Announcements for 2017

Suzanne will no longer be offering discounts for first-time clients as of 2017. She has now been with us for two years, and has built up a solid reputation as a whipsmart, savvy, and knowledgeable editor. We are considering offering genre-themed sales for a smaller discount at points during the year (possibly in the realm of mystery and LGBT manuscripts).

Due to her more recent promotion at her day job (now the store manager of an independent bookstore in Worcester, MA), Suzanne is currently tackling one round of copy edits every two weeks and developmental edits in one month. She is working to take on only one large project and one small project a month (one large novel and one short-story novella) until she can finally come back to working for us full-time, which she hopes will be one day very soon. You can follow her on Twitter for updates and publishing news, or on her own blog, An Andro Named Sue, where she writes about mental illness, folklore and paranormal studies, gender and sexuality, and the publishing community.

We are also working to keep a regularly updated page for Convention Appearances. Suzanne loves to go to conventions all around the North East coast. She is currently planning to attend Boskone, NECON, Readercon, and Howlercon. Last year she was given a place on a small panel discussing independent publishing, and is looking forward to getting more involved this year. You can also find her at events with Writer’s Coffehouse New England, run by River City Writers, as well write-ins with Worcester Writers Collaborative.

That’s all folks! Hope everyone’s 2017 is off to a great start, and we look forward to seeing all of your marvelous stories in the months to come.

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Scary, but Necessary: Professional Beta Reads

by Suzanne Lahna

I’m a big fan of hard truths in writing. I prefer to be terse, cut to the chase, and end stories on a note that shares very close relation to a mic drop.

Hard truth the first – writing isn’t scary. Writing is easy. It’s a private thing where you can shirk the company of anyone for as long or as little time as you need, a time when ridiculous actions and insane excuses become perfectly valid. You need this type of tea and this exact type set, and also this cat or this dog, and also to watch the sun set from a window while you work; because that’s how your muse works. The only thing easier than writing is not writing at all.

Close-up of secretary’s hands doing paperwork

Hard truth the second – sharing your writing is one of the most terrifying things on this planet, second perhaps only to oral surgery and things seen on River Monsters. But this act is as vital to the health of your story as a root canal is to the health of your teeth – the sooner the better.

In my experience, most stories fall victim to one of two problems: Either you’ve shot the gun too early and gotten too caught up in the heat of the moment to properly research the novel before you began excitedly jamming away at the keys (or penning it out, no judgment here); or you’ve had this baby percolating in your head for so long that you’ve forgotten how to properly explain it to others. Whether too late or too soon, both causes lead to the same effect; the reader is left wondering what on earth is going on here.

Ernest Hemingway quote

Fortunately, both problems can also be solved by the same person: your professional beta reader!

‘But why can’t I use my friend?’ you ask. ‘My friend reads books all the time!’

Honest friends are hard to come by. It’s no secret that those who care for us are more likely to say what we want to hear in order to make us happy, but in the world of writing this can cause more harm than good. Unless your friend has a degree in English, they’re also likely to miss a thing or two, like tone or character problems. A scene could have excellent plot, a quickening pace, perfect dialogue, and well-rounded characters, but lack atmosphere, making it impossible for the whole exchange to feel real.

A professional beta read of an early draft can save authors a great deal of grief by analyzing everything from plot, pacing, characterization, setting, and even historical and factual accuracy, to insure the core concepts of the novel are a solid foundation for the entire body of work. This allows for fewer draft rewrites, giving the author the additional guidance that writers of all ages and areas of expertise can benefit from. Beta reads are a simple and affordable service that can save your novel from being cast aside for years to come, and instead move your story closer to the finish line in record time.

Sharing your story can be terrifying, no matter how many others you’ve published in the past. But the only thing you have to fear from beta reading is change. I don’t know about you guys, but improvements to my novel are never the source of my nightmares. (I did have a really weird dream about a suspended cabin and cryptids one time, but that’s a story for another weekend.) Every book has multiple drafts, and no one is perfect – that’s what makes each of us and the stories we tell unique and incredible.

Don’t be afraid.

It’s only your plot holes that die.

Word Vagabond Summer Editing Sale!

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Suzanne Lahna

You know who loves summer sales? We do! Summer means longer days, higher temps, and more time to write!

That’s why Word Vagabond is having our huge Summer Sale for the next three months on editing services with our newest addition to the team – Editor and Marketing Monster Suzanne Lahna.

You can save on our already low prices by an additional 15% when you book with Suzanne for the months of June, July, and August! So be sure to send your manuscripts her way, and take the time to catch some sun this summer season while you leave the tedious task of editing to the affordable professionals at Word Vagabond.

Don’t worry, we’ll let Suzanne out for a few hours of needed UV rays too.

Check out our Editing Services page, and then e-mail Suzanne at suelahna@gmail.com!

Recent updates

Word Vagabond has been very busy these past few months. In addition to adding a second editor to the roster, we’ve been making strides to update our social media (did you guys know we have a tumblr? We do! Come get geeky with us), and are even looking into revamping our home page for improved navigation and a sleeker style that we believe everyone will approve of.

