Posted On October 26, 2010 by Print This Post

A Debut Author’s Journey with Laurie London: On the Road with Revisions

Oh, my do we have a special post today! In addition to polling other new-ish authors about their revision processes, Laurie London is finally able to share her debut book cover. I pray for a cover half as good as this when I finally debut! Read on for a great lecture, RU crew.

To continue the Hero’s Journey analogy on the path to publication, eventually you move into the initiation portion of the trip, also known as Death and Rebirth. After being scrutinized by your editor and copy editor (sometimes multiple times), your old manuscript dies and a new one emerges.

I had prepared myself for the worst—a revision letter of epic proportions with changes on every page. However, knowing my editor already loved BONDED BY BLOOD gave me some peace of mind, and I was excited to make the story better. Turns out the worst didn’t happen. I didn’t get a revision letter—just a lovely, albeit epic, phone chat with my editor followed by marked up manuscript pages. She pointed out areas that were either confusing or needed a little something more and why. With comments to get me thinking, she left it up to me to figure out how to fix them, and I got to work.

Just before the first love scene, my cheeks began to heat up. Did she think it was too dramatic, too over-the-top, too, you know, much? I took a deep breath and flipped the page. Turns out she only had a few minor suggestions that made the scene much better. I was so relieved that I wanted to light a cigarette when I finished. Unfortunately, I don’t smoke.

Since I’m in the middle of the copy edit/line edit phase right now, it’s hard to get a decent perspective on the rest of the process for you, so I thought it’d be fun to hear from some other newish authors about a big or interesting change to a story that happened as a result of editorial revisions. Here’s what they had to say:

Delilah Marvelle While finishing up THE PERFECT SCANDAL, I copy and pasted something I shouldn’t have while doing my revisions.  I found that I couldn’t recover the last 50 pages I wrote and had only two weeks to deadline.  Once I was done freaking out, I hunkered down and rewrote the pages.  The story went in a completely different direction.  It is so much stronger.  Losing those 50 pages turned out to be the best thing to have ever happened to me and the story.

Elisabeth Naughton During the copy edit phase for ENTWINED, I found a paragraph that was totally redundant and didn’t need to be there. I contacted the CE and asked to have it deleted. Unfortunately, deleting that entire paragraph would have thrown off the layout for the next ten or so pages so they told me I couldn’t ditch it. They did, however, let me rephrase the paragraph so long as the number of lines matched that of the previous paragraph. I still don’t think the new paragraph was needed, but reworded it didn’t contradict earlier info in the book, so I guess you could say it worked. I don’t think anyone else will ever be able to spot that one glaring paragraph, but I will always know where it is like a giant red flag saying “You don’t need me!”

Jessa Slade In 2007, I entered my urban fantasy romance in an RWA contest with three chapters finished. I won; the final-round editor requested the complete; and I was terrified. I knew the full had to be good AND fast. Well, it was semi-fast and good-ish. The editor asked me to revise and resubmit. Right. Faster and gooder. I wrote the next version…And got The Call! And then I did a half dozen more revisions before SEDUCED BY SHADOWS came out in 2009. My editor saw potential — not perfection. To uphold my end of the dream-come-true, with every book I try to be faster and gooder.

Stephanie Draven In POISONED KISSES, my editor asked me to cut more than ten thousand words from the book in order to make room for a bonus story. It was a mad challenge and I thought it might kill me, but I did it by tightening the manuscript. Every extraneous word, phrase, or paragraph had to go. The end result killed many of my darlings, but left me with a very tight book and I was actually thrilled with the final result. It was a lesson to me!

Vicky Dreiling My editorial revisions for HOW TO MARRY A DUKE involved ramping up the hero’s bad boy qualities. Not only did this escalate the conflict between the hero and heroine, but his risqué teasing really made his characterization pop on the page.  Believe it or not, this did not mean completely recreating his character. For example, his back story remained the same. Also, he still retained some very honorable qualities, and those are the ones that convinced the heroine to take a risk on him.

Here’s mine: In BONDED BY BLOOD, my editor wanted to see an emotional turning-point play out on the page rather than happen off-screen. I was actually prepared for this possibility because when I originally wrote the story, my critique partner had suggested the same thing. At the time, I balked and convinced myself it wasn’t necessary. Looking back, I see I was avoiding something that would be difficult to write. With Kleenex in hand, I dug deep, made the change, and ended up with an emotional new scene that made me cry. Yes, it was hard, but the story is much stronger.

***

RU Crew, what other questions do you have about the revision process? Laurie will pop in today to chat so be sure to pick her brain and congratulate her on this amazing book cover!

Be sure to come by tomorrow when Jessica Barksdale Inclan talks about creative blocks and how to jump over them through different writing techniques!

Laurie’s Bio:

A graduate of Western Washington University with a BA in Business Administration and a former tester/programmer for a Fortune 500 company, Laurie London now writes from her home near Seattle where she lives with her husband and two children.

Her debut novel, BONDED BY BLOOD, A Sweetblood Novel, is tentatively scheduled for publication February 2011 by HQN. EMBRACED BY BLOOD, the second book in the series, is coming July 2011.

Her writing has won and been a finalist in several prestigious contests including the Beacon, the Emerald City Opener, the Marlene, and the Orange Rose.

She’s a member of GSRWA, RWA, RWAOnline, SCBWI, and two book clubs – one of which she helps coordinate live online author chats with readers from around the world.

When not writing, she can be found running, reading, or riding and showing her horse. Someday she hopes to qualify for the Quarter Horse World Show – that is, if her horse doesn’t get hurt again.

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22 Responses to “A Debut Author’s Journey with Laurie London: On the Road with Revisions”

  1. Hey Laurie,

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful cover with us. How do you like seeing your name so prominently displayed?

    How long did your editor give you to finish the edits? Also, have you come across any recommendations that don’t “feel” right?

    Thanks, Tracey

    Posted by TraceyDevlyn | October 26, 2010, 5:39 am
    • Thanks, Tracey, and thanks RU for having me back!

      Wow, let me tell you, Tracey, seeing my name on that cover for the first time was such a rush, I couldn’t quite believe it. Just you wait!!! I bet you’ll feel the same thing!

      Actually, my editor didn’t give me a specific date they were due, just told me it probably wouldn’t take more than a couple of weeks to do the changes. She was right. I think I had them done within the week, then I re-read the whole thing from start to finish and fiddled with a few other things along the way like word choice and sentence structure.

      I didn’t disagree with any of her comments and I think that’s because she has the same vision for the story and the characters. Her suggestions simply enhanced and clarified what I’d already written. I feel very fortunate, but as a realist, I know the next book might be different!

      Posted by Laurie London | October 26, 2010, 10:12 am
    • I just thought I’d add, while I agreed with almost all my editor’s suggestions there were a couple things I either kept the same or changed but in a different way. For example, she wanted to tone down a location in the story because she didn’t think it was important. But I knew I wanted to use it in a later book. So I explained why I wanted to keep it and then made it a little bigger, so it felt more important to what was on the page right then.

      She was editing what was on the page — rightly so — but she couldn’t know what else I had planned. A simple back-and-forth communication cleared it up.

      Posted by Jessa Slade | October 26, 2010, 3:27 pm
  2. Hi Laurie,

    Good luck with Bonded By Blood.

    How many rounds of editing do you do before submission? And, do you focus on one or two things per round, ie. structure/ character growth, or do you go through correcting everything that pops?

    Cia

    Posted by Cia | October 26, 2010, 6:07 am
    • Thanks so much, Cia.

      I went through two rounds of structural revisions with my agent before the manuscript was ready to go out on submission, then one round with my editor.

      When I first received the revisions, I quickly skimmed them to see what kind of work I had in store for me, then I set it aside to let it steep overnight. I find I’m fresher that way. Then, I did the easy things first, keeping in mind any global changes that needed to be made. With Vicky’s example above regarding the change to her character (a global change), as I’m doing the easier changes, I might find places to make a big change like that. I’ll either do it at the same time, or make a note of it and move on. After that part is over, I go back, screw on my thinking cap, and tackle the trickier ones. The new scene in my example above? That was my last change and I stewed on it for days as I worked on the others.

      Posted by Laurie London | October 26, 2010, 10:31 am
  3. Hi Laurie. Great post. And what a fantastic cover! Hot, hot, hot.

    I’m curious if you were able to apply any of the editor’s comments to your later books. I’d imagine the revision process becomes a whole new opportunity to learn.

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | October 26, 2010, 6:35 am
    • Thanks, Adrienne! I think it’s hot hot hot, too!

