Working With the Industry: The Importance of Editing

By Michael Ehret

“Everyone needs an editor.”

These are words I have spoken—as an editor—to many writers who wondered if they needed to spend money on editing. Yes. Yes, you do. And I don’t say that as a freelance editor who likes to eat and sleep indoors.

I say that as a mentoring editor who wants to see every client succeed. It was true then and it’s true now. It will always be true.

Everyone needs an editor.

Then one day The Publishing Fairy knocked on my door.

“Yoo-hoo!” She flitted into the room on preposterously tiny wings, flinging eraser shavings like they were glitter. “Your writing group, The Penwrights, is putting together a collection of novellas and we’d like you to write one. You in?”

After a quick pinch to make sure I was awake—hey, I’m a writer and I daydream—I agreed.

Just like that, I was on the other side of the keyboard and writing on deadline. Jinkies! Fortunately, I am an editor, so I could shave a little time by skipping…

“Oh,” the PF said right before she typed -30- and left the room, “Everyone needs an editor. Remember that.”

“Right,” I said. Everyone but me, because I’m an editor.

The perfect manuscript

So, after I finished my story, “Big Love,” I dutifully sent it off to the editor, Linda Yezak, knowing that while she might find an occasional typo or missing word, extensive editing was not needed. It was close to perfect, I said all humble, as I tried not to break my arm patting myself on the back.

But—and I’m not sure exactly how this happened—when I received my manuscript back, there were edits. On every page.

No, really. The manuscript was full of them.

She called me “dash happy” and even questioned my parentage! Apparently, writing—like—William Shatner talks—is—a little—too much—style. And I guess I prefer the British spellings of certain words to the less colourful American spellings. So kill me.

But then it got worse.

Linda—bless her heart!—said I wrote a cliché. Or, maybe, several. Land o’ Goshen! That woman couldn’t see the forest for the trees. She left no stone unturned trying to ferret out clichés. In a nutshell, at the end of the day, even though she was bold as brass, Linda was right (that hurts) because two wrongs don’t make a right and two (or more) clichés don’t make great sentences. Am I right?

But she wasn’t done

A good editor walks the line between suggesting improvements and making improvements. In the following example, Linda suggested that I could do a better job of showing Rafe’s evolving feelings for Berly. She was right—again. Here’s the original:

He opened his file for another review of his research and was gripped again by her eyes in the IBJ portrait piece—as well as the playfulness of the pose. The photographer had shot her as Rosie the Riveter, only she had a hammer in her hands. It was cute. Very cute.

And then, from the final manuscript:

He opened his file for another review of his research and saw Timberly’s portrait again. Those eyes. So deep and sparkling with playfulness. The photographer had shot her as Rosie the Riveter, only she had a hammer in her hands. It was cute. And charming. 

In the first—“was gripped again by her eyes”—is narrative telling. The second—“Those eyes. So deep and sparkling with playfulness”—is deeper POV showing. The reader sees Berly’s eyes from Rafe’s point of view, not mine.

Linda, like any fine editor, took my story, in my voice, and showed me ways to improve it—make it stronger. That is the benefit of a great editor. And that is why—say it with me!—everyone needs an editor. Even me.

Click to tweet: Everyone needs an editor. Just ask Michael Ehret. #amwriting #WritersLife

Michael Ehret has accepted God’s invitation to write with Him and is also a freelance editor at In addition, he’s worked as editor-in-chief of the ACFW Journal magazine for the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), was editor-in-chief of the Christian Writers Guild, and he pays the bills as the Assistant Bookstore Coordinator for the Indianapolis Public Library. His novella, “Big Love,” appears in the collection Coming Home: A Tiny Home Collection.

He’s been married for 37 years to Deb and they have three children, one dog (a miniature Schnauzer named Baxter), and a granddog. He’s currently working on a new novel that WILL need editing.

Coming Home ~ A Tiny House Collection

Tiny houses are all the rage these days, but what can you do with something so small? Here are seven stories about people chasing their dreams, making fresh starts, finding love, stumbling upon forgiveness, and embarking upon new adventures in tiny houses. Travel with them around the country in this big novella collection.

