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Please read the bios carefully to find the best editors who work in your genre before applying. (There is a reading / consultation fee per submission) Learn more about the Program

hsElaine Ash

ELAINE ASH edits fiction and nonfiction writers — from established authors to emerging talent. As the former editor-at-large for Beat to a Pulp e-zine, Elaine helped writers develop stories for publication.  Some of those writers went on to fame and fortune such as Hilary Davidson (Tor/Forge), Sophie Littlefield (Minotaur, Delacorte), Chris F. Holm (Angry Robot,, Mulholland), Frank Bill (Farrar Strauss Giroux) Patti Abbott (Polis), Jay Stringer (Thomas and Mercer) and many more. 

With a full complement of top agents and acquiring editors in her contacts, Elaine also helps clients pitch manuscripts and land deals. It all starts with a great manuscript. 

She is an award-winning author herself under the pen-name “Anonymous-9,” and won Best Short Story on the Web 2009 from Spinetingler Magazine, as well as two Readers Choice Awards from the House of Crime and Mystery. Her HARD BITE series is published by Down & Out Books. A true creative “insider,” Elaine appears alongside Margaret Atwood in a literary documentary on the late Canadian novelist Crad Kilodney, currently in production for 2019 release. She is the author of Bestseller Metrics: How to Win the Novel Writing Game, and the inventor of software in development for the publishing industry.

Aspiring writers through all levels are welcome to submit work to Elaine. She will read excerpts of 2500 words or less from ten manuscripts, and offer individual consultations of up to 30 minutes each. Feedback will encompass voice, style, characterization, development and sales potential, including commentary on where your skills have impact and where they could be strengthened. You will come away energized and motivated about your work! A printed copy of your excerpt with Elaine’s handwritten comments is yours to keep. All levels and genres are welcome, fiction and nonfiction.


Matthew Arkin, Lead Story Editor at My Two Cents Editing, writes noir detective novels, the first of which was released earlier this year. His self-published book was funded by a $17,000 Kickstarter campaign that exceeded its goal. A former attorney and now a critically acclaimed actor, he has been passionately involved in the exploration of character, plot, and motivation since he began his professional acting career at the age of eight. After graduating with honors in English from Wesleyan University in 1982, he continued his studies at Fordham Law School. He was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1986 and practiced law until 1989, when he decided to follow his passion and return to his acting career.

He has extensive Broadway, film, and television credits, and has appeared numerous times Off-Broadway and in many of the nation’s most prestigious regional theaters, and has worked on new plays with some of our finest playwrights, both established (Donald Margulies, Richard Greenberg, Annie Weisman) and newly emerging (Barbara Dana, Steven Drukman, Samuel D. Hunter, and Michael Hollinger). This work has kept him intimately connected with storytelling.

Matthew works predominantly in general adult fiction, with a special interest in detective, police procedural, mystery, suspense, science fiction, and horror. He will read and critique up to 5 manuscripts of up to 2500 words submitted in Microsoft Word or RTF. He will provide written annotations covering content and style together with a twenty-minute consultation.


Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. www.barbaraardinger.com , will read two or three works, 10 to 15 pages each, for 10 to 12 twelve authors in sessions of 15 to 20 minutes each. She will comment on “gooder English” (spelling punctuation, syntax), logical development, dialogue, and overall readability.

As a published author (eight books, plus innumerable blogs and book reviews) herself, she has worked with something like 300 authors like you—really smart people who want to express themselves more successfully in writing. She has edited screenplays, children's books, academic discourse (textbooks and doctoral and master's theses), web site text, and some poetry. Fiction edited includes romance, action-adventure, science fiction, western, mystery, historical, speculative, and horror novels. Nonfiction edited includes philosophy (mostly mainstream metaphysics and New Age), Calvinist theology, holistic health, science and technology, political tracts, business topics, history, and memoirs and biography. Barbara wants to help you produce the best book possible.


