Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Disagreeing with an Editor

Rehtaek11 asked me a question that I think will make an interesting blog post.

Does the company that publishes your work ever make demands that you… change your work in a way that you don't like?

This has happened to me. There has been editorial advice that I initially thought was rooted in the deep end of the Insanity Pool.

The first time this happened to me was with the first edition of Full Circle. I held a great deal of respect for my editor there and told her that I thought she was bonkers for her suggestion, but I’d give it my best shot.

It’s been a while since Full Circle was out for public consumption, but do you guys and gals remember the scene where Byron is speaking to Pebble? Tami planted that seed of creativity. Yes, I created Pebble. Yes, I wrote the scene. But, when she told me that the scene fell flat because of all the inner dialog and reflection coming from Byron and that he needed to talk to someone or do something to make it interesting (“hell, have him talk to the bird”), the creative juices started to flow.

I went back (all the while muttering about how crazy my editor was and telling her so) and crafted Pebble. The friendly neighborhood oh-dear-God-please-let-it-just-be-a-bird-but-we-all-know-Cup-is-up-to-something-creepy Pebble. I then wrote the scenes with Pebble thinking they were going to fail miserably. (Too cryptic? Too obvious? Too batshit insane?) When I finished the scenes, I’d surprised myself. I loved those scenes. I think they really work and add another layer to the novel. And...yes...I told her so. I even let her do the “I told you so dance” and gloat about it.

When I was working on Personal Demon the editor insisted that a condom be used. I didn’t want a condom in the scene and countered. She countered. I was about to counter and realized that I really didn’t want a reputation of being a PITA author and really wanted more contracts with Freya’s Bower (Karen didn’t threaten me or anything), but most importantly, I realized that, Holy crap the lady had a point…kind of...sort of...

I went back and added the condom to the story. I still don’t like the condom being there. Karen saw the implications in the story that support the condom. I didn’t see them and felt that the condom solidifies what I never intended to be there.

So, why didn’t I put my foot down and refuse to allow a condom?

Because with editors you must pick your battles.

The presence of the condom, in my eyes, does change the story, but not to the point where I feel detached from the story. I still feel like it’s my story. I think it adds an element of premeditation that shouldn’t be there. Karen’s point is that the premeditation was always there. I can see that. I can see my point too. Bottom line: fighting over the condom just wasn’t worth it. It’s a short fun story and, generally speaking, I like condoms in erotic fiction.

Let’s go forward again with the editing for the second edition of Full Circle. The editor I’m working with at Freya’s Bower made a suggestion that I thought was a complete deal breaker. She wanted me to eliminate something from the story that I refused to do. Putting my foot down on this particular aspect was worth risking my contract being canceled. It was worth risking not getting another contract with Freya’s Bower. It was worth all feasible consequences. In my rebuttal (two typed pages explaining the importance of the item in question, reviewer feedback about the item in question, and reader feedback of the item in question) and she told me that it was fine. She still doesn’t like it and still wants it changed, but she’s willing to let me have my way with this.

We hadn’t had a dispute before that and we haven’t had one since. I respect her and she knows that. I feel that she respects me. Marci is just awesome like that.

I picked my battle here and I picked it carefully.

In these three cases we resolved the issue in a professional manner, but what happens when the editor and the writer can’t agree?

In some cases the issue is brought to the Executive Managing Editor. Basically, taken up with the editor’s boss and a decision is made and the editor and author are put back to work on the title. Sometimes a writer will be assigned another editor. In extreme cases, the contract is cancelled by the publisher or by the author.

I’m not willing to bother a boss or get accustomed to another editor over a condom. I’m willing to show deference to my editor’s experience in most cases. But every so often there’s something so critical to the story that it’s worth the risk of having to find another publishing house and editor.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Stewart and Cramer

I just finished watching the full Stewart and Cramer interview on www.thedailyshow.com. Normally, I don’t recommend getting news from Jon Stewart. Yes, he’s informative. Yes, he offers a unique perspective on world events. Yes, he’s entertaining. However, he’s a comedian. He’s not news.

But! This interview is exceptional.

