Tag Archives: carina press

The Value of Editing: An Editor’s View

We’re please to have Denise Nielsen join us here today. Denise is an editor with Carina Press. She is also Melinda’s and my editor. Welcome Denise, we’re thrilled to have you.


There has never been a better, more exciting time to be a writer. E-readers are growing in popularity and the world of publishing is exploding with new opportunities to see those books you’ve toiled so hard over get into the hands of readers. But whether you submit your polished manuscript to an agent or a publisher, or whether you decide indie publishing is for you, there is one step that all writers need to take seriously.


I buy, on average, 10 books a month, both e- and print versions, both indie and traditionally published, and in all sorts of genres. And as a reader, nothing is more likely to turn me off a book—or an author—than something that is consistently badly written.

Because I am a book editor, working with the fabulous authors who choose to publish through Carina Press, perhaps it is natural that I think editing is crucial. But talk to other published writers and I would bet most of them will tell you the same thing: an edited book is a better book.

So what value does an editor bring to a book?

It’s not just about the grammar and spelling – you’d be surprised how many people think that.  As an editor that is just the last step in a long process. The first thing I do is look for manuscripts that I love, that I engage with, that I am excited by. They don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to have believable characters and voice.

If we decide to publish your book, that is when the editing really starts. Your book will go through a series of edits: developmental edits where we look at the overall work and ensure it all fits together; line edits where we go through line by line and word by word to make sure the best words are used in the most effective places; and copy edits where books are reviewed for grammar and spelling, syntax, and conformity with our style manuals.

The goal of all these edits is to take your manuscript from a great story to a great book. There are three primary goals that I strive to achieve.

  1. Balance: Your finished book is a labor of love. But we all sometimes have blind spots when it comes to the things we love. You might not notice non sequiturs that distract readers, or characters that say one thing and do another. As the author you know your book so well and probably don’t even see plot holes, or places where the hero’s motivation for doing something doesn’t quite make sense. An editor will look at your book’s plot and characters to make sure the information flow of the story works. Part of this is streamlining—taking out information that is unnecessary and playing with the story to ensure pacing is consistent—but the overall aim is to keep the story front and center so that the reader is pulled along into the world you have created.
  2. Depth: Why do characters act the way they do? Why did you have this event happen? And why did it happen here? These are some of the questions I might ask an author as I am reading. My job is to make sure there is depth to your story because depth gives meaning. This is also where I check facts to ensure the story has credibility. I might ask you to expand on a character, or even—in some cases—suggest that you change a character to make them more believable, more likeable, more edgy…take your pick of adjectives. Believe me, we don’t do this arbitrarily, but always with purpose and always bearing in mind the vision you have for your book.
  3. Polish: You’ve already done the hard work, the creative work. Together we have achieved balance and depth. Now we want to work with you to polish your story. Every word, every sentence, every paragraph should move your story forward in the best possible way. There should be no loose ends, no missed opportunities. Your words should be well chosen and precise and exactly right for each character and each scene without being overdone.

When you have balance, depth and polish, you have a good book. A book that flows well, that is fresh and that is true to your original voice. A book that you can be proud to publish.

Denise Nielsen is a freelance acquisition editor for Carina Press. She is open to submissions and is particularly keen to acquire new manuscripts in the contemporary, historical, gothic, and steampunk genres. Follow her on Twitter @denielsen or check out her Facebook Page Editor Denise Nielsen.

Celebrate Amazon Heat’s Release With Us!

Today is a very exciting day for Melinda and I. Today our novella, Amazon Heat, releases from Carina Press. To celebrate, we’re having a release party with a giveaway of a $50 Amazon gift card at Bitten by Books. Please stop in an join us. The party officially starts at 1:00 PM EST but you can pop in on our RSVP page to get extra points towards winning the prize.

We couldn’t be more excited about the release of the first in our series. Let us share a bit about the book

2 years ago…

Driven by grief to find a cure for cancer, Elizabeth DeMarco left Logan Spencer to accept a position on a research expedition to the Amazon rainforest. Kidnapped by guerrillas, she was saved by a secret all-female civilization, the last of the ancient Amazons. But Elizabeth discovers she’s traded one form of captivity for another.


