Friday, May 30, 2014

The Dark Deliciousness of Working with Editors by Kat Ross

Before I found a publisher, I had some vague notion that the process involved an experienced editor coming along with a magic pen and basically fixing all the mediocre things in my manuscript. I mean, yes, I expected to do some rewriting. Delete scene here, add one there. Everyone complains about the hideous pressure of rewriting under deadlines, so I wasn't completely naïve. But I guess I imagined that my editor would also be more like my high school English teacher, smoothing out awkward sentences and polishing my story until it shone.

Well, I soon discovered that's my job. I was going to have to whip this puppy into shape alone.
Oh boy.

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I'm still new at all this, so maybe some editors leap into the trenches. Mine (who is wonderful, by the way) just sent me my manuscript back with notes in the margins. She didn't order me to accept every single suggestion, just what I agreed with. As it turned out, I agreed with basically everything. And it was a ton of work. I had to murder characters that I adored, and develop others who were necessary but half-baked. I slashed and burned entire chapters that I had slaved over for weeks. By the end, my head was spinning  a little and I wasn't entirely sure what I'd done, but I felt pretty confident that it was a lot better than what I'd started with. Having an intense deadline looming over me helped, because I couldn't afford to agonize or second-guess, I just went with my gut and didn't look back.

And I think that's how it should be. The beauty of a good editor is that they have the perspective to view your story from a distance (which, when you've been living with something for so long, is not a vantage point that's available to you anymore). A good editor will point out the big stuff, as well as the small stuff. They'll gently break the news that some of your favorite material isn't really serving any purpose in the narrative. They're like an architect, helping to fine-tune the blueprints to your dream house.

But the sweat that goes into hammering those boards together? That's all you.

Kat's debut, Some Fine Day, comes out July 1 from Strange Chemistry. You can find her on Twitter and her website.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

First Lines or Last Lines by Jessica Therrien

A lot of readers look for that first line. I’ve never been one of them. What I look for is the hook at the end of the chapter. So I guess you could say I’m kind of a sucker for last lines.

I think the TV addict in me has gotten sort of used to those cliffhanger endings. Remember LOST? After every episode my jaw would hang open for a solid minute. Are they really going to make me wait a week to find out what happens? Now shows like The Vampire Diaries do the same, which is something (in my opinion) that sets it apart from the book series it’s based on.

These days everyone wants everything to run at a faster pace…their phones, computers, and yes…their books. You have to admit, Wuthering Heights is a bit slow compared to The Hunger Games ;)

My point is (and again, in my opinion…) last lines are far more important than first lines. They make a book page-turning, and that’s what readers want.

Here are some last lines from my books and from two other popular YA books:

“'You’ve been hidden long enough,’ Dr. Nickel interrupted. ‘You have to face your future eventually, and it’s time to let the prophecy unfold. We need you.’”
 -Oppression, Jessica Therrien

“He looked at me, snapped his fingers, and flames shot up the trees. Everything was burning.
            I woke to the feeling of fire all around me.”
 -Uprising, Jessica Therrien

“At some point we folded into each other like flower petals pulling close together to endure a cold night.”
 -Uprising, Jessica Therrien

“Then, with a gasp I can’t contain, I shift my hand forward, and my blood sizzles on the coals.
            I am selfish. I am brave.”
 -Divergent, Veronica Roth

“About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him—and I didn’t know how potent that part might be—that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.”
 -Twilight, Stephenie Meyer

What do you prefer? Suck-you-in first lines or page-turning last lines? 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tuesday Teaser: ASCENDANT by Rebecca Taylor

For my “teaser” post, I thought I would share the selection from ASCENDANT that I recently read at the Colorado Book Award Finalist Reading. The winners will be announced at 2 p.m. on Friday, June 13, 2014, at the Hotel Jerome, 330 E Main St, Aspen, CO 81611—Wish me luck!! This scene is from chapter eight and Charlotte is just getting ready to meet her uncle for the first time:

I followed Emerick down a dimly lit hall connecting the study to his private offices. The narrow hall was lined with oil portraits illuminated with individual brass art lamps. A few of the portraits I recognized right away: Einstein, Beethoven, and George Washington, an odd portrait to be hanging in an English gentleman’s home. Others I recognized when I caught sight of their nameplates: Emerson, Thoreau, and Henry Ford. Hanging just outside his office door was a strange portrait that caught my attention more than any of the others. A man sat on a throne with his face obscured by a dramatic mask, half comic, half tragic. The nameplate read Sir Francis Bacon aka Shake-Sphere. 
I stopped and starred at the portrait. “Mr. Wriothesley?”

Emerick was just opening the door. He stopped and turned, “Yes?”

I pointed to the nameplate, “What does this mean?”

He looked to the plate and then back to me. “What does it mean to you?” Emerick gazed at me. Like in the morning room the day before, his expression was confusing—his mouth was smiling but his eyes were scrutinizing. Measuring me. Teachers had the same look when they were waiting for you to disappoint them with the wrong answer.

