Book Review! HIDDEN by: T.K. Barber

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After the botched rescue attempt of girlfriend Annalise nearly cost him his life, Thomas Valentine finds himself under secret, protective care from an unlikely source, and his crippling desire to see Annalise, despite orders not to, unknowingly places her in danger.

All Annalise wants is to push past the trauma of her imprisonment, move on, and keep Thomas alive in her memory while clinging to a thread of “normal.” Those plans shatter the instant they’re reunited, and the young lovers are shoved deep into a sinister plot that claws at their fragile minds and tender hearts.

When Thomas’s life and morality hang in the balance, Annalise makes a dangerous play to rescue him from the ghosts of his past and the one person he wants nothing more than to please.

And with dynasties now on the line, the family leaders make deceptive moves to end their rivalry once and for all, using any means necessary.

Happy Wednesday, darlings! This week’s review is the second in a series and if you want to check out my review of the first book, pop on over here.

So this is going to be one of those, “Where the heck do I start?” kind of reviews for a bunch of reasons. Hidden is the next in the Twin Bay Saga series and I will tell you that most of these books can fully function as standalones, however Held and Hidden can NOT and absolutely must be read in order so if you haven’t read Held yet, please start there, then come back and read my Hidden review.

Okay, now, for those who HAVE read Held… there is still a lot I can’t say. Yeah, I know. Sue me. Here’s the thing, Held and Hidden are both deeply enmeshed in the romantic suspense world where giving too much information could basically ruin the entire experience for you. And the works of Ms. Barber absolutely should not be ruined. She weaves a rich (and in the case of the Twin Bay Saga series, a dark one!) world with luscious descriptions and great world building that pulls you right in with the characters.

Speaking of the characters… Ms. Barber creates dazzling ones that are multi-dimensional. Which is slightly problematic when those dimensions include a not-super-clear picture of who should be afraid of. Listen people, the enemy you thought you knew from Held? Yeah, it ain’t that easy because… #reasons.

As in Held, even our leading characters that you love and are rooting for are a bit on the morally gray scale. And let’s be honest here people, that’s life. No one is wholly good or wholly bad, we are all a spectrum of rights and wrongs, just as Ms. Barber’s characters. I mean, granted, I’ve never been employed by the mafia, but YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’D DO IN THEIR PLACE! And some people are just born into it with no way out.

But the end… oh friends… the ending will leave you with a shift in power and hierarchy that may make you fall in love with the mafia.

If you love multi-POV romantic suspense with morally gray characters and questionable antagonists (I mean, seriously, stop me when you hear something there you don’t love) you should check out Hidden ASAP!

Where to find Hidden:

Amazon

Goodreads

 

COVER REVEAL! Meant to be Family

I am so insanely in love with this cover I just can not wait to share it with you! This story is incredibly special to my heart and I hope you guys love it! Without further ado, check out the cover for Meant to be Family and meet Connor and Kelsey.

My dreams constantly haunt me, whether I’m asleep or awake. 

Six months ago, my life veered off course when my fiancée disappeared with no explanation. 

The partying lifestyle I’d adopted to cope, ended in an accident that left my body as broken as my heart. To make matters worse, I’ve managed to run off countless physical therapists in charge of the in-home rehabilitation I need to get me back on my feet. 

My last chance at staying in my own house is gift-wrapped in wavy, auburn hair and startling gray eyes. 

The woman that shattered my heart. 

Kelsey is the only one left to help heal my body. And her unexpected arrival brings with it the opportunity to ask the countless questions I thought I’d carry forever.

But her answers only create a new mountain to overcome, one I never imagined.

Now, more than ever, I need to prove to Kelsey that despite everything, we are meant to be a family… 

Available for preorder today on Amazon and don’t forget to add to your Goodreads TBR!

Amazon

Goodreads

Sneak Peek! Meant to be Family

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If you’ve missed the first two parts of Meant to be Family that I’ve shared on here, check them out:

Meant to be Family Sneak Peek Part One

Meant to be Family Sneak Peek Part Two

Connor

Present Day

“I know you’ve told me before, but I need you to start from the beginning. You might remember something different this time.”

