How I’m handling edits on Vamped Up, Book 2 in the Vampires of Crimson Bay Series

I got the first round of edits back on Vamped Up yesterday. Actually, I got the commented manuscript back two days ago and the revision letter yesterday.

Before I’d ever reached this stage…before I’d snagged the best agent on the planet and the most dedicated editor…I wondered how authors viewed their edits. What’s the revision letter all about? What’s the process like? How long do you have until you have to send them back? Then what?

I can’t speak for everyone because, let’s face it, every writer is going to have a different experience with their editor or book and a different process for dealing with the mountain of revisions they inevitably receive.

But this is how I handle (HANDLED, AM HANDLING) it (WITH MY FREAK-OUT THOUGHTS IN PARENTHESES):

When I saw my editor’s email in my inbox, glaring in bold–Book 2 edits–with that little paperclip symbol, I freaked. I got butterflies. I took a really deep breath, and I opened the mail.

The email letter itself was very nice, yet very professional. She loved the book (THANK GOD!) but thinks there’s some issues in my first 100 pages that need to be worked over. (I ALWAYS STRUGGLE WITH THE BEGINNING, SO THAT WAS REALLY NO SURPRISE.) There were overall suggestions I absolutely agreed with. (DUH! HOW COULD I NOT SEE THAT SOLUTION BEFORE?!?) And suggestions that made my nose twitch. (HMM…NOT WHAT I INITIALLY HAD IN MIND…COULD THAT WORK?…COULD I MOVE THAT SCENE AND CONNECT THOSE TWO AND REWRITE THAT ONE AND MAKE IT SMOOTH AND FLUSH LIKE THAT’S THE WAY I ORIGINALLY INTENDED? WOULD IT HAVE THE SAME EFFECT? YES, WITH SOME WORK, IT COULD. AND IF SHE’S SAYING IT’LL MAKE MORE SENSE THIS WAY, I’LL GET IT DONE.) There was also the panic inducing mention of the due date: October 10th. (SURE, THAT SOUNDS LIKE A LONG TIME AWAY, BUT DID I MENTION I’M REMODELING MY KITCHEN? DID I MENTION THAT FOR THE NEXT THREE WEEKS–THREE WEEKS IN WHICH I COULD USE SOME PEACE AND QUIET–I’M GOING TO HAVE A TEAM OF CONSTRUCTION WORKERS STOMPING ABOUT, SMASHING INTO MY CABINETS WITH SLEDGEHAMMERS?) No problem. I’ll get it done (BEFORE THE DUE DATE, BECAUSE YOU ALWAYS SHOULD). And the book will be better for it.

Now when I dove into the book, I was looking for her comments in the margins. (THERE’S SO MANY OF THOSE DAMN RED THINGS! I’M TALKING MAYBE 2 BUBBLES PER PAGE.) I wanted to see where she tripped up in my writing, where the comments slowed down (meaning she was absorbed in the story) and where they picked up (places that still needed work). I noted those in my trusty composition notebook. I fixed some easy-do’s. I highlighted new changes I wanted to make, leaving little notes for myself in the margins. I got reacquainted with the novel and my characters. (WELL HELLO, RUAN, IT’S BEEN TOO LONG.)

That’s it.

The first run through is over. Took two days.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I opened the revision letter. It was four pages worth of suggestions, divied up by character. (ie: Ruan–fix XYZ on page 123. Dylan–go into more detail on her xyz from chap 8-12. Savage–what’s with his blablitty-blah issues in the beginning? Move that to chap x and flop that end part to the middle. Mesh it flawlessly.) (I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THE STRUCTURE OF THIS REVISION LETTER! SEE, I’M A HARD CORE PLOTTER. I CAN WEAVE A PLOT LIKE NO ONE’S BUSINESS. I CAN CREATE A STORY OUT OF A SIMPLE IDEA AND THROW MORE COMPLEX ISSUES AT THE CHARACTERS THAN THEY KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH. BUT WHEN IT COMES TO THE CHARACTERS, I TEND TO SPIN THEM ROUND AND ROUND ON MY PLOT STRING, AND FORGET TO TIE SOME OF THEIR ENDS TOGETHER. WHAT I MEAN IS, MY EDITOR POINTED OUT PLACES TO MAKE MY CHARACTERS STRONGER. WAYS TO BRING ABOUT MORE OF AN AH-HA MOMENT. WAYS TO TORTURE THEM WITH THEIR PAST. IT WAS EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED. NO, SHE DIDN’T DO THAT FOR INTERVAMPTION’S REVISION LETTER. MAYBE SHE’S REALIZING MY STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES AND WORKING WITH THEM. I DUNNO. ALL I KNOW IS, THIS IS GOING TO WORK AND MAKE VAMPED UP SHINE!) Seeing all the work that needed to go into Vamped Up and feeling a little overwhelmed, I re-formatted the letter. I double spaced it. (YES, IT WAS FOUR PAGES SINGLE SPACED!) I gave each character his/her own page. I took out the “I thinks” and the “You shoulds” and gave each instruction a 1,2,3 assignment. Now, I’ve got this really tight word doc straight from my editor about what I have to get done. It’s gone from “wouldn’t this be great here” to “get this shit done in order and make it snappy!” Just the way I like it. It’s now eight pages long. (HOLY F#@%& EIGHT PAGES…EIGHT PAGES…HOW THE HELL AM I GOING TO GET THIS DONE. I SUCK. I TOTALLY SUCK. SHITDAMNSHIT! PRESSUREPRESSUREPRESSURE! HEADEXPLOSION!)

