A Bit About Me
Welcome to my website! My name is Sonya Waters and I am a wife, mother, teacher, and avid reader and writer. My passion, for over a decade, has been helping students and amateur writers to become more confident in their writing abilities for their voice and message to be heard and respected. If you are looking for honest and thorough feedback for your writing project, look no further!
I have over a decade of editing and proofreading experience that encompasses high school and college academic papers ranging through the different genres required at the college level, research papers, and books. I desire to use my years of experience to help writers, of all levels, fulfill their dreams of writing their best, or to submit successful work.
I have a Master's Degree in Education with an emphasis on teaching and learning English. I have taught at the high school and college-level focusing on academic writing and research, and am confident in MLA, APA, and Chicago academic writing formats.
Outside of academia, I have worked with authors in proofing and editing their manuscripts to prepare for publication.
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Examples of My Editing
I have significant experience with the unique work demands and culture of being a modern Editor; from understanding the creative vision of a writer to collaborating on corrections and content changes throughout the editing process until the work is completed. Below is a small sampling of my work.
Romance Novel Edit
March 1, 2021
Chapter 1 Notes:
Need clarity of dialogue and which character is speaking. There was some confusion between Jocelyn and Elizabeth.
Be careful of short sentences which could read choppy and distract from the image you are trying to create. Ex. When she arrived home and the description of her going up stairs…
Be careful with redundant words/phrases, especially beginning consecutive sentences with the same word (She). It shifts the focus from your content to the redundant word/phrase.
Remember, this is the first taste the reader will have when they enter your world. This is the 1920’s. Develop what she was experiencing (perhaps develop the dance hall experience- this could establish the feel of this time period. What was she seeing and hearing? The energy of her generation and shaking off the confines of a time that was fading. Is there a conflict within her in wanting this new age as opposed to the constrictions of the expectations of her family?
Develop the juxtaposition between Jocelyn (love this name!) and Elizabeth. Does Jocelyn represent the mindset of the new generation that has delved headfirst into the new age where Elizabeth is cautious?
What is the feeling when she arrived home? Could she feel the weight of obligation settle once more on her spirit? As she is disrobing, is there a shift in her attitude of transforming back into the young woman of her parents’ expectations?
Brief mention of her sister when she was outside. Perhaps establish her dynamic earlier to avoid confusion. I stopped and wondered if I had missed something when I read that sentence. It stops the flow of reading if the reader feels as though they have missed something and feel that they need to re-read to be clued in.
What does she look like, other than very thin? Hair color/style, eye color, complexion as it contrasts to what she is wearing. Is she tall and thin or short and waif-like? Is she classically pretty or the promise of a beauty? Is she still wearing her hair long and pinned as was the style for more conservative woman, or had she shocked her mom and gotten a bob? Does she wear make-up, or does she sneak it on when she goes to the dance clubs and then cleans her face before seeing her parents? If she is very pretty, does she know it? How does she see herself?
Chapter 2 Notes:
Is this where Jocelyn and Elizabeth first met? What was the circumstances? What was it that drew her to Jocelyn, or did Jocelyn choose her as a friend (it seems that she is definitely someone who would have that personality)? What was Elizabeth like before she met Jocelyn? Was it because of Jocelyn that Elizabeth felt that her life needed more than what she had experienced? Why college, was that her choice or her parents? This relationship could establish the need for “more” in Elizabeth’s life, or was it always a yearning and Jocelyn was the person that she wanted to aspire to be like?
Why didn’t Elizabeth ask Clara her “real question”? Was she embarrassed? Did she feel that Clara would have laughed at her? From your description of Clara, it would seem that she would be Elizabeth’s champion for progress, or was it fear that she may not have what it took to be a “modern” woman?
How did the relationship with Clara help to shape Elizabeth? What was the purpose of going back to college? Were these experiences with first meeting Jocelyn and Clara a turning point in Elizabeth’s growth as an independent New Age woman?
