Editing Tips For First Drafts

Hello fellow writers, re-writers and readers

Just a quick note to let you know I’ve finished my first draft of the manuscript

IN The Woods“In The Woods”

I’m very excited about the story line, it’s different from my last books and I really like the protagonist, Samantha Tremblay. She’s a Vermont Forest Ranger who’s involved with solving a murder after she stumbles across the first dead body in the woods. Samantha has her own quest as well, finding her Native American roots. I hope to represent that group of people as best I can. We all want to know who we are, where we come from, but for Native Americans, it’s often a difficult path.

I still have to edit some more, but I think a break is needed just to forget about the work for a week, so then I can begin again with fresh eyes. This is an editing practice—to step away and let the brain rest, and it works!

My Process to write first draft:

  • I write the draft using Scrivener to help me make a cohesive story line using the tools available, which includes tracking my word count, a great motivator.
  • Then I compile it into a Word docx file and use the editor in Word.
  • Next, I use the Grammarly editing software loaded into my Word software (it turns the Word editor off but gives many more insights, like overused words).
  • Last step, I take each chapter separately and paste it in the Hemingway App software for desktop and review and make changes as appropriate to make the manuscript easier to read.

When my first draft is finished, I load it into Jutoh software and create a quick eBook (no worries about meta data etc. yet) and share it with Beta reader(s). Then I’m ready to let someone else read it while I rest. So, this week I’m on vacation.

A few other editing tips:

I’m taking a week off, even writers deserve a vacation.

But do we ever really take one?

Of course, I’ll be reading by the pool, but if you’re like me, that becomes part of the writing training. I can no longer read just for the sake of reading. I dissect the plot, check the clues, see if the characters are congruent. I do the same when I watch a movie or television show. It’s a good way to recognize others’ skill of their craft.

The story could be the most thrilling you’ve experienced or a complete bomb, but always a learning experience for you.

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Here’s some photos I took of Brunswick Springs

Encourage Others To Read A Book For Their Health

reading a bookFor years we’ve  heard that reading is good for us, yet our county’s reading habits seem to be on a slow, steady decline. There could be many reasons, like more recreational television and games, YouTube and the internet that absorb our free time, but this is crazy.

We live in a time of trends to do everything we can to live healthy lifestyles like:

  • eat the right foods
  • minimize our footprint on the earth
  • save animals and endangered species

We shouldn’t forget one of the most important things we can do for ourselves, to optimize our  – BRAIN HEALTH

Here is a cold, ugly fact:

In October 2015 Smithsonian.com reported results from a Pew Research survey that revealed  27% of the population hadn’t read a book in the past year.

<gulp> If that’s not a horror story, then I’ve never read one.

The National Endowment for the Arts have been tracking our reading habits (as well as other considerations regarding the arts), and they created a research report titled:

Reading At Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America

The results of the survey were accumulated for conclusions, see them for yourself by checking out:

  Section 4. Trends in Literature Participation, 1982 – 2002 on Page 21

 . . . there has been a substantial decrease in the percentage of people reading literature, from 57 percent in 1982 to 47 percent in 2002, a decline of 10 percentage points.
 i found you!They have been tracking our recreational reading habits for years, and although our rate of college graduates has increased, the number of literary books we read for pleasure have decreased, while our television viewing is booming.

Outlander SeriesDon’t get me wrong; there is a place in out lives for media. I like viewing television shows like the Outlander series (but I read the books first) and I wouldn’t suggest that we shouldn’t be looking forward to season three of Twin Peaks which is happening again (read Mark Frost’s book first, you’ll thank me later).IMG_5279

Along with these other sources of entertainment if we add the fact that there are many more books published today, well, you can see an author’s predicament.

It’s getting harder and more competitive to find willing readers.


Christopher Ingraham wrote a great article for the Washington Post “The long Steady Decline of Literary Reading”  last September 7th that noted more current numbers regarding our reading habits. (I borrowed the diagram used)

This trend is disturbing. We know that people who read exercise their brain in the areas where we develop empathy, an ability the world could use a little more of right now. So if our reading habits diminish will our ability to empathize as well?
This fact about reading and how it is exercising our empathetic muscles has been documented in many tests, as well as other health benefits from reading. Here is another article about the benefits posted last August via the online magazine Trends In Cognitive Sciences

In long-term associations and shorter-term experiments, engagement in fiction, especially literary fiction, has been found to prompt improvements in empathy and theory-of-mind.

Trends In Cognitive Sciences 

cognitivePeople exercise their brain while reading in the areas where we develop empathy. Reading increases cognitive brain ability.

Read more about it in an article from Psychology Today written January 2014 by Christopher Bergland here:  Fiction Improves Brain Connectivity and Function via PsychologyToday.com

“At a minimum, we can say that reading stories—especially those with strong narrative arcs—re-configures brain networks for at least a few days. It shows how stories can stay with us. This may have profound implications for children and the role of reading in shaping their brains.” —Dr Berns

Conclusion: Reading Improves Embodied Cognition and Theory of Mind

The Huffington Post had a nice article written by Laura Schocker in October 2013  Six Science-backed Reasons To Go Read A Book Right Now  She cited increased empathy as a benefit, too. She also added: books chill you out, sharpen your brain, keep Alzheimer’s disease at bay, promotes better sleep habits, and lessens our bouts of depression.

