, they’ll ignore such a seemingly trifling issue. But why not show them you mean business by showing them you pay attention to detail? Most are no longer strict as long as the end result is easily readable, but a few are still very specific about what they want to see with regard to font type and size as well as margin width. Don’t send Calibri 11 to a house that specifies Times New Roman 12. Most houses want to see one inch margins all around, but there’s still the odd one out there that likes 1.25 inches at the sides. Some even go so far as to specify paragraph indents. So, moral is, check the submission guidelines carefully and follow them to the letter. Show them you’re serious.

Those are just a few details to go over before you send your paper child out to play with the big boys. There are, of course, many more items to review/revise/remove. I could go on and on about things such as dialogue tag vs. action tag, but then this would turn into a book rather than a blog post. If you have a personal pet peeve or some sin you find yourself frequently committing, please feel free to share in the comments below. I’d love to read them, and by sharing perhaps you can help out someone else.

Kimberly is a freelance copy editor for several publishing houses as well as bestselling authors. You can contact her regarding her editorial services at kimberlycannoneditor@gmail.com.

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Some Favorite Winter Things



For many, the winter season can bring the doldrums from the gray skies to the snow clouds gathering above. I am probably one of the few people you’ll ever meet who absolutely loves winter and all that it can bring. So here is my top ten list of favorite winter things.

  1. Winter Sports ~ When I was much, much younger I used to love to ski and sled and play in the snow. That’s actually how I met my husband. The poor man volunteered to teach me and one of the very first things I do is to plow into him. The only thing I could never get into was skating and that’s because I have weak ankles. With skiing, the boots are stiff and can hold me up. And I know that there are tons more winter sports out there, I’ve just never tried them. These are my favorites.
  2. Mulled Wine ~ Over here in Austria it’s called ghulwien and it’s incredibly delicious.
  3. Hot Chocolate with Peppermint Schnapps ~ It goes along with skiing.
  4. Snow ~ This is my number two favorite thing of the season. I love snow. I love how it tastes, how it feels and how much you can actually do with it. You do remember Eskimo igloos…right?
  5. Cloudy Skies ~ I love cloudy skies in general but I love the ones that I know will bring the snow. iStock_000000457633Medium~R
  6. Sitting in Front of the Fire ~ This one ranks right up there. Our flat here in Austria does not have a fireplace and I’m so missing the one I had at home. I could just curl up in front of it with a good book and a warm blanket.
  7. Cabins ~ My in-laws have a cabin-like condo at Lake Tahoe that we used to go to a lot. It was the very last one in the complex and is but against Forest Service land, so nothing is behind it. During the winters it would get so calm and quiet and oh so, wonderful when you’re tucked snug inside. I have visited a few cabins that have made me feel the same way in my life time. It’s my hope that one day, I will have a cabin in a snow covered world.
  8. Christkindlemarkts ~ Here in Vienna, Austria, they have these wonderful Christmas markets that start mid-November. The first year, it was odd because I was so used to celebrating Thanksgiving. Austrian’s equivalent to Thanksgiving is usually in October and therefore isn’t really significant to the Christmas season like it is in the US. These markets have made me see the holiday in a whole new way. I love the tradition it has given me and I will sorely miss it when I am back living in the US.
  9. The Holiday Season ~ I love the holiday season. I probably start it a little too soon as I decorate my home for Halloween though Christmas decorations can’t go up until after Thanksgiving. While I don’t do all the things here in Austria that I normally do in the US, we have started one tradition that I think I’ll keep going. We don’t set up the tree until December 15th or later. This allows family to come to visit and help us do that wonderful task of putting up the lights and the ornaments on the tree. When I get home, I definitely plan to have a weekend set aside where the whole family comes and we decorate our very special tree.
  10. Family ~ This is my very favorite thing of the whole season. As kids grow older, they go off to do their own thing. But rest assured, they come home for Christmas when they can and the get-togethers are awesome. For me, the holiday season and everything that comes from it revolves around family time.


I am sure that each of you has your own top ten list for the winter season. I’d love to hear what yours are and I plan to reward one commenter with a $10 Amazon gift certificate just for letting me know. Don’t forget to leave me your email address so I can get hold of you if you’re the winner.

See you next month!


About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

What the cold brings….

Coffee.Fall - latte



Turtle necks.






Anything to stay warm! Like a good book… and this teaser from my recently released, Unwanted Vows.


“This might kill me, but I’m going to remove your shirt and touch you in a completely objective manner.”
She giggled as her hands slid down his belly, and with no warning, slipped into his pants. “Maybe we should both get undressed and…check each other out.”
Worry and anger rolled beneath the surface of his desire. “It’s not funny–”
Hands on his hard flesh cut him off. He sucked in air filled with her scent.
“It doesn’t hurt that much.” Her words cut through the cloud of frustration, the cloud of need that made it impossible for him to see her clearly.
“Don’t let him ruin this for us,” she whispered. “Please.”


To safely raise her daughter, Samantha Hollister must join wounded U.S. Army veteran Morgan Lawrence in rediscovering an old love that never truly disappeared.

Samantha Hollister is done relying on other people to take care of—or abuse—her. Her ex-husband is out of the picture now…like her family home, the haven she intended to seek. Her father just sold it to her high-school sweetheart, the man who abandoned her many years ago for the army. The man who still makes her heart flutter. But Samantha has vowed to never be led astray again. She has a daughter.

Despite being injured in action, Morgan Lawrence lives life to the fullest. Each day is a gift, and after five years he is finally one step away from opening a resort for wounded veterans like himself. Unfortunately, a woman stands in his way. And while she has changed, Samantha remains everything he’s ever wanted. Now it’s a matter of helping her see which promises are meant to be broken, and that being strong doesn’t mean one has to fight alone.

