Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn, one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers, interviews me about storytelling, writing, independent editing, and the difference between literary fiction and genre, with an impromptu exercise on her own Work-in-Progress.
Editing client Stu Wakefield, author of the Kindle #1 Best Seller Body of Water, talks about our work together on Memory of Water, the second novel of his Water trilogy.
“Spectacular! It is such an awesome feeling to learn a new thing every day from you. You are so kind and approachable—one of many things differentiating you from other teachers I’ve met is that you seem so friendly, embracing any kind of question. And your ideas are so sophisticated! You are a bonanza with a great imagination and a delicate touch. All the elements of my story are connected with no loose threads, and I love all these implications, unveilings, hints, and deceptions. Your ability to ‘see’ things is outstanding. You are more like a Hollywood movie director than an editor. And I am just amazed that your passion and the quality of your work have never been influenced by our timeframe. Generally, the more work is needed or the longer it goes on, the more it becomes routine and the less attention gets paid to it. But your Magical Tea Cup never lets the tea get cold. Let me call your super organizing skills ‘God’s hands.’ I am so grateful that I came across you!”
—Keita Nagano, on our work on his sixth novel and first novel in English, Rachel Assigned to Tokyo; author of 17 nonfiction books and five novels in Japan
“I’m staggered at the amount of work you put into my project. A ‘sophomore’ novel comes with limited options and expectations that I was wholly unprepared for. You lifted me out of a hole, an amazing experience—worth every penny! I’ve learned so much about myself. I’ll be bragging about you to all my writerly colleagues.”
“I am overwhelmed. You have done a brilliant job with Part 1. You have made it glow. What you have done with Part 2 is amazing. It could not be better. And ending it where you have ended it is perfect. You shouldn’t be editing. You should be writing novels!”
“Victoria, I am so grateful for your suggestions. I feel as if I have to turn my head around and look at the world in a new way.”
—Millicent G. Dillon, five-time O. Henry Award winner and PEN/Faulkner nominee, on our work on her memoir of the Oak Ridge secret atomic facility, The Absolute Elsewhere; author of Harry Gold, Overlook; A Version of Love, WW Norton & Company; The One in the Back is Medea and Baby Perpetua and Other Stories, Viking; The Dance of the Mothers and After Egypt: Isadora Duncan and Mary Cassatt, Dutton; A Little Original Sin: The Life and Work of Jane Bowles, Virago Press; You Are Not I: A Portrait of Paul Bowles, University of California Press; and editor of My Sister’s Hand in Mine: The Collected Works of Jane Bowles, Ecco; Out in the World: Selected Letters of Jane Bowles, Black Sparrow Press; The Portable Paul and Jane Bowles, Viking
“As one of the first readers of my novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, your perceptive reading and helpful comments at Squaw Valley Conference aided me in finishing it. More recently, your edits of my essay on Tiananmen Square, taking a somewhat lengthy and ‘soft’ work and quickly making it into a stronger and polished piece that was published in time for the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in June of 2009. Easy to work with, but a perfectionist if you want the ‘treatment’—I trust you!”
—Lucia Orth, author of debut novel Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, Permanent Press, 2008; Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review, NPR comparison to Doctor Shivago, nominated for the PEN/Faulkner, PEN/Hemingway, and Pulitzer Prize
“This looks great, Victoria. It’s like having a lesson in writing. 🙂 It makes such a difference to have a thorough edit. You’re supplying the education I never had. You have really sharpened it up and portrayed the characters’ personalities through their actions. I’m going to print particular sections out so I have examples of how sentences can be better constructed to show characters’ personalities and their interaction with others. You’re worth every penny of your fee: thorough, painstaking, a diamond on a pebble beach. I’d be happy to recommend you to my writer friends.”
—Geraldine Evans on our work on the 11th novel in her Rafferty & Llewellyn mystery series Death Dues, Severn House Publishers
“It’s a hell of a lot easier to be in the writing trenches when you’ve got my back. The most awesome writing advice I can give to anybody: Victoria Mixon.”
—M. Terry Green/Terisa Green on our work on her speculative fiction series God of the Week; author of Shaman, Healer, Heretic; Shaman, Friend, Enemy; and Shaman, Sister, Sorceress; Ink: The Not-Just-Skin-Deep Guide to Getting a Tattoo, NAL; and The Tattoo Encyclopedia: A Guide to Choosing Your Tattoo, Touchstone; semi-finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award and acclaimed by Publisher’s Weekly and Midwest Book Review
“Your suggestions are terrific. I wish I had shown you the novel sooner!”
