posted on August 26, 2015 by Susan Wiggs

My editor, Margaret O’Neill Marbury

starlight cover thumbnailI’ve worked on books with many talented editors, but the one without peer is the incomparable Margaret Marbury. She has been in charge of my books for more than a decade. Most particularly, she has shepherded The Lakeshore Chronicles to success.

She has been instrumental in the crafting of each novel, from helping me hone an idea into a compelling story to dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s. She has great instincts and insights. Any writer will tell you that the very best editor is one who sees things in a story the writer hasn’t even seen herself.

Susan Wiggs and her editor Margaret Marbury

Susan Wiggs and her editor Margaret Marbury

And every once in awhile, there’s a shout-out from an editor about a certain book that simply elevates the work and makes it sing. I was struggling insanely with STARLIGHT ON WILLOW LAKE. It happens. You write yourself into a corner and can’t see any way out–every writer I know has experienced this. It’s a dark place and you want to give up. That’s when having an amazing editor is the most incredible blessing. Margaret reads my work with an expert eye and open heart, guides me through revisions and reminds me of my motto: Don’t Stop Until You’re Proud.

Margaret and some guy

Margaret and some guy

More than that, an awesome editor is a friend, a coach, a mentor and a motivator. I reluctantly sent off my manuscript and braced myself to hear that the book was awful, my career was over, my life was no longer worth living. Instead, Margaret sent me one of her many well-thought-out, encouraging revision letters, firing me up to push until the book turned into something excellent. A lot of her note is about technical stuff, but here’s the excerpt that kept me happily slaving over a hot computer.

“I LOVED this book. I think it’s my favorite Lakeshore Chronicles book you’ve written. It’s funny, heartfelt, relatable, realistic and larger than life, gorgeously written – it just made me feel happy. If reader biofeedback is any indication of a book’s success, I laser-locked into this novel and let the world carry on behind me without noticing. It was great to be back in Avalon but with a different part of the Bellamy family. All of the characters resonated with me, in particular Alice. She was wonderfully cranky but really had such a big heart. I also adored Faith and Mason and their personal journeys – they are clearly the leads – but it’s Alice’s situation that brings them together and her character that provides the perfect foil for them in a way that I found real and refreshing.

“This one was pure pleasure. I fell in love with the characters, I laughed, I cried and was gripped the whole way…Kudos!”

Susan and her editor Margaret

Susan and her editor Margaret

Oh, and did I mention that she is gorgeous? Not that it has anything to do with her talent, but when you go out for drinks with your editor, it’s nice if she’s eye candy.

See what I mean? She talked me down. If you’re a writer, I hope you get to work with someone like Margaret one day. If you’re a reader, I want to celebrate the hidden genius behind a well-written novel.

Keep looking at the stars!

STARLIGHT ON WILLOW LAKE can be purchased in hardcover or eBook or audio formats for/from:

Susan Wiggs

Susan Wiggs

Using blunt scissors, pages from a Big Chief tablet, a borrowed stapler and a Number Two pencil, Susan Wiggs self-published her first novel at the age of eight. A Book About Some Bad Kids was based on the true-life adventures of Susan and her siblings, and the first printing of one copy was a complete sell-out.

Due to her brother's extreme reaction to that first prodigious effort, Susan went underground with her craft, entertaining her friends and offending her siblings with anonymously-written stories of virtuous sisters and the brothers who torment them. The first romance she ever read was Shanna by the incomparable Kathleen Woodiwiss, which she devoured while slumped behind a college vector analysis textbook. Armed with degrees from SFA and Harvard, and toting a crate of "keeper" books by Woodiwiss, Roberta Gellis, Laurie McBain, Rosemary Rodgers, Jennifer Blake, Bertrice Small and anything with the words "flaming" and "ecstasy" in the title, she became a math teacher, just to prove to the world that she did have a left brain.

Late one night, she finished the book she was reading and was confronted with a reader's worst nightmare--She was wide awake, and there wasn''t a thing in the house she wanted to read. Figuring this was the universe''s way of taking away her excuses, she picked up a Big Chief tablet and a Number Two pencil, and began writing her novel with the working title, A Book About Some Bad Adults. Actually, that was a bad book about some adults, but Susan persevered, learning her craft the way skydiving is learned--by taking a blind leap and hoping the chute will open.

Her first book was published (without the use of blunt scissors and a stapler) by Zebra in 1987, and since then she has been published by Avon, Tor, HarperCollins, Harlequin, Mira and Warner Books. Unable to completely abandon her beloved teaching profession, Susan is a frequent workshop leader and speaker at writers' conferences, including the Romance Writers of America conference, the PNWA and Maui Writers Conference. She won a RITA award in 1994, and her recent novel The Charm School was voted one of RWA's Favorite Books of the Year. She is the proud recipient of several RT awards, the Peninsula RWA's Blue Boa, the Holt Medallion and the Colorado Award of Excellence.

Susan enjoys many hobbies, including sitting in the hot tub while talking to her mother on the phone, kickboxing, cleaning the can opener, sculpting with butter and growing her hair. She lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Jay, her daughter, Elizabeth, and an Airedale that hasn't been groomed since 1994.

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