Kathy Ide is a full-time freelance editor and writing mentor/career coach. She is also the editor/compiler of the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series and the author of Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors. Kathy has written numerous articles, short stories, devotionals, play scripts, and Sunday school curriculum and has ghostwritten ten nonfiction books and a five-book novel series.
A sought-after speaker at writers’ conferences, she is also the founder and director of the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference and the director of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.
Kathy and her husband, Rick, live in California, and are the parents of two adult sons.
You’re a writer, ghostwriter, editor, speaker—and conference director. How did your writing journey evolve?
In the late 1980s, a friend from church was putting together a conference and asked if I’d be willing to help her stuff envelopes and fill binders. When we finished, she asked if I’d like to attend the conference. I said, “I don’t know. What’s it about?” (I hadn’t actually read what I was stuffing!) She told me it was a writers’ conference. I said, “Why would I do that? I’m not a writer.” She said, “Maybe you are and you just don’t know it yet.”
At that conference, I met people whose names were on the covers of books I had at home. I felt like I was meeting celebrities! But I realized that week that they were just “regular people,” most of whom wrote in their spare time when they weren’t at a day job. The contacts I made and the information I learned inspired me to give it a try myself.
Just as all good novels include plot twists, our Author and Creator writes in twists that ultimately bless us more than our original plans. Have you ever experienced such a “Divine Detour”?
Absolutely! When I started writing for publication, I began with short stories, articles, play scripts, devotionals. When I got an idea for a novel, I envisioned myself with a book shelved right between Angela Hunt and Jerry Jenkins (alphabetically by last name). Can’t get much better than that!
When I lost my day job, my husband suggested I try something different from what I’d been doing for thirty years. He asked what I’d do if I could do anything for a living. “Write!” I said immediately. But we’d just bought a house based on my income from that thirty-year career, and I knew we couldn’t pay the mortgage with a newbie’s writing income. He asked what my second choice would be. I said, “My critique group seems to like what I do for them.” He suggested I see if I could turn that into a career.
I’ve been a freelance editor for almost twenty years now, and I totally love it! I teach at writers’ conferences across the country (and direct two of them). I’ve published books for writers and am the editor/compiler of a Fiction Lover’s Devotional series. Never did get that novel published! I might, someday. But whether I do or not, I’m enjoying the ride.
Let’s talk about your new book the Capitalization Dictionary (February 2017). Please tell us about it.
In 2014, I published Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors. It highlights the most common punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling errors that authors struggle with. And it touches on capitalization rules. But I often have to look up certain words to see whether they should be capitalized or not. I started writing down the ones I looked up most often. The list got long … but was extremely helpful. Instead of looking things up (sometimes in multiple reference books), I could just go to my list and find the answer.
Figuring that other authors and editors might find this helpful, I beefed up the list, marked which reference books I found the answers in, and created a booklet called the Capitalization Dictionary. I’ve already had several writers and editors tell me how helpful they’ve found it!
What’s your BEST KEPT secret for producing a flawless manuscript?
In addition to highlighting punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling rules (according to the industry-standard reference guides), my Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors has a whole section of tips from multi-published authors on how to proofread for typos, inconsistencies, and inaccuracies. So I guess that book would be my best suggestion … although it’s not much of a “secret.” : )
And… because no one is perfect, have you ever missed a cringe worthy edit that made it (or almost made it) to the printed page?
Oh, dear yes! When I was putting together my Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors, because it’s all about proofreading, I knew it had to be proofread extremely well. Since I’ve been an editor for almost twenty years, I proofread the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb many, many times. I also had several colleagues proofread it, knowing I couldn’t catch my own errors. But as soon as I had the published book in my hands, I began to spot mistakes that had slipped through! Talk about cringing! I made the best of it by having a contest in my Facebook promotional party a few months after the book’s release, offering a prize to anyone who could find a typo in the book.
Fortunately, since my publisher used POD, we could correct the mistakes for future printings. And, of course, we fixed the e-book right away.
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
Chocolate. ALWAYS chocolate! Can never get enough chocolate. White, milk, dark, it’s all great tasting and so soothing. (But no nuts or coconut or coffee flavor. Ew.)
What Bible passage or story best describes your journey of faith?
I’ve always been attracted to Esther’s story. Not just because of the fairy-tale aspects of a young peasant girl becoming queen, but because God arranged details in her life that just didn’t make sense at the time, things she didn’t even want, even though other girls around her longed for them. She just did what she felt God leading her to do, and it turned out that all the crazy, weird, confusing circumstances of her life led to something incredible.
I’ve often found the circumstances of my life confusing. But I do my best to consciously choose to believe that God has a plan for everything and that He will work it all out—for His honor and glory, for my ultimately greater joy, and for the benefit of those who don’t yet know Him.
And many times—sometimes years after the fact—I have indeed seen God’s hand in circumstances that didn’t make sense at the time. That gives me confidence to trust Him with my present crazy situations.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
I’ve had moments when I felt like each of those things! When I’m directing a conference, I’m definitely in the “strong female lead” role. My editing clients sometimes see me as a bit of a “super heroine” when I help them find ways to make their manuscripts shine … and win awards and get published. To members of The Christian PEN and the Christian Editor Connection, I think I might come across as the mystery woman, because I founded and directed those organizations for many years, but I recently partnered with two other women who are basically running them and I’m more behind-the-scenes now.
When I started writing and getting published, I felt like the little girl trying to walk in high heels. Felt the same way years later when I started editing. Definitely felt that way when I started teaching at writers’ conferences. Felt a bit like that when I started directing my first writers’ conference. But the more you do something, the more you feel like you fit into those shoes. (Although, outside the metaphor, I hate high heels!)
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
I grew up with dogs. The first one I remember was named Snoopy. Loved them all! But I married a cat person. And while cats aren’t nearly as affectionate, in general, they sure are easier to take care of … especially when you travel as much as I do!
Thanks, Kathy! It’s great to have you as a guest at Divine Detour.
~ ~ ~
For more information about Kathy, visit her website and/or on Facebook or Twitter.
To order the Capitalization Dictionary and/or other books by Kathy, log on to: