Frustrations Known-The Thoughts of Simple Perfectionist Scorned

As I work through my final edit of Hardship & Devotion, I am both exhausted and relieved that the process is almost over. This novel, which I started back in 2012, has been something of a learning project for me. In my excitement to publish, I let my judgement become clouded and the novel was published with too many mistakes. I pride myself on being something of a perfectionist, which is why I decided to do a complete revision of the novel.

When I decided to publish through Trafford Publishing, I was thrilled when they told me they offered an editing service. I figured, why not? It would save me the time and I was interested to see what their editors had to say about my work. Now, when you hear the words “editing service,” what are your thoughts? If you are anything like me, you might find yourself thinking of phrases like, “zero mistakes,” “perfect grammar,” or “polished manuscript.”

As my email went “ping” and told me I’d had a new email, I was elated to find my “edited manuscript” in my inbox. Granted, it was covered with plenty commentary and red markings to show my mistakes. It was what I’d expected from an editing service, yet my first thought was “Holy crap! I suck at writing!” Then I began to look through the pages and found most of them to be minor grammatical errors and typos I’d missed. I felt better about myself afterward.

In the excitement of wanting my novel out there for all to read, I pressed “ACCEPT” to all changes and signed my name on the dotted line. Worst thing I ever did. Before I knew it, I had copies of my novel being sent to my home and reviews coming in. It was one review that made me pause, especially when I read these words: “In her first novel, McKaylin shows the promise of a talented and thoughtful writer. I sensed that in her enthusiasm and excitement to publish, she may have rushed to print. But if Hardship & Devotion is ever reprinted, the scattered typographical errors in her manuscript will be easily corrected.”

If any of you have ever heard such words about your writing, you can only imagine how my stomach turned. I was a mess. The first thing I did was open up my book and read it cover to cover, and found that there were mistakes clear through it. I nearly gave up, completely daunted by what would be needed to fix the mess. And here we are, two years later, and it’s just now nearly finished.

I will say this about Trafford Publishing, they are helping me fix the issue with professionalism. I know that this is mostly my fault, seeing as I didn’t take the time to go through and combed through their suggestions thoroughly. The excitement got the best of me.

I learned quite a valuable lesson. Not only is one edit not enough, but I quickly learned what a beta-reader was and why they are so important. Three wonderful women have beta-read Hardship & Devotion, as well as have there been three separate edits completed. I still cannot believe the trouble I’ve had to go through to fix my mistake, but I know that all the blood, sweat and tears will have all been worth it in the end. I’m proud to call this novel mine, and can’t wait for the finished product to be reprinted and available for all to share.


To all those that have read or are wanting to read my first novel, Hardship & Devotion, it is currently going through another edit. After several comments regarding the story line being fascinating and the characters wonderful, there are enough errors that I’ve decided to fix the mistakes that my “editing” team supposedly fixed.  It wasn’t until it was already published that I realized how wrong I’d been in putting so much faith in an editing service. I WILL NEVER make that mistake again. I’m hoping that by end of this year, the newly refurbished novel will be available for all to read. I apologize to all those that have already read this piece and had to suffer through the errors. If it weren’t for honest reviewers, I probably wouldn’t have noticed the errors myself.

I’ll make sure and keep you updated. Also, I’ll be writing a post in regards to my first individual publishing story as well. This will give you all insight into the individual publishing process and the lessons I learned. There are many that were learned, aside from the editing service, and I wish to share them with you all. Individual publishing is a great thing for authors, but it’s important when going through an individual publishing company that you’re made aware of what to watch for.

For now, Happy Writing and Reading everyone!

Revising Creative Writing Works

While writing my second novel, Unexpected Choices, I am finding that revision is one part of completing a manuscript that I might despise more so than editing. After reading the majority of my novel I have found that the middle–you know, the important part of a novel–feels wrong and I do not like it one bit. I’ve decided that it would be best to change the story line a little and revise a hefty portion on my novel.

This has become a driving force that has me disliking writing and that is just something we cannot have. 🙂 I pulled out my old textbook to see if I could find any answers to the many questions that I’ve been having about this piece, and found a bit on revision that I not only found helpful, but might help any of you that might be having similar issues.

In The Practice of Creative Writing: A Guide for Students-2nd Edition, by Heather Sellers, it not only shared my feelings of dread that comes with revision, but also gave some good questions to ask when reading your first draft of any creative writing piece.

QUESTIONS TO ASK: Reading First Drafts of Creative Writing

Focus on these aspects of the piece to help the writer identify revision strategies.

