Writing, Editing, and Reading: September 21, 2015 Edition

manuscript critique of books, with beer

Photo © Keisuke Hoashi and Kristen Havens. All rights reserved.

Last week, I worked on a magazine pitch, website updates (my own), short fiction, and poetry. This week. . .


I’m finalizing an agreement to write 16 pages of short copy for a health-related website.

I’m also revising a short story and several poems while getting back encouraging rejection letters from literary magazines. Pro Tip: If you get a form letter saying something like, “This story isn’t quite right, but we like your writing, please submit again,” pin it to a cork board over your desk. The growing pile is a daily reminder that you’re on the right track–and also a reminder that you really do need to submit to that publication again.


Since finishing my last batch of career content for a client, I’ve had my copywriter’s hat on, creating website content for health companies. That’s one of the joys of freelancing–no two weeks are exactly the same.

If you need a professional bio, a LinkedIn profile, or an application essay critiqued or edited, please contact me. Career content edits are thoroughly enjoyable, and my clients usually feel the same way by the end of the process. (Here are some testimonials.)


Perfidia by James Ellroy for a book club. Hard-boiled crime is not something I’d normally pick, which is why I voted for it–one needs to stretch now and again.

I’m also picking my way through a couple issues of The New Yorker and was impressed by this eerie short story, “In the Act of Falling”, by Danielle McLaughlin. Here’s an interview where she talks about what it looked like in earlier drafts.

— Kristen

Writing About and Reading: August 31, 2015 Edition

I try to update this log on a weekly basis, but I had a minor hitch–hackers have been attacking my site by trying to guess my password, which triggered my security software into locking me out. Repeatedly.

My excellent web guru reinforced my defenses and got me back in. If you need this kind of help, contact me and I’ll happily pass my expert’s information along. She’s great. Kind, patient, dogged about solving puzzles, and very reasonable. Now, onward!

Things I’m writing and reading this week (and last, and the week before that. . .)

I recently finished a batch of website copywriting for a corporate client–personal stories. (Sorry, I can’t get more specific, NDA and all).

On my own time, I’ve been working on short fiction. One story’s just come back from my beta reader. Another is in its infancy. There’s no NDA preventing me from discussing these, but experience has taught me to stop talking about writing at the expense of actually doing it. Plus, being secretive will lend me an air of mystery, right? (Bonus!)

No editing to report this week.

This may be folly, but I just joined a second book club. Right now I’m reading The Martian (see also: the upcoming Matt Damon film) for one club and soon I’ll be starting James Ellroy’s Perfidia for the other. Lest this get too macho, in the last few weeks I’ve also enjoyed Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson, Ongoingness by Sarah Manguso, and The Folded Clock by Heidi Julavits. I have Elena Ferrante’s second Neapolitan Trilogy book waiting in the wings. Mars, murder, feverish introspection, family dissolution, and bad marriages. This should make for some interesting dreams.

— Kristen

Writing About, Editing, and Reading: July 27, 2015 Edition


For your enjoyment, an aspirational/inspirational image of the space shuttle Endeavour.  Copyright Keisuke Hoashi.

Things I’m Writing About, Editing, and Reading This Week

Here’s what’s on deck and in progress:

Writing about . . . My writing goals. Later today I’ll be applying for an opportunity with a deadline of tomorrow.  I’m also basking in the glow of a “we hope you submit again” poetry rejection from a dream publication. I’ll endeavour (see above photo) to send them more material soon.

Editing. . . Professional essays. A nonprofit leader is being recruited by an executive search firm looking to fill a high-level programmatic/administrative position. I’m helping him refine his three essay responses (total: 800 words) so they better reflect what he can bring to the job. Making experts shine using as few words as possible — that’s what I love to do.

(During my vacation, I helped a family member revise similar essay questions and a résumé for a position at an Ivy League university. He ended up #4 on a list of 8 potential interviewees, selected from a pool of over 200 applicants. Professional editing and coaching can get you closer to your goals.)

Reading. . .  The Confidence Code , a stack of The New Yorker magazines that piled up when I was out of town (I loved this Louise Erdrich story), and so much Entertainment Weekly that my ears are steaming with FOMO (too much good TV these days!).

Executives, subject matter experts, and others in leadership positions: do you have professional or personal statements, executive bios, or other writing that needs critique or editing? Let’s work together to help you cut the fluff, get to the point, and kill your competition. . . in 300 words or less.

Until then,

Happy writing, editing, reading, and endeavouring to you.

– Kristen