Playing catch-up

The site (at least, I believe) has been back up and running most of the week, but I’ve been swamped and haven’t had a chance to update on anything. Between allergies and some mysterious blah-ness, my health has really been on the outs with me this week, so it has slowed down all of my work. (In fact, I basically just took Tuesday as a sick day and slept all day. I haven’t done that in months. Then on Wednesday I kept thinking it was Tuesday, and I completely lost a day when I realized Wed. night that it was actually Wed. I haven’t really recovered the rest of this week, but I’m pushing through it because I have so much work to do.

So to those of you who are waiting on me to get back to you on a critique: thank you for your patience. I’m slowly catching up. I have two more manuscript critiques to get out the door this week (which, since I lost a day, might push over into Monday), a couple of small critiques to get back to people in the next week, one big edit to finish up next week, and a new project to start when the author gets me the manuscript.

Among all of that–note that these are the projects that are paying the bills right now–I need to get caught up on my Tor submissions as well, for which I’ve had a huge backlog for a few months now. If you gave me something to consider for Tor and haven’t heard from me, it’s because I’m afraid it’s very hard to pay the bills as a freelancer and while those submissions are very, very important to me, it will take some time because I’m juggling essentials like paying the rent and having enough food to eat. Combine that with a few weeks of allergies and suddenly I get even more behind!

But there’s good news! I have finally gotten new insurance, which will allow me to refill my asthma and allergy prescriptions–I have a feeling when I come back from the doctor’s office this afternoon, I will feel like a new woman, with all that breathing and everything. Part of the problem of the last few weeks is that it’s been the worst part of the allergy season (blooming trees) and I had none of my prescription-strength medicines to help me out. As you can imagine, when you’re as allergic to everything as I am, not having the right medicine can leave you in a puddle of wheezy, eye-itching, worn-out, possible-sinus-infection muck. I’ve actually been amazed that I’ve lasted as long as I have.

Here’s to getting caught up!


Cynthia Leitich Smith’s interview of me is up over at her LJ (and all the various mirrors of it). Thanks to Cynthia for the chance to tell her all about what I’m up to lately. Go check it out, and then if you don’t read her regularly, browse around. She interviews a lot of interesting people–authors, artists, agents, editors, other publishing people–and she’s always got the lowdown on what’s happening.

Community class and new ad

My sister was once an ad designer, and she has been helping me out in the last couple of weeks to design an ad for my critique services, which I’ll be placing in SCBWI newsletters. Check it out–pretty!


You’re always welcome to pass on the word that I do critiques to writers you know who may find it useful. The $30 an hour manuscript critique special is still on until March 11.

Community class: Writing SFF for children and young adults

Provo Library
Provo, Utah
Rm. 308 (Young-Card room)
Saturday, March 21, 2009
1-4 pm

It’s the first of what I hope will be several seminars, and if this one goes well I will probably be doing similar seminars in other local communities.

In the class we’ll talk about:

  • What an editor looks for
  • The importance of submission guidelines
  • How to write a killer first chapter so the editor can’t help but keep reading
  • Powerful prose for middle grade readers
  • Crafting a story teens won’t be able to put down
  • Writing within a speculative fiction genre
  • Current trends

To register, email me with your name, email address, and phone number, and the answer to this question: “What would you most like to learn at this seminar?” (This allows me to tailor the seminar to the needs of those who register.)

At the same time, I’ll need you to send the registration fee via Paypal ($40 for an individual registration, or $30 per person for groups of five or more) to the email stacylwhitman AT

Once I receive both the registration fee and your registration information email, I will confirm registration via email.

Come to class with the first chapter of your work in progress.

Also, be sure to ask me about critique discounts for registered seminar attendees.

And in other news…

It seems that FB has at least temporarily rolled back their terms of service to the previous, slighly less draconian terms until they can figure out why tens of thousands of people were protesting and even deleting their accounts. We’ll see what happens.

On to other news. Suddenly life has gotten really busy! Especially with LTUE coming up this week (Thurs-Sat in the Wilkinson Center at BYU), I have several things on the agenda that I need to get done today so that I can clear the schedule for LTUE. With Monday being a holiday, I took some time off to hang out with friends who normally work during the day, so I have had a bit of a shortened week myself and I’m playing catch-up now.

