I first started working for Samhain in about August of 2007. And, as all of us newbies are in the beginning, I was under Angie’s thumb. Very much so under her thumb. And for someone like me who likes to do things on my own, I hated it. Really hated it. I had to send EVERYTHING I did to her to look at and give me approval on first. I remember complaining that I thought it was stupid, I knew what I was doing and if I had a question, I would ask. Hell, she wouldn’t have hired me if I sucked, right?
I was right about her not hiring me if I sucked…and for anyone out there’s who’s taken her/Samhain’s editor test, it’s grueling. Very grueling. But I was wrong about not needing her guidance. Very wrong. As much as I may have disliked it at the time, I know that I am a better editor today because of her guidance and flaming whip. She really has one, I promise. And it really hurts sometimes. The first edits I sent to her for one of my books, she promptly flung back at me with about a million comments on the first few pages. I remember my stomach sinking to the floor, or below that if possible, and wondering why she had hired me in the first place. And then I quickly got over, put on my big girl panties and took her comments and integrated them into my editing from there on out.
And after what seemed like years, she finally gave me the go ahead to go it on my own, that I didn’t need her approval anymore. I was so happy that I didn’t have to take that extra step anymore that took more time up. And now that I look back at that, I know that when she did that, she was telling me she trusted me. She trusted that I would put out the quality of work Samhain is known for at the Crissy and Angie expect from us.
I have yet to meet Angie in person, but I’m hoping to at RT next year. It’s in Ohio and I’m in Indiana and I’ve already made up my mind that I’ll be there. =) And I can’t wait to finally get to meet the illustrious Angela James. I mean, heck, the woman has been my boss for two years now and I’ve never even met her. But I guess in this industry that’s not so far out of the norm. =)
I can only hope to have the “status” someday that Angie has in this industry. I can honestly say she’s my editing hero/role model. LO And no, I’m not sucking up, that’s not me. I’m just stating the facts that I think any other editor at Samhain would agree with.
P.S. I was going to do something sooooo typically Tera and post nudie pics of David Hasselhoff (my hero) or some such nonsense, but I though better and decided to do something out of the norm and do something completely off the wall and be serious for once. =P Plus, I figure if I’m good this time, then Angie will trust me to babysit her blog again and I can come up with some a little more….interesting, shall we say. =)
(Edited to add: This is a guest post written by Shannon Stacey)
You’ve seen the view from the Executive Editor of Samhain’s side of the desk here, but I thought today I’d give you a glimpse of the view from the other side. What’s it like, as an author, to go through the editing process? I’ve done it eight times, so I’ll give you a quick overview and then I’ll offer up a few specifics that might help if you’re thinking of submitting to Samhain.
(Obligatory caveat: Angie has been my editor throughout all my contracts with Samhain. Other editors may do things differently, plus the working relationship between an editor and each of her authors varies. Therefore your mileage will, as well.)
FOREVER AGAIN was published in January of 2006 (it was one of Samhain’s four launch titles), which means we probably started the editing process in the fall of 2005, therefore Angie has been my editor for almost four years. I’m not really sure how she feels about that…
Anyway. I’m a fairly clean writer, so our process is generally two rounds of edits and a round of final line edits.
Round One: Oh my achin’ ass. These hurt. The comments in the documents (edits are done electronically through track changes) are scary enough, but it’s the general impression in the body of the email that really makes you cry. This is where you hear your hero’s a flaming asshole or your secondary guy (and future hero) is a little creepy. Maybe you didn’t develop the romantic arc clearly enough on the page so the HEA isn’t believable. Or the dreaded I just don’t love it. In the document there are cheerful little speech bubbles pointing out plot holes and awkward sentences and timeline issues and pet words and…just about everything a writer can possibly do wrong in a book.
Round Two: With the heavy lifting out of the way, this usually seems a little easier, but the magnifying glass is out for the fine tuning and a thousand little errors need to be fixed. Okay, not a thousand. (Well, again, your mileage may vary.) If there was a large issue that required substantial rewriting, those sections will be edited and there’s the question of whether it effected other parts of the story.
In both rounds, commas are fought for and typos are fixed. Issues are hashed out. For two books in a row, Angie and I went ’round and ’round about the capitalization of Navy. I lost in both cases. I’ve learned through almost Pavlovian conditioning to trust Angie’s judgement. When I disregard her suggestion, the reviews criticize that element. When I implement a change she suggested, the reviews love that element. Seriously.
Once the book’s edited within an inch of its life, it goes to…Final Line Edits: This is a crucial step in the book’s process and, though I stet a lot of issues dealing with voice and such, I’m always blown away by the number of things the final line editors catch. Usually syntax/grammar/spelling/typos and such, but they’ll also speak up if they think a comment needs to be made. The FLE for NO SURRENDER questioned the clarity of an event from 72 HOURS that’s mentioned, as well as commenting on the timeline of the ending.
Just for fun, here are my five favorite editorial comments from Angie:
5. Is this a word?
4. Something about this sentence just isn’t right.
3. Hello run-on sentence!
2. I don’t think this is a word.
1. This sentence is just kind of…ugly.
If you’re thinking about submitting to Angie, there are a few things you can do to help ensure your manuscript doesn’t make her do something rash. Like running off to Las Vegas, where she’ll stand around on the street sucking down suspiciously disguised beverages, for example.
10 Things You Might Want to Doublecheck in Your Manuscript Before Subbing to Angela James:
1. Make sure none of your adverb adjective combos or whatever they’re called are hyphenated. (“Softly-mounded” for example.) I keep putting them in, she keeps taking them out.
2. Be certain, especially in love scenes, that none of your characters’ body parts are autonomous. Hands and eyes that go a’roaming remind her of Thing from The Addam’s Family. Funny, but not so much with the sexy.
