Self-editing tips from a bestselling author - Authors A.I.

Alessandra Torre
November 20, 2020

Every author has a different process for what happens when they hit that elusive THE END moment in their first draft. Some celebrate with champagne and a well-needed sleepathon. Others toss the manuscript into a digital drawer for a few weeks to let their thoughts settle. And some immediately dive back into a self-edit.

It doesn’t matter when you do it — hours or months after completion — but you really can’t afford to skip the self-edit process, even if you use a team of professional editors. Authors need to do an initial clean-up and honing, preferably before your editor lays eyes on it (and you’ll definitely want to rewrite that “lays eyes” bit).

For First Draft Friday, we brought in bestselling romance author Penny Reid to share the to-do list that she moves through when performing a self-edit.

Here’s a quick look at her key actions, which we discuss in detail in the video above:

  • Remove crutch words, phrases and authorial tics.
  • Search for the passive voice — make sure it’s necessary or fix it.
  • Search for adverbs and, depending on the point of view, remove them from the hero or heroine to distinguish between the voices.
  • Assign certain words to each POV and ensure there’s no overlap.
  • Hunt down sections with two or more non-dialogue or non-action paragraphs in a row (internal thoughts or exposition) and break them up or remove them.

Interested in learning more about these actions? Listen in on our live chat (and please forgive our butchering of the word “divan”)!

Want to read some of Penny Reid’s novels? Visit to dive in.

To join in live or watch a past First Draft Friday, check out our library here. And please subscribe to First Draft Friday on Apple Podcasts.


Transcript of my conversation with Penny Reid

Alessandra: All right. We are live. This is First Draft Friday. It’s November 13th. I am joined today by USA Today Bestseller, Penny Reid. I’m so excited to have her on, and we’re going to dive right in. Today we’re talking about the self-editing process and some methods and tips that you can use and processes that we both go through in our self-editing, so I think it’s going to be a really exciting half hour and I can’t wait to begin. Penny, can you introduce yourself and tell the audience a little bit about you?

Penny: Sure. I’m Penny Reid. I write, I frequently call them like odd romantic comedies. So typically they do have a thread of nerdiness throughout whether it’s a fandom like Star Wars, Star Trek, or Avatar, The Last Airbender, or they just take place on a college campus where there’s the main subjects across the canvas of like biochemistry or astrophysics or something like that. So I write, I guess, nerdy, romantic comedies that are strange, and I’ve been doing that for about seven years. My background is in biostatistics and I used to be a biomedical researcher, and then I started writing full time in 2015, but I self-published my first book in 2013.

Alessandra: And are you self-taught?

Penny: I am. I’ve never taken a craft course before. So when you asked me to do this today and you wanted me to focus on craft, I said I could talk about the writing craft, but there are some things that I think every author maybe has in common or should be doing when they’re finishing up their first draft. And so, I do feel qualified to talk about my own self-editing process, so we can talk about that.

Alessandra: Well, I’m self-taught also; I’ve taken writing classes since I began. Well, I’ve taken classes here and there I’m in writing, but I’m also self-taught. And first of all, if anyone hasn’t read Penny’s books, I’m not blowing sunshine. Her books are fantastic. They really are. They’re really intelligently written and well-written and anyone who’s looking to write romance or who writes romance, if you want to read really well-written romance, absolutely read Penny’s books. I very rarely ever rave about an author, so it’s very well-earned. But I’m also self-taught, and when I teach classes, I’m like writing for dummies is what I always say because a lot of craft things are really high level and can be really intimidating so I think it’s really great to have you on. Especially for self-editing because people who are self-taught like you and I; we do a lot of self-editing because we’ve learned how to make our own way in this world. So let’s talk about when you finish a book, when you finished your first draft, first of all, are you a plotter or are you an outliner or do you pants?

