Cover Reveal: Cat-tastic!

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I’m really excited to share this with all of you.

I’ve had several author friends tell me horror stories about getting good cover art. I was so relieved when I saw the cover art for The Girl and the Clockwork Cat. It was almost perfect. So much so that I even altered the book a tiny bit to match the art better while the cover artist tweaked a few other details. The result is a cover that I am quite delighted to share.

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You can also see the cover reveal with story description at the Entangled Teen blog (and marvel at how much the cat looks like my boy Neko below, only with fewer neurotic issues).

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If it catches your fancy, you can also add The Girl and the Clockwork Cat to your Goodreads list.

Enjoy!

Editors: How to Give and Take without Hair Pulling

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If you’re going the traditional route with your novel, finally getting a publisher can feel like winning a war, at least until the editing starts.

The editing process can feel like an insurmountable battle, especially with that first book. When you get the first round of edits from the editor at your publishing house, whose vision may or may not match your own, it can be a bit traumatic. You spent months, maybe years, on a work of fiction and now someone else thinks they can jump in overnight and be the new expert on your creation, telling you what does and doesn’t work and how they think you should change things.

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It doesn’t have to be a battle. In fact, if you start looking at it as a process of negotiation, of give and take with someone who wants your book to succeed almost as much as you do, it can be a lot less stressful and intimidating.

I learned from working with my wondrous beta readers that I should never respond immediately to feedback. I need to step away, tend my bruised ego, and breathe a little. Only then can I pick through the feedback I’ve been given with a practical eye to see what is and isn’t useful. When you get feedback from a professional editor at that publishing house you worked so hard to be accepted by, it feels different. You don’t want to be that author they talk about behind closed doors. The one whose ego is so big they can’t handle feedback and must make a dramatic scene about every change. The one they warn other publishers about.

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Here’s the secret. Nothing your editor says is written in stone. You need to be able to recognize where integrating changes from your editor could create an even better story. As the author, you also need to push back on changes you believe will be detrimental to the plot/arc/character development of the story you wrote.

My first round of edits was easy. When I received the second round of edits, I was devastated because I felt like some of the changes they were suggesting would ruin the book. I felt locked in because this was my publisher, not just a beta reader. I was so upset I broke down in tears and talked to my agent to make sure I wasn’t overreacting. She agreed with me and I composed a letter to the editor detailing what changes I thought were good and what changes I wasn’t willing to do, even if it meant losing my contract with them. I passed the letter through my agent first to make sure it was reasonable (always get another set of eyes when you are responding to something this emotionally charged) then sent it on to the editor.

Guess what happened then?

I learned a truly valuable lesson. Even with a professional editor, the editing process is a discussion, not one person cracking a whip while the other tearfully obeys. The letter triggered a round of negotiation. Whenever I had a solid explanation for why a change wasn’t right for the book, my editor jumped on board with keeping things as they were. Whenever his explanation for why something needed to change made more sense and, in many cases, strengthened the overall story, I happily made those changes. In the end, I didn’t do anything I felt was bad for the story and I discovered that my editor is pretty awesome.

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The relationship of author to any editor can and should be one of open discussion. It may seem intimidating at first. They have the experience and market knowledge you may feel you lack as a new author. The one thing they don’t have is the intimate understanding of your vision and that is as critical to the success of your book as anything they bring to the table. Don’t feel that you have to make a change because your editor said to. Explain your decisions and negotiate where appropriate. It’s your book. Their goal is to make your book sell, but they aren’t in your head and they don’t know what your vision is. Art is subjective. They can only make decisions based on their understanding of the book as they read it. Sometimes you should change things because those changes will improve the book. Sometimes you have to stand your ground and help them see your vision. The editing process is a conversation and one that can be quite fun if you remember you both have the same goal of making your book the best it can be.

Happy writing!

Mercy and Some Books

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In the name of mercy, I’ve decided to do a quick post so that the first thing you see when you come here isn’t a sad post about the loss of my old Thomas kitty. If you haven’t read it already, you should read I Remember You so that you can properly appreciate how merciful I am.

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However, because I am also super busy editing and writing and…you know, author-like stuff, I’m only going to take a minute to tell you about upcoming books from a couple of authors you should have on your watch list.

The Book of Kindly Deaths

For the middle-grade crowd, I offer you an upcoming dark tale by the mysterious Eldritch Black.

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The Book of Kindly Deaths is coming out this year through Spencer Hill Press. While you wait, enjoy his creepy Wall of Weird or visit his Books page for links to other stories available through Amazon.com.

The Masked Songbird

For the adult crowd, a quirky superheroine(?) novel by Emmie Mears.

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The Masked Songbird (Scottish Songbird, #1) will also be released this year by Harlequin E. Learn more about it and read some of Emmie’s shorter works on her Books page.

The Girl and the Clockwork Cat

Writers Conference: Pitching the Book

Lastly, my debut novel will be coming out through Entangled Teen. More on that (including official cover art and such) as it comes along, but you can add The Girl and the Clockwork Cat to your Goodreads list now if you want (which you do, right?).

Happy reading!

I Remember You

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Thomas,

I brought you home today. I must say, you look different. (Humor is the best medicine, right?)

But I remember you.

After

I was upstairs editing late when Michael called my name in that voice. You know, the one that makes everything in your chest fall into your gut. You had collapsed and gone into respiratory distress. The vet put you in an oxygen tank and gave you pain meds to make you comfortable. Your heart had broken.

Our hearts broke too. But I remember you.

I remember you as a kitten, born to a pregnant cat we inherited with our first house. Unexpected. A surprise that would lead to so many years of joy.

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I remember you helping us garden. We would have gotten twice as much done without you, but it would have been half as fun.

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I remember you walking us to the barn and back every time we took care of the horses knowing we couldn’t make it on our own. You were a great hunter. You could protect us from anything.

I remember how upset you were when we made you an indoor only cat because of the coyotes. It took many months and a very large outdoor enclosure to convince you we were old and wise enough to go to the barn on our own.

You had a grand life and you left it quickly. Those are good things for you. This is not for you. This is for those of us who will always remember you.

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Just Don’t

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Don’t ever sell a house you’ve lived in for fourteen years. It is hell on productivity, is extremely stressful, involves endless cleaning…

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and it really upsets the cats.

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OMG!

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If I hide my face it won’t happen.

If anyone has tips for surviving this process, I’m all ears.

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Now to sneak in some editing before the next showing.

Happy living!

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