Tag Archives: hire me

Susan Speaks: Two Years and Counting


So. Remember that time I fell off my bike and damn near lost an eye?

Yeah, me, too. Believe me, I remember… well, I don’t remember most of it happening. The parts that I do remember are seared on my brain, still easily pulled from my beat-up memory. The parts that I don’t remember are, I’m told by the concussion specialist, lost forever. Black holes where I know something ought to be.

Occasionally, I reach for those black holes, but there’s nothing there. It’s like that moment in the Luray Caverns when they turn out the lights and there’s nothing… but this is even more absolute than that because at least while you’re in the unlit cavern, you are aware of your heart beating, your breath. You are aware of you.

These black holes are truly nothingness.

And it only took almost two years, but I can finally describe what I see out of my damaged eye, when I close the good one: the wallpaper pattern doesn’t match up. There’s a skip, a jump, an outline of a figure that’s not perfect. Go look at badly hung wallpaper and you’ll see what I mean.

Thankfully, that goes away when I open my good eye. Life is seamless again, as it should be. As I took for granted before this all began. And maybe that was the point of it all: to see the world differently, because — for better or worse — I certainly do.

Two years… it’s a long time. But I’m here, I’m working, I’ve got this down to a science and any of my clients will tell you that if anything, I’m more sharp-eyed than ever. That’s the most important part, I think. What I have to offer my clients has only gotten better. And yes, I continue to be able to take on new projects, written by new authors. Or new projects written by clients who drifted away after my accident, for whatever reason.

Let me help you make the best book possible. But let’s start tomorrow. Some anniversaries… they need to be observed quietly, introspectively. This is one of them.


E for Editing, of course! #atozchallenge


I can’t go on about this one enough, so I’ll try to keep this post short (especially since yesterday’s got long).

Yes, you need an editor.

No, a beta reader doesn’t do an editor’s job.

A really good editor, like me, does more than catch grammar. A really good editor knows when to push you, and where. I know how to teach you the difference in the kinds of description, and what is needed where. I try to mirror your voice, so I’m not imposing myself on you. And I try to spark your own creativity to solve a problem, like in wording, rather than make you see it my way. Maybe my way is wrong, and your way is wrong, but I give you the push you need so that your new way is right.

All that. And more.

Don’t make a decision about an editor based on dollars. There is always someone cheaper. There are also so-called editors who don’t have much of a background in editing fiction. Maybe they were good at revising history papers and decided that meant they could take your money and call themselves an editor. I’ve seen editors who take to Facebook to crowdsource every last point of grammar. Sorry, but if you’re an editor, you should know grammar. I’ve met authors who realized there’s more money in editing than in royalties, so they switched gears. Their qualifications? Well, their book hit a best-seller list or two…

So, yes. There is always someone cheaper.

But is there always someone better? That’s what you need sample edits for. Does the editor respect your vision? Does s/he know basic grammar? Can s/he explain why s/he is making that suggestion? Do they offer suggestions or merely make changes to your text — in words you may not use?

Vet your potential editor. And never pay for a sample.

But always, for every book, hire an editor. Preferably the same one, but sometimes, you need to change it up. I get that.

Start here on your quest. Let’s talk because I’d love to unlock the magic in your manuscript. I’d love to help you put out the best book possible.


#SaysTheEditor: Starting the New Year with a Special Treat


I’ve been chewing on this one, but hey, let’s go for it, shall we?

Here’s the deal. All Romance eBooks closed shop abruptly at the end of the year. I’ll let you Google and read the story behind it, but for many authors and readers, it wasn’t a good situation.

But some authors were able to get the rights to their books back. Some would like to revise them, have a new edit done, and put them up for sale on the indie market.

If you’re one, or you know of one, send them my way. I’m offering a discount to anyone who wants to reissue their books. If you’re nice but your books weren’t for sale through All Romance, maybe I’ll extend it to you, too. Probably. But you gotta be nice!

Good editing is expensive. That’s because editors like me are worth the money (and keep in mind that a lot of my friends yell at me for not charging enough!). So now I’m offering to work for you, and to help you save some money, too.

Tell your friends. Spread the word.


Susan Speaks: Teeter Totter


Nine weeks since the fall. Eight weeks since the first retinal repair.

I say first because I still don’t believe there won’t be a second one. And that’s got me on the world’s cruelest teeter totter. Will I need surgery? Won’t I? Am I okay? Is my vision worse? Can I live with this? Do I need to? Do I want to? If I have surgery, will I get more scar tissue and have to go through this again? Will I lose any, or more, vision? Have I even lost vision?

I don’t know if I’ll be having another major surgery or not. I’m trying not to dwell on it, I really am. But my best and favorite distraction — work — hasn’t been going so well.

Look, I get it. This is big, major stuff. Clients don’t know if I’ll be here, if I can see, if my usual eagle eye is still operational. And I’ve been blogging almost exclusively about the injury and the ordeal that recovery has turned into. Am I really in this upbeat mindset you are reading about?

Well, yes, I actually am. Until the word of the latest detachment and the vigil I’ve been forced to keep, anyway. I’ve actually had a few anxiety attacks, or the beginnings of some. I’ve never had one in my life, reminding me why I force myself to be upbeat and happy most of the time. Life is easier with a smile. I can say that for certain now that I’ve had a few cycles where thoughts just get more and more negative, as they swirl faster and faster until I feel like I’m drowning.