Deanna Brady is a highly versatile freelance writer and editor with more than two decades of experience. She edits, rewrites, and ghostwrites novels, literary and genre fiction, creative nonfiction, biographies, scripts, self-help and how-to books, articles, essays, proposals, cover and query letters, business communications, and Web content. In addition to writing and editing numerous children’s books, she has been an award-winning author of short fiction and poetry. She taught in the Continuing Education department at California State University for a dozen years. She also has an extensive background in the film and television industry and is a voting member of Film Independent (Spirit Awards), SAG-AFTRA, and the IDA.

In addition to fantasy, science fiction, romance, historical, literary, and young adult fiction, as well as narrative nonfiction, Deanna specializes in projects concerning spirituality, ecology, Native American Indian and other indigenous cultures, psychology, and complementary medicine. Known as an “editor’s editor,” she is also adept with ESL, dialects, and translated text. 

Deanna works with a broad spectrum of clients, from individuals to major corporations, in widely varied fields. She edits on all levels necessary, including copy, line, stylistic, substantive, and developmental, and will provide commentary in regard to the suggested corrections/changes. She will read up to four manuscript excerpts of approximately 2,500 words each and also requests a brief synopsis in order to review overall structure. 

Deanna will will read up to four manuscript excerpts of apx. 2,500 words. She edits on all levels necessary, including copy, line, stylistic, substantive, and developmental, and will provide commentary in regard to the suggested corrections/changes. She will also comment on such elements as diction, emotional impact, clarity, economy, internal logic, structure, character development, pace, flow, etc. 

She will spend as many as twenty minutes in the consultation. She has special expertise in fiction and nonfiction genres/categories including fantasy, young adult, literary fiction, romance, and creative nonfiction, as well as American Indian and other indigenous cultures, self-help, how-to, ESL projects, ecology, psychology, spirituality, and complementary medicine. If available, please include a brief synopsis or outline in addition to the sample -- which should be the first chapter, or the introduction or prologue and first chapter -- to provide an idea of structure.

hsSara Anne "Saran" Fox, a former development executive with a major Hollywood producer, played a vital role in the conception and development of over 25 screenplays, three published novels, and three produced films: "My Favorite Year", "Nosferatu" and "Quest For Fire". For over 20 years, she has used her skills as a writing coach and story editor with screenwriters to strengthen character development, clarify motivation, and improve story structure and plot.

Sara Anne's strong empathetic and intuitive gifts, combined with her editorial talents, serve to provide her clients with a comfortable creative atmosphere in which to realize their artistic goals and visions. She is also a professional expert in story and screenwriting in LA Valley College's IDEAS program. For this conference, Ms. Fox, (who also works with novelists and nonfiction authors), will focus on screenwriting and read the first 15 pages of a script and offer feedback on character, dialog and plot. She will also be available to listen to and critique pitches.

Stephanie Kelly is a freelance editor at Stephanie Kelly Editorial, which she founded in 2021. As a freelance editor, she collaborates with writers to ensure that their manuscripts are as strong and polished as possible. She has over a decade of experience working on fiction and nonfiction at a major publishing house. From 2011 to 2021, she was a member of the editorial department at Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House, and beginning in 2017, began acquiring and editing for the Plume list as well as the Dutton list. Her authors at Dutton and Plume included New York Times bestsellers Tami Hoag, Fiona Davis, Asha Lemmie, Hannah Shaw, and Eric Jerome Dickey; international bestseller R. H. Herron; Claire Heywood, Elizabeth L. Cline, Laura Maylene Walter, Olivia Kiernan, Amy Blackstone, and T. Marie Vandelly, among others. For more information, visit www.stephaniekellyeditorial.com

For the California Creative Writers Conference, she has three available one-on-one time slots. Prior to the session, she will read the opening 30 pages of your novel, as well as a pitch and/or synopsis of the whole project (no longer than 2 pages), and offer feedback, as well as answer any questions you may have about the pages, synopsis, editing/publishing process, etc. Sessions will be 50 minutes long, and she will read in the following genres: women’s fiction, historical fiction, thrillers/suspense, and young adult. Her available times are listed below, and she must receive the pages (as a Microsoft Word document) no later than Tuesday, March 8.

