Kayla Howarth

Author of The Institute Series

Indies who are looking for an editor: DO YOUR RESEARCH. PLEASE.

Over the last few months, I’ve been contacted by people offering editing services. As someone who has been screwed over a lot in the past, I’m wary. But I realised today that there are so many new authors out there, and any of them could fall for the bullshit lines these people are trying to sell me.

You know that old saying, those who can’t do, teach? What does an author do when their books aren’t selling? I swear a lot of them these days are waking up and saying “I think I’ll be an editor today.”

Now, I’d love to be paid to read other people’s books and help them out. But there’s one thing I recognise that most of these other authors don’t. And that is I’M NOT QUALIFIED TO BE AN EDITOR.

My copy editor/proofreader (*waves* Hi Kelly Hartigan, you’re the awesome to my sauce … or something like that) has said to me that my drafts I hand over are some of the cleanest drafts she’s ever seen. And you know what? She still has hundreds of corrections to make. Aside from being too close to the project, I also don’t know every grammar rule in the book. MOST AUTHORS DON’T. I have serious issues with commas. In particular, omitting them when they are needed before a conjunction separating two different clauses (look at me! I have the lingo down … but please don’t quiz me on using the rule), and then adding them when they’re not actually needed. *sigh* I give up. I’m sorry I’m not learning, Kelly. But hey, I barely leave participles and modifiers dangling anymore 😉

I’ve asked some of these authors who are trying to now break into the editing business what makes them qualified. I’ve heard all different types of answers:

  • I have great attention to detail.
  • I recently hired my own editor who has taught me SO much.
  • I have a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Because I’m really, really good.
  • I started my own publishing house, so I know stuff.

*facepalm* It literally makes me think “Well, I watched an episode of Grey’s Anatomy today. Want me to remove a kidney for you?”

I’ve fallen victim to THREE of these “editors” in the past. One was very early in my career. I saw proofreading being advertised for only $100! Struggling indie author me: “Hundred bucks? Awesome. Done.” *gets manuscript back* …… she missed typos even I’m now finding! I’m lucky I was only out $100. This was the editor’s discounted price. Full price, she was asking for $400, which is about average for what I pay for Kelly to proof my work now. (She charges per page, so each MS is different in pricing.) But, this was a lesson in learning you get what you pay for. And I’m happy to say, this editor is no longer in business.

I wish I could sit here and name all the people I’ve had bad experiences with. But the reason I’m not naming names here and screaming from the rooftop for people to stay away from certain people is because drama can affect public image, which can affect sales, which affects income/visibility etc etc etc. You don’t want to be famous for being the author who makes enemies.

So what I’m going to do instead is run over a list of things for authors to be wary of when looking for an editor, and questions to ask.

  1. Who have you worked with before, and what books have you edited?
    I would purchase said books and look at the editing quality. Are there mistakes? Are their grammar issues? Was an extra/another editor listed in the front/back matter?
  2. Are you willing to give a free sample of what you would do to my work.
    Most editors will be willing to do this up to about 2,000 words. The only problem with this is any changes/catches will seem good to an author, right? So, they catch some errors, but how do you know they got them all when you yourself couldn’t see any during your own revisions?
  3. How far ahead are you booked?
    Does it suck that I usually have to wait a month to get into my editor? Sometimes. But there’s a reason she has constant work. SHE’S GOOD. Anyone who says “I’m available whenever you want, and I’m never overbooked” is a red flag. If they truly are as good as they say, they will be booked for a while in advance, because they will have regular clients. I know of an editor who charges through the nose, is booked out for MONTHS (sometimes up to six months) in advance, and she recently announced she was no longer taking on new clients because she just doesn’t have the time. But she’s obviously sought out for her talent.
  4. Can I see a contract?
    One of my editors didn’t even have a contract. She told me she’d be done in ten days, took my money, and by day nine, I was worrying. Especially when she emailed me and said she was 3/4 the way through. She gave me my manuscript back on time, but that means she rushed through the last 25% in twenty-four hours. How accurate could her edits really be?
  5. What kind of editing do you do, and what does it involve?
    I was recently approached by someone who’s looking for editing clients. Yet, after five minutes of talking to him via private message, I already could tell he had NO idea what he was talking about.
    He didn’t know the difference between content editing, copy editing, and proofreading. It will do you well to learn the differences yourself. Here’s a blog I found which explains it.

