About Sarah Calfee
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!)
2019, Contributor, Blush—romance ezine
My marketing strategy is to show who I am and what I’m about by creating useful articles and guest blog posts for writers. Blush has picked me up as a contributor and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Eventually, I plan to have a Three Little Words blog that I hope will become a valuable resource for indie romance authors.
2018, Proofreader, The Wild Rose Press
This was my first real-world experience of working with romance novels. While it affirmed my love of the genre, it also made me realize (for myself anyway) proofreading is just…boring. I’m well able to correct grammar and punctuation, but I adore story structure and prose. So I decided to just focus on what I love—developmental and line/copy editing.
2006-2013, TEFL (ESL) Teacher, Chicago, Dublin, London
On my very first day of teaching, while feeling very confident about my credentials, an elementary level student asked me about the difference between countable and uncountable nouns. I had no clue. Panicked, I flipped through my textbook and fabricated some answer while a dozen Polish twenty-somethings glared at me. After that, I always studied and reviewed the grammar of each lesson thoroughly before I taught any class.
2006-2008, English Comp Instructor, DeVry University, Chicago
My English Comp classes were filled with students skilled at taking apart computers and solving difficult math equations, but who needed a little extra guidance with writing. So, I gave many lessons in grammar usage and how to write clear sentences and paragraphs. Honestly, this is where I discovered a love for grammar and teaching how to use it.
2006-2008: “OWL e-Structor” (English tutor), Smarthinking.com, Chicago/Dublin
This job involved reading through (what felt like a million) essays from college students all around the United States. My job was to find three to five grammar/content issues and comment on them in the manuscript—while giving explanations about how to correct them.
For most of 2018 and now into 2019, I have been mentored by Rachel Daven Skinner of Romance Refined. She has helped to level up my skills in online copy editing, including the creation of style sheets and light manuscript clean up—meant to ease the uploading of manuscripts onto digital platforms.
Intermediate-level member of Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP), UK
From my SfEP upgrade letter: “As an Intermediate Member of the Society you are held to demonstrate a degree of professional competence, having undertaken some professional training and having some experience.” Yay! Now, I’m continuing my professional training with online courses, workshops and conferences, and also building up my experience so I may become a professional member. (And also, just because I want to be the best editor I can possibly be.)
MFA in Creative Writing, May 2006, Columbia College, Chicago, IL
As a student, my favorite activity was workshopping other students’ manuscripts. I always enjoyed analyzing with the author what was working and helping find solutions for what wasn’t. It was also a fun way to apply my studies in story structure and character development. My fiction writing courses also focused on writing prose: using all five senses, avoiding clichés, aiming for accuracy, etc. So, while this degree hasn’t given me a multi-million-dollar book deal (a la J.K. Rowling), I have gained a strong knowledge base for developmental, line, and copy editing. 😊
BA of English, December 2000, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
I received my English education and interned as an assistant editor at The Florida Review, the college’s literary magazine. The coolest thing I did was read through the slush pile and promote my favorites to the editor. This was back when submissions were made on actual paper and sent in big yellow envelopes. Thank goodness for progress.