Chapter 3 Notes:
Great imagery when describing her office and desk. I could totally see it! 😊
What does Jocelyn do as a job? Does it reflect her personality and the purpose of her character?
You discussed how Elizabeth was dressed when she was at the dance club, but there is no description of what she wears for work? Is she still conservative in dress to reflect her status? Do her clothing choices reflect the conflict between modern girl and conservative “mommy’s girl”? What she wears could also reflect the transitions she is taking in her personal life and how she is developing and growing as a character. (Just a thought)
Great scene with the first meeting between James and Elizabeth. Nice flow.
How is she dressed at the dance club? Is she still reserved in dress? Her hair is in a bob, so is she making the transition into a modern girl and is wearing clothes that are more daring? Is she experimenting with make-up, or is she still not comfortable with delving completely to the modern fashions?
At the end of Chapter 3 we are now being introduced to her sister, descriptions are being made of Elizabeth and her sister. Do you think that should be established in the first chapter when we are being introduced? What does Anna represent in the story? Is she more daring than Elizabeth? Does she represent the New Age? What does mom think about her? Which one is more favored by the parents? Are they close? Do they go out with one another a lot? What is the age difference? How do they view one another? How do they view their parents and their lifestyle?
I am now getting a bit confused. Who is Elizabeth? What is her journey? Is it how to navigate the old ways to the new? At first, I had the impression that her family wanted to keep her more conservative and how to play the game, but now dad keeps them in the “latest fashions”. In which world, the old or the new? Do they know about Elizabeth’s “wilder side”? Do they pay attention at all, with their only concern being that she procure a respectable husband? Is she shy? Self-confident in herself where she does not need to be validated by other people?
Chapter 4 Notes:
Dinner party: Perhaps more description on the dining. This will give the reader insight to the status of the family and their prominence. The more elaborate, the more money, etc. Do they have servants? Do they dress for dinner, which would be in alignment with status and represent the “old ways”?
Learning more about Elizabeth: Is she quick witted and carefree or is she a peacemaker? Does she want to fly below the radar?
Do the parents represent the old ways or are they a hybrid of the old vs new with boundaries? Do they really care about what their girls are doing provided that the girls do not bring disgrace to their house? What is the family dynamic? Do they want their girls happy, or do they want to keep up appearances?
I think I may be finally getting a grasp of Elizabeth.
To avoid confusion, it may be prudent to define characters, life status, etc. in the beginning of the book, so when we get to this point in the story, we can appreciate the dialogue and situation.
Chapter 5 Notes:
First meeting with James was uncomfortable and awkward. Second meeting she is more confident and flirtier? "Would you like to try a better place? My place?" Did she need to muster up the courage, or did she speak without thinking? This sounds more forward than how we would think she would act when bumping into the love interest a second time.
"Not that. Come."- Develop the action of how she conveyed this command. What was the look on her face? Her mannerism to the statement. What was the look on his face to the action?
You have some fun dialogue here, by adding to how the character looks/responds will fill out the scene and draw the reader to engage with the conversation.
On their second lunch meeting, you jump from her waiting to them walking. Was he on time? What did she feel when she caught sight of him coming down the stairs? How did he appear? Was it awkward, or did they both “pick back up where they left off?” Did she not catch sight of him during the week leading up to the lunch date, or try to place herself where she might “bump” into him? Was she trying to fish for more information from her co-workers about him? It doesn’t seem that she was concerned if she saw him, or not. It sounds like she was trying to tell herself if she didn’t see him, it was OK, but not really?
One minor detail- If they are an affluent family, and it appears that they do have servants, would her dad bring in the wood, or would a maid?
Chapter 6 Notes:
The story is picking up. Good chapter. Nice flow with dialogue.
Is this a new-found confidence in Elizabeth? Was she surprised at herself for accepting this “job”?
Perhaps more detail on Elizabeth’s and James’s interactions throughout the evening.