Don’t get sucked in by people who claim to be the best without them being able to back it up with PROOF.

The cheap price tag of some of these editors is enticing. I know that. But a lot of the time, you may as well not hire one at all when they don’t know what they’re doing.

If you’re looking for my recommendation (I kinda don’t want to post the link because I feel possessive over her. SHE’S MINE, DAMMIT) you can’t go past Kelly Hartigan at Xterra Web. You can find her services here.
*She only does copy editing/proofreading.

If you have a great editor, spread the word!

Let’s not give work to those who are out to make a quick buck and have no idea what they’re doing. It’s a waste of your money, and it really leaves a bitter taste in your mouth when you’re out hundreds of dollars (sometimes thousands for some people!) and have nothing to show for it but maybe some typo corrections here and there.



Author Spotlight: Michelle Lynn


13731670_1047171588682841_3850967670529743382_nThis month I spoke to Author Michelle Lynnand asked her a few questions to find out more about her. Michelle Lynn is the Author of The Dawn of Rebellion series, a dystopian series you won’t be able to put down. She is also the author of the New Beginnings series which were the first romance books I’ve ever read and enjoyed.

LJ: Other than writing what other hobbies do you have?
ML: My niece. Sounds weird to call her a hobby, but when I’m not writing, I’m hanging out with her. She’s two-and-a-half and my best friend. I have her two days a week, sometimes more. Other than that, I read, A LOT. I’m disabled and unable to do much so reading has always been an outlet and I get through about four books a week. I’m also a huuuuuge ice hockey fan. I never miss a Columbus Blue Jackets…

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Branching out from KU

Whew, I think I’m already breaking out in a nervous sweat, and my books haven’t even left the KU shelves yet.

I’ve always been an advocate for Kindle Unlimited. I’ve always encouraged other authors to put their books in this program. Yes, it means your ebooks are exclusively locked into a contract with Amazon and you can’t sell them elsewhere, but the payoff—at least for me—has been more lucrative than having my books on the virtual shelves of iBooks, Nook, Kobo, etc etc.

For the last eighteen months or so, my income has depended on pages read through the Kindle Unlimited program. And while it’s still paying the bills, I’m worried it might not be enough in the long run.

So, I’ve made the daunting decision to try to branch out from Amazon. *gasp* It will begin with my first series, The Institute Series, and the four books will be on all platforms by April at the latest. Because release dates and whatnot were all different, books 2, 3 and 4, will be coming out of their exclusivity contracts at different times. In fact, book 3 comes out before book 2 does.

Defective (Book 3) will be out of KU and ready to go. However, Resistance (Book 2) will not be released from its contract until the 19th of March. As soon as it’s out, I’ll be uploading it and sending them to ALL OTHER retailers. When Through His Eyes: An Institute Novella comes out of KU on the 31st of March, I will upload it to all other retailers. The books themselves can take 2 hours to 2 weeks to appear in-store, so I unfortunately can’t give definitive dates, but if you join my VIP reader list, I will be sending out an announcement via email when I have confirmation they are live in all other stores. (Or wait until the 2nd of April when they will definitely be in-store)

You can join the mailing list here:

I’m hoping that by branching out, I will gain more readers. And, if successful, I hope to have all my books join The Institute Series on all platforms.

Reasons authors choose KU:

Amazon pays authors per page read instead of sales. So, the more people reading your books, the more money they make. These reads boost sales rank and improves visibility, meaning more eyes land on your books.

It’s an amazing program and I can’t recommend it highly enough, especially for new authors.

It’s also great for readers too, because for a nominal monthly fee, you get access to thousands of books. And if you don’t like a book, you simply stop reading. The author will only get paid for how many pages you read.

