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2020 Annual Contest Editor ✓
2019 Annual Contest Editor ✓
Mini-Event Editor ✓

Carly Bornstein-Hayward is a developmental editor who helps authors find their voice and bring their book to light. With 10+ years in publishing, she’s worked all over the industry, including at a big 5 publishing house, a small press, a hybrid publisher, and a literary agency. She is a co-founding Revise & Resub (#RevPit) editor, a host on Story Chat Radio, a writing advice podcast, as well as an EFA and CWiP member. She will be your book’s best friend.

Editing combines her love of reading, giving advice, and logic puzzles. When not reading or working she lounges with her husband being vastly amused by their cats or binge-watching TV.

Pronouns: She/Her


I love to read everything, but this year, I’m trying to narrow down my wish list (please don’t tempt me, I will feel left out). This year I am taking Adult and YA. I’m accepting most romance subgenres, including historical, paranormal, and fantasy, but not contemporary. I’d also love to see fantasy, historical fiction (including gothic, or fantasy/sci-fi genre mash-ups), magical realism, dystopian, and character-driven speculative/sci-fi. This year I DO NOT want anything contemporary (unless it has fantasy/sci-fi elements), horror, hard sci-fi that isn’t character-driven, mystery/thriller, or MG.

Let’s break it down. I’m accepting:

  • Adult: romance (paranormal, historical, fantasy, steamy), sci-fi, fantasy, magical realism, historical fiction
  • Young Adult: fantasy, romance, paranormal, historical, dystopian

No: nonfiction, contemporary (with the above exceptions), horror, mystery/thriller, or MG.

Some elements that will make me flip:

  • An immersive world
  • Complex non-romantic relationships
  • Very character-driven plots
  • New twists on old tropes
  • Alternate history
  • Villain POVs
  • Bantering dialogue
  • Geeky/nerdy characters
  • Upside-down or gender-bent retellings
  • Diverse characters (including but not limited to LGBTQA+, BIPOC, and especially disabled characters)
  • #OwnVoices
  • And characters that are bibliophiles (although, to be fair, this is common because we are all bibliophiles).

How can a manuscript’s first five pages make you sit up and take notice?

Voice. I know, I’m sure all of us want a strong voice. But truthfully, half of what will catch my eye is how strong your voice is and how well you know yourself as a writer. I also love strong characters. By strong characters I don’t mean perfect characters or characters that can lift twice their body weight (although a kick-ass character is always fun). I mean characters that are unique, interesting, flawed, opinionated, and active. They can be weak-willed while still being active characters that attempt to make decisions. If you throw me into the plot and make your characters' personalities known in the first five pages, you’ve got a fan.

What can writers expect from working with you during #RevPit, including communication?

I am all about becoming part your team. This is your book and my focus is and has always been to help you bring your vision to the reader. It is easy to get lost in what you think you are saying and not be able to see the pitfalls. My chosen author can expect to start with an in-depth assessment about the larger story issues. After receiving the assessment by email, I like to have a phone call where we can discuss all my advice and the best way to implement changes. Then, depending on how quickly and well that first round goes, we will either do another critique or do a round of line edits. This all depends on the manuscript itself; I will tailor my format based on what your manuscript needs. I’m always available by email and I try to get back to people within a day (if I take a couple of days, I always feel super guilty. Unless it’s the weekend; I love my weekends).

What do you expect from writers during the #RevPit revision process, including communication?

I expect you to be excited to get to work and to check your email more than sporadically. We are going to have so much fun talking and emailing back and forth discussing your story! But you need to be excited for the revision process for that to happen. You also need to have the time to dedicate to doing rewrites and possibly making big changes. We have a short time to do a lot of work, so I need you to be all in.

What hobbies do you have outside of writing and editing?

First of all, I don’t write. Please don’t hate me. I read. I read a heck of a lot. Constantly. Am I making that clear enough? Besides that, I like to draw (with charcoals), cuddle with my husband/cats (depending on which is being the cuddliest at the moment), watch a lot of TV, play a lot of video games (Horizon Zero Dawn, Red Dead Redemption 2, Hitman, Spider-Man, etc) and drink lots of caffeine (in coffee and tea form. Hot and iced. Flavored and not. Basically, every form).

What is your favorite book to reread, and why?

I don't reread too many books. There is so much out there and I don't have enough time to make a dent in my to-be-read pile as it is! However, there are a few exceptions. I'm going to cheat again this year and list two. I don't care about the rules, I'll take the wrath from the other editors! The first is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. It is one of the most darkly beautiful books. And the second is The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. It is witty, fun, and a world I want to live in.

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