Love is Sweeter in Sugar Hill: She has a tiny house. He lives in a mansion. She vows to charge a doctor with malpractice. His job depends on that doctor’s finances. Will love find a way?

Kayla’s Challenge: She was one “I do” short of marrying the man her pushy parents chose for her. Now, half a country away, she needs a tiny house to finally be free.

If These Walls Could Talk: Both claim to have inherited the same Queen Anne until an unexpected blessing changes everything.

First Love: Betrayed by her husband and desperate for healing, she can only move forward by going back home.

Dash of Pepper: His responsibilities tie him to the small town he loves, but her career plans will lead her to the big city. Will he cut his roots for her or will she clip her wings for him?

Big Love: Homelessness expanded her world and constricted his. Now she needs his help, but he only remembers the pain. Can they find big love in a tiny house?

The Light Holding Her: Friends since childhood. She’s being stalked. He’s in danger. Is their faith big enough to carry them through the trials into a deeper relationship?

Licky the Lizard by Melissa Henderson

Good morning, dear reader! Thank you for joining us on this lovely Saturday. I’m excited to have author Melissa Henderson with me this morning. Melissa is talking about the writing process and her children’s book, Licky the Lizard. Let’s begin with rituals.

Do you have any interesting writing rituals?

Melissa:  Most of my writing happens in the upstairs home office. A double window looks out to a pond across the street. Before writing begins, I pray and ask God to give me the words He wants me to share with the world.

What is Licky the Lizard  about?

Melissa: Licky the Lizard is about overcoming fears of the unknown. Based on my true life experience with lizards, I have learned not to be afraid of them because they are created by God, just like I am created by God. He loves all His creations.

He does love His creations! 🙂 What is your favorite part of the book?

Melissa:  My favorite part of the book is when the lady (who is somewhat based on my own personal experience) in the story pauses to consider how Licky feels. Licky is afraid of her and she is afraid of him. Through thinking about Licky’s feelings, the lady realizes she doesn’t need to be afraid.

Sounds nice.  Is there a message in your book you hope readers will grasp?

Melissa:  I hope readers will grasp the message that we are all created by God. There is opportunity to love and share love in every moment.

So true! Looking forward to the release. Where can readers find you online?

 Melissa:  Readers can find me at:

    Website and blog

Amazon-Licky the Lizard 



Click to Tweet: Melissa Henderson’s debut children’s book teaches you to overcome fear. #children #childrensbook @InspiredPrompt

 Licky the Lizard

Licky the Lizard is one nice lizard, and just like you and me, he’s one of God’s own creations. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget that we’re really all the same—because He created everything in our world. We feel afraid because of our differences. 

What happens when Licky the Lizard comes face to face with a lady who’s going in and out of her house? When the lady sees Licky, he causes her quite a fright! But guess what? Licky is also scared. Of her. They’re scared of each other! Then Licky and the lady remember that there is no need to be afraid. They were both created by God, and that’s what makes them very special. 
In Licky The Lizard, author Melissa Henderson offers parents, grandparents, and educators a tale that teaches young children a simple, yet important message: There is no need to fear any of God’s creatures because we are all created by Him—and He loves us all.

Melissa Henderson and her husband Alan live in coastal South Carolina. She was taught the love of reading and writing at an early age by her parents. Melissa continues to write Christian stories and also, enjoys writing her blog.

You can find her blog at

Let’s Chat with Two Christian Publishers

by Shirley Crowder

I am proud to introduce two “small”—perhaps in name recognition in some circles, but not in production of Christ-edifying books—Christian publishing houses you may not be familiar with but need to know about. I have close connections with both, and yes, I’m proudly partial to both of them!

I’m excited for you to “listen” as I chat with Jan Haley of Focus Publishing and Jim Holmes of Shepherd Press.

At the end of the interview you’ll find more info about Jan Haley /  Focus Publishing and Jim / Shepherd Press.

Let’s get started!

What advantages are there in publishing through a smaller Christian publisher?

Jan: If you find a publisher that has an established market in your writing target, you will be more likely to reach a successful audience. A successful, smaller Christian publisher has refined their niche market and there you will find your customers.

Jim: Working with a smaller Christian publisher does facilitate a higher level of intimacy with the staff there and yet also brings the benefits of professional editing, production, and things like marketing and distribution portals.

