Posts tagged with: Autumn Jordon


Virtually every day in the WWF chatroom a writer kicks the cyber garbage can as they exit the room.  Why? Because they need to stop working on their WIP and head to the job that pays their bills. I empathize with them, because for more than a decade I felt the same exact way. I hated stopping in mid-page and heading out the door.

I know when I started out that I had this vision of spending my days staying home, working at my passion. I’d be there to greet the kids when they arrived home from school. The odor of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies would fill the air, and blue birds would sing from my window sill. I worked every free second I had learning craft and getting the stories out of my head onto the page in order to make my dream come true.  I was stressed a lot. That dream, and the stress it caused, didn’t go away easily. In fact, I still feel it clinging on in the back of my mind.

The reality of it is, while writing is our passion, writing for publication in order to make your babies your main source of income is damn hard work. That hasn’t changed since the beginning of time. The term ‘Starving artist’ doesn’t just refer to painters, sculptors and musicians.

While I hosted my dream, I met other writers who I deemed successful and thought lived my fantasy. I learned later that they worked other jobs, and they still do.  I would’ve saved myself a lot of stress, which, if you haven’t heard, is harmful to your health, if I had listened closer to them.  This business is tough, and even if you have a great talent, getting discovered by readers gets harder every single day.  It was that way a decade ago, and it remains a fact today.

I didn’t write this blog to discourage anyone. In fact, I hope to encourage you, and to help you relieve the stress you might feel.  Anyone could be writing the next big seller. Anyone! A first-time published author or someone who has written fifty books. So please continue putting your hearts into your work.

Enjoy your second job. Second job, meaning the one that pays the bills. It provides friends as well as financial security. (Less stress.) It also allows you to interact with other people. Story ideas come from our interactions with others. Our characters become real because we listen (dialogue) and watch (body language) others. We place our readers in convincing settings because we’ve actually felt the sun or rain on our faces.

Don’t worry what other writers are doing. Do what is right for you and your family. So it takes you longer to write a book. Your book could be the next big thing and for years you could live off the royalties until…  The world embraces the next great thing.

Stop kicking the cyber garbage can and enjoy your passions.

BTW, this author, after years working as a corporate secretary and raising four children while writing her first seven published works, stills works part-time and spends most of her wages on her grandchildren.   


Emma didn’t know what woke her— the excitement of the celebration to come in a few hours or the moonlight streams shimmering through the window, but something had.  Her heart, like an Olympic sprinter’s, drummed against her narrow chest as she brushed her bangs from her eyes.

I’m Not Your Prop


If you don’t think secondary characters are as important as the main characters of any story, you would be completely wrong. They are not simply props. They play many important different roles; The side-kick, The Tempter, The Skeptic, The Driver, The Mentor, and The Mixture to name a few. I’ve listed definitions of these roles below.

Often, SC (secondary characters) disclose bits of backstory (truths) which exposes our hero’s motivation for championing a cause. They can unmask aspects of personalities which our characters (not necessarily the heroes) are determined to keep hidden from the world. They can explain why characters make the choices they do. They can do all this in a few words.


Sometimes, secondary characters remind the main character of their humanity, shifting their decision in championing a cause and thus changing the plot’s direction.

They remind the cast of characters why the hero’s quest is important, especially when the hero has given up hope.

They can reveal to the reader unseen forces that add to the plot’s mystery or suspense. Or their can throw in a red-herring depending on their own motives.


SC can offer the reader hope when none seems possible.

They can hold a memory or essential information and be the key to the hero’s success.

They can offer different perspectives and change the plot, or add another story line. (Sequel?)  

They can be the one whose death exposes the hero’s heart and changes his direction.

Secondary characters have power and authors should take as much time to develop them as they have their heroes.  You should know their backstory even though it’s not be revealed to the reader as much as your main character’s history. Their backstory is what drives them which effects the storyline. Knowing it makes them real and thus gives their words and actions validity. Give them substance!

Don’t confuse secondary characters with extras.  Extras are those characters who walk into a book once or twice. Extras certainly need a voice (not cliché’, unless intended to be so) but their backstory is non-exist to the reader.

Every character is important to the story. They all hold threads to the plot. They all add texture to the overall story.  Take the time to make each as real as possible. Your reward will be a keeper book.   



The Sidekick

This character represents the faithful friend who always stands by the protagonist.

The Tempter

This character is the right hand of the antagonist. It’s a secondary character that can help you create new subplots and obstacles the protagonist will face throughout the story.

The Skeptic

Although the role of the secondary character who complicates the achievement of the protagonist’s goals is usually taken by the tempter, it doesn’t always have to be like that. Sometimes there are characters who help the antagonist by standing in the protagonist’s way without having anything to do with him.

The Driver

The role of the driver is to make the protagonist act in order to set the plot in motion. When the protagonist has doubts about whether to take a path or not or gets stuck because he doesn’t know what decision to make, it’s the perfect time for the driver to take part in the story. It’s not necessary for the secondary character to solve all of the protagonist’s doubts. It’s much more interesting if the hero only receives clues that lead him to decide which path to take. It’s just a little push because the final decision should rest with the main character (if it didn’t, he wouldn’t gain knowledge from experience).

The Mentor

This secondary character requires special mention. Apart from giving the protagonist a key to solving a particular conflict (which is also the role of the driver), he also has the function of guiding the protagonist (for a longer period of time than the driver) and sharing knowledge at crucial moments in order to return him to the right path.

The Mixture

Not everything is black or white, and the secondary characters we’ve mentioned don’t have to be exclusively limited to their role. Sometimes we can mix different types of characters to create new roles and add depth to the story. The role of the pseudo-villain is a clear example of how mixtures work – the tempter (or helper of the antagonist) redeems himself towards the end of the story and becomes a driver or sidekick who helps the protagonist achieve his goal.





My life has been in a funk the last few years, to say the least. Sometimes, I don’t know which way I’m going and for what reason. I’m sure many of you, if not all, have had times when you’ve felt the same way.

