How to Prepare Your Manuscript for an Editor


You’ve written your book, and you’re ready to send it off to an editor. Congrats! You’re going to be in close contact with your editor, so I’ve put together some manuscript suggestions that’ll start your author-editor relationship off on a cozier level. Many of these changes can easily be made by your editor, but take it from me, receiving a manuscript in a reasonably readable order allows us to better focus on the big item—your story.


Whether or not you use an outline during your writing process is totally up to you, of course, but it will be beneficial for your editor to at least have a simple outline or summary of your chapters. Referring to a handy outline is a great way for them (and you) to catch the huge, glaring errors in any storyline inconsistencies.


Even if you don’t actually plan on describing all of the physical traits of your characters, it’s important for your editor to know their major characteristics. If Donnie is a nerdy pocket-protector-wearing accountant in chapter two, then he’s a hunky construction worker in chapter seven, your editor might cry. But, if they can refer to a character description sheet, they’ll at least be able to determine where Donnie actually works.


Unless you’re hiring a developmental editor (see below) who’ll be making a lot of changes for you, don’t make your editor guess where you want each chapter to end. Title the chapters. Number the chapters if you can’t think of a title. The titles, the cut-offs—they all might change later on, but the chapter breaks will give both you and your editor a better idea about the flow of your story.


Please, and thank you.


I know . . . I was also taught to put two spaces after the period, but times and rules change.


It’s nice of you to add curly-swirly designs and fonts, but really, it’s unnecessary, and it will all likely disappear once we get our hands on it. Editors typically like working with a plain document. The fancy stuff will be added when the designer comes into play. But, do make sure your text is left-aligned.


Do you know the difference between a developmental editor, a copy editor, and a proofreader? Let me explain:

You need a Developmental Editor if you’ve written your story the best you can, but it’s a big mess. The storyline is twisted, and no matter what you do, you simply cannot get it to make sense. You need direction, your story needs marketing direction, and you’re willing to continue writing and be open-minded about making changes your editor might (will) suggest.

You need a Copy Editor if you know your manuscript is pretty darn good, but you need someone to check grammar, punctuation, word usage, clarity issues, possible factual inaccuracies, libel, etc. (Yeah, copy editors do a lot.) They are a fresh pair of eyes to polish your story and catch mistakes you’ve missed. Your copy editor will make sure that your main character—who has a fear of public speaking and has worked up to this moment for seven chapters—will give her first career-changing presentation at a “board” meeting . . . not at a “bored” meeting.

You need a Proofreader if a copy editor has already worked his/her magic, but you need to make sure these very important items have been thoroughly reviewed: page numbers are sequential and they match the table of contents, the font is consistent throughout the entire book, chapters all start on the right-hand page, photo captions are correct—all the bookish stuff. A proofreader should also check for last-minute typos or spelling errors.

We all want the most bang for our buck. You wouldn’t let your dog play in mud and sticker burrs right before his grooming appointment, right? You know it’ll take longer to groom him, which means you’ll be charged extra, and you might get dirty looks. Think of your precious manuscript as a dirty dog. Clean it up, brush out the knots, and make it look somewhat presentable before it gets fully groomed and ready for show.

Note: Most editors have their own stylistic preferences, and they might tell you what they are beforehand, but you really can’t go wrong by following these guidelines—they’ll make the entire process run just a little smoother.


Do you have a story or manuscript that needs editing? Contact me! Let’s make magic happen.

My Baby/Time Paradox


My first thought is always, I really should pee first.

Each morning I wake up to a too-bright monitor relaying the sounds of my stirring baby upstairs in her crib. I throw on my sweater, knowing I’m really going to regret not peeing first if this doesn’t go as planned, and I head to her room. I hold my breath and tip-toe to her crib, gently searching around her little body for that ever-elusive pacifier. It’s too early for her to wake up (because Mommy says so), so I stick the pacifier back in her mouth and stand there in the dark until her breathing matches her usual sleeping breath. Then, I let go of my breath.

I attempt to ninja glide out of her bedroom, but not until I’m stopped by the insufferable pop of a bone in my left foot—right below my third toe. Every damn time. I freeze, wait for my baby’s tiny acknowledgment cry, and then I think once again about cutting off my left foot.

I didn’t go through your typical nine months of pregnancy (you can read about that here), so before we had our baby, I’d had a lot of time over the years to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. <—Not a typo. My problem was (is) that I wanted to be everything, so everything came in second place, and nothing came in first—they were all equal.

I’d been writing and editing for myself and others my whole life, and I had been writing a relationship advice column for years. Why it never dawned on me to make freelance writing and editing a career is something only the procrastinating men that hang out in the clean pile of clothes on my closet floor know for sure.

So, as time, persistence, research, and money luck would have it, the career I decided to pursue fell into place, and the emails started ding-donging at my inbox door. 

Then, we had our little girl.

And more emails came.

Of course, I had to take a break in the beginning. A jumbled and tired mind full of coffee and baby cries is not one that should be doing anything that anyone besides the baby depends on. If you’d asked me to tie your shoe during those first few weeks, I would’ve apologized and told you I’m really not one you should trust with your shoelaces.

Three months without showering, or brushing my teeth, and hanging out with my very own Wilson went by, and I realized something: this baby is getting easier. My mind clouds started dissipating; I successfully began making my coffee with creamer instead of formula (90% of the time); and I started replying to work emails with a big, fat “Yes, I can edit your resume and write an article for you!” instead of replying with my typical mental reply of “Who do you think I am? God?”

And so it began—my baby/time paradox.

For years before she was born, I took on just enough work to keep me semi-busy. I never felt like I had the time, and I never felt as motivated. Somehow, starting after our baby hit the ripe old age of three months, I’ve written countless articles and blog posts, edited numerous resumes and stories, edited two novels—all things I’ve always done but am now doing with absolute perseverance. I’ve even managed to write half of my own book, all while taking care of this little human being who requires 85% of my days. (I’d give her more if she wanted it.)

What I’ve found in having no time to myself is how surprisingly efficient and productive I am when I treat every second like it’s my last.

When I have one hour, I robotically run through my list of to-do items and select the most important one, regardless of how much time I know this task will actually need. Thirty seconds later, I’m on it. I don’t think about it, I just do it, because now that my time has been cut into fractions, I don’t lend it to Candy Crush or Words with Friends. I won’t even lend it to my ultra-soft pillow until nighttime.

I want my little girl to grow up knowing that I am her Mommy, and I’ll always be there to fulfill her needs, but that I’m also an individual who needs personal time to do the things that make me feel happy and fulfilled.

My baby’s development and needs are unbelievably important, but I cannot, and will not forget that mine are, too.

Being a mother and having a career is like constantly tending to a two-sided scale that needs balancing. To balance out both sides, sometimes you need to add a cup of vodka coffee to one scale and a dirty diaper to the other.

It takes a little work, but it is possible. And it’s totally worth it.



If you’re looking for writing or editing assistance, you can find out more about the services I provide and contact me at:


How to Make 2016 Your Best Year Ever

new-year-new-you-purplePeople often ask me how I maintain a positive attitude, regardless of what happens to me in life. For the new year, I’d like to share ways I’ve become the way I am. By making these easy, small changes, you can also make 2016 your best year ever.

I’ll start by saying I didn’t have it easy growing up. Yes, I had a very loving family and good friends, but we didn’t have a lot of money. This meant a lack of food and clothing, and not being able to do things most kids were enjoying. (Family vacations, spring break trips, the coolest clothing, name brand cereals!)  I’d come to accept that as my life. But I couldn’t accept that as forever being my life.

  • I decided at one point to only accept good things, good people, good thoughts, and to do away with all the bad in my life. I made a mental list of the people who brought me down, the things that got me nowhere, and my actions or thoughts that didn’t help me develop positively. Then, I told them to take a big flying leap!
  • I stopped thinking about the lack of money in my life and only thought about gaining it and what I would do with it. (I guess I knew “The Secret” all along.) Once I did that, everything started falling into place. Everything I ever wanted started falling in my lap. Honestly, how could I ever turn back at that point? I couldn’t.
  • When I say I don’t hold grudges, I mean it. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who do, and it seems to be one of the biggest stresses they put on their lives. Most often, when you hold a grudge, the person you’re holding it against doesn’t even know it. You’re wasting your precious energy, your sleep, your happiness on someone else! You’re allowing them to win a game they aren’t even playing. Refuse to be a loser in your own one-man game!
  • I don’t worry about things. If there’s something going on in my life that doesn’t need my attention at that given moment, I simply don’t give it any attention. Ask yourself, is there anything I can do about it right this very second? If so, do it now and take care of it. I honestly love Nike’sJust Do It  Really, getting it over with as soon as possible is so much easier than dwelling on something for days or weeks and creating more and more fear and worry around it. If you can’t do anything about it right now, push it aside and address it when the time comes.
  • I don’t watch crap TV or movies. I despise the news and most reality shows like Housewives of Wherever, etc… They only make you angry or depressed, and don’t argue with me – it is true. Pay attention to how you feel before and after watching your local news or a bunch of trashy kids or adults fighting and constantly belittling each other. Is one hour of boob-tubin’ it to get the latest scoop on strangers really worth an entire day of the unbalanced emotional state you’ll probably find yourself in?

Wake up happy and only do things during the day that you know will sustain your happiness.

This is worth printing out as a daily read:

JUST FOR TODAY just-for-today

By Frank Crane

1. Just for today I will be happy. This assumes that what Abraham Lincoln said is true, that, “most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Happiness is from within; it is not a matter of externals.

