BookFest Recognized Kantara: The Captain with 1st Place

Earning an award is exciting, but the journey to get there can be lengthy & exhausting?

Our latest book, Kantara The Captain, earned first place awards by BookFest 2024 on April 6 in three Sci-Fi Categories:

  1. Aliens & Alien Invasion
  2. Exploration & Adventure
  3. Time Travel

This is, in many ways, a bit of a relief for us, not so much as ‘let’s jump up and down and celebrate’ reaction. Why is that?

Bringing a book to life is more then just writing the story. In fact, I estimate that is only 10-20% of the work (maybe a 100 hours) is spent on drafting the story, but there is more. It is not uncommon to have us much as 500 to 1,000+ hours invested in bringing one of our manuscripts to life.

What happens during this 80-90%? Editing.

Like many authors, Stephen works full time. Also, Stephen and Mary are a duo author team. Finding a way to write a book has been, and is, and evolving process, most of which involves editing.


Stephen and Mary completed the first draft of Kantara: The Captain before Kantara: The Traveler was published. That phase included developing an outline and conducting research of the eras, people, sciences, and more. The next thirteen months, Kayti and Stephen edited, edited, and edited. In fact, each of our books undergo no less than 15 rounds of editing. In one case, we counted 23 rounds of editing. After so much effort, with so much scrutiny and tediousness, it is more of a sigh of relief to receive recognition, letting us know that our efforts were not in vain…at least not completely.

In early 2023, Stephen shares that the first draft of Kantara book 2 was complete. With much editing, about 15 months later, Kantara Book 2 would earn a BookFest 2024 1st place award.
When promoting Kantara The Traveler, Stephen revealed that the first draft of Book Two was complete.

Why do we spend so much time editing? First and foremost, we want to produce the highest quality of work we can. We want the reading experience to be as enjoyable as possible.

Flow Editing

he initial rounds of editing focus on flow. Stephen and Mary spend a lot of time on the pacing and fleshing out scenes. The Kantara books are action-packed books and intense action scenes exist throughout, so it is important to slow things down a bit, giving the reader a chance to catch their breath.

We hold nothing back in the initial draft. We can get emotionally charged, writing some of the most shocking and horrifying scenes. Those scenes often have to be scaled back in favor of maximizing the entertainment value. Some scenes can be so horrific that the entertainment value is loss, too real to enjoy. Believe it or not, that is possible. If a scene feels like it can stir feelings around strong-held beliefs, we will rework those scenes to reduce the risk of offending readers.

Professional Editing

The next round editing involves professional editors, who bring in their expertise to smooth out the story. This is riskiest part because their recommendations are based on a perspective that is outside, without fully understanding the arc of the book series. At times, they will make edits that have severe rippling effects that they are not aware of. To counter this, after reviewing each edit, Kayti and I must read each draft out loud, which always lead to massive scene revisions, which at times, require another read.

Chicago Manual of Style

At this time, the story is ready, and the editing begins with much focus on grammar and spelling. This is like changing gears, and after all the revisions, it is incredible how much gets through. This is also where the editors ensure everything is according the Chicago Manual of Style standards, the prefered guide to prepare publications. It is also during this time that we update the Kantara Encyclopedia. This enyclopedia cantains everything we know about our characters, places, events, equipment and more. This is the source we use to provide artists with descriptions they can use to draw characters.

Copy Layout Editing

At this time, we have been using Microsoft Word to write the manuscript, but now it is time to prep the manuscript into the publishing format, using Adobe. This is when the copy layout is complete, and everthing is transferred over. Not everything transfers over smoothly. During this phase, it is common that we have to check for lost spacing, removed italics, and more. It is also the time where we can see the book from a new perspective, allowing errors to rise to the surface. We typically read out loud this version about two times.


Once this is complete, proofreading begins. This can be most difficult because we must be ready to abandon our work. This is person who can help you put the bow on the manuscript, but they are not perfect, and so we have another session to read the book in its entirety out loud.

Summay – Cuminating in a Bookfest 2024 Recognition

This is just a snapshot of our editing journey for each book. It is noteworthy that throughout this editing process, we are also working on the book synopsis, our biography, illustrations and cover designs. There are many steps to get as much insight possible with our resources to deliver a quality book.

When a book comes to life, and then is subsequently awarded, it is a warm feeling, letting us know that someone has appreciated our passionate and persistent work to tell a reader a story that may bring them joy. When BookFest 2024 awarded Kantara: The Captain with 1st Place, Stephen and Mary were grateful, and still are.

Authors are unique, and they have their unique gifts, talents, and approaches, so not all use the method I described above.

I hope you enjoy this little bit of insight on bringing a book to life.

Learn more about Kantara: The Captain’s recent BookFest awards here.

Get your signed copy here.


The Weller books have been recognized 15 times, (10 by BookFest) giving readers the confidence that these books have been reviewed with numerous fine tooth combs. BookFest 2024 recognized Kantara: The Captain with 1st place in 3 Sci-Fi categories.

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