Re-reading Your First Draft: The Crucial First Step in the Novel Editing Process

Writing a novel is a herculean task in itself, but as any seasoned author will tell you, the true work begins after the first draft is finished. This is when you enter the realm of editing, a daunting but absolutely necessary step in crafting a masterpiece. This is the first in a three-part series on the novel editing process, and we’ll begin by discussing how to approach re-reading your first draft.

Step 1: Preserve the Pristine

Before you even contemplate opening that document and diving into the editing process, there’s a crucial step to take: save a clean copy of your first draft. This serves as a snapshot of your unrefined thoughts, which can be invaluable if you later decide that some of your edits were a misstep.

Also, it’s kind of fun to go back later and ponder what could have been.

Step 2: Embrace the Detachment

Now, it’s time to re-read. But before you start, take a breather. Personally, I aim to let the first draft lie undisturbed for at least three months. The aim here is to gain some distance from your work so you can approach it with fresh eyes, like a reader instead of the writer. Detachment allows you to identify potential plot holes, stylistic issues, or character inconsistencies that you might have missed while in the throes of creation.

Step 3: The Initial Read-Through

Once you’re ready, proceed to the initial read-through. Resist the temptation to edit as you read. This stage is about understanding the overarching narrative, the pace, the character arcs, and the general feel of your story. Consider reading your novel in a different format, like a printed manuscript or an e-reader. This might help you to engage with your novel in a new, reader-centric way — and take notes as you go.

I like to make grammatical changes only on this first read through, to get the 2nd draft as clean as possible. So at this point I’ll fix typos, obvious errors, syntax–but no deep plotting problems. That way when I go through it again, I’ve got a very readable manuscript to look at instead of a messy one.

Extra Tips

  1. Use a Highlighting System: Consider using a color-coding or highlighting system as you read. For example, you might highlight character inconsistencies in one color and pacing issues in another. This provides a visual cue for areas that need attention in the editing process.
  2. Note Your Emotions: Jot down how each section makes you feel. If a section that’s meant to be thrilling makes you feel bored, or a romantic scene doesn’t stir any emotions, it’s a sign that those sections need revising.
  3. Read Aloud: Reading your work aloud can help identify awkward sentence structures or dialogue that doesn’t quite sound right. Your ear might catch what your eye might miss.

Re-reading your first draft is the first major step in the editing process, and it’s not something to be rushed. Take your time and approach it methodically. In the next post, we’ll dive deeper into the editing process, discussing the different types of edits and how to tackle them. Stay tuned!

progress · Uncategorized

April ice storms bring May rain

That’s how that saying goes, right?

It was a good month, chugging along the old daily grind 🚂


  • Obviously, releasing Bootstrap()! Lookit those stars!
  • The writing competition in Winchester, which I wrote about here

I had a pretty enjoyable month on the reading front, too. This month I finished Ecclesiastes: Life in a Fallen World; The Chrysalids; Doctor’s Orders (Star Trek); and The Motion Picture Novelization (also Trek). You can probably tell I’m on a bit of a vintage sci fi bend at the moment. I always enjoy anything by Wyndham, of course (he’s so much fun to read!) but the old Trek novels, man, I used to spend hours reading them as a kid. The Ecclesiastes commentary was good, but I was looking for a little bit more meat. And by meat, I mean long in-depth discussions on Greek tenses, y’know. As one does.

Works in Progress

Kinda just chugging along on Euphi/Murah/Yuun’s story. I’ve added (drumroll please) about 13,000 words this month, which isn’t bad (considering I give it about half an hour a day, lol). It’s now at 40,000; a respectable total considering I’ve still no idea where this story is going. It’s like Cinderella? In space? With a lot of backstabbing murdering business? I dunno. I’m starting to consider that Euphi might not even end up marrying any of these poor shmucks she’s had shipped halfway across the galaxy to compete for her hand, either. Honestly, the nerve of some of these space princesses. Who do they think they are?!

No editing progress at all this month (well, unless you count Bootstrap(), which I do). Did I mention it’s available to read now? And, I might be a teensy bit biased, but it’s fantabulous. So you should read it.