Chapter 7 Notes:
"Good. Let's do it together now."
She walked down the hall toward their coats
This reads as an abrupt shift; you need a transition action. Was she flustered? Uncomfortable with his overtures?
The dialogue that follows; who is saying what? Was he asking to go to her home?
Chapter 8 Notes:
What happened with them going to her house to practice?
Nice tension building. 😊
Chapter 9 Notes:
Chapter 10 Notes
"Shall I ask Anna? What would she say?" For emphasis, you may want to give a descriptive expression, like looking toward Anna, perhaps giving a description of what Anna was doing as they look toward her.
Incomplete Thought/sentence- He hand brushed the small of her back as he maneuvered them onto the train before the doors closed. Even after she was seated, his….. This thought was not completed (It looks like you were revising 😊 ) It actually left me hanging, I was looking forward to seeing how she would respond to him and his proximity.
Chapter 11 Notes
Oversight wording that may need to be corrected- His sister-year old sister,
Chapter 12 Notes
James’s- singular possessive…could be an oversight 😊
Awkward phrasing- - was undeterred the crowd outside
Oooo, the tension is rising!
Chapter 13 Notes
Chapter 14 Notes
Interesting turn of events!
Chapter 15 Notes
Phrasing- Opening her case, Elizabeth she could hear Berta moving…
Something is up at grannies….. 😉
Chapter 16 Notes
Consider revising for fluidity- She laughed along. Gran was precisely the reason she came to Philadelphia. Gran was fun. She needed Gran right at this moment.
The plot thickens!!
Consider giving more detail to Georgie’s features so the reader can better visualize. I am assuming that he is very good-looking, and Elizabeth was flustered by him?
Georgie?? That doesn’t seem like a sexy name, more like the name of a young boy.
Chapter 17 Notes
Chapter 18 Notes
Phrasing- Painted swirls created the impression of movement for a saxophone, drums, two other instruments.
Chapter 19 Notes
Chapter 20 Notes
Phrasing- But a barking dog barked broke the spell.
Chapter 21 Notes
What was the purpose of having the little girl show up at the library?
Clarify who said, "I have a friend too." Otherwise, it sounds like anyone in line could have said it. You may want to give a direction, …. As she took her friend's arm to pull her forward …. (you know what I mean 😊 )
Chapter 22 Notes
The kiss at her bedroom door, slow down and take time to develop that moment and her coming back to her senses. It feels a bit rushed and loses the impact of the scene.
Clarification- “…but toasting bread in the oven already struck intense fear of a house fire” Did you mean the toaster?
Dropped word- . Still, things needed saying, but which of them would brave enough to say them
Chapter 23 Notes
The telephone call was a bit confusing. If she is going home Saturday, why are they traveling to Philadelphia? They would miss one another. Are they going to come pick her up and take her home? You mention James, but wouldn’t she logically ask why he is coming too, rather than end the conversation? This section feels like it should be filled out more.
Then shifting to her dad’s car seems out of place. After mentioning the bit about Anna driving her dad’s car, it seems as though Elizabeth is more worried about the car than the fact that James if coming to see her.
Redundancy alert: Gran
Chapter 24 Notes
The picture of her father and his first wife? When was it discovered? What were her thoughts when she first found the picture? When she shows it to her grandmother, it is addressed and dropped. Is there a story there? Because it is so brief, it seems out of place, when it could be made into an interesting subplot. What was the purpose of this scene?
Chapter 25 Notes
Why didn’t she talk to him? Why didn’t he say anything to her? He goes all the way to Philadelphia to bring her home and once he gets home, he says nothing to her, for 2 days? When he finally has time alone with her, he says nothing?
Chapter 26 Notes
Chapter 27 Notes
Jump from March to May. Spent a lot of time in March.
Is she ever going to move out? I thought she was supposed to move in months ago.
