Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Editing — It Makes All the Difference

As a reviewer, I’ve read hundreds of books in a variety of genres. While not every book has been my favorite, what leaves me feeling most disappointed is when I think to myself, “This could have been a great book… if only it had been edited more thoroughly.”

I once read a series of children’s books. I enjoyed the message and loved the characters, but the sheer number of typographical errors distracted me.

A famous author wrote an amazing mystery novel. Do you know what I remember most? In one chapter, the bad guys had kidnapped the hero and taken his belt. In the following chapter, the hero used the belt — the one he no longer had — as a tool to assist in his escape.

In another book, the main character’s mother’s name changed several times and one of the character’s cars was green early in the book, but silver later on.

Now, I’ll admit, I’m not as good at editing my writing as I am at spotting errors in the work of others, but the editing phase of completing a manuscript can’t be rushed. In addition, a critique group and a third party editor will catch errors and inconsistencies you will miss.

Here is how I approach editing my writing. After sending a manuscript to my critique group, I review the feedback and make necessary changes. Then, I let the manuscript sit for at least a week. I go back and perform three rounds of edits: one to pick up typos, one to focus on grammar, and the last to check for inconsistencies. Finally, it's off to an editor to polish it for submission.

Years ago, I interviewed a woman who had been in the entertainment industry for decades. She had written a book about her father, an award-winning composer. Finding a publisher proved difficult. She told me breaking into publishing was more of a challenge than catching a break in entertainment.

In such a market, taking the time to edit your book thoroughly will make a huge difference. Proper editing can turn a good book into a great one.

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving, and Amos Faces His Bully. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at and her children’s book blog at

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Writing through the Hazy Days of Summer

Summer will soon be upon many of us. For some, that means the regular schedules have eased a bit, there are fewer activities, school is out, and vacation brain has settled in. For a writer, this can come with a few challenges:
  1. Spend the day at the beach or write
  2. Take the kids to the park or write
  3. Tackle spring cleaning because you were too busy before or write
Can you see how this leads to not being productive? 

It doesn't need to be that way. Here are three tips to keep you writing through the summer.

Get up Early

Ugh! I said it. Better to get the hard one out of the way first. I'm not a morning person. Let me stay up until 3 AM and sleep until 10 AM. I'll be happy. The problem is that by the end of the day, I'm dragging. Who wants to be creative when they are exhausted? 

Think about what time your family rises and get up an hour earlier. Brew your coffee or tea and spend the first hour writing. You'll be surprised how much you can accomplish.

Find a New Writing Spot

Writing from home is convenient. What often happens, however, is we take up our writing time with household chores or getting distracted by our children who aren't usually around in the middle of the day. 

Pick up your laptop or pen and paper and find a writing spot outside of your house for a few hours. We are lucky to have several local cafes here, but the library or a park would also be a great spot. 

Join a Writing Group

Our writing group has been an immeasurable help in encouraging me to write more regularly. Not only are we required to bring a writing sample each month, being around other writers is a huge source of motivation. For tips on how to find a local group, click here.

If you're still struggling, here are a few writing prompts to try:
  • My dream vacation is...
  • I became a writer because...
  • My favorite thing about our city/town is...

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving, and Amos Faces His Bully. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at and her children’s book blog at

Thursday, June 6, 2019

4RV Editor Honored for Her Poetry

Barbara Ehrentreu presenting her poetry

            Long Island, New York, is the birthday place of Walt Whitman and the home of Local Gems Press, which hosted the Walt Whitman Bicentennial - a celebration of poetry, in the town of Hauppauge. Part of the celebration was the release of Poets to Come, a compilation of poetry from poets around the country.

            Barbara Ehrentreu read her poem “Down the Path of My Memories,” from the anthology, on Sunday of the convention. Ehrentreu stated:

Yesterday afternoon, the last day of the conference, 
I read my poem from the Walt Whitman Bicentennial anthology titled: Poets to Come. Several other poets 
read theirs as well. I am very honored to be with this 
talented group of poets.

            Barbara Ehrentreu, from Stamford, Connecticut, has been an editor for 4RV Publishing since 2010. 4RV doesn't publish poetry, but the company realizes the value of poetry and has many authors, illustrators, and staff members who write  poetry.

             Congratulations, Barbara.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Writers - 4 Powerful Steps to Breaking Bad Habits

Contributed by Karen Cioffi

Habits are pretty much who you are.

Are you a positive thinker? Are you ambitious? Do you work hard? Are you a compulsive cleaner? Do you procrastinate? Do you fear jumping in?

Some of the items above are traits, but they are also habits created – they reflect your actions and reactions. They are part of the things you do each and every day, consciously or subconsciously.

Have a habit you don’t like? Or, one that is getting in the way of your writing success?

Well, you’re in luck.

According to WebMD, you can break bad habits in three easy steps.

1. Analyze the habit you’d like (need) to break.

Maybe, you spend too much time on social media, even if it’s to work it. If you’re not getting the ROI on your efforts, you need to change things.

Maybe, you don’t get enough writing in.
That story that’s been on the back burner is still there. You keep saying you’re going to get to it, but you keep procrastinating.
Or, maybe you need to write two articles a week for your blog, but barely manage to write one. Not for a real lack of time, more because you’re not prioritizing your work.

Maybe, you’re not using video as much as you should in your content marketing, simply because it’s easier not to.

Figure out what it is – put it in front of you. This strategy may help you change things for the better.

2. Write it down.
Actually writing things down adds another element or layer to the consciousness of the habit.

Psychologist James Claiborn, PhD, and the co-author of The Habit Change Workbook, explains, “Write out a list of the pros and cons of this behavior and keep a record of when you do it. Measurement of anything tends to change it and makes people much more aware in the first place." (1)

This is similar to number 1, in that it allows you to analyze the habit.

3. Put a temp in.

Once you realize the’ whens and whys’ of a habit you want to break, try substituting another action in its place.

Suppose you drink two cans of soda day. Substitute one of the cans for a cup of water or naturally flavored seltzer. Once that’s working well, substitute the other can of soda with something healthier.
Or, suppose you spend 2 hours a day on social media. Time yourself. Stop at one hour. Then jump into writing something, whether it's your story or a blog post.

4. Realize it may take a bit of time to break a habit.

This one isn’t from WebMD, but it’s powerful.

According to Mark Twain, "A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time."

I love this quote. In one sentence, it lets you know that habits can be broken, but it won’t be overnight. You need to persevere.

All of us have some habits we know we should overcome. Try these three tips and see if you can’t break at least one of your bad habits.


This article was originally published at:


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author. She runs a successful children’s ghostwriting and rewriting business and welcomes working with new clients.

For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact her at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

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