Posts Tagged ‘novels’

Question Time: What’s It Like to Work with Editors

Over the course of my career, the most common question is:

Does it hurt when they change (or cut up) your baby? 

By baby, the person asking mean my novels.  Since people call it my baby, I’ll use the same analogy. I’ve heard it said it takes a village to raise a child. And it takes at least a few people to turn my great super fab-u-rific idea into a book people actually want to read, that connects the readers emotions.
Still, I never have liked the metaphor that my story is my baby. (Get real, my dogs are my babies)

A better metaphor is that my stories are swords.

Swords must be sharpened, tempered and honed and with them, I want to stab at your emotional wellbeing. I want the reader to cry with Abby. I want the reader to go on an uplifting adventure with Ellie. That is what an editor does. They sharpen. They hone. They polish.

Wait, it sounds like working with an editor is hard?

Editing is hard, but it is worth it, because the end product is ultimately my vision.  Not my fab-u-rific idea.
As many of my readers know, I’ve had two books published by 48Fourteen and I’ve self published. Being an author takes a special mix of megalomania, tenacity, and self-doubt.
So lets quickly look at the megalomania and tenacity.  I write for me. I write what I want to read. I want to explore my super cool fun ideas.  I need to believe in myself. I need to believe that  must be tenacious enough that I am willing to rewrite my super cool words six or seven times to get it right. I do the work when it stops being fun. I need to be willing to laugh in the face of rejection.

Now to counteract all that, I also must know my limitations or it will never be a book. A piece of my vision isn’t about me. It’s about the book: I want to create books that people want to pick up. That they are excited to read. And while I think I have at least a few neat ideas, and am a decent book designer due to my background in art, I can’t do it all alone.

Working with an editor is hard, but is an essential step in book creation.

Can’t an editor make me change my baby?

Maybe. Do you have a backbone?
There is a myth that an editor can carve up your story willy-nilly until you won’t even recognize it. No they can’t. Read a freaking contract. Most are not allowed to make major changes to your work without your approval.
When an editor suggests major changes, ask yourself: Why is the editor suggesting X? Does X solve an underlying issue. Does X agree with my vision of the novel?

But what happens if I disagree with my editor?

I’d say its your book. You must make the call. You have choices. Always. I’ve never gotten in so deep that my only option was to walk away from a book contact. However if that is your choice, then walk.  After all, why would you want someone to publish your book if they don’t believe in it?

So you’ve gotten lucky?


On Saying: No…

When it was suggested for Other Systems that I completely change Harden’s character – aka drop his age and make him a love interest. Or rewrite the book with a love interest for Abby. NOTE: Other Systems’ editor did not suggest this, the acquisitions editor did. I was freaking out inside, but I said no. Harden’s a mentor. And realistically Abby didn’t need a love interest in this book. I couldn’t make this change, because I wasn’t being true to the heart of this novel.
(FYI: This was the first time it happened and on my debut novel, so I worried that I might lose my contract or I was being a diva. I didn’t lose my contract. Of course, I made other changes so I guess I wasn’t really being a diva either.)

On Saying: No, but what about…

In almost all my books, sometimes the editor suggests something and while I don’t agree with the suggestion, I realize the problem with the scene, then rewrite it my way and with my ideas. I have never gotten so much as harsh email for doing this.
In The Light Side of the Moon, I was told to cut the android scenes, because its a long, fairly slow paced novel and the acquisitions editor didn’t care about the android characters at all. When I rewrote the book, I did not cut them, instead I made her care. I made everyone care about them. And they are everyone’s favorite characters.

On Saying: Huh?

Finally, I have been flat out confused about what an editor is saying.
Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. During Other Systems, there was a few scenes I rewrote at least 3 times because I didn’t understand what my editor was saying. He kept repeating “Slow down this scene” in different ways. Finally I brought it to my writing group and people said, “It’s okay, but it needs more tension.” So I added more tension–which slowed down the scene and it was now deemed solid. Thank you writing group!
But honestly, most of the time, all I’m thinking is:  Damn how could I be so blind to that repetitive writing tick..OR how many different ways did I mean to spell that word. Opps!  
The Grove Cover_blogsizedSeriously in almost every chapter of The Grove which I sent to my editor, people were glancing at their phones and over their shoulders. (Especially over their shoulders!) I was too close to the story. I couldn’t see it.
My editor Denise DeSio did. She took my fairly awesome story, and honed it until it was sharp. That’s what I paid her for. I didn’t agree with everything she suggested. I don’t have to.
Then a proof reader was hired. She polished my sentences until they shined. These edits were all grammatical and spelling.

