Category Archives: Robin’s work

Look sharp! Editing adds professionalism.

Professional Tip: Hire an editor to refine your language.

Wait– maybe “refine” isn’t the best word for what I do, because most of my clients are average-Joes who don’t want to sound like they are drinking tea with their pinkies in the air. So because “refine” has this subtle unintended meaning associated with snobbery, let me find a better word to explain myself exactly. How about “clarify” or, even better perhaps, “sharpen”? Because who doesn’t want their language to be precise, to cut right to it, and to get the job done efficiently, like a sharp knife?

What I did here in my first paragraph is precisely what an editor can do for your writing. An editor will sharpen the language you use to communicate with your audience.

This might make some people fear that their personality will be cut right out of their writing. (And too many writers have had that experience with editors; it is true.) Doggone it—you want to sound like you! And if you’d never-ever use the word “doggone” in a blog post, no one should add it in an effort to “refine” your language.

A good copyeditor will listen to your voice and maintain your personality while cleaning up wordiness and redundancy in the language of your post or web copy.

Your casual voice, the way you talk, is completely fine for blogs and social media posts, which are intended to be friendly and build community based on who you really are. It is important not to come across as stiff or fake. But it is easy to miss silly things when we read our own writing. (Like using “also” and “too” at different ends of the same sentence.) So an outside professional is better equipped to notice the tics that make you who you are, and emphasize them; as well as notice the tics that make you look unprofessional (or idiotic) and eliminate them.

And for more formal writing, like whitepapers, cover letters, or printed marketing material, a copyeditor can also help identify jargon that hides meaning from the layperson you’re trying to attract. A copyeditor can trim down the number of words so you can have a more attractive layout. (Some editors also do design work.)

A proofreader can make sure your autocorrect hasn’t added an auto-error, that you haven’t misplaced an apostrophe, that you haven’t used the word “tick” when you meant “tic;” or, (heaven forbid!) “there” when you meant “their” or “they’re.” These are things that should have been eliminated from your writing by ninth grade, and these errors poorly reflect your professionalism.

If you’re interested in learning more about what an editor can do for you, you may want to visit the Editorial Freelancers Association, or, head over to my Contact Us page, follow the directions for completing TSP’s Editorial Services Survey and I’ll get in touch with you.





Sacramento editor keeping busy this winter

I thought I’d post a quick rundown of what’s been keeping me occupied lately, and what I’m looking forward to in the near future.

I continue to work with short-story and novel writers to hone their craft. One is working on a series of connected pieces that we are putting together as a single collection, a novel-in-stories (a la the much-discussed Anthony Marra’s The Tsar of Love and Techno). I find this kind of work engaging and tremendously fun. Please feel free to fill out an editorial services survey and reach out if you would like to consult with me about your writing. I have a spot or two available.

Speaking of Anthony Marra, I recently attended a CapRadio Reads event featuring this fine crafter of prose. He is not only brilliant, but also charming. My colleague Kate Asche released her book of poems (Our Day in the Labyrinth, Finishing Line Press) at a reading at a well-attended Sac Poetry Center event. Also, Radio Silence (currently on hiatus- boo!) hosted Elvis Costello in San Francisco; a great event in conjunction with the release of Costello’s memoir. So, I’ve been getting out a bit.

I’m enjoying engaging with musician-writers and other music-aficionados on Twitter @Sacramentorobin. Rock and roll memoirs and biographies are almost an obsession of mine. My pet department at Under the Gum Tree is the Soundtrack category, where I get to work with writers for whom music holds a special place in their hearts. That’s where I worked, for example, with the terrific Samuel Autman (watch him rocket to greatness!) when he wrote about Donna Summer.

At Under the Gum Tree, things continue to grow. Pick up a print copy for your coffee table. Send your creative nonfiction to us! And if you will be at AWP 2016 in LA, be sure to stop by our booth at the book fair and come to our event (details TBD). AWP, of course will get its own posts here when the time comes.