Chapter 28 Notes
Typo- to do. But – Need to undo the underscore
Chapter 29 Notes
Giving more details on the clothes would give a better feel for the ’20s. Remember, if you are not giving that detail, the reader will automatically visualize current-day dress and lose that feeling of the 20’s you would like to portray. Also, do not forget about mentioning length, there were 2 lengths during that time, one more conservative than the other, including types of hems utilized. Was she wearing stockings? Any headwear, which was indicative of that time period? Make-up? The twenties have a very distinct style, and you are leading the reader on that journey and pulling them into your world. Small details matter. I felt as though she wears a lot of gray. Was that purposeful? That color seems very conservative.
You gave Jocelyn more detail than your main character.
Chapter 30 Notes
Chapter 31 Notes
At the beginning of the chapter Elizabeth says that she knows what she wants, yet when she speaks to Prof. Clara, she is uncertain. Throughout the story, Elizabeth says she wants to be independent, but does nothing that is independent. She makes no decisions on her own, and honestly seems wishy washy on her future. At this point in the novel, I do not see how she represents a woman in the 1920’s. She is too afraid, takes no chances, is too afraid to try new things. The only “risqué” thing she does is dance, but even in those establishments she plays it safe. I would have hoped that at this point, she would have transitioned to a more self-secure woman.
She keeps talking about going back to school but has no idea what she really wants to do. She chooses journalism as a default, and still is seeking for someone else to give her the answers to the questions she should be answering. Continuing your education is a waste of time if you do not have a solid goal of what you are going to attain through continuing your education. Her going for her masters is just an extension of why she went to college in the first place, to find a man, if she doesn’t have a more solid goal.
Her professor is going to research internships for her, and she responds, “one less thing for her to worry about”? Her dad procures her apartment. What is she going to do for herself? She still sounds like a kept woman.
She has a long list of “quandaries” to tackle? I am having difficulty discerning what her real quandaries are? The issues presented do not seem life rattling.
Now she is going to be given money for school? The more I read, the less I am able to empathize with her. When is she ever going to do anything on her own? Make her mark on the world?
And now daddy is making a plan for her? When will she start making her own plans and making her own dreams a reality?
She told her father she would be “all right” and to “not worry about her”? I would be very worried about her if she ever got into the real world.
Chapter 32 Notes
She still has not moved out??
Now she is living in a house with a woman who is now taking care of her. She makes her biscuits and coffee? When is Elizabeth going to do anything for herself?
They (Elizabeth and James), realistically, will never make it. He a librarian with no college and no future prospects and she is moving on to journalism, with a master’s degree, and more possibilities. How long do you think that he is going to want to be in the shadows? Just because he loves her and wants to be with her? He will eventually get a case of the butt when she makes more money than him and has familial money, when he does not. He will end up holding that over her, and then the love will dissipate. What does he bring to the table? He was in intelligence during the war, and did nothing with it after? He could have had an interesting story that would have been able to match her professionally in the future.
Typo- We've having dinner
She is a college professor? What happened to journalism? What happened to her wanting to be a voice for other woman?
Confusing to have them meet as a married couple, then go to the wedding, and end with their honeymoon?
This story is set in the 1920’s, yet I did not get the feeling of being transported back into the 1920’s. You mention the suffrage movement, prohibition, dancing; however, it seemed like a back story and separate from the characters.
No energy from the 20’s
More detail of the dance clubs and surroundings would help to engage the reader.
Clothing. 1st as Elizabeth is trying to transition from conventional to independent, the wardrobe could reflect that. Colors could become bolder as she is gaining confidence in herself as well as types of hemlines. This was a great age for fashion with many influences from the orient and Egypt. Cool head pieces.
Hair styles, day to day habits that were specific to the 20’s
The dances… no Charleston? That is probably one of the most recognizable dances from that time period. Lots of dances were created.
Take your time and give the reader a tour.
Every person and place have purpose and represents something from that time period. There is no happenstance in literature. Who are your players and what is their job in the story?
