M Susan Schmidt, PhD
Beaufort Writing Group Developmental Editor, Kakapo Press
I advise authors how to revise manuscripts with the same mindfulness as pruning apple trees. A client’s agent says, “Sharpest improvement I’ve ever seen from 1st draft to 2nd.” I polish scholarly and popular history and science, journal articles, dissertations, novels, memoirs into publishable books. In structural critique, I recommend how to shape, focus, fine-tune narrative voice, tone and trajectory to target an audience. I talk to a client so vocabulary and inflection sound like her voice. To refine an argument, I may advise moving Chapter 6 to Chapter 1, or introducing a character as trustworthy before someone accuses her. As retired English professor, I am a master stylist. As copyeditor and proofreader, I mark grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax, structure, word choice. I address clarity, consistency, repetition, flow, transitions. I clean up prepositional phrases, change passive to active voice and multi-syllable nouns to a strong verb. In a client’s popular-science book, we moved differential equations to sidebars, added topic sentences, divided 200-word sentences and eight-syllable words; reviewer praised his “crisp writing.” I copyedited Harvard’s Business History Review; many writers use English as a second language. I am fluent in French and German. I have a doctorate in American lit and Masters in Environmental Sciences and British Lit; postdocs in botany, bioethics, conflict resolution. Johns Hopkins UP published my nonfiction Landfall Along the Chesapeake, In the Wake of John Smith. Kakapo Press published my novel Song and poetry Salt. My poems won 2012 Guy Owen Prize, 2016 Applewhite Prize, appear in NC Literary Trails. For 30 years in university, I taught literature & environmental decision-making. I worked as scientist, journalist, sailboat captain. I had grants from Fulbright, EPA, NSF, NEH, NEA, AAUW. I trekked New Zealand, Camino de Santiago, & Cornwall Coastal Path, paddled Alaska, surveyed birds in Kenya, Costa Rica, & Ecuador. When not editing, I row and walk my Boykin spaniel on the beach.
Business phone: 252-269-0032
Years in the field: 40
Years freelancing: 20