Mae Clair’s Editor Spotlight: Calisa Rhose

Happy Wednesday! It’s a special day today that has me completely jazzed. I have the honor of introducing my friend and Lyrical Press sister, Calisa Rhose. Not only is she an awesome writer, but she’s an editor too. I asked her to share a post from an editor’s perspective and she came through with an awesome look from the other side of the submission. So, if you’ve ever wanted insight from an editor’s perspective, settle in, kick back and check out what she has to say. Take it away, Calisa!


Aw, Mae–thanks for having me on your wonderful blog! I thought I’d share a few of my editor pet peeves with your readers.

I don’t know about any of you, but when I first began submitting manuscripts (mss) to editors, I felt like I was subbing to the gods. Those oh-so unattainable and magical beings held MY career in the palms of their all-knowing hands. To say I was highly intimidated is putting it mildly. LOL I remember the first time I spoke with an editor on the phone. My voice shook, I clenched the phone so hard my fingers hurt and I wanted to sit down and pace at the same time! I was terrified I was screwing my book’s one chance at being published because I had deigned to impose on the upper realm where simple, tawdry writers, like me, were prohibited to enter.

Guess what? She was very friendly and answered my questions and made me realize she’s JUST A PERSON with a job. No longer was I afraid of editors. In fact, from that moment on, I decided I needed to be an editor! I don’t know why. Just had to. And now…I am. πŸ™‚

And I’ll share a secret– Having another’s’ life work, their future as a writer in the palm of my hand, is not all it’s cracked up to be! It can be stressful to think a rejection could be the last straw for some poor thing. Will my “R” cause someone to put their laptop away permanently? Cause irreparable damage to some soul as the R strikes evilly at their eyes? If it does, then she wasn’t meant to be a writer, in my opinion. But still, I hate the thought. But a rejection hurts no matter how sugar coated it may be wrapped.

First of all–though I am a writer, I’m an editor, too, and I love helping aspiring–or even published– authors hone their craft. If you’ve ever read Home, my novella from The Wild Rose Press, at the end is my author bio. One line says “She intends to nurture…” and that’s my goal, and this –Β ( and continue to grow as an author). I have dreamed of helping other writers and this is one way I can. I also have a critique group, or two, but as an editor I hope to do more. Even if your manuscript (ms) needs work–some might need a LOT of work πŸ˜‰ –I’m in a position to try to help that writer sell. That sale may not be with me–but as long as the author can take some gems away from me that betters their work, if she/he learns something of value, then my goal is met. Yes, I would rather contract every writer’s book, but realistically–that’s not possible.

As writers, we do understand how badly you want to get published, to get “The CALL” (which is mostly emails now in the new age of technology). We GET it. So, I’ll be sharing a few ways you can make sure I DON’T feel bad. Believe it or not, editors DO NOT live for the thrill of rejecting any writer’s work. πŸ˜€

I want you to know we editors are really earth-bound– bleed red, and change jobs–just like you. Most, but not all, editors are also writers and some work outside the home, too, while trying to juggle both jobs just like you do/might. So what makes us different? We can get you a contract you might not otherwise be able to get.

One way we are able to do this is- YOU have to follow publisher guidelines.

You have to format your mss according to the pub house you are targeting.

Fear the mighty red pen! LOL

Write a book that draws us in

Write a book WELL- Study your craft and live it as you write

And above all- work WITH your editor. Tell her/him why you see things your way when they suggest a change on something you would rather not alter (be sure it’s written/researched correctly before balking on a change). Try to find a happy medium, a compromise. The editor is trying to help you write the best book you can, but you need to be open to change.

Now, I’m not saying the editor is always right. It’s your story, your characters–that puts YOU in charge of the end result. Editors can be wrong (though, of course, I never am! πŸ˜† ), but so can the writer. Work together as a partnership and between you, I promise you’ll get a wonderful story out of it in the end and a contract.