Helgo Schier, Ph.D.

Helga Schier, Ph. D., former Big Five editor and current publishing executive, is the founder and owner of withpenandpaper.com, an independent editorial services firm. Helga  is also the Editorial Director at CamCat Books, a publisher of award-winning genre fiction actively looking for suspense/mystery/thrillers, sci-fi/adventure/fantasy, and romance.

Helga Schier, Ph. D., former Big Five editor and current publishing executive, is the founder and owner of withpenandpaper.com, an independent editorial services firm. Helga  is also the Editorial Director at CamCat Books, a publisher of award-winning genre fiction actively looking for suspense/mystery/thrillers, sci-fi/adventure/fantasy, and romance.

With over 25 years of experience in the (self-) publishing industry, Ms. Schier guides authors through the development and revision process. Handling a manuscript like a diamond in the rough, Ms. Schier’s editorial work focuses on the refinement of story, character, and stylistic issues, helping writers unlock the potential of their manuscripts. Her clients are published, self-published, and not-yet-published writers.

Helga has published essayistic works on contemporary English and American fiction, and has translated several screenplays, memoirs, and a novel series. She is also a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences with successful lectures on topics such as Top Ten Mistakes Writers Make, Ten Steps to Successful Revision, Beyond Cliffhangers, Painting a Scene With Dialogue and Narration, The Three Secrets to Successful Indie Publishing, and Rise and Shine in the Slush Pile.


Nicolas Nelson

Nelson  founded Wordsmith Writing Coaches in 2004 to help international grad students excel in America. In 2007, Nic added nonfiction book editing, then children's book editing, genre-fiction editing, and coaching for authors in both craft and career.

WWC now offers a broad array of services through its coaches, editors, and strategic partners. They can help you bring your book from concept to publication and acclaim and maintain your sanity while you do it.

Nic’s clients have published picture books, children’s books, memoir, philosophy, futurism, genre fiction, how-to, self-help, spiritual growth, short stories, short story collections, poetry collections, and more.

Let him help you write well and publish wisely!


Marcie Geffner is a multiple award-winning reporter, editor and writer whose work has been featured online and in print by the Washington PostLos Angeles TimesUrban LandBusiness Start-Ups and other newspapers, magazines and websites. Her corporate clients have included Anthem/Blue Cross, American Express, J.P. Morgan Chase, Union Bank, and Dun & Bradstreet. Marcie's articles have been cited in seven published nonfiction books and two U.S. Congressional hearings. The National Association of Real Estate Editors and Society of American Business Editors have both honored her work.

In addition to developmental and copy editing fiction, memoir and nonfiction, Marcie is a nonfiction book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and genre fiction reviewer for Kirkus Reviews and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Editors describe Marcie as “detail-driven,” “conscientious,” “smart,” “a wonderful writer,” “a delight to work with” and “incredibly versatile.” Fiction authors say her feedback helps them take their writing to the next level.

"Marcie has excellent instincts about the big picture of a written piece--what's missing, what needs to be added and what's not right about the work. Having her eyes on your piece could only be a positive thing," says one novelist. With a bachelor’s degree in English from UCLA and MBA from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Marcie has impressive academic credentials in both story-telling and business management. At UCLA, Marcie became a member of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society. A second-generation native of Los Angeles, Marcie currently lives, works and writes in Ventura, California, a beach town between Malibu and Santa Barbara.

Marcie works with authors of mainstream, literary and genre fiction, memoir, and prescriptive and narrative nonfiction. Her conference critiques feature both developmental and copy editing, giving authors feedback on story-telling strengths, plot, character, novel-writing craft and writing mechanics. Marcie takes an educational approach to working with authors, explaining what does and doesn't work and why and showing them how to make substantive improvements to their work.

