Copyediting Sale! Line edits for 1 cent a word or less (offer expires 10/25/2014)

To help with my immediate moving expenses, I’m offering a deep discount on my line edits:

Under 50,000 word projects = 1 cent per word.

Between 50,001 and 99,999 word projects = 0.75 cents per word.

Over 100,000 words = .5 cents per word.

To get this price you must put down a deposit* right away, but you can choose to schedule a future date to work on your project.

Copyediting (sometimes called line editing) means any or all of the following:

  • correcting spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, and word usage while preserving the meaning and voice of the original text
  • checking for or imposing a consistent style and format
  • preparing a style sheet that documents style and format
  • reading for overall clarity and sense on behalf of the prospective audience
  • querying the appropriate party about apparent errors or inconsistencies
  • noting permissions needed to publish copyrighted material
  • preparing a manuscript for the next stage of the publication process
  • cross-checking references, art, figures, tables, equations, and other features for consistency with their mentions in the text

We’ll establish up front exactly what you’re looking for, your timetables and deadlines, so there are no surprises. I will end the sale on after Friday, so please contact me right away (link goes to contact form). Thanks!

* Projects under $200 are payable in advance; all others require a 50% payment before the project begins, with the remainder due on a schedule agreed to by both parties. All manuscripts submitted for editing must be in the standard format appropriate for the material. (Shunn’s guide for fiction writers, for example, can be found here.) Please feel free to ask if you are not sure what that means for your project; manuscripts which must be formatted by me will incur a charge of $10 per 10,000 words.

Looking for my upcoming flash fiction workshop? Learn more and sign up here.


New workshop begins Nov 15, 2014: Better Writing Through Brevity

Update 10/21/14: 7 students enrolled; 18 spots left

Beginning November 15, 2014 – “Better Writing Through Brevity: Writing/Editing Microfiction and Flash” – read, write, critique, and edit short fiction of various lengths, including 140 characters, 1 sentence, 150 words, six sentences, under 500 words, under 1000. Previous students of this class have sold their final pieces to semi- and pro-rate SFF markets.

$50 for 4 weeks if enrolled by 11/01/2014.

Sign up here.

I will close registration for this workshop when we reach 25 students, to limit the group to a manageable size. If there are still spaces left on November 1, the price will go up to $75. And, yes, you can purchase a registration for a friend. Simply enter their email address on the signup screen when it asks.

When I did this workshop last year, it was a lot of fun! Many of those students are still supporting (and critiquing) each other today.

Please note: All workshops take place in my private online forum, so you can post questions, comments, and writing excerpts without worrying who will see it. Plus, since we have deadlines of a certain day, not a set class hour, you can be anywhere in the world and still participate! With everything online, you won’t miss a thing, no matter what time zone you’re in or what challenges you’re working around.

How does the class work?

A week before the class begins, students will get an email instructing them how to log into the private online forum. Only people in the class will have access to the workshop space. (This means anything posted there is considered “unpublished” and if you like it when it’s polished, you still have the option to submit it for publication.) Anyone who logs in during that pre-class week will be able to start reading the samples in advance. (more…)

Free Fiction: “While Waiting For Your Landlord To Evict You” (Experimental/Literary)

This story is a little different than my other work. It’s creative non-fiction, in that it’s true, but written well (I hope). It covers the first six months of this year — I wrote it before the situation got even worse with the CO/gas leaks a few weeks ago, but I think it’s strong enough that I don’t need to add to it. It’s 2nd person PoV, 3200 words long, and isn’t published anywhere else.

An excerpt:

As the month ticks down, you should lay out all of your options for moving so that you can clearly see you don’t have any.

Find the information for the storage place nearby, the one with cheap little units that hold a single room’s worth of stuff, because you can’t afford bigger and you can probably get your belongings down to that size. While your son is at camp, or school, or asleep – anything, as long as he doesn’t see what’s going on and get spooked – start packing up what you know you want to keep. If he does figure it out, tell him you’re organizing, that the apartment is too little for even the meager amount of things that you own, that you’re a minimalist at heart, anyway.

Give silent thanks each day that he doesn’t ask.

Get the PDF here

Losing the Summer to Depression

I’m used to juggling several things at once. Multi-tasking was the way I learned to cope with a lifetime of ADHD, turning a flaw into a strength (I hope). Even after I started taking medication for it last year, I’m still in the habit of following through in stages, moving from one task to another and back again, so I can focus in smaller chunks and get through them both on time. I think that’s why I didn’t notice those moving pieces getting bigger, and heavier, until the balls in the air became bricks and then boulders and I was buried under it all.