Logan never stopped searching for Elizabeth. While consulting in the remote Brazilian interior near where she was kidnapped, Logan suffers what should be a fatal fall. Near death, he’s collected by the Amazons and magically healed. Elizabeth is the first person he sees as he wakes.

But there’s no time for a joyful reunion. The Amazons’ mystical medicine is rapidly changing Logan. They want his DNA and plan to take it—and then kill him. Logan and Elizabeth must escape before dawn or Logan—and their second chance at happiness—is doomed.

Buy it at: Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | All Romance EBooks.

It’s also available in audio through Audible.com. I just listened to the audio sample it sounds so awesome!

Celebrate with us every one. It’s an exciting day!


Guest Author Toni Anderson on her British SAS Hero

I was thrilled to be invited on Attacking the Page. The hero in my upcoming release, EDGE OF SURVIVAL, is Daniel Fox, a former British SAS Sergeant. This is how I originally described him to my editor.

“For the past two years, disgraced British former-SAS Sergeant, Daniel Fox, has forged a career as a helicopter pilot in the Canadian bush, living as far from the rest of the human race as possible. The thrill of flying is the only thing that makes his unwanted civilian life bearable. His mantra is not to get involved, but even booze and women can’t keep the dead out of his head. And the worse the nightmares get, the more he retreats from society.”

I’m never sure how much non-Brits know about Britain’s beloved SAS so here’s a brief history.

The Special Air Service (SAS) came to being in WWII, the brainchild of Sir David Stirling, then a lieutenant in the Scots Guards. The SAS was used as a strategic fighting force, small elite bands of men, going behind enemy lines, facing overwhelming odds, tying down thousands of enemy troops while destroying key military equipment and installations by means of surprise, speed and guile. After WWII, the SAS were disbanded, but as conflicts around the globe broke out they were quickly reformed again.

Over the years the SAS has grown and adapted from the original desert raiders, to experts in jungle warfare, to counter-terrorism (honed in Northern Ireland and adapted for the new global theatre), and hostage rescue missions (is there anyone who hasn’t watched them storm the Iranian Embassy in London in 1980?). The initial Selection process is grueling and they only take the very best of the best.

Americans might be interested to learn that Colonel Charles Beckwith, the instigator of Delta Force, did an exchange tour with the British SAS in the early sixties. This was apparently the impetus to set up a similar unit in the US Army.

It’s funny, because I was just watching a trailer for THE KILLER ELITE and Clive Owen talked about why he was drawn to his role as a former SAS operative and what he said was exactly the sort of thing I wanted to explore in EDGE OF SURVIVAL. What happens to these extraordinary soldiers when they get out? Are they expected to sit around collecting their pension? Watching Coronation Street and having a beer in the pub? Through a friend of mine I was lucky enough to make contact with (strangely enough) a British ex-SAS turned Canadian helicopter pilot and he opened up to me about how a man like my hero might feel if he were forced out of the SAS under a cloud of disgrace. So I feel like I got good insight into my hero’s psyche.

It was a challenge writing the action scenes in this book, because I am not, nor have I ever been, an elite SAS soldier J. I did read everything I could get my hands on, and watched countless DVDs. One book that was great for step-by-step planning of the major fight scenes in the story was called ‘THE SAS SELF-DEFENSE HANDBOOK’ by John “Lofty” Wiseman. Everything I’ve read about the SAS suggests they don’t go looking for trouble. SAS can also stand for Speed and Aggression, which they say is the key to winning any hand-to-hand combat situation in the shortest possible time.

Because of his background my hero didn’t back away from seemingly insurmountable odds, but neither did he have great expectations about the income. He was willing to get his ass kicked to keep the heroine safe. Daniel Fox isn’t some muscled superhero with an iron-plated sternum, he is very much a flesh-and-blood guy with a deep-rooted sense of honor. I hope I gave him the chance to prove how honorable he is during the story, and I hope I do justice to the soldiers in the Regiment.