For this conference, Marcie will read up to five submissions of up to 2,000 words each. Authors will receive specific actionable feedback on their pages, plus a 20-minute private consultation at the conference. Additional editorial services may be arranged separately at or after the conference, if desired.

Beginning and experienced writers are welcome. No self-help, inspirational or horror. Extra love for fresh, original, fun or quirky stories and voices. (Saturday and Sunday only.)

hsEve Porinchak Since earning a degree in Biology/Psychology from UCLA, Eve has lived all over the planet and spent much of her time in and out of jail – as a creative writing teacher for teen inmates. An agent with Jill Corcoran Literary Agency since 2012, Eve also serves as the Volunteer Training Coordinator for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Los Angeles, and is responsible for recruiting and training Guardians ad Litem assigned to foster youth.

A former medical student, child welfare social worker, and public school teacher, Eve writes stories featuring youth she feels have been underrepresented in children’s literature, such as those born into gang life, the abandoned, and the incarcerated who – ironically - have the most fascinating tales to tell.

Her first book, One Cut - a haunting nonfiction story with a juvenile justice bent – launched Simon and Schuster’s new young adult true crime line SIMON TRUE in May 2017.

Apply now for Editor's Advance Submission ProCritique...


Art Holcomb will read screenplays, novels, short stories and comic book/graphic novel scripts - up to 10 manuscripts of approximately 2500 words (10 standard pages) and provide written notes and a twenty minute scheduled consultation.  Please read the bio (below) on Art for more information about his experience and qualifications.

Follow-up consultations after the conference can be arranged separately is desired.


ART HOLCOMB is a screenwriter, playwright, fiction writer and comic book creator who began his writing career at age 13 when one of his plays was professionally performed by the American Conservatory Theater.

He has published poetry, essays and short stories and has written more than 50 comic book stories for franchises such as THE X-MEN, as well as original and licensed properties for Defiant, Valiant, Acclaim, Big Entertainment, FUNimation, Marvel Comics, and DC Comics.  His screen work has appeared on UPN, the Sci-Fi Channel and the SHOWTIME Channel.

He has sold to the STAR TREK television franchise at Paramount Television and worked on projects for the estates of Gene Roddenberry and legendary actor Steve McQueen. He has also written for the critically acclaimed animation series SHADOW RAIDERS, as well as consulted for video game companies, film production companies and publishing houses.

He is a regular columnist for Creative Screenwriting Magazine, called “The Best Magazine for Screenwriters” by The Los Angeles Times.  He is a regular contributor on fiction and screenwriting to STORYFIX.COM, ranked one of the top fiction writing sites on the internet by Writer’s Digest Magazine.

Art is a sought-after lecturer on story and runs a consultancy for highly motivated screenwriters and novelists who are committed to moving their careers to the next professional level.

His most recent short story is The Perfect Bracket with acclaimed novelist Howard V. Hendrix, which appeared in ANALOG Magazine. A play by the same name is currently under consideration for production by the National Actor’s Theater in Louisville, Kentucky.  A new science fiction – treasure hunt novel (with co-writer Hendrix) entitled The Strewn is scheduled for completion in 2015.

You can read more of Art’s thoughts on the craft of writing at www.artholcomb.blogspot.com


Peggy Glenn will read up to 10 fiction or non-fiction manuscript excerpts of approximately 2,500 words, in printed format. If available, please include a brief synopsis or story outline in addition to the sample to provide an idea of structure and context. Your submitted sample is ideally the first chapter, or the introduction or prologue and first chapter.

Peggy provides the following levels of editing in her Wordsmithing Service: copy, line, stylistic, substantive, and developmental. She will provide feedback commensurate with the depth of material that you provide. She will also provide feedback on dialogue, emotional impact, clarity, word economy, plot logic, structure, character development, story pace, etc. She will spend approximately 20 minutes in consultation during the conference, depending on the level of work that you submit.