Goals for May

I’m very much hoping May brings a bit more garden time, sunshine, and chances to lounge about outside with vintage sci fi. Here’s hoping! But other than that…

  1. Add another 15k on to Murah and Yuun and Euphi: A Cinderella Story
    • no I’m not really calling it that
  2. So I have this other idea for a novel…

…Yeah, pretty much that. It’s actually not new, like, I dreamt this up back in 2020 when I was really obsessed with this song, ’39. (Did you know Queen has a super amazing song about time dilation? No? You’re in for a treat!)

It’s not my usual thing at all though, it would be pretty hard sci fi (as you can maybe tell from the whole time dilation inspiration). But still character driven. Character driven hard sci fi. Huh, a girl can really reach for the stars, hey?

So maybe… maybe draft something about that?


By the by, Onedrive reminded me today that I got this piece of artwork two years ago today. Remember this beautiful thing?


Saturday in Winchester

Last weekend I had the opportunity to try something completely new: a flash writing contest! This was put on by A Bunch of People, a non-profit that hosts artistic/creative events to raise funds for charities.

And actually, the flash writing contest wasn’t the only new thing I tried that weekend. It was held down in Winchester, Ontario, about an hour’s drive south of Ottawa, and I’d never been there before either.

The rules were pretty simple: there were four categories (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and song); each category got a prompt word at 11:00am; and then you had 150 minutes to write something under 1000 words which was themed to the prompt word.

Easy enough right…? Except I chose non-fiction (having never written flash nonfic before) and the prompt was resist. Oh, man, it was so hard!

I wouldn’t consider myself a very resistant person. Stubborn, oh yes. But that’s not quite the same thing. (I also don’t think you can survive in IT without being stubborn. One of my old managers, way back when I was a helpdesk agent, said you had to be a bit like a dog with a bone to do IT. But I digress.) So, I did what anyone would do, and improvised an essay about how I’m not a resistant person, but ‘my life is a river’ (to quote my opening sentence. And it tied for second-place! 🥳

After the contest I was starving (remember how it went from 11-1:30?) so I wandered a bit to find some food, and oh man, Winchester is a nice little village. Gardens, cafe’s, a maker’s shop (!), and a second-hand bookstore all within about a ten minute walk… my kind of place! I found a store with some old Star Trek novels and picked up four. I used to spend hours browsing second-hand bookstores as a teenager, finding old Trek novels and then reading them with a kitkat bar. Ah, nostalgia. Actually, I found what I think might be a first edition of the TMP novelization, which I’d never read (dunno why). It’s kind of cool to see Roddenberry’s not-quite-but-sorta canon “insider’s take” on what’s going on inside Kirk & Spock’s heads. A little more satisfying than just fanfiction, anyway.

Then it was back to the hall for everyone to present their works. I had to duck out after an hour–it was a long drive back to Ottawa, and I still had groceries to buy and dinner to make–but from what I heard of the entrants, I was so impressed. Doesn’t it… just scratch an itch to hear other people’s creativity? Out loud, together? I didn’t know that was a thing that was missing in my life, but it felt almost like sitting with friends, even though I didn’t actually know any of these people. It was great, I’m using too many words to try and say 😅

Then back to Ottawa with my Trek novels to find I’d taken second-place. The first & second place winners for each category will be published into a book, which ABOP is going to sell for charity. All together, a great day in Winchester.

Got this at the Maker Mart!

Today is a day that’s been months (actually, four years!) in the making, and I am beyond thrilled to finally announce the release of my fourth sci-fi novel, Bootstrap()! This new adventure is a labor of love, and I’m eager to share it with all of you.

But this post isn’t just about introducing my new book—it’s also about expressing my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you who has supported me throughout my writing journey. From my very first novel to the latest, the unwavering encouragement I’ve received from my readers, friends, and family has been instrumental in helping me continue to chase my dreams.

To my amazing beta readers, thank you for your tireless work and dedication. Your guidance and expertise have been invaluable in shaping Bootstrap() into the thrilling story it is today. I am honored to have collaborated with such a talented group of individuals.

To my fellow authors and the writing community, thank you for being an endless source of inspiration and camaraderie. Your support has been a beacon of light on the sometimes-lonely road of the writing process.

And finally, to my readers—you are the lifeblood of my work, and the reason I continue to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). I am eternally grateful for the enthusiasm and excitement you bring to every story I share with you.