I am, as always, reading lots. Claudia Rankine, Eula Biss, Ploughshares, Writers’ Chronicle, Poets and Writers, Essay Daily, J.M. Coetzee, The Sun, Mother Jones, The New York Times. Etcetera. I just picked up Ursula K. Le Guin’s Steering the Craft, and am wondering how I ever missed it.

Always learning, reading like a writer. Not so much writing, but lately the bug has been making me itch. I will be hankering down soon.

Thank you for reading my blog. Remember, I’m here if you would like support with any part of your writing process.


Experimental Women Writers Blog Tour Continues

Just when you thought the steam had run out, Andrea Scrima adds more coal to the furnace. The blog tour surrounding the anthology of short works by experimental women writers (of which I am one) continues.

Her conversation with Snežana Žabić and Margarita Meklina, two Wreckage of Reason II writers appeared in The Brooklyn Rail on July 13th.

“Wreckage of Reason II: Back to the Drawing Board is an anthology of contemporary experimental women’s writing. The anthology, as Leora Skolkin-Smith has written,

‘stands on its literary merits alone, but it also elicits questions that point far beyond its own physical presence in the publishing arena—questions primarily to do with the threatened future of experimental and literary writing itself, with the questionable health and well-being of our current literary culture and its openness or lack thereof to work that isn’t consumerist in intent.’
experimental women writers, fiction anthology, short story anthology, Spuyten Duyvil

Andrea Scrima invited two of her co-authors in the anthology, Margarita Meklina and Snežana Žabić, to take part in a conversation about what experimental writing means today—beyond the marginalization the label inevitably leads to, both in terms of commercial viability and literary visibility…”

Read more in The Brooklyn Rail. 

It seems to me that a creative writing teacher would do well to incorporate this text and all of this gorgeous supporting material into the upcoming year’s syllabus. Feminism. Consumerism. Experimentation. Marginalization. And don’t forget: Fun.

Nava Renek and Natalie Nuzzo (eds.)
Wreckage of Reason II: Back to the Drawing Board 
(Spuyten Duyvil Publishing, 2014)

Under the Gum Tree 3rd Year Anniversary Reading

Under the Gum Tree Issue 13 October 2014 is here and gorgeous!

Have you purchased your digital or print subscription?

Our three-year anniversary issue features stories by J.J. AnselmiJonny Blevins, Brigitte Bowers, Mary Collins, Lesley HowardCannon Roberts, Kate Washington, and Wendy Patrice Williams. Photo essay by Anna Ladd and visual art by Allen Forrest.

Under the Gum Tree, Sacramento Editor, Janna Marlies Maron, Robin Martin

And you may realize that October is our anniversary month! Every year we do something special. This year, we are starting a new on-line reading series:

Gum Tree Live!

Please join us on Google+ for our premiere broadcast on October 9, 6 pm Pacific.

Click this link October 9 at 6 pm already and you’ll be right in! 


Look how great all the print issues look here on Magcloud.

Thanks for your support of this project.

True Story: Reading Creative Non-Fiction in Sacramento

Excited to have been invited to read at the July 17th presentation of True Story, Sacramento’s creative non-fiction reading series. Wish me luck, as I haven’t read my own work in quite a few years. If you’re there, please make sure you say, “hi!”

True Story, creative non-fiction, Robin Martin

Blogging for the Wreckage

This Wreckage of Reason II blog tour has been a great way for me to learn about new presses, meet new communities of readers and writers, and of course, get to know amazing individuals. The tour continues to be documented on our Tumblr account. 

Contributor Karen Lillis has a new chapbook published by NightBallet Press, an independent small press, interested in the musicality of language and the originality of expression in poetry, with a commitment to excellence. It looks like a terrific poetry press, and they have some great deals right now on multiple titles.

