What Makes an Editor, Well, an Editor?

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August brings more than just scorching temperatures that belong in one of the 9 circles of hell: it also brings SLM! And, with that comes CONTEST WINNERS, a NEW PUSHCART PRIZE NOMINEE, and….(wait for it)…Santino Prinzi’s Perceptions Theme! 

The other day, Melissa sent me a quote about writers that said something along the lines of: “Writers who write for an audience aren’t writers. It’s the ones who do it, who write with no audience in mind, who are true writers.”

If we were all singers, let’s say, we’d be upset at a lot of the overnight successes who use auto-tune, making tons of money, while the rest of us “singers” who possess an otherworldly talent and beautiful voices sit in a line, jump through hoops and remain unheard.

We’re all here to be a part of such a huge movement within literature, something bigger than any of us alone–where Melissa and I actually e-mail you back real words that we’ve typed. And then we go on to tell you what might make your work even better.

We’re real. We’re here. And we aren’t going anywhere. 

Get inspired today–know and understand that the more you write, the better it gets.

I want to propose to you an activity, an experiment: Write a ten-page story. 

The next morning, read it again from beginning to end, fixing things where you see the need for improvement. Continue this every day for an entire week. 

At the end of the week, I want you to compare your first copy to your final copy. Tell me how the activity went and share your work with me.  

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Aren’t people sick of reading about real housewives? A book that she didn’t even write? A real book sticks with you–it becomes your own personal mental movie that you can’t stand turning off. You can’t wait to get back to it.

That’s what we need more of in contemporary literature–danger, sexuality, thrills, humanity, struggles–laughs and cries. After my best friend of 13 years (Marisela Mitchley, who co-edited my book, Unhinged, with me) finished my book, she told me that it stuck with her for days. It made her cry, it made her laugh–and she didn’t see the plot twists coming. At all.

When she said that to me, so casually and off the cuff, I cried I was so happy.

There are charlatans in this business–but we’re coming to speak all of our truths and to take our business back. It’s going to be one hell of an August (and not just because it feels like hell outside)!

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Stand down, reality stars of America–(psst–your incessant backstabbing and screaming is actually depressing us.) I don’t want to read your book written by a ghostwriter. I want to read a real book.

ONTO OUR WINNING THEMES! (I have not contacted the winners beforehand, so check this out!!)

  1. Jeffrey H Toney, PhD’s EPIPHANY (October)

2. Paul Beckman’s, it began in an elevator… (October)

3. Carrie Redway’s Drought (November)

4. Carrie Redway’s Ancestral Gems (November)

5. Ani Keaten’s Photograph (December)

6. Penny Barratt’s AMBIGUITY (December)


Please congratulate our contest winners and begin submitting to these themes as soon as you have the inspiration to do so. All of our web site “Submissions” guidelines will be updated after this letter to reflect the new themes and recognize our winners.

One more exciting winner! And our new Pushcart Prize nominee is….drum-roll please…JEFFREY H TONEY, Phd! He won our newly empty slot for his breathtaking, mold-shattering 100-word story collection, which I will be publishing alongside this letter. Please congratulate him and take some time out of your day to read and let yourself become engulfed in the stories.

It’s what writing is all about. It’s about loving what you do and taking the time to love what others do; not tearing each other down. It’s about lifting each other up.

“A boss who leads without a loyal following isn’t leading–they’re just taking a walk.” 

I read this earlier and mulled it over a few thousand times in my head. When Melissa officially came on board in June, I made sure she knew that she was a partner, collaborator and a strength; she was welcomed with open arms.

No matter how bad I’ve been feeling, how down I can get, it never hurts to get a friendly tap on the shoulder to remind me why I’m doing this. And to remember that “success isn’t a place.” 

What we all bring to the table is bravery. The courage to write our own stories, our own truths, and attach our names to them and share them with the world.

If that’s not mold-shattering, then I don’t know what is.

Keep on keeping on, guys. Because Melissa and I will. Even as we balance teaching (Melissa) and graduate school (me). We can do this. And if you have doubts, just remember that even Van Gogh half-assed a few things. For starters, he only cut off one of his ears. (This is a joke.) So when you feel down, at your lowest, or misunderstood, think of Van Gogh. And think of how much you’ve accomplished. (And you did it all without cutting off an ear. Or two.)


Peace and love,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody


3 Replies to “What Makes an Editor, Well, an Editor?”

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