In closing, here is a deleted scene that always makes me laugh.

Andre, falling down the staircase [deleted scene]

With gratitude and anticipation,

personal · progress · Uncategorized

March Through Pages: My Month in Books and Writing Endeavors

March has been an enlightening month, filled with discoveries and significant progress in my reading and writing journey. As a way to share my progress & goals here are the books I read this month, followed by an update on my writing projects!

Books of the Month

I read 5 books in March, slightly behind my goal of 1.5 per week. Goal: Step it up in April! 💪

  1. The Letters of John – Gary M. Burge
    The Letters of John, written by Gary M. Burge, offers an insightful exploration of the epistles of John from the New Testament. It delves into the historical, social, and theological context of these letters, shedding light on their relevance for contemporary readers.
    I thought this book was quite an interesting insight into the early church and apostolic authority when such a church didn’t have much in the way of Scripture to fall back on. Who to trust, and how can you trust them?
  2. San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities – Michael Shellenberger
    In San Fransicko, Michael Shellenberger investigates the impact of progressive policies on urban environments, focusing primarily on San Francisco. By presenting an array of case studies, Shellenberger demonstrates how well-intentioned policies can sometimes have devastating consequences for cities and their residents.
    The title of this book was a real failure–despite being so provocative, the book was very well researched and quite empathic towards those in real need.
  3. Kindred – Octavia E. Butler
    Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred is a powerful novel that blends science fiction, historical fiction, and social commentary. The story revolves around Dana, a young African-American woman who is inexplicably transported back in time to the antebellum South, where she must confront the brutal realities of slavery. As Dana’s life becomes intertwined with her ancestors, she grapples with questions of identity, responsibility, and survival. Kindred is an emotionally intense and thought-provoking book that offers a unique perspective on the lasting impact of America’s dark past.
    I’ve never read Butler before and I don’t know why? Kindred was amazing–exactly my kind of sci-fi. Character driven and intensely personal, and the sci-fi aspect is almost ignored in the end. It’s about how people act in abnormal situations, instead of the technology that made the abnormal situation. 5/5 will read more of her work.
  4. How Much is Enough? Hungering For God in an Affluent World – Arthur Simon
    A compelling examination of the relationship between material wealth and spiritual hunger. By reflecting on the teachings of Jesus and the experiences of people from various walks of life, Simon encourages readers to reconsider their priorities and seek a deeper connection with God.
  5. Exodus and Leviticus for Everyone – John E. Goldingay
    A super-accessible and engaging commentary on these foundational books of the Old Testament. Goldingay’s ability to bring ancient texts to life through vivid storytelling and practical application makes for an enlightening read.

My Writing Projects

Into The Grey – A Fantasy Novel


Final count: 138,974 words

Yeah, that’s going to be a real monster to revise. Sounds like a later problem for sure.

Sequel to “Distal” (Untitled: Sci-Fi)

Not… really sure where this is going, but I’m plugging away at it. None of you will remember the novel this one is a sequel to, because exactly two people in the world have read it (myself and one reader lol). In this novel, I’ve decided to write a Cinderella type story (you know, the ruler has to choose a consort type of thing) except the potential consorts are mostly political pawns for various players across the interstellar empire in which this takes place.

Because reasons.

Anyway all that started getting boring at 23k words in so now there’s a murderer aboard the spaceship:

😱Like I said: no idea where this is going. IT WILL BE A RIDE.

And just for fun, some art! I’ve been playing with AI art generators a lot this month. This one makes me think of the Nine Hundred Golden Suns empire. You know, with the fires and the burning and everything.

Hope y’all had a great March 😘


Selling at markets: {almost} one year of experience

Have you ever tried selling your books at a local market? I did my first one in June of 2022, and yesterday was my fourth! I’ve learned a lot over the past year of doing it.

I was at the “Spring Is Coming” Square Lemon Market this weekend. This was my third Square Lemon market and it’s always a good experience–I’m not even just saying that; there’s always a good number of people, decent sales, and free coffee (!). I mean, that’s pretty great! They run once a month at the Glebe Community Centre.

Setting up at the Market

As I’ve done more of these I’ve gotten pretty quick about set up. With Nic and Theo there to help it’s always really quick, plus I’ve learned kind of “how” exactly everything should go on your standard table over the last year. Practice makes perfect.

With books you really need to add a couple of extras for visual engagement/appeal. I have some knicky-knacky stuff and a shelf to vary the height a little bit. You don’t want to overdo it, but I do notice my sales are better than some other displays I’ve seen where there’s little visual interest.

PS those boxes are fruit crates from the grocery store – I probably bought 25lbs of tomatoes in them at a time. They’re fantastic for carrying heavy books & market stuff around.

Selling the Books

The other thing about having done a few of these markets now is that’s I’ve got my pitch pretty much perfect 😅 The first time I did one of these I didn’t really know what to say, how to make a connection with people walking by, how to explain the book plot or give some interesting little details… I think I’m getting pretty good at it now!

Part of what I’ve learned is to be really, really active in reaching out to people. Say hi. Comment on their cute t-shirts. If they seem like the type, ask if they write too. This also helps me meet people in the Ottawa writing scene, which is a huge benefit. Sometimes I even get other people’s contact info!

Lessons Learned

It was a nicely successful market. In terms of my year-to-year experience:

MarketBook SalesNotes
June 20226*
Plus two knock-on
First market; figuring out what I was doing
August 20226Actual indie-and-small-press book market (not a craft market).
Better idea what I was doing, but it was SO SLOW. Like zero traffic!
Great sales-to-engagement ratio actually 😂
October 202223I mean, that number speaks for itself.
I have no idea why it was so high. Traffic? Close to Christmas? Was I particularly engaging that day?!
March 202311Pretty good! Trending in the right direction (if you ignore October 2022, which I might never repeat again lol).
Note that I did increase prices for 2023 ($20 each or 3 for $50) and it didn’t seem to noticeably impact sales.


If you’ve got a chance to sell at a local market – go for it. My sales are really good at these (I mean selling 11 books/day on Amazon? unless you’re one of the very highest selling indie authors, it’s really unlikely). People really like the local author appeal, and being able to describe the books, how and why you wrote them, parts you especially like, and inspiration drives a lot of sales.

You’ll definitely want a Square card reader ($60), something for visual interest (little shelves work well to break up the height monotony); something to catch appeal (cute signage); and business cards for people who are “maybes”.

Good luck!


First draft of INTO THE GREY complete

I just want to sit here and type I DID IT I DID IT about a hundred times 😅

It. took. YEARS to get through that draft. I started just over two years ago – February 26, 2021! Hard to believe! In that time I’ve published three novels (lookin’ at you, trilogy) and am about to publish BOOSTRAP() (just one more month!).

I wrote the first draft of IDENTITY in 2017, and released it in 2021… four years.

First draft of BOOTSTRAP() in 2019, and released it in 2023… four years.

Following that trend it’ll be 2027 (!) before INTO THE GREY is born into the world. I hope I can manage to trim a few words from it in the meanwhile; did you notice it’s currently one hundred forty two thousand words long?! It kills me. I don’t know how I’m going to revise it. I secretly love it while being simultaneous terrified. I mean, IDENTITY was only about 95,000… and it was not easy to revise.

Plus, y’know, the story isn’t done. At least two more books, I’m thinking, to fully tell Riann, Elisabetta, Damon, and Sierra’s story… and uncover the mystery of what’s happening on the fateful isle of Avalon. Oooh. I’m excited to discover what happens in the next book already 🤩

Let’s explore~
progress · Uncategorized


Is it just me, or did January and February vanish? I’m not at all sure what happened to the last 60-odd days!

February was a just-keep-trucking kind of month for me, writing-wise. I added about 12,000 to Into The Grey, and I can feel it wrapping up now (which is good, because it’s a beast at 130,000 words). Here’s an excerpt from the last few pages:

Things are starting to move in the Five Fiefs.

I also added about ten thou’ to the untitled Nine Hundred Golden Suns prequel. Honest admission: I’m not feeling very excited about this story. I’ve been having a hard time with prequels in general lately; I tried a Bootstrap() prequel for NaNo 2022, and lost interest at about 56000… which is where I stopped working on the untitled NHGS prequel, too. It’s probably a sign that I need to get out of those universes and tell some different stories. That said – Into The Grey is really going well!