3. Check, doublecheck and triplecheck your timelines. She bags me every single time I convince myself nobody will catch a timeline glitch. They’re one of her “things”.
4. If you’re one of those writers who fires off a draft, figuring you’ll polish it up if she accepts it because that’s what editors are for, you might want to submit to a different editor. At a different publisher.
5. Watch for a lot of thens and and thens. I’m especially guilty of this synopsis-like construction during love scenes and fight scenes—scenes that I’m heavily choreographing in my head and trying to translate onto the page. (Yes, the following comment exchange is for two paragraphs in a love scene and there were more on the page. Ouch.)
6. Pronoun confusion. Make sure every one of your pronouns clearly belongs to the character/item/whatever it’s supposed to. Angie’s very hung up on pronoun clarity. Also— Reflexive pronouns. Umm…I’m still not sure what that even means. Certain usages of himself or herself, for example, will earn an editorial handslap. Since I don’t quite get this rule, I just write and then change it when she points it out. Better for you, though, if you do it right.
7. The dreaded ECHO. I’m not sure how an author can really check for this other than reading very, very thoroughly, but using the same word too often too close together is a common author quirk and a common editorial comment. If you can get rid of this, you’re that much cleaner. She has some kind of magic Repetition Radar.
8. Make sure modifying phrases are modifying the correct subject. This is HUGE with Angie. Another of her “things”.
9. Don’t give a lot of characters names beginning with the same letter. She’ll notice. And right now you might want to avoid naming all of your characters “C” names because…well, just because. (A little inside tidbit from NO SURRENDER: The young woman the DG has to rescue will always be named Claire in my heart. In the book it’s…something else. Isabel? Isabella? Something that doesn’t start with a C.)
10. The standard warning to avoid starting multiple paragraphs with the same word, whether it be a name, the or and. And watch the junk words—just, so, that. She hit FOREVER AGAIN so hard on my “that” usage, I still shudder to remember the edits. I think it took several books for her to break me of that habit. Do a find on “that” and challenge every single one.
As a matter of fact, she was rather traumatized the first time she had to ADD “that” to one of my books. I, of course, gloated.
Okay, if you made it all the way through that overly-long post, comment to enter to win a DIGITAL book from my backlist! Ask a question if you’ve got one or make a comment or just say hi and
at 9:00 am est Friday Sunday I’ll randomly draw a winner!
Or is it ‘me’? I forget, but hey. That’s why I have Angie!
While she’s out partying with *sniff* all the cool kids, we’re the pathetic and forlorn Left Behinds. Every year when RWA rolls around, everyone who isn’t there stands around, kicking rocks.
Well not this year, baby!! We’re having our own parties and conferences! There’s plenty to do while the kitty-cat’s away.
Sure, it’s not quite the same as rubbing shoulders with agents in the bar, or walking through cloud of molecules that Nora just walked through, but it’s a ton of virtual fun. And best of all, because our parties are held in cyber-time, when the folks in DC are finally winding down, the Aussies are still hitting it hard! It’s a virtual world, baby!
First, for those of us who just HAVE to know who said what to whom (see? I know my grammar.) there’s the “Blogging Nationals” blog. They’re starting off nicely with a list of everyone who blogged RWA yesterday — at least 23 different links for you to follow. Think of all the voyeurism possibilities!
Every day the Blogging Nationals blog will be updated with lists of blog posts. It’s a great way to keep track of people who love to rub our noses in it enjoy putting on their journalism hats for a few days.
Second, if you have ANY interest at all in paranormal and/or sci-fi romance — and let’s be real, if you’re reading Angie’s blog, you probably do — then the Parallel Universe at the Galaxy Express is the place to be.
“Parallel Universe is a special science fiction romance online event that will coincide with the RWA 29th Annual National Conference in Washington D.C. Here at The Galaxy Express, SFR fans unable to attend the conference can gather for a series of guest posts, news, and links.”
They’re starting today with a series of posts and articles from half a dozen awesome sci-fi romance authors, so get there while the gettin’s good!
Lynn Viehl, who is the butter on the home-baked bread of my life, is hosting her own virtual workshop party for the somethingth year in a row. Left Behind and Loving It has begun with a bang and Lynn is well under way with three virtual workshops already posted. For vast knowledge of the craft of writing, there are few teachers who are better than Lynn Viehl. Sit at her feet and learn, glasshoppahs.
And finally. Last but not least. Saving the best for last, and whatever other cliches you want to throw in there…
The Romance Divas Not Going to Conference Conference!!! If you’re not already a forum member…why not? First, it’s awesome. Second, it’s free! You get sheer awesomeness for free! I call that a win-win situation. And that’s just on a normal day. Go register. Now. We’ll wait.
You see, starting yesterday, the NGTCC began with workshops and seminars featuring Josh Lanyon, Rowan Mcbride, Jet Mykles and Shayla Kersten, Carrie Jones, Marley Gibson, Linnea Sinclair, Patti O’Shea, Ona Russel, Steve Hockingsmith, Joey W. Hill and Sasha White.
There will be workshops for just about every genre, from Young Adult to Erotic to Historical. Plus, a workshop on Deep POV, one on going from e-publishing to NY, and a Q&A on how avoid and deal with burnout. And there’s bound to be a few surprises, too.
And the swag? You wouldn’t believe the giftage that’s going on. Over fifty prizes have been donated and the gettin’ is still good.
So spend a little time this week surfing the web and absorbing all the fabulous learning and fun that our buddies who are stuck in DC (*sob*) are missing out on.
We hear Angie’s on her way home.
Time to clean this place up, get the Hoff out of here.Do a little dusting.
Hope Angie likes the life-size present we left in her living room…..