Val Mathews

Val Mathews - Editor

Athens, GA, USA

Experienced developmental editor and copy editor—from rough draft to galley proof. Suspense, thrillers, crime, sci-fi, and war memoirs.

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Overview

Does your stack of manuscripts need a good freelance editor? Let me ease your load. I am a full-time freelance developmental, line, and copy editor for fiction and nonfiction. My primary focus is on suspense manuscripts by authors of thrillers, crime, sci-fi, and war memoirs.

With a knack for seeing the big picture, I can figure out the steps a writer needs to take even when the draft looks impossible to navigate. However, I can also spot the fine details a writer may have missed. Pulitzer Prize-nominee Brenda Sutton Rose explains:

“With an expert’s eye for detail, Val caught redundancies and irrelevancies, mistakes that muddled the clarity and disrupted the rhythm of the story.”

You’ll find me easy to work with (no diva here!), professional, and fast. I can meet deadlines. I’ve edited for literary journals with schedules to keep, and sometimes my indie clients hire me to work with the editorial and production teams at their publishers, so I’m accustomed to tight deadlines and swift turnarounds. On top of that, I used to be a commercial pilot, and like all pilots, I take pride in being on time—old habits die hard!

I run The Exit 271 Studio, an editing service for writers who need love, support, and a kick in the pants.

ENDORSEMENTS

"I found my dream editor! Val's sensitivity to my manuscript made it a pleasure to work with her. She knew exactly what had to be cut and what was needed to make my manuscript soar. Val is easy to talk to and her quick turnaround time is a huge plus. I can honestly say after working with Val, I have become a better writer and a client for life."
~Stephanie Baldie, Redemption

"When I got Val's feedback, I was surprised at the clarity with which she could see what I was trying to do and nudge it in the right direction."
~ Jessica Petree

"Her story suggestions are succinct and on point … she can peer not just into your mind but also your soul and know where you want to take your story, or where you ought to take it, and how to get there by the best marketable route."
~ Charles "Chuck" Wanager

MY EDITORIAL BACKGROUND IN AN ALMOND SHELL

In the past, I flew airplanes for a living, and once I ate an entire bag of Fig Newtons on a spontaneous road trip from New Orleans to Philadelphia to see the Live Aid concert. No more fig bars for me!

Since my flying days, I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Georgia and a Master of Arts in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University. I've taught English Composition to first-year college students, tutored in the university’s writing center, and edited for The English Broadside, Red Clay Review, the SurfCoaches website, and the Georgia Writers Association's literary journal.

I stay active in the writing community. In fact, I regularly conduct writer workshops, volunteer as a judge for fiction writing contests, and present at writer's conferences. A video clip of me speaking at the Chattahoochee Valley Writers Conference is available on my LinkedIn. I am an active member of the Editorial Freelancers Association.

I love editing because it's always like a road trip (but without the figs).

MORE ENDORSEMENTS

"A notable writing and editorial coach, Val possesses a brilliant approach to the smooth exchange of ideas with clients ... Most noteworthy, she made it easy to release my innermost thoughts, emotions, and creative ideas for her critique. Highly respected and valued, Valerie delivers splendid results."
~ Major John D. Falcon (Ret.) The Freedom Shield

"Val dove into my work, showing me what worked and what didn’t ... she offered ideas and clarity my story was lacking. It was hard work, but my novel came together. Val’s direction was a critical part of my writing process. No one can ask for a better writing and editorial coach than Val Mathews. I would not consider another writing endeavor without her."
~ Gary McConville, A Stiff Wind Blows

"After my short story Samuel’s Wife was accepted for publication, Val Mathews worked with me to improve it. Respectful of me as a writer, she suggested no changes that would upset my voice and writing style. With an expert’s eye for detail, Val caught redundancies and irrelevancies, mistakes that muddled the clarity and disrupted the rhythm of the story. I would not hesitate to work with Val again. A true professional, she’s a meticulous editor. I loved working with her and would recommend her to anyone in search of an editor."
~Brenda Sutton Rose, "Samuel's Wife"

"I have to say that, looking at the final versions with all of the suggestions incorporated, I am extremely proud of these two poems. I was thinking of TS Eliot’s comment about Ezra Pound (though I am no Eliot and these are certainly not The Wasteland!): il miglior fabbro, meaning the better maker. Your staff certainly qualify for that label. Thank you for your generosity in time and effort."
~Robert C. Covel (poet)

"Working with Val makes the entire editing process easier. I feel supported and encouraged, and that can make all the difference to an inspiring author. I learn something new every time I work with her.
~Vickie Carroll, The Ghost of Kathleen Murphy

Let's chat!

In the meantime, keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.

P.S. Here's a little writer inspiration (and editor humor):

"Over and over I feel as if my characters know who they are, and what happens to them, and where they have been and where they will go, and what they are capable of doing, but they need me to write it down for them because their handwriting is so bad." ― Anne Lamott

Languages
English (US)
Non-Fiction
Biographies & Memoirs
Fiction
Crime & Mystery
Horror
Science Fiction
Short Story
Thriller

Certifications

  • InDesign CC Mastery
  • EFA - Developmental Editing
  • FAA Certified Flight Instructor
  • Commercial Pilot
  • Jet Initial First Officer Training

Awards

  • Master of Professional Writing
  • Graduate Teaching Assistantship, Kennesaw State U.
  • Magna Cum Laude, University of Georgia

Work experience

Freelance Editor and Writing Coach

Self-employed
August, 2015 – Present (over 3 years)

I help authors who need love, support, and a kick in the pants. Novels recently published in 2018 by my clients include Gary McConville's A Stiff Wind Blows, Stephanie Baldi's Redemption, and John Falcon's The Freedom Shield. Agents have recently requested Andy Carpenter's second novel, Blood Creek. Brainstorming, developmental editing, line editing, and proofreading. Comfortable with the Chicago Manual of Style. Member of the Editorial Freelancers Association.

