Tag Archives: Berkley Books

Why I love being an editor

red pen2A Hollywood legend says that Fred Astaire’s first screen test led to this critique: “Can’t act. Balding. Can dance a little.” I remember this when I think about my career as a professional writer–it’s all just a matter of the right people seeing your work. And that’s how I feel about being an editor/manuscript doctor for other writers–just because your book might need work, that doesn’t mean it can’t eventually shine!

fred astaireLet’s assume you’ve just spent weeks (if you participated in NaNoWriMo), months or maybe even years to finally complete your book. Now, you want to get it out there, to agents and publishers, as quickly as possible. But you know it needs some more work.

Problem is, you’re tired of looking at the damned thing. You can’t keep track of what your characters have done or should do. It’s too big. You have continuity issues and some scenes feel flat. You need a fresh pair of eyes.

snoopy dark and stormy nightAsking friends and family is one idea, but you can’t always expect complete honesty from them–they don’t want to hurt your feelings if (when) they have to tell you that your book isn’t yet perfect. Plus, you may be putting them in a tough position. This is a lot of time and effort to invest, as a favor. And, most importantly, they probably don’t know what an editor looks for.

That’s what I do for you. I’m a professional, fresh pair of eyes. I recognize when “show, don’t tell” becomes an issue. I notice when a character or dialog is unrealistic or underdeveloped. I can see when you were rushing a scene to get it over with, so you could get on to the next one.

Why else you need a pro:


Image source: my actual desktop

It takes a lot of time and focused concentration to read your work-in-progress. It’s unpolished and, frankly, sometimes hard to understand. The writer has left out important details and some of the sentences are clumsy. Some of the prose is too dense.

This is not a judgment–it’s simply the nature of the beast. We all do it.

Meantime, it’s also the editor’s job to pay careful attention to the plot and continuity, to learn your characters and watch for spelling, punctuation and grammar errors. Your manuscript’s issues take up space in the professional editor’s mental cloud and receive front burner attention, just like when you were writing it.

Why I love being an editor:

I love being an editor because I am really good at helping other writers get through this frustrating aspect of creating a solid manuscript. It helps both of us to become better writers, because we learn from one another.

rosieI love to encourage my clients to reach higher and keep getting better at their craft. It takes a lot of guts to actually finish writing a book. Only someone who has accomplished this feat can understand what it means, and how difficult it can be to ask for help, without knowing what kind of cruel critique we may receive in return.

I know how hard writers can be on themselves and that they sometimes need a little hand-holding. Being a writer is one of the most absurd, yet rewarding things one can do. And sometimes we need a little help from a professional friend.

How to hire me:

I work through a company called Book Marketing International. The advantage to hiring me through BMI, as opposed to direct freelance, is that your manuscript will pass through the hands of Linda Langton, a successful NY literary agent.

Because Linda knows what publishers are looking for (they want publication-ready submissions, these days), she can tell you exactly how much work your manuscript needs. The bonus is, if your book is good, she’ll help you to get it sold.

Tell her Lisa Bonnice sent you. 😉



lisa author shot

Lisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author and editor/manuscript doctor (and former stand-up comedienne—is there anything she can’t do???). Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first in the series is Be Careful What You Witch For!, a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife, mom and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her.




Fear of Our Father update

It’s been a while since I posted an update on my newest book, Fear of Our Father—a true story of abuse, murder, and family ties, co-written with Stacey M. Kananen to be published by Berkley Books, April 2013. Maybe it’s time to do that.

Stacey is the survivor of years of heinous abuse at the hands of her father. When her older brother confessed to murdering both parents, he decided to take her down with him and she was arrested and tried for murder. Fear of Our Father tells the harrowing story of how she survived.

The original title was Sink or Swim, but Berkley suggested Fear of Our Father and we saw the wisdom in that title change. It’s a little more gruesome than we had in mind, but it certainly tells the story better than our working title.

Right now, we’re working on rewrites with our editor, gathering author photos and approving the cover design. Once the manuscript has been completely edited, Berkley’s legal team will give it a thorough once-over and then we’re on our way to the actual publishing process.

