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Q and A

Apr 17, 2013; Tom Asks:

HI, Do you have a recipe for chocolate mousse pie?

Stacey answers:

Uh, no, not in my head. I could look in my Grandmother's Hadassah cookbook though...

Apr 15, 2013; Tom Asks:

I'm surprised your deal isn't buy one get one free. Or is that next week's deal?

Stacey answers:

That screaming deal is coming soon. You're just going to have to watch the site and wait for it.

Apr 12, 2013; Mr. Mingo Asks:

Stacey, What's your deal?

Stacey answers:

This week my deal is buy one get one half off.

Apr 04, 2013; Tom Asks:

I am nearing the completion of the first draft of my first novel. I have spent over a year on this project and before I begin the next step of editing and rewriting I would appreciate any advice you may have to offer. One specific question I have concerns using an editor. Is it a good idea to hire an editor to review the work and suggest changes at this stage or should I do at least one edit and rewrite on my own before paying a professional to look it over?

Stacey answers:

I think you should do one rewrite on your own. Before you do, let the novel sit for a while, a couple of months at least. This allows time for something to change or evolve inside you, or maybe it just lets you to forget enough of what you wrote to give you a fresh eye when you read it again. After that, outside help might save you time, but it's important to find an editor you click with in a narrative sense. Hiring someone is fine, and there are a lot of great editors out there, but you might be surprised how helpful a reading by a sympatico friend or relative can be. Though if they're not helpful, it can suck big time. Congratulations on finishing your draft!

Mar 21, 2013; Tom Asks:

I agree, Carson McCullers would probably not be such a great mom in the traditional sense, but her kid would be sitting pretty to write an interesting memoir. So, and here comes the obvious follow-up question, if Denis Johnson and Carson McCullers had a kid, who would it be?

Stacey answers:

Well, that's an unlikely pairing. But I can't resist a challenge. Maybe Joy Williams?

Mar 16, 2013; Jello Bunny Asks:

Have you ever loved or admired en episodic narrative television program?

Stacey answers:

I have loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Wonder Falls (which is only available on video I believe); I liked Sex and the City but felt guilty about it. I also really liked The Wire but became what may have been clinically depressed from watching season four so still haven't watched season five.

If I could ever steal someone's HBO Go, I'm sure I'd find a lot more shows to love and admire. I might even marry one.

Mar 14, 2013; Lorax Asks:

What kind of pie is best to eat on Pi day?

Stacey answers:

Lemon cream.

Mar 14, 2013; Tom Asks:

Do you really dream that Denis Johnson is your father? I dream that Carson McCullers is my mother.

Stacey answers:

He had a father-figure role in a dream but was not my literal father. I think it's the same though I love that Carson McCullers was your mother-mother. Such a great dream mother! Not a good life-mother though, I'd have to say.

Mar 10, 2013; Sort of dying Asks:

Thanks, Stacey. Sorry for the typos - I was on my phone and all riled up.

Stacey answers:

You're welcome. I'm glad I could be there in your time of crisis.

P.S. If you feel like it, email me &let me know when your story comes out so I can read it.

Mar 09, 2013; Sort of dying Asks:

Hi Stacey. I got a story accepted at kind of a big magazine - my first real one - they sent me the galleys to approve and I think they over-edited. Some of my sentences may have been a little weird but I chose them on purpose. I'm ending up putting stuff back and I guess I'm going to say that I felt like too much of the tone was lost. There are some structural changes I'm not going to argue with though. Is this how this is done? Am I being an asshole? I think I may be working with a more junior editor and I think he overdid his job. A few of the changes feel arbitrary and dumb. It's taking me hours to sift through 3 pages, mostly because I can't decide if I'm being dumb and stubborn or if I'm just standing up for the story's original intent. Have you ever had this happen? It's hard. What do you do? Also, my response is due Monday at noon so if you get a chance to answer before then - I think I'd be relieved. And I'd appreciate it. Thanks.

Stacey answers:

Dying, hello. I edited your question for a little for typos, by the way. I just want to start with that. Now: congratulations! That's so great that your story is going to be in a big magazine! It sounds like your editor is sticking to the rules of his favorite style guide; grammar is nice but you don't want rules to take precedent over art. If you feel like your story is becoming bland through editing, then that's too much editing. Honestly, a three-page story probably shouldn't have a lot of big changes. I would wonder about the structural changes myself--I mean, in three pages, how much change can there be before it's a different story? They don't want a different story--they want this one. So stand up for your work, yes, yes. No, you are not being an asshole. In fact, it's your job to do this. You are the intimate holder of your artistic vision, and you have to communicate that vision.

And you know what? It's not a big deal. If the editors disagree, they'll just tell you and argue for the change--that's what they do all day long. It's their job. It's extremely common. It happens all the time. And actually, it can be good--sometimes even great--to argue changes with a perceptive editor. She might change your mind and help you see something more clearly. Or the two of you might find a third way that's even better. This is why talking on the phone can be helpful, even if you would rather vomit hairballs than talk on the phone to an editor. It won't take long, and they'll be nice. That's part of your job too.

So here's what you do: on the red line, just write "stet" beside the things you want to keep. You can add, "for rhythm" if you want, or "for style," but you don't have to. If you have doubts about the structural changes, or any other changes, you can write, "okay/maybe, but I have doubts about this. Can we discuss?" Dying, believe me, this is not assholey. This is normal and expected. You want your story to be as good as possible and the editor wants the same thing. It's normal give-and-take. So say what you're thinking! Put that jello-brain of yours in the fridge and let those bunny shapes firm up.

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