Yes, with self-publishing you won’t need me and my expertise to get published. That doesn’t mean you don’t need an editor at all. Have you read some of those self-published books out now? That IS NOT a dig at the writer’s work, but an example of why every author does need an editor, another set of fresh eyes. Someone to help you write the best crafted book possible since you’ll be hoping and expecting people to spend their hard earned money to support your craft. It’s only fair to give them what they pay for. A well written book–and an editor can help you get there. I don’t know about all of you who choose to self-publish, but I want to myself one day, and I want to present readers with my best book, because I WANT them to tell others and to buy my other books. I want to sell work I can be proud of because it’s a memorable AND written-great story. I don’t want to be remembered because it’s THAT horribly crafted read.

Okay- I promised pet peeves. Here they are.

#1- I do not want to, nor will I, write your book for you. If the story is full of fillers and unnecessary wording the writer can easily remove/replace with more creativity and imagination, or by running it through a search to locate and delete overused and abused words, if it’s filled with typos and punctuation mistakes–why should I/an editor try to fix something a writer won’t fix themselves before submitting it?

A manuscript WITHOUT all of these — This is what it means to POLISH before submitting. It’s a basic requirement. You spent hours, weeks and months writing that baby, you love it and want to see it in print, even Eprint. So, why wouldn’t you take the extra care to be as sure as you can of its success?

#2- Well- #1 is really my only pet peeve worth mentioning. LOL Do your part BEFORE asking me to do mine! J But I will add a second pet peeve. Don’t be upset at a rejection if you didn’t do everything to prevent it first.

Thanks Mae! I loved being here today!

Calisa Rhose
~ Contemporary/Paranormal author
~ Independent editor
~ References: Mackenzie CrowneWhere Would You Like Your Nipple? A guide into the abyss of breast cancer with humor and hope Β (see her comments here)

64 thoughts on “Mae Clair’s Editor Spotlight: Calisa Rhose

  1. Great point about polishing your work in advance. It should be common sense, but based on your comment, it happens all too often. Thanks, Mae, for having Calisa on your blog today. It’s good to get different perspectives.


    • Hi, Kitt. Thanks for dropping by and checking out Calisa’s post. I was really excited to have her share her perspective. I’m sure it will help many writers, regardless of what point they are in their career!


    • Thanks for stopping to meet me, Emma. Just remember, all editors may see things differently. That, in my opinion, is why one editor will require an author do things one way, and the next editor wants it another. Just when you think you have them figured out, a third will go a different way still. This is just my views and I don’t pretend to speak for all editors (except about polishing your ms-EVERY editor wants that- no doubt). πŸ™‚


  2. Hi Kitt. You wouldn’t believe what some will submit as polished. LOL I have a healthy fear my mss are never polished enough so by the time I finally submit anything. The end results can be disastrous in that too, so be careful not to kill the story trying to edit it perfectly. Thanks for stopping by.


    • Calisa (got it right this time!), as both house and independent editor, I’ve found *polishing* takes on a whole new definition to some. After putting together what I thought was a clear-cut description of the different levels/types of editing, e.g. content, line, copy, etc., in order to determine pricing, I hung out my shingle. Assured by one author client that all the ms required was some polishing (partially my fault…I requested/read the first three chapters), many months later I was still polishing my fingers to the bone. Lesson well learned.
      As for nurturing, for a time I quoted a line from Stephen King’s 11/22/63 under my signature: “Artistic talent is far more common than the talent to *nurture* artistic talent.” I’ve since deleted it because I decided 1) doubtful it’s true, and 2) my excuse for finding my niche (happily, I might add) in editing rather than pursuing a writing career. Truly, I do so love what I do.
      Terrific interview, Calisa. Thanks, Mae, for having her on your great blog.
      Jodi aka Joelle Walker


      • Hi, Jodi. Many thanks for sharing that. I’m happy you found your niche even if the road to reach it wasn’t completely smooth. It’s amazing what we learn along the way when we venture into new arenas.