I never thought of myself as a “true-crime” author, and that’s not how we envisioned the book being published, but that’s the genre that Berkley has chosen for us, and so it is what it is. Many people still think Stacey got away with murder. I know that she is innocent. This book is intended to tell her side of this incredible, mind-bending story.

It seems that the Universe is on her side, because things are going very well for the book. We have a foreword written by Stacey Lannert, and two famous best-selling authors have agreed to write promotional blurbs for us. (I don’t want to name them until that’s a fait accompli.) In addition, the BBC documentary that featured Stacey’s story, America’s Child Death Shame, has been nominated for an Emmy award!

Other huge news is brewing, but we’re not at liberty to discuss it yet, so watch this blog for the big reveal in the next couple months! In the meantime, you can pre-order your copy of the book today, on Amazon.com.

The sequel begins

A couple years ago I wrote a book called Be Careful What You Witch For!, which  was intended to the be first in a series about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife, mom and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic fairy assigned to assist and educate her.

I started working on Book Two, but then got sidetracked by another project, a “true crime” book I co-wrote with Stacey M. Kananen, which is going to be published by Berkley Books in April 2013 (the working title was Sink or Swim, but the actual title is still being decided upon by the publisher–I’ll let you know what it is as soon as I know!). Well, that book has been put to bed, and I find myself with itchy fingers.

So, I’m officially saying hello to Lola and Twink again, and getting back to work on the next book in her series, tentatively titled Shaman-a My House. In it, Lola decides to take some classes in shamanism/soul retrieval at a “New Age” bookstore and, in her naivete, is conned by a trickster spirit from the other side of the veil who is determined to imprison Lola’s soul.

Meantime, she becomes friends with Madeline LaRue, the transvestite antique store owner from Book One, and is dismayed when Madeline falls in love with an obnoxious man who Lola has dubbed “the Tennis Jerk,” due to his annoying habit of screaming and grunting whenever he swings his racket at the tennis court across the street from Lola’s house.

Lola and Twink spend a lot of time on the other side of the veil, trying to untangle Lola’s soul from the web cast by the soul stealer. They must figure out clues and symbols left for them by both naughty and nice spirits, while Lola struggles, as usual, to maintain a balance in her home life, with her eye-rolling husband, Chuck, and her extremely teenaged daughter, Amanda.

Plenty of laughs and hijinks are guaranteed, as Lola and Twink once again find themselves in a complicated, crazy mess. I can’t wait to find out how it ends!

And, of course, here’s you some dogs (I love the one on the lounge chair who couldn’t be bothered to come and bark at us as we drove by!)

The Winds of Change bring big news!

Once of my favorite scenes from the movie Monster’s Inc. is when Mike Wazowski and his arch-nemesis Randall talk about the Winds of Change.

Last week Jeff and I were drawn outside by the sight of a brilliantly lit double rainbow. (Cameras never do a rainbow justice, do they?) We stood there, gazing in awe at its beauty when the wind kicked up and almost knocked us off our pins. I said, “Do you hear that? It’s the winds of change.” Jeff responded, appropriately, with his line from the script (this wasn’t our first time quoting this scene).

They really were the winds of change. This week in particular has been filled with transitions—BIG ones! Check this out. All in one week:

  1. My job ended because the company that Stacey (my co-author, Stacey M. Kananen) and I work for is being “restructured,” for lack of a better word.
  2. Jeff started a new job, after being one of the unemployed multitudes for way too long.
  3. The BBC documentary on child abuse which featured an interview with Stacey is completed and part of it is viewable online. (This is the documentary I talked about in a previous blog, when we traveled to Washington DC for the interview with BBC reporter Natalia Antelava.)
  4. Last, but definitely not least, I can finally make the big announcement I started teasing about a month ago. Stacey and I have been offered a publishing contract with Berkley Books, publisher of such authors as Tom Clancy, Nora Roberts, Dean Koontz and many others!

There are a few more changes that I won’t mention here, but suffice to say that all of us are breathless with how everything has come to head at once. Stacey and I are now free to work on the book and building the Amnesty for Abuse program! All it took was for the winds to shift, to blow away the clouds which were behind us as we grinned at the rainbows!

Onward and upward!