Coming up after LTUE, if you’re local, I’m working on scheduling a community class on writing science fiction and fantasy for children and young adults, which I’ll announce here when I’ve finalized plans (which will be tomorrow, when I print out the flyers I will bring with me to LTUE–grab one if you’re going to be there this weekend). We’ll focus on what editors look for, the craft of writing in those genres (especially when writing for young readers), and how writing for children in SFF differs from writing SFF for adults–not to mention how writing for children under 12 differs from writing for teens, and how that specifically applies in fantasy and science fiction. It’ll be a chance to get an in-depth discussion going with your questions in mind. It looks like the best time for it will be late March. If this goes well, I’m considering making it a series.

Thoughts on starting a business

I never really thought I’d ever be in a position to start my own business. I never really liked to think about money–growing up, we never had any to worry about, and in college my money management skills were about equal to Wall Street’s current crisis.

But because I didn’t grow up learning those skills, that was the very reason I had to learn them the hard way during my undergraduate years. My first job out of college was at a trade magazine (Electrical Apparatus, the magazine of the electromechanical aftermarket), and that was the best business learning experience I’d had up to that point. I had never really thought about publishing as a business–even when I worked for a newspaper and a phone book publishing company to work my way through college, I thought of the ad sales as simply a necessary evil. But as publisher’s assistant at Barks, I worked in every single department–advertising (display and classifieds), circulation, marketing editorial, writing, photography, and anything else anyone in the very small company (under
10 employees) needed help with.

It was a family business, too, and I saw how the publishers, longtime veterans of the newspaper and magazine industry, worked so hard to serve their readers. I saw how circulation (which was free to those who worked in the industry) affected advertising (advertisers based the value of the ad on how many readers they were reaching), and how advertising and PR pieces affected readership. I saw, of course, how advertising dollars affected how many pages the magazine printed at, and just in general how interconnected the business was.

So fast forward to today. I’m working to promote my critique business a little more by reaching out to various chapters of SCBWI, letting them know about my current discount, and putting together an ad that might work for their newsletters. I have recently realized how important my business card is, and how a unified design among business card, stationary, ads, and website helps to reinforce the message. I’m learning how important it is to make my freelancing a business, and not just work that I do at home, if that makes sense. If I think about it as a business, it gives me specific responsibilities as not only editor but as marketing, PR, and advertising departments. Not to mention the accounting.

I’m lucky to have a sister who used to design ads for a living (she’s now a stay-at-home-mom who is an artist in her free time), who is helping me with the design phase, at least for the print ads.

Now today I’m trying to figure out the website side of things. I’d like to make (which currenty redirects here) into a much more informative, easily navigable place, but aside from hiring a web designer (which I have no budget for at the moment), I’m not sure how to proceed. I have a picture in my head how I’d like it to look, but I don’t have the web design skills to make it come to fruition. The last time I made a website, it was the late 90s and I was working in really clunky HTML. 

For example, I’d like it to have navigation tabs at the top that led to information about my photography (which I’ll be integrating into rather than at a site currently hosted by a friend, which is no longer active due to a server move), my blog, a page about my critique services, and a page about my submission guidelines as a freelancer–two separate things right now. I’m looking into namelos as a partial guide, and wondering how I might integrate those services so as not to feel as if they’re slightly conflicting.

Suggestions on simple templates might work, though I worry that it might also limit me. I have a friend who’s good at this sort of thing, but he’s pretty busy doing similar things for his brother and other friends, and I’d like to get this going soon on my own if I can figure it out. After all, I’ve got the time right now, if I can figure it out.

So, if you’ve successfully designed your own site with a limited knowledge of advanced web design, perhaps you might be able to point me to links or ideas? Where to start? I’m hosted through 1&1, and I haven’t been able to figure out their included packages at all, but so far they look to be very bare-bones and hard to navigate.

Allowing myself to be zen about the clutter

I’m sitting down in my office for the first time in weeks. I’ve been working all sorts of other places for the last few weeks except for my office, because the office has been a downright terror and it doesn’t exactly soothe me to work in a space that has a tarp on the floor and where the empty bookshelves tell me that maybe I should spend my time unpacking the boxes still sitting by my bed and cluttering up the bedroom.