Thanks for having me at ATTACKING THE PAGE. It has been a pleasure!

EDGE OF SURVIVAL (November 21st 2011, from Carina Press)

Foreword by Brenda Novak

Dr. Cameran Young knew her assignment wouldn’t be easy. As lead biologist on the Environment Impact Assessment team, her findings would determine the future of a large mining project in the northern Canadian bush. She expected rough conditions and hostile miners—but she didn’t expect to find a dead body her first day on the job.

Former SAS Sergeant Daniel Fox forged a career as a helicopter pilot, working as far from the rest of the human race as possible. The thrill of flying makes his civilian life bearable, and he lives by his mantra: don’t get involved. But when he’s charged with transporting the biologist to her research vessel, he can’t help but get involved in the murder investigation—and with Cameran, who awakens emotions he’s desperate to suppress.

In the harsh and rugged wilderness, Daniel and Cameran must battle their intense and growing attraction while keeping ahead of a killer who will stop at nothing to silence her…

My heroine has diabetes and I’m donating 15% of my royalties to diabetes research.

Toni Anderson is a former marine biologist who conducted her Ph.D. at the Gatty Marine Laboratory in St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland.  She was born and raised in the U.K., but now lives in the Canadian prairies with her husband and two children, living about as far from the ocean as possible.

Her stories are set in the stunning locations where she’s been lucky enough to live and work—the blustery east coast of Scotland, the remote isolated mining communities of Northern Labrador, the rugged landscapes of the U.S. and the Red Center of Australia.  She escapes the long brutal Canadian winters by writing Romantic Mystery and Suspense stories.

Check out Toni’s website for a list of current titles, her blog and Facebook Author Page for writing news and her personal Facebook page and Twitter for constant nonsensical chatter. She is also part of a wonderful group blog—Not Your Usual Suspects. Come introduce yourself.

Catch Me If You Can by Guest Author Betsy Horvath

In my day to day life, I tend to be rather meek and mild.  I work.  I write.  I hang out with friends and family.  I go to sleep.  I get up and do it all over again.

But here I am, writing a romantic suspense novel and it just begs for car chases.  Exciting car chases.  Thrilling car chases.  Car chases where the hero and heroine are pursued by gun-toting mafia hit men.

Generally speaking, car chases are not a part of my daily existence.  Yet we are told to “write what we know.”  So does that mean I should to go out and run a few red lights?  Weave in and out of traffic on my local highway? Threaten a mobster?  What?

Then there’s the fact that things have to happen in a car chase.  You want to increase the tension beyond, “They shot their guns.  She drove faster.”  You want “zip, boom, POW!” excitement (or at least potential excitement).   What’s a girl to do?

So, okay. What DID I know?  If we’re looking at the longest car chase sequence in the middle of the book, I knew several things.  I knew the car they are driving.  It’s an ancient Chevy Nova.  It’s MY ancient Chevy Nova, my beloved first car.  I knew how that car handled curves and straight-aways.  I remembered the growl of the engine when I put the pedal to the metal and sped by the other motorists as if they were standing still, as if they were losers and I was on a racetrack….um…huh. Well, you get the idea.

Then I started thinking about things that have actually happened to me in the years I’ve been driving.  And, specifically, I remembered the time a huge crane backed up into my car.  The crane took up most of the road, there was a line of traffic behind it, but apparently the driver thought it would be a good idea to stop in the middle of the highway and back up because he’d missed his turn.  I and my dearly beloved Chevy Nova were right behind it, so we got pushed back several feet and the front of my car was smashed.

Not that I’m bitter or anything.

Anyway, I remembered how that crane looked backing towards me.  I remembered how big it was, how it seemed to tower over me.  I remembered how it just kept on coming and coming and coming…

Not that I’m bitter or anything.

Next, I considered a highway I use regularly.  It seems to be the preferred expressway for deliveries of double-wide mobile or modular homes. Every time I turn around I’m getting caught behind half of a house struggling to make it up the relatively steep hill.

Finally, I thought about how I’d feel if I was being chased by insane gunmen on a two lane highway with a lot of traffic.

