Literary Book Editor | Fiction Critiques | Creative Writing Mentor
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I'll critique and edit your manuscript for hooks, plot, motivation, dialogue, setting, point of view, research, conflict, voice, weak verb forms, author intrusions, redundancies, passive voice, misused and overused words, foggy phrases, and correct other writing bugaboos. These are all problems an acquisitions editor or literary agent won't take the time or effort to tell you about, but they could keep you from being published!
40 award-winning years editing and writing for others in the following capacities:
- Magazine Editor: For 12 years I wrote features and oversaw work of staff and freelance writers for national trade magazines, including Baking Industry, Hardware Merchandiser, Hardlines Wholesaling, and Construction Equipment Distribution.
- Senior Account Executive for a Major PR Firm:
I edited staff-written features for Burson-Marsteller for six years, while writing and placing hundreds of my own articles with appropriate trade magazines and writing and producing three company magazines. I also developed and ran client communications programs, winning the nation's top PR award—the Public Relations Society of America's Silver Anvil—for innovative programming. I also won Chicago's top PR trophy (the Golden Trumpet) three years running.
- Independent PR Consultant: Traveled the country visiting my clients' customers to write features showing how they used the clients' services and products to solve problems. I placed those articles in trade publications read by other potential client customers.
Four published novels, earning a Romance Writers of American "PAN" status.
- The Long Hunter
Historical novel, Medallion Press, 2006
Won PAN status in Romance Writers of America
- Maxwell's Mansion
Romance novel, Red Rose Publishing, 2007
Released under the pen name Donna McClaire
- Attack of the Killer Prom Dresses
Young adult novel, Calderwood Books, 2007
Released under the pen name Donna McClaire
- Valley of Love
Romance Novel, Red Rose Publishing, 2009
Released under the pen name Donna McClaire
Three commercially-published how-to books
- How to Make Holograms, Tab Books, 1983
- Building & Outfitting Your Workshop, Tab Books, 1983
- House Craftsmanship, a Guide to Restyling & Refurbishing, Tab Books, 1985
I'd like to mentor you, a step beyond simple editing. When we're done, you'll be a much stronger writer.
Let's start with the first chapter or two. I'll edit them, point out each editing problem, and tell you where in the book you can find its solution. Then you'll re-edit the next two chapters with that new information in mind, send them to me, and we'll repeat this process until the manuscript's been completely edited. At the end you'll not only have a clean manuscript, you'll have "gone to school," and your next manuscript will be cleaner. You'll be a better writer all your life.
But--just as important--I'll also edit weak verb forms, strip away author intrusions, identify character filters, ban redundancies, eliminate foggy phrases, correct passive voice sentences, slash misused and overused words, and correct other writing bugaboos. These are all problems an editor or agent won't tell you about. But they could keep you from being published!
Do I know what I'm doing? I practice what I preach. Please consider the following review by Fallen Angel Reviews, of my young adult novel titled "Attack of the Killer Prom Dresses":
"I enjoyed every page. This author writes with such vivid descriptions that I could see and feel everything.
"The nuances of dialogue, the characters' emotions and even the fearful realization that something evil lurked just outside the reader's range of vision were all brought fully to the story. The reader is present on every page and that is what makes this story so special."
Online Writing Courses
Don conducts workshops at weekend writing conferences and teaches online writing classes for WriterUniv.com and WritersOnlineClasses.com.
Brenda Maxwell's new interior design client tells her to "paint, wallpaper, whatever" his hundred-year-old landmark mansion, "but for God's sake, don't go overboard." When she figures her grandiose plans will fit handily into his edict's "whatever" section, she launches them into a constant head-bumping mode.
Brenda's poor money management skills (that's his view, but what does he know?) and lawyer David Hasbrough's ridiculous need to control her life (that's her well-reasoned evaluation of the situation) combine to keep the battle going. Add a dollop of "the other woman's" interference, throw in secrets about the house and both their pasts, fold in a dab of parental abuse and a pinch of good old-fashioned mistrust, and you have a recipe for disaster. Is this couple's romantic goose cooked?
