Editing Process: Step One

One of the first questions I ask whenever I tell people TNWSY won’t come out until 2015 is this: “Why so long?”

Yes, it does seem like eons away, but there are a lot of steps between “congratulations we’re making your manuscript into a book!” and “congratulations, your book is now on shelves!” A lot.

So I thought I’d write about the steps, as I go through them, for those interested in the whole publishing process. (Granted each editor and publishing house may do things differently, so this is just my experience.)

Step One: Editorial Letter

Last week I received the infamous editorial letter. The first editorial letter is a basic overview of things your editor wants you to look at and work on. It could be very long or very short. It could be very detailed or very vague. Each editor is different.

For TNWSY, mine was  a basic overview of a few things my wonderful editor would like for me to elaborate on, punch up, work on. Four points specifically for me to look at, and focus on as I go through the entire manuscript again.

It’s been really fun so far because I haven’t visited TNWSY is quite some time. I’ve missed the characters, the locations. It’s nice saying hello again, and concentrating on areas wonderful editor thinks need a bit more attention.

I will say, I feel very lucky , because none of the editorial notes asked me to change anything HUGE about the book. They just asked for moreAnd, heck, of course I’d love to write more about this story.

I’ve worked so much with my agent, that it’s interesting getting a new person’s opinion, a new view of the subject at hand.

So that’s where I’m at now. I’m revisiting and relearning. I’m adding more to the story, and giving the characters more life. And it’s pretty great.

Necessities

So as you can tell, i’ve had a pretty exciting past few days. It’s been kind of surreal, really, hearing that other countries think they can sell my book (ahh!), and officially becoming a contracted author. Honestly. What has my life become?

But before I get all I AM THE GREATEST WRITER OF ALL TIME, I want to pay tribute to how I got here.

Through very, very honest friends.

Here’s the thing about writing a manuscript – usually the first draft is not good. Mine was not at all. I mean, it was a story with a plot and major characters. There was a beginning, middle, and end. Things happened and upon reading it, I thought (hoped) it might have potential. But after editing it to make it all shiny and pretty, I didn’t go straight to querying agents. I queried my friends.

A few of my amazing friends became critique partners. They’d read and go over my manuscripts before anything. They’d tell me what was good, what was bad, and what maybe, possibly had potential. They were honest and brutal. They were kind and helpful. AND THEY WERE AMAZING.

They told me when I used words too often (eyebrows, apparently), and told me when a character just wasn’t sitting right (one actually wrote “I want to strangle her right now.”) They told me when the plot felt meh, and when something just didn’t make sense.

And all of those critiques made not only my manuscript better, but me as a writer better. I need their input. I value it so much. And I know that no matter how many negative things they say about the story, they’re doing it because they want the story to succeed. There’s never anything more.

And now? I love getting messages from them like, “I just saw someone at B&N who reminded me SO MUCH of *insert character here*” or “that was such a *character* thing you just said.” Because, oddly enough, the story that felt real to me all that time, now feels real to them, too.

(Special shout-out to Katie, Colure, Michelle, Misty, and Joe. And S, of course.)

TNWSY

PM_Announcement

Hey, remember that time I got a book deal? Yeah I’m still riding on that excitement.

!!!!!

So! I’ve gotten a few questions about the book, and since the deal is finally announced, I figured I’d share. (I’m a bit private when it comes to writing, as it happens.)

1. What’s the book about? 

SPARKLY VAMPIRES! No, not really. Above is the Publisher’s Marketplace announcement for TNWSY. I think Michelle summed up my book extremely well in one-sentence. I tried, and ended up with a paragraph. That’s what happens when you’re a wordy writer I suppose. (Also, HOW EXCITED was I to see the official announcement? EXTREMELY.)

2. How did you come up with the title?

It’s one of the lines from the book, and it kind of kicks off the plot. I had a few ideas prior to it, but when that came to  mind, I was like YES. THAT. DONE.

3. Is it based on real life? 

No, not at all. The high school is loosely based on the high school I went to, and some of the places they visit mirror places here in Orlando, but the experiences and characters are completely made up. Though, they are definitely the kind of people I would have been friends with in high school (and through today).

4. Are you living a glamorous writer’s lifestyle now? 

Let me tell you – after getting the news…I went right back to work. I mean, I was ridiculously teary-eyed for the rest of my shift, but I still worked. And the next day? I painted the cabinets in my house. I know. Rockstar life right here. (And as a follow up to that, no, I don’t plan on becoming a full-time writer. I LOVE LOVE LOVE being a librarian, just as much as I LOVE LOVE LOVE being a writer, and I don’t think my life would feel full with one part missing.)

5. What happens now? 

Now I get to start editing! I’m really excited to see where Karen will help me take the book. I know it can only get better from here. And, in the midst, I’m writing, writing, writing and loving it.

6. Any advice? 

WRITE! Don’t look back. Don’t doubt yourself. Even if what you come up with is gibberish (I can’t even explain how bad my first drafts are), it’s something. And something can always turn into amazing with a little bit of work.

Thank you all SO MUCH for your kind words. Thank you for going on this strange, new journey with me. I can’t wait to see where it leads. xxx

Writing

A few of my friends have asked me how I find time to write between a full-time job, reading for said full-time job, moving, and, generally, life.

The truth is – I just do.

When writing – real first draft writing – I’m always planning. If I have an idea for a scene, I write it down. During downtime at work (shh), moments before meetings, waiting at red lights (also, shhh – I do not recommend this). I’ll always find time to jot a few things down on my notebook. And then in the mornings, or at night long after work, I’ll get out my laptop and write everything. As much as I can. As fast as I can. That’s how I write best.

And then when editing? I bring my laptop with me to work and edit during breaks, during lunch hours. I make myself do it, even when I’d rather hang out with co-workers and laugh about the day’s events.

The truth of the matter is – yeah, sometimes it is hard to find time to write.

But I just do it anyway.

Because I can’t not do it.

So for you trying – don’t try to find time. Make time in those small moments. They amount to a lot in the end.

NaNoWriMo

November brings lots of things – cooler weather, Thanksgiving, pumpkin everything, my birthday…

It’s also National Novel Writing Month.

The event has a special place in my heart. It’s during NaNoWriMo that I finished the first draft of TNWSY. It’s because I was deliriously committed to finishing those 50,000 words in time that I pushed myself further than I’ve ever gone and completed a book.

And since then I’ve completed two more manuscripts. I go into each story knowing I’ll finish them now, not wondering if the last page will ever be dreamed about. I thank my competitiveness. My intense drive. My need to write. But mostly, I thank NaNo.

So with October 10 days gone, I’m approaching November with wonder and excitement. Will I compete again? I’m not sure. I’m in the middle of editing, and that’s more important to me at the moment.

But should any other writer do it? Absolutely. Because it forces you to write and not look back. It forces you to put your fingers to the keyboard and type without correcting spelling and grammatical errors. It lets you add parts that say “make this scene more interesting,” and continuing on to the next scene. Really, it forces you to write and believe in yourself. Because once you finish that first manuscript, truly, it feels like anything is possible.

And isn’t that the whole point of writing?

Who’s done NaNoWriMo before? Who’s doing it this year?