Remember something different? What the hell did this guy want from him? Connor speared his fingers through his hair and ran them down the back of his head, linking them together behind his neck.

He peered at the older man from between squinted lids and sighed. The nearly constant barrage of nightmares might end if he could find them. If he knew they were okay. If he could console himself with the fact that maybe one positive thing came from one of the worst nights of his life.

Connor allowed himself to travel back to the dark road. The scent of hot rubber, gasoline, and smoke mingled in his nostrils just from conjuring the memories. His ears filled with the high-pitched, frantic screams he was afraid he’d never be able to forget.

Once more he relayed the entire night from start to finish. What he could remember at least. Chunks of it were lost to the darkness that had claimed him immediately following the impact and then again after he’d pulled them free, once the adrenaline had subsided.

Some of it had been filled in by the paramedics that had arrived just as he crumpled to the ground. Still more filtered in through the images that replayed through his mind as he tried to sleep, penetrating his subconscious with the screams and shattering of glass.

Connor shook his head and tried to hide the helpless feeling from showing on his face as he regarded the private investigator. “There is nothing different. Trust me, I think about this way too often. If there was a chance of remembering more, it would have happened by now. Do you think you can find them?”

The older man regarded him solemnly. “Most of the time these things are a matter of public record so I honestly can’t see this being a huge issue. I’m kind of surprised that you couldn’t find this out on your own.”

Answering that would open a can of worms Connor preferred not to deal with. His pushy older brother Tanner had insisted on therapy and, as much as he hated to admit it, the asshole had been right. The nightmares persisted, but the flashbacks during the day largely subsided. Despite the progress, reading the articles in the paper and viewing the pictures were things he wasn’t ready to face yet. Paying someone else to sort through the wreckage and provide the answers he needed was a much more palatable prospect.

Instead he offered a shrug. “I have a backlog of work from my time in the hospital and doing that takes my mind off the fact I’m still in this damned wheelchair. I don’t have time to comb through a million websites or articles to find the answers.”

Partially true though it was, he still broke eye contact with the investigator. Out of his peripheral vision he saw the other man slowly nod with utter disbelief written across his face. The entire reason Connor had hired Allen Jamison as his PI was because he had military experience, decades in the field, and was well known for being sharp and intuitive. Attempting a half-truth with a man like that was probably not the wisest move.

Still Allen left with only an assurance that he would be in touch as soon as he learned something. No mention of Connor’s minor deception.

With a sigh of relief, he pushed himself down the hall in the evil contraption he hated being confined to and out the back door onto the deck. The morning fall air chilled his damp skin and made him shiver.

Connor ran his palms down each of his flannel-clad legs, the still fresh scars biting back at the pressure. His newest physical therapist was scheduled to arrive at eleven and he glanced down at the watch on his left wrist. Two hours from now. Certainly he could pull himself out of this by then. He’d been warned this was his last chance. He’d managed to alienate every other therapist with his surly, impossible attitude. If he didn’t try this time he’d be forced into inpatient rehab, a consequence he wanted to avoid at all costs.

 

Add Meant to be Family to your TBR today!

Goodreads

Book Review! BEHIND THE GLASS by: Kristen Morgen

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Rebecca Jordan’s life is simple, disciplined, and uncomplicated, at least on the surface. Then she meets a handsome stranger/secret admirer named Michael Vale one fateful late night at a bookstore café. As a focused but struggling photographer with a passion for art, her outwardly happy world is turned upside down during this life-changing encounter when she quickly realizes she has met her soul mate. The undeniable attraction between them and their intense, immediate connection seem picture perfect as they discuss the shop’s local artwork, until Rebecca abruptly ends the chance meeting with no explanation.

Betraying Brett, her loyal, loving boyfriend, is something Rebecca can never bring herself to do. Driven by a strong moral code and molded by divorced parents and a tumultuous childhood, she struggles to stay away from Michael, but fate and circumstance intervene, bringing them back together time and time again. As much as she resists, there is no denying her true feelings for him and the simple fact that Michael understands her in a way Brett never has. Michael proves to be everything she’s ever wanted, but remains just out of her reach.

