Monday, 26 June 2017

Coping with the Emotional Challenges of Being a Writer...

As an author, the number one emotional challenge I find is being overwhelmed. These days, writers must wear so many hats. Indie authors more so. If you’re lucky to score a contract with a publisher like I did, a lot of the work such as your book cover design, editing, formatting, and some marketing and promoting are taken care of for you. When you’re under contract with a publisher you’re part of a team, and are expected to participate fully. But if you decide to go with self-publishing you either learn the ropes and wear all the hats, or delegate and hire cover artists, editors, formatters, and book promotion or marketing specialists. And believe me it’s not cheap.

We live in a new time of publishing where the rules are not quite yet defined, and anything goes. So writers need to figure out what they can handle, and what they can’t. I hired a web designer. I’ve even hired a book promotion specialist to help with a blog tour for my book launch. Writers are a tough breed. You must realize that you can’t handle everything. Or this business will break you. It’s humbling to understand you need to rely on others, and it will create a sense of peace. Balance what you can, and dole out the rest.

Writing is such a solitary profession. Humans need human contact. Period. Face it, we weren’t born to live a life of solitude. Like attracts like, and writers are no exception. I connected with other writers through courses, social media, my publishers, writing groups—I could go on, but you get the gist—because of our common love of books and writing. Writers know what other writers go through. They feel each other’s pain, know what it’s like to be rejected, and invest a lot of time, energy, and money into a profession that may or may not pay off in the long run.

Supporting other writers, and helping them out when the going gets tough, has helped me tremendously when I’ve felt down in the dumps and overwhelmed. And those awesome writers do the same for me. These emotional challenges happen to the best of us. So why not hang with like-minded souls, who can give you a hug—virtually or physically?

What are some of the emotional challenges you’ve faced as a writer? How did you deal with these challenges? Would love to read and respond to your comments! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Book Tour: Lost and Found, Book One; Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Series by Sharon Ledwith...


Fairy Falls was bores-ville from the get-go. Then the animals started talking... 


The Fairy Falls Animal Shelter is in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey—a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation—to find a new human pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear.

Forced to live with her Aunt Izzy in the safe and quiet town of Fairy Falls, Meagan is caught stealing and is sentenced to do community hours at the animal shelter where her aunt works. Realizing Meagan can hear her, Whiskey realizes that Meagan just might have the pack leader qualities necessary to save the animals. Avoiding Whiskey and the rest of shelter animals becomes impossible for Meagan, so she finally gives in and promises to help them. Meagan, along with her newfound friends, Reid Robertson and Natalie Knight, discover that someone in Fairy Falls is not only out to destroy the shelter, but the animals as well. Can Meagan convince her aunt and co-workers that the animals are in danger? If she fails, then all the animals’ voices will be silenced forever.

Exclusive Excerpt:

“You can understand me, can’t you, girl?” the calico cat said, staring straight at her.
Meagan stretched, much like a cat, and then crossed her arms. “So what if I can? And FYI—cigarettes relieve stress for me. I need them like you need food.”
Whiskey’s ears flattened. “I do not need poisoned food, thank you very much. And what is stress, girl?”
“Meagan.”
“What?”
“My name is Meagan. How would you like to be called ‘cat’ all the time?”
“It is what I am.” Whiskey preened her head with a paw. “You humans are the only ones who need to give out names. In my lifetime, I have had three different names, though I like Whiskey the best. Now, what is this ‘stress’?”
“Stress is something adults do to kids all the time. It’s that push-push-push feeling that gets up all inside you. Stress makes your stomach bunch, neck tense, and head ache.”
Whiskey stopped grooming. “So why don’t you just walk away from this stress? Cats do it all the time.”
Meagan sighed. “I wish it were that easy.”
Whiskey sneezed, making her bells ring. “It’s easier than poisoning yourself with that white stick. If you could smell what I can smell, then you’d never pick up another white stick.”
Meagan laughed. “Maybe, but when I first walked into the shelter, you should have smelled what I smelled. It was ripe! Whew, you animals are disgusting!”
Whiskey grinned a cat grin, and then laid down on the gravel. “Does the Kind One know?”
“Kind One?”
“The human you came in with. Does she know that you can talk to cats?”
“Aunt Izzy? No. Only my mom knew. She used to work for a veterinarian, but…” Meagan paused, shook her head, and then cleared her throat, “Nobody does now. I used to talk to animals all the time when I was younger. It seemed natural to me, picking up pictures or feelings or emotions from a stray cat, a wandering dog, or a friend’s pet, and then sending a message back to them. I remember it being fun.”
Whiskey’s yellow eyes widened. “You can understand dogs, too?”
Meagan nodded. “Sure. I just pick up their signals, the same as I would for cats, and connect with them. I stopped doing it when I was around ten ’cause—” Meagan paused for the second time, and sighed deeply “—kids were making fun of me and adults didn’t believe me. I honestly thought I’d lost the ability until I picked up on you.”
The dogs started barking wildly again. “Okay, okay, hold your bits and pieces, Mama Gail is coming!”
“What’s going on?” Meagan asked, peering around the shed.
“It’s feeding time for the dogs. The Loud One is rotating them so they all get a chance to relieve themselves before eating.”
“The Loud One? For not caring about names, you animals sure have some strange ones for us.”
Whiskey’s tail twitched. “We go by the steady patterns we pick up from a human.”
“Steady patterns?”
Her tail flicked again. “Yes. Every human is different. The Loud One booms in everything she does. She uses her voice far too much and her ears far too little. The Quiet One is the opposite. She listens and rarely speaks, but knows more about what’s going on at the shelter than anyone else. Then there’s the Quick One. She speeds through the shelter, cleaning, watering, and feeding us as if she’s doing the job of ten humans. It’s all so disturbing to watch, darting here and there like a lost puppy on the road.”
“I see,” said Meagan. “So how did you come up with the oh-so-wrong name for my Aunt Izzy?”
Whiskey jumped up on her lap and stared into her blue eyes. Meagan shrunk. “If you can communicate with me, then you should know why.”
Whiskey was a light-weight cat, no more than a furry bag of bones, yet there was something intimidating about her, like an old-school teacher smacking a ruler against her palm. The truth was, this elderly cat knew her aunt better than she did and it made her a little on the jealous side. Other than the stories her dad had shared—the bar fight, the drug addiction, the rebellious big sister—she knew nothing else.
Meagan shook her head. “I haven’t a freaking clue, Whiskey.”
The cat almost looked disappointed. “Then may I suggest that you start paying attention? You’ll learn more about humans that way.”  

Book Details:

Kindle File Size: 667 KB
Print Length: 203 pages
Publication Date: June 17, 2017
ASIN: B0713S1DCR

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing
http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com

Goodreads Link:

Purchase Your Copy:



Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel adventure series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.


Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, and GOODREADS.

Author Tagline:

Escape to the past and have a blast.

Connect with Sharon Ledwith:

Sharon’s Website:
www.sharonledwith.com

Sharon’s Blog:
http://sharonledwith.blogspot.com/

Sharon’s Facebook Page:
http://www.facebook.com/#!/seledwith

Sharon’s Author Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/Sharon-Ledwith-210150205690477/

Twitter: @sharonledwith:
https://twitter.com/sharonledwith

Goodreads Author Page:
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5821744.Sharon_Ledwith

Goodreads Book Page:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35017082-lost-and-found

Google+ Page:
https://plus.google.com/116758820349834035390#116758820349834035390/posts

Amazon Author U.S. Page:
http://amzn.to/2p9rync

Amazon Author U.K. Page:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B0084DUHJO

Pinterest:
https://www.pinterest.com/seledwith/

Café Press Shop:

Monday, 12 June 2017

Let's Hear it for the Boys...

This recipe is one for the guys. And I’m sure the fellows on The Last Timekeepers team would wholeheartedly agree. After all, Jordan, Drake, Ravi, and Professor Lucas will tell you that they build up quite an appetite traveling into the past to keep time safe. So instead of settling for something like rabbit stew or salty cookies, these brave lads would rather sink their teeth into a strip of melt-in-your-mouth beef jerky. Plus, this healthy, high-protein snack won’t spoil when you’re traveling to faraway places—like Nottingham in 1214 or Amsterdam in 1942.

Easy to prepare with a prep time of 15 minutes, marinade time of approximately 3 hours, and cook time of 3 hours, you’ll discover making your own beef jerky is not only fun and relatively quick, but also something you can do with your favorite person! You can have your butcher slice the beef for you, or do-it-yourself. BTW—this makes a great Game Day snack or fabulous Father’s Day gift.

