Today's Blessed Guest is Tonya Stoneman, editor of In Touch Magazine, author, wife, and mother of two. She is one of only a handful of editors I met at Mount Hermon, who I could see myself hanging out with outside of our mountaintop retreat. Maybe it was her position I respected, or her brilliance with how she dissected an article or idea, or possibly, it was her sarcastic wit that captured my heart. Of course, it helped that she had a shiny lipstick red laptop like mine.
Tonya has accomplished quite a lot in her young age. When I first met her, I liked her almost instantly. She is a no-nonsense gal who doesn't waste your time with a lot of fluff. I sat in her class, "How to create articles from chapters in your book." after receiving my first ugly rejection from an agent. Tear-stained cheeks, I slumped down in the back of her class and hoped no one would notice. (The only thing worse than a rejection from an agent is wearing cute shoes on a mountain. Cute is DUMB.)
After class, I decided to summon up the courage to meet and discuss some article ideas I had for her publication In Touch Magazine. Tonya's encouragement from our meeting that afternoon will stay with me for a long time.
Because there are editors out there like Tonya Stoneman, there are thought-provoking, faith-building, God-honoring publications like In Touch Magazine.
Would you please welcome my Blessed Guest Tonya Stoneman.
What do you love about being an editor?
I love helping other writers get published. I love teaching new writers and reading good manuscripts.
What don't you love about it?
I don’t like reading really bad manuscripts, and I hate writing rejection letters (that’s why my assistant does that—she hates it to. That’s why she sends out form letters). “Really bad” manuscripts are stories that preach way too much, have no point, or are just downright too weird to print.
What has surprised you the most about your job?
I’m surprised by how much managerial work I have to do. Sometimes I feel like a psychotherapist. I have to keep everyone motivated, happy, and in harmony with one another. That in itself is a full-time job.
When it comes to a new writer, what do you think is most important for them to know when submitting to your magazine/publishing house?
First, a writer should be familiar with our magazine. There’s no point in writing a terrific article that just won’t fit with our mag style/purpose. Second, DON’T sent first drafts. Avoid cathartic recitations of your personal journey—I’m looking for a well-tuned piece that fits the guidelines of our publication.
Are there any red flags an editor sees that will give a writer an immediate rejection?
A poorly written query letter tells me that the writer won’t deliver a publishable article.
Is there anything, in your opinion, that writers pay too much/too little attention to?
Not enough attention is paid to originality. There is SOOOO much overlap in the Christian market. I read 20 of the same queries over and over again. Everybody seems to arrive at the same conclusion. Many writers also fall into the trap of copying another person’s voice. This never works. Do the hard work of finding your own voice and developing it. In my opinion, that’s one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Do you have a favorite scripture?
The book of Ecclesiastes is my favorite.
What's your favorite flavored potato chip?
Salt and Vinegar, of course.
Favorite thing to do with your family?
Anything involving snow and a sled or a Nerf gun. Sand and waves are good, too!
What book is on your nightstand right now?
The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls.
Thanks for stopping by today Tonya and sharing a little bit of your life with all of us. I'm looking forward to seeing you at Mount Hermon in March.
(I'll bring my Nerf gun if you bring yours.)