The Importance of Picking the Right Editors

The Importance of Picking the Right Editors

Guest post by Alisa Gilbert

Nearly every piece of writing advice out there includes, in some form or another, the suggestion that we need to have others read our work. This is, of course, a no-brainer, simply because we writers need substantive, constructive feedback in order to make our final product as good as it can possibly be. Editing is a skill that's best honed after someone else gets their paws and red pens on our manuscripts.  But many writing advice columns leave off there. That is, they say, "Have others read your stuff," while we're left wondering who, exactly, should read it. Anybody? A friend, a teacher, a "real" writer?

In my own experience, I think it's important to have several people read your work, and to make sure that they all approach your writing from a different perspective. That is not to say, however, that you should have a motley crew of diverse writers with different tastes and aesthetics bleed on your stuff. This will only confuse and dishearten you, effectively making you question your every move. Having too many cooks deconstructing the broth can influence you to change your style to conform to competing visions. You also should avoid family members or close friends who, as well-meaning as they are, don't know how to criticize. You know who I'm talking about the ones who tell you everything you write is "great"

My personal editing group consists of three people one is a professional, published writer who taught a fiction workshop I took in college. Her natural teaching ability and keen knowledge of the industry makes her an obvious choice. The other one is a friend of mine who is also a writer. That he's in the same place I am sending out manuscripts, attending writers' conferences, all the while trying to survive as a freelance writer makes him an equally suitable editor because he brings to his editing an understanding created by our shared backgrounds. What's more, we trade our work, giving me ample opportunity to help him out while honing my own editing skills. My third, and no less important, editor is an acquaintance who is completely removed from the writing life. She has no desire to be a writer, but she does possess one highly valuable quality she's a voracious, careful, and sensitive reader. She brings a unique perspective in that she doesn't obsess about things that we writers tend to fetishize. To her, heavily stylized sentences and writer-y prose aren't as important as emotional depth and interesting characters.

My editing triumvirate is one of my most valued groups of people I know, and I really don't know where I would be without them. Along with their careful feedback, they give me the support and encouragement that every writer a particularly sensitive species of human being needs. I'm sure there are an infinite variety of editor/mentor types that different writers choose for different reasons, and they are surely just as effective. How do you decide who reads your stuff? How have they helped you develop your craft?

This guest post is contributed by Alisa Gilbert, who writes on the topics of bachelors degree.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id:

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Video: Writing Lessons - How to Write a Book Proposal

When writing a book proposal, capture the reader by leading in with a provocative and appealing statement. Write a book proposal with tips from an author in this free video on writing techniques.

John Graden
Bio: John Graden is an internationally acclaimed speaker, author and pioneering entrepreneur.
Filmmaker: Christopher Rokosz

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Site of interest: Build Creative Writing Ideas

This weeks site of interest is

Build Creative Writing Ideas is a site devoted to finding new creative writing ideas for authors, bloggers and playwrights of any kind and to motivate them to write! 

On this site, you’ll find a few key things:
  • Nearly 100 pages of creative writing prompts to start your stories, scripts, blogs, etc.
  • Motivational tips and tricks to get you out of your writing slump
  • Ideas to step up your time management, diet and your overall happiness to make you more focused on your writing goals
  • Hundreds of stories written by writers like you who want to practice their craft for all to see.
The site was created by author Bryan Cohen. Find out more about him here.

Well worth a visit!
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Interview with Katherine Ayers

How did you start your writing career?I’ve enjoyed writing as long as I can remember.  I got interested in writing stories in college and have continued to journal over the years.  A couple of years ago a friend asked me to submit a poem on words to the Non-Violent Communication journal.  I am beginning to stick my toe in the water regarding publishing. More recently I submitted a poem on turning seventy to the Story Circle Network newsletter.  An artist friend of mine who reviewed my portfolio saw my expressive paintings and encouraged me to put them in book form.  I had already written about my paintings as a way of integrating the experiences that surfaced a weeklong intuitive painting workshop on Molokai.  Then it was a matter of putting the material together in a book form.

Tell us a bit about your book From Frozenness to FreedomI was interested in writing a book that could be healing to others.  The experiences that surfaced for me  through expressive, intuitive painting were transformational and healing.  I wanted to share this with others.  I have always believed in the power of the arts to heal, whether it be dancing, music, painting, poetry or prose.  This book is an intimate story of transformation that takes place at a beautiful retreat center on Molokai.  The process of being guided and immersed in painting over a ten day period created a life changing experience for me.

How did you research for this book?This book emerged out my personal experience

Who is the publisher and why did you pick them?Xlibris is the publisher and I picked them because I wanted to self-publish,HI  and they offered promotion as part of a publishing package.  They also created a website for me 

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?On my website 

Anything you'd like to add?
I would like to say that expressive, intuitive art, for me, is a powerful healer of traumatic experiences, as well as a source of inspiration and a release of old beliefs and concepts that are no longer serving me.  I want to emphasize that it is important to have a safe and supportive guide, therapist or spiritual friend when negotiating traumatic experiences.  I do not recommend trying to deal with traumatic memories by oneself, as that can reinforces the aloneness and lack of safety present during the original traumatic experience.  There are practitioners who are specifically trained to work with trauma.

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Most useful applications and tools for writers

Being a writer is no longer just about being able to put pen to paper. Lucky for us writers there's an increasing amount of applications to make things easier and help us in our writing careers.

Technology advances, and all writers either own or at least know about little gadgets like the Kindle, Ipad, Smartphones and Nook. Nielsen did research into the consumer market for connected devices and found out some interesting facts e.g. ipad tend to be male and most are under the age of 35.

A list of useful applications for the ipad especially for writers can be found at the Gadget Cage site.

It's also important these days to know if your website is performing optimally, and that the content is penetrating your target markets. Analytic tools can help writers keep track. A selection of the top tools and add ons of 2010 can be found at the Tech Line Info site.

Writers need to improve their skills and evolve to make sure writing assignments keep on rolling in. An easy was to do this is to take part in courses and workshops designed for writers. A huge list of online courses can be found at the Writers Digest University site.

Diploma Guide has a great list of 30 useful tools for writers ranging from calendars and project planners to writing and editing applications.

If you're not sure where to start, try checking out this list of 100 open source tools that can make your life as a writer easier

If you know of a fantastic application or tool that hasn't been covered here, tell us about it in the comments section.
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Video: Land an Agent, Get a Book Deal

Here's how most writers get published: by landing an agent then getting a book deal with a publisher. This video walks you through the whole process in about 4 minutes.

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Site of Interest: My Book Therapy

This weeks site of interest is

This site is a wonderful resource especially for writers of fiction. It's worth visitng for the blog alone as it's packed full of useful tips, advice and information to enhance your writing skills.

Recent posts include:

The Guts, the Game, and the Glow: The 3 Acts of suspense.

Tutorial on Showing verses Telling

Tips for Brainstorming

They also organise writing retreats to help you discover, create and publish a novel.

Other features include; an ezine, a writers forum and writing contests. Plus a variety of services to help take your book to the next level.

My Book Therapy Mission Statement:

We at My Book Therapy are all about helping the writer help him – or herself. We are aprofessional story crafting service designed to give writers the tools they need to develop and enhance their craft. We don’t line edit - we footnote your story, giving you suggestions, lessons and examples on how to apply them.

In short, we’ll teach you how to write.

Well worth a visit!
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Interview with Karina Fabian

Tell us a bit about your book NEETA LYFFE, ZOMBIE EXTERMINATOR:
By the 2040s, the shambling dead have become and international problem. While governments and special interest groups vie for the most environmentally-friendly way to rid the world of zombies, a new breed of exterminator has risen: The Zombie Exterminator.

When zombie exterminator Neeta Lyffe gets sued because a zombie she set afire stumbles onto a lawyer's back porch, she needs money, fast. So she agrees to train apprentice exterminators in a reality TV show that makes Survivor look like a game of tag. But that's nothing compared to having to deal with crazy directors, bickering contestants and paparazzi. Can she keep her ratings up, her bills paid and her apprentices alive and still keep her sanity?

What gave you the idea to write a zombie novel?
Well, it was a case of having some silly fun, really.  I'd written a short story about two zombie exterminators taking on an infestation of zombies in a Korean restaurant.  "Wokking Dead" was full of puns and social commentary using zombies as the focus.  People liked it and someone asked the editor when the novel was coming.  Kim Richards, the editor, liked the idea and approached me when I was in a silly mood, and the idea of a zombie exterminator reality TV show was born.  It was a fast, fun book to write.

