Proof of Guilt by Charles Todd

Proof of GuiltProof of Guilt

(An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery)

Charles Todd

William Morrow, 2013, 352 Pages

ISBN No. 978-0062015686

Charles and Caroline Todd

Charles and Caroline Todd

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid

When Ian Rutledge is assigned to head up an investigation involving an unidentified body, Rutledge has a difficult job.  First, he must identify the body and that does not prove to be an easy task.  Second, he must decide if the victim is a murder victim or if he died accidentally.   Then once he has reached the conclusion that the victim was murdered Rutledge must discover where he was murdered.  Rutledge feels that the victim met his death at a different location and the body was later moved.

Rutledge turns up a clue that leads him to suspect that the victim might have a connection to the firm of House of French, French and Traynor.  The firm produces a world famous Madeira wine.  Lewis French, the head of the London office, is missing.  Rutledge is unable to locate French in London and his sister has no idea where her brother might be.

Matthew Traynor, head of the Portugal side of the wine operation, is expected to arrive in England but the French family has not received any word from Traynor and his office only knows he left Portugal to travel to London.

Three women connected to French are interviewed by Rutledge.  French’s sister, his former fiancée and his current fiancée and none can offer a clue as to French’s whereabouts or what may have happened to him.

When Rutledge discovers a link to an incident in the French’s family’s past he feels that the man involved warrants further investigation.  Rutledge’s superintendent is not interested and insists that Rutledge arrest one of the women from French’s past and her father who is employed in the company business.  In spite of his supervisor’s instructions Rutledge proceeds to look into the incident from the past and becomes more and more convinced that he is on the right path to find out the truth about the victim, who he now is sure is Lewis French.

This latest addition to the Rutledge series is a complicated and confusing read and not as enjoyable as the previous novels in this series. I would still recommend the series to a reader who enjoys British mysteries.

Indie authors moving up a notch by PJ Nunn

PJ Nunn

PJ Nunn

You’ve done it. You’ve taken the plunge and invested yourself in independent publishing, and you’ve achieved a modicum of success but you want so much more! I get a lot of calls like this so I figured it would be a good topic to address here. Of course, everyone is different, but I do see some repeating patterns that make for good discussion. Maybe you’ll recognize yourself in there somewhere.

There’s an apparent hierarchy among “indie” authors when viewed from afar. Essentially it includes those who are just starting out, or who have plateaued early, never achieving more than $1000 a month in ebook sales, and those who excel, which is defined by racking up thousands of Twitter followers and breaking the five digit monthly sales figure. For the purpose of this article I’m addressing the latter, BUT if you’re in the former group, pay attention because sooner or later it will apply to you too.

If you want to move up to a new level, in recognition and in sales, by building a broader reader base, here are some things you need to do:

Change your appearance. Too many authors cut corners in the areas of photographs, websites, promotional material and even personal appearances. If you want to be a bestselling author, you need to look like one. Make sure your promo photo is current, professional, and is included on your website. More than one would be nice. It doesn’t have to be posed in front of a blue screen, but it does need to be high resolution and professional in appearance. It also needs to look like you today, not 20 years ago. When you attend meetings or even when shopping, dress the part. I’m not saying you can’t run out to the grocery store in shorts, flip-flops and a pony tail while wearing no makeup, but I am saying sooner or later someone will recognize you when you do. There’s a fine line. Study to learn where it is. Go to the bestseller shelves at a local bookstore and check out the author photos in the books there. You’ll get the idea.

Professionalize your presentations. Homemade looking websites can be a huge detriment. You can work hard to create a professional sounding press release with all the right elements, then undo it in a second when the journalist who reads it clicks on your website and it looks like your teenaged neighbor did it as a computer project in school. Or when they click on it to get more information about the new release the press page announces, only to find the latest book showing on your site is a year old. Your website is you to a lot of people. Make sure it shows you in your best light, and that it is updated at least every month. In addition to making sure your website is top notch, be sure your press material is, too. You may opt to use a bio page and a book page, or to combine the two into a sell sheet. Basic info should include a short bio and photo of you, a description and purchase info of your latest title along with cover art, and a list of your previous works complete with ISBN numbers. Depending on where you’re sending this information you may or may not want to include links for purchase and/or discount info for booksellers. Proofread. Seriously.