The latest stop on this week’s blog tour for the Wreckage is  Donna Wyszomierski— and a story from her collection, Bad Mayonnaise. Here’s how it begins: 

“Starting in the Movies”
It was about three years ago that I started in the movies.  I wrote some screenplays based on my life, set them all to music.  I cast myself in the leading role, got someone to produce them.  I soon found myself a star, made a couple million dollars.  Of course there were men who wanted to share my modest fortune.  The first one was head camera man.  He did the movie work, he said, to put bread on the table, his real passion being homegrown crops.  He was fighting agribusiness.  He pictured me a farmer’s wife, waking with the roosters.

Read more of Wyszomierski’s piece here.

WORII, published this spring by Spuyten Duyvil Press, is now available for Kindle, if you’re one of those e-reader types. Here is the Amazon description: In this follow up to the 2008 bestselling Wreckage of Reason: An Anthology of Experimental Prose by Contemporary Women Writers, 29 contributors use different styles and language genres, their tools at hand, to illustrate moments of conflict, amusement, bafflement and joy that make up a day, a year, an individual life or a collective history. Held up to the light or inspected under a microscope, set in locales real, virtual, mythic, and imaginary, characters bump into and move through events, leaving readers with the humorous, sad, sexy and playful ambiguities of what it means to be alive. This anthology provides a much needed venue to spotlight women writers engaged in serious creative writing projects chronicling and responding to our current culture. 



Guest Post: An XXpermental Blog Tour

In a March post, I announced the release of the new Spuyten Duyvil anthology, Wreckage of Reason II. Some of the writers who are included in this anthology are participating in a blog tour to get to know one another’s work better and also to spread the word about this collection of short pieces by contemporary women writers. I hope that the text and the accompanying interviews, discussions, commentaries, can be a valuable piece of what is going on right now in the world of writing and writers, used perhaps in classrooms and book discussions.

So I’ll be augmenting my otherwise sparse blog with posts by my WoRII colleagues. I believe my clients and friends will enjoy them as much as I do.

Here are links to other contributions to this tour on their own sites:
Hear an excerpt of one of the pieces read by the author, Andrea Scrima, by clicking here.
And here is the WoRII tumblr site, where all of the pieces will be gathered.

SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2014 … Karen the Small Press Librarian, posts: Writer on Writer: E.C. Bachner Interviews Lillian Ann Slugocki

This installment in the Writer on Writer interview series has a twist: Instead of asking the participants to read a whole book, I asked two writers involved in the same anthology to read each other’s anthology piece. The anthology in question is one I’m proud to be included in as well. Wreckage of Reason Two (Spuyten Duyvil, 2014) is the sequel to Wreckage of Reason (Spuyten Duyvil, 2008), and both anthologies feature contemporary women writers experimenting with prose. This week’s Writer on Writer features E.C. Bachner and Lillian Ann Slugocki, two New Yorkers whose bold narrative voices pop off the page. Today E.C. (Elizabeth) Bachner interviews Lillian Ann Slugocki about Lillian’s story, Streetcar Deconstructed.Stay tuned, as always, for the second part of the interview, when Lillian will ask Elizabeth about Elizabeth’s story, How to Shake Hands with a Murderer.


Elizabeth Bachner: I’m obsessed with the idea of whether there are differences between a character and a person, an author and a self, and I love the brilliant and playful way your feminist deconstruction of A Streetcar Named Desire approaches these questions. What are your ways of thinking about autobiography versus fiction, “real” versus imaginary or invented? How do you use yourself in your work? How does your work change and shape your life?

Lillian Ann Slugocki: My life is like this scrapbook of stories, and people, and cities–and I look at it, dispassionately, as the raw material for my work. But having said that, there are many layers over and under the autobiography. I layer myth–my current obsessions are Leda, Orpheus, Eurydice and Leander–as well as narrative structure–e.g. a conflict and its resolution, as well as intertexuality. I use echoes of T. S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Angela Carter, plus all the lit crit I studied at New York University: Judith Butler, Thelma Shinn, Gayle Green, Mircea Eliade, Luce Irigaray, Julie Kristeva, and Audre Lord. The result is that the I, first person, in my work is me, but not me–an amplified version. Stronger, wiser, certainly more flawed, and certainly more interesting.

