About Sarah Calfee

The perfect heroine?? :)

The perfect heroine?? :)

My personal character development

I was born in Quebec, Canada, lived in the USA for twenty years (Baton Rouge, Orlando, Chicago), and spent two years in Dublin, Ireland. For the past nine years, I’ve lived in London and loved it. Living on both sides of the pond has given me an excellent ear for both American and British English. This means I can help characters swear authentically in either idiom. You’re welcome!

Does the fact that I Iive in London automatically make me a good editor? NO! But—you can always talk about your “London editor” at dinner parties. 😊

My personal romance story

Scene set up: Chicago, summer rooftop party. Introduce heroine: Sarah. Goal: Locate the Irish sailing instructors from the Chicago Sailing Club and charm one into taking her sailing on Lake Michigan—for free. Introduce hero: Daire (drinking a beer and sulking over unrequited love-interest.) Meetcute: After targeting sailing instructor/victim, Sarah gets more than she bargains for by falling for a pair of big blue eyes (and cute Irish accent). The black moment: Four-year long-distance relationship. (Yuck!!) HEA: Daire and Sarah get married, move to London, have two children, Finn and Rory, and Sarah becomes a brilliant/genius romance editor.

(P.S. Daire took me out sailing lots that summer!)

Why am I an editor?

Because I’m a total story addict, and it’s a fun way to support both my habit and my family. The reason I became a romance specialist is because there are many different genre-specific story structures with different plot points (or beats) to follow, and I wanted to become an expert in one. This allows me to help romance authors with the intricacies of the romance story structure—which never ever gets boring because … romance subgenres. (I love them all!)

My affiliations


ALLi Partner Member


2019, Contributor, Blush—Romance Ezine

Being a contributor at Blush keeps me up-to-date with the latest romance trends—like how seasoned romance is taking off as a subgenre—and has allowed me to explore current issues. For example, at the moment I’m researching the increase of romance novels being adapted into film.

2018, Proofreader, The Wild Rose Press

This was my first real-world experience of working with romance novels. It both affirmed my love of the genre and was excellent in training me how to locate grammar and punctuation errors.  

2013–2006, TEFL (ESL) Teacher, Chicago, Dublin, London

Teaching English as second language has given me two very valuable skills as an editor. First, I can now explain grammar points in a very clear and understandable manner, and secondly, I’ve had to learn the nuts and bolts of how English works as a language. I know about the many strange rules that exist, some of which don’t even make sense logically. (If you’d like an example of this, just type in “order of adjectives” into Google!)

2008–2006, English Comp Instructor, DeVry University, Chicago

Being an English composition instructor taught me how to give my students the skills to make their ideas understandable by writing clearly. As an editor my motivation remains the same. Not only do I locate paragraph- and sentence-level issues, but I aim to also instruct my authors so they can improve as writers.

2006–2005, Fiction Writing Tutor, Columbia College, Chicago

While studying for my MFA in Creative Writing, I work-shopped manuscripts one-on-one with undergrads, making suggestions about character or plot development. This experience made me realize how much plotting issues can vary from genre to genre and is the reason I decided to specialize in romance as an editor.

Check out my portfolio!


Intermediate Member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP), 2019

The SfEP is an organization that requires proof both in work experience and education to become an Advanced Member. As an Intermediate Member of the Society, I have been “held to demonstrate a degree of professional competence, having undertaken some professional training and having some experience.” Currently, I am continuing my professional training with online courses, workshops and conferences, and also building up my experience so I may become a Professional Member.

Mentorship, 2018–2019

Rachel Daven Skinner of Romance Refined has been my mentor for over one year. She has trained me in copyediting from creating style sheets and editorial reports to using Microsoft Track Changes, cleaning up and styling manuscripts, and giving me feedback on grammar usage, punctuation, and consistency.

MFA in Creative Writing, May 2006, Columbia College, Chicago

My focus as a student was novel writing, which meant hours of reviewing the different kinds of plot structure, discussing how to find “voice,” studying points-of-view and character development. We work-shopped each other’s manuscripts, analyzed characters, examined plot, as well as discussing paragraph- and sentence-level issues, such as clarity and consistency, using all five senses, and avoiding clichés. I believe that to date this is the best training I’ve had as a developmental and line editor.

BA of English, December 2000, University of Central Florida, Orlando

While studying for my BA in English, I first experienced the world of traditional publishing when I interned as an assistant editor at The Florida Review, the college’s literary magazine. This exercised my analytical skills by reading through the slush pile and promoting my favorite short stories to the editor-in-chief.