—Sasha Troyan on our work on her novels Marriage a Trois and Semester; author of debut novel Angels in the Morning, Permanent Press, 2003; and The Forgotten Island, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2004; two-time Booksense Selection winner, acclaimed by Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus Reviews
“Everything makes sense and is absolutely brilliant! Working with you has been an amazing experience. I love how you trimmed the language. I feel everything you said was already there, and you brought it up to the surface, gently and carefully. I thought it was scary to hire someone for a developmental edit. Now it seems scarier to be on my own.”
“Is it inappropriate for a writer to tell her editor in the second week she loves her? I’m amazed! You have it down to an exact science. I mean, I knew reading your books that you could do that, but you have taken it to another level. Wow! I’m clapping.”
“‘Victoria, you should win an ‘Editor-of-the-Year’ award. Thanks to you, my work rewriting is as satisfying as writing the first time. In some case even more so. I have a better feel for the story—and its flow—now than I ever had before. Sometimes I see your point right away, other times it takes longer. Sometimes I think, ‘Duh! How did I miss that?’ Sometimes I realize that even while writing I was unsure about one scene, or passage. I have made lots of changes, often with dialog and action replacing narrative. I’m starting to see that good dialog writing is an ongoing process, and that no matter what one can always learn more. Thanks again for what you’ve done for my book and me as a writer! You’ll never know what a difference you made.”
“You did everything that I both hoped and feared you’d do: challenged me, pushed me, and motivated me. You showed me where I was pulling my punches and where I went astray. You helped me see how excision is a means to enriching a text and helped me bring to life the ideas and tension I was striving for. Hiring you did not not get me out of doing work. It did, in fact, double my load, made my brain hurt, and caused me a bit of grief. That is what I want—to become a better writer.”
“This is wonderful, Victoria—just fantastic feedback! I am amazed by your ability to pinpoint the structure of such a complex story. You have been a dream to work with. I will forever be grateful to you.”
—Judy Lee Dunn, award-winning blogger, on our work on her memoir Out Late
“I am having a blast! I’m loving this process! Finding you was a miracle. You are just full of magic and ideas, aren’t you? You should market yourself as a ‘thinking partner’ more than an editor. You really have the craft of writing mastered. You are truly a gem, and I’m so lucky to have you as teacher and mentor. I have learned so much from you and your books. This is so exciting! I love writing, and I love working with you. It is incredible to see this story develop under our fingers. It’s like magic. I believe in magic—you have it, and I am learning as I go. I always study your editing in detail so that I can learn to write like that. Now my novel is completed and so beautiful because of your craft. I can’t thank you enough, Victoria. You are the wizard behind the curtain! What would I do without you?”
—Eli Potter, on our work on her trilogy Desislava, Vampire Queen of Sofia
“If you didn’t live so far away I would be sprinting to your door to give you a hug. I am blown away by your talent, your knowledge of the craft, and your passion. I am emboldened, recharged, and ready to take on the world, with my protagonist at my side.”
—Charles Martella, on our work on his Middle Grade novel The Ghosts of Gotham
“After getting your feedback three times now I’ve got to tell you this: I’m delighted I’m able to have you read my work. Your professional insights are fantastic. Part of me wants to wax on about how much I value and appreciate your time. I’m also anxious to have you read my writing again. I’ve had some friends read my story, and they love it, but the feedback I get hints at what you’re saying—they can feel something is wrong but they struggle to identify it. It’s like they’re feeling their way through a dark room trying to point out issues, meanwhile you’re able to turn the light on and point out with incredible accuracy what the issues really are. You understand what I’m trying to express! And with facets I was unaware of. You take me through the back door of how the clock works.
“Now I’m addicted to writing. It’s all I want to do.”
—Mark Salter, on his work on his novel American Dream Fear
“I would have to echo many of these complimentary statements, as both your counseling and the many positive suggestions you had to offer are going to be extremely valuable in helping me make some crucial decisions regarding my project.”
—Jay Miller, on our work on his novel SuperStar Nation
“Thank you for an excellent crit. I like how you identified what worked as well as what didn’t. So many people forget that part. I need someone I can trust to go through my pieces. Thank you for your support and for talking to me like I do understand what I am doing.”
—Jo Ann Hernandez, on her work on her novels Dying on Lovett Street, The Future Forgotten, Loving You Deadly
“Before you edited a short story for me, I didn’t know what to expect; I had never worked with a fiction editor before. But your constructive criticism was so useful. I’d be crazy to send out any work without first running it by you. You obviously know the craft inside and out. Money well spent!”
—Gracie Fletcher, on our work on her short story “Moonlight and Melinda”
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, tragic and 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. . .
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 her three sci-fi/fantasy series based on her dual careers 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 worked on every Space Shuttle orbiter but Challenger. In Casimir Bridge, the first novel of his debut sci-fi series, Beyer uses every bit of 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. . .
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, which agents had told him to throw away. Read more. . .
In addition, I work with scores of aspiring writers in their apprenticeship to this wonderful literary art and craft.