The dark funk began after I received some heart-wrenching news. I opened my file to continue work on my next romantic suspense—because you need to keep putting one foot in front of the other, you know— and the words simply weren’t there. Tears had rolled down my cheeks and my chest had been so tight with pain. My fingers were stilled on my keyboard. I simply couldn’t bring myself to write and put someone in danger, even if it was only on paper. I needed laughter and love in my life at that moment. So, I did what any sane writer should do. I closed my romantic suspense file and started a new work. It was the best thing I could’ve done for myself.

I submersed myself in the lives of one down-on-her-luck Charleston, S.C. restaurateur named Darcy and one yummy Vermont maple tree farmer named Dylan who had one goal. No. Not to fall in love. His goal was to make Christmas perfect.

You see, after totally screwing up Thanksgiving, Dylan’s wanted to make Christmas special for his two, small nieces whose parents were deployed overseas and would be absence for the holidays. He is having a hard time of getting his act together when Darcy Witherspoon arrives in Black Moose, Vermont. It didn’t take long for Christmas magic to happen. A forever kind of love, much like mine own, was on the horizon for Darcy and Dylan.

My fingers flew across the keyboard, and even with my crazy-ass schedule, in a little over six weeks I wrote the end to my new holiday novel, PERFECT.

Now, some might question whether writing a contemporary holiday story with not a suspenseful word in it will dilute my brand as a fairly new romantic suspense author. BRAND seems to be a BIG word in the publishing world—a rule of sorts for marketing and the NY marketers have a lot more experience in building names than I ever will. But to them I say, “I don’t know. I like reading both genres. I know other readers do too. I only know I need to write what feels right to me. I can’t put passion into stories that I’m not enjoying writing. In my opinion love for the project needs to be felt on every page.

If I hadn’t written PERFECT, I might still be sitting in front of my laptop, getting frustrated, and perhaps depressed because I needed happy, happy and wasn’t listening to my own needs. I’m glad I went with my gut and finished a love story that made me chuckle. While doing so, the oddest thing happened. Near the end of PERFECT my muse turned back to my unfinished romantic suspense.

A few years have gone by and that one little book lead to three more for the Perfect Love Series and two more romantic suspense novels.

I truly believe if you listen and give yourself what you need, in the end you will be a much happier person and your muse will be too!


If you’re thinking this blog is about setting, you’re totally wrong.  Maybe I should’ve changed the title so you wouldn’t have thought so, but after I started brainstorming ideas for a blog it actually fit.

My original idea was to write about two lessons I learned many years ago from my creative writing professor which, yes, would’ve pertained to setting, but then two of my Ruby sisters had also mentioned on our private loop that they planned blogs about the subject. Although I knew we’d approach the subject matter from different angles, I kind of figured our readers would say enough already.  So I’ll save my thoughts on setting for another time.

Anyway, going back to my creative writing classes— since I know you’re all dying to know what they were—the first one was free writing. We all know what that is, right? You just write whatever comes to mind without stopping for a length of time and the writing doesn’t need to follow rhythm or reason. It’s a way of freeing your muse. Thinking about that lesson helped me put a twist on the second lesson, which was setting sense and had to do with experiencing your world.

When we think of seasons we contemplate visions of spring, summer, autumn and winter and all the elements that make them unique. But for today, we’re going to think of seasons in term of our character’s lives.

People in different seasons of their lives have very different points of view on just about everything. I know I think differently than my children on many topics, including their view of texting to friends while talking to me as multi-tasking. I also have a different point of view than my parents on many subjects.

However, age is not the only factor that determines our mind set.  My views are not always agreed upon by friends who are my age. Everyone’s  POV has been shaped by many dynamics such as; their racial background, their educational level, the region in which they live, their talents, their experiences with others (job or social networking), past and present world events, handling health issues, religion, and their relationships with family members, to name a few.  To make characters really come to life we need to know which forces molded them—backstory.

A woman of ninety who has been totally blessed all her life is going to look at death differently than a girl of sixteen. And a girl of sixteen who has been blessed will face death differently than a girl who has been repeatedly abused by her father.

A man who has a family that depends on him for support is going to go to a job interview with a different mindset than a man who has no one but himself to worry about. And a woman is going to have a totally different mentality in the same situation.

Two homeless families will have a different outlooks on their future because of their relationship with each other and their faith in God.

Two men hear gunfire. One is a hunter. The other is a vet who has seen the worse side of humanity.  Each will react differently to the discharge.

A person who has never had a new car is going to feel differently about their new car than the person who buys a new Porsche every year.

Those are simply examples, but I think you get my drift.

I remember while cleaning for my grandmother I found dozens of pieces if cardboard maybe six inches in length. Each had many different colored threads spooled around them.  The threads were extras that came from clothing that had been undone.  She also kept sheets of used aluminum foil of all different sizes in a box. They were to be reused.  My grandmother lived through the great depression.  Many things she did all her life were based on the time she lived through.

Each season of life as well as how much we have been seasoned influences our POV and fuels our motivation in doing everything. So it should be for our characters.



Autumn Jordon is sneaker-wearing Ruby who authors light-heart contemporary romances and seat-edging mystery/suspense novels.  Join her newsletter at and receive a free book and many short reads, available only to her subscribers. 


It’s Friday the 13th and today’s topic is fear.

What is fear?

Fear has been defined as a vital response to physical danger. If we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats. However, often we fear situations that are not life threatening but pose an emotional danger and thus avoid them in the name of sanity. But by not facing our fears, we are feeding the gluttonous monster.

Think about fear in terms of your desire to write, or your lack of writing. What is stopping you from being who you are? Have you let someone else’s goals become your goals? Are you intimated by the productivity, or success, of others? Did you reach for a star only to it have fade away before you could grasp it?  Did you receive love from an editor or agent and then found that relationship wasn’t meant to last? Has life in general attacked you?

We all let outside factors affect our productivity from time to time. There is no shame it, but at some point, we should recognize that we’re causing ourselves harm by tying ourselves into a knot of stress, and by extension hurting our love ones.

Great works take time and love. You can’t give your muse love if all you feel is angst because….  So you’re not the writer who can pound out three books a year. Personally, when my life is over, I want to be remembered as writing that one memorable book for my readers rather than one-hundred toss away novels. I continue to work on my skill as a writer and I want my next work to be better than my last one.

