This Excellence in Editing Award spotlight is on Keen by Laura L. Zimmerman, edited by Michele Israel Harper, and published by Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing, LLC.

It takes a team! Irene Chambers, the EIE Award Coordinator for the Christian Editor Connection (CEC), interviewed author Laura L. Zimmerman and editor Michele Israel Harper about working together and creating an award-winning book.

IRENE. Laura, how did you develop the idea for this book?

LAURA. My teenager and I were watching Teen Wolf, a show about high schoolers who discover they have supernatural abilities. One of the main characters learned she was a banshee. Although the way her story portrayed in the show was a bit different from the lore I introduce in Keen, it still intrigued me. I found myself asking, “What would it be like to be a teenager in high school and have this secret of being a banshee?” This thought wandered my mind for a few weeks before the story began to take shape in my mind.

IRENE. What did you enjoy the most about the writing process?

LAURA. I enjoyed exploring the various cultures and their lore regarding faeries and banshees. It pushed my creativity to dig deep and decide which parts of the lore I wanted to keep and where I would allow the fiction to take over and create my own world of the fae.

IRENE. What did you struggle with the most during the writing process?

LAURA. Since Caoine’s story is told in first person, I found that she was an unreliable narrator. She’s a classic teen with low self-esteem and mood swings. I wanted the reader to know the real Caoine and not the tainted view she had of herself. An editor gave me the idea of introducing chapters from a different POV to help with this.

IRENE. What tips can you give authors about working with editors?

LAURA. Be open to everything. Accept the fact that as the author, you’re already too close to the project. You need an editor to give an objective view of your work and to point out things that don’t work or need improvement. There will always be changes suggested from an editor that you feel are difficult to accept or make at first. But always take the time to sleep on it and allow the idea to marinate before rejecting the suggestion. An editor is your helpmate.

IRENE. What does winning the Excellence in Editing Award mean to you?

LAURA. Receiving this award shows me just how important Keen was, not just to me but to many others as well. I never could have made Keen what is it today without the help of Michele, and multiple other editors, beta readers, and proofreaders. I appreciate every single person who invested their time into Keen. I am beyond blessed that my book has been honored in this way!

IRENE. Michele, how did you become connected with Laura?

MICHELE. I believe it was Realm Makers 2018 when Laura tried to get a pitch appointment with me, but they were full. She had pitched to me in the past, so after the award ceremony, she pulled me aside and told me her idea for her banshee story, Keen. I was immediately entranced and wanted to see a full, which led to a publishing contract.

IRENE. What do you enjoy the most about the editing process?

MICHELE. Oh my goodness, I adore when a story comes together. Maybe it’s almost there, or maybe it needs some prodding in the right direction, but when the author is willing to listen to suggestions and make the story stronger, it is bliss. I get so excited when an author strengthens a scene or cuts extra fluff that tightens the entire manuscript and brings the plot together into a cohesive whole. That is what makes a story unputdownable. I love it!

Also, I’m a very technical editor, so I love CMOS and Proofreading Secrets by Kathy Ide. I love to teach with my edits because once the author knows not to make certain mistakes again, their next manuscript will be that much cleaner. Plus they’ll know better how to self-edit before submitting the next MS to whomever that may be.

IRENE. What tips can you give other freelance editors about working with authors?

MICHELE. You can usually tell when an author is ready to be published. They listen to suggestions, are willing to learn, and know their own voice, characters, and plot. They’re willing to do whatever it takes to make their story worthy of publication.

It’s also important that you click with the author and their story—if you can’t see their vision or are overly frustrated by beginner mistakes, often it’s a sign they need to learn their craft better or need to work with a different editor. And that’s not a bad thing! You want them to have an editor who is excited about their story and who is excited to work with them to bring it into publishable shape. Back and forth with mutual respect is good; tension is not.

I’m so happy to say it has been a dream to work with Laura, and I love how professional she is and how excited she is about her stories.

IRENE. What do you wish authors knew about working with freelance editors?

MICHELE. Please listen to your editor’s suggestions! They should know what is industry standard; they should fiercely protect your voice, characterization, and plot; and they should never insert themselves into your manuscript. If they’re not a good fit, don’t be upset about choosing another! The editing process should be a joyful one as you both work together to make your book baby shine and catch the attention of an agent, editor, or publisher. And don’t be afraid to learn! The cleaner your drafts are, the more interested industry professionals will be.

IRENE. This is your fourth EIE Award! What does working on an award-winning book mean to you?

MICHELE. It’s such an honor to be a recipient of this award with Laura. The various stages of editing are such intense work, and it helps so much to have an author who is a dream to work with.

I think I’ve become more picky over the years as we take on authors. Their book needs to be one we can get behind 100 percent, of course, but my team and I want to publish authors who are professional above all else, know their craft well, and are excited about their books and willing to tell others about them. I am so honored to have personally worked with the four authors who won the EIE Award from our publishing house, and I hope and pray we can publish many more award-winning books in the future.

Thank you so much for having me, Irene!

Thank you, Michele, and you, Laura. Congratulations again on winning the 2020 EIE Award for Keen! It takes a team!


Laura L. Zimmerman resides in North Carolina with her husband and three daughters. You can usually find her homeschooling her children, drinking coffee, or having a movie night with her family. Drawn to anything young adult or middle grade, she loves to create fantasy and sci-fi stories. She enjoys posting weekly flash fiction pieces on her blog, Caffeinated Fiction, and has officially been caught within the sticky web of the #bookstagram community on Instagram @ lauralzimmauthor. Keen is her debut novel.


Michele Israel Harper is the author of Wisdom & Folly: Sisters, Zombie Takeover, Beast Hunter, and Kill the Beast. She is also a freelance editor and the acquisitions editor at Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing, LLC.

Harper has her bachelor of arts in history, is slightly obsessed with all things French—including Jeanne d’Arc and La Belle et la Bête—and loves curling up with a good book more than just about anything else. Visit to learn more about her.


Half-faerie Caoine has no control over the banshee lament she sings each night, predicting the death of others. A senior in a brand new high school, she expects the same response she’s received at every other school: judgment from fellow students over her unusual eyes and unnaturally white skin and hair. However, when Caoine arrives at West Lincoln High, for the first time in her life she finds friends. Real friends.

But being a teenager is never easy, especially when the star soccer player, Oliver, sets his sights on her. Allowing him to get close means revealing her curse to the human world. She can’t let that happen.

Life spins further out of control when her lament comes out during the day, those whose death she predicts die right in front of her, and a dark faerie known only as the Unseelie prince blames Caoine by leaving her the creepiest notes ever. Her curse is not supposed to work like that.

In a race against time, Caoine must uncover the Unseelie prince’s identity and stop a spell before it unleashes hell on earth, all while trying to control her banshee song and finding a place among her peers.

Senior year just got real.

Purchase Keen.

Enter the 2021 Excellence in Editing Award contest!

The Christian Editor Connection wants to honor the teams behind well-written, well-edited books and is proud to sponsor our sixth annual EIE Award. Are you the author, editor, or publisher of a book published in 2020? Submit it for the 2021 EIE Award!

This award celebrates newly released books that are superbly written, well edited, and published by a CBA publisher or self-published by a Christian author.

The CEC Excellence in Editing Award is open to books published in hardcover or paperback in 2020. Books must be written in English, have been released in North America, and contain a Christian worldview.

The publication teams (authors, editors, and publishers) behind the EIE award-winning books will be recognized for their dedication and work and may mention this honor in their marketing, promotion, and publicity. The most valuable aspect of the award is its use as a book-sales stimulator. In addition, CEC announces finalists and winners online. Winning authors and editors receive plaques and may choose from a variety of offerings in the Christian Editor Network.

Visit for more information and to submit your entry. The deadline is December 31, 2020. (The entry fee is $45.)