The Dreaded Red Pen

Today is the final day of the Heart Search: Lost Blog Tour. I know, I know. How ironic to end a blog tour  for a vampire novel on Halloween? But today is the perfect day to go all out! How many of you trick-or-treaters will dress up as Joshua tonight? Or Samir, or Jasna? Whoever you dress up as, have a great time! And to those that celebrate a more traditional Samhain or All Hallow’s Eve, blessed be. Also, make sure you get your entries in for the Heart Search giveaway before it closes today at midnight EST!

Now a final parting shot from Ms Carlie M. A. Cullen, to say goodbye to the Blog Tour for her first novel Heart Search: Lost.


You write your novel, the first draft is finished and you experience a sense of euphoria which lasts for several days, during which time you’ve sent it off to your editor.

A few years ago, you would have printed it out and sent it by mail or courier and all the corrections would have come back written in red pen. These days it’s obviously much easier to do everything electronically. The Comments boxes on the Review pane in Word have replaced the dreaded red pen.

None of us are naïve enough to think we’ve produced the perfect manuscript first time – or are we?

When I finished the first draft on Heart Search, my first full length novel, I thought maybe I’d made a few grammatical errors along the way, but that was about it. To me it was close to perfect. I’d done spell check so knew there were no spelling errors. But spell check can’t tell you ‘form’ should have been ‘from’. As far as spell check is concerned there is a correct spelling in that position. These were things I didn’t think about.

I found an experienced professional editor, Maria V A Johnson, who understood my nervousness, went out of her way to explain the process and didn’t overcharge. I was so impressed by her attitude I engaged her services and sent her my manuscript that very day.

When I got the edited manuscript back from my wonderful editor, I was gobsmacked and totally unprepared for how many corrections would be needed. It turned out my ‘close to perfect’ story needed a lot of work. I must admit I felt a bit deflated at first and I began to doubt whether I had any talent for writing at all. But I picked myself up and with a heavy heart began to look through the comments Maria had made.

As I went through them, I realised most of her comments were just because of silly mistakes I’d made where I’d been so caught up in the writing, I’d switched tenses or put commas where I should have used semi colons and things of that ilk. She also pointed out over-used and superfluous words which, when removed, made the sentences much stronger.

She looked at sentence structure and suggested ways to improve them. She pointed out areas where I was telling instead of showing. There were comments about sentences which didn’t flow very well and again suggested ways to fix the problem. Maria also looked at duplications of the same word(s) used close together and suggested alternatives. As well as looking at each line, she looked at the story as a whole and made structural and developmental suggestions. Each comment was written in an encouraging tone which made suggestions. I never felt I was forced to do anything. She used words like consider and suggest, leaving me in a position where I knew she recognised everything was ultimately my decision. I think she knew I needed her to acknowledge that.

We didn’t always agree on changes she suggested, which of course is the author’s privilege, but we’d forged a good working relationship where we could discuss the issues and often reached a good compromise.

By the time I’d finished going through all the comments and alterations, I realised the polished work on my screen had worth. There was a good story with strong relatable characters and I got to thinking that maybe, just maybe, I did have some talent after all.

Of course the process didn’t stop there. I had an alpha reader and two beta readers, all of whom made comments and gave valuable feedback. This resulted in me making a few more changes to the story and Maria once more edited my revisions.

The final result is the book which has now been released for sale and I have to say it’s a heady feeling.

My attitude towards editing has completely changed. I can now see why it’s so important to have a professional editor go through my work. I was too close to my words to see the errors – I saw what I wanted it to be and not what was actually written on the page. Maria opened my eyes and made me see and for that I’m incredibly grateful. She has supported me through the whole process and continues to do so as I launch Heart Search: Lost by joining my Blog Tour and helping to publicise it for me, all of which she’s doing out of the goodness of her heart. Editors like her are a rare find and I’ve already engaged her to edit books two and three of the Heart Search Trilogy!

Editing is a positive process, not a negative one. If you approach it in a professional manner, with an open mind and understand the editor’s position is to help and guide you, you will emerge with a polished work to be proud of.


Thank you so much for that Carlie! I wish you all the luck and success in the world for your new novel – and I can’t wait for book two to land in my inbox!

Other posts today are as follows:





You can buy the book from the link in the sidebar.

Visit Ms Cullen at her website:


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