Behind the Glass tells the story of Michael and Rebecca’s extraordinary love and the many unconventional stages their relationship must go through. Their morals and their faith in true love and in each other will be put to the test as they learn that meeting one’s soul mate does not come without obstacles.

Hello there my lovelies! I have another fabulous little book review for you today, so let’s dive in!

Wow, this is such a decadent read. Straight off the bat I was completely consumed into Rebecca’s world. Ms. Morgen is a master of creating rich descriptions and fabulous world building that puts you smack in the middle of everything. It’s the first time in a while that I was walking in the land of the characters in the first five pages.

Not only were the descriptions lush and beautiful, but so were the emotions. I felt every tug and pull as Rebecca and Michael walked their path to learning more about each other and falling in love.

But as always, it isn’t that simple. Rebecca is already in a relationship and both Michael and Rebecca have a spot on moral compass that doesn’t allow for exploring their feelings for each other while Rebecca is still attached (but not married, this is important to note!) to another man. But is Rebecca willing to give up the comfort of her relationship with Brett to take a chance with Michael.

The ending was as fulfilling as the story itself and I’d love to read more from this author. Her craft is absolutely spot on and so engaging. If you enjoy the heartwarming movies on Hallmark that make you swoon and smile and happy sigh, you need to read Behind The Glass.

Where to find Behind The Glass

Amazon

Goodreads

Sneak Peek! Meant to be Family

Hey there my lovelies!

I have another installment of Meant to be Family and an adorably awkward first date. I gotta admit, Connor actually shocked me with his level of chivalry and concern. It’s pretty obvious why he is his mother’s favorite.

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Kelsey

Six years earlier

 

Kelsey growled and stripped off the navy shirt with small daisies embroidered on it and grabbed the pale pink one she’d just discarded and glanced at the clock before pulling the top over her head. She only had seven minutes and everything she tried on was stupid or awkward.

She adjusted the thin straps and the cold shoulder sleeves and turned in front of her mirror. Five minutes. It would have to do. She slid on a much safer pair of sparkly sandals to dress up the denim shorts she’d paired the top with and grabbed a pair of silver hoop earrings that she put on as she jogged down the stairway.

Her teeth found her lower lip as soon as she saw him standing on the walkway through the glass front door of the hall. He’d changed into a pair of faded, straight leg jeans and matched it with a blue and white striped button-down shirt, the long sleeves rolled up to his elbows. Kelsey tightened her grip on the lightweight jacket she carried. The guy was seriously hot. How had she never run into him on campus before?

She eyed him up and down. “Wearing white around me and food? You’re a glutton for punishment.”

One corner of his mouth kicked up. “I like to live dangerously.” He pointed at the small SUV parked along the curb. “That’s me. Ready to go?”

Erratically beating butterfly wings assaulted her stomach as she fell in step beside him. His brown hair fell against his forehead and sapphire eyes sparkled with mischief. Danger wasn’t even the half of it. “Apparently I do too.” She lifted herself into the passenger’s seat after he opened the door. “Getting in cars with soup-covered strangers.”

He rested his forearm on the top of the open door and squinted up at the sky for a moment before locking his gaze with hers once again. “Connor Elliott Carlisle. Twenty-one years old, I’m in my junior year for a bachelor’s in architecture. I’m the next to the youngest in a family of four boys and they are all basically the biggest pains in the ass you’ll ever meet. My family has lived in Asheville for as long as I can remember, but once I started college there was no way in hell I was going to still live at home. I like dogs better than cats, I hate pickles on a sandwich, and my favorite color is navy blue.” He winked just before shutting the door. “See, now I’m not a stranger.”

Kelsey was still laughing when he climbed in the driver’s seat beside her. “Is that the civilian version of ‘name, rank, and serial number?’”

Connor stuck the key in the ignition, but didn’t turn the car on. Instead he swiveled in his seat and faced her. “That’s the ‘I want you to feel safe being in a car with me’ speech.”

Her heart stuttered in her chest. “I’d say that’s a pretty successful one then.”

