Bright Lights #11 - Danielle Fine


Wait! Don't run away, I've brought some help today so, there's nothing to be scared of.

Writers discover quickly that writing is basically made up like this:

Planning, scheming, ruminating, procrastinating - 10%
Actual writing of story - 10%
Editing, rewriting, editing again and again and again - 2356%

Ok. Maybe my math isn't very good but, the point is, writers spend more time rewriting than writing. Editing is a huge component of the process and it's a horrible drain on your time and your will to live. Luckily, there are peculiar people out there who actually enjoy the process. They live in caves and forests and can be lured from their hiding places with the promise of a good story. These people are called EDITORS.

I've been fortunate enough to lure an EDITOR onto my blog. Her name is Danielle Fine, and she might be able to help you produce the story you've always wanted to tell...

Danielle Fine

Q - Congratulations on your ONE YEAR anniversary!! What motivated you to start your own company?

Thank you! Um, to be honest, one of my authors did. I had just resigned from my in house editing job and was persuaded into editing another of her books. After that, she kept telling her other writer friends that I was freelancing and bam! Before I knew it, it’s one year later and I’m a freelance editor.

Q - Which came first...the editing or the design work? Or are they both skills you wanted to bring to the table in equal measure?

The editing definitely came first. I had no intention of doing design work, but fell into that as well. And, yes, that same author was to blame. Hm. Maybe I should send her a bunch of flowers?

Q - I'm not a big fan of editing. (I'm not against the profession you understand, just the time suck of going over things again and again. lol) What motivates you as an editor? What excites you?

I hear you. Sometimes—usually on the fifth or sixth round—I’m not such a fan of editing either. :P Honestly, I adore my job. I love taking a story that excites me and coaxing (bludgeoning?) it into its full potential. I love being part of the whole book birthing process. And, best of all, I love final read throughs that just sing.

Q - What kind of editorial work do you offer? Are you a big picture editor - plot, character, direction or, more detail oriented and look at grammar and language?

I’m an everything editor. No words left unturned. I like to be involved in things both big and small, and get very twitchy when told I can only line edit.

Q - Tell me a little about your cover design process. How much input do you like to have from the writers and how much do you prefer to be left alone to create?

I like to have a lot of input from writers, but I do reserve the right to go my own way at times. If I get a picture in my head, I’ll usually run with that—but the client always has veto rights. It tends to be a collaborative effort.

Q - You have strong ties to the Indie Book world, do you have aspirations of making your company bigger or perhaps working for some bigger publishers?

Honestly, I’m not really interested in working for another publisher. I don’t seem to play well with authority types. I do want to expand and…well, watch this space. ;)

Q - How important is it to strike a relationship with the writer you're working with?

For me, it’s very important. I can do the job without the relationship, but the spark is missing and I think the work suffers because the communication isn’t there. It helps both sides if there’s trust and honesty between editor and writer—and it’s always a bonus when my writers get my sense of humor. Then the process can be enjoyable. Put down that skeptical eyebrow, Gareth. :P

Q - Businesses like yours are invaluable to writers hoping to stand out from the crowd. Social media seems to be a focal point of this. Has twitter or Facebook helped you develop your company?

Definitely! I get a lot of work through twitter contacts—mostly through writers who recommend me in their feeds. I also find it incredibly useful for promoting both myself and my authors. Oh, and, guess who bullied me into joining the twitter cult? I definitely owe her some flowers. Maybe a mid-sized car.

Q - Do you still find time to write your own stuff?

I do. But, oh lord, am I crawling through my WIP. Sigh. My characters have started leaving me rude voicemail.

Q - Do you have a fixed workplace like an office or do you vary your environment?

I have no office. Unless you count a lap desk. Semi-nomadic, that’s me.

Q - Do you like music to feed your creativity or quiet so you can concentrate?

Music, for sure. As long as it’s at ear-bleeding level.

Q - What kind of story interests you? What do you like to read for fun?

I like all things dark and twisty, but I read most things—except war stories and westerns. I love stories that push boundaries. I love stories that abduct me. I love stories that make me feel—fear, awe, wonder, sorrow… I love stories that make me long to slip into their pages and nest there. I love stories.

Q - Do you have any current favorite authors/books?

Ooph. Okay, you asked for it. :P Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Stephen King, Laini Taylor, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Poppy Z Brite, Alice Hoffman, Isaac Marion, Salman Rushdie, Robert McCammon, M. John Harrison, Iain M. Banks, John Scalzi, Nancy Kress… I could go on. But I won’t. :P

Q - Were you nervous when you started out and if so, do you still get nervous or do you feel like you got a handle on everything now?