Does anyone else have any good stories or tips about working with editors? 

Sprained Wrists + Books = Reading Rampage

So I sprained my wrists. Since I needed to take some time not typing, I used the time to catch up on some independent horror films which is not part of this blog post, and my TBR pile which is the focus of this post.

Isaac Asimov’s The Foundation Trilogy:

Elizabeth’s Review:  I’ve been meaning to read this book forever, so this was the first on my list. Our hardcover edition with gilded pages is a gorgeous book. As for the story, I enjoyed this book in the academic sense, but realized why I never got into it for pleasure.  Asimov’s use of language is beautiful, but as it is a history of The Foundation, I felt like I was traveling past these people at the speed of light, unable to truly connect to any character. After too-few chapters, their contribution to history had finished and time moved on. Regardless it is beautifully written book of 730 pages, which I read in four sittings. Even though at places it could be dry, the novel captured my attention. Four planets for an interesting book.

popcover01-662x1024Prince of Pieces
Written and Created By Sam Miserendino
Art and Colors by Colin Blanton Letters
Cover by Matthew Mason

Elizabeth’s Review:
I picked this up from the author at CryptiCon. It was darkly funny and the biblical language/punishments was used brilliantly with the art. I thought the artwork was amazing. The story got convoluted in places. For example: why did the kid kill the butterfly? To show the evilness of the world? Little details left me asking “Is this part symbolism? Hmmm.”
Otherwise four crucifixes for a great book!

The Devil and My Daughter51vntf2b6a9l-_sx331_bo1204203200_
Written by Josh Hancock

Elizabeth’s Review:  This book originally intrigued my husband at Crypticon, but I was awoken early by a noisy neighbor so I read it in a few hours.

Spanning a decade, this epistolary novel is written as if it is nonfiction. In this book, its important to read everything. The preface, the footnotes are all part of the story. Overall it took a serious look at what a real demon possession might look like. It follows a film crew who unleashes a demon with a song from their heavy metal soundtrack on to a young actress.

 Because the novel is told through police reports and news stories, some parts can feel dry and repetitive, however it is a fast read. The characters were well developed. I enjoyed the serious tone of the novel which added to the dark scenario. Five Demons for this scary novel!


A Racy Question for Readers!

I’m going to pose a racy question about sex scenes in non-erotica books to my readers. (Yes, I posed this to FB earlier, but then I realized I could be much more specific on my blog! Though I’m having a fun exchange on FaceBook if you want to join in.) I write sci-fi, and so yes, I’m talking about sci-fi. Gritty dark science fiction.



Oh my gosh, I see stamens, how risqué!

In general, if you read a book that has a sex scene (In this case a married couple on their wedding night) Do you want to see a second sex scene or is one enough? Or since there is only one sex scene in the manuscript would you prefer it just blacked out prior to intercourse?

Since both characters are inexperienced, it’s pretty tame and there is some important dialogue, cultural stuff prior and during and after the act. I don’t want it to be gratuitous either, but it is a big deal for both the groom and the bride. I would also it is one of the most sweet scenes in the book because they care about each other. Nothing we would call kink of any sort is shown.

An example that doesn’t tell you much is prior to intercourse: a priest and wedding guests bless the marriage bed and then the groom unbraids the bride’s hair in front of the assembled crowd. They cheer then the bride and groom at left alone.

If you read Other Systems, you know the sex scenes I wrote there was a bit of foreplay and kissing, but the scene was blacked out prior to actual intercourse, but in this new book I thought the intercourse made the scene better.

(Unless it is going to turn readers away…then it is bad!)

I’d love anyone’s opinion whether they have read my stuff before or not.

