In the Interim

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The last week has been a little crazy with adjusting to the idea of having a book out, trying to keep track of social media and writing up guest blog posts and interviews. Outside of that, I’ve been trying to edit the next book,

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get Teagan established with a vet in our new town,

No. Not the vet!

No. Not the vet!

get my horses in to a vet for their dental appointment,

Say what??

Say what??

prepare for a book release party,

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and manage all the other little details of life (like going to urgent care for a cat bite). I hope to have something more fun up on my blog soon, but in the interim, if you’re curious about my book, The Girl and the Clockwork Cat, you can follow some of the reviews and guest posts on my blog tour here managed by the fabulous YA Bound Book Tours.

Happy adventuring!

Not a Clockwork Dog

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The release of my debut novel, The Girl and the Clockwork Cat, rushed in on the heels of a whirlwind move from a house we’d lived in for fourteen years. Fourteen years is exactly long enough to forget how dreadful moving is and to accumulate a ton of stuff.

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With the move and all the prep work for the book release, I barely had a free minute for anything else. This made it the perfect time to adopt a dog. (There may be something wrong with me).

Meet eight-month-old Teagan.

Teagan

In a mere couple of weeks, he’s become an integral part of the family. Even the cats are reluctantly accepting him into their domain (possibly in the hopes of dispatching him when we aren’t looking).

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Don’t look behind you.

Teagan puts out a lot of effort to fit in. He’s learned not to be too forward with the cats and picked up the idea of Frisbee like a champ (though he’s still having a little trouble with the idea of giving the Frisbee back).

Frisbee

You want me to what?

He’s gone on several adventures around the new neighborhood with us and even showed off his excellent manners at brunch on the patio of a local restaurant.

Waiting for the drop.

Waiting for the drop.

Last night, we decided to have a nice dinner in to celebrate the book release. Overwhelmed with the excitement in the house, Teagan helped himself to a lovely cut of uncooked steak off the counter…

Ashamed…kind of.

He did make amends by helping cook in a rather unexpected torrential downpour, possibly in hopes of getting another go at the steak.

Grillin' in the rain.

Grillin’ in the rain.

He may not be a cat and he may not always get things right, but he’s a fantastic addition to the family.

Welcome home Teags. I’m hoping you’ll have many more chances to snatch a celebratory steak off the counter.

 

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!

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