Find an Editor to Fit Your Budget

Find an Editor to Fit Your Budget


Cole SmithPost by Cole Smith


You’ve run through your manuscript so many times, you can’t keep all the revisions straight! Which version of the restaurant scene did you decide to keep? Is the dog’s name Frisco or Elmo? And which of your characters’ bad habits need to go? (Mine are always leaning against things!)


It’s time to pass on your work to new eyes, someone who can tell right away where your story sings and where it, well, hits a sour note.


But if you’re on a tight budget, professional editing can get pricey. And the lower you keep your costs, the sooner your book will pay for itself. So how can you find an excellent editor without sacrificing quality? The solution may already be in your network:



College students

Reach out to a local English professor and ask for recommendations. Many students are looking for a side gig that’s flexible enough to fit around their course schedule. And you’ll get the benefit of a reader who’s passionate enough about books to study them full-time! Ask for a three-page sample edit, and be clear about your deadline. It’s a win-win. You get an affordable editor, and the student gets to flex his or her editing pen and list the job experience on a résumé.



Former English teachers

Speaking of English professors, we all know teachers aren’t paid what they’re worth. Maybe you know an English teacher who’d be interested in helping you out while earning a little side income? I have a couple of excellent teachers who’ve been thrilled to hear from a former student, and who’ve helped me comb through articles, stories, and chapters. But be sensitive. Teachers are natural helpers. It’s important to respect their time. Don’t send them your four hundred page novel and expect them to drop everything for your project. You’re approaching as a partner, now, not a student in need of after-school tutoring.



Members of your writer’s groups

If you’re a member of a local writer’s group or regional organization, you can offer to swap editing services with another writer. Again, ask for a three-page sample, and be up front about your expectations. Listen carefully to make sure the collaboration is a good fit. If the other member writes gritty police procedurals with lots of gore while you write Amish romances, it may be difficult to exchange objective editing. But if you both write in similar genres, your personalities mesh well, and you have compatible work habits, it’s a green light to proceed.




A great editor is essential, ensuring your work is gleaming, cohesive, and irresistible to your readers. Don’t take shortcuts in this stage! But a tiny budget doesn’t mean postponing your dream. With careful networking, you can find the right editor for your project without overspending.


Do you have other low-cost editing solutions? Post them in the comments below!



Cole Smith is a writer, teacher, and mountain biker in West Virginia. She enjoys good coffee and great stories. She shares inspiration, encouragement, and tips for creative overwhelm at Her novel, Waiting for Jacob, is available in paperback and ebook formats here.


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Waiting forJacob





What Editors Want

Keri De DeoPosted by Keri De Deo

In his book, On Writing, Stephen King talks about two different kinds of writing: writing with the door closed and writing with the door open. First, you write with the door closed. That means you write for yourself. After you’ve done that, you open the door and revise your writing with the audience in mind. This is the step you must make before turning your writing over to an editor (or anyone else).

When you turn your work over to an editor, you want to put your best foot forward. As a freelance editor, I work daily with writers, and I’ve compiled a list of what I look for in good writing. Of course, every editor harps on his or her own pet peeves, but for the most part, we look for the following components:

  • Exciting Content

Before you start worrying about word usage, syntax, grammar, etc., your writing must contain a good story. Give us drama, plot, and a rise and fall in action. Make sure to complete your research. Has the story already been written? If not, go for it! If it has, can you do it better or in a more interesting way? Writer’s Digest provides an excellent list of cliché stories to avoid.

  • Accurate Content

A good editor checks your content for accuracy. If they find inaccuracies, they’ll send it back to you for changes. You might think this only applies to non-fiction or historical fiction. But it applies for all writing. Even if you write fantasy novels, physics and scientific facts matter for readers to believe your story. Before writing my book, Nothing but a Song, I played with several phone apps to make sure the apps I described actually existed. I also did research about the Deaf culture and using sign language. It helped make the story more believable. (At least I hope so.)

  • Active Voice

We all have heard that saying “Show. Don’t tell.” This is where it comes to play. Rather than saying “she was smart.” Show me by using active voice. “She rattled off equations in a few seconds.” You also accomplish this by avoiding helping verbs (i.e. “to be” verbs). Don’t know what those are? See this list. You can’t avoid them every time because sometimes you need to mark a change in tense somehow, and helping verbs do this. However, if you can replace them, replace them. If they’re irreplaceable, leave them. For help in writing more active sentences, visit this link. (Yes, count how many helping verbs I used in this post. I tried to avoid them!)

  • Polished Writing

Nothing makes me put down a book faster than silly mistakes. Typos happen, but they can be avoided by having several people read your draft. Don’t pick a person who won’t be honest. Pick someone you know will give you constructive feedback. Embrace criticism! Avoiding it encourages bad writing. You need feedback if you want to improve. Also, if you read your writing out loud, many errors will show up. Then have someone else read it out loud to you. If they stumble, make that sentence smoother. If no one else has seen your manuscript, don’t send it to an editor. You might just get it back quicker than you think.

Editors care about your writing, but they also care about their reputation. They won’t put their name on something that fails to meet their standards. Some editors might return your manuscript if the writing falls flat. So, make sure to send your best work to an editor and prepare for changes. As my writing teacher always said, “It’s never done; it’s just due.”

Keri De Deo - nbs book coverKeri De Deo, owner of Witty Owl Consulting, lives in northern Arizona and works as a writer, editor, researcher, and instructional designer. She is author of the young adult novel NOTHING BUT A SONG, released December 5, 2017. She loves technology and finding innovative tools for a happy, healthy life. Keri spends her free time with her husband kayaking, hiking, and walking her two beautiful dogs: Maiya and Lilla. To learn more about Keri, visit her website! You can follow her on Twitter @thewittyowl and on Facebook @authorkeridedeo.


The gist of…Tassilaq, Dimmuborgir & Trollstigen Mountains


This post is by Nancy Jardine.

Full length novel completed. Own edits thoroughly done. Manuscript is ready for next stage. What might that be for you? Me? I’d be focusing on finalising: 1) Title  2) Tag Line  3) Blurb  4) Synopsis… before submitting to a publisher.  I find it incredibly difficult to do those last stages even though, by then, I know my story inside out. So how do I decide on what is the gist of it? – gist:   main points; general ideas; general picture; substance of the thing…

I want the person who reads my submission to immediately know the essence of my story. I want the main highlights to be pointed out but not the full happenings. I want to get across the impact of certain developments in my story and strategic moments within it where my characters are faced with situations that they love being in/ hate being in/ or perhaps need to change to reach the finale of the events.

Like my story writing I’ve been realising that my recent cruise holiday to Greenland, Iceland and Norway was quite similar. Sailing to those places meant a lot of water to cross before setting foot on the land. The days spent at sea were part of the preparation for the on-shore events and were the background to strategic and particular moments.

Reykjavik, Iceland

My last post on this Wranglers blog mentions what led to my husband choosing our cruise. Those details can be found HERE  However, part of our advance planning was also booking our on-shore trips. From a wide range of options, we chose on-shore activities that would allow us to experience the essence of Iceland and the parts of Norway that we visited by using different travel methods. In Reykjavik, Iceland, we booked a Tuk-Tuk ride to experience the old city. Actually the old city is neither large, nor very old, but a 3 wheeled Tuk-Tuk  is a novel way to ride the cobbled streets.



At Akureyri, Iceland, we booked a 4×4 ride across terrain that a normal coach wouldn’t be able to travel on, the idea being to see hidden waterfalls and ancient ‘ghostly’ places.  At Eskifjordur, Iceland, we booked a coach tour that would take us to tiny seaside towns where we could visit a small fishing museum, and a rocks and minerals museum.


At Alesund, Norway, we booked a long coach tour to the interior where we would take a short train ride on the famous Rauma Railway which goes past the incredible Trollstigen Mountains.  At Olden, Norway, we booked a short coach ride to the brand new Cable Car which goes to the top of Mount Hoven Loen (opened spring 2017).

Can you see the Gryla the Troll frowning up there at Dimmuborgir, northern Iceland? There’s a folk tale on my blog about this psychopathic troll!

There was only one port of call on Greenland to the tiny coastal town of Tasiilaq, the largest settlement in eastern Greenland with a population of 2,000 people.

Tasillaq, Greenland

For this shore trip we opted to just take the tender ashore and wander around for a while to explore on our own. This was a good choice since it was around 4 deg C/ 40 deg F, a little windy and showery, so a short visit was just fine. From my vantage point up the hill as I took this photo I was still 105 km from the Arctic Circle!

Like writing a novel those were our original on-shore plans but plans have a tendency to be derailed. Thankfully, not literally – the Rauma train was a lovely little ride! But… due to horrendously bad weather as we sailed from Greenland eastwards to Iceland the captain had to seriously change our plans. We experienced 36 hours of continuous Force 9 Gales with intermittent gusts at 10 and 11. That means Force 9 winds around 55 mph; Force 10 storm gusts of up to 63 mph; and Force 11 violent storm gusts of 72/73 mph. Those Beaufort scale numbers of wind speed sound insignificant when compared to the hurricane winds recently experienced in the Caribbean area but at sea even violent storms are pretty scary.