On the reading front, I’ve got a goal of reading 75 books this year, and I’m one behind. I think I need to prioritize some more fiction, because nice angsty fiction is always super inspiring to me when it comes to my own writing. In February:

I can never ever get enough Mansfield Park variations where Fanny marries Henry (Unfairly Caught). It’s my own personal Janeite obsession. My favourite read this month was probably re-reading Screwtape Letters – I love those, they’re so good! Least favourite? My Happy Marriage, which Amazon swore up and down I would definitely enjoy. Spoiler: it was super boring.

Actually now that I look at that list, I have been reading lots of fiction. Hmmm.

In other news, work on Bootstrap() continues. I’ve got I think five (?) chapters of the audiobook done now. It’s been a process, working out what works and what… doesn’t. I think I’ve got it down now. The edits to the ms are done, except that I’d like to maybe expand on the ending a little bit. Maybe. I don’t know; maybe the epilogue is enough. I’m wishy-washy about it.

Oh, and I’ve been running a lot. Three times a week! It helps keep the plotting brain clear.

Til next month!


June progress & July Goals

I think I need to start this post off with: I’m 1000 kicks away from home, and writing this on my cell phone, both of which explain why this post is late. It’s also sort of hard to drop links into a blog post from my phone, so bear with me.

Some progress on one front last month: I re-read Bootstrap_ and sent it for a read by a friend. It’s a bit long in the middle and I need some help cutting–I think if I can figure out about ten to fifteen thousand words to cut, it’ll feel a lot quicker. Right now it stand at 110000.

On fantasy-related novels, I added another ten thou’ to Into The Grey. But guys, I am struggling with that novel. I think it needs another 30 to be complete (to the point I would call the novel complete) and it’s going to be just ridiculously long. I did look up the first Game of Thrones novel, and it was something like 295000 words. It just feels so long! Like I’m slogging through molasses to keep writing… And writing… And writing…

I also had a great idea for one of those short Amazon novellas–you know, the ones with titles like I Married a Merman. Started on that, only 1000 in so far but enjoying it. I think it should be significantly easier to actually finish a draft of than, say, ItG.

Aside from writing, I sold at the Glebe Community Centre in the middle of the month, which was a pretty new experience for me. You really have to put yourself out there to sell in person! I’m not a very chatty person really, so this was stretching new muscles 🤣 I’ve got another book sale in August and I think one every other month sounds about pleasant for me. I might to Ottawa Comic-Con in September but I’m leaning towards no.


  • Bang out the entire draft of The War Lord. I’m only aiming for 50-60k, so this is achievable
  • If I hear back from my beta about where Bootstrap_ drags, think about cutting it
  • Add another 10k to ItG (perpetual goal 😭)

Quiet month this month, goals-wise. I’m on vacation in Nova Scotia right now, which is definitely influencing my sit-down-and-write time. I’d rather play instead 😉


May progress & June goals

I. am. exhausted.

There’s so much going on, this progress report is a week late! Oh well. C’est la vie.

Last month I worked considerably on Into The Grey.. It’s now sitting at about 117k words, and nearly to the end (*of the first novel in what ought to be a trilogy, eventually). Riann is finally, 117k words after we met him, actually going… into the grey 😂

Book sales were OK this month. I also signed up for a couple of in-person events (😲). I’ll be at the Glebe Community Centre on June 19th, and at Lansdowne in August for the Ottawa Book Expo. Preparing for those has taken up a lot of mental bandwidth… I’ve made bookmarks, ordered a Square card reader, ordered 20 copies each of the trilogy (and they are HEAVY), etc. The bookmarks look pretty sweet though.

Just ignore my nail polish

Otherwise it was fairly quiet for writing. Now that Into The Grey is (nearly) first-draft-complete, I’ll be re-reading it to fill in any gaps or weird time skips, then setting that manuscript aside for a while. Not sure what I want to work on next–maybe a revision of Bootstrap_? Or I have a story idea percolating in the back of my mind about Junu and Presio-ru from the trilogy…


  1. Complete Into The Grey draft one! (‼)
  2. Re-read Bootstrap_ and note anything that wants improving. Tentative release goal for December 2022…?
  3. Sell books at the Glebe Community Centre! I sure hope!