Category Archives: Editing

For the next couple of months, I make no promises.

So, remember how I was all excited about getting my edit letter a couple of months ago?

Well, I got it! And now I’m not sure if I’m excited or if I want to go curl up in a ball in the corner and cry.  I think I’m leaning more toward the latter at the moment. But, anyway. MOVING ON.

I tell you this for two reasons:
1- This means that Sing, Sweet Nightingale is one step closer to being finished and ready for ARCs which is one step closer to being an actual book I can share with people! Yay!

2- The next few months of my life are going to be INSANE and therefore I make no promises whatsoever on my posting schedule here.

It’s not just the arrival of the edit letter that has taken over my life, it’s also one of the two busiest times of year at my day job. Within the next five weeks, I have two events that will put me out of commission for anything non-day job related for five days each. Plus, I have an awesome book-related trip that will also put me (at least partially) out of commission for five days. Combine that with an incredibly in-depth edit letter and I’m surprised my brain isn’t already melting out my ears in protest.

There shall definitely be posts here, particularly when I get to share cool things from other Spencer Hill authors. I know there’s a trailer reveal on Friday and I’m jumping on a cover reveal a couple days late on Monday! Luckily, these are things that take very little thought processing from me and even less creation of content. Other than that, don’t expect much. I might not even have the time to do my roundup of awesome articles because I won’t have time to read them myself.

So, um, that’s it for now! I still have some good news that I hope to share later this week or sometime next week, but for now I need to go buy ten thousand post-its and a few hundred notebooks and prepare for SSN Rewrite Number Three…

A permanent state of overwhelm.

Had meeting with my editresses this weekend. They asked lots of questions and made lots of suggestions on the structure and shape of The Dream War Saga series. I went into state of complete overwhelm. In fact, I feel something like these girls (aka my sisters) about to be sucked in and swept away by the Pacific:

Seriously. This happened. Read about it here.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way with this series. Now I’m beginning to think that this state of overwhelm is going to be a near-constant thing in the career path I have chosen. In fact, I’m thinking that, without it, you’re probably not doing your job as well as you could be. At least, I think that might be true for me. Not if I’m working with people who are really going to challenge me.

A good editor/critique partner will not only say, “I liked this and I didn’t like that,” they’ll look at the world you created, see that dark corner you left unexplored, point at it, and then say, “Well, what about going in that direction?”

Maybe that new direction will be a good one, maybe it won’t be. Maybe the path will suddenly open up before you lit with streetlights and marked with road signs and maybe you’ll have to hack your way through underbrush to get where you want to go. Either way, even if you feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of work before you, I can almost guarantee your story will be better for it. And, honestly, isn’t that the point?

At this time last year I was…

Agenda 3 (c) Dragan Rusov

For some reason it hit me yesterday that a year has passed.

“Well, of course it has,” you say. “Technically a year has passed every single day.”

True, but it’s more significant this month, at least to me. This is National Novel Writing Month and this is the month where everything started changing for the better very quickly in my life.

Quickly is a relative word, especially when we’re talking about writing and the publication process, but looking back I have to admit that everything did happen very fast. “How so?” you ask. To illustrate, here’s a recap of my year from November 2011 to November 2012:

November 2011: Begin writing novel version of Sing, Sweet Nightingale for NaNoWriMo
December 2011: Go back through SSN and make significant changes because, you know, first drafts and all.
January 2012: Frantically try to polish first 30 pages to submit to writing contests; squeeze in under the deadline of said contests and then try to forget I entered them
February 2012: Begin planning trip to BEA in NYC
March 2012: Find out SSN is a finalist in one of the previously mentioned contests
April 2012: Finalize plans for BEA 2012
May 2012: My birthday! Also, I find out SSN won the Marlene Award!
June 2012: Attend BEA. Crash a party at Lani Woodland’s insistence. Meet Danielle and Patricia. Send Danielle and Patricia my book. Have first Skype call with Danielle and Patricia about possible revisions.
July 2012: SSN officially becomes a future publication from Spencer Hill Press!
August 2012: Get so-called preliminary edit instructions that somehow turn into a rewrite project. Spend month stressing.
September 2012: See August
October 2012: Send SSN revision off to betas and CPs. Breathe sigh of relief. Later this month, spend ten hours in one week on Skype with Lani plotting books 2 and 3. Even later this month, do more tweaks on SSN and send book plus new outlines plus notes plus other random goodies to Danielle and Patricia
November 2012: Send EVEN MORE goodies to Danielle and Patricia. Wait with barely concealed anticipation/eagerness/terror/etc. for scheduled editorial Skype chat. Also, begin NaNo, this time working on three projects at once including the as yet untitled Dream War Saga Book 2.

