" Thistles & Pirates: Editing Service  
Cindy Vallar

Author, Editor, & Pirate Chronicler
P. O. Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425

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Freelance Editing Service


Mark Twain by A. F.
                  Bradley, 1907 (Source:
                  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mark_Twain_by_AF_Bradley.jpg)



Substitute damn every time you're inclined to write very;
your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.



~ Mark Twain, author and humorist


This is one of my favorite editing quotations. While today's editors aren't likely to make the deletion, Twain's advice is a good way to teach writers not to employ adverbs in our writing. "Very" and other adverbs don't add meaningful depth to our descriptions. An editor helps us catch this unnecessary verbiage, as well as many other questionable facets that keep our stories from being the best they can be. This is where the freelance editor comes in. At some point in our writing of each tale, we need a fresh pair of eyes to catch what we don't see because we're too close to the story and our characters.

As a freelance editor, I
offer my editing services to writers who want that trained and unjaundiced eye to help improve their writing. I work with authors to make their stories or nonfiction pieces the best they can be. I may provide examples of how to rewrite passages, but it is up to each writer to decide whether my advice is worth taking or not. My suggestions offer possible revisions to a sentence or paragraph; authors are free use the example or rephrase it. I always strive to maintain the author's voice and writing style throughout the editing process. After all, the story is yours, not mine.

What services do I offer?

Substantial Edit (also known as a Content or Structural edit): Here, I look at the story as a whole, scene and character development, viewpoint, setting, and style. Is too much or too little information provided for the reader to understand what the author attempts to convey? Does the story work? Will it interest readers? Are there plot holes? What are the story's and/or the characters' strengths and weaknesses?

Line Edit: My focus here is on the style elements of the manuscript. I point out discrepancies (the hero has blue eyes at the beginning of the book, but purple eyes at the end or the hero drives a truck after it's destroyed in a fire); identify passive sentences that should become active; and look for passages that tell instead of show. I may check grammar, spelling, and punctuation, but it isn't my main focus and I may not catch mechanical errors.

Copy Edit: This is where I address mechanical elements of writing, such as grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I also look for consistency, verb tense, and dialogue or action tags, as well as crutch words.

Proofreading: The final stage of editing to correct any remaining spelling, grammar, and formatting errors.

How did I get into freelance editing? Before embarking on a writing career, I was
an educator, librarian, reviewer, and newspaper and yearbook editor. During my early years of writing, I was often asked to edit or critique other authors' works because they valued my insights. I wrote an editing column called "The Red Pencil" for the Historical Novel Society's Historical Novels Review for fourteen years. At various times in the past and in addition to being the editor of Pirates & Privateers, I have been an editor and copy editor for Wings ePress, the short story editor for NovelBooks, Inc., and a content editor for Pyrates Way Magazine.

If you would like additional information about editing, select one of the links below.


If you have any questions or want to know what I charge for editing, click on the Edit Button below.

Unsure whether or not you'd like my help? I'll be happy to edit a chapter or sample (up to 4,000 words) for free. Click on the Editing Button below to send me your sample as an attachment in .doc, .docx, or .rtf with your request for a free sample edit. Please identify the genre and audience, and provide a word count of the total manuscript so I can provide an editing quote. 

Editing Pencil -- Click
                    to contact me
Click on the Editing Pencil to Contact Me.



I'm not obsessed I'm an
                  editor sign  National Association
              of Independent Writers and Edits MemberLove editor sign
 


Author Recommendations          The Red Pencil          Editing & Writing Craft Resources



What Authors Think of My Edits
[B]ased on the great feedback you provided in your edits, I am proud to say that I took all your suggestions to heart and managed to get my second story published. I just wanted to personally thank you -- the feedback you provided has really helped me grow as a writer and if/when I finally do get around to working on a longer piece, I will definitely reach out to you as an editor! Thank you! -- Austen McGee, author of "The Greyest of Skies"

I could not do this project without your expertise. -- Tom Green, designer of The Pirate Republic

