Our guest today is Lourdes Venard, a journalist with more than 29 years of reporting, editing, design, and project management experience. She has worked at major newspapers such as The Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Newsday. She currently operates her own freelance business, CommaSense Editing.
Lourdes edited the material for MYSTERY IN PARADISE 13 Tales of Suspense, an anthology of short stories set in Hawaii and written by local authors.
Sisters in Crime/ Hawai`i: Thank you for joining us today for an interview, Lourdes. Can you please offer a brief insight into something humorous, poignant, or unusual in your life that led you to a career as an editor?
LOURDES VENARD: I don’t know that it was that unusual. I’ve been involved in journalism since high school and even then I had editing roles (I was editor in chief of the school paper my senior year). I was the kid who edited the valedictorian’s English essays; while she was brilliant, she still needed grammar help! Nevertheless, I started out my career as a reporter. After a few years, I realized I really enjoyed and was more suited to the editing, rather than to chasing people who didn’t want to be interviewed. I found I have a real passion for editing. Sometimes I think, ‘What am I doing? I spent half an hour arguing over a hyphen with a cover designer.’ But, really, that hyphen was important!
Sisters in Crime/ Hawai`i: How did you become involved in the editing process of MYSTERY IN PARADISE?
LOURDES VENARD: When I found out that a group of Hawai’i authors was compiling an anthology, I jumped at the chance to edit it. Hawai’i is a special place for my husband and I (we have a second home there). It is unlike any other place in the United States, and I was excited about the possibility of stories set there. Also, short stories seem to be making a renaissance. The short story lends itself to our fast-paced, time-crunched culture. But writing a good short story is just as hard as writing a full-length novel. The short stories in this anthology are truly unique, shaped by the Hawaiian culture, lore, and landscape. They are also quite diverse. That’s another thing I love about anthologies: Authors might write about the same subject, but their take is always so different! All of these aspects drew me to editing this anthology, and I was glad to have a small part in bringing MYSTERY IN PARADISE to readers.
Sisters in Crime/ Hawai`i: What is your role as a judge for a scholarship program run by the American Copy Editors Society?
LOURDES VENARD: I’ve been judging this contest for 10 years. It awards scholarships each year to three college students who show promise in copyediting. Many students gravitate to the more glamorous reporting end of journalism, but few have a love (or aptitude) for the behind-the-scenes end of it: fixing holes in stories, working with authors to make the stories more lively or readable, writing headlines and captions, designing pages, etc. Copyeditors are the last set of eyes on stories, so it’s an important job—and ACES wants to encourage that. Each year, we get a stack of applications and we carefully winnow through them and then the judges go back and forth to decide which students get the scholarships. It’s a lot of work, but we feel it’s important to the future of copyediting.
Sisters in Crime/ Hawai`i: Can you tell us a bit about your current project(s)?
LOURDES VENARD: I’m juggling a few things—OK, more than a few! I’m editing two manuscripts: one science fiction and one crime fiction, my two favorite genres. I’m also writing my own book. I work with many first-time authors and they always have questions that go beyond the editing (Should I self-publish? Look for an agent? How do I write a query? How do I format my manuscript? How do I market my book?). It’s quite a learning curve these days to publish a book, especially with so many options. So I’m writing my own ebook, which will hopefully answer some of those questions. In between all of that, I’m editor for a newsletter for 500-plus mystery authors, the Guppies, a subgroup of Sisters in Crime. The deadline for the next issue is coming up, so I’m editing articles, designing the newsletter, and soliciting articles for upcoming issues. Finally, I teach a copyediting course online through the University of California, San Diego, and I’m in the middle of the summer semester.
Lourdes Venard can be found on the Internet at: