Impromptu Blog: The Blood Mage

The Blood Mage came back from copy edits last night, and before I dive into final edits (!), I wanted to take a minute to share some thoughts.

First, I’ve decided to change the dedication to this book. I’ve written about this particular dedication before and how important it is to me. These sentiments remain true, and the current dedication for The Blood Mage will find a new home in a later book in the series. Because the series has now been expanded, some of the text that belongs with this dedication has been moved to later books, so I thought it appropriate to move the dedication as well.

The new dedication, which you can see in the published copy on July 18th, was inspired by some notes from my copy editor. She wrote: “Alena’s pain and anger over the previous events in The Wheel Mages is profound and realistic. She doesn’t simply bounce back like a superhero; she needs to work out her demons…”

Reading this brought tears to my eyes. My developmental editor and I worked hard to convey this message because, as I’ve written, it was essentially the whole point. But when you’re working on something over and over again, sometimes you lose the forest for the trees, so knowing my copy editor saw this was a really important moment for me. This story is about struggle and despair and hope. It’s for those who couldn’t find themselves in the heroes who bounce back. It’s for those who battle their demons, who win and lose with unequal measure. So the dedication now reflects that.

Second, to anyone who hasn’t started this whole editing process or who is struggling with it, I want you to know it gets easier.

Seriously, the first time one of my manuscripts came back from an edit (developmental at that point), I threw a fit. The first time something came back from copy edits, and I saw all the red washed across the screen, I thought I might crawl into bed and never get up again.

Now, I’m excited to receive critique from my editors. I can’t wait to see what they have to say, to dig in and fix things, to make the story better. When my manuscript came back last night, I was so excited to open it up and see all the changes. Because each one represents a change that will make the story more sound, more solid, more real. The red-line is making it shiny and polished and beautiful. This process has gone from dreaded to beloved.

Don’t get me wrong, editing is still hard. It’s an emotional labor, but it’s one I now relish, because I know what the end looks like and the end is awesome. So if you’re stressing out about edits or working with editors, or you’re dreading an edit coming back, it does get easier. Like most things, practice makes perfect.

Speaking of practice–my third and final thought for today: Indie authors, you need an editor. All the writing advice in the world won’t get you far enough away from your work to edit it with the same eye a professional editor can. I’ve said before (multiple times) what a difference my developmental editor makes and how she helps me solve problems with an ease and an eye that I don’t possess because I’m too close, but right now, I want to spend a minute extolling the copy editing process.

I’ve written on this blog about common crutch words like “just” “very” “really” “so” “and” and adverbs. I’ve railed about them on Twitter. I’ve been (I thought) meticulous about killing them in my drafts. The parenthesized comment in the aforementioned sentence is important because, ahem:


This comment from my copy editor can be found on page 4 of my manuscript. Page. Four. I’ll note she says “throughout.” I thought I came for these words in my many drafts (there are 11 drafts, by the way), and I might have done, but I didn’t catch them all. Not even close. This is one of the many reasons why editors are crucial to creating a polished product. Good editors are expensive, but they’re worth their weight in gold. I really cannot say that enough. Especially for us indie authors. We have stigma to contend with already, and if you’re publishing in a popular, saturated genre like I am, you’re competing with the Big Five presses, so I encourage you to do everything you can to prove that stigma wrong. Good editors will help you.

So, thank you to my incredible editors, Katie and Nikki. I can’t wait to share the shiny with the world.

And to all my blog readers/aspiring authors/writers, keep your heads up, keep writing, keep dreaming. The end is a beautiful thing.

❤ Aimee

Coming July 18, 2017

This impromptu blog brought to you by procrastination. Check back next week for the regularly scheduled blog which is about my thoughts on Kindle Unlimited. Don’t want to miss it? Make sure to follow!

Your Relationship with Your Editor

Author’s note: I currently have three posts ready to go, but all of them are somewhat controversial, and I’m having trouble finding the courage to hit the publish button, so I thought I’d write this one as my second book, The Blood Mage, is headed to the editor on January 30th (11 days, eek!)

In the end, what makes a book valuable is not the paper it’s printed on, but the thousands of hours of work by dozens of people who are dedicated to creating the best possible reading experience for you.

~ John Green

I’ve written about the importance of professional editing before. Recently, however, as I slog my way through edits for my second book, I’ve come to appreciate the relationship I have with my editor much, much more.

You see, as I did some quick research for this post, which was originally set to be a piece on why professional editing is so important for indie authors, I came to realize a lot of writers have a contentious relationship with editors. Some of the things writers have said about editors is… less than kind.

I can’t help but wonder if this uneasy relationship is created more by the writer or by the publishing house. I do understand it’s difficult to have your work critiqued (you can check out a short retelling of the temper tantrum I threw when my manuscript came back from the editor in the blog I linked to above). But I also have to wonder if some of this unease comes from the traditionally published author being forced by his publishing house to work with an editor he doesn’t click with.

Not every professional relationship in your life needs to be the perfect fit. It doesn’t matter so much if you like your accountant, for example. It helps, to be sure, but as long as everything is done properly, there doesn’t really need to be chemistry. There are some professional relationships, however, where chemistry is extremely important. Editors fall into this second category (therapists, doctors, and teachers also come to mind).

And I’m not talking about chemistry in terms of you and your editor are BFFs, although some writers do share that relationship with their editors. I’m talking about professional chemistry which, in my experience, is premised upon mutual respect and, most importantly, trust.

Trust, especially in the self-publishing world, is incredibly important, because let’s be honest, there are a lot of people out there trying to scam indie authors (and succeeding at it). We don’t have publishing houses behind us to protect us from these people. A lot of us don’t even have agents. Publishing houses and agents will protect traditionally published authors because it’s in their best interests to do so. But, as in all things indie, we must fill that void and step up to protect our own interests, which means finding an editor we can trust not only with our money, but also with our writing.

All this leads me to a few bullet points which are indicative of a good relationship with your editor:

  • Your editor is enthusiastic about your work. If your editor isn’t proud to put his or her name on your book, something is wrong. My editor was as excited about my book launch as I was. She shared my book on her social media platforms and put it in her newsletter. If she hadn’t been excited to put her name on it, I would have been very, very worried. Your book is not only a reflection of you but also your editor, and if your editor doesn’t want to claim it, you might have a problem.
  • Your editor takes time to listen to your concerns and questions surrounding her suggestions. The editing process should be a collaboration. We are indie authors for a reason. This is not the way it used to be where editors in publishing houses were handed the manuscript and a red pen, and the author was handed a blindfold and handcuffs. All right, this is an exaggeration, but you get where I’m going. One of the nice things about being an indie author is increased creative control. This means that your editor should never be steamrolling you. Improving your manuscript should be a conversation, and your editor should be happy to participate. My editor is very intuitive about my characters and my writing, so to be honest, I don’t usually have a ton of questions for her, but when I do, her responses are always thoughtful, and most of the time, I end up coming up with something that is a combination of my vision and hers that works better than either of our original ideas.
  • Your editor is interested in your long-term success as an author. This actually is just good business sense. Your editor should want you to be successful so you keep coming back. Also, the more successful you are, the more their reputation grows. An editor interested in maintaining long-term relationships with clients is an editor who is vested in the success of their clients. My editor helped me answer questions related not only to writing, but also to the industry. When she didn’t have the answers, she would point me in the direction of someone who did. She wants me to succeed, because it will help her succeed. This should always be a symbiotic relationship. An editor who couldn’t care less when your next book is coming out, is an editor who isn’t invested in you or your career and by extension, your writing.

If you have these three things in an editor, you’re probably well on your way to a good relationship. And trust me, in this industry, you’re going to need it.

For a list of editors to consider, I will refer you to Joanna Penn’s:

For information on my editor, the fabulous Katie McCoach, visit her site here:

Have any other advice for a happy and healthy relationship with an editor? Add it to the comments!

Happy editing everyone!

❤ Aimee

I shared this on my Facebook the other day and thought it was appropriate for this post. I’m so proud to have published my debut novel with an all female team. Girl power, y’all.


Editing: 5 Words to Purge

The first draft of anything is shit.