        I’m so glad you stopped by to visit and join in the discussion. And I’m thrilled you like the blog πŸ™‚


  3. I have a critique group that comments on plot flow and organization, characters, etc., and after that I have a friend who is a retired newspaper editor look at it for typos, spelling, etc., and then I have spellcheck and the result is that I pick up the completed, printed, “out-there” book and still find mistakes! But hopefully fewer than if I hadn’t gone through the process. Thanks for letting us see the other side of submitting.


    • That happens Sandy. No edit is perfect, but we hope to catch as many oopses as possible. I’ve seen books by the big traditional publishers that printed looking like an amateur edited it. You just have to stay diligent with your own work at those times…and/or request a new editor. πŸ™‚ You want to make certain you and your editor can work as a team above all else. Thanks for sharing Sandy.


    • I think every author dreads those mistakes that slip through but, with a good editor/writer team, hopefully they’re kept to a minimum. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read through my own work only to find something I missed on the first gazillion passes. I agree with you, Sandy ~ far fewer mistakes than if you hadn’t taken such care with your ms and worked with CPs and an editor. Great point!


      • I critiqued a book a while back that the author had about seven others read before I got it, one was an editor (not one contracting it though). The author had switched all to first person while writing it and changed it all to third person to publish. After all those people, I still found a couple of areas that needed touchups, but there were two full paragraphs mid-book they all missed, still in first person. She was set to self publish it the next day and I wasn’t sure I’d finish my crit in time, but we thought that would be ok if not since the others had been thorough. πŸ™‚ Just goes to show you one more set of eyes can’t hurt.


  4. Nice post Calisa! I had to giggle about thinking editors as Gods. I work with a lot of docs and nurses and for the longest time I held them up above the highest tier. But then after awhile I realized they are just peeps too…doing a job that they are trained and schooled in.

    Anyway, sorry to babble, but you know how I am! lol Enjoyed the tidbits about the inside of your editor’s room!


  5. Writers can “think” their mss are polished, but so often our eyes see what our minds want to be there. I’m agented for my books, and she does a hard edit of them before she begins “shopping it out.” Editors need to do very little with those projects. But the novellas (short stories), I submit on my own and, ohhhhhhh my, the editing they require is more severe. An extra set of eyes, a knowlegable set of eyes, means a lot.


    • So true. My eyes know what ‘should’ be so when I proofread I see it right, even if it’s wrong. It’s easy to spot those things in anothers’ work, but harder to do your own. I’m in two crit groups and if I have trouble on a scene, both groups are likely to see that scene. My theory with that is, more is definitely more! πŸ™‚ Nice to see you here, Vonnie!


      • I completely agree with both of you on this one. I know the work in my head so I often don’t see the goofs on the screen. I just started working with two new CPs who are wonderful at catching things I’ve overlooked. And, of course, my editor at Lyrical is the best.:D What a difference that makes!


  6. wonderful advice! I’m a culprit, too – my brain sees what I intended (or what I know from developing in the backstory) and not always what is on the page. I’ve found printing the MS out when I’m editing helps or, if I have to work on the computer, changing the font size and color can help me spot problem areas. But my editor is the BEST catch of all. πŸ™‚


  7. Great post and excellent advice for any writer, traditionally published, e-published, self-published, or any mix of these. I’ll definitely heed it! Now then, back to writing and resurrecting my recently deceased blog …


  8. Good words of advice, and I thoroughly believe editors make our books better. As they say – sometimes we need to kill our babies (remove scenes etc). It part of the territory. Thanks for being an editor. πŸ™‚ It’s a tough job. Oh, and you know how I feel about Home, right? Loved it!


  9. Hi D.B. It really doesn’t matter how you plan to publish, if the editing isn’t clean sales will be disastrous. Good luck with your blog. Thanks for stopping by! I’m glad it’s useful to you. πŸ™‚


  10. Nice to meet you Calisa. And I love your new look on your blog. It was great to see Weathering Rock, the house and the book over there yesterday!

    I love your tell-it-lie-it-is style. Editors must have little time for sugar-coating. Thanks for being straight-forward about what an author needs to do BEFORE a mss gets to you. Helpful advice!


