Category Archives: Editing

SSN Edits Round Two! Or is it three?

This week, I’ve begun work on a new round of edits for Sing Sweet Nightingale! I think it’s round two. But it might be three. Maybe 2.5? Whatever the number designation, it’s edits and it’s from my beloved editresses, so that means it’s awesome. πŸ˜€

It’s also pretty cool that I can put up the pretty, pretty cover when I talk about the book instead of some random image that has nothing to do with it. Don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that!

Anywho, edits. This round is tough! Which is weird because my edit letter is less than a third the size of my previous edit letter. I guess the broad strokes of fixing big problems were a little easier to deal with than examining a scene and surgically adding and removing to make it… not suck. I’m making progress and I still have time, so here’s hoping I can pull off all the tweaks I need to make. More updates shall follow. Eventually.

Also–and in non-editorial-related news–there’s only ONE MONTH LEFT until you can have a copy of my first ever published short story in your hands! Doorways to Extra Time releases August 27 and my story “Whatever It Takes” is the second one in the book! Fourth if you count the two introductions by the editors… Fourth or second, it’s still really early in the book! Read it and you get to meet a character who will show up in The Dream War Saga at some point! Not going to tell you which character, but at least one of them is coming back! Go order it now!

Buy Doorways from:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | IndieBound

Cut, chop, snip, slice.

Scissors Cutting (c) Pam Roth

My project this week? Seeing how much I can cut out of a book. It’s not something I’ve never had to do before, so this is definitely a learning experience. Luckily, I have two incredible editors and a very patient agent who are going to help teach me how to spot the words/phrases/paragraphs/scenes that may have seemed necessary while I wrote it but are actually… not.

This is where holding on to that saying, “Kill your darlings,” comes in handy. Because, think about it. If you put a character or even a word into your book, it becomes a darling in some sense. Cutting them is never easy.

This is one of the MANY reasons it is so important to find people to work with who you trust and whose input you can recognize as valuable even when you start falling into that emotional, defensive hole where everyone is wrong and your book is perfect, damnit! It’s not, but it will get close if you trust the editors and the agent who have taken you under their wing.

Now, I take a deep breath, turn on Track Changes, and hope for some magical fairy to come along and highlight all the things I should cut so I don’t have to think about it…

Sing revision update #7: Round 1 is DONE!

Champagne Clink (c) Roger Kirby

You guys, yesterday. Yesterday was a day of days! I sent off my first round of edits on Sing, Sweet Nightingale to my editors and my agent! It is done!

Seriously. I finished! It was starting to feel impossible, but I did it. There is light at the end of the tunnel!

After I sent off the email, I read a book. Like, one I hadn’t written! That hasn’t happened in a long time. After that, though… That’s when I started doubting my sanity because I just kept wandering over to my computer and opening up my folder of writing projects and scrolling through it trying to decide what to work on next. And not just next. I wanted to work on something right that second.

Some advice from me, learn how to take a break and celebrate your triumphant moments! Even if you have to force yourself to do it. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself at your computer on a night you should be taking off staring at your next WIP.

As great as my enforced night off was, I’m very excited about the three projects lined up on my To-do list. Just to give you an idea:

One of them is a contemporary I co-wrote with my bestie Lani Woodland. The characters in that book are so adorable just thinking about them makes me happy!

The second project is The Dream War Saga Book 2. It’s already halfway done, but I need to finish it so that it can start going through the same rounds of edits Sing is suffering now! I’m really excited about the way this series is taking shape and I can’t wait to see it fleshed out and finished! Eek!! πŸ˜€

The third book on my To-do list will probably have to stay on the back burner a bit longer. While my agent is waiting for revisions on my contemporary with Lani and my editors are waiting for the first draft of TDWS Book 2, there are no expectations on this still untitled project. It’s completely captured my imagination, though. I have it half written and I so want to go back and finish it! Soon. Definitely (hopefully) soon. And, actually, it’s kind of nice to have a project with no deadline in sight.

So, that’s what I will be working on in the meantime. Look for more Sing revision updates when I receive my next edit letter. Hopefully this one will be 1/10th as long as the last one. Probably not, but I can dream, right?

Sing revision update #6

OMFG. I am *THIS* close to finishing the first round of revisions on Sing, Sweet Nightingale!

THIS CLOSE! Pinch of Sunlight (c) Dani Simmonds

Seriously. That close.

So close, in fact, I almost convinced myself it would be a good idea to give up sleeping last night to finish it. I’m glad I didn’t manage to make myself think that was a good idea (I need sleep or I am an awful person), but now I have to sit at my day job and try NOT to work on my book because I have ALL THE THINGS to do this week at work and it’s not going very well and I feel like I’m going mad because all I want to do is go hide in a Starbucks until the book is done!