In an earlier interview, you advised writers not to take rejection personally.  Can you elaborate on that?
Writers get rejected on more than the quality of their story--and IMHO, very seldom is it because the editor is a fascist or was in a bad mood that day.  More likely, the story didn't fit their needs:  the approach was wrong, or they have too many of that kind of story, or they already have something similar that came out or is coming out.  Sometimes, if the story is a real winner but has some problems, they will make some suggestions.
Let me give you two examples:  Flagship really liked my story, "Christmas Spirits," even though it had some problems.  They made editorial suggestions, I did a rewrite, and it came out in their November 2010 issue. (LINK)  On the other hand, Psuedopods rejected my story "Josie's Last Straw" even thought they liked the voice because they already had a lot of zombie stories, and this one didn't have enough conflict for them.  Since I didn't write this to be a conflict kind of story, but rather a humorous look at a really rotten husband who comes back from the dead, it was just the wrong market.  The problem with the story was the fit, not the writing.
Publishers are not here to make authors' dreams come true, and I have a natural suspicion of any that make that claim.  They are in the business of publishing things that make readers dream. 

What other projects are you working on?
As I mentioned last month, I am still trying to find a home for my DragonEye, PI series.  I have a couple of places that need to get back to me--publishers and agents are slow, especially during the holiday season.  I'm playing around with three books--a science fiction and two fantasies--but nothing serious at the moment.  Right now, I'm marketing hard and taking care of some things at home that need more than the usual amount of attention.

Where can people find out more about you and your work? is my home page for all my works.  The menu is divided by genre so you can find your favorites.  You can look under the Horror section for Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks for touring us, Jo!

Related posts:

Interview with Karina Fabian

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How to do LIVE twitter interviews

Twitter interviews or twitterviews are LIVE interviews carried out on twitter. They can be a great way to expand your twitter network and spread the word about your projects and services. They are a fun way to promote your books too.

One easy way to do them is through a site like TweetChat. Just log into your twitter account, choose a hashtag for your interview and then your ready to start your LIVE interview. Simple as that.

Any other site that allows you to follow selected hashtags is fine too but I like this one for it's simple layout and because it's easy to use.

You can expand on your twitter interview by doing a before and after feature on your blog. This is a good way to give your blog readers something different whilst also creating a buzz for the twitter interview.

7 Steps to successful twitter interviews can be found here.
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Video: How to get a literary agent

What do literary agents really do? Should you have one? How you can become attractive to a literary agent. Classic mistakes beginning book authors make, and how to avoid them. Alternatives to literary agents.

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Interview with Dr. Debi Yohn

Dr. Debi Yohn
When did you start your writing career?
After my son Levi passed, I found that I still had the parenting drive and I missed the kids Levi always brought around… So I began talking to parents about parenting college kids.  I had a web site and blog.  I wrote the 3 books for college aged kids and their parents and I co-authored one book on Leadership in College.
With 32 years experience living and working on 3 continents as an international psychologist, author and speaker, what are your top three tips for others just starting out?
Think out of the box and out of the world that you have known.  There are so many opportunities but we need to think beyond our borders.  I stress to our young people to do some traveling and become aware of other cultures.  When you are young is the time to learn languages and experience another culture besides the one you were raised in.  When we have experienced another culture we lose our narrow opinions of others.

Tell us a bit about your book Losing your Only.
My only child was killed in a car accident as a college student.  He was my heart and the center of m world.  We had moved all over the world and we were always very close.  He had a very blessed life experiencing an entire lifetime in his short 20 years.  LYO is written to parents or families that have experienced the loss of an only child.  Losing a child is difficult, it probably tops the list but losing an only child, ratchets it up a notch.  When I was looking for answers, I did not find anything written that could help me down this path, so when I finally came out of deep grief, I knew I needed to write this book.

The book draws on your own personal experience. Was it hard to write about something so close to your heart?
I shed a few tears, but in many ways they were tears of reliving a life that was so much fun and you don’t realize how much fun it was until it is over and the opportunity is gone.  I can smile and laugh at all the Levi memories and I can feel the joy of having the experience of being his Mom.  The difficulty came in finding the correct voice for the book.  I did not want it to be a memoir.  It was so easy to slip into wanting everyone to know Levi.  My purpose of the book though was to help parents through the grieving process so they had someone that could give them some kind of blue print.  It is not the same for everyone but it sure helps to have some kind of guide.  I had not idea how long the grief would last.  Now I know there will always be some residual grief, but the deep grief takes years.  For me, it was 6 years.

