EDITING, MENTORING, MANUSCRIPT ASSESSMENT
What other writers say…
In 2011 I nominated Michelle Elvy for Best ezine/magazine editor in the Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll. Elvy has published several of my stories in various literary ezines, and her editorial comments have helped to shape all of these stories into clearer, more balanced pieces. Elvy’s passion for the written word and her support for emerging writers are rare gifts to the writing community.
Teri S. O’Type (A Satire) and editor at Smokelong Quarterly (Munich)
I engaged Michelle Elvy to edit my manuscript from its first draft through to completion. She was professional and generous with her time. Michelle’s editing was pro-active. She corrected errors, both obvious and unwitting, but also suggested improvements to plot, character, style and tone – all of which improved the story. Thanks to Michelle’s skill, my manuscript advanced quickly from an untidy brain-dump to a well-crafted and readable work, ready to present to publishers. Some editors make a writer work sentences to the point of pointless exhaustion; Michelle purposefully coaxes words into a better story. I have found her input to be invaluable.
-Derek Jones, author of The Ghostwriter in the Machine, the unauthorised autobiography of Anonymous Author (Auckland)
Finding a good editor is wonderful, but finding a great editor will change your writing world. Michelle Elvy is that – a great editor. I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered anyone as dedicated to the art of writing as Elvy. She is as insightful and thorough with her own work as she is in her focused support of other writers. Working closely with her on the Blue Five Notebook Series, I’ve found her editing, issue after issue, to be impeccable in both its creativity and direction. Her eye is sharp, but always supportive of the writer. That applies to my own work as well. Elvy’s advice on my own writing projects couldn’t be more essential to me.
– Sam Rasnake, author of Cinéma Vérité , Necessary Motions, Inside a Broken Clock and other poetry collections (Tennessee)
Michelle looked at a novel of mine on a structural level and her comments have been invaluable. It was so helpful to have an outside eye brought to my work. She is an involved and thoughtful editor.
– Tina Shaw, author of Ursa, Make a Hard Fist, The Children’s Pond and other award-winning novels (Auckland)
As a writer, I am always aware of how much value an eye for detail and probing insight from an experienced editor will add to one’s work. In my case, when I sent my stories for submission to Flash Frontier and Blue Five Notebook, I was fortunate to gain the benefit of editor Michelle Elvy’s keen eye for detail and story resonance. It was fascinating to see how the final draft of a story was made more powerful by her perceptive questions and occasional gentle “pushing”. It is rare to have an editor spend so much time and effort encouraging the writer to “get it right”.
– Kate Mahony, writer, freelance journalist& finalist
in the 2008 BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award (Wellington)
For writers like myself who write outside of their native language (German in my case), editors like Michelle Elvy are extremely rare and extremely valuable: she brings a keen sense of rhythm and a deep understanding for the musicality of different languages, and intimate knowledge of many cultures and countries to her work. The results are visibly, even audibly, outstanding. On top of all of this, Michelle is a seasoned professional with just the right mixture of humor, efficiency and integrity. In a globalized context, often depending on the virtual connections, I have come to appreciate her as a wonderful, essential companion for my personal creative journey and success.
I got to appreciate Michelle Elvy’s creative and editing work from taking part in the by now legendary 52/250 flash fiction project (May 2010 to May 2011). Michelle was one of the three founders/editors, always insightful and focused – I looked forward to her weekly contributions. So, when upon finalizing a poetry collection, I needed a second opinion on a couple of issues, I approached Michelle for her thoughts. She very perceptively picked out threads amongst the various poems and got back to me straightaway. I very much appreciated her spirit, efficiency, generosity, and attention to detail.
My project started more than 20 years ago and spent a long time mothballed in a cupboard. When I discovered it again two years ago, ink fading and paper brittle, my first reaction was to bin it — until I remembered all the work I had put in to it. As luck would have it, I attended Northwrite 2012: The Business of Writing and signed up for Michelle Elvy’s ‘Grammar is your friend’ as soon as I could register. The workshop was an eye opener for me; being a bit dyslexic, I’d spent most school days daydreaming, and grammar had passed me by. As informative and interesting the workshop was, it was when I caught Michelle alone that my wonderful journey with her began. She is an outstanding mentor, editor and teacher. With her incredible patience, enthusiasm and skills she poked and prodded me into creating something I am proud of. After 20 years I have now finished my manuscript, with so much more depth and polish than I thought possible. With Michelle’s guidance, I have been able to add that little bit of magic to my story.