Hubby’s Homemade Beef Jerky

¾ cup Worcestershire sauce
¾ cup soy sauce
1 tbsp. smoked paprika, or to taste (we use regular paprika)
1 tbsp. honey, or more to taste
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
2 pounds of beef, top round, thinly sliced

WHISK all ingredients, except the beef, together in a bowl.

ADD beef to bowl and turn to coat the meat completely.

COVER with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator 3 hours to overnight.

PREHEAT oven to 175° F (80° C)

LINE a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack over the foil.

TRANSFER beef to paper towels to dry. Discard marinade. Arrange beef slices in a single layer on the prepared wire rack on the baking sheet.

BAKE beef until dry and leathery, 3 to 4 hours. Cut with scissors into bite-size pieces, and enjoy!

Since you’ve got 3 hours to do whatever your heart desires, why not check out what those time traveling guys are up to by perusing one of my books from The Last Timekeepers series? Happy eats,  and enjoy this blast from the past to get your feet moving and appetite growing...

Monday, 5 June 2017

What’s New in my Writing World this Summer…

With my new book release through Mirror World Publishing just around the corner, I’ve been scrambling to get things prepared and ready to go. Honestly, with the stuff authors have to do nowadays, it feels as if I’m birthing a baby, rather than launching a book! Some of my tasks include creating blog posts for my upcoming book tour with Sapphyria’s Book Promotions (June 17th to 23rd), whipping up recipe posts for friend and gourmet cook, Sloane Taylor, working with my web designer to make the necessary additions to include my new book and buy links, and making plans to attend the Summer Craft and Gift Show with author friend, Christine Hayton on June 25th in Windsor.

Last month, I just finished up with a three week long Goodreads Giveaway for The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, the latest book in my young adult time travel adventure series. I was tickled with the amount of entries I received (1444) for that giveaway, and I’m grateful for all those readers who entered! Now on the cusp of a new book series, I’ll be planning another Goodreads Giveaway once, Lost and Found, Book One of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls launches on June 17th. Please stay tuned for my next Goodreads Giveaway announcement on my blog, and in my Facebook and Twitter feeds. This book giveaway will run for about two weeks, so the winner will receive his/her book during the summer months.

I’ve also been busy contacting animal shelters and animal rescue organizations to offer them a fundraising opportunity to sell my book, Lost and Found on consignment at their events and fundraisers. In this proposal, I offer some unique marketing and selling points:

·         The author wrote this novel after her experience with working at a local animal shelter as an animal care attendant
·         A true labor of love, every dog and cat featured in this novel is based on an animal for which the author cared or handled in some capacity
·         A story that speaks for the animals
·         Cat and dog lovers worldwide will adore this heartwarming animal tale
·         Brings awareness to struggling animal shelters everywhere.
·         Brings awareness regarding the important issue of neutering/spaying our pets, as well as the importance of animal adoption
·         The importance of volunteering at local animal shelters to help offset the high cost of running a shelter

The intent for this fundraising idea spawns from creating awareness for animal shelters and the continuing challenges to keep their doors open, and care for the lost, abandoned, or surrendered animals. We must remember, without the backbone of volunteers and community support, animal shelters and rescues would not survive. I know this, and unfortunately have seen it firsthand.

If you’re curious about Lost and Found, here’s the tagline and blurb:

Fairy Falls was bores-ville from the get-go. Then the animals started talking...

The Fairy Falls Animal Shelter is in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey—a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation—to find a new human pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear.

Forced to live with her Aunt Izzy in the safe and quiet town of Fairy Falls, Meagan is caught stealing and is sentenced to do community hours at the animal shelter where her aunt works. Realizing Meagan can hear her, Whiskey realizes that Meagan just might have the pack leader qualities necessary to save the animals. Avoiding Whiskey and the rest of shelter animals becomes impossible for Meagan, so she finally gives in and promises to help them. Meagan, along with her newfound friends, Reid Robertson and Natalie Knight, discover that someone in Fairy Falls is not only out to destroy the shelter, but the animals as well. Can Meagan convince her aunt and co-workers that the animals are in danger? If she fails, then all the animals’ voices will be silenced forever.

Well, that’s all the news I have for now, and that’s a good thing, seeing as my work is cut out for me! If you’re an author, have you ever come up with a unique marketing or fundraising idea based on the premise of your book? Would love to read your comments. Cheers, and as always, thank you for reading my blog!

