Blog tour excerpt and giveaway: “Finding Home” by Lauren McKellar

Do I have any Young Adult Contemporary fans here? Lauren McKellar is a blogger, leading editor in her industry, internet personality and now an author! I’m excited to share this book with you.

Although I’m not reading so much YA these days as—sadly—I’m over that age group this short novel will appeal to teens and the fans who love this genre; I can feel the vibe from what I’ve read.


1013-Finding-Home_1400I was in a club somewhere in Melbourne. People were crowding in all around me, girls in short skirts and guys in shirts and jeans that looked a little too tight for comfort. The floor was sticky, the place smelled like sweat and cheap perfume, and it was late — after two in the morning, for sure. They’d be closing soon.

‘Having fun?’ Mum handed me yet another clear glass packed with ice and pale-coloured liquid. I nodded and slugged back the sweet vodka she’d just gotten me from the bar.

‘Great! Happy 16th birthday!’ Mum clinked her glass against mine. Celebrating was her favourite thing to do.

A security guard walked past us and nodded. He recognised us from the line. We were always on lists at the door now that Dad had made it big time. I didn’t had to worry about being checked for ID or sprung for under-age boozing. Times were good.

‘I think that boy over there thinks you’re cute.’ Mum strained her voice to be heard over the loud rock music pumping through the sound system. She pointed to a tall guy who was standing by himself just near the bar. I had to squint to see him, but he looked a little older than me, maybe ten years or so. His blue chequered shirt contrasted perfectly with his peroxide-tipped hair. He was cute, even though his body was swaying out of time with the music. Perhaps he’d had one too many addictively vodkas, too.

‘Should I go talk to him?’ I hadn’t hung around guys that much, especially older ones. A few of Dad’s roadies had tried to get close to me, but they were immediately chased off by him before anything could happen. I was a little nervous.

Mum had no such hesitation. She charged through the crowd and launched herself at Peroxide Guy. Throwing her beautifully manicured fingers around his shoulders, she dove into attack mode.

‘Hi there, cutie. Let me introduce you to the most fabulous girl in the world — the amaaaaazing Amy!’ As Mum said it, she threw her hands in the air, and I started laughing. The guy did too. He moved closer.

‘Hi, Amy,’ he leered, checking me out openly before kissing me on the cheek. His lips felt warm. I felt warm. I felt desirable and I liked it.

We stood there for a few minutes, drinking in each other’s appearances. Peroxide Guy wasn’t ugly, but he wasn’t exactly cute, either. He had little wrinkle lines around his eyes, the kind that Dad had, and I wondered again about his age.

‘Can I help you two gorgeous ladies with anything?’ He smiled, showing an orderly array of slightly brown teeth. He smelled like cigarette and bourbon.

‘You can, actually,’ Mum started.

‘No, don’t, I —’

‘We noticed you checking her out,’ Mum yelled, oblivious to my protests. ‘So why don’t you go ahead and kiss her like you mean it?’

It was a horrible, horrible moment: the music stopped, and everyone turned to look at the woman yelling at the guy to kiss the girl ‘like he meant it’. I hated that the girl in question was me.

Then Peroxide Guy was grabbing my face and I forgot all about it as he kissed me. It was wet and sloppy and thankfully quite short, but long enough to get the crowd cheering. It didn’t feel real. This wasn’t happening to me.

And then the kiss was over, and we were just standing there. I let out a nervous laugh, scraping my tongue against the back of my teeth to try and get the taste of stranger out of me.

The lights flickered on, and people filtered out the door. The guy who’d kissed me looked even older now, and I noticed his nose was a little red. What had I done?

‘Come on, Amy. They’re closing up.’ Mum grabbed my hand and led me out of the club, the boy staring at us both as we left. He grinned and gave a little wave as we walked away. I guess this was just a typical night for him.

I felt sick. Was that really my first kiss? I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand to remove the saliva from my face. I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and clean my teeth.

‘Aren’t you going to thank me?’ Mum asked. ‘Surely no other mum would be cool enough to help her daughter get picked up!’

‘Thanks.’ My voice were soft and lacked heart. I knew that it was technically cool, and that my old friends from school would have been envious.

I just wished it hadn’t been so wet.


