Mystery Editorial Service
Home | Editing | About me | Newsletters | Blog | Inspiration | Contact Me

Mystery and Suspense
Editing Services


"Write As We Go"

Coaching Program

Prefer to send me just a few chapters of your cozy mystery or suspense book at a time?

We can work together as the story grows, and you can pick your own pace and pay as you go. Becoming a mystery book writer can be challenging. Click here to find out more on my program to help you through the steps to writing a mystery book.

Or click here for editing fees info and details.

Editing through Bristol Services

Key Steps to Writing a Mystery Book:
Take the Mystery out of Crime Fiction

Want to write mysteries, suspense, cozies or crime fiction that sells? I can help you tantalize the reader with clues and mischief, red herrings and suspects afoot! E-mail me and let's discuss your book!

In the meantime, here are "Just the facts, Ma'am" that YOU need to know about creating strong suspenseful novels:

Broad Scope:
Suspense fiction reaches readers through the fears and expectations we all have about our society. Touch on universal themes in the broad arena of humanity to give your book a sense of importance and give readers a need to keep turning pages.

Personal Scope:
At the same time, show the very personal impact the crime or intrigue or mystery directly has on the main character.

Carefully build your plot so that surprise plot twists can entertain readers along the way.

Your plot twists and final resolution need to be based on facts you have already supplied but they must be facts that fit together unexpectedly. You want that "Ah! I should have realized that might happen!" kind of reaction from your readers.

Becoming a Writer of a Successful
Suspense Story or Mystery Book:

1. Read, read, read!
Determine your specific subgenre of crime fiction (be it suspense novel, cozy mystery series, medical thriller, international intrigue, police procedural, etc.). Then read the following, at a minimum, regarding your field of crime fiction.
      Read books of the precise subgenre you want to write.

2. Revise, revise, revise.

More than any other form of fiction, crime novels benefit the most from strong planning, outlining, and making detailed notes before you even start chapter one. Make a plan. Follow that plan. Deviate only if better avenues open up to your characters. Then revise mercilessly to be certain all your plants and hints and clues and characters fit the plot exactly.
Didn't start with a plan? If you've hit a snag in the midst of a flurry of creative, seat-of-the-pants writing, take a break and create a plan now. It is so easy to meander while in the flow of writing--and end up scratching your head on how you got to where you are and how to get where you want to be! In that case, take the time now to review the overall path it's taken so far; this will often help you see just how to get it back on a successful path.

3. Get professional editing.
Yes, this is a plug for my services, but it is true: Professional editing services can help you grow as a writer in ways that studying books could never do. I take your own plot, characters, and ideas and review them with an eye to marketability. Then I address your own strengths and help you bolster your weaker spots to create the strong story that you want. Interested? Click here to see more about my services.

4. Jump into the fight with both feet!
Not sure where to start your book … or how to finish it? Don't know what to even send in for editing? No problem! Just e-mail me, tell me what you've got so far, your concerns, and let's discuss your book!

Suspense Stories and Mysteries

Written by My Clients:

Congratulations to long-time client Susan Furlong, for publication of the second in her Georgia Peach Mysteries, Rest in Peach. Author SuccessThis Berkley Prime Crime cozy series, started with Peaches and Scream. Her third book in the series is slated by Berkley for release in early 2017.

Susan writes: "Sandra has helped edit several of my mysteries. Her suggestions and content edits have helped me enhance character tension, catch plot holes, tighten pace, and significantly improve my stories. I value her insight and highly recommend her services."

Author Success

Editor's Note: Susan has published numerous short stories and already had a mystery series through Martin Sisters Publishing when she approached a New York agent about a new series. The agent knew a publisher looking for just the right author to take over an existing mystery series--A Novel Idea Mysteries. The agent suggested Susan. Susan submitted a proposal and was accepted! She wrote book #4 in the series, Played by the Book and #5, Off the Books . Susan then proposed a new series, based on a Georgia peach farmer's daughter, adding yet another series of published books to her already impressive list of accomplishments! Good going, Susan!

Do you have a series just waiting to come to life? Email me and let's talk!

David Heilwagon wrote:

"My romantic thriller, Cone of Uncertainty has been offered a publishing contract with Soul Mate Publishing. This is very exciting news and a long time coming.

Just wanted you to know, and to say thanks for all your candid critiques over the years."

Fiction editing services helps writers succeed

Fiction editing services helps writers succeed

David Hebden just launched his first book on Amazon's Kindle editions, The Flamingo Heist .

John Bird, glad to get out the the navy and thrilled to be employed by a cruise ship, gets more than he bargained for when he discovers his ship, The Flamingo Heights, carries more than smiling tourists aboard. The largest heist of U.S. gold buillion rests somewhere in the ship, and John is torn between the lovely Anna's wiles, the captain's orders and the manipulations of Interpol as the race across Europe pits John against the thieves--and his conscience.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I enjoyed the intrigue of David's international heist story. It was a pleasure to work with him and offer suggestions to tighten it as we went along. Hebden wrote, "I've read completely through your comments and suggestions several times and it all makes sense. I'm sure it will make the book more interesting. I made some changes based on your suggestions and opinions which I believe make the book much better for the reader. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into my writings. Thanks for everything."

Congratulations to Rickard DeMille for publishing his action/adventure novel, (A Travis Deacon Novel Book 1) Hellfire , which was a International Debut Dagger Award Finalist and an Amazon Kindle and International Best Seller.