But there are downsides:

Advertising is hard. While the big A is the number one bookstore, a lot of advertising sites won’t advertise you unless you have your books out through all retailers.

Not everyone likes kindle or has a kindle or the app on their tablet. (I used to be one of them!) Essentially, committing to KU alienates some readers, and that’s the last thing authors want to do. But on the flip side, pulling out of KU will often alienate KU subscribers. They already pay $10 (or whatever the cost is) per month, they don’t want to be buying books as well.

It’s a tough decision for any author to make. The key is finding what works. And I’m hoping by taking my first series wide, that it does work, and I won’t be reliant on KU anymore, meaning my entire backlog will be available through all retailers.

Until then, what some authors do is ask readers to email/message their receipt of purchase for their books on Amazon, and then the author will send the book in the preferred format. This way, Amazon get their money, authors get their royalty, and readers get their preferred format.

To Americanize or not to Americanise …

Here’s a little insight into the workings of one complicated mind. MINE. Brace yourselves, because this may not be pretty.

When I started writing, I decided to set my first book in Australia because, well, I’m Australian. Please don’t hold that against me. We’re not all binge drinking, stubbie wearing (short shorts) drongos (idiots).

I figured it would be easier to write what I know because I wouldn’t have to worry about remembering to drop the U out of colour, favour, habour, labour … you get the point. I wouldn’t have to remember that realise has a Z in it. I was also starting out and didn’t have the money to hire a proper proofreader who would change these things if I messed it up.

But the more I write, the more I realise there’s no way I’m going to be able to write a book set in America because I am TOO Australian. For instance, I had no idea ‘How ya going?’ was not a universal thing until a beta reader laughed at it and asked ‘Huh?’ (Translation: How are you today?) A yobbo is an idiot (notice we have a lot of words for idiot?), a prawn is a shrimp (yes, if we had a Bubba Gump Shrimp over here, it would be called Bubba Gump Prawn … not as catchy, really) and the boot of a car is called a trunk. Don’t even think about calling someone a bogan. And what about fairy bread? What is this, you ask? Only the best invention ever. Bread, butter, sprinkles (Also know down here as Hundreds and Thousands). Go. GO EAT THIS DELICIOUSNESS RIGHT NOW!


I have an awesome editor now (who is actually American), and if I set my mind to it, I really could set a series in the US. But I’ve taken it upon myself to educate my readers about the awesomeness of the broken English we call Aussie slang. So I think I’m gonna stick to writing about Australian’s who say random stuff that make my readers whip out Google.

‘on ya, mate. (Translation: Good on you, friend.)

So, having said the above, there are a few Americanisms I have adapted to my writing, and here are the reasons why:

Ass. That’s right, ladies and gentleman. Ass is spelled arse over here. One of my favourite things to do is call someone an arse, and singularly, I prefer arse to ass. (I don’t think I have typed the word arse/ass so much in one damn paragraph.) However, put it together with other lovely terminology of name calling and what do we have?

  • Arsehole (that just looks wrong)
  • Jackarse (umm wha?)
  • Dumbarse (you get where I’m going with this)

So, my original idea was to adapt whole words like asshole, jackass, and dumbass, but keep arse for singular.

But what about the inconsistency?

Dammit, what’s a girl to do when she is faced with such large life dilemmas like choosing between using the word arse or ass?

I referred to the number one rule of writing. Okay, maybe not THE number one rule. There is no one rule that beats out all the others. There’s a billion rules, all of which aren’t set in stone, that all make my head hurt if I think about them too hard, and … okay, I’m getting off track. One of said many, many, many, many rules is to stay consistent. And this is how my brain decided to use ass over arse. (Are we having fun picking apart how my mind works yet? No? Let’s keep going!)

Living room. What most Australians call a lounge room, I tend to gravitate towards the more universal word of living room. Everyone knows what it means with little explanation.