Trends in Christian publishing are ever changing. Are there any of which our readers need to know?

Jim: I guess there is the good and the not-so-good! On the positive side, book production is getting better and better. We have access to great software that enables better graphic production, nicer book layout and design, and some efficiencies that facilitate much better outcomes. Not so positively, some publishers are less discerning on what they will bring into print, and there is always the temptation to print and promote a book because of commercial rather than ministry priorities. I always like to encourage authors, whether established or would-be ones, that the publisher that will do best for them is the one that is informed by biblical standards and is committed to a God-glorifying approach in the whole process.

Jan: I like to keep a pulse on current social problems and publish biblical resources to help hurting and confused people and to offer hope. For us, that means providing biblical answers not found in psychology.  It is a priority that our books be 100% biblical. Christian publishers also need to help keep the church of Jesus Christ accountable for their response to the “trends” in our culture today.

If someone has a “really great” idea for a book, is there a process you recommend for developing that idea?

Jan: You must develop and write that “great” book before you send it to a publisher.  I would suggest starting with an outline, research what you want to say, and then begin to “flesh it out.”  After you have written a chapter, set it aside for a week or more and then re-visit it, editing and making changes as they become obvious.  For me, Scripture quotations must be absolutely accurate, for example.  If you quote something, footnote the source.  Pay attention to detail.

Jim: Test it out with a small focus group and measure the response!

What are some common mistakes authors make when working with a publisher and submitting a manuscript? AND/OR What would you have them do differently?

Jim: For anyone proposing a manuscript, the key thing to keep in mind is to state VERY succinctly what the book is all about.

Jan: An author really needs to seek the help of an editor who can help them determine whether they are staying on message or drifting off on “rabbit trails.”  Do that before you send the manuscript to a publisher.

What does your publishing house look for in a manuscript?

Jan: Because we are a small publishing house, we look to fill a counseling void, or at least a void in our catalog.  We have found that shorter “booklets” are very popular.  This is not surprising in our “McDonalds” culture.  We want our food fast and our answers fast.  We believe our large collection of booklets supply that desire.

Jim: We’re interested in writing projects that will glorify God in meeting needs and three criteria, as Tedd Tripp so well states, the text should be (a) gospel-driventhe grace of the gospel is not just for sinners; it is for saints, too. (b) The work should be heart focused. Lasting growth takes place as the heart is changed by grace. And, (c), the submission should be writing that will have a life-changing effect on readers.

What do you like best about your interactions with your authors?

Jim: It’s important, in my mind, to help authors express themselves in their own words, and yet in a medium that requires editorial development and very specific care. And I love teasing out how visual metaphors (as in cover designs and book typography) can help express these in practical ways, that are meaningful to the end users of the book once it is in print.

Jan: I know the depth of Bible study these men and women have completed to be in (mostly) counseling and pastoral situations, pointing people to God’s Word for hope and help with their struggles in life. I am more than honored and humbled to be part of their ministries, as they are part of ours.

How can our readers pray for you personally and your publishing house?

Jan: Pray that we can stay so close to the Lord that we may feel the “pulse” of what Christians need to help them grow spiritually.  Pray that God will continue to bless our efforts here so that more people in this generation will realize there is only one true source of hope and help in this world today.

Jim: Please pray for us in the ministry of Shepherd Press that we would be guided by the Lord in all matters and that we would stay faithful to Him in each detail of His calling to us. These are challenging days, and it is vital that we be sensitive to the needs and challenges of ministry the times in which He has called us to serve.

Click to Tweet: I loved learning how to work with “smaller” Christian Publishers, @focusresources1 and @shepherdpress, from @ShirleyJCrowder #publishing #amwriting

After you read about these publishers and their publishing houses, you will want to go to my blog: to find (As Paul Harvey would say) “The rest of the story.”

Jan & StanJan Haley

Jan says, “It has been amazing for me to look back and see how God has sent resources that would grow what I consider to be His Company and our ministry.  One book has led to another, and that to another and so on.”

Jan is the founder and owner.  She pretty much makes all the major decisions about the company and which resources to publish, editing as she reads. 

