Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The value of an editor.

I’ve heard horror stories about editors hijacking stories and I’m very happy to say that I've not had to deal with that special flavor of hell. Full Circle has had an awkward life and due to that life, three editors touched it. Full Circle was originally handled by a publisher that closed. 

As frustrating as that experience was, I wouldn't trade it away. I had the pleasure of working with Tami Parrington. She may not appreciate me saying this, but Tami is a great editor for new authors. Her guidance comes with gentleness. She pushed me to flesh out the story that I’d hidden beneath another story. When I submitted Full Circle it was a paltry 8,000 words. With Tami’s help and three months of work, we had a 47,000 word novel and Pebble. My readers love Pebble. “Have him talk to the bird,” she said. I thought she’d gone insane and I thought the idea was even more insane, but I tried it. We could always delete it if it didn’t work, right?  Byron needed something to talk to move the story from his head. I wrote the scenes with Pebble and I had to admit it worked. As the story grew, Pebble became a real and valuable character.

The next editor was K. M. Frontain. We did not get to work together long. Personal reasons that I do not think would be appropriate for me to discuss pulled her away from her editing duties. I harbor a great deal of respect for K. M. Frontain. During the short time we worked together she helped me let go of some crutch words, tighten the POV, and nix some passive voice. These issues still haunt me, but I'm improving. 

The final editor was Marci Baun. In a radio interview I summarized Marci’s style as a “polite bootcamp”. That was an off-the-cuff comment, but I stand by it. She’s sharp, firm, and polite. She didn't let me cut any corners at all. All authors try to cut corners and all editors should stop them. We don’t mean to cheat anyone, but we get lazy like anyone else. She looked behind the scenes and had me breathe a bit more life into the background and the tertiary characters. She helped me flesh out the world.

The story doesn't feel piecemeal. It feels and reads like a single solid story (as it should because that’s what it is). Although these editors have left their mark on the story, there are no shifts in style or voice. My editors let Full Circle be Full Circle. They let the story be mine. I kept the story cohesive.

The first publisher for Full Circle closed and I still have not been paid any royalties. I’ll never see the money. It was a good seller too and I’ll admit that whole experience stings; however, the story is better now than it was before.  

As an author, I hope for three things from an editor. The first is that they help me write the best story I can write. The second is that I learn something from them. My final hope is that they let the story be mine. My editors exceeded my expectations.

If you read Full Circle, I hope you enjoy it. It's available through Freya's Bower, the Kindle store, and for the Nook, and others. It is for mature readers only as it contains sexual content and violent content. 

Full Circle Blurb:

In a war-torn world, a group of vampires struggle to reclaim their past glory. One of their own is missing. Weakened by solitude, the leader of the vampires, Kendrick, must find Byron, his covenant mate, before the pain of isolation kills them both. However, locating Byron is the least of the vampires' problems.

The chaos of the world's death rattle breeds suffering, death, and pestilence as well as a call for vengeance. The opposing sides of good and evil never looked so similar. A war that began with the dawn of time has enjoyed a respite. That respite is ending. Vampiric history, human history, and the lives of two lovers are about to come full circle.

Full Circle Excerpt  (Rating PG):

Naked as the day he was born, Byron climbed over a piece of rubble that was once some kind of building. First, clothes. Second, food. Third, get rid of the heebie-jeebies from the freak. Spotting what looked like it was once a clothing store that hadn't been fully picked clean, Byron made his way through the pitted streets. This was why he liked the remains of tiny towns. Usually the bulk of the people had died off from illness or starvation. Less people meant less competition for whatever remained. Lately, he’d become irritated by other people. He just wanted to be left alone and allowed to make his way in the world.

The drawback to small towns was that large cities, like New York, had used the time since the war to recover and rebuild. Getting a decent meal, a solid roof, and clothing was easier in places that had begun to rebuild. However, scavengers, like Byron, found an upside to being distanced from infantile recovery. The entrepreneurial spirit still lived in large and small towns, and sometimes people would use barely safe buildings to start businesses. When those businesses failed—and they would fail just as surely as the
building would crumble around the store and the supply chain lost viability beyond a few initial shipments—other people could pick over the dregs.

Byron couldn't remember a lot of the war that ripped apart the Earth. It was centuries ago, but he must have lived through it. He knew he lived through it because when he
woke up in the Red Cross tent, he was an adult. The medical staff told him that he was a victim of some kind of explosion and had been in a coma for a month. He often wondered: shouldn't he have some kind of scar from the explosion?

A single raven flew overhead.

He dug through the rubble of the store and found an old display of jeans. He gave the denim a solid tug, hoping the fabric was young enough to be viable and not dry rotted. The cloth held strong. This would work. What was that back in the church? “I know what you are.” Isn't that what Kendrick said? “I know how old you are.” Well, that would be freaking nice because Byron didn't know. “Don’t you ever thirst?” Hell yeah, he was thirsty. The whole world was thirsty. Thirsty for water, life, and some form of hope. It had been…damn…how long had it been?

Byron dusted off the pair of jeans. He shook them out and sent a spider flying through the air. It had been around three hundred sixty years since the war, and they were just now getting some semblance of normal weather. The rain stopped burning about seventy-five years ago.

He buttoned the fly on the jeans and hoped this store carried more than just pants. Away from his own kind? What did Kendrick mean by that? What exactly was “his kind?” More people living in the manner of beasts? Byron had enough of that. Everyone was eking out some kind of existence in an artificially revived ancient agricultural society turned on its ear. No, that wasn’t entirely accurate. One terribly fractured society consisting of a mish-mash of nomadic, agrarian, and industrial traits turned on its ear…if it could find its ear.

He found some socks and a pair of hiking boots. This was a damn fine find. He felt a bit like a vulture picking off someone else’s failed attempt at normalcy, but even vultures
had to live, right? There was no telling where the next closest find would be. Most textiles fell to mold, mildew, dry rotting, and various other nasty things. Perhaps he should set up some kind of signal to alert the other vultures of the world? No, that might alert Mister Scary Fangs of his location.

A raven landed on a piece of rusted rebar in front of Byron.

Byron spoke to the bird. “What do you want with me?”

The raven pecked at the rebar.

“I have no food for you.” He didn’t have food for himself, much less for the omnivorous bird. Omnivorous. “And you aren’t eating me.”

The raven tilted its head.

“I’m not dead yet. Peck once at my eyes, and you’ll be my dinner. Got it?” He gripped his forehead. He was talking to a bird. That settled it. He was losing his sanity to solitude.


Tami Parrington said...

You know I will always hold a special place in my heart for you, my little cupcake. :)

IM Cupnjava said...

As will you in mine, Tami.