So 1) Do you like sex in non-erotic books?

2) Do you think a wedding night is gratuitous sex?

3) If I show the wedding night, will you be disappointed there is no more sex shown in the book?

ZB’s Blog of Awesomeness Special Guest: Denise DeSio author of Rose’s Will!

Last autumn, I read and posted a review on Denise DeSio’s first novel, Rose’s Will which was released in September 2011 by 48Fourteen. I loved her book and feel very fortunate that she was interested in doing this interview. So here it goes…

Please discuss why you write about the theme of the consistency of family love even through dysfunction:

I think the indestructibility of familial love can be somewhat of an illusion. In Rose’s Will, Rose, the matriarch, has no understanding of familial love. People belong to her like possessions. She either controls them or makes them disappear, forcing her children, Ricky and Glory, to choose between two equally dysfunctional outcomes. They each make a different choice, which drastically affects their lives. But only one of them faces the question: If I must pretend to be someone I’m not to receive love, is it really love?

Since Rose’s Will is a semi-auto biographical: Do you have a little brother and is he embarrassed to be portrayed as Ricky?

Yes, I do have a younger brother, and I was a little nervous about his reaction, but I sent him pieces of the manuscript as I was writing it, and he has been nothing but supportive. Much of the content happened exactly as I wrote it, but I really tried to give him a voice that expressed and validated what he was going through at the time. In fact, some of the scenes written in his voice were more difficult for me to write than for him to read, because it forced me to face some negative things about myself from his perspective.

How does Claire feel about being in the novel? Your adult childern? Did they have the chance to vet the manuscript? I’m nervous about asking about your mother, but since I don’t know what is true and false, feel free to elaborate on any part of the story or how your life inspired the story you wish.

My partner has mixed feelings about being in the novel. She is a much more private person than I am, but she gives me a lot of room to be who I am and after twenty-two years together, she’s accustomed herself to the fact that “who I am” includes her.  My children were thrilled to be the prototype for my characters; my niece and nephew actually changed their names on Facebook to match their character names; and my mother and most of my relatives were dead before Rose’s Will was released.  I took some creative liberty, but not much. When you have a dysfunctional family there’s a fair amount of deliciously juicy gossip that’s so crazy, you just can’t make that stuff up.

What is your next book is going to be about?

I have two books in varying stages of completion. The one that’s further along is the product of spending the entire month of November 2010 in my writing cave taking the Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge – complete a 50,000 word novel in only thirty days. Writing at that level of intensity, I didn’t know what the book was about until it was done and I discovered that I’m obsessed with authenticity. The extent to which people keep secrets and tell lies has devastating effects on individuals, in relationships, and on society as a whole.  The book will follow a group of friends, whose lives are in turmoil as a result of deceit.

I’ve also started a humorous, non-fiction, handbook documenting my five years in hell as a property manager for an eight-unit investment property in a very bad neighborhood. It will be for people who want to purchase cheap investment property in this depressed market and think it’s a good idea to manage it themselves.

You can buy Rose’s Will from the following links:


A nurse's perspective on current nursing news; Q&A; Covid 19; healthcare issues; stories about nurses past & present; political issues & endorsements

Novel News Network

Bringing you news on my favorite novels.

The Eclectic World of Christina

Author Christina Thompson

Elan Mudrow


James Harringtons Creative Work

A site of writings, musings, and geek culture, all under one domain!

Ajoobacats Blog

Doctor, student, yogini, teacher, reader and observer

World of Horror

A cozy cottage for writers and book lovers


Book reviews, recommendations and more

Sienna Saint-Cyr


Corey Truax

Husband | Father | Veteran | Author

Horror Novel Reviews

Honesty in the Terror

Sarah Doughty

Novelist, Poet, Wordsmith

Wanderess Bibliophile

“Real life was something happening in her peripheral vision.”


This site is totally poetry...


A little about me, a lot about books, and a dash of something else

Planetary Defense Command

Defending the planet from bad science fiction

A Narcissist Writes Letters, To Himself

A Hopefully Formerly Depressed Human Vows To Practice Self-Approval