Observation Lounge on Deck 9

I’m so glad my husband and I are very good sailors so the huge swells didn’t affect us at all, though that wasn’t the case for some cruisers. It also became clear that although those gales are a nuisance to all on board, most of those who return again and again to cruising don’t suffer seasickness. At mealtimes, the restaurants were still pretty full and the wait staff carried on regardless and as though the shifting floor wasn’t happening. They still carried trays at their shoulder stacked with 9 heavy and full dinner plates and the beautifully presented haute cuisine never slipped a fraction on those plates. During the whole cruise, I was highly impressed by the quality and presentation of the food and professionalism of all staff, including the ‘turn down’ room service. (BTW- My husband was glad it was his Jardine Tartan Trews Outfit that was packed and not his kilt! )


But back to those Force 9s…As I battled with my camera on our tiny balcony on Deck 8 the Bridge Deck, I thought about the driving force our little ship needed to plough through those huge breakers. Later that night, after dinner, as I watched some of the breakers splash up to the windows of the Observation Lounge on Deck 9 of 10 decks on board it also made me think of the exhilaration needed to drive forward the plot of an adventure novel. I knew that my current WIP was lacking some of that exhilaration and I resolved to change that when I got home. I’m now working on that every chance I get.

Godafoss Waterfall, Iceland

The impact of the storm force winds meant huge delays to our arrival on Iceland, so in essence we experienced a much longer sail time. We missed our scheduled ‘slots’ for berthing at the ports of  Akureyri and Eskifjordur. The best our captain could do was to get us a late berth at Akureyri, half a day late. That meant changes to all the various on–shore tours that had been booked but we were so lucky that Icelanders are very resilient and adapt well to whatever weather is thrown at them. Instead of tours beginning at 9 a.m. with lunch included, they shifted tour times to start at 2.30 p. m. just after we docked. The longer tours included dinner instead with a very late arrival back to the ship which was now booked at port overnight (This ‘overnight stop’ was not on the original itinerary but meant less battling of the continuing high seas for the captain and bridge crew).


My husband and I didn’t get our 4×4 trip because the poor weather on Iceland meant off road driving was too skittery and dangerous. We went on an alternative long coach tour that proved very good considering it rained all day and the mist lay low across the landscape so visibility was vastly reduced. Dimmuborgir, the home of the Trolls, was fabulous as were the out of this world geo thermal ‘mud pots’ at Namaskard.

Geo-thermals ‘mud pots’ at Namaskard, Iceland

I was gutted; I admit it, when our captain informed us that we had to totally miss out our stop at Eskifjordur. The knock on effect of waiting for a new berthing slot at Eskifjordur would have made us too late to stop at 2 places in Norway. The weather was expected to be better in Norway so it was a ‘no brainer’ for the captain to make his decision. He had to ‘cut out’ what wasn’t going to be viable. And…that’s exactly what I’m going to have to do fairly soon in my writing—there will be a lot of slash and burn and removal of unnecessary scenes.

The gist of my cruise experience? Be adaptable. Be prepared to make changes. Be flexible about the outcomes that are achievable. Those things apply just as much to my writing.

How about changes to your writing or to your ‘life/leisure/vacation’ plans?

You can read my Cruise Diary blog posts on my BLOG and see a lot more of my photos of my experiences on Greenland, Iceland and Norway. Whether I can use my experience in any future writing remains to be seen…

Nancy Jardine writes historical fiction, contemporary mysteries and time travel historical for early teens. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the Scottish Association of Writers and the Federation of Writers Scotland. She’s published by Crooked Cat Books and has delved into self publishing.

multiple new TEYou can find her at these places:

Blog:  Website:   Facebook: &

email:  Twitter

Amazon Author page




Final Draft (?)







This post is by Joe Stephens

I’m about a third of the way through a fourth draft of my new WIP and I anticipate that after this will come one last run-through that will just be looking for stray typos and grammar errors. But you can never tell. I may get part way through this and realize I hate something or there’s a plot hole that I still missed after fourHome Office, Workstation, Office, Business, Notebook drafts. But at some point in time, I have to say enough is enough and put this baby to bed.

The question becomes, though, when that is. I’ve read of authors who do more than 20 drafts of a book. And they talk about how each draft is like torture. Frankly, I don’t love writing enough to go through that. I’m pretty sure I’ll never make it to even double digits. I feel like, at some point, I would actually be overthinking it and actually making the book worse instead of better.

Writing, Write, Person, Paperwork, Paper, NotebookAnother issue I deal with, and I wrote about this in much greater length on my personal blog, is the difference between paper-based editing and doing it on the computer. I did the first three books in this series all on-screen, and I intended to do the same with this one, but I printed a copy for a friend to proofread for me and it turned out I wasn’t going to see her anytime soon, so I ended up emailing it to her. That left me with a paper manuscript. So, on a whim, I started editing, thinking it was going to be minor fixes only. I ended up adding whole chapters and increasing the length of several others in order to flesh out characters better and remedy plotholes. I really don’t think I would have done that if not for using the printed page to edit. And the book would have seriously suffered for it.

So I think I’ll continue writing on computer, but the first edit will be on paper. After that, I’ll go back to computer for a couple more drafts. How about you? What’s your method? Paper or screen? How many drafts?

ITS Cover ArtCheck out his newest book on Amazon

kindle cover

Take a look at Harsh Prey on Amazon 

Kisses and Lies Cover Michele croppedTake a look at Kisses and Lies on Amazon


“JUST” is just a crutch


stephen-buehler-headshot-2-red-backgroundI’ve completed my last draft of DETECTIVE RULES. It’s now being read by a beta reader. After that I’ll make changes, get it proofread then it’s off to the publisher who has shown interest. This blog isn’t about what I’ll do in the interim, but what I did during that last on crutches

I search for my crutch words. Words that I constantly use without thinking. Words that make my writing mundane, ordinary and repetitive. The words that can be eliminated. Using them that many times is just ridiculous. When I read the manuscript to myself, even out loud, I don’t hear it. My mind skims over those words.

After some contemplation I’ve discovered one reason I use words like, just, very, little, probably, seem, like, almost, – it’s that I use them as modifiers.  I’m subconsciously afraid to commit to a statement. For example, “I’m a little bit mad.” In that sentence I used, “little” and “bit” as modifiers as if I won’t let the character be truly mad. I’m sure it has something to do with my real life. I don’t like to admit to someone that I’m mad for fear it will make the other person not like me or the situation uncomfortable.    words image

“Was” and “were” are two other words I look for. Of course we all know “was” is a passive verb and not demonstrative. (I so wanted to use “very” in that last sentence.) I try to replace the “to be” verbs with active verbs that give each sentence more punch.

The cool thing about finding and replacing crutch words is that 80% of the time, the replacing or eliminating of such words makes the sentence better. The other 20% of the time, the sentence is about the same, except that now you’ve eliminated a tedious word.

In DETECTIVE RULES I had new crutch words to search and destroy; guilt, (he did feel guilty about what happened to his clients,) breeze, (for some reason I thought the description of the environment was improved if there was a breeze happening), down (as in down town, down the hall, run down, feeling down,). Those words seemed important to this particular story and they were, but not nearly as much as I did use them.

scratched out words

Will I try not to use my crutch words on the next manuscript? I’ll try a little bit. But for me, it’s better to put down on paper all that flows out and do the eliminating at a later time. That’s just the way I am.

Do you have any crutch words? If yes, when do you eliminate them?

#  #  #

Stephen Buehler’s short fiction has been published in numerous on-line publications including, Akashic Books. Not My Day appeared in the Last Exit to Murder anthology and A Job’s a Job in Believe Me or Not An Unreliable Anthology.  He is expanding his novella, The Mindreading Murders about a magician into a novel and shopping around his mystery/comedy P.I. novel, Detective Rules. On top of all that he is a script consultant, magician and dog owner.


Are Modern Classics Possible Without Attentive Editors?

Travis Richardson_5x7_300dpi (1)  by Travis Richardson

A few months ago on Facebook there was talk about the value of an MFA. In particular, writer Holly West put up a post Facebook about asking what people thought and she got a bunch of passionate answers for and against it. (More opinions were in the latter category if I remember correctly.) Elaine Ash, aka Anonymous-9, has a 6 part blog series along with Lisa Ciarfella asking authors about the value of MFAs. You can read the original post which has links to the other interviews here.

If I lived in a perfect world with infinite time and resources, I would definitely pursue an MFA. I’d also try to get a PhD in history too and maybe extend my economics background a little further. But most likely that’s never going to happen. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

About the same time as the MFA talk was going around, HarperCollins was hyping their release of Harper Lee’s GO SET A WATCHMAN.  Author Patty Smiley mentioned that Harper Lee’s editor, Tay Hohoff, had worked with Lee for over a two and half years to perfect the manuscript that became TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. That was a valuable amount of time that the editor spent to hone and craft a novel that could have been a failure. The editor could have sent it straight out to publication with a few minor edits here and there and perhaps published a few more books with the same carelessness like I hear is happening today. Fortunately for the entire literate world (and movie aficionados too) that did not happen and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD has never gone out of print.