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Turning Over a Healthier Leaf

Sorry, this is a day late, since it’s been that kind of week.

I’ve been thinking a lot about wellness lately. A week ago I finished my second book. I wrote 13,500 words in three days–an unprecedented burst of creative productivity for me, so I had to ride it out. The next day, of course, I woke up with a pinched nerve in my neck so bad I had to lie in bed for hours, unable to move my head unless it was to suck down more ibuprofen.

This was a bit of a wake up call for me. During last winter’s Polar Vortex I gained about 15 pounds, none of which I’ve managed to lose, although I will admit I haven’t really tried very hard. I love to eat and I hate to exercise, so you can see where this has led.

Writers, or so the stereotype goes, often live unhealthy lives. They drink too much, eat a lot of bad-for-them foods, and exercise very little. This is not always true, of course, as evidenced by Julia Quinn‘s treadmill desk and Susan Elizabeth Phillips‘ Facebook pics of all the healthy meals she eats and crazy hiking trips she takes. I drink more wine than I ought, could happily eat Lay’s Lightly Salted potato chips all day long, and time not spent working, writing, editing, blogging, cooking, chauffeuring the kid around town, reading, sleeping, or washing the dishes is usually spent watching Hulu or playing Angry Birds Transformers.

But as I mentioned, the pinched nerve woke me up to the fact this is probably not the best way to live, and after a lovely massage yesterday I am ready to turn over a new leaf–now, before all the crazy holiday stress eating starts. Weight Watchers tracking has begun, as has the new exercise regimen–20 minutes on the trusty old NordicTrack I’ve had since 1989. Wish me luck, for I will need it.

Are you a fitness fan, or do you struggle with staying motivated to exercise? Favorite bad-for-you food?

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

Write That Book Newbie!

One of the great things about all the changes in the publishing environment is that anyone can publish a book. If you can read, and follow instructions for the most part, you can be a published author. How cool is that? You don’t need all those stuck up publishing companies and all their hateful gate-keepers who’ve got it in for you and your story. Don’t get me wrong, some of the reputations are well deserved, but not all of them.


Alas, one of the saddest things about all the changes in the publishing industry is that anyone can publish a book. Sometimes it works out great. The author will make use of all the industry professionals available today. Editors, proofreaders, cover designers, and formatting gurus. They’ll publish a killer story and have fabulous success. And sometimes is doesn’t work out well at all.

If you’ve never written a book before but you have a great idea for one that just won’t leave you alone, at least give yourself the benefit of trying to find out the things you don’t know. Most new writers don’t even know what they don’t know. If this sounds like the voice of experience, it is. I’ve been there. And years later I’m still learning new things about my craft.

This isn’t about me; it’s about your prospective readers. Readers read certain genres over and over again because they enjoy them. These genres have rules. Readers have expectations and they rely on those rules to be entertained.

If you’re a rule-breaker, good for you. But at least do your reader and yourself the service of learning the rules first so you can break them properly. Then the exception will be clear and make sense to your audience.

Where do you learn these rules? Writers groups, writer’s conferences, friends that are writers, writers who’ve written books about how to write in certain genres. One of the concerns I hear most is that if I join a group someone will steal my story idea. Yes, we’ve all heard the horror stories of plagiarism. However, by and large, most writers have so many of their own ideas, they aren’t interested in yours. Do your research. Learn your craft to the best of your ability. Then write your heart out. Write, edit, publish. Repeat. Then repeat again. Here’s wishing you a lifetime of success.

Do you belong to a writer’s group you’d feel comfortable recommending to others? If so, tell us in the comments. Thanks!


About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Sci-Fi Favorites!

I have a new release this month. It’s something a little different for me as it’s not really romance. It’s a short story called No More Lies, in a sci-fi anthology, The Telepath Chronicles, which contains fourteen stories all on the theme of telepathy.

telepath chronicles

No More Lies – Blurb

They promised her a world with no more lies. A better world.

Kaitlin grew up as part of a covert operations group, using her particular talents for what she has always believed to be the greater good. But when her twin brother disappears, Kaitlin must decide where her loyalties lie.


I mainly write romance now, but in all sorts of sub-genres, including Science fiction. But Sci-fi was probably my favorite genre long before I ever got interested in romance. I grew up reading Arthur C Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Anne Mccaffrey and many more.

There is so much scope in science fiction, just about anything can happen, the possibilities are as limitless as the universe itself. All the same there are certain tropes that draw me back again and again to both books and movies. So here are my top ten favorite sci-fi tropes:


  1. Robots – think Terminator, best robot movie ever!
  2. Aliens – think Aliens, just about my favorite film.
  3. Time travel – Terminator and Doctor Who.
  4. Genetic modification – Gattaca.
  5. Space colonization – Aliens, Dune, Firefly…
  6. Telepaths – The Telepath Chronicles – honestly, it’s great – try it!
  7. Evolution – Planet of the Apes?
  8. Cloning – Never Let me Go, The Island.
  9. Cyborgs – Star Trek, Doctor Who.
  10. Artificial Intelligence – 2001 A Space Oddyssey


Any other sci-fi addicts out there? If so what is your favorite sci-fi trope?

About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. Nina writes all types of romance often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

  • Our LATEST Buzz!

    The first two books in the Cupid's Cafe series were released in June by Lori Sizemore and Landra Graf *** Lori Sizemore's Infamous was released on December 14. *** Julie Jarnagin's Cowgirl in the Kitchen is available now. *** Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Nina Croft's latest books, Her Fantasy Husband, a hot contemporary romance from Entangled's Brazen line, and The Order Boxed Set, a compilation of the three full length novels, plus a new novella, exclusive to the boxed set, both released in April 2016 *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, A PROPOSAL & PUMPKIN PIE is on sale for .99 through Thanksgiving.