He only drove two miles away from campus to a small diner which took away the last remnants of worry. She was fairly certain he was either laying on the charm exceptionally thick or he was a throwback to a much more chivalrous generation. He opened every door for her and held out her seat. When the waiter arrived he motioned for her to order first and spent most of the night asking about her, only revealing additional details about himself when she gently pushed.

“Okay, spill, is this for real or am I getting punked?” She finally had to ask the burning question when he walked her to the front door of Mills Hall.

His lower lip jutted out slightly and the corners of his mouth curled down, brows furrowed together. “What are you talking about?”

Kelsey’s hand moved up and down to encompass him before motioning back and forth between them. “You. This. Tonight. First I spill my food on you in a crowded cafeteria, which I really do need to replace your clothes for you.” He rolled his eyes and his head fell back, but she continued. “Then you take me out to dinner and are a level of gentleman that would embarrass Gene Kelly. How can you be real?”

“First,” Connor took a small step forward, closing some of the space between them, “you don’t need to replace anything. Second, my mother will be thrilled to hear that I behaved exactly the way she raised me to, although probably not surprised. Don’t tell my brothers, but I’m definitely her favorite.”

She fought to control the grin that was causing her lips to twitch.

He took a second step toward her and tentatively laced his right fingers through hers. “But maybe I had an ulterior motive to it all.”

“Ha!” She crowed with delight and poked a finger against his chest with her free hand. “I knew it! I knew you had something shady up your sleeve. Okay, out with it.”

Connor gripped her waist on the left side. “I wanted to kiss you.”

The smug grin disappeared and she blinked up at him several times. “Wait, you…what?”

He curled his lips in a soft smile. “The entire time you were talking in the cafeteria—and you really do talk a lot—I couldn’t stop looking at your mouth and wanting to kiss you.” He lifted one shoulder in a half shrug. “Can I?”

His eyes nearly hypnotized her, but not half as much as the tender words he spoke, sincerity lacing each one. Her voice refused to cooperate and she was left to simply nod. Connor’s hand released hers and held onto the back of her neck. His lips found hers and brushed against them softly, with reverence and care.

In the fading sunset, moments ticked by unnoticed. Kelsey had a handful of boyfriends in high school and one serious one since she started college three years ago, but none of them had ever kissed her like this. She gripped his wrist to keep him in place with one hand, the other stroked the front of his shirt.

When they finally broke, she blinked several times to bring his face back into focus. She ran her tongue along her lower lip. “Was…was that what you expected?”

He grinned and bent down, planting one more soft kiss on her cheek. His mouth moved to her ear, creating a shiver down her spine. “Better.” With one last squeeze, he released her and offered a small wave as he walked backwards to his car. “Night, Kels.”

Add Meant to be Family to your TBR today!

Goodreads

Sneak Peek! Meant to be Family

In case my giddy exclamations of glee haven’t been a clue, the third book in the Meant To Be Series, Mean to be Family will be releasing in just a few weeks and I am OVER THE MOON to share a few little sneak peeks with you.

I gotta admit this first scene I’m sharing is one that I love. Who doesn’t find a messy meeting adorable?

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Connor

Six years earlier

 

“OhmygoshIamsosorry.”

The squealed words all ran together to form one semi-incoherent one. And hit his ears about half a second after the warm liquid landed in his lap. Thank everything good the cafeteria managed to only heat their food to tepid levels. It didn’t help the fact, however, that the red liquid billed as tomato soup was now being soaked up by his khaki shorts. On reflex, he pushed the sketchpad away and breathed a sigh of relief that his drawing had been spared.

A tray clattered onto the table beside him and small hands grabbed several napkins from the dispenser nearby and shoved them in front of him. “I am so, so, so sorry. My foot slid in these stupid sandals which are completely inappropriate and I really shouldn’t be wearing anyway because they hurt my feet and I have to walk across campus three times a day for all my classes. Which is absolutely ridiculous and I have discussed this with my advisor on more than one occasion, but it isn’t like it matters anyway and—” The girl slapped a hand over her mouth. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled from behind her fingers.