I found Cindy through the Linkedin Historical Fiction Group, and she offered a free sample of her editing. She does both proofing and content editing. And her samples of both were excellent. I had several technical questions before sending her my manuscript to proofread, and her answers were clear and "spot on." Now that she has completed the proofing of my novel, I remain impressed. She has an in-depth knowledge of grammar, a great attention to detail, and returned my work in a timely manner." (Top Qualities: Great Results, Expert, Good Value) -- Phyllis Haislip, author of The Viscount's Daughter

You did a terrific job . . . you found things, including plot structure, grammar, and issues with character development that I hadn't seen. You are phenomenal. You took my work to another level and you changed the way I'll be writing in the future. -- Chanta Rand, author of Rise of a Queen

Cindy is a knowledgeable editor. My experience with her was professional in every way. She took the extra step of providing reasons why something did or didn't work. She offered to provide references for areas of further research. Her work on my present novel was more than an edit, it was an education in writing. That alone was worth the price, and the cost of the edit was more than reasonable. While it might be possible to obtain an edit at lower cost, I doubt it is possible to get one for better value. Nor will you find an editor who is more reliable, and trustworthy. (Top qualities: Great Results, Expert, Good Value) Ė Dennis Berry, author of The Rose

You have done an excellent job and have definitely provided me with a lot of positive feedback. I really do feel like my style has improved. I owe that to you and your patience in helping me find my writing voice. It's been such a great pleasure working with you. -- Clarissa Phillips

I could not have done this without your input, Cindy. You saw this from the very beginning and showed and taught me how to make it so much better. I look back at some early drafts and wonder that you didn't throw it out. I guess your years of teaching enabled you to take a beginning writer and be such a wonderful coach. -- Judith Schara, author of Spiral

You greatly assisted me in editing my very first manuscript . . . I wanted to thank you for all your support and assistance. You were crucial to my writing education. -- K. Chrisbacher, author of The Last Innocent

Your feedback is exactly what I wanted, and desperately needed to help me discover my unconscious mistakes and then be able to rectify them. Your comments are so clear and straight to the point. I understand exactly what you mean and find myself saying, "Oh, yes, I can see that. Why couldn't I see it before?" It's so hard to find someone like you. So many do not have your insight or sensitivity. These pages will enable me to lift my work up to a much higher level. You are a brilliant critiquer and just the right person to inspire and help writers achieve their dreams. -- Glenice Whitting, author of Pickle to Pi and Something Missing (interview with recommendation)

My first editor, Cindy Vallar, was my greatest teacher. She taught me the importance of getting my historical facts correct. Nothing pulls a reader from a story faster than finding something that doesn't belong to the era or hearing dialogue too modern for the time. Through Cindy, I also learned the distinct difference between telling a story or showing a novel. -- Ginger Simpson, author

Cindy Vallar offers an excellent editing service. She checks every factual detail, and works on style and character development as well. I know that you would find working with her a most rewarding experience. -- Joan Druett, award-winning maritime historian and author of sea books and the World of the Written Word blog

Just a note to let you know how much fun it was to work with you. I've learned much. I thought the process would be painful but it wasn't. It was great. -- Rita Thedford, author of Tempted

You are the most expert editor Iíve ever work with, and I have been an editor professionally. You miss nothing, dear lady, and itís a true pleasure doing business with you! -- Cerise

Your wonderful insights and suggestions have opened the doors of my imagination. I'm beyond words. I thought I have done a good job imagining the scene, but I felt I could enhance the experience much more from your feedback. Thank you so much! -- Weina Dai Randel, author of The Moon in the Palace and Empress of the Bright Moon

I was looking at your edits and wow you really caught some no noís. Funny Iíve worked with a critique group of six ladies this last year, some published, and no one caught any of the errors you did. I do appreciate your comments. -- Tamara Fairchild

I wanted to thank you for the great editing you did on my book. It is totally different and more easy to read. I love all the changes. -- Tammy Winslett, author of In Spirit and In Truth

FINALLY, an editor who edits and teaches at the same time! This is just what I need because you are teaching me to understand the craft, the why's and how's of writing. -- Marilyn Morningstar

It was a pleasure working with you on Means to an End. Your suggestions were helpful and made my story stronger. -- Carol McPhee

