#Authortoolboxbloghop – Tips for Editing Your Novel

editing your novel

If you follow me on Instagram (@charityrau), you know I have been working through revisions on my novel.  And in March, I shared the different stages of editing (check that post out here).  So, for today’s post I decided I’d share some specific tips for editing your novel. These are some things that have really helped me strengthen my writing, and I hope they’ll help you as well. 🙂

1. Watch out for filter words. Filter words are words like heard, looked, and felt. When you use these words, you filter your characters’ experiences through your words rather than letting the reader share the experience with the character. This goes along with the whole “show, don’t tell” principle.

For example:

Filter word sentences: “I pulled out the bag and looked through it. It had everything I needed.”

Better sentences: “I pulled out the bag and reached inside. A little vial of syrup, dried roots, and plenty of rags. It had everything I needed.”

2. Limit passive sentence use. Passive sentences can be used in some instances, but in most cases an active sentence is better. Active sentences help pull the reader into the action.

For example:

Passive sentence: “The quiet flip of her covers told me she was angry.”

Better active sentences: “She flipped her covers over her head and didn’t say a word. Great, she was angry at me.”

Another example (with a passive/active verb):

Passive sentence: “The team was cheered on by the girls.”

Active sentence: “The girls cheered on the team.”

3. Remove unnecessary adverbs. Adverbs are tricky. Sometimes they can help tell your reader something, but often they aren’t needed. In fact, many times all you need is a stronger verb.

For example:

With adverb: “She walked unsteadily down the stairs.”

With a stronger verb: “She stumbled down the stairs.”


With adverb – “He bowed low and removed his hat, twisting it nervously in his hands.”

Without adverb – “He bowed low and removed his hat, twisting it in his hands.”

It still makes sense without the adverb, and you can infer from the twisting action that he is nervous.

4. Cut out obvious statements. Sometimes an action already tells the reader your character’s emotion or attitude, so there is no need to state that emotion or attitude.

For example:

Obvious statement: “I kicked at a rock in the driveway, angry at the spell and that idiotic woman who cast it.”

If she’s kicking a rock, we can figure out she’s angry.

Better sentences: “I kicked at a rock in the driveway. Just who did that woman think she was, casting a spell on us just to get herself out of a jam?”

5. Remove all the unnecessary thats. ‘That’ is another tricky word. We add it to sentences all the time, but it’s rarely ever needed.

For example:

With that “At least she was pleased that Stephan had invited me to the Spring Ball.”

Without that – “At least she was pleased Stephan had invited me to the Spring Ball.”

As you can see removing the ‘that’ doesn’t change the meaning of the sentence.

These are just a few things that can help strengthen your writing. Both the “that” and the “-ly” adverbs can be fixed with a Find search through your document. The others will take a bit more work to find and correct, but it is worth it in the end!

What about you? What tips do you have for editing novels? Let me know in the comments!

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop hosted by Raimey Gallant. To check out all the participating blogs, or to join in the fun go here.


Save Money on Professional Edits—6 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Own Manuscript

Some great tips for editing your work!

Kristen Lamb's Blog


Over my career I have literally edited thousands of works, most of them written by emerging writers. My greatest frustration always was (and still is) when I couldn’t even GET to critiquing the deeper story elements because I was too distracted by these all too common oopses.

Good editors are NOT cheap. There are also many editors who charge by the hour. If they’re spending their time fixing oopses you could’ve easily repaired yourself? You’re burning cash and time. Yet, correct these problems, and editors can more easily get to the MEAT of your novel. This means you will spend less money and get far higher value.

#1 The Brutal Truth about Adverbs, Metaphors and Similes

I have never met an adverb, simile, or metaphor I didn’t LOVE. I totally dig description, but it can present problems.

First of all, adverbs are not ALL evil. Redundant adverbs are evil. If…

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My Best Reads of 2016

I read a lot of good books this year(I read a total of 60). It was hard to narrow them down to a short list, but these are the ones that finally made it:



Cinder by Marissa Meyer. This retelling of Cinderella was set in a futuristic space age world, and I loved it! I’m not that into Star Wars and stuff like that, so I wasn’t sure if I would like this book, but it delivered.  The characters are relatable, the world-building is amazing, and I couldn’t put the book down.  I’ve already bought the rest of the books in this series, but haven’t read them yet. This was one of my top five reads for the year, and tied with another book for my top read.