~Ernest Hemingway

There’s no rest for the weary when it comes to writing. Yesterday, in between tweets, Facebook posts, nervous jitters, and somewhat obsessive checking of Kindle Direct Publishing and iBooks (side note: not recommended), I worked on finishing the third round of edits for my second book in the Changing Tides series. That book, working title of The Blood Mage, is set to head to the content editor on January 20th.

If this process has taught me anything, it’s that precision in language is an oft talked about but highly underrated concept. Every author has words he or she uses too frequently. These are your “crutch” words. Some are common to almost all writers (and people in general). For example, one of my crutch words is “so”. When I got The Wheel Mages back from the copy editor, I was informed there had been 495 instances of the word “so” in the manuscript. The final word count for the version that went to the copy editor was 104,117 words, meaning I used the word “so” about once every 210 words. It doesn’t seem like a ton but it is. In the final version, there were approximately 300 instances of the word (or once every 350 words or SO).

“So” wasn’t my only problem, though—not by a long shot. The following is a short compilation of my most commonly overused crutch words. I hope it helps!

1. Just:

An interesting note about “just”: I know we think we know what it means but it’s used incorrectly all the time.

“Just” as an adjective means: “based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair.” This is the form of the word used correctly (mostly).

“Just” as an adverb is the form I often use incorrectly. It means: “exactly” or “very recently; in the immediate past.” Often, I use “just” to mean “simply” or “only”. Think of the phrase: “I just don’t want to do [x or y thing]”. We don’t mean, “I exactly don’t want to do” or, “I very recently don’t want to do” we tend to mean, “I simply don’t want to.”

Ex: “A knock on the door made me jump but she just sighed.” This can be revised to say: “A knock on the door made me jump but she simply sighed.”

“Simply” is actually what I mean. That’s not to say “just” can’t be used in an incorrect or colloquial way it JUST means if it can be avoided for more precise language, it should be.

2. That:

This is a filler too often used. Most of the time, “that” isn’t necessary at all and can simply be removed. My most common use of the word “that” precedes a verb.

Ex: “…the odor of mold that seeped from the walls.” This can be revised to say: “…the odor of mold seeping from the walls.”

Less words are always better. It strengthens your writing and your wallet (many editors charge by the word).

3. And:

This might be unique to me but I have a tendency to enjoy conjunctions. I like compound sentences. There’s something about them that flows better in my mind when I’m writing. By the time I get to editing, however, it’s time to cut the shit as Hemingway so eloquently put it. Oftentimes, an “and” can be eliminated by a simple period.

Ex: “They were narrowed with suspicion, and I couldn’t blame her.” This can be revised to say: “They were narrowed with suspicion. I couldn’t blame her.”

I think I use the “and” to join the two thoughts in my head but it isn’t necessary. The second thought comes directly after the first without a paragraph break in between so they are joined without the need of the unnecessary word.

4. Then:

“Then” was a killer with me with my copy edit as well. It was my second most overused word. I think this probably relates back to my love of long sentences. For some reason, short sentences sound jarring in my mind the first time I read them. Therefore, I tend to avoid them. Interestingly, “then” can be replaced with “and” in many instances (at least in my writing) so if you’re overusing “and” replace it with a period and use some of those extra ands you’re gaining to replace thens!

Ex: “I threw a ball of water into the air, then pulled my hands apart to break it into rain.” This can be revised to say: “I threw a ball of water into the air and pulled my hands apart to break it into rain.” 

Neither the word count nor the meaning of the sentence changed much but if “then” has been overused in your manuscript (as it was in mine) this is a handy trick.

5. Very:

I don’t think this one requires VERY much discussion. It’s almost always on these lists. It’s unnecessary fluff in almost all instances. Treat “very” like an exclamation mark. It will have a greater impact when it’s used sparingly.

Bonus Word(s):

Was + Verb(ing) This is common in my writing and I’ve seen it used a ton. A much stronger action combination is the simple past tense of the verb.

Ex: “His anger was eating away at him.” This can be revised to say: “His anger ate away at him.” 

Think of “was” as the flimsy word propping up another flimsy word. Instead of two weak words, combine them to create one strong word!

Double Bonus:

Could + Verb is something I use frequently as well and the advice is the same as my advice for was + verb. “Could feel” is my most common error and can be replaced by “felt”.

Happy writing!