Tag Archives: editor

Erin Crocker—Novelist, Award-winning Short Story Author, Editor, Creative Writing Coach, Actress, and Women’s Advocate

Erin was born in Missouri and moved to the East Coast in 2007. She holds an A.A.S in General Studies with an emphasis in Police Science, a Certificate of Education from Germanna Community College and a Bachelor’s of English, Linguistics, and Communications from the University of Mary Washington. She enjoys writing, acting, dabbling in the stock market and cryptocurrencies, and playing instruments. An introvert to the core, Erin self-identifies as a doughnut enthusiast and in her free time if she’s not price shopping for lye, she enjoys long walks in dark forests carrying her favorite shovel.

Tell me about your writing process: schedule, environment, inspirations, magic spells, etc.

Most of the time I write between phone conferences with various celebrities while I’m traveling on my private jet. I find that it’s the optimal place to write, up in the clouds, on my way to a tropical coast. Joking…

I can’t say that I have a process. I write. That’s pretty much it—one word and then next and the next. I never force myself to write; I don’t keep a set schedule or judge myself on the plethora of days and times I should be writing and I’m not.

On warm days (spring, summer, early fall) I have an outdoor spot where I write. It serves as fantastic inspiration, but I won’t say where it is.

As far as magical spells go, the fairies keep stealing them. Every single time I concoct a new one those thieving little jerks come along and take it from me. So, I would be more than happy to divulge the spells, but I no longer have them. Perhaps interview the fairies. They will tell you…maybe.

Walk me through the publishing process as an editor of anthologies, from soliciting submissions to marketing the final product.

I wouldn’t call the publishing process ‘walking’. The better term would be stumbling. It’s not an easy feat. Publishing an anthology would be my excuse for turning to alcoholism. But really, I think it’s a matter of being very clear on the submission call…VERY clear in terms of what I’m looking for, what I expect in terms of formatting, word count, content, etc. Doing this seems to help.

It’s working with a large number of artists, all with different tastes, styles, and trying to combine everything into a single volume; it can be fun and challenging particularly because it is multi-genre. I’ve really been fortunate to have worked with extremely talented authors and poets which has helped make publishing both “Cocky-Tales” and “Rejected” wonderful experiences.

Marketing is always a tough one. I approach it a bit differently. I don’t do what they call “link drop”. I’ve always worked to build a relationship with my audience from participating in real-life events to going Facebook Live, I appreciate everyone who takes time to leave a comment or follow my page, and I enjoy interacting with them as much as possible. When I market an anthology, I want my audience to also get to know the authors here and there—bios are important to me. I loved posting the rescue pet photos that a few of our authors had sent in.

Talk about your support system online and IRL; who are your biggest cheerleaders?

I feel like I have a larger support system online than in real life. Per the last question, I’ve taken time to try my best to build genuine relationships and express my appreciation because, wow(!), sometimes the interaction blows my mind! I’ve made a number of great online friends who are also authors or aspiring authors, and they are wonderful.

In real life I wouldn’t say I necessarily have ‘cheerleaders’. Although, I’m not opposed to cheerleading uniforms (i.e. Dallas Cowboys…anyways, that wasn’t the question. Was it?) I have a handful of friends, and I think if I ever wanted to quit writing, they’d probably try to talk me out of it, lol.

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How does life influence your writing and vice versa? Feel free to share anything you want about When She Walked Away. Also, blatantly exploit this opportunity to advertise all your freelance work.

I think every piece of fiction is sourced from bits and pieces of reality. My life influences my writing in significant ways. While the experiences don’t exactly parallel, I think there’s parts of me in overall situations or traits in characters. If it wasn’t personal on a certain level, I wouldn’t write it.

When I write I also find I’m discovering myself. Maybe not in the initial piece, but once I am finished and I step back and see the complete picture, I find something new within me that I hadn’t recognized. Art is cool in that sense.