Editor

Georgia Writers Association
August, 2015 – August, 2017 (about 2 years)

Editor for the Georgia Writers Association's new digital magazine. Supervised a small team of graduate and undergraduate students, interns, and volunteers. Edited and wrote articles on the craft of writing. Edited short fiction and poetry. Writing judge for our flash-fiction contest. Brainstorming, structural edits, copyedits, and proofreading. Chicago Manual of Style.

Editor

The English Broadside, Kennesaw State University
August, 2015 – May, 2016 (9 months)

Editor for The English Broadside, the English Department's newsletter at Kennesaw State University. Responsible for procuring writers, assigning articles, copyediting, and proofreading.

Editor

Red Clay Review, Kennesaw State University
August, 2014 – May, 2015 (9 months)

Editor for a creative journal, which featured poetry and short stories written by graduate students in Georgia.

English Instructor / Graduate Teaching Assistant

Kennesaw State University
August, 2013 – December, 2014 (over 1 year)

Taught first-year English Composition and tutored in the Writing Center at Kennesaw State University.

Portfolio (5 selected works)

The Freedom Shield: When We Were Young, We Were There

Ret. Major John D. Falcon

In war, life has a way of turning on a dime. It is often a small choice that determines who lives and who sacrifices his or her young life. The Vietnam War was no different than any other bloody war. However, for the young guys who lived it, breathed its vigorous stench of rot and mud, the Vietnam War was like no other. In retrospect, life was simple here: turn left, you live: turn right, you ... read more

In war, life has a way of turning on a dime. It is often a small choice that determines who lives and who sacrifices his or her young life. The Vietnam War was no different than any other bloody war. However, for the young guys who lived it, breathed its vigorous stench of rot and mud, the Vietnam War was like no other. In retrospect, life was simple here: turn left, you live: turn right, you ... read more

Redemption

Stephanie Baldi

Murder is the catalyst pushing Carrie Overton headlong into the arms of the hitman sent to kill her. Determined to escape her alcoholic and drug-addicted mother and distance herself from the memory of the son she lost, Carrie's opportunity for freedom comes at a high price when she leaves home with Travis Montgomery, a man twenty-years her senior who harbors shocking secrets connected to her p... read more

Murder is the catalyst pushing Carrie Overton headlong into the arms of the hitman sent to kill her. Determined to escape her alcoholic and drug-addicted mother and distance herself from the memory of the son she lost, Carrie's opportunity for freedom comes at a high price when she leaves home with Travis Montgomery, a man twenty-years her senior who harbors shocking secrets connected to her p... read more

A Stiff Wind Blows

Gary McConville

Friends disappear one after another, leaving kind-hearted Andorf unsure who to trust. Feelings torn between a woman and her other boyfriend, his childhood adversary, Andorf plays cat and mouse games, determined to uncover the whereabouts of his best friend. He climbs through windows, confronts a terroristic gang, and navigates past the pseudo-fascist government’s corrupt political parties, lea... read more

Friends disappear one after another, leaving kind-hearted Andorf unsure who to trust. Feelings torn between a woman and her other boyfriend, his childhood adversary, Andorf plays cat and mouse games, determined to uncover the whereabouts of his best friend. He climbs through windows, confronts a terroristic gang, and navigates past the pseudo-fascist government’s corrupt political parties, lea... read more

The Ghost of Kathleen Murphy

Vickie Carroll

Cassie Malone leaves memories of loss and betrayal behind to travel to Ireland and pursue her dream of writing. A writer’s retreat at an old monastery should provide the peace she is looking for. She didn’t plan on becoming involved in a decades-old mystery involving a ghostly child looking for her missing sister. She also didn’t count on a tall handsome Irishman with deep blue eyes and a trou... read more

Cassie Malone leaves memories of loss and betrayal behind to travel to Ireland and pursue her dream of writing. A writer’s retreat at an old monastery should provide the peace she is looking for. She didn’t plan on becoming involved in a decades-old mystery involving a ghostly child looking for her missing sister. She also didn’t count on a tall handsome Irishman with deep blue eyes and a trou... read more

Girdled and Gloved: From Radio to Youtube

Charlotte Ashurst McDaniel

"50s girl fails auditions, marriage and psychotherapy." A memoir that reads like a novel or a case history. It’s a humorous and poignant mother-daughter story of riding streetcars to downtown Atlanta, enduring blackouts, collecting tin foil during World War II, selling shoes at Rich’s Department Store in the 50s, singing on live TV, majoring in drama, failing auditions, marriage, and psychothe... read more

"50s girl fails auditions, marriage and psychotherapy." A memoir that reads like a novel or a case history. It’s a humorous and poignant mother-daughter story of riding streetcars to downtown Atlanta, enduring blackouts, collecting tin foil during World War II, selling shoes at Rich’s Department Store in the 50s, singing on live TV, majoring in drama, failing auditions, marriage, and psychothe... read more

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