Nov 9 2012

The Steep, Uneven Steps of Editing

So, this spring, I sold my book.  Yay!  Yay!  Skip ahead to dreaming of covers and blurbs, right?

Well, apparently there is this little in between step from selling your book to seeing your book in print.  Editing.  I had heard of it, yes.  I had edited on my own and with my agent.  But this was something newer and harder and ultimately better…and with considerably more wine involved.

Step one: Editorial Letter.  These seem to vary depending on your editor, but my Editor Lady writes hers almost like a lit analysis paper.  She starts off with encouragement (which I refer back to frequently over the next eight pages), and then lays out possible issues and concerns with possible solutions.

Step two: Wine.

Step three: Wine with Critique Partners.  This is where they pat you on the back and remind of all the places in the letter where Editor Lady says good things.  You don’t believe them and tearfully make plans to return your advance.  They give you more wine.

Step four: Look at Letter Again (still with wine.)  This time, with a clearer head, you can actually see that it isn’t the end of the world.  Actually, it may even be doable.

Step five: Make List of Things to Do (and rank in order from: infinitesimal to I-might-shoot-my-laptop-with-a-rifle.)  So, Editor Lady is like, the best editor ever, and creates the most organized editorial letter known to man, so most of my list work is done for me.  But I still like to rank them in order of their scope.  So:

1. Madeline’s Character Arc

2. Her relationship with David

3. Her relationship with Cara

all the way down to

12. Change her necklace

13. Add the cat into more scenes

This is also best done with wine.

Step six: Work through the list in whatever way works best.  For example, when I did my revise and resubmit with Agent Lady, I worked my way through the list from bottom to top.  With these edits, I followed one line of revision–say Madeline and Cara’s relationship–and fixed it all the way through the manuscript, and then went back and followed another thread all the way through.  By the way, get used to track changes in MS Word.

Step seven: Review and turn back in.

Step eight: MOAR EDITS.  This round, I got a much shorter letter, only a page or two.  Editorial Letter Lite.  There’s less need for wine this time, as these tended to be much smaller scale.  These edits, I just went through manuscript and tackled all of them chronologically as they came up in the story.

Step nine: Review and turn back in.  EVEN MOAR EDITS.  These are called line edits, and they are very small scale.  Rather than an editorial letter, I just got a comment or two in the email with the document, and then comments within the manuscript.  This is where smaller things pop up, like, “Would this character really say this like that?” “You’ve used the word ‘concupiscence’ five times in the last page.  Consider changing?”  This needs even less wine.

Step 10: STILL EVEN MOAR EDITS OH THE HUMANITY.  Contractions.  Diction.  Unnecessarily verbose passages or redundancy.  Wine levels go back up as you cannot look at your manuscript without swearing and threatening to stab it in the eye.

Step 11: Turn it back in, right in time for a hurricane to shutter Penguin’s office for a week.

So that’s the editing process with Editor Lady.  There will be copy edits and first pass pages later, but for now, Landry Park is in her incomparable and insightful hands and I am drafting book 2.  Which, once again, means I need wine.


Mar 1 2012




I have an agent!

And yes, it is the Dream Agent I did the Revise and Resubmit for.

While I wouldn’t recommend an R&R as way to maintain sanity, I’m beyond grateful that it worked out.  Mollie Glick of Foundry Media liked my revision enough to offer to represent me, and I — duh — said yes!  I first heard of Mollie when she flew out to Kansas City to convince Gennifer Albin to choose her as an agent.  It was so above and beyond anything I’ve ever heard of an agent doing, that I decided whenever I was ready to query, that lady was going to be at the top of my list.  And when she asked for an R&R, I decided that I would do it for a couple reasons: number one, her insights for revision would make Landry Park a better book, and number two, I knew that if she was willing to invest that much energy into talking with me about the book, then she would invest a ton more if she ever represented me.

So, yes.  I have an agent and (fingers crossed) submissions will happen soon.  Hopefully within a few months, Professor Farnsworth will have more news to announce to you all.