That has been my writing-related year. I did other things too–finish first drafts of two different contemporary YA projects I really love, write a short story in TDWS universe, connect with the amazing Twitterverse of writerly people, and other things I can’t even think of right now–but the timeline above are my big moments and why realizing a year has passed since last November is a nostalgic moment for me. November is also the home of Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday!), so I wanted to take this time to have a gratefulness moment. Sometimes it may feel like the ultimate goal (holding a physical copy of my book) is so far away, but at least the end is finally in sight. I’m working with editors I adore and I have a support network who is amazing. All-in-all, this past year has been very good for me. I’m even on track to knock out most of my New Years Resolutions! 2012 was great, 2013 will be even better, and I have high hopes that 2014 will be a banner year!

Don’t forget to enjoy the moment you’re in. You never know when you’ll suddenly be standing a year in the future going, “Wow. Remember when…?”

Good times they are a’comin’!

Jumping Man (c) Asif Akbar

Yesterday, out of the blue, I heard from both of my editors! We’re finally getting close to the time when I have full permission to pelt them with questions and revisions and ideas and new plot points and anything else that pops into my head! I am so excited about this it’s kinda ridiculous. What’s even more exciting is that their texts perfectly coincided with my day-of-final-tweaks on SSN. Yesterday (excepting the three-hour break after a rodent electrocuted itself in my backyard and blew our transformer–yes, really), I went through SSN with my CP’s notes and made little changes per their suggestions. Now I just have to go back through it one last time before I can send it to Danielle and Patricia and start holding my breath in hopes they like the changes I’ve made. Cause they are numerous. And important. And OMG. O.O! Please, please, please like the changes!

I love my editor’s idea to have the entire series planned out before SSN releases. I’m also very happy they intend to help me do that because I am so not a plotter. Most of the time, I have an overview in my head and let things unfold from there. It’ll be an interesting experiment working with an outlined story. The closest I’ve come to this before is when I turned the short story version of SSN into a novel. But even then I had to expand it so much from the core idea it was almost like writing an entirely new story.

Updates on progress shall continue here throughout the publication process with as many details as possible. I really can’t wait until I can share real things like cover copy or, you know, a cover. Which I don’t have yet so don’t hold your breath for that one. The release date is still so far away it’ll be a while before any of that happens, but you can always check back here for updates and you should definitely consider adding Sing, Sweet Nightingale to read on Goodreads!

Okay, self-promotion over. The next six months will be full of amazing writerly things and I’m all atwitter to dive into it. I have new projects in the works and heavy edits to look forward to. All I have to figure out is how to fit it all in.

Wish me luck!

Why I’ve been MIA this week.

Rosebud (c) Petria Follett

I come bearing a flower to apologize for my absence this week! I knew going into it that October was going to be insanely busy, but now that I’m in the middle of the mess, I can see I underestimated the time crunch of my schedule. Just to give you an idea, October is the busiest month of the year at my day job and I’m also:

– editing a book for a friend that clocks in around 148,000 words (it’s a sci-fi epic).

– drafting a book with Lani.

– plotting books two and three of The Dream War Saga.

– costume shopping for the Hunger Games production I’m trying to put together.

– attending a baby shower and an out-of-town wedding.

I will definitely check in when brain power and time allow, but until the beginning of November the posts may be a little more sporadic than usual. On the plus side, it seems like summer is finally loosening it’s grip on South Florida! Today was the first time I drove with my windows down since about the middle of May. Here’s hoping it stays cool for the rest of the month! 😀

Enjoy October, lovelies!

Revisionary lessons and revelations.

Wow. My previous post was prophetic or something. I finished my edits yesterday! Just in time to come back today! It’s a fabulous feeling and I really think the story is stronger. And I know it will only get more so when my editresses dive into the full tear-down with me at the beginning of the year. My next project while I wait for my critique partners to get back to me with notes is to start fleshing out the vague outlines I have for books 2 and 3 of The Dream War Saga, but for the next couple of days I’m just going to let my brain rest and enjoy the accomplishment of achieving what seemed impossible a couple of weeks ago.