Don’t rely on social media alone. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and many other social media sites have been a huge help in affordable book promotion in recent years. Certainly don’t ignore them, but use them wisely, and sparingly. They’re also an enormous time suck, for lack of a more accurate term. Even in today’s market, approximately 70% of readers do not actively use social media so to neglect promotion outside of that realm is missing the mark. First of all, while Facebook author pages are great, and they have added some wonderful tools to help you sell your books, they shouldn’t take the place of a standard author website. I know many are opting to go that route, to save costs I assume, but it will reflect on the way you’re perceived within the industry, by journalists in particular but sometimes by book professionals as well. You might have noticed there is some snobbery involved (gasp). A good author website does not have to be expensive. It should include an author bio, a list and description of published books, a variety of fun and newsy items, a media page with downloadable bio, photos, cover art and press releases, an events page that is current, and maybe even a subscriber’s page, newsletter, link to a blog. Whatever you feel you’d like to share that will be attractive to your readers and keep them coming back and sharing your page.

Utilize a mainstream approach. Maybe using the term “indie” author helped you get where you are. But think carefully about how you’d ultimately like to be known. A bestselling indie author? A bestselling romance author? A bestselling suspense author? Or a bestselling author? A bestselling Christian author? An African American author? None of those are wrong, but obviously they aren’t all the same. In most cases when a self-published author comes to me wanting to increase exposure, the first thing we have to do is lose the “self-published” or “indie” designation. Understand that we’re not hiding anything. We’re just not magnifying it. In other words, you want to be judged on the basis of your writing, not on who your publisher is, or what genre your book is, or what ethnicity you are, etc. And while people will always tag us one way or another at times, it’s up to us to keep the focus where we want it to be.

One of the biggest hurdles today for indie authors involves getting mainstream reviews. Five years ago that was because none of the major reviewers would review a so-called “indie” title. Today they will, but many of them have pre-pub date deadlines that authors don’t want to meet. In today’s instant gratification market, once a manuscript is ready it goes immediately to formatting and publication. That used to take many months. Today it takes weeks at most. So nobody wants to sit on a ready manuscript for 4 months to meet the submission guidelines. I suggest that you bite it and delay release if you want a chance at having your romantic suspense title reviewed by Romantic Times. You don’t have to do it with every title, but it would be nice to add one of their reviews to your press kit wouldn’t it?

Find your niche and get in it. It’s true many of the mainstream organizations like RWA or MWA and so many more originally didn’t have a place for indie authors, and some still don’t readily accept independently published works in some of their conferences. I say join anyway and make yourself invaluable to the group on a local level. Change in any established organization almost always comes from the inside. It’s a wonderful way to network within the industry and make friends across the country who will buy, read and talk about your work. But like with most organizations, if you join only for what they will do for you, you won’t get much. If you really get involved and give to them, it will come back to you.

That’s probably plenty of info for now. I wish you well and I’d love to hear what you think. What are some other ways you’ve found to start taking your career to a new level?

An interview with Deborah J. Ledford

Deborah J LedfordDeborah J. Ledford is someone I’ve just met recently and wow! I’ve loved getting to know her, and to see glimpses of her voice showing up in her books. She has a unique writing style and a wonderfully developed protagonist. If you haven’t already discovered her work, I hope you’ll take the time now…


PJ: How long have you been writing?


DJL: I started professionally as a screenwriter back in the ’90s. Then moved to writing novels and short stories in 1999.

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

When my first short story won First Place in the 2005 Arizona Authors Association contest and published in the Arizona Literary Magazine.

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

DJL: The writing has never really changed creatively. Thankfully I’ve yet to run out of novel and story ideas.

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

DJL: Excuse me while I recover from my amusement. Fortunately I didn’t have too many expectations about earning much of a living going in. I continue to have my sights set on Bestseller status, so stay tuned.

PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

DJL: I’m still a traditionalist. For me being picked up by an actual publisher has provided more prestige—even though I’m with an Independent Publisher—and far more exposure than if I were to have self published. I realize the DIY method is preferable to some newbie writers, and perhaps if I were just starting out I would agree…still I believe beginning writers should do all they can to get published the traditional route.

PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

DJL: So Long! Essentially a decade before book one of my series, STACCATO, was picked up by Second Wind Publishing.STACCATO%20Cover-hi%20rez_1_300x300

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

DJL: Probably started earlier. Although I don’t regret all of the life experience now under my belt. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to a lot of different countries, be creative in several different occupations, studied a slew of fascinating people. I believe my writing is much richer due to all of these opportunities.

PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

DJL: Well, I don’t spend near enough time creatively writing. I’m at the keyboard a minimum of eight hours every day, but promoting takes up a lot of time. I’m thrilled to have PJ Nunn at BreakThrough Promotions as my publicist for the CRESCENDO project—that takes a bit of a load off my shoulders.

PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

Snare Cover Front - hi rezDJL: Receiving the Nomination for The Hillerman Sky Award at Left Coast Crime 2011 for SNARE. The announcement was a thrill and I’m pretty sure my neighbors thought I’d won the lottery from all the yelling and shouts of joy…after I pulled myself up off the floor from shock. Being a Finalist for an Award named after the finest mystery author featuring Native Americans continues to be an honor.

PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

DJL: Not being picked up by my number one choice agent. It’s so difficult to receive representation these days.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

DJL: I suppose seeing loads of friends and people who have gone on to be fans who showed up for my first appearance at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona. This fantastic independent bookstore is where all the big time authors appear.

PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

DJL: Having three books in the series is a good thing for me. And along with my SNARE novel awards nominations I’ve also received a slew of awards for my short stories. Quite a lot of my work appears in print and e-book versions so when readers visit my Amazon Author’s Page there are quite a lot of options by me to choose from.

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

DJL: Don’t give up. I see people rolling their eyes out there, but it’s true—this is the best advice I can offer. If I’d have given up after my first bout of rejections I’d never have a single novel or even story in print.

PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

DJL: I’m not afraid to put myself out there. Whether it be personal appearances, spreading the news about my work as well as those I admire, it’s necessary to be fearless as possible…this doesn’t come naturally for me as I prefer to stay at the corner of the room and watch. You do what you must to make a connection with readers and often this means connecting one person at a time.


PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?


DJL: Primarily the time it takes away from my writing. But realistically it’s not knowing how to find actual readers in order to let them know about my books. I’m always on the lookout for people who would be interested in my words.

PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?

DJL: I’ll plug The Poisoned Pen Bookstore again. Also, the Well Red Coyote in Sedona, AZ.

PJ: I love that your protagonist is Native American. What brought you to that choice?

DJL: I’ve never featured characters based on anyone I know, and certainly not about myself, but because I’m part Eastern Band Cherokee I’ve always been interested in featuring a character with that lineage.

PJ: What has your research revealed to you that influenced your creation of Inola?


DJL: The formulation of Inola was based on what attributes I felt Steven Hawk would be attracted to in a woman. Certainly competent, intelligent and savvy. I didn’t know she would be a cop until I started constructing her biography. She pretty much came out fully formed—a Native American because I knew this element would come into play for the previous novel SNARE. For CRESCENDO I needed Inola to have major flaws to show her vulnerable side so that her journey would be rife with conflict given the path she chooses.

Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:Crescendo-DJLedford-FrontCoverHR


STACCATO (Book #1, 2009)

SNARE (Book #2, 2010)

CRESCENDO (Book 3, 2013)

The Steven Hawk/Inola Walela mystery series is presented by Second Wind Publishing

Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

DJL: As the only female Native American officer on the Bryson City, North Carolina police force, Inola Walela, must always play her A game. All bets are off when during a routine traffic stop the passenger insists her son has been kidnapped but is struck by a car before Inola can glean any hard facts. An altercation ensues and Inola’s partner is felled by a bullet—possibly from her gun. On administrative leave, fraught with guilt for allegedly killing her partner, and obsessed with the possibility of a missing child out there somewhere, she defies the force and her fiancé, Sheriff Steven Hawk. Inola sets off on her own journey to find the missing boy.


Where can we buy it?

DJL: Always from Second Wind Publishing, on Amazon, for the Kindle and Nook, and various electronic versions on Smashwords.

What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?

DJL: As I mentioned, I started out as a screenwriter and each of my scripts are original standalone stories. I didn’t intend to write a mystery series, but readers do like to follow the same characters book after book. Also, my first love is reading and writing literary stories and many of my published stories are more literary in tone.