I put all of those things into the food processor of my mind, mushed it together, and here’s what came out:

The sedan was coming up fast behind them. There were so many cars around them now, so many innocent people who might be hurt or killed by a stray bullet. Katie knew that she had to act quickly. This was no time for common sense.

“Hold on,” she yelled to Luc.


Without answering or even stopping to think about what she was doing, Katie swerved out into the lane for the opposing traffic and sent Kato right up the middle of the road. They forced the drivers coming toward them over into the shoulder while horns blared and tires squealed.

The black sedan followed without hesitation.

Luc, who’d been taken completely by surprise, rapped his head on the window frame when the car jerked and swerved.

“Ow. Shit. What are you doing? Are you crazy?” he shouted.

“I hope not.”

While Luc muttered curses and prayers beside her, Katie clung to the steering wheel. They crested a rolling hill. As they started down the other side she finally saw what had caused the backup. A huge crane was lumbering slowly along at the head of the line of traffic, doing fifteen miles per hour at best.

But what caused the breath to die in her throat was the vehicle she could now see coming at them.

“Oh, crap,” she whispered.

She couldn’t believe it. She didn’t believe it. It was a house—a house for sweet Christ’s sake. Well, half a house. Half a double-wide trailer, to be precise. The oversized truck pulling it was already running in the shoulder and it still took up more than the width of its own lane of the road.

Katie’s heart pounded heavily. The road now dropped off sharply on their left, cars were on their right and murderers were behind them. They were boxed in. She heard Luc cursing, low and violently.

“You have to keep going now. Get past that crane.”

Katie didn’t bother answering because she knew he was right. She demanded even more speed from the Nova, and its wheels practically left the ground.

The truck pulling the house had seen them and stopped, but the crane still continued its slow pace forward, its operator apparently blissfully unaware of what was happening behind him. Katie was praying out loud now as she watched the gap between the two large vehicles narrow. The Nova had nothing left to give.

And the moral of the story?  Just because your commute is (mostly) boring, doesn’t mean it can’t be the basis for a zippy car chase scene.


Betsy Horvath was raised on MGM musicals, old skool Harlequins, and Nancy Drew, so it should not have come as a shock that one day she’d be writing romance.  The biggest surprise was that it took her so long to actually buckle down and do it.  Hold Me, her debut romantic suspense novel, is available from Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books On Board, and anywhere fine ebooks are sold.

You can usually find Betsy at her website: www.betsyhorvath.com, on Twitter or hanging around Facebook

Liberty States Conference

The 2nd annual Liberty States Fiction Writers Create Something Magical conference was even better than the first.  First of all, there was no monsoon this year.  Secondly, the event was just plain fantastic!

Attendees raved about workshops covering topics from dialogue, voice, editing, pitching, marketing and promotion. With a line-up of terrific speakers including Jonathan Maberry, Virginia Kantra,  and Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, that wasn’t a surprise. One of my favorites was the Building Your Brand workshop with Angela James of Carina Press.  I couldn’t take notes fast enough, and nearly two hours went by all too quickly.  Kathy Fawcett and I shot, stabbed, kicked and choked each other in our own Kick Butt Heroes workshop.

One of the most exciting and nerve-wracking parts of a conference is the pitching experience.  Despite a New York train snafu, appointments with agents and editors went smoothly, and more than one writer emerging with that I-just-got-a-request post-pitch glow.

Mary Janice Davidson’s keynote speech was hilarious. She reminded us all that book publishing isn’t as sexy as we’d like to believe.  It’s always wonderful to hear that a New York Times Best had to wait for The Call just like the rest of us.

The day was topped off, like the whipped cream on a sundae, with a book fair that was open to the public. Readers had loads of time to buy books and talk with their favorite authors.

And, did I mention, there was no monsoon this year?

I’d like to thank all the volunteers.  Without you, the event would not have been possible.  Mark your calendars for March 17, 2012, and plan to visit New Jersey (it’s not like Jersey Shore, we promise) when paranormal romance author Larissa Ione gives the keynote speech at the next Create Something Magical conference.