Meet the Editor – Dara Rochlin


Today on Paws4Thought I am pleased to welcome the editor of the Shades of Fear anthology, Dara Rochlin.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Dara.

I’m a New York native, living in California for 19 years.  I’m married for almost 20 years to the love of my life; we have two amazing kids.  I have a Masters in Environmental Education and International Politics from George Washington University.  I’ve been a library assistant, a paralegal, a web designer, and an independent contractor for a SEO firm.  I was always the one my friends and family went to for help with spelling and grammar, so I guess it’s natural that I’m now a book editor.

How did you get involved with Shades of Fear?

I joined the Facebook group Write on Nanos on the request of Desiree Scott, and when she had the idea of the anthology, I threw my hat into the ring for editing.  It was an amazing experience being involved with all the authors and getting to know everyone. I think of the group more like a little family.

Who are your favorite authors?

I’ve been reading ever since I was three years old.  I spent many hours of my childhood reading under the blankets with a flashlight when I should have been sleeping. My favorites include Louisa May Alcott (Little Women), Kenneth Grahame (The Wind in the Willows), Roald Dahl (James & the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew), Chris Grabenstein (Escape from Mr Lemoncello’s Library), Dean Koontz, Patricia Cornwell, Neil Gaiman (Anansi Boys, Coraline, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane).

I’m also fascinated by anything about the Kennedy family—JFK is one of my heroes, plus I was a history major. I also loved reading the Harry Potter series with my son before bedtime.

Today I’m still a voracious reader. My husband says every time he looks at me, I’m reading something different, and in my “Reading Periods” I can read three books in a week.  I’m glad I don’t get carsick; I read four books on our trip to San Francisco with the family a couple years ago.  The librarians know me by sight, and have a pile of books to recommend to me.  I recommend much to them as well.

I just finished Susan Kaye Quinn’s Third Daughter.  I recently discovered steampunk and am loving it. I have MeiLin Miranda’s books up next, The Machine God, Lovers & Beloveds, and Dalston Junction, and reading lots of new indie authors samples for edits.

Can you describe your editing process?

I do both hand–editing with my favorite red pen (of which I have many- my “weapons of mass creation”) and then I transcribe the edits on the computer.  Sometimes you have to sit down and do it the old-fashioned way.  A cup of cocoa at night or a cup of coffee in the morning and a fresh red pen is all I need to work my magic.

I like to be able to take my work with me, to sit at the beach and work, sometimes it is about the surroundings and taking in the scenery that puts me in the mood to be transported to the worlds which my clients create.  Sometimes it is better to be at my desk in front of my desktop machine.

Music, sometimes, not always. It depends on the piece I’m working on.

What kind of music do you like to listen to when you’re working? Do you have an editing soundtrack?

I don’t have a set “editorial playlist”. I let the story I’m editing dictate what I listen to. Sometimes I need  faster paced music to keep up with what’s going on, or take me out of the sad part of the story. I have a few different stations programmed into I heart radio that have come in handy.

Sometimes it is quiet, slow and sometimes it is upbeat and fast. Sometimes all I really need is silence. When the music distracts me from the story, it’s time to either switch or turn it off.

What is your biggest pet peeve as an editor?

People who think editors are not an important part of the planning process.  People who think editors are “just spelling people”, or don’t deserve to be paid for what they do.  A second set of eyes is very important.  Every story deserves to be told, and I believe every writer has a different style.  I can’t say “oh, I edit for three cents a word, or a penny a word, or this many pages is this much money”.  I customize each quote based on what the writer says they want, and make commentary to let them know I heard what they said.  I’m not upset if you go in a different direction and not use me as your editor, I’m just thrilled you have one.  Not every writer and editor work together well, just like some people use a pen, and some a pencil, and some a tablet to write.

What do you most enjoy about your work?

I love reading the rough draft and seeing the final product come through at the end; seeing the progression the story makes, and the authors I help grow as writers.  I love when they say things like “I normally write this one way, so this other way [you suggested] was a stretch for me, but I like how it expanded my horizons.”

What have you learnt most from helping to put together this anthology?

That 22 writers all have their own set of pet peeves and insanity going on.  Holding hands is a lot of fun. Sleep is highly overrated.  Pay attention to the little details when you decide all proceeds go to the charity.  It’s awesome when a group comes together with various talents for a great cause, and the final product is well received by all outside the core group.  Everyone is multi-talented in their own way.  I have made some wonderful friends doing this.  I hope to do it again with them, more often.

Do you have a favorite quote?

Here’s a few that stick with me on a daily basis.

From my high school yearbook: “We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dreams” -Willy Wonka, Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The Mad Hatter: “Have I gone mad?”
Alice: “I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret.  All the best people are.”
-Lewis Carroll Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.”
-Bruce Barton (author, advertising executive and politician)

“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”
-P.J. O’Rourke

And remember “The best book to ever write is the one YOU want to read.”

What do you like to do to relax?

Relax, what’s that? Most important – spend time with my family.  Read.  Walk at the beach. Lunch with the girls, my good friends.  Listen to my daughter play her flute.  Run my fantasy baseball team. I’m a die-hard sports fan (thanks Dad & Mom!). Watch movies. If West Side Story is on, don’t talk to me. I watch it whenever it’s on.

What’s next from Write On Nanos?

Coming soon is “Fairy Tale Therapy” a flash fiction charity anthology based on this prompt:

This was a quick writing prompt I thought everyone would just find fun to do, and then it took off like wildfire.  Joi Miner (a contributor to the Shades of Fear anthology) said, this would be a cool anthology prompt, and I thought Desiree Scott and Tom Deady, my phenomenal co-collaborators and creators of the Shades of Fear would kill me because they want to get back to writing their novels.  But… you can’t keep a writer’s creativity squelched.  So, Fairy Tale Therapy is coming to me to be edited by April 1. We hope to have it out by early May.

Next comes the Elemental Anthology.  This will feature short stories where the elements of Earth, Water, Fire or Air are central. Stay tuned for further news of this magical anthology.

In the meantime we continue to promote Shades of Fear, which is available on Kindle and paperback from Amazon. All proceeds go to benefit pediatric cancer research and patient care.

What else are you working on in addition to the Nanos Group?

I am partnering with a Public Relations / Marketing firm based in London, Literally Public Relations, where I do editing for them and try to build their PR business stateside. They are a boutique agency for self-published and published authors, publishing houses, food writers, chefs, food and drink producers and retailers.

I am Content Editor for ME Computing, a computing firm based in Canberra, Australia.

I just agreed to be part of the editing team for Crow’s Quill Journal, an online magazine dedicated to giving fiction writers a voice.

Any last words?

“The most valuable of talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”   – Thomas Jefferson

Thank you for taking your time to answer my questions.

You can connect with Dara via her website and blog
On Facebook:
On Twitter @bookdoctordara
And via email:


5 thoughts on “Meet the Editor – Dara Rochlin

  1. Far too often, I’ve seen writers posting in their blogs or on social media that they don’t need an editor. I cringe and can’t help but think they are shooting themselves in the foot. To each their own, I guess. Great interview! Loved the quotes. I’m going to have to remember those.

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