Thanks for sharing with us, Deborah! Have a wonderful release day. Now let’s all go out and get a copy of CRESCENDO

Common author mistake #3 First impressions

PJ Nunn

PJ Nunn

Have you ever noticed that if you meet someone and he makes a bad impression for whatever reason, when you see him again, even if he presents himself in a totally different manner, your memory immediately defaults to the first experience and the contrast is noted but the first impression remains? You may meet this same man several times subsequently before that unfavorable first impression begins to fade.

On the other hand, if you meet someone and she makes a very good first impression, then you meet her again and she looks terrible, your mind will default to the good impression and make excuses like she’s just having a really bad day to explain why her second appearance was less than pleasant. Again, it can take several repeat bad appearances to erase that strong first impression. I’m sure you get the point.

As an author, it’s particularly challenging to manage that first impression because more often than not, you’re not there at the time. First impressions can be forged by a variety of things – comments others make about you, Facebook pages and posts, Tweets, website content, even the cover of your book. Don’t I have enough to worry about already? You might ask. Probably. That’s why it’s important to choose your battles carefully. Know the difference between the things you can and cannot change and put your focus on those you can.

Think about these scenarios and how they reflect on your career as an author:

What if a journalist gets a press release in the middle of the night about your upcoming book release and goes to your website for more info, but the most recent title showing there came out in March of 2012?

What if the Events page of your website says “More info soon” and it’s been saying that since the site went live last year?

What if your promo picture looks like this ellen-degeneres-cover-girl

But when you meet for the live interview, you really look like this  bad head shot 1

Or worse, what if your press shot looks like this  bad head shot 2

But you really look like this?  headshot 1

Probably just a bad hair day, right? But think about it. Most readers you hope to have in a career as an author won’t meet you in person. They’ll hear about you somewhere and try to find you online – on a website, on Facebook, Twitter, wherever. Their first impressions of you will happen wherever they find you. The good news is that if they were to stumble upon you on a late night run to the drug store for cough meds when you’re sick, chances are the impression won’t be that great. You can’t always prevent that. But you can certainly make sure your first impression given by your website is friendly and professional. You can control your behavior with comments in other social media. And, you can fight the urge to drop posters off at Hastings for an upcoming book signing wearing flip flops and a ponytail and wearing no makeup.

What if you are careful with your language on your blog, but the same blog has a twitter feed showing that you are often cursing and critical in your comments?

What if the first time people “met” you, live or on the internet, made a permanent impression on them?

When people who frequent the same social media as you recognize your name, how would they introduce you to someone else? Would they say “Oh, that’s some author who’s always trying sell her book” or “She cusses like a sailor”? Maybe you’re fine if they say things like that. The point is to make you think about what someone else might think of you. What kind of impression are you making when you venture out into the cybersphere?

I know the internet is a comfortable place for many who just want to “be themselves” but think about how you feel about your favorite authors. Has your impression of them changed at all since you’ve come to know them via social media? I’d love to hear your thoughts on how important first impressions can be for an author. Are they important enough that we should all take time to work on those first impressions?

I like to think of it as an “on purpose” because I like the idea of doing or being something on purpose rather than achieving a designation “on accident”. What kinds of things do you think an author can do – on purpose – to make a lasting and positive first impression?

Shadowkiller by Wendy Corsi Staub


Wendy Corsi Staub

Harper, 2013, 432 Pages

ISBN No. 978-0062070326

Wendy Corsi Staub

Wendy Corsi Staub

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid

Shadowkiller ends the trilogy involving the family of Allison Taylor, now Allison MacKenna.  Allison met her husband Mack when she lived in Manhattan and her apartment was across the hall from Mack and his wife.  Mack’s wife was killed in the 9-11 tragedy and Allison’s friend was murdered in their apartment building.

Allison and Mack eventually married and moved to the suburbs but they found that life was not to be smooth for the couple and their family.   Someone is stalking the family and at times even Allison suspects the person causing the problems might be Mack.  Eventually the truth is found out but not before even the children have a very close call.

Life has gone back to normal for the family and Allison has even agreed to make a trip to the Midwest to visit her brother and his wife.  Allison’s father left when she was young and her mother killed herself with liquor and drugs.  It is a very large step for Allison to agree to travel back to the Midwest.

But the MacKenna family aren’t alone on the trip.  Mack’s wife, who was thought to have died in the 9-11 tragedy, is alive and determined to have a show-down with Allison.  The connection between the two women is finally revealed in this exciting conclusion.  With the intervention of Detective Rocko Manzillo, who has knowledge of the MacKenna’s background, Allison might just get out alive.