  1. What images are most transporting? Where did you “see”?
  2. Are there sections where you were confused?
  3. Where are the places of greatest energy? Least energy?
  4. What is/are the essential tension(s) in the piece?
  5. What additional examples of tension does the writer employ (or do you employ)?
  6. What oppositions could be made more tense?
  7. Is the dialogue efficient, realistic, tense?
  8. What small and large insights does the piece offer or imply?
  9. What patterns can you find? Are there places pattern could be enhanced?
  10. What structure does this piece use? Are there any structural weaknesses?

While these questions are focussed on someone else reading your work, that does not mean that you cannot ask these questions yourself–of your own work. I’ve done this, and it’s helped me tremendously in discovering where the strengths and weaknesses were in my novel. I now know where I need to focus my revision. Of course revision might come in more than one draft, but it’s an important step before going into the editing portion of writing any creative writing piece.

I hope this can be helpful for you all as well.


Looking to Try a Wack at Traditional Publishing? You’re Gonna Need an Agent.

Like some might already know, my first novel Hardship & Devotion, was published through an individual publishing company called, Trafford Publishing. Though I had a great experience publishing individually, I am an author with the dream of becoming a Best Seller. From what I’ve researched, the only way to do that is to have an agent at your side.

I have decided to try the traditional publishing route for my second novel, Unexpected Choices. Since this decision, I’ve been spending a lot of time researching different agencies and have a list of the ones that I plan on writing a query to. The big question that I have though, is: How do I write a successful query that will help me get noticed?

While I was on twitter this morning, I found a link: It’s the story of how Joanne Bischoff got her agent. It is stories like Joanne’s that give me hope in being picked up by an agent one day, and I hope her story can give you that same feeling of hope as well.

Along with this article, there was a link that I found to be very resourceful: Here, Chuck Sambuchine reveals “9 Frequently Asked Questions About Query.” It was really helpful to me, seeing they many of the questions were some of the same questions I’ve had since starting my research.

There are those that choose to continue publishing individually, but for me, I think seeing my novels on the shelves in stores around the world would be simply thrilling. If you’re in the same position, keep an eye out for more information as I am still researching and will be sharing it through this blog.

Have any questions you, yourself want answered?

It will help me to know what other questions you guys might have in regards to finding a literary agent, or anything regarding the traditional publishing process. I not only am doing the research for me, but I also want to do it for anyone else that will benefit from it. Feel free to post your questions and/or thoughts below. You can also ask about my experience with individual publishing as well.


My Interview With Thomas Rydder

Below is an interview that a good friend of mine, Thomas Rydder posted on his blog: I thought I’d share it with all over you as well.

Thanks again Thomas!

TR: Hey, good morning, McKaylin…I’m so pleased to have you today!

MK: Good morning, Thomas, and thanks very much for having me..

TR: Let’s get this thing going. How old were you when you wrote your first piece?

MK: I was 24.

TR: What was it, and in what genre?

MK:Actually, my first book is my current one, Hardship and Devotion, and it’s a fiction piece about love and romance.

TR: I get to interview a brand new writer…very cool! What made you write it?

MK: As a teenager I became an avid reader. I even attempted writing my first novel at the age of 15 but never finished it. At the beginning of this year, I was taking a Career Skills course in my journey toward receiving my Associates in Medical Billing/Coding. In this course, they focus on what career path you are most likely to find yourself happy in. I soon realized that my true passion was for the written word and upon finish my Associates, decided to pursue my dream and signed up for online classes with Southern New Hampshire University for a Bachelors in Creative Writing-Fiction-English. By June 2012, I had an outline drawn up for my first novel and it’s now finished.

TR: Congratulations! Very nice…so, are you working on anything now?

MK: Yes, actually. I am currently writing my second novel, Unexpected Choices, which I hope to publish by mid-year of 2013. It also will be a love and romance novel.

TR: Wonderful! What was the inspiration for “Hardship”?

MK: I would have to say my inspiration for Hardship and Devotion, would have to be my husband, Joseph Felton. When we met, I was a single mother who’d somewhat given up on the dream of meeting that special someone and being happily married. He taught me what it was like to feel true love, to show me that there was such thing as a gentleman still out there, and that it was possible for another man to love another man’s child as his own. I guess in summary, the love we share between us has become my inspiration to write love and romance novels.

TR: If that’s not inspiration, I don’t know what is. So, tell us a little about it, and where it’s available.

MK: Hardship & Devotion is a story filled with lust, passion, and love; while also showing the pain, angst, and loss that comes from losing those we love. It’s a shory the provokes the readers’ own memories of their hardships, while reminding them that true love and honest devotion, hardships can be overcome.