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What do you love most about your creativity?

It’s a good way to escape. My creativity allows me to process situations in abstract and escapist dynamics; otherwise, I don’t know that I could deal with some things through the lens of “normal society”.

Author Extra: Tell us how you get acting roles! Don’t leave out the unglamorous, hard work parts.

Luck? Accident? I turned down my first role two times. I felt I was gracious and polite about it, having recognized the opportunity to be involved in something as big as Netflix, but it wasn’t where I thought I wanted to go in life. Finally, I ended up taking it.

After that, I decided I’d do some background roles. I only ever meant to stand in the background as ‘popcorn eating patron number 137’, but at my second job which was “Unmasked”, the director pulled me and gave me a speaking role. Then and there I made an important decision: Nothing is worth doing if it doesn’t scare the hell out of me.

Acting is practice, practice, practice…it’s investing time and finances into the craft. It’s driving to audition after audition, most are spur of the moment. It’s coming home from the gym, sweaty, at ten o’ clock at night, changing my shirt, putting on makeup, fixing my hair, and self-taping an audition or several.

It’s rejection after rejection, and sometimes you don’t even hear that “no”. What I do is submit and move on. Dwelling and checking email every second of the day is like concrete. It holds you back. Submit, move on, move forward, let go, because if it is meant to be, it’ll happen. And when I do hear a “yes” (YES!) it is so worth it, the entire process is worth it.

Connect with Erin:

instagram: @authorerincrocker
IMDb: imdb.me/erincrocker

Jessica Strawser—Writer, Editor, and Speaker

Photo by Corrie Shaffeld

Tell me about your writing process: schedule, environment, strategies / techniques, and inspirations material and abstract.

I’m an organic writer—I think a lot ahead of time about the characters and what my story’s central questions will be, but don’t outline in detail or swear by any particular tools or strategies, beyond reading voraciously, as much as I’m able. I’m very disciplined, with daily and weekly goals, and believe firmly in the power of forward momentum once I get going on a manuscript.

I wrote my first two novels by night, as my babies/toddlers slept, while working a demanding day job as editorial director for Writer’s Digest magazine. Not long after signing the contract for Forget You Know Me, I scaled back my role at the magazine and shifted to writing by day as my primary focus. A writing career involves a fair amount of evenings and weekends for things like book clubs, conferences and festivals, so this is a much more workable focus for my family, which always comes first.

Describe your publishing process, from final draft to final product, including publishing team and timeline. How did your work in the industry prepare you for the writing world as an author?

It’s been a little different for every book, particularly as staffing changes at my publisher have led to a few editorial team transitions, but I’m working at the pace of about a book a year. I refine a draft until I think (hope) it’s close to working as what I envisioned for the story, then get feedback from a few trusted readers and revise yet again before turning it over to my editor. Then comes another round to incorporate the excellent suggestions from her professional eye.

My work in the industry taught me what a team effort publishing is; I have enormous respect for my editors, having been one, and deep gratitude for the efforts of the hardworking support teams—marketing, publicity, design and beyond.

Who are your biggest cheerleaders online and IRL, and how did you get into the Tall Poppies (beyond being an excellent storyteller)?

My family and friends—who’ve seen firsthand my dedication to this craft since long before I ever got published—are my biggest cheerleaders, and their warm support means the world to me.

Also, at the start, were my colleagues at Writer’s Digest—we were all writers with a genuine love for the work we were doing there, and it was humbling to have them so enthusiastically in my corner—as well as a debut author group called 17 Scribes—it was invaluable to be tapped into a network of other authors publishing their first novels in 2017, and many of us remain connected today.

I’d met some of the Tall Poppy Writers through conferences, WD, the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and online, and had admired their collaborative spirit and talented body of work for years; I was elated when they invited me to join.