Thoughts on the role of the reviewer by Carl Brookins

carl2004First, let’s get some questions out of the way. I’m not a literary critic. I am a reviewer of crime fiction. It is not my purpose to apply in-depth analysis or to discover the innerdeeperhiddensecret meanings of the crime fiction I read. But I bring a critical eye, honed on over twenty-five years of contract and freelance reading and writing reviews for print and on-line periodicals. That experience, reading thousands of excellent, bad and indifferent novels and short stories, TV and film scripts, plus writing a few, has given me a knowledge base, a foundation if you will, and some idea of what constitutes a good novel or short story collection. And even, some biases.

That foundation is the basis I use for judging a story. That I have read and forgotten more authors and their books than the average reader gives me a limited cache to voice my opinions. But that foundation in no way means that any reader should automatically accept my views more readily than those of another reviewer. Indeed, I am of the opinion that readers will often find it more useful to follow the opinions of a reviewer with whom they most often disagree, than one who reflects their own tastes more precisely.

I believe that my role as a reviewer is to help bring to reader’s attention stories that are, or should be, of interest; stories that are well written, satisfying, entertaining and enjoyable. They must have believable multi-dimensional characters who act in believable and usually satisfying ways to further the aims of the story.

For me, pace, character, plot and setting are paramount, but not always equal in importance. There better be a really good reason for the absence of one of those. These primary elements must interact in ways that serve the story. What about good writing? Good writing can cover many weaknesses but pretty language woven into soaring sentences and paragraphs that make a reader want to smile and stop reading, to spend a moment contemplating the totality of life, but leading nowhere is ultimately frustrating. Characters with no discernable dimension are almost useless. Well-defined plots with twists and turns that lead to no resolutions are provoking and questionable.

Raising deep moral questions as character motivations with little or no context is also a way to frustrate readers, and me the critic. I see my role to be that of a taste tester, warning of bad books so you don’t waste your money, and trumpeting fresh new voices or stories. I try to identify elements of stories which I am aware are unsettling to some readers. How explicit and frequent is the sex, or the violence? Is there violence against animals? Does it appear this is a story from a solid, successful author, that seems to fall below that author’s normal level of excellence?

This all has to be done without revealing too much of the plot and certainly not the final resolution. And the huge problem is that there are so many books. Readers seem to assume that the absence of a review means the reviewer didn’t like the book, which is usually a fallacy. Most reviewers are limited, by time, by assignments, by their reading interests, by the policies of the outlets for whom they write. Most reviewers try hard to be fair and professional in their approach. We tend to believe we have responsibilities, to readers and to authors, to be as honest as we can be. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes it isn’t even fun. It is most difficult when one encounters a truly substandard work by a beloved and popular author. Books are frequently purchased on the basis of an author’s name and reputation, so when I encounter a work that is well-below an established standard, I tend to warn readers.

Finally, I believe a good reviewer should focus the review on the work, not on the author of the story. Reviews which criticize the life style of the author or call into question the veracity of the fiction or the intelligence of the author are simply bad reviews. I try very hard to avoid using my own social mores as the basis for judging the value of a novel. After all, we’re talking about murderers, thieves, criminals of every stripe here.

I believe that what I have set out here is true for the great majority of book reviewers, professional or amateur. I believe that in spite of the almost constant kerfuffle over review requirements and disappearances on some of the major sites. Reviews play a role in the success of books, but they are not the only criteria discerning readers should use. Like our political representatives, you gets what you pays for and what you pay attention to.

A final note to those authors crushed or angered by negative reviews. Fact is, bad reviews sell almost as many books as good, but trashed, lukewarm or highly praised, the worst circumstance of all is to be ignored.

Learn more about Carl and his work as well as his writing here.

Juggling Two Names and Two Series by Daryl Wood Gerber

Daryl cookingI am one woman with one head, one face, and one body, but at times I wear two hats…and I answer to two names. Good thing I’m a Gemini!

Under the pseudonym Avery Aames, I write the nationally bestselling Cheese Shop Mystery series. As Daryl Wood Gerber, which happens to be my real name, I write the not-yet-released Cookbook Nook Mystery series. (The first debuts July 2013)

Avery and Daryl share a lot of things in common. The same husband, house, computer, and editor at the same publisher. However, they don’t share the same due dates, and they definitely don’t share the same fictional worlds.