Monday, 29 May 2017

Guest Post: Why Author Janis Flores Walks Shelter Dogs…

Animals are near and dear to my heart. During 2007 and 2008, I had the privilege of working at our local animal shelter. From this experience I got the idea to write Lost and Found, Book One of my young adult teen psychic series, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls. It was through my love of animals that I met fellow author and kindred spirit, Janis Flores, who I found loves our furry friends just as much as me. Janis has had some wonderful experiences, especially with shelter dogs, and I asked her if she’d be so kind as to share them with you. Take it away, Janis…

Eight years ago, I walked into our local animal shelter and changed my life forever.  It wasn’t easy. In fact, volunteering to walk shelter dogs was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  I know that will probably sound silly to a lot of people: after all, what’s the big deal about walking dogs? Put a leash on and go.

For me, it wasn’t that simple. Blessed (or cursed) with a writer’s super-active imagination, I didn’t know what would be waiting behind the reception desk, locked away out of sight of the public. I pictured rows of dogs in wire kennels, unloved, unwanted, dropped off by owners who abdicated responsibility because the dog was sick, or old, or injured, or ill-mannered, or just something to be thrown away because it was, after all, only a dog.

I’ll admit it: I was anxious—scared that I’d make a fool of myself by bursting into tears as soon as I saw the dogs; sure that I wouldn’t be able to turn away from all those sad faces, begging for rescue.  I was positive I’d have nightmares about frightened and confused dogs, who didn’t understand what had happened to them, or why.

Then I saw a poster that made me feel like a coward, writing checks to assuage my conscience, donating money instead of time so I wouldn’t have to see what I didn’t want to know. The poster showed a dirty, skinny little dog with a huge chain hanging from a studded collar around a neck that looked too frail to hold it up. I couldn’t look away from the depth of pain and hopelessness I saw in that dog’s eyes. The caption under the picture read:
 
You might not be able to help all the lost dogs in the world, but you can help the one in front of you.

That day I walked into the shelter and volunteered to walk the dogs.

Things have changed at the shelter where I volunteer as a dog walker. It now has a Behavior and Training Department, whose members evaluate the dogs that come in to determine if they have any medical and/or behavior problems before advancing them to the adoption floor. But when I first started, it was just me, the dogs, and a slip lead (For those who don’t know what a slip lead is, it’s a long piece of material about half an inch wide with a metal “D” ring at one end. To use it, you thread the end through the ring, forming a circle that substitutes as a collar. The “slip” of the lead means that it can be adjusted to any size dog).  In those early days, I quickly learned that it wasn’t so simple as: put on a leash and go.

I chose to work with the clinic/hospital dogs instead of those already up for adoption because they seemed to be most in need of help and attention. They didn’t know where they were, or why their family had left them behind in a strange place.  I wasn’t a familiar face, but I could be a helping hand, letting them know—for the brief time I was there on my volunteer day—that they weren’t alone.

It was an experiment for both of us. In those early days, I had no way of knowing when I entered a kennel what I was about to face. Some dogs “shut down” in depression and turned away; others became aggressive because they were uncertain and scared. But most were so glad to see me that they almost vibrated with excitement.  A leash, a leash, we’re going for a walk! I could see it in their faces, and it makes me smile every time.  Their joy at such a simple act almost makes me forget why they are here. Almost.

It was a shock to learn that only a minority of the shelter dogs are strays (at least in our shelter); the majority have been brought in by owners with various excuses about why they can’t keep the dog any longer. But one justification I’ll never understand, is “We just don’t want him anymore.”

How can you not want a dog who has been a faithful family member for years? How can you throw him away for someone else to take care of just because he has silver around the muzzle, or cataracts in his eyes, or limbs crippled with arthritis? To see such a dog watching his former family walking away without looking back is simply gut-wrenching.

I always pay special attention to these old dogs. The look in their eyes just breaks my heart.
On a brighter note, here are some of the special dogs I’ve met at the shelter:

HOLLY: (so named because she was found in a parking lot at Christmas). We never knew what happened to this white, bright-eyed little Maltese cross—whether it was abuse, or being hit by a car—that caused paralysis in both hind legs. I admit to mixed emotions when they fitted her with a canine version of a wheelchair. It seemed so unnatural to me. But when I saw Holly’s joy at being able to race around—sometimes on one wheel—I had to admit that, for her, it was the right prescription.