These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly. This was a mystery set in the Victorian era. A young woman tries to discover what really happened to her father – she knows he didn’t kill himself like everyone is saying. An attractive reporter aids her in her search. I loved the heroine. She has the courage to face the truth even when it isn’t easy, and she doesn’t let the strict standards of the time prevent her from finding answers. This was one of my top five reads for the year.



The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead.  The Glittering Court offers servant girls the opportunity to change their lot in life. They are taken to a special place where they are trained to be ladies before they are sent to a newly discovered country where they will marry the noblemen who already live there. Though already a lady, Adelaide pretends to be a servant and sneaks into this group to escape marriage to an odious man. There was lots of glamour and adventure in this book.



The Siren by Kiera Cass. This was a beautiful retelling of “The Little Mermaid”. Both main characters were willing to sacrifice everything for the one they loved. I even cried a little while reading this book.



The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins. A giant beast attacks the kingdom, and the king calls all the hunters to help catch the beast.  The prize for killing the beast, the hand of his daughter in marriage.  The princess balks at marrying a stranger, but wants to save the kingdom, so she agrees.  Once the hunters arrive at the palace, she is surprised to find she connects with one in particular. The only thing I didn’t like was the cliffhanger this book ended on.  I can hardly wait to read the second book.



Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes. This is a story about the future queen of hearts. Dinah is set to become queen, but not everyone is willing for that to happen. It seems she can’t really trust anyone. Her enemies aren’t just seeking the crown, they are also seeking to take her life. Another cliffhanger, but the next book comes out this month! This was one of my top five reads, and the other book tied for my favorite read of the year.



Ruined by Amy Tintera. Emelina’s family has all been killed.  She seeks revenge by posing as the prince’s intended.  She marries him, planning to infiltrate the kingdom and exact her revenge, but she starts to fall for the prince. I loved the way you see Emelina change through the book, she was relatable and I felt like I was right there with here.



The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine.  I loved this retelling of Snow White. A bit darker than the original, it was full of adventure and romance.  The heroine is brave and determined.  This was one of my top three reads for the year!



Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan. Frances was one of three survivors on a cruise ship that sank. She knows the truth of what really happened, but the other two survivors have fabricated a story that everyone believes. Frances searches for a way to prove the truth. This fast-paced thriller kept me turning pages into the night.



Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley.  Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne Bronte have created worlds that come to life. They love venturing inside those worlds to escape the mundaneness of their lives. But Branwell starts to loose his sanity and the girls begin to loose their grip on the real world. When they try to let go, the characters they have created turn against them, refusing to let them leave. A bit different from what I usually read, I really enjoyed this book.  It gave some insight to the Bronte siblings lives and the relationships they had with one another.  After reading this book, I was motivated to find out more about the Brontes.



The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury. This is an unique take on Aladdin.  Zahra is the jinni in the lamp Aladdin finds. As she stays with Aladdin, waiting to grant him his three wishes, she starts to fall in love with him.  When she’s offered the chance to be free of the lamp forever, she must decide if her freedom is worth losing Aladdin. This was one of my top five reads for the year!

If you want to check out the rest of my reads for the year, you can see them on goodreads here.  What was your favorite read in 2016?  Let me know in the comments!


Tis The Season To Give: So, A Special Giveaway!

I haven’t posted much lately, but I have been busy!  I participated in Nanowrimo, and I’ve been working on preparing  my first novel for publication. I’m going to be able to share details about that soon.  I’m very excited about that, but for the next couple of weeks, I will just be posting regularly here. I certainly didn’t want to neglect posting about my favorite holiday!

The holidays are such a special time of year. Lots of festivities, beautiful decorations, and people are generally  in a happier mood.  And giving gifts to one another is a symbol of the greatest gift God gave us. So for me, one of the best ways to celebrate the season is to give to others.

There are so many ways to give too! You can give gifts you’ve made or bought to loved ones.  You can give toys to underprivileged children. You can give food to those who need it. You can donate to a favorite charity. But not everything has to be monetary. You can also volunteer your time at a shelter or nursing home. And the end of the year is a great time to clean out your closet and donate unwanted clothes.

Regardless of what holiday you celebrate, this is a wonderful time to share with others.  Take time to reflect upon all the blessings you’ve received this year, and consider how you can spread some of that goodness to others.

