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1974 Flashback

The setting for the first book in the Michelle Kilpatrick Mystery Series, Write Place, Wrong Time, is a small Midwestern town in 1974. I figured getting the details about the time period would be easy, right? After all, I was a college student in the Midwest in the 70s. All I had to do was Flashback and voilà.

But wait…

Flash Forward—the past and the present are all tangled. Did we have waterproof mascara back then (I ask as if I am talking about the dark ages)? And yes, we did-whew! It was invented in 1938 and improved in the 1960s.

Or when Michelle, the main character, goes to the vending machine to buy a diet soft drink—did she get a Diet Coke? (No, my memory failed me. Diet Coke wasn’t introduced until 1982. I had to make a change in the manuscript to Tab, which was the best-selling diet cola in the 70s and 80s.)

Other tidbits:

  • Bad Company’s “Can’t Get Enough” was released on May 10, 1974.
  • In 1974, the academic year at Bowling Green State University (the University of Petersburg is loosely based on BGSU) was divided into three quarters of approximately 11 weeks each.
  • The Viet Nam war was nearing its end.
  • All the President’s Men was published on June 15, 1974.
  • President Richard Nixon resigned on August 8, 1974.
  • A reference to “Sister Golden Hair” by America had to be deleted—it wasn’t released until 1975.
  • Cassette players were first added to car dashboards in 1968 and remained popular through the 80s. By 2010, they were a thing of the past.
  • The movie referenced by Michelle’s mother on October 14, 1974, was Yours, Mine, and Ours starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda. And, yes, it really was on NBC that night at nine o’clock.
  • Rotary phones and typewriters were a thing.
  • Pop-Tarts were introduced in 1964 in four flavors: Apple Currant Jelly, Strawberry, Blueberry, and Brown Sugar-Cinnamon. In 1967, the line-up added four flavors of frosted Pop-Tarts: Dutch-Apple, Concord Grape, Raspberry, and Brown Sugar-Cinnamon.

(Tentative release date for Write Place, Wrong Time is late summer 2023)

cozy mystery, Developmental Editor, Michelle Kilpatrik mystery series

The Edit

It was with great fear and trepidation that I opened the long-awaited email from Shannon Cave, the developmental editor I had hired through My biggest fear was that she would tell me, “Nice try, but have you thought about doing something else?”

I was beyond delighted that she liked my manuscript! And while she sent me pages and pages (I definitely got my money’s worth) of suggestions for tweaking characters and ramping up the tension, she stressed that my manuscript would be ready to submit by making these changes. Made my day!

Today I have started organizing her notes so I can start the rewriting process. My hope, fingers crossed, is to have this revision done by the end of April. Only time will tell if that is a realistic goal or not, but I’m pumped and ready to find out.

After this rewrite, I plan to have some Beta readers give it a once-over, make corrections, and then send the manuscript to either agents or publishers. That decision is next on my list.

With each passing day, Michelle Kilpatrick, the college student, is getting closer and closer to becoming a full-fledged cozy mystery crime-solving sleuth!

cozy mystery, Developmental Editor, Michelle Kilpatrik mystery series

Off and Reading

Sunday, I emailed my manuscript for WRITE PLACE, WRONG TIME (working title) to my developmental editor. Here’s crossing my fingers she doesn’t tell me not to quit my day job as I don’t have one, lolz. I will hear back from her in about four weeks.

While I’m waiting, I’ve started outlining Book Two but plan on taking a break for the next few weeks from murders and plot holes and zany characters, although there may be a few at my family gatherings – zany characters, that is, not murders.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and know that I wish each of you a happy new year!

cozy mystery, Developmental Editor, Michelle Kilpatrik mystery series

Yeah! I Hired An Editor

I finished my manuscript and am working on the sixth full edit. I know it still needs more work, but it is time for someone else to give it a thorough once over. So, I took a big step hired a professional editor for a developmental/copy edit. I looked on Reedsy and found an editor who had two things I was looking for: she has edited cozy mysteries and has a track record of her edited works being published. It cost me more than I wanted, but if she can help me take my book to the next level, it will be worth it!

When she completes the edit, I will receive:

  1. My manuscript with Track Changes in Microsoft Word, with in-line edits, comments, and suggestions.
  2. A Style Sheet, which includes a chart that tracks character appearance, timeline, location notes, spelling and hyphenation choices, etc., which I use to check for continuity as I edit.
  3. An Editorial Letter discussing story structure; goals, motivation, and conflict; writing clarity and mechanics; and characterizatioon.

My next goal is to finish with my current edit and submit it to her before Christmas. I should receive her edit and note by January 24th. Fingers crossed she doesn’t say, “Have you considered doing something else?” lolz

cozy mystery, Developmental Editor, Michelle Kilpatrik mystery series

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.