 LEO: a small boxer cross that came from Mexico with what appeared at first to be a tumor the size of a small grapefruit under his chin. I won’t go into the medical details this dog suffered; suffice to say he became one of the most loved because of his resilience, determination, and sheer refusal to lose to a deadly disease.

STEVIE: a black, blind terrier cross with eyes that looked like silver coins. He was found wandering on a busy thoroughfare. It was a miracle he wasn’t killed. The shelter vet reluctantly determined that it was too late to restore his vision, but he didn’t let his blindness stop him. Whenever he heard the jingle of a harness and a leash, he whirled in circles, eager to go outside for a walk.

CHANCE: a beautiful 25-pound American Eskimo, with the blackest eyes and a blindingly white coat (once he’d had a bath to wash away the street grime). He had many physical problems, but he didn’t let that stop him. Sometimes he just wanted to sit with my arm around him while we watched the world go by.

FLOWER: an abused pit bull with so much potential. Black with a little white on her chest; eyes gleaming with intelligence. We worked hard getting her aggression under control so she could be adopted, only to have her returned in a semi-crazed state with no explanation about what had happened. Despite our best efforts, she quickly developed “shelter stress”, and even though it was the best thing for her, it was a sad day for us all when she was put down. Such a loss for a dog who had tried so hard.

ABBIE: an extremely shy Aussie, with a beautiful “Autumn” coat. She would retreat to the opposite of her kennel and shake when anyone tried to get near her, but with a lot of patience we brought her out of her shell and into a new life.

BRIE: another Aussie. She had to have her front leg amputated because her owner left a home-made, too-tight bandage on and left it on too long, destroying the circulation in that leg. She was a brave and uncomplaining girl who just wanted to be loved. That’s what we gave her—until her new family came along, fell in love, and adopted her.

There are so many more that I could go on and on. They pass through my mind like a fancy shuffle, with the cards falling in a waterfall, moving so fast I can’t see the faces. But I know they were there, and I believe I did my own small part in helping them. What they did for me—and continue to do—is more than I can say.

Janis Flores was born in Montana, and raised in Colorado and California. After graduating from college, she received her license in Medical Technology, married Ray Flores, and they moved to northern California—she to supervise a laboratory, he to establish his horseshoeing business. She found time to take a class on the short story, but instead wrote her first book—a Gothic suspense titled HAWKSHEAD, which was subsequently published in hardcover by (then) Doubleday and company. Thirty-four novels—from historical to contemporary mainstream—followed.

You can find Jan on her website: www.janisflores.com
On Twitter: @JanisOFlores

Monday, 22 May 2017

Celebrate Victoria Day with this Fun Appetizer for Family, and Sweet Romance for You by Sara Daniel...

Bacon-Wrapped Wienies
1 package bacon
2 packages wienies/ lil smokies
1½ sticks butter, melted
1½ cups brown sugar

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

CUT bacon into ¼ inch – ½ inch pieces. Wrap bacon around each wienie. Secure with a toothpick and place in a single layer in 9 X 13 inch pan.

COMBINE butter with brown sugar. Pour over wienies.

BAKE for 20 minutes. Turn up heat to 400 and cook for 5 minutes longer to make bacon crispy.

Here's a little teaser from my contemporary romance for your reading pleasure.

Love is his enemy…and her answer. 

A nationally televised bombshell revealing a secret son turns marriage therapist Caleb Paden’s life upside down. While others focus on the public relations disaster for his company, he can only think of rescuing his baby and providing the stable home dictated by his marriage theories—one devoid of love and emotions. 

Olivia Wells might not be the baby’s biological mother, but she loves him as much as any parent could. Letting him go will break her heart. Letting him go to a man who doesn’t believe in love will tear her apart.

As she helps Caleb bond with his child, Olivia finds herself falling for the man behind the stuffy therapist persona. However, he wants nothing to do with her love and emotions, and those are the only things she has to give. If she can’t convince him love is the answer, not the enemy, she will lose both the baby she loves and her heart.

EXCERPT

“Scones?” He recoiled as if she’d announced the kitchen teemed with roaches.

“You don’t like them?” She set the tin on the side table and arranged the dishes of butter and strawberry preserves.

“No.”

She bit her tongue over the urge to tell him how much she detested his books. “I use a recipe my grandmother brought over from Scotland. I serve plain scones along with two other flavors of the day.”

