Final 2017 “Be a Better Freelancer”® speaker lineup is stellar

The baker’s dozen of speakers at “Be a Better Freelance®-Better by the Dozen,” the 12th annual conference from Communication Central, represent a fascinating range of experience in all aspects of publishing.

The conference is Sept. 15-16, 2017, with an extra session on Sept. 17, in Rochester, NY. To register, click 2017 C-C conf Registration.

Here’s who will dazzle you with their insights!

Victoria Brzustowicz ( is an award-winning painter, illustrator and graphic designer who has created websites for a variety of clients, from freelancers to nonprofits and businesses to artists and more.

Brzustowicz graduated from Wells College with a BA in studio art. She is affiliated with the Book Arts Studio of Flower City Arts Center, where she teaches linoleum block printing; a co-founder and chair of the Greater Rochester Plein Air Painters; and director of marketing and communications for the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House. She also serves on the marketing committees for several not-for-profits.

With extensive ad agency experience and as principal of Victoria B Creative, her design experience includes brochures, logos and identity systems, newsletters (print and digital), illustrations, websites, e-blasts, ads (print and web), retail and tradeshow displays and materials, book design, and whatever is needed to tell a client’s story.

Karin Cather ( is an editor with a background in academics and law. She left the legal profession, where she was a trial lawyer, in 2013 to become an editor and is still licensed to practice law in Virginia and in Arizona. She has almost 20 years of complex legal writing for courts, involving thorough research and accurate writing about medical, scientific or behavioral health evidence.

Cather is a well-rounded and intellectually curious language expert, knowledgeable in a wide range of subjects and disciplines. Because she believes in constantly updating and expanding her skills, she recently took medical terminology and statistics courses at the University of California San Diego Extension to improve her efficiency as an editor of academic and medical journals.

As an editor and copywriter, Cather uses the same skills she used as a lawyer: She helps fiction writers tell their stories and scholars and other professionals present their evidence. As a former prosecutor who has extensive martial arts training, she is uniquely situated to edit police procedurals. She also edits mysteries, YA, apocalyptic fiction, science fiction, speculative fiction, and historical fiction. The subject matter experience she gained in criminal law make her the ideal editor for behavioral health, medical, and forensics work. She also has published in comparative literature, psychobiology, psychological anthropology and law.

Cather is chair of the Editors Association of Canada’s Publications Committee. She has an editing certificate from the University of California Berkeley Extension, JD degree from William and Mary Law School, and BA in comparative literature from the University of Virginia.

Bevi Chagnon ( is a technologist for publishing, digital media and design. She has worked in all facets of the publishing industry, from editorial and design to printing, marketing, and distribution. Her 35+ years in the industry has seen her as a typesetter, magazine art director, graphic designer, marketing copywriter, direct mail guru, publications director, computer programmer, website developer and digital media maven.

Chagnon is half designer and half geek, and 100% teacher. She has been affiliated with dozens of software companies as an advisor and beta tester, especially programs used by the publishing and design industries. She’s a prolific writer on design, web, publishing, desktop publishing, computer technology, digital media and Section 508 accessibility. She is also a featured speaker at industry conferences on publishing and Section 508 accessibility.

Chagnon founded PubCom, a print publishing and digital media consulting firm in Washington, DC, 35 years ago. The firm helps major corporations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations choose and use the right technology for their print and digital communications.

Having held every title and position in publishing except for “publisher,” Chagnon celebrated 2016 by founding PubCom Media to publish her books and training materials, as well as works by other industry authors.

April Michelle Davis ( is skilled at creating macros and other time-saving and efficiency-enhancing techniques for a freelance writing, editing or proofreading business.

Davis is the Social Media Marketing Expert for the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE), chapter coordinator of the Virginia chapter of the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), past chair and website administrator for the Mid- & South-Atlantic chapter of the American Society for Indexing (ASI), a lifetime member of the American Copy Editors Society (ACES), and a contributing member of the Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network. She has published two booklets through the EFA: “A Guide for the Freelance Indexer” and “Choosing an Editor: What You Need to Know.”

She has a master of professional studies degree in publishing (2008) from George Washington University and a bachelor of arts degree in English (2001) from Messiah College. She holds certificates in Editing (University of Virginia, 2003), book publishing (University of Virginia, 2003), and professional editing (EEI Communications, 2004).

Davis attends and speaks at workshops, conferences, book festivals, writers’ retreats and colleges, including Agile Writers’ meetings, Communication Central, Randolph-Macon College, RavenCon and the Duke University Writers’ Workshop, Hanover Book Festival, James River Writers Conference, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Virginia Women’s Press Conference and Williamsburg Book Festival.

Before starting Editorial Inspirations in 2001, Davis worked as an assistant editor at the National Society of Professional Engineers and a program assistant for the American Prosecutors Research Institute.

• (New!) Mark Gillespie has more than 25 years of experience in magazines, community newspapers, public and commercial radio, and higher education communications. He led the launch of (585) magazine, a city-regional magazine covering the people, culture, food and fun of Greater Rochester, NY. For nine years before that, he was general manager and editor of the award-winning Livingston County News of Geneseo, NY. Currently, he is developing a cable television series about the people and culture that surround major science research sites.