How does your life influence your writing and vice versa? Please share fun details about being the 2019 Writer-in-Residence for Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

While I don’t write directly from life experiences, of course we all are heavily influenced by the phases of life in which we find ourselves and the beautiful (and not so beautiful) aspects of human nature that turn our heads. I’d find it impossible to separate the two!

It’s a wonderful honor to be serving as the newly minted Writer-in-Residence for the Cincinnati library system this year; it encompasses more than 40 branches, and I’ll doing community engagement with local readers (visiting library branch book clubs and hosting a podcast) as well as aspiring writers (teaching free workshops and holding office hours, for instance).

What do you love most about your creativity?

Through dreaming up a story from pure imagination, somehow, I end up feeling more like me.

Connect with Jessica:

Jessica Strawser





Brian Klems – Writer, Blogger, Humorist, Dad

In September, I attended the 34th Western Reserve Writers Conference and Workshop, driving up from NC, eager to hear the keynote speaker, Brian Klems, online editor of Writer’s Digest. The conference was fantastic, and starting in 2016, the Cuyahoga Library sponsors it to support writers. The South Euclid-Lyndhurst branch hosting the conference has a Writer Center that makes me want to live in Cleveland.

In between sessions, I chanced upon Brian and we chatted for a few minutes. He’s a super nice guy, of course, being from the Midwest, like myself. We Midwesterners are so friendly. Brian agreed to a written interview for my blog, and I promised to share links to his work and his book. He’s a pretty funny guy and in his keynote speech, he shared a few stories from his parenting book. If you’re a parent, or even if you’re not and love kids, I recommend it.

Many writers have an unusual and varied employment history. Mine includes framing / remodeling, llama husbandry, job coaching, home health care, and substitute teaching. I’ve also been a barista, a wine steward, and a personal assistant. Brian’s career climb is more logical, with surprising summers.

“During sophomore year of high school, I landed my first job bagging groceries at a local supermarket. One close friend also worked there, so we’d align our shifts to get off at the same time and hang out together after. I spent most of that money at a local Perkins and on CDs. Next, I was selected to take part in the inaugural ArtWorks Apprentice program for young writers in Cincinnati. I not only learned how to refine my writing, but also a bit of photography and film development (which I completely forget now, so thank god for iPhones and Walgreens). During college summers and breaks, I manned the desk at the Hamilton County Courthouse, retrieving daily case files for the magistrates and judges—it was divorce court, so very few were in a good mood (but the judges couldn’t have been nicer to me).

As for my professional writing career, I worked in NYC for a few months in the summer of 2000 for two sporting and health fitness business magazines. After that, I landed a job in Chicago for plumbing trade magazines. I had several editors there who took me under their wings and helped me grow as not just a writer, but as an editor. I also stepped in to oversee their websites, and it was my first real dip into the professional online world. After two years there, I itched to move back to my hometown, and applied for a job at Writer’s Digest—which I landed, and it became my professional home for the next 14 years.”

Every writer must find his / her own style to be productive. Sharing the process inspires other writers and satisfies reader curiosity. Brian offers a look into his creative style and gives some good advice.

“I like to write in chunks as opposed to writing every day. I’m constantly brainstorming and writing down my ideas on notepads and napkins and scrap paper and anything I can find when an idea hits. Then I collect them into Google Drive docs. When I feel inspired and motivated, I sit down and work through the ideas, sorting and writing scenes and essays and whatever I’m ready to write.

As for editing, I find this to be a critical part of the process. Somehow, everything I write seems to be awesome and terrible at the same time. I believe that’s true for many writers. When writing humor, I self-edit as I write. With jokes, every word matters and I have problems leaving a line until it’s perfect. When writing fiction, I attempt to power through until I’m finished and then go back and edit (though I totally get slowed down by my humor writing process, because sometimes I want to get the sentence right the first time). One of the keys for me is, once I have my “first final draft,” I have an editor give it a look. Working at Writer’s Digest, I’m lucky to know several professional editors. While I edit manuscripts professionally too, I want someone with a fresh set of thoughtful eyes who knows the industry and is a professional to let me know what works, what doesn’t, and anything else. Writing and editing is a tough process, but I love it.”