What’s My Number One Reason To Read—I’m Curious

Books offer us new worlds to explore. Please keep watching great shows, too. Movies and video games offer great entertainment, and I can’t wait to experience VR (virtual reality).

But I implore you to spread the word that we all need to read as well—For our health

Only with a book can we totally immerse ourselves into a different world with our unique perspective and convey the written words in our own mind, using our own creativity to interpret the story. That’s the beauty of reading.

We can all read the same book, but we all come away with a different VISION. I rest my case.

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Lucky Friday the 13th


A quick note for those who think like me – Friday the 13th shouldn’t go unnoticed.

It’s always been a lucky day for me. I like the mystery of the day, the pretense that something odd might happen.

It was on a Friday the 13th that I became engaged, and I’ve been happily married over 30 years. It was a Friday the 13th that I landed one of my dream jobs—well a dream for a bit, then turned into a nightmare. Where am I going with this?

It’s still a day of mystery, when we can experience something and blame it on the day.

For some it’s the superstitious bad luck day, though I think that kind of sentiment is waning. People don’t seem to take stock in unknown territories any longer, being connected means having answers at our fingertips. The odd is explained away, easily enough.

But if something strange happens to you today, good or bad, go ahead and blame it on Friday the 13th.

Some great reading for Friday the 13th

Goodreads Listopia: 13 Scary Stories for Friday the 13th

Goodreads Listopia: Paranormal Book Lists

Goodreads Listopia: Best Gothic Books Of All Time

The Savy Reader: Top 10 List of Eerie Books to Read on Friday the 13th!

Don’t forget my books: from the Curses & Secrets serial

More interesting reading and understanding . . .

University of Oxford – Introduction to The Victorian Gothic: Spiritualism

Happy Friday the 13th

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Book Released Today! Seeking Redemption

zgutaFor those who know me well, you already know that I’m an introvert and don’t like to share too much personal information publicly. This has been a busy, and at times difficult year, in the Zguta household. A few major life changes have shifted our way which required some planning and preparation on our part.

I had surgery in September, and then my husband had surgery, just two weeks ago today. No worries. We are both doing fine and thankfully will be healthier for the procedures. But things like that can take a toll on the spirit.

So it’s a good thing that they happened this year because we had something else to focus on besides ourselves. There was a wedding in the family and another wedding is coming up this weekend!

I am so excited. Concentrating on the good things that happened, the year’s highlight was my son’s wedding in early November. It was wonderful to see the entire family rejoicing on such a happy day and I know in my heart that my son and his new wife will have a great life together.

Today I have another reason to celebrate:

Seeking Redemption

My third book is officially released and I want to share my good news.

Please, I ask that you share this information because I am looking for readers of suspense thrillers with a supernatural slant and a twist of horror. If you know any readers who are Kay Hooper, Joe Hill, Mark Frost, Stephen King or Dean Koontz fans – Please share my book news with them. I would appreciate your help at networking.

Seeking Redemption (Curses & Secrets Book 3) by [Zguta, Elisabeth]Seeking Redemption – Book three of my Curses & Secrets saga is an exciting story, packed with suspense. I’ve tried to draw a picture of who my characters are, how the family is surviving, and most importantly how Robert can survive and still live with himself.

I think we can agree that living with guilt can destroy ourselves inside and very often hurt our loved ones, as well.

Those who read my original books Breaking Cursed Bonds and Exposing Secret Sins already know what a lost cause Robert is, and to see him “Seeking Redemption” is a spectacle in itself. But there’s more to this story . . . we see his sister, Emilie, once again using her paranormal ability to save the day, or does she? You’ll just have to read the story to find out.

If anyone is interested in reading the book in exchange for an honest review, please contact me for a copy.

Thank you all for your support and please spread the word about my stories.

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New Covers and Update to TOC for Books on Amazon

Happy Friday – this is a quick note.

I heard through the FB grapevine that Amazon may be considering taking down eBooks that had the table of contents in the back book matter (which I did). So to be proactive I reformatted the TOC, and now it will be in the front matter. Find out more from David Gaughran in his post here.

In my opinion, it looks ugly this way, but whatever Amazon wants I’m happy to comply if they continue to distribute my books. I thank David for the heads up, as usual. Let’s hope it’s no big deal, but better to be in the know.

I wanted to show you my new covers for

Breaking Cursed Bonds and Exposing Secret Sins

I took the opportunity to also update the covers. What do you think?

Thumb Breaking Cursed Bonds Skull cover 2016

Thumb Exposing Secret Sins 2016 cover


Other news:

I have the third book of the serial Curses & Secrets in the editors hands.

I am really excited about Seeking Redemption. I think it’s about time we hear Robert’s voice. Can such a bad guy really attain redemption? Hmm – you’ll have to read it to find out. It will be released later this year, promise.

I’m happy to be working with a new editor for this book – Richard Thomas. He’s not only a great writer and editor, but he’s just finished a Kickstarter and soon he’ll be launching a new online magazine.

Check out:

GamutGamut Magazine: Neo-noir, speculative, literary fiction.

It’s not too late to get your subscription.


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