In the story, Cara Edwards and David Bryington find themselves finding their way back to the comfort of their childhood town, Evergreen, Colorado. In their journeys, they search for peace of mind and a way to end their suffering after having their hearts broken by those they’d loved. The intensity of their attraction for one another is alarming to the both of them, and they soon find themselves unable to ignore it. What they had first thought was lust, grows into something much deeper and far more passionate. When Cara is involved in a tragic accident, David is forced to analyze his feelings, in turn changing everything. The new-found feelings that are brought to the surface, are both terrifying and thrilling to them both, and soon find themselves falling into something deeper – love. Just as they think the worst is over, their devotion for one another is tried time and time again. Unwelcome hauntings from their past come back, threatening to tear them apart. They are forced to open old wounds that they had only just begun to close, knowing it’s the only way for them to move forward.

It will be available on Trafford Publishing’s website, and 20,000 other online websites like,, and I should have all the available links within the next month and will be posted on my goodreads, facebook, and twitter accounts.

TR: Whew. That sounds like compelling stuff…tell me, is there a particular place or setting where you get your writing ideas?

MK: I feel very fortunate to say that my ideas come to me at random, and I’ve learned to write them down for future novels. Sometimes I will dream of them, though other times I can be at the grocery store and a good story line will pop into my head.

TR: Don’t you just love that? Good idea to keep pen and paper handy, eh? Now, what made you choose either traditional or independent publishing?

MK: I chose independent publishing because I wanted to see how well my first novel does. I am also still in the process of finishing my BA in Creative Writing and known that as I near my graduation date that my writing will improve. I do plan on trying for traditional this time around, but if it doesn’t work then I’ll go for independent again. It’s been an eye-opening experience working with the Trafford Publishing team and everyone has been so helpful.

TR: Good plan. Here’s a good one…if you had to choose the most important element in an author’s platform, what would it be?

MK: I think the most important element of an author’s platform is exposure. I had no idea how much networking would benefit me, and I’m so grateful I decided to start prior to my novel being finished. I will admit, hearing my cell phone ding with incoming emails, tweets, comments and messages, along with keeping up on responding, can be overwhelming at times, but it’s helped in reaching out to my future audience. You can pay plenty of money to independent publishing companies to advertise and promote your novel, but there is also much you can do yourself—for free—with your time and effort. The main thing you can do is put yourself out there, and with the internet connections available today, there are so many tools out there to help do just that. Publishing a book isn’t going to guarantee sales if people don’t know your book exists, especially with how many novels are publishing every year.

TR: Perfect advice…thank you. Now, what mistakes have you made in regards to publishing and marketing your work, and what will you do differently in the future?

MK: The biggest mistake I made was putting so much faith in the editing system that Trafford Publishing included in my publication package. I quickly learned that I could have saved time in the editing process had I originally combed through their corrections and suggestions with a fine toothed comb. I sent it on to publication too soon, causing more correction sessions than should have been necessary. In the future, I will make sure that I look over my work carefully and pay a little extra in terms of editing. Don’t always assume that an editing service will catch all the errors.

TR: Now I really hope folks out there are listening :) . Please, tell us a bit more about your next book…

MK: As I mentioned earlier, Unexpected Choices, in the new novel I’m working on. It’s about life’s way of throwing obstacles in our way, forcing us to make those unexpected choices we’d never thought we’d have to face. Yes, there will be a love story in the mix, one that I hope the readers can relate to.  In reality, love stories aren’t the way depicted in novels. In reality, love is tried, trust and loyalty is hard to find, and people get hurt. I want my novels to show the trials that all couples today face and that it is still possible to have a successful relationship if the two people involved are willing to work for it. I firmly believe, “True love, in its most pure form is worth every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears that goes into finding it and keeping it alive. No one should be fooled into thinking love is easy, that relationships are easy, or that those we love won’t hurt us. The truth is, life is brutal, and it’s how we react to those awful situations that will depict the rest of our lives.”

TR: Nicely done. McKaylin, it’s been a true pleasure. Best of luck with “Hardship and Devotion”, and in all your writing. Go get that degree!

That’s it for today, folks. “Hardship and Devotion” is out there, just waiting for you. What are you waiting for?

Creative Writing, Writing Habits, & Writing Rituals

In the process of finding myself, I found that the career path I had previously chosen for myself wasn’t what I wanted to do at all. In fact, I found that my mind had a hard time focusing on the homework, because I was busy lost inside my own head or still lost in the words I’d just read from a new novel I was reading. In the end, I found that my true passion was the written word. I decided to finish my Associates Degree in Medical Billing and Coding, but that I would return in the New Year and start on my Bachelors Degree in Creative Writing. Now that I’m enrolled and currently engaged in my classes, I’m finding that I made the right decision.