You need more feature details of the characters, so we are able to see what you are seeing. Hair color, eye color, shape of face, stubborn chin, body type, height, etc. Make sure that you bring their facial features back into the picture when they are interacting with one another. Again, this helps up so visualize what you are trying to communicate.
Elizabeth- she is the same at the beginning of the story as she was at the end. I have no idea how she looks other than she has black hair and has too thin body frame (which I do realize is the preferred body type of that time, but more detail would still help the reader to visualize the character). You mention she was pretty, but what kind, classical? Confidence?
What is her journey? This is where it falls a bit flat. I saw many opportunities in your story that could be stepping-stones to her independence and self-confidence; however, it never appears she grew into the person she wanted to be. She didn’t take any chances. She played it safe. Through each of these stages, the reader should be able to see how Elizabeth is growing and becoming more confident in who she is. Areas that would appear to be growing and shifting moments for her are:
College- She is exposed to many strong modern women who can take care of themselves. She is influenced by Jocelyn and Dr. Clara. What did they teach her? How did they challenge her? What pieces of them did she adopt for herself? This is a big time for her, a lot of growth occurs in college, but I didn’t see any impact in the story.
Library Job- develop that. Why did she go to work? What did she learn about herself? Who got her the job? Was it to give her something to do until marriage, or was this her 2nd steppingstone into the independent woman she longs to become?
Philadelphia- This is where I thought she was going to make a huge shift and get her own apartment and job (on her own without help). It was a bit of a letdown when she left her mom and dad’s house (where she is taken care of) to go to grandma’s (where she is still being taken care of).
Becoming a Professor- I actually thought that journalism would have been more exciting and confidence building. In fact, that has a lot of conflict, especially with her being a woman in a man’s world. Regardless of which profession, that should have been a solid goal from the beginning, rather than it being a default at the end of the book. With her not being able to make up her mind, it made her seem wishy washy rather than a modern woman who knows what she wants and will do anything to get it.
What was her internal struggle? It wasn’t until the last chapter that she finally figured out what she wanted? When did she exert her independence that was provided her through the suffragette movement? She went from the shelter of her home, then to her grandma’s house, to another old person’s house, all the while someone else was her main support, not her. That does not reflect what the suffragettes fought for.
Not that asking for advice is bad, but it appeared that she wasn’t looking for counsel as much as permission from her parents (dad in particular) and her grandma. Especially, once she got to Philly, it would have been a nice shift for her to make her own decisions….good or bad. It could have been a great learning moment.
She is babied a lot and therefore promotes her dependent nature. It could be off-putting to the reader.
She likes to dance. What was the purpose of this detail or characteristic of her life? This is the only feature that could be close to scandalous or the freedom of making her own choices in life; however, she doesn’t dress in the new fashions, drink, or conduct herself in a manner that would be considered modern. It is the only aspect of her that could be considered modern.
At times it appeared that she was stand offish rather than shy.
She didn’t embrace the excitement and adventures that the 20’s provided.
It seems that her younger sister was more adventurous than she.
This is also confusing as she just likes to go out to dance, appears to be good at it, but does not pursue a dance career. Did she ever want to do that? Is this what makes her feel as though she is a modern girl? In the end, dancing had nothing to do with her outcome, other than something she did once a month.
Rising Conflict/Climax- This needs to be more developed, especially if she is going to leave her house over a slap in the face because she was rude. It didn’t have the impact needed in order to make a life-changing decision; however…..
You actually touched on something, but didn’t develop it, nor did you ever revisit it. When she found the photo of her dad and found out that he had been married before her mom. When I read that, you immediately had my attention, but then I was let down because it didn’t go anywhere.
What if Elizabeth was his 1st wife’s child (the mom died in childbirth) and he then married her mother shortly after to raise her, thus, the conflict between mother and daughter now thickens. It could explain why there was always tension and that she treated her more harshly than her sister Anna. When that all comes out in the open, that would be a reason to leave and make life altering decisions! Just a thought.
