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Meet our new editor, Crystal Shelley!

photo of Crystal Shelley wearing dangly earrings and a floral top

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! Dot and Dash has a new member on our team who will be doing editing, proofreading, beta reading, and sensitivity reading. Her name is Crystal Shelley, and here is some more info about her:

Where do you live?

I’ve lived in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the past six years and was born and raised in Houston.

What is your favorite genre to edit and why? My favorite genres to edit are science fiction and fantasy because they’re my favorite genres to read. I’m always in awe of the sheer creativity of the worldbuilding, technology, and magic systems that writers invent. It’s a bonus when there’s a romantic element, too, but that’s more for my enjoyment as a reader.

What makes you passionate about editing?

Stories can do such good, and I believe that words should hold meaning and be used with intention. I love helping writers communicate their messages clearly without sacrificing creativity and voice. I’m also a conscious language advocate, and I feel strongly that writing should be representative and inclusive. As an editor, I’m able to provide feedback from this lens to writers, who may not be aware of how their words may affect readers (outside the story itself).

What is the most common mistake you see writers making?

The most common sentence-level mistakes I see are incorrect punctuation (usually related to commas because they’re tricky) and confused words (writing “affect” instead of “effect,” “lie” instead of “lay,” etc.). From a narrative standpoint, I often see head-hopping (knowing the thoughts of someone other than the focal character) and telling instead of showing (though there’s always a place for telling).

What advice do you have for women looking to write and publish their first book?

1. Try to have a way to write down a thought wherever you go, like an app on your phone or a notebook you carry. You never know when you’ll come up with a story idea or perfect sentence. Even if you don’t use it in a story you’re working on, you never know when it could be right in the future.

2. Write. Don’t worry about editing as you go. The important thing is to get the ideas out when they’re fresh and unfiltered. The writing can be refined later in the process. 3. Find a person or group who will support you by holding you accountable, cheering you on, and providing honest feedback. It can feel lonely to work on such a personal process, but it doesn’t have to be.

4. I loved this piece of advice I heard at a writing conference: If something motivates you to write, it’s good advice for you. If it discourages you, it’s bad advice for you. Be open to advice, but know that not everything works for everyone.

5. Tell a story that’s important to you, and be authentically you while doing so.

What do you like to do when you're not editing?

When I’m not editing, I’m usually reading, playing a video game, watching a show or a movie, or loving on my dog. I also enjoy getting out of the house and spending time outdoors, especially because I work from home. Editing is often on my mind though!

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