Rickard's book features US Marine Travis Deacon who is enjoying Wales for some R&R when his best friend, SAS Major Gareth Jones, dies in an "auto accident." When Travis asks too many questions about Gareth's death, MI5 steps in and tries to send him back to Afghanistan. Then, the international terrorist who killed his friend, tries to send Travis to hell.

Rickard is an ex-marine himself, who now works within the information systems industry. It was a pleasure for me to work with Rickard. He wrote to me, "Thanks again for helping me get the right start." Obviously, Rickard has more than just a head start in pleasing readers!


Author Success

Author Success

Congratulations to Myra Nagel for publishing TWO mystery novels!

Myra Nagel writes, "You edited the first 100 pages of my two mystery novels. I wanted to let you know that I have finally published both of them, using Create Space/Amazon. Your comments were incredibly helpful."

In Myra's first mystery, Downside Seven , a small town's only female minister and a down-and-out insurance agent form a reluctant partnership as they both question the police's verdict of "accident" for the drowning death of a prominent businessman. The only witness: an eight-year-old autistic boy who is unable to describe what he witnessed ... but whose own life may now be in jeopardy.

Myra's second novel is very close to her heart. In Runaway Poet the Tolliver brothers had bounced through seven foster homes before Hurricane Charley destroyed their Florida duplex. Now in the storm's aftermath, twelve-year-old Jessie has been murdered and his teenage brother Ben is the prime suspect. Volunteer child advocate, Anna Sebastian, believes a poem the boy wrote could hold clues to what really happened.

Nagel worked ten years with the Florida Guardian Ad Litem Program and has committed all proceeds from the sale of this book to Voices For Kids of Southwest Florida, which helps abused, neglected, and abandoned children.

Congratulations to Anne Francis Scott for her publication of LOST GIRL , Book One of the Lost Trilogy: A Paranormal Mystery.

Anne writes: "After several years of persistence: sticking with the story, learning the characters, and, more importantly, learning the craft, I completed the book and am excited to tell you that I published Lost Girl. Sales are doing well, and the comments I have received have been very enthusiastic. People are wanting to know when the second book in this trilogy will hit the shelves."

Anne's persistence paid off with a fine book and now outstanding promotions for it too. Check out her website and view the well-crafted video that helps attracts readers to her book.

Now Available:
Paranormal novel editing

Fiction editing services helps writers succeed

Ron Atkinson of Florida has successfully launched a media campaign for his book, Murder by the Books. It is the first in a series of suspense thrillers featuring Rainey McDermott, a 58-year-old disgraced financial fraud investigator. His own stock portfolio on life support, he's desperate for money. But when he accepts a promising invitation to a gala at the home of one of the community's most influential couples, he soon discovers it is the prelude to blackmail and a threat to expose his own darkest secret. What follows is a harrowing journey of self-discovery that will unmask the central lie of his life as he plunges into the dark swamp of international money laundering and a multi-million dollar securities scam.

Atkinson says, "Reaction to the book has been very positive, from impressed to pleasantly surprised, with almost everyone asking about the sequel ... I'm lining up book signings and doing both radio and TV interviews. Amidst all this, of course, I'm feeling this tug to get back to the computer to start working on the next manuscript."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Check out the promotional video Ron produced for his book. It shows that promoting can be nearly as much fun as writing!

Dan Kalla of Vancouver, B.C., Canada, has his second book of his two-book deal from Tor/Forge (a subsidiary of St. Martin's Press) now on the book stands! Resistance and Pandemic both offer readers an exciting ride into international medical thrillers. Check them out by clicking on the book cover illustrations.

Editor's Note:The first book Dan wrote, Beyond Therapy, was a medical suspense thriller which had originally been set in Vancouver. When his agent asked for it to be set in Seattle instead, we were pleased to work with Dan to make this geographic change realistically suit his plot. It worked--a two-book deal soon followed. Congratulations, Dan!

Dan Kalla Book Published

Dan Kalla - First book

Congratulations to Beth Pratt of Toronto, Canada, for signing on with Bookenders literary agents for her mystery series. The series is a "backgrounder" genre of mystery fiction, in which the world of fine art is the basis for setting, plot, and motives. Beth's extensive knowledge of her subjects--both art and mysteries--as well as an easy reading style is what prompted offers from four literary agencies before she decided on her agent. Next step--publication!

Suspense editing gives publishing edge
Fiction editing services helps writers succeed

Coby Derek James of New York had two suspense novels published back-to-back! Wine, Dine and Death Down Under wasreleased by Llumina Press. It was the first in a series of multicultural spy thrillers featuring hero Chet Lake.

His second book, suspense story Mugged in Marseilles , was picked up by Action Tales.

He wrote, "I got a publisher for the Australia book and I acknowledge you for your help in the acknowledgements. Your edits were excellent and I incorporated all of them in the revisions."

Check out more about his books by clicking here.

Chuck Grall of Sequim, Washington, enjoyed seeing his mini-mystery short story published in Woman's World. Chuck says, "They only changed two words and gave it a different title. I am very excited, and even more excited about writing more stuff. I can only think about how many great writers have never sent anything in. Nothing in, nothing back. This is the spark I needed, the proof that it does work. Thank you very much for your help."

Jump right to my Editing Services
for help on how to write suspense and mystery books!

Home | Editing | About me | Newsletters | Blog | Inspiration | Contact Me
Privacy Policy
Web site copyrighted and registered with: U.S. Copyright Office, 1995-2017, Bristol Services Intl.
E-mail me at:
Or write to: Sandra Haven, Editor, P.O. Box 621, Port Hadlock, WA 98339