Well, he is a great guy. Headstrong, maybe, but she can't be near him without sparks flying and goose bumps popping out everywhere. Yet–well, that mansion has to be done right!
Matt McLaren was only a boy when Indians killed his parents and kidnapped his three- year-old sister. Blaming himself for the tragedy, Matt sets out on a journey of the heart to find little Mandy. He doesn't get far, however, before he's held as a virtual slave by a cruel innkeeper. Sick and barely alive, he's rescued by a kindly old man who takes him in and teaches him the rudiments of survival in the wilderness. When the vengeful innkeeper guns the old man down, Matt kills him. On the run and still seeking his sister, he heads through the Cumberland Gap into the Can-tuc-kee Indian Territory, where he joins a group of adventurous long hunters. He plans to amass enough skins to buy land and make a home for him and Mandy. But fate steps in. Mat is captured by Indians. After weeks in captivity he escapes at last, and learns a great deal more about survival. He returns through the Gap to the Virginia frontier, where he helps settle the rugged, majestic land he has come to love. Ultimately, he learns what "home" really is … and where it resides.
See Don's editing articles:
Don's new book Editor-Proof Your Writing: 21 Steps to the Clarity Publishers
and Agents Crave was published in 2013 (Quill Driver Books)
Feedback / Testimonials"Don, I just finished a final proofing of 'Twines.' Your editing was more than superb, and I sincerely thank you. It was my least favorite work, but with your help I found myself crying and laughing with the characters as much as with anything else I've written." - Doug Lynch
"I couldn't be happier with the network, and the editor I found via it. Don knows how to polish a manuscript, thereby yet keeping the writer's style. He has great suggestions and helps you to develop your story." (On file with network coordinator)
"Last edited pages look really good again. Your editing sure has added a lot of character development that the literary agency recommended, and also the improved emotional impact they also thought it needed. You're also providing the proper POV in each chapter. I'm learning more about how POV is used and applied correctly. It can be tricky with several key characters. I look forward to your continued masterful editing. You are bringing out the best in my historical novel." (On file with network coordinator)
"Don teaches a fantastic course called 21 steps to fog free editing. I edited the first chapter of Catch Me A Catch in his course, then made my first sale - and I'm convinced what I learned from Don played a large part in that." (On file with network coordinator)
"I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the wonderful job you did editing my manuscript. I never quite understood POV (as you could tell) but with your help, a little light went on in my head. I have thoroughly read all of your suggestions, and hope you will edit my second manuscript in the Brotherhood series, when I complete it. I hope to show you my improved writing ability. Thanks again for your help and encouragement." - Ed Torba
"Oh my Lord. I never expected anything like this. Where have you been all my life? I agree with almost everything you've pointed out, and can already see a dozen sentences in my current chapter that need changed. And I'm only on the fifth page! I'll recommend you and your skills at every opportunity." - Martha Kreiger w/a Allison Knight, Fairhope, Alabama
"Thank you. Thank you. Thank you with sugar on top. I appreciate your editing soooo much. It will help me a great deal as I continue writing the rest of this manuscript. I've already revised two chapters of my previous novel (21 chapters, 101,000 words) and am ashamed to admit that, thanks to your advice, I can cut as much as 1,000 words per chapter. You've shed a genuine light on my writing, and I feel like I finally have the chance to grow as a writer." - Stacy Thompson, Pascagoula, MS
"I wrote an 80,000-word novel and proudly showed it to you, and you suggested dozens of changes. After the shock wore off I realized that, thanks to your "21 Steps to Fog-Free Writing" editing process, you improved both that manuscript and my future writing. I believe your unique first-chapter offer is the greatest new writing concept since the pencil was invented. Really!" - Mike McNair, Richland Center, WI
"I'm going back and redoing everything I've ever written...ever! When you edited the first chapter of my latest manuscript, you opened my eyes to a whole new world - and that's way too cheesy to be an exaggeration! I can't thank you enough for the profound impact you've had on my work. I don't think it was coincidence that I received my first contract hardly a month after you set me straight. I'm referring all my writing friends to you whenever they need help. I definitely won't be the only person you inspire!" - Amber W. Shedeck w/a AMber Leigh Williams, Fairhope, AL
DOES DON MCCLAIRE KNOW HOW TO EDIT?