Fiction preferences include: fictionalized memoir, mysteries, “slice of life” stories, and believable historical fiction, particularly with a romantic twist.

Non-fiction preferences include: memoir, first-person accounts, true crime that does not involve gore, inspirational and self-help (non-metaphysical), and self-improvement. She will read science fiction if it’s not scientific or horrific. No vampires, past-life, erotica or westerns. She also provides project coaching with gentle and honest feedback and lots of encouragement.

hs Kathy Ide will read up to ten submissions of up to ten double-spaced pages, fiction or nonfiction. Kathy specializes in Christian manuscripts but will critique any material that does not go against Christian principles or a Christian world view.

Her critiques include comments on the overall content, professional writing techniques that can improve the manuscript, and proofreading for typos, inconsistencies, and errors in punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling (according to the industry-standard reference guides). Kathy will spend 15-20 minutes in one-on-one consultation at the conference. Writers of all levels are welcome.

hs Marla Markman is the editor and project manager at Markman Editorial Services, specializes in guiding authors through the often-daunting self-publishing process, from manuscript to print/e-book. Her clients have gone on to win numerous awards, including a 2012 National Indie Excellence Award, a 2012 Global eBook Award, and a 2011 International Book Award. Marla will read up to six manuscript excerpts of approx. 2,500 words. She edits all levels, including copy, substantive, and developmental, and will consult on such elements as organization, tone, structure, flow, what works and what doesn’t, and suggest ideas for adding valuable features, such as sidebars and worksheets, that attract readers and increase sales.

She will spend as many as 20 minutes in the consultation. She has expertise in many nonfiction genres, including self-help, business, finance, legal, travel, health and wellness, historical, memoir, and cookbooks. Please include a table of contents, a brief synopsis or outline in addition to the sample, which should be the first chapter, or the introduction and first chapter.

hsMeghan Pinson provides expert editing, engaging critique, and fearless consulting to authors of novels and nonfiction manuscripts, and leads writing and editing workshops at conferences and for small groups. She also collaborates with Sunny Cooper at Outrider Literary to guide authors through publication along indie, traditional, and hybrid paths.

She launched My Two Cents Editing in 2009 and has expanded to help her clients move from first draft to faithful readerships. Now her small crew of literary specialists provides comprehensive manuscript critique and a full range of editing services: editorial assessment, developmental editing, line editing, copyediting, proofreading, and post-editing cleanup.

Meghan is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society, the Missouri Writers Guild, the St. Louis Publishers Association, the St. Louis Writers Guild, and Reedsy (where you can see her portfolio).

For ProCritique sessions, Meghan will read and edit up to 2500 words (around 10 pages) and meet with authors for 20+ minutes. She's currently interested in historical fiction, crime/mystery/thriller, literary fiction, YA/MG, strong female characters, and stories that make her laugh. Her ProCritiques will identify tension-killing exposition and examine the premise and promise of each submission. Annotated pages will be returned to each author. 


Toni Robino is a talent scout, connecting writers with established literary agents who are good matches for their projects. She also teaches writers how to craft compelling synopses and powerful pitch packages, increasing their likelihood of representation. In the literary marketplace, Toni's company Windword Literary, brings books to fruition by working with major publishing houses and independent publishers. Credits include New York Times bestsellers and groundbreaking titles such as The Male Brain: A Breakthrough Understanding of How Men and Boys Think, by Louanne Brizendine, MD; 100 Heartbeats: The Race to Save Earth’s Most Endangered Species, by Jeff Corwin of Animal Planet, MSNBC and the Discovery Channel; and Higher Love: Skiing the Seven Summits, by Kit DesLauriers.

As a literary scout, Toni is currently developing authors and book projects for the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency.

For Master ProCritiques, she will provide an annotated developmental edit (using the Microsoft Word tracking tool), where she will address content, clarity, rhythm, flow, description, dialogue. She will also provide examples of how to rework finer details of sentence structure to make writing more active and engaging. She does not offer line editing, but will comment on everything the writer does as well.