While working with an author for a couple years on a single project was a risky endeavor, the reward in this case is mind boggling spectacular. The time and effort put in by Tay Hohoff no doubt helped build additional wings on publishing houses. There are other cases of editors helping well known authors like Faulkner, Hemmingway and Fitzgerald make their manuscripts into classics. From what I understand that was a 20th century model of publishing and that type of care is rare today.

So why doesn’t this type of care happen any more? I hear it is the economics of the business. Fewer people are reading, so sales are down and therefore fewer editors are hired and they edit more work and wear more hats than any person should handle. While there are probably fewer readers as numerous forms of media vie for readers’ free time, a counterargument could be made that the quality of books are down (along with an absence of multi-generational classics), therefore there are fewer readers.   

Which begs the question of whether it is possible for an editor to purchase a manuscript and then spend years shaping it into a literary classic instead of rejecting it outright or publishing it with fixable flaws. From what I understand it doesn’t happen much but there are exceptions. Kim Fay’s Edgar nominated MAP OF LOST MEMORIES took an additional year to edit with the guidance of her editor at Ballantine. It should be noted that I’m wading into the argument with only a couple of novellas from small publishers and some short stories at this point in my career. Perhaps my point of view may be way off, but from what I can tell, it isn’t. And God bless the exceptions to my argument. (Yay Kim!)

So in today’s publishing environment, can there be another Mockingbird phenomenon without a caring, patient editor? I say yes, but the writer would probably need help from an outside source. It is well known that authors should have their manuscripts in tip-top shape before they send it out to publishers. There are many freelance editors who can help with story structure and editing. Some are former editors in the publishing world and know how that world works. Some are amazing at grammar or amazing at story, and sometimes they are awesome at both. Some have no talent at all and will swindle money for subpar work. Often it’s hard to tell the quality of editing from a website. (If you are interested, I can recommend a few high caliber freelance editors.) If things go right, it’s win-win for the author and the freelance editor. Author gets an improved manuscript, and the editor gets cash. The problem is that that is where the transaction ends. No more follow up unless money is involved. (That being said, friendships can develop, emotional support, etc.) The problem is that freelance editors don’t have much skin in the game. At best if a book takes off they might get a referral from the author and possibly more clients, but they won’t make any extra money directly from that book’s sale. It’s fair to say they won’t work for two and half years to make a modern day classic unless the author is forking over cash. And I don’t blame them. Editors need to eat too.

So if editors at publishing houses aren’t able to spend time making classic quality literature, and freelance editors are limited in their involvement by economics, who can help? Agents. Or from what I understand, that’s how it used to be. I hear about agents who work super hard with a client to beat an ugly manuscript into an object of beauty and then hustle out to make a great deal, but I understand that this is sometimes an exception. (I should note here that I do not have an agent. For a short time I was hip pocketed by a film agent and even had a meeting set up at Reveille Productions  that fell through at the last minute.) Agents get a percentage of their clients’ money (15%) on book sales and royalties. They work hard for the best deals. I love the idea of this because I’m likely to give things away when signing a contract without proper guidance (and yes, I’m looking for an agent). Agents often have several clients, but preference goes to the top earners (which makes sense) and the rest don’t get as much attention. An author once told me that writers spend half their career trying to get an agent and then the other half trying to get rid of them. In a way having an agent is like a marriage, but a polygamous one. The writers are sister-wives to the agent and within that union there are the first sisters and the others. Again, this is what I hear from other writers I know. 

If agents and editors don’t help, who can help make a potential literary classic to an actual classic? Is there somebody who could be a taskmaster with the patience and insight to help guide a writer to that literary stratosphere?

This could be where an MFA might help a writer. For tens of thousands of dollars, a writer can, if the program is good with low residency, receive personal guidance from esteemed faculty. The student writers can also find mentors and colleagues in MFA programs who can help boost their writing potential. In the end, most graduates will have an improved skill set along with a manuscript or partial manuscript that has been worked over into something impressive. And the students get an advanced degree that can lead to teaching careers in writing. I’d like an MFA, but they are very, very expensive. If a detailed cost-benefits analysis were done on all graduates with MFA, I wonder how many would net a positive gain after 10 years. A few, but not many, I believe.

So if the MFA is not for everybody, what’s left? Of course there is the genius author with amazing talent who can write a classic without any critical feedback, but that is rare. Another alternative is to consider how managers in Hollywood help run the careers of actors and writers. They keep their client list low and help guide clients on a more personal level than agents. Unlike agents, managers are not regulated, which can be a problem. Look at Elvis Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker.  But what if there were “Manuscript Managers.” A manager who would take the risk of working with an author on one manuscript for 15% of the sale and royalties. They are only committed to that one work. Volume isn’t as important as quality. Together with the writer they transform a manuscript like GO SET THE WATCHMAN into the classic TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. The manager would have to be selective on which work they chose. It might help if the manager had a pension or trust fund to begin with, but if they can help harness raw talent, they might help co-develop a literary classic that would pay back enormous dividends. Big risk, big return. It sounds like a crazy idea, but it takes one best seller to make it worthwhile.