In April, my son lost his afterschool care, and the following week, my job as an admin assistant ended. In May, I started to notice that my bones ached. I stopped working out, put on weight — 20 pounds in 2 months. When I saw my doctor, he said it was “women trouble” and suggested I just accept it. In July, my landlord — who’d been a problem for months — grew worse, his negligence and paranoia turning into outright harassment. (My neighbors think he’s suffering from dementia.) I felt lost, overwhelmed, and trapped, in my apartment, and in my life.

I did what I always do when life gets hard: I shut down. I grew up learning that talking about problems was really just being selfish enough to burden other people with them, so I don’t like to say too much. I’m not sure when all of that turned into depression, but at some point I realized that I was watching a lot more tv than usual, losing track of what day it was, planning projects I never finished, avoiding people, promising that I’d call or write and then not realizing when days or weeks had passed… even just sitting, not doing anything at all. I kept trying to get myself together — the other great lesson I learned from my family is that “depression” is just another way to say “lazy” — and failing. I stopped taking freelance clients. I stopped talking to people. I started panicking whenever my phone would ping, so I turned off all the notifications from Twitter or email, and eventually started turning it off entirely.

After a while I realized that I wasn’t writing, and I’d even stopped reading. At that point I felt like I didn’t even know who I was anymore.

Getting better enough to even talk about it took a lot of little steps. I went back to therapy, and got a chance to lay everything out to someone else; hearing it out loud made me see it was a bigger problem than I’d let myself believe, and also helped me figure out where to start making changes:

At first, I walked a lot. I told myself that if I wasn’t getting anything done, I needed to get outside and go for a walk. Some days I’d walk 5 or 6 miles. I always used to walk as a kid, everywhere, and getting that back felt a little like reclaiming myself. The weight started coming off, which was nice, too.

I started taking editing clients again, slowly, not advertising it but just taking what came my way. Finishing things helped me feel a bit better. I got an opportunity to start working for St. Martin’s Press as a freelancer, and took it. Was asked to interview for a position as an interim Managing Editor for an academic journal, and pursued that (it’s still in progress but moving forward).We got word that after 2 1/2 years of filling out paperwork, my son was finally approved for state-funded services that included afterschool care, so I could go back to work full-time, knowing he’d be safe. I applied for a few admin jobs in town, had a couple of interviews for jobs I didn’t get, and applied for several more.

I focused on the writing I felt I could do, which turned out to be literary fiction, and a non-fic research project I’d thought of when I was still at UPenn a few years ago, and even poetry. Whatever I was inspired to write, I did, instead of limiting myself to a particular genre, theme, or project. Words on the page was better than no words, I told myself. I saw a different doctor and found out I had the onset of arthritis — and all I had to do was start taking aspirin (an anti-inflammatory) every day to feel better.

I decided, after a CO leak in my apartment a few weeks ago, that I needed to get out, so I’ve put in notice and plan to move by the end of October. The firemen who came discovered several gas leaks in the building, and though they’re repaired now, who knows how long they were leaking gas into the building? And that CO leak — I was home at the time. It could have killed me. The only reason it didn’t was because the detectors went off, the same detectors my landlord had refused to install until after I contacted the Building Inspector myself.

And I made a decision to distance myself from some toxic people in my life, and hold on instead to the person who still loved me even with all of this going on.

My life is quieter now. I get out more. I’m getting things done. I hate that I lost so much time I’d rather have spent on working and writing, but I’m trying to use that as motivation to work harder now instead of letting the regret drag me down. I’m not where I want to be yet — I’m still not reading enough, still trying to get completely caught up — but I think, when I am, that this whole experience will have taught me a lot. I like where I’m headed.

But if I let you down this summer, or if I owe you anything, I am sorry.

If you read this and you think to yourself that you understand, you’re feeling the same way: I don’t know that I can offer a lot of advice. Just keep doing as much as you can, push yourself a little more each day, find someone to talk to, and don’t give up for good. Bad day? Okay. That happens. Try again tomorrow. As long as you keep doing that, there’s always the possibility that tomorrow will be a good day. And the next.

And the next.

Art History References for Writers: Visualizing African American Print Culture

“Print culture” includes all forms of printed text and printed visual communication – including books, newspapers, photographs, advertisements, and print art. African Americans not only participated in the creation of this material in general (including contributing to several printing press and photographic innovations) but also documented themselves and others. I wasn’t able to make the African American Expression in Print and Digital Culture conference in Madison a few weeks ago, but the attendees did an excellent job of live-tweeting and sharing links. I used that as a start to put together this list of links for writers who want to use real, actual, history as a reference for their fiction. Rather than make assumptions about what African Americans wore, did, or were involved in at any point in our country’s history, you can instead find out for yourself.