Connor pressed the thin paper napkins against his shirt and pants and swallowed back a chuckle. “It’s not a big deal.” He looked up and his eyes collided with wide, slate colored ones that stood out against her dark brown hair and creamy ivory skin. Even the thought of laughing was stolen from him and he swallowed, licking his suddenly parched lips. He’d never seen anyone as beautiful as the mortified girl who plopped down on the bench seating beside him.

Her hands fell away from her face. “I tend to talk. A lot. And ramble when I’m nervous. Or when I’ve done something really stupid like pour the entire contents of my dinner on a stranger’s lap.” She groaned and slapped her palm to her forehead. “Particularly a stranger wearing khakis and a light blue shirt. Did I mention that I’m sorry?”

He looked down at the stained shorts and spattered shirt and really didn’t care about any of it. “Would you believe me if I told you that these were old? Hand me downs from my brother?”

The girl’s full lips twisted to the side and her eyes rolled heavenward. “Not for a moment.”

This time the chuckle escaped before he had a moment to stop it. “Good answer.” He wiped some of the residue that had clung to his hands while he was attempting to clean what he could off his clothes and stuck it out. “Connor.”

She offered a small smile and slid her palm against his, giving a gentle shake. “Kelsey.”

He tightened his fingers around her slightly. “Well, Kelsey, I think a little payback is due.”

Her mouth fell open for a moment before her head bobbed enthusiastically. “Yes, of course, just tell me what size you wear and where your dorm is and I promise I will replace your clothes. I really am sorry, did I say that already?”

Connor pressed his lips together to contain the grin forcing its way to the surface. “I meant you.” He gestured to the nearly empty bowl on her dinner tray. The remnants of her soup that hadn’t been deposited in his lap filled the bottom of the plastic surface. “Looks like you are out of dinner.”

She wrinkled her nose. “It wasn’t much to look forward to anyway. I have some granola bars back in my room that would probably taste a whole lot better.”

He shook his head. “How about I take you out instead?”

Kelsey’s eyes fluttered a few times, confusion tinging the edges. “I spilled my food all over you and you want to buy me a meal?” She pointed to the three quarters of what was supposed to be a turkey sandwich on the plate in front of him. “Besides, you’ve already eaten. Or are eating. Or were. Before I ruined your dinner as well as your clothes. Please let me buy you new ones or at least pay to get these cleaned.”

He squinted at her and rubbed his earlobe between his thumb and forefinger. “You really do talk a lot, don’t you?”

“It’s a bad habit.”

“You say bad, I say cute.” When a light pink tinted her cheeks and her head dropped he lifted her chin with one of his knuckles. “Please let me take you out to dinner tonight.” His gaze fell to his ruined clothes. “After I change.”

Her lower lip caught between her teeth for a moment before she nodded.

Connor’s hand dropped and curled around the one laying against her thigh, bare beneath her denim shorts. “Where is your dorm? I’ll pick you up.” Something flashed across her face and every lecture on campus safety he’d listened to freshman, sophomore, and now junior year came rushing to the forefront of his mind. “I promise I’m not a psychotic stalker that will show up and follow you around.” He winced. “Which is probably exactly what a psychotic stalker would say, but I have two older brothers, a father, and, most terrifying of all, a mother who would kick my ass if I was anything less than a gentleman.”

The answering giggle created a bubbling against his ribcage, nerves and excitement all mixing together.

“I’m in Mills Hall.”

His shoulders drooped slightly with relief that she didn’t think he was a total creep. “That’s kind of perfect since I’m in Ponder.” He tightened his grip for a brief moment before releasing her hand. “I’ll meet you in front of your place in fifteen minutes?”

She lifted one shoulder and grinned. “I like the sound of that.”

As soon as the words left her mouth, she stood and scurried from the building. An uncontrollable, and probably ridiculously goofy, smile stayed fixed in place while he threw away the remnants of both his tray and the one she left behind, and he jogged out of the building. “So do I.”

Add Meant to be Family to your TBR today!

Goodreads

Book Review! THE OTHER TIDE by: Carly Spade

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Dr. Samantha ‘Sam’ Smith and Luke Jansen have gotten under each other’s skins since they met 10 years ago on the Royal Australian Naval base. They never thought they’d see each other again until their love of sharks brought them back together, giving their competitive and stubborn natures another chance to clash.