Buy the book:

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About Finding Home

Moody, atmospheric, and just a little bit punk, Finding Home takes contemporary YA to a new level of grit…

When Amy’s mum dies, the last thing she expects is to be kicked off her dad’s music tour all the way to her Aunt Lou in a depressing hole of a seaside town. But it’s okay — Amy learned how to cope with the best, and soon finds a hard-drinking, party-loving crowd to help ease the pain.

The only solace is her music class, but even there she can’t seem to keep it together, sabotaging her grade and her one chance at a meaningful relationship. It takes a hard truth from her only friend before Amy realises that she has to come to terms with her past, before she destroys her future.

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About the Author

lmckellarLauren McKellar is a writer and reader of Young and New Adult books. Her debut novel Finding Home is out now, and can be bought from all your usual eBook sites (links available here). She also works as a freelance editor for novels for all age groups and you can chat to her on twitter or facebook any time you’d like.

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  |

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FREE paperbacks, a surprise and my awesome newsletter!

Hi all! BIG things are happening. I’ll keep it short and sweet.


My sequel to my prequel novella, (Precise), Pulling Me Under, was set for release late October, the 27th. However, I wanted to spring a surprise on you: I’d love to release it early if there’s interest.

20 photo shares or 40 comments will bring the release date forward by two weeks, to Sunday, October 13. If you want your hands on this novel …


This photo >>> Teaser 1 - Pulling Me Under - eBook 2


I’ve announced here in the past I have a newsletter/mailing list going on, but I haven’t talked about it, or kept it up-to-date, until recently.

Filled with book release information and dates, free review copies, tips and more, I’d love you to sign up and share it over social media for your friends, too!

Note emails are sent infrequently, so don’t worry about one popping up in your inbox every other day.

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I have a Goodreads giveaway going on. One random winner will win a signed paperback of Precise, the expanded edition and new cover. (Yes, I went ahead and made paperbacks! Watch out for them on sale online at Amazon in the near future.)

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What are the prizes:

  • One copy of the New York Times bestseller, Naked by Raine Miller. This book has 26.5K Goodreads rating and is the first book in the The Blackstone Affair.
  • CHOICE OF signed paperback of Pulling Me Under (when shipment arrives) [OR] signed paperback of Drowning in You.
  • PLUS, I have a bookmark/card for Drowning in You, signed by me too to throw in as an extra!

How to enter:

  • Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway, and enter as many steps as you want. Remember, joining my mailing list for 10 points will give you 10 times better chance of winning, and unlock extra points to enter.

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Big thank you to all my supporters. Lots of Love! Good luck!


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Rebecca Berto is the author of PreciseDrowning in You and Pulling Me Under (sequel to Precise) If you want book-release updates, please sign up at this form (email only when news, not every other day).

Follow Novel Girl by the buttons in the top left corner of the home page to stay updated.

The Series Matter — do they help an author sell more books?

Guest post by: Emily Walker

Emily Walker

Emily Walker

More and more you see people writing series, or planning a series before they even write the first book. Why is that? I asked a few author friends of mine and what came back were mixed thoughts about the matter.

So do people’s fans come to expect series, and do they take an author seriously when they release a standalone after a series?

I asked a few people about their thoughts on this with the question.

Do you think your readers expect you to write series, and do you think they would respond negatively towards a standalone?

“I don’t think my readers expect me to write a series. Actually, my last release is a standalone and the response has been phenomenal.”
Raine Thomas

Think of the stand alone ‘hits’ throughout history. A franchise is down to yourself. I act as well and if I do the same part too often, I get depressed. This could happen if you’re just writing about the same characters. Look at Steven King, his books all intertwine but he doesn’t write about the same people all the time.

I think it is very personal choice
Charles L. Butler

When I started Zombie ACRES, I intentionally set it up to be a long series, so my readers do expect a series. Generally speaking, I think readers would respond positively to a stand alone as long as it is a well written and entertaining book. Through, I get quite a few readers asking why so many books are part of a series. That is also dealing with a lot of free promos, though.
Josh Cook

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I think that series do help you build up a following. I read an article recently where Belle Andre was interviewed and she said five is the magical number in a series. That is when people really start to get into reading your backlist. That being said, you have to actually have good books, do not just crank the books out to get a backlist going and have them be crap.

A stand alone has to be able to amaze by itself and completely wrap up the whole story in one book. It is a good rule of thumb to write each book in the series as a standalone so someone can pick up any of them, and not be lost.

It is clear by the answers of my fellow authors there is no right or wrong answer to the series matter. I am going to conclude that writing a series will be beneficial in getting people to read your backlist and follow the series. This only works if you write great books, and are consistent with the greatness throughout the series. I am going to stick to writing series when there is more story to tell and stand alone novels when there isn’t. Seems like a pretty simple rule to follow.

Thanks for reading, and do comment about your thoughts on the series matter!

Emily Walker ♥

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Click for Goodreads page

Buy Links:

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* Excerpt *

Emma looked over the fact sheet the school had sent over about her intern and smiled. She was first in her class and involved in everything. That was exactly how Emma had been when she was in college. Lost in her memories of college days gone by, she didn’t realize that Deidre had stepped into the room until the receptionist cleared her throat. Startled, she jumped up out of her seat and eyed the ditzy girl.

“Someone is here to see you ma’am,” Deidre had one of those sickly sweet voices that made you want to strangle her. Motioning behind her, she called someone into the room and Emma’s world stopped for a minute.

She could tell the man was younger than her, but he was also well built. Every part of him screamed out, “I am a confident man and you should drape yourself across me like a scarf.” Where had that thought come from? She bit her lip and allowed her eyes to rake over his body and back up to his face. Sandy blond hair, full lips and even from her desk she could see he had striking blue eyes. His skin held on to the tan summer had given him even though they were well into fall now, and she might have forgotten to breathe when he parted his lips to speak.

“Ms. Michaels, I’m your intern, Tyler Higgins.” He stepped forward to shake her hand and her momentary haze she’d been lost in by his appearance dissipated with the words.

Was that anger she detected in his voice? Why was he in her office? Where was the straight A female who was going to change the world? “I’m supposed to have a girl.” She was ashamed at how meek her voice sounded when she spoke to him.

Walking over to the chair across from her desk he sat down in it and looked up at her. “I’m supposed to follow a man, so I guess we’re even.”

Author links:

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Hard writing makes easy reading

Guest post by: Ann Warner

Hard writing makes easy reading — Wallace Stegner

Easy writing makes hard reading — Ernest Hemingway

In other words, it’s easier to write badly than to write well.

Of course, no one sets out to sabotage their wonderful story with poor writing, but it’s often difficult for the writer to recognise shortcomings in their own prose. I would guess that most writers believe their first book is wonderful. I certainly did. It was only after I realised I had been suffering from a serious case of first draft infatuation, and that the book was, in fact, dreadful, that my journey as a writer truly began. I can now report that the most effective things I did during that journey were to seek critique relationships with other writers, to search out ways to improve both my general writing and my story-telling skills, and to keep on writing.

Writing Skills

Since “story” is conveyed with words, the more effectively the writer uses words, the more compelling the story will be.

A simple way to improve writing skills is to pick up any writing craft book and apply the advice therein. There are many books to choose from and all have something to offer. Here are examples of the kind of suggestions found in these books:

  • Avoid overuse of names in dialogue: “Yes, Cassandra, I see the whale.” “Oh, I’m glad you do, Jonah.” “Of course, Cassandra, I’ll just move – eughhhh!” Etc, etc.
  • Avoid regular use of exclamation points.
  • Avoid inexact language…words like some, a bit, many, a few.
  • Limit adverbs, cliches, and thats.
  • Root out repeated words, phrases, and information.
  • Eliminate excess prepositions: (out into the yard vs into the yard, up onto the table vs on the table, etc.)
  • Make non-specific descriptions specific: e.g. a few boys versus three boys wearing tan slacks.

Although these suggestions may appear simplistic, following them can result in dramatic improvements in writing quality.

An excellent way to subsequently check on your progress is to utilize a website such as After signing up for this free site, work can be uploaded and subsequently analysed using Prowritingaid’s algorithms. A series of suggestions for more effective wording will then be generated. This is the site I use to check my final drafts before I submit to my editor.

One interesting side effect of my focus on putting the words together better has been that while my first novel ran 125,000 words with very little plot to hold it together, my novels now run from 70,000 — 80,000 words and do have plots.

Story-telling Skill

Storytelling is a right brain, creative activity so whether it can be learned is an open question, but it can certainly be enhanced.

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Click to buy

My recommendation to anyone seeking to develop this skill is to read Lisa Cron’s book, Wired for Story. I suspect if Wired for Story had been available when I started writing fiction, my writer’s journey would have been a much less meandering one.

