6 Submission Mistakes

K.M. Allan

The hard work isn’t over when you type “The End” on your final draft, nor does it finish after months of editing.

If you’re a writer who wants to see your manuscript published traditionally, you’ll need to work on a submission package for agents and publishers. If you want to give your MS the best chance of standing out in the slush pile, that should include avoiding these 6 submission mistakes.

Not Checking It Every time You Submit

You might think it’s over the top to double-check a submission before hitting send if you’ve read it a million times and know for sure it’s correct, but you know what? That’s what the typos want you to think.

Those little gremlins are always there, tricking your eyes. I sent off three submissions last week, and on the third one, I still found a typo even though I was positive the…

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Why No Writer is Ever an ‘Overnight Success’

So true!

Novelty Revisions

It’s the way of the publishing world that some books get so big so fast that it feels like everyone is talking about them all at once, all of a sudden.

And sometimes, the authors that produce these books are called “overnight successes” because they were pretty much unknown before their book got big.

I personally don’t love this phrase. It creates the wrong idea about what it actually takes to even write the first draft of a decent book.

I think the term “overnight success” surfaced because once someone discovers a book or author or thing they like, all they want to do is talk about it. And the more people that talk about it, the more who start paying attention and realize “Oh, this book/author/thing is really cool! I’ve never heard of them/it before! They just came out of nowhere and blew me away!”

But most of you…

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Christmas with a Difference

A short story subverting Christmas …


My eyes flew open.

Christmas morning. Sunlight streams around curtain edges, but the room is shrouded in darkness. It’s early, early Christmas morning. Usually Cody and Jasmine bounce on the bed until I wake. Early, but not this early.

I love my Christmas morning with Cody and Jasmine. It only happens every second year. Perhaps they’re exhausted from yesterday’s skiing? I am. Aching and bruised too.

This Christmas we’d agreed to spend at Evergreen Ski Lodge. With my family. Our time away from home is the perfect invitation for me tease them. I’d tell them Santa skipped us because we weren’t home. To see their little faces, light up when they see presents under the tree? Priceless.

A door clicks shut. I can’t tell, is it our room or another room?

My heart races. And not with excitement – call it intuition. Something is wrong. I fling my doona, and grab my gun from the room’s safe.

“Cody? Jasmine?” I call. What if they don’t answer?

My job puts them at too much risk.

My bare feet pad over the carpet along the suite’s bedroom corridor.


I reach Cody’s bedroom door first, and peer inside. His bedcovers are pulled back and crumpled, but his bed is empty. Does he wait by the tree? Is he with his sister? Or does he walk Spot?

Somehow, I stumble to Jasmine’s bedroom door. The pink elephant bedspread she loves so much, and made me pack and bring, is all mussed up. The room is devoid of life. They’ve gone to the Christmas tree without me. Except they always wake me first. I shiver, from the bitter chill me as much as the fear – where are my kids?

My feet move so fast, like skis down a black slope. Controlled and tense: stalking steps.

Splatters of blood on the kitchen floor. No! My stomach drops.

My gun is a cold and hard: a comfort in my hands. Holding it with two hands, helps control my trembles. I jump around the kitchen corner, into the living room, and thrust out my gun.

In front of the tv, lays our white speckled Staffy. Another one of Jasmine’s demands. Bring her.

Spot lay unconscious, and blood pools around her chest. Fresh blood. From a puncture. I’ll bet this is what woke me.

No kids.

Just the Christmas tree and no presents. I’d left presents under the tree last night. Robbed. I don’t care about that. I only cared about my kids. And Spot.

I rush to Spot’s side, my gaze darting around the room. I rip the bottom of my nightgown and press the material into her wound.

What do I do? Spot is dying in front of my eyes. Cody and Jasmine would never forgive me. I would never forgive me. Oh, God, I wish I left you at home. Without the kids, there is no forgiveness. Only my own regret. My family is only complete with Cody and Jasmine … and Spot.

I know the procedure.

“I’ll be back,” I whisper to Spot.

I race for mother’s room and bang on the door, until it opens.

“Mum, get Spot to a vet. ASAP. The kids are missing, I’ll call 000.”

She nods. I leave her and rush to my room. From my bedroom, I grab my phone, a jacket to throw over my nightgown, and dash to the living room, to Spot’s side.

Mum is already there. She kneels next to Spot, staunches the blood flow, with my ripped nightgown, and she’s on her phone.

With a curt nod, I run outside, dialling 000 as I go. The corridor blears. My kids. This feels totally different to the job. Personal. I take three or four stairs at a time from our first floor.

“State your emergency,” drones a computer-generated voice. “Police, fire, ambulance.”


No one at the lobby desk. There’s no one else here either. A stand of brochures. I push the main door open. Cold air slaps me in the face. My warm breath huffs in white puffs of mist. I stare at the fresh snow. Footprints. Two sets, and deep. Both are too deep unless … they’d been carried. Cody and Jasmine. They’d be so scared.

No blood splatter. No drops.

