Monday, February 20, 2006

Monday Musings

So I'm officially signed up with an agent today! I'm wondering if my head can get any bigger. I can't wait to go to NY and say, "I'm heading to the city this week to see my agent." Dontcha know. Where's my tiara, Dakota? LOL.

Of course, this means nothing for the time being. She has my book and loves it, and will send me a two page list of things to work on tomorrow, lol. (She wondered if I would be able to finish by May. She doesn't know how fast I work, lol.) Afterward the book has to be sold and then sell to the public, so there are many, many steps to be taken.

This is what is fun about starting any relationship - and I'm looking forward to working with an agent.

I remember starting off with my first editor, Allie from Ellora's Cave. She was terrific - very helpful - and her advice (very good advice) was to READ other books. She used to send me lists of books she wanted me to read, and, wanting to make progress - I read. I still think reading is a great way to learn to write. Some of the books she told me "You're going to hate this one - but watch how the author developes the tension between the hero and heroine." Or she'd say, "this book is great for its plot." And she was right, and reading the books helped me immensely.
My second editor was my darling Mama Z, who helped polish up 'Diamina' from a rambling fable into a tightly woven fantasy tale. Then I was lucky to have Martha, senior editor from Ellora's Cave and a terrific editor, who helped make 'My Fair Pixie' into a best-seller for Ellora's Cave, (and a Silver Star too!) Now I have Ann, and she's absolutely essential for my writing. I feel so confident when she tells me that edits are finished - I know there are no more mistakes in the book; she is amazingly thorough. And I can't talk about editors without mentioning Erin from Loose-Id, who spent so much time with me polishing Virtual Murder into the shiny book it is, (as well as Battle's Bride and Time Traveller, not to mention Ice Man!) And from Changeling Press, Maryam - who is so much fun to work with because she always has so much positive things to say about my writing (we authors need that sort of thing, lol!)

But each relationship started with that first contact, the first comments about the book, and the first suggestions about how to make it better.

I await these suggestions with impatience. I'm one of those geeky authors who think that editors make books 'sparkle', and I love to edit. Perhaps it's because I have such fun editing with my mom (who was, truth be told, my English teacher in school as well as my first editor.) I learned to take criticsm from her, because she is Good, and because she never babied me. If she thought my writing sucked, she said so, and left it to me to figure out how to make it better.
Her best advice: "When in doubt, leave it out." In other words, don't agonize over a sentence or a phrase - if you are, it's probably better to just cut it out.
Believe me - it's good advice, lol.

We used to sit and edit my books, and sometimes we'd be laughing until we cried at the misplaced modifiers (my personal favorites) or the repeated words ("How many times can you fit 'bit' on one page, Sam?") and then she'd point out where the plot sagged and I'd fix it (that's one thing I'm good at is fixing things - even around the house) or she'd tell me to cut something (and I do - I don't mind cutting. It makes the writing tighter)
And now I realise I'm rambling and she'd probably have me cut that last paragraph but I'll leave it in, because blogging, thank goodness, doesn't get edited, lol.

And my ear still aches today so I'm wearing a hat in the house. Thank goodness I'm not expecting royalty.


Jim Donahue said...

Congrats on the agent.

May I plug my current favorite writer here? Read Nicholas Christopher's "A Trip to the Stars." Amazing book.

Sam said...

Please Plug - I'm always looking for a good book.
I'll go check it out - thanks for the head's up!

Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this delightful post, Sam. It’s a nice to see writers saying appreciative things about their editors, past and present, instead of ragging about each other. And I just loved the story about you and your mom editing together. She sounds terrific. As for reading as many other books as possible--I think it’s just about the best advice out there for any writer.

And it seems as if you have yourself a good, sound agent. I’m so happy for you, Sam! :-D

Sam said...

Thanks Daisy - I'm feeling incredibly lucky today, and also looking back and thinking I wrote a hell of a lot of books, lol. But they wouldn't be as good as they are without my editors (another round of applause for my editors, please!)
Oh, and aliterations (thinking of you, Dear Daisy...) had my mom and I just falling off our chairs laughing. I tend to do alliterations all the time. LOL

Jaci Burton said...

Wooo hooo Sam! I'm so thrilled for you! Congrats and best of luck with your new agent!

Virenda said...

It sounds like you have been surrounded by some wonderful editors. I truly hope this new agent is one that will nurture you and fulfill all your needs. (i.e. NOT baby you and give you GREAT advice) Be sure to let us all know when it comes out so we can all get a copy of it.

Hope your ear starts to feel better soon.

Have you been taking your medicine?!

Sam said...

So glad you stopped by - have missed you!

And yes, Virenda, I took my medicine, lol! It is slowly getting better. (I hope.)
and you're also right about not being babied - it's best to give manuscripts 'touch love' lol.

Anne said...

Congrats Sam! How very exciting!!

Lena said...

That is so awesome! I'm thrilled for you. It sounds like she's going to give you the constructive criticism every writer needs (or so my husband keeps telling me ;)).

We are so buying advance copies. This is so exciting! Congrats!

Wynn Bexton said...

Don't worry, Sam. That hat will soon turn into a tiara. You are so lucky! Congratulations!

Sam said...

Tahnks for the kind words and encouragement, Ann, Lena, and Wynn!
So far no tiara - still the fuzzy hat, lol.
Ear better this morning though - might even make it to the gym.

International-Man-Of-Mystery said...

Congratulations! You have my deepest respect and envy. Now run along, Eugene, and see if you can and find a unicorn.

(If you don't get the reference and the joke behind it, I'll explain later.)

Sam said...

Eugene. Unicorn...
Ok Wayne, time to explain.

Tara Marie said...

Congratulations and good luck.

Cheyenne McCray said...

My editor at St. Martin's is incredible. She has such an eye, such an instinct that I just think she's awesome. I've had EC editors that I've enjoyed working with. I miss Ann Richardson and MamaZ a lot. Heather is my editor now, and I think she'll be around awhile since she moved to Ohio just to work for EC! So that makes it nice to at least think you'll have the same editor for awhile. :-)

Sam said...

That's right - we used to share editors, LOL.
I miss Ann and Mama Z too - both were terrific. I think I only had Ann for one book, then I got passed to Ann # 2, lol, it was confusing for a minute. I do like keeping one editor, so I'm hoping that my Ann stays on.
I just this second got edits back from her, LOLOL. When you speak of the devil...!