Monthly Online eZine  
News And Views For Working Writers

 INside Scoop
 IN Her Own Write
 Pen IN Hand
 Write On!
 Screen & Stage
 Top 10 Resources
 Book Reviews
 Items Of INterest
 Global Offerings
 INside Services
 Bill The Bard
 The Writer At Work
 Games & Puzzles
 Classic eTexts
 Free Software
 IN Banners
 Who's IN
 What's IN
 Editorial Calendar
 Join IN's Team
 Contacting IN

IN Front Cover


Learn To Be A Better Journalist

Buy Classic Literature Collections

Acclaimed Screenplay Writing Software

Books On How To Write Fiction

Become A Well Paid Travel Writer

Vote daily and raise our ranking!

January, 2008

Coyote Morning

The Copy Editor’s Review
... and things that go bump against dreams
By  Lisa Lenard-Cook

Hot novelist Lisa Lenard-Cook was naturally nervous about the first reviews for her first novel, Dissonance
am one of those people who, when handed lemons, makes lemonade.


No, wait, not lemonade, lemon cake. Or, better still, those lemon bars — you know, the ones with the confectioner’s sugar sprinkled on top that melt in your mouth? Or… well, never mind.


Despite this inherent optimism, I was naturally nervous about the first reviews for my first novel, Dissonance. Sure, it had won a prize in manuscript, and yes, it had gotten some fine pre-publication blurbs. But, my agent assured me, “It’s those first reviews that really matter.”


Which meant, if those were less than stellar, my book would soon be found amongst the other orphans on the remainder tables I myself love to frequent because (let’s face it) most writers can’t afford to pay full price for all the books they read.


After an interminable wait of two weeks, my first review appeared in Library Journal. Here’s an excerpt: “Despite a formulaic ending, this gem of a debut novel… Hold on, hold on! Formulaic ending? That ending was an unexpected gift. It wasn’t at all what I expected, but when it arrived, it was as delightful as finding a satisfying conclusion at the end of someone else’s novel. Formulaic? You just try writing a novel, Madame Librarian.


Then Lemon Bar Voice stepped in. (One of the lovely things about being a novelist is how many voices coexist in your head. If you weren’t writing novels, you’d be giving Sybil a run for her money). “A gem of a debut novel,” said Lemon Bar Voice. “What a great blurb!” Lemon Bar Voice was right, of course, and the marketing department made sure that quote got right onto those promo postcards that were about to be printed.


The next review (other than those my friends and relatives, bless them, had written online at and Barnes & Noble) appeared in the Sunday edition of the Albuquerque Journal (my first bookstore event would be in Albuquerque the next evening). Here’s an excerpt:


 “Despite occasional lapses in grammar, such as ‘shrunk’ for ‘shrank’ this spare, well-written novel deserves an audience.” Shrunk for shrank? Wait — hadn’t my production editor and I discussed that very issue? Man, was she gonna be pissed!


Then I checked the byline. When I saw that the reviewer was a copy editor, the reference made perfect sense. After all, aren’t we admonished to “write what we know?” Of course a copy editor would focus on grammar, no matter how much the writer may have tried to change the world with prose.


Sufficiently reassured, I decided to read the review again. This time, I saw what came after the finger-wagging: “This spare, well-written novel deserves an audience.”


Now that’s a nice blurb, isn’t it? Too late for the postcards, but not for the always-in-revision press packet. And later the same day, a friend who works for the paper explained that copy editors don’t even get paid for their reviews; they toil for the byline. What writer wouldn’t empathize with that?


The same morning I read the copy editor’s review (now there’s a great title…), an op-ed by Clive James appeared in the New York Times, entitled, appropriately enough, The Good of A Bad Review.


Now, James was referring to really bad reviews, such as Dale Peck’s impaling of Rick Bragg in The New Republic. What was my (supposed) grammatical lapse compared to being called “the worst writer of his generation,” as Peck had christened Bragg?


But James’ main point was also well-taken, that “snarky” reviews (credit for this term goes to Heidi Julavits) often result in an effect contrary to the reviewer’s intent. Rather than discourage readers from buying the book, they instead make the reviewer look like the moustache-twirling villain and the author the humble working class hero that he (we!) is.


Plus, snarky reviews often sell more books. Hey, thanks, Madame Librarian! And thank you, Ms. Copyeditor!


Not only was it gratifying to read James’s essay a few minutes after reading my own snarky review, it gave me a certain perspective. By the time we’d finished breakfast, I couldn’t remember if I’d supposedly used shrunk for shrank or shrank for shrunk. The Shrank/Shrunk Review, I’d begun to call it.


Now there’s a great title…


Read an excerpt from Lisa Lenard-Cook's Dissonance.

IN Icon

Lisa Lenard-Cook’s novel Dissonance (University of New Mexico Press, 2003), which won the Jim Sagel Prize for the Novel in manuscript, has gone on (despite the copy editor’s review) to be short-listed for the PEN Southwest Book Award. In addition, it is a selection of NPR Performance Today’s Summer Reading Series and was the 2004 countywide reading choice for Durango-La Plata Reads. Her second novel, Coyote Morning (UNM  Press, 2004), was, like, Dissonance, a Southwest Book of the Year. Her website is 

Sign Up and Use Our New Forums! Voice Your Opinion! Discuss Our Content! Ask for Writing Assistance. Post Your Successes, Queries or Information Requests. Collaborate with Other Writers.

© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049

IN This Issue
Easy Readers
Write Angle
Writing Piffle
Remember The Reader
Making It Real
Out Of Order
Reality Suspension
Devilish Details

Support IN
Receive Free Gifts
$20.00 Voluntary Contribution
$35.00 Voluntary Contribution
$50.00 Voluntary Contribution

New Novelist Software

Effectively Manage Your List

Writers Digest 101 Site Award

Your Ad Here

Traffic Swarm For Writers

Hottest Books This Month!

Whose Books Are Turning Into Movies?
Bald Ego
Mouse Over To Pause

Writer’s Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their “themes.”

Double Vision
A writer’s life is paradox,
It’s more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poem’s through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

Read All Of Charles Ghigna's Poetry at

Our Own Banner Rotator System
Any banner seen below is either our own or one of our members.
Support the cause - click a banner.

Want Your 468x60 Banner Above? It's FREE For Newly Published Books

© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049
All Rights Reserved. Copying in any way strictly forbidden.
Our Disclaimer Is Based Upon McIntyre's First Law: "Under the right circumstances, anything I tell you may be wrong."