And in that spirit of giving, I’m having a special giveaway for my followers!  I’m giving away a copy of Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes  (one of my best reads this year) along with a “Alice in Wonderland” coloring book and a set of colored pencils.


It will run until the 22nd. I will choose a winner on the 23rd and notify them by email. Click on the link below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


So Many Book Boxes! How do I choose one?

Subscription boxes seem to be everywhere today.  Anything from pet supplies, to beauty products, and even groceries can be ordered through a subscription box.  My favorite kind, however, are the book boxes!  But there is a plethora of them, making it difficult to figure out which one is the best for you.  Here are a few things I considered when looking at them:

  1. Where are they located?  This is important because of shipping costs.  If they are located outside of your country, they may not ship to you and if they do, the shipping cost might be quite high.
  2. What is typically in the box?  Some boxes are just books, others have one book and boookish items such as bookmarks, tote bags, or stickers related to the book. Some are genre-related and some are not.  There are even some boxes that send you several gently used books, but what you get is randomly selected from overstock.
  3. How much will it cost?  And, of course, you should consider the cost.  Is it worth it to you, and is it affordable for you?  Not all of these boxes cost the same, and again shipping prices can affect how much the total cost will be.

I’ve tried out three of these boxes, and enjoyed each of them, but I do have a favorite. 🙂 These three are all YA boxes, since that is my primary interest.  All three are located in the U.S.

Owlcrate http://www.owlcrate.com/howitworks – Owlcrate has a pretty  sophisticated website, with options to purchase one time as a gift, the monthly subscription, and an option to buy a past box, usually at a discount. (This is how I ordered my box.)  Each month there is a different theme.  Each box contains a hard-backed book, and 3-5 other book-related items. Their monthly subscription is $29.99 plus shipping.

I ordered the May 2016 box (steampunk theme) and received:  1)  a hard backed copy of Everland by Wendy Spinale  2) ‘Barrie 1860-1937’ Peter Pan Art Print (Creative Daffodil) 3) Steampunk Nail-Wraps (Espionage Cosmetics) 4) Key Necklace (Crystal Compass) 5) ‘Steamworks’ Metal Accessory (Elope) 6) ‘Clockwork Angel’ Ring (Sparks Emporium) 7) Exclusive Everland Tattoos and Author Letter.

Uppercase https://www.uppercasebox.com/young-adult-books-subscription-box – Uppercase is pretty neat, because their books are usually signed by the author.  They have options for buying one box, as a gift, or a monthly plan.  They also have two options for the monthly plan.  The book exclusive plan comes with a signed hard-back book, and a personal handwritten note.  This plan is $13.99 plus shipping.  The expert plan includes the signed book, handwritten note and 2-3 other bookish things.  This plan is $23 plus shipping.

I ordered this month’s box (October 2016), and recieved: an autographed copy of Nessa in the Night, a bookmark, a sticker, a journal, cassette tape bookmarkers, and the handwritten note.



Enchanted Book Box – https://enchantedbookbox.cratejoy.com/whats_inside  This is a new book box subscription box.  It launched in September, and I heard about it on Instagram.  As the name suggests, it is a fairy-tale inspired book box, and as soon as I heard that, I knew I had to check it out.  They  have a monthly plan, as well as an option to buy a single month’s box.  Their box contains a hard back book, and 4-5 other bookish items. It sells for $26 plus shipping.

Septemeber’s theme was Snow White, and the box contained: a copy of Stealing Snow, a mirror, mirror tote bag, a necklace, a Snow White sticker, and a Snow White bookmark.  This was my favorite one simply because of the fairy tale theme!


Hope this helps any who are considering a book box subscription.  If your interests lies in something other than YA, just try typing book box subscription in Google – you’ll get loads of results to check out.  If you already have a subscription, tell me what you like about it in the comments!


My Picks for Summer Reading

Summer is a great time for catching up on your reading, especially when you’re at the beach or poolside. I love reading books that fit with the season, and this summer I found some good ones:

1. Compulsion by Martina Boone. This is a Southern Gothic novel – always a great read for the summer.  After her mother dies, Barrie is sent to live with her aunt.  When she arrives at the South Carolina plantation, she finds it’s entrenched in secrets.  Curious to find out more, Barrie searches for answers only to discover someone doesn’t want her to find any.  This story was well-written and highly intriguing.   I could hardly put it down, and finished it in two sittings.