“Coffee will suffice.” He picked up his cup. “Thank you, Olivia, for your hospitality. I’m in need of a room tonight for myself and my, uh, son. A suite would be best, if possible. I’ll pay the going rate, naturally.”

He had no idea what “going rate” she offered to misguided marriage therapists. Not that it mattered. Whether he paid for his stay or not, he had to sleep under her roof. The storm didn’t leave either of them a choice. And she had plenty of rooms. Her other scheduled guests for the week had cancelled due to the weather. “Of course you need to stay. But Liam already has his own room and he’s currently asleep there.”

“From now on, he’ll stay with me.”

Her heart fell to the pit of her stomach. “Dr. Paden, you’re chilled and must have had a terrible drive. Why don’t you relax and worry about yourself this evening. Liam is on a schedule where he goes to sleep before dinner and sleeps through to the early morning. I’ll introduce you to him then.”

He set down his coffee cup with an ominous clank. “I didn’t come here for coffee and scones. I came for my son. Take me to him now.”

She clasped her shaking hands behind her back. She had no legal claim to Liam. But how could she give up the child she loved to such an overbearing, pompous ass?

BUY LINKS: Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Kobo - iBooks - GooglePlay

Sara Daniel writes what she loves to read—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She battles a serious NASCAR addiction, was once a landlord of two uninvited squirrels, and loses her car keys several times a day.

Learn more about Sara on her website and blog. Subscribe to Sara’s newsletter.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Guest Post: Let's Talk Formatting by Marci Clark...

As an editor/designer, I see manuscripts come at me with all kinds of crazy, wonky, how-the-hell-did-you-do-that formatting. Be kind to your editor/designer, peeps. Clean up your mess a little before submitting it.

Some houses provide a style guide. Double check for any submission rules before sending your book and risking a default rejection. If the house is relaxed on their formatting, that doesn't mean you shouldn't bother cleaning up the formatting any less than you'd bother cleaning up the content.

If they don't have a style for submissions, a pretty basic format is appreciated. Centered chapter headings, .3 to .5 indent on new paragraphs, 1.5 spaced lines, all black text in a basic font/typeface (making it "pretty" won't impress your editor), and no all capped or underlined words (use italics for emphasis).
Here are a few shortcuts when it comes to cleaning up your manuscript. Note: I have a PC, so I don't know if these translate to a Mac.

Extra Spaces: We are no longer a society of the double space after ending a sentence. One space. One. But if you have a habit of adding two, no problem. There's a quick fix. Open up your find/replace option. In the find box, hit the space bar twice. In the replace box, hit the space bar once. Then select replace all. Do that until the find/replace reaches zero.

Tabs: No. Just no. Do not use the tab button when indenting. Go to the top of the document, select the page layout tab an set your indent for the document there. Sometimes hitting the tab is natural. You can fix that as well. In the find/replace option, find ^t and replace with nothing. Leave the replace box blank. Replace all. Then select all on your document and set your tab as indicated above-through the page layout option.

Spaces Before or After Paragraphs: These hidden spaces may seem innocent enough, but if you are self publishing, these extra spaces can cause the designer a lot of stress depending on which program they use to convert your document. Remove extra spaces by again using the find/replace option. Find: space bar^p, and replace with ^p. Replace all. Do the same, but with the space on the other side of the paragraph break. ^pspacebar, replace with ^p. This will give you clean returns throughout.

Soft Returns: These also are pain when formatting. Find/replace ^l with ^p.

As for the document, please, please, PLEASE do not hit the enter button multiple times to start a new chapter. Nooo!!! Use a solid page break. Ctrl+Enter will break the page and give you (and your designer) a clean start on the next chapter. The problem with hitting enter over and over is that while it may push the chapter heading to a new page on your computer screen, it doesn't always work out that way on your editor's screen. If not, your chapter headings end up in all kinds of crazy places. Just do a page break, and nobody has to wonder WTH.

There are a dozens of little things that could also be done, but this really hits the big ones. Follow these tips, and your editor/designer will love you just a little more.

Marci Clark is a freelance editor, book/cover art/promo materials designer, published author, and all around publishing nerd. She's worked for Kensington Publishing since 2014, as well as several indie houses over the years. She is proficient in self-publishing and would love to help you with all your publishing needs, including premade or custom cover art.

Reach out to her at marci.clark.editing@gmail.com if you'd like to discuss your project with her.