One of the problems in self-publishing your own book is that you get too close to your own work to do a good copy edit. However, having said that, finding a good copy editor is not easy. I was extremely lucky in getting Cindy Vallar to copy edit my book Holly!! and His Black Coat of Invisibility. She did an excellent job. -- Paul La Violette

Cindy worked well with the authors and website team, without conflict or problems. She always submitted her files on time, without having to be reminded, and produced quality work. She took the initiative, and when she saw something that wasn't editorially correct, she explained why in a clear and concise manner. When editorial differences arose, she worked with her supervisor and the authors to come to the best solution for everyone, without sacrificing the integrity of the work. I highly recommend Cindy Vallar as an excellent editor. -- Ruth D. Kerce, Website Director, NovelBooks, Inc.

I read that the single most difficult relationship in writing is between the author and editor. This concerned me because I'd never written a published work. Cindy surprised me with her patience and flexibility, her expertise and knowledge about things related to writing and publishing. At times I felt that I must be her only customer. She answered all my questions and taught me how to take my work to a professional level. At one point I discovered how difficult it is to have someone critique your labor of love. I really didn't like it when she told me my sentences were passive, or that I'd used the same word five times in two paragraphs, but I saw the value of it. She's made this an enjoyable experience. Thank you, Cindy. -- Mark Bogumill, author of KingMaker: Book One - The Swamp Crusade

Cindy works with the author as if the author and editor are a team. She guides with a gentle hand and makes valuable suggestions. Discrepancies are pointed out tactfully and professionally. When I asked questions, her replies were always prompt, courteous and informative. Her attention to detail is a bonus. I learned valuable skills from her and will carry these skills into my future projects. Due to her excellent editing skills, my romantic suspense novel Love Through a Strangerís Eyes has received fantastic reviews and won the Word Weaving Award of Excellence and the prestigious Scribes World Reviewerís Choice Award. Cindy Vallarís knowledge and kindness are a great combination. She is a pleasure to work with and a valuable asset to have on your side. I look forward to working with her on many future projects. Highly recommended. --
Jan Springer

Thanks so much for all of your editorial support!! and your encouragement! -- JoAnn G. Mondowney, author of Hold Them in Your Heart: Successful Strategies for Library Services to At-Risk Teens

Did I tell you I think you're an amazing editor? You must be so busy, yet you gave me so much of your valuable time. I've used many of your suggestions because I could see the improvement to the prose straight away. I've also followed a lot of your recommendations for manuscript format. I'm so fortunate to have gained your help. -- Wendy J. Dunn, author of Dear Heart, How Like You This? and The Light in the Labyrinth

As usual, Cindy, you've given me a lot to think about! And I love it!! Thanks for the input. I'll definitely look you up for more critiquing. -- Kei Swanson, author of The Words of the Pitcher and Seabird of Sanematsu


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The Red Pencil

Historical Novels Review

From May 2005 through May 2018, I wrote a biannual editing column for the Historical Novel Society's Solander and Historical Novels Review.
Each column focused on a particular aspect of writing as I compared an author's early draft of a manuscript to published novel.
Below, you will find PDFs of my column, as well as the title of the novel spotlighted and the writing topic examined.
Links to the authors of these books are also provided.

May 2018 Spotlight on: Christmas as Carnton by Tamera Alexander (PDF)
author-editor relationship & revising

November 2017 Spotlight on: Liberty Boy by David Gaughran (PDF)
fleshing out scenes

May 2017 Spotlight on: Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister (PDF)
adding depth to scenes

November 2016 Spotlight on: The Darkness Knows by Cheryl Honigford (PDF)
romantic tension

May 2016 Spotlight on: The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel (PDF)
female relationships

November 2015 Spotlight on: Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden (PDF)
show don't tell

May 2015 Spotlight on: The Snow Bride by Lindsay Townsend (PDF)
memorable characters

November 2014 Spotlight on: Dawn's Early Light by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris (PDF)
steampunk

May 2014 Spotlight on: Dearest Enemy by Joan Druett (PDF)
revising

November 2013 Spotlight on: Brock's Traitor by Tom Taylor (PDF)
believable characters

November 2012 Spotlight on: The Lieutenant's Whistle by Fred Stemme (PDF)
compelling story revisions

