Meet The CYC Team - Craft Your Content

Meet The CYC Team

An agency like this does not run on the power of any individual. We have an accomplished team of writing experts and business pros who are at the ready to work with members and clients to make their words exceptional.

Julia Hess – Managing Editor

Julia Hess graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a Master of Arts degree in English. She has worked as a college writing tutor and instructor, an editor for DASH Literary Journal, a contributor and editor for a hyperlocal blog in Seattle, and a content and copywriter for a craft beer delivery service (yes, she does get to sample the beer!). Her love for writing and reading began at the age of six; she was writing Harry Potter fan fiction long before she found it on the internet. Her favorite show on Netflix is the one she hasn’t seen yet. The only thing preventing Julia from fulfilling her dream of becoming a stand-up comedian is herself– she prefers telling her jokes sitting down. (*ba-dum, tsss*)

I believe in this principle, even though it isn’t always the popular opinion: You don’t always need a super rigid outline to produce a powerfully written piece. Organization is definitely important, but it can sometimes be easier to reorganize ideas and paragraphs once it’s all been written out, since some of your best ideas may form organically while you’re writing. Making a loose outline is great if that’s your style, but it’s also good to be flexible with your own ideas – they could totally develop in new and exciting ways beyond what you envisioned in the first place!

Location: Seattle, Washington, USA

Most Read Book: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Favorite Story to Tell: My friend was hanging out at my house, looking for food in my refrigerator. Stealthily, I snuck up on her and hid behind the refrigerator door, then I leaped out from hiding while burping extremely loudly. My friend screamed, slammed the refrigerator door, started running away, and then slipped on the kitchen tiles. We were both laughing so hard that we couldn’t breathe. Needless to say, I learned that day that burps can be dangerous.

Erika Rasso – Director of Content Production

Erika Rasso graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.A. in English and marketing. She has worked as a writing consultant, an editor for a literary journal, and an editor for an academic journal. She’s currently located in sunny Los Angeles pursuing her dream of working in entertainment, if only she would get off her butt and close Netflix! She is a cat and dog person, because why should we have to choose? And she spends most of her time pouring over television scripts trying to improve her writing.

I believe in this principle, even though it isn’t always the popular opinion: Even though I love grammar and the strategic ways it is used to convey ideas, I don’t believe that your writing has to be mechanically perfect to be exceptional. If we look back on Nathaniel Hawthorne and James Joyce, their works are filled with run on sentences and misused punctuation, and they are still regarded as literary masters! Besides, grammar is always evolving. A mistake you’ve made in one article may no longer be a mistake a month or two later.

Current Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

Most Read Book: The Harry Potter series

Favorite Story to Tell: When I was in Paris with my parents, we were taking a bike tour and I was lagging behind. We were crossing a busy street and a bus turned the corner and hit me! I was completely okay, the bus was going really slow, but I was very mad that the bus didn’t wait for me!

Giselle Sproule – Content Editor

As someone whose childhood was spent having books pried away from her at the dinner table, a future working with words was almost inevitable. Giselle studies English at the University of Calgary, and has worked as a writer/copyeditor for a newspaper, freelance proofreader/editor, and piano teacher. She hopes to one day relocate to Central America, but for now is making the most of snowy Calgary by getting out to the Rocky Mountains as much as she can, and spending cozy nights in learning how to play new instruments.

I believe in this principle, even though it isn’t always the popular opinion: To channel James Michener, the best writers are really the best revisers. No one’s first draft is perfect, and it’s far more important to get rough ideas down on paper than to be completely happy with your writing on the first try.

Current Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Most Read Book: Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

Favorite story to tell: My sister and I were in Nicaragua last summer, and as we were walking to our hostel using the map they had provided, we realized that the path led through a river. There was no bridge in sight, however, and there was a “No swimming — Crocodiles in river” sign posted on the shore. The hostel had failed to mention that they were located across a crocodile-infested river! We survived, but the few minutes spent wading through the water were nerve-wracking, to say the least.

Nathan Winfrey – Swing Editor (Content and Copy)

Nathan Winfrey graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a degree in journalism and a minor in creative writing. After years navigating a colorful succession of reporting and editing jobs, he took the helm of his hometown newspaper before eventually becoming the copy editor for the largest state agency in Oklahoma.

