gifs ahoy

IT LIVES!

285032_511761092179867_1397023959_nOMG I'm alive! No really, it was hit or miss there for a few weeks. Where have I been, you might ask? Well, I've been editing UNVEILED. And that has been a roller coaster. I'm sure that I've done something like this in the past, but I feel like I need to take you on the journey with me. Some edits are easy. Some are spiritual journeys. Some are slogs through hell. I leave it to you to decide for yourselves which of these describes developmental edits on UNVEILED.

It started last month when I read Danielle Poiesz's editorial letter. Now, when I sent her the manuscript, I knew it wasn't perfect. But a small part of me felt like the story was solid enough, good enough and that no major, load-bearing walls contained issues. Basically, I'd been able to convince myself:

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So, when I read Danielle's initial reactions and suggestions about the manuscript...well... I poured myself a glass of something alcoholic and slept on it. Thing is, I didn't even need that night of sleep to know that my editor was right about EVERY point she made. There were problems with character agency, likability. Certain scenes lacked emotional punch. Some rambled a bit. Others didn't flesh out the rules of the world enough. Danielle also felt that the book didn't explain enough of WILD CARD to help introduce new readers to the world of Cat Sharp. Not a damn thing Danielle brought up was unwarranted.

Taken down a few pegs from my hubris, I looked at the manuscript with Danielle's comments in mind. And there was only one way to describe UNVEILED at that time:

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I took Danielle's revision letter and scribbled a war plan into a notebook. Here's how I would address this issue. This scene could move here. This would be written out entirely. After I formulated a plan, I talked with Danielle and ran a few ideas past her, got some feedback and clarification on some of her notes. Together we were able to solidify a direction for whipping UNVEILED into some semblance of order.

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No, not that kind of whip.

Anyway...there was a plan. And I set forth with a "Let's rock this shit" attitude. I dove in that very moment. At the time, the manuscript was just over 72k words long. For the next 2 weeks I scrounged all the time I could--my daughter is home on summer break, so I have to do that whole parent thing...it is Job #1--by going to coffee shops or politely kicking my husband and daughter out of my house so that I could work my tail off.

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It took me two weeks just to slog through the first 6 chapters. I knew, though, if I could just get through those chapters, I'd start the snowball rolling. Besides, fixing a lot of the problems in Act 1 would straighten out the kinks in Act 3. So I doubled my bubble and toiled with the trouble of all that shit I wrote a couple of years ago.

Somewhen around chapter 18, I hit a wall. I don't know if it was hormonal (writing with depression can sometimes be a hall of funhouse mirrors, but that's a blog topic for another day), or if it was the moon or if I'd just had some bad sushi, but I spent a good week wallowing.

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The words wouldn't come. The changes didn't seem to help the fact that the book just plain sucked. I started second guessing everything...from my choice of verbs to the underwear I put on that morning. Nothing was safe.

Part of the problem (other than being chemically imbalanced from time to time) is that I've already written Book 3 of this series. And I think Book 3 is the fucking bees knees.

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For comparison: Book 2

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Book 3?

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Book 2.

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UNVEILED just refused to live up to its sibling. What the everloving fuck, Book 2? Don't you realize that even though I wrote you before Book 3, you're still supposed to be just as good or better than that rough draft?

sherlock no nonoGah! Stupid manuscripts that refuse to listen!

They make me so angry!

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This book SUCKS! I suck! I should never have done the Kickstarter. I should give up writing all together. I shouldn't be allowed to call myself a writer. How do I end the suffering?

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I sat down with people I love (and who love me) and explained that I've had them fooled. No really. I suck that much.  One of them proceeded to hit me repeatedly with a pillow. Then, this was posted to my Facebook wall.

10556310_10204105238344717_3137999754615161333_nThat was it. That broke the spell of my funk and I dove into the book with renewed gusto. I made this face a lot.

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In fact, between making this face so much and the teeth-grinding from going to bed still working out things in my head...well, I think I've aggravated my TMJ. Yeah. My jaw is killing me.

But, I digress.

I finished the first run through the book. I made all the major changes that needed changing and realized that I'd added more than 8k words.

Oops. But they were needed! So, I took a day and let my brain relax. Then I dove back in from page one on a proofread of sorts. I needed to make sure that all of my seams were smooth, that I didn't leave things dangling and that I'd kept up continuity what with all that remodeling I'd done.

Well...it looked about like you'd expect construction site to look. Somewhat messy with tools laying everywhere. I found continuity errors, shitty syntax and other issues. Well... to be frank, it pissed me off. I cursed like a sailor and a king.

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I went batshit fucking crazy until I figured the only thing was to put on a tiara and proclaim myself High Priestess of Tea and Trail Mix.

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Then... something happened.  Somewhere around my second pass through Chapter 21, I found this book's VOICE. I found its beating heart and tapped into everything that makes it live. I met UNVEILED's soul.