Then I closed all documents and put it aside for the day.

I let my mind stew. (OR YOU KNOW, LET MY BRAIN DOWNSHIFT FROM PANIC TO IDLE.)

I cleaned out my kitchen cabinets and stayed up late watching the season premieres of Vampire Diaries (WHY OH WHY, DON’T ELENA AND DAMON HOOK UP ALREADY?!?) and America’s Next Top Model All Stars.

Today, tomorrow, the next day and the next, I’m going to be editing. Non stop. I’ll go down the list, tweak what needs tweaking, iron what needs smoothing. Then I’ll read through it again from the beginning to make sure it’s tight. Then I’ll download it to my kindle and read through it again, taking notes, to make sure it reads right. (THAT’S FOUR READS OF MY 400 PAGE BOOK IN THREE WEEKS, IF YOU DIDN’T CATCH IT.)

Then, and only then, will I send it back to my editor…on October 9th…a day early.

My Writing Spot


As promised, today the authors participating in the Meet an Author Monday blog hop will be showing you their workspace.

For my writing time, I decided to nestle myself into a corner of our living room. I have a beautiful view of grape vineyards outside my window (though you wouldn’t know it from the blindingly beautiful glow in the picture). I always have a cup of coffee to my left. My current read (Lauren Kate’s Torment) to my right. And if you look closely you can barely see the edges of stacks of paper on the far left…those are the Golden Heart entries I’m supposed to judge by March 1st. I’m a tad behind…

But my writing space is just that…*MY* writing space. No clutter. No bills. No stress. Just an orchid, my coffee, and writing materials. That’s where I work best. (I totally just typed “That’s where I work beer.” Freud would have a field day with me right now!)

On to the hop! Here’s how it works:

READERS:

•Follow as many authors as you like. Just follow the Linky list and hop from author to author. The idea is to find as many “new to you” authors as you can, and hopefully some great new reading material as well. Leave a comment as you hop from blog to blog! We’d love to chat with you!

AUTHORS:

•Follow the Meet an author Monday host (Cali Cheer Mom) along with any of the wonderfully talented authors on the list.
•You will need to enter your name and blog url into the Linky tool.
•Grab our super cute button and place it in a post. (THIS IS IMPORTANT!) If you don’t create a post for the hop, your readers won’t have a place to comment, and the hop will stop with you. So create a post, paste in the Linky code and start hopping!
•The purpose of the hop is to meet “new to you” authors and discover great new reads. Follow as many authors as you can. Leave a comment and introduce yourself!
•If you’d like to share the Linky list in a post on your blog ( Please do!) just follow the link and grab the code.

How Kristin Writes Part II

Okay. I’m about to get personal. Really personal. I’m about to post some pictures of what I’ve looked like when writing the ending of Immortal, Beloved: Book 2 in the Crimson Bay Series. (And think about how personal it is…my laptop screen is the only thing that sees this side of me…the troubled, contemplative, working side.)

Now, keep in mind…this ending has been in my head since early December…but for the life of me I couldn’t write it. Remember the performance anxiety post? Yeah. It’s plagued me for going on two months.

So finally FINALLY I buckled down, trudged through the first few paragraphs and got some GREAT writing done. I set my webcam to take an auto picture every fifteen minutes for an hour. Get ready, get set, for the progression of my writing hour. (And NO, sadly, this is not a joke.)


At first, I was ready. I was writing up a storm. The ideas were flowing. I even knew when the webcam went off. I think I wrote a few solid paragraphs at this pace. Not great. But not too bad.