Melissa Hellman ( calls herself a refugee from chemistry lab. From her early days in grade school, she was the person classmates would turn to when told to trade papers and proofread each other’s work. She always won the class spelling bee. Even at university and in graduate school, as she was becoming a synthetic organic chemist, fellow students and postdocs would search her out before they turned in their lab reports or finalized their presentations.

After school, Hellman worked in a research lab where most of her labmates were not native English speakers and asked her to review and correct their research reports and papers. Eventually, lab literally made her itch and she had to find a new job.

Hellman started editing professionally in 1996 (on word puzzle books), and began writing professionally shortly afterward. Since 2011, she has helped proposal clients win more than $5 million in grants. She also has taught university courses in chemistry and physics, and SAT prep courses, as well as recreational knitting and cooking classes.

Greg Ioannou ( has been a freelance editor for 40 years. He’s worked on pretty much everything that has words, ranging from board games to government budgets. He even once helped an author polish a love letter. He is the CEO of PubLaunch, which provides a full range of services to self-publishing authors; owner of Iguana Books, a hybrid publisher; and owner of Colborne Communications, a writing and editing company.

Chris LaForest ( balances the mindsets of the 20th century with the perspectives of the millennium. He is a veteran of commission sales who has received top sales rep awards in electronics, insurance, home services, construction and consulting. He has held positions in front-line management and directorial leadership in the corporate sector.

LaForest grew up in poverty, has traveled the country in a van, served the country overseas as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army and played jazz trumpet in a garage band. His focus is on consistent, continued education.

• Bestselling book collaborator, award-winning editor and publishing consultant Ally E. Machate (, loves using her insider knowledge of the publishing industry and wealth of experience to help others reach their publishing goals, whether it’s showing a writer how to improve a manuscript, get an agent or self-publish, or ghostwriting a book to help an entrepreneur skyrocket a business platform to new levels. Since 1999, she has assisted, guided and supported would-be authors on their publishing journeys and takes pride in serving as their books’ best ally.

Dick Margulis ( is chief cook and bottle washer at Dick Margulis Creative Services, where his focus is on thoughtful editing, appropriate design, expert production and comprehensive project management for publishers of all sizes. He began correcting his elders as a small child and has been editing one thing or another for over half a century. Since his handwriting is execrable, he learned to set type at an early age and has been studying and practicing typography ever since.
Margulis works with individuals and companies to help them publish the high-quality books they are looking for.

Chris Morton ( has been a B2B/B2C author, editor, proofreader, graphic artist, publisher, instructor, speaker and guerrilla-style self-promoter for more than 25 years. He was an early adopter of PC-based publishing in the mid-’80s, has had bylines in various computer periodicals, and has been a technical editor for Que Corporation software books and Microsoft user manuals.

He also has become a popular resource among colleagues seeking help with making better use of LinkedIn and other online resources for promoting a freelance editorial business.

Morton has worked both as an employee and contractor for companies large and small across the U.S., and has written about any number of topics—from Internet cloud security to oil and gas exploration, the global paint and coatings market to medical device imaging, and municipal water/wastewater electronic control devices to general business marketing.

As a committed freelancer, Morton landed his first ongoing client (listed on NASDAQ) within 30 days of joining the Editorial Freelancers Association. After he optimized his LinkedIn profile, it attracted 450 views in one 90-day period. Thanks to its ProFinder tool, another client relationship has netted him over $9,500 this year alone.

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter ( has been a full-time, successful freelancer for more than 30 years. She writes, edits and proofreads articles, websites, annual reports and more for newspapers, newsletters, magazines, websites, companies, nonprofits and associations. She is the author/publisher of “Get Paid to Write: Getting Started as a Freelance Writer” and author of the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) booklet “Freelancing 101: Launching Your Editorial Business.” She presents webinars and in-person sessions on freelancing; the basics of editing and proofreading; and grammar for the EFA, Writers and Books, and a number of other professional organizations, and writes about freelancing for Rich Adin’s An American Editor blog. She also is a contributing author, with Jack Lyon, to Adin’s book The Business of Editing.

Thaler-Carter also creates and/or manages websites for not-for-profit organizations, associations and businesses, and presents in-person and webinar sessions on websites for freelancers.

Thaler-Carter is the owner of Communication Central ( and A Flair for Writing publishing services company ( She received a Big Pencil award from Writers and Books for services to the literary community through her teaching and client work.

About CommCen

Communication Central is the host of the "Be a Better Freelancer"® conference, which has been held every year since 2006 and has been the only such event for freelance writers, editors, proofreaders, indexers, graphic artists, website managers and others freelancing, or aiming to freelance, in the world of publishing and related editorial work. Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, the owner of Communication Central and creator of the "Be a Better Freelancer"® conference, is an award-winning freelance writer, editor, proofreader and presenter with a strong commitment to networking and making the freelance life better for colleagues.
Posted in Conferences, Events, News and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.