It didn’t mean anything especially to me, but it had struck me. The aka Shake-Sphere reminded me of Shakespeare. And anything even remotely related to Shakespeare grabbed my attention.

“Um…” being asked outright, I felt foolish for the association I had made. I shook my head and shrugged. “I guess it just made me think of William Shakespeare. I’m sure that’s not what it meant.”

He stared a moment longer before turning on his heels. “I am sure you are correct either way.” He entered the office ahead of me.

He didn’t answer my question. Either he thought I was too stupid or, like most adults, he was trying to inspire me to figure it out for myself. Nearly every time I had tried to get an easy answer from my mother she would reply, Knowledge is sweeter found than given Charlotte. From spelling words to math facts she would answer, Knowledge is sweeter found than given Charlotte. And then I would stomp off to either the computer or the reference section of her private library depending on what I needed. Even though I had come to automatically expect it, my mother’s stock answer to my every question always irritated me to no end. It seemed such a normal way to be with your mother, irritated with her for not giving you what you want when you want it.

I wish I had known I would lose her.

I glanced at the portrait once more and memorized the inscription on the brass plate. Francis Bacon aka Shake-Sphere. Emerick Wriothesley didn’t know me. If he thought I was even remotely like his own son he might be surprised to know I wasn’t stupid or lazy. I would figure out for myself what it meant.
About Rebecca Taylor:

Rebecca Taylor is the young adult author of ASCENDANT, a recently selected finalist for the 2014 Colorado Book Award. The second book in the Ascendant series, MIDHEAVEN, will release in 2014 and her standalone novel, THE EXQUISITE AND IMMACULATE GRACE OF CARMEN ESPINOZA, will be available in 2014. You can find more information about her work at: 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Deliciously Dark Tresa Billings by Wendy Russo

The hero of January Black, Matty Ducayn, lives in an orderly place, where people live under an unspoken expectation of good behavior, self-policed by snobs. He’s a free thinker, and as such, a social pariah. He has no friends, which doesn’t bother him much, but when he meets people like him, he gravitates toward them.

The Hill’s elite denizens don’t touch dirt. They don’t touch things that have touched dirt. They don’t pick flowers, eat fruit from the trees, or walk on the grass. They certainly don’t maintain their own gardens, which is why they employ a very large landscaping crew.

Matty meets gardener, Iris Locke, early in the novel while she and another landscaper, Tresa Billings, are planting trees. Tresa manages to drop all of their hand tools on the ground while unloading, and Matty approaches them to help. Despite Iris and Treasa’s concern of Matty getting into trouble, he helps them plant fifteen trees that afternoon, in defiance of everyone who sees him.

While Iris lives on The Hill, in the laborer campus, she isn’t burdened with the societal expectations of the ruling class. She lives in a working class community, unified by their good fortune to secure labor contracts with The Hill, and their mutual, and quiet, dislike they have for the hand that feeds them. Matty not having friends makes sense in his situation. In Iris’, it would be natural for her to have many, but she doesn’t.

Iris is a free thinker, which part of why Matty likes her so much, and also an introvert. She’s friendly, but her only real friends were Julia, her roommate, and Julia’s boyfriend, Josh.

Treasa was introduced as someone as a work partner, someone that she spends most of her time with and grew the trust. She really wasn’t meant to be more than that. But, she’s a clever girl. As time went on, she began inserting herself into action of the story in ways I never expected. She displayed jealousy, bitterness, cunning, and snark. Treasa even managed to worm her way into the main plot.

She starts her journey as simply Iris’ coworker, but by the end, she reveals that she’s a vitally important piece in the story’s motor. For my part, I decided early on to stay out of the girl’s way. When you meet her, you might agree that’s the best way to approach someone like Treasa.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Devil Made Me Do It by Shawna Romkey

The Devil Made Me Do It
Book Two: Speak of the Devil series
By Shawna Romkey

Coming July 1 - Go to hell!

The demons strike back!

Lily is working with the angels to stifle the last of the demon outbreaks and to figure out how to stop the Silence of God, so life can get back to boring normality. But all hell breaks loose when she’s stolen from school and brought face to face with the devil himself. Lily has to find her way back home to Luc, crack the prophecy that breaks the curse silencing God, and figure out how she and Luc can ever really be together; but Lucifer has other plans for her that don’t include her ever getting out of Hell in tact.

Speak of the Devil, Book One in the series, is currently on sale for the Kindle for just $2.99. Get it read before The Devil Made Me Do It comes out!

Buy it now on Amazon.

Also, I’m currently doing a Book a Day in May Giveaway! Click here for your chance to win a different book for the rest of the month!

About me:
Shawna Romkey, teacher by day, writer by night (or day or whenever anyone leaves her alone long enough to get some work done). Bestselling YA / NA paranormal author of Speak of the Devil. The second in the series, The Devil Made Me Do It, will release July 1.

Shawna is from Kansas City, Missouri, but resides in Nova Scotia in a house by the sea with her husband, two sons, and currently two dogs but that’s subject to change depending on the local homeless dog population.

For more info, check out her website at