    • Thank you for the compliments on my site! I’m so glad this post was helpful, Jessi! I tend to be blunt and have to often edit my editing comments. LOL If you ever have questions about digging deeper into this, feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to offer more. πŸ™‚


  11. Hi Calisa,

    Nice to hear an editor’s point of view. I hear similar comments from another friend of mine who’s also an editor. Polish, polish, polish. Good post.


    • I’m glad to help clear that up Alicia. One other thing, for me at least, if you have questions–whether during edits or even before submission– I’d rather you email and ask me than take a chance and make a mistake. πŸ™‚ Maybe I’m not like other editors in this, but even working for Lyrical Press as I do (yes, that is a promo op), I’d rather get questions that prevent a problem, rather than ignore the potential issue. Thanks for coming out to play. πŸ™‚


  12. Wow, loads of comments here today. Congratulations, Calisa, on a fabulous post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I couldn’t agree more. Thank you so much for sharing your pet peeves. Your new site looks great too. Superb.

    Mae, I want to steal this post. πŸ™‚ What a great guest you’ve had on today. I dropped over to Calisa’s revamped site yesterday and checked out what you said on Weathering Rock. I loved seeing the picture of the house. We just don’t have homes like this in New Zealand–they come from an era before New Zealand was even settled.

    Okay, enough scribbling of my thoughts. Catch ya later girls.


    • Hi, Joanne. Wasn’t Calisa’s post great? Such insight and tips valuable to writers in any stage of their career. And I’m glad you enjoyed my post yesterday on Calisa’s blog. It’s so strange . . . I think of the U.S. as beingincredibly young in terms of world history but forget that New Zealand is even younger. You might not have a lot of historic homes but you’ve got that postcard-perfect scenery. What I wouldn’t give to visit!

      Thanks for visiting with Calisa and me today! πŸ™‚


    • LOL Thanks for the compliments Joanne! I’m still getting used to the new colors on my site, but I do think I love it! I’m glad you got something useful from this post. πŸ™‚ I agree, Mae was a fabulous guest on The Ranch yesterday! I want that house! LOL Thanks for visiting with us.


  13. I follow a few editors/agents on social media and I can sense them going into defensive mode in relation to NaNoWriMo, expecting an influx of post nano submissions from wannabes who think it is enough to have finished something with a beginning a middle and an end without understanding that all they have done is write a rough draft. Polish, set aside, come back with fresh eyes and then polish again…and again…


    • EXACTLY! Thank you Alison. I don’t like to get on Twitter, or anywhere, and spread dread, but I will reject that ms as quick as any of the ones who do. I’m Nanoing and I know what I have to do. It’s a LOT of work, but won’t it be worth it if it lands a contract instead of a rejection? Thanks for your input. πŸ™‚


  14. I follow a few editors/agents on social media and I can almost sense them cringing in anticipation of an avalanche of post nanowrimo submissions. Nano is fine but what some wannabes don’t seem to understand is that while they have written something that has a beginning a middle and an end, all it is a rough draft. It’s the skeleton on which to hang their story. I advocate the “jelly” method of polishing. Leave it to “set” between polishes and come back to it with fresh eyes. Yes, it takes time but time creates the most precious stones, doesn’t it?


    • Excellent point, Alison. It’s amazing how different something looks with distance and time. It’s so critical to let it sit and revisit with fresh eyes Thanks so much for visiting and commenting!.


  15. This is great information — thanks for sharing! I love the insights editors have given me about my stories, and it’s exciting when they help me clarify something, or have me dig deeper to bring out more of what I was trying to accomplish in the first place. At first it’s a little nervewracking. But boy does it feel good to see the end result!


    • I’m a digger. πŸ™‚ If you have a nice scene, I want it to POP and shine and I’ll nit pick until I get it if I think the author is up to the challenge. There are some, that no matter how you encourage and nudge, they just won’t or can’t get to that deep pov and that’s ok, as long as they can maintain their pov and not tell the story. πŸ™‚


  16. Okay…I hope this isn’t too long…

    First, THANK YOU MAE for having an editor write a post. I often look on the web for editor blogs but am not always successful finding articles that give advice I’m interested in. This was fascinating to read.