May 2012 Spotlight on: Blood Brothers by E. Thomas Behr (PDF)
the hook

November 2011 Spotlight on: The Shadow of the Lamp by Susanne Dunlap (PDF)
dialogue & characters

May 2011 Spotlight on: The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick (PDF)
final polish & editing

November 2010 Spotlight on: The Fruit of Her Hands by Michelle Cameron (PDF)
setting

May 2010 Spotlight on: In the Lion's Mouth by Jean Harrington (PDF)
editing drafts

November 2009 Spotlight on: Dream of the Dragon Pool: A Daoist Quest by Albert A. Dalia (PDF)
worldbuilding

May 2009 Spotlight on: A Secret and Unlawful Killing/Michaelmas Tribute by Cora Harrison (PDF)
setting, time & place

November 2008 Spotlight on: Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors (PDF)
villains

 
May 2008 Spotlight on: Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors (PDF)
story beginning

November 2007 Spotlight on: The Eagle's Prophecy by Simon Scarrow (PDF)
pacing & catalysts

May 2007 Spotlight on: The Expected One by Kathleen McGowan (PDF)
historical icons as characters

 
November 2006 Spotlight on: Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy (PDF)
character voice

May 2006 Spotlight on: Oksana by Susan K. Downs and Susan May Warren (PDF)
collaboration

November 2005 Spotlight on: The Only Life That Mattered by James L. Nelson (PDF)
female as male character portrayal

May 2005 Spotlight on: There Is a Wideness by Mark McAllister  (PDF)
protagonist voice

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Editing Resources
Writing Craft Resources
5 Tips on How to Work with an Editor by Mark Nichol
7 Words That Often Tell, Not Show by Janice Hardy
8 Tips for Reviewing a Manuscript Critique by Janice Hardy
9 Ways an Editing Tool Helps You Polish Your Manuscript by Lisa Lepki
10 Ways to Fake a Professional Edit by Sarah Kolb-Williams
14 Words That Are Hurting Your Writing by Melissa Allen

Ask the Editor: Lie vs. Lay by Betty Sargent
(succinct and easiest explanation to understand)
Avoiding Comma Confusion by Moira Allen

Book Editing by Scott McCormick
(self-publishing experience)
Breakaway Body Parts by Janice Hardy

Crutch Words by JoEllen Taylor

Deep Point of View by Melinda Williams
Do You Filter Your Fiction? by Robb Grindstaff

Editing for Consistency by Victoria Grossack
The Editor's Blog by Beth Hill

Five Edits to Strengthen Your Writing, Right Now by Janice Hardy
Five Stages of Editing Grief by Elizabeth MS Flynn

How an Editor Knows Your Book Isn't Ready after the First Chapter by Meg LaTorre
How an Editor Will Make You a Better Writer by Smith Publicity
How to Be Your Own Book Doctor by Janice Hardy
How to Edit a Novel without Feeling Overwhelmed by Janice Hardy
How to Find & Fix Plot Holes by Jami Gold
How to Find and Work with a Professional Editor by Joanna Penn
How to Handle Conflicting Critiques by Janice Hardy
How to Hire an Editor by Shakirah Dawud
How to Prepare for Manuscript Editing by Anna Olinger
How to Use Grammarly to Improve Your Writing by Joanna Penn

Mastering the 3 Stages of Manuscript Editing by Joanna Penn

Need Advice from an Editor? by Jami Gold
Nice Work -- Just Change Everything by Jenna Glatzer

Plain Doesn't Mean Boring by Beth Hill

Red Pen Praising by Dawn Field
Referencing and Citation Style Guides by Andrianes Pinantoan

Self-editing by Lori Handeland
The Seven Red Flags in Editing by Meg LaTorre
The Spit Shine by Janice Hardy

The Ten Mistakes by Patricia Holt
Things You Might Hear from a Developmental Editor by Dawn Field
Trust Me, You Need a Good Editor by Rachelle Gardner

What to Look for in an Editor by The Author-Editor Clinic
What to Look for in an Editor by Betty Kelly Sargent
What Type of Book Editing Do You Need? And When? by Jim Dempsey
Why a Well-written Novel Can Still Stink by Janice Hardy
Working with an Editor by Mark Nichol