Any thoughts on this? Am I way off track or does this make sense? Can you expand on anything in here?

Thanks for your time.


Travis Richardson has been a finalist for the Macavity short story award in 2014 and 2015 as well as the Anthony short story award in 2014. His novella LOST IN CLOVER was listed in Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Crime Fiction of 2012. He has published stories in crime fiction publications such as Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Offensive, and All Due Respect. He edits the Sisters-In-Crime Los Angeles newsletter Ransom Notes, reviews Anton Chekhov short stories at, and sometimes shoots a short movie. His latest novella, KEEPING THE RECORD, concerns a disgraced baseball player who will do anything to keep his tainted home run record. “Quack and Dwight” is his latest short story and can be found in the Anthology JEWISH NOIR. 

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Down Memory Lane

propic11_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

I don’t outline my books. I guess you’d call me a spontaneous writer. But I do write out a few notes for reference. The following is how I would write the notes for an autobiography. I could write for years on the memories these facts evoke.

I am the eldest of four children. Two sisters, two years apart, followed me. We got a brother when I was eight and we were all thrilled.

One of my first memories is of sitting on my mother’s lap listening to a book she read to me. She always had time to sit down with any of us to do something we liked.readingbaby

Another memory is music, falling in love with it when, at the age of two my father put me on a picnic table at our family reunion, picked up his guitar, and said, “Sing for everybody Linda.” And sing I did. I loved it.

My Father was a day run truck driver when I was born. When I turned one, he bought me a teddy bear, came home and told my mom he had quit the trucking job. He couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing me grow up. He got another job the following day that mybearallowed him to be home evenings and weekends. I still have my bear, and although his fur is worn and he has embroidered eyes (because I ate the beaded ones) he still sits on my nightstand to this day, a memory of simpler times and childhood.

When I was five my mother taught me to sew – simple things by hand. It wasn’t long before I moved on to the sewing machine, winning several ribbons in 4-H during my teen years. A friend taught me embroidery, another taught me knitting, and still another taught me to crochet. I feel as if I’ve sewn my whole life and I enjoy each and every project.  If you’re interested in learning more about 4-H here is a link:



Until I was six we lived across from an apple-canning factory. I can still smell the odor of the fresh apples and the decay when the season was done. For my sixth birthday I got a baby buggy and was I excited! So excited, in fact, that I plunked my baby into the buggy buggyand took off for Grandma’s house to show it to her. Grandma lived across a busy highway and when I got to her house she brought me straight home. Like a dog with a bone, I spent the next month staring at our hall closet, where the buggy had been put on a top shelf so that I would learn a lesson. That incident was harder than getting a spanking.

We moved when I was six and again when I was nine.   My memories of the first house are great, because there was a lake at the end of our road and even though my Mother couldn’t swim a lick, she took us there every lifeguardsummer day and allowed us to play in the water. I’m sure I got my love of swimming and later, my Certified Red Cross Life Guard badge because of those magical afternoons. When we moved to the next house (a renovated funeral parlor) we spent our summers at Red Cross Swimming lessons, bused back and forth the three miles to the lake. What sunny days those were! Here is a link to the official Red Cross swimming site (although I don’t see the Lifeguard class listed any more.

My sisters and I loved to play dress-up and walk around the block.

dressup Mom took us every once in a while to a thrift store to get things, and one of my aunts regularly gave us clothes, hats, shoes and jewelry to play in. My favorite costume was an evening dress with long gloves to match. It was chartreuse and made of satin. I felt very beautiful (like a princess) every time I wore it.

In the sixth grade I became a cheerleader, something I tried but didn’t like. I’d rather be on the sidelines sneaking a look at whichever book I was reading at the time.  Here is a link to some interesting benefits of kids reading books:;_ylt=A0LEVylvrLRUe4kAr85XNyoA?p=benefits+of+reading+for+children&.sep=&fr=yfp-t-472

That sixth grade year I also began school music classes. Until that time we had chorus in our classroom for half an hour each morning, belting out such classics as “Oh My Darling Clementine”. I cherished those times. I got a part in a musical put on by our class. It was heady stuff!

trophyIn the seventh grade I won the County Spelling Bee. My parents were very proud, and so was I, because I won a book and a trophy to display in my school. Since I inhaled books, as much as the air I breathed, the prize couldn’t have thrilled me more.