As of a few years ago, I only wrote mysteries as Daryl, but I was not fortunate enough to find publication for any of them. Along came an opportunity to write what is known as a work-for-hire. Berkley Prime Crime Publishing wanted a series about a cheese shop owner; the series was to be set in Ohio. Eager to be published so I could prove to the publishing world that I could not only write well but sell well, I auditioned for the material. Within a few weeks, I found myself with a three-book publishing contract. (I now have a contract for five. The fourth, TO BRIE OR NOT TO BRIE, debuts February 2013.)

Because I suddenly had deadlines every nine months, I set aside all of Daryl’s works-in-progress and focused on Avery’s output. I lived and breathed cheese, Ohio, and the cast of characters that populated A Cheese Shop Mystery including cheesemonger, Charlotte Bessette, her feisty grandparents, her cousin and his twin daughters, and her friends and coworkers. I built a fictional world known as Providence, Ohio, a darling tourist-based town in Holmes County near Amish country, and even created maps for the town. I attended writing and fan conferences and introduced myself as Avery. My slogan became: Say Cheese. People started calling me The Cheese Lady.

In the beginning of this dual-personality relationship, I (Daryl) would speak to Avery to bandy around ideas. Needless to say, this nearly drove my husband crazy. A couple of years later, he has gotten used to the fact that he lives with a woman with multiple personalities. I keep telling him that I…She…We…are not crazy. He is almost convinced.

About a year ago, when I (Daryl) realized that I had not only the time but the verve to write more than one book a year, I crafted together an idea for a new cozy mystery series. I wrote a few chapters and created an entirely new world, and then, with the help of my agent, pitched it to my editor. A Cookbook Nook Mystery series stars Jenna Hart, an admitted foodie and avid reader, who helps her aunt reopen a cookbook store and café in the fictional seaside town of Crystal Cove, California. My editor loved the concept, and suddenly I found myself spending a lot of time with Jenna, her aunt, her friends, and the townsfolk of Crystal Cove. The town is beautiful, by the way, and situated north of Carmel and south of Santa Cruz.

What is the most fun about writing two series is that I spend time with two totally different groups of people in entirely different areas of the country. I rarely get my casts confused. These characters come alive when I’m living in that world. Think of it like your own world of friends. You rarely get your best friend from college confused with your mother, right?

However, here’s the tricky part. Because I have two series, I have double the promotion. Eek! That means two Facebook presences, two Twitter names, and double the amount of bookmarks and swag to hand out at conferences and other functions.  Not to mention I need two websites. I don’t know if any of you will go from this blog to my website, but if you do, you’ll see that I’ve created a portal that allows you to visit both Avery and Daryl. Sure, Avery and Daryl have similar biographies—okay, they are identical—but after that, the sites are different in content. Why? In addition to cozy mysteries, Daryl—I…are you starting to see the problem here?—writes short stories (published) and thrillers (soon-to-be-published, I hope). That means Daryl needs her own site so fans won’t be confused.

Brie_Or_Not_Brie_finalIn addition, I have created a writing schedule for both series and both personalities. On the current Finalsentence_cvschedule, I have about three to four months to write a book. As long as I keep focused, I can do it. When I turn in that book, I switch hats (and personalities) and write the next series. Back and forth. Avery, Daryl. Daryl, Avery. Cheese/cookbook. You get the idea. During 2013, Avery and Daryl will each have a book debut. TO BRIE OR NOT TO BRIE, the fourth in A Cheese Shop Mystery series comes out February 2013. FINAL SENTENCE, the first in A Cookbook Nook Mystery series debuts July 2013.

Also in 2013, Daryl is considering a brain transplant or possible cloning. Avery is against both ideas. What do you think?

The good, the bad and the editing by CM Truxler

Editors…Some think of them as blessings sent to aid weary writers, while others perceive them to be simply unavoidable.  One fact remains…each is a necessary cog in the literary machine.  No matter what a writer’s focus and/or genre, each writer needs his or her work edited and proofread before it is acceptable for public consumption.

First, one must evaluate his or her own weaknesses and strengths.  This will enable a writer to be familiar with her or his exact needs from an editing and/or proofreading standpoint.  Once pinpointed, a writer should be able to convey direct and clear wishes to an editor.  It is highly important for a writer to know exactly what he or she wants, and needs, being particularly clear in conveying that information to avoid misunderstandings.