So you haven’t made USA Today or NYT best seller list. I have my opinions concerning those publishing crowns, which I’ll keep to myself today.  However, if that’s your goal, you’re not done writing yet, right? The next book might hit a list. The same goes with gaining the interest of a publisher or agent.

So life has encroached on your path? We all have priorities. Family and friends top my list. If I walked away from them during times of need to write, I wouldn’t respect myself. I can write any minute of the day and any day of the week. Some of my best ideas came during stressful times.  A truly great story mirrors life. Take notes.

My motto has been since I started writing and continues to be; Word By Word, Line By Line, Page By Page.

So today, on the day others have imposed on us to be fearful of black cats, cracks in the side walk, mom and pop hotels, strangers, bright lights in the sky, let’s examine our fears for what they truly are and then brush them to the side and enjoy our passions.



Autumn Jordon is sneaker-wearing Ruby who authors light-heart contemporary romances and seat-edging mystery/suspense novels. Her newest release, Perfect Fall is the book of her heart. Check it out at and while you’re there join her occasional newsletter.   

Suspense Or Mystery 101

When I began to write romantic suspense, I tossed out several reams of paper. Why?  Because no matter how I tried I couldn’t keep my villain hidden. He kept voicing his POV and writing his own chapters. I nearly ripped my hair out by the roots fighting with him to stay silent. Then I read a wonderful book, How To Write Killer Fiction by Carolyn Wheat.  Ms.Wheat set me straight and confirmed what my villain was telling me all along.

Is there a Who-dun-it in suspense? Of course there is. When the villain is revealed, among a few other elements, that makes suspense different from mystery. In a mystery, an act of violence begins the story, but most times the action is set off stage. The reader is invited into the dilemma and introduced to an already seasoned hero who solves the crime logically and through scientific methods. There is a small circle of suspects, clues and red herrings. Information is withheld from the reader and the said reader is kept in the dark two steps behind. The hero grows very little during the story. The story is all about who killed X? The villain is not exposed until the last scene and the end result for the reader is an intellectual satisfaction.

A suspense novel starts on even keel, showing the everyday life our hero or heroine. Then BAM, a nightmare occurs.


Excerpt from His Witness To Evil:

Stephanie masked her sigh of exertion while lifting the Coleman cooler she’d borrowed for their trip. She lugged the container to her old SUV. She knew how her son felt. She wished she had the money to take them away on exciting excursions like their friends had this summer. To places like Disney World, but she couldn’t even afford a day trip to Hershey Park, America’s chocolate capital. Em’s special diet, because of her allergies, took up a third of her take-home pay. After paying the mortgage, utilities, car insurance and miscellaneous expenses, she was lucky to save a few dollars a week.

She chewed on her bottom lip. Hopefully, next week Bobby and his friends would be off on new adventures, their summer vacations a distant memory.

The howl of a diesel engine jerked Stephanie from her musing. The squeal of brakes, crushing metal and shattering glass made her spin around.

Other basics of a suspense: All action is on stage. The protagonists’ world expansions. There are surprises. The villain can be revealed to the reader immediately and can have a POV.

Yeah! This made my villain happy. Information is given to the reader but withheld from the heroes. In other words, we know what could happen if the wrong path is taken by our hero.  The reader sits on the edge of her seat, screaming at the heroine and hero not to go there.


Excerpt from His Witness To Evil:

“I don’t want to kill no kids, Victor.” Mac danced in place ready to dodge Victor’s wrath.

“You will do as I say,” Victor snapped.

She looked at the dead driver. His lifeless stare pleaded to her for justice.

“Don’t trust her,” Sheriff Morse ordered, turning his gun on her.

Stephanie refused to flinch under Morse’s scrutiny.

Gene moved in front of her. “Frank, what the hell are you doing? You’ve known Stephanie all her life.”

“There is too much at stake, Gene. She saw me kill that guy. I’m not going to jail.” Morse’s tongue skimmed his lips. “Why the hell are you trying to protect her anyway? You two have been fightin’ like junkyard dogs for years. You complain every day she’s milking you dry. This is your chance to be rid of your mistakes.”

“Steph was never a mistake to me,” Gene’s voice rose in response. Then it softened. “I was hers.”

Tears threatened to blur her vision and she blinked them away. She squeezed Gene’s arm and glanced at her ex-husband’s profile. He remained focused.

“Touching,” Victor said. “But, sorry, no. They must die here.”


The suspense story is all about the hero or heroine prevailing. Emotional satisfaction is what the reader gets from a suspense novel. And since I write romantic suspense, love also must be found.


Excerpt from His Witness to Evil:

After a week, her touch was familiar. His heart melted. He grabbed her hand, holding her in place as he turned and smiled down on her. Her nipples pushed against her white T-shirt. He gently brushed a knuckle across one peak. “No. It was hell without you.”

“Mmmm. Same here.” She pulled back and lifted his arm around her, curling into him.  Looking out over the lake, she sighed. “I could stay here forever, if you’d let me.”

“I wish we could.” He gathered her closer and kissed the top of her head. “But eventually Bobby and Em would have to go to school.”

“I could home school.” Her chuckle was strained.

He felt her pain. He smiled while his heart wrenched. He would like nothing more than to forget about the world and stay here with her and the kids. But they couldn’t. “Sooner or later Ben will call. We’ll have to go back.”

“I know.”

Steph moved away. A cold void took her place.

She drifted to the other porch column. Leaning against it, she folded her arms across her chest. Her lips pressed together as if she was forming the right words behind them. “I know I said that our time together here was going to be enough to last me a lifetime, but—” Tears brimmed her lids. “I was wrong.  A lifetime won’t be enough.”


John stepped toward her. “I don’t know what—”

“I know, you don’t know how we can be together. So, Ben will call. We’ll go back, and I’ll identify Victor. You’ll toss him in jail and throw away the key. You’ll drive off in pursuit of the next bad guy and me…Well, I’ll go home and wonder where you are. Wonder if what I felt was love.”

The woman knew how to make a guy feel like a heel.

John pulled her into his arms. She buried her head in his chest and cried softly against him. He kissed her head and smoothed her hair. “Steph, I didn’t think I’d ever love again,” he whispered softly, cupping her chin and tilting her face up until she looked at him. “Like a bomb, you dropped into my life. Every defense I’d put up to protect myself from ever being hurt again came tumbling down. You opened up my heart. As much as you don’t want to live without me, I don’t want to live without you. I love you.”

He kissed her gently. Her arms wrapped around him and held on.  “Somehow, we’ll figure this out. I promise.”

Evil’s Witness, now titled His Witness To Evil, was my 2009 Golden Heart Entry and Golden Leaf Winner.  To learn about my more recent releases please visit my website  Don’t forget to join my newsletter.






No part of this post may be copied or reproduced without the expressed permission of the author, Autumn Jordon.


Freelance Editor Showcase

Welcome to the Ruby Sisterhood Editor Showcase.

Editing. The Rubies can’t stress enough how important it is you have your work edited by a professional. We all think our babies are without flaws, but others do see the flaws. You want to make sure your work the best it can be before readers get their eyes on it. The goal so to entertain and receive great reviews. Editors help you achieve just that.

There has been a lot of chatter on many loops lately concerning editors and sensitivity readers. Several indie publishing loops have file sections where anyone can list their name and contact information, but with so many names listed how can a writer know which editors are honest, reliable, and totally awesome to work with? With those questions in mind, we asked the free-lance editors that we work with if they’d be willing to post on our blog today and we had a great response. I asked each editor to tell you about themselves, their business, and to answer a few questions. Below are their responses.  Enjoy, and remember to join us tomorrow when we discuss Editor Etiquette. 


Gina Bernal has 14 years of publishing experience, including editorial work for the Berkley Publishing Group; the Doubleday and Rhapsody Book Clubs; Harlequin’s Carina Press; as well freelance copywriting for Penguin Random House. She holds a degree in History and Literature from Harvard University. Her specialty is commercial genre fiction including, but not limited to: romance, urban fantasy, mystery/suspense, historical fiction, YA and women’s fiction. Editorial services offered are developmental/content editing, line editing, and copywriting. She is open to new clients, and rates will be discussed upon contact. Contact her at:

What is your best advice for authors in approaching an editor, Gina?

Come to an editor with a clear goal in mind, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask for a sample edit, etc. Be realistic about how much guidance you need before selecting an editorial service to contract. For example, are you the type of person that can take the suggestions of an editorial letter and run with them, or do you need a more detailed step-by-step breakdown?

Do you expect authors to have a certain level of skill, and how do you judge that? Or do you work with beginning writers who show promise?

I am always open to working with beginning authors who show promise. The most important thing to me, as an editor, in starting a new relationship with an author is feeling connected to their writing. I always ask myself, “Would I personally acquire this book for publication?”

How do you judge if you and the author are a good fit?

I look for a connection with their writing, whether that’s voice, story, or both. A lot of publishing is subjective, and I want to choose projects that I truly enjoy in order to provide the best editorial guidance I can to my clients.

How far in advance do you schedule clients? What is your expected turn-around time– You to author and author to you?

Depending on my schedule at the time an author approaches me, I have scheduled projects immediately or months in advance. Turnaround times are also often dependent on my schedule, the amount of work needed, or an author’s timeline, but a general estimate for developmental editing is approximately 2 weeks; line editing approximately 3 weeks.



I am an award-winning author of historical, urban fantasy, and erotic romance. I have been freelance editing for 5 1/2 years and have been a freelance editor for The Killion Group for more than 2 years. I’m happy to do developmental, line, and proof editing for most fiction and romance, preferring all subgenres of paranormal, historical, and suspense. Visit my website for more information at Please note, my website says I am no longer taking new clients directly, but if you are interested in my services, email me and mention the Ruby blog!

Jenn, what is your best advice for authors in approaching an editor?

Be specific in what you expect from an editor.  At the same time, understand what you may think is a proofread might actually be something more. Trust an editor to know what a story needs. Be aware that editing is a critical process. An editor is looking for what’s wrong with a story and/or ways to improve it. No matter how much it hurts or how long the revision letter, authors should not take it personally.

Do you expect authors to have a certain level of skill, and how do you judge that? Or do you work with beginning writers who show promise?

I do expect authors to have a certain level of skill. We all have weaknesses, but an author should at the very least know basic craft. In my opinion, if an author doesn’t have a grasp on grammar or point of view, has meandering goals/motivations/conflicts or nonexistent plots, then they are not ready for an editor. I can and do work with new writers but they have to be willing to learn and use the tools I give them.

How do you judge if you and the author are a good fit?

One way is to be excited by the author’s story and the author be excited by the edits I provide. It’s a genuine, mutual respect.

How far in advance do you schedule clients? What is your expected turn-around time– You to author and author to you?

I schedule a month to two months out, but can be flexible. Turnaround time would depend on the level of edits. A manuscript heavy on developmental edits will take longer than a light polish. My average time is 2 weeks.



I am the mother of three adult children and three grand-babies I don’t see often enough. Beginning in my teen years, I read until I exhausted a genre. About five years in I’d shift to another: paranormal to romance, to historic romance, to children’s, to YA, to suspense, to self-help, to thriller, to fantasy, to memoir/biography to… And that continued until I took editing courses and began to edit work for others.

Q: Who reads novels ten hours a day, every day, but seldom reads a published book? Me.

I have a BSc, a BA, Bed, MAEd (thesis Writing as a Social Act), and second MA without thesis (Critical Literacy). I completed a Certificate in Professional Writing and Rhetoric except for the course on writing press releases – I really wish I’d taken that one – and several additional courses on writing, creative writing and women’s studies. I was a career educator (primary to Grade 12) and then a college instructor in the area of adult literacy until I began taking editing courses while on sabbatical in 2005: Mt. St. Vincent and Ryersen University Publishing Program.

I’ve taken short courses through Editor’s Canada and given writing workshops on editing and have worked as a freelance editor for traditional publishers: Lachesis Publishing, Fernwood Publishing and Roseway Publishing and Harlequin Digital. I have also judged literary and fiction writing contests.

Now I have a small company, WindyWood Publishing. Through it I help local writers get their books into print and e-book formats. I also provide active and ongoing editorial support for several series writers in the States, Canada, and Australia.

I’ve edited 180+ books – through all three levels of editing – and I try to work on two to three projects at a time, overlapping different levels of edits. I take new clients occasionally.

I prefer to edit series of books and in these genres: Contemporary Romances, New Age Fiction, Thrillers, Historical and Fantasy, Contemporary fiction and Paranormal.

My website:

My contact information:

All rates can be viewed on my website  or discussed upon contact with clients.

Pat, what is your best advice for authors approaching an editor?

Read in your genre. Know what appeals to you as a reader. Apply that to your work. Take your work seriously and take it as far as you can on your own. Then find a good critique partner and revise with their suggestions in mind – only the ones you agree with and that strengthen your story. Find out who edits books you enjoy reading. Then approach that editor if you feel they would be a good fit for you, for your genre, for your writing style.

Realize a professional editor has only so much time to spend on your manuscript. If it’s thrown together, lacks logic, contains many errors or requires extensive revision, that will limit how far the editor can help you take your book. Also, realize editors are taught not to take on work that doesn’t appeal to them. So, if they can’t envision ways to help you make it better it’s one they’re likely to turn down. Make sure your editor likes your story and has a level of interest or excitement about working with you on it.

Do you expect authors to have a certain level of skill, and how do you judge that? Or do you work with beginning writers who show promise?

It’s so subjective. Basic writing skills, applied to a great story, can get my attention. If I see an easy fix – a way to address and strengthen skills with instruction – I might take a chance. Initially I read twenty pages of a manuscript to size it up – that’s about two hours of my time – before making a decision based on the writing and a concise summary. And I mean a summary, not the back jacket blurb. I need to know the ending too. If I accept the edit on the basis of 20 pages, but find the rest of the book does not meet expectations or style, I will step back and suggest another editor or writing coach.

I work with writers willing and open to learn and who demonstrate that during the process. I’ll take on tried and true authors, who’ve written successfully in one genre, received awards, and have worked with editors before, even if they are switching genres, especially if their intention is to begin a new series. I will sometimes take on new clients sent my way by authors I already work with. I do not advertise. I was fortunate to be mentioned and endorsed in The Naked Truth about Self-Publishing five years ago. My most prolific client, Chris Taylor, came my way through that recommendation – all the way from Australia – and we work well together. Twenty plus books, I believe, over three series in four or five years.

Sometimes I’ve been asked to do a “ghost” substantive edit for another editor working on a difficult project. They combine my notes with theirs to present to the author. This is done on a barter basis with another editor whereby they’ll do the same for me if I require a second set of impressions/suggestions.

I have also gently let clients drift away if they keep repeating same large types of errors even if I’ve repeatedly shared instruction and examples. For me, that’s fair.

How do you judge if you and the author are a good fit?

If I can edit the anticipated pages in the time I expect. If it takes five or six times longer, then I am unable to work with the author on their project and will refer them to someone who offers coaching as well as editing. I am very willing to recommend someone else edit a piece. If we communicate easily – and not too often – and if questions and suggestions relate to the project, if timelines are met and if writers are satisfied and come back for more, then I’m happy. I’m not a warm and fuzzy type editor and sometimes the highest praise an author gets is “nice” in the margin. I don’t edit and comment as I would a student on a report card. I take the writer to be a professional and try my best to help.

How far in advance do you schedule clients?

New clients, five months or longer, in advance. Series authors create a rhythm that we all work within. There’s a tacit understanding and a unique style guide created for each series and I follow those. It’s like a dance. Depending on frequency of completions and preorder and formatting deadlines this work rises to the top and is given priority. Others are fit in when there are openings.

New authors are aware this could lengthen their editing time and agree to that ahead of time. They have to be more willing to be flexible with time, perhaps stretching the edit to two months instead of three passes over four to six weeks. If an edit goes on too long, with huge gaps between drafts being returned, it can become stale. If I believe my substantive suggestions are huge, I will bill for that portion after the first pass and let them know it’s okay if they’d like to find another editor who can move them up in the priority pile.  Once in the cue we’re good to continue, though, if they wish..

What is your expected turn-around time — You to author and author to you?

Four to six weeks to completion for series authors once the process begins. First pass often takes me ten days to two weeks and that’s when I begin to create the author’s style sheet – recording decisions they make as writers – and then I apply those consistently. Then it’s back for a week or two with author who works on major revisions. I take about a week for my second pass. This works if authors take three or four days to do these less obtrusive edits. A week is required at the end because it often involves two proofreaders going through the manuscript and we come to consensus on final line edits.

Facing facts, I‘ve learned new authors, or authors requiring a lot of coaching, take longer than this because of the cueing system with series authors, but also because the learning curve can be huge, on both sides.

I learn something new or appreciate something different with every edit I do. Sometimes it’s about sentences that flow like clear water, or dialogue that grabs my attention, or characters I don’t want to let go of at the end of the book – even after three passes. As well as inspiring me, writers constantly challenge me.

Over time I’ve become less rigid, more bendable. For the first years in the business, I enforced every mote of convention on writers. Would not allow my name attached if they chose something other than convention. My wonderful authors pushed back, exerted their style, intuition and common sense, and over time they taught me about what is most important: It’s not so much about which style guide I use, but rather, what their readers will understand and accept and then applying that consistently.

I’ve learned that if writers are consistent with style, readers will stay on board. I’m working on a book now on this topic as it relates to dialogue: Dialogue Dilemmas. In it I illustrate and discuss how different authors I work with (Bev Pettersen, Julianne MacLean, Chris Taylor, Benjamin Stevens, Autumn Jordon, Anne Zoelle and others) handle different types of dialogue in ways that readers understand. The book’s completion depends on finding time in this crazy life though – and it may never get its time.



I’m an English major by education and a software and process engineer by trade. I recently stopped telecommuting to Silicon Valley to teach, edit, and write full-time. I’m an award-winning paranormal romance author, an award-nominated editor (for my indie release, TEMPT ME), a frequent contest judge, and a feral reader of most romance sub-genres. I recently joined the teaching staff at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, teaching workshops on story structure and three-dimensional villains. I offer developmental editing, beta reading, and sensitivity reading of full-length romance novels for all sub-genres except YA/NA and Inspirational, and I’d be delighted to work on your edgiest sci-fi and erotica projects. Sensitivity reading topics include software engineering, women in STEM, Silicon Valley work culture, chronic pain and pain management (including opioid use), and living with sensory sensitivities. Please contact me at to discuss your project, your timeline, and rates.  

What is your best advice for authors in approaching an editor?

A) Is there a particular area of the manuscript, or of craft, which concerns you? That’s great information to provide to an editor up front.

B) For best results, please deliver a manuscript that’s largely free of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors!

Do you expect authors to have a certain level of skill, and how do you judge that? Or do you work with beginning writers who show promise?  

I feel there’s only so much “Writing 101”-type instruction that an editor can effectively provide during the editing phase of the work. For that reason, I prefer working with published writers, or with writers who have a strong working knowledge of craft fundamentals. (Intermediate-Advanced)    

How do you judge if you and the author are a good fit? 

Ooh, that question of alchemy is a tough one. I think I’m a good fit for clients who know their strengths and weaknesses (we all have them) and who don’t necessarily need a lot of hair pats. That said, I’ll definitely let the client know when something’s working well. 🙂   

How far in advance do you schedule clients? What is your expected turn-around time– You to author and author to you?

I prefer to schedule work at least one month in advance, and the expected turnaround time varies depending on client need and my own commitments. Depending on the length of the work, I can usually provide feedback within a week.



My name is Christa Desir and my editorial experience began with a nine-month internship at Entangled Publishing when they first opened their doors. I then became an acquiring content editor for Samhain Publishing from 2011 until they closed in 2016. Most recently, I have been doing freelance content editing for St. Martin’s Swerve, as well as copy editing for Kensington and Macmillan’s YA imprints. I continue to content edit for many of my Samhain authors who are now self-publishing. I’ve worked across many romance subgenres (paranormal, contemporary, UF, historical, LGBTQ, NA) but tend to prefer higher heat books. I also have a personal affinity for multicultural romances as well as queer books of any type. I’m a pro-sex feminist and rape victim advocate, so I prefer not to work on books that involve rape/abduction fantasies or are predicated on a romantic rivalry between women. You can find my rates and contact me at or on Twitter at @EditorChrista.

What is your best advice for authors in approaching an editor?

Mostly, I prefer when authors contact me with a completed manuscript and some specifics about what they’re looking for in an editor, what their scheduling needs are, and what they want to accomplish with their book. My best advice is to be patient with editors getting back to you. I try to get back to everyone within a week, but sometimes life happens and I’m on an editing deadline. Also, the earlier you hire an editor, the better. (This goes for payment too!) A lot of really good editors are booked out pretty far in advance so waiting until the last minute is leaving you with fewer choices. A good rule of thumb for me is to book the next season out. So if we’re in summer, reach out to me about my fall/winter schedule. Sometimes I have last-minute openings, but those tend to get snagged up pretty quickly.

Do you expect authors to have a certain level of skill, and how do you judge that? Or do you work with beginning writers who show promise?

With authors I’ve never worked with before, I generally ask them to send me 5-10 pages that I’ll quickly edit for them and I can see what I’m dealing with in terms of their skill level and they can see how I edit. If I can see that a book will take more time from me, I’m not going to say no necessarily, but I might push the book further back in my schedule so I have the time to give it a thorough edit. Also, not every author is going to love my style and I think it’s best if new authors approaching me get a feel for how I edit and make sure that’s what they want.

How do you judge if you and the author are a good fit?

A lot of my work comes from referrals so I trust the people who have referred me. In terms of our fit, again, that 5-10-page edit helps a lot. Some editors won’t do that because they don’t have the time, but I find it very fair for a new-to-me author to ask me for it. If I don’t have time, then I’m always honest about that and will refer to other editors I know.

How far in advance do you schedule clients? What is your expected turn-around time– You to author and author to you?

I’m booked 3-4 months out, so I’d like authors to schedule me as early as possible. In terms of turn-around time, it depends a LOT on the needs of the book. I generally can complete one editorial pass in about a week. But a lot of times the author will have to do some extensive work so I don’t want them to feel they have to get it back to me in that same amount of time. Here is where communication and scheduling expectations are critical and need to be made clear before work starts. For more seasoned authors, generally the entire editorial process can take a month if I’m doing multiple edit passes (a week per edit pass and a week per author revision). If the novel is shorter, I can sometimes get it done more quickly, but I don’t want to make those promises.

Thank you for having me!



I started working as a freelance editor six years ago. After a manuscript from one client sold to Spencer Hill Press (which primarily published YA), that publishing house took me on as a copy editor and later as a senior editor. I continued to do freelance projects on the side to get a broad sampling of more genres. Last year, I transitioned into technical editing and writing, but I still enjoy doing fiction editing on the side. I most often edit YA, fantasy, science fiction, romance, and mysteries. I also have a some experience with historical fiction and middle-grade work and am happy to explore other genres: the middle-grade steampunk fantasy I edited recently was a great change of pace. I do take on new clients, primarily for developmental edits or line/copy edits on full manuscripts.

All rates can be viewed at my website here:

For more questions, contact me at

What is your best advice for authors in approaching an editor?

Before you look for an editor, decide what you want from the experience. Are you looking for big-picture help in tightening your plot and growing as a writer? Are you happy with your fourth draft and looking for someone to help catch details before you send it to agents? Knowing what you want makes it easier to send those initial inquiries. The more specific you are, the more an editor can help.

 Do you expect authors to have a certain level of skill, and how do you judge that? Or do you work with beginning writers who show promise?

I can work with newer writers, especially if they’re open to advice. I enjoy hearing from writers who haven’t been published before and are willing to say “I like the plot I have, but my dialogue feels clunky. Can you help?” If the sentences are so oddly assembled that I can’t figure out what’s happening, though, that writer probably isn’t ready for an editor. You want to get good value for your money, so take the manuscript as far as you can on your own and maybe with beta readers before you bring in an editor.

How do you judge if you and the author are a good fit?

If an author and I are a good fit, we often have conversations about projects. My first client and I are a great case here. She used to be published through the same publishing house where I worked. Both of us have moved on from there, but we still get dinner together to brainstorm her books and she likes to get developmental edits during the writing process to help bring everything into focus. Not everyone has that kind of time, but I’ve worked with authors who send me several books over the course of months or years and I enjoy watching their writing grow and change.

In the shorter term, I find that sample edits help a lot with this. If writers send in a few chapters at first, it’s a small payment to test the waters. We can have a conversation about what I mean by comments or where they want more attention: it helps so much in establishing a rapport.

How far in advance do you schedule clients? What is your expected turn-around time– You to author and author to you?

Scheduling varies a lot based on the time of year: conventions, holidays, and NaNoWriMo leftovers tend to make things exciting. I like to have at least a week or so of warning when I schedule projects, especially for line edits. If a writer asks if I can start a project tomorrow and turn it around in a week, the answer is no unless my schedule is clear and it’s a short sample edit. If you know you need an editor in October, start asking around in August or early September: my schedule can fill up quickly if a lot of people want to make pitches at the same convention.

For an average book (70-80k), I’m generally comfortable turning that around in two weeks. For a longer book, or something that needs very detailed line edits, I might book closer to three weeks. I like to do two passes with a little space between them so I respond both as a fresh reader and as someone who already knows what’s coming. Authors spend very different amounts of time if they want to send the same project to me twice: I’ve done passes a few weeks apart and almost a year apart.



Hi there! I edit under my name, Linda Ingmanson, and my website is I’ve been freelance editing for twelve years for various publishers including Samhain and Loose Id, and I currently work with indie authors at various stages in their careers. My schedule is pretty full right now, but I’m always open to talking to potential new clients. I’ll edit anything, but I’ve handled primarily romance — any heat level, any subgenre including m/f, m/m, sweet to boiling hot, etc. My process is to do two rounds of edits, with the first covering the bulk of the line editing as well as content editing, the second round cleaning up revisions, and then it’s off to the proofreader for a fresh pair of eyes and a final polish. Rates are posted on my website. I can be contacted at

What is your best advice for authors in approaching an editor, Linda?

I will edit anything with words, but some editors do have preferences or genres they’d rather not work on, so it’s good to establish up front if your editor has any content limitations. Also, when discussing deadlines, be sure you tell the editor the date you need all completed edits back to you, not your release date. There’s no way for an editor to know if you need the book back three weeks ahead of your release date or one day ahead of it, as every author is different. Clarity of communication makes the entire process run smoothly. Please ask how much time is required for edits. For example, I ask for six to eight weeks for books over 50,000 words. That doesn’t mean I’ll be working on the book for six weeks, but that gives me time to fit it into the schedule and get it back to you in a timely fashion so we’ll meet your deadline. 

Do you expect authors to have a certain level of skill, and how do you judge that? Or do you work with beginning writers who show promise?

 I have worked with everything from first-time authors to NYT bestsellers. I really enjoy working with beginners because the growth and improvement is so much more evident as we progress from the first book onward. However, of course, those edits are much more time-consuming and require patience, a degree of hand-holding, and probably more than the standard two rounds from me. I don’t take on too many first-timers anymore because of time constraints. If I am curious about a writer’s level of skill, I’ll ask for a few sample pages and go for there with estimates of price and turnaround time. I also enjoy working with established authors as they tend to be very professional and know exactly what they want and need out of an edit.

How do you judge if you and the author are a good fit?

The first couple of times you work with someone, you’re feeling them out to see how receptive they are to edits and suggestions, how hard you can push for changes, how much explanation you need to give with each change, how much feedback they’re looking for, etc. Most authors are great to work with. I really have very few complaints. My “regulars” and I work together like a well-oiled machine, and I know they trust me to make the right suggestions for their books and there won’t be much back and forth. The author always has the final say in any edit, of course, so even if there’s something I feel strongly should be changed, and the author really wants to leave it in, then I respect the author’s decision. I think mutual respect and, as mentioned above, clear communication builds a solid author/editor relationship. If an author is uncomfortable with something in the process or wants me to focus more on a certain aspect of the story, I’m completely open to adjusting to whatever they require.

How far in advance do you schedule clients? What is your expected turn-around time– You to author and author to you?

I ask for four to six weeks for novellas, and six to eight weeks for novels, but authors are frequently late finishing their drafts and have already put the book up for preorder, so I try to be flexible. If an author sends me a book and says there’s no hard deadline, or they have a few months to work with it, I just want to kiss them, because it’s rare not to be under pressure to hit a tight deadline, lol. Again, those windows don’t mean I’m dropping everything as soon as the book hits my inbox and leaping on it, but if I have the book in hand, then I can put it in the queue and it’ll be there as soon as I’m ready to start. My proofreaders require a week as well (or a bit longer on books over 100K), so that also needs to be factored in. Some authors are super quick to turn around edits, and others are slower, so that should be considered when scheduling an edit. One thing I would recommend is having your betas go through the book before you send it to the editor, because there can easily be a case of too many cooks in the kitchen and the author tying herself in knots trying to please everybody when she’s getting conflicting advice in the final rounds.  


I was going to title this blog ‘I’m pissed’ but it’s not about me being pissed as a writer but more so as a reader who recently mentally threw a digital book I bought for $5.99 against the wall. Why? Because the author totally, blatantly portrayed the book to be romantic suspense and she stated that even though there was a love triangle involved and there was sex, it was not erotica. COUGH Right? As romantic suspense fan she hooked me with the first chapter, but after that… hmmm The only thing that hadn’t happened in the bedroom, kitchen, living room, bathroom during the first 40% of book was that the donkey didn’t show up to bring in a new element into the trios tryst. I didn’t finish the book.

I’m sure the situation she created happens or has happened somewhere in the world throughout the centuries, and she is writing fiction after all, but to sell the work for what it is not in my opinion is wrong.

Did I return the book? No. Maybe I should’ve, but I learned a valuable lesson from this author and for that I’ll let her keep the royalty she earned by making the sell.  Will I buy from her again? Even though her writing was top notch, I will not. She lost my trust, not through her writing but through her marketing of the book.

In any genre, there are element degrees: comedy, suspense, drama, mystery, fantasy, love, sex, etc.  The writer’s voice is her style in using the different elements in different degrees. Unfortunately, the cyber book shelves, just as the brick and mortar books shelves only allow us to classify our books in a general genre. It’s only through our marketing that we can let our readers know of the sub-genres and sub-subgenres the work could be classified.  

I write a light comedy contemporary romance series that I tell my readers is written in Hallmark Holiday movie tone. In doing so, I believe I’m letting my readers know the level of sexual tension and the degree of comedy and drama they can expect. The first book in the series, PERFECT, which is a Christmas romance, was given a one-star review shortly after its release because the reader believed for some reason that it was a Christian book. I felt bad that I hadn’t specifically written out that it was not a Christian Romance, but I never said it was.

Writing blurbs and marketing material is hard.

I also write romantic suspense and romantic mystery. I try very hard in writing all of my blurbs to let the readers know if they are getting more of a suspense with their romance or they’re getting more of a mystery. Or if the story is more suspense/mystery with romantic elements. Again, even though, I’ve tried to be up-front, some readers will flat out review the works as failing to meet their idea of the perfect romantic suspense or romantic mystery. All I can say is I tried and the 99.99% of the readers who’ve reviewed my works tell me I’ve done okay in marketing my books.

Do you believe the publisher’s and/or the indie author’s has a responsibility to convey to the best of their ability what genre or sub-genre their work falls into?   Have you purchased a book only to learn it’s not want the author led you to believe it to be?  Have you returned books for the reason, never to buy from the author again?


Autumn Jordon is an award-winning, sneaker wearing Ruby who has a new release out titled PERFECT FALL. Learn more about her and her work at and join her newsletter AJ Revealed





I Hate You

Okay. I bet the second you read my blog title an ex-significant other popped into your mind and you’re recalling what it was about him or her that caused conflict between the two of you and ended the bond.  Think back to the turning point in your relationship.

Was it something he did or didn’t do?

While eating out, did he/she always pick at the dinner you ordered because he decided yours looked or tasted better than the dinner he ordered?

Did he/she always leave the television on when leaving the house or apartment?

Did he/she never wash or clean out his car? And was happy to have a backseat filled with garbage?

Did they constantly make promises and always had an excuse for not keeping them?

Or was it something he/she said?

Like beginning every sentence with “Hummm”

Or “I told you to…”

Did he/she never let you finish your sentence?

Or did it seem the relationship was all about them?

You always went out with his/her friends but not with yours?

You attended all of his ball games but he/she always found an excuse to miss your book signings.

She/He always wants sex with the lights off and never in the afternoon.

Or were there outside influences that strained the relationship?

He/she hated your dog, or cat.

Her/his family always had to be consulted concerning decisions that should be made by the two of you. Or the family interfered on their own.

His/her job took priority over everything.

Maybe there was a habit at first you thought was kind of cute but then it became really annoying.

He called every one of his buddies MAN.

While in the shower, he sang his version of We Are The Champions, inserting I am instead of we are.

He always swiped a cookie or veggie from the tray you just finished making for a party.

He always wore the same ratty shirt on the weekends.

I’m sure many of you could add more really great examples.

My point in listing all these examples is that they are character flaws and by giving your characters a flaw, your reader will connect with them and identify with your hero or heroine’s reaction. And that is what you want as a writer—a connection with the reader.

Perfect characters are boring characters.

Think about your favorite sitcom. One of mine is Everybody Loves Raymond.  Every character in that show is memorable. All have huge flaws.

Raymond, of course, is lazy when it comes to helping with the children and around the house. He loves golf and sex and would do about anything to have more time doing both, including telling his white lies.

Deborah, his wife, her flaw in my book, is she puts up with Raymond. But she can also be admired for sticking it out with the guy.

Robert, Raymond’s older, much taller brother, is insecurity about being second in line to his baby brother. And he has this freakish way of touching his chin when eating.

And Marie and Frank, Ray’s parents… well there isn’t enough room on this blog to list all of their faults.

The only characters who seem perfect are Ray’s and Deborah’s three children.  GRIN. Kids are always perfect!

In my 2009 Golden Heart entry, Evil’s Witness now titled His Witness To Evil, my hero, John, a FBI agent, is very curt. He is a loner with deep wounds. John wears a tiny rubber band around his ring finger and constantly snaps it. This works the heroine, Stephanie’s nerves. She is the target of a Mafia lord and under a lot of stress, so this little repeated action becomes the catalyst for her to express anger over her situation. It also does something else. When Steph blows her top and she presses John about it, she learns of his internal conflict. It reminds him of his daughter who was murdered out of revenge against him.


Now let’s go back to the lists above. I’m going to pick a few and show an example what conflict and emotion can be developed from the trait, flaw or habit.

A) Leaves the television on. Perfect internal conflict. Character was abandoned. Afraid to come home to an empty house.

B) Hmmm.. Heroine yells, “Hmmm. That is all you ever say to me. You never share what you’re thinking.”

Hero thinks, I really don’t want to do Thanksgiving at the grandfather’s house again, especially this year when it’s going to be the old man’s last.  I’ve lost enough this year.

C) Sex in the afternoon:

“I’ll get these reports to Mr. Gillings right away.” Marcy tapped the papers into a uniform pile, surprised Bill had agreed to all of her terms.

“You have time.” He stood and second later she heard the door lock clink.

“What are you doing?” Her nervous chuckle echoed off the walls of her office as he walked toward her. It was Saturday and there was no one in the building. “I told you, I’m not going to have sex with you.”

“If you want my support, you will.’”

Marcy’s heel landed home, in his nut patch.

How’s that for conflict?

I know you’re all avid readers. Do you have an example of a character with a flaw you’ve read you’d like to share?







Autumn Jordon is an award-winning, sneaker wearing Ruby. You can join her newsletter at or follow her on Facebook and Tweeter.

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