When I started band, we didn’t have a lot of money so a friend offered me a clarinet. I played it until I was about 15. We movedbandagain that year and because I had to give the clarinet back I decided to take drums. The school provided them and I could use a practice board at home. My Dad’s boss offered me an Alto Sax that his sons didn’t want to play, so my band teacher got me started on that, and all through high school I played the drums if we marched in a parade (my sister played drums too), and altosaxthe Alto Sax when we did concerts. In addition, I played in a 5-piece Recorder ensemble. Our little school band placed top in the Northern Michigan region my senior year and we were elated. My band teacher always made me feel like I could play anything.

I never loved sports, but did well in softball, track, and basketball. Books and music were so much more important.

My best friend was a preacher’s daughter and her family had horses. We had many good times together riding through the fields and ridingwoods near her home. Once we even saw a black bear! Lucky for me I was a pretty good rider by then because my horse got spooked and headed off to no man’s land with me hanging on like a cocklebur.

I watched stars on summer nights, played in the leaves in the fall and tobogganed and ice skated in the winter with my siblings. My favorite season was spring, because I leavescould get my bike out of the garage and ride all over, inhaling the sweet scent of apple blossoms and lilacs and the sharp tang of pine trees. There was still a chill in the air and wild geese honked overhead as they came back to the pond where they summered. I loved watching the trees bud and the thought that the end of school was near (even though I loved school).

There is so much more I could tell you about my childhood but I’ll stop here. As I write this and remember, I realize what a fairy-tale childhood I had. A mom and dad, three siblings, Freckles, the dog, and a cat. But most of all we were blessed with love.threegirls

Do you take time to remember your past? What are some of your favorite childhood memories? Do you use them in your writing? I do.

Books by L.Leander:

INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders





INZARED, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)





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Video Trailer for INZARED, The Fortune Teller


13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing




13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an eBook





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The Processes of Creation by Erin Farwell

IMG_3021_1In the midst of the house process and end of school craziness I am also preparing to participate in an Arts and Jazz festival at my cousin’s winery in Michigan over Memorial Day Weekend. Lemon Creek Winery has hosted this event for several years and although I live in Georgia, I have sold books and jewelry at the show for the past two years. My father and step mother have a stained glass and mosaic booth next to me and this year my mother will also be in town to help and I am looking forward to spending time with each of them.

I work in a medium called metal clay which comes in a variety of metals including silver, copper, bronze, and steel. I teach classes in metal clay for adults and during the summer I teach week-long camps for kids ages 8 to 12. This year one of my students wanted to learn how to set glass and stones in copper clay. I’ve done this many, many times in silver but not copper. After several weeks of searching, I found one article that explained how to do this. I supplied the clay and my students and I experimented. Everyone’s turned out perfect except mine. The clay shrinks in the kiln so you have to allow for that when you create your setting. Mine came out too small. I had to pound and work the piece until everything came together.

My husband loves the piece I made and said I should make more to take to the Michigan show. While this is a labor-intensive process, the results are wonderful so I said, “sounds like a good idea.” I’ve made six additional pieces and 4 have been fired, each of them too small for the glass that I intended to use. As I struggled to make one of the pieces work, I realized that it isn’t that different from writing.

First, you have a concept, a brilliant idea and you put together your story with great care and planning. You work hard to create a first draft that might not be perfect but it is a good start.

Next you let it sit a bit, like firing the green clay in the kiln. You come back to the story and read it through again and realize that it doesn’t quite work. Somethings don’t fit and other things are just plain wrong.

Now you edit, hammering out the rough edges, making them smooth and appealing. For me this involves clarifying statements and eliminating unnecessary words, like changing, “He walked towards the man” to “He approached the man” which is more concise and interesting.

Sometimes hammering alone isn’t enough, you have to grind out pieces that don’t belong. Sometimes I’ll read a paragraph and stop to admire it. Such wonderful prose. Then I realize that what is really stopped me is that the paragraph, however well-written, isn’t necessary to the story. So out it goes, in all it’s unread glory but pacing is better for it.

Finally, everything works. It all fits and comes together. One last polish and it’s ready to find a home out in the world.

The process of writing a book or making a piece of jewelry really aren’t that different after all.

Learn more about me at:

Farwell-Shadowlands-Final Cover.inddAHE New Cover

Help I Need Someone-#3 of the Blog Writing Series-Content by Cher’ley

 This blog by Cher’ley  Grogg

The Beatles made a big Splash in the early sixties. One of my favorite songs that they sang was HELP. Help is what blogs are all about. Our blogs should give something to the reader, why else would they want to read it? It’s all about CONTENT—fun, fascinating, informing, sharing, or any number of other descriptive words. I remember one of Frank Lanerd’s blogs–it was scary, and compelling at the same time.