Thongs/Flip-flops. You know what? None of my characters wear thongs. It’s just easier that way, because calling them flip-flops in Australia is just WRONG. And calling them thongs makes Americans think we wear underwear on our feet (when we all know, we only do that when we’re at home alone.) I try to make my characters wear boots or heels.

Tank top. In Australia, we call tank tops singlets. After finding out that’s what Americans call wrestling outfits, I decided to take on tank top as part of my written vocabulary. I assume most Aussies know what a tank top is, but not everyone knows what we mean when we say singlet.

I’m positive I’ve taken on more than the ones stated above, but these are the ones that stick out in my mind, because they’re ones that are used often.

I’ve heard it’s a trend right now for UK English writers to adapt to US English spellings, creating a sort of mix breed of English. AKA Canadian English. OOH SNAP! Hi Canadian friends. I love you.

When it’s all said and done, language barriers can be a pain for writers, but sometimes even moreso for readers.

I’ve had readers complain that while my books are set in Australia, not all the language fits with being Australian. But I’ve had way more reviews tell me they want my books translated to American because apparently the Australian language doesn’t make sense.

To which all I have to say is:

Strewth, there must be kangaroos loose in the top paddock for ’em not to get what I’m sayin’. My writing’s chockas with bloody ripper words. Deadset, mate.

Anyone care to translate?




Protecting William!


Coming September 1st, 2016


William has always been destined for great things. With his family being one of the most respected in the country, he has a lot to live up to.
All Will wants to do, just for one night is to forget about responsibility and obligation. He wants to go out, have fun, and enjoy being a regular teenager; to forget he has the surname Daniels. Maybe that’s why his older sister, Nuka, ran away and hasn’t been seen since – the family pressure breathing down her neck got too much.
Sneaking out with his best friend, Seth, Will finds himself in the depths of the exclusive underground fight club, Litmus. The plan was to watch. The plan definitely wasn’t to compete. Finding Nuka among the competitors changes that.


Litmus is a spin-off of The Institute Series. While it is set in the same world, and characters from The Institute make appearances, it can be read as a separate series.
Protecting William is upper YA, suitable for people fifteen years and older.



Raised by adoptive parents since the age of six, Nuka James starts questioning her past. Unable to get the answers she seeks, she goes in search of the one person who can tell her the truth—her birth mother.
When her search leads her to Litmus, Nuka wants to prove she’s worthy. Litmus is the infamous underground club where Defectives use their supernatural abilities to fight it out for money, fame, and glory. Litmus is where you find out what you’re made of.
Nuka wants to win her mother’s approval, but doing it without losing herself might be impossible.


Litmus is a spin-off of The Institute Series. While it is set in the same world, and characters from The Institute make appearances, it can be read as a separate series.
Losing Nuka is upper YA, suitable for people fifteen years and older.



Why I LOVE Bad Reviews


The saying “Bad reviews aren’t really bad” is actually true. There are many benefits to bad reviews, and I’ll be the first to say that I LOVE them.

Do I love them when they pop up on my Amazon or Goodreads page and yell at me for being a mediocre writer with no hope of success? Not so much.
However, after I rant and rave about how the review was mean or unwarranted, I usually take a second glance and tell myself the same things I do every time someone doesn’t like my work:

  1. Everyone is entitled to their own (wrong) opinion. (LOL)
  2. Not everyone loves the same thing. 
    I belong to numerous writing groups and there’s an author who is always revered for their writing by everyone else. But me? I couldn’t read their work at all. Granted, it was written really well, but it wasn’t my genre of choice and I just didn’t find it interesting. It has nothing to do with that author and everything to do with what I do/don’t like.
  3. Is there anything in the review I can learn from or improve on? 
    I generally find the reviews that have a genuine complaint annoy me more than the ones that just attack the book. Valid complaints are upsetting because I’ll agree that I could’ve done better, or that they made a fair point. The good thing about this though, is it means I learn how to better my craft. I generally don’t stay mad for long.

So why am I professing my LOVE for bad reviews if they make me all twitchy and crankypants? (Crankypants – so a word!)

