Written by David Marsh; copy edited by Janet Millar
Editors BC is a big chapter: in fact, we currently have 257 members.
In this series, our volunteer writers interview some of these members to find out what editing life looks like in this spacious province.
Today, David interviews Janice Love.
Janice is a freelance editor specializing in fiction, academic, educational, and business materials, with a particular interest in children’s literature and theological writing. Janice has been a member of Editors BC for more than two years and lives in Vernon with her family.
Hello, Janice! Tell us about the type of editing you do.
I am a freelance editor who works on a variety of editing projects, including business plans, theological reflections and prayers, a calendar, fiction, and non-fiction. The business plans are done with clients of Community Futures, North Okanagan. I get to work one-on-one with highly skilled and motivated people—from a master joiner to an Indigenous remediation and restoration company—while learning all about what they do. I’ve copy edited a non-fiction book for a psychologist in Kelowna and helped a friend with her Master of Education thesis. (She went on to defend it with no revisions required!) I also lead plain language workshops for the local business community via Community Futures and for health professionals via Vernon Jubilee Hospital. It’s satisfying work helping people communicate better with their clients and/or the general public. The variety of work keeps it interesting for me as I love to learn new things.
My great love is editing fiction, particularly for middle grade readers. I cut my editing teeth on my husband’s Wormhole Trilogy books, which are based on stories he’d been telling our son for over a decade. That has been a wonderful family project! All of my editing skills (structural, stylistic, copy editing, and proofreading) were required on those books as James is the first to admit he’s more of a storyteller than a writer. I’ve also edited two fiction books for a retired civil engineer who wanted to write stories to encourage girls to participate in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). We’ve just finished working on her first foray into fantasy with a book based on the biblical story of Esther. (This client also has a Master of Theology.)
Mentoring young writers and editors has also been a rewarding experience. I invited a student to help me edit the second Wormhole Trilogy book. Working on a real book was inspiring for him, and I benefited from reviewing everything I’d learned before doing my final project for my editing certificate! I’ve also mentored a grade 10 poet and two other high-school authors, one of whom had been working on her novel since she was nine.
What led you to pursue a career in editing?
A love for words and finally honouring the introvert that I am. My first two professions, teaching and ministry, were quite extroverted endeavours. When our son finally arrived through adoption after a long, not-by-choice thirteen-year wait, I was thrilled to stay home with him. Once he was older, I began to think about what kind of outside-the-home work I would like to do. I knew I wanted something more introverted, and editing became an option when I realized that a love of words had been a consistent thread from my childhood through both my previous professions.
I attended a weekend intensive on copy editing and proofreading held in Vancouver by SFU as a test for what editing might be like. I could tell I was in a room full of introverts like me, and found I quite enjoyed it all. Right around then, SFU’s editing certificate was made available online and I signed up, graduating in 2018. I lose track of time when I edit, which I take as a good sign, though it means I sometimes have to set a timer to ensure I stand up and get my blood circulating again!
What are the benefits of running an editing business in the Okanagan? Are there any drawbacks?
Being in the Okanagan is the big benefit of running an editing business here! It’s beautiful—with lakes, mountains, and orchards all within minutes of our doorstep. When we first moved here fifteen years ago from Vancouver, James described it as a culinary wasteland, but it is now also a great food—and, of course, wine—destination. There is also a rich culture of the arts in the Okanagan, from the written word to music, dance, theatre, painting, photography, and pottery. It’s a great help that I can do a lot of my editing work remotely, so there isn’t as much of a need for me to be in a bigger centre.
The biggest drawback is not being geographically close to many other editors. I’ve travelled to Vancouver, pre-COVID, to attend a couple of Editors BC meetings, help at the Editors BC table at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, and attend Lana Okerlund’s wonderful “Do the Work You Want” workshop. These have all been great opportunities to meet and network with fellow editors. I have appreciated having a chance to do the same kinds of things online (attending Editors BC meetings and taking Paula Ayer’s great “Introduction to Children’s Book Editing”) during these trying times without having to drive anywhere!
Your experience includes editing a Christian calendar. Are there any tips you could share about this kind of work?
Salt of the Earth: A Christian Seasons Calendar is in its twenty-third year now. Its format is unique in that the pages of the calendar turn with the rhythm of the Christian seasons, so it starts at the beginning of Advent (four Sundays before Christmas Day, so not always December 1)—and yes, the calendar page for Christmas has only 12 days.
My tips for this kind of work are the same as for any kind of editing, including having a passion for the subject matter and strong, respectful relationships with all those involved in the production of the project and with its audience. I hold a Master of Pastoral Studies degree from the Vancouver School of Theology on the UBC campus, so this kind of editing is my niche.
What’s one thing about you that others might find surprising?
For a fairly quiet introvert, I have a hearty laugh that’s been known to startle small children and animals. It just bursts out when I find something particularly funny! Apparently I inherited it from my Scottish grandmother, whom I unfortunately never got to meet as she died before I was born. I was once identified by a friend across a busy Vancouver restaurant solely on the basis of my laugh!
Many thanks to Janice for doing this interview!
David Marsh is a freelance editor and writer based in Vancouver. David worked as a newspaper journalist in Canada and Asia for many years, and more recently graduated from SFU’s editing program. He has a habit of delving into questions of language, popular science, and other curiosities. Find him on Twitter.
Janet Millar was born on the Sunshine Coast and has lived in Vancouver, Montreal, and in a remote community off the north coast of British Columbia. She currently lives in Victoria, where she works at a community college supporting multilingual students with their English. She is a student of the SFU Editing Certificate program.