However, not all of these changes are so easily seen. For those who have booked our services in the recent weeks, you may have noticed an additional payment option as well the newly implemented late fee.

We understand that many of our clients don’t live in the same areas or the same time zones as we do (Suzanne in Massachusetts, and Alexis in Virginia). But all the same, we have to get your manuscripts to our inboxes in a timely manner in order to keep on our schedule, so you can stay on yours. The fee is very minimal, a mere $10, which only needs to be paid if a manuscript is submitted past noon on Eastern Standard Time the day your editing services are scheduled to begin. This insures that work gets done on time for both clients and staff alike.

In the past few months, Alexis and I have been utilizing a new method of payment which we greatly prefer, called Squarecash. Squarecash works a lot like Paypal, but without the fees or the downtime to deposit. This handy little app allows users to send money to anyone else on the app with an account via an instantaneous deposit. That means no waiting the usual 3-5 days for money to deposit into a bank account, and no fees being taken out during transfers. As always, you can continue to pay us through Paypal if you’re more comfortable, but we highly recommend Squarecash, both for our business and simply your own personal use. Instead of taking cash out to give your friend money for gas or pay them back for concert tickets, you could simply input their phone number or screen name into the app, and the money deposits instantly with the pleasant little sound of change dropping on a table.

The best part about new additions to Word Vagabond is more time spent helping writers like you succeed. As part of recent changes to the website, you can now anticipate weekly blog posts starting this weekend. Topics to look forward to include the benefits of beta reads, getting into Camp Nanowrimo, as well as a summer writing series that will teach you how to write your best sex scenes yet.

An Introduction to our New Editor, Suzanne Lahna!

SUECROPSuzanne Lahna:  Suzanne has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Fitchburg State University, and has spent the past three years working as a technical writer for large and small businesses as well as medical practice, but her true love is fiction writing. She spent her formative years working as a copy editor for her college newspaper, interning at the Sentinel and Enterprise newspaper for the city of Fitchburg, as well as assisting students with all manners of scholastic essays as a writing associate. Her preferred genres are Urban Fantasy,Fantasy, Horror, Suspense, Historical Fiction, Young Adult, andDystopian Fiction.  Her e-mail address is suelahna@gmail.com.

When did you get your start with writing?

Writing got in my blood at a young age, and it’s a passion and obsession which has never let up. I first started when I was nine, and I’ve never really stopped. Many of my public-school years were spent getting lectured for working on my novels in class, instead of doing my homework. By thirteen, I had a 485-page high fantasy novel written. By eighteen, I’d finished the fifth draft of an urban fantasy novel which I’m still reworking today. In college I would jot down story ideas in class and write in the small hours of the morning and just before bed.

There’s nothing more thrilling for me than the process of story development, fostering these ideas and watching them come to life. There’s something magical about the whole process; how a single idea becomes thousands of words, characters and worlds, and sometimes entire new universes of existence. In the time I spent writing and talking with other writers, I developed a knack for improving my own work and others’—from cleaning up sentences to plot and character development. I had no idea that this was what an editor did until my undergrad years.

When did you first decide to become an editor?

I’ve wanted to be an editor since I was nineteen years old. I’ll never forget the look my college advisor gave me when I told him I wanted to switch my concentration from Literature to Professional Writing. He blinked at me over his desk and grinned through his massive ginger beard. “But Suzanne, you don’t have any interest in journalism!” And it was true, I didn’t. I still don’t, despite working and interning in that line of work. But I sat down, looked my mentor in the eye, and told him simply, “No, but I want to be an editor.”

What jobs have you worked since then that lead you to your new home at Word Vagabond?

Well, that day was six years ago. Since then, I have worked and interned in a slew of jobs, from the boring and technical to the truly bizarre. In college, I was picked to be a Writing Associate, assisting students with papers, and worked at the only place a beginning editor can—my college newspaper.

I went on to intern at the Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise, which taught me more about politics than actual editorial work. I came in second place in a campus-wide writing contest, losing the title and trophy by just one vote. I’ve had my work featured in the Fitchburg State University literary magazine, known as Route 2, and I’ve published a snippet of my main, pet-project novel in an online magazine called Strokes.

I worked at a printing press for a while to pay the bills, and I’ve written content for websites of all shapes and sizes, from medical practices to exotic dancers. I signed up for an oDesk and took any editing job that would have me, which included children’s fantasy stories. Then one day during a usual chat about the boredom of my work, I asked Alexis if she needed any extra help with work. This lead to a quick proofread, which became the job interview that brought me here.

What can clients anticipate when working with you?

You can anticipate a passionate and dedicated wordsmith who truly wants nothing more than to help you bring your ideas to life. From bouncing ideas around to cleaning up a troublesome piece of prose, I look forward to it all, and it’s that excitement that has always helped my clients to think in ways that often surprise themselves. Whether you’re having issues with pacing or simply need your manuscript proofread before you send it out into the world, I will be there with you every step of the way to bring your stories to life with you.