Oh, and then came the irritated stage. You know, the stage when things aren’t going as smoothly as you’d like (to say the least) and the writing is total and utter crap? Yup. That’s my I’m never going to be able to fix the mess that is this chapter face. I start to get ticks. I bite my nails. Fluff my hair. Adjust my shirt. Change the channel on Pandora (Jack Johnson is my absolute favorite) or Facebook a minute or two.


And now I’m on a roll. The ticks have stopped. I’ve facebooked. I’ve tweeted. I’ve updated my blog and posted comments on others. Pandora is playing music I ABSOLUTELY LOVE. I’m in a groove. I have no clue when the webcam is flashing because, let’s face it, I’m not looking at the clock. And although it looks like I’m dreaming about very important things like when the next new episode of The Vampire Diaries is coming on, I’m not. I’m editing. Hacking away the dead parts of the chapter. I’m skimming for repetitious words or phrases or clumps of adverbs and adjectives. I’m making headway. I LOVE BEING A WRITER!!


What’s this a picture of? Oh, that’s right. You guessed it. I hit the wall. This is a picture of me–back hurting, hands cramping, arse numbing and ravenous for more coffee. This is me a few minutes before I get up, throw some laundry in, watch some Judge Judy, make a sandwich or run circles around my dog. (Wouldn’t I be bad ass if I could do all of that at once?)

I’ve learned that it takes me a bit to warm up to writing every day. Most of what I write sucks. It really does. But I go back, again and again, and again, every single day and smooth things over, ramp things up, and delete, delete, delete things that aren’t working. (DON’T BE AFRAID TO DELETE!) (Seriously, the Immortal, Beloved “cut-out” file is 72 pages long. The actual novel will end around 350.)

So that’s my progression. (And I should also add that I write for, on average, three hours per day…so this cycle repeats itself another two times. No joke.) What’s your progression look like? Take some webcam pictures and see! It’s great to take a look and laugh!

Round Here

I’ve decided to let you in on the run-down of my mornings as of late. I seriously need to start manuscript #3 sometime soon otherwise I might get sucked into the Internet realm and never return. To get you started with some mood music, take a quick listen to one of my all-time favorite songs, Round Here by the Counting Crows.

So here’s how my mornings go once Princess is in school and I’m perched in front of the keyboard. (Complete with crazy head-talk and all!)

“I really need to do some editing or tweak my synopsis…but a quick check of my email wouldn’t hurt. I’m bound to have a rejection or two and maybe (fingers crossed) a request for my manuscript.”
“Damn, one rejection. Oh, a youtube link from a friend! I must watch to lift my spirits!”
“Hmm…I’ve never heard of that band. They’re pretty good. I should google them.”
“Wikipedia shows they’re new out of the bay area. Love local bands. And they have a blog!”

(After 10 minutes perusing through their blog posts…)

“Their blog rocks! I wonder how my blog’s doing…I should do a post.”

(After 10 minutes writing a post…another 20 spent checking up on all my writing buddies blogs and commenting like the wind…then another 20 catching up on publishing buzz through agent blogs…)

“I should put up some linkie-dos like some other writers’ blogs…they’re all pretty hip, and hey, I’ve always wanted to be hip! But wait, in that sidebar is a facebook badge. I wonder if any of my ‘friends’ have anything interesting to say?”

(Pound keys over to facebook…)

“Oh look, more requests to be my ‘friend’. I’m popular. Finally. I must look at what this long-lost elementary school acquaintance has been up to all this time.”

(After getting sucked into the facebook stalking vortex that is oddly satisfying, I check my own profile page)

“Hey! Look at that! Someone tweeted their post onto the facebook wall. I really need to learn how to do that. I should check my twitter account.”

(Logging into Twitter…but alas ‘too many tweets’…must fill coffee cup and try again…)

“Man, look at all these twitter posts. These people are part of some secret Twitterati, hell-bent on world domination through endless tweets. Holy-croley. I should twitter my little heart out to catch up.”

(After 5 minutes retweeting posts and coming up with something creative to say about what I’m doing, then another 10 minutes looking through tweet history, I sit back. And take a deep breath.)

“What was I suppose to be doing again? Oh yeah, editing and tweaking my synopsis. Right.”

(Open word doc and stare at the cursor speed. It’s slowing down…or maybe that’s just my eyes blurring)

“I wonder if I have any requests sitting in my inbox? Oh look!”

And that, my friends, is how the vicious cycle goes Round Here.