*deep breath*

On the plus side, I think I should finish tonight! Then all it needs is a read-through to make sure I didn’t skip anything thinking I would go back to it and then forget… I do that sometimes. And then it goes off into cyberspace to my editors and my agent and OMG! Round one DONE! That will be a freaking milestone of epic proportions and I am thrilled to be almost hitting it!

Do I get to laze about after that? NOPE. I have another set of revisions to work on and Book 2 of The Dream War Saga to finish and a WIP I really, really want to dig back into. And, of course, a day job I have to try to keep myself from getting fired from.

Ahh, the glamorous life of an author!

*dives back into the day job*

Edited to add: (5:27 pm)

AHH OMG IT’S DONE! Read through here I come! Then all that’s left is to send it off! YAY! 

Sing revision update #5

I think the end is ACTUALLY in sight this time.

Last night I managed to work through the chapter where everything collides. Lots of things happen, lots of things need to be dealt with, things, in short, are simply everywhere! Some stuff, as well. But I got through it and now I’m on the other side of the mountain, teetering as I peer into the valley at the bottom of a very sharp decline.

How fast can I wrap everything up? My goal is to have it done by Friday night. I hope. If I do, I get to read This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith, which I forgot I pre-ordered! Yay incentives! If I do that, I might also let myself have a weekend of doing nothing. I haven’t had one of those for a while.

Wish me luck! It’s time to gather up all the threads I laid out during the course of the story and try to tie off as many of them as I can. Not all of them, of course (where’s the fun in that?) but most. πŸ˜‰

Sing revision update #4

I am in the home stretch!! Or, at least, I think I am.

Honestly, it’s hard to tell. Every time I think I’m getting close to the finish line, I swear the damn thing moves! It definitely did yesterday. I was sitting there looking at this chapter going, “Am I really close to (insert important moment here)? How’d that happen so fast?”

I stared at it. And stared at it. And the other people in Starbucks must have thought I was completely zoning out because I kept staring at it. Until I finally couldn’t deny the fact that I needed at least one more chapter in between those two points.

I grumbled for a little while and bought myself another drink and then inserted the placeholder for the chapter. Now I just have to go back and actually write it. Which is kind of the important part, I guess. 

Without my ridiculously incapacitating illness this past week, I’d probably be done with the revisions by now. But that is not the case. Since I’m back at the day job this week, I’m hoping to be able to finish by the end of the week. I hope. Have to, really, because deadline is approaching and I have other projects that need my attention. Like book 2. And Secret Project # 1. And Secret Project # 2. And all the other things I have going on. I like to keep busy. πŸ™‚

So wish me luck! I’m diving back into the trenches as soon as I get off work today. Hopefully the finish line is done jumping around on me.

Sing revision update #3

Progress is being made! And I finally know for sure that it’s progress in the right direction! Woohoo!

I have to go back and rework a section of this new draft, but that’s okay! Because I get to keep most of what I wrote and that makes me happy. πŸ˜€

Also, just in case you didn’t know this already, beginnings are HARD. Like, seriously. Extremely difficult. Like, climbing Everest difficult. It seems as though I’m getting closer to the top of this particular mountain, but I won’t know for sure until I stand up there and plant my flag in the snow.

WE SHALL SEE, I SUPPOSE.

In the meantime, here! Go visit Cracked.com and let them entertain you while I try to make my brain stop sending smoke out my ears…

Sing revision update #2

Guys, after working 14-16 hour days since last wednesday, I totally feel like this right now:

Study 2 (c) Colin Adamson

HOWEVER, progress is being made and I’ve been told from trusted sources that it’s GOOD progress! So, yay! There’s no time-back guarantee that my editresses shall agree, but I will just have to take that chance and go where these revisions are taking me. Because right now it’s a really fun place. EXHAUSTING, but fun. πŸ™‚

This also means that my brain is not really capable of thinking of non-SSN related things for very long right now. Because, you know, this happened:

[Co-worker comes into my office. I look up. Their mouth is moving and the words are completely lost.]

Co-worker: … Right, Erica?
Me: Did you say something about dreams?
Co-worker: [blank look] What? No.
Me: Right… of course. Sorry, what did you need?

So…. yeah. I’m going to go hide in my editing cave again. Because that’s where my brain is anyway.

Sing revision update #1

I am full throttle on revisions! Movin’ right along, I tell you. The longer this goes on, though, the more this is both a good thing and a bad thing.