In that moment, I felt mighty.

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Yeah. I finished a second round of edits on UNVEILED finally feeling like it was meeting its potential. I did not, in fact, suck.

That was last week.

Since then, I've done another full pass of edits on the book. (Because while I was finishing that second run and finding all the good shit UNVEILED has to offer, I realized that I needed to tend to the beginning as well and make sure everything matched.) During THAT pass, I realized that I've got a few phrases that I use. Constantly.

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That's what you get for your constant overuse of simile and poorly constructed metaphor!

 

And don't even get me started on all the sentences starting with "Though I blah blah blah..." GAH!

And one to grow on!

I finished the third pass of edits last night--the book more than 11k longer than the original draft I'd sent Danielle--and emailed the book to my editor. With a few hours to spare on deadline day.

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Basically, I wanted to tell all of you this because a) it's entertaining, b) misery loves company but also c) there's a lesson here. That lesson is this:

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Also, I had a shit ton of gifs I felt like using.

Seriously. Editing can be affirming. It can make you stronger in your confidence, in your voice. Or it could break you. But only if you let it. Keep going. Keep writing. Keep pushing yourself to write better, to make that line fucking sparkle. Don't settle for a nickel sentence when you are capable of million dollar babies.

Keep going.

Remember, the tiny potato believes in you.

And so do I.

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GIF-wrapped

So, today is Karina Cooper's birthday. And as I adore her, I felt the need to shower her with gifs. So many gifs! ALL OF THE GIFS! No preamble. Just get to the gifs! anigif_enhanced-buzz-21972-1372259444-2

 

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Turtles say, "Wha?! Let's rock this shit."

The tunes got cranked and everybody started dancing.

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Then Jennifer Lawrence crashed the party and was all like...anigif_enhanced-buzz-11281-1367961003-26

Nathan Fillion staggered out of bed...

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And suddenly it was all sorts of sexy up in here...anigif_enhanced-buzz-11944-1378321940-2tumblr_inline_mrjuhlsbQ51rw4dydanigif_enhanced-buzz-8665-1366303778-9

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Happy birthday, Karina. May you have many more, doll! Oh, and here's one more. Just for you. :-D

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Publishing and Pigskin

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Welcome back, readers. The NFL season is underway and for once I might have a damn fine fantasy season. (Yes, I have Peyton Manning as my QB. What?!) So, I was watching the football games yesterday--like one does--and I thought, This is an awful lot like publishing.

Time is Wibbly Wobbly

tumblr_ma9bt5LDYz1rvd7mmWhen I was a kid, I didn't appreciate football. Partially because I didn't understand it, but also because I just didn't have any emotional investment in the game. But what always drove me nuts was when an adult would say, "The game's almost over. Look, there's only five minutes left on the clock." Five minutes in football, as you probably know, is not five minutes in real life. Seriously, an hour later the confetti still hasn't fallen and six-year old me is about to pull out her pigtails.

And so it is with publishing. Time is relative in this strange business. Querying agents? Thanks to random chance, schedules, time outs, injuries or overtime, you could be waiting twelve minutes or two weeks for a response. On submission to publishers? See above. And editing is its own animal. Hell, a book can be cocked, locked and ready to rock, but you're still waiting on a schedule before you can see it on shelves.

Fast and Furious

There are fits and bursts of activity in football. Each play is a flurry of bodies and work and tension and will-they-or-won't-they. And then it's over, we reset, we take a time out....wait. Wait. Wait. And then we do it all over again.

seriously, this is beautiful.

This, too, is publishing. Send out your number one quarterback query, maybe call an audible and email that one agent you think is a long shot.  Wait...drum your fingers on the desk....then BOOM! You've got a request. Send out the partial! And wait.  On submission? You get word that someone's taking it to the acquisition board. Wait, we've iced the kicker and the board ultimately rejected the book. Try again after a time out. Editing? It's the same thing. We get the email with the revision letter and plow through like a running back through a defensive line. Then, that pass is over and we wait some more.  Another email and another play--furious writing and working to meet a deadline.

Fantasy 

We've all got that dream editor or agent that we want to work with. The author we idolize that we hope will one day be blurbing our books. (Christopher Moore, call me!) We watch trends, follow blogs, make lists and imagine a world where our names are side by side with those of our idols. Like fantasy football, though, sometimes trends are just statistical hiccups. People leave the industry or switch jobs and all of our careful planning crumbles. Our fantasies always cave to reality. (Or, sometimes you draft Peyton Manning.)

Winning Teams

Football and publishing are team sports. You are your quarterback, calling the plays and writing the books. You know where you want to go and you've got all the tools in your offense to make that possible. Beta readers are your center, left and right guards. They protect you from yourself and help you use your offense to its best potential. Your agent? She's playing iron man for you as both defense and coach helping you navigate your way down the field without getting sacked. Likewise, your editor is there to whip your offensive line into shape so that your book rockets into the end zone. At the end of the day, you're nothing without your team.