Nathan spends his free time plunging into the third draft of his novel, systematically exchanging his blood for coffee, bungling through language-learning apps, sitting on sunny patios, secretly binge-reading when nobody’s looking, petting other people’s dogs, and traveling the world with nothing but a backpack and a camera.

I believe in this principle, even though it isn’t always the popular opinion: Writing is one of few things you can get better at without practicing. How? By reading! Audiobooks are wonderful, but as much as possible, read with your eyes, not your ears. Read deliberately. Google every word you don’t know. Keep a running toolbox of words and phrases you like and want to remember. Pay attention to sentence structure. Spelling. Remember the rules the author breaks and why.

Current Location: Oklahoma City

Most Read Book: I don’t really re-read books unless it’s for reference or study, but I do find myself going back to certain authors just to return to that familiar voice. I go on Stephen King kicks every few years.

Favorite Story to Tell: I was in Istanbul unexpectedly and needed to explain to some teenage kids at the airport that I wanted to hitch a ride in my friend’s prepaid shuttle and just pay when I got to my hostel. Suddenly, a third kid appeared, holding out for me (in a hand lined with visible dirt) a small blue object the size of a peppercorn. I bravely stupidly popped it in my mouth, and immediately the kid yelled, “Ecstasy!” Startled, I spit it back into my hand. And then he said, “Şeker!” (sugar). Of course it was sugar. I put it back in my mouth. “Ecstasy!” he warned again, laughing, and I spit it out a second time. That probably would have gone on all day, but there comes a point when something’s been spat out enough times that it needs to go in the trash.

Melissa Lewis Grimm – Senior Copy Editor

Melissa Lewis Grimm, ELS, graduated from Millersville University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. She has worked as an editor and a marketing manager for a laboratory standards–developing organization, a proofreader for a nursing continuing education provider, and a journal manager for a scientific and medical publishing company. Despite Melissa’s work history, one of her lofty goals is to become a world-famous voiceover talent. Yes, you read that correctly! She loves spending time with her wonderful husband and adorable toddler.

I believe in this principle, even though it isn’t always the popular opinion: Unless you have a specific assignment, don’t be afraid to write whatever flows freely. You will find an audience that will be interested in reading your work, regardless of what you write. One man’s trash…

Current Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Most Read Books: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (one of my son’s favorites)

Favorite Story to Tell: When I was four years old, my younger sister climbed into the dryer and I “accidentally” closed the door. My mom asked me where she was and I sheepishly pointed to the dryer, where my sister was happily spinning in the drum. It hadn’t been used recently and wasn’t very hot, so no big whoop, right?

Stephanie Guarino – Copy Editor

Stephanie Guarino is a recent BA graduate of Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa where she majored in Media and Communications. Recently, she has returned to the Chicagoland area to work as a full-time freelancer of editing and writing. She has edited for ebooks and blogs, and has had her work published in a quarterly poetry magazine. As a child, she was never quite satisfied with just focusing on one creative pursuit; throughout the years, she has, and continues to, refine her skills in painting, poetry, drawing, song-writing and cooking. She has a passion for international travel, both telling and hearing the occasional dad joke, and for finding a divinely crafted latte.

I believe in this principle, even though it isn’t always the popular opinion: There’s something really valuable about stream-of-conscious writing. Don’t judge yourself as you write; just put down whatever comes up. It doesn’t have to make sense right then. Maybe it will make sense later. It’s never a bad thing to start out with too much rather than with too little.

Current Location: Chicagoland area

Most Read Book: Just Kids by Patti Smith

Favorite Story to Tell: When I was younger, I used to stuff my mouth with my favorite kinds of food and I wouldn’t swallow for somewhere around five to ten minutes. These foods included squares of chocolate bars, lemon cookies from Maggiano’s, store-bought raspberry cheesecake and, perhaps randomly, catfish. My thought was, I can savor the taste longer if I keep it in my mouth. Some foods tasted so good to me I didn’t want to ever stop tasting them.

Well, after trial and error, my younger self concluded that the taste actually only lasts for a few minutes or so, and, perhaps, it’s not the most socially acceptable thing in the world to walk around in a restaurant with chubby cheeks full of catfish…

Arnela Gonzales – Content Producer and Social Media Marketing

Arnela Gonzales took up a degree in Computer Engineering at the University of San Carlos, Philippines. She is a travel and food photographer, blogger, and freelance content writer and social media marketer based in Cebu. When she’s not learning web programming, she pursues creative projects and travels as much as she can all across the country – continuously wandering and soaking up herself in new experiences and beautiful sceneries.

I believe in this principle, even though it isn’t always the popular opinion: There is absolutely nothing you can’t do if you dedicate your time and self to mastering your craft. I used to be so bad at many things, finding excuses as to why I can’t do this and that. There are many people who simply defeat the odds while excelling in their own fields. Find your purpose, embrace failures, and grow. Practice as much as you can – like really find a certain time every day to develop your skills.  And don’t ever give up!

Current Location: Cebu, Philippines

Most Read Book: Harry Potter, and most feel-good books like The Selection Series by Kiera Cass

Favorite Story to Tell: I had always been passionate about words and writing ever since I was in grade school. However, when I got into college, I pursued an engineering course instead, even though deep inside I wanted to study Journalism or Mass Communication. When I nearly finished college, I realized that it’s not too late to pursue what I love, right? So I got into blogging, got recognized for my work and skills, and since then it has been just a little bit in between. And I just love it.

Sarah Ramsey – Content Writer

Sarah Ramsey holds a master’s in Science, Technology and Public Policy, and has spent the last 17 years working for space-focused organizations like NASA. She wishes she could write space-based, because if she could live anywhere else, Mars would be it. She has written for senior government officials, scientists, and engineers, translating technobabble into English, and creating content and messaging for the best government agency on the planet. She decided to escape the cubicle lifestyle and pursue the other 30 or so things she’s interested in, including more writing for fun.

I believe in this principle, even though it isn’t always the popular opinion: Because I like contradictions, I believe that to write well you must always be thinking, and that you shouldn’t overthink. Writing is like the overflow buffer for your brain – you get your thinking all out on the screen or in notebooks (or on napkins, the back of envelopes, old receipts buried in your purse). But it doesn’t help to overthink while you’re writing. Just write. Do whatever works for you, and worry about perfection on the second draft.

Current Location: Alexandria, Virginia, USA

Most Read Book(s): Jacqueline Carey’s first Kushiel trilogy

Favorite story to tell: My high school had an exchange program with a school in Germany. During my month-long stay there, we took a three-day trip to Berlin. We were there when the country voted on keeping the still-newly unified country’s capital in Bonn or moving it back to Berlin. Berlin won the vote, and the city went crazy in celebration. Strangers were hugging each other, cars honked, people cheered, there was a massive crowd in the Breitscheidplatz – for a group of kids from a small town in Arkansas, this was like nothing we’d ever seen. We were welcomed to the celebration like we were from there, and that changed the way I looked at the world.

Gina Edwards – Special Projects and Content Writer

After years of writing pizza-stained short stories, maxing out her library card limits, and finding painstaking amounts of typos in her yearbook, Gin transported her love of all things wordy to Ohio University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Since then, she’s traveled the U.S. and abroad, teaching her native language to people who want to learn it (and some who have to), and writing in her snarky blog when she remembers she has it. On her long, sweaty bike rides to work, Gina wonders about the number of cookies she can now reasonably eat, where in the world is Carmen Sandiego, and how she will one day start a company that changes the world.

I believe in this principle, even though it isn’t always the popular opinion: Writing is the ultimate place to be completely, authentically weird. Where you can play around, break rules, make unfunny jokes, rant, tell stories, type “sassafrass” 1,000 times, be vulnerable, not complete your

Through writing, you can use your pen or keyboard to get intimate with your own idiosyncrasies. The best part? It doesn’t matter if after writing, you shout it from the rooftops, slip it under the floorboards, mail it to Antarctica, or set it on fire. Life is strange, unexpected, and fun –– writing should be, too.