When I first picked the book up it was, in part, because the subtitle appealed to my scientific side…The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence.

But, don’t let the brain science label scare you away. This is first and foremost a well-written, easy-to-read book that contains insights and specific suggestions that will help anyone wishing to improve their storytelling skills.

Reading the book, I was pleased to learn that neurological studies have shown that the brain has a reward system in place that allows for the enjoyment of good fiction. This implies there’s a benefit to the fictional experience. This benefit may well be that reading about characters dealing with tough situations adds to the reader’s personal store of knowledge. In other words, story gives the reader a way to experience trouble without risk. In fact, Cron says it’s likely that as we read, we are wondering, “If this happened to me, what would it feel like and how would I react?”

As an author, I love the concept that my stories, in addition to being entertaining, might help readers better understand and deal with their own circumstances. I’ve had a number of readers tell me that has been true for them, and I consider these comments among my greatest rewards as a writer.

Along with new insights into the power and role of story, Wired also contains specific suggestions for writers to apply to their writing. One useful reminder is that plot is only what happens. Story is how those events affect the protagonist. That means the goal of the storyteller has to be to let the reader in on how the protagonist feels about everything that happens, as it happens.

Wired also tackles a common piece of advice given to writers: Write what you know. Cron expands on that advice by saying that what writers actually need to do is to tap into what we know to be the emotional truth about the human condition.

The Critique Relationship

Image credit: miadcommunicationdesign / flickr

Image credit: miadcommunicationdesign / flickr

The purpose of the critique relationship is to be both supportive and critical. This type of balance may be harder to achieve when you’re not personally acquainted with the person offering a critique. When you’re sitting in front of someone, everything they say will be accompanied by a tone of voice, body language, and possibly a twinkle in the eye, a leavening that is missing in relationships between internet critiquers. However, it’s still possible to have good internet-only relationships. I’ve had several that have been very helpful to my writing career.

Finding good critique partners is part art and part luck. A good relationship, however, also requires a hefty dash of personal chemistry. My rule of thumb is that if I find myself reacting to a critique with fresh enthusiasm for my story, that critique partner is a keeper. If, however, the person’s comments make me feel discouraged or irritated, then I know that’s a relationship I need to terminate.

Although all of these suggestions are straightforward and generally easy to implement (especially with the assistance of the internet), they are not a quick fix. I’m not sure there are any quick fixes, although some writers will progress more quickly than others. But, ultimately, to be a success, the most important characteristic of all for the writer to cultivate is the persistence needed to do that hard writing.

I’d like to thank Rebecca for the opportunity to do this guest post!

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pngannAnn has a Ph.D. in chemistry and a past career as a clinical chemist and toxicologist. She finds herself drawn to writing stories that explore the resilience of the human spirit. Ann has lived and travelled extensively. These experiences now serve as a rich resource for the creation of compelling characters and unconventional settings.

Ann has published two novels with Samhain Publishing and has now self-published three additional novels. Her most recent release is Doubtful set in Doubtful Sound, New Zealand. That setting is all that remains from her very first (dreadful) attempt at writing fiction.


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Rebecca Berto is the author of Precise and Drowning in You. If you want book-release updates, please sign up at this form (email only when news, not weekly).

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Cover reveal: “The Darkest Joy” by Marata Eros

TDJ Cover Image

Title: The Darkest Joy

Author: Marata Eros

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Expected release: February 18, 2014

Genre: Dark Romantic Suspense

Age Group: New Adult


Book Description:

A sexy and poignant new adult novel from New York Times bestseller Marata Eros, about two lost souls who find each other in the wake of tragedy, only to learn that love may not be enough to heal the wounds of a dark and tortured past…

Twenty year-old Brooke Starr has escaped the aftermath of a brutal tragedy by abandoning her music studies and moving north to take a summer position as a part-time deck hand on a deep-sea fishing boat. When her survivor’s guilt becomes unbearable, Brooke realizes there’s only one thing she can do to finally erase the pain.

Deep sea fisherman, Chance Taylor, has just wrapped his guitar set at the local saloon when he sees the silhouette of a young woman in repose, the full moon highlighting her shadow as she plummets from a pier too high for diving… into water too cold to survive. Without thinking, he plunges in after her, saving Brooke from drowning.

As Chance works to save her from her own emotional fragility, Brooke finally begins to learn how to save herself. But when their chemistry begins to consume them, Brooke withdraws. She’s determined to be the master of her own destiny… until the past catches up with her in a cataclysmic plan so dark, so final… it threatens their love and their very lives.

About the Author:

Marata ErosMarata Eros is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of dark, romantic new adult novels, including A Terrible Love and its companion novel A Brutal Tenderness. A passionate writer who loves interacting with her readers, Marata lives in South Dakota with her husband.


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Rebecca Berto is the author of Precise and Drowning in You. If you want book-release updates, please sign up at this form (email only when news, not weekly).

Follow Novel Girl by the buttons in the top left corner of the home page to stay updated.

How to develop a three-dimensional character

Creating characters for your books isn’t as easy as coming up with a name, hair colour and eye colour. Making them three-dimensional requires brain power. You need to get to know your characters to make them jump off the page and a good way to getting to know someone is to ask questions.

Below are some questions you should ask your characters to find out what really makes them tick. (Please don’t do this in public because you may get caught talking to yourself. Nobody wants that.)

I’ll play along and create a character to give you examples.

What’s your character’s name?

  • Easy right? Well, sort of. Thought needs to be put into coming up with a name. You don’t want something that the reader will have trouble pronouncing, but you do want to make it something that sticks with your reader.
  • I’ll name my character Cadence McAlister, or Cade for short.

Does your character have any hobbies?

  • Your character can’t just sit around all day. They need to have an outlet…something that they love to do. Whether it’s sports, art, shopping, computer games, reading, or volunteering at the local animal shelter your character needs a hobby. It adds depth to your character.
  • Cadence loves to listen to old, vinyl albums. She often goes to yard sales to find vintage albums to play on the record player her grandmother gave her.

What is something your character always carries with them? Why?

  • You may not think this is important, but it is. When answering this question don’t immediately jump to the obvious like keys, wallet, money, or cell phone. Almost everyone carries around these things. Think of something only your character will carry. For instance, on my keychain I have a simple, hemp bracelet my husband gave me almost ten years ago. It’s dingy and falling apart, but I would be devastated if something happened to it.
  • In Cade’s pocket is an old guitar pick given to her by her father. It was a memento from her parent’s first date. She carries it because her father died of cancer two years ago and it reminds her of all the times they spent playing guitar together.

What is your character’s biggest fear?

  • Great question. Making your character face their fears is always fun, but knowing why they have that fear is also important. I think it’s important, at this point, to distinguish fear from phobia. Fear is a primitive human emotion. It is an instinct that protects us. A phobia, however, is when fear is out of proportion to the potential danger. But to that person, the danger feels real because the fear is overwhelming. So your character can have both fear and phobia.
  • Cadence has a fear of not living up to her father’s expectations. He was a distinguished neurosurgeon and he expected her to do the same. Her last promise to him was that she would graduate medical school and work on finding a cure for cancer. Now, here’s the kicker. She has a phobia of hospitals. Everything bad that’s ever happened to her has been inside of a hospital. When her father was diagnosed with cancer they were in the hospital. The first time she saw her father undergo chemotherapy they were in the hospital. And the last time she saw her father take a breath they were at the hospital. See the conflict.

What’s one thing your character could change about themselves?

  • We all have something we would change about ourselves. It can be hair color, weight, height, shoe size, financial standing, or erasing a scar. We all have insecurities, even those of us that are self-assured.
  • Cadence wishes she could change her eye color because every time she looks in the mirror she sees her dad staring back at her, reminding her of the person she’s supposed to be.

For time’s sake, I’ll post more questions below that can provide extra insight into who your characters really are…

  • How does your character dress?
  • What’s their favorite food?
  • If they could be anyone for a day who would they be?
  • Who inspires them?
  • Do they have any mannerisms like cracking their knuckles or shoving their hands in their pockets?
  • What ticks them off?
  • What makes them laugh?
  • Any distinguishing characteristics? Birthmarks? Scars?
  • Have they ever been in love? Had their heart broken?

Remember, the answers to these questions don’t necessarily need to be show up in your MS, but you should know them to make your character well rounded.

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Kat Maxwell

Katrina Maxwell



Rebecca Berto is the author of Precise and Drowning in You. If you want book-release updates, please sign up at this form (email only when news, not weekly).

Follow Novel Girl by the buttons in the top left corner of the home page to stay updated.

Eleven Helpful Tips on Editing Your Own Writing

Guest post by: Sandra Miller

A piece of art can be easily made by gathering up all of your thought and use the help of a keyboard.  The tough part of it all is the editing part.  Even the greatest writers in the world will surely agree on this.  Editing other people’s work is undeniably challenging but editing your own work is twice harder than that.  It is hard because it is your own work of art.  You are the one who made it so it will be very easy for you to understand even the smallest detail with the flaw.  Although self editing is really difficult, it is a must.

Below are eleven of the useful tips on how to effectively edit your own writing.

1.      Do not think of anything other than writing

Do not practice doing the editing while writing.  It will just consume more of your time and might eat up some that are meant for you to gather more ideas.  Just go on and just go back on the editing part once the writing work is fully done.

2.     Start spell checking

Although it is not at all time advisable to rely on online or spell checking tool, it is still a good way to start over.  Go right ahead and activate the spell checker before beginning your editing part but again, do not completely rely on it.

3.     Give yourself some space away from your work

English: Cappuccino at Coffee Break in Lund, S...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most effective ways to recognize the errors is to step away from the piece.  This does not necessarily mean that you have to go out of town and just go back in a couple of days to continue writing.  A simple rest room trip or having a cup of coffee is enough.  Right after going back to the writing piece, you will realize that it is either not that bad or not that good.

4.     Change the formats

Reading out your writing the way your readers will do is very effective.  Try to print or do print preview before reading.  It is also good if you try to save a copy of it in pdf format or send a copy to your email address and you will see how others would see it.

5.     Transfer to a different place

The first four steps are effective enough to do an effective editing.  However, some great writers also prefer to change the location and get a whole new ambiance and environment.  There was a reporter who tried to print out his story and edit it while sitting comfortably in the lobby.  Whether you believe it or not, a new environment opens up our minds to new ideas and wider perspective and awareness about the mistakes which gives us a great opportunity for improvement.

6.     Read your work aloud

Read your work aloud and by hearing your own voice, you will surely be able to know which part sound right and which does not.  You will also get to know if your work sound sensible enough to entertain and impress your future readers.

7.     Read the entire work through

Read your work from the first word down to the last one before marking down your edits and making some changes.

8.     Learn the art of macro editing

After reading out the entire writing piece, go ahead and check out if there are sections that need to be removed as they are not that relevant or sections to be added.  Do not start with polishing the work sentence per sentence.  Remove the big chunks first and then work into the smaller details.  Doing the other way around will just make you consume more time on editing sentences that you will just later cut or change.

Edit Ruthlessly

(Photo credit: Dan Patterson)

9.     Follow up with micro editing

Once you are done with the macro editing, go on and check the sentences.  We tend to use more words than necessary so it will be best to check each sentence to ensure that each word and sentence are relevant enough to be kept in your work.

10.   Read it again

Do not be tired of reading.  There are times that mistakes are committed while editing the work so you must make sure that your work of art will leave no space for any error.

11.   Another spell check session

As you did the reading part once again, it is advisable for you to repeat the spell check part again.  As mentioned, there might be some errors committed while editing the writing so there is nothing wrong on spending no longer than 5 minutes to activate the spell check for your work.

All in all, self editing is undeniably not that easy but it does not mean that it is not doable.  Following the mentioned 11 tips will surely make one a great and effective writer and editor at the same time.

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Sandra Miller is a writer from New York. Writes her first book and learns the art of self publishing. Uses editing services to improve her book and make it perfect. She has a PhD in English literature, NYU graduate. 



Rebecca Berto is the author of Precise and Drowning in You. If you want book-release updates, please sign up at this form (email only when news, not weekly).

Follow Novel Girl by the buttons in the top left corner of the home page to stay updated.

How to choose an editor

Guest post by: Lauren McKellar

I know you’re pretty sceptical, right? A post on how to choose an editor written by *cough* an editor? But hear me out; after all, as someone in the industry, I definitely have a fairly good idea on the subject matter.

Option A: The ‘I’ll Have What She’s Having’ approach

We’ve all been down this road before. As writer people, we have writer friends; and, if you have writer friends, chances are one of them has hired an editor.

Ask them their thoughts on the process. Did they like the person they worked with? Was the feedback helpful? Were the rates reasonable? Was the schedule met? And (most importantly) would they work with them again?

