Last week on Crescent Moon Press’ Blog, I posted my pitch to my publisher. It was my first and it wasn’t pretty, but I caught the eye of the editor and here I am today. But what happened between then and now. Boy, a whole lot! (Don’t forget to leave a comment on this post and Crescent Moon Press’ Blog and be entered to win signed print copy of Soul Reborn, see details below)
I remember being so stunned by the contract offer. It took about a month and then I received my first edit reviews and was surprised there wasn’t more red letters and highlighted sections. I thought wow, maybe this won’t be so bad. Little did I know the first edits were story structure and plot, which tends to be one of my strengths. Let’s just say the second and third passes were bloody. Don’t even talk to me about passive writing. Ack! I worked so hard to remove it, I will never make that mistake again.
I think the fabulous part of it all was that my editor was as much a mentor as she was my editor. She did an amazing job. I laughed at my own mistakes and learned some hard lessons, all of which have made me be a better writer today. This is a tough industry and to say you must have tough skin is an understatement. The key that made it such a great experience was the fact that I wanted her to be brutal, because it forced me to learn and change my habits as a writer. It was very important not to take her feedback personally. She wanted this book to succeed as much as I did.
Of course I can’t help but share one of my editorial comments. Like I said before, I did a lot of laughing at myself. A. LOT.
Not many authors share their faults, but what the hell– it’s my anniversary!
Editors comments on my CRUTCH PHRASES: “You really, really, REALLY love the phrases “clenched teeth” and “ground teeth.” It seems like someone is clenching or grinding their teeth every page or so, sometimes more than once per page. We can’t have that. Delve deeper into the 98% of communication that is nonverbal and find more ways to show your characters’ frustration/irritation. I started marking the ones I saw about halfway through the manuscript. Globally searching for “teeth” and “jaw” should root out most of them. Have fun!”
Her comments inspired me to share my experience. This is an archived post that I released shortly before my book was released.
What I learned from my editor in the first 60 days: “Oh, how I love to “grind my teeth.” Crutch phrases and everything else in between…
I picked my favorite lesson out of the list because I can’t help but laugh every time I see it. “Oh, how I love to grind my teeth” or as it were “Oh, how my characters loved to grind their teeth.”
Being a new writer has its challenges. It is a learning process every step of the way, and thank god for my editor, Heather Howland at Crescent Moon Press. She has held my hand through editing Soul Reborn and its journey to publication. I can’t thank her enough.
Yes, writing about emotion and the display of it is very difficult for a new writer. Whether it is inexperience or laziness, we use phrases over and over and over again. Apparently, my idea of showing frustration was teeth grinding and jaw clenching. My hero, Asar- Egyptian God of the Underworld, is a very intense character, angry and bitter. Poor guys soulless. He gets very frustrated with the heroine, Lilly. She is a serious distraction from his quest for vengeance. For as many times as he ground his teeth (67 occurrences) and clenched (19) his jaw, he would have nubs for dentition and TMJ by the end of the story. A dentist’s nightmare.
Lesson one: Find other body parts and gestures to display negative emotion.
As humans, non-verbal body language is a very important component of communication. It conveys how an individual may be feeling with or without verbal stimuli. It includes body posture, gestures, facial expression and eye movements. Research suggests anywhere between 60-90 percent of our communication is non-verbal. We process these non-verbal cues on a subconscious level. Astounding!
Whether we are using gestures, body posture or even the distance we place ourselves from another individual all conveys some meaning. Some unintentional gestures can act as a lie detector. Using these concepts in our writing empowers the characters, makes them real to the reader. Okay, easier said than done. Right?
How did I solve my problem? I decided I need to make some observations. What better place to pick up on negative non-verbal communication than the metro station in DC. Not a whole lot of verbal communication goes on between strangers in this environment and who wouldn’t be frustrated packed into a metro car with millions of other people invading their personal space.
Arms crossed over chest
Rubbing/scratching the back of the neck/head
Running fingers through the hair
Short breaths exhaling in small puffs through nose
Pointing one index finger
And yes, clenching jaw and teeth
Mix these gestures with facial expressions, body posture and verbal exchange and your character comes alive.
What is your favorite crutch phrase? What have you learned about yourself in your writing process? Please take a moment to share…
So, there you have it. From contact to release were some of the hardest days in my writing career. Writing the stories are easy compared to tearing them apart and accepting your flaws, but in the end the reward was worth THIS…
To see my first cover:
Crescent Moon Press
To announcing Soul Reborn’s release:
To reading my first reviews:
To attend my first conference & book signing:
Look out for more things to come.
Leave a comment on the Anniversary Blog Hop posts and be entered to win a signed print copy of Soul Reborn! (print- US/Canada only; ebook- international)
1st Stop: Crescent Moon Press Blog
2nd Stop: This Post
3rd Stop: My first conference and Book Signing. Is that Lara Adrian?
4th Stop: Last day of Sale/Sunday, July 15th. The Journey Continues: Book II