The Page a Day Writers Group

Posts Tagged ‘editing

Are you doing anything May 8 through 15? This is last minute notice, but if you’re a writer, you should know the Writers’ Retreat

Me at WRW

Me at WRW

Workshop (WRW) has a few spots left for the upcoming annual event that will change your life. This year, it’s being held at Purple Sage Ranch, just outside of Antonio, Texas.

Here’s how it works: A fabulous professional editor, agent, or bestselling author gives a workshop. Then everyone goes back to their rooms and uses their shiny, freshly acquired new tools to write or revise their butts off. Then you share in whole and small groups to give and get feedback to revise some more. The pros also view your work to give direction to take your writing to the next level. With all this guided practice, you and your fellow WRW writers provide some of the most amazing feedback in critique groups anywhere. Another bonus is the connections you make with writers from all over the U.S. and often from other countries, such as Belgium and Australia.

And there’s partying along the way for those who wish to join in the fun.

When you rejoin the real-world after your week-long reprieve with awesome, like-minded, creative people, WRW adds you to the list serve. WRW participants since 1987, many of whom are successful, published writers, post news and personal events through the site, available to members only. Any alumni may participate in any conversation. I’ve made friends through the list serve and on Facebook that I’ve never met personally.

Purple Sage Ranch: Home of WRW 2014

Purple Sage Ranch: Home of WRW 2014

The 2014 instructors include: bestselling thriller author Grant Blackwood (Briggs Tanner Novels, Fargo series with Clive Cussler), Literary Agent Mary C Moore (Kimberley Cameron agency), YA and romance author Emily McKay (The Farm, The Lair), writer/editor Les Edgerton (The Bitch, Hooked), director and instructor Jason Sitzes, co-founder and author Gail Provost Stockwell.

If you’re a writer who is ready for an intense upgrade in your craft, your understanding of the publishing industry, and the how-to of marketing your work, don’t miss this chance to become the writing professional you want to be!

If nothing else, you owe it to yourself to check out this amazing writers’ experience, so here’s the link:


Happy writing!!


Representing the Page A Day Writers Group, I asked author Cara Lockwood to share some advice, insight and reality about writing and publishing your book. Lockwood has written nine novels in several different genres from chick lit and romance to fantasy and teen fiction. “I Do (But I Don’t)” was her first book to reach the USA Today bestseller list.

She grew up in Mesquite, Texas and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in English. After college, Lockwood spent four years as a newspaper reporter, working insane hours for next to no pay. “My overly excitable editor sent me running anytime the police scanner went off,” she recalls. After being sent to cover a grass fire on her 25th birthday, Lockwood realized journalism probably wasn’t for her.

Lockwood started working for marketing firm and took advantage of her evenings to write fiction. “That’s when I started writing ‘I Do (But I Don’t).’ A year later, I finished it, thanks to the help of my friend, Shannon, who wouldn’t let me slack off and kept asking me for chapters,” says Lockwood. And that’s how I became a writer. Except that it still feels weird to say, ‘I’m a writer.’ I keep expecting to wake up tomorrow and have to go cover another grass fire.”

Claire Yezbak Fadden

Why do you love writing fiction? Hate it?
I love writing fiction because I get to make everything up as I go along. This is also why I hate writing fiction, because I’m flying by the seat of my pants nearly all the time. I do write an outline when I start a project, but inevitably, I end up straying from it. It always seems like a good idea at the time and then a bad idea later when I’m trying to write my ending! 
What authors have influenced your writing style?
I have many authors I admire. But, in terms of the ones who have really influenced how I write, I’d have to say Jane Green,  Marian Keyes and Christopher Moore.  They write with humor and heart.
What’s an average writing day like for you?
I make myself write at least a page every day. Some days, I feel like I’m banging my head against the keyboard just to finish the one page. Other days, I can write fifteen or twenty pages easily. It really just depends on how inspired and how focused I’m feeling. It’s also depends on how close my deadline is. Deadlines are great motivators.

You credit your friend Shannon for not letting you slack off when you were writing your first novel. How are read-and-critique partners so important to ultimately getting published?
I call read-and-critique partners “writing cheerleaders” because in many ways they are. I think it’s essential to have a writing cheerleader to help you finish. Whether that’s a friend or a professional editor or a workshop teacher, it’s so important to have someone inspire you to keep going during those times when you lose confidence and are thinking about quitting . Writing is a solitary pursuit for the most part, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need some connections to help us keep going.
Please share the most valuable writing advice you’ve ever received.
I think William Faulkner was the one who said “Read everything.” I think the way you learn about writing is by reading. I truly believe that. You can learn something from every book you read – even if it’s a bad one. Even now, I find myself inspired by writers I read. Writing is a process and I am always learning new things about voice and character development and just turns of phrase. 

“The publishing industry runs on trends and what’s “hot” and sometimes your story might fall into this category and sometimes not. You just have to keep trying. You never know when luck will be on your side.”

What is the best way for an unpublished writer to find an agent?
Well, I found my agent back in the pre-Twitter/Facebook days.  I think dinosaurs were literally roaming the earth (and hardly any of them had cell phones). This was before the invention of the iPhone (or iPod, for that matter). In terms of finding an agent today, many of them are online.  It’s easier than ever to connect with them. Unfortunately, this also gives them new venues from which to ignore you. It used to be that you could just send a query letter and wait and wait to hear back. Now, you can send tweets and emails and letters and still not hear back!

But, I think the best thing to do is compile a list of agents you’d like to approach. You can find them online or in directories (once upon a time, they used to publish lists in big paper directories, but I believe you can that online these days) or at writing conferences. Find out how they accept queries. The vast majority do not want to see your whole manuscript unless they ask for it. Remember, agents are literally inundated with submissions of up to hundreds a day. That’s what we call the slush pile. Most agents want the “elevator pitch,” which is basically how you would tell someone during the course of an elevator ride the summary of your novel. If the agent likes the pitch, they might then ask to see the next few chapters or the whole thing.

When you go in search of an agent be prepared for rejection – both actual “no’s” and just silence. Do not take this personally. Sometimes, it’s a matter of luck. The publishing industry runs on trends and what’s “hot” and sometimes your story might fall into this category and sometimes not. You just have to keep trying. You never know when luck will be on your side.

How many queries did you send out before you landed your agent?
I sent out nearly a 100 queries before I found an agent to represent me.  Of all those query letters, I mostly received silence back. I had two interested in reading some sample chapters and three others who wanted to read the whole thing. Of the last three, two offered to represent me.

Many writers turn to books like Steven King’s “On Writing” for advice. What “how to write” books have you found valuable?
You know, I don’t read as much about writing as I do talk about it. I have a group of writer friends and we discuss writing regularly.  I also just read everything I can get my hands on, paying special attention to bestsellers. I’m always trying to analyze why a book has been successful. I think reading prose is the best way to learn about writing prose.

What’s the biggest mistake new writers make in preparing their manuscripts?
I think the biggest mistake new writers make is lack of editing and copy-proofing. Nothing turns off an agent or editor more than a messy manuscript with typos. These days, both agents and editors expected a perfectly polished, ready-to-publish novel to land on their desks. Most agents and editors simply don’t have the time to edit first-time novelists. They want something that’s literally press ready. That’s why it’s more important than ever to make sure your manuscript is in the best possible shape before you pitch it to anyone.
What are the benefits of hiring a professional editor to review their manuscript?
I think today it’s more important than ever. Agents and editors expect to see a polished product, and if they decide to take a pass on your story, then having an edited manuscript puts you in the perfect position to self-publish.
I also am a firm believer that every writer needs a good editor. In my career, every single one of my novels has been made better by a good editor. The fact is that every writer loses perspective when writing a novel. An editor helps you gain new insight and new perspective into your work and can really help you take it to the next level. The editing process isn’t always painless, but in the end, it helps make for a much stronger story.

What type of editing services do you offer at Edit My Novel?
I offer several editing packages from editing the first few chapters to intensive line-editing of an entire manuscript. With every edit, I will send an editorial letter outlining big-picture issues like character development, plot pacing and marketability. My services are about more than just copyediting. I offer a complete editing experience. For those writers who aren’t sure about how the editing process would work, I also offer a free sample edit. Your first page (or 500 words) are on me.  To find out more, head to

Guest blog by Cara Lockwood

Every writer I know hopes their book lands on a bestseller list. Not only do you reap financial rewards for all your hard work, but you may also find you’ve gained new clout and respect among publishers. That “bestselling” title is a valuable consumer stamp of approval.

But how do you get there?

It’s a question I get quite a lot.

I was fortunate enough to land on the USA Today Bestseller list and was a top-three seller at Target retail stores. I know from experience that there’s no one way to get to a bestseller list. It’s a combination of hard work, perseverance and a little bit of luck.

But, after publishing nine novels, I do know there are many things you can do to help improve your chances of writing a bestseller.

Write what you want to read.

It’s always important to keep your audience in mind when you write. All writers hope to find a large audience for their work, but how do you write something that appeals to a great number of people?

I suggest starting with the story that you and your friends or relatives would buy and read. What story would you pick up off the shelf or download to your Kindle? Chances are if you would buy your book, someone else would, too.

Know the current publishing trends, but don’t be a slave to them.

The publishing world runs on trends. Editors are always looking for the next big thing. It’s a difficult game to try to predict what might be the next bestseller, especially since publishers buy novels well in advance of their release. Sometimes by the time you know a trend is happening (vampires or young adult post-apocalyptic fiction, for instance), the trend might already be over.

That said, it’s always a good idea to be aware of what’s selling. Keep an eye on the major bestseller lists, like those compiled by The New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon. Read a few bestsellers. Try to analyze why you think it resonated with so many people. What do you think made this book stand out?

Trend spotting is always difficult, but understanding and researching bestselling authors just means you’ve done your homework.

Finish what you start.

Before I wrote my first novel, I Do (But I Don’t), I’d started and stopped a half dozen manuscripts. I would start a novel, then I’d put it down for a while, and later when I picked it up again, I was usually so discouraged by what I’d written that I’d just give up on that project . When I got the idea for I Do (But I Don’t), a romantic comedy about a divorced wedding planner, I enlisted the help of one of my avid reader friends.

I asked her to be my “writing cheerleader” and help me stay on course. She was a great writing partner. She bugged me for new chapters and didn’t stop until she got them. It was just the inspiration I needed to keep going.

Remember, no one ever made a bestseller list with a half-finished manuscript. First, you’ve got to finish your manuscript.

Get feedback from an experienced editor.

Writing is a solitary pursuit and sometimes you can easily lose perspective on your own work. Enlisting am experienced editor can not only help you break through writer’s block, but it can also take your novel to the next level. I’ve been really blessed in having great editors in my career, and I really think they have made the difference for me with several novels I had thought couldn’t be saved.

It’s a big reason why I do freelance editing work. I’m hoping to help others as my editors have helped me.

Don’t give up and don’t be discouraged if other people tell you it won’t happen.

The only way to ensure you never hit a bestseller list is to give up on your book. Did you know The Help was rejected dozens of times by all the major publishers? But, Kathryn Stockett didn’t give up. This was the book she wanted to write, even though everyone in the publishing world was telling her that nobody wanted to read it. She really thought that a story that was so powerful for her would also resonate with other people. And she was right. She kept refining her work and making it better and eventually it became the bestselling novel that’s now a major motion picture.

I, too, have had my share of rejections. Before I found my agent, I sent out close to a hundred query letters. Most of the time, I never heard a single word back from any of them. I called it the silent rejection – and those were often far worse than the form letters I’d get every so often. But, I believed in my novel and I didn’t give up.

You have to be your own best advocate. If you give up on yourself, there’s nobody else who will step in to save the day.

Remember, there’s no magic formula.

Take a look at the bestseller lists and you’ll see traditional agent-represented books published by major publishing houses. Look closer and you’ll also find books that may have started out being self-published or for-digital-release-only. You’ll find fiction and nonfiction and books from all kinds of genres.

Write the story that speaks to you, that you feel passionate about, and with a little bit of luck, success will follow.

Questions? Comments? Editing questions? Email Cara at


Cara Lockwood is the USA Today bestselling author of nine novels, including I Do (But I Don’t), which was made into a Lifetime Original Movie starring Denise Richards and Dean Cain. Her books have been translated into several languages and are sold all around the world. She’s written in many genres and also created the Bard Academy series for young adults. Recently, she’s begun offering freelance editing through You can also read more about her work at or

I’m growing as a writer. How do I know? Because I’m able to delete entire sentences, paragraphs — even scenes — from my first draft without so much as a whimper.

Some of you are nodding–You’ve reached this milestone.

I sympathize with those who have grabbed your keyboard and are clutching it to your bosom in denial. The thought of cutting any of the perfect prose you painstakingly produced makes your palms sweat.

I fought the “kill your darlings” mantra, too.

I fought the “kill your darlings” mantra, too. The words I’d strung together were lyrical, powerful, emotional. Epic in every sense of the word. But they didn’t’ do a dang thing to move my story forward–and that’s the name of the game.

I warmed slowly to the idea of culling my scenes. I wasn’t happy about deleting sentences, paragraphs and characters the story didn’t need. I’m over it now. Now it’s fun to weed out large, unnecessary chucks as well as small words that muck up the engine of a powerful scene.

If you’re ready to do some cutting, but don’t know where to begin, I suggest starting small. Click on Find from the Word menu and search any of the words listed below. Often, they are needless, unexciting and wearisome. You might be surprised at how much your story improves by deleting a few.

If you have a favorite unnecessary word, add it to the list and help your fellow writers.
















there was

used to






–Claire Yezbak Fadden

In the past few months, several people have contacted me with editing assignments. At first, I figured I’d just do a couple of editing projects for some extra cash. But I found I enjoyed the work and am now spreading the word that I’m available for more editing assignments. I’ve learned so much during the several projects I’ve completed; the experience has helped me grow as a writer and has sharpened my internal editor for my own work.

All writers need editors, as Claire Fadden mentioned in her November 16th 2010 post, “Every Writer- Even Jane Austen- Needs a Good Editor.” By the way, Claire was my first editor, and I will always be grateful to her for giving me such a nurturing and constructive start in the publishing world.

My husband, John, an advertising copywriter, and I request edits from each other regularly. It’s a gift when someone can read your work and see what’s needed to clarify and tighten each sentence.

I’m now a member of SD/PEN, San Diego Professional Editors Network. SD/PEN’s bimonthly newsletter, “Delete,” is abuzz with helpful information, as is For all the latest on working with an editor, editing stages, and reference tools, visit

Maybe you smiled like I did at the savvy newsletter title, “Delete.” That word says more about the process of writing and editing than any other.

What do you find most helpful in editing your or others’ work?

Happy writing- and editing,

Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

Last night I finished my first pass through the galleys (copy edited hard copy) of Tattoo. I hope to make 2-3 passes through the book before I return it to my publishers, and I’m very happy to be on track with my schedule. I have about 3 weeks left to do a deep read and make final changes.

I tried a new routine this go-round. A quick read, looking only at the editor’s and copy editor’s comments (typos, commas, grammar errors etc.) and okaying them. I approved nearly every change, except the ones that sounded foreign to my ears, where my distinctively wacky wording was normalized. I kept just two or three of those, and let the rest slide. It’s a test of my detachment to allow someone else to rearrange my words but I understand that continuity, standard English and clarity are required to push the dream from my head into the world and have it make sense.

A clean page without any marks on it feels like getting a gold star, and when I found an error that the copy editor missed (hard to do, because s/he is incredibly thorough), it was better than finding a baby in a king cake.

Changes which require research, more thought, or rewriting have tabbed pages. You can see I’ve got my work cut out for me!

Sadly, I have to replace a song with my own text, which means accessing my poetic brain and writing something to replace the lyrics to Severance, by Dead Can Dance. Apparently, it costs £200 to secure the rights from the record company, and I can’t justify the expense. Sorry my darlings, no new school clothes or filled cavities for you, I must have my song! I realized that when I watch that scene unfold, I’m hearing the music, getting this full-on surround sound 3-D experience that 99.9% of readers probably won’t have unless they know & love that song, too. So, that wish gets shelved for the day they make the movie…

The coming months are crammed with conventions/appearances and writing like a fiend to try to meet all the deadlines I’ve set myself. Better to be busy than idle, chewing off my nails pacing the floors as I wait for Things to Happen.

I came back from San Francisco with a head full of ideas, contacts, knowledge and a cold. Writers with Drinks was lots of fun, a full house and an attentive audience. What more could one want?

Kirsten at Writers with Drinks in SF

Now, off to attempt to resuscitate the pathetic plants in the yard, edit and edit some more, eat melty, slurpy NY Super Fudge Chunk and try not to indulge in to many episodes of Hotel Babylon on Netflix.

Happy weekend to you! KIK

WWD hostess Charlie Jane Anders

Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!