The textbook we use for my Introduction to Creative Writing, is called, The Practice of Creative Writing: A Guide for Students 2nd Edition, by Heather Sellers. Even if you aren’t a student studying to receive a degree in creative writing, I strongly suggest this book for those wanting to become an author regardless. After reading a few chapters into this text, I immediately thought about my blog and that I could help so many new or even established authors by the knowledge I receive in my studies.

One thing I’ve learned so far is that having a scheduled time of day, every day, to write is important.  In other words, I needed a writing habit in order to keep me focused long enough to actually get words on paper. I have found that the best time for me to write is either late at night or early in the morning. Today, for the first time, I tried writing early in the morning verses late at night. By doing this little test, I was able to sit and type out an entire chapter. I took time to read the last page of my novel in progress and then BAM! I started writing. I didn’t stop until my son woke up and at that point I was finishing up the last paragraph of my chapter.

Not only am I a fulltime student, I’m also a mother of two little ones under the age of five. It’s because of this that I need time away from others to truly focus and get myself into a good enough rhythm to allow my mind to get into the flow of my stories. With so many distractions, I wasn’t able to get much done in a days’ work, like I did this morning with just three hours of uninterrupted writing. I was even able to go back through and read how well I did. I had started this test thinking early writing would have been an awful idea, but I found that it was my best writing yet. Apparently my brain needs to have no distraction, which is only done when I’m not fully aware of my days’ happenings.

With this little test, I now know that my writing habit needs to be changed from late night or a few minutes here and there through the day, to writing a couple of hours in the early morning.

Aside from having a writing habit, I also learned that you should also set up a writing ritual as well. As Sellers states in the textbook mentioned above, “Rituals help us achieve and intensify focus. Writing rituals are the key to keeping your writing habit in place.” By keeping rituals in place, it will also help us writers stay focused, steer clear from procrastination, and avoid any unnecessary distractions.

So what is a ritual? From my understanding, a ritual is something you can use to trigger your brain to know that it’s time to write. The example Seller used was lighting a candle prior to writing. For myself, I have decided to plug my laptop in the kitchen at night. That way I can push the button to make a cup of coffee and then carry my laptop either to my bed or the couch with coffee in hand. These are my two favorite places to write. I don’t like locking myself up in my office. It makes me feel as though I’m shut out from the world. Even if I am the only one awake at 5 a.m., at least I know that because my kids aren’t out of their rooms and I can see their doors from my position on the couch.

I don’t know about any of you guys, but distractions are a big one for me. Who would have thought, me—someone who didn’t like getting up early to even workout—now finds that writing in the early a.m. is best for my creative brain? I was secretly hoping that I did better at night; however my results are proof enough for me, plus I’ll get to go to bed with my husband every night. I’m sure I will have my days where the words don’t flow as easily, but that’s part of being a creative writer. We still have to do what works out best for us in order to produce our work for all to read.

So now I ask you all, do you have a writing habit or ritual? How long do you think is the best time to write?

Work Cited:

Sellers, H. (2013). The Practice of Creative Writing: A Guide For Students (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St Martin’s.


Hello all!

HARDSHIP & DEVOTION UPDATE: Hardship and Devotion’s website is officially up and running! This gives a link to Trafford Publishing’s website to buy the book directly through them (bringing in more money to myself :)), as well as information regarding “About the Book” and “About the Author”. The website is: If you have some time, check it out! I think the web design team at Trafford Publishing, did a wonderful job incorporating my cover art and the overall feel of my novel into the site.

MANY THANKS: I also want to personally thank all of you that have been so supportive throughout this wonderful journey, as well as for those of you that have already purchased my book! If you find yourself liking what you’ve read in Hardship & Devotion, be prepared to hear more on my next novel, “Unexpected Choices.” It is currently still in the writing process, but is coming along quite smoothly. It’s going to be quite the page turner if I do say so myself! 😉 I’ve been putting a lot of me into this next novel. One thing I do know is that none of this would be possible without those that have supported me through all this; my husband Joe, my mother Kellie, my father Tom, my siblings, family, friends and yes, my children, for enduring all my “homework” — as my four-year old calls it. 🙂

PERSONAL UPDATE: Something else to look forward to is that I will be starting school at the beginning of the year to finish my Bachelors Degree in Creative Writing-English-Fiction. I know that many authors that are successful today have been able to get there without the help of a degree, but I hope to use all my knowledge to benefit new authors. Through this blog, my experience in self-publishing, and research I do on a daily basis, I hope that I will be able to help answer any questions you might have if you’re wanting to publish your own work of art.

Happy Writing & Reading,

McKaylin L. Felton