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So, as the NFL season ramps up, convention season winds down and Publishing Fridays are a thing of memory, remember that we take the hits of rejection because at the end of the day...we love this shit. We love the game. Write. Enjoy it. And have fun.

 

 

The Editorial Process in .gif Form

So, I have officially finished my first round of professional edits on my novel. *cue the fanfare and confetti cannons* I sent the manuscript back to my editor a full five days early, too! Considering that a few weeks ago I was terrified I wouldn't make my deadline, I'm pretty fucking stoked about this. And, because I like this blog to be educational and shit, I thought I would describe to you what this foray into working with an actual, factual editor was like. Since I can't do interpretive dance you get gif files! (Be thankful for this.) So! If you follow me, you know that in November '12, my agent and I got an offer of publication from Entangled Publishing. The contract was finalized in January of this year and much merriment ensued.

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The next couple of months were spent waiting for things to shake out. I was assigned a different editor and switched to another imprint of the publisher, so it took some time for me to hear from my editor--Editor McAwesomesauce. I was nervous because she wasn't the acquiring editor of the book. What if she hated it? Also? I've known Editor McAwesomesauce for a few years online. I respect what she has to say as a professional, but also as a friend. When I finally got my editorial letter, I was freaked out, excited as hell to get to work, and did I mention freaked out?  But mostly, I was just ready to rock this bitch.

When do we start?

If you've never gotten an editorial letter before, here's the thing: It's long. (Mine was eight pages.) It's full of developmental ideas from your editor talking about the structure of the story and their experience as a reader. Mine began with my editor telling me she loved the book. This made me all sorts of

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But then, there were more paragraphs. And seven more pages. They started off simply with ways I could improve the flow of the plot and enhance the veracity of the story.  I looked at the gremlins she wanted me to excise and thought

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As I kept reading the letter from Editor McAwesomesauce, I found a few points of her commentary that--while they might sting a bit--I agreed with. Strengthen this. Pull that back a bit. Okay.

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But then, we got to another area. There were these sections of the story that I loved. I'd poured so much thought and research and blood and--okay, maybe not blood--but I'd sacrificed many brain cells and some measure of a chicken (the nuggets) to make these sections glorious. And she wanted me to cut them. And I was all *record scratch*...

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Hell no! I thought. They are integral to the story and I cannot cut them! So I asked my beta readers, "What would you do if I got rid of this?" The responses ranged from

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tumblr_m7wb01GBb81qdjjrlSo, I talked with my agent and set up a conversation with Editor McAwesome. (Not only did I need to explain why this part was so important to the book--nay, to the series... to the world!--but I had some questions about her other points and wanted to run some ideas past her.) Thankfully, my editor earns her name and did not approach the conversation with an attitude of

tumblr_mnuhn4eVcY1qelb9co1_250so we were able to hammer out a few things. I explained some of where I was coming from about certain choices. We batted around some possibilities for changes. Then I said, "So this thing? It needs to stay." Then my editor did the unthinkable. She gave me a very valid, very clear, very solid answer as to WHY this thing I loved so so much had to be put down like a dog. Hearing her reasons...I sadly had to agree.

This is where you learn something important: Editors aren't there to put you down, but the exact opposite. They're there to make you better. (Just like your betas.) So, listen to them, even when you think you're right. In the end, you want your book to be the best it can possibly be. And while I love these parts that got cut, they needed to go.

So after our conversation, I opened up the manuscript and the first thing I did was cut my darlings. This left me feeling

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I'd taken a huge chunk of the novel out. Almost 10k words! Holy shit! I have to replace the content and come up with that many words and fix all these holes and and and in a month???

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I talked with my husband, betas, and chai about all sorts of anxieties and was lucky that no one pimp slapped me into oblivion. Then, when I'd finished freaking out (after like a day), I put my nose down and got to work. The next couple of weeks were like this (montage time!)

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*redacted...this is a family show*

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chompers? why are there chompers? who put those in this manuscript?

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When I'd made all the changes and poured my brain out through my ears, I sent the revisions to my agent and my betas for a quick look. I wanted to know that I wasn't crazy about a couple of things. As their notes came in, my reactions ranged from

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to

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and

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So, armed with some fantastic feedback, I settled in for the last push through the manuscript...sandblasting, trimming, sculpting and all that stuff. I poured a chai and I was all

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Until finally...FINALLY...I reached the end and could say, "This is it. This puppy is cocked, locked and ready to rock Editor McAwesome's stripey socks right the fuck off."

I put it in the email, took a good look at my imaginary friends and said, "Go us."

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So yeah. My sanity is shredded and my brain is spooled out on the floor like a cassette tape waiting for a pencil to reel it back in, but it's done. (And while I know it's not DONE done, this part is.)

Boo and verily yah.

Y'all are going to love this.