Not only do some bad reviews teach you to better your craft, they also keep you grounded, and help keep hold of that little bit of self-doubt all authors have.

I’ll be the first to admit that when the shining 5 star reviews come in, I’m usually on a high for a full day. I feel invincible, and like I’m going to be the next big thing. I need the bad reviews to bring me back down and remember that no matter how proud I am of my work, I can always improve. In this industry, it’s a constant learning curve. If you’re no longer learning, your books won’t progress and you won’t move forward. I believe I get better with every book I write, but if I got nothing but 5 glowing stars, why would I feel like I need to improve? I’d get lazy. I’d feel like everyone was going to love what I wrote, no matter what it was. I can tell you now – they wouldn’t!

Another reason I love bad reviews is because it means my book is getting out there. All different kinds of people are reading my books. Anyone who has only good or decent reviews is suspicious. Where did those reviews come from? Every best seller out there – Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Fault in Our Stars – they all have bad reviews. Why? Again, it’s because not everyone likes the same thing. So if a book is only being read by people who LOVE the book? Alarm bells warn in my head. Chances are they are all solicited reviews.
*Please note: I’m not saying solicited reviews aren’t honest, but it’s a sign the book isn’t selling and it’s not reaching its target audience.

The last reason I love bad reviews is because what someone might hate, someone else might love. I know I kind of said similar above, but what I mean is this:
One of my books received a one star review that said:

“I felt like I was reading a story written by a horny, liberal teenager.”

You know why I love this so much? Because this will make horny liberal teenagers pick up my book! (who are my YA target audience, unlike the above reviewer.) *Please note, if you’re a teen and neither liberal nor horny, I’m sure you’d still like my book.

Another one of mine that was two stars:

“I lose interest when the obligatory gay character enters the scene.”

You know who may read my book now? A teenager who might be struggling with their sexuality.

I’ve read reviews of Young Adult books that actually say something along the lines of the reader being in their forties and not enjoying the book because it was really aimed at teenagers.
Umm, what?
While I believe any age can enjoy a Young Adult book, if you don’t like teenage angst, why are you picking up this genre? But again, these reviews promote the book for what it really is – a book for teens. The right target audience will read that and want to pick up the book.

So that, in a nutshell, is why I LOVE BAD REVIEWS! **Except for that one on Goodreads that said my book was dull and predictable. YOU’RE dull and predictable, random reviewer! (Mature comeback, am I right?)


Raised by adoptive parents since the age of six, Nuka James starts questioning her past. Unable to get the answers she seeks, she goes in search of the one person who can tell her the truth—her birth mother.

When her search leads her to Litmus, Nuka wants to prove she’s worthy. Litmus is the infamous underground club where Defectives use their supernatural abilities to fight it out for money, fame, and glory. Litmus is where you find out what you’re made of.

Nuka wants to win her mother’s approval, but doing it without losing herself might be impossible.


Litmus is a spin-off of The Institute Series. While it is set in the same world, and characters from The Institute make appearances, it can be read as a separate series.

Losing Nuka is upper YA, suitable for people fifteen years and older.

Coming 24th March, 2016!


January – New Releases

YA Author Rendezvous

by Patrick Hodges

Several great books to tell you about this month!


1/7 – Through His Eyes (An Institute Series Novella) by Kayla Howarth

Through His EyesIn a fraction of a second, his life ended. Death was merely a consequence the Resistance often faced. And Chad was ready, willing to accept his fate. But he didn’t expect to be rejected by the afterlife.

Chad finds himself in a state of limbo, standing on the sidelines as his loved ones try to move on with their lives. This cruel twist of fate has Chad questioning his earthly purgatory. There stands a reason, he just has to find it.

Filling in the lost months between Resistance and Defective in The Institute Series, Through His Eyes follows Chad and his search for final peace.

Genre: YA/Dystopian

Visit Kayla.’s Amazon Author Page HERE


1/7 – Seirsha of Errinton (Book 3 in the Eldentimber Series) 

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