Sam, marine biologist and shark specialist, recently landed her dream job with the aquatic research department at Miami University. When her mentor invites her on the expedition of a lifetime, she eagerly takes the bait. The goal: obtain coveted, groundbreaking footage of Great White sharks breeding.

Unbeknownst to Sam, her mentor has invited one of the best shark experts in the business as well — a certain Aussie diver too arrogant and sexy for his own good. Luke, different after a life-changing diving accident, is the last person she expected to see.

Sam and Luke’s competitive streak picks up right where it left off as Sam realizes Luke knows almost as much about sharks as she does, despite her eight years of education. When a deep sea dive goes awry, Sam has to rely on Luke’s experience, both with sharks and as a Navy Clearance Diver, to get her back on board alive and in one piece. To make matters worse, a reckless rival crew surfaces, determined to beat them to the punch. Amidst the adventure and exhilaration of the hunt, Sam and Luke ignite a passionate spark that they slowly realize may have been simmering all along. If they can make it through with the footage and their lives, they may just have a shot at Happily Ever After.

 

Okay, let me be upfront and admit I am a big fan of Shark Week on The Animal Planet so I was kind of tickled pink to see sharks featured front and center in this read. I also want to take this opportunity to just draw attention to a really important detail, Ms. Spade has a note listed at the end of her blurb, “A portion of all proceeds will be donated to shark and ocean conservation.” This is a lovely sentiment and a great reason to grab a copy of this book ASAP knowing your money is going to a great cause.

This story has so many things I love. First, it’s a second chance romance with a ten year gap in between the time Luke and Sam first met until they are reunited. Second, and most delicious of all, it’s an enemies to lovers/opposites attract trope. I might have fallen over in my seat when I realized the friction between them. I did love that the snark was never intentionally nasty.

Sam and Luke have fantastic banter, something that I adore, sniping constantly giving me some much needed chuckles.

However don’t take any of that to mean that this is a lighthearted tale. That could not be more inaccurate. There are some heart stopping moments where survival doesn’t look like a possibility.

I was really impressed with the author’s dedication to research which was very obvious in the facts relayed during the story, well threaded through the obvious romance center.

Even if you aren’t a fan of sharks (I’m a fan of Shark Week… a little anxious about the creatures themselves), I’d recommend grabbing a copy of The Other Tide for a tasty little romance with an intriguing nautical education seamlessly woven throughout.

Where to find The Other Tide

Amazon

Goodreads

Guest Post! Why Authors Can’t Self-Edit by: Christina Kaye with Top Shelf Editing

Perfect Book

Writerly Friends,

Today, we’re going to talk about why authors should never try to publish their books without having an unbiased third party review/edit it first. Who am I to have such an opinion you ask? I’m an award-winning author and the co-owner/editor of Top Shelf Editing, an elite editing service created for author by authors. We’ve been on both sides of the publishing world and we know how tempting it can be to self-edit to save time and money. But we also know firsthand the pitfalls an author faces when doing so. Let’s discuss.

So you’ve finished your novel after weeks, months, or even years of hovering over your laptop and ignoring everyone and everything else in your life outside of your fictional world and the characters you dropped into it. Great. You’re ready to upload it to Amazon. Right? Wrong. You need to have it professionally edited first.

But, wait! I’m this, like, awesome, amazingly talented writer! I’m really good at comma placement and catching typos. I have a good eye for mistakes. And better yet…I have Grammarly! Why on earth would I pay someone I don’t know to edit my work for me when I can do it myself for free?

Slow your roll. Pump the breaks. Hold your horses.

I have heard this rebuttal more times than I can count. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time I heard something along these lines, I could quit editing altogether, and Stephen King and I could be sipping mimosas on the Maine coastline, burning our money on the beach for the fun of it.

So…I did some research and I’ve gathered some facts, statistics, and other useful information to prove to you that you absolutely, unequivocally, irrefutably CANNOT edit your own book.

Reason #1 – Your brain literally cannot process your own mistakes.

Ever heard of the phrase, “can’t see the forest for the trees?” You’ve written these words, and if you’re a smart, dedicated author, you’ve been over the entire manuscript at least once. The more you sit and stare at words you created on your own, your brain will quite literally zone out, and your eyes will gloss over the mistakes and even fill in/auto-correct the errors the longer you stare. It’s like one of those optical illusion paintings where, the more you sit and stare at it, you begin to see shapes and patterns forming that weren’t there before…or maybe aren’t even really there to begin with! The reason you struggle to spot your own typos is because what you’re seeing on the computer is competing with the version already formulated in your head.

Reason #2 – You aren’t trained/experienced/practiced at editing.

Unless you’re a trained editor, it’s doubtful you’ve taken courses or studied all those intricate little writing rules that no author ever learns until someone teaches them. I want you to close your eyes. No, wait. Open them. You can’t read if your eyes are closed. Anyway, just think back to when you first starting writing novels. Remember how you were just typing away words that sounded great together and weaving together this beautiful story you just knew the whole world needed to hear? Now…think back to the first time you learned that there are actual RULES to writing that go beyond what you learn in high school and college English courses. Most new authors have never heard of writing techniques such as “show, don’t tell,” etc. And that’s just one of dozens of “rules” we must follow. You may be a wonderfully creative storyteller. Hell, you may even be a natural born “grammar Nazi.” But let’s face it. Learning all those pesky rules, techniques, and devices takes YEARS of research, practice, and training. But even the most highly skilled book editors never edit their own work.

Here’s a fact/statistic to put things in perspective (if you’re a numbers kind of person). According to industry standards, even the very best of editors may still miss about 5% – 15% of errors in a given project. So if people who have spent many years of their lives and spent God knows how much time, effort, and money to train to be the best they can be in their field STILL miss things, how on earth is the average writer ever supposed to catch ALL of their own mistakes? They can’t. That’s how. It’s absolutely impossible.

Reason #3 – Bad Editing and/or Lack of Editing Leads to Bad Reviews and Low Sales

If you’re a published author, odds are, you’ve been there. You’ve published your book (or your publisher has) and you sit there anxiously refreshing your internet browser every day, waiting for those amazing 5-star reviews to start rolling in. And you get them! But then…then, you get that first dreaded less-than-four-star review. (Side note, I consider anything less than four stars a “negative” review). Your heart sinks to your knees. You break out into hives. You fight the urge to throw up on your computer. You also fight the urge to cyberstalk said reviewer and give them a piece of your mind! It’s true, there will ALWAYS be a Negative Nancy. Someone who finds fault in even the best of literary masterpieces. Hell, Stephen King gets bad reviews from people who think they could do better, while they sit in their mom’s basement all alone, unemployed, in their underwear, staring at the blank notebook, which should contain that next best seller they’ve been telling all their friends they’re writing. There is absolutely no way to avoid ever getting ANY negative reviews. Get used to it. Deal with it. Talk to your therapist about it.

However! There is one sure-fire way to guarantee you will get negative reviews and slow or no sales. Don’t hire an editor. Just write your book, type THE END, have your best friend/mom/brother/mailman “edit” your book, then slap it up on Amazon. Just sit back and watch the three, two, one-star reviews roll in and try not to jump off a bridge as you read all those scathing remarks about how poorly written/edited your book is. Because it WILL happen. Don’t believe me? Here is just ONE example of a scathing review for a poorly written/unedited book:

Don’t take any of this to mean that you are incapable of writing a brilliant and lovely book. Of course you can. But the bottom line is simply this. You cannot edit your own writing well enough that you will catch all possible mistakes, typos, and errors. And we haven’t even touched on content and developmental issues in this post. Hiring a trained professional to work with you and help make your book baby shine is the only logical route to take for any author who desires to not just write and publish books but to have them reach the masses and satisfy readers and keep them coming back for more.

Okay, great, Christina. You’ve talked me into not self-editing and hiring a trained professional like you to edit my manuscript before I publish it. Now what? How do I find the right editor? How do I know if an editor is for real or a wannabe? How much should I pay? How does it work?

Well, my friend, stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series where I will next answer all those questions and more.

