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When Is My Manuscript Ready to Submit to an Editor?

How do you get the most bang for your buck when hiring an editor? Here is a link to an excellent article on the subject, which also includes several embedded links to related questions.

Providing an editor with a manuscript not yet suitable for submission costs both the author and the editor in terms of time, money, and quality of product.

This article is used with permission from the publisher, and every writer should read it.

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So Which Is It – Passed or Past?

These two are frequently used incorrectly and it can be distracting to the reader. Past can be a noun that refers to a period of time that has already happened (He wants to live in the past), or it can be an adjective describing something that has already happened (He wants to relive his past glory. Most frequently, it is an adverb describing a verb: He walked past the dining table.

Passed is the past tense of the verb pass and can be used in a number of ways. To move beyond: We passed the entrance and had to double back. To achieve: I passed my test. To die: He passed away. To cease: The feeling soon passed. In sports, to transfer: He passed the ball.

There are several other ways the verb pass may be used, and all meanings are easily accessible in any online dictionary. But the most frequent difference between these two words is the distinction between the verb and the adverb. Remember, you walk past something, but you pass it. The same thought can be expressed either way: He walked past the store. He passed the store.

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So Which Is It—Was or Were?

We’ve all been there. Is it I was, or I were? Just by the sound of it, one would think that I was would always be correct. But, not so fast.

There are a couple of situations in which the obvious is not to be trusted.

One instance that can be confusing is a sentence that begins with the word There. In this case,one must identify the subject of the sentence to which there refers and determine if that word is singular or plural. In such a sentence, the subject follows the verb. It may be necessary for you to mentally deconstruct the sentence, reversing the order of the subject and the verb. This makes it relatively easy to identify the subject and determine whether it is singular or plural. Then it is a simple matter of choosing either a singular or a plural verb to match the subject.

For example:

Singular: There was a man at the end of the street. (A man was at the end of the street.)

Plural: There were three men at the end of the street. (Three men were at the end of the street.)

Another confusing situation arises with the use of the conjunctive mood. The subjunctive mood departs from reality. It may be a supposition, a condition, a hypothetical, or an imaginary situation. Here is an easy tip: The subjunctive mood always uses the past tense verb, were. If your sentence is speaking of anything that is not reality, then the verb were is the correct choice, regardless of whether the subject is singular or plural. Although not always the case, use of the word if could be your clue that you’re using the subjunctive mood. But not every sentence beginning with the word if will be the subjunctive mood.

Remember: Reality = was and unreality = were.


If I were rich, I’d buy that car. (Unreality)

If I am correct about her age, she is too young to work here. (There is a good chance that the supposition is true.)

Now, you no longer need to wonder if you’ve used this irregular verb correctly! Easy-Peasy, right?   

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Need a Quotation?

One of my favorite newsletters is from Jane Friedman ( She almost always has something of value to share with my clients. Here is a suggestion from her latest letter that I particularly like.
“If you often find yourself searching for just the right quote, The Wisdom Archive can help you find lesser known quotes with high value. It’s a curated collection of 30,000 quotes focused on values, ethics, and wisdom.” Give it a spin! 
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Ribbon Disappears in Word 2016

If your ribbon (also known as the toolbar) disappears on you while working in Word, look for the icon in the upper righthand corner of Word that looks like a box with an arrow in it. (It looks like the first option in the box below.

Click on the icon and a menu will drop down. Select the option that says, Show Tabs and Commands.

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Help With Word

Hi Everyone! In my previous life, I worked with jewelry. I wondered if there would be any interest in a few tips on that subject, such as how to buy a diamond or how to care for your jewelry.

Meanwhile, here’s today’s tip. I get Allen Wyatt’s WordTips Ribbon newsletter, and I save almost all of them. He is a fantastic resource for Word questions. When you google for an answer to a Word question, chances are Allen’s site will come up with an answer. His site is searchable and he also publishes an annual archive in either print of digital form. He has archives for all versions of Word. You can post a question if you don’t find what you need, but there is no guarantee he will select it as one of the questions he will answer in the newsletter.

The most valuable tool I’ve found on his site is a macro that will review your Word document for missing quotation marks. It will give you a false positive once in a while, but I’ve never had it miss anything. It runs super-fast and highlights any paragraph or sentence where a quotation mark is missing.

If there is any interest, I can post the macro and my homemade instructions for installing it. I’d post it now, but it would make this post too long. Thanks for reading, and remember, I will edit your first two chapters for free.