2. The Siren by Kiera Cass.  This little mermaid retelling was entertaining and romantic.  After being rescued from almost drowning, Kahlen must serve as a Siren.  When she uses her voice it  lures people to their deaths.  Then she meets a boy, and despite being unable to talk to him, she falls in love with him.  Falling in love with a human is forbidden by the Sirens, but Kahlen still searches for way to be with the boy she loves.  The book did a fantastic job of portraying the power of love, and the things you can overcome with it.

3.  The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury.  An unique take on Aladdin, I loved the exotic setting and memorable characters.  Aladdin finds the lamp, and calls forth the jinn, Zahra.  Zahra had been sentenced to the lamp hundreds of years ago by the Jinn.  When she’s offered a chance to be free from the lamp once and for all, she jumps at it, until she realizes it will mean harming Aladdin.  This book also had a great “power of love” theme.

4. That Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard.  I picked up this book because of the unique title.  A bit different from what I normally read, I really enjoyed this piece of realistic fiction.  When Lexi’s father dies, she is left with nothing, and is forced to find her mother.  This leads her to Florida and the circus where her mother works.  When she arrives, she finds her mother is no longer there.  Since she has no money, she goes to work for the circus as a fortune teller.  This was a an excellent coming-of-age story.

5.  Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan.  This was a fast-paced thriller that I also finished in two sittings.  Gunned men attack a cruise ship, then set it aflame.  Only three people remain to tell about it, Frances, Senator Wells and his son.  When the senator and his son lie and say a giant wave took out the ship, Frances must assume her dead friend’s identity to find the truth.

What books have you enjoyed this summer?  Let me know in the comments!


Top 10 Things to Do Before Summer is Over

Summer is my favorite season! I love the warm weather, the laid back vibe of the season, and all the summer fun things to do.  My summer is always busy, and there are some things I do every year. With summer winding down, it’s time to pack in the last of your favorite activities. Here are my top ten picks:

1. Hit the Beach: Whether it’s an ocean or a lake, it’s always relaxing to chill on a beach.  It’s also a great time to catch up on your TBR (to be read) list.

2. Go to a baseball game: Nothing goes together like summer and baseball.  If there is no major league team near where you live, there is probably a minor league or independent league team.  You can find out if a minor league team is nearby at http://www.milb.com/milb/tickets/.

3. Check out local carnivals: Most places have some kind of carnival that comes to town every summer.  They make a fun  night out, and many are fundraisers for local charities.  You can find out about these from your local paper.

4. Visit a national park:  Since this is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, many parks are hosting special events.  You can find nearby national parks at  https://www.nps.gov/index.htm.

5. Find a 5k:  This one may require some preparation if you’re not used to running or walking, but a 5k is not as long as it sounds – 3.1 miles.  And most of the time, you can walk some or all of the race if you aren’t into running.  Also, these races usually support a worthy charity. You can find races nearby here: http://www.runnersworld.com/race-finder.

6. Catch a concert:  Concerts abound in the summertime. Some are even at great outdoor venues. And sometimes you can get discounted tickets through Groupon or Living Social.  You can locate nearby concerts through http://www.ticketmaster.com/.

7.  Attend a festival:  Like concerts, there are festivals aplenty in the summertime.  My favorite kind of festival is the book festival, but there are many kinds.  From music to books to history, there is a festival for everyone.  An internet search can help you find the kind of festival you want and where said festival will be.

8.  See local attractions: Summer is a great time to check out the attractions in your own town that you may have overlooked.  Museums, zoos, aquariums, and historical sites are just some of the options cities and towns may offer.

9.  Have a picnic:  There are lots of places you can go to have a picnic. You can even have one in your own backyard.  Perfect for dates or get-togethers with friends, it’s also easy on your budget.

10. Visit your state fair: State fairs take place at different times depending on where you live.  In the Midwest (where I grew up), the state fair was at the end of the summer after all the county fairs had taken place.  The winners ( in 4-H, and arts and crafts) from the county fairs would go to the state fair to compete there. In Maryland, the state fair actually happens before many of the county ones.  Like a farewell to summer, it runs through Labor Day week.  There’s plenty of good food, entertainment, and fun to be had.

So in these last few weeks of summer, squeeze in all the fun you can!  And let me know in the comments – what is your favorite summer activity?