Here's what sixteen online editing students say
"Don, I have to take time out from editing my WIP to tell you how much I am enjoying your class. The information you give us is fabulous. I just counted the books I have purchased in the last twelve months dealing with writing. Twenty-seven! Twenty-seven books that have given me less usable information than your one class. Thank you. Thank you!"
Aliso Viejo, CA
"I loved the class. For years people told me my writing wasn't clear, yet never explained why it wasn't. Your class explained why. I rate the class a 'ten.'"
"Thank you so much for this class. I learned a ton that I can even use in my day job of writing marketing copy, so it was sort of a two-fer."
"This was the most detailed, spot-on, editing advice I've ever gotten, bar none. The lesson format conveyed a lot of information in a simple, elegant form. And you brought my attention to errors I was still making despite having taken other classes on the subject. I had no clue how many mistakes I was making. Once I picked my jaw up off the floor, I realized what a wake-up call you'd given me."
"I LOVED this class. I wanted to let you know that this is, hands-down, the best class I've ever taken. It is immediately useful, and is taught logically and with enough examples that it is easy to see the problems in my own writing. Thank you so much for offering such a wonderful resource. I'm excited about looking at my WIP again! And, oh boy, can I see the difference after taking this class. Thank you!!!"
"I have mixed feelings about class ending tomorrow. I've learned so much, and I don't want it to end! I started with a 105,600-word WIP, and have "de-fogged" it down to 100,000. If this class went on much longer I might be sitting here with a short story, instead of the next great American novel!"
"Your lessons helped me tremendously! I've actually re-opened a channel with a publisher, and you're lesson on author intrusion is what made it possible. You're separating the men from the boys here, lemme tell ya. I have months of work ahead of me, but I can't wait to dig in."
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
"I used to make 30 passes trying to find the editing problems. Now, with your 21 Steps, I'm sooooooooo much more efficient. I can constantly refer back to examples to help me avoid each Step's traps."
Palo Alto, CA
"Your '21Steps' program is succinct, to the point, provides great examples and homework—it's excellent all the way around. I liked that I could work at my own speed, and wasn't inundated with 100 emails a day since my time is so limited. Thank you!"
Calgary, AB, Canada
"I've learned boatloads in this course. The way your lessons communicate what to do and not do is very engaging, and your real-life examples bring it all home. Your teaching style is very effective, and I'm now applying a whole new lens to my writing. I've learned that the 200 pages I've written is just a working outline, and that those information dumps and backstories were my way of getting to know my characters. All that information was useful, but now won't make it into the story."
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
"I just wanted to let you know that I've just sold Catch Me a Catch, the story we worked on in your class! This is my first novel, and I'd like to thank you for all the help and guidance that helped me get there."
Celbridge, County Kildare, Ireland
"I learned a great deal. You presented solid solutions to universal writing problems, and I definitely found my money and my time well spent! This course could very well make the difference between success for me and struggling along with the same old problems, getting nowhere. It's one thing to know what's wrong and quite another to know how to fix it."
"Thanks for a great class! I learned so many things that seem so obvious. I've read a lot of books on editing and writing, but this course showed the steps in a clear and concise way. You have given me direction and confidence in my editing process."
"Don's workshops are the best. His own writing is so CLEAN, a real pleasure to read. While some workshops are "about," Don's is a "how-to." He shares very specific techniques ;to clean up your own writing and provides handouts and exercises to identify your own brand of "fog." My standard for onlineworkshops is what I have to show after I've completed the class. I can promise that Don's class is well worth your time and money."
Rita Van Fleet
"I printed out your lessons and read them at bedtime. I have already made several edits to my WIP based on the information in your lessons. I have taken several online writing classes, and this is one of my favorites. I like your style!"
Diamond Bar, CA
"I loved the course, and learned a lot about editing my own work. I edited the first 3 chapters of my WIP and they're a lot tighter (and shorter). I liked the format, the assignments and being able to correct my work. Thanks for a great course that definitely improved my WIP and, hopefully, future books."
Kelowna, BC, Canada