Maybe it’s because this is my first guided edit, but I feel like I learned a lot from this process.  I have a feeling this is going to be the case with every edit on every book for the rest of my (hopefully) long career, but it’s especially impactful right now because this is the first. In honor of this, I’m going to talk about some of the revelations I had and lessons I learned while trying to be as vague as possible and leaving out any details my editors may hurt me for sharing without their permission. 😉

Blackboard (c) ilco

Lesson one: Even the most overwhelming projects can be tackled if you break them up the right way. What’s the right way? No clue. For this particular edit, the right way involved creating a new file and only keeping the chapters that I knew weren’t going to change much. This is when I started freaking out because I watched my book drop from 96,000 words to 27,000 words. As scary as that was to see, there’s no way I could’ve made headway on this edit as fast as I did any other way. If I’d kept the original and tried to work within it, I would’ve been trying to fix what’s there instead of reworking it to fit the new structure.

Which brings me to lesson/revelation number two: Say you decide to take out a major part of your book. You go back through the story, take out everything related to that part, reread the book, and then realize the story isn’t that much different. Does this mean the part you thought was so major wasn’t actually that important or did you do something wrong along the way? O.o? Honestly, I’m still wondering about this one. I guess I’ll see how confused my readers are.

The third thing I realized is that changing the structure can teach you new things about your characters. The request my editors made ended up changing the motivations of one of my main characters. His goals shifted and the way he approached what happens for the first third of the book changed. I love the new beginning and it was really fantastic bringing out this stronger, more determined side of my character. This wouldn’t have happened if the revisions hadn’t been suggested.

And last, but probably most importantly, just go with it. In this revision I ended up with three different versions of the end. Two of these versions extended the book by a chapter and a half. In fact, my word count for the whole book is just over 100,000 now, something I’m worried my editors might not like very much. Hopefully they’ll like the changes so much that the word count won’t even matter. I can hope, right? But that’s not the point. The point is to go in the direction the revisions take you, even if it’s slightly out of the original reach of the story. If it’s going to change your book completely, you might want to talk to your editors before running with it because otherwise it could end up being a lot of wasted effort, but don’t discount the idea out of hand. Don’t change for the sake of change, but sometimes, change is good.

So, that’s all for now. I’m going to take a break from the book for a few days and spend some time working on a couple of other projects before diving into my outlining for the rest of my series. Hopefully I’ll also be back to my regular posting schedule, too. I found a few articles I definitely want to share, so look for snippets and links this week.

Happy Monday!

Construction Area Ahead: Expect Delays

Old Crane (c) Dorin Jannotta

First round editing on Sing is going a lot faster than I expected (yay!) but with all the work I’m doing on that plus all the work I’m doing at work, my brain is pretty much mush (boo.). To this end, I’m taking a brief hiatus from the blog so I can finish my work projects and my reconstruction of Sing. Not too long, though! I should be back Monday September 17th. Probably. 😉

See you then! <3

Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day!

From National Archives and Records Administration

I hope you all have enjoyed your weekend and that you get to spend this day doing whatever it is you want to! Personally, I’ll be editing all day! Which is exactly what I want to be doing. 😀

The five phases of revision.

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

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 book. 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. 😉

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. 😀

The joys of a well-written edit letter.

Yesterday, my editors sent me my first official edits. Not on the whole book, just on a particular section they want me to revamp before the in-depth editing begins in January. When I opened the file and looked at the five-page edit letter and the rainbow of track changes and comments within the actual story, two thoughts ran through my head simultaneously:

Dear lord I think I’m going to die…



And the first thought only lasted for about as long as it took me to think it. That’s because THIS is one of the handful of reasons I’ve been holding out for the “traditional” publishing model instead of trying to self publish. I wanted someone invested in my story who was excited about the characters and who really wanted to help me make the book better than the first draft. I struck gold with Spencer Hill. I don’t have one someone. I have three. And if this is an example of what they do on preliminary projects, I’m both excited and terrified to see what they give me when it’s time to really dig into the book as a whole. Can’t wait to get started!

If I ever start complaining about revisions come 2013, someone point me toward this post, kay? 🙂