-Rhonda Maloy (Auckland)
Michelle Elvy edits with the same fine sensitivity with which she writes. She is able to suggest the right word, the right phrasing, all while having the talent to be able to pull back, expose the structure of a story or poem and make critically relevant improvements. After Michelle lays her healing hands on my stories, they emerge for the better.
– Linda Simoni-Wastila, writer and editor at JMWW (Baltimore)
As editor of Flash Frontier, Michelle Elvy has played a vital role in the development of flash fiction as a viable mode for New Zealand writers. I have benefited from her editing skills, which I have found to be sympathetic, insightful and professional.
– Tim Jones, author, poet and anthologist (Wellington)
Michelle Elvy has been my editor on a multitude of stories, as well as the year-long writing project 52/250, which was cited by more than one reviewer as “possibly the most important writing project on the web”. Elvy has this uncanny knack for choosing work with wide ranging themes and styles that result in anthologies that are smart and stylish and make for terrific reading.
– Susan Tepper, author of From the Umberplatzen (2012)
and The Merrill Diaries (2013) (New York)
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Michelle on several occasions as one of the writers included in the wonderful international literary journal Blue Five Notebook. Michelle’s editing advice and suggestions for my flash fiction pieces were vital in re-shaping the direction of the small, compact stories into even more dynamic and emotionally effective work than I had originally crafted. Her ideas are always fresh, progressive, and innovative, all while keeping in mind the integrity of the original work. Her editorial respect for the writer’s craft is immeasurable and vital, she being a writer herself. I look very much forward to continuing my professional writing relationship with Michelle in the future.
– Alex Pruteanu, author of Short Lean Cuts and Gears: a Collection (Raleigh)
Prolific and successful popular writer Stephen King once said, “All editors are divine.” Given that the qualities of god figures usually include omnipotence, omniscience and compassion, I suspect his reference was a negative directed at the first of these qualities. How would I rate Michelle Elvy’s editorial divinity? Firstly, I have found her to be a consultative maker of suggestions with no pretensions of power, let alone absolute power. She would be one of the first to reject the suggestion of omniscience but she is, nonetheless, very widely read and is a conscientious research scholar. She brings these attributes to the editing role together with an intuitive feel for what is good and what needs to be axed. And compassion? I have never found the “axings” to be brutal or unnecessary. More than this, her love of literature has led her to give time to the encouragement of writers and the provision, through Flash Frontier, of a worthwhile outlet for their work.
I have enjoyed and benefited from working with Michelle and I suspect Stephen King would have done so as well.
-Tim Heath, poet, short story writer and general lover of words (Auckland)
As a reader and regular contributor to Flash Frontier, I have grown to respect and appreciate Michelle’s editorial skills. Her passion, vision and attention to detail is evidenced in the quality of work she publishes, and her feedback on my work has been consistently keen and right on target. Michelle’s can-do attitude shines through as she often goes above and beyond the call of duty in pursuit of excellence.
-Sally Houtman, writer (Wellington)
I have been fortunate enough to have received Michelle Elvy’s insightful, persistent and always positive editing skills to a point above and beyond the usual. She has helped me create stories of a greater clarity and quality through her gently insistent manner by raising critical questions and forcing me to use my brain. The flash fiction genre in general also has a lot to be thankful for with the forum she has so skilfully created with Flash Frontier. It is always a great compliment to be included in her publications, given the high standard of writing it has attracted.
– Rebecca Simons, writer (Wellington)
I first submitted a piece to Flash Frontier in April 2012 as one so new that they have no concept of what’s lacking. I have come to really value the interaction with Michelle Elvy and it’s led me to re-frame even my intention in writing, so that I understand it now so much more as an attempt to reach out. The correction in grammar has accompanied firm but warm-hearted direction on voice and rhythm, and the tough structural choices inherent in short fiction. I’ve found that flash requires a hardy sort of discipline and Michelle has been a really generous and sure-footed guide.
– Emily Seresin, writer (Sydney)