You also have lots of charitable interests. While in Shanghai, you founded “Lifeline Shanghai”. Please tell us a bit about it.
I have been a social worker my entire career.  I got my doctorates in Counseling Psychology in the 90’s.  I have worked in most fields of mental health.  I was a trailing spouse.  We moved a lot so I had a varied resume, lets put it that way!  But when I arrived in Shanghai in January 2000, I hit a niche.  I was the first western psychologist in a community that was very high stress with more than its share of mental health issues.  I quickly need help in times of emergencies.  Many evenings we would be going out and the phone would ring.  Larry would sit down and wait for me to hang up and then ask, so where do we need to be.  I was the life line with the medical docs I had befriended  in Shanghai.  So we got together and LifeLine Shanghai was born.  It is a call center for the expatriates or English speaking community of Shanghai.

Where can people find out more about you and your work?
I am developing my blog:

You're currently in the middle of a virtual tour to promote your book. What other stops are on your schedule?
I am scheduled to be on Oprah next week and the Ellen Degeneres Show.  The View is tentative if I have time in my schedule before I go back to Shanghai.  After that, we will have to see if Hollywood calls.

Anything else you'd like to add?
I want everyone to live with intention and appreciate what you have today.  Many of us are working always in the future.  We forget about today.  Do not let a life event give you the lesson to appreciate what you have.  It is okay to prepare for the future but know that all the planning in the world may change if the Universe has a different plan.  I lost my only child, but I can say, I have few regrets.  I miss him but he is still with me in many ways.

Thank you for your interest in Losing Your Only, by Dr Debi Yohn. This is a very personal story which helped Dr Yohn discover her purpose – to motivate and support parents and others to live life to their highest potential. The digit version of the book is currently available at If you would like to be notified about the upcoming print and audio release, please visit this page and send Dr Debi your name and email address. 

Related Posts:

Interview with Rebbie Macintyre
Interview with Gina Alzate
Interview with Frances Pauli
Interview with Tim Lane

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Nominations and Awards for Writers and Authors

This site is up for a few awards this month and needs your vote to help make it a winner. Please take a few minutes to show your support.

In the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll

In the Bloggers Choice Awards

Thank you in advance.
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Review: Rudy the Roadrunner

Title: Rudy the Roadrunner
Author: Janice Lease
Publisher: Cinnamon Ridge Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9800762-3-3

Reviewed by Jo Linsdell

Janice Lease is the photographer and author of this delightful book which tells the story of Rudy The Roadrunner accompanied by wonderful photo’s of the real animal and its environment.

Rudy was born next to a convenience store and has never learnt to hunt for his food. People coming to the store feed him junk food but the bush that is his home is to be removed meaning that Rudy is in need of help to survive.

The story is based on a real story of a roadrunner who having taking up home at a local convenience store didn’t know how to hunt and lived off junk food.

The story teaches the importance of a healthy diet and educates on different animals individual needs to grow healthy and strong. The book also includes facts about roadrunners so that young readers can learn more about this creature.

A lovely read and excellent way to get children to learn about healthy eating and caring for animals in the right way. I think this book is ideal as a school teaching aid as it leads nicely to related projects and discussions.

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Site of interest: 750 Words

This weeks site of interest is

This site created by Buster Benson is a fun way to make sure you hit a daily word count. Perfect for those of you that can't stand having to wait for NANOWRIMO in November, this site is active daily through out the year.

Here's some information about the site and how it works:

★ What is this site about?

I've long been inspired by an idea I first learned about in The Artist's Way called morning pages. Morning pages are three pages of writing done every day, typically encouraged to be in "long hand", typically done in the morning, that can be about anything and everything that comes into your head. It's about getting it all out of your head, and is not supposed to be edited or censored in any way. The idea is that if you can get in the habit of writing three pages a day, that it will help clear your mind and get the ideas flowing for the rest of the day. Unlike many of the other exercises in that book, I found that this one actually worked and was really really useful.
I've used the exercise as a great way to think out loud without having to worry about half-formed ideas, random tangents, private stuff, and all the other things in our heads that we often filter out before ever voicing them or writing about them. It's a daily brain dump. Over time, I've found that it's also very helpful as a tool to get thoughts going that have become stuck, or to help get to the bottom of a rotten mood.
750 Words is the online, future-ified, fun-ified translation of this exercise. Here's how it works:

★ All Online

In the past, looking for a spare notebook was probably easier than looking for a computer. Not anymore. I don't know if my hands even work anymore with pen and paper for any task that takes longer than signing a check or credit card reciept.

★ It's Not Blogging

I've tried writing my 750 words a day on Livejournal, Wordpress, PBWorks, Tumblr, and all of these other sites designed around putting content online. It hasn't worked for me. I fear that I might accidentally forget to mark daily pages as private. And it's just weird having my private brain dumps out on various sites that are designed to be more social. I don't need to title my entries, or tag them, or enable comments, or any of that other stuff. This is writing, and it's online, but it's not blogging, or Twittering, or Facebook status updating. This is between you and you.

★ 3 Pages = 750 Words

I looked this up. 250 words per page is considered to be the standard accepted number of words per page. So, three standard pages are about 750 words. Of course if hadn't been available, I would've totally found a way to prove that 249 words per page was the accepted standard. It really just comes down to the fact that this amount of writing feels about right. You can't just fart out 3 pages without running into your subconscious a little bit... 750 words takes a bit of effort, and it never fails to get me typing things that I have wanted to articulate without realizing it. And that's the point.
Because 750 words is nothing to sneeze at, it's also nice to have an easy way to know how many words you have to go. This site of course tracks your word count at all times and lets you know when you've passed the blessed 750 mark. And it gives you a nice big screen to write on, automatically scrolls as you write (like a typewriter), and automatically saves your writing as you go.

★ It's Fun

Every month you get a clean bowling-esque score card. If you write anything at all, you get 1 point. If you write 750 words or more, you get 2 points. If you write two, three or more days in a row, you get even more points. How I see it, points can motivate. It's fun to try to stay on streaks and the points are a way to play around with that. You can also see how others are doing points-wise if you're at all competitive that way.

★ It's about writing, and getting into your brain

The rest are just tricks to help get us there.

For more information visit the FAQ page
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Interview with Lewis Gross

What made you decide to become a writer? 
I have been writing about Holistic dentistry for almost 30 years in professional publications and mostly to the public to expose the world to alternative dental theories. For about 20 years I have been developing a medical thriller, "The Amalgamist," which I hope to have published this coming summer. It is presently in final re-edit. I write fiction and memoirs about subjects that are close to heart, as a means of self-expression, and to expose falsehoods and injustice. Sometimes I write from love and sometimes from anger, but if the feelings are genuine, then it will be of interest to my readers. Sometimes, what I consider love, others may internalize as anger.

Tell us a bit about your book Montauk Tango: From the Ashes of 9/11 to the Frying Pan of a Hampton's Restaurant. 
"Montauk Tango" is a fictionalized memoir about my family escaping NYC after 9/11, moving to Montauk and opening a restaurant. The story was fictionalized because I accuse some of the locals of being unwelcome of newcomers and change. The story is also about weekend marriage - I commute weekly from NYC - and parenting. Writing this story allowed me to find a safe place while the wife and three coming of age sons created their own business.

What was the hardest part of writing the book? 
The most frustrating part of the process was the inability to get a contract by a regular publisher. Many agents read the first chapter and liked the story, but they claimed a restaurant book would only sell if you were a celebrity chef, or better, a famous chef involved in a scandal.

Who is your publisher and what made you choose them? 
Although I attended many conferences and writers workshops and pitched the story to many agents, I was unable to land a contract and so self-published with iUniverse, which mimics the work of traditional houses. My experience with self-publishing was mixed, there are industrial prejudices against self-publishers, although certainly there are new windows on the internet for anyone self-promoting. The final book was nicely printed, but iUniverse was very corporate and lacked creativity.

Who designed the cover art? 
I designed the cover and my friend did the photo. The hard part was finding a woman with a great pair of legs who was willing to pose with a fish.

Do you have any tips for other writers? 
My advice to other new writers is to spend time in the sun thickening their skin, persevere, and show up every day for work, even when nursing a hangover. I am also working on a future project, "What would I do without you?", which is about the reaction of the community to my publishing Montauk Tango.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? 
 I’d like to invite them to my next signing, which will be on December 4th from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. at the East Hampton Library, 159 Main Street, East Hampton, NY 631-324-0222 or for general information, they can visit

Related posts:

Interview with Thomas Palfy
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Interview with Alberta Ross
Interview with Mary Andrews


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