The 2017 Excellence in Editing Awards were held on June 24 at the SoCal Christian Writer’s Conference in La Mirada, California. Out of dozens of entries, seven books won the EIE Award. On PEN Tips, we will be featuring the award-winning books, along with the authors and editors.
Christi McGuire, director of the Christian Editor Connection, which hosts the annual EIE Awards, interviewed author Amy Brock McNew and editor Lindsay Franklin.
Author Amy Brock McNew
Amy, how did you develop the idea for this book?
The story for the Reluctant Warrior Chronicles had been on my heart for years before I wrote it. The story is the result of my personal life and struggles and my fascination with the supernatural. It didn’t start out that way. I had the idea for humans that have “supercharged” gifts of the Spirit, and fought with the angels, but it wasn’t until I actually started writing that I realized the main character was essentially me. As her story evolved, that became even more apparent. My blog is titled “Guts on the Page” and never has that been more true than with TRWC. It is my story, my guts, my soul on those pages. To blend that with my love of the paranormal was natural.
What did you enjoy the most about the writing process?
What I enjoyed the most was actually the editing! I know, most authors seem to loathe that phase, but it is my favorite. A lot of that is due to Lindsay, my editor. She taught me so much! I was already a published writer, but before Rebirth, it was songs and short articles. Learning to create the perfect flow, to come up with unique turns of phrase, to layer in subtext and foreshadowing, that opened a whole new world to me. Editing was and is a joy because that’s where I really get to bring my stories alive and make them shine. It’s where they come into their own, and I evolve and grow right along with them.
What did you struggle with the most during the writing process?
My biggest struggle was the personal aspect of this story. As I said earlier, all the personal bits are mine, retold in a somewhat different way, but the same at the core. Writing these trials and mistakes and heartaches into Liz and Ryland’s story was enlightening, gut-wrenching, and cathartic. Walking back through my memories, reliving those dark moments, and flaying myself onto the page for all to see was almost more than I could handle. But through it, I learned that I hadn’t dealt with the things I thought I had, and most importantly, I hadn’t forgiven the people I needed to. Finding peace and overcoming those demons was the best and worst part of the whole experience.
What tips can you give authors about working with freelance editors?
First and foremost, LISTEN TO YOUR EDITOR. This doesn’t mean you have to make every change they suggest. It doesn’t mean that you lose your voice and take on theirs. It means you soak in their experience and instruction like a sponge, and use it. Editors, at their core, are teachers. Work with them, not against them, and you will have the best manuscript possible. Also, freelance editors tend to take on works they are drawn to, interested in, and believe in. Remember that. Yes, you pay them, but in a sense, they chose you. They decided to take on your project because they saw something in it. You’ll need this little boost when you get back that first round with so much red on it, it looks like someone literally bled on the page!
What does winning the Excellence in Editing Award mean to you?
Winning this award was a complete shock. I’m maniacal about editing, I study the craft constantly, and I have severe issues with being the best and only putting out perfect work. (I’m working on that!) Even so, I was floored when I found out I won. Honored and humbled. Those are the two words that immediately come to mind. That my little story was chosen out of so many fantastic, pristine works is so humbling and a wonderful honor. And the fact that it came at a time I needed encouragement the most? Well, for me, that’s providential.
Editor Lindsay Franklin
Lindsay, how did you become connected with the author?
I met Amy through a referral from another editor. My colleague was unable to take on Amy’s project right away, and Amy was ready to roll! So he connected us, we hit it off, and the rest is history.
What do you enjoy the most about the editing process?
I love to discover a rough diamond and polish it until it sparkles. It’s very gratifying to take a good story and make it excellent. Or to take functional, satisfactory prose and coax it to beauty. When my clients are able to achieve their goals the way Amy has…well, there’s no thrill quite like that. Getting to be a small part of it makes me fall in love with my job over and over again.
What tips can you give other freelance editors about working with authors?
I think it’s crucial we remember our role. An editor’s role isn’t to take an author’s story and make it her own. Her role is to make the author’s vision its absolute best. Sure, that might mean suggesting big changes to characters, plot, or writing mechanics; but the soul of that author’s story has to be preserved. Voice should be protected. None of my clients’ stories should leave my desk sounding like I wrote them.
What do you wish authors knew about working with freelance editors?
Our time is valuable. I know editing can be expensive. Most editors totally relate to what it’s like to be a “starving artist.” Which is why we can’t work for free or slash our prices very often. When a client hires me to do a full edit on her book, I’m going to be investing many hours in that project. I will do a thorough content edit first, diving deep into plot and characterization. I will analyze the author’s voice and the tone of the story. I’ll look at scene structure, story structure, and nitty-gritty sentence structure. After my client has revised her story, I’ll go through with a (proverbial) magnifying glass and polish away the errors. I’ll point out any remaining weaknesses in language, any moments where clarity is lacking. And I will fix all the missing commas. I read CMOS every day so you don’t have to. I love it, but it takes a significant amount of time, energy, and expertise. Editors need to be compensated for that investment.
What does working on an award-winning book mean to you?
Of course it’s absolutely wonderful to have one’s work recognized. It’s validating to have an impartial third party say, “Hey, you did well!” Amy’s project is particularly special. When she came to me, she had solid story ideas. I could tell immediately she had some sort of background in English (journalism), but she wasn’t very familiar with fiction techniques. Amy told me to be brutal with my edits. She said she wanted to learn, and she wanted to do it quickly. She wasn’t kidding! I would introduce her to a concept, like showing versus telling, and she’d get back to me within a couple days with the technique largely mastered. It was like watching an author baby grow up on fast forward. I loved it. We became great friends throughout the process. The best part—truly!—is that she doesn’t need me anymore. She has a wonderful publisher who handles her edits now. Maybe it’s weird to enjoy making myself obsolete, but I can’t help it. It means my clients are achieving their dreams.
Thanks, Amy and Lindsay! And congrats again on winning the 2017 EIE Award!
About the Author
Meet Amy Brock McNew. Author. Fighter. Musician. Former nurse and martial artist. She puts her guts onto the pages she writes, honestly and brutally revealing herself in the process. This wife and mom is a lover of music, chocolate, the beach, and cherry vanilla Coke. She believes everyone should have a theme song. Strangely enough, her kids are the ones who have to tell her to turn the music down. Amy and her Taekwondo-instructor husband are constantly acting like overgrown kids—and loving every minute of it. She longs for the day when her husband retires so she can write her adventures of love and war on a back porch overlooking the ocean. In flip flops.
About the Editor
Lindsay A. Franklin is an award-winning author, freelance editor, and homeschooling mom of three. She would wear pajama pants all the time if it were socially acceptable. She spends a lot of time in made-up worlds, and she’s passionate about sparking imagination through stories of infinite possibility. Her debut fantasy novel, The Story Peddler, releases in 2018. When she’s not exploring the fantastical, she’s exploring the Bible and encouraging young women through her devotional books.
Lindsay lives in her native San Diego with her husband (master of the dad joke), their awesomely nerdy kids, two thunder pillows (AKA cats), and a stuffed wombat with his own Instagram following (@therealwombatman). You can find Lindsay on social media, too, if Wombatman hasn’t hijacked all her accounts. She’s @LinzyAFranklin on Instagram and Twitter, and she Facebooks at www.facebook.com/LindsayAFranklin.
About the Book
Liz Brantley has a gift she wants to return.
Able to see and fight demonic forces, she has spent her life alone, battling the minions of hell bent on her destruction, running from the God who gave her this curse. Drawn to her abilities, the demon Markus unleashes havoc on her hometown and pulls Liz further into the throes of battle.
She’s desperate for a normal life.
When she meets a mysterious man who seems unaware of the mystical realm that haunts her, the life she’s always wanted moves within reach. But her slice of normal slips from her grasp when an old flame, Ryland Vaughn, reappears with secrets of his own. Secrets that will alter her destiny.
Torn between two worlds, Liz is caught in an ancient war between good and evil.
And she isn’t sure which side to choose.
Enter the EIE Awards!
Are you the author, editor, or publisher of a 2017 published book? Submit it for the 2018 Excellence in Editing Award! The Christian Editor Connection wants to honor the teams behind well-written and well-edited books and is proud to announce our third annual Excellence in Editing 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 all books published in hardcover or paperback in 2017. Books must be written in English, have been released in North America, and contain a Christian worldview.
The publication teams (authors, editors, publishers) behind the EIE award-winning books will be honored 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.
Visit https://christianeditor.com/eie/ for more information and to submit your entry. Deadline is December 31, 2017.