People who read my work are usually very quick to assume that it’s straight up autobiography, like when they read The Blue Hours, my novella about the sexual disintegration of a marriage. But real life can be very boring. I’m convinced that even memoirists are not unlike novelists–they use plot arcs, they deconstruct, compress, they add and subtract in similar ways–because it’s all in service of telling a story. And real life doesn’t contain those structural elements. There is an art to choosing where to begin a story, and where to end it, amongst all the hundreds of possibilities. The writer makes those choices, whether the genre is fiction or non-fiction. And I tend to write stories about the things that are of concern to me at any given moment. It could be identity, it could be sexuality or the female body, it could be history–and in writing them, I think I better understand the context of my own life.

Read more of this here: Karen the Small Press Librarian.

Spuyten Duyvil, Robin Martin, Nava Renek

Released: Wreckage of Reason II

I am very pleased to announce the release of publisher Spuyten Duyvil’s newest collection of experimental prose by women, and proud to say I am included in it with my story “The Room is Glass.” I recommend you pick up a copy, not because it supports me but because you’ll find some damn good writing in there–Karen Lillis “Guide to New York City (circa 1992)” and Melanie Page “Metal Eye Drifter” among my favorites.

WoRII cover
“This anthology provides a much needed venue to spotlight women writers engaged in serious creative writing projects chronicling and responding to our current culture.”

The editor, Nava Renek, and four contributors (Aimee Parkinson, Alexandra Chasin, Cynthia Reeves, Brooke Wonders) produced a panel at Seattle’s AWP conference, in which they discussed what makes prose experimental, which I really enjoyed because I don’t think my work is clearly experimental. By that, I mean I feel my work is still very accessible. Perhaps I like the term innovative writing better. Innovative writing has a smaller audience in mind, no pre-determined formula, and exists outside of easily defined narrative conventions.

Aimee Parkinson said, “innovative female authors constantly push boundaries of written expression, finding new ways to express diverse experiences and the diversity of their visions in an ever-transforming world.”

Alexandra Chasin notes that as women, we’re shackled by the knowledge that we are in danger, and our mobility is inhibited by this knowledge. Chasin advises a young woman to unshackle her mind and just “write like a fucking human being.” This, in and of itself is post-structuralism, she says, “the end of the Master narrative.”

Oh there’s more, so much more good stuff. Just click on any of these links and rock your world. I’m honored to be in the company of these brilliant women.


Vanishing Hoboken, a proofreading project

proofreading, sacramento editor, Robin Martin, Two Songbirds PressProofreading is not glamorous. The book comes in and I make sure it’s correct, consistent, and ready to publish. But sometimes a proofreading project is genuinely fun to work on. The Vanishing Hoboken series is one such project. One reason I enjoy it is that I spent my formative years just a few miles away from this city. This New Jersey city has been through many changes over the course of its colorful history, and the oral history project is an effort to document and remember the different phases of the city and the people who made it what it is. The Hoboken Oral History project is a project of the Hoboken Historical Museum and the Friends of the Hoboken Public Library, and supported by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

A talented editor, Holly Metz has the difficult job of transcribing and interpreting the audio recordings of the subjects and building simple chapbooks out of them while maintaining the narrator’s voice. The designer, Ann Marie Manca, creates chapbooks that bring out the personalities of the stories and their tellers through their beautiful design. Working with people who understand the importance of style in telling stories is another reason Vanishing Hoboken is so fun for me.

I am honored to be included in this important project.Holly Metz, Ann Marie Manca, Robin Martin, Sacramento editor, proofreading