If you’ve asked all these questions and found someone who is truly happy with their current editor, it may be time you approached them for a quote.

Option B: Flying Blind

So, all your writer friends are with publishing houses and you’re stuck trying to find a good editor from scratch. Or your author peeps all hate their current editors and have strongly suggested you find a new one, one that likes Pina Coladas and walks in the rain (or maybe that’s just me).

Don’t go in flying blind. There are several things you can do to determine if you and this person claiming to have the editorial goods are a match made in heaven or two different sized shoelaces.

Don’t choose based on price.


(Photo credit: Timo Heuer)

Yes, price will come into your decision at some point, but if you go for the cheapest editor around it could end in heartbreak. If something seems too good to be true, it very well could be.

Make sure you check for any hidden pricing loopholes (e.g. time spent on work incurring extra fees, questions about editing resulting in more finance) and check the quality of their work before committing.

Of course, there are some cheap and quite skilled freelance editors out there (this is the part where I could say I’m one of them, but I won’t, because I’m not a hard sell like that). Check the quality of work before committing by asking for a…

Sample edit.

Many editors will offer a sample edit to show you the sort of service they can provide. Some will extend this branch for free, and others will charge. This should give you a fairly good idea of your editor-to-be’s skills and their approach.

Do they have a membership?

Screen Shot 2013-07-19 at 8.12.17 PMLet’s be honest: we’re living in a time where people from Nigeria send you emails about the millions you’ve inherited from a goat farm, if only you’ll send your bank details over.

It’s a world of con artists out there, and editors are no exception. If you’re looking at a new editor, check their website for testimonials (with links to actual books!) and see if they’re a member of an industry body. These groups can vary according to country, but there are a lot of them, and they’re generally quite reasonably priced and require references for membership – you want your editor to be aligned with one.

What’s their bedside manner like?

This is definitely a negotiable point, but when you email your editor-to-be, do they sound professional? Friendly? Or is their tone short and their words misspelt?

Open up that initial email and judge – judge harshly! Do you want to accept editor-level criticism from someone who accidentally said ‘their’ not ‘they’re’? Do you want someone who sounds nice and easy to relate to, or someone with a very professional and courteous tone? You’re going to be getting a lot of criticism from your editor, so it’s important you know what you want.

Good luck on your journey to find your ultimate editing partner; I wish you a long a happy edit-marriage together.


Note from me, Rebecca.

I’d like to take the floor quickly to tell you I personally, highly recommend Lauren. She has been perfect for me editing-wise and easy and quick to chat to.

Novel Girl ad for Lauren McKellar

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936682_445804275510239_1270348041_nLauren McKellar is a freelance editor currently taking on new clients for late August and beyond. With over six years publishing experience, she is currently a Senior Editor for digital romance house Entranced Publishing.

For more information on her services, visit her website here.

Book review: “Finding Bliss” by Dina Silver

FindingBlissTitle: Finding Bliss

Author: Dina Silver

Age group: Adult

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Published: July 16, 2012

Rating: Novel Girl rating stars-5



Book description:

Chloe Carlyle has always longed for the perfect family.

Growing up with an alcoholic single mother, she has seen her share of heartbreak and disappointment, and is striving to build a new legacy for herself. After graduating from college, she takes a job working as a summer girl for the Reeds—a wealthy, accomplished family that personifies her American dream. Her summer takes an unexpected turn when the Reeds’ eldest son Tyler, the star quarterback for Notre Dame, shows up and turns her life upside down.

An ambitious young woman with a wry sense of humor, Chloe never imagined herself as the type to succumb to the looks and charms of the hometown hero, but she falls hard for Tyler, and is devastated when they part ways at the end of the summer. As she heads off to law school, Chloe tries to convince herself this was just a fling, but she can’t quite get over him. It’s not until Tyler contacts her out of the blue late one winter night that everything changes.

After doing everything in her power to build the perfect life, Chloe soon learns that there are things beyond her control. She must draw on inner reserves of strength as her life takes unpredictable—and sometimes heartbreaking—twists and turns, and she finds herself faced with decisions she never thought she’d have to make. Poignant, heartfelt, and emotional, Finding Bliss is a reminder that you don’t have to live a fairytale life in order to have a happy ending.

My review:

Favourite quote:

“Your mom is like the Titanic: if you stay with the ship, you’ll go down too. Those people who clung to the boat ultimately perished. You need to get yourself on a lifeboat and get as far away as you can.”

