Nervous About Edits

Antique pen and inkwell

I received an email from my publisher, WordFire Press, on October 25th asking for the “current final manuscript” of Griffin’s Feather. They’d assigned an editor to the project, and were ready to move forward with the publishing process.

Instead of being elated or excited, my main emotion was nerves. Loads of nerves. So serious, I grabbed my office trash can in case I needed to puke. Even though the book had already been acquired and signed for, I had the following thoughts rampaging through my psyche:

What if it’s not good enough?

What if the editor hates?

What if the editor hates me?

Do I have time for another edit pass on my own?

What will the world think of me when this worthless drivel hits the stands?

What if someone thinks I faked my way through writing the novel?

What will my friends think?

What will my family think?

AAAaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!

… Yeah… A serious amount of impostor syndrome hit me full in the face.

It shouldn’t have, but that was my reaction.

I stepped away from the keyboard for about half an hour to get a little distance and let me process things. I’ve been through the editorial process before, but only on shorter works and non-fiction. I’ve been in a critique group for over a decade. I know how to “take a hit” and keep on truckin’. I know how to receive feedback and input and improve my work. I know all of this. I rarely feel this. Thus the pounce by the impostor demon. He snuck up on me, rolled a natural 20, and stabbed me square between the shoulder blades.

Only by getting some distance did my nerves calm down enough for me to send off the manuscript to WordFire.

The nervousness came and went and mostly settled down. I’d wake up in the middle of the night with the vision of my editor standing over me with a bloody quill in his hand stabbing down at me. I’m not saying my editor is a bloody-splattered, quill-wielding serial killer (how’s that for a character idea?), but that’s the impression my subconscious built for me.

Until yesterday, I’d actually had no interaction with my editor. He lives in the Seattle area. I’m in Colorado. It’s kind of hard to sit down over coffee to talk about the novel. Sure, there’s Skype, but it’s a bit early for that to fire up for us.

Things changed for me and my weak, splintered, emotional brain when I received an email from the editor yesterday. He’s been in the biz since 1976. That tells me he’s experienced and manged to stick through things for decades. A total asshole or novel-shredder rarely lasts that long. At least, that’s what I’m reading into it.

He also told me that he’s written quite a few short stories and has a novel under consideration at a Big Five publisher. This tells me that he gets writers. That helped put me at ease.

Here’s a quote from his email, “I always keep in mind that this is your story, and it’s your name on the cover.” You have absolutely no idea how great this made me feel. I’ve had an “editor” (loosely using that term) in a critique group before, and that “editor” made demands, requirements, and “must do actions” against me and my novel. Perhaps that’s where my nerves come from because I had a critique partner put on the “editor hat” and tear me up rather than work with me to help the words become better.

He closed out his email to me with, “I’m looking forward to hearing back and to working with you to make “Griffin’s Feather” shine (and sell).” The phrase “working with you” (my emphasis) damn near made me cry from the release of emotional pressure I had built up for myself. Know that I have a partner (and a well experienced one!) standing next to me to guide me through things makes me happy enough to almost try and do a back flip…. almost.

I know this has been a long and rambly affair of a blog post. I’m trying to come up with a pithy theme or a “you can do it!” message for those out there.

I guess I’ll close by saying there are people out there who on your side even when you don’t know it.

…. I’m also really looking forward to jumping into the nitty-gritty work and seeing what ideas my editor has for me to improve my work.

Overdue WorldCon Report and Publishing Announcement

MidAmeriCon IISo…. WorldCon was over three weeks ago, and I’m just now getting around to this. Most things are a hazy memory at this point, so this’ll probably be the world’s shortest WorldCon wrap-up report.

The drive from Colorado to Kansas City was long and interesting. We got a little lost at one point (there is a Hays, KS, and a Hayes, KS. Make sure you know the difference!). Not a big deal. It only added 45-ish minutes to the overall drive. Then again, I was a passenger all the way there and back, so I didn’t worry too much about the drive time. (PS: A huge thanks to Patrick for driving all the way there and back!)

Once there, we got settled in and prepped for several days of con and BarCon and festivities and networking and panels and all sorts of great things.

I got to run into old friends, make some new friends, network with some folks (old and new), and just have a great time. The panels I went to were really good (except for one, more on that later). The Hugos were surprisingly pleasant to attend even though I really didn’t want to go. I’d been full up on my people quota and wanted some downtime. Shannon and MB talked me into coming down from my hotel room and heading off to the Hugos with them.

I had some great meals with great friends. I’d love to try to list everyone off here, but I know I’d forget someone possibly offend them. To avoid accidental offense, I’m just going to say it was great breaking bread with everyone around the various tables of the con.

BarCon was BarCon. It went as I expected (except for one thing, more on that later). Meet ‘n’ greets with new friends, old friends, and just friends in general. It was a great time being a social butterfly and floating around with a drink in my hand. So many faces and names flash by in my memories. Many of the names I remember. Some I don’t. After all, it’s been three weeks. I had a great time chatting with everyone I ran into. Again, no names to dodge that “offense bullet.” If you ran into me and chatted, just know that I had a great time for the either brief moments we were together or the longer times we had sitting down.

My main disappointment was that I didn’t get a chance to run into Neil Clarke or Kate Baker. They were high on my list of folks to track down and hang out with, but it just wasn’t in the cards. Ah well. Such is life at a large con.