Yes, it’s better to stop dwelling on what might be and focus instead on work. I’m left-eye dominant and it’s my right eye that I hurt, so my vision isn’t as badly impaired as if I’d hurt my dominant eye. That’s been the magic of this accident. I may prefer my friends to stand on my right, but my left eye leads the charge.

I was cleared to work seven weeks ago. I have been working… some. And I love what I do. I’m good at it. And it’s been such a blessed distraction, making me feel in control at a time when I’m at the mercy of a healing body. I’ve needed to work. And yes, it helps me remain positive.

So it kills me when I get this message from clients and others I’ve made commitments to: You have a lot on your plate right now and don’t me adding to it.

Yes, I do!!!

Like I said: work is stress relief. It makes me happy. It fills my bank account, and that in turn makes me happy, too. Working distracts me from myself, and I’m on such a teeter totter of emotions that work helps keep me either upbeat or even. No more of this downer stuff; I don’t like it!

None of us have a crystal ball. We don’t know what’s going to happen with my eye.

But we DO know I’m good at what I do. We know I’m pretty much homebound. I’ve got the time. My dominant eye is fine and carrying the load.

And if you take a step back and think, you’ll remember something: a bored Susan gets into trouble. And just wait until you guys see what I’ve been up to…


Status Update: Digging out of the hole


Last month was both a rush and a killer. I had a couple really intensive edits that demanded a lot of time and energy (and effort). I worked through weekends. Dishes piled up in the sink, I was a week behind in reading the newspaper, and I slept like a baby. Didn’t write a word of my own fiction, either.

So if I owe you mail, you should have gotten it by now. This  month looks to be lighter in terms of intensity, which is always welcome after a period of such time-sucking and exhilarating work.

There are lots of openings at the New Book  Spotlight if you’d like one. Help yourself; tell your friends. Remember, if you’re willing to take what’s next in line, it’s always free. Free promo, people!

As for editing… well, that’s not so open. We’re looking at mid-December for dates, which really, if you think about it, ought to work just fine. Who wants to be thinking about their manuscript during the last part of the holiday rush? Why not send it to your editor and let her deal with it while you finish shopping and face the realization that you just can’t put off buying something for Strange Uncle Jimmy*? Yeah, I know: You don’t want to deal with Strange Uncle Jimmy. Ever. He’s got a … well, a smell and he’s always telling you that a woman’s place is making bread. Fresh bread daily, that’s what Strange Uncle Jimmy wants. And no, there doesn’t seem to be a metaphor involved in any of that. Last year, your brother bought him a sourdough yeast starter, a bread machine, and six different mixes.

Your brother is still paying for the padded room that put poor Strange Uncle Jimmy into. Bread makers seem to violate his sense of how the universe works. Who knew?

Now, here’s the best thing about hiring me to be your editor: I’ll help you come up with a good gift for Strange Uncle Jimmy. It’s all part and parcel of what I do here at West of Mars, and frankly, the brainstorming would be a lot of fun.

Hey, have I mentioned that if I do your content or line editing and you need a proofreader, I’ve got subcontractors for that? Subcontractors who’ll come with a 10% discount because you’re a West of Mars client?

No? Well, there ya go. Learning new stuff daily around here. It’s what I do. No reason you can’t join me, too.



* I once had an Uncle Jimmy. He’s now ex-Uncle Jimmy and the nicest guy you’d ever meet, married to one of the most gracious, caring women I’ve come across in my crazy path across this world. And I have no idea what he thinks a woman’s role in life is. I never asked. Maybe I should have. Maybe it’d be what I expect. Maybe it’d be weirder than fresh bread daily. Who knows? Well, ex-Uncle Jimmy does.


#SaystheEditor I mean it!


If I ever needed proof that my clients read my blog and my Facebook, it’s been my e-mail inbox since this post and my Facebook status that September was so full, I’m working weekends to get everyone in.

I hate working weekends. Well, no. I hate working on Saturdays. Like many good Jews before me, I’ve started holding Saturdays as my day of rest, the day when I like to lay around and do absolutely nothing of value. Okay, maybe I’ll go pull weeds, the world’s most futile task, but other than that? Nah.

So I’ve had lots of time to laugh lately as requests continue to roll in. Can you please sneak me in?

If it were a question of intent, I’d be able to. But you guys come to West of Mars for me, for my editing skills. And while I’ve got a few subcontractors hovering — and I call on them when I’ve done a line or content edit and you guys ask for a fresh set of copy editing eyeballs — I don’t want to slough any of you off on someone new. I’m at my best when we’ve built a relationship, and you guys deserve my best.

My worry, of course, is that you won’t wait, that you’ll choose to move on to someone else. I don’t want that to happen. But sometimes, I can’t be superwoman, no matter how hard I try. And for some reason, late August through September tend to be one of my busiest times of year.

If you’re waiting for me, don’t wait too long. October is already filling, and you know I want to make time for you.

But if you need me now, sorry. I’m only one woman. And if I take on any  more work, I’m going to let you all down, and there’s no way I can do that to any of us.