Sometimes the smallest additions or changes can make a huge difference.  That said, what should a writer look for in an editor?  What are the differences between the types of editing?  More to the point, what is an acceptable rate to pay for those services?

When looking for an editor, one must consider many factors.  Amongst these factors are whether a written contract is available to protect both parties or is a verbal contract the only offering, are references within the literary field available and verifiable; and finally, can the writer and the editor work together well.  Are their focuses and perception of direction the same and the personalities a good fit?  If looking at editors online, the mass of offerings can be overwhelming.  One way to gain formal knowledge of an editor is to request, and send no more than five pages to the editor for, a sample editing.  This may not be necessary as many editing professionals show an editing sample on the company website.

Gauging an editor’s pricing is difficult.  There are as many different prices in the editing field as there are writers needing editors.  Prices range anywhere from $2 to $15 a page.  Some editors charge as much as $0.25 to $0.70 a word.  This is one of the reasons a writer must know exactly what editing help is needed to make his, or her, work publication acceptable.  Paying more does not mean better services and paying less does not always constitute a good deal.  Editors must be judged by work ethic and action alone.

There are several types of editing.  Each is designed to correct errors within a work and hone said work to a polished example of literary experience.  The problem is, if one chooses an editor that does not cover all the steps needed to pull out a work’s full potential, and then an opportunity is lost.

One thing writers must be aware of is that some editors look at the task of Developmental Editing as being similar to ghost writing.  Such an Editor may change a work to the point that an author is hard pressed to find his or her own work beneath the changes the editor has superimposed upon the offering.  Above all, it is an editor’s job to help an author improve her or his own work, not to rewrite the piece or overshadow the original work in a way.



Developmental, Heavy, Substantive, or Content Editing is, in many ways, the most intense form of editing.  This form of editing is the first step in the editing process.  It may start even before pages are written.  In Developmental Editing the editor may work with an author on improving concept, peruse a rough draft for content, detail, and fact, flow, and development issues.  Organization of the work is also reviewed.  This is performed by marking a print copy of the manuscript, or an electronic copy through the “track changes” and “comment” option in Microsoft Word or other word-processing programs.

Some writers will believe the work to be hemorrhaging if an editor favors red ink.  Be assured, it is all part of the process.  Most editors have nothing but the author’s best interest at heart.  It all amounts to good business practices.  If a client is put off by a verbally abusive or harsh attitude, that client will leave said editor and spread the news far and wide.  This is the check and balance system of the service industry.

Once a story, article, or manuscript runs through developmental editing, the next step is Copy EditingCopy Editing entails checks for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, as well as noting adjustments needed to sentence and paragraph structure.  Facts will be verified and crosschecked to ensure consistency; and any style, or format, inconsistencies will be made uniform according to style guidelines imposed by the publisher.  If copyrighted materials are used, copyediting will check for the appropriate permissions needed to avoid legality disputes.

Though some editors do perform typesetting services, this is not always the case.  This service pertains to a limited market, as most magazine and publishing firms will maintain typesetting professionals familiar with their particular standards.  Typesetting  is concerned strictly with the printing process and how a work adapts to the needed confines of the produced page.  A work will be set to the conformed page limits; the industry standard is a strict 250 words per page, and restrictions through a computer program such as Xpress, InDesign, or TruTex.  Once a manuscript is set according to the software specifications, it is printed and ready for the final step in the editing process.

Proofreading is the final step in the editing process and the last stop before publication.  At this point little to no changes can be made other than fixing minor errors.  Typos, and any other errors and inconsistencies missed by previous edits or typesetting are fixed.  No extra material may be added to the work at this point.  Once a final draft is proofed and finalized, it goes straight to the presses and then on to distribution.

Now that the work is in distribution, the cycle starts over on the next offering presented.  Remembering all the editing steps is a great deal to handle, but keeping one’s eyes open and mind focused on the end product will make the process much easier.  Take time to fully interpret, understand, and remember each revision on the first work presented for editing and others will have less need of changes.  Though no one can promise a publisher will accept a work, working with one’s editor to produce a polished literary offering will make both author and editor happy in the end.

For information on C.M.’s editing services, and book reviews, please visit her blog at: