Wednesday, 31 July 2013

5 Questions with Editor, Todd Barselow

Visiting today is Freelance and Senior Editor at Imajin Books Todd Barselow. I've asked him to answer five questions about his job and what writers need to know before submitting a manuscript to be edited. 
I've had the pleasure of working with Todd twice and what I've taken away from both experiences is knowledge within the editing process and the utmost respect for his work. He is awesome to work with and I highly recommend him! 
Welcome to my blog, Todd! 

1. What types of books do you edit?

That’s an easy question with a very simple answer. I edit all kinds of books in all genres. I’ve edited poetry chapbooks, children’s books, religious-themed books (not a personal favorite), science fiction (a definite personal favorite), paranormal romance, erotica, historical fiction, general fiction, horror, New Adult, Middle Grade, fantasy, etc… I’ve even edited a few that defy being placed into any specific genre or category. Basically, I’ll edit just about anything so long as my schedule permits it. I’d love to see more science fiction and fantasy manuscripts coming across my desk, to be honest. Some of my biggest literary idols are Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Jordan, and Raymond Feist. I dream of discovering the next Clarke or Asimov…

2. How would you handle sensitive writers who question every edit you make?

Each manuscript edit that I do is with the understanding that my objective is not to change the author’s voice or vision, only to clarify it where necessary and to clean up the prose so that the reader experiences the best book possible. This is explained before I ever even see the manuscript. The vast majority of the authors that I have worked with get that and they understand, after seeing sample edits and speaking with others who have worked with me, that I’m not going to tear apart what they’ve worked so hard to create only to put it back together in a way that they hate. I’ve never done that and I never will. If I come across a manuscript that I think needs to be reworked to that extent, I’ll make my suggestions to the author and let them do that reconstructive surgery.

If an author finds the edits that I’ve made to be objectionable or questionable, then I’ll do my level best to explain why I made said changes. If it has something to do with grammar, I’ll point out the rule in play for the change that was made. This usually clears up questions or concerns regarding those issues. If it concerns a substantive/creative edit, then I will explain my reasoning for the change. Ultimately, acceptance of those kinds of changes—substantive and or creative—is up to the author. If I’ve made a change that I really feel strongly about, that I feel adds significantly to the story, then I’ll fight for it. In the end though, it’s up to the author to decide whether or not to implement the change. I’m not at all heavy handed like that and I hope to never be that way. That may change a bit in the future if I decide to pursue my goal of becoming a publisher myself.

If it comes right down to it and I see that an author isn’t really going to want to work with me to make the changes that I feel are necessary to improve the book and make it better for the reader, then I will most likely refer them to another editor. After all, my goal is to get the book into the best shape possible for the reader. If I feel that I can’t make that happen with the author, I’d rather another editor work on the book.

3.What is your favorite style guide? Why?

The Chicago Manual of Style is my go-to resource for all things style-related. I invested in an electronic copy for ease of use and when asked, I encourage authors to invest in their own copy. It’s sort of my bible or holy book, if you will, and in my opinion is the best resource a writer can have at their disposal. It has answers to almost any question under the sun regarding style. I’ve also been known to consult the Grammar Girl website for ‘quick and dirty’ tips, as they like to say. It’s also a great resource that every writer can easily use to quickly answer grammar-related questions. I’m very fond of picking up Stephen King books and following the lead for style-related issues, too. I keep three or four of his books just next to me on the desk for such occasions.

I also have style guides mandated by the publishers that I work for. For the most part, they all instruct me to follow CMoS but there may be specific things that they like for their books to have—or not have. For example, one of the publishers that I work for doesn’t care for parentheses in their fiction so I tend to replace them with long em dashes, things of that nature.

4. What advice can you give a writer before they send you their work?

Read it. Then read it again. When you think you’ve caught everything you can, read it one more time. If you’re able to, use beta readers. They can be friends and/or family members or complete strangers you’ve met on Facebook. The more eyes you have on the manuscript, the more likely you are to catch any major flaws before it gets to me. That being said, most beta readers—unless they’re English teachers or grammarians—aren’t going to catch the little things that will be poking me in the eye when I read through the manuscript. They can also give you positive or negative feedback as far as the storyline goes. This can be invaluable information to have. I will say this though: when using family and friends as beta readers, you have to be careful because they may not want to tell you that they don’t think the book is good or they may not feel right about telling you something critical may be missing. That’s why I suggest having at least one person who isn’t personally attached to you beta read for you. You can find tons of people including bloggers and other authors who are more than willing to beta read for you. It’s just a matter of asking, really.

           One other piece of advice before sending a manuscript to me. Use Word’s ‘Find’ feature (ctrl+f) to search for common errors including:

·      your/you’re
·      there/they’re/their
·      then/than/that
·      to/too/two
·      a/an
·      misspellings of your character’s names—type in the first few letters of the character’s name and then search to make sure spellings are consistent. The same for other frequently used place names, organization names, etc…

5. What is you favourite thing about your job?

Honestly? I get paid to read. Every. Single. Day. How could you not love that? When I was a kid, I literally daydreamed all the time of finding a job that would pay me to read all sorts of fantastic stories and tales of other worlds and peoples. Most kids back then dreamed of growing up to be a firefighter or a police officer or things of that nature. Not me. All I wanted to do was read. It took me a while to get to where I am, but now that I’m here, I won’t be doing anything else for as long as I live. To put it simply, I have what is arguably one of the best jobs in the world. I’ve met so many fantastic people—authors, readers, publishers, other editors—that I probably wouldn’t have had the pleasure of knowing otherwise. I’ve made the acquaintance of the likes of Anne Rice, who sends me referrals from time to time. It doesn’t get much better than that as far as I’m concerned.

Aside from getting to read every day, I also take a certain satisfaction in knowing that I’m helping authors to make a dream a reality. Many of the authors that I work with are first-timers. They’re self-publishing and they can be scared out of their wits at times. I enjoy being able to help allay those fears and make the process a lot less scary than it might otherwise be if they were going it alone. I also take pride in the fact that I’m able to offer my services at rates that are more than competitive in today’s marketplace.

About Todd...

I’ve been a lifelong reader and writer. I grew up behind a used book store and spent the majority of my youth—daydreaming away while reading—sitting on an old milk crate in the corner of that store. While my career path didn’t take me into writing and editing immediately, I’ve never once stopped reading and writing. I’ve done all sorts of things, lived the roguish lifestyle of a jack-of-all-trades. I spent nearly a decade as a pizza chef; I did a stint in the army as a tank mechanic; I once worked as a movie theater manager/projectionist for a time. It wasn’t until after my father passed that I decided to pursue a career in writing full-time. I wrote tons of web content for countless websites, I worked on several novels of my own, too. This eventually led me to a career in teaching English as a Second Language in, of all places, the Philippines, where I currently reside. After teaching for a number of years here, I decided to take a hiatus and focus solely on writing and editing and here I am, forty-plus books edited later, chugging right along full-steam ahead.

Website: Todd Edits
Facebook: Todd Barselow
Twitter: @putipato
Email:  or

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Author Linda Merlino

5 Questions with Linda Merlino

Q: What’s inside the mind of a suspense author?
A: On any given day the answer might change – to pull the reader through the pages of a fiction novel there has to be a twist they didn’t see coming – the mind needs to invent the unexpected.

Q: Tell us why readers should buy ROOM of TEARS.
A: The background of this story is 9/11.  We were all somewhere on that day-close or far.  Very few people escaped the impact of the magnitude of that tragedy.  Reading ROOM of TEARS is thought provoking, inspiring and asks us to believe in miracles.

Q: What makes a good suspense story?
A: ROOM of TEARS is more than suspense – it is a mystery revealed.  A good mystery keeps the reader wondering – wanting more-turning the page and not putting the book down.

Q: What is a regular writing day like for you?
A: My writing days used to begin at 5am and I would write for a few hours before I left for work.  I would resume writing in the evening gaining a few more hours.  Over the past year I have started to write longer at night and begin later in the morning.  My work scheduled changed allowing a later start.  Discipline is essential.  Perseverance and determination must co-exist.

Q: What do you find most rewarding about being an author?
A: Writing is a solo craft.  Some writers prefer to write without an audience.  When you make the leap and extend your writer’s neck out to even one person you become brave and courageous.  The best part of being an author: knowing that someone has been touched by your words.

Q: How did you celebrate the completion of your book?
A: Dinner & champagne!!! Clink – clink with the faces I love.


  Chapter One 

 “Absorbed, Antonio neglected to notice that Diane had disappeared into the kitchen. He thought to ask her about the two men in the photographs, and when he turned in anticipation of seeing her next to him, he took a step toward where she might be standing. His right foot struck a pair of boots propped upright against the wall. He stumbled and put a hand out to that empty place where he thought she might be, but his face did not meet hers, and instead came within an inch of a firefighter’s helmet, the medallion of its FDNY ladder company polished and gleaming.

On the edge of that moment, trying to regain his balance, each breath he took tightened in his throat. Antonio began to gag. His mind raced. What could be happening? One minute he was looking at photographs and the next his throat was constricting. An acrid odor rose to his nostrils. He shook his head—the same faint smell he’d noticed from before, at the door, but stronger, sharp enough now to sear his soft membranes. My God, he thought and recoiled. Sweat sprang from his face and neck. A heart attack? He clutched his chest. No, not that. His heart was fine except for the galloping beat under his ribcage. Heat emanated from the helmet as if it had just come through an inferno. “My God,” he said aloud. Perhaps a fire burned inside the wall, hot enough to choke him.”


Linda Merlino is the author of Room of Tears (July 2013), Hudson Catalina (2008 & 2012),and Swan Boat Souvenir (self-published 2003). She began writing fiction as a young mother on the sidelines of endless soccer practices. Linda wrote anytime any place.  A manuscript filled a carton in the back seat of her car. The children have grown but her work continues still inspired by those early beginnings and the fulfillment of her writer’s dream.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The best advice I ever received...

Well, over the years I’ve received a ton of advice from authors, editors, and publishers, but the best advice I’ve ever gotten was to take constructive criticism and learn from it.

If you were to ask anyone of the people in my writers group they’d tell you I love criticism when it comes to my writing. I suck it up like a sponge. Why would someone want to have their work ripped to shreds you may ask? First of all, I do not see it as being ripped to shreds. I see it as a way to grow as a writer.

I need to know what others think of my writing for me to improve. None of us are perfect, we’ve all revised, rewrote, and reworked our manuscripts a dozen times before it’s close to presenting to a publisher. How could I do this without the help and criticism of my peers?

As a writer I am always second guessing myself, but with the help of those around me I can see that I’m either on the right track, or on some dirt road leading nowhere. The thing with criticism is you have to put your ego aside and understand that it’s never personal. It is simply the business of writing.

If your goal is to be an author grow a thick skin. Put on your armor because rejections can be harsh. If you’re not prepared by taking criticism from others, the rejection process will crush you. With every rejection I’ve received, and there have been plenty, I took what the publisher said and I used it to my advantage. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with all criticism, but keep an open mind. 


Sunday, 7 July 2013

Bestselling author, Mary A Adair is on my blog today!

Thanks to Kat for hosting me on her gorgeous blog. To show my appreciation to her readers, I’ll be giving away an e-book of PASSION’S VISION, book one of my Passion series.

When I decided to try my hand at writing historical romance, I looked back at my family history for a story to tell. I was not able to learn much about my own family’s history. Actually, I was not able to find out much at all. I am still trying to get to know my ancestors, but that is another story.

One day my husband casually mentioned his ancestor, James Adair. When he told me the story, I could not believe he had been sitting on this! James Adair was bigger than life and lived in the time in history that had always fascinated me. This man inspired the entire Passion series. I wrote PASSION'S VISION several years ago. Doing so required quite a bit of research—a great deal of time in the library and talking to my husband’s relatives who were willing to relate the stories they had heard.

This ancestor, James Adair, wrote the definitive book outlining the lives of several Native American tribes. At the time I was researching this book, Adair's HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN INDIANS, was difficult to find but I located an old copy. There are several versions available now in which the book is explained and rewritten so it is easier to understand. One such version is by Kathryn E. Holland Braund, Auburn University.

Mrs. Braund’s book was not available while I was researching. I struggled through the sometimes difficult to understand original version and enjoyed every moment. I used James Adair’s as one of my sources for research on the time as well as research on the man himself. I must add, much of my own romantic imagination went into creating James Fitz-Gerald. PASSION'S VISION is a fictional story about the love that grew between an agent of King George II and a woman warrior of the Cherokee tribe. Thanks to Adair's book, I feel I was able to bring to life a time in history filled with adversity, pain, and adventure as well as pride, justice, and a love for community and nature that sometimes feels lost in the world today.

Here’s the blurb for the first in the series, PASSION’S VISION:

Passion's Vision takes place in the mid 1700's in the Carolina Cherokee villages. James Fitz-Gerald is an agent for the Court of King George II. James is on an undercover mission from the King when he arrives in the Cherokee village, Chota Town. He knows this mission will be his most difficult with the lives of both white families and Native Americans in the balance. With this responsibility weighing heavily on him, the furthest thought from his mind is a romantic entanglement. That is, until his life is saved by a proud and beautiful Cherokee woman.

New Moon, sister to Chief Dancing Cloud, is a warrior in her own right. She hardly notices the white man whose life she saves in battle. But when James arrives in her village, she is reminded of the troubling visions sent to her by the Great Spirit. She determines within her heart, even after a vision from the Great Spirit telling her otherwise, she will never belong to a white man, and most assuredly not to this one her villagers call Red Panther.

PASSION’S VISION is the story of the love and respect that grows between an agent for the Court of King George II and a Cherokee Princess. Their lives are destined to be filled with adventure and triumph, sometimes with loss and pain, but always with passion.

Here’s an excerpt from PASSION’S VISION:
New Moon sat back on her haunches and rubbed the small of her back with one hand as she wiped the other arm across her sweaty brow. Breathing a soft moan, she arched backward in an attempt to ease the persistent ache. There were other chores that needed her attention, but she felt safe here in the garden. She was sure she would not run into him here among the vegetables.

Her heart was not happy to think the spirits might actually send such a man to her. Not when the good man that was her husband had been killed by one of his kind.

A shiver of apprehension ran down her spine and she glanced over her shoulder. Her gaze landed on the very one she tried to avoid. She knew she should turn her back and continue with her work. Instead, she twisted herself around so she could watch him better.

He leaned against a nearby tree lazily watching the clouds float above his head. He no longer wore the buckskins he had arrived in, but instead wore the narrow loincloth and short moccasins of the Ani-Yunnuiya, the Principal People.

She grunted in disapproval. Does he think dressing as a warrior will make him a warrior? If that is what he thinks, then he is wrong. She shifted her position slightly as she watched him closely. He didn’t even sense her scrutiny. No wonder his party walked into an ambush, she mused with disgust. This man was no warrior. Surely her vision had come from the prankster!

Against her will, New Moon’s gaze was drawn to his hair, which hung long and straight to just below his shoulders. She had never seen hair of that color. It shone with the deep rich color of the river clay, just as her dream had shown her.

So his hair is an unusual color, she scolded her inner voice. It was probably common where he came from. Maybe hair of such a color was a bad omen.

He turned in her direction and raised his arms to rest them on a branch that stretched just above his head. She observed the way his muscles rippled along his large frame when he moved.
Something caught his eye and he turned his face away. Grinning, he propped his temple on his forearm.

New Moon tore her gaze to look toward the playing field. He watched Buffalo, the young half-breed from the trading post. Her attention returned to the white man and her heartbeat quickened. His new position gave her an excellent view of his firmly muscled chest and upper arms.

An unwelcome tingling erupted in her belly. A trembling breath filled her lungs and she allowed her gaze to wander lower along the rippled length of his narrow waist.

Why shouldn’t she look? She excused herself and relaxed. Her eyes were drawn lower still to his powerfully built legs that looked as if they could run forever, and she wondered how it would feel to run at his side. Her senses reeled with the eerie feeling of dream walking. Someday she would know.

She steeled herself against the flood of anticipation that washed over her body and sent her every fiber of being into chaotic response.

Her vision began a slow return trip upward, lingering over the rounded muscles of his calves. Her fingers tightly gripped her bent knees as her gaze continued upward to the sleek strength of his thigh and hip that showed on each side of his loincloth…which, she realized with a start, was draped in the most peculiar angle.

Great Spirit!

Her gaze flew to his and then quickly away, but not before she saw an auburn brow arch and his lips quirk in amusement.

The buy links for PASSION’S VISION are
About the author:

Mary A. Adair is an Amazon bestselling author of Native American romance, including the poignant PASSION’S VISION, recipient of the Betty Hendricks Award. Mary did extensive research on several Native American tribes for the 18th century setting of her books. One of her many sources for learning about the rich Cherokee culture of that period was a book written in the mid 1700s by James Adair, an ancestor of her husband.

Mary is also the author of CAPTIVE SPIRITS, a young adult fantasy. In addition to being an author, she is a registered laboratory technician in radiology and phlebotomy. After spending most of her life as a Texan, she now lives in Souteastern Oklahoma with her husband and their menagerie of animals.
Twitter @MaryAdairdotcom

Thanks again to Kat Flannery for hosting me.