Why Unkind?

While leafing through the classifieds in a popular writing magazine, I noticed something. The freelance editing ads were so nice.

Gentle editor...

Nurturing editor...

Sensitive, budget-conscious editor...

But when I was giving feedback to writers, I heard,

I'm so glad someone gave it to me straight.

I'm so tired of people being nice, it's not helping me get better.

Please, just tell me what's not working so I can fix it.

It's not fun or easy to hear it straight. But if you're up for it, you're at the right place.

Praise makes you feel good. Criticism makes your work better.

I'm not nasty or cutting, but I'm not kind. I don't care about your self-esteem unless it affects your ability to keep writing, and I'll only praise stuff that's genuinely right.

Your work deserves it.

You deserve it.

Here's an article I wrote for The Writers Bloc on the editing process. It includes some steps you can take to reduce the amount of editing you need, and explains why professional editing is expensive.

Make Professional Editing Work For You


Practice. Lots and lots of practice.

I've edited books published by Big Five publishers including Penguin Random House, and independent presses including Spencer Hill, as well as working with self-published authors.

I have an MFA from Western Michigan, where I studied with J.D. Dolan, Jaimey Gordon and Stuart Dybek. I've been a teaching fellow at the Prague Summer Program and the Kenyon Writers Workshop, an Associate Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and done extended workshops with Dinty W. Moore, Dani Shapiro and Rick Moody. But if proximity was all it took, there would be a lot of coffee machines with strong literary voices.

What has made me a good editor is doing it. Serving as the Associate Editor for Theatre Topics. Reading multiple drafts of writer buddies' work and giving extensive feedback. Participating in a year-long writing contest where I read and commented on over 300 entries a week. (As people were voted out, the numbers went down and the length of my feedback went up.) I got better at identifying what makes strong, engaging writing and evaluating which elements of a piece were not working. I got better at giving notes in language that the writer could receive and use.

I'm also a writer, so I know what the finished product should look like and how to get there. An essayist and travel journalist, I've written about race, culture and comedy for National Public Radio, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, McSweeney?s Internet Tendency and Travelers? Tales: Prague.

My fiction has appeared in Crossed Genres, Smokelong Quarterly and Deep South; essays in Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, The Drum and Brevity. As a storyteller, I've appeared onstage at London?s Theatre Royal and Rich Mix, India?s Filocafe, and I'm a two-time winner of The Moth StorySLAM.

Plays include the Heidemann Award finalist Miss Kentucky, Mark Twain Award winner Postcards From Shakespeare, scripts for NPR's All Ears Theatre, and the London Fringe Best Of Fringe winner, TRUE STORY. I've developed plays with WordBRIDGE (when it was at Eckerd College) and PlayLab at WMU. I'm also the author of some of the best-selling and most performed scripts in high school theatre.

I serve as Social Media Editor at Brevity. There's more about me as a writer and radio storyteller at I Do Words.

I am a member in good standing of the Editorial Freelancers Association.

Home base is currently Dubai, where "The Pork Shop" is a separate, dimly-lit room at the back of the supermarket. It's like buying meat porn.