Writing and editing go hand in hand, but success in one doesn’t automatically translate into success in the other. There’s still a lot of hard work involved, and it can take years to succeed in both.
But for professionals like Leslie McKee, the hard work is paying off. A successful book editor, Leslie became a published author last year, and today she’s going to share her tips and suggestions with us. Welcome!
What do you write? How/why did you pick your genre?
At this time, I mainly write devotions, and I’ve written a few flash fiction stories. I am starting to work on some ideas for future projects, which are a children’s book and a nonfiction book.
While I wrote a lot when I was younger, my current journey began when an editing contact presented me with an opportunity to participate in a devotional compilation. I agreed before I gave myself time to think about the fact that I’d never written a devotion before 😊 That led to a contract for ten devotions to be included in the Just Breathe devotional journal compilation (published in 2017 by Ellie Claire/Worthy Publishing).
How long does it take you to: write the book? Edit it? Finalize it?
At this time, I’ve only had one book published: my devotional journal, Hope Amid the Pain, which was released in October 2021. I worked on the book for close to three years, from start to publication. Most of the book was written over the course of one month, and I largely wrote it for myself. The introduction and back matter came later, after I decided I was going to self-publish or seek out a traditional publisher. I worked with an independent editor, which didn’t take long. I signed my publishing contract in April 2021, and the book was published six months later.
What’s your favorite writers conference? What do you like about it?
I’ve attended a few conferences (in alphabetical order: ACFW, Breathe, KCWC – Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, KidLIt Virtual Conference, Kingdom Writers Conference, Mt. Zion Ridge Press Conference, Penned Con, and She Speaks). Over the past few years, I’ve attended them virtually, which I LOVE doing! I’ve been able to attend conferences that I wouldn’t have been able to attend in person, and I’ve been richly blessed by the knowledge gained at all of these. I can’t choose just one favorite. I really enjoy the opportunity to learn more about the craft, as well as the numerous connections that are made at conferences.
What conference do you most want to attend?
Since I wear a variety of hats, I’d like to do many conferences (writing, editing, and speaking). I like the general writing conferences, since they cover both fiction and nonfiction, and many seem to cover speaking, as well as general practices such as marketing. Some on my radar for the future are Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and Writers Digest’s Annual Conference. I’d love to attend one overseas, as well.
What’s your writing day like?
I don’t have a specific schedule, which does create a problem for me. Since I am an editor, my clients’ stories come first most days. At this time, I work on my writing where I can fit it in, which often is in the evening. When I wrote Hope Amid the Pain, I almost exclusively wrote it in the evenings (and much was done during the month of November, for NaNoWriMo.) I’m working on creating a schedule where my writing is worked into my day so I can have a bit of “off-time” in the evenings.
How do you prepare to write your books: pantser, plotter, both, something completely different? Describe your strategy.
So far, I’ve only written/published one book. For that book, as well as the devotions I’ve written for compilations, I have done a bit of both. In general, I choose a Bible verse and let that lead me through the devotional content. When I wrote the flash fiction stories, which were quite outside my wheelhouse, God dropped the ideas in my head, and the stories came together quite quickly. For the projects I currently have in progress, I have a general outline for what I’d like to cover, as well as a few examples, but I haven’t got much beyond that at this time.
What’s surprised you the most about the publishing process?
I’ve been associated with the publishing industry for close to twenty years (as a reviewer then an editor and now as an author), so I knew quite a bit about the publishing process. However, I’ve learned that putting on an author hat is quite different from the editing hat I’ve worn for many years.
If you’ve ever worked with a freelance editor, how did you find that editor? How would you describe the experience?
I used a freelance editor for my debut book. I’m an editor myself, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be self-publishing or submitting to traditional publishers. I know the importance of hiring an editor, so I didn’t want to skip that step. Thanks to my membership in The Christian PEN, I already knew a number of freelance editors, so it was somewhat easy to choose one who would be an appropriate fit for my manuscript.
Why me? Is God punishing me? Is my faith not strong enough for God to heal me? How can I achieve my dreams? What’s my purpose?
If you’re someone living with a chronic illness or chronic pain, these are just a few of the questions you’ve likely asked on more than one occasion. You may feel overlooked or even resentful. You try to stay positive, but some days it’s hard. It’s natural to feel this way and grieve, but it’s still possible to have a hope-filled life. God has a purpose for the pain.
Leslie is an author, editor, and reviewer. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and The Christian PEN. Her devotions have been published in compilations by Ellie Claire (2017 and 2020). Her flash fiction stories have been published with Havok, Splickety, and Spark. Her devotional journal (HOPE Amid The Pain: Hanging on to Positive Expectations When Battling Chronic Illness and Pain) was released in 2021. She enjoys reading, crocheting, spending time with family and friends (and her turtle Speedy!), and rooting for the NY Giants.