2. Just for today I will try to adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my family, my business, and my luck as they come and fit myself to them.

3. Just for today I will take care of my body. I will exercise it, care for it, nourish it, not abuse it nor neglect it, so that it will be a perfect machine for my bidding.

4. Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will learn something useful. I will not be a loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.

5. Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways; I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out. I will do at least two things I do not want to do, just for exercise.

6. Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress as becomingly as possible, talk low, act courteously, be liberal with praise, criticize not at all, nor find fault with anything and not try to regulate nor improve anyone.

7. Just for today I will try to live through this day only, not to tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do things for twelve hours that would appall me if I had to keep them up for a lifetime.

8. Just for today I will have a program. I will write down what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. It will eliminate two pests, hurrying and indecision.

9. Just for today I will have a quiet half-hour all by myself and relax. In this half-hour sometimes I will think of God, so as to get a little more perspective in my life.

10. Just for today I will be unafraid, especially I will not be afraid to be happy, to enjoy what is beautiful, to love, and to believe that those I love, love me.

Happy New Year, Friends!

What changes will you be making this year?

Finding Fulfillment in Our Childhood Pastimes

by Sarah Flores



We live in a busy world, and too often we get lost in external obligations: the job, the commute, the chores. They become our priorities. Life might be different if we took a step back into the activities that once made us feel truly satisfied. Sometimes, we can find amazing fulfillment in our childhood pastimes.

Do you remember the excitement you felt over simple things when you were a child? Remember how fearless you were to try something new? As adults, we often fear putting ourselves out there, as if we’ll somehow lose our adult status if we regress to so-called immaturity.  What we really lose is the chance to discover new interests, and the possibility of basking in the kind of serenity that comes from enjoyable pastimes.

The things that made me happy when I was alone as a child still make me happy, and I try to entertain those hobbies as often as I can.  Jigsaw puzzles, for example. I love letting Paul Simon serenade me for hours while I sit, completely lost in a world of hundreds of tiny pieces of colored cardboard. It brings me peace like almost nothing else in this world can. Sometimes, for me, sanity is only a linked puzzle piece away.


From Nicholas Spark’s Dear John comes this quote:

“It can be coins or sports or politics or horses or music or faith…the saddest people I’ve ever met in life are the ones who don’t care deeply about anything at all. Passion and satisfaction go hand in hand.” 

Isn’t that true? I’m sure you know someone who wakes up in the morning, spends all day at a job they dislike, comes home and watches television in an attempt to erase the day they didn’t enjoy. If they spent just one hour in the evening doing something that excites them, something that centers them, they might wake up each morning with an entirely new outlook and a sense of anticipation.

It’s a remarkable feeling when you lose yourself in a project that’s in harmony with your personal level of absolute joy. No one to judge. No expectations. Just you in your own world, wearing your cloak of personalized truth.

You might think you don’t have an interest in doing anything different, or that you’re no good at anything, but have you spent time experimenting? What was your favorite thing to do when you were ten, fifteen, even twenty years old? Think back to those moments when you were alone. How were you filling up your free time?

Think hard. You had those moments, I promise.

Were you strumming the guitar or playing “Heart and Soul” on the piano? Were you painting your version of a Picasso? Were you thumbing through encyclopedias, studying the pictures? Were you playing in the garden, digging up worms? Were you listening to music and staring at the ceiling? Were you roller-skating up and down your street trying to impress your crush?

Start there. Start with what you know once fully satisfied you, and make time for it. Deep down, no matter what you’ve been through in your adult life, you’re still that same kid who loves building Lego castles, running in the sprinkler on a summer day, or rehearsing your best stand-up material in front of your loyal audience of teddy bears and G.I. Joe action figures.

What activity allows you to lose yourself in absolute fulfillment?

Work on Your Writing Career, Even When You’re Not Writing

What’s that you say? You’re not writing? You should be working on your craft!

We should always be working on our writing careers, even when we’re not writing.  Read my guest post for The Working Writer’s Club to find some simple ways to do this:





Sarah Flores: Keeping it Real (Q&A)

The lovely Sharon Vander Meer of One Roof Publishing asked if I would answer a few of her questions. Clicking below will take you to the Q&A session.

I hope you all enjoy reading it.

Sarah Flores: Keeping it Real

Questions And Answers Three Blocks

If you’d like to leave a comment, you can do that right here, or on her site.

Either way, it’s appreciated. 🙂

5 Ways to Force Yourself to Write

Writing every day isn’t easy, but as they say, anything worth doing usually isn’t. We all have our go-to excuses: No time, too many distractions, even fear. Remember, though, there is value in every moment you sit down and put pen to paper, or keyboard to screen. The truth is, sometimes you will have to force yourself to write.

Here’s how:

how to force yourself to write

Guest post for