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How to find the right freelance editor for your book or novel

By Mayra Cuevas

This weekend, while attending the Atlanta Writers Conference, several writers asked me about my experience working with a freelance manuscript editor. Many told me they had considered this approach but were uncertain about the process. They also questioned whether the financial investment would yield any real benefit.

In August I sent my contemporary YA manuscript to freelance editor Deborah Halverson, the award-winning author of Writing YoungAdult Fiction for Dummies, founder of and former books editor with Harcourt Children’s Books. Her services for substantive editing included providing feedback on overall voice, plot, pacing, characterization, setting, etc.

Before hiring Deborah, I had written two full manuscripts. I had worked on my YA contemporary manuscript for 18 months and had done multiple revisions. I had sought feedback from my critique group and beta readers. I had also pitched the manuscript to a small group of agents and while I received several requests for a full manuscript the overall response was that the story still needed work.
I reached that point: I had no idea how to fix my own story. I knew then, it was time to hire a freelance editor. Read more

Tami Cowden’s The Men We Love, the Women We Want to Be: Using Hero and Heroine Archetypes to Create Dynamic Characters

Tami Cowden, writer of The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Literary Archetypes, was in Atlanta recently teaching the workshop The Men We Love, the Women We Want to Be: Using Hero and Heroine Archetypes to Create Dynamic Characters. The day course was organized by the Georgia Romance Writers group.  

Cowden provided great insight on how to use different men and women archetypes to build our characters.
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Writing from your life and other things I learned in a one-day intensive with author Meg Medina

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass won the 2013 Cybils Award and the 2014 Pura Belpré Award.
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass won the 2013 Cybils Award and the 2014 Pura Belpré Award.

Last Friday, I attended a writer’s intensive workshop with the amazing Latina author Meg Medina. The workshop was part of the SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle 2015 Conference.

The best way to describe it: like group therapy for writers – we laughed, we cried, we wrote. It was by far the best writing workshop I have ever participated in.
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Second Annual Winter Writers Retreat

In January 2014, my critique partner Marie and I held our first winter writers retreat with the idea that it would become a yearly tradition. And it did!

Last weekend we held our second annual winter writers retreat with double the attendance! Yes, we went from two to four! Ha!

We were happy to welcomed Peggy and Lee into our little writing getaway. Peggy, a published author, is writing a literary biography, while Lee is working on her first manuscript, a contemporary romance. Marie and I are both working on contemporary YA manuscripts.
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2015 Contests for Young Adult Writers

In less than 2 months 2014 will be gone. Forever.

For my part I will spend last days of this year finishing a new manuscript (a YA summer camp themed romantic comedy). I will also be contemplating whether or not to enter said manuscript in a writing contest. 

To get warmed up I compiled a list of writing competitions that caught my eye. 

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award’s yearly manuscript competition which includes a YA category.

In 2014 Amazon received about 10,000 entries. They chose a finalist from each of the five fiction categories, all of which received an Amazon publishing contract and a $15,000 advance. Of the five finalists, they select a Grand Prize winner who received a $50,000 advance.

2015 Deadline: TBA – usually February 
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Evernote Tips for Writers

This blog post is based on a recent one-hour course I offered during the Romance Writers of America Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX.

It is a compilation of tips and how to’s for Evernote’s FREE online version. Many more features are available in the Premium (paid) version, but for the purposes of my research as a writer the free version works just fine.

Evernote is an online curator of webpages, notes, picture, audio files and even handwritten notes. I use it for all my online research as a quick method to save research and make annotations. And since it is a web-based product, I can log in anywhere to add content, regardless of whether I’ carrying my laptop or not.


My favorite Evernote application is the Web Clipper, which you can download for free, here:

The Web Clipper adds a curating tool – in the shape of a little elephant – to your browser which with one click lets you can save any online content into your Evernote files.

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The power of Wattpad: find your readers and build your audience

My writing partner and her agent have been discussing the idea of posting prequels on Wattpad as a way to promote her novel.

What is a prequel?

A prequel is a teaser story that helps create an audience for a novel before its publication. Authors will repurpose scenes or backstory cut from the original manuscript and turn them into stand-alone short stories.

The idea is to use these stories to build a community of readers for your book by offering the content for free on social reading sites such as Wattpad.

What is Wattpad?

Wattpad is an online social reading community that boasts a monthly audience of over 10 million readers. And according to the site’s About page, “every minute Wattpad connects more than 10,000 readers with a new story.”
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Great news! Teaching a workshop at the RWA 2014 National Conference in July.

I’m happy to announce that I will be a workshop speaker at the Romance Writers of America 2014 Conference in July.

This years conference will take place in San Antonio, TX.

Here are the two workshops I will be teaching:

Crash course on Evernote: Take control of your research: A one hour crash course on using Evernote as a curator for all your researching needs.


Ditch Word. A Crash course in Scrivener: A one hour crash course on using Scivener to compose and structure your novel.


I’m very excited about these two workshops and will be showing lots of neat tools to improve your research and writing process!

If there is something you would like to see during the workshops send me an email at


Agent and Editor Query Links: Obsession, Misery and Laughs

Back in October I wrote about starting my agent / editor query process. And… I’m still at it. Perseverance is the word you are thinking of.

During the query process I have discovered some great websites worth sharing. If you are in your query process like I am, you can obsess over them in between repeatedly refreshing your email to make sure you didn’t miss any messages from your to-be agent/editor.

I have divided the sites into helpful categories.

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Building Your Imaginary World

By Mayra Cuevas

Building Your Imaginary World

Most of my novel is set in an imaginary world. I loved creating it and most days I didn’t want to leave it.

When I began building my world I compiled a list of key elements that I needed to tell my story, based on the needs of the characters, their story arch and the plot line. But as I came to find out, I was only scratching the surface.

I knew that my world building couldn’t be gratuitous. In today’s book market editors and readers have little to no patience for long stretches of narrative that build a world but do nothing to advance the story. But I also realized that my world wasn’t living up to its full potential.The initial brainstorming was very helpful as a starting point but it was really a list of disjointed ideas.

I needed a plan. So I went to the Barnes and Noble behind my house and sat in front of the fiction writing section. There I found “The Writer’s Digest Guide to Science Fiction & Fantasy” by Orson Scott Card and the editors of Writer’s Digest.
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