Writing Gratitude Countdown (6): The Gift of a Professional Eye

A partially constructed ferris wheel against a blue sky with puffy white clouds.
Ferris Wheel In Progress. Dresden, Germany. © Laurel Decher, 2016.

This is the sixth post in my Writing Gratitude Countdown. As we gain more experience as writers, we learn to value different things.

Writing contests and pitching opportunities are adrenaline-driven chances to win the “Golden Ticket” of an agent or a publishing contract.

Friends, there are more writing adventures ahead!

A knowledgeable editor’s feedback can be life-changing in a completely different way. When you’ve been working on a project for a while and you just can’t get traction, there’s nothing better than skilled analysis delivered with tact. (Sometimes the tact isn’t absolutely necessary.)

I love reading books about the writing craft but it’s not always possible to see your own work clearly. Sometimes I’m feverishly fixing the subtext in a scene when the real problem is that I’ve mislaid my character motivations. That’s when I need a professional eye to help me out of the writing jungle.

That brings me to number six in my Writing Gratitude Countdown [sound the trumpets!]:

6. The Gift of a Professional Eye: the value of personalized expert advice.

Thank you to these generous editors who routinely offer prizes of the expert sort! Penniless writers everywhere call down blessings on you!

a) Kristine Asselin, a.k.a. the Query Godmother let me try out her query writing Mad-Libs-style template and critiqued my query. A fun way to get your query written!

She’s also the author of Any Way You Slice It, a YA novel with pizza, hockey, a determined heroine, and a cute boy. (Try it, you’ll like it.)

b. Ellen Brock, Professional Freelance Novel Editor has a series of videos on all aspects of novel-writing. She also gives away opening pages feedback during her Novel Boot Camp. The rest of the year, you can submit your first page and query for a critique.

c) Deborah Halverson gives away a free partial edit and a grand prize of a

Fully assembled ferris wheel against a blue sky.
Completed ferris wheel. Dresden, Germany. © Laurel Decher, 2016.

free full edit every year during Revision Week. (In 2016, Revision Week was in June.) At her website, DearEditor.com, she also answers writers’ questions year-round.


I won a partial edit and was blown away by her excellent, detailed, and entertaining feedback.

Thanks so much!


d) Sara Cypher, The Threepenny Editor gives away a free full edit every year in honor of the anniversary of her editing business. I didn’t win this prize, but she sent me a very encouraging e-mail. Maybe you’ll win this year’s: Enter by October 15, 2016.

I hope my editing contest experiences inspire you to take another step forward in your writing life.

Fully lit ferris wheel shining on a dark night. Reflections in the water.
Editors make your work shine. Ferris wheel at Dresden City Festival. © Laurel Decher, 2016.

Thank you so much to these brilliant editors. You shined light in the darkness!

Kristine Asselin, Ellen Brock, Deborah Halverson, and Sara Cypher.

And that’s my sixth installment of gratitude for my writing journey.

(The earlier posts are: 1. The Gift of Attention , 2. The Gift of Permission, and 3. The Gift of Hospitality, and 4. The Gift of Feedback, 5. The Gift of a Deadline.) More to come!

Please share your stories of eagle eyes who’ve rescued your work from the deleted folder.

Happy Writing!


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Laurel Decher

LAUREL DECHER lives on the outskirts of a mid-sized city in Germany, between a medieval chapel on St. James' Way and a boundary marker tree complete with scary face. It's a little surprising, since she expected to live in Vermont for the rest of her life. You just never know when adventure will call! She writes stories about all things whimsical, vegetable, or musical. When she's not lost, she can be found on Twitter and on her blog, This Is An Overseas Post. TROUBLE WITH PARSNIPS (Oct 2018) is her first book for young readers (ages 9-12) and the first Seven Kingdoms Fairy Tale. Photo: © Jan Decher.

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