My head is still awhirl from all the goings-on! This morning I did NOT go to the gym, so if Deidre Knight was there, she won today.
Panels yesterday – I listened to four authors talk about how to keep the plot tight and your reader reading, and then the two heavy-hitters with lunch in between – the editor and agent panels. After the editor panel (which pretty much said what they always say – write the best book you can and it will find a home), I went up and gave my bookmark to Deb Werksman, telling her I have a new book out. I LOVE the books she publishes, and would be thrilled to be published there and I told her so. She immediately whipped out her business card, so there’s that. I also talked to Heather Osborn and Lori Perkins. Lori is with Ravenous Romance and Heather of course is with Samhain. I was interested to hear that Samhain is taking all heat levels now…yet another market opening up. All the editors said the same thing – you don’t have to have an agent to submit, but if you don’t you’d better follow the submissions guidelines to the letter. And if you do your submission will stand out. Interesting, no?
After lunch, I went to the agent panel and gave a lot of bookmarks out there. I received strong interest from four of the agents, especially when I told them I had a book coming out, another one in the queue, it’s a series, and I don’t have an agent. So that was sweet. I talked to Kevan Lyon who remembered my name from the Savvy Authors pitch session last week – Jill Marsal (Marsal Lyon Literary Agency) asked for my first 50 pages off a 3 line pitch, and I wanted the agency to put a face to the name. So mission accomplished.
Floating on air, then I went to Boys Don’t Cry: the Male POV. Very interesting and I got some really good reference material from there – I’ll do another post just on that topic as it was fascinating.
All day I kept running into friends – I saw Christine London frequently, and Eden Bradley; Lisa Kessler; Syrie James; oh and others, lol!
At 4pm the RT Book Reviews Awards Ceremony was held – and no less exciting, even though the winners knew six weeks ago. So that was fun. I skimmed the Samhain Steampunk Tea, as it was very crowded and I had to get ready for the Faery Masquerade that night. Syrie James came up to my room and we lazed around and talked for a couple hours until it was time to get ready. She looked amazing in peacock feather wings and a gorgeous, sparkly gown. I had on an authentic Venetian ballgown (thank you, AJS Costumes in Burbank!) and felt only slightly foolish.
After dinner (which was wonderful), there was a costume contest and like a fool I participated. What was I thinking? Dizzy even without wearing heels and a huge, heavy gown – going up stairs and doing a curtsey was dangerous. I was scared to death. Out of 55 of us, there were 15 finalists – and to my surprise I was the last finalist called. (Thanks, Faery Court!) So I had to do the traipsing up the stairs again, helped luckily by the Mr. Romance guys who swore they wouldn’t let me fall. And I didn’t, so that was good.
Of course, a hunky guy with a puppy who had wings won first place, I think. Five won prizes, the rest of us were just thankful to get off the stage. Or maybe that was me?
At any rate, it was a long and exhausting day, which is why I didn’t get up at 5:45am to hit the gym. Maybe tomorrow? Oh…the Vampire Ball is tonight. Their theme is Zombie Strippers from Plan 9…um, yeah. I’m not wearing a costume tonight…no one wants to see my zombie stripper, trust me!
And now I’m running late. Keep writing and reading, everyone! The digital revolution may be taking place as I type, but content is still king!
Every writer’s first time with an editor attached to a publishing house is different, because every writer and every editor is different. However, I learned five really nifty things that I’d like to pass on.
#1. Crutch Words Every writer has them, some more than others. Mine varied. In the first iteration, my editor teased me about everyone mumbling, muttering, or murmuring – and always under their breath. A few painful hours and 101 m-words later, I realized that by ripping those words out I had to dig deeper, which made my writing stronger. (The second iteration involved nodding, nodded, nod; everyone became a bobble head. Another learning opportunity!)
#2 Clarity This is something we all hear and know, but never think it happens to us. We believe our manuscripts are easy to follow. Well, maybe in the first draft they were – but that was 8 or 9 drafts ago, and the thought process now doesn’t track. There were times when my beloved editor would ask a question about something, and I would pull my hair out – it was very clearly stated in chapter 12! This was chapter 13 – my readers would figure it out!
Um, no, they wouldn’t figure it out, because between chapter 12 and chapter 13, I’d eliminated a chapter that explained a lot of stuff. So much rewriting had to go on in some spots just to clarify the story and keep the ball rolling along.
#3 Sentence Structure I’m a pretty smart cookie. But after getting my first edits back, I wanted to hide in a huge book on grammar and not come out until I’d finished reading it. Except I hate grammar. So after I took a deep breath, I really studied what my editor was telling me. I learned that choppy sentences work really well in tense situations, but not so good in the slower moments.
Plus, at the beginning of the book all my guys sounded like chicks. They talked too much, apologized too fast, etcetera. Yeah, good to know! What an eye-opener. All these things that I’ve learned will go into an edit before any other project gets sent off to an agent or an editor, I assure you!
#4 Edits Take Time Getting the edits done took more time than I had imagined they would. The first pass I did took me two weeks – and I don’t have a day job, folks. Actually, it took me a whole week just to wrap my head around the changes needed (I had some unfortunate POV shifts and had to move them to another characters’ POV – and never the same character, lol!). Every day I’d look at the comments, and every day I stepped away from the computer, not sure how to begin. Six days after first receiving the edits I finally understood and started in on the revisions. Eight days later, they were done. Not only did I change the POV issues, but I added scenes, added a character, and did some continuity work.
#5 The Crit Partner You Can’t Say No To During my week of introspection on the first edits, I went through a lot of the same emotions that I’ve gone through in the past with critique partners. Except this time, I couldn’t just ignore the comments on sentence structure, plot holes, continuity, clarity, etcetera – this time I had to face my demons and get the work done. (Never ignore your critique partners’ words of wisdom. Never. Always give them serious consideration.)
I’m not saying you can never say no to an editor, because that’s not true. Yes, you can fight for the big stuff, but hopefully you’ll be able to keep your mind open enough to listen. Editors want to make your book the very best they can be and most of the time, they have WAY more experience than you do. Think of it this way; your editor is making sure you go to the Prom with your fanny decently covered, not hanging out in the wind and inviting evisceration of your character (book).
Thank you, Liz Pelletier, for making sure my fanny was covered!
DEMON SOUL comes out at the end of this month from Crescent Moon Press! Here’s the cover…