    Next, thank you Calisa for taking the time to write here for us. I am an aspiring indie author but I lack crit partners or a group and I do not know any editors, and so I have considered the idea of submitting to a house and (provided the story was accepted) seeing what having a ms edited is like. If I then decide to work on my own as an indie I would take away valuable insight from the experience.

    When I write something I read it aloud (like Mae does). I put it down and come back to it days later (several times) and that does catch a lot of mistakes (and still some slip by!)

    I also suffer from terrible performance anxiety and sometimes ruin what was perfectly fine with over-editing. I have the big fear of the red pen and that an editor would see some mistake and think that I am stupid. I constantly tell myself that every author big and small has their mss edited…and then I try to breathe LOL!

    Last, I am going to bookmark your blog. Unlike some I have read, you are down to earth and embody the qualities I hope I would find in an editor.

    Thank you, and sorry this was so long.


    • Hi, Cadence. It’s always nice to see you visiting. I thought this article would interest you as I know you’re working toward indie publication and often seek out editor blogs. As far as crit partners, from my own experience, I can say they are pure gold. I highly recommend finding 1-2 good ones and developing a rapport. You’d be surprised what they catch that slips past.

      I’m glad you’re bookmarking Calisa’s blog. Her ranch is comfy, inviting and she always has a great topic to share or a writer to spotlight. And yes, she is wonderfully down to earth as well as knowledgeable. I’m glad you had a chance to meet her! πŸ™‚


    • Hi Cadence. WOW! Thanks for all the nice compliments! I’m not worthy. LOL (remember those gods I mentioned? lol)

      As Mae said- a crit group, or even one or two partners, are gold and free. Indie or not, it helps to have those extra eyes before publishing. Of course, subbing to a house is an option too. I caution you though. If I understood you, you want to (maybe) submit a ms just to get feedback? You can do that, wait 4 weeks to six months for it…if it comes. A lot of houses simply reject with a form letter and you’ve spent all that time you could have been working on it, and getting feedback from crit partners, for nothing in return. I suggest you watch for editors doing pitches, putting out open calls, contests and such and try to get an editor’s attention that way. If nothing else comes of it, and it may still take months for results, you’ve at least gotten the attention of one/possible feedback and avoided the slush pile.

      Over editing is as deadly to a new writer as under editing. Be careful to keep to the facts and necessary prose and cut the rest. I go over a list of over used words with every ms I write and do a search and delete on them. Words like that, was, over, only, just, had, has, have been, and…the list goes on.

      You can go to sites that also give you lists of verbs and verbs to replace them with. I value my list. Look/ed/s becomes gaze, stare, watch, study, or any number of others to liven up prose and give it bounce and make it interesting. Be careful not to use words that might not suit a character though. You don’t want a tomboy saying or thinking flowery things about a man. Or a rough biker talking/thinking like a chef. He’ll come off gay! LOL

      As for the red pen- editors expect mistakes. Yes, we EXPECT them. From best selling or aspiring authors- that’s why we’re here at all. That’s why editors who write have editors! Writers make mistakes. My personal theory on this is that as the creator we are more interested in telling the story than how we tell it. Of course it needs to be complete with a beginning-middle-end format, but we forget to notice the technical part. That’s also why we have critters and editors. LOL It’s not a bad thing, but you really have to go back through and add/delete elements that hurt your story. Because in the end IT’S YOUR STORY.

      Thanks and I hope this helps a little. Thanks for coming by. πŸ™‚


  17. Thank you so much for hosting my spotlight, Mae! It’s been great fun and I hope I helped someone today feel a little more confident about editors and submissions, or rather what may be expected from and in them. Hugs to my wonderful hostess! πŸ˜€ Thanks to all the wonderful visitors who welcomed me so warmly.

    Feel free to check out my author website and say hi.


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