Bernard Arms, uncle of Lewis Arms, poses with his girlfriend Nellie, who he later married. Early 20th century. Credit: Wisconsin Historical Society.

Bernard Arms, uncle of Lewis Arms, poses with his girlfriend Nellie, who he later married. Early 20th century. Credit: Wisconsin Historical Society.


The Wisconsin Historical Society has an amazing collection of images online, searchable and sorted by galleries. You can find it here. You might particularly be interested in these galleries:

The Teenie Weenies in the Wildwood, original ink drawing of William Donahey's "Teenie Weenies." via Wisconsin Historical Society

The Teenie Weenies in the Wildwood, original ink drawing of William Donahey’s “Teenie Weenies.” via Wisconsin Historical Society

Image taken by Suzanne Sawyer of “Racist type cuts called ‘Brownies’ or ‘Jim Crows’” – used in printing

Through the Lens of Time: Images of African Americans from the Cook Collection – digital collection of over 250 images of African Americans dating from the nineteenth and early twentieth century, housed at Virginia Commonwealth University

Black History resources at The National Archives – massive collection of photographs, documents, and links to other material online

Texas African American Photography Archive – founded by Alan Govenar and Kaleta Doolin:

The TAAP archive provides a broad overview of African American photography in the urban and rural areas of Texas, spanning the period from the 1870s to the present and representing a variety of processes and makers. The Archive is unique in its comprehensiveness, and consists of over 50,000 photographic negatives and prints and more than 20 oral histories collected from African American photographers. Most of the items in the Archive have been donated by the photographers and their families, while others have been acquired from private collections.

Library of Congress – enormous searchable online archive (link goes to “African American”)

Western Reserve Historical Society – photograph collections, many online. Also includes newspaper and microfilm collections, as well as historical information

Robert Langmuir African American Photograph Collection – “This extensive collection contains more than 12,000 photographs depicting African American life from as early as the 1840s through the 1970s.” Housed at Emory.

Pratt Library’s African American Resources

Early Caribbean Digital Archive – “a highly interactive digital scholars lab for the collaborative research and study of pre-C20 Caribbean literature”, includes an archive of digitized texts, and invites scholars to engage with and contribute to the work. Not strictly African-American, it nonetheless represents an important resources for writers working with slave and immigration stories (as well as those writing stories with Caribbean characters). Three online exhibits:

“Downing Family Photo,”

“Downing Family Photo,”

Colored Conventions – digital archive of black political and community organizing in the 19th century. Mainly includes transcribed minutes from events, excellent bibliography here. Site is in progress; plans include maps and data tables (to be added Fall 2014).

Gallon & Black Press Research Collective –  promotes digital research of Black newspapers, includes a huge list of online archives here.

W. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963) The Souls of Black Folk, Essays and Sketches Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1903 Rare Books Collection

W. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963)
The Souls of Black Folk, Essays and Sketches
Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1903
Rare Books Collection

Race and the Design of American Life – “African Americans in 20th Century Commercial Art”. U of Chicago Library exhibit documenting the way African American bodies are used to sell everything from food to shoes to music.

Burrell Communications Group – Wiki article on 1970s ad agency established specifically to market to African Americans,

and to tap into how the Black Aesthetic could also appeal to the general market consumer. It was at this time that Tom Burrell coined the phrase, “Black people are not dark-skinned white people.”

“Black Printers” on White Cards: Information Architecture in the Database of the Early American Book Tradesthe American Antiquarian Society Blog, Molly Hardy – lists a number of African American printers active in the trade in the eighteenth to early twentieth centuries

Books to check out:

“Theresa; a Haytien Tale” (1827) – Free PDF download of an example of pre-twentieth century African American literature, from Just Teach One: Early African American Print project.

Print Culture in a Diverse America (History of Communication), James P Danky (Editor), Wayne A Wiegand (Editor)

The South Carolina Roots of African American Thought, Edited by Rhondda Robinson Thomas and Susanna Ashton

Early African American Print Culture, Lara Langer Cohen and Jordan Alexander Stein, Editors

Representing the Race, A New Political History of African American Literature, Gene Andrew Jarrett

The African American Church Community in Rochester, New York, 1900-1940, Ingrid Overacker

All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture, Martha S. Jones

This list is intended as a starting place and is by no means exhaustive. Please add your own suggestions in the comments below.