Of course, this will also cause conflict with the dad because he kept it from her too.
James- Again, you made a really cool comment about his past, being in intelligence during the war, but then never did anything with it. Instead, he is in a nowhere going job, and cannot afford to give Elizabeth the lifestyle to which she is accustomed, which makes them incompatible based on social standards. What if he never left the intelligence field? What if he was library guy by day and secret agent by night? Germany is on the radar and is still a concern in the 1920’s. It is plausible.
He is a nice guy, but not exciting. With giving him some added layers where he is more than what he appears could work. I wouldn’t change the story he tells Elizabeth, because most spies will say, “Keep your story as close to the truth as possible to make the lie more believable”. It would also put him on even footing with Elizabeth. He would be more self-secured, confident, and not feeling that he had anything to prove to Elizabeth. That is extremely attractive in a man.
The conflict that separated Elizabeth and James- not wanting to go dancing? It doesn’t satisfy the reader. Most woman would say their husbands would probably say the same thing, but they wouldn’t break up over it. The conflict needs to be a reason to separate. Perhaps she sees him with another woman thinking he was cheating on her but in actuality the woman was his informant or another spy (Lillie?). You even wrote that she would not see him for days, what if he were on missions, under the guise of research? She went to Philadelphia for research, he could very easily go to Europe “for research” in his department. They are still intellectuals, but the growing suspicions she has about him come to head, perhaps at the same time she finds out about her real mother?? (I am just going down a rabbit hole)
The moral is his character needs to be filled out more, and hopefully a bit more interesting. Also, he needs more description on how he looks. If you go with the spy thing, when she sees him with the informant/spy, not only is she shocked he is with an different woman, but she is also shocked how different he looks from the day job (Clark Kent/Superman thing)
Jocelyn- I like her. To me she represents the modern 1920’s woman that Elizabeth aspires to be.
She is obviously a very important person to Elizabeth; however, after the first couple chapters you rarely see her again.
I was under the impression that they were best friends. Why wouldn’t Elizabeth share her confidences with Jocelyn rather than her sister? She is older, more experienced, seems to bring a lighter tone to the scene.
She is life to the fullest. Elizabeth needs more of that.
She also seems like the person that would give you a reality check when you needed it. Elizabeth needs some reality checks. It would help to make Elizabeth more relatable to the reader, to be humbled in those times she acts pretentious.
She needs more description. He hair, make-up, clothes, verbiage should ooze 1920’s modern woman. She should have the coolest clothes and is there to help shift Elizabeth from old school 20’s to modern 20’s.
Georgie- Not gonna lie, I am not crazy about his name. He needs a sexier name…this is a romance story, after all 😊. Georgie sounds like someone she would babysit.
Honestly, I would not change a whole lot about him, except his name. and please give more detail about how he looks. 😊 He is important because he is needed in her final independence phase.
Mother and Father- My only suggestion would be that their family dynamic was more developed in the beginning so there is a juxtaposition between the life she longs to leave.
As is, the conflict she has with her mother seems like normal mother daughter issues, but nothing extreme.
Her relationship with her dad is nice and a great balance to her mom. If you go down the road of his 1st marriage, there could be conflict here, but could have a restoration of relationship in the end.
Little girl on the train- What was the purpose of this character? What does she represent in the story? I honestly thought that she was going to pick-pocket Elizabeth while she slept on the train, leaving Elizabeth penniless on the streets of Philadelphia. haha
Dialogue- You did a great job here. For the most part, it was well written and easy to follow. Only a couple suggestions:
Need some clarity on who is saying what.
At times, especially if you are trying to create a specific tone/mood, adding descriptions of what the character is doing/responding would help the reader to stay engaged.
Ending- The epilogue confused me as it was out of sequence. Was the honeymoon scene necessary? That seemed out of place.
I did like how you resolved relationships with the other characters.