Penny: I outline, but I like to write in series, so I will have a seven or an eight-book series and before I start writing on it. I outlined the entire thing because I like to build to the last book from the first book. So I like to put Easter eggs or things that will later be important in book six and seven and eight. I like to put those in a book one, two, three, so that by the time book, eight comes out, people are, hopefully, hopefully they’ve enjoyed the series up to that point, but by the time the last book comes out, it’s an event so people get very excited. I like the tempt people, no, just kidding, but yeah, I’m a psycho plotter. I maybe have manifestos regarding my plotting; it’s intense, but yeah, I’m a plotter.

Alessandra: So your first drafts, are they typically pretty clean because you’ve plotted them out or what’s the state of your first draft normally?

Penny: I typically never have to remove anything. I typically have to add steens. So I’ll finish a book and then I’ll send it to my beta readers. So my beta reader process is that I have about three or four beta readers so they’re really just readers. They’re not professional beta readers because I want to get an idea of what the reviews are going to be like for the book. So, what can I expect? I like to brace myself. I don’t like to be surprised. And so, the beta readers will come back; I have a form that they fill out, so I get consistent feedback from all sources and it’s just easier for me to digest that way. And typically they say, “Gosh, I wish you had spent more time on, or it would have been nice to see more of, or could you add a scene in this fan favorite place?” And I do, I like to… because of the types of books that I write because I do write romantic comedies that are meant to entertain; I do like to pander a little. I like to pander to my audience and make them feel really warm and fuzzy and cozy. I challenge them in other ways, but not in terms of consumption of entertainment I like to entertain. And then after, that’s the point at which I add all that stuff and then I self-edit at that point.

Alessandra: Okay. So, can you walk us through what self-editing is like for you?

Penny: Well, I like critical feedback and I like to know what I’m doing wrong. I’m not a mind reader. At first, when I first started to publish books since I am self-taught, I would scour reviews on good reads for some usable feedback. Like, how can I improve? How can I do better? And so, interestingly enough, I used to click on the one and two-star reviews first, notes, based on their reviews and then apply them to my next book. And things that I figured out, and I actually just wrote down a list and I sent it to you ahead of time, but it’s something I do for every single book. So the first thing I do after I get my notes back from the beta readers because if I’m adding to a book, I don’t want to self-edit yet. I want to wait until after it’s been to beta reader added all of my scenes. I take a look at any repetitive phrases. So I do have a tendency, I just did it just now to put “so” at the beginning of sentences or “therefore” consequently or I never really quite got away from grant writing I think… “and so” there’s another one, “and then” that’s a big one for me. And so, I have a complete list of…

Alessandra: Now in reviews or you just have a critical eye?

Penny: No, I would see sometimes in these early reviews for my early books, I would see people say she uses the same phrase over and over again. And I’m talking about one and two-star reviews; they held nothing back.

Alessandra: Oh, I see, Penny has frozen on my side. Oh, can someone shout out in the comment section and let me know if Penny’s froze on you all’s end?

Penny: Oh, I might be the only one here. Well, I guess I’ll continue as we wait for Alessandra to come back. What I was talking about was I think her question was regarding the reviews and yes, these brutal one-star reviews would mention repetitive phrasing or words that I had used over. Oh, here she is. She’s back.

Alessandra: I don’t know what happened. I got knocked out. You sounded like you were rocking and rolling on your own.

Penny: No, I did. I just went ahead and I started continuing to explain because it’s like… it’s okay.

Alessandra: That’s good. You’re a pro. I thought the issue was on your end. It was on my end, so okay, go ahead. Sorry.

Penny: Actually, I switched over and check the comments so they probably got some pretty epic facial expressions and you’re like… So yeah, I went through the reviews and I looked for all of that stuff. So, the first one repetitive phrasing, sorry to repeat myself, but maybe it’s life imitating art. Repetitive phrasing was a big one for me and I had some words and phrases that I relied on too much. And so… here I go, and I’m now I’m going to since I’ve done the “and so” so many times, it’s going to bother me.

Alessandra: It’s going to bother you every time you do it, yeah. So did you find him replaced? You find them that way, or you just keep an eye out while you’re going through the draft?

Penny: I actually do a find and instead of a replace, I look at the whole section [unclear09:51] either rewrite the sentence. If I’m using a phrase that I’ve used over and over again, typically the entire construction echoes where I’ve used it in the past and that’s boring to have a book where you’re reading the same kinds of sentences. Unless it’s a stylistic choice where your narrator is maybe going mad, but in the absence of that, I feel like as a reader, I don’t want to see that lazy… it feels very lazy to me. So at points where I stay the repetitive phrasing, sometimes it makes sense to keep them, but sometimes I have to stop and rework an entire sentence or a thought and disallow myself from using anything similar to something I’ve used in the past. And so, that repetitive phrasing isn’t just that word like “and so” or “and then” it’s an echo throughout the book that makes it feel monotonous. So, that’s my experience with repetitive phrasing. It really is digging in there and reworking some of the sections so that you don’t have again, this echo throughout the book.

Alessandra: And if you’re a new author listening; don’t panic because it’s one of those things when you’re writing your first book, a lot of times, you’ll second guess every word that you write. And so, a lot of times something like this, it takes walks and books before you recognize it in your own writing. I know for me, I have certain stylistic patterns that can get really annoying if you really read them in more than one book. And now, I’ve trained myself to catch those and rewrite and edit them out. But when I read my early books, gosh, I mean, they were riddled with that. But as Penny said, when she talks about using beta readers that are readers and not editors; an editor will see that, but 90% of these things readers don’t notice. They might not be crazy about the reading of the book, but they can’t figure out why. They don’t pick up on these types of things, but if you can find them and improve them with your writing from book to book, your enjoyment level will improve, and your writing improves even if readers don’t know why.

Penny: And it just takes a lot of time. I mean, prior to publishing my first book, I had books written, they’re all science fiction and fantasy books, but I have books that I’d written for 15 years. And I look at something I wrote, I mean, at this point, yikes, it’s like over 20 years ago and that’s awful and I’m so glad that…

Alessandra: Painful.

Penny: I so glad that I spent those intervening years before I did publish my first book, just writing and writing and writing because I love to do it. It has improved overall, so when it was time to publish that first book, I had some sense, but it wasn’t… nobody had ever read them before so it really was a learning experience for me. Absolutely, I feel like I’m getting a bit better.

Alessandra: Well, that’s good to hear because your debut is, I mean, your early books are so polished and well-written, so I’m glad to hear that you had so much of a history and you didn’t just roll out of bed one day after doing an experiment. I think I’m going to write this brilliant well-written book, so it’s good to know. All right, so repetitive phrases, what’s the next on your checklist?

Penny: Next on my checklist is a search for passive voice in only. So passive voice is where you use the verb “was”… is my understanding of passive voice? Please correct me…

Alessandra: It’s a complicated concept. I was going to have you explain it to the audience.

Penny: So my mind… and I’m probably wrong since I’ve never taken a craft course before; my understanding of passive voice, and please correct me if… all of you craft people out there, right?

Alessandra: Yeah, even one of our craft team corrects us.

Penny: The simplest explanation that has ever been given to me is where instead of using a verb, any other verb to describe an action; you use “was” so “to be” “was” “is” “were” et cetera, et cetera. And I’m not going to give you… I have the sun… I’m in Seattle. You would think there would be no sunlight today, but randomly peeking through the clouds is sun, so every once in a while, I don’t have like an alien spaceship over here or anything.

Alessandra: When you say something brilliant, it’s like aww.

Penny: Okay, so that’s basically what it is. So instead of saying “she jumped into the room,” it would be like “she was in the room.” What you’re basically doing is you’re removing the opportunity, to my mind again, correct me craft people, you’re removing the opportunity to paint the scene more clearly. Instead of relying on “was” “she was there” “she was present” “she was” or “he was” or “I was” or whatever it was.

Alessandra: Or even it’s also a little showing, right, like she was sad to hear that news or something like that.

Penny: She was sad, instead of she felt devastated, so felt would be, you know, that’s terrible, but I’m much better on the page. I’m not really good with the talk anyway. What I do is, I go through the book and I look for passive voice. Sometimes passive voice is a stylistic choice. If somebody feels disconnected from the action or if a person is a weak character if the point of view is from a character who is weak, who doesn’t really allow themselves to be present, especially if you’re writing from first person perspective. I do have a book where at the beginning of the book, the character has heavy passive voice. And over the character arc, the passive voice starts to go away because the character becomes much more engaged, and that was a stylist.

Sometimes passive voice is appropriate, especially for writing from first-person perspective because you want to show that character arc, or you want to show that emotional disconnect within a particular scene. However, if the passive voice wasn’t purposeful, that’s where you go through and you look for those, again, phrases with was, is, were, and you try to rework the sentence. I do all of this at the end. I don’t do this while I’m writing the book. I don’t self-edit while I’m writing the book, because you can’t edit what you don’t have written. And I would just end up editing and editing and editing and editing, so I don’t even let myself do this kind of self-editing until the book is finished. So, that’s passive voice for me.

Alessandra: All right. So repetitive phrases, passive voice; what’s the next one? I should put up a list so I can guide you better.

Penny: Since I do write in first person perspective or point of view; I look for adverbs and so words the end in “ly” and I only let one of my characters use adverbs, typically. See what I did there?

Alessandra: Typically, okay.

Penny: I’m such a dork. With my male characters, typically are the male or the characters who I don’t allow to have as many or any adverbs, and what that does is that separates the voice of the character from… it’s a very distinct difference between the male character and the female character for writing from two different perspectives. I also just go through and look for adverbs and look, again, that’s a little bit of lazy writing. I try to go through and look for ways that I can rework a sentence to remove the adverb, so I do that at the at the end, unless of course, again, it’s a stylistic choice. So, the other… I only have two more…

Alessandra: Okay, wait, wait, sorry. I don’t want to interrupt you, but that was really interesting what you said. So you write from dual point of views or you typically write from a singular point of view?

Penny: I used to only write from one point of view, but I’ve started in my later books I write from both the male perspective and the female perspective. And I do see a lot of authors who get comments or reviews that, “Hey, this male character sounds like a female.”

Alessandra: Or just like the female, right?

Penny: Easiest thing you can do to keep that from happening is to remove all his adverbs. That’s the easiest thing.

Alessandra: I love that trick. Yeah, I’ve never heard that before.

Penny: I had written a book and at the end… one of my early books, at the end of the book, I write a male perspective or point of view. And I think it was the third or fourth book I’d ever written. And I got a comment at the end of the book or a couple of comments in a review about that scene or extra bonus that he sounded a lot like the female character. And so, I started listening to the way that my brothers talk, and my dad talks, and my male friends talk, and my husband talks, and even my son, and I tried to figure out what it was about their dialogue or their narrative that distinguish them from how typically, how females talk and express. And I noticed a lack of adverbs that sounds kind of nutty, but I noticed the distinct lack of adverbs. And so, I tried that with my next book and it just really stuck, and so typically, my male characters don’t use adverbs.

Alessandra: I love that. I love that, such an actionable tip. I really love that. So when they’re not using adverbs, it’s in dialogue and in inner monologue?

Penny: Yes, as much as possible.

Alessandra: I love that. Okay, perfect. And we did get a great tip from the audience. Judy said; “This is returning to passive voice if you can add by zombies to the sentence and grammar still makes sense, it’s passive.” So I think another Facebook user said “the ball was kicked” is an example of a passive phrase. So the ball was kicked by zombies. So, I love that. So a more active thing, I mean, even just removing the word “was” or “she kicked the ball” I think would be a better. Yeah.

Penny: Great.

Alessandra: And Margaret says, “I’m going to be paying attention to how the men in my life speak now. I am too.

Penny: I would carry around a notepad just for like a couple of days, and it was around Christmas time. So I was at my parents’ house around Christmas time just going, you know, like, how many times do they, or what words are they using? How are they phrasing their sentences?

Alessandra: Phrases.

Penny: And I would stop them every once in a while and be like, what are you thinking right now? And it’s like, I’d like a beer or, you know, whatever.