So the other day, I finally allowed myself a few minutes–literally, only allowed myself a half hour, or I’d work on it all day and accomplish nothing else–to organize the office and unpack the books. It’s amazing the difference a half hour can make. My desk is still really cluttered, but I now have 3 feet to navigate between my dresser and bed, rather than the nine inches or so I had last week, and the shelves are nice and fully (if a bit overly) packed. I ran out of paint and haven’t had the time or money to go back to fixing that one little corner yet. I still have a pile of boxes over by the closet, covered by the tarp I need to fold up and pu
t in storage. I still have a bunch of Star Wars and D&D minis I’ve been meaning to list on Ebay cluttering up my shelves, making it impossible to sort everything out by genre just yet.

But part of this cleaning up is allowing myself the zen to say "that’s okay." I mean, that I have an office at all is really rather a luxury, so I should USE it even if it’s not perfect.

I didn’t take Before pictures (did I mention I have a tiny little point and shoot camera now? it’s not great, but it’s good enough for snapshots), but I did take After pictures, which will become the Before pictures for tomorrow’s or Saturday’s next 1/2 hour of Closer to Zen. But for now, I have work to do–in my office!

Manuscript critique discount

We’re all dealing with tough times right now. Getting your manuscript critiqued by an experienced editor is definitely a luxury, and an expensive one at that.

With that in mind, I’m offering a discount for the next month (expires March 11) on my manuscript critique services. Critiques of submission packets (first three chapters and query/cover letter) will still be a flat $50 fee, but if you decide to have your full manuscript critiqued, I am knocking down my hourly rate from $50 an hour to $30–which for a full manuscript would involve a substantial savings.

So if you’ve been thinking about having me look at your manuscript, but couldn’t quite fit it into your budget, perhaps this may help you fit it in. Email me to discuss particulars at stacylwhitman AT

Bio and Author Recommendations

Stacy Whitman specializes in fantasy and science fiction for children and young adults, and related genres. She spent three years as an editor for Mirrorstone, the children’s and young adult imprint of Wizards of the Coast in Seattle. She holds a master’s degree in children’s literature from Simmons College. Before that, she edited elementary school textbooks at Houghton Mifflin and interned at the Horn Book, as well as a brief stint as a bookseller. Stacy edited such favorite fantasy titles for children and young adults as the highly acclaimed YA series Hallowmere, the middle grade fantasy adventure series that debuted with Red Dragon Codex, and The New York Times best-selling picture book A Practical Guide to Monsters.


Stacy provides all phases of editorial services to publishers, including developmental editing, line editing, copyediting, and proofreading. Contact her at stacylwhitman AT gmail DOT com to discuss projects.


Stacy’s middle grade and young adult novel critique and editorial services for individual writers come in two sizes:


·         Critique of the cover letter/query and first three chapters from your finished manuscript, giving an editor’s point of view on the strengths of the first impression. Service includes comments on her impressions of the story from the first three chapters and how the beginning hooks the editor, including suggestions for improvement. This usually takes about an hour of her time.

·         Developmental edit of the full manuscript, including an editorial letter to suggest improvements in plot, character, pacing, voice, audience, and any other areas in need of improvement. Comments will also be noted in the manuscript itself. The time this takes varies from manuscript to manuscript. Email to discuss particulars.



The cost of these services are based on her rate of $50 an hour, with a minimum of one hour. Contact her at stacylwhitman AT gmail DOT com to discuss your project.


Special discount For returning clients who want a full developmental edit, a $50 discount off the cost of the edit. Ask me for more information.


****Individual consults on queries, chapters, and manuscripts are for manuscripts that are already finished. If you have more general questions, I’m always glad to answer them here on the blog as time permits, but for questions specific to your manuscript, you’ll get the most out of my advice if you’ve finished your book first. Note that this specific advice is a paid service, but if you have a general question that would be of use to
all blog readers, by all means ask away and I’ll post an answer for all to see.




“Stacy was my very first editor, and I really couldn’t have asked for a better person to induct me into the world of publishing. It felt more like the book was a collaboration of ours rather than a tug-of-war as can so often be the case. I’ll always be grateful for her nurturing honesty and excellent editorial eye.”

—Tiffany Trent

In the Serpent’s Coils

By Venom’s Sweet Sting

Between Golden Jaws


“I highly recommend Stacy. She’s a pro you can count on for good, solid advice, and she’ll help you bring out the best in your manuscript.”

—Printz Honor author Amanda M. Jenkins

Queen of the Masquerade

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“Stacy Whitman not only has a keen eye for editing, but has a deep understanding of the children’s market. I know this for a fact, since she was instrumental in helping me sell my first children’s book.”