Apply now for Editor's Advance Submission ProCritique...

Helga Schier, Ph.D., is the Editorial Director at CamCat Publishing, a publisher of genre fiction actively looking for suspense/mystery/thrillers, sci-fi/adventure/fantasy as well as romance.

The CamCat brand stands for Books to Live In.Stories that make you read on beyond bedtime, past due dates and carpool duties. Stories that resonate beyond the last word to echo in your mind and heart and soul. Yes, books are products to sell, but they are something else, too. They are the expression of an author’s creativity and the touchstone for a reader’s imagination. When the two meet, something extraordinary happens. We walk in other people’s shoes and see the world anew.

Come pitch to Helga to see if your manuscript is ready for CamCat Books.

A former Big Five Editor, Helga is also the founder and owner of withpenandpaper.com, an independent editorial services firm. With over 25 years of experience in the book publishing industry, Helga guides authors through the development and revision process, preparing your work for publication.

Helga has published articles on contemporary English and American fiction, and has translated several screenplays, memoirs, and a novel series. She is also a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences with successful lectures on topics such as Top Ten Mistakes Writers Make, and Twelve Steps to Successful Revision, Beyond CliffhangersPainting a Scene With Dialogue and Narration, and The Three Secrets to Successful Indie Publishing.

Helga will read and edit (discussing content as well as style and language flow) up to 2500 words of up to ten manuscripts, and offer individual consultations of up to 20 minutes each. In addition, Helga will be available for follow-up questions at her company’s table (withpenandpaper.com) throughout the conference. Helga will read all types of fiction, memoir, and narrative Nonfiction.


Christine Van Zandt,Christine Van Zandt, owner of Write for Success, is a published author (fiction and nonfiction) and an experienced editor in Hollywood.  She will conduct a thorough reading, providing thoughtful and practical feedback.  Her areas of expertise include Memoir, Parenting, Fictionalized Memoir, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery, Suspense, Action, LBGT, Romance, and Erotica.  In addition, she has edited all categories of Children’s from Children’s Picture Books to Young Adult.  A particularly active category recently has been the new genre New Adult that captures the YA audience as they enter their twenties.  Christine also specializes in authors whose first language is not English.

Christine works with self-publishing, agented, and freelancing authors.  For more information and client testimonials, please see www.write-for-success.com.

She will read up to twenty submissions of up to 2,500 words each and will provide an in-person consultation of fifteen minutes, which includes written feedback.  Opening chapters preferred.  Please indicate genre of the piece and total word count.  Submissions other than books are also welcome.  Her feedback will encompass the storyline as well as grammar and style.


For over twenty-five years, Dan Watanabe was a development executive in the entertainment industry. Sixteen of those years were spent at the company now known as FremantleMedia, where he served as the Vice President of Development and Current Programming,. One-hour dramatic series he supervised included Baywatch, Air America, Sirens, numerous movies of the week, pilots, and game shows (Family Feud, To Tell the Truth, The Price is Right). 

Mr. Watanabe graduated Cum Laude from the University of Southern California with a BA in Cinema, Critical Studies (1985). He is currently in process for an MFA in Digital Cinema Production at National University (expected graduation 2014). 

Dan is also the Director of the IDEAS grant, a California Economic and Workforce Development Responsive Training Fund Regional Center. 

For the past eleven years, he has taught television history, low budget film production/distribution and beginning screenwriting at Los Angeles Valley College. He is also currently serving as SLO coordinator for the Media Arts Department.

Dan will read up to 10 manuscripts of approximately 2500 words (10 standard script pages). Mr. Watanabe was a studio executive who "green lit" movies for 15 years and currently teaches at Los Angeles Valley College.

He will edit screenplays for ProCritiques and provide up to twenty minutes of personal consultation, depending on the need.

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