Alessandra: Really basic things.

Penny: Oh, okay. So, along the same vein for writing for two different points of view, what I like to do is I’d like to assign certain words exclusively to one point of view and certain words exclusively to another. So before I said, I overused things like, “therefore,” “consequently,” “thus,” “as such,” I tried to… I have to do it. Like, I know you’re not supposed to do it, but I have to. There’s just something it’s like, it’s that grant writer in me, I have to have those words in manuscripts, and I’m just going to embrace it. I’m just going to embrace my repetitive phrasing today. I add “consequently” and “therefore” to one point of view. And then in the other point of view, I’ll do it as such and thus as an example.

Alessandra: Sure.

Penny: So, another one might be, one character might refer to their side table as a side table and the other character would refer to their side tables, a nightstand, just to distinguish them further that they really do have their own language, their own thoughts. And then the other thing I do is, one character typically will have longer sentences and another character will have shorter sentences, and this would be for their internal dialogues, just a really distinguish that this is a completely different person than in the two points of view. And I do that a lot during the self-editing portion, even though it naturally tends to come out based on the character that I’m writing I’ll notice. But then, there is always some bleeding over when you’re writing both points of view at the same time.

Alessandra: So when you write the book, do you hop back and forth between the point of views or do you write all one point of view and then all another point of view?

Penny: I hopped back and forth.

Alessandra: Yeah, me too.

Penny: If you can do all one and then all the other, like, God bless you, but I cannot do that. I have to hop back and forth.

Alessandra: I’m like, I want to go see what the character’s thinking right now in reaction to this. Yeah, so I love that. And I really liked that idea of assigning different words to different characters. I think one of the things that’s really hard, and if you’re a new author and you’re writing your first book and you’re trying to tackle multiple points of views, it’s easier not to do that. It’s easier in the beginning to just stick to one point of view because you do need distinct voices from one character to another. And that can be hard when you’re first starting out until you really find your groove and you find your confidence. We have a great question from Janet in the audience. And she said, do you read your manuscript out loud?

Penny: I do, but not during the self-editing state or stage. Typically, when I read my book out loud is when I’m stuck. I know what happens because I’m a plotter, but at times the characters will rebel and they will tell me that I am wrong and they do not want to be written in that way. Because of that, I’ll try and I’ll try and I’ll go from having maybe like a thousand-word day or a series of those to like a 200-word day. And I know that means that something is going on with the characters. I have betrayed them in some way to, be overly dramatic. And it is at that point, I will go back and I will read parts of the book out loud so I can hear them better. I don’t know if that makes any… I’ve never told anybody this.

Alessandra: You’re crazy

Penny: I’m in my attic in my wool hat telling you that I have to hear my character, so, you know, whatever.

Alessandra: No, I’m the same way. I read dialogue a lot of times out loud when I’m writing it. If I get stuck a lot of times, I’ll dictate a scene, and I would love to dictate more; it’s not the way my brain works, but if I’m stuck a lot of times I’ll try dictating a scene. I know I sound like a crazy person, anyone who’s listening to me because I do use different voices for different characters. So yeah, “Well, I don’t think that’s true,” you know? So, if anyone was listening outside my… I don’t write in the attic, but I write in the garage, but if anyone’s listening they would think I’m crazy. We did have a response. Margaret said she tried using different words to describe the same thing by character “couch” versus how do you say that “divan” is that the right way to pronounce it? I don’t even know that word. That’s a fancy word, Margaret. “My editor questioned it and thought it might confuse the reader. What’s your take on that?”

Penny: Okay, so that’s a really great question. I think perhaps in that particular case because we’re talking about empirical data rather than an aggregate data set. In this particular case, I think it was the word “divan” because I didn’t immediately know what that particular word was.

Alessandra: Me either.