Current Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Most Read Book: The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

Favorite Story to Tell: The Best Prank I Ever Pulled: Or, Saran Wrap on the Toilet Seat Really Does Work! – An Ode to my Older Sister’s Temper

Branko Mijatovic – Content Developer and Sales Copywriter

Originally hailing from Western Australia, Branko has spent years collecting stories of adventures and fascinating encounters while traveling the globe. This diverse global influence helps him immerse himself in the minds of his readers by drawing on a wide range of life experience. He’s an avid autodidact, persistently exploring and deep-diving into self study across various fields to an almost obsessive degree. From blacksmithing and wilderness first aid to building computers from spare parts, he’s constantly developing his skills and knowledge in subjects that intrigue him. Some of his favorite fields of study include technology, space exploration, survival techniques, and of course, writing.

When he’s not spinning intriguing stories for Craft Your Content, he works one-on-one with clients as a direct response sales copywriter. Away from the computer he can be found exploring the nooks and crannies of new cities or dancing salsa and bachata late into the night.

I believe in this principle, even though it isn’t always the popular opinion: Just like playing an instrument or sport, writing is a skill that takes an immense amount of regular practice. A big part of this (believe it or not) is actually sitting down and writing! Something that curiously seems to elude a lot of would-be authors.

You also need to read… A LOT… across many genres. Then take those varied perspectives and use them to feed your brain so you can draw from a constant bank of material to use in your writing. And within this dedication to daily practice, you’ll realize that inspiration and great writing don’t just jump out at you from the heavens. Instead they’re distilled and extracted out of all of your ugly first drafts over time.

This process is summed up best by the great author William Faulkner who once said: I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.”

Current Location: Lisbon Portugal

Most Read Books: Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot, Frank Herbert’s Dune, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini, and Austin Kleon’s two books Steal like an artist and Show your work!

Favorite Story to Tell: There was this one time I was coming home from a road trip across the mountains in Thailand. I wasn’t paying attention and managed to smash my motorbike into the back of a huge van – doing damage to both of our vehicles and seriously injuring myself in the process.

Now I look back and realize how lucky I am the situation happened like it did. Turns out the van I hit belonged to a Korean missionary who didn’t seem to care at all about the damage to his van, or whether or not I would give him money to pay for the damages. In fact, he helped me get to a cafe and tend to my injuries, bought me coffee, and even drove me home! All the while asking nothing in return.

The event taught me more about humanity and kindness than I realized at the time. And reminded me that there are an incredible amount of good people out there – even in the middle of nowhere. Something that’s easy to forget as we get caught up in our day-to-day life.

And after all that – I met my long-term girlfriend shortly after because I hurt my leg and couldn’t go out dancing like I normally do. I guess it wasn’t such an unfortunate accident after all!

ElisaDoucette_squaredElisa Doucette – Founder and Executive Editor

Elisa has worked for over a decade creating compelling content and writing for various businesses and publications. A frequent contributing writer, podcast guest, and event speaker, her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Forbes, Yahoo! Small Business, The Shine Network, The Huffington Post, and Brazen Careerist among others. She spends most of her time consuming unnatural amounts of coffee, tea, red wine, microbrews, bourbon…pretty much anything liquid and delicious. With no home base, she travels the planet looking for great stories to live, interesting tales to share, and new ways to make words sexy. When she’s not drinking her way around the world, she is likely curled up with her Kindle, devouring a new book.

I believe in this principle, even though it isn’t always the popular opinion: Great writing must be your foundation for popular and authority-building content. Marketing tricks and tactics can get eyes on your site, and you can optimize and analyze for every button and metric – and you should absolutely consider them if you want to be serious about writing online or for an audience. But if what you have to say and how you say it are not well-thought out and presented, your audience will not care.

Current Location: Portland, Maine, United States

Most Read Book: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Favorite story to tell: Up to the age of 30, I had never lived outside the state of Maine or traveled further than Canada. Then, I landed a gig that put me on a one-way flight, with a shiny new passport, to live for six months in Bali, Indonesia. In my first three weeks living abroad, I got into a fight at a club, held hostage in a taxi, was robbed, and finally thrown off the back of a motorbike when we were hit head-on – ending in three surgeries on my knee. I managed to power through and have some badass scars to prove it. Been traveling ever since. This is either extreme confidence or complete idiocy. The jury is still out.

If you want to connect, it is usually easiest to catch me on Twitter or GoodReads.