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MILLLICENT G. DILLON, represented by Harold Ober Associates, is the world’s expert on authors Jane and Paul Bowles. She has won five O. Henry Awards and been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner. I worked with Dillon on her memoir, The Absolute Elsewhere, in which she describes in luminous prose her private meeting with Albert Einstein to discuss the ethics of the atomic bomb. Read more. . .


SASHA TROYAN is a Professor of English at Montclair University and author of the critically-acclaimed novels Angels in the Morning and The Forgotten Island, both Booksense Selections, beautiful stories based upon her childhood in France. I worked with Troyan to develop her new novels, Marriage A Trois and Semester. Read more. . .


LUCIA ORTH is the author of the debut novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, which received critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, Booklist, Library Journal and Small Press Reviews. I have edited a number of essays and articles for Orth. Read more. . .


BHAICHAND PATEL, retired after an illustrious career with the United Nations, is now a journalist based out of New Dehli and Bombay, an expert on Bollywood, and author of three non-fiction books published by Penguin. I edited Patel’s best-selling debut novel, Mothers, Lovers, and Other Strangers, published by Pan Macmillan. Read more. . .


SCOTT WILBANKS, represented by Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, is the author of the debut novel, The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster, published by Sourcebooks in August, 2015. I’m working with Wilbanks on his sophomore novel, Easy Pickens, the story of the world’s only medically-diagnosed case of chronic naiveté. Read more. . .


SCOTT WARRENDER is a professional musician and Annie Award-nominated lyricist specializing in musical theater. I work with Warrender regularly on his short stories and debut novel, Putaway. Read more. . .


M. TERRY GREEN enjoys a successful self-publishing career with multiple sci-fi/fantasy series set in the Multiverse, based upon her expertise in anthropology and technology. I worked with Green to develop a new speculative fiction series. Read more. . .


DARREN D. BEYER is an ex-NASA experiment engineer who has worked on every Space Shuttle orbiter but Challenger. In his sci-fi Anghazi Series, Beyer uses his scientific expertise to create a galaxy in which “space bridges” allow interstellar travel based upon the latest in real theoretical physics. Read more. . .


ANIA VESENNY, represented by Beverly Slopen Literary Agency, is a recipient of the Evelyn Sullivan Gilbertson Award for Emerging Artist in Literature and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I edited Vesenny’s debut novel, Swearing in Russian at the Northern Lights, and her second novel, Sandara. Read more. . .


STUART WAKEFIELD is the #1 Kindle Best Selling author of Body of Water, the first novel in his Orcadian Trilogy. Body of Water was 1 of 10 books long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. I edited Wakefield’s second novel, Memory of Water, and look forward to editing the final novel of his Orcadian Trilogy, Spirit of Water. Read more. . .


GERALDINE EVANS is a best-selling British author. Her historical novel, Reluctant Queen, is a Category No 1 Best Seller on Amazon UK. I edited Death Dues, #11 in Evans’ fifteen popular Rafferty and Llewellyn cozy police procedurals, which received a glowing review from the Midwest Book Review. Read more. . .


JUDY LEE DUNN is an award-winning marketing blogger. I am working with Dunn to develop and line edit her memoir of reconciling liberal activism with her emotional difficulty accepting the lesbianism of her beloved daughter, Tonight Show comedienne Kellye Rowland. Read more. . .


LISA MERCADO-FERNANDEZ writes literary novels of love, loss, and friendship set in the small coastal towns of New England. I edited Mercado-Fernandez’ debut novel The Shoebox and second novel The Eighth Summer. Read more. . .


JEFF RUSSELL is the author of the debut novel, The Rules of Love and Law, based upon Jeff’s abiding passions for legal history and justice. Read more. . .


LEN JOY is the author of the debut novel, American Past Time. I worked with Len to develop his novel from its core: a short story about the self-destructive ambitions of a Minor League baseball star. Read more. . .


ALEX KENDZIORSKI is an American physician working in South Africa on community health education and wildlife conservation. I edited Kendziorski’s debut novel Wait a Season for Their Names about the endangered African painted wolf, for which he is donating the profits to wildlife conservation. Read more. . .