Penny: However, either you said sofa and couch; I don’t know that you would have gotten the same response from your editor. Or if you’re just using that as an example, that’s if she was truly confused by nightstand versus side table, et cetera, et cetera. I would maybe if you have another beta reader or if you have your proofreader queued up, maybe have them read a couple of chapters and just say, “My editor had a question and I’m not going to tell you what it is. I just want you to read these first four chapters, and I want to see if you have the same question or same concerns.” So, that would be putting them in blind. So that’s a single blind read, just to see if they’re going to be… getting more data, I would say. I have found that it works really well for me. I don’t get reviews. And again, reviews would be data in aggregate. I don’t get a lot of reviews from people who are, why did she use nightstand with his bedside table with her perspective? And I do still scour the one and the two-star and three-star reviews sometimes just to take a look if there’s something that in some way I’ve gotten lazy that I can pick up on.

Yeah, if you can approach your reviews from a non-emotional place but really from the perspective of a learning experience that is great.  

Alessandra: It’s usually helpful.

Penny: Yeah, helpful. And I know reviews are for readers; they’re not for authors, but sometimes you’ll come across a review, a two or a one star review where the person is really helpfully critical. I had a lot of experience reading horrible reviews from grant reviewers. And so, to me, it was really, “Well, how can I improve my craft? How can the next time I submit to this particular reviewer they’re going to rate by grant highly?” So I do look at reviews from that perspective rather than a “did they like my book?” I don’t care if they love it. I’m more interested in what I can take from them, exploit from their reviews so that I can become a better writer.

Alessandra: I love that. I agree wholeheartedly. And especially in the beginning when I didn’t have money for an editor; reviews were my editors. I mean, the beauty of self-publishing is you can go and change something and fix it and learn from that. A lot of comments are saying divan, I still think I’m mispronouncing that it’s Davenport is the older phrase, so a great use of that. And I think that we’re just kind of jarred them because it is such a unique thing. A great example of this is if you have an older character, like a point of view of an older character, she’s going to refer to things in different ways and notice different things. When I switched points of view, a character who’s a fashion designer might make a lot of references to what people are wearing that they’re interacting with, where your football player… I mean, I’m not meaning to be stereotypical, but where, you know, your man in the woods could care absolutely less or notice what any of the other characters are wearing, but something really bothers him about that character in a different way. So always try to think about the personalities of your characters and their observations because everybody observes different things and notices different things,

Penny: That’s right. That’s a really good point.

Alessandra: We are we’re going to have to zoom through your last… you have one more or two more?

Penny: Two more, and I’ll make it really fast. I just searched through sections of the book and this is just when I read through for sections of the book that have two or more paragraph of paragraphs of expository with no action or no dialogue. And I try to either, if they’re having a long period of time where they’re thinking about something, or they’re just talking to themselves too much, I try to interrupt, or if they’re explaining something, I try to interrupt it with either dialogue or action. And that just keeps… to me, that just keeps the pace of the book moving much quicker, much faster more engaging rather than let’s stop and chat and think about this.

Alessandra: So, define expository for someone who might not know what that is.

Penny: Expository again, I’m going to use the definition that I use because I’ve never taken a… I needed to take a crash course. That’s a long story. I’m a little afraid to take a crash course, to be honest because so far it’s working for me.

Alessandra: Yeah, you don’t want to mess with the… yeah. Does it matter if you know what expository is? I mean, really? My understanding it’s like backstory or explanation of something that the reader needs to know. Is your take on it?

Penny: The explanation backstory or a person thinking through their feelings or processing something that has occurred. But then, it’s where there’s no action that takes place, and it’s really a lot of just telling the reader something rather than showing it through action.

Alessandra: Okay, so your rule of thumb is two paragraphs?

Penny: Two paragraphs; because once you get…

Alessandra: More than two, you need to break it up.

Penny: I feel that way about my own book or the pace of romantic comedy; more than two is when you really just need to break it up, yeah.

Alessandra: I agree. I love that. All right, and one more, you had one more? Oh no, that was it.

Alessandra: That was it? All right, perfect. We technically are out of time, but I do want to try to answer these last few questions that we had. So, if someone else is trying to find it, ask how many editors do you use if you don’t mind sharing.