Author, Dina Silver

Author, Dina Silver

I’m going to start referring to her books as “Dina Silver books” from now on in the same vein as “a Picoult book” is used. This is my third Dina Silver book and I love it. It makes me feel warm inside when I close the last page. I close my eyes and fall away into my mind and go over all my favourite bits. The cherry on top is I love recommending Dina Silver books because she writes stories for women that make your heart happy. And they’re all great.

Finding Bliss is apparently a spin off book from her debut novel, One Pink Line. To be honest, I forgot this and only remembered that at various parts. In my opinion, this is more of a standalone than a connected book where I would recommend you read the first book beforehand. Seriously, that’s one less thing holding your back. Just dive into this novel already!

Chloe is one of the few female characters I adored and respected. You don’t read Dina Silver books, scratching your head, wondering where the personalities went with all the female leads, or why the guy is so hot and amazing…but what happened to the girl!? Where she just follows and bends to his needs. Nope. The main character Chloe is identifiable for every woman who’s been married, divorced or is a mother. I love watching her grow because she causes me to *feel*. Pain, love, excitement and she grows in this story.

Dina Silver’s writing is evocative yet gives the stage to the story. You don’t realise how big and flashy her writing is, but how vivid each scene is, drawing you in. I couldn’t pick a part I got bored or even wanted to put down my Kindle.

Basically, I love this fresh story. A woman who grows and changes, overcoming her troubles. It’s simply beautiful.

✭✭✭✭✭ big stars!


Author links:

Website/blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Pinterest  |

Buy the book:

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  |  CD-Audio (The Book Depository)  |

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Rebecca Berto is the author of the dark contemporary novella, Precise, and the New Adult Contemporary Romance, Drowning in You.

Follow Novel Girl by the buttons in the top left corner of the home page to stay updated.

Music lyrics ♥ for writing, chilling and feelings

Music Note Bokeh

Photo credit: all that improbable blue

This is something totally different from my usual posts but I wanted something to freshen up the blog and everyone here has one thing in common: we love the written word.

Whether I’m writing or relaxing or otherwise, music is right up there with my love for books. It’s always with me and on my mind, and helps me if I’m feeling sad, lonely, or uninspired.

I present you music lyrics from some of my favourite recent songs:

* * *

“Remember only God can judge ya
Forget the haters ’cause somebody loves ya”

We Can’t Stop, Miley Cyrus

“Just give me a reason
Just a little bit’s enough
Just a second we’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again”

Just Give Me A Reason, P!nk

“My pride, my ego, my needs, and my selfish ways
Caused a good strong woman like you to walk out my life
Now I never, never get to clean up the mess I made, ohh…
And it haunts me every time I close my eyes”

When I Was Your Man, Bruno Mars

“At the same time, I wanna hug you
I wanna wrap my hands around your neck
You’re an asshole but I love you
And you make me so mad I ask myself
Why I’m still here, or where could I go
You’re the only love I’ve ever known
But I hate you, I really hate you,
So much, I think it must be

True love, true love”

True Love, P!nk

“And the saddest fear comes creeping in
That you never loved me or her, or anyone, or anything, yeah”

I Knew You Were Trouble, Taylor Swift

“Not really sure how to feel about it.
Something in the way you move
Makes me feel like I can’t live without you.
It takes me all the way.
I want you to stay”


“Funny you’re the broken one but I’m the only one who needed saving
Cause when you never see the light it’s hard to know which one of us is caving”

Stay, Rihanna ft. Mikky Ekko

“Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missin’ home
Only know you love her when you let her go
And you let her go”

Let Her Go, Passenger

“You are my one and only.
You can wrap your fingers round my thumb and hold me tight.
Oh, you are my one and only.
You can wrap your fingers round my thumb and hold me tight.
And you’ll be all right.”

Small Bump, Ed Sheeran


Music inspires lots of writers, and many even have a playlist they listen to when writing. But even if you’re just a reader, powerful combinations of words have a power over all of us, and sung in a song, they become stuck in our heads.

I’d like to know what are your favourite lyrics from recent songs and why.



Rebecca Berto is the author of the novella, Precise, and two New Adult Contemporary Romances, Drowning in You and Being Kalli.

Follow Novel Girl by the buttons in the top left corner of the home page to stay updated.