Nervous. Nervous all around. I am horribly neurotic though, so there’s no surprise there. Still, I’m high-functioning and, really, what more can you ask for?

Q - What's the most common mistake you see writers make?

Ooh, an invitation to get on my soapbox. That almost never happens. *Rubs hands together gleefully* I firmly believe it’s the writer’s job to burrow a path into the character’s brain, unraveling a ball of yarn so the reader can follow behind. With this in mind, I don’t think I’ve edited one manuscript that hasn’t included the comment, "Go deeper." This includes things like the dreaded telling-vs.-showing; using filtering words (like heard, saw, thought, felt) instead of showing the reader what the character hears, sees etc., and not grounding scenes in setting and action.

Q - Have you ever had to refuse a job because the writing was...terrible? (Come on, you can tell us!)

I’ve never refused a job. Doesn’t mean I’ve never wanted to.;)

Q - What's your favorite word?

Pantoffel. :D It means slipper in Afrikaans, so nothing mind-blowing there, but it’s my absolute favorite word to say.. :D It means slipper in Afrikaans, so nothing mind-blowing there, but it’s my absolute favorite word to say.

Q - How important is it for a writer to also be a reader? Is it important for an editor to be a reader? I mean for fun? Do you have to keep your skills sharp?

I couldn’t overstate the importance. For so many reasons, but mostly, how can you hope to write something other people will want to read if you don’t enjoy reading? For an editor, it’s important to see what’s out there in the market, what’s being done—and overdone—at the moment and, yes, you always hone your skills by reading.

Q - Library or Bookstore?

Bookstore. I’m very acquisitive, especially when it comes to books, and they don’t make me give them back!

Q - Do you have any advice for newbie writers? Those who are yet to start on their journey?

Writing is not for the faint of heart. Don’t come into it thinking you know everything. Or anything, really. Join a critique group. Stay open. Be curious. Write with integrity. Write what you love, what moves you. Write for yourself. Write with courage. Write every day. Write. Be nice to your editor. :P

And finally - You're going to be stranded on a desert island (for a wee while) but I'm going to allow you to take 1 book, 1 piece of music, 1 movie, a bowl of your favorite dessert and 1 person you'd like to share the island with for a while (alive, dead, fictional or matters not) What are your choices...and if you want to elaborate...tell me WHY? 

Gah. These questions give me anxiety attacks. One book! Really? Okay, deep breaths.

Book: I’d take Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, because I’m rereading him currently, and his writing is more nourishing than food.

Music: Smokey Taboo by CocoRosie because it’s the piece that’s speaking to me at the moment.

Movie: Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro because it still gives me shivers of horror and delight whenever I watch it.

Dessert: Crème Brulee. Because…crème brulee.

Person: Clive Barker. Because, really, how often do you get your hero as a captive audience?

Thank you Dani for dropping by and best of luck for the future. 

If you're looking for some editorial help, or just interested in seeing what Dani's company offers, hop along to her website here:

And if you're on twitter, why not follow her:


  1. Dani has definitely been a bright light for me even when beating me over the head with my passive voice and filler words. :P

  2. Ahhhhh, fantastic interview Dani and Gareth!! Loved it! :D Your comment about the fifth or sixth round of editing had me LOL-ing, big time! I can only imagine what you were thinking by like round twelve of my unicorn story! :P Ohh, Banshee wanted to comment: Crème Brulee, heck yes! Approved.

    Happy ONE YEAR Anniversary, Dani!!!! Keep shining! :D

  3. Great interview! Happy Anniversary! :)

  4. Fab interview. Dani is an incredibly talented and busy young woman. Hardest worker I know.

  5. Happy Anniversary, Dani! So glad I'm one of your writers.:) It's been a fantastic experience! Here's to many more! (We must talk Stephen King sometime.) :)

  6. Great interview! You do some wonderful work!

  7. Yay for editors! I could relate to a lot of what Danielle said.

    I love editing other people's work, but I'm sick of my own by the third time through. Great interview, Gareth and Danielle!

  8. This was such a fun interview, so thanks again for having me, Gareth. And thanks so much to everyone who stopped by!

  9. Great interview as usual Gareth. And as a newbie writer, an extremely interesting one too
    Btw I am just going to follow Dani on the strength of this


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