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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tribute to Trudy McMurrin and Editors Everywhere

Remembering Trudy McMurrin an Editor's Editor

A woman I have known most of my adult life died Wednesday. I am including a tribute to her in my The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog because she was so instrumental in the lives of many writers. She edited my The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success, for she was indeed an editor’s editor.

I met Trudy when she married my brother. That was a marriage that didn’t last long but it produced a daughter, Robbie, who is as creative as her mother was. Robbie was, of course, Trudy’s greatest accomplishment, but Trudy also headed up and edited at several university presses during the scope of a long career, including the press at one of my alma maters, the University of Utah , and at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas as well as one in Texas. And then there was that long, long list of authors whose work she edited and whose souls she nurtured.

Jo A. Wilkins, President of the Henderson Writers’ Group and Chief Executive Officer of Mystic Publishers illustrates the kind of person (and editor) Trudy was:

“I only knew Trudy for about two years, but I can’t say that any person I ever met made a more lasting, positive impression on my life. Her wealth of knowledge and her support of my writing was a pivotal event to me. She gave me the strength to know I could do this on my own. After editing the first two books of the series I co-write with another author, she gave me the encouragement to know that I could proceed in this craft as a solo author. From what I saw of Trudy, that was her way. She nurtured and supported almost everyone she met. Her honest evaluations of life and people will always stick with me. I can truly say that I will miss talking to her, catching up on her progress from friends like Darlien Breeze, and having her support in my career. She also had the same impact on the writer’s I sent to her for editing. She was a jewel that cannot be replaced.”

I am sharing a story with you because it illustrates Trudy’s gusto for life--and food:

Once when Trudy was visiting my parents' home, my husband (Trudy's brother-in-law) was cleaning out an Osterizer. He had filled it with dishwasher detergent and spun it to a nice froth. Trudy passed the kitchen door and spotted it. My husband grinned at me and said not a word. I have to admit I was . . . mmm . . . equally guilty. I took his cue and remained silent. Trudy rushed over, took the container off its motorized pedestal and glugged down half of that creamy milkshake until she realized all was not what it seemed. Was she ticked? Absolutely not. Trudy could laugh at herself with the best of them.

The world has lost an incomparable editor. I’m doubtful I can find another as accomplished. May the love I felt for her over the years go with her. She and I were what ex-sisters-in-law should be. She is also an example of what editors everywhere should be and can be.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success at Learn more about her other authors' aids at, where writers will find lists and other helps on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog.

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