Mary DeDanan
CatchWord Writing Studio
Cazadero, California
Work: 707 632 6362
Click here to contact by email


Even the smartest people can have trouble putting themselves onto paper. You need an expert on your side.

I’m an independent editor and writing coach who works with writers of all kinds: creative, commercial, academic. With decades of experience, I offer rich practical skills and encouragement to help every writer.


• Copy edit to correct grammar, usage, spelling, and punctuation
• Line edit to tighten and trim prose, clarify meaning, maintain internal consistency, cast out clichés, rein in jargon and overused words
• Organize and structure your material with a developmental edit
• Proofread and polish
• Strategize to manage procrastination, blocks, and avoidance; rewire your habits

• Strengthen characterization, plot, internal logic, narrative flow, and hooks
• Develop your story with an eye to the marketplace: agents, publishers, and audience
• Navigate the self-publishing maze; develop an action plan to self-publish and self-market

I have a gift for helping authors like you develop novels, memoirs, stage plays, and reportage. My advice is warm and helpful, while I work to bring out your unique voice.

Nonfiction affinities include green/off-grid living, alternative building, gardening, nature and wilderness, environmental issues, health, spirituality, music, literature, and theater.

Recently I’ve dived into self-publishing to help a client create an indie publishing imprint. I can help you too.

• Clean and sharpen those reports
• Add snap to your advertising, marketing, or fundraising materials
• Establish your brand and company style; maintain your reputation for high standards

I’ve edited (or written) everything from research reports to ads, web sites to concert program notes.

• Build logical arguments and support your conclusions
• Meet style requirements for references, notes, bibliography, and formatting. I work with ASA, APA, Turabian, or Chicago Manual of Style
• Correlate: check cross-references, captions, illustrations, tables, charts, headlines

I edit dissertations, theses, papers, journal articles, and book manuscripts. Subjects include history, sociology/cultural studies, and political science.


Every life needs a mission. Mine has been to immerse myself in the creation, mechanics, and business of language. I’ve freelanced as a book copyeditor and proofreader with Random House, UC Press, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (deceased), Stanford Press, and Jossey-Bass. I’ve worked in professional theater as a literary manager and dramaturg (Magic Theatre, Z Space Studio, La Jolla Playhouse), and published arts journalism and reviews (Pacific Sun, American Theatre, Wired, Callboard). I’ve been a working journalist. I've been a magazine and newsletter copyeditor. I’ve been an advertising copywriter and copyeditor with both hard-line corporations and world-changing nonprofits. I've written content for complex web sites. Through hard-scrabble critique workshops, I earned a B.A. in creative writing/literature from UCSD (summa cum laude). I’ve published award-winning articles, essays, and short stories, and have in progress a novel and a memoir. Yes, I write too, so I know the struggles and thrills firsthand. Please contact me if you'd like to see a full résumé (warning, it's long — I've been in this business a long time).


Oxford Research A.S., Norway, consultants to the European Commission
Curry Stone Foundation design competition
Builders Without Borders
Starhawk, author
Earth Activist Training
FireSafe Sonoma
Chris Caswell Legacy CD Project
Smileydon Press, independent publisher
and many individual writers and grad students


My primary word processing program is Word 2011. I also work in InDesign (CS5.5), a little in Photoshop (CS2), Acrobat Pro (7.0), and a fair amount in Dreamweaver (CS5). I work on the Mac platform, which will translate PC files.

My home office is off-grid, 100% solar powered, and built of "green" and recycled materials.


“Her work is simply excellent.”
David Dower, associate artistic director
American Voices New Play Institute (formerly a.d. of Z Space Studio)

“Dear Mary, you are an angel. Thank you very much for this fully flexible and totally professional approach. The cooperation with Oxford is developing well, I’m very satisfied!”
Bart Romanow, senior analyst
Oxford Research A.S.

“Dear Mary, just a note to thank you for your careful and painstaking work on the, shall we say, dense book.”
Mari Coates, production editor
UC Press

“I now have read all your excellent comments which, as always, are invaluable. Yes, that's exactly what I'm aiming at.... I have sent out your pitch to half a dozen agents. Just wanted to let you know that I think it is EXCELLENT!!!”
John Plotz
novelist, _The Decline and Fall of Mickey Bluestone_

"Thank you, thank you, thank you for your excellent editing and astute suggestions. You are a genius. I have rethought and rewritten and revamped."
Luan Marks
nonfiction writer

"This experience was exactly as I wanted it to be. I searched extensively to find a right copyeditor for my manuscript and Mary's candidacy stood out strongly among many names. I was glad I chose her. She proved to be highly professional and skillful in her craft and very easy to communicate with. Our work together was a pleasure, it was finished in time, and exceeded my expectations. Mary made many suggestions and worked on my book with passion, enthusiasm, and creative intuition that I deeply appreciate. I hope to work with her again on my future projects and would recommend her to any writer or publisher."
Olga Yahontova, MD
novelist, _Michael Gate_

“Mary's insightful coaching and editing was essential in transforming my research into a successfully written honors thesis, which received the highest distinctions.” (Thesis won the Hoopes Prize and was published as the cover story in Harvard Undergraduate Research Journal.)
Melissa Deas
graduated Harvard, BA Sociology

"Working with Mary was very enlightening. She kept me encouraged throughout the process of editing and gave me great comments and ideas. This was my first book, and she really kept me going. Great response time. She did a wonderful job. Brilliant."
Stina Niklasson
novelist, _Dead in the Head_

“The services you provided went far and above the help anyone could expect, and you were fairly priced. I highly recommend your editorial service.”
Connie Arnold
graduated SSU, MA Sociology

“This is beautiful editing. A work of art.... This is so much better than I expected it could be.... Guess what, I just got my fourth acceptance letter!” (essays for medical school applications)
Patrick Hudson, now third-year medical student

“The editing looks great.... Thanks! You made this happen.”
Suzel Bozada-Deas, doctoral candidate
Department of Sociology, USC

“You have made excellent content comments.... [It] gave me a lot to think about and good organization/direction.... Also IT LOOKS GREAT!”
Maria Pozo-Humphreys
graduated IUGS, Ph.D. Psychology

“Thanks for a remarkable piece of work.” (Co-writing, editing: Cazadero/Coastal Hills Communities Report.)
Rue Furch, planning commissioner
Sonoma County

additional keywords:
novel, short stories, scripts, theatre, non-fiction, manuscripts, reports, memoir, biography, autobiography, review, criticism, thesis, Master’s, Masters, Ph.D., research, literary, self-publish, POD, print on demand, ebook, e-book, substantive




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