The Beatles made a statement that affected most of America’s teenagers. So how can we construct our blogs to be of some HELP so that they will effect someone? Help I Need Someone to write great content.


Research on Writing content led me to this page by Lorelle VanFossen and I don’t think I could say this better.

She grouped the different resources for finding content for your blog into the following categories:

Price Of Stamps To Be Increased By Royal Mail

I like to blog about things that are relevant in my life, but only if I believe they are of interest to other people. This blog is also about sharing our creative ventures, so we post things that are also of relevance to our CHARACTERS.

I have a novel about stamps, so I may post about stamps or antiques. Another novel is about combined families, taking in an aging grandparent—so I may post something pertaining to that. Also there are sports, and, mysteries, and secrets, and the list is unlimited in what my characters find interesting.


Many of the bloggers from this site blog about writing, sharing with readers their 'Serious Novels' photo (c) 2009, Playing Futures:  Applied Nomadology - license: and accomplishments. Telling of easier or better ways of doing things. I am so thankful for the information that is shared; among which are new ideas, tricks, and technology.

 ***How do you find content for your blog?***

***                                                       *****                                   ***

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores.

Stamp Out Murder”.

The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” This is an especially good book for your Tween Children and Grandchildren.

The Journey Back-One Joy at a Time   and the B&W Edition of The Journey BackThe JourneyBack 3

Fans of Cher'ley Grogg,AuthorAnd please join me on my Facebook Fanpage, that’s managed by one of my most faithful fans: Cindy Ferrell

Here’s a link to Cher’ley’s WEBSITE


  • Photo courtesy of Bronski Beat via Flickr Creative Commons
  • vidalia_11 on Flickr / Creative Commons

Series on How to Blog-The Title by Cher’ley

 This blog by Cher’ley  Grogg

This Series begins with how to blog, the title and I want the title to create an image. It takes time, thought and craft to decide on a title. Just like years ago, Shirley Temple took us on a journey on “The Good Ship Lollipop”. When we see the title of this song, we know it’s going to be a sweet trip. My title “Blogging Made Easy-The Title” started out “Journey in Blogging”, then “Blogging Made Easy”, then “Steps to Blogging” and finally “Series on How to Blog-The Title” If you were searching for something on blogging which title would you click on? I hope the last one. v=WLLSqpYyPD8

Blog Post Titles Matter Blog post titles are found in:

  • Search engine results
  • RSS feeds
  • Links from other bloggers
  • Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+, etc.
  • On your archive pages

Winter little girl and cute dog design vector 01The very first thing anyone sees is your blog title. Take your time in picking out the Title, try a few and then decide which one you’d search for. Sometimes cutsey (which I like to do) is not clever and doesn’t get the results you want. People pick your blog because it meets a particular need. It could be for enjoyment, to learn something new, to find out more about you, to find out how to do a particular thing. “How to Blog-The Title” is answering a question about a certain subject. “Series” tells the reader there will be more to come. I hope they will come back for more. Here are 5 more blog Title ideas.

Keywords in your title is very important. What one or two words would someone use to find the content of your blog. Use Title Tags.What is the main image you want to get across? I wanted to learn more about the blogging and decided a good place to start is the title. After I post this, I will do a google search and see how close I came to picking a good title. One of my favorite keywords is Chocolate.


Titles and keywords are also important in other writings besides blogs. Like the titles to my novels and books. I wanted titles that reflected what was inside. “Stamp Out Murder” is a cozy mystery, a coming of age sort of story with a few twists, but each chapter begins with a description of a stamp. Many of the descriptions are of used stamps that if found, are worth a lot of money.

Stamp Out Murder”.

“The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” relates to children on an adventure. Who doesn’t like a good secret and Trunks are fascinating. These young people are set against spirited Great-Grandma, until she holds her own and puts them in their place. They start warm up to her, but as with most secrets, something bad comes along. The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk

“The Journey Back—One Joy at a Time”, is a devotional book, full of life, poetry, photos and love. Sometimes we get so depressed it’s hard to find our way back. There are also exercises at the end of each chapter to help the reader see things in a different light. We have been there, in the good times, and then those times are gone, we need to get them back. B&W Edition of The Journey BackThe JourneyBack 3

***How do you form titles? Do you think of all of these elements? How do you name your work?***

Fans of Cher'ley Grogg,AuthorAnd please join me on my Facebook Fanpage, that’s managed by one of my most faithful fans: Cindy Ferrell Here’s a link to Cher’ley’s WEBSITE