Penny: No, I don’t mind

Alessandra: Between developmental proofreaders; how many people are professionals are seeing your manuscript?

Penny: How many professionals are seeing… three. Three professionals are seeing. So I do have anywhere between non-professionals would be three to six beta readers, and then I get it back and U self-edit, and then I have a copy line editor. I use my beta readers for developmental edits. I’ve tried using a developmental editor before, and it just did not work for me. I just have to rely on myself. And so, after I get through the beta reader, self-editing, I go to a copy line editor, and then I go through two different proofreaders. Sometimes I’ll also go to a third proofreader depending on if there are some concepts within that are super technical. For example, I have a book series called the Laws of Physics and I do a lot of discussion on astrophysics. And so, theoretical astrophysics… she’s a theoretical astrophysicist. And so, I did use a proofreader just to make sure that I was structuring the sentences a hundred percent correctly, et cetera, et cetera when I was talking about that particular area of expertise.

Oh, and if I’m writing from a perspective that is different than my own, so I don’t share that perspective. So, if I’m writing about, or if the point of view is a black woman, or if the point of view is a Latino man, then what I also do is I will pay for a sensitivity reader too. And always a professional, always pay your professionals will have professional sensitivity readers go through and make sure that the voice sounds authentic that I haven’t whitewashed it, and I haven’t turned that person or that character into a stereotype.

Alessandra: That’s great. And where do you typically find your sensitivity readers?

Penny: So for sensitivity readers, you can… Twitter is a really great… I know that sounds awful, but Twitter’s a great resource. The first person I always contact is Angela James. She now runs her own business, but she left Krener Press where she was the head of Krener Press and she formed her own business. She really has her finger on the pulse of where to a lot of editing professionals for very specific things. So Angela James on Twitter, I just reach out to her. She also has a submission form on her website for romance authors, but she probably could hook up non-romance authors as well. She’s really dug into publishing and editing professionals, so she’s a great place to start.

Alessandra: That’s a great resource. And we’ll put in the section below; we’ll add a link to her profile. I appreciate that. The last thing a user just said, “Penny, I love, love your covers. They look like really witty books and now I’m going to read them and find out.” So, if you’re interested in reading Penny’s books, you can visit her website at What was the book that you referenced, where it starts with passive voice and gets less passive? I meant to ask you the title.

Penny: No problem. The name of the book was called Beer Science. It’s the third book in the Winston brothers series, and it’s the female character’s point of view. She goes on a character journey from being very passive as a person to finding her independence by figuring out who she is, that’s how you find your independence. That’s how you get a backbone. It’s figuring the you. And so, over the course of the book, she started using more action forbs rather than by zombies.

Alessandra: Rather than by zombies. I love that. And if someone was going to start with your book or is there a book that you’re really proud of or is there a book that you would say, this is the first book of mine that you should read?

Penny: I typically tell people to read the fourth book in the knitting and the city series first. They’re all stand-alones all my books are standalone so you don’t have to read any one before the other. The fourth book, which is called Beauty and the Mustache because you’ll get a really good sense for the types of books I write. I feel like it touches all of the main points. If you don’t like Beauty and the Mustache, you’re not going to like any of my other books. There’s a lot of quotes by Nietzsche in it, and there’s like… it’s bizarre. And so, if you like that kind of bizarreness, then you’ll like the rest of my backlist. And if you don’t, no judgment, lots of people don’t like my books. It’s totally, great. I’ll still make eye contact, that’s fine.

Alessandra: And that was “Beauty and the Mustache.” Thank you to everyone who joined us live. If you’re watching this later or listening to this on our podcast; please follow our accounts, please like and comment on these live chats. It’s great to have you guys here. We’re Authors AI. And if you visit, you can check out artificial intelligence editing tools for authors, and we have a really cool artificial intelligence robot named Marlowe who I think you’re going to love. So, thank you for joining us today. Thank you so much, Penny, for sharing your wisdom with the audience. And we will see you guys in two weeks at our next First Draft Friday. Thank you, guys.

Penny: Thank you. Bye.

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