Bad news first: Sing, Sweet Nightingale is starting to creep into my dreams again, which hasn’t happened since I NaNoed the novel in 2011. For most authors, dreaming about your book probably normal and/or welcome, but this series… well, let’s just say my dreams is the LAST place I want them.

The good news: I’ve managed to revise two chapters a day for the past two days. IF I can keep this pace up (and that’s a big IF), I might actually have a chance of finishing these revisions on time! Yay! Honestly, I wasn’t sure that was possible. I’m still not sure, but I guess we shall see.

Okay. That’s all I have for now. Back to the day job and sneaking in revision whenever possible!

Because it’s HELLA RELEVANT: The Five Phases of Revision

Like I mentioned before, I recently got my first official edit letter. So now I have to start, you know, editing. And so, of course, my brain is going LH KHGF LKSHKZHJGHADFU:KG<MSV!!!!!

A while back I wrote a post I called The Five Phases of Revision. I liked it a lot and I think I need the reminder of how awesome the end result is going to be to get me through the really hard work ahead. So, for my benefit and yours, here it is again:

The Five Phases of Revision:
(originally posted on this blog August 22, 2012)

I had a phone call with my wonderful editresses last night and we went over some things that essentially mean I will be rewriting 3/4 of Sing, Sweet Nightingale. We were on Skype, so I could tell they were kind of waiting for me to start going crazy. The fact that I neither started crying nor tried to jump through the computer screen to maul them seemed surprising, so that got me thinking about the way authors handle revision suggestions. The psychology major in me was intrigued and thus we end up with this post.

Kind of like for parents, it is necessary for a writer to love her book. NECESSARY. I will accept no arguments on this point, kay? Good. Now that we have that established, let’s talk about what happens when someone tears into your work for the first time and points out all the holes, inconsistencies, pacing problems, character issues, and generally sucky spots.

Sad Snot-Nose Kid (c) Mike Gieson

That’s right. You end up looking like this child. Either that or you turn into rabid lioness and try to shred anyone stupid enough to get to close. The problem is, neither of these reactions are productive! They can be, however, the first phase of the revision process.

1- Hurt
“WHY DOES EVERYONE HATE ME?! HOW COULD THEY SAY SUCH MEAN THINGS?!Β  THIS IS MY BABY! THEY JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!!”
This reaction, while overblown, is completely natural. Someone is telling you the idea you nurtured from infancy and shaped into this beautiful thing called a book isn’t working. It’s flawed. Maybe heavily. Feel it, live through it, and then let it go so you can move on to:

2- Denial
“They signed me and read it in one sitting and they’re supposed to be my best friend, but they don’t actually know anything about books. They have to be wrong. They THINK they’re being helpful, but if they hadn’t absolutely loved the book they wouldn’t have even read it. SO THERE.”
Nothing is perfect. Ever. There’s no such thing. We just have to try to get ourselves and our work as good as we can get it and chances are you’re not going to do that on the first try. And maybe not even on the tenth. The sooner you accept that, the happier you’ll be. And this applies to both writing and life in general.

3- Bargaining
“Well, what if I sent so-and-so to Sibera?! That would fix the plot problem, right? And then I would get to keep this little shiny section I love so much that doesn’t really fit here, right? RIGHT?!”
You might come up with some crazy ideas and try to pass them off as good. Maybe you’re stuck and maybe you’re trying to save a particular part of the story you adore, either way if you’re getting weird looks when you explain your ideas you might want to reconsider actually putting them in writing.

4- Slow Acceptance
“I finally reread the book and I guess, MAYBE, I can see what they mean about this one part told in second person totally distracting from the rest of the first person narrative. But it seemed so quirky and original at the time!”
This step is arguably the most important. This is when you once again become capable of rational thought and are able to look at your book through the editor’s eyes and see what they’re seeing. Then you can look at it again through your knowledge of the world and hopefully end up hit with:

5- Inspiration
“OMG! I just had this brilliant idea! What if A and B went to X and did Y?! It would fix everything and it’s SO MUCH BETTER than what I had before! How could I have been such an idiot? Why didn’t I think of this the first time around?!”
All the pieces have finally come together! You see the editor’s changes and raise them a rewrite of four other chapters that suddenly you’re absolutely certain you can make shinier. YOU ARE AUTHOR! Nothing can stand in your way. Now go lock yourself in a room and start typing. πŸ˜‰

If you ever get stuck on any of the phases before Inspiration, just try imagining how shiny and wonderful and compelling and three-dimensional and addictive and beautiful your book will be once your editors are done with you. Then, suddenly, you feel like this:

Happy Young Woman (c) Vera Kratochvil

And that, friends, is a very great place to be. πŸ˜€