In the meantime, be sure you’ve taken a minute to browse our pretty website. You can read all about us, our mission/goals, our success stories, our services and rates, and read testimonials. You can even check out our Author Resources Page, where we list ONLY the best and most affordable service providers which we have personally vetted and guarantee are among the best in their field. We only list a few of each kind of service provider (cover designer, formatters, promoters, PAs, etc.) because who wants to scroll through a really long list? And besides, we don’t trust our clients and their books to just anyone. Those listed on this page are providers we have worked with directly in the past, and we GUARANTEE they offer the best combination of skill and affordability.

And, finally, if anything I’ve said here has resonated with you, and you’d like to talk to use about what we can do to help make your book the absolute best it can be, visit our Contact Us page, where you can reach out to us by email. Simply say, “Hey, Top Shelf! I want to learn more!” And we’ll take it from there. Every interested author gets a completely free, no-obligation evaluation of the first 5 pages of your manuscript. Within 24 hours, you’ll get back a complete content and line edit of those pages, along with a professional quote for our services and an estimated turnaround time.

Talk Soon,

Christina Kaye, (Co-Owner/Editor of Top Shelf Editing)

***A Note from Amelia***

Top Shelf Editing is offering a special giveaway to three of my blog readers who email them at info@topshelfedits.com and type in the subject line “3PRIZES”

1) 20% off all editing services
2) A FREE sample evaluations of the first 5 pages of their book
3) a FREE $30 value social media blast from HEA (courtesy of Lydia Harbaugh)

Book Review! FED UP by: Kathleen Duhamel

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Death breaks you in ways you never thought possible while grief swallows you whole. After losing my husband I’ve been trapped in emotional limbo, a place I don’t think I’ll ever be able to escape.

Not even the British actor and heartthrob, Ian James, will be able to thaw my frozen heart…at least that’s what I thought.

Being his personal chef is merely a short-term job while he’s working on location in Virginia. But cooking for him five days a week becomes more personal when a mutual attraction starts to burn between us.

I’m hopelessly drawn to Ian and being with him makes it possible for me to breathe again. But I’m wary of the self-proclaimed womanizer who is far too charming and handsome for his own good.

With me a grieving widow, and Ian struggling with his own demons, there are too many variables involved for us to have a future together.

But I can’t stay away from him, and I’m afraid falling for a player might just shatter my already broken heart.

 

I’ve been so focused on writing and editing ALL THE THINGS for the past several months that my reading time has been very neglected. As you can see by the number of posts going up lately, I am making up for lost time! Continuing that trend, I have a new review for you guys today!

Romance is often focused on the gorgeous twenty-somethings with perfect hair, skin, and curves. But that isn’t real life. Sometimes real life is a more experienced heroine with silver in her hair and smile lines on her face. And I love seeing reality played out in my romances.

Which is exactly what you get with Shelby Durand. She is a chef trained at one of the best culinary schools in the world. And also a woman grieving the loss of her husband and trying to carve a new place for herself, rewriting the life story she thought had ended in a perfect HEA when she married Jean-Pierre. She sort of just floundering through the days when her friend Denny approaches her with an offer: take over his duties as personal chef to celebrity actor Ian James while Denny and his partner travel overseas to adopt their daughter.

Not the glittering life she had once known as the owner of a highly sought after restaurant, but probably a job much more in line with the slower pace her broken heart required.

What Shelby never planned on was Ian and all things… Ian. Let me tell y’all, the only thing that had me drooling more than the delicious meals Ms. Duhamel described to perfection was Ian James himself. I love me an older man to begin with and the graying at the temples made my knees weak, but Ian’s charm was nearly overwhelming. He took Shelby’s somewhat standoffish attitude in stride and she is soon flirting back despite herself.

And that flirting culminates into some steamy times that rival the delicious foods Shelby prepares. If you ever have the notion that smexy stops when the gray appears, y’all better think again because Shelby and Ian have chemistry for days.

Fed Up is a unique and fresh voice in the romance world representing seasoned love interests that are sorely underrepresented. I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves romance, food, and supporting love across all generations.

Where to find Fed Up:

Goodreads

Amazon