The tracks went right.

“Police,” a gruff male voice answered.

“This is Detective Janice Fletcher,” I said, my voice cracking. “I’m at the Everglade Ski Lodge. Someone took my kids, left our dog for dead and stole our presents. Send a team. Hurry.”

“10-4. ETA ten minutes.”

I keep my arms straight, clutch my gun with two hands and follow the footprints to the carpark. My gaze scans car to car, under and inside, and through dense pines to the fence-line.

The footprints end. Just stop. The place where they should be? It’s an empty car space. There’re tire tracks to the road.

Gone. Cody and Jasmine are gone.

In a daze, I holster my gun. Collapse to my knees, cradle my head. Hot tears trickle through the gaps of my fingers.

He’d promised vengeance, and now he was out? They were gone.


Interested? Out next week …

Like thrillers?

Cage Dunn: Writer, Author, Teller-of-tall-tales


Brimpaen. A country town in rural Victoria, Australia. It was supposed to be a quiet place for a cyber-researcher to take up a new role after the attempt on her life.

But the town bristles with an undercurrent of fear that newly arrived Hella Solaris, recently retired from covert ops, can’t leave alone. The instincts that have kept her alive this long are burning worse than the scars from the last failed sting. And it smells bad.

Like someone followed her, like it’s personal. Like someone sent them after her.

When they try to kill the horse, she needs to use any asset she can, including a young girl and her overprotective-cop-father, to find the who and the why – or is she seeing shadows where there are none?

Can Hella leave her past behind and start a new life?

————– The new Novel – due to be published…

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What’s on your bucket list?

Do you need a bucket list? Do you have one already? Are you doing it?

I’ve experienced just how short life can be, I had a stroke at 41 years of age (and I know plenty of people younger than me. Yes, stroke happens at any age, not just to the old). So, make that list. And do it … because a life of all work and no play? That’s kinda unfulfilling. Don’t you agree?

Before my Nan passed away, she told me to travel young . In fact, she actively encouraged it. And so I did. On the top of my bucket list was visiting Prince Edward Island on the East coast of Canada. Why there? Anne of Green Gables, of course.

The island inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery to pen one of the most popular works of fiction for preteen girls. And because I followed my dreams, I’m able to say I’ve seen first hand why. The grasses are as green as a rich moss, the sands a deep ochre and the water a sparkling blue. Place these colours next to one another and they create a distinctive and memorable canvas which, at the time, sent a surging swell of admiration through my heart.

That’s the kind of emotional response a bucket-list experience should elicit from you.

Can you name what could do that for you?

Do you long the weightlessness and colours experienced with a scuba dive? Or crave the rush when you skydive? (although, I’d rather dodge a cobra – and I don’t dodge, I’ve enough trouble typing this – than skydive, but more on that later.)

Perhaps venturing into the tunnels under a pyramids is more your speed, or watching the sun set over Ayers Rock.

There is a funny show on Stan called No Tomorrow (at least, it’s on Stan in Australia, but it’s a Canadian production, so I expect it’s in America and Canada at a minimum). That show is all about ticking off the two lead character’s bucket lists, all because the guy (yum) believes the world will end in under a year. Yeah, that pans out well. The girl thought she’d landed a hunky-dory catch. Then hearing him say the world is about to end? Not so much a catch anymore.

It’s like she taken a big bite into a grapefruit. And do you blame her? Really?

They’re bucket lists don’t just include experiences, there are “forgiving dad” moments and “saying sorry” moments too.

Great show, by the way.

So, what’s your poison? Leave a comment below, you never know, you could inspire someone else’s bucket list.

Who doesn’t like garlic?

I’m sorry, I can’t understand how anyone can’t like garlic. Do you? There’s nothing comparable to that pungent odor wafting through your kitchen – what can match it?

For my entire childhood I was deprived of this exquisite flavour. Oh, how my childhood was filled with bland boring food. My mother didn’t like garlic, so she never cooked it.

Seriously, I know kids can be fussy (I have 3 of the fussiest humans alive), but isn’t not using garlic some kind of child abuse? It should be. And although my kids are fussy they will eat garlic. I’m not saying they love it, but they eat it and don’t complain, so that’s a bonus, right?

And if my fussy trio eat garlic, how can an adult not like it? There are some people who claim they are allergic to garlic, but then eat food like Indian. I’m sorry, that’s not an allergy, that’s being a pain in the arse. Have you met an Indian? Seen them cook? I personally don’t know an Indian dish that doesn’t have garlic in it. Do they know how to cook or what? Frigging delicious.

Mix garlic with ginger and you have one of the most potent, mouth-watering bases for a meal on this earth. Was that created by God or what?

Yes, eat too much of it and you have garlic breathe. To my mind, that’s not a reason to not like garlic. Just think how healthy that person is being because, as if the sumptuous taste of garlic wasn’t enough, it’s good for you too. And it wards off vampires 😉

All in all, there’s indisputable evidence that liking garlic is worth your time. You do like living in your body, don’t you?