Creatives, whatever their medium, see inspiration everywhere, and often within. We must keep our wells filled in order to continue creating. On this, Brian not only tells what inspires him, but in his words is a subtle reminder to be supportive of other creatives, which also helps fill our wells.

“Reading amazing books by others always inspires me. The creativeness and thoughtfulness that goes into these epic tomes that entertain me or teach me something (or both) make me want to do the same for others. To know that I could write something that makes someone laugh or think, or makes them smile just a little bit, makes me feel good, really motivates me.

Also, my family feeds my writing life. Since I write a lot of creative nonfiction about fatherhood, they feed my stories with life lessons and humor that I couldn’t even make up. It works out perfectly for me, as I’m built really for two things: to be a writer and be a dad. Knowing I can merge both to do something that entertains others is just icing on the cake.

I don’t keep a journal, just a running Google Doc of ideas, jokes and lines that I save and, if I’m lucky, turn into something of value one day.

As for who sees my work before it’s finished, it usually goes through two sets of eyes—an editor and my wife. I send it through an editor for the reason mentioned earlier, and I send it through my wife because she knows me better than anyone and can be brutally honest. Plus, I don’t want to accidentally write something about our family that would bother her (that rarely happens, but I’m smart enough to use her as a buffer to make sure I never publish something that I shouldn’t).”

When Brian became a father, his life changed dramatically, and he  desired to share his experience in his humorous book “Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters” and parenting blog Parenting Blog.

“Like I said, I’m cut out to be a dad—I love everything about it. The hugs and cuddles. The coaching their sports. The reading on the couch before bedtime. The helping them with their school work. The bringing their lunchbox up to school when they forget it. The dirty diapers (OK, so that I could have lived without, though thankfully, those we retired years ago). My wife and I make a great team and being a dad is the best job that I have.

The way that parenting changed my writing process is that I do so much more writing at night after the kids are in bed than I do during the day. I don’t want to miss time with them while they’re young and still like hanging out with me. I’m hopeful they’ll break the stereotypes and still want to (sometimes) spend time with me even in their teenage years, but I’m not banking on it. So spending as much time as I can with them now is what I do.”

Many writers have various interests that come out in different genres and are creative in multiple ways, resulting in blogs, vlogs, non-fiction, fiction, etc. Beyond his editing position and humorous parenting work, Brian has other projects in the works. He shares his wisdom in the truism of gratitude.

“Aside from parenting essays and my book, I’m working on a Young Adult novel right now. It’s the biggest challenge facing me, as novel writing is so eye-opening. In fiction you have endless choices, and I like to debate each one to find the best scenarios I can for my characters. It’s moving slowly, as my fiction writing always does, but I’m making progress.

As far as snail mail or poetry, I don’t write much of either. I wrote poems to my wife when we were still young lovebirds in college, but now I win her affection by cleaning the dishes and keeping the grass cut lower than our neighbors.

And one of the best parts of being a writer is all the fan mail I get, especially from parents who have read my blog or my book. I’ve also received hundreds of kind letters from folks who have read my blog on writing or have seen me speak at an event. Interacting in person with writers is one of my favorite non-writing things that I do. It gives me an opportunity to share what I’ve learned and help other writers navigate and find success in this difficult business. After all, the writing community is the best and most supportive community around. And for that, I am forever grateful to be a part of it.”

He’s a funny guy who loves his kids tremendously and can find the humor in their everday actions. Buy his humorous parenting book “Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters” and read his parenting blog The Life of Dad.

Find valuable information on his professional website Brian Klems and follow him on Twitter @BrianKlems.

Thank you, Brian Klems, for favoring a new blogger with an industry professional interview. I appreciate your online advice, humor, and especially your support of other writers.