A few things stood out in my memories:

Hanging out with Teri and Dave Robison on repeated occasions made for wonderful conversations and productive idea generation on all sides of the conversation. Also, the true compassion and depth of love Dave shows for everyone around him makes me proud to call him a true friend.

Mary Robinette Kowal broke my brain. Innocently on her part, but it still happened. Here’s what happened. I was talking with Alasdair Stuart (host of PseudoPod) and Marguerite Kenner (hostess of Cast of Wonders) and was tracking the very cool conversation well despite being used to hearing both voices come out of my car stereo. Then Mary Robinette started speaking to someone behind me, and I didn’t know she was there. It shutdown my brain. Hard. The cognitive dissonance of three podcast voices (Mary Robinette is part of the Writing Excuses team) in my brain and only two being part of my active conversation just broke me. I recovered quickly enough, but man… What a mental feat that was!

The drive home was fast. Then again, I was snoozing on and off for part (most?) of it, so that helps. 🙂

Ok. Now that I’ve given over all thoughts and some specifics, there are two things I earmarked as “more on that later.”

There was a panel (forget the topic now) I’d been looking forward to. The moderator arrived right as the panel was supposed to start. She proceeded to allow the panelists to introduce themselves (which is normal and expected), and then she took the panel in a sideways direction away from the description of the topic and refused to allow the other panelists to speak. It wasn’t a diatribe or screed or soap-box speech. She decided she was the subject matter expert on the off-base topic, and just went with it. She also… talked… really… really… slow… and… had… to… stop… every… three… or… four… words… to… catch… her… breath. After about 8 minutes of this, I got up and left. I couldn’t take it anymore. I don’t know if the actual panelists had a chance to speak or not. If you are moderating a session at a con, it should be an absolute requirement for you to go read this post by Chuck Wendig and scroll down to #5 on the list!

WordFire Press Contract HeaderNow for the Big News of WorldCon (for me, at least). At the Friday night BarCon, Kevin J. Anderson approached me about a book that I’d submitted to his publishing house (WordFire Press) shortly after last year’s WorldCon. He gave me a verbal offer of publication for one of my novels on the spot. Wow! I was hoping something like that would happen, but I rarely set myself up to expect something like that will happen. This made my WorldCon even more special than it already was. I loved hearing the words from KJA, “We’d like to publish your book.” I’m not sure who was smiling more, me or him. What made the deal even sweeter was the fact that Dave Butler (the WordFire Press acquisitions editor) made a huge deal about it all weekend. As a matter of fact, the entire WordPress team made me feel at home, welcome, and special throughout the con. It really made me feel like I’d finally gotten to the next level with my writing. Here’s to a long and happy relationship between WordFire Press and myself! *clinks glasses*

Professional Editor

First off, a bit of distant back story. I’ve written a trilogy that is trunked. I consider it my “practice trilogy.” It’s not going to go anywhere for so many different reasons. However, these three novels allowed me to get where I am today as a writer. A writer that can sling a great story.

While that trilogy was a sword & sorcery style fantasy series, I’ve started up a new series that is firmly within the urban fantasy genre. Why the switch? Because I had the idea hit me, and it demanded I write it. I also wrote some test material with the main character, and it was fun to write. I haven’t had a fun writing experience in a long time, so I had to run with this for my own sanity.

As it turns out…. if you have fun writing something, people have fun reading it. My critique group gave me a whole slew of improvements to make to the story. I had a few beta readers expand on those suggestions, and this is the strongest novel I’ve ever put out.

So I hired a professional editor. If the book is so “strong” why would I need any editor? Two reasons:

  1. The book was shy of a low-end word count for urban fantasy by about 20,000 words. Maybe more.
  2. This is currently my best hope (but not my last hope!) for getting a novel published. I want to put my absolute best foot forward on this book.

Now for a bit more backstory that is more recent. Back in March, Pikes Peak Writers had Stuart Horwitz come speak at one of our Write Brains (and I hope we manage to get him back for the 2016 Pikes Peak Writers Conference!) Stuart is the author of Blueprint Your Bestseller and Book Architecture: How to Plot and Outline Without Using a Formula. When he spoke at our event, I could tell he really knew his stuff. He’s also the head dude over at Book Architecture. When I checked out his books (I have read both and they are excellent!), and his services at Book Architecture, I knew I wanted to work with him.

I reached out to Stuart a while back, and we chatted via email about working together. When I had my finances wrangled to the point where I could afford the edits, I hit Stuart up and we started the process. Within a month, I had his feedback in hand and a phone call arranged for discussing the written feedback.

I just finished getting off the call from Stuart, and he was fantastic. Not just on the call, but all the way around. I’m very happy with the feedback, information, suggestions, insight, ideas, and so on Stuart provided to me. He’s someone I would gladly work with again on a future effort, and I think everyone that is “this close” to finishing the polish on a novel should reach out to him.

You remember that 20,000 word gap I mentioned that’s in need of filling? The #1 directive I gave Stuart is that I need to fill in those words without “padding” or “watering down” the story.

He nailed it.

His ideas for what the book is lacking will easily let me get closer to the industry accepted word counts for an urban fantasy novel.

Enough of me blathering on here about this. You have links above to do the clicky thing on. I have a novel to dive into and get some edits and additions put into place.

Thanks for everything, Stuart!