      The revisions process really does teach you a lot about writing. The way the timing worked out, I’d already turned in my second book before I received revisions from my editor on the first book, but I’m definitely applying what I’ve learned as I’m working on my third book. My agent is a ruthless (I say that lovingly, of course :lol: ) editor and I’ve learned a lot from her as well.

      Posted by Laurie London | October 26, 2010, 10:43 am
  4. I enjoyed this post and I love the cover!! Woohoo *fanning face* :)

    Posted by Christine | October 26, 2010, 6:37 am
  5. Laurie –

    I can’t tell you how happy we are to be displaying your debut cover! Love it, love it!

    My question was along the lines of Adrienne’s – basically what you learned to apply to new manuscripts. But did you have any revisions either now or earlier suggested by your editor or agent that made you want to slap your forehead and say, “I can’t believe I didn’t see that??”

    Can’t wait to get my hands on Bonded by Blood!
    K-

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | October 26, 2010, 12:47 pm
  6. Thanks, Christine and Kelsey, for the cover love!

    Kelsey, yes! Several were really dumb, obvious things that I thought I knew. I had a few sentences with horribly misplaced modifiers. When they were pointed out, I did want to slap myself for not seeing/catching them.

    Another thing that really stuck with me was an earlier change suggested by my agent. She thought my hero needed a confidant, someone to share aloud what he was feeling, rather than having everything happen internally through thoughts. I pondered how to do this as my hero is not a demonstrative guy who sits around, BSing with people. I expanded an existing scene with the heroine from book 2 and added a new one with a cumudgeonly fellow that the hero has known for years and considers almost a father-figure. I’m really happy with how it turned out. “…he took a deep breath and resigned himself to the inevitable Oprah-like scrutiny. Feelings and talking and sh*t.”

    When I wrote my second book, I remembered this and incorporated two different “confidant” characters for the hero.

    Now, as I read other books, I see this technique used a lot as a way to avoid too much internalization. A no-brainer? Yes, it is now!

    Posted by Laurie London | October 26, 2010, 1:12 pm
    • Laurie –

      Your answer makes me feel tons better – :). I like the idea that I’m not the only one slap[ing my forehead on occasion. And the confidant does make total sense. Now, I’ll have to go back to see how I’ve used it. I know three of my four MSs have confidants for the hero, but I’m not sure about one.

      Good Lord, it’s a miracle books ever get written as complex as it seems sometimes!
      K-

      Posted by KelseyBrowning | October 26, 2010, 1:48 pm
  7. I LOVE the cover! Hot, sexy…awesome.

    Good luck with this, and many, many more books to come.

    nm :mrgreen:

    Posted by althea preston | October 26, 2010, 1:42 pm
  8. Morning Laurie!

    Congrats on the great bookcover…..loooove it! =) Having gone through major revisions this past month or so with an editor/author team, I have to say they can change the heck out of your story, but boy do they know how to make it pop!

    Keep up the great work!

    =)

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | October 26, 2010, 2:39 pm
  9. It’s always great to see how other people have overcome writing challenges. It can be such a huge and unwieldy process that sometimes it seems impossible.

    And now I’m thinking, my hero needs a confidante! Head slap :)

    Posted by Jessa Slade | October 26, 2010, 3:33 pm
  10. Thanks so much, Althea and Carrie!!!!

    LOL Jessa! Aw, poor guy needs a friend.

    Posted by Laurie London | October 26, 2010, 3:38 pm
  11. Hey Laurie!
    Congrats on your debut! :grin:

    My heroes have confidants or best friends, but it doesn’t make writing their internal dialogue any easier. :cry:

    Thanks for enlightening us on the editorial revision process too. Best of luck with “Bonded by Blood”!!

    Posted by jennifer tanner | October 26, 2010, 4:35 pm
  12. Laurie: What a great post – so insightful! I can’t wait to read your book.

    Oh . . . and yeah . . . the cover guy is HAWT!!

    Posted by Robin Covington | October 26, 2010, 5:07 pm
  13. Thank you, Jennifer and Robin!

    Posted by Laurie London | October 26, 2010, 6:17 pm
  14. Laurie –

    Thanks to you, Delilah, Elisabeth, Jessa, Stephanie and Vicky for such fabulous information on revisions! Sounds like I have several books to put on my wish list :).

    Kelsey

    Posted by KelseyBrowning | October 26, 2010, 10:05 pm
  15. Thanks, RU folks, for having me on again and for ogling over my new cover! :mrgreen:

    Posted by Laurie London | October 26, 2010, 11:23 pm

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