Almost Ready (for the next step, that is)

I started my first cozy mystery in April 2021 and am now working on the final edit before taking the next step and sending it to a developmental editor. Writing the book was easy compared to navigating my way through the world of editors. 

When I first started this project, I wrongly assumed when I finished my book edits, I would either query an agent or a publisher who accepted manuscripts without an agent. I. Was. Wrong. Perhaps it is because agents and publishers are overwhelmed with queries and submissions and have smaller staff sizes than previously, but, regardless, they are not looking for a manuscript that needs a lot of attention no matter how great the storyline. They want one that is ready to hit the presses. Hence, the need for a set or several sets of professional eyes to look over a manuscript before submitting it. 

Now, the fun part. Determining what type of editor I need and then finding the best one to work with on my book. There are four types of editors who are used in the following order:

  • Editorial Assessment Editors
  • Developmental Editors
  • Copy Editors
  • Proofreading Editors

An Editorial Assessment is great when you are starting your book. The editor can help with the plot, characters, and general direction of the story. Since my manuscript is finished, I am moving to the step: Developmental Editing. 

A Developmental Editor provides feedback on the structure and style of the story, pacing, plot holes, characterization, inconsistencies, etc. They will offer suggestions about how to fix any problems. That is where I will begin.

My first thought was to submit my first 60 pages to a Developmental Editor to ensure I was on the right track. However, one editor gave me some valuable advice. She explained that the goal of a developmental edit is to take a look at the book as a whole and determine if there are issues with the plot, characterization, etc. Only looking at the first five chapters does not let them know if the book develops problems later on.

And she’s right! Although my original intent was to finish rewriting the rest of my manuscript while an editor looked over the beginning, that is not going to work. So, the new plan: Finish the revision of the entire manuscript while looking for a Developmental Editor. 

Whether shopping for new clothes or buying a new house, it is always helpful to know what you want. Besides wanting a Developmental Editor, what else do I want them to bring to our partnership?

My Developmental Editor Wish List:

  • Previous work within the last three years with my genre – cozy mysteries
  • Clients whose books were published with major publishing houses in the last three years
  • Clients whose books have ratings of 4 stars or more on Amazon
  • Good reviews from clients
  • A fee that fits my budget

Like all wish lists, there may be things I add along the way, but at least, I have a starting point. And now the search begins. I will keep you posted. 

Discovering 1974 One Bite at a Time

Note: The first book in The Michelle Kilpatrick Mystery Series (working title) occurs at a mid-sized midwestern college and surrounding communities in 1974.

1974. President Nixon resigned. The UPC Bar Code was introduced. Flares were in, and polyester reigned supreme. The Jackson 5’s “Dancing Machine” and Barbara Streisand’s “The Way We Were” were in the top five singles of 1974, while sit-coms All in the Family, Sanford and Son, and Chico and The Man claimed the top three spots for the 74-75 season.

It was also the time when, in the midwest, pizza became mainstream. Yogurt was marketed as the new option for healthy eating and, I might add, for those who needed to lose a few pounds after eating all the pizza and McDonald’s new Egg McMuffin. A Jell-O Salad and a Tuna Casserole were standard-fare at family reunions, and no church function was complete without its version of a punch made with a quart of melted ice cream.

Whether you’re feeling nostalgic or simply want to step back in time, here are some recipes to help you capture 1974 one bite at a time.

Wacky Cake


Watergate Salad

Jell-O Salad

Poke Cake

Banana Breeze No-Bake Pie

Cherry Breeze Cheesecake Pie

Punch with Vanilla Ice Cream

New Work in Progress

Yeah, the first draft of my debut cozy mystery novel is completed. I have sent it off to a few readers for their input and then the first of many revisions will begin. I am going to take a couple of weeks off from writing to reinvigorate my inner being. The biggest problem facing me is what to do first. Yikes! Design my dream house? Make my own sourdough bread? Study black and white photography techniques? My list goes on and on.

With the internet at our fingertips, I think the world of learning new things becomes daunting. There is just so much to learn and to explore. A lifetime hardly seems long enough and I think that is where life gets even more confusing. It is easy to become paralyzed and not make a decision when there are so many options in front of us and we fear making the wrong one, so we don’t make any at all.

Thank goodness for what I like to call the low-consequence decisions in life – those decisions that even if we make the wrong ones are not going to impact our lives negatively. Sometimes we just have to go with the decision that brings us the most joy at that moment in time. Maybe today I dig out my photography book and tomorrow I start my bread. The main thing is not what I decide to do, but rather is to decide to do something.