My name is Kristen Chavez, and I’m a book addict
You know how lots of parents have to cajole or bribe their kids to read? Well, my parents threatened to restrict my reading time because my nose was always in a book. (Yes, even at the dinner table.)
After graduating with a bachelor's degree in English Literature (and elective classes in creative writing, poetry writing, and children's literature), I went to art school and became an illustrator. For children’s books. (Have I mentioned that I love books?)
and a fiction editor.
My mom gave me a passion for reading and my dad gave me his critical eye; it’s these two gifts that eventually led me to pursue copyediting. I’ve absorbed so much professionally edited prose that I instinctively know what sounds right—and when something isn’t working, I can see how to fix it while retaining a writer’s distinctive voice.
Natural gifts are a great start, but they’re no substitute for proper training, so I earned a Certificate in Copyediting from the University of California, San Diego. Soon after, a friend asked me to beta read his YA fantasy novel on Google Docs. Unaware that he could see my suggestions in real time, I began to play around with my non-fiction sentence-level editing skills—smoothing out the writing and giving it a professional polish—when a message popped up asking me to please continue what I was doing since it was exactly what the book needed. I did continue. And it felt so right, I decided to specialize in editing fiction.
As a trained copyeditor, I pay close attention to writing mechanics, consistency of style, and logical flow. But because of my artistic sensibility and my study of poetry writing, I also pay attention to the sound of words and the rhythm of phrases—and am able to compress ideas into fewer, more powerful, words.
I'm also a mom.
Maybe I’m weird (my kids certainly think so!), but I regularly read middle grade and young adult fiction. I’m the mom who reads every book I “buy for my kids”: silly illustrated books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid; moving, thoughtful novels like The One and Only Ivan and Wonder; and YA series like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter (though I read that before I had kids). I also regularly read both commercial and literary adult fiction and non-fiction trade books on a wide array of subjects.
What I am not is a frustrated novelist
Editing is my jam. I like solving puzzles, and I like working with existing elements and tweaking them into being the best they can be; I’d much rather spruce up a house with potential than design and build one from scratch. So I won’t try to change your writing to sound like me. After all, storytelling and line- and copy-editing are different skill sets. I have great respect for an author’s creativity and am always humbled and honored when invited to collaborate on a manuscript.
or the language police.
I don’t get a rush of superiority by correcting other people’s “mistakes.” (I prefer the term nonstandard usage.) A good editor knows when to be a stickler and when not to be. Fiction editors especially can’t be inflexible or pedantic. (And clearly I’m not: please note the above sentence fragments, sentences starting with conjunctions, liberal use of parentheses, at least one split infinitive—and the emoji at the end of this sentence😉.)
If you think I might be a good fit for your project, please head over to my Services page and check out the different ways we can work together.