It’s been a busy couple of weeks over here.
I got two parcels from my UK editors recently. One had a bunch of new hardback Warrior Princess 2: Destiny’s Path books in it, the other had a batch of Warrior Princess book one paperbacks. Some of the latter have now been sent off to the winners of that competition that was running in the fan site. (The one about the mountains, not the story competition).
Speaking of competitons, I have a new one for you to try out. Kyra posed the question: where did Edric get the white rose from that he gave to Tania in The Lost Queen. I have a signed Warrior Princess paperback to send to the person who comes up with the explanation that I like best. I’m going to give you guys two weeks to respond - so answers please, by Monday 16th November. The Lucky winner will get the book. Oh, and please send your answers as a message through the Contact page, that way no one but me gets to see what you’ve said. Suggestions already given up to this date will be accepted, though, so you’re fine, Shannon!
What else? Well, I think most of you have a pretty good idea by now of the process that gets a book out of my head and into your hands. Well, I received back a few weeks ago, the suggestions and comments from my UK, London-based editors, Karen and Rosie for The Faerie Path Book 6: The Charmed Return. They know the books really well, and they had some great ideas, most of which I agreed with and worked on.
Just to give you an idea of the kind of stuff I’m talking about, they would let me know if there were things they didn’t quite understand. It’s really easy for a writer, who knows the plot inside out, to forget that new readers may not be able to figure out who does what or why unless it is explained really clearly. So there were a few places, where Rosie and Karen asked me to explain things a bit more clearly. They will also tell me when I’ve repeated myself or contradicted myself. (That’s easier done than you might think in a book as long as Faerie Path!).
Then there would be sections where they think I spend too long describing something, or where a conversation goes on for too long, and then they’ll make suggestions for cuts - where I agree, I make the cuts, where I don’t, I explain why not, and usually the stuff stays in. An easy thing to do in a scene where there are five or six people, is to lose track of one of the characters. That’s how books are different to movies. In a movie, a character can just stand there doing nothing in the background, and everyone can see them - but in a book, if a characters isn’t doing or saying anything, they can kind of disappear. So what I do when a character in a scene gets lost, is to give them something to do - either some small piece of action or a snatch of dialogue, so that readers are reminded that they are there.
So, as you’ll see from the above, these editorial suggestions are all pretty minor, and don’t have any impact on the plotlines at all. But there can be quite a lot of them, so working on edits takes a while.
What will happen now is that my UK editors will take another look at the book and maybe get back to me on unresolved issues - and when everyone is happy over here, the book will go to the American editors of Harper Collins in New York.
Something you need to know about editors, is that they all want to make their own little changes. You all probably know someone who always wants to make little changes to things you do. Brothers, sisters, friends, parents - teachers, they can all have ideas for how you could look better or act better or be bettter. Editors can be a bit like teachers - you know, giving you 7 out of 10 and making comments about how your homework could have been improved. It’s like, you hardly ever (never?) get 10 out of 10 - there’s always something they think you could do better. Well, editors can be like that. If a book went through the hands of 20 different editors, each of them would have a whole list of “improvements”, and each list would be totally different to any other. It’s a little strange to have to deal with, but it’s all part of being a published author, and I’m not complaining at all!
So, what now? Well, I have a couple of things to do in the next few weeks. I have Sundered Lands book 6 to tinker with. I also have the Teach Yourself Writing book to look at again. Oh, and of course, I have a couple of meetings set up with my editor pal James, to discuss the finer points of the plot of Warrior Princess book four.
And by the time I’ve finished all that, it will almost be Christmas - and then it will be New Year, and then it will only be one month to the publication of Faerie Path 5: The Enchanted Quest.
Oh, and I have a few sketches of characters to do, I guess. Oh, yes - I almost forgot! I will be posting chapter two of The Enchanted Quest here on 1st December.