You'll Have to Go Through Me by Janice Hardy

Character Development
5 Character Tools You Absolutely Need to Know by Angela Ackerman
5 Ways to Convey Emotions in Your Novel by Janice Hardy
Alternative Ways to Describe Character Reactions by Janice Hardy
Are Your Characters Making Misleading Assumptions? by Janice Hardy
Describing a Character's Emotions in a First Person POV by Janice Hardy
Fleshing out Flat Characters by Janice Hardy


Dialect & Dialogue
Restraining Accents by Beth Hill


Drafts & Revision
Mark Twain Knew This Secret about Writing by Barbara Kyle


Hooks
5 Ways to Hook Your Readers by Janice Hardy
5 Ways to Write Stronger Opening Scenes by Janice Hardy
How to Hook Your Reader by Robin Murphy


Passive vs. Active or Show Don't Tell
How Filtering the POV Affects Show, Don't Tell by Janice Hardy
The Real Problem with Passive Voice in Fiction by Janice Hardy
Send up the (Red) Flag by Janice Hardy
When Telling, Not Showing, Emotion is the Right Choice by Angela Ackerman


POV & Voice
Deep POV and Narrative Distance by Beth Hill
How a Limited vs. a Tight POV Can Confuse Writers by Janice Hardy
How to Write First-person Internalization by Janice Hardy
Keeping Your Distance by Janice Hardy
Questions about Deep POV? by Beth Hill
Subjective Point of View by Juliette Wade
What's the Right Way to Include Multiple POVs? by Kassandra Lamb
Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? by Belinda LaPage


Story Development
Goals, Conflicts, & Stakes by Janice Hardy
Goals-Motivations-Conflicts by Janice Hardy
How to Plot Your Novel by Kelsey Worsham
How to Use Story Stakes to Keep Readers Turning the Pages by H. R. D'Costa
How to Write Scenes by Janice Hardy
Learn Story Development Skills by Jami Gold
Raise Your Novel's Stakes by Narrowing Your Focus by Janice Hardy
Setting the Right Tone for Your Novel by Janice Hardy
Setting up the Tension in Your Novel by Janice Hardy
An Unpredictable (and Fun) Trick to Keep Your Plots Unpredictable by Janice Hardy


Style Guides & Grammar Books
The Chicago Manual of Style Online
Practical Grammar and Composition
"Stops", Or How to Punctuate
 


Tight Writing
Tightening Your Writing by Rachelle Gardner

Fiction University's Real Life Diagnostics
One way to improve our writing is to read edits and critiques
from editors and writers of a work in progress.
Below are links to some examples of this column that I've found insightful.

Can you feel any tension or conflict in this scene?

Does this opening bore or interest you to read more?
Does this opening have a strong emotional impact?
Does this opening scene feel too abrupt?
Does this opening scene work?
Does this romantic thriller opening work?
Does this scene keep readers interested?
Does this scene make you care about the protagonist?
Does this scene work and grab your attention?
Does this third-person POV suspense opening work?
Does this YA opening draw you in?

Is inserting a flashback a good or bad idea?
Is there enough tension and interest to keep you reading?
Is this romantic thriller opening working?
Is this scene showing or telling the tension and surprise?
Is this scene working?

What do you think about the voice in this scene?
Would these queries make you ask for more?
Would this query letter make you ask for pages?
Would you keep reading?
Would you keep reading this contemporary women's fiction?
Would you keep reading this historical mystery?
Would you keep reading this middle grade opening?
Would you keep reading this Christian fiction opening?
Would you keep reading this space opera?


 
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Copyright © 2020 Cindy Vallar



Home About Me Appearances & Book Signings Editing Services
Excerpts of My Stories Gallery: Clan Cameron Gallery: Rebel & Spy Gallery: Scottish Highlands Workshops
Gallery: Thistle's Scotland 1 Gallery: Thistle's Scotland 2 Historical Fiction vs. History My Interviews & Other Writings
My Research Resources My Reviews & Website Awards Pirates & Privateers Recommended Books to Read
Recommended Research Links Workshop Offerings & Schedule





Contact Me Sign My Guestbook Subscribe to my T&P Newsletter