ALEXANDRA GODFREY blogs for the New England Journal of Medicine. I work with Godfrey on her short fiction and narrative nonfiction, including a profile of the doctor who helped save her son’s life, “Mending Broken Hearts.” Read more. . .


In addition, I work with scores of aspiring writers in their apprenticeship to this wonderful literary art and craft.

  • By Victoria Mixon

    A lot of people think garbage collectors are idiots. I’m not just saying this because it’s what I do for a living. There are documented studies, although frankly what kind of numbskull would pay for such a study? The logic goes, it’s smelly, you have to get up early, it’s demeaning—how stupid would you have to be to pick up other people’s trash?

    Stupid like a fox is what I say. I’ve been a collector for fourteen years, this job pays the best of any I ever worked, and the people I work with are good people. I have a college degree, and my kids are going to have degrees because I can afford it. Taking out the trash works for me.

    On the other hand, you find a whole lot of strange things in the trash. People think once it goes in the dumpster it’s gone for good.
    —Jeff Betts

    Developmental Edit

    You know what I love? A smart-mouth!

    Snappy first line? check
    Intriguing? check
    Raises a question? check What did this character find in the dumpster?
    Drop-kicks us off the end? check Whatever it is, it ain’t gone for good!

    What does this paragraph tell us about the book we’re starting? This character is a blue-collar worker, matter-of-fact, educated, thinks things through, isn’t afraid to buck popular opinion even in choosing a career, and smarty-britches about confrontation. They’re also a parent thinking about their children’s future, so they’re responsible. And they’re curious—they found something in someone’s trash. Is this someone you feel like following through a whole story?

    Hey, it works for me!

    Genre? Mystery, I’m guessing, with a twist. Nice!

    Do we need to know who the character is, how they got here, where they were before? They’ve been a garbage collector for fourteen years and have been around long enough to earn a college degree and have kids. That’s plenty o’ info.

    Do we need to know what they’re going to find in the trash? Nope. That’s why we have to turn the page!

    Does this paragraph drop us into a specific moment in this character’s story? Just about—it gives us an intriguing lead-in to the moment of finding something significant in an odd place. I’m hooked by the character, not the moment, although I fully expect to get a bang for my buck in about two seconds. If I don’t, the whole thing falls apart because it’s drawn out to the limit as it is. Either this writer is just about to over-do it, or he’s got one fine-tuned sense of drama!

    So let’s talk about the structure of it. Is this a highly-charged moment? Not yet. Does it work to be a bit talkative? Yes—because it’s introducing us to a likable character. If following this character is the whole point, we’re already on our way. What does it tell us about this entire story? It’s character-driven.

    Copy & Line Edit

    I’d probably make one line edit, and that’s putting a colon instead of a comma after, “The logic goes.” Other than that, this baby makes big, exciting promises in a powerful voice. That’s a hook!

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No Responses to “Free HOOK Edit: A lot of people think garbage collectors are idiots—”

  1. Makes me think better of garbage collectors 🙂

  2. Love it!!

  3. I loved this! We get an idea about the narrator’s character right away. He (probably a he?) is optimistic and philosophical in a down-to-earth way. And you can tell that in addition to having all these practical reasons for working at this sort of job, he’s got those unexpected “finds” to keep him entertained and intrigued.

  4. Good hook. I confess that I often think about trading in my dress clothes for a menial job that pays well. More time to think about books. I want to read more about this character!

  5. I really liked this one! I just did a 20 minute prompt at a writer’s retreat where we were given three subjects to tie into one story. One of them was a garbage collector, and it was fun to write a story that debunked the myth that such a job is boring and awful. Great job on this hook! You’ve got me!

  6. Is this a lead up to a mystery novel? I take it our hero is a garbage collector, but he’s not stupid because he has a college degree. Speaking as a plumber’s daughter, I like the idea of a blue-collar hero who doesn’t drag his knuckles. I hope this IS an amateur slueth. Be nice to have one that’s not a cynical cop or a bored millionaire. Whatever situation you are throwing him into, we already know he’s practical, a loyal family man, and he’s not afraid to get dirty. I like him already.



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