Jan 17 2012

Book update

My baby nuclear Frankenstein has been returned to me by Professor Lupin and Professor McGonagall, and I’m ready to rock and roll on some final revisions before I send it back to the agent who requested the revise and resubmit.  (*proverbial fingers crossed*)

Revisions are a funny thing.  In that they’re not that funny at all actually, and they end up taking more time and angst than the actual writing of the thing did.  This novel has been through so many incarnations, so many slash-and-burn rewrites, that when Professor McGonagall was like, “I think you should add a few things,” which would be another week or two’s worth of work, I was relieved.

Only add?  Only another week or two?

That’s nothing.  After these last three years wrestling with Landry Park’s severe labor dystocia, I can handle that.

I think.

Nov 1 2011

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year, sort of ish. Maybe. Kinda.

Now that I have a clearer sense of where I’m going with my revision of Landry Park, I’m ready to get cracking.  I’m not sure how much of the novel will ultimately be rewritten, but I’m guessing the answer is somewhere between some of the novel and most of the novel, and it’s probably going to take a lot of hard work and time.

So why not toil shoulder to shoulder with the NaNo folk?  Draw inspiration from the community?  Remind myself that once I finish Landry Park (ha!), I can start on a new shiny project like the real NaNo-ers do?

My WrAHM Society friend, Melissa Hurst suggests NaNoFinMo for those of us who are in the middle of novels (or revising them,) and I think it’s a fantastic idea.

It will be difficult to carve out time to write every day, but I’ll make it happen.  After all, I’m hoping to get and agent and get published, and write many more books — perhaps one day, every month will be like NaNoWriMo.  Not necessarily in it’s difficulty or intensity, but in that I have the resources to focus on my writing every day of the week, consistently and for long spaces of time.

There are no crushed Cheerios in the carpet in this fantasy either.

Oct 18 2011

Perseverance is what separates us from them, right? RIGHT?!

So I got to talk to a Real Literary Agent last week.  She was awesome and helpful and kind, and offered me her time that day and in the future to talk about revisions for my book.  Before Thursday, I thought R&R stood for Rest and Relaxation, but now I know better.

It means Revise and Resubmit.

As I watch my agented/published friends in The WrAHM Society, and as I mull over the Agent’s suggestions, I am beginning to appreciate the difficult nature of the publishing business.  Good news comes bundled with disappointing news.  Praise comes bundled with criticism.  Almost-but-not-quites, and you’re-not-done-yets are as common as coughs in a proctologist’s office.  I’d like to think this is true of similar professions: visual artists, musicians, and even small business owners.  It’s the price of not being a drone at some Evil Corporate Office or Faceless County Entity, although, truth be told, I miss Faceless County Entity (the Library Version) quite a bit.  It was safe, and comforting, and I could do things like drink water out of a Ziploc bag in front of my boss and not get fired.

Getting an MLS and glaring at patrons from behind a desk is my career back-up plan, but Faceless County Entities have nothing on writing.  I like wandering around like a space case, trying to imagine the perfect level of drizzle for the background of a tea-drinking scene.  I like watching hundreds and thousands of words trickle out from my fingertips in libraries, cafes and on my couch.  And I like the freedom of knowing that once I am finished with a book — whether it be trunked or published — I’m free to seek out fresh stories and new voices and different types of drizzle.  At the library, the only fresh things are the potatoes accidently dropped into the book drop.  (Yes, that happened.)

Back to my R&R.  The Agent’s perceptions were incredibly insightful and diagnostic, and while she was giving her editorial notes, I could start seeing the new book, a better book, taking shape out there in the ether.  This revision would be substantial and more like a rewrite, but in the end, I think it will be a much better novel.  My main characters will stay, the setting will stay, the angry and restless Rootless will stay, but the things they are doing will be different.  There will be more exploration of the world.  There may be some more character-level intrigue a la Downton Abbey, and less twists and turns a la Ringer (which I love, btw.)  It will take a while.  Months.  Many months, even.  But I feel like Landry Park is worth it.  And hopefully so does the Agent, otherwise she wouldn’t have called and offered to be a resource for working through ideas.

Here’s to hoping that the tortoise wins the race, and that my local coffee shop is well-stocked with brew.

ps. Link soup