Jan says, “I am both humbled and excited about the quality of books we publish, knowing that as we depend on God through His Holy Spirit, He has brought the authors and resources to our door.  What a joy it is to be useful to the Kingdom.”

Visit: Focus Publishing

Follow Focus Publishing:
Twitter: @focusresources1
Facebook:  Focus Publishing   

JiJimHolmesm Holmes

Jim says, “I love to say that Shepherd Press is a small publisher with a big heart. The key point to make is that Shepherd Press is committed to producing books that are life changing, but with changes being driven from the heart, that is, a heartfelt response to the truths that are written in each book.”

 Jim’s role is a fairly broad-spectrum one. He has some oversight when it comes to submissions, and is also involved in several of the editing and production aspects, as well as new-idea development and strategic thinking.

Jim says, “It is stimulating work being involved with talented authors, and I love the interface with our cover designers and typesetters.”

Visit: Shepherd Press and Shepherd Press blog

Follow Shepherd Press:
Twitter: @shepherdpress
Facebook: Shepherd Press

The Write Course: 3 Minute Tips for the Beginning Writer Episode 3

Jennifer Hallmark here. Welcome to my You Tube series called “The Write Course: 3 Minute Tips for the Beginning Writer.”

**I had a bit of a glitch yesterday and had to remove the “unedited” episode I accidentally uploaded. If you happened to see it, I’m sorry. I hope you had a good laugh since I tend to say “pause” each time I make adjustments before editing. 🙂

It’s time to launch into the adventure. Every Thursday, on the Inspired Prompt blog, we’ll compare the writing journey to a road trip. We’ll discuss topics of writerly interest such as where to begin, charting your course, places of interest, and your destination.

I’ll share a practical tip at the end of each broadcast and we’ll have loads of fun on the way. Are you ready? Buckle your seat belt and let’s go!

Episode 3: Today’s topic is Launch into the Adventure: Why go? Just For Enjoyment.

Click to tweet: A brand new YouTube series for the beginning writer. Catch Episode 3 on the Inspired Prompt blog: Writing for Enjoyment. #amwriting #WritersLife


3 Questions Wednesday with Catherine Castle

Happy Wednesday! Today the Inspired Prompt welcomes multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle. We’re so happy you could join us. First question:

Can you describe yourself in three words?

Catherine:  I guess I’d say that I’m curious. I love learning about new things, different places, and I have tons of non-fiction, research books on my shelves. I’m also a loyal person. If you’re my friend, I have your back. And I’m outgoing.

A great combination for any writer. Now about travel…

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

Catherine:  My first choice would be the British Isles. I’d love to see England, Scotland, and Ireland. However, since my husband won’t leave the continental U.S. until he’s seen it all (and there’s no way I’d leave him behind), I’d have to buy an RV with the funds and tour the USA. There’s so much history to see here and every place would inspire a story. It’s happened to me already when we’ve been traveling.

What a great idea! Last question:

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

Catherine:  Wow, this is a hard one! While I’ve always been into music, I’ve never thought of songs in terms of a life theme. They’ve been entertainment for me or praises to sing to the Lord. The song that’s coming to mind right now—probably because my husband and I recently sang it as a duet in our church and I just wrote a devotion that references the song—is Josh Turner’s “Me and God.” God has been a big part of my life ever since I was a child, and I love the lyrics to “Me and God.” Because with Him there is nothing we can’t do.

Here’s the YouTube video of Josh Turner’s song “Me and God.”

Thanks for hosting me today, Jennifer.

We’re so glad you could stop in! Come back real soon…

Catherine: I’d like to give away a Kindle ebook (gifted through Amazon) of my award-winning sweet, contemporary romance, A Groom for Mama. The book just won the contemporary category in the Raven Awards sponsored by UnCaged Books, so I’m super excited to share it with a new reader.

 Click to tweet: Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle talks about writing, the British Isles, and a giveaway. #romance #amreading

A Groom For Mama

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

Buy link for A Groom for Mama.

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, theatre, and quilting. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances. You can find her award-winning books The Nun and the Narc and  A Groom for Mama on Amazon.

You can visit Catherine at her blog and website. She’s also on FacebookTwitter , Goodreads and Google+