—Brandon Sanderson


Mistborn trilogy

Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians

Wheel of Time: A Memory of Light (with Robert Jordan)

“Stacy was my first editor, and I feel very lucky to have worked with someone who understands my writing so well. She has a knack for seeing the true story inside a manuscript and helping an author bring that story up to its highest potential. She is a great communicator, and is positive and enthusiastic to work with. I am grateful that I got to work with her and hope to continue to work with her far into the future.”

—Rebecca Shelley, writing as R.D. Henham

Red Dragon Codex

Brass Dragon Codex



“Stacy’s editorial work on my book was nothing short of brilliant, and I have no doubt whatsoever it never would’ve reached publication without her. I’ll forever be in her debt.”

—James Dashner

The Maze Runner

The 13th Reality



“As an editor, Stacy has a clear vision of the potential of a story and its characters as well as the talent to bring out the best in a writer. She is committed to her writers, her advice is open for discussion, and she has an intuitive feel for where the writer wants to go with the story. I enjoyed working with her and hope to do so again in the future.”

—Angelika Ranger

Maiden of the Wolf


“Stacy Whitman is an excellent editor. Her feedback is invaluable, and her ability to look at a book both as a whole and as individual scenes is exceptional. She places each moment in the manuscript within the overall plot, and her commentary not only helps the moment; it does wonders for the whole. She’s enthusiastic, easy to work with, and brings a great deal to any project she works on. I’m grateful for the times I’ve worked with her, and look forward to doing so often in the future!”

ee Soesbee

Black Dragon Codex

The Elidor Trilogy

Elements Trilogy


“The best friend a manuscript ever had is a good editor. If you’re like me, you can get too close to the material to see where you’ve missed things. I worked with Stacy on Wizard’s Return, my third YA book for Mirrorstone. She worked with me to fill in some gaps in the character arcs and to focus the story as a whole. I can say without reservation that she made it easy for me to take my work from good to great. Stacy is easy to work with, throughly professional, and highly skilled. Your manuscript deserves her as its editor.”

—Dan Willis

Wizard’s Return

Dragon Well

Dragon Spell


“Stacy was the first editor I ever worked with and I now consider myself spoiled for future books. She kept a perfect balance between criticism and praise, and I improved greatly as a writer because of her comments. She was always available when I had questions about everything from basic plot to author appearances. Bronze Dragon Codex would not be the book that it is without her, and I can never thank her enough.”


—Amie Rose Rotruck < /p>

Bronze Dragon Codex



An announcement, of sorts

I was recently asked to the LDS Storymakers Writers Conference as a guest editor. If you’re LDS or interested in the LDS writing world (including as an LDS author writing for the national market), I hear it’s an excellent conference. (This one will be my first.) As you’ll see from the link I just noted above, my bio says that I was formerly with Mirrorstone (which we all know) and that I now consult for Tor (which few have known up to this point).

I’ve postponed announcing the news on this blog because I’m still working on contracting my first book, so I didn’t want to announce anything prematurely, but since it was okay to say so for the conference, I’ll go ahead and let you know here, too: I am looking for books to acquire as a consulting editor for Tor’s children’s book lines (Starscape, Tor Teen, etc.). This just means that I will acquire books on a freelance basis rather than in-house, though the duties are pretty much the same. Tor has a lot of editors who work with them in a consulting capacity, and it seems to be a pretty successful model for them.

Right now I am not open to unagented submissions unless I’ve had previous contact with you through a conference or a submission at Mirrorstone where I asked for a full manuscript (or a revision of that full manuscript). I’m just getting started, and I want to be sure that I keep the field narrow for the moment. As time goes on and if this freelancing continues to succeed, then I will open up to more unagented submissions. So if you’re LDS and can make it to Storymakers, the conference might be a good place for you to come and meet me!

I don’t have submission guidelines yet, but as time goes on I will post them here. I will continue to run my critiques as a separate business for the foreseeable future, as well.

Here’s hoping that the snow (snooooow, ooooooh!) will let up enough for the roads, and be well and good deep everywhere else! I personally think that sometime in the future, someone should invent something that funnels all the snow to just where we want it, thus eliminating the mess and slush in the street and on the sidewalk. Pretty, perfect snow everywhere you look–except for the road! 🙂