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Sione Aeschliman

Sione Aeschliman (pronounced see-OWN ASH-lemon) is a freelance editor and writing coach who gets massive amounts of satisfaction from helping writers accomplish their goals. A traveler, learner of languages, champion sleeper, and expert dreamer, Sione lives in Portland, Oregon with her adorkable dog, Milton. This is her second time as a participating editor in #P2P16, and she can't wait to read the October submissions, reconnect with seasoned members of the community, and meet new writer-friends.

MOST IMPORTANTLY What kind of entries are you looking for in your Pitch to Publication query box?

I'm super into genre fiction that explores important questions about being human in ways that are fresh, accessible, deeply connecting, and entertaining. For P2P16, I'm looking for character-driven adult fiction that does all of the above AND contains one or more of the following speculative fiction elements:

  • Scifi
  • Fantasy
  • Surrealism
  • Absurdism
  • Magical realism​
  • Alternate history

Complexity and moral gray areas? New twists on tropes? Yes, please! Think Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale or the MaddAddam series; George Saunders's "Jon" or The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil; Andrea K. Host's Touchstone trilogy; Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl or "The Fluted Girl"; James S.A. Corey's Expanse series; Octavia Butler's Fledgling; Kafka's The Metamorphosis; Terry Pratchett's Discworld series; Ursula K. LeGuin's The Dispossessed or The Word for World is Forest. If your book contains graphic depictions of rape, torture, or pet murder/mutilation, please include a trigger warning in your query letter.

I am NOT interested in military thrillers, werecats, or gory horror in the vein of Event Horizon, Saw, or Human Centipede. Nothing wrong with these genres; just not my cup of tea. Nor will I work on stories that perpetuate (without challenging) any form of discrimination.

What is your writing and editing background?

I'm a freelance editor, writing coach, and former college writing instructor with a Master’s degree in English and over 13 years of editing experience​.​

As a freelance editor, I've worked with adult and YA novels and short story collections in a range of genres - scifi, fantasy, science fantasy, ​surrealism, absurdism, magical realism, contemporary women's, ​literary historical, ​​and ​​romance​/erotica​ - as well as​ with​ nonfiction.​

Part of the reason I feel confident editing across so many genres is because I write and read widely in so many genres. Under my own name, I write prose poetry, creative nonfiction, and short speculative fiction; several of my essays as well as a handful of my short stories and poems have been published in the last few years. Under a pseudonym, I write romance and erotica and have self-published seven books in the last four years.​

What are your major editing accomplishments?

When my clients get the information they need to take their manuscript to the next level and go on to achieve their goals, I consider that a successful editor-writer partnership. Here are three examples:​

  • Soramimi Hanarejima's first collection of speculative flash fiction stories was accepted for publication by Montag Press after he hired me to edit it. Since then, I've worked with him on two more collections, and one of the short stories we worked on together is a finalist in a short fiction contest (blind judging, winners not announced yet, so I can't say which contest).

  • Self-publishing romance author ​Zoey Derrick​ hired me to help her take her Love's Wings series (2 books) and Reason series (4 books) from the developmental stage to the ready-to-publish stage. All of the books we worked on together have over 4-star average ratings on Amazon.

  • Several of my editing clients - including both of the authors I worked with for P2P16 March - have received multiple requests for fulls from agents.
Do you have a general philosophy for how you approach your editing work?

​A mutually respectful partnership, clear feedback that is appropriate to the stage of writing, and valuing the writer's vision and style are key components of my editing philosophy. My goal is to help writers make their stories the best they can be given the available resources. For P2P16, this will mean helping an author identify the changes they can make that will have the biggest positive impacts on their ms so they're ready for the agent round on time.

What types of books do you enjoy working with?

​As mentioned above, I enjoy working with a wide variety of books.

I'm particularly interested in work that's a little off-center from the mainstream, such as trans-genre work and work that challenges societal norms and/or the conventions of a genre.

What are the most common mistakes you see in new writer's ​work?

Starting the novel in the wrong place: in a scene without a goal and stakes, too far removed from the first inciting incident.

What’s the one thing most novelists don’t understand about the art of revision?

The most common mistake I see new authors making is writing a draft or two and then assuming their book will be ready for copy editing, when in reality it takes several rounds of feedback and revision to produce excellent work.

What’s one easy thing every writer can do right now to make themselves a better writer?

If you haven't done so already, disabuse yourself of the notion that everything you write has to be genius. Create a safe space (physical, emotional) for yourself to play, experiment, fail. Try new things. Challenge yourself. If you usually write novels, write a short story, some poems, a lyric essay. What you learn will make your novels better. Share your work with others - friends, family, at an open mic - and ask for feedback. Get away from thinking in terms of approval or disapproval, liked or didn't like. Instead, approach both criticism and praise with curiosity: What is that person responding to? Is that the effect you were going for? Play/experiment some more and see if/how the feedback changes.

What is the most important consideration in selecting a book editor?

Assuming the basic criteria are met - knowledgeable, honest, articulate, constructive, respectful - the most important consideration is finding an editor who "gets" you and who will support the integrity of your vision and your style while giving you the information you need to create a satisfying reader experience.​

Why would a writer need a book editor?

All writers who wish to publish need a book editor because we can't be objective judges of our own work. We need an outside perspective to help us understand how others experience our work, and we need that someone to be honest, articulate, constructive, and knowledgeable about process and craft.

What do you do for fun that does not deal with the literary scene?

Dancing, coloring in adult coloring books, going to see live rock music, eating all the food, drinking all the coffees. A few choice TV shows: Blindspot, iZombie, The Mindy Project, Master of None.​

Seriously, we need to know your favorite meal and why?

​Fettuccine alfredo with chicken; roasted garlic bread (the kind with whole garlic cloves baked into the bread); salad. Because creamy delicious. (Great, now I'm hungry.)

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