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Writer's Knowledge Base

• Newsletter for JUNE 2012 •


Welcome to the June 2012 issue of the WKB newsletter.

Many thanks to Joan Swan for her interview in last month's newsletter. This month we have an interview with editor Theresa Stevens.

"The Emotion Thesaurus" by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
Are you one of the four lucky winners of The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi? You are if your name is Aishwarya, John Milner, Mosh Malek, or Sonya Gomez. Congrats! Your inbox will soon have an email from me telling you how to claim your prize.

If you didn't win this time just mosey on over to Angela and Becca's website to see how an Emotion Thesaurus can make your writing better.

Thanks to Angela and Becca for providing the prizes.

If you enjoy the WKB and this newsletter please tell your friends. It's easy to do -- just click the "Send to a Friend" link on the right. Or maybe tweeting is more your style. In that case you could send your peeps to Thanks!

Until next time...

-- Mike Fleming

Our intention with the newsletter is to provide you with the most popular WKB articles from the previous month and to feature bloggers who have articles in the WKB. We'd love to hear your feedback on what you think should be in the newsletter.

The newsletter is broken out into the following sections:

Featured Blogger -- This section consists of an interview with a blogger whose work ranks among the most popular in the WKB. The questions are from Elizabeth.

Popular Links -- The most popular links from WKB search results.

Getting to Know a Blogger -- The intention of this section is to highlight an author who has articles in the WKB and to showcase their most popular work. The selection is random.

Popular Links from around the Web -- This section highlights the most popular links as determined by popularity around the web and not just the WKB. See the first issue for how this works.

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Featured Blogger

Theresa Stevens

What are common mistakes that you see writers make in their manuscripts?

There are so many! Failing to leverage conflict. Confusing activity with conflict. Slow starts. Awkward use of exposition. Botched interior monologue. Flat characters. Clumsy sentences. Not knowing your market. There are a lot of ways to make mistakes!

Why is it so difficult for writers to edit their own work?

Because it's difficult to analyze your own work with the kind of objectivity an editor might have. Because you might not notice clarity issues, and you might fall in love with parts that hinder the pacing or the plot. Because you work too long and too deeply on the ideas, and you might not be able to assess which of those ideas actually work in the overall context of the story. Because you don't know what you don't know!

That said, I think there are writers who can edit their own work, but they're rare enough to have an almost mythical status. Every now and then, you'll hear an editor talk in reverential tones about "the manuscript that needed no changes." As with Bigfoot, we don't believe such a thing exists until we see it with out own eyes. I never have, but my best friend's sister's boyfriend knows a guy who dated an editor who saw one, so they must be out there!

Are there any misconceptions about editors that you could clear up for us?

Boy, where to begin! I'm struggling to answer this question in a simple way because there are so many directions to take this. How about this -- we'll debunk one each for private editing and acquisitions editing.

"If you work with a private editor, your book won't need editing after it's acquired." False! The house editor will still want to shape it to meet house needs and style. Getting a manuscript ready to shop is a much different process from getting a paperback ready to shelve in the stores. I think private editors are focused a little more on teaching, and acquisitions editors have their eyes on the marketplace.

"It's bad business practice for an acquisitions editor not to respond to my submission in ___ days/weeks/months." If you're feeling impatient, keep in mind that the fastest answer is a no. It's easy to reject bad books. That kind of decision takes no thought at all -- I could reject a bad book after reading as few as three sentences. Do you really want to be in the fast-answer group? Or do you want to give me more time to read and think it over? There's a difference between a good answer and a fast answer.

How and when did you become interested in editing/ publishing as a career?

When I was working on my creative writing degree, one of my professors suggested I take up editing. He said I would make a better editor than author, which wounded me at the time, but he was right! I started off as an agent at a small agency where the workload was split so that the lead agent handled all the romance and I handled everything else. Funny, then, that I should end up eventually working in acquisitions in romance! But the opportunity arose, and I took it, and eventually became managing editor and then chief executive editor at that press. Now I work as a private editor, and I work for a university writing department where I teach writing across the curriculum, and I am plenty busy! I love what I do.

How do you find time to read for pleasure?  What do you most enjoy reading?

I can go weeks without reading a book I've purchased for myself, but I'm fortunate in that I usually enjoy reading the manuscripts I'm editing. My reading tastes are pretty broad. In nonfiction, I read a lot of European history, literary criticism (the academic kind), and how-to books. In fiction, really, almost anything goes. Right now on my reading table, I have the first four books in the Game of Thrones series, a couple of Georgette Heyer regencies, an early Martin Amis novel, and "Jazz" by Toni Morrison, which I've been wanting to re-read ever since I saw her speak last year. On my kindle -- which is always with me -- I just finished re-reading some Henry James, and now I'm reading a pop historical novel edited by someone I know at one of the print houses. I won't identify that book for you because I've been threatening to rant about it on the editing blog. It's a mess, and I'm still sorting out whether I can write about it without embarrassing anyone too much.

Advice for aspriring writers?

Embrace patience. There is a long, long learning curve here.

I would also like to offer a bit of advice to established writers: Don't read your reviews. Good or bad, a review can mess with your psyche in unexpected ways, so it's safer to just not go there if you can avoid it. If you need excerpts of reviews for publicity purposes, get someone else to pull the quotes and ratings.

How can writers find you online?

I'm easy to find! I'm told I'm pretty approachable -- I sure hope to be! -- so don't be shy about talking to me online. I hang around on twitter (@theresastevens) where I am willing to talk writing and answer questions. Along with my good friend and fellow editor Alicia Rasley, I have an editing blog. I also write a monthly column for Romance University, a great free resource for romance writers. If you're interested in hiring me, take a look at for information about rates, credits, and the like.


  Popular Results from the WKB

Getting to Know a Blogger
  Beyond the Margins

Beyond the Margins is a group blog which "offers essays on the craft of writing and the business of publishing." They currently have 162 articles in the WKB.

The top five are:

WKB Articles that are Popular on the Web


The Writer's Knowledge Base is the search engine for writers. It contains links to the writing-related articles collected and tweeted by  @elizabethscraig. The WKB is developed by Mike Fleming and powered by Hiveword which is his web-based fiction organizer.

Elizabeth Spann Craig is a published author who blogs at Mystery Writing is Murder and tweets at @elizabethscraig.

Mike Fleming blogs about technology and writers and tweets at @hiveword.

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