If I could, I’d thank Cramer for agreeing to the interview. I gained some respect for the man. I feel like he was honest with Stewart. We cannot change the past. Experts will make mistakes. It’s positively refreshing to watch someone say, “We screwed up.” (NOT a direct quote) It’s even more refreshing to watch a professional say, “It’s legal, but it’s shenanigans and should be stopped. And, furthermore, I once participated in it.” (NOT a direct quote)

Bravo Cramer. Bravo for admitting your mistakes. Bravo for admitting CNBC could have done more. Bravo for listening and not blaming “loser homeowners”. Bravo, Jon Stewart, for being so damn insightful.

What happened to our news when I feel like in-depth reporting comes from a comedian? When did fancy graphics and an interactive map replace good solid reporting? When did the news become bloated with commentary and opinion and bereft of fact and investigation?

Hey, news networks! If I want commentary and opinion, I’ll read a damn blog. If I’m tuning into the news, I want news. Yes, interview people, but don’t assume they’re being honest. If Jon Steward and Stephen Colbert can pull clips from the past showing contradictions, why can’t you? And, for crying out loud, please stop playing the freaking commentary and opinion on the screen while the real news scrolls across the bottom.

Our economy is in shambles. I don’t pretend to understand how we got here, but with three 24-hours news networks and two 24-hour financial news networks, shouldn’t someone be reporting on the dirty backroom deals on Wall Street? Shouldn’t someone shine some light on the shady-but-legal artificial means of manipulating the market? Why does it feel like the people who most believe in a free market economy are the ones who artificially control and manipulate it?

Has Wall Street abandoned ethics? Did Wall Street ever have ethics?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Crazytrain off-loading at Crazytown

Hi again.

(Insert litany of excuses for not blogging)

With all the authors wigging out, tweaking out, flipping out, and flaking out in obvious and subtle ways, it makes a gal a little nervous to blog. Shit, what if I’m batshit insane too, but I don’t know it? LOL We all have our hidden crazy, right? Maybe we like the Saiyuki collector “action figures” to be a certain freaking way on our bookshelves and we’re a bit miffed because we currently don’t have the room to place them JUST SO. Or maybe we turn into Ultima "Bitch from Hell" when our working time is interrupted for stupid shit. (Are you bleeding? Is someone dying? Is something on fire? No? It’s not an emergency, fuck off.) Or maybe I’m showing a bit too much of my hidden crazy right now. LOL

If we live, work, and play on the internet long enough we will eventually type something that sounded oh-so-good at the time. A few years later and…shit…it’s still there. We hope it gets buried in the bowels of google, but it’s still THERE.

But, sometimes there is a group of people who tend to reveal their crazy a bit too often and too frequently. Authors are one of those groups of people. We start writing and all of sudden we start smoking (anyone seen my lighter…the one shaped like a coffee cup?), then we get way too many cats (the four in this house are fine btw and the crapload outside seem to be fine too.), then we start drinking (OMG Blue, the mandarin vodka was awesome!), then comes absinthe, then drugs, and finally we off ourselves.

Did I REALLY thoroughly think about this career path?

Speaking of career paths, while I was off working and dealing with life, I missed a pretty important announcement. Metaldog/Irondog (anyone know what penname she’s using for her work? I forgot to ask on the phone last night) has TWO contracts with TQ! How awesome is that? Good job, MD! We’re all cheering for you, dear. (Hope you thought about this career path.)

But, I thought I’d check in with everyone and let ya’ll know that I still have the same level of crazy that I’ve always had. So far, I’ve not experienced any alien abductions or revelations from God. My spiritual life is what it has always been: sometimes I go to Mass, sometimes I go to church, sometimes I go to drum circle, and sometimes I look at the wall and think I should be doing something else (playing a lvl 80 holy spec priest does not get one closer to God BTW). The dog next door, Sam, isn’t talking to me. There’s no grape Kool-Aid in the house and no one is getting castrated. Furthermore, I have no intention of walking away from my keyboard or genre. I’m just much, much slower than before due to this nerve problem that will, probably, never go away.